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The Move

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Jack, who has regularly woken up at five in the morning every day barring Christmas for the last twenty years, sleeps through his alarm on moving day.

The reason is probably that he was up late all night worrying, even though Eric helped him pack up all the things he needed into boxes two days ago, and he’s leaving most of his furniture here because he’s keeping the apartment as a place to crash after long games and late nights. It’s not like he can’t afford it. He was worrying more about the actual moving-in anyway. What if it’s too soon, what if Eric doesn’t like having him underfoot all the time, what if Jack can’t live with someone else, what if what if what if

They’ve been together a while and Jack knows he commits with intent. It’s not too soon for him but--

Jack is normally away a lot anyway, for hockey practice and games and traveling but--

Jack knows he’s never been calmer than when he wakes up and goes to sleep next to Eric but--

So when he wakes up at seven-thirty, it’s to intense panic in his throat, seven text messages and two missed calls.

Tater 6:03am: Zimboni me and guys here to help with move! Where are you? Ring bell but no answer

Tater 6:07am: Zimboni? You okay?

And “Hi Jack! I don’t know if you okay or not but you not here now? Call me when get this, okay? I will still be helping with move!”

Damn it. And

Bits 6:32am: Jack honey, I just got an order for a wedding

Bits 6:32am: It’s a rush job because the Bride’s original cake maker disappeared?? With the deposit??

Bits 6:33am: The poor thing called me crying and wondering if I couldn’t make up something by this afternoon. I couldn’t say no.

Bits 6:34am: So I’ll be down in the bakery on my day off, for the few hours of your move, but don’t worry, I’ll still be here to help in between cake layers!

Bits 6:34am: See you in half an hour <3

And then, “Hi honey! It’s about seven fifteen now and I’m just wondering where you are. Only you said you’d be here at seven, and you’re not usually late so I’m a teensy bit worried. Call me? I’ve got my phone on even if I’m baking!

Jack immediately dials Eric, who answers on the third ring.

“Jack! Sweetheart are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Jack says, scrubbing a hand over his face. “I just. I slept in. I’m sorry.”

“Oh!” A laugh, “Oh no, don’t apologize for that. I’m sure you were up all night worrying, so I’m glad you got some sleep after all. I’m just baking a cake for five hundred guests is all. So I’ll be here whenever you get here, okay?”

“Okay,” Jack says. “I love you.”

“I love you too, honey.”

He calls Tater next, and has roughly the same conversation, minus the endearments and with a lot of additional exclamation and chirping. Tater promises he’ll round the guys back up and be over in fifteen minutes. It’s Tater, Snowy, and Poots who all managed to get time to help Jack move, and he’s grateful even if he isn’t sure there needs to be four heavily-muscled hockey players for the things he’s planning on taking with him. Though to be fair, he was surprised to discover how many clothes he actually owned. (And how many of Eric’s he would be returning. There was a whole drawer of nothing but shorts that Jack never thought anything of.)

(Eric had turned bright red at the drawer, but he’d packed it up with the rest of Jack’s things and hadn’t even said a word about taking it back home with him before actual moving day.)

(This was one of the many reasons Jack was in love.)

Jack takes a quick shower, skips shaving, and is just finished getting dressed when his door buzzes announcing Tater and the guys.

He lets them in and then starts throwing the food in the fridge into the cooler that Eric had left specifically for that purpose.

“Hey Jack,” Snowy says when he comes in, “What the fuck?” But it’s good-natured, and Jack sheepishly explains, again, what had happened. The chirps are constant and brutal after that, and Jack is never going to live down the fact that he slept in on such a big day, but as they carry boxes into Poots’ truck, he find that he can’t care that much.

He’s loosened up some, since Eric.

 

---

 

Bitty is up at half past five, giddy with the knowing that Jack is about to move in and make things permanent and unable to sleep, so he’s downstairs in the bakery’s kitchen whipping up a pie, which is why he’s even around when the phone rings.

He’s confused that someone is calling him so early but sure that if someone is it has to be an emergency. He has a horrible flash of something bad happening to Jack, him unable to call Bitty’s cell phone for whatever reason--a car accident and Jack’s phone is wrecked, so he only can tell them to call the bakery’s number--and stubs his toe scrambling to answer it.

“H-hello?”

“Bitty’s bakery?” The person sounds like she’s been crying, voice wet.

“Uh. Yes?” He’s so nonplussed that he forgets to be polite. It is six in the morning.

The woman introduces herself as Taylor McGee, soon-to-be Taylor Michlin, and then breaks down sobbing as she tells Bitty a sordid tale of a chance double-checking of a wedding cake (she’s wanted a last minute, surprise message iced on the top) only to find that the phone line to the bakery had been disconnected and no other way to contact the baker. Or get back the deposit for a six tier wedding cake for five hundred people.

“I saw you on the food network for that speed-baking competition,” she says eventually, “And-and I figured that if anyone can make my cake before the wedding then it’d be you. Please.”

“What time’s the wedding, sugar?”

“F-five. We figured, since it’s Labor Day weekend, no one would have to worry about work and we got a deal since it wasn’t a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday--”

“That gives me till four to make your cake, honey. And since you called this early, it gives me plenty of time.”

“So you’ll… you’ll do it?”

And I bet my cake’ll taste better than whatever you went with in the first place. Deal?”

They hashed out the flavor (a little difficult because the bride couldn’t do a tasting, but she decided on alternating layers of chocolate chip and lemon), address for delivery, and some decoration ideas, and then Bitty, armed with his recipes and a link to a pinterest page, texted Jack and got to work.

At seven he left the kitchen just to make sure the back door was unlocked so that Jack could get in even while Bitty was busy, a bit surprised that Jack hadn’t texted him back yet. But, he figured Jack probably had his hands full with the actual moving.

At seven ten he started to get worried. There wasn’t traffic this early, even with it being Labor Day, and Jack was usually early not late.

At seven fifteen he called Jack and tried not to worry too much, throwing himself into baking.

At seven thirty five he got a phone call and, much more relieved, got back to work.

 

---

 

“Run!”

“Get into the car, into the car !”

Snowy and Tater were the closest to Poots’ truck, so they just dove inside. Jack and Poots threw themselves into Tater’s car.

Jack rounded on Poots. “What were you thinking ?” he demanded.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t think it’d be a live hive!”

“That was no reason to poke it with a stick !”

“I was going to take the comb home for my little sister! She likes that kind of science stuff! I’m sorry!”

Jack glared at Poots and swiveled around to look out the window. There was an angry swarm of hornets buzzing around the car.

“Do I have to remind you --”

His phone rang.

“Snowy?”

“Hey Jack, I’m going to call fucking pest control. Chew Poots the fuck out for me, yeah?”

“Did Tater--?”

“No, thank fucking god. Actually, just put me on speaker so I can fucking yell at him myself.”

“Please call pest control.”

“...yeah, okay, fine .”

Snowy hung up. Poots shrank back against the seat underneath Jack’s glare. “Tater is fucking allergic to bees, Poots. You know that.”

“I’m so, so sorry!”

 

---

 

“Come on Betsy, don’t do this to me. Come on girl, I need you to work!”

Betsy said nothing, being an oven. And she still refused to get warm.

Bitty was baking for five hundred people.

He really needed two ovens.

He wiped his hands on his apron and looked at the clock. Eight ten. It... might not be too early to call Dex.

He sighed and pulled out his phone. He’d pay him extra, that was for sure. But he really needed two ovens .

“...hullo?”

“Dex, I am so sorry , but Betsy’s on the fritz and I have a boatload of cake to make by four in the afternoon today . Please, I need your help.”

He could barely make out a muffled “Who is it, babe?”

“Bitty. Go back to sleep.”

“I’m so sorry, Dex!”

“It’s uh, it’s okay. I guess I can come over and help. Gimme like half an hour?”

“Yes, thank you, perfect. Thank you so much."

 

---

 

Pest control took thirty minutes to get there, and another half hour to deal with the hornets. By the time Jack and everyone got going, they smacked right into morning traffic. It may have been a day off, but that didn’t mean people were off the roads.

 

---

 

Dex, thank god, managed to work his magic and fix Betsy. Bitty paid him and promised him whatever he wanted from the bakery when he was actually making goods for it again and sent him back to his boyfriend.

Then the power went out.

 

---

 

Traffic finally calmed down enough that they actually started moving again, and for a while it seemed like things were finally going well. They made it all the way into Bitty’s street, two blocks away, and Poots rear-ended someone.

 

---

 

The power came back on after only fifteen minutes. Bitty, ready to cry with frustration, got back to baking.

 

---

 

Poots’ truck luckily didn’t do any damage and the people they hit ended up being fans. Four autographs later and they were back on the road again.

 

---

 

“Bits?” Jack called, coming into the kitchen. “We finally made it. I already unlocked your apartment. Tater and the guys are carrying things up.”

“Jack!” Bitty rushed at him and threw his arms around Jack, burying his face in his chest. “I am so glad you’re here. And okay. And I’m super stressed right now and need to bake a lot of cake in a considerably shorter amount of time than I originally had planned.”

Jack rubbed Bitty’s back. “Go ahead and do what you need. I just wanted to tell you I was here.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

---

 

Things continued to go wrong. Snowy was carrying a box and the bottom fell out. Dealing with the beds (they were switching Bitty’s out for Jacks, since it was bigger. Jack still had a guestroom bed for when he spent the night at his other apartment) was a nightmare. They had to dismantle the frame and even then it wouldn’t go up the stairs without a very specific angle and Tater accidentally scraped the wall with a corner and the mattress got dropped and nearly flattened Poots as it slid down the stairs.

Eric got all the layers baked to find that he, having expected not to bake at all today and usually getting his shipment ingredients on Tuesday, had run out of butter. He had make a quick run to the store to restock and lost even more time .

 

---

 

When all the boxes were finally stacked in their respective rooms, waiting to be unpacked, the bed was assembled and made, the old one piled in Poots’ truck (he was taking it home, it was going to be his little sister’s new bed), Jack finally breathed. And then realized he hadn’t eaten in almost eight hours, and probably neither had Tater, Poots, and Snowy.

“I am so sorry guys,” he said. “Pizza?”

“Definitely pizza,” Poots nodded.

Jack ordered four, one for each of them (and maybe a little left over) and then realized he needed to check on Eric.

“I go pick up,” Tater said, jingling his keys. “Maybe get beer too, yes?”

“Sounds fucking amazing,” Snowy said, sagging on Eric’s couch.

“I’ll be right back,” Jack said. “I want to see how Eric is doing.”

“I walk down with you!”

Tater and Jack walked into the kitchen to find Eric kneeling on the counter, bent over in concentration, icing the last layer of a massive cake. He didn’t look up when they came in.

“We just go,” Tater whispered. “Not break concentration.”

Jack nodded and they hurried quietly out of the kitchen.

 

----

 

Tongue poking out of his mouth in concentration, Bitty finished the inscription on the top layer of the cake and then sat up, stretching out his back. Finished! And with… he looked at his clock.

Five minutes to get it into his car.

He stared at the cake. Looked down at himself. By himself.

Ran up his stairs in the hopes that Jack was there, because Bitty was strong but he could not carry a five foot tall two hundred pound cake on his own.

“Bits?” Snowy asked, sitting up as Bitty ran into the living room frantic. “What the fuck’s the matter?”

“I have a cake I need to deliver within the hour and I can’t carry it by myself. Into my van or into the hall.” Bitty said in a rush.

“Well shit,” Snowy said, standing up and hitting Poots on the shoulder. “That’s no problem. Poots and I can handle that. Just show us to the cake.”

“Thank you so much,” Bitty said, as they followed him down the stairs.

 

---

 

After the cake had been delivered, everyone had eaten (and demolished the pizza; Bitty also hadn’t eaten at all that day, and he finished off half a pizza on his own--they also finished off all the cake scraps), and Jack and Bitty said goodbye to Tater, Snowy, and Poots, the two trooped up the stairs and collapsed on the couch.

“Some day, eh?” Jack asked.

“Don’t even get me started, Mr. Zimmermann,” Bitty said, scootching forward until he was leaning against Jack. Jack curled an arm around his shoulder and pulled him closer. “I never want a day like that again.”

“Me either. Did I tell you were attacked by bees?”

“What! Bees ?”

“Well, hornets. Poots saw a nest on the ground and decided he wanted to take it home for his little sister. He did not think that there might still be hornets inside.”

Bitty covered his mouth with his hand to hide the startled laugh. Jack nudged him.”It’s okay to laugh now,” he said. “Though Poots is going to be in trouble for ages. Especially from Tater. I get the feeling he’s going to be buying Tater a lot of lunches and dinners.”

“Well he should! That boy needs to think before doing things like that!” Bitty sniffed. “He’s too impulsive on the ice too.”

That startled a laugh out of Jack. “I’m telling him you said that.”

“Do.”

They lapsed into silence, just finally relaxing and basking in one another’s company.

“So,” Jack said eventually. “I have to unpack still, but. I’m all moved in.”

Bitty smiled, and the entire day was forgotten and worth it, as far as Jack as was concerned. “You are moved in.” He nuzzled into Jack’s shoulder. “I can’t wait to really live with you.”

Jack smiled too. “Me neither.”