A/N: Thank you all for reading my stories: floralisette, Go Navy! BellaRosa17, booklover51089, emmamax, Himizu-chan, jinx-tiger-13, katjakay, Phoenix Song Burning, sAmIAm42, and willowswelt. It means so much for me that you all take the time to read, review, favorite, and follow my ramblings. Go forth and read some gratuitous food porn!

Chapter 6: Yucky Days

It was one of those days. A yucky day. There wasn't any way else to describe it. Eliot was off doing stuff with Ray. Parker had been dragged off somewhere with Sophie, that had been pretty much a kicking and screaming until Sophie had mentioned jewelry stores and specifically one which had just upgraded their security system. Nate was reading a book and sipping on his usual lighter fluid which meant that he wasn't going anywhere for a long while. So it was just a yucky day.

Hardison had read through the news, nothing going on. Read his favorite message boards; almost no activity, which was rare. There was no activity going on in his horde, no raids, no nothing… Faith was in the middle of getting her doctoral students ready for boards, and grading exams so there wouldn't be anything from her for a while. Crap, even Chaos and the rest of the black hats he associated with online were being quiet. "Bored, I am." He mumbled to himself in what he'd call a pretty damn good imitation of Yoda.

Alec stood and stretched cracking his back; he walked over the kitchen area and grabbed a bottle of soda. He opened it, carefully put the cap into the recycling bin marked metal, and flopped down on the couch having snagged his tablet from his desk area. It was a fan-fiction kind of day. Eliot and Nate both preferred books; Nate liked the classics and Eliot would read a little bit of everything. Hardison he liked characters he knew, characters he was comfortable with, and characters with whom he could empathize; to use some of the psychology mumbo-jumbo Eliot had been spouting since he'd started taking Ray to the hospital for his PTSD treatments. Hardison had noticed that the books Eliot was reading had recently become more heavily oriented towards psychology, the treatment of PTSD, the impact of traumatic events. He'd even been seeing papers carefully stacked in Eliot's office. Things like Cognitive impact of traumatic events, and the Longitudinal Assessment of Mental Health Problems Among Active and Reserve Component Soldiers Returning From the Iraq War. Dense stuff! The hacker had tried to help and had made sure that Eliot had access to every medical journal archive ever created; and had made sure that Ray and a lot of other veterans had access to some cutting edge and experimental treatments which well… Needless to say they weren't approved by the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration.

But, today was not a day for tracking down PTSD treatments, rare shoes for Sophie, alarm system specifications and blue-prints for Parker, and seemingly random stuff for Nate. Today was a day for himself, a day for fan-fiction. The websites fanfiction dot net and archive of our own dot org were two of his favorites. There wasn't a lot of cross-over in authors between the two sites; and they had completely different content. Archive tended to have stuff that was a little racier, some of it even solidly landed in the kink category. There were a few stories, well more than a few that had Alec wondering if they were even possibly physically. He scrolled through the first page of 'The Avengers (2012)' page on Archive Of Our Own. It amazed Alec at how many people paired Loki with other characters; Loki. Psheesh, who wanted to read about him. Now, Pepper and Natasha; that was a combination he could get all kinds of jiggy over. Oh, and the Hawkeye Darcy combination was another one that was kind of cool.

It was kind of disturbing how the movies had never developed Darcy, Hawkeye, or Phil Coulson's characters very well. It made him wish that Joss Whedon had taken some advice from fanfic writers! "Develop the minor characters, come on Joss!" Alec grumped to himself. I mean you did so well with the minor characters in Angel, Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse. And in Firefly and Dollhouse there had only been a few episodes. And he did a better job of developing Badger, and that weird rim world mayor that was only in one episode. "Sheesh!"

"Oooh…"

Nate looked up from his book "What?"

"Uh… Nothing. Just reading." Alec blushed and looked back down at the text he was reading. Fried chicken. The fic he was reading involved Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, sex and extra crispy fried chicken. And the author had even been nice enough to put in the recipe!

Brine

¼ cup kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. sugar

15 whole cloves

6 sprigs parsley

6 sprigs thyme

4 bay leaves

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 – 3 ½ - 4 pound chicken cut up

2 tbsp. granulated garlic

1½ tbsp. cayenne

1½ tbsp. onion powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbsp. baking powder

2 cups Buttermilk

Canola oil, for frying

1. Boil ¼ cup salt and 1 tbsp. pepper with the honey, sugar, cloves, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, zest, and juice, plus 6 cups of water in a 4-qt. saucepan until salt is dissolved, 5–7 minutes. Remove brine from heat and let cool completely. Add chicken and cover; refrigerate overnight.

Mmm… The image of Pepper Potts wearing nothing but a frilly apron brining a chicken. Okay, he didn't really know what brining a chicken involved; but, granite countertops, and a mostly naked Pepper Potts. Tasty!

He looked in the refrigerator it didn't look like there was a chicken. Alec could buy a chicken, well he'd order it and it delivered along with some more orange soda, milk, and a couple boxes of Hot Pockets. He kept reading through the recipe.

2. The next day, drain chicken, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Whisk 2 cups flour, half each of the granulated garlic, cayenne, onion powder, and paprika with salt and pepper in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk remaining flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, onion powder, and paprika with baking powder, salt, and pepper. Put the buttermilk into a third bowl.

The spice stuff, and flour. He was pretty sure they had it all; Eliot had made waffles for breakfast the morning before, and those had flour. So they had to have flour; there wasn't anything in the refrigerator labeled buttermilk.

What the heck was dredging? Could recipes not speak English? Grrr… This was frustrating. And why couldn't Eliot be willing to use a smart phone then he could just email him the recipe.

3. Pour enough oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to reach a depth of 2". Heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 300°. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess, dip in buttermilk, and dredge again in flour. Fry, flipping once, until golden and almost cooked through, 7–8 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 150°. Transfer chicken to paper towels.

Rrr… Instant-read thermometer? They had to have one of those… Because after all Eliot was a chef; and chefs had all kinds of good food cooking stuff. Right? "Nate, do we have an… An instant read thermometer?"

The mastermind looked up from his book. "Yes, we do. Remember, Eliot made frosting last week." He shook his head not really wanting to know what the hacker was up to.

4. Increase oil to 350° and fry chicken until crisp, 2–3 minutes more; drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

On the off chance that Eliot had his smart phone with him, Alec emailed the hitter the recipe with begging included. "Please, can you make fried chicken?"

"Nate, you want fried chicken tonight?" There was only a little bit of begging in his voice! The story had Pepper in an apron and nothing else liberally applying pepper to the flour mixture. Okay, now he saw why Eliot loved food so much; this wasn't just putting calories into his belly this was pure sex! Alec had never seen food as sexy before. He was about ready to start fanning himself like his Nana did when ever Denzel Washington came on the television! Or well when he saw Parker do her cat burglar thing, or when Starbuck from Battlestar Galactia did her thing.

E/N: Cognitive Impact of Traumatic Events by Gordon H Bower, and Heidi Sivers. Longitudinal Assessment of Mental Health Problems Among Active and Reserve Component Soldiers Returning From the Iraq War by Charles S. Milliken, MD; Jennifer L. Auchterlonie, MS; Charles W. Hoge, MD.

The fried chicken recipe is a combination of recipes one of which is from Saveur Issue #158 and my father's recipe which involved copious amounts of buttermilk.

Yes, this is gratuitous food porn; but, food is what makes the world go round! Faith is my OC from One Night Stand – which I will finish eventually. I just really suck at writing sex; and need my co-author back. And Ray is my OC from Luxuries & Loss: The Oregon Edition. So go forth and read the rest of my frigging awesome stories