Characters: Harry, Murphy, Forrester, Samara, Elgan, Mason
Pairings:Forrester/Samara, Elgan/Mason, probably Harry/Murphy of a squint nature
Warnings: none, aside from an OC M/M relationship. I don't know if I need to warn for that, but I shall.
Word count: 3,196
Summary: Harry plans a small Thanksgiving dinner, which accidentally turns into a haven for those with nowhere to go.
Author's notes: Written for the 'writer's choice' slot on my occhallenge table.
Trufax: I have been working on this story for years now, but I kept not getting it finished in time for either Thanksgivings, and so elected to wait until the next year. I am posting in between Canadian and American Thanksgivings.
Forrester and Samara are originally from "Somnus", and can also be found in "God Laughs". Mason is orginally from "Communing With The Dead", and Elgan joins him in "Shattered Glass". Elgan originally belongs to celtic_cherokee, who lets me borrow him because she's awesome.
This concludes my occhallenge table. It only took me five years. But it is finished. Yay me!
A happy late Thanksgiving to Canucks and an early one to Yanks.
You know how you sometimes start a project and think it'll be easy and the next thing you know, you're at the hardware store with $300 worth of crap in your cart, getting a lesson on how to properly make a dovetail joint? That's sort of what happened to me at Thanksgiving.
It started with Murphy and I deciding to do dinner together. Anna is with her dad for Thanksgiving (Murphy gets Christmas) and neither of us have family to go to, so we thought we'd do something small to celebrate.
Then, I was at the hospital getting sewn up by Forrester and we started talking about Thanksgiving and he said he couldn't go home, England home, because it wasn't worth the trip for so little time there and they didn't celebrate Thanksgiving anyway. So, I invited him and his wife for dinner and they accepted.
Then, I was getting my watch fixed up by Mason for the hundredth time and he mentioned that his family were all spread out and wouldn't be together for Thanksgiving either. So, I invited him and his boyfriend and they accepted.
Then, it was Thanksgiving morning and I suddenly realized I had no idea how to cook a turkey for six people, did not have enough of anything to go around and nowhere to actually put them to eat.
So, I left Bob in charge of calculating cooking times and went to the only grocery store that was open, where I put my elbows to good use battling the crowd of desperate shoppers. I triumphantly got the last can of cranberry sauce, but missed out on the Pillsbury rolls. I wasn't too down about it though, since I nearly had my head taken off by an old woman with an umbrella and considered myself lucky to make it out the store alive.
When I got back, Murphy was hanging out in front of my door, arms full of groceries and her face tucked down into her jacket to fight off the nippy November wind.
“Been waiting long?” I asked her forehead. Her forehead glared at me. I took that as a yes. “Sorry. I was out harvesting our dinner.”
“Just open the door, wizard,” she growled.
I obliged and we entered to the somewhat warmer climate of my apartment. Murphy dumped her food on the kitchen table and then stuck her frozen hands on the back of my neck. I let out a sound that was not entirely manly.
“I feel better now,” she announced. I hunched my shoulders and scooched away from her, just in case she changed her mind about that. She rolled up her sleeves and rubbed her hands together. “Where do you want me to start?”
“Uh, where do you want you to start?” I said. I pointed to the sink. “I have defrosted the turkey. That is the extent of my knowledge.”
Murphy rolled her eyes and withdrew an apron from one of the grocery bags. “I guess that makes me head chef. Can you chop?”
“I have that capability, yes,” I said. I caught the apron she tossed at me. It was frilly and pink. She got one out for herself that was not frilly and pink. I thought about arguing, but resigned myself to the fact that I probably deserved the frilly and pink one.
The next few hours were spent with Murphy preparing and cooking and me mostly not screwing things up. I chopped all the vegetables without including my fingers and handed things to her like she was a mad scientist and I was her assistant. I kept expecting her to ask me for a scalpel or BRAIINS!
Finally, everything was in the oven or ready to be in the oven and she and I collapsed at the kitchen table. I was somehow covered in flour, despite my frilly apron and she was somehow not.
“So much for a small Thanksgiving dinner,” she said, eying an unopened bottle of wine with lust in her eyes.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” I said. “I never did ask you if you minded the extra people.”
“I don't,” she said, after thinking it over for a moment. “We never really did a big Thanksgiving thing. My grandma would come over and cook and my dad would usually manage to find a shift to work and it usually was her and me and turkey sandwiches for the next two weeks.”
“My dad and I did Thanksgiving in restaurants, “ I said, feeling the need to return the confidence. “And then with my uncle, it was a huge table full of professionally prepared food and no sentiment whatsoever.”
“We're like the Island of Misfit toys,” Murphy said, with a smirk
“Nice!” I said, holding up my hand for a high five. She laughed and returned it.
By the time our first guests arrived, we'd found two tables that looked about the same size when you pushed them together and covered them with a tablecloth. We'd also found chairs that semi-matched and set the table with the finest paper china that money could buy.
The Forresters arrived first. Dr. Forrester wasn't in scrubs and his face was shaved and, for some reason, it felt like I was seeing him naked. I'd never seen him outside the hospital setting before.
Mrs. Forrester I'd only seen from afar and up close she was even more beautiful. She was British too, though she had a rougher accent than Forrester. His accent sounds like it's trying very hard to be posh but never quite succeeding. Her accent is more cockney, but not cockney. Londony.
Forrester introduced her as 'Samara' and she smiled and held out a large bowl.
“It's a vegetarian curry,” she said.
“It's about a five on the Scale of Painful Spiciness,” Forrester added. “Though, most of my papillae were burned away years ago, so it might be worse than I think it is.”
Samara elbowed him in the stomach. “It's not that bad,” she said.
“This from the woman who eats raw jalapenos,” Forrester muttered.
“I'll put a warning label on it, to be safe,” I said.
“Your pinny is very fetching,” Forrester said, nodding towards my apron, which I had forgotten to remove. He kept his face very deadpan, but Samara had to cover her mouth with her hand.
“Thank you,” I said, with as much dignity as I could muster. “I'm a Spring, you know.” There was a snort from the kitchen. I gestured that way. “The peanut gallery in there is Murphy. She's being anti-social because she's in the middle of something important regarding the stuffing. Some family secret, which I'm not important enough to know.”
“I can hear you,” Murphy called. She looked over her shoulder and waved. “Hey there, Doctor.”
“Good evening, Leftenant,” Forrester called back, with a smile.
“I'll secure the curry,” I said. “Make yourselves at home. I cleared off the couch specifically so someone could sit on it.”
“Then we shan't disappoint,” Samara said.
Mason and Elgan arrived about fifteen minutes later. I'd met Elgan before, but under emergency circumstances and hadn't really got a chance to know him. He was a friendly guy and greeted me with a warm hug like we were old friends. His tie was patterned with turkeys and his shoelaces were neon yellow and he somehow managed to make it work.
Elgan went on to introduce himself to Murphy in the kitchen and I was left alone with Mason, trying to keep a steady distance from his hearing aids. He had been teaching me a few signs to help us communicate without yelling and I practiced my fingerspelling by signing her name and pointing at her.
“Oh!” he said, in recognition of the name. His fingers repeated my spelling at a speed that I was fairly sure only superheros with the ability to slow time could actually read. Pretty-her, he added. I nodded in agreement.
He held out a basket he was carrying and winced as I stepped close enough to take it, one of his hearing aids letting out a high pitched squeal. It settled down once I stepped back. “Those are rolls, from my mom's bakery,” he said, nodding his head towards the basket. “Elgan's got the dessert stuff.”
“Great, thank you!” I said. I peeked under the dishtowel that was covering the rolls and decided they were definitely better than the Pillsbury ones that I had missed out on.
“Rook chewed on the basket ,” Mason said. He gestured toward a frayed bit. “But he didn't get to the rolls, I promise.”
I laughed. “Speaking of Rook, how is he? And the rest of the family?” I asked. Mason lived with Rook, a live cat, Davy, a ghost kitten and Caroline, Davy's ghost owner.
“Good,” he said, happily. “Rook's all healed up now and Caro's herself and she seems pretty happy. She said she might visit Bob today, but she knows to stay out of sight.”
“He'll enjoy that,” I said. Caro was a rapt audience for Bob's lectures. Which is good, because I lost my rapt ages ago.
Elgan joined us again. “The desserts have been delivered safely,” he told Mason, solemnly. Mason grinned and gave him a thumbs up.
Mason and Elgan headed to the living room and I made sure everyone got introduced to one another. Murphy served drinks in the living room while I finished up in the kitchen. I was poised to carve up the turkey when I suddenly realized I had no idea how to carve anything. I shifted my knife and fork to various positions and cocked my head from one side to another, but the knowledge somehow did not pop into my brain.
“Need a hand?” Forrester asked, coming up beside me. I handed over the utensils to him gratefully. “You looked like a med student trying to find a vein.” He set to work.
I took my apron off and tossed it on the counter. “They teach how carve at boarding school over there?”
“Yes, in between pomp and snobbery,” he replied, without missing a beat. “Double pomp on Tuesdays, of course. Truthfully, my father would be appalled if I couldn't carve any meat set before me. Sunday dinner was taken very seriously at our house.”
“We had Sunday dinner too,” I said. “But we let the servants carve.” He laughed, though that was technically true.
“Samara does all the cooking, which means I never get a proper Sunday dinner anymore,” he said, wistfully. “Nut roast is not the same.”
I wrinkled my nose. “No kidding. You're welcome to be as carnivorous as you want here.”
“Thank you,” he said.
He finished carving and arranged the meat on a plate in an atheistically pleasing fashion. I would have just thrown it on there in a pile, but I'm a troglodyte who never trained in pomp and snobbery. Forrester went off to wash his hands in the 'loo' and I started to set everything out on the table. A very enthusiastic Elgan joined me unbidden.
“All right, dinner is served,” I called, when everything was set up.
We all settled ourselves in around the tables, me and Murphy on each end and the couples to each side. There was an awkward lull after we all sat down and the wine was poured, where nobody moved.
“Uh, do we do grace?” Mason asked.
“I can,” Forrester offered, with the implication that it was an ability and not a desire.
Everyone looked at one another, and we all came to the same conclusion that it wasn't necessary.
“Why don't we go around and say what we're grateful for?” Murphy suggested.
That was warmly received. Samara offered to start us off.
“I'm grateful that Harry invited us to dinner with such lovely people,” she said.
We hear'heared that. Samara looked to Forrester, who frowned.
“You took mine,” he said. “Let's see...I'm grateful to eat a turkey that isn't made of soy.”
Samara flicked him in the arm.
“I'm grateful that nothing caught on fire,” Murphy announced.
I gave her a long-distance high-five from my end of the table. Mason went next.
“I'm grateful for my family, all of them,” he said, with an amused to me. “And my friends. All of them.”
“I'm grateful for you,” Elgan told him, with a sort of 'blowing a kiss' gesture that must have been a sign. Mason blushed. Elgan looked very serious and added, “and corndogs.” Mason burst out laughing at this, with such force that we all joined in, even though were weren't sure what the joke was.
“Let's eat,” I said.
We passed the dishes windershins, and everyone filled up on what they wanted. I was worried for Samara; I didn't know she was a vegetarian, but she had a full plate by the time we all the plates went around. Forrester's plate was ninety percent meat.
“Oh, these are gorgeous,” Samara announced, when she'd taken a bite of her roll. “Who made these?”
“My mother,” Mason said. “She's a baker. Those ones are pumpkin spice. I think there's garlic buttermilk ones, as well, and a basic whole wheat one. I sort of grabbed blindly when I was there. It was busy. I snuck around behind the counter to skip the line.”
“Queue barging is a serious offense in England,” Forrester said, in a scandalized voice.
“These are worth it,” Samara said. “I'd like to get the address before we leave.”
“I think she snuck a card in the dessert box,” Mason said.
I'd been nervous about conversation, since I was the only person who knew everyone and my conversational skills leave a lot to be desired. If it isn't mortal peril-related, I'm not really your guy. I tried to think of a conversation starter that didn't sound like an interrogation question. Murphy to the rescue.
“What do you normally do for Thanksgiving?” she asked Samara and Forrester.
“Work,” Forrester said, with a grin. “We don't normally celebrate, so I take the shifts nobody wants. This year, there was a young man with a pregnant wife who was quite desperate for time-and-a-half. “
“How long have you been here for?” Elgan asked.
“Oh, a good while now,” Forrester said.
“Can't you tell from our accents?” Samara added. “We came about...oh, how long was it? Twelve years? Ages. I came a bit earlier than that. I met Darcy on a flight from London.”
“I'm a nervous flier, I didn't shut up the whole way,” Forrester explained.
“It was very endearing,” Samara said, affectionately. “And he carried my bag off the plane for me when we landed.”
We all smiled at this.
“How did you two meet?” Murphy asked Mason and Elgan, and I once again was in awe of her ability to talk to people like they were...people.
“I was having headaches, and the over-the-counter stuff wasn't working,” Mason explained. “Elgan is a herbalist, and I went in to his shop to get recommendations for something else to try.”
“I told him to take a break from looking at all his little springs and watch faces,” Elgan said. “It worked.”
“I kept coming in anyway,” Mason said.
We all smiled again.
“Is herbalism like homeopathy?” Samara asked.
“No,” Elgan said, cheerfully. “I deal in supplements, and complementary medicine. Homeopathy is about avoiding doctors. I want to work with them, to help but not replace.”
“Isn't that integrative medicine?” Forrester asked.
“Yes!” Elgan said, seemingly thrilled that Forrester knew that. “Yes. I send people to doctors first. Then I see what I can do to help them out.”
This launched a friendly debate between Forrester and Elgan about the benefits of natural therapies and when they were appropriate to use, and something called 'pharmacognosy', which was, like, the study of plants as medicine or something. I don't know, there were big words involved. I joined in with my own experiences with herbal stuff, and Samara, Murphy, and Mason got going on the Discovery Channel's television programs, and there was a sudden fierce appreciation for something called 'Shark Week' at that end of the table. I don't know, I don't watch TV.
In any case, it carried us through the main course, and I went in to make coffee and tea. Murphy joined me, with some of the empty plates from the table.
“It's going well,” she said. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Is this what Thanksgiving is supposed to be like?”
“I think so,” she said. “Kinda nice, huh?”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
We brought the tea and coffee out, and Mason retrieved the dessert from the kitchen.
“I'm sorry, they're a bit dorky,” he said, as he pulled little turkey cakes from the box.
“They are cakes shaped like turkeys,” Elgan said. “Look, they have cookie tails. Explain to me how this isn't 100% awesome?” He made a 'touching the air' gesture, which I recognized as the sign for 'amazing'.
Mason couldn't find a response, and none of the rest of us could either. They were awesome. There was also a variety of cookies, and we all dug in to them. Mason was looking a bit tired, and keep adjusting his hearing aids.
“It gets overwhelming when there's a bunch of people talking at once,” Elgan explained, concerned. “It's hard for him to pick out specific sounds.” He touched his thumb to his chest--'fine?', and Mason nodded, and repeated it back to him.
We toned it down a little for him, and spoke as a group instead of breaking off into little ones. Elgan helped out by signing a little if Mason got lost. They seemed like a good couple. I don't know why people are such jerks over same-sex partners. I figure, my best friend is a ghost, who am I to judge?
It turned out that Elgan's dad was from Wales, which carried us into our next talking point: the varying British dialects. Forrester had consumed a couple of glasses of wine by this point, and he wasn't drunk in the slightest, but his accent sounded like it was, especially once he got going about home. It got very springy, and less fancy. Samara looked like she found this adorable. They seemed like a good couple, too.
Much to everyone's surprise, it was nearing ten o'clock at night before any of us thought to notice. The food was all gone, and multiple cups of tea had been consumed, and the wine bottle was empty.
“We should help with the washing up, we've made a mess,” Samara said.
“Oh, no, you're guests,” Murphy said. “We'll do it. Don't worry about it.”
“All right, but next year, I suggest we host,” Samara said. “And pay you back for your kindness.”
I liked the thought of a next year. It hadn't thought much past getting through this one, certain it was going to be a disaster. It usually was when I was involved. Maybe Murphy's luck had counteracted mine.
“Sounds like a good deal,” Murphy said.
I retrieved coats and everyone saw everyone to the door, with much handshaking and hugging, and agreement that this was really great and it was nice to meet each other. Samara took a card from Mason for his mom's bakery, and Forrester took a card from Elgan for his herbalist digs. Then they all went, leaving me and Murphy behind.
We collapsed on the couch, exhausted. Murphy put her head on my shoulder.
“Best Thanksgiving ever,” she said.
I put my arm around her and gave her a squeeze. “Definitely. Thanks for your help.”
“It was fun,” she said. “I like being on the Island of Misfit Toys.”
“Yeah, we're definitely cooler than the...Mainland of...Toys with...Friends?” I said.
“No, we're not,” Murphy said.
“But that's what makes us awesome,” I said, holding out my hand for a low-five.
She slapped it. “Totally.”