In four years with the Wellies, Jack had never had a nickname stick.
(It was two years before anyone even tried giving him one, because somehow the boys read ‘crippling anxiety’ as ‘completely boring’ and never bothered. Then a small blond with a penchant for pet names and pies came in with a Mr. Zimmermann and, like all other aspects of his life, everything changed.)
His first season with the Falconers is much the same.
Tater calls him Zimmboni for about two weeks before Thirdy drunkenly announces the name is ‘no good.’ “Jacky-boy doesn’t clean up the ice,” he tells the faces that haven’t asked. “He wrecks it.” They cheer and they drink and the subject is, Jack hopes, dropped.
They try Zimmy next, and Zimms, and then just Zimmer; each lasts a game or two before the awkward shuffling in the locker room as whichever teammate (not friends, not yet, but at least he goes out with them once or twice when asked now) stutters out how it’s not right. It just doesn’t fit. “Sorry man,” Marty pats his shoulder. “You’re just a hard dude to nickname.”
Jack tries to smile but isn’t sure he succeeds. “So I’ve been told,” he manages dryly, but really he just wants to go - not home. His apartment, sure. To bed, yeah. But he hasn’t once called or even thought of his place in Providence as home.
Instead he goes out with the team to celebrate the win, half because his parents and his therapist have been urging him to start setting down a root or two and half because an earlier text said that Bitty was going to a movie with the Frogs and wouldn’t be home until later.
Maybe it’s because that’s already the direction his mind was taking, but he gets to the bar and can’t help thinking about Bitty. Maybe it’s because that’s already the direction his mind was taking - or maybe it’s the song blasting over the speakers that he can’t help but recognize. “Beyoncé,” he says mostly to himself, because it’s a lesson that he’s had drilled into his brain over the years.
Snowy laughs when he overhears. “Of fucking course,” and he slaps Tater’s arm to get his attention. “Of course this Canadian motherfucker doesn’t get a single fucking one of our references, but fucking recognizes Beyoncé in under ten seconds.”
Tater laughs his sweet, infectious laugh and slings an arm across Jack’s shoulders. “Of course he know,” and the sentence trails off into a rather enthusiastic, if off-key, rendition of the chorus. “Everyone know Beyoncé, even Jacky Z.”
The table shakes from the force of Guy pounding his fist onto it; it startles Tater and Jack, and gets the attention of the other players (and the surrounding tables). “Holy mother of hockey,” and Guy turns his too sharp, too serious gaze on Jack. “Jack Zimmermann.” When blank stares and a few confused nods are all the words earn him, the knuckles around his glass go white. “Jack Zimmermann,” he tells them again, voice gruff. “J.Z.”
There’s a stunned, almost reverent silence around the table as six of the seven men accept the words like a sudden lightening bolt of truth, and the seventh wishes desperately that he had never come tonight. “Jay-Z,” they whisper among themselves, and Jack knows without knowing how that this will be the one that sticks.
Later, when he’s laying in bed in the apartment that still isn’t home, Jack rubs the back of his neck and admits over Skype “So they gave me a nickname today.”
Bittle is, predictably, thrilled for him. “Honey, that’s great news! I’m so proud of you for getting out with the team mor-”
“It’s my initials.”
There’s a moment where Jack watches his face fall and knows that Bitty is concerned that maybe the initials is a sign he’s not being welcomed, followed by a moment where his eyebrows shoot up in surprise as he says the letters to himself. The resulting pause is broken by a stuttering start-stop of Bitty’s mouth opening and closing wordlessly, and finally a cut-off shriek. “Oh my - I never - all this time and - I can’t believe I - of course - oh my-” He gropes weakly at the screen of his laptop, voice gone progressively squeakier. “Jay-Z.”
For a moment the under-decorated bedroom feels a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more like a place he could be happy, and Jack laughs. “I think I’m a little bit ashamed for you that someone else realized first.”
“Don’t you chirp me over this,” his glare is rendered ineffective by the way his face splits into a beaming smile. “I just found out I’m dating Jay-Z.”
Jack hums a few bars of a familiar tune. “Hey, Ms. Carter.”
this could go one of two ways.
1. bitty went to samwell with Jack, they still got together, Bitty gets scouted and recruited to: not the Falconers.<
-imagine jack and bits playing against each other
-but jack never checks him, not even if theyre fighting, not even if he’s losing (bitty cant check him bc hes smol but whatever)
-they keep hockey and their relationship separate, and also secret, but think about the playful competition
-jack takes hockey super seriously ofc but bitty helps him realize that hockey is meant to be fun too gd jack u robot
-both of them work at not passing the puck to each other bc they arent on the same team
-but, about that secret relationship
-bitty isnt super closeted. he has a vlog, he has twitter, the only ppl that dont know he’s gay are his parents but lmao they def know bitty is terrible at hiding it, but thats another story
-so, the press, uh, addresses bittys sexuality by putting together a montage of the vlog and links to the vlog and if they werent basically outing him the video would be cute as shit bc its bitty
-but, really, bitty never wanted to be closeted, and he never really hid it anyway. he talks to his parents, he talks to jack, and heres the plan.
-bitty comes out, but he’s so southern about it. like the press says something to him and bitty’s just “oh, y'all didnt know that?”
-so, bittys the first gay NHL player
-but lets talk about jack
-lets say, falconers v bittys team (whatever team he’s on is in new england. wherever bits and jack live is between their home stadiums) and maybe theres a falconer thats kinda a dick and a homophobe. jack isnt out, and its never come up before, but this guy (lets call him Dick) is a DICK. and he says something to bitty, maybe after checking him really hard, and jack just loses it.
-maybe jack is close by and he heard what dick said, and hes livid okay. this guy was sort of his friend, his teammate, and then theres bitty who’s crumpled on the ice and jack and bits make eye contact and bitty looks so shaken and broken and jack. just. loses. it.
-jack fights his own teammate on the ice. he gets dick’s helmet off and his own gloves off and doesnt stop until he can barely recognize the other guys face, because of all the blood, this dick who he thought was his friend, and someone is pulling him away, maybe half the falconers are pulling him away
-maybe its tater thats pulling jack away, jack whos still struggling to get back out there not to keep wailing on dick but to see if bitty is okay because he’s honestly over the anger (okay, maybe not 100% but hes more concerned with bits atm)
-but tater drags him to the showers and forces him under cold water like they do in all the sports movies when shit gets real and athletes be crazy
-fun fact: tater is like jacks bff second to shitty. but he doesnt know about jack and bits.
-and jack is so quiet that tater barely hears him when he asks what the hell happened out there. jacks tells tater that Dick just assaulted jacks boyfriend.
-and tater says. “alright. we kill him. but not on ice, too many camera”
-and jack laughs. tater laughs. jack is still shaking and ofc hes cold but hes calm now.
-hes calm when georgia comes around and his managers come around and he says hes doing press. and they are like “no. not happening” until jack singles out george and is like “i have something to say.” (george knows abt jack and bits so she thinks hes going to come out, but hes not) so he and george have a quiet convo about what he wants to say and george approves it and the managers/coaches are like wtf why are u letting this happen.
-jack does press. his knuckles are shredded and hes got paper towels wrapped around them and theres a bit of blood still but hes smiling.
-jack says ‘bittle is my friend. even if he werent i would not tolerate homophobia on my team’ (jack could be cap or not but anyway)
-press wants to know why its such a strong reaction, dicks face is wrecked, yadda yadda.
-‘bittle is my best friend’ jack says. cue chuckles from the press. somewhere in harvard shitty clutches his chest and screams 'ET TU, JACK?’ (he gets looks but when does he not)
-bitty is being checked out by the docs (hes all good) and is asked what he thinks about jacks reaction. bits is like 'it was stupid of him but nonetheless, i will make him a pie’
-jack gets a fine and a suspension (and a pie) dick gets a bigger fine and a longer suspension and has to make an official apology and go to sensitivity training.
-bitty scolds jack for being wreckless, he could have gotten hurt, maybe outed. and jack is like “i dont care what happens to me i care about you” and they make sweet sweet love and maybe, jack is thinking about coming out
-followers of bittys vlog (which he still does!!) make gifs of dick getting beat up, photoshop pies splattering on his head.
-and then, well, suddenly people are more interested in the bittle/zimmerman 'friendship’
-bittys vlog gets hits. not the new videos when hes in the nhl. the old ones. the samwell ones. especially the outtakes bits posted where a certain canadian pops up here and there
-articles about the two year period where jack and bits were on the same line at samwell. next game bitty is in he gets put on press. 'so, jacks your best friend’ 'id say so’ 'and youre gay’ 'yes’ 'is jack?’ and bits is so clever, and this is the chirp that goes down in hockey legend “jack is hockeysexual”
-(somewhere in the world, the smh crew are d y i n g of laughter. jack gets a million chick emojis in texts.)
-ofc the press are kind of dumb. 'hockeysexual?’ 'yeah,’ says bits 'he likes hockey.’ (later on jack is going to make a show of writing hockey on a post it and sticking it to bitty right after they have sex. bitty snaps a photo and saves it to post on insta later on…. much later)
-in the meantime jack and george are talking about uh, things, and she says that now might be a good time with all the positive media attention (theres negative media too about how jack shouldnt kick the shit out of his own team but mostly the press is ecstatic about fighting homophobia and the 'incredible bromance between players on different teams’ 'bromeo and dudeliet’–ransom and holster INSIST on being called bromeo and dudeliet)
-but jack isnt ready. no, hes ready to come out. he just has to do something first.
-before jack plays again, he proposes. (dont ask me how bc im a SAP and if i get started on a proposal story i wont stop.) but anyway bits says yes. and then a little bit later jack says hes going to come out but he wont tell bitty how, he just tells him to be ready for it.
-and uh, bitty has an away game while jack has a home game. and jack does press. and bittys on the team bus on the way to the stadium when suddenly his team starts whispering and glancing at him until finally theyre at the stadium and off the bus and his team dog piles him and congratulates him and bittys like ??? and suddenly theres a phone in front of him with a video
-and its jack doing press.
-the press (as they have been doing) try and get jack to address the rumors that he and bits are more than bffs, to which jack says
-'im not going to tell yall that hes my boyfriend’ (those in the know notice the yall. it becomes half the smh’s text tones for jack)
-the press murmurs dissapointedly but jack smiles and says 'because he’s my fiance’
-and bitty calls jack immediately and scolds him a bit, and tells him he loves him but 'dangit jack im about to play’ and jack is just like 'sorry not sorry’
-and bittys team wins. do a lot of the stadium know hes engaged to jack? yes. is there a little hate speech thrown at him? yes, like usual. one drunk guy gets his attention and says something like 'im not a gay but zimmy has an ass you can bounce a quarter off congrats dude!’ (bitty will always be suspicious that it was actually shitty in disguise)
-and bits. he does press. one guess as to what the press asks him about. 'no we havent set a date. no, our relationship has never affected the game–okay maybe the once but thats dicks fault. we ve been together since i was 20. no, the only time i try to win games for jack is when im playing against jack" cue chuckles.
-shitty and tater fight for best-manship. lardo is uncontested for bittys best man. there are a lot of smh hockey players in the wedding party.
-there is a lot of talk about how ppl think jack or bitty are going to be compromised by each other, that they shouldnt get to play for the sake of the sport. its a cheap way to disguise homophobia, and jack calls them out on it. bitty is just… 'bless their heearts’ and pulls a knife
-jack is suddenly appearing on bittys vlog more.
-also people are kind of irked that they didnt realize jack and bits live in the smae house. because at some point pre-coming out there have been 'welcome to the team’ fluff pieces where rookies show people around their houses and talj about what they like. first jack had one and then bitty. in the same house. these fuckers. YALL ARE NOT SUBTLE. (this is also how bitty vlog gets popular while hes a nhl star. bc he talks about his vlog. a lot.)
-cut to married zimbits. jack and bits drive to a game together, where theyre going to play each other, and the press paps them sharing a goodbye kiss before going to separate locker rooms.
-theres talk of maybe it would be best if jack or bitty get traded so theyre on the same team? which, that doesnt seem too bad to bits and jack. but. they have contracts. and they kind of like playing against each other. and it takes more than one player for a team yadda yadda jack and bits arent winning/losing alone
-years down the road bitty is a free agent (or whatever i dont really know that much about sports okay) and theyre both falconers players. bc bittys other option was to move to frickin canada (or vegas lmao could u imagine. with parson. poor jack) and also bc jack and bitty play so well together.
-lets end this story with the managers of the falconers face palming SO HARD bc bits makes jack a better player, jack makes bits a better player. the falcs had a chance to get bitty and they didnt bc idk, they had jack from samwell or maybe they compared him to jack tok much or maybe they couldnt compete with whatever bittys team offered to pay. and now they see what they could have had for years now and oh my god. side note- bittys got a stanley cup, jacks got a stanely cup, and now that theyre on the same team theyre gonna get another stanley cup.
-fear the stanely cup winning gay hockey power couple
You loose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand without nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.
ok so in the midst of these weird updates, i would like to propose some gunnerkrigg fic concepts:
kat buys annie a phone. annie learns to use social media. awesome!
zimmy and gamma watch art house films
coyote/ysengrin coffee shop au. coyote is the barista. ysengrin works the cash register. he does not understand how money works. he is so tired. later [snuffle] comes in and proves to be That Impossible Customer
flashback episode with surma and anja celebrating graduation. eglamore later challenges anthony to a fierce game of beer pong. who wins? find out next week