Disclaimer: It's Ngozi's.
Jack realized he'd forgotten his water bottle in the locker room when he was most of the way to the Haus. He apologized to Bittle, because he'd been about to help Bittle study for a French test, and then he jogged back to Faber. As Jack approached the locker room, he heard something strange. It sounded like . . . singing? Or maybe yelling. If it was singing, the singer was clearly talentless.
All of a sudden, as he rounded the last corner before he got to the locker room, Jack recognized the song. It was on the playlist he'd made as soon as he got out of rehab, his "everything sucks but if I sing about it loudly enough maybe it'll suck a little less" playlist. The playlist with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Mumford and Sons' "The Cave" (well, several songs from that Mumford and Sons album, actually, but "The Cave" was his favorite). Even sung badly, Jack would know any song from that playlist, anywhere.
"And if you call, I will answer.
And if you fall, I'll pick you up.
And if you court this disaster,
I'll point you home.
I'll point you home."
Jack opened the door to the locker room slowly, not sure what he was going to find. At first all he could see was an empty locker room, but then, when he got the door all the way open, he saw Dex standing in the corner, all but screaming, "You think I only think about you when we're both in the same—"
Dex cut himself off when he caught sight of Jack. The silence was jarring for a second, and then Dex rubbed the back of his neck and said, "Oh, hi."
"Hi," said Jack, feeling more than a little confused. "What are you still doing here?"
Dex shrugged. "Needed to sing. Didn't want anyone to hear me."
"What do you mean, you needed to sing?" Jack asked.
Dex started cracking his knuckles, and the action somehow managed to seem aggressive and absent at the same time. "I mean, I had another fight with Nursey at the end of practice, and like, I know it's at least halfway my fault? But also he does not make it easy for me to get along with him. So I don't actually want to keep fighting with him, but sometimes my mouth doesn't listen to my head. And that song is kind of about getting past a fight, but also kind of about being right, and—"
"Dex. I am intimately familiar with that song," Jack cut in.
" . . . Oh right, you're Canadian."
Jack chuckled. "Yep. And that song was on my post-rehab playlist."
"Oh," said Dex.
"So I can sing it with you if you still need to sing," Jack said, before he quite realized he was going to.
"Oh my God, really?" Jack wasn't sure if he'd ever heard Dex sound this eager, but then, Dex almost always sounded grumpy, so that wasn't saying much.
Jack nodded and then looked at his watch. "I've got to meet Bittle soon to help him study for his French exam, but I can definitely sing it once."
"Okay," said Dex, before clearing his throat and launching straight into the song: "I think it's getting to the point—"
Jack wasn't sure if they got quite the right number of "rebuilds" in there at the end, but otherwise they made it through the song pretty decently. Dex's voice was quite a bit worse than Jack's, which was practically an accomplishment, but what he lacked in skill he made up for in raw passion, especially on the line "I think it's time to make this something that is more than only fair."
When they finished singing, Dex flopped down on a bench and said, a little breathlessly, "Wow, you really do know the whole song."
"Yep," said Jack. "Do you feel any better?"
"Yeah," said Dex. "Sometimes I just need a reminder that having each other's backs is more important than getting even, and that song does a good job of getting me to calm down without making me feel like the only alternative is to be a doormat, you know?"
Jack chuckled. "I don't think anyone thinks you're a doormat, Dex."
Dex frowned, and he looked more like his usual self than he had this entire time. "You do realize that the fact that I'm a frog means that I've lived by far the majority of my life not at Samwell, right? Like, just because the team doesn't see me a certain way doesn't mean no one ever has."
Jack sent up a mental apology to Bittle for lateness and sat down on the bench next to Dex. After two and a half years as captain, Jack could recognize a captain moment when it stared him in the face. "What do you mean by that?"
Dex shot Jack a look, his head tilted down in a way that made Jack think he'd be looking over his glasses at Jack if Dex wore glasses. "What, you think it was a piece of cake growing up poor and gay in rural Maine with conservative parents and a bunch of siblings?"
Jack hadn't known Dex was gay. That put . . . a whole different spin on a whole lot of things that had happened in the last year. But he had a feeling that coming out hadn't been the main point of that sentence, so he said, "No, I guess not."
"I put my head down, kept my secrets, and rolled with the punches because I just needed to make it to 18. And now I have some degree of freedom for the first time in my life and I know I'm not handling it perfectly, but like, I'm just so tired of holding my control in an iron grip all the time, you know?"
"Yeah," said Jack quietly. "I get that. I really, really get that."
Dex looked at Jack again, but now his gaze was more considering. "Yeah. I suppose you would."
"Are you going to be okay?" Jack asked.
Dex startled a bit at the question. "Yeah. I'm all right. The stuff with Nursey will work itself out. I never want to go home for a break, but, you know, it is what it is."
Jack stood and clapped Dex on the shoulder. "Remember you can talk to me. Or, uh, sing with me. Whatever, you know?"
"Yeah. Thanks, cap." Dex stood, and he and Jack walked out of Faber together before splitting up, Dex to the library and Jack to the Haus.
Before Jack even made it to the Haus, his phone buzzed with a text from Dex: Seriously, thanks.
No problem, he texted back. This is what captains are for.