AU where Bitty and Jack both suddenly wake up, after having had a few years together, and find themselves in their beds on the morning of the day they met. Both remember everything that happened, but neither thinks the other does, so they both pretend not to remember (which only complicates things more). They end up reenacting a lot of their interactions and it kills them both to do things they know hurt the other but they don't want to change anything.
oh no buddy, I’m not gonna let this stay sad. I’m gonna draw attention to several sad things, but then I’m gonna fix it.
Bitty wakes up on his first day of freshman year. Again. He quickly decides that he can’t say anything to anyone. There was no way to prove that the life he had just been living was anything but a dream.
He goes through the motions as well as he can remember. If he lingers a little on the handshake when he ‘meets’ Jack again, well, who could notice a thing like that?
Jack wakes up in the Haus. He mirrors Bitty’s mental process, realizing that if he started talking about this he could lose the future he knows is on its way. He searches Bittle’s face for recognition, but is too afraid to say anything.
Jack takes a deep breath every day and snaps at Bittle, pushing every pet name out of his mind. Bitty forces himself to forget and relearn how to take a check. On the rink together for checking practice, neither can think of any way to ask if they’re going through the same thing. They both cry more than they did the first time around.
Sometimes Bitty just gets angry at having to repeat things. He tries as hard as he can to not mess the repetitions up, but he isn’t perfect. When Ransom and Holster start asking him what his type is, he rolls his eyes and replies “Men.” As soon as he’s said it he remembers that he had only said that later to his camera, but the damage doesn’t seem to be too great. Jack doesn’t seem to react to the change, adding to his mental list of evidence that everything else had just been a dream. He gets the list of eligible Winter Screw options a few days earlier, but everything settles back to what it had been within a week. Whenever he starts thinking about the next few years, he’s enraged about everything he’s going to have to sit back and let happen. Everything that was going to make Jack sad, and that he wouldn’t be able to fix. Everything that was going to hurt him that he couldn’t avoid.
Jack wakes up every day and writes up a game plan. It’s hard to have to turn back years of learning and be worse as a captain, especially when he remembers every mistake he made in every lost game. So he writes down those mistakes as a reminder to himself to make them. Half of the mistakes are emotional, and that’s what really gets him. He’s forced to act like those years of growing as a person never happened, like they were worthless. He hates trying to make himself glare at Bittle when they’re on the same line, he hates telling him that it was a lucky shot, he hates being so close to his boyfriend except for the fact that he isn’t his boyfriend yet.
Then it’s the playoffs. Bitty steels himself all week for the concussion he knows is coming. It crosses his mind to try to avoid it, to spare himself the pain and potential brain damage. But he remembers that it was only after the concussion that Jack started texting him, and they really got close. He knows that if he went against the play he knew Jack was going to suggest, he’d only drive them apart. Besides, it hadn’t been that bad the first time.
Jack is confident he can find another reason to text Bittle over the summer. He’s thought about this for the whole school year. Whatever consequences could come from not seeing Bitty hurt like that would be worth it. He just has to convince the coaches to not put Bitty in at the wrong time.
“Oh my god, I thought we got over this months ago,” Bitty mutters to himself. He doesn’t remember Jack getting so annoyed about playing with him during this game, but he’s at a point where everything has run together in his mind.
“Jack, I’ll be fine,” he half-lies. He will, eventually. There’s something close to panic in Jack’s eyes. Weird, Jack had taken so long the first time around to show any tiny sign of weakness.
“Promise me you’ll avoid number three.” This is definitely different from before. Bitty stares at Jack. “Spencer, number three, don’t go near him when he’s on their side of the rink. Promise me, Bits.”
“You didn’t even call me Bitty at this point,” he says in shock. They stare at each other for a minute, eyes wide.
“I won’t get the concussion this time and we’ll talk about this after the game,” Bitty blurts out. Jack nods vigorously. They play, and it’s brutal, but Bitty avoids the hip check. Once the game is over, they rush to get seats together in the bus. In whispers, they talk about the future they already had. Bitty mourned the years of school he had ahead of him that he had already completed. Jack complained about having to rewalk a long path to the Stanley Cup. They talked about teammates who felt like family but would still know them as strangers. Graduation, the Fourth of July they spent in Madison, their first Christmas together. Every important milestone of their relationship.
“And in this loop or timeline or whatever, we haven’t even kissed!” Bitty whispers, letting his head thunk back against the headrest. “I was at the point where I was out of college, happy with my career, and hiding a ring from you!”
“You weren’t!” Jack says out loud before dropping back into a whisper. “I was doing the same thing.” They both start laughing. It’s the perfect time to have a second first kiss. They lean in towards each other, their lips meet, and–
–They’re back in their apartment. Bitty sits bolt upright in their bed and turns to Jack. For a fleeting second, he thinks about pretending the last several months just didn’t happen. Jack sits up too, and their eyes meet.
“Did that just–”
“Your frog year take two–” They dissolve into relieved laughter.
“I thought I was going to have to take calc again!”
“I thought I was going to have to listen to you complain about calc again,” Jack says before Bitty smacks him with a pillow. “Kidding! Kind of! Wait, weren’t we just saying that we wanted to propose to each other?” He throws himself out of bed and runs to start rummaging through various coat pockets.
“Oh no, you’re not going to propose to me before I can propose to you!”
Everything is as it should be once more.