Jack smiled proudly at the expanse of silver rising up on the table in front of him. He’d done it. He’d won a Stanley Cup, in his very first season. The Falconers had won the series in only five games, and Jack had gotten the Conn Smythe for his dominating performance in the Finals. No one could ever say again he was just a big deal due to the reputation of his dad’s name. He had finally proved that he was a great player in his own right.
Now he was out, celebrating with his team and Shitty, who was the only one who actually came to Game 5; the rest of the Samwell guys had seen Game 2, which happened to be the Falconers’ only loss in the series, and Jack’s superstition about it had made him ask them not to come. But that made the celebration feel incomplete—it just wasn’t quite right without all the rest of his Samwell teammates, especially Eric, there with him.
“Brah,” Shitty said, bringing back a large pitcher of beer and two glasses. “You just won the Stanley Cup, stop looking so sad.”
“What? I’m not—” Jack protested. He was relieved. He was feeling satisfied. Happy even. He didn’t look sad!
“Brah, I can see it in your eyes,” Shitty shook his head, filling up a glass and shoving it towards Jack. Jack sighed; Shitty had always been able to see right through him.
“Fine—it just would be nice for all the other guys to be here, eh?” Jack explained, running his thumb through the condensation forming on the outside of the glass.
“You mean it would be nice if Bitty was here,” Shitty raised an eyebrow, looking at Jack pointedly.
“Well…” Jack flushed, taking a gulp of his drink while avoiding Shitty’s eyes. Shitty was the only one who knew about his feelings for Eric, and sometimes (like now) Jack wished he didn’t. But Shitty was 100% right; Jack wanted to be able to share this defining moment of his career with Eric (not that Jack necessarily thought that was a good idea). And it was Jack’s fault he wasn’t; he’d told the team not to come after they’d lost their only game of the series with them there. Of course they all understood and no one grumbled about it (hockey was only exceeded by golf in its number and oddity of superstitions).
“Hey, you could’ve gotten him a ticket if you wanted him here,” Shitty shrugged.
“I know,” Jack mumbled, scratching the back of his neck. “But then the other guys would’ve wanted one and I just—I’ll go and celebrate with the guys this weekend, eh?”
“You better tell Bits. He’ll want to have a couple of pies ready for you,” Shitty remarked thoughtfully. Jack’s stomach growled at the thought; what he wouldn’t give to have one of Eric’s maple-crusted apple pies sitting in front of him right now. Along with the baker himself, sitting next to him, their thighs pressed together, leaning up against him, Eric already tipsy and vibrating from excitement and—
“Jesus Zimmermann, get a grip,” he silently scolded himself.
“What do you think about the Cup granting wishes?” Shitty asked abruptly, a seemingly random question, but Jack glared because this was Shitty and Jack knew that it wasn’t random in the slightest.
That being said, Jack had certainly heard a lot of stories, having spent his whole life around hockey. But he always thought the stories were more like urban legends, like tales of babies who showed up on player’s doorsteps because they “wished” for them, or players turned into animals for a day. The sorts of things Jack had heard about, but had never seen happen. He counted the idea of the Stanley Cup granting wishes whispered to it to be the same thing. Something that made for a great story, but couldn’t possibly be real.
“I don’t think it’s real,” Jack shrugged as a few random people walked by and slapped him on the back in congratulations.
“Alright then brah,” Shitty smirked, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “If you don’t think it’s real, then why don’t you do it? See what happens.”
Jack huffed. Of course Shitty would dare him to do it. Shitty probably thought he knew exactly what Jack would wish for. Which—Jack stopped to think about it for a second and—alright, fine, Shitty did know. But Jack said he didn’t believe it—and he meant it. So he’d be willing to humor Shitty. It’s not like anything bad would actually happen.
“Okay,” Jack said, standing up and grabbing the Cup, not exactly sure what to do with it while making his wish. He cradled it gently, running his fingers over the smooth silver as he considered his request. Obviously, there was only one thing he would wish for. “I wish Bitty was here, so I could talk to him and he could celebrate with me,” he whispered, so quiet that he was really only mouthing the words. He paused for a second, thinking if there was something he wanted to add; and there was, but that was a much bigger wish and just to be on the safe side, on the off-chance that Cup wishes were real, he probably shouldn’t say it, so he snapped his mouth shut and went back to staring at the Cup. After a second, when nothing happened, he snorted. “See, I told you Shits. It’s just a legend.”
“Hey, give it some time,” Shitty chuckled. “What did you wish for?”
“Don’t you know, if I tell you, it won’t come true anyway,” Jack chirped weakly, the tips of his ears getting hot. “Kinda ruins the point of the ‘experiment’, eh?”
“Okay fine,” Shitty conceded with a groan. He narrowed his eyes, pointing a finger at Jack. “But don’t think I’m not on to you Jack Laurent Zimmermann.”
Jack groaned at the slight, but persistent pounding in his head he had when his alarm went off (he must have forgotten to turn it off). Okay, so he’d probably had one too many drinks the night before, but he had just won the Stanley Cup, he was allowed. Alright, come to think of it, he’d probably had more than one too many, because he couldn’t remember anything that happened after—after his Cup wishes conversation with Shitty and wow it had been a long time since—
His sheets suddenly rustled without him moving, and Jack stiffened up. It had been even longer since Jack had been drunk/high enough to bring somebody home with him. Jack slowly opened his eyes to see if he recognized who it was and—shit, was that Eric?
The other figure sat up and yawned, stretching out and—fuck, that was Eric.
“Uh,” Eric gaped, his jaw dropping as his eyes fluttered open. He rubbed at them harshly and cast his gaze around the room. He jumped and rolled off the bed when his eyes landed on Jack, who was lying down, his head turned on the pillow to look at Eric. “J-Jack! I—no, I must be dreamin’. There’s no way—”
“I—unless we’re having the same dream, I think this is real,” Jack interrupted, looking down at his hands and counting his fingers as he spoke. They looked normal and he had ten of them so at least he definitely wasn’t dreaming.
Eric pinched his arm. “G-goodness! I guess it’s not. So—w-what in the world am I doin’ here?”
“I-I don’t know,” Jack answered. He was just as shocked and bewildered that Eric had woken up in his bed. Sure, he’d won the Cup, but he didn’t think he’d have been stupid enough to…well, whether he was stupid enough or not was honestly up for debate.
“I—” Eric paused, yawning and running a hand through his adorably—no, his hair was just sleep-ruffled. It wasn’t adorable…it wasn’t. “Last thing I remember, I was celebratin’ your winnin’ with the boys at the Haus,” Eric continued, still scouring the room wide-eyed. “And next thing I know, I’m wakin’ up here.”
Jack squeezed his eyes shut, thinking about the last thing he remembered. He was talking about Cup wishes with Shitty, he was holding the Cup, he was wishing that Eric was—merde, was Eric here because of his Cup wish?
“No, that’s not right. Cup wishes aren’t real Jack; get a hold of yourself!” Jack mentally scolded himself.
“Maybe you decided to drive or take a bus here?” Jack suggested out loud after a moment, pawing at his night stand for his phone. He probably just called Eric while he was drunk and asked him to come up to Providence to celebrate. It—that was kind of an embarrassing thing to do but—it was an explanation that made more sense than the Cup granting his wish.
“I—I don’t remember,” Eric frowned. “But I don’t think I drove—I don’t have a car.”
“Right,” Jack mumbled as he pulled up Eric’s twitter page. He didn’t have any recent texts from Eric (and he didn’t know where his call log was) so Eric’s Twitter was the next best bet to find what Jack was looking for. He scrolled through the tweets—there weren’t many clues about how he got to Providence, but Eric had definitely arrived sometime while he was still celebrating the win. There was even a picture of the two of them, arms around each other’s shoulders as they stood smiling next to the Cup (he happened to be looking at Eric when it was taken and he was beaming, lovesickness all over his face and in his eyes). “And it was too late to take a bus,” Jack added, checking the timestamps on Eric’s tweets—which—that did not point in a promising direction.
“What? Then how did I get to Providence?” Eric paused and rubbed his eyes. “And why don’t I remember?”
“I really don’t know,” Jack replied slowly. There was just nothing after his conversation with Shitty. “But—I don’t remember anything either so…”
“Wow, I never thought I’d live to see the day when Jack ‘Hides in His Room During Parties’ Zimmermann got black-out drunk,” Eric chirped.
“Don’t chirp me, I won the Stanley Cup!” Jack responded indignantly. And he did so a little too loudly, because Eric winced.
“I must’ve been drinkin’ a lot myself,” he murmured, massaging his temples gently. “I think I need some coffee. And maybe some Tylenol.”
Jack nodded mutely in agreement and swung his legs off the bed. He’d go get the Tylenol while Eric started the coffee. Eric had been in this apartment before; he’d baked his kitchen before, he knew where it was.
Eric reached Jack’s bedroom door just as Jack stood up, and Eric recoiled and stumbled back, like he’d just walked into a glass door he didn’t realize was closed.
“What the—” Eric mumbled, rubbing his forehead gingerly. Eric walked back up to the doorway and—put his hand flat on the air and leaned into his arm. Jack blinked; Eric stayed exactly where he was, as if there was an invisible wall occupying the open space of Jack’s bedroom door. Jack’s eyebrows shot up. First, Eric woke up in his bed with no recollection of how he got there, and now this. Somehow this whole situation was getting weirder.
“I—for some reason, I can’t get out of your room,” Eric said, changing his tactics, using his back to try and push; it ended up looking like he was just leaning up against nothing.
“Wha—” Jack frowned, taking a couple steps towards Eric. Eric went tumbling backwards, sprawling out on the hallway floor. “Are you okay?” he asked, quickly covering the last few steps to where Eric was lying.
“This keeps gettin’ stranger and stranger,” Eric remarked, nodding as he ran his hand over the back of his head.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, grabbing one of Eric’s surprisingly soft hands and helping him to his feet (for a hockey player he had very few callouses and suddenly Jack was thinking about what it would be like to hold them as they walked down the street and—no, stop that). Jack turned to go to walk to bathroom while Eric started off towards the kitchen, cautiously holding his hands out in front of him.
Jack didn’t get very far though before he ran into an invisible wall; the same kind of thing that Eric just ran into—which…huh? He shuffled a couple steps to both his right and left, and found that, either way, he was still blocked from going any farther. He turned around to find Eric standing at the end of the hallway, just short of the kitchen.
“I can’t go any farther than this,” Eric explained, demonstrating by doing the same thing he did with his hand in the bedroom.
“I—yeah, this is far as I can go too,” Jack replied, eyebrows knotted up in confusion. So—so the invisible wall moved with them? Jack stepped back towards Eric.
“Jack!” Eric gasped, wobbling precariously on his tiptoes as he nearly tumbled over again. They really should probably stay away from the edges of this—whatever it was.
“Sorry Bittle,” Jack mumbled, crossing the rest of the way over to Eric, giving up on the Tylenol in favor of letting Eric get to the kitchen. “I uh—I guess this means that—” Jack paused; he had no idea what to call this. “—it moves with us.”
“And what exactly is ‘it’?” Eric asked, accepting the container of coffee Jack pulled down from one of the cupboards.
“I’m not sure,” Jack shrugged, sitting down on a stool at the island in his kitchen. Jack couldn’t deny that some kind of magic was involved in all this now. Which. Magic suggested this had something to do with hockey—the Cup—his wish. And the other thing he’d been thinking when he made his wish. Not just the thing he’d whispered out loud. Fuck.
Jack inhaled sharply, paling as he felt the blood rushing from his face.
“Jack? Jack, sweetheart, are you alright?” Eric asked concernedly, his voice barely audible to Jack over the sound of blood rushing through his ears.
He’d fucked up with Eric, again. He’d listened to Shitty and then did something so incredibly selfish and dumb and now—now, they might be stuck like this, forever. And oh God, how were they supposed to play hockey and how was Eric supposed to go to classes and—
“Jack!” Eric barked sharply. “Jack,” he said again, he tone softer when he realized Jack was semi-aware and looking back at him. “Good, you’re doin’ good. Just look at me and breathe, okay darlin’?”
Jack took a shaky breath, focusing in on the gentle lines of Eric’s cheeks and nose and eyes.
“Good, good. Now again,” Eric instructed firmly, guiding Jack for several minutes, until he was breathing normally again.
“Sorry Bittle,” Jack murmured as Eric walked over to pour them cups of coffee.
“Ain’t nothing to apologize for,” Eric answered, sliding a mug Jack’s way. “And I get why you’re worried, but it ain’t a big deal. We’ll figure it out. I’m sure this ain’t permanent, ya know?”
Jack made a non-committal grunt. Maybe it wasn’t, but Jack had a sinking feeling that it very well might be. But—he shouldn’t tell Eric that. Not yet, anyway. There was still a chance that this wouldn’t last and if he could, Jack really wanted to get out of this without telling Eric about the Cup or his wish—and by extension, his feelings.
Eric yelped, interrupting Jack’s thoughts. Jack raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“I have a final exam in an hour and a half!” Eric squeaked in panic, looking like he was about to dead sprint for the door. Jack reached out and gently grabbed his arm to make sure he didn’t. He didn’t need Eric knocking himself out by running into the “wall” too hard.
“Relax Bittle. I’ll make sure you get there on time, eh?” Jack assured Eric gently.
“Oh Jack, that’s awful kind but—”
“I kind of have to come,” Jack interjected, wondering if Eric had already forgotten.
“Oh. Right,” Eric nodded. “I forgot.”
“Just—let me pack up a few things,” Jack added after a beat.
Eric’s eyebrows shot up, perplexed, and Jack tried not to get lost in the wide, brown expanse of Eric’s eyes.
“It would make more sense for me to stay at the Haus with you for as long as this lasts,” Jack explained simply, looking away quickly.
“Oh. Right,” Eric replied again, following Jack when he started walking towards his bedroom.
The drive to Samwell was quiet; Jack was too busy trying to put a plan together to get through Eric’s exams the next two days to chat, and Eric seemed to be caught up in thoughts of his own. They didn’t say anything as they walked up to the Haus, sticking close to enough each other that their hands brushed every few steps, rather than testing the limits of ‘it’ (Jack still wasn’t sure what name to give to what was happening to them). Jack didn’t want any more moments where Eric was falling over because he shifted it, and he didn’t want Eric running into it either.
“Hey Bits, what were you doing out so early—Jack?” Holster said, having been walking past the entryway as the two of them stepped inside.
“Hey,” Jack answered awkwardly. There was no way he could feel anything other than awkward about this whole thing.
“Jack Zimmermann!” Holster said with exaggerated grandiose. “You just won the Stanley Cup! What are you doing here with us mere mortals?”
“It’s uh—it’s a long story,” Eric remarked, tugging Jack towards the kitchen. “Jack’ll tell you while I whip somethin’ up for breakfast.”
Jack nodded, scratching the back of his neck anxiously. Actually, it wasn’t all that long of a story; it was very short without telling the parts about the Cup and his wish. It just—it was hard to explain in a way that was believable.
Jack sat down, as did Holster, who was looking at him expectantly. Jack sighed.
“Well, Bittle apparently came to Providence after the game? Neither of us know how but—his texts—”
“Tweets, Jack, tweets. Lord, you have a Twitter, you should know this,” Eric corrected, rolling his eyes fondly. Jack chuckled; he knew that, but it was fun to tease Eric that way.
“Okay, tweets—very clearly show he was there,” Jack continued, watching Eric’s careful motions as he worked, putting together omelets.
“That’s really bizarre bro—”
“There’s more,” Jack exhaled softly, holding his hand up to stop Holster from speaking. “There’s some kind of—I don’t know—I guess, wall around us. We um, we can’t get very physically far from each other.”
“What?” Holster said, clearly not believing what Jack just explained.
“Here,” Jack murmured, standing up and walking slowly toward the living room, while Eric stopped and watched with Holster. When Jack just about reached the point where he couldn’t go any further, he came to a halt and reached out, finding the “wall” and leaning up against it. Holster’s eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open.
“You’re—this can’t—finals must have finally started fucking with my brain. Or you two are playing a joke on me,” he mumbled, pulling his glasses off and checking them for smudges. Jack just shook his head slowly.
“Jack can’t tell jokes, remember?” Eric chirped, turning back to the stove as Jack re-entered the kitchen. “And I certainly wouldn’t be the one to come up with somethin’ like this,”
“B-but hockey magic—I thought it wasn’t real,” Holster stuttered.
“I thought it wasn’t either but…” Jack remarked, trailing off. All evidence suggested the contrary.
“So—so you two are like, stuck with each other?”
“For the time bein’, I guess so,” Eric said, setting a plate in front of Holster. “And it ain’t like it’s all that bad, bein’ ‘stuck’ with Jack, but I don’t think it’ll last long.”
Jack grimaced, something Holster (unfortunately) didn’t miss.
“Jack doesn’t—” he started to say before Jack kicked his shin under the table, glaring at him. Eric hadn’t noticed what Holster had said though. Holster shot Jack a questioning look before changing course. “How did this happen?”
“I ain’t really sure,” Eric shrugged. “But I’m guessin’ it has somethin’ to do with Jack winnin’ the Stanley Cup.”
And well—that was pretty much exactly it—minus a few details that only Jack knew.
“Have you heard of Cup—” Holster started.
“Lord, I’m going to be late!” Eric cut Holster off, thankfully. Jack was pretty sure he was going to say something about Cup wishes and—well, that would have blown Jack’s story for sure.
“I guess we’re going, eh?” Jack said right on the heels of Eric’s words, patting Holster’s shoulder. A strange look crossed Holster’s face, and Jack gave him his well-practiced neutral face in response. After a few seconds, Holster shrugged his shoulders and snatched up his plate, heading up the stairs.
“You better be bringin’ that back down, Mister!” Eric called after him, and Jack snorted quietly.
“Oh hush you,” Eric retorted playfully, motioning for Jack to come upstairs with him. “I ain’t interested in spendin’ any of my butter fund on buyin’ new dishes ‘cause all of ‘em’ve disappeared.”
Jack dropped his bag in Eric’s room while Eric grabbed his backpack. Jack wasn’t watching as Eric bent over—but damn, those squats he was still working on really seemed to be doing wonders for his—Jack pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind. They had to be in close proximity for…God knows how long, those weren’t thoughts he could be having—at least, not unless he wanted to do something incredibly dumb.
“Ready?” Eric smiled, standing in the doorway. Jack nodded and Eric waited until Jack was next to him to start walking.
While they were on their way to Eric’s exam, Jack got a text from Holster:
What’s going on that you don’t want Bitty to know?
Jack read it, and then promptly ignored it.
The professor ended up thinking Jack was a student, so he took the exam (sort of) while Eric did. Which was actually kind of okay; Jack actually knew a fair number of the answers, which he found extremely amusing. He never did finish, though. He ended up getting distracted by watching Eric take the exam instead.
He had a pencil tucked behind his ear and a pen in his hand while he sat on the front edge of his chair, hunched over the exam paper, his big brown eyes narrowed and his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in intense concentration. Jack had only ever seen Eric look like this when he was baking—minus the glint of panic in his eyes. That was there because Eric had always been terrible at preparing for exams.
Jack probably stared for too long (it was Eric’s face; he always had trouble looking away), but he got away with it because Eric was so focused on his exam.
“So how did you think you did?” Jack inquired as they exited the lecture hall on their way back to the Haus.
“Terrible,” Eric scowled, or at least as close as he could get to scowling; Eric’s face had a way of softening the edges off his negative expressions. “But I had been plannin’ on studyin’ for it last night after the game.”
“You say that like you actually would’ve studied,” Jack chirped, nudging Eric lightly.
“Oh be quiet,” Eric quipped. “You won the damn Stanley Cup, how was I supposed to even think about studyin’?”
“Damn?” Jack chirped back. “That’s some pretty strong language, Bittle. You sure your mother would approve of that?”
“The mouth on you Zimmermann, I swear! You better watch it Mister, or else you won’t get that maple-crusted apple pie I was gonna make you,” Eric retorted, without any heat behind his threat. Even so, Jack snapped his mouth shut with a smirk.
This—this is what Jack had missed the most during the season. The way they chirped each other—not to say that they hadn’t when they Skyped and texted but—there was a different dynamic to it when they were together, face to face. Maybe it was because he could see Eric talking animatedly with his hands, or maybe it was because he could watch Eric roll his eyes when he made a particularly good (awful, if you asked Eric) chirp. But more than anything, Jack thought it was simply because he was near Eric and that—that’s how Jack had gotten them into this mess in the first place.
The Haus was empty when they got back; everyone was either in an exam or at the library (or in their art studio, if you were Lardo). Eric immediately tugged Jack towards the kitchen and began getting ingredients together to make a maple-crusted apple pie.
“Don’t you have more exams to study for?” Jack questioned, settling down at the table to watch Eric work.
“Hush, it’s not every day a former captain of mine wins the Stanley Cup,” Eric rolled his eyes.
“Pretty sure I’m the only former captain of yours to win a Stanley Cup,” Jack chirped, chuckling slightly.
“Jack Zimmermann, I swear!” Eric replied with fake exasperation. “Do you want me to make this pie or not?”
“Yes, but you still need to study. I don’t want you failing any exams on my account,” Jack frowned. Eric had probably already bombed one exam because of him. He didn’t want him doing poorly on two.
“I won’t Jack,” Eric responded, softer and more reassuring. “But I suppose if it makes you feel better, you can be quizzin’ me while I’m workin’.”
So Eric told Jack what his next exam was, and Jack pulled out the book and quizzed Eric on the information (chirping him whenever the opportunity arose, of course).
Eventually the team came streaming back to the Haus, each member stopping short just outside the kitchen, staring for a few seconds before bursting out with congratulations for Jack winning the Cup. It didn’t take long for everyone to abandon their studying in favor of celebrating with Jack. Had there not been an exam the next day, Jack had no doubt it would’ve turned into a kegster.
But it didn’t, though the boys did get fairly drunk and rambunctious, and, thankfully, no one asked why he and Eric always followed each other around. Holster didn’t ask either, too busy taking care of a near-catatonic Ransom, but his eyebrows shot up any time he met Jack’s eyes, and Jack would quickly look away. Eventually, Holster sent him another text:
I KNOW Shits was there. Do I need to ask him what happened?
Jack looked around; Eric was engrossed in a conversation with Chowder, and Holster was close enough that Jack could go over and talk to him.
“Just leave it be Holster, please,” Jack asked pleadingly as he walked up to him.
“Not until you tell me what’s really going on here,” Holster replied, resolutely crossing his arms.
“It’s—it was just—I did something stupid, okay?” Jack stuttered out in explanation.
“You know I’ve heard about Cup wishes before—is that what this is?”
“It’s—yeah, kind of,” Jack mumbled, going bright red.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen!” Jack whispered harshly. “I just—I wanted him there. You know. To celebrate.”
“Then how did that happen?”
“I—I was—I might have been—thinking something about—I don’t know—always wanting him by my side,” Jack answered quietly, letting his head hang down towards the ground. “But I didn’t say it out loud! I—I didn’t think it would be listening—you know, to my thoughts!”
“So,” Holster frowned, glancing over at Eric. “You’re telling me this might be permanent?”
“I—it might be?”
“Bro, you have to tell Bits,” Holster whispered sternly.
“No,” Jack hissed. “No. Not—not until we know for sure if this is or isn’t temporary.”
“Fine. You get like, three days max before I tell him what you did,” Holster huffed, before his lips turned up into a smirk. “So Bitty, hmm?”
“I’m done talking about this,” Jack murmured, shuffling back towards Eric, hating how hot his face felt. Holster grinned slyly, but at least he left him alone the rest of the evening.
The celebration wound down much faster than if it had been a kegster, so by 11:30 PM, everyone started heading out, and Jack used the commotion of people leaving to let to two of them slip upstairs together, unnoticed. They got ready for bed quickly and then went into Eric’s room, shutting the door tightly behind them.
“Do you have a sleeping bag somewhere?” Jack inquired. He would’ve taken the couch, but the couch was too far away from Eric’s room for Jack, which left Eric’s floor as his only option.
“In the—” Eric began absentmindedly, his hand gesturing towards his closet, before he stopped. “Nuh-uh, no Jack, you are not sleepin’ on the floor!” he continued indignantly, as if offended by the mere suggestion.
“You have exams. I’m not taking your bed,” Jack replied, slipping a little into his captain’s voice.
“Well I ain’t lettin’ you sleep on the floor,” Eric argued, his face setting into a determined look; the one that Jack knew said you couldn’t talk Eric out of anything.
“So—so we share,” Jack answered, frowning as soon as the words came out of his mouth; being in the same small bed as Eric was an absolutely terrible idea. But Eric—he wasn’t going to let Jack do anything else now that he’d suggested it.
“Fine by me,” Eric shrugged, hopping on the bed and scooching over to the wall as close as he could. Jack hesitated for a second, considering whether to argue about it any longer before following, carefully crawling under the covers. It was a tight fit, barely enough room for the two of them to lie on their backs, shoulder to shoulder.
“Night Bittle,” Jack whispered, letting his eyelids slide closed.
“G’night Jack. Hopefully this’ll all be over in the mornin’,” Eric yawned, turning over onto his side, away from Jack.
“Hopefully,” Jack echoed.
Jack woke up to Eric’s alarm the next morning. The two of them had both ended up shifting during the night, and Jack had ended up curled around Eric, his frame pressed up snugly against Jack’s chest. Which—shit, that definitely counted under the category of something stupid.
He was insanely comfortable, but if he waited too long, Eric would wake up fully and realize that they were spooning. So Jack quickly but reluctantly pulled himself away from Eric, standing up and stretching out, while Eric stirred and groaned, hands raking over his nightstand in search of his phone.
“Mornin’ Jack,” he mumbled, silencing the alarm as he sat up and rubbed at his eyes.
“Hey Bittle,” Jack said quietly, avoiding Eric’s gaze and trying not to think about how they had ended up sleeping cuddled up to each other. Jack desperately hoped that the Cup magic had worn off, because if that was any indication, this was about to get messy for him.
“D’you think—” Eric started to ask, looking sleep-rumpled and very kissable (and oh shit, was Jack in trouble if they had to do this much longer).
“Only one way to find out,” Jack answered quickly to distract himself from his own thoughts, heading for Eric’s bedroom door. He made it two steps down the hallway before—bam, there it was, the invisible “wall”, still very much in place.
“Fuck,” Jack swore loudly.
“I take it that ain’t good news,” Eric sighed, peeking out around the door frame.
“No, it’s not. I’m sorry Bittle.”
“What’d I tell ya about apologizin’?” Eric replied, putting a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “We handled it yesterday, we can handle it today.”
“You handled it yesterday, you can handle it today,” Jack corrected silently. But to Eric, he just nodded and the two of them went down to the kitchen.
Maybe Jack could make it today without doing something stupid, like holding Eric’s hand or kissing him. But Jack didn’t have a whole lot of faith in his resolve if this stretched into a third day. He didn’t want—okay, he wanted to just give in and do those things, but Jack knew he shouldn’t. Eric deserved someone better than him, someone who could tell him how he felt and could hold his hand in public and kiss him and—not someone who made wishes to the Stanley Cup because he was too much of a coward to actually talk to him about his feelings. And someone who wasn’t too much of a coward to actually come out.
“Still trapped here, huh Jack?” Holster asked, sauntering into the kitchen.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘trapped’,” Jack muttered. “Trapped” implied that he wanted to leave and—he really didn’t. He didn’t want to be anywhere else. “But yeah, I guess.”
“Alright then bro,” Holster shrugged, pouring himself a cup of coffee. “So are you two going back to Providence after exams are over today?”
“Oh, I hadn’t even been thinkin’ about that,” Eric said, whisking together batter for what looked like pancakes.
“Well—” Jack started before being interrupted by his phone ringing. “It’s George,” he said looking at the caller ID. “I have to answer…hello?”
“Jack, I just received a call from an angry photographer who says you’re an hour late for a shoot at the arena,” Georgia said flatly, clearly unhappy.
“Merde,” Jack swore under his breath. With everything with Eric— he had meant to call the photographer to reschedule, but he’d just flat out forgotten. “Can—do you think you can convince him to reschedule for tomorrow?”
“Jack,” George said warningly; Jack, in general, was always on pretty thin ice, PR-wise.
“I—I really can’t—there’s no way I can be in Providence right now,” Jack stammered, struggling to explain. It’s not like he could just say ‘hey Eric and I are stuck together by an invisible wall so we can only be in one place, and that place can’t be Providence right now’.
“You better have a really fucking good reason why,” George quipped angrily.
“Bittle has final exams.”
“What does Eric have to do with this?” George asked, clearly startled. Guess he had to explain but—how?
“I—we had something strange happen—I’m not sure how to explain.”
“What, are you literally handcuffed to him?” George retorted sarcastically.
“Essentially, yes,” Jack answered.
“Oh God, not the Cup magic thing again,” George groaned like she knew this all too well (and Jack—he wanted to kick himself; why didn’t he believe the stories again?). “Alright, I guess then we’ll reschedule. But you better be there tomorrow. They need these shots for this month’s cover of Sports Illustrated.”
“Yeah, I will be George, thanks,” Jack said, hanging up.
“I guess we’re goin’ to Providence,” Eric chuckled, tossing a couple of pancakes onto Jack and Holster’s plates.
After Eric’s exams, they arrived in Providence without incident. That evening, Eric made dinner in Jack’s kitchen, looking like it was fucking built for him, and Jack sat on a stool, watching, when really he wanted nothing more than to stand behind Eric, hands on his hips, his nose buried in Eric’s hair and fuck, Jack had never been so screwed in his life.
After dinner, they sat on Jack’s couch, and Eric drank wine while they watched some show on Netflix Jack had never seen before. Eric sat next to him, leaning towards him slightly, laughing brightly at the actors, and Jack snuck glances at the way his whole face lit up when he did, thinking about how this was the perfect picture of everything Jack had ever wanted them to be.
The more wine Eric had, the closer he kept getting to Jack, and Jack ran out of couch to keep scooching away, so he ended up suggesting they go to bed, because every millimeter closer Eric came to him, the closer Jack was getting to doing those stupid things he couldn’t do. They’d be free of his wish tomorrow, Jack told himself.
Jack’s bed was much bigger than Eric’s back at the Haus, and Jack perched himself precariously on the edge, as far away from Eric as he could be. Eric was too drunk to notice or care, telling Jack goodnight as he clumsily patted Jack’s chest. Jack ignored the way his skin prickled with electricity from the touch and paid no attention to the impulse to reach out and grab Eric’s hand.
But his attempts at putting distance between them didn’t do Jack a single bit of good, because the next morning he woke up before his alarm went off with his arms around Eric, the other boy’s head snuggled into his chest. He wanted to crane his neck down and kiss of top of his head, but he didn’t. Instead, he rapidly extricated himself from Eric and stood up, praying to whatever deity there was out there that this was going to be all be over. When he found nothing but the same, solid, invisible “wall”, he took a deep breath, counting slowly to keep from losing it.
So they had to do this for another day. He wasn’t going to panic. He was going to keep breathing, he was going to keep his distance from Eric today and tomorrow, everything would be back to normal and shit, Jack was terrible at lying to himself. They were on day three; if this “magic” was going to—well, wear off, it would have by now. And looking at Eric’s still sleeping figure, curled up under his sheets, Jack knew that he was too far gone to survive a third day of forced unusually close contact. He should tell Eric why this was really happening and—
Jack’s alarm went off, reminding him of what they were doing this morning.
He’d tell Eric after the photoshoot (that was a lie, no he wouldn’t).
“Jack,” George said, greeting them outside the arena. Jack frowned; he didn’t think she was going to be there. “Eric, it’s great to see you again!”
“Likewise ma’am,” Eric drawled, smiling as he shook her hand firmly. “Though I wish this was happenin’ under different circumstances.”
“Sometimes these things can’t be helped,” she shrugged, looking at Jack pointedly. Jack held her gaze for a second, and then blushed and looked away, sheepishly following them into the arena and down to the ice.
“You know if there are any skates I can borrow?” Eric questioned as Jack tossed on his jersey and tied up his skates.
“You shouldn’t need them,” George explained, quirking her head towards the ice, guiding them towards its smooth, glassy surface. “Once Jack’s out on the ice, the circle will expand and you’ll have a little more space.”
“Alright,” Eric replied, confused (like Jack) that she apparently had knowledge of how it worked. “I’ll be right here when you’re finished then.”
Jack stepped onto the ice, bracing himself for when he hit the “wall”. Once he was about halfway across the rink, and he still hadn’t run into it, he quickly skated to where the photographer was standing, George unexpectedly trailing a few steps behind him.
“You can do this with him, if you want to,” she said quietly. “PR is fully prepared to deal with whatever.”
“Jack, I know how this works,” she rebuffed sternly. “I’ve been around hockey longer than you. I’ve been with other teams that have won the Cup, and I’ve seen things like this happen before. I know that this only happens when you wish for it. And trust me, I can connect the dots.”
Jack stopped on the ice and flushed just as the photographer started clicking the shutter.
“I really meant it when I told you this team would have your back, no matter what,” George continued. “Marky has a boyfriend. I have a girlfriend. You wouldn’t be the only one and this team wouldn’t have any problem with it. So—if this is what you want, go for it. We’ll be here for you.”
She gave him an understanding smile and turned around, walking off the ice without another word.
Jack skated lazily around the rink while the photographer clicked picture after picture, his eyes occasionally darting over to Eric. Most of the time, Eric was looking at his phone, but a few times their eyes met, and Eric blushed before burying his nose in his phone again. Jack—he’d never had any doubts about how Eric felt about him and George was adamant that the team would go to bat for Jack and—well, maybe he could do this.
George was gone by the time the photographer finished, so it was just the two of them in the locker room. Jack paused before asking:
“Hey Bittle—Eric, you want to skate for a bit?”
This—it would all be easier for Jack to talk about on the ice.
“I—I guess, but I don’t have skates,” Eric shrugged.
“Marky’s skates are still here. I think they’ll fit,” Jack replied; he knew both their sizes because—well, he wasn’t sure why. He just did.
They made their way back out to the ice and began skating lazy laps around.
“Jack?” Eric said after a while.
“Why did this happen to me—us?” Eric asked, observing Jack with his brown eyes wide while he skated backwards (a skill Jack always envied).
“I—have you ever heard of Cup wishes?” Jack questioned, slowing down and stopping to lean up against the boards.
“Yeah, but I thought they were just a legend,” Eric answered, skating back over to stand in front of Jack.
“I did too,” Jack took a deep breath before speaking again. “But they’re—they’re not. They’re real.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I made one. And—well as you probably can guess—it came true,” Jack closed his eyes and waited for Eric’s reply.
“I—you wished for this?” Eric inquired quietly.
“No! Well, not really,” Jack answered quickly, opening his eyes and moving just a little bit closer to Eric. “I just—I wanted you there to celebrate winning the Cup. And then I thought about how I always wanted you there—so you’d always be there to celebrate big moments with me. And I—I guess it thought I was wishing for that too.”
“Why would you want that?”
“Because I—you’re—I want—”
Jack couldn’t find the words to say what he wanted to, so instead he leaned forward slowly, putting a hand on Eric’s cheek. Eric’s eyes fluttered shut and he tilted in slightly, so Jack kissed him. Eric’s lips were soft, with a faint hint of vanilla and cinnamon lingering on them. Eric curled his hand around the back of Jack’s neck, pulling him closer and deepening the kiss, while wrapping his other arm around Jack’s waist to keep himself upright.
“Oh. That—that makes sense,” he said breathlessly when they finally pulled apart.
“Oh. That makes sense,” Jack repeated, laughing. Eric pouted, smacking Jack on the shoulder gently.
“You big, emotionally-stilted hockey dork,” Eric admonished fondly. “You know you could’ve just told me. You didn’t need to wish for this.”
“I—well I was scared to,” Jack admitted bashfully. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be okay with dating someone who wasn’t out.”
“I’ve wanted this for a long time Jack. I don’t care what I have to do to have you,” Eric said, grabbing Jack’s and squeezing it gently.
“George said that the team is ready, if I want to. I mean, I wouldn’t do it tomorrow but—soon. I think once we’re seen everywhere—together—people are going to talk.”
“Yeah, I guess they are,” Eric chuckled. “But that’s okay.”
Jack woke up the next morning with Eric draped over his back, snoring softly into his shoulder. He was very comfortable, except that he needed to pee.
“Eric,” Jack mumbled, jostling him slightly.
“M’sleepin’ Jack,” Eric whined.
“I know, but I need to pee,” Jack whispered.
“Go by yourself,” Eric replied sleepily. Jack rolled his eyes, but he figured at least he’d try. Jack carefully rolled Eric off his back (to brief grumbling), and wandered to the door. To his surprise, he was able to go out of it.
“The wall’s gone,” Jack tossed over his shoulder. He guessed now that they’d talked about their feelings, they didn’t need something like an invisible force field to keep them together, they’d do that on their own.
“Good,” Eric murmured. “I’m still not leaving.”
“I wasn’t going to ask you to,” Jack smiled, going to the bathroom before he curled up in bed with Eric again.