Jack’s new house in Providence is too quiet after living in the Haus for so many years. Both the exterior and interior is a dull beige color, filled with furnishings that came with the cookie-cutter home. “Granite counters and a full restaurant-quality kitchen! Great for cooking and entertaining!” was what sold it for Jack, really, even if he doesn’t cook.
Practice is hard, and it takes some time to adjust to the game schedule, but Jack enjoys it so far. He still can’t believe it’s his job, he gets to do this for a living. The guys on the team are cool, he’s hung out with them a few times, but most of the older ones are married with kids and settled and the younger ones like to go out and party, and it’s not really Jack’s scene.
He misses the Haus, misses late nights hanging out with Shitty and his friends, misses Bitty something awful, all the things he didn’t say before he left. They’re friends, of course, and Jack doesn’t know how to— doesn’t even know if he could, that it’d be possible.
Jack’s still on the Samwell team’s group chat, finds himself scrolling through and reading all about what everyone’s up to. Chowder’s going steady with that volleyball girl, Ransom and Holster finally got together, and Lardo won a really prestigious art award. Jack doesn’t know what it’s called, but knows it’s a big deal, couldn’t be prouder.
Bitty’s sad because he was organizing Hausgiving, except his plans for feeding six people who weren’t going home started falling apart because one by one they all started dropping out and making plans away from the Haus. Jack knows this not because of the group chat, which is at the moment just Chowder looking for relationship advice, but finds Bitty is posting sad emojis to his Twitter and saying that it’ll be just him at the Haus. It makes Jack’s heart twinge. He can’t even bring himself to think of seeing Bitty’s actual sad face.
“Just invite him over,” Shitty says when Jack brings it up.
“I can’t just—”
“It’s easy. I invite Lardo up here all the time. Sometimes there isn’t even a reason, other than, my roommates are all gone for the weekend.”
Jack buries his face in his hand. “It’s not the same. I’m not— Bitty and I aren’t like you two, we aren’t—”
Shitty makes an amused noise.
Jack huffs indignantly; his best friend knows him way too well. “Fine. I mean, well, he doesn’t, at least.”
“Look, you won’t know unless you ask, right? At least just try,” Shitty says.
Jack plans it carefully. A phone call, that’s the proper way to do it, and he writes down what he wants to say in case he messes up.
I’d love to have you over
I love you
I’d love to have you over.
Bitty, would you like to come over to Providence for Thanksgiving?
Jack practices it a bit, then second guesses himself because it’ll be too weird, too… it’s not like he’s inviting Bits to like a group thing with him and other Falconers. It would just be the two of them, in Jack’s big house. Alone.
But the alternative is Bitty alone at the Haus, with nobody to bake for and Jack knows he was excited about trying out a couple of recipes.
Jack’s heart is in his throat as he listens to the dial tone.
Bitty picks up on the second ring, the sound of his Georgia accent rich and bright in Jack’s ears, making Jack wonder why he doesn’t call more often. (He doesn’t know what to say, that’s why.)
“Jack? Hey! Everything okay?”
“Hey, Bittle,” Jack says, inwardly chastising himself for sounding so formal. “Would you like to Thanksgiving Providence come over?”
Jack bites his lip. “Um. I mean, I heard you were staying at the Haus by yourself? I’m not doing anything either, and I don’t do the— but you could— do your thing. We could. Um. I have a kitchen.”
“You’re not going to Montreal to visit your parents?”
Jack shakes his head. "I have a game Friday.”
Jack can imagine the face Bitty’s making right now, the one where he’s thinking very hard. Probably he’s not thinking as hard as he does when he bakes— Jack likes watching him back, the way Bitty’s tongue sticks out sometimes, his whole face scrunched up in concentration. But it’s not like Jack’s offer is that tempting either, it’s still a train ride away, and it’s not like Jack has much to offer—
“Sure!” Bitty says, a thrum of excitement in his voice. “I’m looking forward to it. Oh oh! You weren’t here when I perfected this caramel pear tart, but I honestly think that sauce would work better on apple, and I can make that maple sugar crust—”
Jack feels warm and content just hearing Bitty talk. “I can buy the stuff,” he says, “So you don’t have to carry it on the train. Just tell me what to get, I’ll have it for you by the time you get here.”
Bitty starts rattling off a number of ingredients, and Jack takes careful note. Jack says goodbye and hangs up with a small smile, looking forward to the holiday.
At the train station Bitty rushes forward and launches himself at Jack, and suddenly he’s got an armful of laughing boy— man— Bitty’s a little taller, leaner, been training hard at Samwell, Jack notices. Bitty carries himself a little differently too, standing up taller, but the kind smile is the same, and the sweet cadence of his voice is everything Jack remembers.
“You’ve been eating your protein,” Jack says with a smile.
“Shut up,” Bitty says, whacking him with his duffle bag.
They get in his car— brand new, still smelling like it— and Bitty laughs at him, teases him but sounds pleased that Jack got himself a hybrid, and then they drive to his house. It’s a quiet suburban neighborhood; Jack talks a bit about the other Falconers who have houses in the area— one of the d-men lives right around the corner.
“We could borrow sugar from an NHL hockey player,” Bitty says, eyes sparkling.
“I have sugar,” Jack protests.
It’s not that Jack doesn’t want to introduce Bitty to his teammates; he knows they’d get along fine, maybe more than that; Bitty is sweet and easy to get along with, and he finds a way to make friends with anyone. Jack doesn’t quite want to share him with anyone, just yet.
“Well, this is it,” Jack says, pulling into his driveway.
Bitty grins. “Going to take me on a tour, Mr. Zimmerman?”
Something about that makes Jack flush, but he takes Bitty’s bags and walks him round the house, trying to remember the things the realtor said to him, like “arched windows” and “marble tiles” and Bitty just nods and follows him around.
“Do you like it, though?”
Jack’s a bit thrown by the question. “It’s just a house,” he says. “It’s close to work and it’s nice, I guess.”
Bitty throws his hands up in the air. “But you live here! You should enjoy it— I mean, your bedroom at the Haus had way more personality than this place.”
“I don’t really spend a lot of time here,” Jack admits. He doesn’t really have reason to; he goes to practice, and then to away games, comes back here for sleep and store some of his stuff.
Bitty nods, understanding. “I guess that makes sense.”
He shows Bitty the kitchen, and Bitty’s face lights up when he sees all the appliances (Jack hasn’t used them since he moved in). Jack has to pull him away so he doesn’t start baking right then and there. “We have time; you’re probably tired, right? Let’s order food tonight.”
Jack thought it would be weird but they fall back into easy conversation like before, back when they lived across the hall and then Bitty’s talking about his classes and his mom’s last visit, and Jack has stories about professional hockey and it’s good. He’s missed this, this closeness with Bitty.
Bitty yawns and Jack shows him to the guest bedroom, already made up like his mom always taught him how, fresh sheets and blankets and everything, folded towels resting on the bedspread, which makes Bitty laugh.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Bitty says, eyes soft with sleep.
It feels different, here; Jack’s seen Bitty in his pajamas before, in various states of undress in the locker rooms, but here, in his house, it feels remarkably intimate.
“Goodnight,” Jack says.
Thursday seems to fly past way too quickly for Jack. He wakes up early and still there aren’t enough hours in the day. Jack doesn’t remember all the names of the things Bitty wants to make, but there’s breakfast and lunch and dinner and he helps, kind of, but it’s mostly trailing after Bitty in the kitchen, holding things or mixing things, talking about anything and everything.
Jack shows Bitty some of the photos he’s taken since he’s moved to Providence, nothing special, just fooling around with his camera, and he just learned about aperture so he’s pretty pleased when Bitty tells him the photos look great.
Bitty insists on Jack buying this ridiculously bright red throw blanket when they’re at All-Mart getting more food supplies (Jack’s going to have enough leftovers to feed the entire team), and when Jack isn’t looking, Bitty buys him that funky clock he was eyeing as well.
“How do you not have any DVDs? Your whole living room is so empty, it pains me,” Bitty says, shaking his head in disappointment, and then he’s horrified Jack hasn’t seen The Princess Bride and buys that for him too.
The clock gets put up in the living room and the blanket thrown over the couch, and Jack is instructed not to enter the kitchen again until Bitty’s done baking the pie.
Once Bitty emerges from the kitchen, pies baking away, they sit down and eat a simple but delicious meal of turkey mac-n-cheese casserole and sauteed green beans.
Jack laughs like he hasn’t for a long time, and it just feels right to be home here with Bitty, to sit on the couch next to him and watch this ridiculous movie, which Jack actually is enjoying a lot. What he enjoys most of all is seeing Bitty mouth the lines along with the characters and laugh out loud, full of life and joy.
They eat, and eat some more when Bitty brings out the pie: maple sugar crusted apple— and caramel— pie, some new twist that’s mouthwateringly delicious. Jack groans, pointing at the pie and Bitty just preens, saying, “There are two more in your freezer.”
“You’re the best,” Jack says. I love you, he doesn’t say, and swallows the words back down into his throat so they don’t escape.
They watch another movie, and then make plans to do some touristy things over the weekend, after Jack’s game, and Bitty heads off to the guest bedroom, and Jack falls into a restless sleep.
It’s a familiar thing for Jack to see Bitty in his dreams, in some fantasy world where maybe he was brave enough to tell him how he felt, and sometimes nothing happens other than them walking through the Canadian countryside together, and sometimes they hold hands, and one memorable time they kissed.
It’s just dreams, though, and Jack isn’t conscious usually to direct them much, but sometimes he lingers in them if he’s aware enough.
Jack’s standing in his kitchen, and Bitty is at the counter, mixing something and humming something to himself, dancing slightly to an unheard beat. The morning sun is filtering through the windows and Jack’s never noticed the light look so beautiful in his kitchen before.
He steps forward, wanting to stretch out the luxury of this domestic little moment, live in this world a little longer before his alarm goes off and he has to go run drills with the Falcolners.
Jack wraps his arms around Bitty and kisses him gently on the shoulder, holding him close, breathing in the scent of butter and cinnamon and all those good sweet things he’s come to associate with Bitty—
Wait, you can’t smell things in dreams.
Jack shuffles backward, startled, and Bitty is turning to look at him, eyes going as wide as saucers.
“Jack?” Bitty gasps.
“I am so sorry,” Jack says, throwing his hands up in alarm, horrified. “I’m not a hundred percent awake, um, but I am now, um— yeah I shouldn’t have— I’ll just— go—”
Jack flees. He’s out of the front door, running frantically to put his mind off the situation and is and a few blocks away before realizes he’s not wearing any shoes and it’s November. There’s morning frost on the lawn in front of him, and he shivers, wearing only a tank top and his briefs.
Ugh, he’s a mess.
Jack grits his teeth and turns around, walking back to the house, stepping inside.
Bitty’s sitting on the couch with a worried expression. He looks up in alarm when Jack walks through the door.
“Jesus, Jack!” Bitty exclaims, grabbing the red blanket off the couch and wrapping Jack into it and ushering him back onto the couch.
Jack looks up sheepishly from his blanket burrito, trying to read Bitty’s expression. He can’t tell if Bitty’s disgusted or annoyed by his previous action at all; Bitty just keeps looking at him in concern.
They don’t say anything for a long moment before finally Jack can’t take it anymore, and he just says, “I’m sorry,” in a small voice.
“I know it takes you awhile to wake up without coffee and Shitty’s told me you’ve done some weird stuff,” Bitty says, crossing his arms. “That, I get. And it’s fine. What I don’t get is the running away before we— I want to talk to you about this, Jack. You kissed me. Why?”
Jack looks at his feet. Next to them are Bitty’s feet, sensibly clad in socks with the Samwell logo knitted into the pattern.
He doesn’t have an answer.
Well, technically he does, but he doesn’t know how to say.
Jack finally looks up and meets Bitty’s eyes, and recognizes the emotion there, a desperate and fervent hope shining in his warm brown eyes.
“Please, Jack, just tell me,” Bitty says, softly.
Jack swallows, thinks about this moment, that he’s basically on the edge of a precipice that there’s no turning back from. “Why does anyone kiss anyone else,” Jack says, awkwardly. “The usual reason, I guess.”
“Oh,” Bitty says, high spots of pink coloring his cheeks.
“I dream about you a lot, that’s why I didn’t– it didn’t occur to me that– you know,” Jack adds. He takes a deep breath. “I understand if you don’t want to stay for the game or the rest of the weekend, and I promise I won’t make it weird, you know, with my feelings—”
“You ridiculous boy,” Bitty breathes, and then promptly takes Jack’s chin and guides him into a soft kiss.
Jack is surprised but eases into the kiss immediately. He’s content to just enjoy the taste of Bitty’s lips, tease at the soft velvet heat that’s inside his mouth, but Bitty climbs into his lap, and Jack doesn’t quite know what to do with his arms. He wants to run his hands through Bitty’s soft hair, down Bitty’s back, maybe hold him closer, but he just hovers awkwardly until Bitty laces their fingers together.
Jack still can’t believe this is happening; they take a moment to catch their breath, staring at each other in dazed happiness. Jack holds onto Bitty’s hands like he’s holding something precious, rubbing his thumb across the back of Bitty’s hand.
Bitty presses his face into Jack’s neck and laughs. It tickles Jack’s throat but feels nice, just holding Bitty like this, the way they fit together.
“I can’t believe you ran outside in your underwear,” Bitty says, grinning.
“It’s not underwear,” Jack says, glancing down at this— okay he uses them as boxer briefs but these Under Armor things are really good quality, okay? “It’s athletic gear.” He has a lot of them, he likes wearing them both underneath his clothes to work out in and just as… okay, underwear.
Jack feels self conscious all of a sudden. “Are you uncomfortable? Should I put on pants?”
Bitty tugs him in for another kiss.
“It’s a no on the pants, then?” Jack asks.
“No pants at home,” Bitty says decisively, taking Jack’s hands and placing them on his hips, guiding them lower to– oh.
“No pants at home,” Jack agrees, feeling complete in this space for the first time.