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Something Like This

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A long time ago, Jack called Montreal home. He stands at center ice for a long moment during warmups, looking up at the banners and his dad’s retired number, thinking about how much he’d wanted to play here as a child.

It’s funny how much dreams can change.

It goes all the way to a shootout with the Habs, but the Falconers squeak out a win. To say the crowd is unhappy is an understatement, especially considering that it’s Jack’s shot on Price that clinched it. So much for being a hometown hero.

Jack pushes open the locker room door and steps out into the secured backstage area. He spots his parents immediately, standing across the room. They’re talking to someone Jack doesn’t recognize, but what makes him stop short is the sight of them both wearing Falconers gear, here at the Centre Bell. His dad is even wearing Jack’s jersey. Jack wonders how much shit he endured for it tonight.

The door swings closed behind him, and a firm hand lands on his shoulder. “It’s okay if you’d rather just spend time with them alone. I can go back to the hotel with—”

“Hey, I did your family thing.”

Whits sighs. “I know, and I appreciate it. I’m just offering, okay?”

Jack turns to smirk at him. “You know, it’s not gonna fall off if you go one night without getting laid.”

“That’s not—” Whits sputters. “Christ, Zimms. I know you don’t get to see them much, that’s all.”

“They’re coming to Providence for Christmas. I’ll get my fill then.” He looks over at Alicia, who’s laughing now, her arm looped through Bob’s. “Besides, my mom would kill me if you didn’t come over. She’s been asking about you.”

“Seriously?”

Before Jack can say anything else, his mom catches sight of them. She’s there a moment later with arms around his neck, and he closes his eyes, presses his nose into her hair, and breathes. He always forgets how small she is. She looms so large in his memory, the person who wrapped him in her arms and held him tight more times than he can count.

“Oh, sweetie, I’m so proud of you.” She pulls back enough to smile up at him, and plants a quick kiss on his cheek. He used to flinch away when she did things like that, but he doesn’t now. He just looks back at her, taking her in. She tilts her head, her expression shifting to one of mild concern. “What is it?”

Jack shakes his head. “Nothing. Just tired.”

She wipes at the spot where she kissed him with her thumb, then turns to Whits. “Taylor, it’s so nice to see you again!”

“Hi,” he hears Whits say, a touch of awe in his voice.

Jack turns to his dad. “Nice jersey.”

Bob steps forward and pulls Jack into a tight hug. “I’ve never been prouder to wear one.” His voice is unexpectedly full of emotion.

Jack laughs to cover the sudden tightness in his throat. “I’m surprised it isn’t soaked in beer, honestly.”

“We were in the box, so they didn’t have a chance.” He steps back and slings an arm around Jack’s shoulders. “You’re staying tonight, yes?” he asks in French. “Both of you?”

Jack nods. “We just have to get our stuff.”

“Good. Your mother has been plotting for weeks.”

“Plotting?”

Bob grins. “Did I say plotting? I meant anticipating.”

“That’s not much better.”

“Let her have fun. It’s rare that you bring anyone home these days, and she can’t help getting excited.”

Jack looks over to where his mom is talking animatedly with Whits, and frowns. “Wait… does she think Whits and I are together?”

Bob chuckles. “You know how she is. Always hopeful that you’ll meet someone who makes you happy.”

“If only it were so easy,” Jack replies.

“Huh.”

Jack turns to see him looking back with a surprised expression. “What?”

“That’s a new one from you.” When Jack frowns, Bob gives his shoulder another squeeze. “You usually say hockey is all you need to be happy.”

Jack’s cheeks warm and he looks away. He’s been thinking about life outside of hockey more and more lately.

Bob sighs and drops his hand from Jack’s shoulder. He switches back to English. “Anyway, great game. That shorty was some sick sauce.”

Jack can’t help groaning. “Papa, really?”

“Oh, am I embarrassing you?” Bob gets him in a headlock and plants a few sloppy kisses on Jack’s forehead. “I can do better than that.”

Jack wriggles away, laughing, and they wrestle until they start to attract attention.

“All right, you boys get your things. There’s a media gauntlet to run before we can leave.” Bob gives Jack a push in the direction of the locker room.

*****

Jack isn’t sure how his mother managed to have quite so much food prepared, considering she spent the last few hours at the game, but he’s not complaining. It brings back hazy memories from his early childhood in Pittsburgh, of his dad’s teammates coming over after home games. Jack would inevitably be sent to bed early on those nights, but he’d sneak out of his room and watch the party from the top of the stairs. Every once in a while, Uncle Mario would catch him, and sneak him a treat before shooing him back to bed.

At least it’s just the four of them tonight. Jack is grateful for that; he probably would’ve locked himself in his room if his parents had made this into a party. They sit in the living room, hors d’oeuvres artfully arranged on small plates on the coffee table. Alicia pours wine all around, then tucks herself into Bob’s side.

“This is amazing,” Whits says. He’d been intimidated for a total of about fifteen minutes before he seemed to get over it. Jack envies his ability to fit in so easily everywhere he goes. Whits spears some little meatballs with a fork. “My mom makes something like this.”

“I hope I can meet her sometime,” Alicia says, and Whits grins.

“God, she’d probably flip out.”

“His mom played hockey in college,” Jack says. “Defense, right?”

“Yeah. She’s an engineer now.”

Alicia swirls the wine in her glass. “It looked like you boys had fun when you visited them in Texas.”

“Since when are you on Twitter?” Jack asks.

“I don’t have an account, but I keep up.” She winks at him. “Your friend Eric is a great source of information.”

Whits chuckles at that. “He’s got a ridiculous amount of followers right now from all the stuff he tweets about us. The Falconers PR team should hire him.”

Alicia leans forward to refill their glasses. “Suzanne said Eric spent Thanksgiving weekend with you.” Her tone is one of innocence, but Jack can see the wheels turning behind her eyes.

“Yeah, he did. We had a game, but he kept himself busy. He baked so much. You should see my freezer.”

“It’s stuffed. Jack won’t let me anywhere it.” Whits nudges him with an elbow. “You can’t tell me you’re gonna eat all of that yourself.”

Jack shrugs. He knows it’s ridiculous, but he can’t explain his reluctance to share. “You still talk to Bittle’s parents?”

Alicia smiles. “Every now and then, when his mother hasn’t heard from him. She seems to think I have information on her son that she doesn’t.”

Whits actually chokes on his wine at that.

Jack frowns. “Do you?”

Alicia holds up her hands. “It’s not my place to tell her anything he doesn’t want her to know. Or that she couldn’t find out herself by looking at what he tweets.”

“Doesn’t stop you from fishing for information, though,” Bob says.

“I do not fish!”

Bob smirks. “Like hell you don’t.”

“Excuse me?” Alicia’s eyebrows go up, and Bob’s smirk fades.

Jack snickers and pats the couch cushion beside him. “This couch looks pretty comfy, Papa. Just sayin’.”

Bob looks mildly chagrined. “Ah, so… anyone want more wine?”

“There’s a bottle chilling in the fridge,” Alicia says, pointedly, and he climbs to his feet.

Jack grins at her across the coffee table, and she winks at him. She’s always had Bob wrapped around her little finger.

“So how is Eric, anyway?” she asks.

Jack’s mouth opens and closes again. “I haven’t heard much from him lately.” Jack’s only received a handful of texts from Bittle in the two weeks since Thanksgiving, and he’s tried very hard not to read too much into that. “They had a tough schedule for a couple of weekends, with Harvard and BU. Finals are going on this week, too.” Bittle procrastinates like it’s his job, to Jack’s endless consternation.

“And I think he’s been spending his free time with Kevin,” Whits adds.

Jack shoots him a sharp look and Whits tenses, realizing his mistake.

“Who’s Kevin?” Alicia asks.

“A friend,” Jack says, going for nonchalance, but knowing he’s failing miserably. “I’ve never met him, but he and Bittle have been hanging out a lot lately.”

Which is an understatement, if Bittle’s fairly Kevin-centric Instagram is anything to go by. Jack knows more about the guy’s tattoos than he ever wanted to. He takes a very large sip of wine.

“You don’t sound happy about that,” she says.

“It’s none of my business who he spends time with.”

Jack,” she says, giving him a long look.

“It’s not.” He looks away.

“Um, so the bathroom is down that hall?” Whits stands awkwardly.

Alicia points him in the right direction, then turns back to Jack with clear determination in her eyes. “So Eric has a boyfriend?”

“Maybe. I don’t know if it’s that serious.”

“It must be a little serious if Taylor knows about it.”

Jack shrugs. “I dunno. Bittle seems to date pretty casually.”

“Oh?”

She’s reeling him in, but he can’t seem to stop himself. He hasn’t been able to talk to anyone about this, and it actually feels good to say the words out loud. He looks down into his glass. “At least this one’s an improvement over the last one.”

“How so?”

“He’s a little older than the last one, for one thing. He seems like he’s got his act together.” He pauses, trying to choose his words carefully. “And he’s not in the closet.” He stares down into his wine glass.

Alicia hmmms thoughtfully. “Is he good for Eric?”

“I haven’t met him, but Holster introduced them, so he can’t be that awful.” Of course, Holster’s primary goal was to get Bittle laid, so all bets may be off.

“You’re jealous.” She says it with an air of finality, like she’s deduced it out of thin air, Sherlock Holmes-style.

“Mom,” Jack groans. “I am not.”

“Oooh, what did I miss?” Bob says, settling next to her on the couch. He sets the new bottle of wine on the table, cork half-pressed back into the neck.

“Eric has a boyfriend,” Alicia says.

“Mom, just…” Jack looks up. “His parents don’t know he’s gay. You can’t say anything to them.”

“I wouldn’t, you know that.” She leans forward. “It’s you I’m worried about.”

Jack looks to his dad for support, but Bob just looks thoughtful.

“Come on, sweetie. I’d have to be blind not to see the way you look at that boy,” she continues. “When Suzanne said he went to visit you, I thought maybe—”

“It’s not like that.” Jack twirls his wine glass between his fingers, watching the way the light catches the liquid. “We’re just friends.”

“Doesn’t mean you can’t want more,” Bob says.

They’re both looking at him encouragingly, and Jack gives up. “He lives almost an hour away, and our schedules hardly ever line up. Even if he was interested, it wouldn’t work.”

“How do you know he isn’t interested? Have you asked him?” Bob leans forward.

“It’s never going to be easy as long as you’re playing,” Alicia adds, “but you make it work, like your dad and I did.”

Jack groans and lets his head fall back against the sofa. This was the last conversation he’d wanted to have tonight. “Can we please talk about something else? Like the game? I scored a fucking goal, can’t we just—”

“Jack!” Alicia says, mock-offended. “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“I think he’d rather kiss someone else,” Bob says, his voice low and slightly muffled. Jack looks up to see him nuzzling her hair.

Jack glares up at the ceiling and says in French, “And you wonder why I don’t visit you more often.”

Alicia frowns, but before she can reply, Bob laughs and says, “All right, enough tormenting of our son.” He tops off their wine glasses. “We all know Jack’s true love is hockey, anyway.”

Jack stuffs a slice of cheese in his mouth before he can say anything stupid.

Whits returns and the conversation shifts to hockey and the season and the team. Bob tells stories Jack’s heard a hundred times, but he laughs along with them all the same. Whits hangs on Bob’s every word, and Jack can’t help smiling at that. By midnight, they’ve gone through quite a few bottles of wine. Jack’s nursed two glasses while everyone else has gone a few clicks past tipsy, but he doesn’t mind. His parents are genuinely happy to have them there, and despite the earlier conversation, Jack feels relaxed.

He shows Whits to the guest room while his parents put the food away, then he returns to the kitchen to help. They’re talking quietly when he turns the corner, so he stops in the doorway and watches them for a moment. Bob steps in behind Alicia, hands sliding down to her hips as she fastens lids on plastic containers one by one. He says something low that makes her giggle.

“You are so — let me finish this!”

“I’m not stopping you.” He leans down to brush a kiss just below her ear.

They look so comfortable together, so at ease, anticipating each other’s movements as they move around the kitchen. He’s seen it a thousand times before, but something about this moment feels different, like he’s seeing it from a new perspective.

And suddenly, there it is: that is what he wants. The future has always been sort of amorphous in his mind, little more than a blur of hockey and anxiety, and maybe friends, though he’s learned that friendships outside the team can be difficult to maintain. A relationship like this, though, something true and lasting — he’s never really believed he could have that. But now, standing here, seeing how happy his parents are together, he can’t imagine his life without it.

He swallows hard, blinks, and takes a long, steady breath before saying, “Good night.”

They both look up and smile at him. His mom crosses to give him a hug and a kiss while his dad stacks the containers of leftovers in the refrigerator.

“Sleep well, honey. We’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, Jack.”

Jack heads upstairs, his mind whirling. He doesn’t quite know what to do with this feeling. It’s new and big and strange, and it doesn’t fit well with everything else in his head. Dark clouds are already pushing in at the edges of his thoughts, shards of anxiety conjured out of nowhere. He pushes it all down with every step he takes, hoping to set it aside until tomorrow, at least.

He steps into his room and closes the door behind him, and breathes. This room hasn’t really been his for a decade; the posters of his sports heroes came down years ago. The bed is big enough, though, and the decor is spartan, simple. He feels comfortable here.

He puts on an old Samwell t-shirt and pajama pants, and brushes his teeth before settling into bed with his phone. The SMH group text seems to be full of final exam angst and pleas for Bittle to bake something. He has some congratulatory texts on his phone for tonight’s game, including one from Parse, who’s been texting him a lot lately. It’s mostly chirping, and Jack doesn’t quite know what to make of it. At least his stomach doesn’t plummet at the sight of that name on his lock screen anymore.

He scrolls down a bit more until he sees a text from Bittle.

Congrats on the win! [smiley]

Jack taps out Thanks, and spends several minutes scrolling through the emoji keyboard in hopes of finding something that looks like a pie before he gives up. He writes, Whits and I are at my parents’ house tonight.

He waits to see if Bittle will respond, but nothing happens. It’s late, of course, nearly 1:00 am on a week night, and Bittle will have practice in the morning ahead of their post-finals weekend roadie. He takes a deep breath and releases it again, and lets himself tap at the keyboard without thinking.

I’ve been a shitty friend lately and I’m sorry. I miss talking to you. Good luck on your finals. Tell the guys (and Lardo) I said hi.

He hits send, switches on do not disturb, and plugs the phone in. He closes his eyes and tries to quiet his mind in the darkness. The sounds of this house are familiar, comforting. It’s far enough from the city and the road that there isn’t much traffic noise, just the whirring of the heating system. It lulls him into a light doze, then suddenly shuts off. There is another sound then, one that wrenches him awake: a soft gasping.

Oh, god.

He winces and pulls his pillow over his head. He tries to block it out, to think of something else, but when it’s joined by a rhythmic thumping, he nopes right out of bed and heads down the stairs.

He’s only here one night, and they can’t just… not?

He’s tired and his knees ache, and now he’s cold and grumpy to boot. He stares contemplatively at the couch for a moment. He doesn’t know where they keep the extra pillows and blankets, and he’s sure as hell not going back upstairs to look. Besides, he played a hard game tonight and freaking deserves to sleep on a bed. He’ll just have to wait them out. Or…

He heads down the hall to the guest bedroom and knocks softly on the door.

“Come in,” he hears, and sighs in relief.

He steps through and closes the door behind him. Whits is sitting up in bed, phone in his hand. At least Jack didn’t wake him up.

“Everything all right?”

“Yeah.” Jack frowns and crosses to sit on the other side of the bed. “It’s fine, it’s just... My parents are…” He rolls his eyes and makes a vague hand gesture.

“They gave you shit about being” —Whits tilts his head in a way Jack has come to understand as code for whatever you are— “and now you can’t sleep?”

“No.” Jack grimaces. “They’re… having sex. It’s kind of loud.”

Whits stares at him for a full second before bursting into laughter.

“Shut the fuck up,” Jack hisses, and swats him with a pillow. “It’s not funny.”

“It’s not funny when it’s your own parents, but it’s sure as fuck funny when it’s someone else’s.” Whits puts his finger to his lips. “Shhh, listen. Maybe they’re still going at it.”

“Oh my god,” Jack whines.

“I’m kidding, geez. Here, climb in. Hang out until it’s safe again.”

Jack scowls at him, but slides under the covers just the same. He stretches out on his back and looks up at the ceiling. A minute later, Whits turns his phone off, and the room is plunged into darkness. The mattress shifts as Whits settles down.

“Thanks for inviting me tonight. It’s been fun.”

Jack yawns. “Thanks for coming.”

“I have to say it was totally surreal to hang out and drink with Bad Bob, though.”

“I know.” It’s never not weird that people are so star-struck by his dad, but Jack’s used to it.

“At least somebody got laid tonight,” Whits says, snickering. “I mean, if it couldn’t be me, then—”

Jack reaches out in the darkness to pinch the soft skin on the back of his arm.

“Ow, fuck!” Whits shoves him in retaliation.

Jack pushes back, and Whits laughs. Jack considers pinning him to the mattress until he promises to never speak of it again, but… well, considering they’re in a bed, in the dark, that could get awkward. He stares up at the ceiling instead, letting silence stretch out between them.

Whits turns onto his side. “You’re thinking so loud I can almost make out the words, bro.”

“Sorry. I can go. It’s probably safe now.”

“Nah, talk to me. I might fall asleep on you, but it’ll still be good for you to get that shit off your chest, whatever it is.”

Jack purses his lips and looks up at the ceiling. He can make out the shape of the light fixture above him, just barely. “Do you ever think about getting married?”

Whits is quiet for a moment. “Sometimes? I mean, it’s been legal everywhere less than a year, so it’s still kind of a new idea. But I’d have to actually date someone first, long enough that I could think about wanting to spend the rest of my life with them. That doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.”

“Yeah.”

“What about you?”

Jack hesitates: he’s the one who started this conversation, but he’s not sure how much he wants to tell Whits. “Not until recently. I guess living on my own has made me think about what it would be like to have someone like that. And seeing my parents together… I guess… yeah.”

“I can see it now. Model-hot wife, adorable kids who wear your jersey to games and skate before they can walk.”

Jack frowns. “Maybe. But when I imagine it… it’s usually a guy.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Is that… new?”

“It’s completely new. That’s kind of the point.”

Whits draws in a breath, then hesitates before speaking again. “It’s interesting that you see yourself settling down with a guy when… you’re also into girls, right?”

Jack frowns at the ceiling. “I don’t really know if I’m bi or gay, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“No, I mean… is it the idea of a guy, or like, a particular guy?”

Jack closes his eyes, suddenly grateful for the darkness. “No one in particular.” He barrels on before Whits has a chance to work out the lie. “And that’s the thing that makes it hard, right? I can’t have a serious boyfriend, let alone marry a guy and also play in the NHL.”

“Yeah. I mean, you could, but… I don’t want to be the poster boy for that shit.”

“Me either.” Jack’s spent his whole life staying as far away from unwanted attention as he could. The idea of actively inviting it makes his skin crawl.

Whits is quiet for a moment. “I think about the guys with wives and kids sometimes, you know? How they have someone at home, a family to go back to after we’ve been on the road. And I think about how much this league, or hell, the world would have to change before I could have something even close to that.”

“Yeah.” Jack turns onto his side and looks at Whits.

“It’s not like I want to get married anytime soon. I mean, I’m 23, you know? But it would be nice to know I could have a boyfriend I wouldn’t have to hide. It’d be hard enough to be in a relationship with someone who lives the way we do, but to have to be in the closet on top of that is just… yeah.”

Jack’s stomach clenches — that’s exactly the issue. He can’t ask anyone to do that for him, to live the way they’d have to. And he can’t ask that of Bittle, especially. He sighs and rolls onto his back, hands over his face. “Shit.”

“Hey,” Whits says, and moves closer to Jack. Jack tenses automatically, and Whits laughs. “Chill, dude, I’m not making a move on you. You just… seem like you need to be the little spoon for a while.”

Whits pushes at his shoulder and Jack turns, and Whits presses up against his back, warm and solid. He drapes one arm across Jack’s chest and sighs into the back of his neck. It’s nice, Jack has to admit. He hasn’t been held like this in a long time.

“There, not so bad, is it?”

Jack smiles. “And Shitty always said no one in the NHL would snuggle with me.”

“You tell Shitty I got your back.” Whits gives him a little squeeze. “I bet your mom would have snuggled with you if she wasn’t getting some serious dick tonight.”

“Shut the fuck up about my mom.” He’s too sleepy to put much venom into it, though.

Whits yawns and tugs the covers up around their shoulders. “You can stay if you want. I don’t mind.”

“Okay.” Jack pats his arm. “Thanks.”

Warmth and comfort and exhaustion supersede anxiety after a few minutes, and Jack sleeps more soundly than he’s slept in a long time.

*****

Jack wakes up alone in the guest bedroom. And that's fine, honestly: platonic snuggling with a friend in the middle of the night is one thing, but doing it in the bright light of morning would add a whole new layer of awkward.

He makes his way to the bathroom and then down the hallway towards the kitchen. His mom and Whits are chatting at the small kitchen table over quiche and coffee.

"Morning," he says, and heads straight for the coffeemaker.

"You slept late," Alicia says.

Jack shrugs and pours himself a cup of coffee. “Went to sleep late too.”

Alicia has a slice of quiche plated for him when he sits, and he manages a mumbled "thanks" before he starts digging in.

"Always a ray of sunshine first thing in the morning," Whits says, leaning back in his chair.

Jack glares at him.

Alicia laughs and kisses the top of Jack's head like she did when he was five years old, then goes to refill her coffee.

"What time do we need to drop you off?"

Jack looks over at Whits, who says, "Noon, right?"

Jack nods and takes another bite.

"It's a short flight to Ottawa.” Whits lifts his coffee mug to his lips. “Nice of them to let us have a morning off.” He raises his eyebrows at Jack.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Jack says. “But I definitely appreciate it.”

After breakfast he heads upstairs to take a quick shower and pack up his things. His phone, abandoned since last night, has a few dozen new text messages. He scrolls through the SMH chat alerts, and then sees a series of texts from Bittle. His stomach flips.

You haven’t been a shitty friend! You’re a great friend.

Sorry I haven’t been texted much lately. It’s been crazy here.

Soooo I have something to tell you. When’s a good time to call?

Jack stares at the screen of the phone. He’d like to reply, Now, now is good, but… If it’s good news, his parents will read it on his face immediately, and he’s not sure he’s up to any more discussion of Bittle. If it’s bad news, he’ll have to spend the rest of the day dwelling on it, in addition to facing the possibility of talking about it. So yeah, now is probably not good.

We’re flying to Ottawa this afternoon. Maybe later tonight?

He waits, but there doesn’t seem to be a response imminent.

“Jack?”

He looks up to see his father standing in the open doorway.

“Can I come in?” He’s speaking French, which Jack takes to mean he has something serious to say. His father is fluent in three languages, but he always uses French when he has a delicate point to express.

Jack nods, and Bob crosses to sit on the bed beside him.

“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry if your mother and I made you uncomfortable last night.”

Jack gapes at him. That is definitely not what he was expecting. “I… ahhh…”

“We didn’t intend to do that. It just sort of… happened.”

“We don’t have to discuss this. It’s fine.” Jack wills himself not to blush, and fails miserably.

“It’s not fine,” Bob says, and runs a hand through his hair. “It’s—”

“No, Papa, it really is.”

“I need to say this, all right? Your professional career is just starting and you have plenty of time to figure it out, but… you’ve never dated anyone for more than a month or so. Not that we know of, anyway.” He pauses to give Jack a speculative look.

Jack blinks at him.

“We can’t help worrying about you. We want you to be happy, to have people who love you in your life.”

Jack exhales smoothly, relief flooding him as he catches the thread of the conversation. “I do. I have you and Mom.”

“And when we’re gone?”

“Papa—”

“I’m serious, Jack.” Bob’s expression is carefully neutral. “Your mother wasn’t terribly subtle about it last night, but… you know it doesn’t matter to us whether you date boys or girls, right? It never has.”

“I know. There hasn’t really been anyone, though.” Not since Parse, really, and Jack appreciates that his parents never mention that.

Bob nods. “When you went to Samwell, we thought maybe… But four years is a long time not to...” He winces. “I’m fucking this up.”

Jack looks down at his hands. He hasn’t had this conversation with his parents, and he’s not sure he wants to have it now. He’s already disappointed them in so many ways. Why add a new one to the list?

“Not that there’s anything wrong with not dating. Or… whatever. I just hope that you would feel comfortable telling us.”

Jack smiles. “If I do date anyone, I’ll tell you, okay? I have no reason to keep it a secret from you and Mom.”

“Okay, good.” Bob presses his lips together for a moment. “So you and Whitton really aren’t…?”

“Definitely not. He’s a teammate, and that… no.” Jack shakes his head.

“I think that’s wise.” Bob hesitates a moment more. “I know you didn’t sleep in your own bed last night — and that’s fine — but I thought maybe there was something you didn’t feel like you could tell us.”

Jack laughs and presses one hand over his eyes. “No, it wasn’t like that at all. I ended up sleeping in the guest room because…” He hesitates and then thinks, fuck it. “It was a little loud up here.”

Bob frowns at him in confusion. “Loud?”

Jack gives him a long look. “Very loud.”

Bob stares at him a moment more before realization dawns on his face. “Oh, we… you…” His cheeks flush, which Jack has only seen a handful of times in his life. Bob looks up at the ceiling and laughs, then presses his lips together for a moment. “My god. You heard that?”

“Yeah.” This would be a lovely time for the floor to open up and swallow Jack whole, but sadly, it doesn’t.

Bob laughs and shakes his head, his initial embarrassment apparently gone. “Well, I’d say I’m sorry, but—”

“I only visit a few times a year,“ Jack says, unable to keep a whine out of his tone. “Couldn’t you just wait until I left?”

“No, not really.” Bob’s smirk is epic. “You know, son, when two people love each other very much—”

“Oh my god, stop right there.”

“You have to understand that your mother—”

Papa—”

“—is so incredibly—”

“I’m serious!”

“—hot that I—”

“Unless you want a detailed account of the last time I gave a blowjob, stop talking!”

Bob’s eyes widen, and Jack replays the words that just came out of his mouth. The blood drains out of his face.

Fuck.

“Um.”

Bob holds his hands up in surrender, his expression unreadable. “Okay, okay.”

They stare at each other awkwardly for a few seconds before Bob snickers, breaking the tension.

“Your mother is going to be mortified that you overheard.”

“Don’t tell her!”

Bob grins and pats Jack on the shoulder. “I’m glad we had this talk, son.”

Jack snorts. “That makes one of us.”

The moment Bob closes the door behind him, Jack flops back on the bed and groans. He loves his parents, but the sooner he gets out of here, the better.

*****