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[ Jeongguk ]

 

It’s snowing when Jeongguk gets out of work. It’s the slow, small flakes that don’t stick, gray skies and wet pavement (the kind of end of December weather that sighs with bone-deep exhaustion and beckons Jeongguk to hole up in his apartment and sleep until spring).

He burrows into his scarf as he walks toward the bus stop, snow catching in his eyelashes and landing on his nose, making him sniff. It’s been a long day. 

A long week, really. A long year. 

Jeongguk’s boots scuff against cracks in the pavement, the only sound in the otherwise quiet alley that runs behind his company building.

At least, it’s a quiet alley until Jeongguk hears a soft whine from a pile of cardboard boxes to his right.

Jeongguk’s footsteps falter, and he turns to stare in the direction of the noise, his eyes widening.

There’s a snuffle followed by another long, drawn-out whimper.

“Oh,” Jeongguk whispers, hurrying toward the boxes, heart already panging in his chest. He drops to his knees beside the pile of cardboard, a pair of black eyes staring up at him.

“Hi baby,” Jeongguk croons. It’s a dog- a puppy, maybe- with matted, curly brown fur and floppy ears. The dog whines again, putting tiny paws up on the edge of the box and Jeongguk’s eyes begin to sting. “Did someone leave you out here?” 

The dog’s tail starts to wag, tapping against the sides of the cardboard prison. Jeongguk reaches out slowly, letting the dog sniff him for a moment before a rough, wet tongue sweeps over Jeongguk’s fingers, making him giggle despite the lump in his throat.

“Okay,” Jeongguk says, and he gently strokes the puppy’s head, scratches behind one soft ear. “Let’s get you out of the cold.”

The dog lets out a tiny bark, which Jeongguk takes as agreement.

The problem is: (a) getting the dog home on the bus, something very much not allowed.

The problem is: (b) smuggling the dog into his tiny apartment where is he is also very much not allowed to have pets.

The problem is: (c) getting the dog to a vet for a health check-up, (see problem a for transportation issues) and paying for it (which could be considered problem d as well).

Jeongguk bites his lip, gently petting down the puppy’s neck as his tail continues to tap with excitement against the box. 

If he was still in Busan, Jeongguk could call the friends he’d grown up with- had gone to university with. Or his parents. Or his hyung. But Jeongguk is in Seoul, where he’s lived for the last ten months, and his friends here are few and far between.

But there is one person, however, that Jeongguk thinks would be okay with an out-of-the-blue call on New Years Eve about a dog. At least Jeongguk hopes it will be okay.

Gnawing on his lower lip, Jeongguk pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket with his free hand, the little dog still snuffling into Jeongguk’s other palm.

“I’ve got you,” Jeongguk tells the puppy, and he presses call. 

 

[ Seokjin ]

 

Yoongi shuffles down the aisle, swallowed completely in Seokjin’s pink hoodie, and stops only to inspect some fish, lifting up the package and squinting at it.

It’s impossible not to smile watching him, impossible not to stare at the way Yoongi’s nose scrunches as he must decide he doesn’t like the selection as he puts the package down again, shoving his hands back into the sweatshirt’s pockets before continuing his tired waddle-walk.

There’s something really unfair about Yoongi wearing Seokjin’s clothes. And not just unfair in that Yoongi steals them out of Seokjin’s clean laundry piles and lies they got mixed up with his. It’s more that Seokjin has been a little bit in love with his roommate for the last two years (the last three years, if Seokjin’s counting the time that he refused to acknowledge his own feelings) and seeing Yoongi in Seokjin’s favorite hoodie makes Seokjin’s chest warm and bright and ache-y all at the same time. 

Truly unfair, Min Yoongi , Seokjin thinks as Yoongi stops again, this time in front of some frozen mandu.

Fortunately, Seokjin’s phone buzzes then, interrupting Seokjin’s pitiful pining brain, and Seokjin pulls the cart over to the side of the aisle to answer it, smiling when he sees the caller ID.

“Jeongguk-ah,” Seokjin greets, and Yoongi turns around, cocking his head to the side curiously when he hears it. “We missed you at dinner last weekend. Are you feeling better?” 

“Oh! Yeah, much better. Sorry I couldn’t make it, hyung,” Jeongguk answers, and his voice still sounds a little croaky from his cold. “I also, um. I have a question. Please feel free to say no. I know this is a lot to ask, but I wasn’t really sure what else to do and-”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Seokjin frowns, leaning on the cart handle. “What’s going on, Guk-ah? Are you alright?”

Yoongi moves forward at this, huddling beside Seokjin with a furrowed brow, clearly trying to eavesdrop.

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk promises immediately. “But I… I sort of found an abandoned dog near my work. And it’s below freezing and the sun is about to set and I can’t just leave him. But if I smuggle him onto the bus there’s still the problem of my landlord finding out about him at my apartment and then getting him to the vet and I thought that maybe, um, maybe you could… help?”

Seokjin blinks and looks at Yoongi, who looks at him, and they both nod at the same time.

Jeongguk’s already continuing, however, in the middle of saying, “-sorry, didn’t think it through, I’ll look up some rescue organizations-”

“We’ll come pick you up now,” Seokjin says, and Yoongi takes the cart from him, pink sleeves tugged over his hands with just his nail-bitten fingers poking out. “Are you still close to your company building?”

There’s a small breath of relief on the other end of the call. “Yeah.”

“We could probably be there in twenty minutes,” Seokjin tells him as he and Yoongi make their way to the front of the store. “Just send me the address again, okay?”

“Got it. Thank you so, so much, hyung.” Jeongguk’s voice is a little watery.

“Of course,” Seokjin says. He’s known Jeongguk for the better part of the year, has known about him for longer through Jeonghyun, who was in Seokjin’s theater program at SNU. With Jeonghyun back in Busan, it’s the younger Jeon brother who Seokjin goes to dinner with and invites over for video game nights. But where Jeonghyun was always outgoing and loud, Jeongguk is quiet and reserved, seeming like he doesn’t quite understand that Seokjin values him as a friend and not just as Jeonghyun’s dongsaeng who Seokjin was asked to look after. So before Seokjin hangs up, he says, “I’m glad you called.”

There’s a moment of hesitation before Jeongguk softly answers, “Me too, hyung.”

“What are the odds this dog is the size of a bear and Jeongguk will be carrying it like a baby?” Yoongi drawls as they reach the check-out line.

“A solid eight.”

Yoongi snorts. “Chances that the dog is actually a baby bear?”

Seokjin laughs, the noise squeaking and making the cashier look at him in surprise before he stifles it. “Nine out of ten, even in the middle of Seoul since it’s Jeongguk we’re talking about.”

Yoongi grins at him, the gummy smile reserved for when he’s particularly happy, and Seokjin can’t help but grin back.

 

[ Taehyung ]

 

Yeontan watches him with the most judgmental eyes possible, permanently disapproving eyebrows seeming especially disgruntled today.

“Look,” Taehyung tells him as he shoves a squeak toy he’s seen Yeontan use exactly once into a canvas bag. “You don’t even play with these anymore. There’s a dog who will actually need them.”

Yeontan yips at him.

Taehyung sighs and reaches for a knotted rope and sticks that in the bag too. Yeontan trots out of the living room on tiny, angry legs. 

To Taehyung’s right, his front door beeps a few times. There’s only one other person who knows Taehyung’s apartment passcode (1310), so Taehyung calls, “Hi, Jiminie,” at the same moment the door swings open. 

Jimin has his over the shoulder bag with him as he steps inside, and he smiles as he drops it on the sofa. It’s his overnight bag, the one he brings when he wants to stay. “Hi, Tae,” he says.

Taehyung grins up at him. “You’ll never guess what Yoongi-hyung called me about earlier.”

“He finally confessed to Seokjin-hyung?” Jimin asks, and he plops himself down on the floor beside Taehyung without any of his dancer’s grace, immediately wiggling around so his head is in Taehyung’s lap.

“Unfortunately not,” Taehyung says, and sets aside the bag of Yeontan’s soon to be stolen toys so he can pet Jimin’s hair. “It starts with Jeon Jeongguk and ends with stray puppy.”

Jimin’s eyes widen. “No.”

“Yes. Jeongguk found a dog and now Seokjin and Yoongi are on their way to pick him up. They wanted to ask if I had some pet supplies, so I’m taking Yeontan’s toys.”

“They’re going to keep it?”

“I don’t know. I think it might be a temporary thing for now.”

Jimin snorts. “I give Yoongi-hyung exactly two days before he gives the dog his own last name and starts referring to it as his child.”

Taehyung giggles, and he brushes Jimin’s bangs away from his face, hair finally soft again after Jimin’s many rounds of bleaching and dyeing his hair when they were in university together. “And Seokjin-hyung?”

“He’ll pretend to complain for an hour and then go out and buy a giant dog bed,” Jimin supplies. “Are we bringing Yeontan’s toys over to their apartment later?”

“Yeah. If you want to come with me,” Taehyung says, peering down at Jimin.

“Definitely,” Jimin answers, and he sits up with a yawn. “I’m going to need caffeine first, after the day I’ve had.”

“The kids were bad?”

“Just restless. They know they have school off tomorrow for New Years Day, so they were ready to be done.” Jimin lines his toes up with Taehyung and reaches for his hands, and they pull themselves up together. “What about your day?”

“Good, mostly. I got to take photos of a couple for their fiftieth anniversary,” Taehyung says, and he feels himself smiling as he follows Jimin into the kitchen. “When I showed them some of the shots, the husband pointed at the screen and said, ‘See? I told you that you’re still just as beautiful.’”

Jimin’s face goes soft, his eyes curving gently. “That’ll be me in fifty years telling you that,” he says before he reaches for the coffee grounds. 

“Forty-nine,” Taehyung corrects.

Jimin hums questioningly as he fills up the coffee maker. “Forty-nine?”

“Our anniversary is tomorrow,” Taehyung says.

“Oh,” Jimin says, and he turns, giving Taehyung his full attention as a smile plays on his lips. “It is, isn’t it?”

Taehyung nods. “I know nothing really changed from before, but it still means something to me. That we put a name to what we have, even if we didn’t have to.” 

Jimin reaches forward and takes Taehyung’s hand, fingers intertwining. The black ring on Jimin’s middle finger is colder than his skin, but it’s familiar in Taehyung’s gentle hold. “We didn’t have to, but I’m glad we did. You’re my partner, Tae. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Taehyung says. It makes his chest full, his heart light, because Jimin knows how Taehyung means it, how much he means it. Because Jimin loves Taehyung just as fiercely. “Let’s be together for a long time,” Taehyung tells him, and he leans over to kiss Jimin’s forehead.

“Forty-nine more years at minimum,” Jimin tells him, squeezing his hand before letting it go and starting the coffee maker. “You’ll be even more beautiful with gray hair.”

Taehyung laughs and leans against the counter beside Jimin. “So will you.”

 

[ Hoseok ]

 

“Oh fuck, he’s adorable, ” Hoseok laughs.

Two heads whip up at the sound of his voice. One belonging to a curly-furred puppy and the other to a man (boy?) with dark hair and huge eyes. 

Fuck, they’re both adorable. 

“Thanks for bringing the food,” Seokjin says, and he lifts the bag from Hoseok’s arms so Hoseok can slip out of his shoes, the entryway already lined with familiar pairs of boots and sneakers. 

“No problem. It’s the kind I get Mickey, but you might want to check in with the vet when you visit about his diet,” Hoseok says as his eyes scan across the living room of Seokjin and Yoongi’s apartment.

There’s the adorable man with the adorable dog on his lap sitting on the floor beside the coffee table. Behind him on the sofa is Yoongi (wearing a pink sweatshirt Hoseok is pretty sure belongs to Seokjin and an extremely content expression). 

Taehyung and Jimin are on the other couch cushion, sitting practically on top of each other, which is nothing new for them.

“Hi, Hoseok-hyung,” Jimin greets, and Taehyung echoes.

“Hey, you two,” Hoseok tells them.

“Jeongguk, this is Jung Hoseok. Hoseok, Jeon Jeongguk,” Yoongi supplies, gesturing from the man with the dog to Hoseok and back again.

Jeongguk bows his head even from his position on the floor. “It’s nice to meet you,” he says. The little dog in his arm lets out a snuffling woof.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Hoseok answers. “Has anyone named the little guy here yet?”

“Yoongi was named over twenty years ago,” Jimin teases.

Hoseok cackles when Yoongi flips Jimin off.

“We haven’t thought of one yet,” Seokjin says, and he sets down the dog food beside a bag of what looks to be overflowing chews toys, some with a few teeth marks on them. “I suggested Haemultang but was rudely overruled.”

“I wonder why,” Yoongi deadpans.

“Yeah, who wouldn’t want a dog named seafood soup?” Hoseok asks, winking at Seokjin before  he pads across the heated floor to crouch down in front of Jeongguk and the dog. 

Jeongguk looks up at him through a curtain of dark hair, smiling a little shyly. “He’s really friendly,” Jeongguk says. 

Hoseok lets the puppy sniff his hand first, then scratches the top of his head. “He is, wow. Where did you find him?”

“Near where I work. I think someone put him in a box and dropped him off instead of taking him to a shelter.” Jeongguk takes one finger and gently stroked the dog’s little arm where it hangs over Jeongguk’s lap. 

“That’s awful,” Hoseok says, the dog leaning into his touch for more scritches. “I don’t get why people abandon animals like that.”

Around them, the others have started talking, Jimin and Yoongi arguing about something while Seokjin and Taehyung list off what sounds like increasingly ridiculous ideas for names. 

“I don’t know either,” Jeongguk murmurs.

Hoseok hums to himself. “It’s lucky you found him.”

Jeongguk blinks up at Hoseok in surprise. “What? Oh, no. I just—it’s what anyone would’ve done. And Seokjin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung are the only reason that I could get him out of the cold.”

Jeon Jeongguk. Seokjin’s friend that Hoseok had heard about in passing for nearly a year (had only heard good things and sometimes ridiculous things, like how this Jeon Jeongguk once only ate cup ramen for an entire week, and on another occasion how he wrestled Seokjin to the floor and then carried him around the apartment bridal-style because Seokjin called him a baby). 

“Nah, I think he’s lucky it’s you who found him,” Hoseok says lightly, and Jeongguk’s shy smile reappears as he ducks his head in what might be embarrassment.

“Do you have any pets, Hoseok-ssi?” Jeongguk asks.

Hoseok nods. “My dog, Mickey,” he says, then adds, “Just call me hyung.”

“Hoseok-hyung,” Jeongguk corrects himself, and the puppy in his lap huffs quietly and rolls a little to the left, exposing his belly. Jeongguk rubs it gently. “Do you have any pictures of Mickey?”

Hoseok grins, reaching for his phone.

“You’re going to regret asking that,” Yoongi says from above them. 

“Like you don’t have a thousand pictures on your phone of your brother’s cat,” Hoseok says. 

“Touché.”

“Hoseok-ah, you’re staying for dinner, right? Namjoon’s getting some take-out now,” Seokjin says, perching on the arm of the sofa beside Yoongi. 

“The studio’s closed tomorrow for New Year’s Day, so I’m in,” Hoseok says.

Jimin and Taehyung high-five each other. 

Jeongguk asks about ‘the studio,’ so Hoseok asks if he dances, and pictures of Mickey are forgotten, at least for the moment.

By the time Namjoon arrives with the take-out, Jeongguk has stopped ducking his head with every answer and is laughing with his head thrown back and eyes crinkled, dog still curled up in his lap.

And Hoseok is really glad he agreed to stay for dinner.

 

[ Jimin ]

 

“What if I got a cat?” Jimin asks, swirling wine around in the bright yellow mug Seokjin poured his drink into. 

“You’re allergic to cats,” Taehyung reminds him. There’s only one last piece of kimbap on the coffee table, the rest of the take-out completely decimated.

Jimin sighs, leaning his head back against Taehyung’s legs. “I could get one of those hairless cats.”

“You mean Yoongi?” Seokjin asks mildly from his position on the couch beside Taehyung.

“I heard that,” Yoongi mutters. “I resent that remark.”

“You resemble it,” Hoseok says.

Jimin giggles as Yoongi heaves a long-suffering sigh.

It’s nearing midnight now, and all of them are full and tired, the little dog now on Hoseok’s lap instead of Jeongguk’s. The two of them talked all through dinner, Hoseok’s dimples constantly on display, Jeongguk growing more and more relaxed with each minute.

It’s good, Jimin thinks. Jeongguk is one of the kindest friends Jimin has, but Jeongguk doesn’t seem to realize that they are friends. Or at least that Jimin considers them to be close. Hoseok is the kind of person who loves so loudly that there’s no way Jeongguk can write it off as mere friendliness—an acquaintanceship of convenience or proximity. And maybe there’s something like a spark between them, too. But whatever kind of relationship that begins from tonight, Jimin has a feeling it will be a good one. 

Namjoon gently touches Jimin’s arm. “What are you thinking about?” He asks, smiling. His long legs are drawn up with his knees to his chest. 

“Beginnings,” Jimin answers. He feels Taehyung’s hands in his hair, stroking gently. Hoseok and Jeongguk are talking again, Yoongi and Seokjin debating whether or not they should try finding a vet that’s open tomorrow or not.

“I guess that’s timely. With the new year coming up,” Namjoon says, and he rests his cheek against the top of his knees. “I know it’s not the same as Seollal, but it still makes me think.”

“Everything makes you think, hyung,” Jimin teases.

Namjoon snorts. “Maybe. I don’t know, though. It’s just another day on the calendar, but it feels like more than that.” 

“A metaphorical new beginning,” Taehyung says, voice soft and deep, that beautiful baritone Jimin loves. Between Namjoon and Taehyung’s low tones, Jimin feels like he’s wrapping himself in a blanket of warmth. 

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees. “I think maybe I’d like it to be.”

“For what?” Jimin asks. 

“Myself, maybe. This year was hard.”

Jimin hums in acknowledgement. He remembers holding Namjoon through some of the worst of it. He remembers being held by Namjoon and Taehyung and the others in his worst moments, too.

But they made it through. 

They all did.

“You did well, hyung,” Jimin says quietly. 

“So did you,” Namjoon answers, and his eyes are wet behind his glasses when he looks up past Jimin. “You too, Taehyung-ah. I’m proud of both of you.”

“Ah, hyung,” Taehyung says, and his voice wavers enough that Jimin knows the exact expression that must be on his face. 

“If you both start crying, so will I,” Jimin warns, trying for stern and coming off as pleading.

Namjoon lets out a barking laugh that still sounds like he’s holding back tears and Taehyung leans down to press a kiss to the top of Jimin’s head. 

“Yah,” Seokjin says, and it’s loud enough that everyone looks his way. Even the dog raises his head from Hoseok’s lap. Seokjin holds up his phone, 12:00 glowing back at them in white numbers. “Happy New Year.”

Jimin laughs, says, “Happy New Year,” to everyone before tilting his face back and telling Taehyung, “happy anniversary.”

Taehyung’s answering grin is a wonderful, familiar, beautiful beginning to the new year. 

 

[ Yoongi

 

“You want to keep him, don’t you,” Seokjin says, and he doesn’t pitch his voice up to make it a question.

Yoongi takes the cup from Seokjin, turning it in his hands to run the towel over it. “Do you?”

He can feel Seokjin staring at him and he maintains his best poker face. The sounds of sleepy conversation float from the living room into the kitchen, but Yoongi doesn’t bother to listen in- not when he’s waiting with feigned nonchalance for Seokjin to answer.

“Well,” Seokjin says, and he turns off the tap. “I think he’s not too loud.”

“Agreed.”

“And he hasn’t tried to bite anyone.”

“Yeah.”

“And Jeongguk likes him a lot.”

“He does.”

“And you like him,” Seokjin adds.

Yoongi makes a soft noise of agreement as he sets the towel down on the counter. “But this is our decision to make together. If you think it’s a bad idea, I’ll help Jeongguk look into a rescue society or make a post online to see if anyone wants to adopt.”

Seokjin just shakes his head. “Let’s keep him.”

Warmth courses through Yoongi. This would be their dog. Like- like a family. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. I like him too. Even if you won’t let me name him Haemultang.” 

“That’s such a bad name,” Yoongi says, but it lacks bite with the way affection is sitting on his tongue.

“It’s a perfectly good name,” Seokjin argues.

“You’re impossible.”

“That’s why you love me, Yoongichi,” Seokjin teases.

It is. “Impossible,” Yoongi repeats instead, picking up the towel again. 

Seokjin laughs his obnoxiously perfect squeaking laugh, high-pitched and infections, and Yoongi grins down at the counter top.

Seokjin turns on the water again, and when Yoongi peeks at him from the corner of his eye, he finds Seokjin’s ears pink with embarrassment. 

Which is odd, because Seokjin and Yoongi are pretty far past the point of getting embarassed around each other. Unless-

“Hyung,” Yoongi says, and he clears his throat as Seokjin starts to wash another mug. “You know I… I do love you, yeah?” 

The mug slips from Seokjin’s hands, clattering loudly against the sink basin. It doesn’t shatter, thankfully, though Seokjin’s cheeks even more flushed than before. “Of course I know,” Seokjin says. “I’m very loveable.”

You have no idea , Yoongi thinks to himself, because Seokjin’s bravado is rooted in confidence, yes, but not true ego. Yoongi loves Seokjin as a friend, but he also is a little bit in love with Seokjin. A lot in love, even. 

Yoongi was going to tell him on Christmas. Just drop a casual comment about taking Seokjin on a Christmas date since everyone else in Korea was doing it.

But Yoongi is only a man, and he’s been in love with Seokjin for nearly three years now. 

That’s not an easy confession to make, even though part of him—part of him knows that Seokjin loves him, too. In the same way. Yoongi feels it. 

It’s just the way they are. 

But maybe they’re both scared of change.

What was it Namjoon had said earlier to Jimin? A chance for a new beginning?

They continue the dishes quietly, Seokjin’s movements a little jerky and uncoordinated, crooked fingers and delicate hands. 

Yoongi would very much like to hold those hands and crooked fingers without acting like he didn’t love the man they belonged to. 

“Hyung,” Yoongi says quietly.

“Yeah?”

“I’m in love with you.”

Seokjin drops another glass, and this time it does break.

“Oh, fuck ,” Seokjin hisses, his eyes are wide as they dart between Yoongi’s face and the shards of glass in the sink. 

Yoongi stares blankly, heart pounding in his ears. Seokjin just swore. Seokjin almost never swears. 

Was Yoongi wrong? 

Shit. Shit,

“You guys okay in there?” Namjoon calls, but Yoongi and Seokjin have locked eyes and Seokjin looks every bit as panicked as Yoongi feels and neither of them answer. 

Silence settles in for several breaths too long, and then there are soapy fingers cradling his face and soft, full lips pressing against his own and Yoongi gasps against Seokjin’s mouth before wrapping his arms around Seokjin’s waist. He pulls them closer together, warmth radiating from Seokjin’s chest.

Yoongi rocks up on his toes, and God, he’s kissing Seokjin. He’s kissing Seokjin in their kitchen and Seokjin is kissing him back and-

“Well, it was about time.”

Seokjin pulls back, face flushed and his eyes wide. 

Yoongi can feel soap bubbles on his cheeks from Seokjin’s hands, but he doesn’t really care. He doesn’t even care that Jimin and Namjoon are staring at them (Jimin with glee and Namjoon grinning sheepishly) from the archway to the living room. 

“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Jimin drawls. “Happy New Years, hyungs. I’m happy for you both and I love you a lot.”

Seokjin blinks rapidly. “Right. Yes. Happy New Year. Yoongi, did you really just say you were in love with me?”

Jimin laughs, pulling Namjoon out of the kitchen, and Yoongi nods. “Yeah, I did.” 

“I love you, too,” Seokjin says, and he rubs the back of his neck like he always does when he’s embarrassed. 

“I figured that from the kiss,” Yoongi tells him, attempting at humor but probably sounding out of breath still, and he feels a grin sneaking onto his face. 

“Right,” Seokjin says, and he coughs. “So. I’m going to get the glass out of the sink.”

“Okay.”

“And then I’m going to kiss you some more, if that’s alright.”

“Perfectly alright, yeah.”

“And then maybe we can figure out a name for the dog.”

“Holly,” Yoongi says. “I was thinking Holly.”

The pink has finally faded from Seokjin’s face, and he clicks his tongue. “But what about—”

“Hyung.”

“Fine,” Seokjin says, and his lips twitch up in the corners. “Holly.”

Yoongi decides they should skip the glass in the sink for the moment, and he pulls Seokjin in for another kiss instead.

 

[ Namjoon ]

 

“Did you have a good time tonight?” Namjoon asks.

Street lights blur outside the taxi windows, snow still falling in thick, slow flakes, making the pavement gleam in the darkness. 

“I did,” Jeongguk says, smiling. 

They live only a five minute drive apart, and Namjoon has suggested sharing a taxi for the ride back like they’d done once before after a dinner with Seokjin and Yoongi.

“I’m glad. It was good to see you, Jeongguk-ah.”

Jeongguk tilts his head to the side, glancing at Namjoon in what might be surprise. “I- yeah. It was good to see you, too.”

Namjoon smiles softly. 

“Do you have any plans for the new year, hyung?” Jeongguk asks as the taxi slows to a stop for a red light. 

“Not really,” Namjoon says honestly. “They’re not plans so much as… changes?” Namjoon frowns because it’s not quite the right word, but it’s also late and he’s tired and his brain isn’t supplying anything better at the moment. 

“What kind of changes? Unless that’s too personal.”

“It’s not,” Namjoon assures him, then laughs quietly. “Actually, one of the things I want to change is being more open about how I’m feeling. And to be kinder to myself about the things that I am feeling.”

“Ah,” Jeongguk says, and nods in understanding. “I think I could work on those things, too.”

The taxi driver turns, and Namjoon recognizes the street. They’ll be at his apartment soon. “Jeongguk-ah, you have my number, right?”

“Yes.”

“Let me know when you’re free next. I can’t cook as well as Seokjin-hyung, but I do know a really good Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood.”

Jeongguk’s eyes visibly crinkle in the corners despite the darkness inside the car as he smiles. “Okay, hyung. I’d like that.”

Namjoon nods, thinking back to Jeongguk throughout the night, sitting beside Hoseok with the puppy snuggled between them. “And do you have Hoseok’s contact information?”

“Yeah, I do.” 

Namjoon’s not always the best at reading people, but he’s very sure that Jeongguk’s smile turns a even brighter at this. “You should message him, too,” Namjoon advises. 

“I will,” Jeongguk says, and Namjoon thinks his eyes actually sparkle as the taxi stops beneath a light post.

Namjoon passes his card over to the driver. “Good,” Namjoon says, and then, as he clambers out of the car, “Happy New Year, Jeongguk-ah.”

“Happy New Year, Namjoon-hyung. I’ll see you soon.”

Namjoon waves as the taxi pulls away from the curb, watching the red flash of the tail lights until they disappear around a corner. 

New beginnings, even metaphorical ones, always make Namjoon stupidly sentimental. 

The night air is cold, but Namjoon takes a deep breath in anyway, filling his lungs until they’re bursting, then letting it all out again. 

A snowflake lands on Namjoon’s nose and he sneezes loudly, and he supposes that he should probably not start the year by catching a cold on January 1st, and heads inside his apartment building.

His phone is flooded with notifications when he opens it, and he flops down on his bed to read through them.

 

[new group chat]

From Jimin (1:35)

dinner next friday at my apartment. ^^ bring wine.

From Taehyung (1:36)

he means red wine.

From Jimin (1:37)

yes, red wine, please. the only acceptable wine.

From Hoseok (1:39)

:D dinner sounds great!

bringing sprite tho

From Jimin (1:40)

okay! yoongi-hyung and jin-hyung, you have to bring wine then.

namjoon-hyung, bring whatever you want

From Hoseok (1:40)

is this because you’re assuming he’ll forget?

From Jimin (1:41)

your words, not mine. ;)

From Yoongi (1:41)

i’m muting this chat 

From Taehyung (1:42)

:(

From Jimin (1:42)

:(

From Hoseok (1:42)

:(

From Seokjin (1:42)

:(

From Yoongi (1:43)

wtf hyung

fine

notifications are still on

From Hoseok (1:43)

:)

From Jeongguk (1:45)

hi! i can bring wine next friday too! 

:)

 

At least with whatever this year brings, Namjoon thinks as he starts typing his own response, he’ll have the people he loves with him every step of the way.