Post-Wedding: Eric’s a little famous, but he’s not used to taking advantage of that status. Good thing he’s surrounded himself with people who don’t have the same hang-ups.
Beyoncé’s new tour dates are announced and not only is she playing Starbucks Arena, she’s playing in Seattle during a lull between a stretch of home games.
“I didn’t realize you were so into Beyoncé, Bittle. Isn’t that a little bit stereotypical?”
Eric doesn’t have time for Boomer’s casual homophobia, pre-sale tickets go on sale in three minutes and for once this miserable season, he’d like to get something he actually wants.
“I don’t know if anyone has told you, Booms, but I’m pretty fucking gay. And you know what else is a stereotype: sucking big, thick, hard –”
Boomer raises his hands and backs away from Eric’s table. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry.”
Eric waves the d-man off while Carter slides out the chair beside Eric and drops his take-out box on the table, careful not to jostle the laptop.
“He’s getting better.”
“He’s getting his stall plastered with hardcore vintage porn is what he’s getting,” Eric mutters. “Swear to the Lord, you’d think I was a walking identity crisis –”
Two minutes. His card info is pre-loaded. Carter is chomping away on something that smells like curry. Eric’s blood is vibrating under his skin like he’s in overtime. He’s ready.
“Wait, why are you buying them yourself? I’m sure JoAnn can get some from the front office for us.”
Eric stares at the screen. 1:27. He doesn’t want to bother the team’s publicist over something like this. He’s an adult. He needed help with Hamilton tickets, he doesn’t need help for Beyoncé. He knows Beyoncé.
Maybe not literally, but still.
“Dude, let me call her. Just in case.”
“Leave her alone. She’s done enough for us this season.”
“Maybe we should –”
The waiting room clicks over and he’s in. Easy as pie. He selects his seats, nabs the VIP package, gets to the checkout screen, and…
“What the hell…?”
An error message pops up.
“No, no, no, no,” Eric clicks the screen, and when the page refreshes there’s nothing there. No seats. No VIP meet and greet. Nothing. A happy little banner pops up that reads ‘Thank you for participating in Citi Bank’s Presale –’
Eric’s stomach drops. “Are you kidding me!? It’s been thirty seconds!”
“It’s bots, man,” Bay shouts from across the room. “Those ticket resellers program these computers to –”
“I don’t give a good god damn if it’s a robot! I was right there! They were mine!” He drops his head to the table and whines. “I can afford them on the secondary market, it’s just the principle of the matter.”
“I’m so sorry, man,” Carter runs a sympathetic hand over his back. “Can I call JoAnn now?”
Eric shakes his head, content to wallow in his own sadness. “Everything I touch turns to death,” he moans.
“That sounds like a yes.”
Eric’s phone starts vibrating beside his head – the tap-tap-tap pulse he’s set for Jack – but before he can answer Carter’s tapped the call button for him.
“Hey, Zimmermann. You’re on speaker phone, your husband’s in a state.”
“Carter, um, thanks? Bits, you okay? Did you get your tickets?”
“…no,” Eric sighs, lifting his head to stare blearily at his phone. “The bots ruined me, Jack. I’m dead.”
“Your man is too proud to use his contacts, Zimms,” Carter snickers and elbows Eric in the side.
“That’s unfortunate,” Jack consoles, but Eric can hear something else in his voice. Something distinctly amused.
“Jack, I swear to god if you make me wait any longer –”
“I have two VIP passes sitting on my desk at home right now. I talked to my agent about it weeks ago. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Eric’s mouth goes dry and Carter shakes his shoulders roughly in excitement. He can’t make his voice work.
Carter leans in close, whispering, “Bittle, you crying?”
“Bits? Bud? You there?”
“No,” Eric breathes, composing himself, “I’m just, really happy I married my husband, and I get to meet Beyoncé.”
There’s silence across the line, then, “Bits, I know those things aren’t in order, and that’s okay. I love you, too.”
“But you lost,” Eric says gently, afraid Jack’s about to realize he’s made a mistake. “And you won,” Jack counters, just as gently, cupping Bitty’s face. “And you have no idea how proud I am. Six years ago you’d pass out if you got hit. Tonight you ran me into the boards twice!” “Cause you were being an asshole, Sweetpea,” Eric defends, fighting the warmth rising in his cheeks. “And it was great, but you know who helped you through that? I did,” Jack grins. “Checked you so many times you forgot you hated me. So, it’s a bit like I won too, you know? I got to see the man I love, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, fearless.” Oh. That’s. Eric grabs a handful of Jack’s jersey and pulls him down into a kiss, heedless of the flashing lights and screaming spectators. When they separate Jack’s expression is dazed. “So you’ll marry me?” Jack cradles Eric’s sweaty face and peppers kisses across his cheek. “Please say yes. Make it official.”
- Senior year, Bitty is the first openly gay NCAA captain of any men’s sport. When Samwell wins the Frozen Four, commentators start speculating on him being a draft prospect. Jack isn’t out yet.
- ‘Get Bittle in the NHL’ goes viral as an equality issue and the NHL is under pressure to recruit him, which creates this divisive ‘is he really good enough to play’/’the league is homophobic’ situation among fans and within the NHL.
- Bitty gets a lot of heat from all sides and Jack is really worried about his bf, who is living every coming-out fear Jack’s ever had. The Falcs can’t recruit Bitty because Jack has already disclosed their relationship to management, so Jack can’t protect Bitty.
- Things go downhill quickly after a hacker leaks a series of emails between the Commissioner and several owners, wherein he says an AHL franchise needs to ‘take one for the team’ and recruit Bittle so the NHL won’t have to deal with the ‘problem’ anymore.
- The league course-corrects hard and is bending over backward to get Bitty to sign off on their official apology, but Bitty is disgusted by the whole process and doesn’t want to participate in the draft just to make the league look better. He isn’t planning to go pro at all, and now he’s hesitant to move to Providence with Jack, concerned that he might accidentally out Jack and land him with the same PR problems.
- Bitty goes back to Georgia the summer after he graduates.
- After things calm down a bit, Bitty gets a call from the new Schooners owner, a progressive tech billionaire who hates the NHL commissioner and genuinely wants to sell Bitty on Seattle. Unsure of himself and his relationship, Bitty agrees to the meeting…
- And surprise! Bitty loves Seattle, the team, the ownership group, the food, everything. Even less of a surprise, the team loves Bitty and offers him a two-year contract with an option for renewal.
- The distance hurts, but it actually makes things easier because the risk of Jack being outed is much less if he’s not sharing an apartment with Bitty.
- Bitty understands now why Jack needs to prove himself before he comes out, the same way Bitty needs to prove himself now. Jack deserves that buffer, and Bitty can help in his own small way.
- At the same time, after seeing how Bitty was treated Jack doesn’t want to come out until his boyfriend is established enough that he won’t be remembered as ‘that gay hockey player’ or ‘Jack Zimmermann’s boyfriend’. They’re just two dumb boys looking out for each other. They agree to revisit coming out together after Bitty’s two-year contract ends.
- Bitty’s rookie year is a hell of an adjustment, he billets with d-man called Carter Morin who is a year younger than Bitty but still has three pro seasons under his belt. Carter is convinced Bitty will be a target because of his size and sexuality, so he becomes obsessed with teaching Bitty how to ‘defend’ himself. This basically boils down to lessons in ‘how to play dirty and not get caught’.
- During these lessons, Bitty realizes he has a lot of anger he’s not dealing with. He’s pissed about being marginalized by the league, the press that won’t stay out of his and Jack’s business, he’s pissed he can’t publicly be with his boyfriend, he’s furious WBC are planning to picket his first home game. He has years of repressed southern rage and he doesn’t have to play nice to make bad people feel good. Not anymore.
- Off the ice Bitty is a perfect gentleman, does tons of outreach, fundraising, he visits hospitals and coaches day-camps, after that first season he’s a fan favorite, but on the ice Bitty slowly becomes a living embodiment of ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’; he’s a good player, everyone knows it, but now he’s absolutely ruthless and spends his fair share of time in the penalty box, initially for defending himself, later for defending others.
- During a particularly aggressive Schooners game, a commentator jokingly describes a post-fight Bitty as Bob’s spiritual successor, coining the term ‘Bad Bittle’. Bob is elated, Jack is horrified.
- Bitty ultimately makes friends on the team, builds a following, and becomes an integral part in building Seattle’s fledgling franchise into a championship team.
- Schooners take the cup in Bitty’s second year and Jack is surprisingly okay with his boyfriend getting a ring before him, it means they’re one step closer to being untouchable
- The Falconers dethrone the Schooners the following season and win the championship. Jack and Bitty come out/marry on Jack’s cup day. They don’t wear wedding bands, they wear their cup rings.
US navy hopes cannon found by divers is from wreck of the USS Revenge
US navy archaeologists are hoping to confirm that a cannon that rested in waters off Rhode Island for two centuries is from a schooner commanded by a hero of the War of 1812.
The USS Revenge became ensnared in a reef off Watch Hill in Westerly in 1811, amidst thick fog and heavy swells. Oliver Hazard Perry ordered his men to jettison guns, masts and the anchor, but the vessel sank. Treacherous reefs, rocks and poor visibility kept the cannon and other artifacts hidden until 2005.
That year, recreational divers from Connecticut, Charlie Buffum and Craig Harger, found what is believed to be the naval schooner’s wreck site. Navy divers recovered the cannon on 24 May. It’s the first artifact the navy has raised from the site. Read more.
Jack, Eric, and Chris aren’t the only Samwell alums floating around the NHL. Holster spent a season or two in the AHL and decided it wasn’t for him, but he’s networked into something a little more his speed.
Feat. Linesman Holster, dirty Schooners, and a frustrated Eric Bittle.
Eric’s on his back with his legs in the air when the linesman skates by and says sternly, “I’m sorry, we can’t allow this kind of reckless behavior before the game has even started.”
Eric rolls to the side and pushes himself up, ready to sass the hell out him, when he sees exactly what breed of asshole he’s dealing with.
And it’s only the best kind.
“Holster!” He squeals, startling his teammates before launching himself into Adam Birkholtz’s arms. Even with the pads Holster is able to wrap his arms around Eric and lift him off the ice.
“S’up, Itty Bitty!”
Carter swings around at the commotion. “Going to go easy on him, Birkholtz?” he asks, practically bouncing on his toes at the prospect of a penalty free game.
“Fuck, no,” Holster pulls a face and drops his hands to Eric’s shoulders, spinning him around to face his teammates. “Bittle’s been playing really dirty.”
“He’s kidding,” Eric says quickly, waiting for Adam to agree, but the moment doesn’t come.
“I’m really not, little bro.”
Eric’s stomach drops. “What?”
Adam taps a beat out on Eric’s shoulder pads, not quite soothing, more of a, “I’m your friend, and I’m about to give you some hard love,” kinda thing.
“We had a full-on league meeting about you. None of the guys want to get labeled as homophobic for dishing out penalties, so you’ve been getting away with a lot.”
That’s…news to Eric.
“Y’all have been going easy on me? I’ve just been defending myself.”
“Bro. There’s a reason Bob keeps using the hashtag ‘Bad Bittle’. You should have been ejected in Columbus.”
“Yeah. Between you, Morin, and Forrester it’s pretty much ‘typical Schooners hockey’. But no worries, I told the higher ups I’d wouldn’t pull any punches.”
“Oh. Um, that’s…good? I guess.”
Holster shakes his head.
“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll have to be on my best behavior, won’t I?”
The Schooners lose. By a fair margin. On the bright side, it may be the most accurately called game in the last ten years. On the not-so-bright side, Eric spends a solid eight minutes in the penalty box.
And every time Holster skates by the sin bin, he gives a happy wave.
The last time Eric climbs out of the box, he skates past Holster and says, “Hope your hotel has good security.”
Adam laughs, big and booming like Eric’s missed some joke.
“Bitty, didn’t Jack tell you? I’m staying with you tonight!”
tell us about holster when he played for the schooners!
oh my god. thank you. i will literally talk about this anytime, anywhere.
his nickname is holt and sometimes holtzy and he’s actually SO RIDICULOUS. people don’t really know what to think about him because in postgame interviews he’s grumpy and pretty serious and like, obviously tired with 0% patience to talk to reporters who ask him the same question over and over and over again
the schooners have an AMAZING social media presence - think the canadiens youtube videos and the snapchat of the detriot redwings. people get to know the players incredibly well, and holster goes from this grumpy rookie to this lovable dork who DESTROYS at movie trivia and is always singing in the background of snapchats from practice. they mic him up during a game and it’s pretty much him singing ‘under pressure’ and quoting TV shows.
greatest hits include:
from it’s always sunny in philadelphia:
“I don’t know how many more seasons in the NHL I’ve got left. I’m gonna get weird with it.”
people get real emo about this one after he’s injured
”It’s like, do I listen to the linesman who’s gonna blast me in the ass, or the referee who’s blasting my ass?”
after a check: “wildcard!”
on his way to the penalty box: “later, boners.”
from the office:
when he’s asked a particularly stupid question after a game: “wow, i wish i had prepared something to say. god guide you in your quest”
“Ref, you ignorant slut”
when a penalty is reversed: “how the turntables”
from arrested development:
at various points throughout his career “steve holt!”
once again during an interview: “I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.”
this is his crowning achievement.
there’s a youtube video of him that’s called “every time birkholtz looks into the camera like he’s on the office” and it’s a beautifully edited compilation of game footage and sure enough he does the jim face when he’s sitting in the penalty box, before face offs, when he’s on the bench, literally ALL THE TIME. no one knows how he always manages to track the camera
tumblr loves him. i don’t make the rules ok. he’s always quoting tv shows and musicals and grows up literally in front of people and i’m not saying ransom has a sideblog dedicated to him but he honestly might
So I’m trying to get into hockey and I’ve been watching all these mic’d up highlight reels and I find it hilarious how the hockey players are often like ‘wanna go?’ and they just fuckin whip off their gloves and start punching each other
Once Bitty starts playing for the Schooners (a la @whoacanada and after they’ve come out) and him and Jack have already had a few games against each other and they got into a really heated fight before this game
but you know since it’s Jack and Bitty they got all pumped up for the game too so now they’re a weird mix of angry and horny
so then Bitty chirps Jack or something and Jack’s like ‘wanna go?’ and they whip off their gloves and fucking just start MAKING OUT
the refs don’t know what to do
Holster’s at home watching the game w Ransom saying they should make a play outta that
Bitty loves Seattle as much as a southerner can love a city that barely sees the sunshine, and he loves his boys, but god bless it if he doesn’t cross his fingers and toes every year hoping to get picked up by a Metropolitan team so he can at least live on the same coast as Jack.
For a few blissful months every year, Bitty gets his husband back; and promptly does none of what he’s planned to do with said husband.
(Also, point-of-order, Jack’s three-year, 1.2 million a year Falconers contract is on the lower end of the spectrum. The average (2016) NHL salary is around 2.9 mil a year, meaning Jack went pretty cheap for someone being scouted by so many teams. Did our beloved Canadian hockey robot turn down mad-money elsewhere to sign with the Falconers? Probably.)
They’re both snuggled up together in a rare moment of post-season calm. Neither are keen to move any more than the absolutely have to; tucked into lopsided couch cushions while the television plays split-screened between another film missed in theaters and the NHL Network.
It’s been a long, hard-fought season for them both: the Falconers knocked out of the playoffs in the second round, the Schooners barely making a dent in the first. Combine that with their newfound ‘chronic’ injuries and Bitty is happy to just lie here, mindlessly groping any part of Jack he can reach: he’s currently got a handful of pec, while Jack alternates between Bitty’s ass and lower back. It’s not arousing at all, just comfortable; until Jack’s wandering fingers hit a sore spot.
“Don’t talk,” Danny warns, barely audible over the furious crowd. “27′s stick fucked up your face real nice.”
That is not what he wants to hear, not even close. Eric shakes off a glove and brings it to his mouth, poking at the aching, bloody place where his mouth guard, and his front teeth used to be. He glides to the bench and shoves Lenny out of the way so their trainer, Mason, can assess the damage. Eric’s vision isn’t blurry and It’s not a concussion he’s worried about.
“..ook ‘ike a ‘ick?” Eric asks around his swollen, clumsy tongue. When Carter snickers ‘yes’, Eric holds up three fingers, their not-so-covert way of avoiding the obscene gesture fine.
Coach leans in to inspect the damage. “Can he play?
“You look like a hockey player, son.” Mason chides. “Tilt your head back.” Eric obeys but keeps his good eye on 27, already sliding into the Avs penalty box. “Doesn’t look like his jaw is broken, just lost a few teeth. He’s fine.”
So much for ‘no surgery in the off-season’, he’s going to need implants like Jack.
Oh, fuck, Jack.
“K’ll the ‘uckers on the p’werpay,” Eric orders around his swollen tongue, “and f’nd my teeff!”
Danny, Eric’s wonderful, sweet, long-suffering rookie, nods emphatically before sending the orders down the bench.
“Your man’s gonna be thrilled, lose any more teeth and you can –” Carter makes a crude gesture with his fist “– wait, does he have fake teeth, too? You guys are going to have so much fun-”
“Gett’n m’re th’n you.” Eric chirps, shaking loose of Mason’s prodding fingers to drop his head and spit a mouthful of blood onto the floor.
“Good, keep spitting, don’t swallow the blood.” Mason chides, applying a butterfly bandage with one hand and aiming a water bottle with the other. “C’mon, swish and spit. Let me see what we’re working with.”
Carter snickers. “Yeah, Bittle, don’t swallow.”
This time Eric spits the pink water all over Carter’s skates.
Bessie White, shipwrecked off Fire Island, February 1922
The Bessie White was a Canadian coal schooner that ran aground in a fog off Fire Island, approximately one mile west of Smith’s Point on February 6, 1922 (some historical records conflict and indicate that the year may have been 1919.) All of the crew survived but the ship and its cargo of coal were lost. Pieces of the wreck are still visible today, sometimes uncovered by storms and extreme tides east of Watch Hill.
The first openly gay NHL player can’t be single in Seattle!
Since Eric can’t risk telling anyone he has a boyfriend (especially a closeted NHL-er), his only option is to play along as the Schooners go out of their way to find Eric a boyfriend. This wouldn’t be a problem if his well-meaning teammates didn’t keep trying to introduce him to other closeted players, of which there are more than he would have guessed. Now Eric has to survive a night with Kent Parson.
As the first openly gay player in the NHL, Eric is used to being locker rooms filled with guys bundled up so tight a TSA scanner couldn’t find their genitals; but then there’s stuff like this. Brazen nudity of the ‘I recognize you’re attracted to men, look how cool I am with it’ variety. His new captain leans toward the latter in a way that would make Shitty proud.
“Bittle, we’re going out with a few Aces. You met Kent Parson?”
Mitchell ‘Cricket’ Crocker is pushing 30 and already going gray. He’s also standing in front of Eric’s stall, naked as the day he was born, unconcerned with the fact his junk is at Eric’s eye-level.