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Jack’s been planning this day for a long time now. He even made a Twitter account for it, two months ago, and tweeted occasionally to build up a following (it was easier once he got that little check mark thing next to his handle). He has a few thousand followers, which is enough to get the message out, and he even has his tweet drafted.

The first draft of it was ‘hello everyone, I just wanted you to know that I am bisexual.’ Tater had taken one look at that and vetoed it. With every extra revision Jack suggested (adding an exclamation point, saying ‘you all’ instead of ‘you,’ et cetera, et cetera, et cetera), Tater had still shaken his head. So Jack took it to Georgia.

“I mean... it’s okay,” George had said, furrowing her brow at the screen. “It’s a little terse, though.”

“But I don’t need to say anything else to get the point across, do I?”

“Well, no. But it’s still very detached.”

Still, after a lot of reworking (and, okay, George does scrap that entire thing and make him start from scratch), they come up with something acceptable. Something that Jack might even say is good.

And then it all gets ruined at the last moment.

 

Monday morning at around ten o’clock (he’s been given the day off from practice to sort everything out), Jack opens up his Twitter account, intending to post the string of tweets that he and George have planned out, but the first thing he sees is a tweet from Kent.

 

Kent V. Parson @kparse

tired of all the marriage proposals from women, so i’m just gonna say it: i am both gay af and not taking offers of marriage at this time

 

Kent V. Parson @kparse

#sorrynotsorry for stealing ur thunder @jlzimmermann

 

Jack sighs and texts Georgia before composing a tweet as well.

 

Jack Zimmermann @jlzimmermann

disappointed in @kparse for ruining my announcement

 

Jack Zimmermann @jlzimmermann

he *did* already know i was going to come out as bi today, so this is quite rude

 

And then he leaves it like that and texts Georgia that he’s already gone ahead with the plan. She still hasn’t replied to the first one, so she’s probably either working out or so exasperated with him that she’s just decided not to reply. He also silences his phone, then texts Bitty, who’s back at Samwell.

 

Jack: I did it.

Bitty: congratulations!! <3 on twitter?

Jack: Yeah.

Bitty: you seem kind of put out?

Jack: Kent Parson came out before I did.

Bitty: hold on i’m going on twitter rn

 

Jack waits for a little while, long enough for Bitty to plausibly have read both Kent’s and his tweets, and then sends a text back.

 

Jack: Very rude of him. Now I can’t even be the first out player in the NHL.

Jack: That’s probably why he did it, to be honest. He likes being first.

Bitty: it might also work well for u, though

Bitty: take away some of the backlash maybe?

Jack: That’s true, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still be annoyed at him.

Bitty: yeah ofc, i would be too

Bitty: anyway i gtg to class so i’ll ttyl, take care of urself today ok?

Jack: Yeah.

Bitty: text me if u need anything, have a good day <3

Jack: You too <3

Bitty: :)

 

Georgia calls him about half an hour later and outlines the steps that the Falconers’ management are going to take, then promises to text him when they’ve released their statement and makes him promise to take care of himself today, just like Bitty. She also requests that he leave the apartment as little as possible, preferably not at all, so reporters don’t try to corner him in public. No sooner has she said goodbye and hung up than Jack hears knocking on his door. A glance through the peephole reveals it to be Snowy, Tater, and a case of beer, and he opens the door.

“Good job today, Zimmboni,” Tater says as soon as the door opens, shoving the beer into Snowy’s hands so that he can hug Jack. “Poots said to tell you he is proud. He is with trainer, pinched nerve. He will be here soon.”

“Everyone else is scrimmaging, or at least they were when we left,” Snowy adds as Tater releases Jack and steps past him into the apartment. “I don’t know if they saw us leaving and decided to let it go or genuinely didn’t notice.”

“They’re welcome to come over too once practice is over,” Jack says, stepping back to let Snowy in and then shutting the door. “But not before they’ve showered. Also, they should bring their own beer. I don’t have enough.”

Snowy nods. “I’ll text them.” He pulls out his phone and texts the rest of the Falconers, but then checks on something else and bursts out laughing.

“What?”

“Parson started a hashtag.”

“A hashtag?”

“Yup. A fucking hashtag. ” Snowy shows Jack his phone screen.

 

Kent V. Parson @kparse

@jlzimmermann It had to be done. #StealJacksThunder

 

“Great,” Jack sighs.

“But that’s not all.”

“There’s more?”

Tater pokes his head out of the kitchen. “You are talking about hashtag, yes? Many people are using it.”

“Like who?” Jack asks. “And what are they doing with it?”

“Rob Jeffries from the Schooners did,” Snowy says before Tater can answer. “Jack, just check Twitter for yourself. There’s way too many of these for me to tell you all of them.”

Jack does.

“Holy shit,” he mumbles.

 

Rob Jeffries @rjeffriesnhl

@jlzimmermann Sorry, man. I’m bi too #StealJacksThunder

 

Las Vegas Aces @lasvegasaces

Proud of @kparse for starting his own hashtag. The Aces organization supports players no matter their orientation #StealJacksThunder

 

Aleks Olsen @aleksolsen

maybe not first out LGBTQ+ NHL player in league, but am first on Oilers & officially first out aro/ace NHL player #StealJacksThunder

 

Providence Falconers @pvdfalconers

The Falconers organization stands with & supports our LGBTQ+ players. Congrats @jlzimmermann for starting this whole thing

 

Las Vegas Aces @lasvegasaces

@pvdfalconers Excuse you, @kparse came out first

 

Providence Falconers @pvdfalconers

@lasvegasaces Excuse *you*, it was @jlzimmermann ‘s idea. Don’t try to #StealJacksThunder on our watch!

 

Besides the team Twitter accounts bickering with each other, it just goes on and on and on— NHL players deciding, on the spur of the moment, to come out on Twitter, and all of them using that same hashtag. The one that makes Jack almost drop his phone, though, is a string of tweets from someone he knows very well.

 

Bob Zimmermann @mrbadbob

Extremely proud of my son @jlzimmermann for having the courage to show the world who he is. Cannot fully express how happy I am for him

 

Bob Zimmermann @mrbadbob

There were LGBTQ+ players when I was in the NHL, there always have & always will be & now we are free to be ourselves

 

Bob Zimmermann @mrbadbob

& say what you like @kparse but @jlzimmermann started this, u just made a hashtag :P

 

Bob Zimmermann @mrbadbob

I’m almost done I just have one more thing to say, and that is: sorry, son, I’m pansexual #StealJacksThunder

 

Jack looks up slowly, aware that both Snowy and Tater are staring at him. “My dad just came out as pan on Twitter. And he used the goddamn hashtag.”

“I love your dad,” Snowy says as Tater howls with laughter. “Oh, that reminds me.” He taps at his phone, and when he turns it off and puts it back in his pocket Jack checks his own— sure enough, Snowy has mentioned him in a tweet.

 

Aiden Snow @asnowynhl

@jlzimmermann im gay #StealJacksThunder #sorryjack

 

“God damn it, Snowy.” Jack doesn’t mention that as far as he knew, Snowy wasn’t out to anyone— him included— before just now. Maybe saying it through a screen is easier for him.

“At least I apologized in the tweet,” Snowy says. “Let’s open that beer, I suddenly have a need for one.”

 

They do pretty much nothing for the rest of the late morning and afternoon. Poots arrives about an hour after Snowy and Tater did, and the rest of the team barrels in through the door at around four, which is before practice was supposed to end. Jack doesn’t ask. They have, in fact, showered and brought their own alcohol. Jack turns on the TV and somehow finds his way to a TV show about hunting sasquatches, which works well as background noise, and every so often someone pulls out their phone and announces the latest NHL or ex-NHL player to have come out via Twitter. It’s an impressive list.

When there’s another knock on the door a little after six-thirty, Jack looks around, confused. Practically the entire roster is here, except Socks, who’s got a mild concussion and is staying home. Regardless, he gets up to answer it.

“Jack!” Bitty cries once the door opens, practically glomming onto him like a koala and wrapping his arms around Jack’s neck. “I saw the hashtag, and all the players, and your dad— how are you doing?”

“Okay, considering,” Jack says, holding Bitty up with one hand while he closes the door with the other. “I’ve only been looking at the hashtag, haven’t checked any of my mentions.”

“That’s probably smart,” Bitty says. “You can put me down.”

“Do you want me to put you down?”

Bitty considers. “Not really, but my arms are going to start hurting if I keep dangling off of you like this.”

Jack swings Bitty’s legs up so he’s in bridal style. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Fine, Zimmboni,” Tater shouts from the living room.

“How do you know I’m committing a fineable offense?” Jack yells back.

“Is obvious. Bitty is here.”

“Fair enough.”

Just then, a sasquatch-y howl emits from the other room— probably the TV. Bitty raises one eyebrow. “What on earth was that?”

“We’re watching a TV show on locating Bigfoot,” Jack says by way of explanation. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and the reenactments are awful but it’s a pretty good distraction.”

“We? How many people do you— don’t tell me, the entire Falconers roster.”

“Yeah. Except Socks— Sokolov. He’s staying home because of a concussion.”

“I must say I never took you for a partier, Mr. Zimmermann,” Bitty says, smiling up at him. “We’re just learning more and more about each other every day, aren’t we?”

“Oh, yeah. Friday evening I learned your deepest, darkest secrets, Saturday I learned how good of a baker you are, Sunday I learned your favorite color, and here we are now. Seems to me we’re doing things in reverse order.”

“Who said there had to be an order?”

“That’s true.”

Bitty nods towards the living room. “Let’s go that way. I want to see this sasquatch-hunting TV show.”

“As you wish.”