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all i need underneath the tree

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ROGELIO:
Rafael!!!!

RAFAEL:
Y?

ROGELIO:
Rafael my son-in-law the moon of my daughter’s world and my other best brogelio
can you do me just a tiny little favor?

RAFAEL:
I’m not swapping Secret Santa recipients with you, Rogelio, sorry
Jane made that pretty clear and I’m not spending a night on the couch again
who you get is who you get
good luck tho?

ROGELIO:
oh ok
but!
what if I needed advice for what I can get my Secret Santa???

RAFAEL:
uh
sure?

ROGELIO:
what would you get the woman who has everything?
including a hotel whose image she has turned around wonderfully and a wife that she loves very much and two very adorable children

RAFAEL:
oh my god
good luck!

ROGELIO:
RAFAEL I NEED YOU

--

Petra finds Michael and Jane arguing over groceries at the local grocery store—Jane has the pregnancy cravings again apparently—and says, “Good to see you, Michael. Jane, that sounds disgusting. What do you usually get Rogelio for Christmas?”

“Uh,” says Jane. She’s practically glowing, god. Petra does not recall glowing like that when she had the girls. Mostly she just recalls feeling achey, and tired, and in the later parts of her pregnancy, a bit like a balloon ready to blast some children out of her. “Are. Are you asking me for the Christmas exchange because I—don’t really know what to say to that.”

“I just get him a new makeup kit,” says Michael, with a shrug, the ridiculous cowboy accent still there. Thank god that he’s finally gotten his memory back; the one time he’d flirted with Petra had been weird and slightly off-putting. “He’s pretty particular about it, though.”

Tell me,” Petra demands.

Michael opens his mouth, only to yelp as Jane shifts, a little, clearly kicking his shin as discreetly as she can. “Can’t, sorry,” he says. “It’d, uh—”

“Go against the spirit of the thing,” says Jane. “You’re supposed to be the one giving the gift. Also, you’re not supposed to, you know, say who you’re giving it to.”

Petra stares at her. Jane has become one of her closest, dearest friends, the sister that Petra honestly sometimes suspects she doesn’t deserve (as much as Jane herself would protest and say that of course Petra deserves a good sister, because she is just that good of a person). Jane is also sometimes deeply insufferable, like, as a person, and Petra has to restrain herself from jumping at her and shaking her by the shoulders in this grocery store. That’d probably hurt the baby.

“What, to anyone?” she asks. “I’ve—I mean, I’m new to this, I don’t know anything about,” she waves an imperious hand at Michael, at Jane, at the space they leave for Rafael, “giving gifts to people on Christmas. Especially if I don’t know those people that well.”

“You gave Mateo a gift last year,” Jane points out, “and he loved it.”

“Mateo’s easy,” says Petra. “I got Anna and Ellie to tell me what he wanted in exchange for more iPad time.” She ignores Jane’s scandalized gasp, because Anna and Ellie are smart girls who will bargain for nothing less than iPad time in exchange for valuable information, and Petra’s proud of them for that. One day they’re going to be a terrifying team. “Your father is not that easy.”

“I mean,” says Michael, “you could always just buy him socks?”

“No,” says Petra, flatly. “I am not buying him socks.”

--

RO:
XIOMARA LIGHT OF MY WORLD
FIRE OF MY LOINS
EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD

LOVE OF MY LIFE:
hi Ro
what is it
oh god did your housekeeper fuck something up is that it
I KNEW she was going to at some point

RO:
no???
this is about PETRA
I NEED YOUR HELP
SOS
I AM LOST AND DROWNING IN A SEA OF CONFUSION

LOVE OF MY LIFE:
you didn’t ask Rafael???

RO:
HE REFUSED TO HELP
so did Michael
MICHAEL
MY BEST FRIEND
I have been betrayed by my own brogelios

LOVE OF MY LIFE:
maybe because they like sleeping with Jane better than they like sleeping on the couch with Bo
if this is about what I think it’s about
but ok shoot what do you need

RO:
what kind of color socks would Petra love

LOVE OF MY LIFE:
you are not getting her socks
socks are not happening
socks are a last resort and you’re not there yet
get dressed we’re going to Target there has to be SOMETHING there a woman with a hotel chain needs

--

To: rafaelsolano@gmail.com
From: p.solano@hotelmarbella.com
Subject: sos

Raf,

I know you and Rogelio are friends, the two of you keep getting papped hanging out together. I need help. What brand of makeup does he usually wear? What brand of makeup does he not have that he wants? Do I get him a French press or something? Does he WANT a French press?

Barring that, and I can’t believe I’m asking this, what’s his favorite fabric in terms of socks? Cashmere, wool, whatever. This is an urgent matter and I’d appreciate it if you kept it from Jane and Michael. Especially Jane, but Michael and I have a standing dinner appointment and if he finds out I did resort to socks I’ll never hear the end of it.

Please? For old time’s sake.

Petra

To: p.solano@hotelmarbella.com
From: rafaelsolano@gmail.com
Subject: sos

Petra:

I can’t tell you outright what Rogelio wants for Christmas, Jane would give me The Look. You know the one.

But for old time’s sake (and it was a grand old time, even for how it ended), I can give you a hint: Not Socks. He has a lot of socks already. Apparently they’re to keep his feet warm on cold nights when he has to shoot away from Xo, who he says is “a beautiful space heater full of love”. He also has a terrifying amount of things with the entire family’s faces on them and keeps adding to them all the time. There’s a couple of faces missing, though. I think you can figure out whose.

Raf

To: rafaelsolano@gmail.com
From: p.solano@hotelmarbella.com
Subject: sos

Raf,

Whose faces?

Petra

To: rafaelsolano@gmail.com
From: p.solano@hotelmarbella.com
Subject: sos

ANSWER ME RAFAEL.

--

JR:
so the girls are sleeping
do you want to go out somewhere?

PETRA:
What do you feel about Target

JR:
weird place for a date but sure?
we need to buy a new coffeemaker anyway

PETRA:
Great
I need to buy Rogelio a gift
This is a long shot but do you have any idea what a telenovela star with a giant mansion wants for Christmas
I asked Rafael and he told me something about how Rogelio has like merch of everyone in his family but a couple people
He wouldn’t say which ones

JR:
okay so you want to make your own merch of whoever’s missing

PETRA:
Yes
But first I need blank shirts and mugs

JR:
let me get my coat first

PETRA:
I love you
Thank you for keeping an eye on the girls for me

JR:
I love you too
they’re my girls now too of course I’d keep an eye on them
where do you want to meet up?

PETRA:
I’m right outside the door and already dressed
Do you want a winter coat because I have one

--

“It’s no use,” Rogelio moans, on a bench outside of Target. “I’m going to disappoint her! I’m going to have to shoot in Mexico for six months so she won’t have to see me! I can’t buy her socks but I don’t know what else to get her!”

Xiomara, sitting next to him, rubs over his back, and says, “We’ll figure something out. And if we can’t, we’ll give her and JR a frying pan.”

“Do you think JR would talk to me about her wife?” Rogelio asks, looking up with a gleam in his eye. “We could talk about our amazing wives with each other! And in the meantime, I can use that conversation to subtly, discreetly fish for information about what Petra would love in a gift.”

Xiomara huffs out a laugh, and says, “Or you could just ask her. I’ll cover for you with Jane, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

“But JR is so busy most of the time,” says Rogelio, digging his phone out of his pocket and showing Xiomara the text thread, the invitations to glamorous screenings that JR has been gently turning down. “See?”

“Or she doesn’t want to go to a crowded screening,” Xiomara reasons. “You could just text her right now and ask. You don’t even need her to come over.”

“That,” says Rogelio, slowly, “is a brilliant plan.” He leans over to press a kiss against Xiomara’s cheek, and she laughs softly, turns her head to give him a real kiss, lips on lips. Dios, this is the man she loves, this is the life she wants to live, she is not wasting another opportunity to kiss him. “Dear JR,” he says, once they break away, typing the text out as he speaks, “what do you think Petra would like in her gift? I’m asking for a friend.”

“She’ll see right through that,” says Xiomara, leaning against her husband, watching him type and send the message. It doesn’t take long before she sees the three dots pop up: JR’s texting back.

we’re actually on our way there, her text reads. maybe we can help each other out, wanna meet up?

“Looks like you’re not the only one looking for a gift,” Xiomara wryly says.

--

As it turns out, Rogelio and Xiomara are right outside the Target, which is awfully convenient, thank god, Petra doesn’t want to have to drive them around looking for two Villanuevas. In fact, the second Rogelio sees them coming out of their car, he leaps to his feet and shouts, “Here! We’re right here!”

“Hi, Rogelio,” says JR, with a friendly nod as she and Petra walk up. “Hi, Xiomara. It’s good to see you both, we were just about to go shopping for—”

“—pots,” says Petra. “And pans. And coffeemakers. And socks.”

She hisses, less in pain and more in shock, when JR’s elbow nudges her side. “Ix-nay on the ocks-say,” JR murmurs into her ear. Louder for the two Villanuevas: “Yeah, mostly just coffeemakers. Ours broke.”

“Let me help with that!” says Rogelio, eyes bright with—something. Like he’s just hit on gold after years of looking desperately for it. Holy shit, is JR the person he’s supposed to be giving to? Because if so, then Petra’s just found a way into getting him his gift right under his nose. “I am an amazing g—coffee aficionado! I recommended a brand to Richard Tozier and he has been e-mailing me regularly for more ever since.”

“Richie Tozier the comedian?” JR asks.

“Who?” Petra asks, briefly lost.

“Apparently his boyfriend downs two cups every morning,” Rogelio confides.

“His who?” Xiomara asks. Then she shakes her head, and says, “Actually, you know what, never mind that. Let’s just—go get what we came here to get.”

“I’ll take Rogelio,” Petra announces, suddenly.

JR turns to look at her, opening her mouth as if to say something. Then she shuts it, and Petra swears she catches a glimmer of mischief in her eyes. “Great, then I’ll take Xiomara,” she says. “Make a girls’ night of it.”

“Yes please,” says Xiomara, holding out her arm for JR to hook her own onto. “Jane’s been so busy with kids and writing these days, we never get to just hang out together anymore. Wanna check out pots and pans with me?”

“Oh,” says JR, real delight in her voice, “you, I like.”

--

DAD:
JAAAAAAAANE

JANE:
Hi! I’m driving right now and have Do Not Disturb turned on, I’ll receive all your messages when I get to my destination.
If your message is urgent, please send URGENT.

--

ROGELIO:
MICHAEEEEEEEEEL

MICHAEL:
if youre looking for jane shes driving mateo back from a sleepover

ROGELIO:
you are JUST the man I needed to talk to!
hypothetically what if your giftee is trying to buy your wife her gift and you are also trying to buy the giftee a gift but you need to make it not obvious that it’s HER gift and not your amazing beautiful wife’s
but also you want to get the giftee the most PERFECT gift EVER
what would you do????

MICHAEL:
mittens and handwarmers and socks
just stuff to keep the cold out

ROGELIO:
NO SOCKS

MICHAEL:
listen it gets real cold in montana and i spent years giving people socks for the winter
and sometimes chopping firewood
i have no actual advice for you

ROGELIO:
do you think the giftee would appreciate it if I offered to chop firewood for her?
shirtless?

MICHAEL:
in the COLD????
NO

--

ROGELIO:
RAFAEEEEEEEL

RAFAEL:
Michael told me
I’m not helping this is too funny
hope you get that shirt with Petra’s face tho I really do

--

“So,” says Petra.

“So,” says Rogelio.

They’re standing in the middle of the aisle with a Target shopping cart between them, and Rogelio’s actually done a good chunk of his Christmas shopping now—toys for Mateo and Baby, a belt buckle for Michael, comfortable baggy hoodies for Rafael, and books for Jane, who’s been on a paranormal romance kick lately. Alba’s beloved telenovela series aren’t here, unfortunately, he’ll have to order online for them and hope to god that Amazon doesn’t screw up the order again, but they do have the Blu-Ray edition of those dance movies Xiomara’s been telling him to watch with her, and so that goes in the cart too.

In the same cart are Petra’s gifts: children’s books, non-Disney toys, pads of paper and stationary, and weirdly, white mugs and blank shirts.

Rogelio leans in and whispers, conspiratorially, “Xiomara loves chocolates.”

“Really,” says Petra, blinking at him.

“She didn’t get a lot of them in the hospital,” says Rogelio. “I remember, she used to complain about it whenever she went into chemo.”

“Duly noted,” says Petra. “What sort of chocolates do you two like?”

“Oh, no, you’re getting her gift,” says Rogelio. “And I know, I know Jane wants it to be as authentic as possible, but—I want Xiomara to be happy with her gift! She deserves only the best, and therefore that means she deserves whatever is the very best chocolate in this Target.”

“So,” says Petra, after a moment, her eye twitching oddly, “Cadbury, then?”

“Better than that,” says Rogelio. He waves a hand at the chocolates before them, bound and wrapped in golden foil and placed into delicate hearts, and says, “One of these! Something that will just melt in her mouth and show her an experience unlike any she has ever had before!”

“Or just a KitKat,” says Petra.

Rogelio gasps. The audacity of Petra to even say that astounds him, it does. “You cannot just buy her a KitKat!” he hisses. “It has to be something to be savored!”

“You can savor a KitKat!” Petra says.

Rogelio draws himself up to his full, most imposing height, and says, “Petra Solano, you cannot give my wife a KitKat—”

--

“How do you guys usually prepare a Christmas ham anyway?” Xiomara asks, as she and JR push their shopping cart along the meats aisle. They’ve long since lost track of Petra and Rogelio, but Xiomara figures they’ll be just fine, Rogelio probably won’t spill to Petra who he’s really trying to find a gift for. Probably. And even if he does, he can coach Petra on acting like she doesn’t know. “Like, how long does it take?”

“It honestly depends on what you wanna do with it,” says JR. “Although, full disclosure, I haven’t actually—had a Christmas in years.” She smiles, sheepishly, and scratches the back of her neck. “I was always too busy around this time of year,” she confesses.

“Oh,” says Xiomara. She lifts her hand from the shopping cart to squeeze JR’s shoulder, reassuringly, and smiles when JR does. “Well, you can muddle through with the rest of us. This is the first big Christmas party we’ve had since Michael—” She stops, then makes a face. “Fake-died, I guess? Had his death faked for him? I don’t know.”

“Your lives are insane,” says JR.

“Were,” says Xiomara. “Things have gotten calmer lately.”

JR raises an eyebrow.

“Besides the polyamorous bombshell,” Xiomara amends, “but good on Jane, Michael and Raf for solving their love life, y’know? All that back-and-forth and rivalry?” She sighs, the memory of Jane crying in her arms bubbling to the surface. How it took the three of them so long to come to this solution, she’ll never know, she supposes. “Couldn’t have been healthy,” she says.

“I thought you liked telenovelas,” says JR.

“Right up until your life is a telenovela and your daughter’s having a breakdown over it,” says Xiomara. “I still love them, don’t get me wrong, but—I’m glad our lives aren’t so much like one anymore, you know? We’re finally relaxing.” She leans on the handle of the shopping cart as JR snatches a bundle of Christmas lights up, and lets her eyes roam around.

Then she catches sight of dark hair, brown skin, and a maternity dress.

Dios,” she whispers.

“What?” JR asks.

Xiomara grabs hold of JR’s shoulders, then spins her around and points in Jane’s direction. Jane and Mateo’s direction, because Mateo is dragging his mother along chanting—well, Xiomara can’t really hear him from here, but if she had to guess? He’s probably chattering about Wonder Woman. He’s latched on to her lately.

“Oh,” says JR. “Shit.”

“We can’t let her see Petra and Rogelio,” hisses Xiomara. “She’d freak.”

“It can’t be that bad,” JR reasons.

“You’ve never been pregnant,” says Xiomara. “Hormones all over the place. Come on.” She grabs hold of the shopping cart, whips it around as fast as she can, and starts power-walking in Jane’s direction.

It’s easier said than done.

--

“—so there!” Rogelio finishes.

Petra blinks, pulling herself out of a daydream about JR, a topless bikini, and a long, unpopulated strip of white sand. “Ohhh-kay,” she says. “So. No on the KitKats, then?”

“No!” Rogelio huffs. “There’s got to be something better than that here.”

“Okay, hold on, what if,” says Petra, stopping the cart, “what if I don’t want to get her chocolates? They could spoil. Maybe let’s get her something more permanent than that.”

“Like what?” Rogelio asks.

“Well,” says Petra, trying to figure out a way to fish for just whose faces are missing from Rogelio’s strange collection of merch with his family’s faces on them. Is it Rafael? No, there was a tabloid picture three weeks ago where Raf and Rogelio got papped with Rogelio showing off his new Rafael shirt, he’s got that already. Michael? He has duplicates. Hell, Petra’s pretty sure Baby and Darci have their own merch. “A novelty mug?” she tries. “I have a ton of blank mugs and I can get someone to print a slogan on it. Or even her face.”

“She already has a mug with her face on it,” says Rogelio, “I got her one for our anniversary.” He sighs, dreamily.

Okay, so obviously Xiomara’s off the table. “Is there a face that she wants?” Petra asks. “A face she thinks is missing from your collection?”

“Not really,” says Rogelio, shaking his head. “I know there’s a few, but we’re not getting gifts for me, we are getting Xiomara a gift!”

“And JR,” says Petra.

Rogelio freezes, something strange and almost unreadable passing over his face. “And JR, too,” he says. “Oh, uh—what kind of clothes does she like?”

The kind she can rip off me, Petra doesn’t say, mostly because she’s spotted the last person she wants to see in this hellscape of a Target. “Shit,” she curses, and grabs Rogelio before he can go too far into Jane’s line of view. “Jane’s here.

--

JANE:
@ Target do you or Michael want something?

RAF:
we’re out of lube but I don’t think you can find that at a Target
maybe just a steam cooker

JANE:
ok got it!
you’re in charge of your own lube sorry I’ve got Mateo with me

RAF:
got it, just made Michael go get it
good luck in Target hon
I love you

JANE:
I love you too
tell Michael I said I love you to him too

RAF:
will do
what are you guys doing at Target anyway

JANE:
pregnancy cravings

--

PETRA:
JANE IS HERE

JR:
I know!!
listen Xiomara and I have a plan just stay out of sight and keep shopping

--

karen DRAGONSLAYER @richtoziiers
just saw @RogelioDeLaVega and @petraatthemarbella shopping at Target??
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A blurry picture of Rogelio de la Vega and Petra Solano arguing quietly with each other as they hide behind the cereal aisle. Petra is gripping a Cap’n Crunch box in her hands so tightly that the package is starting to crumple under her fingers. Rogelio is gesturing wildly to some unseen person.

fay | they/them @theamazingfay1
just met @JaneTheWriter and kiddo at Target! she was SUPER SWEET. also met her mom and her best friend’s wife but they seemed really in a hurry?
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: a selfie of Jane Villanueva and Fay, a college-aged, androgynous student with brown skin, frizzy hair dyed green and an undercut. They look absolutely delighted to be taking this picture, grinning wide at the camera. Jane is throwing up a peace sign, looking almost radiant in her maternity dress, seven months along. The very top of Mateo’s head can be seen as he waves hello to the camera. Some distance behind them, Xiomara Villanueva de la Vega and Jane Ramos can be seen walking up towards them.

karen DRAGONSLAYER @richtoziiers
ok so it looks like Rogelio and Petra are teaming up to buy their wives some PRESEEEENTS but they’re trying to hide it from them bc they’re at the same Target oh my god LOOK
VIDEO DESCRIPTION: a silent video of Petra and Rogelio trying to sneak along the aisles at a Target and at the same time avoid getting into the line of sight of Jane, JR and Xiomara, who occasionally appear in the peripheral of this video. Rogelio is jabbing at a blank white T-shirt while Petra is using the Cap’n Crunch box to hide her face from view.

Joey the Iron Man @TalkTooMuch
Just met @RogelioDeLaVega!! Such a fantastic actor, although he seemed kind of in a hurry. He said he was buying someone gifts, then clammed up fast.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: a selfie of Joey, a blue-eyed blond with a cheery grin, throwing up a peace sign beside Rogelio, who looks like a man who has been distracted from an all-important mission and is trying very hard to get back to it as soon as possible. Behind him, Petra is staring downward at his feet, a pair of socks in her hand.

--

RAFAEL:
are you keeping an eye on Twitter?

MICHAEL:
no
dont have one
dont need one
dont want one

RAFAEL:
I keep telling you that you should get one
at least to follow Rogelio and Jane
okay you know what? come to bed and I’ll show you what’s going on

MICHAEL:
ok

--

MICHAEL:
are you and petra actually hiding from jane right now
did you tell each other

ROGELIO:
she knows NOTHING
Jane I mean
but Petra also knows NOTHING she thinks I’m buying her wife a gift!! which I am kind of but
Michael
I have FIGURED IT OUT
I will buy Petra THE BEST CUBAN COFFEE IN THIS TARGET!!!!!!

MICHAEL:
ohhhhhkay
im glad you didnt have to buy socks for her
how are you going to hide that tho

--

“This,” says Rogelio, holding up a mason jar full of the finest coffee beans he can find in this hellish white-and-red landscape, “is going to be JR’s gift.”

Petra stares at him. “She’s trying to cut back on her caffeine intake,” she says.

“And I am not saying that she shouldn’t!” says Rogelio, shaking the coffee at her. “I’m just saying—if she wants to have some coffee, since she’s cutting back, she should only have the very best that there is, yes?” He shakes it again just to emphasize. “These are the most perfect beans I have ever tasted,” he says. “They can wake you right up no matter how little sleep you got last night, so you can start the day completely refreshed and ready to tackle any big meetings about the hotel! And its legal issues,” he adds, hurriedly.

Petra looks down at the jar, and there—he’s hooked her. “Well, I guess she could use it,” she says. “Put it in—away from the novelty mugs, I’m printing faces on them when I get back to the hotel.”

Oh! “Whose faces?” Rogelio asks, trying to be as calm as possible.

Petra drums her perfectly manicured fingernails on the handle of the shopping cart. “There’s an event next year,” she says, “some comedy event, and I’ve just gotten the shortlist of comedians who’re coming down here. I was thinking maybe I’d get started on designing the souvenirs.” She sighs.

Aha! A chance! “Maybe,” says Rogelio, “I can help with the designs?”

Petra raises an arched eyebrow, but a corner of her lips twitches upward in an interested half-smile. “Well,” she says. “That depends. I could do something with your face on it?”

“Oh, no,” says Rogelio. “While I would love a mug with my face on it, I was really thinking—maybe your face?”

My face?”

“Well, your family’s faces,” Rogelio says. “Because you, JR, and Anna and Ellie are the beating heart of the Marbella, the soul of it. Without you, I don’t think it would be quite the same.” And he’ll finally be able to round out the Villanueva family novelty mug collection in his house, thank god.

Petra smiles, then, a genuine smile, if one that seems almost startled. “You flatterer,” she says, teasing. Then her eyes grow wide. “Oh shit,” she says. “Mateo.

Hide,” hisses Rogelio, and Petra flings herself around the aisle, just in time for his beloved grandson to walk up and call, “Abuelo! Abuelo! Was that Auntie Petra—”

“Oh, no, definitely not,” says Rogelio, thinking fast as he scoops Mateo up into a hug, the boy squealing happily in his arms as he spins him around. “Ooh! You’re getting bigger now, in a few months I think you’ll be as tall as I am!”

“Really?” Mateo exclaims. “Do you think I’ll star in a telenovela just like you?”

“I think you,” says Rogelio, seriously, setting Mateo down and crouching low to tap his finger against the very tip of Mateo’s nose, “can do anything if you set your mind to it, Matelio.”

“So I could be a movie star?” Mateo asks.

“Yes, of course!” says Rogelio.

“What if I wanna do voice acting?”

Lots of recognition in voice acting these days,” says Rogelio.

Cool,” says Mateo. Then: “She really looked like Auntie Petra, though.”

“Oh, no,” says Rogelio. “The woman I was talking to was a—producer, yes. And she wanted to ask me if I was free on Christmas, because she needed an actor with a voice like honey to come in and do some voiceover work.”

Mateo frowns, and says, “But you’re spending Christmas with us, right?”

“Of course,” says Rogelio. “That’s why I turned her down.” He smiles. “You are more important to me than anything else. You are my family. I will never not spend Christmas with you.”

--

PETRA:
Rogelio’s being a sap
also Mateo is in the next aisle over from me if you guys are looking
coffee aisle

JR:
oh thank GOD
Jane was panicking about him disappearing, we’re coming to get him
find anything?

PETRA:
I did

JR:
I can see you right now
are you crying?

PETRA:
Rogelio’s just getting to me!!

--

ROGELIO:
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
no thanks to you!!

RAFAEL:
I knew you could do it

--

Florida doesn’t get snow, usually. This year is no exception: on Christmas Day at Jane, Michael and Rafael’s home, the only snow that falls on anyone is from the plaster dust drifting downward from the ceiling.

(“You should really get that fixed,” Alba says in Spanish, standing on the porch as she squints upward at the falling dust.

Jane smiles. “I don’t know,” she says. “I think it’s charming.”)

There are steaming cups of hot chocolate on the kitchen table. Half the cups have already disappeared from view, and Anna, Ellie and Mateo are nearly bouncing off the walls from the sugar and the excitement. Rafael, the father for all three, is wrangling them away from the living room as they scream with delight over their presents. Bo the dog barely moves from his spot on the carpet, fast asleep as he is, and so neither does Faith M. Whiskers, curled up next to him. Esteban sleeps in the living room as well, his beloved Baby sleeping on his chest. Darci is pulling a blanket up over the both of them, a small smile on her face.

Xiomara, Alba, Jorge and JR are in the kitchen. Petra knows this because she’s seen them there, Xiomara and Alba arguing over which telenovela JR should try next and why, Jorge keeping an eye on the stew Alba put on earlier. When she exits the kitchen, a mug of her own hot chocolate in hand, they’re still at it. Jorge gives her a thumbs-up, and goes back to stirring the stew.

Petra moves quietly through the house like a mouse, her mug in hand. She catches sight of Jane coming down the stairs with a manuscript, the light of inspiration in her eyes, then walks away to the porch swing.

Outside, Michael’s setting up a snow machine. On the swing, though, Rogelio is sitting with a novelty mug, bearing Anna and Ellie’s faces.

“Is there really a comedy event?” he asks, as Petra sits next to him.

“Well, yes,” she admits. “But they weren’t asking for souvenirs. I was just fishing for what faces you were missing.” Then she turns her head towards him, and says, “That was a lot more coffee than we bought at Target.”

“I bought more coffee after that,” Rogelio says. “What good is a gift if you can’t enjoy it for a long time, right?”

Petra laughs, and leans against his shoulder. “That’s true,” she says, softly, looking out at the Florida skyline and thinking of her past Christmases: her mother’s stingy “gifts”, the cool dinners with Rafael as their marriage failed, all the wild and chaotic years that led up to this. “Do you know something, Rogelio?”

“Hm?”

“I’m glad we got each other for Jane’s little gift exchange,” she says. She raises her mug to him, and says, “Merry Christmas.”

Rogelio clinks his mug against hers, and smiles, that winning Rogelio de la Vega smile that’s captured the heart of millions. Here and now, it melts Petra’s. “Merry Christmas,” he says.

Together, they take a sip of hot chocolate, and look out at the horizon.