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Good Things Come

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New Year’s Eve, Five Years Later

 

Sven grumbles as they start to put on shoes, getting to his feet and watching them with a very put-upon sigh.  

“Sorry bud,” Kristoff offers, “you don’t have to come.” 

Sven huffs. Obviously he is going to come. 

Kristoff makes a point of going to their front door and unlocking it from the inside. Anna puts on a very innocent expression, as though she has absolutely no idea what he's giving her that look for. 

The apartment they live in together is on the ground floor and it has a patio off their bedroom. They go out through the sliding glass door and climb over the half-wall. Kristoff goes first and holds out a hand to help Anna. She probably doesn't need help, but he doesn't want her to strain or fall, not in her condition. She laughs at him for his caution but takes his hand for the descent all the same. 

Sven is starting to slow down these days, but he's not so old he can't haul himself over as well. He trots along, sniffing around his bushes posessively, pleased now that they're outside.

"I told you about the time I did this by myself, right?" says Kristoff, as they walk. 

"Yeah," she says, squeezing his hand.  "I used to do it by myself, too. I wanted things to be different, but I wasn't ready to make the obvious change."

He squeezes her hand back. They made it eventually, together. 

The disbelief has faded, by now. Replaced with a comfortable ease between himself and Anna as they go about intertwining their two lives for good. 

"What about now?" he asks. 

"I guess don't think about what I want to leave behind, anymore," she says, "I think about the future, now. What I want next year to look like. How I can get there."

Next year, he thinks. He doesn't really have enough information to imagine even imagine it clearly. 

Instead, Kristoff thinks of the house they're saving up to buy, the yard his child will play in, that Sven will finally have to himself, unleashed. He thinks of painting the rooms whatever color Anna wants, and having a garage so he doesn't have to keep all his tools stuffed in a closet.

Next year won’t look anything like this one did. But he’s ready for the change - as ready as he can be anyway. 

She stops him before they can go through the door, and gets her phone out to take their annual In With the New picture together. Kristoff hooks his arms over her shoulders and tucks her head under his chin. He drops a surprise kiss on the top of her head right as she's taking the picture, so the camera catches her smile.  

Anna leads him through their front door into their next year together. Kristoff gathers her close once again and kisses her soundly, closing the door behind them with his foot.

"I love you," he says, "happy New Year."

"Happy New Year," she says, leaning in and smiling back against his lips, "I love you, too."

{ - }

Olaf stands, wobbling somewhat, on the cluttered coffee table, pushing a few empty red plastic cups off the edge. 

“Hey, hey!” he shouts over the noise of the party, and people turn, watching him. 

“Listen!” he says, “my best friend in the whole world has this New Year’s tradition and it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever heard of!” Behind the crowd, the television announcers are getting excited, “we go out the back,” he points. The door is open, the party already spilling out into the back yard, “then you come back in by the front door. And you leave behind all the bad shit from last year - like that Research Methods class!” He raises his drink in memory of fallen comrades, and the crowd cheers. “So you can stay here and be boring losers who watch the ball drop, or you can come with me!” 

He hops down from the table and leads a pretty decent sized group out the back door. Stephen catches up, slinging an arm around Olaf’s shoulders. 

“This is such a cute idea,” he gushes, bringing his mouth up to Olaf’s ear to be heard properly. “So fun!” 

They pick up a few more people from the yard laughing as they make their way around the house. Olaf steps to the side so he won’t have to be first through the front. People inside the house cheer and shout. 

Before he crosses the threshold, Olaf closes his eyes for a second and spares a moment, My last semester goes well, he puts into the universe. I pass the Bar

When he opens his eyes, Stephen is watching him, smiling. 

What the hell, Olaf thinks, In With the New, and kisses him. 

{ - }

It’s just Burt and Ellen tonight. They’ve only got the one grandchild living with them these days, but she’s at a friend’s house for a sleepover tonight. 

Ellen cuts a glance away from the TV to check on Burt in his armchair. Things have been a little strained recently, but they’ve had rough patches before. He doesn’t look back at her. But they’ll work through it. 

The concrete slab under their garage cracked a few months ago. It would be thousands of dollars to fix - tens of thousands… So Burt had tried to apply for a Home Equity Loan. They were denied because of bad credit in Ellen’s name which Burt hadn’t known about. 

Her phone dings again - Happy New Year messages have been coming in all evening. She checks it and smiles at the picture. 

Ellen clears her throat, “You remember the other cashier from when I first started at the store?” she asks, “Anna?”

Burt turns, “Yeah? How’s she doing?” 

“Really good, I think,” says Ellen, with sincere affection. “Apparently she’s pregnant.” 

Burt snorts, “Good luck to ‘em.” 

They’re going to settle back into uncomfortable silence, Ellen can feel it. She makes an impulsive decision. 

“She had this family tradition for New Year's,” she says, “Out with the Old and In With The New, she called it. You go out your back door and come in through the front and leave behind all the negative energies from the previous year.”

Ellen is a big believer in emotional energies - the way they can cling and drag you down. Burt rolls his eyes. 

“Will you come with me?” she asks, feeling oddly vulnerable as she rises and holds out a hand. 

Burt won’t take it seriously, she knows, but maybe the ritual can help, maybe they can leave behind the negativity and the mistrust, and start to move forward without it. 

He takes her hand - a shock runs through her, suddenly she can’t remember why they stopped holding hands like this? - and she doesn’t let go once he’s standing. 

“Alright,” he says, gentle and indulgent and gruff as ever, “off we go then.”

{ - }

Kat and Allison are squished up against the bar when their phones buzz simultaneously. 

Kat ignores hers, but Allison checks, then smiling, turns her phone so Kat can see. Anna and Kristoff squished into the frame, looking cute as shit and deliriously happy. 

Kat can’t help but smile, too. 

“I take full fucking credit for that,” says Kat, for the millionth time. 

“I know,” teases Allison, “I helped you write your speech.” 

Around them the people all start counting down. 

“Hey,” Kat takes Allison by the hand, leading her through the crowd. They’ve been coming to this bar for a while now, so she’s quickly able to get them out into the alley through the back. 

It’s cool in the night, and much quieter, though this city is always bustling. They moved here when Kat got the job at corporate two years ago, but Kat doesn’t think she could have built a life here properly if Allison hadn’t come. 

Kat tugs her in for a backalley New Year’s Eve kiss. They break apart when a drunk guy starts pissing behind the garbage can. 

“You’re a sappy drunk,” says Allison with a sharp grin. 

Kat rolls her eyes. 

“Come on,” she gestures, “In With the New, then we can get the fuck out of here.”

{ - }

The guys had invited Ryder out with them, but he doesn’t feel right leaving Yelena home alone on New Year's, so he’s sitting on the couch next to his sleeping grandmother eating snacks with the television on low volume while he watches videos online. 

They’d chatted with Maren and Elsa a few hours earlier. It’s good to see his sister looking so bright and happy. She’s better off, away from here. Saving the planet, he snorts to himself. For most kids it’s a dream you grow out of, but once Honey gets an idea in her head… 

He’s scrolling around on his phone when the notification pops up. Super weird still that his boss’s wife texts him, but he’s family, apparently. They even invited Yelena and him for Christmas dinner. Uncle Ryder, the message says...

Ryder’s only been at Oaken’s for a few months now, but it’s the best job he’s ever had. Kristoff is a good boss, he started on pulls same as Ryder, but these days he runs the whole warehouse. Ryder had been worried it’d be weird, especially with the other guys, he only got the job because Maren knows Elsa, after all, but it hasn’t been an issue. It’s amazing the difference it makes in your life when your job makes you feel good about yourself. 

Out with the Old and In with the New... Twice now tonight, Maren and Elsa had done their walk a few hours ago because of the time difference, and now Anna and Kristoff. A family tradition, apparently.

Ryder shuts off the TV and gives his grandmother a soft shake. 

“Gramma?” he asks, as her eyes flit open. “You wanna go for a quick walk before bed?” 

{ - }

Bulda and Cliff are outside already when Anna’s message comes through. They pause on the other side of their door, hands held, and step, synchronized, across the threshold. 

Bulda wishes for good health for herself and Cliff, all their students and families, and especially for Anna and Kristoff. 

They had no children of their own, not traditionally, anyway, but what had threatened to become a gap in their life has been more than filled these last few years. Bulda's got her fingers crossed for a grandchild soon - but she's been subtle about it, no matter how Cliff teases.

“Text,” says Cliff, holding out the phone so Bulda can take it. 

“Just lovely,” she says, staring down at the picture. "Anna's absolutely glowing, look!"

Happy New Year you two, she types, See you both on Wednesday!

{ - }

It’s a real proper winter, here. Just like when she was a child. Elsa had missed it, but its totally new to poor Maren who still hasn’t quite adjusted. 

“We don’t have to,” Elsa offers, as Maren struggles to put her second glove on. 

Maren tuts. 

“El, we are obviously doing your Mom’s tradition. Shush.” 

Elsa reaches out to help Maren get her glove tucked into her sleeve. 

They don’t have a back door here. Elsa’s lucrative days of for-profit lawyering are a thing of the past, and Maren works in climate which isn’t exactly a gold mine industry either. 

Instead, they take the elevator down to the lobby and exit out into the cold city night. They’ve agreed it counts if they circle the block, maybe stop for a hot chocolate en route. The city does a good job of clearing the roads, but it’s snowing and the puddles have frozen, so they link arms and pick their way along the sidewalk, chatting about what they hope for the upcoming year. The shouts from nearby businesses let them know it’s officially midnight. 

Maren sets her feet and tugs Elsa down. For a moment their crystalline breath mingles in the air between them before Maren fully closes the gap. The kiss still sends an electric zing down Elsa’s spine. 

Someone whistles passing them on the sidewalk. They break apart and Elsa feels herself giggling like a teenager. 

As they round the final corner in their walk Elsa pulls back, fumbling in her pocket. 

“Selfie for Anna?” she says. 

Maren shuffles in close, tucking her face against Elsa’s. Elsa angles the camera so the bright lights of the taller buildings can be seen rising up above them in the background. 

Once they’re back in the heated lobby, she types out a quick message and sends the picture. She breathes deep and releases. 

Maren’s smiling, watching her fondly.

Sometimes, it feels unbearably selfish, to have moved away again. Whenever Elsa voices the feeling, Anna is always the strongest voice arguing in dissent.  

Elsa has long since learned that distance and closeness are relative. 

Out with the old and in with the new, she thinks, and lets it all go. 

 

Elsa is asleep by the time Anna’s midnight comes around, but she wakes to a New Year’s selfie and a request to video chat sometime today - Anna has news to share, apparently. 

{ - }

Anna is cozy and warm in her bed, Kristoff tucked closely behind her. His warm breath brushing over her ear and tickling down her neck. One of his hands is tucked under her shirt, resting over the light swell of her stomach. She rests her smaller hand on his and traces the familiar lines of his hand in the dark. Her eyes flutter and she feels herself starting to drift again. 

She’s always so tired, sometimes it feels like all she can do is sleep. But when she does, she dreams of good things still to come.