me to me: hey, where’s the au where Jack jumps into a taxi to escape crazy fans and Bitty’s already using the taxi
me to me: georgia, you write stuff. you can just… write that
me to me: hey, good point
The door opens and shuts again quickly, which is strange enough as the taxi is sitting in the middle lane at a light that’s just turned green. What is more strange though, is a man throws himself into the car at the same time.
Bitty would ask ‘what the hell’, but he’s currently cradling his nose in his hands, having suffered an elbow to the face as the stranger slid across the car seat without looking.
“Crisse. Fuck. Shit. I am so sorry.”
The man turns to him. Bitty’s eyes are watering and he blinks to try and clear them. He’s fairly certain the man in the taxi with him is Jack Zimmermann.
The taxi driver has either not noticed what has happened, or is used to strange occurrences in their taxi, and is still driving Bitty on toward his apartment.
“Are you alright?” The man who Bitty is now convinced is Jack Zimmermann-he’s got a line of stitches on his jaw from a rough check in a game Bitty watched two nights ago–asks worriedly, hands dancing around Bitty’s face like he wants to make sure but is afraid to touch.
Bitty pulls his hands away and looks down. No blood. He presses his fingertips gently to his nose. It’s tender, but not horribly so.
Jack sighs and slumps back into the seat. “Thank god.”
He shuts his eyes and leans his head against the backrest. Bitty watches him, speechless. What are you meant to say when one of your favourite athletes ambushes your taxi? There is no precedent for that.
Eventually, Jack opens his eyes and turns to Bitty. “I really am sorry. I wasn’t thinking when I got in here.”
“Jumped,” Bitty corrects.
“Oh, it’s just. It’s more like you jumped in here, you know.”
Jack rubs at the back of his neck as his eyes drop to Bitty’s nose. “Yeah, guess so.”
Bitty nods slowly at him, and waits for further explanation, which doesn’t seem forthcoming. It’s not exactly surprising, judging from what little Bitty knows of Jack’s character from post-game interviews and Falconers Face-offs. He’s never been as verbal as some of his teammates. Still, you would think this situation would warrant an explanation.
“Why did you?” Bitty eventually asks, too curious to leave it alone.
Jack’s eyes dart out the window, then land back on Bitty. “It’s, uh, a little embarrassing, truthfully.”
“Alright. I was–No, I should start with,” Jack mumbles to himself, then clears his throat. “I play hockey, and I’m, well, I’m… known.”
Bitty finds it almost endearing how uncomfortable Jack looks saying it.
Bitty nods. “I knew that part.”
Jack raises his eyebrows. “Really? But you haven’t–I mean, you’re not reacting…” He stops himself with a huff. “I really don’t know a good way to say it.”
“Star-struck?” Bitty suggests.
“Eh,” Jack shrugs.
“I played in college,” Bitty tells him. “Lived in a frat house with hockey players for years. You’ve lost all aura of mystery and un-touchability to me, I’m afraid.”
Jack looks him over, and Bitty can guess what thoughts are going through his head. Thankfully, he refrains from saying anything. Bitty might have thrown him out the taxi if he did.
“I don’t mind. It’s… a nice change, truthfully.” Jack even smiles at Bitty as he says it. It’s small, sure, but it’s also an expression Bitty has never ever seen on his face. It feels nice to be shown something of who Jack really is. Bitty looks out the window before he starts reading into it and spins this random encounter into a fantasy. He’s surprised to see he’s only a few blocks from home. It’s felt like no time at all.
“I was running away from some of the, uh, ‘other’ kind of fans,” Jack tells Bitty.
Bitty swings his head back around. “Who says I’m a fan?” he teases with mock-offense.
“Oh.” Jack looks abashed. “I just assumed, because you knew who I was. That’s terrible.”
Bitty laughs. “No, you’re right. You’re a great player.”
Jack seems to wait a second to see if Bitty will go back on his word. When he doesn’t, Jack gives that same small smile again, and dips his head down and away. Every second he spends in Jack’s presence, Bitty feels like he’s learning more about him.
“I’m almost done with the taxi,” Bitty tells Jack as the driver pulls around the corner onto his street.
“Oh,” Jack says, looking at Bitty. If he didn’t know any better, Bitty would call the expression on his face disappointment.
“It’s been nice talking with you, Jack.”
“Yeah. You too, ah…”
Jack holds out his hand, and Bitty takes it. Jack’s hand feels big around his own, and surprisingly cold. Bitty can’t help but try and memorise as much of the feel of it as he can. He drops Jack’s hand quickly when he catches on to what he’s doing though. He doesn’t want to seem creepy, or like those ‘other fans’ Jack mentioned earlier.
The driver pulls up to the curb where Bitty directs him. Bitty reaches into his pocket for his wallet, but is stopped as Jack grabs onto his wrist.
Bitty tilts his head at Jack.
“Let me pay,” Jack says. “It’s only fair.”
“It’s really alright,” Bitty refutes automatically, distracted by the feeling of Jack’s fingers on his arm.
“Please. I want to. You didn’t have to let me stay in here with you.”
Bitty opens his mouth to decline again, but Jack adds on, “Plus, you know I’m good for it.”
Bitty stares at Jack for a moment before nodding his head.
He gets out and shuts the door behind him. The taxi idles on the curb as he searches for the keys to get into the building. He feels eyes on him and turns around to see Jack watching him through the window. He gestures to Jack to drive on, but Jack shakes his head.
Bitty turns back to the door and bites his lip, feeling flustered at the consideration Jack’s showing him. His hand shakes a little as he tries to fit the key in the lock, but he manages to get the door open, and turns to wave goodbye to Jack before closing the door behind him.
He walks up the stairs to his apartment in a daze, thinking that tonight is a memory he’s going to carry with him forever. The night he shared a taxi with Jack Zimmermann.
Inside his apartment, Bitty holds his hand in front of his face. He curls his fingers down to his palm, closing his eyes and remembering what it felt having Jack’s hand in his.
He sighs out as he opens his eyes. He’s not going to spin a crazy future for him and Jack out of this one interaction. At least, not after tonight he won’t.