"Oh," Jack hears, and when he turns the corner into the kitchen after McDavid, he gets why.
Jack sighs, but he can feel the smile tugging at his lips. "Bittle. What have you done?"
"Baked goods just happen," Bitty says, pointing at Jack and smiling back. "You know that, mister. And you left me all alone in this gorgeous kitchen. What was I supposed to do, sit on the couch and pretend it wasn't in here?"
"You could've come to the gym with us," Jack says. "We invited you."
Bitty huffs. "You call your trainer Scary Gary, sweetheart. I don't think so." His smile widens. "Also, you stocked the fridge. I can take a hint."
The door to the apartment opens and shuts behind Jack, and a moment later, Ekblad pops into the kitchen. His eyes go a little wide as he surveys the table, but he looks more interested than surprised. "What's all this?"
"I got bored," Bitty says, turning his smile to Ekblad. "The boys on the team tend to say that pies fly out of my hands if I'm not using them for anything else. They're not quite wrong."
Ekblad smiles back easily and leans over to examine one of the pies. "What's this one?"
"Maple-apple," Bitty says. "And there's blackberry, and I haven't cut the brownies yet, but they should be cool enough to now." He laughs and pushes his hand back through his hair, and Jack recognises the gesture for Bitty being a little self-conscious. "I couldn't decide what to make, and I didn't know what y'all might like. Well, except for Jack, of course."
McDavid seems to have unfrozen; he's smiling as he pulls out his phone. "Do you mind if I snapchat this?" he asks, gesturing at the table.
Bitty laughs. "Depends. Is Scary Gary gonna find out and force me to do squats if I let you?"
Jack smiles and leans back against the wall as they talk. He hadn't exactly been nervous when he'd invited Bitty up to stay with him while he trained in Toronto; Bitty is, at heart, a friendly person, so Jack had known he'd make friends easily. Still, it's good to see him having a good time, especially after he'd had a bit of a meltdown over the fact that Jack had introduced him to Connor McDavid and Aaron Ekblad without warning him first, honestly, Jack.
McDavid snaps a few photos and sends them off, and then Bitty cuts into his creations and gives each of them a plate. Jack's sampled all of them before, and Bitty knows what he likes and doesn't like, so he gives Bitty an extra-wide smile when his plate has a bigger slice of maple-apple and a good-sized brownie instead of a slice of the blackberry.
Ekblad's eyes go wide when he takes a bite of one of the slices, and he asks Bitty a question about crusts that makes Bitty's eyes widen just as much. They're off after that, the two of them discussing the relative merits of sifting two times versus three, and Jack raises an eyebrow at McDavid when McDavid glances over, mystified.
"Ekblad bakes?" Jack asks.
McDavid nods. "Like, cookies and stuff, mostly? They're easier to travel with."
"Bittle bakes everything," Jack says. He's not even exaggerating; if McDavid and Ekblad stop over enough while they're all in Toronto, they'll figure that out. "It's a blessing and a curse."
McDavid takes a speculative bite of his blackberry pie, then another. "Yeah. I can see how that would be the case."
His phone goes off, and McDavid looks at it and grins. "Uh, Bitty? I don't want to give away your hard work or anything, but I snapped all the food and now Stromer and Marns are demanding to know where I am."
Bitty glances at Jack quickly, and Jack shrugs. He doesn't know Strome or Marner as well as he knows McDavid and Ekblad, but he doesn't mind if they show up, either. Bitty looks back to McDavid and smiles. "Well, the more the merrier," he says. "And I make it to share it, Connor, so don't you worry about that."
"They'll be here in ten minutes," McDavid says after tapping at his phone. "There's a really good chance that Marns is going to, like, steal the whole plate of brownies and disappear. He does that."
Bitty laughs, clearly delighted by the thought. "Well," he says, "there's more where those came from."
It's a little over a week before McDavid bumps into Jack in the hallway. "Hey, JZ," he says. "Eichs wants your phone number. That okay?"
Jack has met Jack Eichel precisely once; his overall impression was of a kid who reminded him a little too much of himself at 18, if he'd been slightly more angry and a lot less worried. He shrugs. "Sure."
McDavid nods and walks away, tapping at his phone, and a few minutes later Jack's phone pings.
It's a photo of a pie, carefully wrapped and set into a box with foam peanuts protecting it. As Jack is wondering when, exactly, Bitty had had time to bake and ship a pie without Marner noticing and intercepting it, a message pops up.
Tell ur boy thanks but also this is a lil weird
Jack snorts. "Don't eat it, then," he mutters, but he types back, He has your address now. You will get pies for the rest of your life
Wait how'd he even get my address?
Jack has no answer for him there, so he chooses to ignore the question and send back the only advice he has for this situation. Best to just tell him what you like or dislike. He is considerate about preferences
There's silence for a minute, so Jack considers the conversation finished. Just as he's putting his phone back into his pocket, though, it buzzes again. This time it's a photo of Hanifin holding a similar box, containing only half a pie, with a blissful expression on his face. The accompanying message reads, Nvm found the address traitor
It looks like he'll help you eat the pie if you don't want it, Jack texts back, then puts his phone away and heads out the door for the gym.
"Wait, what do you mean, you're leaving?" Strome demands when Bitty serves up their nightly dessert two weeks after the first Eichel incident. "You can't leave. You can't deprive us of our pies, man."
Bitty looks up, amused. "Well, I have to spend a little of my summer back home," he says. "And our training camp starts earlier than yours, so I'm running out of time." He reaches out to ruffle Strome's hair, and Jack has the sudden flash of insight that Bitty has mentally tagged them all as frogs, which means that he'll never let them go, probably. "Don't worry, Dylan. I'll leave plenty behind when I go."
"Marns is going to steal everything," Strome whines, and Marner glares at him.
"I'll only steal the chocolate stuff," he says haughtily. "I already told you, Dyls. You can have the berry ones."
Bitty walks over and leans into Jack's side, and Jack wraps an arm around his shoulders. "Have I created monsters?" he wonders idly.
Jack laughs. "From all accounts, they were like this far before we ever met them."
"They were," McDavid confirms. "This is way better, actually. I thought there was going to be some murder happening the first year we were all in the O together." He sounds cheerful about it, at least.
"Well," Bitty says, surveying them. "Maybe there's hope for Dex and Nursey after all."
"No, they still might murder each other," Jack says. "The pies have yet to stop the glaring, at least."
McDavid laughs. "Threaten to withhold dessert," he advises. "I'm pretty sure those two would do anything to keep it coming, and they haven't had as long to get addicted to it."
Bitty laughs, too. "Oh, believe you me," he says. "I save that threat for when I'm really serious about something."
"I have no doubt," McDavid says with a smile. "Just, you know. Maybe leave a few extra pies here, for keeping the peace."
"I can do that," Bitty says. He looks happy, and Jack - Jack is, too.