01. puppy love
There is a bundle of love with a bright red ribbon around his neck waiting for Jungkook when he comes home from the grad ceremony; it's small enough to fit into the palm of his hand. Jungkook doesn't remember crying but his brother swears on his entire career that Jungkook cried when he first saw his new puppy. He'd always wanted a puppy, and since he didn't really need a car, what with his moving to The Big Apple and all, this will just have to do so his parents said, ruffling his hair and patting him on the back.
"This is also a chance for you to learn how to properly take care of something, something that is dependent completely upon you. He's your puppy now," Jungkook's mother says, the lines of age and experience branching out in thin lines from the corners of her eyes, "You literally have his life in your hands."
Jungkook looks up from the tiny ball of fur cupped in his palms and his stomach tightens. It's true. If he dropped this puppy right here and now, it'll die. If he holds on too tight, if he does anything, even if it's an accident, wrong, this puppy, this precious, perfect little ball of golden fur might not survive and the gravity of it all makes his limbs shake.
Is this what growing up feels like? Responsibility?
His mother laughs and ruffles his hair again, "You'll do fine."
"What breed is he?" Jungkook asks, gently inspecting the puppy.
"Golden lab and retriever mix," his father says, peeking over Jungkook's shoulder, "your aunty's dogs had a litter and we managed to snatch one before they all sold."
"What are you gonna name him?" his brother asks.
"Dunno yet--but I'll think of something." Jungkook runs a finger down the puppy's back and it sniffs, shifting in its sleep. Jungkook can feel its tiny, fluttering heartbeat against the skin of his palm and his own heart skids and skips and races. He's never seen anything more precious or beautiful and as he settles into the sofa, eyes still trained on his new puppy, he figures that those who don't believe in love at first sight have obviously never held a sleeping puppy in their hands.
02. little love
Move in day is a whirl of mess and laughter, Jungkook and his brother hauling cabinets and bedframes into the elevator and up to the 11th floor while the new pup yips excitedly in his box. It isn't till everything is relatively settled that Jungkook lets him out, cradling the pup to his chest as he walks through his new apartment.
"And this your new home," he says, waving his arm at the living room/kitchen combo. The pup in his arms wags his tail licks at Jungkook's fingers.
More fervent licking.
Jungkook laughs and pulls out a small bowl from the cabinets, frowning as he realizes he doesn't have any dog food yet. Heaving a sigh, he sets the rice cooker on and fills it with a cup of white rice, settling at the counter with the puppy still in his arms.
"We need to get you a doggy bowl... and one for water. Hope you like white rice, it's all we've got that you can have right now."
The puppy gnaws on Jungkook's thumb and Jungkook laughs again, bringing the puppy to eye level. He yips and wags his tag so hard the entire bottom half of his tiny body is wiggling. Jungkook leans forward and noses into the puppy's belly, feeling its paws on his forehead, wet little nose between his eyebrows.
"You're like a little ball of love," he says, sighing, eyes going soft, "who is going to grow into a big ball of love," he continues, tickling the pup with this index finger. It yips and squirms, nipping at his knuckles.
"And you know what?" Jungkook asks, bringing his nose up so that he and the pup are nose to nose, so he can see right into those huge, round, watery eyes, "no matter how much you love me, I'll always, always love you more."
03. growing love
Three weeks later, Jungkook finds an old copy of Pinocchio left at the public library counter where he's checking out some materials to read for his internship (law firm, case studies, he knows the drill), and checks it out. That night, he curls up on bed with the pup nestled in a little doughnut on his chest, and he reads Pinocchio out loud.
He finishes with a slight grin and the pup noses under the thin hardcover to lick at his chin.
The phone rings, and rings again.
Jungkook glances at the caller ID and groans; his father had been calling once a week to ask about his work, and every single time they end up arguing about one thing or another. Jungkook is stressed; his dad is stressed too; he's not working hard enough; he's never working hard enough; blah, blah, blah.
He's about to turn his cellphone on silent when the pup yips and nips at his chin, paws pattering on his chest.
Jungkook looks down at the pup and rolls his eyes, "What are you, my conscience?" he asks as he presses answer and puts the thing on speaker. The pup wags his tail and patters around in another circle before settling on his chest, rising and falling with Jungkook's breaths.
Jungkook's father is asking something, probably about Jungkook's job, but Jungkook isn't listening, instead, he runs his thumb across the spine of Pinocchio and grins.
"Conscience... Jiminy. I'll name you Jimin, for Jiminy Cricket!"
"Pardon?" his father's voice through the phone.
"Oh sorry, pops," Jungkook answers, setting the book aside to stroke Jimin's head, "just figured out what I'm gonna name my puppy."
Jimin looks up, eyes bright, nuzzling at his hand as Jungkook brings it down to pet him again. Jungkook smiles and crinkles his nose.
Jimin lets out a tiny bark and quirks his head, eyes trained on Jungkook, and Jungkook could swear that it looks like Jimin is smiling.
04. tough love
Jungkook comes home from work one day to find his sheets completely sullied and Jimin running circles around the house, barking at the top of his lungs. The door slams and Jungkook tosses down his briefcase, grabbing Jimin up by the back of the neck (he's getting big, since when?) and hauling him to the bed, pressing him into the sodden patch.
"No," Jungkook says, voice stern, pointing at the wet patch, "No, Jimin. Bad."
Jimin whines and sniffs, body soft under Jungkook's palm, looking from the bed to Jungkook with a kind of stomach-clenching guilt.
Jungkook sighs, his grip softening as he strokes Jimin's head. Jimin keeps it down and whines again before padding over to nose into Jungkook's lap, glancing up. Jungkook laughs, helpless, and pats his lap for Jimin to climb up. Jimin does, pawing at Jungkook's free hand, licking it tentatively, nudging it till he's under Jungkook's palm. He gives a contented sigh and wags his tail.
"I know... I know you miss me," Jungkook says, flicking at the tips of Jimin's floppy ears, "But I gotta work so we can have yummy food to eat, okay?"
Jimin licks Jungkook's thumb, biting it gently, tugging as he amuses himself with a small game of tug-o-war.
"You like yummy food, don't you?" Jungkook grins, waggling his finger around in front of Jimin's face. Jimin barks excitedly, eyes trained on Jungkook's finger.
"Good boy," Jungkook scratches Jimin behind the ears and Jimin flips onto his back, paws in the air, waiting for a belly rub.
Jungkook frowns and shakes his head, "No belly rub today because you messed up the sheets." He lifts Jimin off the bed and puts him on the floor, pulling the bedsheets off for a new set, tossing the dirty sheets into the laundry unit. Jimin nips at his heels the entire way. Jungkook tries to shoo him away but Jimin just paws at Jungkook's leg and whines.
Finally, Jungkook relents and picks Jimin up, slumping down on the sofa with Jimin on his chest. This is one of their favorite positions--where Jungkook can feel the weight of Jimin over his chest, the warmth of his body that is endless and comforting. Jungkook rubs his thumbs along Jimin's ears and Jimin sets his head down so he's facing Jungkook, tail sweeping back and forth across Jungkook's stomach.
"You just need to get outside and run around, spend some of that energy and get some exercise..." Jungkook says, rubbing his eyes, the fatigue of the day settling around him, working through his muscles and bones in thin tendrils.
Jimin lifts his head; his tail picks up pace. He seems to like that.
Jungkook smiles and scratches under Jimin's chin. Jimin gives a soft yip.
"So starting tomorrow you're coming jogging with me in the park, okay?"
Another yip. Jimin makes an excited circle on Jungkook's chest and settles down again, putting his head down and giving Jungkook's chin a lick as if to say okay, but rest now.
Jungkook nods and yawns.
The world is a huge, huge place, and everything in it makes me feel small. There are colors everywhere. I can't see all of them, but I can taste them, smell them, hear them in the voices of the humans who hold me with their huge, huge hands.
The people who have me now are kind, I can feel it in their voices--the sharp and loud, hard and low. They are kind people and I'll be happy so long as my people are kind.
But then there is someone else, someone who is too many colors to scent at once. He is different.
His voice is milk--thick and sweet--his hands soft the first time we meet and I don't think he knows I see him. He thinks I'm sleeping, and I am, but I'm not. I can still feel, and remember, and know things. And I know that he belongs to me.
He holds me in his arms and I am home. He holds me and I can hear his heartbeats, the rush of his blood beneath his skin, feel his life running right next to mine and I curl closer to the warmth that is him, the world that he holds inside his chest spinning slow, just as huge and beautiful as the world around us.
He is love and says he loves me.
And I can't speak but I know from the way he smiles that he knows I love him too, just like the colors I know are there but cannot see.
That's how it is with most precious things, those things that don't need to be seen to be believed.
06. running late
Jungkook jumps into the shower and almost slips and falls on his ass. The morning jog had gone long, what with Jimin insisting that they take a new route, one that led to the edge of the Hudson and the most beautiful sunrise Jungkook had ever seen, but now he's only for 15 minutes to shower, shave, dry his hair, put on something decent to wear, and make sure Jimin has enough water for the day because Jungkook won't be home till late.
Big case today.
He jumps out of the shower and sticks the landing this time, rushing through his apartment with a towel around his waist. Jimin watches him tear at the packaging of his new electric razor with a keen interest. Jimin always likes new things, whether or not they're for him.
"Big day today," Jungkook says, almost sing-song as he shaves, running a hand over his face to make sure he didn't miss anything.
Jimin hops onto the bed and rolls over, regarding Jungkook upside-down as Jungkook rummages through his closet for a nice suit to wear. When Jungkook rushes towards the door, hopping on one foot to get his sock on, Jimin jumps off the bed, dashing after him.
"I can't, I'm gonna be late, Jimin--"
But Jimin is still tugging on the hem of his slacks and it isn't till Jungkook turns around that he realizes he's left his briefcase in the hallway. He heaves a relieved sigh and grabs it, uncapping his bottle of water to pour half of it into Jimin's water bowl, scratching Jimin under the chin.
"Thanks boy, what would I do without you?"
Jimin barks once and sits down by the door, tail sweeping in arcs across the floor.
Jungkook crouches down to kiss Jimin's nose before turning and stumbling out the door.
07. running low
Jungkook comes home late, really late, slumps through the door to find Jimin sitting there, waiting for him. He drops his briefcase, drops to his knees, drops his forehead to Jimin's and Jimin licks his nose, just once, just a soft, reassuring little thing.
I'm here; you're home.
"Gave it my best shot," Jungkook says, voice oversaturated with tiredness.
Jimin woofs and jumps up to attack Jungkook's face with his tongue. Jungkook laughs, thumping back onto his ass, rough housing with Jimin for a while before Jimin gives him a might lick on the cheek and noses into his pocket where his iPhone is. Jungkook quirks an eyebrow.
"Sure you don't want me to make dinner?"
Jimin noses at the pocket again before turning to bark at the TV mounted to the wall. Jungkook grins, picking himself up off the floor and immediately slumping back down into the couch, patting the cushion next to him.
"Take-out and a movie sounds great. Good call," Jungkook says, his breath cut short when Jimin foregoes the empty space next to him and parks himself right on Jungkook's chest, like he used to when he was a puppy. Well, technically Jimin still isn't fully grown (almost a year now), but he's bigger now, much bigger than before, big enough to weigh on Jungkook's chest when he curls up there.
Jimin licks at Jungkook's chin as Jungkook orders Chinese with extra rice and asks for the beef bones.
Jimin wags his tails so hard Jungkook has to reach over and put a hand on his back to calm him down.
"What should we watch, hm?" Jungkook asks, and Jimin sighs, long and happy with a soft, noncommittal whine.
"Whatever it is," Jungkook says, flicking open Netflix and scanning through, putting on something irrelevant and cheesy. The doorbell rings five minutes later with their takeout but Jungkook is already asleep.
08. running start
"We won the case!"
Jungkook comes home early, and drunk. He picks Jimin up and spins him around, Jimin barking and wagging his tail hard enough for Jungkook to almost drop him. He's more than a year old now, and almost an adult, almost two! Fully grown but sometimes, Jungkook figures Jimin still thinks he's small enough to fit on Jungkook's chest.
"Do you know what that means?" Jungkook lets Jimin back onto the ground and Jimin scrambles to stand up, pawing at Jungkook's arms. Jungkook catches his paws and wiggles along with Jimin, laughing, laughing so long and bright that Jimin starts barking.
"It means a promotion! I'll get to work my own cases! I'll get to drive point, take the lead--"
Jimin barks and jumps and presses his muzzle into Jungkook's thigh.
"It means yummy food!" Jungkook bends down and ruffles at Jimin's fur. Jimin licks his face till Jungkook is pulling back, wiping at his face with the back of his hand, acting disgusted as he pulls dog hair out of his mouth, crinkling his nose at Jimin as he waltzes into the kitchen and pulls open the fridge. Jimin is hot on his heels, weaving through Jungkook's legs because leftovers are Jimin's absolute favorite.
More flavorful, Jungkook agreed once when they were having a late brunch together on a Saturday morning, watching the sky cloud over with rain.
Jungkook pulls out a box of marinated pork his mother had dropped off the day before, and some rice to heat up. He hums as he rummages through the drawers for the wet food that he mixes with people food for Jimin because Jimin is too spoiled.
Jungkook is babbling to himself, giggling and playing with Jimin as they wait for the food to heat, talking about the future, and the beautiful things that are sure to come with it.
Jimin bounds around, nosing into Jungkook's side as they settle down to eat, Jungkook sat on the ground of the living room, right across from Jimin and they eat together, Jungkook humming and talking, Jimin chowing down and lapping at Jungkook's arm when he's finished with his own food. And if perfection could be a box of translucent moments, this would most definitely be one of them.
09. running out
"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you," Jungkook claps as he sets down a doggy cake, custom ordered and made for Jimin on the ground, plopping down with his legs cross. There are two candles at the top. Jimin wags his tail and pants, eyes shining with something Jungkook has grown to know as happiness. And love. Always love.
Jimin settles on the other side of the cake and looks between the cake and Jungkook.
"Happy birthday dear Jimin, happy birthday to you," Jungkook rounds off the song, clapping. Jimin gives an excited yip, just like he used to when he was a puppy and Jungkook cocks his head. Does he know?
Jimin yips again, almost an excited whisper of a bark and Jungkook smiles, leaning forward to ruffle at Jimin's fur, tickling the tips of his ears, feeling them twitch away as Jimin laps at his face.
"C'mon make a wish and then blow out the candles," Jungkook says, pointing at the candles.
Jimin barks twice, front paws pat-patting against the ground as he waits for Jungkook to tell him to start eating.
"Made your wish? Alright, I guess I'll make one too," Jungkook says, scooting over so he's sitting next to Jimin, slinging an arm around him, resting a cheek against Jimin's silken fur. Jimin leans back into Jungkook and sticks his nose into Jungkook's ear, making him jerk back with laughter.
"Okay, okay, let's see... I wish that we'll always be best friends," Jungkook says, scratching Jimin's head, "and that no matter what we'll always be there for each other. Good?"
Jimin's answering lick makes Jungkook giggle.
"You gotta blow out the candles to make the wishes come true bud!" Jungkook says, pointing at the candles. Jimin turns to the cake and sneezes, effectively blowing out the candles.
Jungkook laughs, shaking his head. "Well, I guess that's one way to do it. Go on then, go for it."
Jimin gives Jungkook's cheek one more lick before digging into the cake, muzzle sinking into the layer of doggy whipped cream, wolfing down half the cake in one go. Jungkook watches with his arm slung around Jimin's body, fingers treading through his long, golden fur, wondering what Jimin had wished for.
I don't know how long we've been running next to each other, maybe since the day I was born, or maybe since the day he was. But we have for a very long time. Our bodies move the same way, move like they were made to run next to each other. I take a step and he takes a step and we are one entity, racing against the current of the water next to us, the morning sun dripping into the horizon.
Jungkook likes to slow down sometimes, to an almost-walk, and those days he would always pause to lean against the railings over the Hudson to stare out over the water, lay his chin on his arms and make to work some kinks out of his ankles by rolling them, all the while talking, to me.
He talks about everything and anything--troubles at work, troubles from home, and he always asks what I think, even when he knows what I think.
I think he can do anything.
So long as I'm with him. Because he needs me, because he forgets his lunch all the time, forgets his briefcase and doesn't answer his father's calls unless I make him. Sometimes he doesn't want to go running but I drag him with me--his mother had once said at a dinner that to hone the mind, you must first hone the body. And the mind will follow after.
Jungkook is mine, my person, my one and only person, and the only one I have ever, could ever want. So I have to take care of him, I want to. Just like he takes care of me. Just like I am his.
We are perfect together.
One of the movies we watched had said that nothing is ever truly perfect until it’s broken.
They just don't know us. Don't know how perfectly unbroken we are.
11. en pointe
Jungkook wins his third solo case and comes home smashingly drunk. He hiccups through the doorway to find Jimin waiting for him, like he always is, and Jungkook grins. Jimin barks once, stamping his feet, clearly displeased.
Jungkook frowns and drops his briefcase by the door, stumbling a bit before dropping to his knees to press his forehead against Jimin's.
"We won!" he shouts and Jimin winces, but stays steady, licking Jungkook's nose once, his customary greeting and reassurance.
"This motherfuckin' case... sucked so much ass," Jungkook says, falling back against the closed door, heaving a deep sigh and closing his eyes. Jimin pads over and puts his nose in Jungkook's ear. Jungkook starts and blinks, winded, rubbing at his ear.
"What is it boy? Hungry? Thirsty?" Jungkook ruffles Jimin's fur and Jimin barks again, tugging Jungkook's sleeve towards the hallway to the bedroom, whining. Jungkook rolls his eyes and stumbles to his feet, letting himself be half dragged into the bedroom and then to the bathroom where Jimin tugs at the shower curtains and barks again, tail wagging twice.
"But I don't... wanna shower right now... I'll do it in the morning, okay boy? Lemme just sleep--"
Jimin barks indignantly and catches Jungkook's sleeve again, tugging him back. Jungkook harrumphs like a small child and Jimin nudges his leg. Jungkook reaches down to scratch Jimin's ears, relenting and stripping himself of this suit, jumping into the shower to let the warm water soak away his tension and tiredness. When he gets out, he's comparatively sobered up and finds Jimin rolling around on the bed, tail wagging, looking mighty pleased with himself.
Jungkook makes a face as he slumps into bed and Jimin immediately stretches himself across Jungkook's chest. Jungkook oof's and laughs.
"Mom sure knows how to pick 'em... gotta get me a dog that acts like a parent..." Jungkook runs his fingers across Jimin's ears and Jimin licks at his cheek. "Just as well..." Jungkook mumbles, letting his eyes fall shut, "dunno... if I could have made it through this much with... without..."
Jimin settles his head on Jungkook's chest and lets out a long breath, watching Jungkook fall asleep before he licks at Jungkook's nose again, just once--I'm here, you're home--and closes his eyes.
12. point blank
Sundays, Jungkook makes his grocery runs. Sundays, Jimin helps Jungkook pick out the best fruits and veg to bring home for the week because for some reason, as good of taste as Jungkook has in well-tailored suits, his taste in fresh produce is actually terrifying. The three times that Jungkook had decided to make the grocery runs without Jimin, he'd come back with things that were either bad already or bug infested.
He almost cut his thumb off slicing an apple with a worm in the center.
Jimin patters next to Jungkook as they browse through the produce aisle, chattering the entire way.
"Y'know that my parents are coming over for dinner this week? We gotta get stuff to make something for them--"
Jimin lets out a yelp and Jungkook rolls his eyes, "I'm not that bad of a cook."
Jimin whines and drops his haunches to the ground as Jungkook pauses and turns around, exasperated, "Okay, fine, I'm pretty bad but only when I try to deviate from the recipes, so I'll just... follow the damn recipes, okay?"
Jimin gets back up and rejoins Jungkook as they pass by the asparagus sprouts. Jungkook pauses, eyeing them.
"Mom really likes this stuff... do you think it's hard to cook?"
Jimin sniffs at the sprouts before quirking his head. Jungkook nods, "Yeah, can't be that bad," and adds a bundle of it to their shopping basket. They proceed to fill it with various other greens, a cantaloupe (because Jimin can and will eat an entire melon by himself if Jungkook gave him the chance), a bushel of apples and a jar of peanut butter. Mostly because they're Jungkook's preferred midnight snack, but they also happen to be Jimin's preferred midnight snack. Two birds with one stone, so why the hell not.
They make their way out of the market, aiming towards the Canal Street station, Jungkook adjusting the tote bags on his shoulder, Jimin with a small back of greens between his teeth, the pair weaving between roadside stalls and tourists, pausing at a curb to wait for the light to change. When it does, Jungkook makes to step off the ledge but Jimin yelps and drops his bag, sinking his feet into Jungkook's pants to pull him back, making Jungkook fall right on his ass as a car zooms by, much too close to the curb.
Jungkook fights to catch his breath, fingers shaking as they dig into Jimin's fur. Jimin nuzzles his cheek and gives him several reassuring licks.
"Th-thanks boy... holy shit."
Jungkook turns to look at Jimin, who has picked up his bag again and is wagging his tail, waiting for Jungkook to get up, as if it were just another day and really, it has been. It will be.
Jungkook pulls Jimin in and kisses his nose before pulling himself up and shouldering his groceries again. Jimin presses against his leg as he walks, closer than before. Jungkook smiles and reaches down to keep a hand in Jimin's fur.
Just another day.
13. turning point
They're heading up the stairs to their apartment when Jimin misses a step and this time, Jungkook is the one to catch him, laughing as he pats Jimin on the rear and pushes him up to the landing.
Jungkook grins as Jimin licks his face.
"So now we're even."
14. mote point
Jimin's bi-annual checkup takes longer than usual and when the vet comes out with Jimin on his heels, the pair of them looking morose enough to make Jungkook's stomach turn.
The vet takes a deep breath, glances down at Jimin, who whines and makes his way to Jungkook, nudging at his hand till Jungkook curls his fingers into Jimin's fur.
"We've... we've discovered a tumor."
Jungkook's world grounds to a stunning halt. He blinks.
The vet blinks and glances down at his clipboard, looks up, looks back at his clipboard, eyes scanning pre-written lines, Jungkook is sure, some already written speech about options and how to move on from here.
When the vet opens his mouth again, Jungkook cuts him off, "Surgery, when can we get him in for surgery?"
The vet looks startled, and then pained, "Sir, we still have to do a proper diagnosis, maybe even an exploratory to see if it's even removable by surgery."
"If it's removable by surgery?" Jungkook repeats, and beside him Jimin presses his body against Jungkook's leg, solid and warm and breathing. Alive. So very much alive.
"Yes," and the vet takes a deep breath, Jungkook watching him switch into doctor mode, rambling off a list of things that Jungkook doesn't catch, but among them are treatments and... timespans. How long Jimin has left.
Jungkook goes home with a thick envelope of papers, pamphlets, coping, what to do from here, what to do long term, what to do, what to do, what to do.
They go home like they always do, subway, the stairs because Jimin likes the stairs better. Jimin likes climbing them, always a half a flight ahead of Jungkook but this time, Jimin sticks close, right next to Jungkook, so close that Jungkook almost trips twice but he keeps going and Jimin keeps going with him.
When the door shuts, Jungkook lets his back fall against the door before he chucks the entire file of things across the room and screams. Jimin yelps and jumps, scampering behind Jungkook, sandwiching himself between the door and Jungkook's legs. Jungkook's chest is heaving but he reaches down to pat Jimin, running his hands through Jimin's fur, swallowing down the sick, sticky, warmth clawing its way up his throat.
"It’s okay boy, it’s okay Jiminie," Jungkook drops down and hugs Jimin so hard Jimin is almost propped against him, falling into Jungkook's lap. Jungkook buries his face in Jimin's fur while Jimin whines.
"We'll be okay," he says, pulling back and smiling weakly.
Jimin barks once and wags his tail, leaning forward to lick Jungkook's nose, just once.
Jungkook rests his forehead against Jimin's and he thinks he can almost hear Jimin's thoughts, feel them pressing back through Jimin's fur right into Jungkook's skin.
I'm here. You're home.
But that's okay, because I've lived my entire life loving and being loved. And even though that isn't as long as I want it to be, to be next to Jungkook, running with him and watching him fall asleep, guarding over his dreams, it's enough. I have lived loving and being loved by my person, the one who says he'll always love me more than I love him. How many people are truly capable of loving their dogs more than their dogs love them? Completely and unconditionally?
I don't know, really, but I do know that I'm one of them.
And that's enough.
I will be with him, still, for as long as I can, for as long as I'm able, because he needs me, but when I leave, he won't anymore. I've done my part right because he remembers to eat in the mornings now, he hasn't forgotten his briefcase in a while, and he almost always showers before bed, not in the morning, because he can't get up in time.
Soon, he'll be okay on his own, and I know that he'll be okay because he is my person, and he can do anything, even when he thinks he can't, he can, and he does. He can run to the edge of the world chasing the sun, really, I've seen him do it. I was right there with him. And it was so, so beautiful.
So, this is enough.
16. living life
Jungkook spends too much time doing research online, and too little time sleeping. He drops a case at work and tells his superiors that it's trouble at home. They give him a leave of absence and he stays home, curled up in bed with his laptop, hair growing ever more unruly, going through online explanations and so-called miracle stories.
The third day in, Jungkook wakes up to Jimin growling in his ear. Jungkook frowns and opens his eyes to find Jimin standing over him, panting in his face. Jimin barks, once, twice, three times before Jungkook groans and nods, rolling out of bed.
"Alright, alright, what's up?"
Jimin jumps off the bed and patters to the door, parking himself firmly next to it, barking twice, his tail sweeping across the ground, eyes huge and bright and sharp, watching Jungkook from down the hall.
Jungkook quirks an eyebrow, carding a hand through his hair, "I don't wanna go running, Jimin. You know I'm busy with--"
Jimin growls again, one of the few times he's ever done so, and Jungkook stops. Jimin's growl rumbles to a stop before he barks again, bounding down the hall, rounding Jungkook's leg to press his head against the backs of Jungkook's knees, pushing Jungkook forward till he's almost toppling over.
Jungkook steadies himself against the wall and shoots Jimin an indignant look.
"Spoiled dog, two days without a jog and you're threatening me."
Jimin barks again, more incessant this time, bounding back down the hallway to make circles by the door. Jungkook rolls his eyes, stretching his arms over his head.
"Fine, fine, lemme just... wash my face and stuff."
Jimin yips, one of those puppy sounds he used to make, that he still does when he's really pleased with something, and pads over to nose at Jungkook's thigh as Jungkook makes his way into the bathroom to splash his face with cold water.
They reach their route by the Hudson and the sun is peeking over the water's edge, the red and golds leaking across the waves in glittering reams of thread, reaching towards them and Jimin runs ahead, sitting down by the railings, eyes fixed on that indeterminable point on the horizon.
"Hey boy," Jungkook says, kneeling down beside Jimin with his hands in Jimin's fur, pressing his cheek to Jimin's and feeling Jimin lick softly at this skin. Just once. He hears Jimin's breathing, the strong thud-thud of his heart beneath Jungkook's palm, the flow of blood pumping through his veins and the flex and stretch of his muscles, proof that he is here, that he is alive, that he is living.
Jimin barks at the sun and Jungkook grins, pointing.
"See that?" he says, getting back up to his feet and pulling his arm across his body to stretch, glancing down at Jimin with a grin, "I'll race you there."
17. life stream
The third chemo session goes great, and though Jimin always comes out of them a little bit weak at the knees, he's wagging his tail and the vet smiles, rambling off the usual lines of how great he's doing and how receptive he is to treatment.
He doesn't mention that the initial diagnostic had deemed the tumor too complicated to operate on. He doesn't mention the fact that Jimin only has so long to live, that the treatment, however "well" it's working, is still causing Jimin inordinate amounts of pain.
No, he only mentions how good things are and how there's still hope.
Jungkook smiles and takes it, because Jimin likes it when Jungkook smiles, and he always gets treats after the sessions. Jungkook makes sure not to walk too fast to the cab, helping Jimin into the seat next to him before buckling in himself and telling the driver where to go, settling with his fingers carding through Jimin's fur.
Jimin lays his head down in Jungkook's lap and breathes deep, nosing into Jungkook's free palm. Jungkook grins and strokes his head. Jimin wiggles a bit to get properly settled and then closes his eyes. He's asleep before they reach the first red light and sleeps all the way home, his breathing steady over Jungkook's legs.
Jungkook traces the line from Jimin's nose over his crown to the point between his ears, and then again, and again, and again, counting one, two, three, four--
He threw out all the calendars in the house last month and only checks the one on his phone for work because he can't shuck the cases forever. But he tries not to think about time and he tries not to think about anything other than right now, other than not forgetting that Jimin is right there next to him, solid and real and soft and warm.
Like love, like home.
Like belonging somewhere and knowing that.
He smiles and leans forward to bury his face in Jimin's fur as the light breaks over the sky and it dims like the heavens drawing down curtains of dark, speckled with stars that shine but are a bit too far to hear Jungkook's wishes, much less grant them.
Jimin shifts and whines and Jungkook nuzzles into his back, lips moving, whispering words that he knows Jimin knows, but feels the need to repeat them anyway, even when Jimin is asleep because he'll never ever be able to say them enough--I love you, I love you, I love you. I know you love me too, but remember, I'll always love you more.
18. dog's life
"Wake up, sleepy head," Jungkook says, nudging Jimin, who whines and sniffs and shoves his muzzle resolutely into the nook between the bed and the pillow. Jungkook laughs and rolls over till he's almost horizontally on top of Jimin and scratches his sides.
"Wake up, wake up, wake up! We need to go for our morning jog!"
Jimin peers open one bleary eye and huffs, pressing his paws over his ears for a minute before Jungkook rolls off and out of bed, humming to himself, Jimin flopping from the bed to the floor, following after with a shake of the head to rid himself of those residual dreams.
A bowl of cold water and soft kibble with roast chicken breast later, Jimin is wagging his tail, waiting for Jungkook by the door. Jungkook slips into his running shoes and gives Jimin's head a good scratch.
"Got everything?" he asks.
Jimin woofs as if that's a stupid question, rises up off his haunches, and waits for Jungkook to unlock the door, slipping between Jungkook's legs to wait for him at the door of the elevator. It'd been installed about half a year ago, and right on time, because by then, climbing up and down stairs had become a chore for Jimin and more often than not, Jungkook would have to carry him up the rest of the way.
They take their usual path along the Hudson, Jungkook keeping pace with Jimin, who can't really run as fast as he could before--the chemo makes him weak, and his hair is a lot thinner now, but he pushes through, and no one had thought he'd be able to make it so long as he has. It's almost been a year.
Some people are calling it a miracle.
"If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have found this route," Jungkook says, taking the slow bend with the railings, the sun just peaking above the horizon, their breaths rising up in front of them in silvery mists, tendrils of last night's dreams. Jungkook laughs as Jimin pants next to him, "Actually, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be a lot of things. Probably be a mess at work... never remember to feed myself."
Jimin barks and presses in close till they're brushing against each other with every step.
They slow down together, till they reach their favorite lookout and Jimin sits down, Jungkook crouching beside him. From here, they get a perfect view of the sunrise, every single time. From here, they've witnessed miracles, watched the sky paint itself in shades till the day fully breaks and that's when they continue. This time, Jimin stays a little bit longer, eyes trained on the liquid fire burning beneath the sun.
"Promise you'll let me know what it's like there up in heaven when you get there, okay boy?" Jungkook says, trying to swallow down the quiver in his voice.
Jimin turns and blinks up at Jungkook, then he gets up and takes a few steps towards their regular route onwards.
Jungkook nods and they set off again, side by side with each other, side by side with the world.
19. life blood
They decide to go grocery shopping that day, taking the usual metro to Canal street and coming out on the busy, bustling streets of Chinatown. Nowhere else to get good, cheap produce. People are pushing and shoving and it's winter, but it's still several degrees warmer just from the sheer number of bodies.
Jungkook keeps Jimin close.
They make it to the crosstreet and Jimin bounds ahead, tail wagging because he knows grocery shopping means big meal at the end of the day, and Jungkook has learned how to cook quite well in the past year, having to concoct custom dishes for Jimin and all.
Jungkook feels his phone vibrating in his pocket, dropping his eyes to check the ID, feet moving of their own accord till something screeches and Jimin hits him square in the chest.
The world falls away and the sky swells up in bruised blues and scar-tissue whites. Voices, fur, warmth, Jimin, blood, Jimin, blood, Jimin, Jimin, Jimin, blood, blood, blood, blood--
"Call an ambulance!"
"He's still breathing!"
"They both are!"
Sirens and movement. Jimin, still there with him. Warm and soft.
Sticky and wet.
No, this isn't right.
Jungkook jolts up from his makeshift bed in the ambulance, limbs flailing wildly, voices holding him down, hands screaming in his ears.
"Jimin! Where's Jimin--where is he--where--"
"Sir, please calm down, your dog is right here--he's lost a lot of blood, but he's still alive, sir, please if you could--"
But Jungkook is already sliding out of his own bed, ignoring the painful twinge of something pulling out of his arm, crouching down next to Jimin's bed where there are three people, one holding up his IV drip, the other two trying to stem the flow of blood running from his belly. His legs are in bandages and his breathing is loud and wet and labored.
"Jimin, oh my god," Jungkook settles next to Jimin, the world still too bright, but nothing else matters because Jimin is right there in front of him, still, right there and breathing, looking back with those huge, dark, watery eyes and he gives a faint whimper, trying to edge closer. Jungkook shushes him and shakes his head, leaning in to press his forehead against Jimin's, kissing Jimin's nose.
"Shh, boy, it's okay, I'm here. I'm here..."
"You're lucky to be alive," someone says, girl in a windbreaker and a vest, "both of you, and if it hadn't been for your dog, you wouldn't be here."
"His name is Jimin," Jungkook says, voice soft, still pressed up against Jimin's forehead.
Jimin whines again and something in his chest sloshes. He makes a hacking noise and people are scrambling to get more gauze! We need more gauze or else he'll bleed out! Someone check his stats--
But Jungkook tunes them out, his chest twisting till he can barely breathe. He looks at Jimin and Jimin looks back, eyes deep and bright and full of spinning worlds, more broad and beautiful than this one. Worlds made of love, words that feel and feed on it, worlds that brim with it till they're bursting at the seams.
Jungkook smiles and kisses Jimin's fur again, his hands settling over Jimin's ears, tickling the tips and he watches them twitch like they always do.
"It's okay, boy, it's okay," Jungkook says, heat wrapping itself around his throat with thin, black-widow fingers, clenching down till he has to fight to breathe, "it's... okay." He takes another breath.
"It'll be okay, Jiminie, you can go," he gulps, "if you need to. You don't have to fight anymore," he shakes his head and gulps down air because he's drowning.
"I'll be okay, I promise. I know, I know you're worried about me," Jungkook laughs, but it's a choked little thing, and he has to blink to keep the tears from stealing his vision, "but I promise I'll be good, I'll remember to bring my briefcase and to eat, and I'll take that route by the Hudson in the mornings cause the air is better there... it's okay--I'll be okay."
Jungkook kisses Jimin's nose, his forehead, his eyes, "Go, Jimin. I love you so much. Remember that," Jungkook can't keep from sobbing for much longer, so he swallows again and buries his face in Jimin's fur like he always does when he's scared, "I'll always love you more."
Jimin breathes in and Jungkook lifts his head.
Jimin licks his nose, just once.
Jungkook nods. There are tears drowning him but he fights through them and smiles because Jimin loves it when he smiles and he rests his head against Jimin's, nodding, and crying, and smiling in the too-bright-too-loud-too-full-too-much of the ambulance, of the entire world and worlds that they've walked together. Ran together.
"I'm here. You're home."