Thanks for the...


"One of them colonial celebrations," Doyle said dismissively. "Last Thursday in November in the States, I think, and somethin' else in Canada. Sort of knockoff Harvest Festival."

"Sounds like a good meal, though," Bodie mused. "Kind of early Christmas. Turkey and ... "

"Pumpkin pie, Stacey says," Murphy contributed.

"Pumpkin? Turn into a glass coach at midnight? Indigestible," Doyle grimaced. "Why not apple? Got apples over there, yeh?"

"Give it a try," Murphy urged. "She's feeling homesick, misses her family an' that."

"Must be if she wants to feed half the mob with turkey. Here," a thought struck Doyle, "not askin' anyone who'll bring kids, are you?"

"Wasn't planning to. Should be quite ... adult."

"How many birds comin', then?"

"Well, there's the turkey, and ... " Murphy reeled off a list of female guests. "Bit short of fellers, if anything."

"No problem if I'm there," Bodie promised. "Give 'em numbers at the door."

"We'll do that," Murphy declared.

And, to Bodie's chagrin, there was Doyle set up at a card table just inside the door with a coil of numbered tickets and a tastefully lettered sign: TAKE A NUMBER FOR BODIE.

"Some very coarse remarks I've 'eard, sunshine," he grinned. "I reckon Murph was bein' a bit disingenuous about the birds outnumberin' blokes-- they've mostly fetched their own. This eggnog's tasty." He took a noisily appreciative gulp from the glass he held.

"Just the one ticket?" Bodie demanded indignantly. "Who's got it, then?" He eyed Doyle suspiciously.

"Didn't see anyone take it." Doyle turned to greet two newcomers. "Evenin', Carol." He didn't recognize the other one, and she would have lingered in the memory.

"Whose body would that be?" Carol asked sweetly. "Ray never could spell for toffee," she confided to her companion.

"Ray, is it?" The brunette gave him a dazzling smile. "I'm Mandy. You need anything spelled, just give me a call down in Secretarial."

"Keep it in mind. That Neanderthal tryin' to breathe down your cleavage is your actual Bodie; we're rafflin' 'im for charity."

"What charity?" Carol asked.

"Gettin' 'im laid. Pitifully deprived." Doyle shook his head sadly. "Can't give the tickets away."

"Ahhh," Mandy crooned soulfully, "and him with such lovely blue eyes." She smiled up at Bodie. "I don't need a ticket, do I?"

Bodie invited her to try the buffet.

"That's a nice kind girl," Doyle approved to Carol. "Takes pity on the afflicted." He shoved the roll of tickets into his pocket. "Drink, dance or both?"

"Dance till we get to the drink, eh?"

"Devious dancin', yeah."

They found Mandy nibbling delicately at a slice of turkey, and Bodie nibbling alternately at her earlobe and a helping of key lime pie. His concentration was disrupted, to his increasing annoyance, by one of Stacey's fellow expatriates, who, well lubricated with an eclectic sampling of scotch, bourbon, gin and white wine spritzer, had designated Bodie the recipient of his detailed opinions on the merits of baseball as opposed to cricket, and was starting to take personally Bodie's scowling disinclination to debate.

The bottle of vodka some unknown hand had added to the eggnog Doyle and various others had been absorbing might have been an aggravating factor.

Doyle didn't remember defending Bodie against assault by pie before, but he had mastered various martial arts, and was willing to give slapstick a try. In retrospect, he realized he could have pinned the Yank's wrist to the buffet table; as it was, the pumpkin pie was poised for the classic face-impact before Doyle diverted the Yank's aim, and a moment later Mandy was squealing and Bodie cursing under a rich deluge of pumpkin and piecrust, enhanced in Bodie's case by the remains of key lime pie tumbling neatly into his crotch.

"Thought you said this would be adult," Doyle grumbled to Murphy. "Sorry, Stacey -- it was that bloke on about baseball's fault, though. Should've let 'im do it. Dunno why Carol threw those yam things at Lucas -- that's what really got it escalated. Must be some hidden agenda goin' on there." He reached for another handful of paper towel and rubbed at his hair.

"Think they had a difference of opinion a couple of weeks ago," Murphy said. "Must have been a lot of differences getting aired tonight."

"It was just like home," Stacey announced him happily. "It wasn't Thanksgiving without my brothers pitching food at each other, and when Uncle Todd had a few under his belt he always went for the cranberries. Mom used to make them clean the whole house top to bottom afterwards -- counted on it, instead of spring cleaning."

"Uncle Todd must be a distant relation of Mandy's." Doyle regarded the red mess on the towel with distaste. "Dunno why she thought it was my fault. I was just trying to stop things before Bodie ... "

"Screwed are the peacemakers," Murphy said philosophically. "We'll give our Mrs Cravat an emergency cleaning call in the morning -- all right, Stace?"

"Got the worst of it wiped off the walls, anyway," Doyle consoled her.

"No problem." Stacey yawned. "I'm bushed -- are they all gone?"

"I'm pushin' off too," Doyle assured her. "Need to wash my hair before I can go to bed."

"Want some of these leftovers?" Stacey invited.

Doyle accepted a chocolate cream pie which by some oddity of fate had escaped utilization as an offensive weapon.

"Yeah?" Bodie's voice over the intercom was unwelcoming.

"You got company?"

"No. What the hell do you want?"

"Got a claim ticket, haven't I?"

"Piss off." But he released the main lock and met Doyle at the door of his flat, barring his way. "Not more pumpkin?"

"Good stuff. Chocolate. Want it applied direct?" He tilted the dish threateningly on his hand. "Let me in, then." He put the pie down on the hall table while Bodie set the locks.

"Cost me a bloody fortune in drycleaning," Bodie grumbled. "What's on your neck?"

"Cranberry. All in my hair too. That Mandy's a nutter."

"Had her all lined up." Bodie stared at Doyle, who was leaning on one arm against the wall, slant-hipped. "Soddin' shameless, you are. Come here." Bodie ducked his head to lick at the red streak on Doyle's neck. "Not bad. Should've let me get the full-facial -- I'd have got her on sympathy, innocent victim."

"Once she'd stopped laughin' 'erself silly. Couldn't you charm 'er into your vile clutches anyway?"

"Not with her all covered in pumpkin, no. Wasn't feeling a bit friendly after that. Couldn't you tell?" Bodie pulled Doyle against him. "I take it you're glad to see me ... what the hell is that?"

"The rest of the tickets. Figurin' on claimin' 'em all eventually."

"Did you aim it at her on purpose?" Bodie grabbed a handful of Doyle's curls and tilted his head back to get at more cranberry, then recoiled. "Your hair's full of yuck."

"Told you, didn't I? I'll 'ave a shower in a minute."

"Can I -- " Bodie glanced toward the pie.

"No you bloody can't! All this mixin' lust and gluttony, not hygienic. Had enough food applied to me to last a week. Just eat it the regular way while I go and get cleaned up."

"Fancied a chocolate cream cranberry lover tonight," Bodie said wistfully. "What other tribal holidays is Stacey likely to spring on us?"

"Fourth of July. Colonial Rebellion. Fireworks."

Bodie shuddered. "Still getting twinges from Guy Fawkes -- you and your impression of a roman candle ... "

Doyle kissed him. "Never mind, love. I'll give you somethin' to be really thankful for when I get out of the shower."

"Got the pie, anyway," Bodie said, and headed for the kitchen.

-- THE END --

November 1998

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