This year, New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday night, and with The Lucky Clover Diner closed, Sean and Elijah’s plans for the holiday were to spend the last night of the current year at home. “Cocoa is curled up on the bed, sound asleep,” Sean announced as he sat on the couch and picked up the remote.
“Maybe she’ll join us to ring in the new year,” Elijah said.
“Maybe,” Sean agreed, “but in the meantime, what’s your preference, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve or Steve Harvey Live From Time Square?”
“Let’s go with Rockin’ Eve,” was Elijah’s choice.
Sean found the right station, and as Ryan Seacrest came on screen, he asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to go out instead of staying home and watching the ball drop on television?”
Despite Elijah’s assurance, Sean wasn’t convinced. “Elijah, you’re not just saying that because you think it’s what I want, are you?”
“It is what you want, isn’t it?” Elijah responded.
“Yes, but I’m not twenty years old.”
Elijah frowned. “Does being twenty mean I have to want to go out?”
“No,” Sean admitted, “but most guys your age would.”
“Then I guess I’m not like most guys my age.”
Sean sighed. “I just want to be sure—“
“That you’re not cheating me out of some experience you think I’d be missing?” Elijah finished for him. “Sean, would you be happier if I went out tonight without you? That I got drunk at some bar, picked up some guy my age and went home with him?”
Just the thought of Elijah doing such a thing made Sean’s stomach turn. “Of course not,” he said. “That’s the last thing I want.”
“Then stop trying to convince me I should want something I don’t, just because you think I should.”
His words made sense, and were spoken with a maturity Sean had never heard from Elijah before. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I know the age difference shouldn’t bother me anymore, but I still feel it on nights like this, knowing that if you weren’t with me, you’d be out celebrating with people your own age.”
Elijah came and sat down beside him. “You don’t know that, Sean. Have you forgotten that on the New Year’s Eve we met, I was homeless? I was out on the street during a blizzard with nowhere to go. I probably wouldn’t even be alive today if you hadn’t taken me in.”
“No, I haven’t forgotten. I’ll always remember that night, and while I might have saved your life, you don’t have to spend the rest of your days thanking me for it.”
“And you don’t have to keep thinking that being with you might be keeping me from something better. I’m where I want to be. If it wasn’t, I’d leave.”
“You know I don’t want that.”
“Then stop second-guessing me. Just believe that this is the life I want, and that you’re the person I want to share it with.” Elijah looked deep into Sean’s green eyes. “Can you do that, Sean?”
Sean smiled. “I’ll try.”
With his eyes almost slits, Elijah delivered a perfect impersonation of Master Yoda when he recited, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
The laughter simply bubbled out of Sean. “Elijah,” he chuckled, his laughter making the lines around his eyes crinkle in a way Elijah loved, “when it comes to wisdom, Yoda has nothing on you.” Watching at the television, seeing the huddled masses awaiting the coming of the new year, he said, “It’s ten degrees in Time Square. Why would we want to be out there when we could be cozy and warm right here?”
“Not me,” Elijah confirmed, happy he was finally able to make Sean see things his way.
Sean didn’t know most of the singers and bands on the show, but Elijah seemed to know them all. Both were amazed that any of the acts were able to perform live in such extreme cold. When it was five minutes to midnight, Sean got up and went into the kitchen, announcing, “We need to toast the New Year.”
“Do I get to have alcohol this year?” Elijah called after him.
When Sean came out of the kitchen, he was carrying a tray with two glasses containing a milky liquid. “Not the way you think,” he explained. “This is my Mom’s eggnog recipe, with just a touch of rum in it. I decided to try making it myself this year.” Elijah looked dubious, but accepted the glass Sean offered. Sean joined him on the couch, then picked up his own glass.
As the countdown to the ball drop began, they spoke the numbers aloud along with the crowd in Time Square, and when the ball fell, and 2018 flashed on screen, they clinked glasses and drank, then celebrated the new year with a long, deep kiss.
Afterward, they watched the rest of the show, snuggled together on the couch, and as Elijah climbed into his lap and pressed his face into the hollow of his throat, Sean decided that being here with him was exactly where Elijah belonged, now and forever.