The Falconers had played the Bruins the night before, Jack and Tater had locked down the game-winning point together in OT. They’d been bused back that same night, the drive was barely an hour so it wasn’t worth an overnight stay, but not before Jack had seen signs on the road for a local museum.
That week, the Boston Tea Party Museum was hosting a few 245th Anniversary events for the actual tea party itself. He had seen the billboards on the drive in, but had put it into the back of his mind until after they’d won the game.
The next day was the actual anniversary of the Tea Party, December 16, 1773. According to the museum’s website, there’ll be history tours, an art gallery from commissioned local artists, live reenactments, and lots of other special events. Jack goes ahead and buys himself a ticket. Their next game wasn’t until two days after and it was a home game, so a day trip wasn’t really to much of a big deal for Jack.
He’s excited. He loves history and it’s always so cool to learn about local American history on top of that. New England has a lot in terms of history so living in the area had been a nice way to stretch his knowledge.
Jack spends the rest of the afternoon and evening after buying his tickets reading up about the tea party to refresh his memory and learn more and watching History Channel documentaries about it. He knows a little bit about it from previous history readings but learns a lot more about it the deeper he gets into his research.
By the next day, Jack is more than excited to go to the museum and continue learning and talking about the Tea Party. He knows he’s in one of his “modes” but he’s hoping he’ll find some people at the museum who he can talk to about it without fear of boring them to death.
The drive isn’t too bad and the museum is small but on the water and right up Jack’s alley. He ends up running into one of the museum’s curators. Lorelei’s a tiny, dark-skinned woman who’s more than happy to sit with Jack in the tea room and talk with him for almost over an hour. They sit and eat a piece of cake each – Jack’s tempted to go back for piece number two because holy shit, it’s that good – but reins in his self control and doesn’t.
After, she urges him to go either watch or participate in some of the reenactments or to go to the gallery they’d set up.
He opts for the gallery, apparently many of the pieces were there to be sold and the last time his mother had visited his place she’d chirped him for how bare the walls were. He’s wondering around the gallery when he overhears the conversation.
“Y’all are crazy,” a small, very cute, blonde man says. “It’s December and it’s freezing. I bet the reenactments are very cool but I’m staying in here, where it’s warm.”
Jack smiles and tries to turn his attention to the pieces in the room. But, try as he might, he still overhears the conversation.
“Bits, you’ve lived in New England for how long now? Five years? You’d think you’d be used to it by now,” a man with a thick mustache says, though it’s fond.
The blonde “humphs.”
“I am a sweet southern belle from the land of Georgia, Mister Knight,” he drawls exaggeratedly. “Anything below fifty is still considered freezing to me.”
“How have you survived this long up here?” a woman, somehow tinier than cute blonde and with one side of her head shaved, asks with laughter in her voice.
“I dunno, I guess I decided going to an LGBT friendly school up north to play hockey was the move and then somehow met a bunch of losers who became like family and I couldn’t bring myself to get away from,” the guy, Bits?, says but it matches mustache guy’s – who literally pulls Bits into a giant bear hug after he says it – fond tone from earlier.
And Jack has learned a lot more than he probably should about this – really, really good looking – guy in the last five minutes and Jack chides himself for being creepy again. He really focuses on the paintings, he actually does want to find one, and registers Bit’s friends going outside for the 4:00 reenactment while Bits stays inside.
It means that he and Bits are the only two in the gallery – most everyone is outside as well – and Jack tries to ignore that.
He comes across a painting that’s a little different from the rest, one that Jack really likes.
It’s in watercolor – according to the label – and it’s of one of the ships with an old skyline in the background as the sun sets. There’s a bunch of shipping boxes of tea floating in the water. It doesn’t display any of the chaos, it’s almost peaceful in a way.
He’s almost electrically aware while he’s looking at the painting that Bits is walking over Jack’s way. He stands next to Jack for a moment.
Looks at the painting.
Looks at Jack.
Jack breaks the silence before the other guy can.
“Did you know that the actual location of the Boston Tea Party is a busy streetcorner now?” Jack says trying to act casual while striking up conversation. He’s not exactly good at either.
“Bits” looks taken aback – like he wasn’t quite expecting Jack to start the conversation, or say what he did.
“I actually did not know that,” Bits replies. “That’s crazy. I’m assuming the intersection is no longer underwater though?”
“Your assumption would be correct,” Jack says.
Bits pauses for a moment then asks, “know any other fun facts about the Tea Party?”
Jack looks over at the guy who’s smiling up at him gently, and Jack’s not sure he knows what he’s about to get into.
So Jack tells him a bit of trivia he’d read last night. No one died – though they’d thought one guy did, but it turns out he’d just been knocked out – and it was an overall surprisingly nonviolent protest. Ben Franklin had offered to pay for the tea – nearly two million dollars worth in today’s American dollar worth of tea was lost – in exchange for the British to open the harbor but they’d refused and were never compensated.
Bits actually seems interested in what Jack has to say, but Jack tries really hard to fight the urge to just dump all the info he’s learned in the past 24 hours onto this guy.
Eventually he stops himself and asks Bits a question.
“So is this your painting?”
“Oh, oh no!” Bits says, eyes going wide. “Actually my friend Lard – I mean Larissa painted this one. We’re here to support her, it’s really exciting. Although I did…I did make the cake they have in the tea room. It’s no painting but I’ve heard people like it.”
Bits goes a little pink, breaking eye contact with Jack.
“You made the cake? It was delicious. I just had some earlier.”
“Oh, really? I’m glad you liked it,” Bits flushes even more and Jack notices absently that it’s a good look on him.
“I actually wanted to ask about buying this piece,” Jack says and Bits’ eyes go wide.
“Yeah, here, let me text her really quick and tell her to come inside,” Bits says, pulling out his phone and typing quickly.
A few minutes later the girl comes back in through the the door followed by mustache guy. Mustache guy, who takes one look at Jack, and Jack knows he knows who he is.
“Jesus Bits, you didn’t tell us Jack Fucking Zimmerman wanted to buy Lard’s piece,” The guy whispers not-so-quietly to Bits.
It’s Jack’s turn to flush.
Bits groans and starts whispering back into the guy’s ear. Jack can’t hear what he’s saying.
“Ignore them,” the girl, Larissa, says. “I’m Larissa Duan, Bitty said you wanted to buy my piece? Let’s talk shop.”
Jack looks back over his shoulder to see Bits and his mustached friend still in a whisper-argument before Larissa drags him off back towards the tea room, grabs them each a slice of cake and sits to talk.
Jack offers her an amount that she blanches at and nearly refuses but Jack keeps insisting on. She looks like she may cry but then gets it together and digs into her cake, telling Jack to do so too. He knows he probably shouldn’t – one piece was enough – but damn the cake was good and it was made by Eric so he can’t really resist.
Jack ends up hanging out with Larissa, “call me Shitty”, and Eric – Bitty is his hockey nickname –for the rest of his time at the museum. He learns that they all went to college together, that Shitty and Eric played hockey together for Samwell, his mother’s Alma Mater, and that Larissa was their manager.
He eventually gets some time alone with Eric – Eric talks him into doing the tea dumping reenactment with him later and it’s fun and they’re laughing and Eric is so cute. Alone, he learns that Eric lives and co-runs a bakery in Pawtucket. He also learns, much to Eric’s apparent mortification, that since his move to the area, Eric has become a huge Falconers fan. Jack chirps him for that and Eric chirps him back about being a history dork, but to Jack’s ears it all sounds an awful lot like flirting.
They invite him along to dinner with them later but he has to say no, even though he really wants to.
It’s fine though, Jack leaves with a wrapped painting in his backseat and Eric Bittle’s number in his phone.