@whoacanada posted this, and I’ve seen it a few times now, and finally caught a bit of time so this happened. also tagging @especially-shitty @audiaphilios @pale-silver-comb and @rhysiana who I’ve either seen reblog this, or think will enjoy it. Maybe a birthday present for @iboatedhere too.
There’s a figure skating exhibition in Montréal which Bob is guest announcing at, so the whole Zimmermann fam goes to watch.
Jack is still in his in between phase of adolescence, not quite grown into his limbs, face still rounded with the last bits of stubborn childhood fat. His whole body still a little too large, and his confidence bowed under the extra weight and his blooming anxiety about his future, his sexuality, and life as the child of two incredibly successful, beautiful people.
But underneath that, is a clever, witty, ridiculous flirty man waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
Enter one Eric R. Bittle. Just over five and a half feet of lean muscle and able to move it all with a speed and grace that leaves Jack breathless. Watching Eric skate, watching him bring the story of his music to life in sweeping arcs and gravity defying jumps and spins, is a revelation. Jack loses himself in the sparkling whirlwind of movement and glowing blond hair that is Eric Bittle.
When his routine ends, in a glorious final spin that leaves Eric with outstretched arms and his head thrown back, a triumphant smile on his face, Jack is mesmerized by the line of Eric’s neck and the way he can see the heavy breaths Eric is taking. Jack can feel his heart beating in time with the rise and fall of Eric’s chest. When Eric looks up, he looks radiant, and he looks right at Jack. The full impact of his smile hits Jack right in the gut.
He must make a sound, because Alicia looks at him with a knowing gleam in her eyes and asks “Ça'va, cher?” Jack can only nod, eyes glued to Eric’s figure as he makes his way off the ice. He misses Alicia’s grin, but takes comfort in the arm she wraps around his shoulder, difficult with the way he’s almost taller than her now, even at 16, but still nice.
He’s not entirely sure how, but he ends up in the hallway outside the locker room with his parents. Bob is talking with the skaters as they come out, Jack mostly a silent presence, making awkward attempts at conversation when addressed and getting slightly irritated at the way everyone looks at him like he’s adorable despite them mostly being not much older than him. (He’d checked Eric’s age at least, and was incredibly pleased that he was the same age.)
Then, Eric is just. There. In front of him. Smiling that same sunshiny smile that is even more spectacular up close. From this close, Jack can see the warm honey and bourbon flecks in Eric’s big brown eyes, and how they radiate kindness. He feels like he’s taking up too much space, feels all the clumsiness in his limbs that only seems to disappear when he’s playing hockey.
When Eric speaks, his accent catches Jack off guard, but in a good way. It makes him feel warm and soft, and he hopes he isn’t blushing.
“Hello Mr and Mrs Zimmermann, it is such an honor to meet you! I’ve followed both of your careers, and y'all are such an inspiration!” Eric’s exuberance makes Jack smile, he feels it stretch across his face and can’t even be embarrassed about it because when Eric looks at him Jack sees it reflected back at him.
“Oh. Hello! You’re Jack, right? The next Zimmermann to watch out for?” He says it with sincerity, and a hint of a chirp, and Jack doesn’t feel any of the pressure he usually does when people talk about his legacy.
He takes just a second too long to reply, and his dad nudges his arm a little to get his attention. He catches a smirk on Bob’s face in his peripheral vision, and a quick wordless exchange between his parents, and has a sudden flash of his dad telling him about how he wooed his mom by speaking to her in French at any given opportunity.
So when Jack responds, a second or two past what’s strictly socially acceptable but not so long it’s awkward, he can only say “Bonjour, Eric,” as he presents his hand, almost sighing when Eric slips his own surprisingly soft hand into Jack’s, shaking it with a firm grip and a smile still on his face. “Vous étiez incroyable.”
He’s vaguely aware that he should be mortified, but Eric’s cheeks turn a delightful pink and it makes something in Jack want to rise to the challenge of keeping the color there.
“Oh my,” Eric laughs, “You can call me Bitty, Jack. Though I must admit my French is terrible, merci beaucoup.” His accent is quite awful, really, but when Jack notices their hands are still together, that they’re just holding hands now, he can only grin wider.
“De rien, Bitty.” Bitty looks down slightly, notices their hands and his eyes widen. He looks up at Jack from under his impressively thick lashes with a look of wonder on his face.
Bitty mutters what sounds like “Oh, lord,” and Jack chuckles under his breath.
Jack couldn’t agree more. So he squeezes Bitty’s hand and says just quietly enough that Bitty has to lean in a little “D’accord.”