Jun stepped back and watched as Jessie and TC moved around the table setting the places. Mark, Matt and Ben were moving in enough chairs to seat all the members of the Galactic Federation’s elite Counter Terrorist Strike Unit. Voices drifted out of the kitchen, a mix of laughter and chatter, almost covering the sound of dishes being moved.
Matt leaned past Jessie and picked up a fork from one of the settings. “Why do we need two forks?”
“The better to stab someone before they can take the drumstick,” TC offered.
“That is your salad fork, Matt.” Jun sighed. “As if you’ve never been to a formal dinner.”
Matt looked at his cousin and grinned. “I just don’t get why I need a special fork to eat rabbit food.”
Mark covered a laugh with a cough, winked at Matt, and then gave his wife an innocent shrug. “Some people just can’t be civilized.”
Ben snatched up a pair of glasses and held them to his eyes. “Look, I’m fish face.”
Jessie laughed and grabbed a second pair. She put them just above her ears, “Wait, here’s Antonie.”
Jun glared at her friends and motioned for them to return the glasses. “Jason, the natives are getting restless out here.”
A thump and something that sounded like a curse in Sicilian was followed by a growled “go”. A few seconds later Yale backed into the room carrying a bowl of salad and platter of boiled potatoes.
As he came around to the table, Yale gave his friends an exaggerated eye roll. “You’d think I’d suggested something lewd.”
Ellie came out just behind Yale, one eyebrow raised at her team-mate. “You practically did.” She set down a tray of bread and a rice dish with colorful berries and nuts.
Mark leaned in to see down the table better. “Is that tevshithvym aoudz?”
Matt nodded. “We had to adjust the recipe a little, since not all the ingredients can be found on Earth, but it’s as close as I can get it.”
Keye quietly came in carrying a soup tureen with a tray of exotic looking appetizers balanced on top.
As soon as Keye was clear, Tiny came in with a tray with a large fish. He beamed as he set it down near the middle of the table. “My grandmother’s recipe. Sea bream with pineapple.”
Pet came back in with green beans and tricolored corn, sliding them into an open space then settled his lanky frame into a chair near the end of the table.
Paul carried in a platter of neatly carved roast and set it near the bream while Kris came in with the carving knife and fork.
“Whose doing the honors?”
“I’ll do it,” Keye waved a hand.
“Last time we let you do it, Squirt, half of it was too large to fit on a plate and the other half was too small to see.” Tiny laughed.
“Hey,” Keye feigned indignation.
“How about you let someone who knows how to handle a knife do it?” TC pulled out a chair near the head of the table and sat down.
“Traditionally that is done by the head of the household.”
Kris held up a hand and looked at her brother. “Which household?”
Jason finally came in with the turkey. He set the bird down at the head of the table. “Mark is the oldest and commander of the senior team. So, that makes him head of this ménage.”
“How on earth did you get that in the oven?” Ben’s eyes widened at the size of the turkey.
“We didn’t,” Tiny piped up. “We put it behind the Phoenix and fired up the engines.”
“Just tell me you didn’t use the jump drives,” Matt calmly answered. “I’d hate to think what those would do to flesh.”
Jason sighed and dropped gracelessly into the chair next to TC. “Ian let us use the industrial oven.”
“Oh. Sorry, didn’t think of that.”
“You should’a heard him goin’ on ‘bout how we were takin’ over his kitchen.”
Jun laughed to herself and stepped back to get the wine. Turning back around she looked at what was probably the most unusual family sitting down to Thanksgiving; less than a quarter of them were American and nearly a third weren’t even from Earth. But they made the holiday their own, merging cultures and cuisines to produce a unique meal.
“Hey Kimpel, what is that?” TC pointed at the roast. “And don’t say Meat.”
Paul and Kris looked at each other. “Red meat?” Kris offered.
Paul gently thumped his sister. “It’s sheon. Think of it as something like deer.”
“And, in case anyone wonders, it would be considered ‘clean’.”
“Please tell me that does not mean that you went and got it yourself, and gutted it in the field.”
Kris shook her head at Jessie. “As if we have time to hunt. No, I mean it is considered clean under Regalian Mahsonik and Terran Biblical law.”
Jun passed the wine to Mark and looked down the table. “Does anyone want to offer thanks?”
Matt nodded. “I’m thankful that we have a couple of days of peace and quiet, so we can all sit down.”
“I’m thankful for all this food.” Keye’s offer was echoed by Tiny and Pet. “We’re going to eat for a week.”
Slowly the ‘thanks’ went around the table, some making joking replies, others giving serious answers.
Mark waited until everyone was done before raising his glass. “I am thankful that we can all sit down as a family; that we have all survived another year in this job. And, I hope that whatever deity watches over us will permit that we can continue to assemble in years to come.” A murmur of “amen” and toasts quickly followed. He looked over at the brother of his heart and nodded. “Jason.”
Jason bowed his head and waited a moment for those inclined to pray to join him. “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Thank you, for rest and home. And all things good. For wind and rain and sun above. But most of all those we love. Amen.” A chorus of voices responded in various languages.
Mark picked up the carving tools as the members of this unique family started calling out for their choices:
“pass me some of that Regalian deer”
“I want some fish”
“ save me a drumstick”
“pass those appetizers down”