by Judith Freudenthal
Natalie caught a glimpse of the calendar as she dressed. Only three more days, she sighed. She knew this year Thanksgiving was going to be very lonely.
Her thoughts strayed to last year. She and Nick had been invited, no ordered to the Schanke household by Myra via Don. He did look pathetic begging them.
Schanke had Nick and Natalie cornered, trying pathetically to convince them to spend Thanksgiving with the Schankes.
"Come on guys, Myra will have my head if you don't come. She knows that neither of you have any family in town. You don't want to spend the day alone." A thought struck him and he awkwardly said, "you don't already have plans do you?"
"No," Natalie responded.
Nick just shook his head before he said "I can't eat..."
"It's okay. Myra remembered you had all those allergies. She said for you to come and she'd find something you could eat. If not at least you wouldn't be alone."
"I can bring some wine," Nick said.
"Natalie? I know you like turkey and Myra's sweet potatoes."
"I'll be there. Is it okay if I bring a dish? I might be able to find one that Nick could eat."
"Sure. I don't think she'd mind."
Later the next afternoon Natalie looked through some old cookbooks she had been given when she first left home years ago. She found the recipe she wanted. She picked up the phone and called Nick.
"You busy later? I want you to try something." She heard the silence on the other end, "no, it's not another protein shake."
They hung up and Natalie set to work. She had the pie finished shortly before Nick knocked.
She let him in and headed for the kitchen, he followed curious. She cut him a large slice of pie and handed the plate to him with a fork.
Nick hesitantly took a forkful and put it into his mouth. He was prepared for it to be horrible but a grin spread across his face as he swallowed it.
"This is good. What is it?"
Natalie smiled. Finally she had found something he could and would eat.
"It's called Rughaya. It's a Russian dish. I found it in an old cookbook my mom gave me when I left home."
Thanksgiving day at sunset at the Schanke house.
Nick and Natalie arrived together in the caddy. They approached the front door, Natalie holding her pie and Nick holding a very good bottle of wine (no blood included). The door opened before either could knock.
"Hi, Schank," Both said at the same time.
Myra met them just inside the door and took the pie from Natalie. Schanke took the bottle of wine, impressed with its quality.
Natalie quickly told Myra about the pie and that it was one thing Nick could eat.
They talked for a few minutes before dinner was served.
Myra had outdone herself, there was sweet potatoes with marshmallows, turkey, homemade stuffing, green beans, homemade cranberry sauce and Natalie's pie.
Everyone dug in. Nick even took a little of everything. He tried a bit of everything, but most of it he didn't like, bordering on intolerance. He did take a big slice of the Rughaya. Schanke and Myra tried it and found it interesting. Jenny wasn't quite up to the challenge.
The conversation was lively as everyone, but Nick, proceeded to stuff themselves into oblivion.
The ringing of Natalie's phone snapped her out of the pleasant, yet sad memory. She remembered that Myra and Jenny had gone home to Myra's parents house for the holiday.
"Hi, can I interest you in...."
"Sorry, not interested."
Natalie was busy cutting up her latest client when Nick entered.
"Nat, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?"
"I haven't decided whether to cook a small turkey or not. You're welcome to come over. I'll make that pie."
"I can't. I'm having a small private dinner party."
Natalie looked disappointed. She would be alone.
Nick put his finger under her chin and tilted her face up to meet his. "A very small party for two."
She smiled as she realized what he was saying.
"Two o'clock all right with you? I thought we'd eat around five."
"I didn't want to be alone either. I miss them also."
At the precinct Tracy saw Nick enter and wondered if he would be alone.
"Nick, would you like to come to my parent's for Thanksgiving dinner?" She asked then it hit her that Natalie might also be alone. "Natalie's welcome also. Is she doing anything?"
"I can't I have plans. I think Natalie has plans as well. Thanks for the offer."
Tracy grinned, hoping she was right, that they were sharing the holiday together. She was still trying to figure that relationship out. They didn't seem like just friends and they didn't seem like lovers.
Thanksgiving day about two in the afternoon at Nick's loft. Natalie entered pie in hand and dressed in a comfortable but very attractive dark red velvet outfit. Her hair was loose. Nick had a stylish jacket over his blue shirt and dark slacks. He took the pie from her and placed it on the counter.
Nick had snacks laid out for her to eat while dinner finished.
"I thought maybe we could watch a movie or something."
She looked around the place and noticed the smells of food cooking.
"You're cooking?" She asked surprised.
"Yes, I thought I would give it a try. Would you like a glass of wine?"
Nick poured them each a glass of pure wine from a bottle of very good vintage. He had eaten earlier.
"To Schanke," Nick toasted raising his glass.
They watched a movie and cuddled together on the couch. She snacked on his appetizers and found them quite tasty.
"I have to confess that I didn't make those. I knew I'd have my hands full with the main dishes."
Around five Nick put the turkey on the table along with the two side dishes he had made and her pie.
He lit the candles on the expertly and elegantly set table before he held her chair out for her. Once she was seated he took his seat.
"Looks delicious," she said looking over the turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes with marshmallows.
"I called Myra for the recipe. I know how much you liked them. The stuffing came out of a box, and the rolls from the bakery, but the rest I made," Nick said, his pride showing.
She smiled a very warm smile at him. She couldn't believe he had done all this for her she thought as she took a serving of everything but the pie. She was going to let him have the whole thing. She took a bite and was pleased to discover it tasted as good as it looked.
"It's delicious. I never knew you could cook."
"I haven't in so long that I thought I had forgotten how. I have watched a few master chefs in my time. Plus they were quite helpful at the store.
"No one wants to spend the holidays alone less than I do. I've spent more than I can remember that way," He said slightly sadly.
"So have I," She said also slightly sadly.
"Thanks for bringing the pie," Nick said as he dug into his third piece.
"Are you going to try your own cooking?"
Nick took a bite of everything and found it marginally easier to get down and keep down. Natalie noticed and was pleased.
"Who knows, maybe by next year you may actually be able to eat it along with me."
"Do you really think that we're that close?"
"I don't know. Maybe to the food part."
"It wouldn't be so bad if I could eat. Then I'd fit in more."
"When we do succeed, will you miss it? I mean, it has been a part of you for a very, very long time."
"I will miss the flying. It is such a great feeling. I will probably miss the night vision and the strength. And probably the invulnerability. I will *not* miss the bloodthirst in the least. So I guess I have to say, yes and no. I do look forward to growing old with you. I can't wait to take my first walk in the sun with you, to watch my first sunrise outside with you."
"I can see how you would miss those, but...."
"But is it worth it? Yes, it is. I would gladly give it all up to be with you."
After they had stuffed themselves, or at least Nat had, they moved over to the couch to watch some more movies. She leaned against his chest.
Before the movie finished she was asleep in his arms. He looked down at her peacefully sleeping form and smiled. He'd even die for her, he thought.
PS The Russian dish is totally made up (I didn't feel like looking in any cookbooks).
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