Ron was up early on Thanksgiving morning, making dough for dinner rolls. In addition to regular dough he also made a small batch of dark rye. Not all the white dough would be used for dinner rolls, he would also roll out some plain dough and roll out the dark rye, place the dark rye on the white dough, roll them up and produce a loaf of bread with the two swirled together.
He checked over his To Do list. He decided he could wait until after breakfast for the next chore, putting the bird in the oven.
Shego had purchased a massive bird, but they were eating late enough he didn't need to start it for a couple hours. On the other hand, he decided he might as well broth the neck for dressing and cook the giblets for gravy. He also threw sweet potatoes in the oven for their initial cooking.
As other residents of the house woke up they were allowed Pop Tarts or cold cereal for breakfast and given last minute cleaning assignments.
“Who died and made you God?” Monique grumbled as she and Bonnie were assigned the bathroom detail.
“You want me to scrub the tub and you take over the cooking?” Ron asked. It was a threat designed to end discussion.
After the other residents of Possible Manor finished their cleaning chores Ron pulled the sweet potatoes from the oven and put the bird into a large roasting pan. He placed garlic slices and bay leaves under the skin in a number of places, then rubbed the bird with olive oil and sprinkled it liberally with garlic powder, black pepper, poultry seasoning, kosher salt, and extra sage. He tented it with aluminum foil and slid it into the oven.
He then put a cast iron Dutch oven on the stove and sautéed chopped onions and celery in two sticks of parve margarine in preparation for making dressing.
“Dining room is set up,” Kim and Shego reported. “What's next?”
“We need to set up a snack table in here, no lunch today. It's strictly noshing until dinner.”
There was a sound from the front of the house, and Felix called, “Where is everybody?”
“Back here,” Ron shouted
Felix and his mom came into the kitchen and Mrs. Renton exclaimed, “It smells amazing in here. Oh, where shall I put the bottle of wine?”
“I'll take the wine,” Ron directed.
Felix held up a pot, “And a vegetable side dish?”
“Leave it on the counter to the left of the stove,” Ron called as he found a spot in the 'fridge for the wine. “Does it need to be heated before dinner?”
“Where should I put their jackets?” Justine asked.
“Throw them in the library,” Shego suggested.
“You have a library?”
“Well, we have a room that used to be a library. It's looking like it will be the last room that gets fixed up in the house.”
While Justine gave the Rentons a tour of the house Monique and Shego fixed the snack table, Bonnie started peeling potatoes with Ron, and Kim took diaper duty.
“Isn't it early to peel the potatoes?” Bonnie asked.
“It saves time later. They keep in cold water -- some of the starch even soaks out for slightly fewer calories.”
“Like any of us are concerned about calories today,” Shego commented from the snack table.
“And, Bonnie, try to cut the potatoes into more uniform pieces -- it will mean they all get done at the same time.
Bonnie almost said something about anal retentive, then smiled and said, “Yes, dear. I must remember that a man's place is in the kitchen.”
The snack table had bowls of chips, crudités with French onion dip, hummus with pita wedges, relish trays loaded with pickled beets and okra as well as sweet and dill gherkins and half a dozen sorts of olives, along with a variety of crackers there were slices of cheese and slices of beef salami and turkey pepperoni, and at one end of the table a variety of soft drinks surrounded an ice bucket and plastic cups.
“I don't think anyone should starve before dinner,” Monique said before popping a cracker topped with cheese and salami into her mouth.
“I just hope we have some appetite left for dinner,” Shego said as she dredged a pita wedge in hummus.
“Any word on Will?” Shego asked Monique more quietly.
“No, and I'm starting to get worried.”
“Want to ask Kim to call Global Justice?”
“No, not yet. I'll give him another half hour.”
Ron's mom and dad arrived with another vegetable dish and another bottle of wine that Shego put in the refrigerator. Ron let Monique prepare the sweet potatoes, warning her to use the parve margarine instead of butter. She mixed in marshmallows, brown sugar, and margarine and smoothed the result in a covered casserole dish -- to be heated in the last half hour before the meal.
Ron's parents chatted with him about classes while he punched down the dough and made dinner rolls and prepared two loaves of swirled rye and white bread.
“We are in good shape people,” Ron announced. We've got two or three hours to snack and relax, then the crazy hour before dinner.”
The Possibles arrived while Ron and his parents were moving into the living room, which seemed to be where those who weren't snacking chose to congregate. Jean Possible beat Rachel Stoppable to the playpen and picked up Sheki and cuddled her. Rachel took Kasy in her arms. “So, are you practicing to be a grandmother?” Jean asked.
“Just a grandmother wannabe. I'm willing to wait a few years until Ron is out of college. But these two are awfully cute.”
A phone rang and Monique scrambled to get it. “Was that Will?” Kim asked when her friend came back into the room.
“Yes, he's on his way. He should be here within the hour.”
“How long until dinner?” one of Kim's no-longer-so-little brothers asked.
“Ron said three or four hours.”
Jim grinned, “Want to play a little touch football to work up an appetite? Tim brought the ball.”
Kim, Shego, Bonnie, Monique, Ron, Ron's dad, Jim, Tim, Joss, and Kim's parents all wanted to play, and Justine was drafted to provide an even number. They played on the side of the house opposite the drive. Rachel Stoppable was left in charge of the infants and Felix and his mother watched from the porch.
“What are the teams?”
“We could do Possibles against the world.”
“How about men against women?”
“No, without Will we've got seven women and only five guys.”
“Sounds fair to me,” Tim remarked. “Or do you want us to play with one hand tied behind our backs?”
“You would so get that remark shoved back in your face if you could find enough men to make a team,” Kim warned him.
“We'll take mom, then it's six and six,” Jim dared her.
The women quickly elected Kim quarterback while the men argued, Ron eventually emerging as the compromise candidate.
The women won the toss and chose to receive. A problem immediately arose when Kim asked Bonnie to center and Kim took up her position behind Bonnie.
“Watch your hands, Possible,” Bonnie growled at Kim.
“Please, Bonnie, your rear isn't that good,” Kim told her. “Wait a minute.” Kim stared at Bonnie's bottom. “Okay, I was wrong. You do have a nice ass. Now center the ball.”
“No way! Not after that comment. Somebody else center for Kim.”
“Oh, for-- I'll center the ball,” Shego grumbled. She bent over and Kim crouched behind her.
“Hut, one. Hut, two…”
Suddenly Shego gave a loud moan of pleasure.
“KIM!” Bonnie yelled.
“Kimberly!” her mother exclaimed, while Joss blushed crimson.
“I’m not doing anything!” Kim protested. “Shego! Tell them you're joking!”
Shego collapsed on the ground, laughing hysterically. “For crying out loud,” Tim complained. “Are we going to play football or just play around?”
Shego appeared to take that as a cue and quickly flipped the ball to Kim, who had the good sense to scramble half the length of the yard before most of the players on either side realized a play was being made. Jim was lucky and managed to stop his sister before she scored a touchdown.
“A new rule,” Mr. Dr. P announced before the next play, “there has to be two feet of daylight between the quarterback and the center.”
Shego wisely decided not to ask him how he planned to measure the distance.
Two plays later Kim threw a pass to Joss, who caught it and scampered for the end zone. Ron was between her and the goal line and managed to scoop her up with one arm and throw her over his shoulder, then run for the opposite end zone.
“Touch-down! Men!” Jim and Tim yelled.
“Doesn't count,” the women insisted. “It's touch, not tackle.”
“He didn't tackle, he carried!”
Ron, still with a giggling Joss over his shoulder, entered the debate. “It's two handed touch, I only touched her with one hand.”
“It's illegal then,” Shego insisted. “Play stopped where Ron picked her up and we get half the distance to the goal as a penalty.”
Eventually it was decided to move the line of scrimmage to the spot where Ron picked Joss up.
Before play resumed Bonnie pulled Ron aside for a quiet, but stern lecture. “What in the hell do you think you're doing with Joss? Flirting with her?”
“What do you mean?” He hissed back, “We're just playing touch football.”
“Are you the only person too blind to see the crush she has on you?”
“A crush? On me? Joss?”
“Yes, you big dummy. And she's going to take you picking her up and carrying her seriously.”
Ron wondered if Bonnie was just trying to rattle him. But when the men took possession Joss proved amazingly good at rushing the quarterback. Both Jim and Tim would have bruises after trying to stand between Joss and Ron when he had the ball. And Ron was now nervous about Joss. Ron's dad proved a poor substitute at quarterback, and James Possible didn't even want to try for the spot. On their third possession Kim's mother became the quarterback for the men.
A half hour into the game a car pulled into the driveway, and play stopped after the down as Will got out.
“Come on, you're on the men's team,” Monique called as he walked towards the house.
“No thanks, I'll just watch from the porch,” Will called. “I don't want to interfere with a game in progress.”
Shego glanced at Kim, who silently mouthed, “Left leg.” They both noticed he was limping even if Monique didn't.
Justine surprised everyone, including herself, and caught passes, even though she couldn't run. Monique and Shego supplied the running game, along with Kim. Joss proved aggressive on both offense and defense. Bonnie provided defense for Kim by flirting outrageously with her younger brothers, to a point where the two were watching the theatre major more than the woman with the ball.
On the men's team Ron and Kim's fathers spent most of their defensive time guarding the quarterback, they were spared the most forceful of Joss's efforts because she usually tried to go over Ron. Jim and Tim were equally good at pass reception and Ron demonstrated a deceptive running style that usually bought the men a few yards before Joss stopped him.
With no field goals possible and all touchdowns counting seven points the men finally prevailed, forty-two to thirty-five.
“You only won because you had mom as quarterback,” Kim complained to her brothers.
“You were wonderful, honey,” James said, giving his wife a kiss. “You were the best man on the team.”
After the game everyone went into the kitchen for snacks and sodas. Some of the men returned to the living room to watch games on television. Ron checked the bird and announced that the crazy hour had arrived.
Ron took the aluminum tent off the bird, and turned on the broiler. As the skin tanned brown and crisp the heat was turned on under the potatoes. Eggs, broth, soymilk, and spices were quickly stirred together in the Dutch oven with the sautéed onions and celery, then several cups of dried bread, meat taken off the turkey neck, and soy sausage were added to make the savory bread pudding known as dressing.
“Stuffing,” Monique insisted.
“Only stuffing if you stuff it in the bird. Make it outside the bird and it's dressing,” Ron maintained.
The bird, now browned to perfection, was taken from the oven.
“Mrs. Dr. P?” Ron said, “as the presiding surgeon you were elected to the position of carving the turkey. We let it sit for a half hour. You need to report back then, scrubbed and ready to cut.”
Jean laughed and agreed. That would give her time to ambush Shego. She caught the pale woman coming out of the bathroom. “The trial starts in about three weeks. Kim tells me you're optimistic. James and I want to know if you are really optimistic or lying to her.”
Shego hesitated. “I am, how they say, cautiously optimistic. But I'm not in as good a shape as I tell Kim. I'm scared Jean. If I spend less than five years behind bars it will be a miracle.”
“You're hoping for as little as a five year sentence?”
“No, I'm figuring something more like a fifty year sentence. With good behavior maybe I can get paroled in as little as five.”
“You're not going to escape?”
“I… I don't know. I'd like to see my daughters grow up. I'd hate to miss five years of their lives. But if I try to escape I just miss seeing more of them. And I can't expect Kim to wait for me. I'm afraid she's going to find someone else…”
It looked as if the pale woman was going to start crying. Jean pulled her close and gave her a comforting hug. “Why are you optimistic.”
“Judge Armstrong tells me not to give up hope.”
“You talk with the judge?”
“Well, she's not trying my case. In fact she's agreed to represent me at the trial.”
“I've heard her speak. Stay optimistic, Shego. She's good.”
“I know, Jean. But I don't think she can walk on water. And unless she can work miracles I can't see myself staying out of prison.”
Back in the kitchen the broiler was turned off and the oven back on as the bread, rolls, dressing, and sweet potatoes went in to bake. Vegetable dishes brought by parents were heated on the stove. Ron sucked turkey fat up from the roasting pan with a baster and began a roux with the fat and flour in a large cast iron skillet.
With the flour cooked, broth and drippings from the turkey pan were added and Bonnie instructed to whisk like mad to make the gravy smooth.
“We're getting close,” Ron told Joss. “Could you see who wants wine and put ice cubes in the glasses for those who want soda?” As soon as the young woman left the kitchen he turned to Bonnie, “What am I going to do?” he whispered.
“Finish cooking,” she whispered back.
“I mean about Joss.”
“Oh, I'm counting on you looking flustered and making a fool of yourself.”
“I'm asking for help.”
“Sorry, fresh out.”
“Can you pretend you like me? Maybe that will discourage her.”
“I do like you.”
“I mean; can you pretend you REALLY like me?”
“Do I have to stick my tongue in your ear?”
“Only if you want to.”
“What's in it for me?” Bonnie demanded.
“What do you want?”
“Shego says you've got great hands. I want two backrubs and a breakfast in bed.”
He gave her a wide grin. “Oh, and that's you bring me breakfast in bed,” she clarified, “not, you serve me while you're in bed with me.”
“Deal,” he agreed. He dumped finely chopped heart and gizzard, mushrooms, and onion into the gravy and left Bonnie to adjust salt, pepper, and garlic powder as well as monitoring the thickness.
People were filtering into the kitchen from the living room to smell the aroma of homemade bread as Monique pulled the rolls and swirled loaves from the oven and put in the ham. Already spiral cut and crusted with brown sugar and clove glaze it required no cooking and just a little warming to be ready for the table.
Kim's mom began the task of carving the bird as Ron worked on plating items and Kim and Justine moved serving dishes to the table.
“Oh, I forgot to mention,” Kim said as she returned to the kitchen, “Dad, you and Mrs. Renton need to decide which of you says grace.”
A huge cloud of steam arose over the sink as Ron poured the boiling water off the potatoes, threw in two sticks of parve margarine, salt, garlic powder, and soy milk and began mashing them.
“Shego, will you get the girls in their high chairs?” Kim asked. “It looks like we're ready to eat.”
Kim could feel the warmth of Shego's thigh, pressed against her own as they sat together at one end of the table. The redhead looked around the table at friends and family before Mrs. Renton announced, “Let us pray…” It was good to be with friends and family.
The vegetables going around the table included broccoli with a little soy sauce and sesame oil, green beans cooked with onion and bacon, collard greens with a ham hock, and zucchini in tomato sauce and Italian spices.
“Did you make the greens?” Jean Possible asked Monique. “They're very good.”
“I did not make the greens,” Monique declared emphatically. Ron started to open his mouth, but Felix caught his attention and shook his head 'no'. “I think someone is guilty of stereotyping and imagined I wanted some at the table.”
“Actually, you may be the one doing the stereotyping,” Mrs. Renton said. “They have nothing to do with you. Greens have been on my family Thanksgiving table since 1930.
“It was my grandparents' second Thanksgiving after their marriage, and their first in the Great Depression. And it was the only food they had on the table. They were genuinely thankful, because some days they didn't have any. They always had greens on Thanksgiving after that, in better times as a reminder of how much they had to be thankful for. My father grew up with the tradition, and he passed in on to me. We have a great deal to be thankful for.”
Monique was silent, having learned a lesson in thanksgiving from a woman who husband had died in the same auto accident that left her son in a wheelchair.
Ron's parents were the first to revive enough from the feast to drive home, about an hour and a half after dessert. Kim's parents left a half hour later, James Possible extracting a promise that Kim and Shego would be over on Sunday afternoon to play bridge. As the Rentons left Felix's mother threw her arms around Justine and gave her a big hug. “Wow,” was all the tall woman could say after they had left.
Will, the only non-resident left, sat in the living room watching another game on television. Shego saw Monique head for the living room and whispered to Kim, “Help Ron with cleaning up, I want to hear what's going on with 'Nique and Will.”
Monique was upset enough she either didn't see Shego come into the room, or didn't care. “Okay, why didn't you let me know where you were? And why have you been a wet blanket since you arrived?”
“I was on a mission,” Will told her. He fell silent.
“That explains where you were. What about the other?”
He remained silent. Monique glared at him.
“He probably doesn't want you to know about getting wounded in the left leg,” Shego casually remarked.
“No, you don't yell at her,” Monique declared. “You tell me what happened.”
Will glared at Shego as he kept the story to Monique brief. “The US government may claim it was a blow to terrorism, but we were just trying to break up some human trafficking. Poor Chinese who'd sold everything to get smuggled into this country on a Vietnamese registered container ship. If they don’t die on the way over they hoped to make it in, but they'd still owe money to the people who smuggled them in and would work for the rest of their lives to try and pay off the debt -- the interest rate would keep it growing faster than they could pay.”
“So, there was a fight with the crew of the freighter?”
“No,” Will looked disgusted. “We're trying to save these people from a life of virtual slavery -- and one of them sticks a knife in my leg when I'm not looking. I was an idiot and thought there might be some sort of gratitude. He'd rather take his chances on a sweat shop here than misery in his home country.”
“How are you?” Monique demanded.
“I guess it's really not too bad. I can take a month off if I want, but I'll probably just take off a week and head back to do paperwork until I'm ready for the field.”
Monique looked to Shego, “Is Kim this crazy?”
“Do you worry too?” the black woman asked.
“All the time. It's hard to be in love with an idiot.”
“Thanks awfully,” Will grumbled.
“Have you ever considered that if it was a little easier to get in legally there wouldn't be quite such a market to get in illegally?” Shego asked. “And, who knows, it might actually make it harder for terrorists who wouldn't be able to use the illegal systems that are around now.”
“I'm not sure about that second idea,” Will remarked glumly. “Look, I don't make the laws. I'm just in enforcement.” He looked thoughtful, then continued softly, “It's really kind of weird. My people came over here and stole the land from the Indians so they could make their fortunes. Then, once they'd made their money they tried to close the borders so others couldn't come in.”
“Oh, not exactly true. They let my people in,” Shego said. “We came over to avoid starving to death in Ireland -- and got paid starvation wages for working on the railroad when we got here.”
“Hey, at least your folk got some kind of wages,” Monique sniffed. “And they had a choice -- they could have stayed and starved at home if they wanted. My people didn't get a choice and we didn't get paid at all.”
“Why is it everyone is allowed to pick on white guys?” Will complained.
“I think that's obvious,” Shego told him. “You've been running the world for what, two thousand years?” She looked over at Monique, who nodded 'yes'. “And this is the best you can do? Time to let women run the place.”
“Women and people of color,” Monique added. She grinned at Shego, “I'll take green as a person of color.”
A little later Kim called for Monique to come into the kitchen for a minute and she left. Shego turned to Will, “You've got to be more honest with her. If you really love her you have to tell her what's really happening with you… Oh, shit!”
“I'm lecturing me too. I'm not as honest with Kim as I should be.”
“Looks like we may have something in common besides poker.”
Monique came back and asked, “Have you called your mom yet?”
“No,” he answered. “I was more worried about getting here to be with you.”
“Good answer, but call her now. I called my folks this morning.”
Monique snuggled up to the Global Justice agent. He put his arm around her as he called home. Shego left the room as it was answered, “Hello, mom, Happy Thanksgiving. … No, I was on a mission. And couldn't make it. … Yes, I'm sorry I didn't make it home… “
Shego smiled, it sounded like he wasn't honest with his mother either.
Kim caught some of another phone call to a mother a little later. She didn't mean to eavesdrop, but Bonnie had left her door open. She heard Bonnie “… Yes, I love you too. … I'll try to stop by and see you over the weekend. … Okay, bye.” Kim stopped and knocked softly on the door frame.
“How much of that did you hear?”
“Look, I'm sorry. You left the door open. I was just walking by and couldn't help overhearing some of what you were saying.”
Bonnie was staring up at the ceiling, “It's just kind of weird. This is my first Thanksgiving away from my family. On one level I'm so glad to be out of the madhouse I could turn cartwheels. But I dunno… Thanksgiving is a time for family, even if it is a rotten family. Should I have gone home to be with them?”
“I don't know. I hear what you're saying. I think you had fun here.”
“But you would have liked to see your mom too, maybe even your sisters -- although that might have just been to remind you why you're here the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year.”
“You heard me tell mom I'd stop by over the weekend to see her?”
“Do you think I was right to say that?”
“I think you were right to say that.”
Kim impulsively gave Bonnie a hug, “But we were all glad you were here with us.”
Most of the gang was sitting in the living room, watching television. Ron was on the couch with Bonnie seated on the floor in front of him as Ron worked off the first installment of his debt to her.
“You're right, Shego,” Bonnie purred. “The man has wonderful hands.”
Somehow Ron's task didn't appear to be too much of a burden on him.
“I have to be up early tomorrow,” Monique announced. “Busiest shopping day of the year so we're all in at Club Banana an hour before it opens to batten the hatches and all that.”
“I'll probably stay 'til the end of the program and then leave,” Will told her. Monique leaned over to give him one of their rare public kisses.
“Why doesn't he spend a couple nights?” Kim suggested.
“Look, I just mean he's welcome to stay on the couch. That's got to be better than going home to lonely bachelor apartment.”
“Do you want to stay?” Monique asked.
“I'm not really packed --”
“Look, we've got extra toothbrushes around. Tomorrow you can fight the crowd at Club Banana and pick up some new clothes,” Kim assured him.
“We really need to get a couple more beds and put them in the little rooms on the top floor,” Shego said.
“I don't know,” Kim replied, “those rooms are awfully small.”
“It's still got to be better than sleeping on the couch with people walking by in the morning.”
“You don't have to make such a fuss for me,” Will insisted.
“Not for you,” the pale woman told him. “It will be more comfortable for me the next time Kim kicks me out of the bedroom.”
Shego came back up to the bedroom after taking sheets and blankets down to Will in the living room. Ron had loaned him a pair of pajamas for the night.
Kim and Shego put their arms around each other, “Our first Thanksgiving together,” Kim said, giving the older woman a kiss. “It is going to be hard to top this year. Should we invite everyone back next year too?”
Shego took a deep breath. “Kim, I may have some good news and some bad news for you.”
“What's the good news?”
“Kim, I think I need to tell you the truth.”
“Okay, I take that as good news. What's the bad news?”
“Kim, I think I need to tell you the truth.”