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Coquito

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It was the first serious snowfall of the year, leaving Jeremy and Michael stranded in Michael’s house.

 

“I can’t believe it’s actually snowing this much!” Jeremy said, looking out the window. “Man, it’s a good thing it’s Friday and I was slated to stay over anyway, otherwise I’d have to leave right now.”

 

Michael looked at his best friend and smiled. “Yeah, and I’m doubly glad you’re here since I just got word from Mama that she and Nanay are stuck in New York due to the storm.”

 

There were other reasons that Michael was glad that Jeremy was there, too. Like the fact that he and Jeremy didn’t get as much one on one time now that they actually had other friends. Or the fact that Michael was definitely in love with Jeremy, so spending time with him was always something he looked forward to.

 

What Michael didn’t know was that Jeremy was thinking the exact same thing to himself at the moment.

 

Jeremy watched as Michael rooted around his kitchen, taking out various cans and a blender. “What are we making again?”

 

“It’s called coquito,” Michael said, head still in the cabinet as he looked for his last few ingredients. “Mama has a Puerto Rican friend who brought it for the Christmas party at her work and it’s so fucking good.”

 

“Yeah, but what is it?” Jeremy asked, looking at the cans of coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. “Because this just seems like a concoction of weird milks.”

 

Michael, finally finding the cinnamon he was looking for, looked back at Jeremy in shock. “You say that like you don’t love milk.”

 

“I just don’t see how this could possibly taste good is all.”

 

“Well, prepare to have your mind blown, Jere,” Michael said, throwing the ingredients into the blender. “You like eggnog, right?” Jeremy nodded. “This is basically just Puerto Rican eggnog, except it’s better than eggnog because eggnog is gross.”

 

Jeremy shook his head exasperatedly at his friend, but decided to trust him. Michael had never steered Jeremy wrong, so he was worthy of the trust.

 

Michael stopped the blender and poured the drink into two large bottles on the counter. “Why are you putting it in bottles?”

 

“Gotta add the rum,” Michael said, pulling out a bottle of Captain Morgan’s. Jeremy visibly paled. “Relax. Nanay already told me I could make it with rum as long as I saved her some. We’re not gonna get in trouble like we did with the weed brownies.” Jeremy and Michael weren’t allowed to see each other for weeks after the weed brownies. “Now, go grab me a shot glass.”

 

Jeremy complied, watching as Michael poured about nine shots in each bottle before closing them and shaking them up. When finished, Michael held out a bottle to Jeremy before grabbing some cups from the cabinet. “Come on, we can take them downstairs and watch a movie on or something.”

 

The two browsed through Michael’s DVD collection (“I’m old school in many ways, Jere. Of course I still watch things on DVD.”), finally settling on the Lego Batman movie.

 

“I really don’t mind the Christmas movies, Micha,” Jeremy said as he sat down on the edge of Michael’s bed.

“Jere, you’re Jewish and I respect that so no Christmas movies.”

 

“I’m barely Jewish at all. You know that was all my mom,” Jeremy grumbled. He didn’t like thinking about that.

 

Michael sat down next to Jeremy and threw an arm around him, pulling him close. “It’s okay, dude. She didn’t deserve to be in your life anyway.”

 

Jeremy had to stop himself from sinking directly into Michael. Instead, he allowed Michael to withdraw his arm and play the movie. Watching movies with Michael often followed a similar pattern: It would be quiet for about two seconds before both of them were quoting the movie or making snarky comments and laughing their asses of.

 

The commentary was enhanced by the coquito. Jeremy was the definition of a lightweight, so the shots in the sugary drink were really starting to hit him. Not enough to make him drunk, but enough to make his lips a little looser than usual.

 

By the end of the movie, Jeremy was practically laying on Michael. He was tired and Michael was warm so Jeremy couldn’t help but cuddle closer. As Michael tried to stand up, Jeremy started to whine. “Michael, no, don’t leave.”

 

“I’m just gonna put in a new movie, Jere,” Michael said, looking down at his friend fondly. Jeremy always got cuddly when he started drinking.

 

“We don’t need another movie, just lay here with me for a little while,” Jeremy said, still holding onto Michael’s arm. “Come oooonnnnn.”

 

“Alright, alright,” Michael said, laying down next to Jeremy. Jeremy immediately burrowed himself back into Michael’s side. “It wasn’t even that much rum, Jere.”

 

“I know, I know. I’ve just been tired lately and you’re comfortable,” Jeremy said, but his words were muffled by Michael’s side. “School kicked my ass this semester. Add that to the fact that holidays are tough since Mom left and Dad still gets a little weird around this time. Stresses me out.”

 

Michael instinctively pulls Jeremy closer. “I’m sorry, Jeremy.”

 

Jeremy props himself up a little bit to look at Michael. “Hey, no, dude, it’s not like it’s your fault. I’m just a little buzzed, a little tired, and a little sad. But you’re making everything better. You have been ever since she left. Jeremy plopped himself back down by Michael’s side. “You’re the only one who’s stayed consistently. I don’t deserve that.”

 

“You deserve the world, Jere,” Michael said softly, locking eyes with Jeremy. “I would give it to you if I could.”

 

The two stared at each other for a moment. Slowly, as if something was pulling them, the two found themselves in a gentle kiss. Both boys tasted like coconut and spiced rum, a reminder of the drink they had been sharing. When they finally pulled away, chaos ensued.

 

“Oh my god!”

 

“Michael, I’m so sorry-”

 

“Jere, I didn’t mean-”

 

“I know you don’t feel the same-”

 

“I would never force myself on you-”

 

Suddenly both their brains clicked back online and they realized what the other was saying. Michael spoke up first. “Hang on. Jere… Did you mean to do that?”

 

Jeremy nodded slowly. “Did… Was it okay?”

 

Michael reached out and grabbed Jeremy’s hands. “Jere. That was more than okay. I didn’t think…”

 

“After everything that happened, Michael, how could I not be in love with you?” Jeremy asked, voice soft and sweet. He squeezed Michael’s hand gently before bringing it up to his mouth and kissing the back of it. “You’re my player one. Quite literally the better half of me.”

 

Michael laughed. “And don’t you forget that!” The two boys laughed for a few moments before quieting down again. “But in all seriousness, Jeremy, I can’t believe this is happening. Christ, I… This is all that I’ve wanted for longer than you could possibly know.”

 

“Did you just quote Dear Evan Hansen at me?” Jeremy asked with a laugh.

 

“You and Christine sing it so often that it’s hard not to enjoy,” Michael said sheepishly. “Anyway. I love you. I love you so much, Jere.”

 

“I love you too, Michael. More than you could ever know.”

 

Smiling at each other, the two boys laid back down. Jeremy returned to his position curled up by Michael’s side, reveling in the warmth and comfort. Jeremy was still a little buzzed and a little sad, but that was okay. He had Michael by his side, and it seemed that he always would.