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never could be sweeter than with you

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Eric was the first one back to the Haus at the end of summer. It was quiet, dusty, but the light streaming in through the windows made it warm and homey, if not a little lonely. He sighed heavily, leaving his overnight bag on the table of the kitchen and starting to put away some of the groceries he’d bought. His boxes wouldn’t be arriving until the next day, but he had enough with him to survive the night, even if he was alone.

The stairs creaked in their same old way as Eric made his way upstairs, smiling at the Canadian flag at the top of the stairs as he passed it. With Ransom being the last Canadian in the house, it was likely to be moved soon though. Eric stood in the hallway between the door of his room, and the empty one across, looking out the window at the lawn in front of the haus.

He turned right, into the empty room.

Dibs,” Jack had said, smiling softly, and curling his fingers around Eric’s.

What?” Eric had laughed at him, thinking it was a joke and trying to pull his hand away. Jack had only held on tighter.

My room. It’s yours now.

There’d been some confusion on Eric’s end, until Jack had explained that this meant Eric could share the bathroom with Lardo, and pick whoever lived across the hall from him. Jack didn’t really want to have a say in who got to live in the Haus when he wouldn’t even be there, and Eric had been content with that. Jack had held onto his hand long after they finished talking.

Now the room was mostly empty, except for the desk, armchair, and bed Jack had left behind. Eric dumped his bag by the foot and did a quick three-sixty of the room, feeling strange and small in the space around him. Jack’s room was bigger than his old one had been. Bigger closet, bigger floor area, bigger bed.

Eric came to a halt, finally noticing what was draped over the bare, stripped mattress. He frowned, picking it up.

A jacket.

It was a deep, Samwell crimson, soft as Eric ran his fingers over it, too big and broad a garment to have ever fit him. Unthinkingly, he lifted it to his nose and breathed in, thankful for the empty house and no one to overhear the embarrassingly pleased sound he made when it still smelled like Jack.

Guiltily, Eric slid his arm into a sleeve of the jacket, and shrugged it up over his shoulders. Of course it was too big, but in a cosy way, a way that made Eric’s stomach flutter, made him miss Jack’s solid mass next to him. The sleeves were far too long, the shoulders too wide, and the hem nearly brushed the tops of Eric’s thighs — it would have zipped up snuggly against Jack’s hips and waist.

After a moment, Eric took the jacket off, folded it, and put it carefully in the closet before fetching the sheets to dress the bed.

By morning, the others would start arriving, and maybe he could stop feeling so silly.


“Hey, you left your jacket here, y’know?” Eric said, his phone wedged between his ear and his shoulder as he kneaded dough with the heels of his palms.

Jack’s laugh on the other end of the line was soft and fond, and nothing like the Jack that Eric had first met two years ago.

“Hold on to it for me, eh?” he said. “You’re still getting used to the cold.”

Eric nearly dropped the phone.


Chowder moved his stuff in with Ransom and Holster’s help, although they may have had the incentive of banana bread baking in the oven to persuade them.

“That boy is my child,” Eric had said, somewhat idly, “You better help him with that orthopaedic mattress or so help me, boys.”

Holster, looking even more unfairly large after the summer, hugged Eric so hard he lifted him right off of the ground.

“I missed your mother-henning, Bits,” he said, before setting him down and running out to the front of the Haus to help Ransom and Chowder with the boxes (and of course the mattress).

Eric was still in the kitchen when Lardo arrived, her hair cut straight and neat at her shoulders, shaved diagonally at one side. She looked sharp, but felt as soft as ever when she hugged Eric.

“Hey bath-roomie,” she said, smiling as she pulled back, and Eric beamed at her. Sure, Lardo loved all the boys on the team, but Eric had a feeling she would have found sharing a bathroom with anyone else a little difficult.

“I’m tidy, I promise,” Eric said, preemptively, and Lardo socked him playfully in the arm. She seemed looser than usual, less under pressure to appear cool and aloof. Eric wondered if it had anything to do with Shitty’s absence.

Lardo shrugged. “Hey, even if Jack didn’t give you the room, I’d still let you use the tub, I’d hate to see the main shower after Rans or Holtzy’s had it.”

“HEY—” came a shout from the hallway, but both Eric and Lardo ignored it.

In truth, Eric had a reason for not liking the cubicle shower in the second floor bathroom. Being shut into lockers and cabinets during his high school years in Georgia had meant that Eric had come to despise small spaces. He wouldn’t call himself claustrophobic; it was more of an extreme discomfort (or so he told himself). The sliding door of the cubicle shower tended to rub him the wrong way, made him edgy and uncomfortable.

Once Jack and Shitty had found out (and Eric still wasn’t sure how that had happened) they’d made it explicitly clear that Eric was allowed to use their bathroom whenever he wanted. Even if it was a Sunday morning, and he felt like belting out Beyonce while washing his hair.

“Shitty tell you that?” Eric asked, smiling softly at the reminder that his teammates really did care (two years later, it still felt so strange).

“Jack, actually,” Lardo said, loftily, “He told me that’s why he was giving you dibs. So you could feel more comfortable.”

“Oh,” Eric said, feeling heat rushing to his cheeks. He was sure he was blushing. “He told me it was so you would feel more comfortable.”

Lardo smiled knowingly — almost smirking — and shook her head. She turned to leave the kitchen.

“Hey, who knows what Jack is thinking, right?” She asked, offhandedly, as she slipped out of the room. Eric stared at the space where she had stood, his thoughts suddenly running wild.

“Yeah,” he replied, softly, “Who knows.”


When Eric finally finished unpacking and decorating his new room (placing Señor Bunny on his pillow to complete the look), he sent a picture to Jack.

When Jack replied ‘Home Sweet Home’, Eric thought his heart was going to burst right out of his chest.


October came and went, and Halloween was fun but somewhat lacklustre without Shitty around to rally everyone. The weather started to get colder, and every day Eric looked at the jacket folded up in his closet, waiting patiently to be worn. Every day Eric sighed, pulled on his boots, and went to class in his shirt and sweater. He told himself it wasn’t cold enough yet to be having such ridiculous, unnecessary thoughts.

Until finally, November came in a flurry of snow, and Jack’s jacket still smelled like him if Eric brought the collar close to his face and breathed in deep. Sometimes he missed Jack so much he felt it in his bones, like an early morning chill; it made him ache, made him want to curl back up in his bed and never leave.

Holster stopped him in the hallway, hands on Eric’s shoulders, looking down at him strangely.

“That’s not yours,” he said, pinching the loose shoulder of the jacket between his thumb and index finger.

Eric flushed. “No. But it’s cold out.”

Holster was quiet for a few seconds. Then— “You’re right. Very cold,” he agreed.

“Jack told me to hold onto it for him…” Eric said, quickly, “You don’t think he’d mind, do you?”

“Jack doesn’t really mind anything. He’d probably be glad you’re staying warm,” Holster said, and then put on his best Jack Voice, “Wouldn’t want you getting sick and not being able to play, eh Bittle?”

Eric laughed out loud, and hugged his arms, pulling the jacket in tight around his torso. “That was terrible.”

“I know, it makes Rans really mad,” Holster said, laughing under his breath.


The smell went away, and the jacket was just a jacket. Except it wasn't.


“You had a great game tonight,” Eric was curled on his side under the covers. Jack had been out late, celebrating a win with his teammates and he was chatty and happy in the way a couple beers made him.

“The team is great,” Jack said, “A great bunch of guys, and we all work really well together.”

Eric laughed, “Okay, now tell me something that isn’t a soundbite.”

The line was quiet for a moment. Eric’s eyelids were heavy, he could feel his heartbeat slowing, coming into sync with Jack’s rhythmic breathing over the line.

“I miss you,” Jack said, and Eric wondered how much he’d had to drink, flushing with pleasure.

“Jack,” Eric whispered, because he didn’t need to say it back for Jack to know. It was all there in the tone of his voice.

“I kept thinking about calling you today. And then when I was playing, I was thinking about calling you, about having something good to talk to you about when I called you. And then that hat-trick happened.”

“That was for me?” Eric grinned into his pillow, his voice soft, his body heavy with tiredness and delight.

“I… Yeah,” Jack said, as though the realisation surprised him. “That was for you, Bittle.”

“You’re wonderful,” Eric said, muffled around a yawn, but Jack heard it anyway if his low chuckle was anything to go by. Eric was vaguely aware that the conversation had definitely crossed the line of bro-territory into something a little more. He didn’t care.

They stayed on the line in a comfortable silence, until Eric quietly said, “I wore your jacket. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” Jack replied.

“It was like a Jack Zimmermann hug, everywhere I went.”

“You miss me too,” Jack said, but it wasn’t a question.



Eric woke up alone; the ache had somehow worsened.


Shitty stopped by the Haus just before Thanksgiving.

Sometime after midnight, Eric found himself out on the roof of the reading room wrapped in his comforter. Shitty had one arm around him, and the other around Lardo, a joint dangling from his fingers, precariously close to her hair. She didn’t seem to care.

“So, be real with me, what have I missed?” Shitty asked, when they were all lying down, and Eric was looking at Lardo across Shitty’s chest. Their breath misted in the night air, but Shitty’s skin was warm beneath his chin.

Lardo shrugged languidly, because she probably shared everything with Shitty anyway. Eric took a deep breath, feeling the second-hand effects of the weed in the air. He wanted to talk about his feelings goddamn it.

“I like Jack. I have for a while,” he said, and Lardo’s eyes widened a fraction before she grinned, wider than Eric’s ever seen her. He couldn’t see Shitty’s face, so he lifted his head to find that Shitty was grinning too, his eyes closed and his head tilted back.

“Okay,” Shitty said, sounding utterly delighted but obviously trying to stay chill about it, “Tell us more.”

“I knew last year, and I knew nothing could happen. I knew it’d be hard not having him around this year.”

Lardo nodded, somehow sympathetic and unbelievably cool all at once.

“But?” Shitty prompted.

“We’ve been talking,” Eric admitted. “And I would never assume anything but— I think it might be requited. The feelings.”

“Shit, Bitty,” Lardo said, sounding delighted, and Shitty made a similar sound, a happy giggle into the sky above him.

“He told me he missed me,” Eric sighed, letting the words wash over him as he sank back to lie down again. “He told me he scored a hat-trick for me.”

“That’s fuckin’ hot,” Shitty said, and Eric couldn’t tell if he was being chirped or not, but he had to agree. It was fucking hot. Jack Zimmermann, The Providence Falconers’ Jack Zimmermann, scored a hat-trick while thinking about him.

“I’m— I miss him so much,” Eric said, squeezing his eyes shut.

“Invite him down,” Shitty said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“But he’s so busy,” Eric glowered, sitting upright, “He barely has time to text. I miss him so damn much though.”

There was a lull in conversation after that, Eric suddenly too solemn to continue on his line of thought.

Shitty giggled to himself, “B, you and JayZ are gonna make some beautiful gay babies together someday.”


Lardo and Eric watched the mid-season finale of How to Get Away With Murder, curled up on the couch with Jack and Shitty on Skype on two separate laptops. Everything was slightly out of sync and nobody could really figure out what was going on. Jack had never even watched the show before, and his very confused commentary had Lardo and Shitty in tears before the first commercial break. Eric would probably have to watch the episode a second time later.

It was still the most fun he'd had that semester.


The girl in front of him in line at Annie’s took a stumble, and almost spilled her coffee everywhere, except Eric caught her elbow just before she tipped over.

“Oh my god,” she straightened up, eyes wide and apologetic. “That was a close one, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay darlin’,” Eric assured her, smiling, “You alright?”

“I’m not usually clumsy,” she said, running a hand through her blonde hair. Eric stepped aside to let the person behind him skip ahead. The girl looked vaguely familiar to him, though he couldn’t quite place her. She had a cute, round face and a small, athletic build. Her eyes were large, a bright and pretty shade of amber (not unlike Dex, Eric thought), her nose small and slightly upturned above full lips. Very attractive. Eric probably would have been more than flustered speaking to her, had he been that way inclined.

“It’s quite okay,” he repeated.

“Well, thanks for catching me,” she said, and then hesitated, “You’re Eric Bittle, right?”

“Um, yeah,” Eric said, nonplussed, “That’s me. Have we met?”

“Oh, no,” she blushed, “I, um. I’m Camilla. I dated Jack for a while? Ages ago. It wasn’t even really— Anyway, I just recognised you from the team.”

Eric laughed in surprise. He knew there were certainly recognisable members of the team. Holster’s remarkable height, Nursey’s remarkable good looks, Ransom’s remarkable salmon shorts… it all bode well for them. However, Eric spent most of his time trying to convince people that he was part of the team.

“He talked about you a lot,” Camilla said, smiling softly, and another amused sound escaped Eric’s mouth, eyebrows shooting up.

“Good or bad?” He asked.

“I still haven’t figured that out,” she replied, somewhat cryptically.

“Jack’s like that,” Eric huffed, looking down at his feet, a smile creeping across his lips.

“It’s nice to finally get to meet you in person, then,” Camilla beamed, then checked the time on her phone. “Okay well, I’ve got class. I should actually run. Nice talking to you, Eric. Tell Jack I said hello!”

“Sure, you too,” Eric replied, watching as Camilla made a dash for the door, waving him goodbye. He turned around, finding the person ahead of him had just finished collecting their order. Eric ordered himself a PSL and got his phone out of his pocket to shoot Jack a text.

to Jack: It’s latte season! Bumped into Camilla at Annie’s. She says hello. (13:54)

Jack replied as Eric was walking out the door.

from Jack: Camilla Collins? Nice girl. (14:02)

from Jack: …Let me guess, pumpkin spice? They’re not good for you, Bittle. (14:03)

Eric laughed, the switch of topic wasn’t very subtle.

to Jack: And yet you always drank from mine whenever you got the chance… (14:03)

from Jack: That was purely for your benefit. (14:05)

“I’m sure,” Eric huffed under his breath, smiling as he slid his phone back into his pocket of the too-large crimson jacket draped over his shoulders.


Eric complained about being cold in the Haus at night. A week later a package arrived for him on the porch. It was a moose-shaped hot water bottle, wearing a little red and white jersey. It was unusually Canadian, even for Jack.


Eric went back to Madison for Christmas, talked about football with his dad, talked about baking with his mom, endured the usual heteronormative bullshit from his relatives. It had become as easy as breathing to deflect questions about possible girlfriends and relationships. One cousin even broached the subject of a picture of Eric and Lardo that they’d seen on Facebook.

On New Year’s Eve Eric found himself sitting in his bedroom window with his door locked. Downstairs, the rest of his relatives were enjoying the festivities.

Jack’s name lit up the screen of his phone in his lap, and the strange weight that had settled in Eric’s chest lifted a little.

“Hello?” he answered, trying to keep the tremble out of his voice. It was bare minutes to midnight.

“Bittle,” Jack said, “Hey. How are you? I’m not interrupting, am I?”

“No, I’m just—” Eric bit his lip, “I’m alone. Family’s downstairs. Lord knows I love ‘em all but sometimes they can be a little much, ‘specially when they’ve been drinkin’…”

“Your accent is so strong,” Jack laughed, and Eric was glad that Jack couldn’t see the way he knew he was blushing.

“Oh shush, you,” Eric tried to sound stern, but even he could hear his smile creeping into his voice. Jack’s chuckle faded out into silence, and downstairs Eric could hear the countdown beginning, starting all the way at sixty. His family really were too much sometimes.

“Got any resolutions, Jack?” he asked.

Jack hummed thoughtfully. “Hmm. Be better, I suppose.”

“You say that every year,” as a way of avoiding the question.

“Still haven’t quite got the hang of it,” Jack joked, though it fell somewhat flat.

Forty-five, Forty-four, Forty-three—

“I think you’re great as is,” Eric said, shrugging, trying to come off casual despite his pounding heart. Jack could probably hear his pulse over the phone line.

“What about you?” Jack asked, and Eric picked at the hem of his sock, legs folded beneath him.

“Study more, eat better, the usual stuff,” he said, breezily. “Come out to my parents, vlog more—”

“You’re gonna come out?” Jack asked, because of course he wouldn’t just let it slide.

Thirty-one, Thirty, Twenty-nine—

Eric sighed heavily, tucking himself up into the corner of the window, looking down at the front lawn of his house. There were already people in the cul-de-sac, celebrating the new year. Across the street, Natasha Turner was embracing her boyfriend on her front porch. They’d probably kiss at midnight.

“I’m so tired of hiding.”

“Okay,” Jack said, and his voice was so unbearably gentle that Eric’s eyes closed against it. “I’ll be here for you, when you do it.”

“I know.”

“I have your back.”

“I know,” Eric said, his voice a little sharper than he intended.

Twenty-two, twenty-one, twenty—

“Are you gonna visit soon?” Natasha and her boyfriend were already kissing, too impatient to wait twenty damn seconds.

“I’m booking my flight as soon as we hang up,” Jack said, “I promise.”

“What’s it like in Montreal?”




“Whatever your real resolution is? Do it.”

Seven, Six, Five—

“How do you know that—”

“I know you, Jack.”

Silence. Two, One.

Fireworks exploded in the sky outside, and cheers went up all around. Jack was quiet on the other end of the line, and Eric laughed under his breath. He was ready to start fresh, on a positive note.

“Jack Zimmermann,” he said, his first words in 2016, “I can’t wait to see you.”

“Soon, Bitty,” Jack promised again. “Happy New Year.”  


Jack hadn’t mentioned when exactly his flight back to Massachusetts was, so it was a surprise to open the door to his smiling face, in the second weekend of January.

“Jack,” Eric breathed, then flung himself forward for a hug, screeching with joyful laughter. Jack’s arms came around his waist and swept him up until his feet didn’t even touch the ground.

Shortly after, Jack was swarmed in the kitchen by hugs and even an off-ice celly courtesy of Ransom and Holster. The Tadpoles stood back in awe as Jack sat down at the table with a slice of pie, listening to the stories his old teammates had to tell.

“So, you crashing here tonight, Jack? We can totally set up the couch,” Ransom said eventually. Jack cleared his throat.

“Yeah, yeah. Um, I just figured I’d stay in Bittle’s room though.”

There was a confused silence. Eric felt something electric in him, coursing out to his extremities, making his palms tingle. Holster caught Eric’s eye, his eyebrow raising subtly.

“He’s small, and he has a big bed,” Jack said, as if it were obvious.

“Oh, duh,” Dex said, and conversation abruptly began again. Holster cracked out a crate of beers and it suddenly became just a regular Friday night at the Haus. If Shitty had been there, Eric would have probably been able to convince himself that he was a sophomore again, that Jack’s hand spread over his back was nothing but a friendly gesture. But after Jack’s third beer, and his hand sliding down to Eric’s waist, any platonic thoughts had well and truly vanished from Eric’s mind. He faked a loud-but-believable yawn, letting his head drop into his hands.

“Someone’s tired,” Ransom chuckled, gently nudging his beer against Eric’s elbow.

“Think I’m gonna hit the hay, you guys,” Eric replied, pressing back against Jack’s hand at the base of his spine. He could feel the heat of Jack’s palm— wanted those hands all over him as soon as possible. Eric had often felt wary of ‘mutual’ attraction; more often than not he’d felt he imagined the other guy liking him, too scared to make a move. With Jack, there and then, there was no question in his mind about whether they were on the same page.

Eric excused himself from the gang and made his way upstairs to bed. He’d already washed up and changed into the soft, worn, large t-shirt he usually slept in, when Jack slipped into the room, a soft smile on his face and his overnight bag hanging from his shoulder.

“I made my excuses,” he said softly. Eric sat on the bed with his back against the headboard, knees bent as his hands reached for his ankles. The movement drew Jack’s gaze down the length of his legs, and Eric flushed happily.

“Bet you were as subtle as hell,” Eric joked.

“Do you know me?” Jack asked, a smile tugging at his lips, “I barely got the word ‘bed’ out before Holtzy was shoving me up the stairs. I think he said ‘Go get ‘im, tiger’.”

Eric laughed, and Jack dropped his bag, fishing out his toothbrush before disappearing into the bathroom. Eric climbed under the covers, scooting back against the wall to leave room for Jack.

It was — so easy. Jack came out of the bathroom, stripped down to his underwear, climbed into the bed next to Eric, and kissed him like they’d been doing it for years. There was no hesitation, no awkward bumping of noses or teeth. Like we were made for each other, Eric thought, groaning softly as Jack pulled back only to duck his head and begin pressing soft kisses to Eric’s jaw and neck.

“I miss you in this Haus,” Eric said, lying down, threading his fingers through Jack’s. Jack squeezed his hand gently.

“Well. I’m here right now,” he said. “Home sweet home.”


He woke up pressed up again Jack’s back, hard as hell and his t-shirt sticking to his back. Eric groaned, pressing his face between Jack’s shoulder blades and wriggling closer into the heat. It was the first time in a long time that he remembered waking up this warm — too warm. Eric began to shimmy out of his shirt, biting back a moan when he rubbed up against Jack’s ass, and Jack began to stir awake.

“You’re letting all the cold air in, Bittle,” he murmured, and Eric huffed out a laugh.

“Good,” he grumbled, tossing his shirt away and laying back down, slipping his knee up over Jack’s thigh, pressing even closer despite the heat. Jack made a soft, pleased sound, nestling his ass back into the cradle of Eric’s hips. He would have never guessed that Jack was such an enthusiastic little spoon.

Half asleep, Eric was slowly grinding against Jack, sliding his arms up over his chest and holding onto him, maybe even encouraging him to press back. He pressed his nose to the nape of Jack’s neck, each breath coming short and sharp as the sensation built, hot and weighty in the pit of his stomach.

“God,” He breathed.

“Don’t stop,” Jack said, the words getting caught in his throat a little. Eric cautiously let his hand drift down and cup Jack’s cock through his underwear. It felt thick in his hand, and Eric had to screw his eyes shut against all the images that suddenly flashed through his mind. He slid his hand beneath the waistband of the briefs, Jack’s groan sounding almost like relief as he tipped his head back.

“Oh,” Eric said, pleased and surprised at the wet head beneath his fingertips, the— “Wha— oh, oh. That’s interesting. I don’t have one of those.”

“A foreskin?” Jack choked out a laugh, and Eric pressed a kiss to the side of his neck.

“Uh huh,” he said. “Feels nice though. You’re so wet.”

“Fuck,” Jack whispered hips jerking just a touch, and Eric started to push down his briefs, wanting to get a look at what was filling his hand so nicely. Jack helped him, shimmying out of his underwear. “Bitty.”

“Mmmhmm,” Eric hummed peering over Jack’s shoulder, watching his hand slowly jerking him off.

“Take off your— take them off.”

Eric scrambled around for a moment to get fully naked, throwing down the covers and trying not to laugh and Jack’s shuddering gasp at the cold.

“I forgot how cold it is in this room,” Jack grumbled, and Eric laughed, getting his hand back on Jack’s cock.

“Isn’t that why you left me your jacket?”

Jack sighed deeply, pushing slowly into Eric’s hand. “I just really liked the thought of you wearing my clothes.”

Eric’s grip tightened just a fraction, his dick slipping against Jack’s ass. His other hand rested against Jack’s chest, fingertips pressing into the skin, so hard Eric wondered if he would leave marks.

“Fuck, Bitty, I— do you keep lube in here?” Jack asked, sounding almost frantic. Eric kissed the back of his shoulder, nudged his nose beneath Jack’s ear.

“There in the nightstand,” he said, and Jack threw an arm out to fumble open the drawer of the nightstand. Eric expected him to turn over once he found the lube, for Jack to climb up over him — he expected Jack to want to fuck him. Fuck, he desperately wanted Jack’s fingers inside him, so much so that the thought made him shudder.

Jack reached back, gently taking Eric’s cock in his hand and slicking it up, guiding him forward.

“Jack—” Eric started, unsure, and Jack sent him a soft smile over his shoulder.

“Just between my thighs, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Eric lost his mind a little after that; Jack kept his thighs tight together, rocking forward into Eric’s fist and then back to meet his thrusts. He let out a soft groan every time the head of Eric’s cock nudged against the back of his balls, and if that felt good for Eric then he couldn’t imagine how it felt for Jack, who seemed just as lost in the moment as Eric felt. It seemed they were both conscious of how quiet they needed to be together in a house with such thin walls.

“Jack,” Eric picked up the pace, feeling the muscles in Jack’s back tense up against his front as Eric stroked him faster, a little tighter. He hooked an ankle around Jack’s shin to pull his thighs closer together, making the slick little space Eric was fucking into tighter for him.

Jack came suddenly with a low groan, reaching back for Eric, and it was Jack’s hand on his ass, pulling him in, that really did it for him. Eric followed with a trembling moan, muffled against Jack’s shoulder blade, coming between this thighs.

And then, they just lay there. Catching their breath, holding on.

“Still cold?” Eric whispered.

“Shut up, Bittle,” Jack huffed, and Eric grinned, kissing Jack’s shoulder.


The weekend passed quickly in a haze of alcohol, roughhousing, and Eric dragging Jack into the nearest dark corner for kisses at every opportunity. Everyone pretended not to notice, but it was hard to ignore the way Jack’s hand rested against Eric’s nape whenever possible, the way they knocked knees playfully when they sat together. And Jack— Jack was smiling more than any of the team had ever seen him.

When he drove away, promising he’d be back in a couple of weeks, everyone in the Haus was in good spirits, even Eric felt lighter than he’d have expected as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom. Jack’s old room. (Maybe he could call it theirs now?)

There was a too-large Falconers hoodie left on his bed.