In the dim lighting warmed by the quiet jazz music playing in the diner, Taehyung was hunched over his empty plate covered in syrup fighting to stay awake. The exhaustion these days was overwhelming. He was constantly tired from the commute to and from work and university, and not to mention the immense workload that his boss and his professors kept happily piling onto his already long to-do list.
That exhaustion was to blame for the lack of food and groceries back at his apartment. Which is exactly how he ended up at a diner to eat sweet syrupy pancakes with strawberries along with the diner's specialty hot chocolate at 5 pm on another lonely Friday. Truly, the only satisfying way to finish the busiest week he’s ever had in his life. After paying for his meal and thanking the sweet old waitress that had taken a liking to him, Taehyung left the diner.
Snow had begun to fall on his way to the diner, dusting the trees, grass and asphalt in pure white. He tightened the scarf around his neck and walked while breathing in the stinging cold evening air. He felt the dry air deep in his chest. He walked slowly, leaving his footsteps to be buried.
Taehyung watched as snowflakes fell and transformed his boring town into a winter wonderland, wishing he had his camera to capture the moment. He grabbed his phone out of his pocket, only to be met with a glitching and cracked screen, courtesy of the rude businessman who shoved him with a sneer on his face this morning to catch his train. He sighed, disappointed that he couldn’t take pictures to send to Jin. The snowflakes danced like quiet whispers. Jin would’ve loved to see the glimmering street. All he could do was watch the world change in front of his eyes and commit the scene to memory.
In the distance, he heard children laughing and screaming. It sounded like a snowball fight had ensued in the nearby dusky park. He couldn’t help the smile on his face as he listened to them, and his heart pounded in his chest as he remembered playing in the snow like children not too long ago.
1 Year Ago:
Taehyung was awoken by the sound of Jin’s excited giggles and an indistinct voice speaking through a phone. The giggles became muffled, as if Jin had covered his mouth to contain his excitement.
He groaned trying to go back to sleep. It was the first weekend in their new apartment together and Taehyung’s body ached from all the unpacking they did over the course of the week. He couldn’t imagine how Jin had so much energy.
“JK, you gotta come soon! Bring Namjoon and call the others for me. We can all eat lunch at our place!”
Taehyung couldn’t believe how lucky he was to be living with Jin in a place they could call home. Of course, it didn’t feel quite like home, yet. Many of their things were still unpacked in boxes haphazardly placed around the apartment. It didn’t matter, though. Wherever Jin was, that was the place Taehyung would call home.
After some time, Jin ended the call. Taehyung struggled to fall back asleep after the excitement in Jin’s voice had woken him up. He was not ready to get out of bed, yet. Jin entered the bedroom holding two mugs of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream.
“Wakey wakey, Taehyungie,” he sang as he put the mugs on the nightstand. He relentlessly shook Taehyung to wake him up.
“I’m up,” Taehyung whined, his voice croaky from sleep.
“C’mon, get up! It’s snowing!”
Taehyung sat up fast enough to make his head spin, his eyes wide open. “Snow? Already?”
He jumped out of bed and hurried over to the window to see for himself. Taehyung looked outside watching the snowfall in awe. Two arms wrapped around his waist and Jin’s head rested on his shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s snowing,” Jin giggled. “I invited the guys over so we can play in the snow like the 7 year olds we are. We can have lunch together, afterwards.”
Taehyung spun around to see Jin smiling, immediately kissing his nose.
“I’ll go get ready so we can play sooner!” Taehyung exclaimed, quickly running to the bathroom. Jin stood there fondly smiling as he shook his head.
Eventually, all the guys arrived covered from head to toe in warm clothes. The seven men rushed downstairs to start their overly competitive snowball fight at 10 in the morning. Thanks to some unknown miracle, Taehyung and Jimin had both managed to wake up early for the occasion.
They broke into three teams to keep things interesting. Despite playing rock paper scissors, they somehow ended up in teams of boyfriends. Taehyung and Jin, Jungkook and Namjoon, and the team of three: Yoongi, Hoseok, and Jimin.
“That’s not fair!” Jimin whined, “Jungkook and Namjoon are gonna kick our asses!”
Jungkook stood on top of a tree stump with an air of authority as he began to lay out the rules.
“The rules of the game are simple,” he started seriously, as though their lives were on the line. “This is Capture the Flag, but with snowballs. We play near the forest and build our own forts. The winning team must capture the other two teams’ flags by the end of half an hour.”
Jungkook then pointed to Hoseok and motioned him over. With slight hesitation, Hoseok moved to stand next to Jungkook. “Throw snowballs to freeze your enemies in place for 2 minutes or until a partner comes to save him,” Jungkook barked out as he revealed the snowball he was hiding behind his back. He proceeded to smash it onto Hoseok’s neck.
Hoseok screamed, jumping to get the snow out of his jacket.
“Oh my god, cold! Holy shit! I hate you, you better watch out Jeon Jungkook!” he hissed. Hoseok quickly stepped away and hid behind Yoongi, pushing his boyfriend forward.
“The two losing teams have to battle it out with a snowball fight to see who has to make lunch!” Jin chimed in.
After reviewing the rules, they broke away. Each team ran in different directions looking for the perfect snow fort locations.
“We already know we’re winning!” Namjoon yelled cheekily as he ran after Jungkook, grabbing him and spinning him around like fools in love. Which they were of course.
“Their confidence might be their downfall,” Yoongi quietly hoped. “And if not, maybe Taehyung and Jin will manage to get lost when they inevitably start a snowball fight between themselves,” he chuckled under his breath.
After spending some time on building their forts, they were ready for the game.
Hoseok’s loud voice echoed through the forest. “Alrighty then, everyone get ready on 3! 1…..2…..3!” he shouted. Immediately, everyone ducked behind their makeshift forts.
Jin and Taehyung had chosen a decently secure spot with two trees behind them to protect their backs. They began strategizing and decided that they would wait at their fort and play defense, hoping the other two teams would come close enough to get hit by snowballs and be forced to stay frozen.
They kneeled facing each other making their ammunition. The two couldn’t help the quiet giggles and smiles on their faces as they kept looking up on high alert for anyone creeping towards them. Taehyung got distracted seeing Jin quickly make snowballs with such intense focus.
‘He really is the cutest, huh? How could I be so lucky? Why are his cheeks so squishable’ Taehyung thought to himself. Suddenly, he saw something from the corner of his eye.
“Jin-hyung,” Tae whispered, making sure he wasn’t heard by the sneaking figure who was still far away.
Taehyung’s voice startled Jin out of his concentration. Taehyung slowly leaned forward and left a soft, brief kiss on Jin’s lips. He leaned slightly back from the lingering kiss. Taehyung glanced past Jin’s head and back to Jin. Jin couldn't help but notice just how dangerous that look Taehyung was wearing was with his signature smirk.
Taehyung leaned in again and whispered into Jin’s ear, “Jiminnie is sneaking over here behind you.”
They both discreetly grabbed snowballs in their hands ready to attack once Jimin was close enough.
‘Tell me when,’ Jin quietly mouthed with a mischievous smile, his eyebrows furrowed with a slightly evil glint in his eyes.
Jimin snuck his way towards Taehyung and Jin’s snow fort searching for their flag—or their attempt at a flag which was one of the raggedy hand towels with a whale printed on it that Jin insisted they use. He noticed Taehyung and Jin kissing as he made his way over. How many times more in his life could he walk in on those two kissing? It was getting tiring, now.
‘They really live in their own world, sometimes,’ he thought as he rolled his eyes. He continued creeping closer wondering if the two of them would ever stop being gross with each other.
He kept thinking about all the times he was unlucky enough to walk in on those two when they had just started dating. That was until he heard Taehyung yell “3!” and almost tripped. He squealed as he was immediately pelted with a dozen snowballs before he could even try to run back to his own fort.
Taehyung laughed, mocking Jimin as he kept his eyes on him with a wide grin. “You suck, Jimin!”
Jimin sighed as he sat in the snow waiting for Yoongi to show up and save him. “Yoongi-hyung!” he screamed, “unfreeze me!”
“Hoseok has to unfreeze me first!” Yoongi yelled back. Jimin laid down in the snow upset.
Hearing that the team of three's fort was mostly unprotected, Taehyung leaped over their own base and ran towards the easy target.
“Be right back, Jinnie!,” was all he yelled as he sprinted away with the biggest smile on his face.
Jimin sulked as he already predicted his team’s loss.
“Yah, Yoongi-hyung you really couldn’t dodge Namjoon-hyung?” Jimin complained.
Somehow, Hoseok managed to unfreeze Yoongi against Jungkook and Namjoon. Yoongi ran over to save Jimin immediately before another team could try and steal their flag. He turned to Jimin looking drained.
“I tried,” was all he said.
Taehyung raced between the trees looking for the unprotected fort. Up ahead he could make out the green whale towel that was draped over a low tree branch beside a sad looking fort. Taehyung peeked around and ran faster to jump up so he could grab the towel. Before he could reach the towel, however, Hoseok appeared from the trees with his arms full of snowballs. Taehyung jumped back in surprise and dodged the attack. He hid behind a tree and began to make his own snowballs to freeze Hoseok, praying that Yoongi and Jimin wouldn’t come back yet.
“Taehyungie,” Hoseok sings, "I’m not losing this time, for the love of god come here and let me paint your face with snow.”
“In your dreams, hyung,” Tae chuckled.
At the exact moment that Taehyung got ready to launch a snowball at Hoseok, Namjoon came bouldering into the clearing and stopped just short of crashing into a tree. He scared Hoseok, who dropped his snowballs back into the snow. Using this opportunity, Taehyung started to pelt the both of them with snowballs. He grabbed the green whale towel and ran for his own base.
“Namjoon… why... how could you hurt me like this?” Hoseok asked, exasperated.
“I wanted to sneak attack and surprise you, but I tripped on a tree branch…” Namjoon answered sheepishly.
At the base, Jin was busy trying to hold off Yoongi and Jimin at the same time.
“Yah, shouldn’t you two check on your own flag instead of attacking me!,” Jin screamed.
Jimin fell into a bush while laughing.
“HA hyung, look at your face it’s so red!”
It was impossible to know who Jimin was referring to, though, as Jin and Yoongi’s faces were both red even if they were for different reasons; Jin from the cold and Yoongi from the exertion he was putting into throwing badly aimed snowballs into Jin’s snow fort.
Jungkook watched from behind a tree as the screaming match went on while giggling quietly to himself. He was sure his plan of keeping his team's flag in his back pocket would be perfect because there was no way any of the hyungs could keep up with him. It was genius, really, because this way Namjoon and Jungkook could split up and not worry about their base. It was really truly genius… until Jungkook got so distracted watching Jin, Yoongi, and Jimin that he didn’t hear the slow footsteps crunching in the snow behind him. He didn’t realize until it was too late.
He felt a tug on his back pocket and then suddenly a quick blur rushed past him before he realized that Taehyung had grabbed his flag and was running back to his base. “Game over, Jungkookie!” Taehyung screamed as he ran toward the base.
Jin stopped his yelling at Yoongi and Jimin to look up and saw Taehyung laughing maniacally as Jungkook chased him with eyes that clearly held the intent to kill. Even Yoongi and Jimin dropped their snowballs in surprise to watch the two running towards the snow fort.
Jungkook had almost caught up. He was so close to reaching Taehyung.
“Hyung! I won’t let you get away with this! This is personal!” Jungkook exclaimed as he grabbed Taehyung’s jacket and yanked him back.
Hoseok and Namjoon finally joined the rest of them to watch the match. Taehyung fell backwards right on top of Jungkook. Jin snapped out of his state of awe and started throwing snowballs at everyone else with inhuman accuracy.
“Nooo, Jungkookie come on!” Namjoon cried out in despair as he was hit square in the chest with a snowball. He dramatically fell to his knees as Taehyung ripped himself out of Jungkook’s grasp and scrambled out of the mess of limbs he was tangled in.
Taehyung threw one of the flags towards Jin who caught it with a proud smile on his face. He jumped over the fort and landed gracefully into Jin’s embrace.
Or rather… he crashed into Jin and they both knocked into the trees behind them.
“Ouch…” Hoseok flinched.
Jimin unfroze because of the two minute mark and ran over to the two on the ground. He grabbed a flag and pulled it out of Jin’s grip. Yelling in fear and excitement he started running over to his own base. Hoseok and Yoongi ran to protect Jimin as they realized that Jungkook was right behind Jimin's mad dash to their base. Just as he reached the base, the alarm to signal the end the game went off.
It was finally over… Taehyung had managed to get hold of two flags and won Capture the Flag.
Taehyung and Jin were still trying to free themselves of each other when they heard the alarm signaling their victory.
“Taejin for the win! Taejin Superior!” Jin shouted. After finally untangling themselves, Taehyung hugged Jin and caused them both to fall into the snow again.
The only thing left to do was a snowball fight between the remaining two teams to determine the real winner. After an intense dodgeball style battle with Taehyung and Jin as referees, Yoongi miraculously remained standing against Namjoon and knocked him out with a snowball.
Jungkook and Namjoon officially lost.
Yoongi looked from the snowman that was supposed to be him to everyone else’s with a pout of his face.
“Why is my snowman so small when I’m a centimeter taller than you, Park Jimin,” he grumbled as Hoseok took pictures of the snowman family with a loud laugh.
“Because tiny is your essence, hyung.”
“I grew two centimeters, hyung!”
Taehyung and Jimin answered simultaneously.
After they finished playing in the snow, everyone went back to Taehyung and Jin’s apartment to get started on lunch. Jin sent Jungkook to make hot chocolate for everyone using his winner’s authority, and though he won’t admit it, Jungkook was happy to oblige in order to make everyone (including himself) more cozy and happy.
The rest of the day went by as a blur as they all joked around and drank well into the night.
Taehyung cuddled up close to Jin on the small loveseat, exhaustion settling into his tired body. He looked up at Jin who was laughing because of some bad joke, and smiled with content.
‘This is what happiness looks like,’ he thought to himself as the voices grew distant with the comforting lull of sleep and Jin’s steady heartbeat.
It had been a year since that epic snowball fight. Thanks to Jin, they all got to play like children in the snow. They could have done it this year, too if Jin was here. Taehyung sighed as he thought about how much he missed his boyfriend. He missed his laugh, his warm body next to his in bed, the gentle way he woke him up in the mornings, and his smile. If Jin was here, Taehyung wouldn’t be eating pancakes in the afternoon for an early dinner.
It had been 2 weeks since he saw Jin and yet it felt like a lifetime. Somehow, it felt like his entire life had changed within the span of a week. When the first winter wind blew, it blew away his home.
It wasn’t permanent, though. That was the important thing to remember, it wasn't for forever. Jin would come back and he was only a few hours away. He’d come back by the end of the month, hopefully.
When Jin got the call from his mother about her sudden illness, he got on a bus that very night. It seemed pretty serious. If it weren’t for his classes and work, Taehyung would’ve gone with him. Instead, the past few nights he's been walking into an empty, lifeless apartment with no one to ask him about his day with a gentle smile.
Taehyung exhaled deeply as he walked to see the cloud of condensation form in the air. He was so busy lately that he didn’t have the chance to text Jin as much as he wanted to do. The crisp, frigid wind stung against his cheek as he continued crunching the snow under his feet. He took a moment to slowly breathe in the cold dry air and wake himself up.
As he kept walking, he suddenly saw a peculiar sight up ahead. A telephone booth that looked to be in good condition.
That was odd.
Considering there were so few around now and they usually didn’t look so good, this one stood out against the white backdrop. The biting cold made Taehyung wonder if the telephone booth might somehow be warmer than being out in the open. And maybe… he could call Jin.
He stood a few steps from the phone booth. Did he want to lose the bet, though? Their silly little bet that had somehow lasted these 2 weeks.
2 Weeks Ago:
“You couldn’t possibly go three days without me, Taehyungie, just admit it,” Jin said light-heartedly as he folded a shirt and placed it in his open suitcase on the bed.
Taehyung huffed, arms folded, standing beside him with a smile that couldn't be helped on his face. “I totally could, hyung! Do you think I can’t take care of myself without you?” he said as he nudged Jin’s arms.
“It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you wouldn’t want to,” Jin replied cheekily.
“I could! In fact, watch me not have to call you once for help while you’re gone.”
“You wouldn’t even need help, we both know you’d call just to hear my voice.”
“No, you would call just to hear my voice, hyung. We both know how in love you are with my voice.”
“Can you blame me? Anyway, how about a little bet to make things interesting? First one to call the other, loses and the loser has to cook dinner for two weeks when we’re together again.”
“You’re on hyung! You’ll lose for sure,” Taehyung said smugly.
He suddenly frowned.
“But, we can still text each other right?”
“Of course, Tae. I wouldn’t survive without hearing from you at all. It’ll be hard enough being apart for a month or longer. If my mom didn’t need me right now, I wouldn’t be able to ever leave you for this long,” Jin smiled sadly and stopped folding his pants to turn around and pull Taehyung closer to him by the sleeves of his sweater.
He looked into Taehyung's eyes hoping to commit them to memory even though he was certain he could already see them clear as day whenever he closed his eyes.
Taehyung moved his hands to rest on top of Jin’s cheeks and slowly closed the distance between them. Kissing him deeply with meaning, Taehyung tried to convey just how much he would miss Jin. Perhaps this was too much, but they couldn’t help it. Especially when it would be the first time they would be apart from each other for more than a few days since the day they first met.
They held each other close that night.
Was it worth losing the bet?
‘Maybe if I hold off until tomorrow, hyung will cave first,” Taehyung thought to himself. However, an image of Jin sitting in his childhood bedroom staring at his phone wondering the same thing as Taehyung appeared in his mind.
‘There’s no point proving to Jin that I can go without hearing his voice when I miss him so much. There’s no point in denying my longing for him over a stupid bet that doesn’t mean anything.
Screw the bet.’
Taehyung stood there for a moment staring at the phone both in front of him. Finally, he made up his mind to call Jin and stepped into the booth. As he had hoped, it was just warm enough for him to feel a difference from the temperature outside. He searched his wallet for coins as his hands trembled from the lingering cold. Once he found some, he inserted them into the machine. Then he dialed the one number he still knew by heart.
Taehyung couldn't have known, but that image he had imagined of Jin was shockingly close to reality. Putting aside his stupid pride to talk to his love, Taehyung’s heart began to pound faster and he waited with bated breath to hear Jin’s voice again.
Jin sat next to the window watching the snowfall lightly outside. From time to time he would glance at his phone that sat on his bed. He had been waiting all day for a text back from Taehyung and couldn’t help feeling upset that there was no reply. He knew he should not be upset, though. He was well aware that Taehyung had become rather busy after he left and that Taehyung had less and less time to text between work, classes, and homework.
The snow continued to fall as it got darker outside and the street lights flickered on. Jin had checked the weather earlier so he was certain it wasn’t snowing where Taehyung was, but he worried about whether or not Taehyung was warm enough on his walk back home from the subway station.
Jin truly missed Taehyung. He missed him more than words could convey. He missed his Earth that grounded him, the little star that lit up his heart, the source of his happiness.
Taking care of his mother did distracted him from time to time and he was happy to be able to help her recover and be by her side, but he missed his home and his apartment. Whenever his mom took a nap or told Jin to take time for himself he realized just how lonely he felt. There was nothing to do, but sit there and think in his old childhood bedroom.
He looked at his phone and Jin silently prayed that it would ring. He stared at it for 10 seconds.
‘Why am I waiting, what do I have to lose,’ Jin thought.
“Fuck it, I’ll call himself myself,” he whispered under his breath.
He reached over to grab his phone when it suddenly started ringing. Startled, he pulled back for a second until he realized it might be Taehyung. He quickly grabbed his phone and frowned at the Unknown Caller displayed on the screen. He answered anyway.
“Hello?” He asked into the phone. On the other end, he heard a satisfied sigh.
“Taehyung?” Jin asked, hoping it might actually be him.
“Jin-hyung,” Tae whispered over the phone.
Jin had tears welling up in his eyes, it had been too long since he had heard Taehyung’s voice.
“I’ve missed you so much, hyung. I’m sorry for not responding to your texts today. Just when I was about to answer them this morning, someone shoved me on the subway and my phone fell and it broke,” Taehyung told him with regret. Jin could hear the exhaustion in his voice.
“That’s okay, Taehyungie.” Jin tried not to cry as he spoke. He couldn’t help the smile on his face as he listened to Taehyung breathing.
“I was actually about to call you, but I guess it’s better that you did first.”
Jin had really missed him more than Taehyung could ever know.
“Hyung, it’s been two weeks, but I’ve missed you so much it feels like a lifetime. I have missed you more than Namjoon-hyung misses your cooking, more than the sidewalks miss people on rainy days, more than the trees miss their leaves in the winter, more than anything. It’s been so hard. I wanted to talk to you starting the day after you left regardless of the bet but things have just been so … busy,” Taehyung said, his tears threatening to spill.
“And… I was afraid to call while I was having a hard time. I missed you more than anything, yet I was afraid calling you would make it even harder,” he whispered brokenly.
“I know Taehyungie, I’ve felt the same way.” Jin took a deep breath to calm himself down.
“Is there any chance you can find time to come visit? I don’t think I’ll be able to come home anytime soon,” Jin asked.
“Maybe 2 weekends from now? I can try to take off work then, I would do it sooner if I hadn’t just started this job and school is so busy right now with finals. God, it’s all so hectic. And so painful coming back to an empty apartment. Who else is going to sing me to sleep when I’m too exhausted to sleep on my own.”
Jin tiredly chuckled. “I told you to buy that giant singing bear plushy over a month ago, clearly it would’ve come in handy at this moment.”
Taehyung’s smile bloomed despite how much his hands shivered in the cold telephone booth.
“Do you see the snow falling, hyung?” Jin glanced outside the window and stared at the snowflakes turning to water on the glass. It seems the weather report had been wrong earlier about the snow back home.
“That’s the first snow of the winter, and also what my heart crumbling into ashes for you looks like.”
Jin couldn’t help the snort that escaped him. “Stop being a poetic goof, Taehyung-ah… I wish I was there with you right now to watch the first snow of the season together.”
It was starting to get late, the air turning chillier and the sky becoming very dark. The streetlights flicked on outside the phone booth.
“Jin-hyung, I think I’ve got to go… It’s dark and cold here and if you saw the state I was in you’d probably yell at me,” Tae said giggling. It felt so good to talk to Jin, he didn’t really want to leave.
“Ugh, you irresponsible man, please tell me you’re warmly dressed right now.”
Taehyung decided to ignore that comment.
“Hyung, I’ll get my phone fixed and call you tomorrow evening, I promise.”
“Alright. You should get inside before you freeze out there. I’ll be waiting for you.” Jin replied. He briefly considered teasing Taehyung about losing the bet… but at this moment he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The bet was absolutely not worth it regardless of how competitive the two of them were.
“Remember the first snowfall last year when we first moved into the apartment? Let’s do that again, sometime. Please?” Taehyung asked.
“Of course, Taehyung. Anything you want,” Jin said smiling fondly at the memories.
“I’ll call tomorrow and we can discuss when I’ll come visit you. Bye, hyung. Send my love to your mom. I miss you and I love you.”
“I’ll let her know. Love you, too Tae.”
The line cut and Jin sighed heavily, his hand holding the phone dropped beside him. His heart felt so heavy after the euphoria he felt from hearing Taehyung again. Thinking back on their conversation, Jin couldn’t help but chuckle realizing that Taehyung said when he would come to visit instead of if he could come visit. It was a small difference, yet one that he knew was intentional. He felt relieved after that thought and was filled with giddiness for their phone call the next night.
Taehyung hung his head and looked at his shaking hands. Inhaling as he closed his eyes, he thought about the times together with Jin and how Jin's natural closed-eyes smile was his favorite of them all. Moving almost in slow motion, he mindlessly exited the phone booth. It was now completely dark outside and ominously silent as the snow continued to fall. Taehyung walked back home to his apartment. However, this time his footsteps were much lighter despite the fact that, once again, he would return to an empty apartment. Thankfully, tomorrow was Saturday. He could go get his phone fixed in the morning, then by night he would be able to call Jin.
He thought about how he conveniently forgot to mention how little sleep he has been getting and how little food was sitting in the kitchen. It was better if Jin remained oblivious to that, although, Jin probably already knew somehow. He always knew.
The snow crunched under Taehyung’s feet as he walked distracted by all the things he needed to catch Jin up on.