Kent and Bitty are neighbours and unlikely friends. Bitty’s a vet who hosts “Kittens and Cupcakes”, a local public radio talkshow about his two loves: animals and baking. Kent’s a hockey bigshot with the Providence Falconers, and he still has Kit Purrson-- who is actually how they bond, when a shitty (soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend of Kent’s hurts Kit. Bitty had heard them arguing in the past, and he’s not one to mind other people’s business, but when he hears Kit get involved, well. He charges over, chases off the shitty ex-boyfriend, and tends to Kit while preaching to Kent about having more self-esteem.
Kent, bless his heart, isn’t used to having people think he’s worth more than his looks and his hockey. He’d almost be heart-eyes for Bitty himself, but Bitty firmly establishes himself as more of a big brother, despite the fact that Kent has several years on him. Kent needs ALL SORTS of positive relationship archetypes in his life, let’s be real.
Now, Jack and Kent played together in Juniors, were thick as thieves but bad for each other. But Jack went a different direction after the OD and Samwell, where he didn’t play college hockey. He developed his love of photography, and ended up getting a therapy pet/support animal during college. These two things combined to make his new career, because Jack is 110% about the things he loves. He’s in Providence because he fell in love with the city while getting his MFA in Photography at RISD, and he knows Kent is there, but not vice versa-- he keeps a pretty low profile.
Jack and Bitty cross paths first, when Jack calls from his studio for tips on how to handle an aggressive dog (he expects people to come in with trained pets, alright? Therapy pets are VERY well-behaved). Shitty is his BFF here as well-- I mean seriously, imagine him begging Jack to put his finger up a turtle’s bum in order to help him impress Lardo.
Anyway, Jack is charmed by Bitty’s competence and dulcet tones, more phone calls happen, they trade numbers for texting, etc. Now, we need to have the identity mix-up, but that happens when Bitty begs Kent to show-up for this date-- oh god, is it a date?-- instead, because as much as Bitty is a great cheerleader for other people, he lacks self-confidence. Jack automatically knows that Kent is not Bitty, of course. But Kent is kind of flabbergasted that Jack’s here, and manages to convince him to stay and give adult conversation a shot. (”Look, he wasn’t going to be able to make it, but he didn’t want you to think he was ditching, and honestly he was nervous about a blind date” etc.) And so they start to reconcile their friendship, a bit. Kent shows Jack photos of Kit, acts like a grown-up because Bitty has been a terrific influence on him, and so on. Jack talks about his life, the strange and wonderful trajectory it’s taken since they were friends. Thoughts of Bitty fall by the wayside for the moment, alas, because these guys are old friends, and have a lot to catch up on, considering they’ve not managed to have an adult conversation since they were kids, so to speak.
Bitty’s worried, at first, when Kent doesn’t update him about whether this Jack guy is a serial killer, but when he arrives home that night he’s practically glowing, and Bitty gets the whole tale. And Bitty, always one to put other people’s happiness ahead of his own, takes the martyr’s route and steps back.
But Jack still calls his show, and that’s terrible. And he still sends texts with photos of animals, which is worse. And Bitty really should stop following his Instagram, because it kills him when he sees Kit’s first photo shoot come up. He knows for a fact that Kent didn’t come home that night. Not that he was staying up waiting or anything, of course, but if he just happened to be stress-baking between the hours of 10pm and 4am, well, that’s something he does sometimes, okay?
And Jack’s over here in the background, wondering why Bitty’s cooled off so much. It had been going so well-- he’d agreed to the date in the first place, right, even if he sent Kent in his stead? Was he missing a message? Was something else going on? I mean, Bitty’s the whole reason Jack’s salvaged his friendship with Kent! Shitty tries to help, but is honestly clueless.
Jack finally shows up at Kent’s to ask his advice, and finds Kent and Bitty outside drinking spiked sweet tea (it’s the off-season, okay?) and kvetching. Kent’s been telling Bitty about Jack’s great advice about taking chances, and opening yourself to love, etc. etc. and Bitty’s trying not to die inside. Kent takes a phone call, his face glowing and his eyes bright, and walks away a bit so Bitty can’t hear what they’re saying. He’s just hung up when Bitty sees Jack approaching, and Kent nearly flies to him in excitement. Bitty quietly takes himself away, and so misses the whole conversation about how Swoops feels the same way, and Kent’s so grateful to Jack for encouraging him, etc.
And Jack really is happy for Kent, so gets a bit distracted, but he finally remembers he came here for a reason. Kent’s surprised--after all, he knew for a fact that Bitty liked Jack, but Kent’s admittedly not been paying attention, focused on his own lovelife as he’s been. But oh! Bitty’s right here--no, no he’s not.
Jack had noticed the blond man excusing himself, even if he hadn’t been close enough to see much of him, but didn’t realize that Kent’s neighbour is the radio show host. Kent realises that perhaps he may have miscommunicated with Bitty in the interim between that missed date and his present happiness with his teammate.
Bitty’s in his kitchen, listening to Bey on blast and crying into his pastry shells. He can’t hear the knocking, so Kent uses his key to get in. He hangs back as Jack approaches the kitchen, and excuses himself after he hears “Bittle,” and Bitty’s startled “Jack! What are you--” suddenly go muffled. If they can’t sort it out from there he’ll knock their heads together.