Hi, all! In honor of Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I wanted to see what I could write in a day, and I wanted to focus on Kirk and McCoy. Here is the result. If you pay attention, you'll learn how to roast a turkey, too. I hope you have (or had) a blessed harvest holiday, no matter when you celebrate it in your country or region!
DISCLAIMER: For entertainment only. I do not own, therefore I do not profit.
"And the last order of business…," Captain James T. Kirk paused, readying himself for the fallout, "…the next department head meeting is potluck."
From around the table, Spock, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Scott stared back. McCoy huffed.
"Is what, you say?" came the Scottish brogue of a perplexed engineer.
"'Potluck.' It means he wants us to bring food," McCoy gruffed.
"Aye?" Scotty's obvious interest in anything to do with food surprised nobody.
Kirk boldly plunged in. "First rule: You can't use the replicators."
"Thar'll be no protein pellets here," Scotty declared. Again, no surprise. The command crew and anyone within earshot had heard Scott's laments about the food on Delta Vega multiple times.
McCoy crossed his arms. "I'm a doctor, not a chef."
"Hardly a wise use of our time." Spock's aristocratic manner engaged in full force. "Our duties…"
"…will be fulfilled," Kirk countermanded with his "Captain" stance and tone of voice, which he was beginning to perfect after a year and a half on the job. "As you well know, Doctor, Commander, Starfleet Command requires a certain number of non-work-related senior staff team-building exercises to 'facilitate our relationships and broaden our skills.'"
Spock nodded, noting the inevitable. "Indeed."
McCoy looked at the ceiling. "Figures," he mumbled to himself. He waited for Spock to launch his logic and protest, hoping that the famed Vulcan stubbornness would get everyone out of Kirk's latest scheme. Unfortunately, Spock did not appear to be in the mood to argue, so McCoy leaned forward in his chair and was about to launch into his own string of—
"Ah-ah-ah!" Kirk's eyes firmly met McCoy's. "We're doing it."
Clearly there would be no arguing today.
Sulu and Chekov each furrowed their foreheads in identical expressions of concentration. McCoy mentally had long ago dubbed them "The Bobbsey Twins" in his thoughts, referencing a popular series of children's book from a couple centuries ago.
To McCoy's surprise, the edges of Uhura's lips turned slightly upward, even as Spock continued to express the Vulcan version of displeasure by folding his arms in front, tilting his head forward, and raising a doubtful eyebrow as his laser stare put the captain directly in his sights. She nodded to McCoy, broke into a smile, and shrugged.
Kirk pulled an inverted fedora from under the table. "In this hat are slips of paper, each with a food category: main dish, side dish, salad, or dessert. Before you leave, draw one. Don't tell anyone else what you got. The galley staff has been notified and is ready to assist with ingredients and facilities. Barring an emergency of galactic proportions, I expect to see a full home-cooked meal on this table in a week. Dismissed."
"Zere vill be an emergency—vhen you taste my cooking," Chekov joked as he drew the first slip from Kirk's hat.
Sulu followed, his head dipped in all seriousness. "Pav's right. You better put Medical on stand-by yellow alert," he advised. He could not keep his face straight for long, and neither could Chekov and Kirk before the three broke out laughing. Kirk playfully slapped Sulu's back as the helmsman and navigator left to return to the Bridge.
Spock reached in, retrieved his slip, opened it, read it, refolded it, placed it in his pocket, nodded his acknowledgment, and exited. He's taking it well, McCoy thought.
Uhura was next. She opened her slip, then smiled as she turned to leave. "Good day, gentlemen...," she almost sang as the doors snapped shut behind her.
Scott opened his slip and shook his head from side to side. "I donn know…," he muttered to himself, considering his assignment. But he straightened, taking on the determination of Starfleet's finest. "I'll get right on it," he declared to Kirk before he, too, was out of the room.
McCoy had not moved from his chair. "Step right up, Doctor," Kirk urged.
Finally alone, McCoy could let loose. "Jim, what kind of foolishness is this? Spock's right—don't tell him I said that—we don't have time for this."
"Bones, Bones…," Kirk cajoled. "What's wrong with a little food and camaraderie?"
"Nothing, if I don't have to burn the galley down in the process."
"You won't," Kirk assured. "We have the best emergency services crew in the fleet."
"Very funny. Team-building, really, Jim? Couldn't you have picked something else?"
Kirk shrugged. "I could have. But I didn't. And would you like to know why?"
"I'm all ears—and don't tell Spock I said that, either."
"Back home, it's almost Thanksgiving. I kinda miss it, you know?"
For a Southern boy like McCoy, Thanksgiving was a highlight, the best kind of holiday that didn't involve shopping for gifts that only gathered dust later anyway. An eatin' holiday of freshly harvested food—not molecules reformed into approximations of the real thing. On Thanksgiving calories did not count. If you were not in the house stuffing your face, you were out back around a bonfire or barbecue pit with the rest of your friends and family sipping your favorite beverage before you went back into the house to overeat some more. If you were successful, you fell into a tryptophan-induced slumber. Or, as you watched athletes on holocasts expend calories, you could lie to yourself that you yourself were somehow working off your own excesses.
Kirk continued. "Last year you and I spent our Thanksgiving in your quarters eating replicated turkey gravy over reconstituted mashed potatoes catching up on the last burst of sportscasts from Earth. Remember?"
"Yeah, and I liked it that way," McCoy groused, though he really had not. He had spent the day trying to eat and drink his way into numbness, trying not to think about being away from his daughter, Joanna.
"No, you didn't. I'll point out, Doctor, that you complained the whole time about the food, and you were right—it was awful." Kirk stepped in front of his friend, hat in hand. "This year I don't want to hear about the food, so on Starfleet's dime, we're achieving two things: You and I get our gut-busting meal, and the command crew gets through another HR directive from HQ. Win-win."
"Fine, we get to eat. Oh, gawd…" McCoy slapped his head in frustration. "What if Spock drew the main dish? What if we end up choking down some gall-danged 'Tofu Surprise'?"
"Uh, we won't have to worry about that." Kirk extended the hat with a gleam in his eye. "You're up."
McCoy knew that gleam meant trouble as his hand rummaged around the hat, searching for a slip of paper. Finally it connected with one—the last one—soundly taped to the bottom.
"Jim…?" McCoy growled, suspecting what his devious friend had done. Sure enough, it was confirmed as he unfolded his slip: "Main course."
"So, Bones," Kirk said lightly, too innocently, "if you want turkey this year, you're going to have to figure it out. Lucky for you, we're already ahead. I happen to know that they have at least one real turkey stored in the galley. Oh, you probably should figure out something for Spock, too."
"Bye!" Kirk's baby blues flashed merrily as he slipped out the door, leaving McCoy sitting by himself in the now-silent conference room to stew in his indignation.
McCoy pursed his lips. "You just wait until your next physical, smartass…"
"The turkey. He leaves me with the turkey," McCoy grumbled while signing more paperwork. Maybe there was a way out of this. "Lieutenant Chapel!"
Chapel walked into McCoy's office. "Yes, Doctor?"
"Do you know anything about cooking turkeys?"
"Yes, I do," she said with her sweetest smile.
"How would you like to earn a few extra credits along with your CMO's undying gratitude?"
"I can't do that, Doctor," she said with an even sweeter smile.
McCoy's brows narrowed. "Can't?"
"The captain sent out a crew-wide memo. If any of the senior staff asks for our assistance in cooking anything for the next week, we are ordered to refuse. You'll need to direct all inquiries to Galley Chief Toumanian."
Damn! Too bad torturing the ship's captain was against regulations.
Right on time for his appointment, McCoy approached the galley entrance four hours before dinner was scheduled to be served. During the preceding week, he had exchanged barbs with Kirk off and on. He could not complain to anyone else because no one was supposed to know what anyone else was making, and Chapel, his sole confidante, was unsympathetic.
What was Kirk thinking, anyway? Fine, they would have turkey, but not the rest of the traditional meal. Mashed potatoes and bread stuffing with gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, some kind of vegetable—this was the only thing that had varied at the McCoy household between years. And there was the pie—pecan, chess, sweet potato, pumpkin, peach, apple, it didn't matter which—with cream for dessert. Pure Heaven.
Kirk's team-building meal was going to be a disjointed mess, not Thanksgiving as he knew it. No doubt Chekov's creation would pay homage to Mother Russia. Sulu preferred seafood dishes. Uhura and Spock favored spicy curry-based concoctions—nothing that agreed with McCoy's stomach. And if Scott subjected them all to haggis…no, where would they find the ingredients for that this far out in space? Scotty did make a nice barley-based stew, though. Any other day McCoy could be happy with that.
And what would Kirk bring? Kirk could be happy with anything from hot dogs and coleslaw to foie gras—if he was not allergic to it, he would eat it.
Well, if McCoy could help it, at least there would be turkey.
"Good afternoon, Sir." Galley Chief Toumanian met McCoy outside the galley door, his dark eyes twinkling.
"Yeah, yeah." McCoy stopped himself. The friendly Armenian chief did not deserve his ire. Instead he would artfully use his hypospray to express said ire the next time he had to give Jim a shot. "Uh, thanks for helping out, Toumanian," he said more gently.
"A pleasure," the young, thin, energetic man said. "We need to wait a minute or two before we go in."
"Commander Spock just finished and is cleaning up. He estimated that it would be 2.4 minutes before he came out. That was, uh, maybe 1.1 minutes ago, Sir."
"And I suppose you can't tell me what he made?"
"I'm sorry, that is top secret, Sir," the chief grinned.
The galley door opened and the tall Vulcan stepped out and handed Toumanian an apron—neatly folded, of course. "Your assistance has been most appreciated, Mr. Toumanian."
"It was a pleasure working with you, Sir. You are welcome to use these facilities anytime."
"Doctor," Spock nodded in acknowledgment before he made his way down the corridor.
"Commander," McCoy returned before stepping into the galley. If he got in there quickly enough, maybe he could catch the scent of what Spock had made. All he sniffed in the air, however, was the clean non-odor of an extremely shiny, spotless kitchen.
Toumanian laughed. "Commander Spock does not leave much of a trail, does he, Sir?"
"No, he wouldn't. So, what's first?"
Toumanian lead McCoy to a stasis unit. "The captain said that you were making a turkey. An interesting choice, Sir. Inexperienced cooks usually choose a pasta dish. If I may ask, what made you choose it?"
"It's traditional," McCoy said, "at least where I'm from. Back home around this time they're celebrating Thanksgiving, and this would be what the captain and I, Nurse Chapel, many other North Americans would be having if we were back on Earth. The captain decided he wanted to have turkey, on Earth or not. He bamboozled me with this sham team-building dinner into making it, so here we are."
Despite the griping, the more he thought about it, the more McCoy looked forward to that unreplicated turkey. He was not going to let Toumanian know it, though. He had a reputation to keep up.
"I see, Sir. Then I will help you prepare the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. The captain also said that you would need an entrée for Commander Spock. Perhaps a broiled seasoned tofu?"
"If it's not too much fussin' and I don't have to eat it, I'm all for it."
"It is foolproof."
"Young Man," McCoy drawled lightheartedly, "are you commentin' on my culinary potential?"
Like most of the Enterprise crew, Tourmanian seemed to know McCoy's grouchiness was all an act. Feigning horror anyway, he raised his hands in protest. "Not at all, Sir!"
McCoy sighed. "Don't worry, Son, it doesn't matter. Spock'll probably turn his nose up at it anyway."
"Sir, I guarantee that it will meet Commander Spock's standards. He was most attentive at crafting his food to meet yours."
"Yes, Sir. He made his selection with you in mind."
McCoy was incredulous. "Really? And just what does our esteemed commander know about my tastes?"
"I cannot say, Sir."
"Is this some kind of joke?"
Toumanian's quick wit took over. "Do Vulcans 'joke,' Sir?"
"No, Toumanian, but do you?"
Toumanian laughed, holding his hands up again. "No, Sir, I wouldn't dare."
"Smart boy," McCoy said, grouchy façade intact. "Let's get to work."
Toumanian directed McCoy. First, rinse and dry the turkey. Then chop up several stalks of celery, onions, and a lemon into large chunks. Stuff them along with a sprig of thyme in the bird's cavity. Close the cavity by tying a string around the legs, tail, and wings to hold it shut. Rub the entire bird with peanut oil and sprinkle the outside with seasoned salt.
McCoy did as he was told. This was not so bad.
"We'll let the outside brown in a very hot oven, about 250° C., for 20 minutes, then cover the bird with a foil tent and let it roast at a moderate 170° C. heat for the next couple hours until the probe in the meat near the thigh bone reaches 75° C.," the galley chief continued, clearly in his element. "When it reaches temperature, we'll take it out, let the bird rest for another 20 or 30 minutes to let the bird finish cooking and the juices settle into the meat. Then it is ready to carve. I will assist you when it is time to serve."
"So that's how they make turkeys, the old-fashioned way…," said McCoy. "If I'd known it was that easy, I would have given up the replicated stuff years ago."
"I agree, real food is always better, Sir," said Toumanian. "Commander Spock's tofu is even easier."
McCoy frowned. He knew less about Spock's crazy food than he did about preparing turkeys. "All right, Toumanian, let's get it over with…"
"First set this block of tofu on a plate. Put a stack of two or three more plates on top of the tofu block, enough so that it presses the block to squeeze out the extra moisture, but not so much that it breaks the tofu block. We will let it sit for 20 minutes while we season the sauce."
McCoy shook his head. How did Spock eat this stuff? Sad to think that Uhura probably ate it, too, because her boyfriend did. The stupid things people do for love, he snorted to himself.
"Next, take a half-cup of soy sauce, add a teaspoon of minced green onion, a teaspoon of honey, and a pinch of white pepper."
"We cut the tofu block into 1-centimeter-thick slices, put them on a sheet lined with parchment paper, and brush them with half the sauce. We broil the slices under high heat for about 8 minutes or until the edges start to carmelize. Then turn the slices over, brush with the remaining sauce, and broil another 8 minutes."
"And he'll eat that?"
Toumanian nodded affirmatively. "It's a favorite. He has it on salads all the time."
Later, when Toumanian turned his back to check on the turkey, McCoy's curiosity reared and he sampled one of Spock's tofu slices. He had to admit that it was pretty good. At least Uhura was not suffering as much as he had thought.
Chief Toumanian followed McCoy to the conference room, grinning while he pushed the cart containing a small covered dish of broiled seasoned tofu and the pièce de résistance: a perfectly golden roast turkey.
McCoy, his mouth watering already, breathed his relief as he breathed in the aroma, glad that he was not taking in the stronger aroma behind the cart as Toumanian was. The rest of the meal be damned. He no longer cared what else showed up. At least there would be this perfect turkey.
"Everybody better be on time because I'm not waiting," he stated. "And that includes the captain."
Toumanian bowed his head as the conference room door opened. "Ah, after you, Sir…"
A white cloth draped the conference room table. Candlelight from a centerpiece and from various arrangements set at the perimeter of the room set a warm glow, reflected on the faces of McCoy's colleagues already in their seats. Fine china, real crystal goblets already filled with wine, and a table full of food—what was this?
Stunned, McCoy looked from smiling face to smiling face to…well, Spock was not smiling, exactly. Even he, though, embodied the warmth of the golden candlelight and spirit of the environment around him. Rand and Chapel were there, too…and the food. The glorious food! Ah, it could not be, could it?
Stuffing, two kinds, one a cornbread-based one accented with dried cranberries, the other, a more traditional bread-based one with onions, celery, and sage. Mashed potatoes—heaps of them—next to a megabowl of gravy. Corn, green beans, cranberry sauce…and a pecan-topped sweet potato soufflé, just as God and Mama McCoy intended.
Near one end of the table, Kirk stood. "We were wondering when you were going to get here, Doctor. We were about to start."
"Your place is right here," said Uhura, also getting up. She took McCoy's arm and gently led him to the head of the table. "Why don't you take your seat? Chief Toumanian volunteered to carve the turkey, so we're all set, aren't we, Chief?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Toumanian laughed.
Recovering from his astonishment, McCoy snapped back into grumpy mode. There was, after all, that reputation to maintain. "Before we all sit down and enjoy this repast, could somebody tell me what the blazes is going on here?"
"It's simple, Doctor," said Chapel. "Thanksgiving is your favorite holiday. We wanted to help you celebrate it right."
"Not the pathetic way we did last year," Kirk laughed.
"And so the captain turned it into a team-building exercise," said Uhura.
McCoy looked from conspirator to conspirator. "If you all picked your courses randomly, how did you get the right food together?"
"It was not random," Spock said. "Our assignments were determined well before we drew from the hat. That exercise was for your benefit."
"The whole sorting hat thing, the turkey, the…all for me?"
"Yes, Doctor," chorused several voices.
Still keeping up his grumpy persona (which was becoming tougher to do), McCoy huffed. "Well, at least you got most of the meal right."
Kirk's eyebrows rose. "Most? Hey, I ordered that turkey months ago!"
"Where's the pie?" McCoy demanded. "Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without the pie!"
Several grins appeared. Uhura and Chapel laughed outright.
"My mother was known to express the same sentiment," came an even Vulcan voice. Spock nodded to Toumanian. "Chief, if you will…"
Toumanian wheeled a cart from the corner of the room and pulled it to McCoy. Pulling a cover off revealed four pumpkin pies. Next to them, cinnamon-infused whipped cream.
"Yours, Spock?" McCoy could not believe it.
Another thought hit McCoy. "Uh, your mother's recipe?"
Surrounded by colleagues…no, they were now his friends…the doctor who was so far from his family on Earth realized that he had found another family here. Touched, McCoy could not have been more stunned if a whole security team had phasered him at point-blank range.
Finally, despite years of practice, even he could no longer keep up the crankiness. His face softened, and he cleared his throat. "Well, ahem, ah, I guess we better eat before it gets cold. Sad to waste a perfectly good meal."
Declarations of assent descended from all sides of the table.
"I bet this will be the best pumpkin pie I ever had."
Author's Note: November 21, 2011: Want more? If you post a review (be real), I'll reply with a short 250-word Spock/Uhura drabble along with my thanks. (You'll need a FanFiction account, otherwise I can't PM you.) How did this story entertain you? Why did it (not) work for you? Do you want to see others like this one?
Good or bad, I truly do appreciate your feedback!
Thanks for reading and, again, I wish you happy holidays!