Christmas Countdown: December 21
Travis loved to watch Beck move. The big guy was, well, big, but also light on his feet and graceful as hell. In a fight, he was a thing of power and beauty. On more than one occasion, Travis had nearly had his head handed to him on a plate, just because he’d gotten distracted by watching Beck.
Watching Beck fight didn’t hold a candle, however, to watching Beck cook.
While Beck fought well, he didn’t particularly enjoy it. He had a talent for physical combat and used it to his advantage, but found no joy in the actual act. Beck loved to cook, though, and that made all the difference in his culinary creations. While in the kitchen or even just shopping for ingredients, Beck’s face was alight in pleasure and the enthusiasm he had in researching new recipes was equal to that Travis felt when tracking down a new archeological find.
Beck had been fussing over their Christmas dinner for weeks, picking and choosing over his recipe list until he’d come up with the perfect menu. Travis thought it was cute, although he was very careful not to say that in front of his lover. He’d even given Beck a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron for Christmas, which the bigger man was wearing as work on the feast commenced.
At first Travis had been allowed to help, although his assistance was pretty much limited to chopping things and washing dishes. He’d dipped his fingers into one too many pots, though, and had been banished to the living room. It was frustrating. Not only were the scents wafting out of the kitchen tantalizing, but Travis resented being separated from Beck. How was he supposed to do as the apron said and kiss the cook if the cook was in the other room?
Moving as quietly as he could, Travis gave up his sulk on the couch and approached the kitchen door.
“You have two options, Travis,” Beck’s voice called out from the other side.
Busted. Damn. Travis couldn’t decide if Beck was psychic or merely part bat. In any case, he always seemed to be able to tell when Travis was trying to pull one on him.
“Option A, you go back on the couch and finish your glass of wine. Then, in a few minutes, share Christmas dinner with me.” Beck continued. “Option B, you try and sneak into the kitchen, I catch you and you eat bologna sandwiches until New Years.”
“What’s it gonna be?” Beck stuck his head out of the kitchen door to look at Travis expectantly.
“Okay, okay,” Travis muttered. “Option A. I’ll go sit on the couch and drool in anticipation.”
Beck’s grin slashed across his face. “Just don’t get the couch wet; it’s leather.”
Still grumbling, Travis threw himself back down on the sofa. Cooking was Beck’s way of showing affection, he knew that. He just hated it when the older man pulled the Option A and B crap.
Travis only had a few minutes to stew. In a relatively short amount of time, Beck came through the kitchen door, this time carrying a large platter, filled with some sort of seafood.
“Dinner is served,” Beck announced with a flourish as he set his burden down on the table.
“Hot damn,” Travis crowed, jumping off the couch. His pique was forgotten as he rubbed his hands together in anticipation. When he got a good look at what was on the plate, he waggled his eyebrows. “Oysters? They’re an aphrodisiac, aren’t they?”
Beck snorted. “They’re mussels and, no, they’re not an aphrodisiac.” He kissed Travis as soon as the shorter man was close enough to grab. “It’s not like we need any help with that anyway.”
Since he couldn’t argue with that, Travis just grinned and picked up one of the shells. Smiling suggestively at Beck, he held it up to his lips and slid the tender meat inside between his lips. “Mmmm. . . are you sure they’re not mussels? Because, man, I feel horny already.”
“It’s mussels with a tarragon celery vinaigrette,” Beck stated, popping one into his own mouth. “And don’t eat too many or you’ll ruin your dinner.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t have made so many,” Travis commented. He did his best to comply, though, knowing that his willpower would be rewarded later.
He was soon glad he did so. When Beck decided they’d consumed sufficient quantities of the appetizer, he cleared the table and went to get the main courses. As plate after plate was delivered out of the kitchen, Travis’ eyes got big.
“Um. . . big guy?” He gulped as the tabletop was literally covered with plates and dishes. “You do know that it’s only the two of us, right?” Travis’ eyes narrowed in suspicion. “It is only the two of us, isn’t it?”
Billy Walker was responsible for Travis meeting Beck, but Travis still couldn’t forget that his father had hired someone to come and essentially kidnap him. As a result, good old Dad was not someone he wanted to spend a holiday with.
“Nope, just me and you,” Beck assured him with a kiss. He glanced sheepishly at the spread. “I guess I might have gotten carried away.”
“Hey, more for us,” Travis replied. “Let’s eat.”
The main dish was a crown roast of pork. Travis had never seen that cut of meat before. Hell, he didn’t know that pigs had circular ribs, but they sure tasted good. Beck had made a cranberry horseradish sauce to go with it, along with a puree of celery-root and apples. It was also served with a casserole, made with potatoes and lardon.
“What’s lardon?” Travis asked. Truthfully, he didn’t really care, not when the dish smelled that good. Still, he’d learned the hard way to make sure he knew what he was putting in his mouth.
“Bacon,” Beck answered as he spooned up a healthy portion onto Travis’ plate.
Travis smirked. “Then why not just say bacon in the first place?”
Beck made as though he was going to take the food back. “That’s all right, you don’t have to eat any.”
“That’s not necessary,” Travis said quickly, putting a hand on Beck’s wrist and preventing him from removing it from his plate.
There were a couple of other side dishes, which Beck also had to explain, and, to Travis’ surprise, one very familiar one.
“Green Bean Casserole?” Travis asked, grinning hugely. The dish looked a little plain, compared to some of the others.
“Hey, you can’t improve upon perfection,” Beck shrugged. “Now come on, dig in.”
He didn’t need to tell Travis twice. Both men at with relish and conversation was minimal, except for Travis’ lavish praise of the meal. When he finally put his fork down and pushed himself away from the table, Travis let out a satisfied smile.
“Wow,” he said with satisfaction. “That was amazing.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Beck replied, almost shyly. “Now, let’s clear the table for dessert.
“Dessert?” Travis gulped. “You mean there’s more?”
It wasn’t that Travis didn’t want dessert. Anything made by Beck was bound to be delectable. The problem was that he didn’t think he had room for it. Travis had wanted to prove how much he enjoyed and appreciated his lover cooking for him, so eaten a lot. A real lot and Travis’ stomach was already starting to protest. Dessert on top of what he’d already devoured might put him over the edge from uncomfortable to ready to burst.
But he couldn’t tell Beck that.
“Sounds yummy,” Travis replied gamely.
He got up from the table and started to help his partner clear the table. All too soon, the dishes had been put away and they were ready for the final course. Beck sent Travis back out to the table to await the dinner’s culmination.
“Just don’t barf,” Travis told himself as he sat with his head in his hands.
“I couldn’t make up my mind,” Beck admitted as he came back into the room. “So I made two.”
Travis swallowed his groan of dismay. “Great!”
“We have a hazelnut Paris-brest, accompanied by oranges poached with candied ginger,” Beck declared proudly.
Travis ate some of each, but would be hard-pressed to describe either. The pastry was delicate and sweet and so were the oranges. He was sure they were both divine, but Travis was simply to full to appreciate them to their fullest.
After helping Beck clean up the kitchen, and blessing whoever was responsible for the invention of dishwashers, Travis curled up on the couch with Beck. He hoped that his increasing stomach troubles weren’t obvious and must have been successful, because Beck was obviously feeling frisky.
“Dinner was superb, if I do say so myself,” Beck murmured as he nuzzled behind Travis’ ear. “But I bet you taste delicious.”
“Ummmm. . .” Travis moaned, hoping the sound would be mistaken for a moan of pleasure instead of the increasing stomach upset.
“What’s wrong?” Beck asked. Travis had forgotten how observant the older man was.
“Nothing,” Travis lied.
Beck was nothing if persistent, especially Travis had noticed, when Travis’ wellbeing was at question.
“Didn’t you like dinner?” Beck questioned.
“That’s the problem,” Travis groaned. “I liked it too much. I’m about to burst here.”
Beck gave him the hairy eye and then, apparently satisfied at the voracity of Travis’ claim, grinned. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Oh, it is,” Travis assured him as he wrapped an arm around his aching belly. “It totally is.”
“Hang on,” Beck told him, dropping a quick kiss on the top of Travis’ head before he walked away. “I’ve got something that’ll help.”
Travis gave a pathetic whimper at the loss of Beck’s warmth. As he lay on the couch, suffering, he could hear the older man going to the bathroom and rummaging around the medicine cabinet. A few moments later, he heard a characteristic plop-plop-fizz-fizz and then Beck was right by his side again, encouraging him to drink.
“Na-huh, I wasn’t kidding, I’m gonna explode,” Travis shook his head. “Not another drop.”
“You’ve got two options, Travis,” Beck stated firmly. “Option A, you drink this the easy way; Option B, you drink this the hard way.”
Travis sighed as he took the glass Beck was brandishing at him. “Fine, but don’t come bitching to me if I do explode and you have to pick bits of Travis out of your precious couch.”
Beck smiled indulgently. “I’ll take that chance.”
Relatively obediently, Travis drank, grimacing at the taste. His sigh was of long-suffering as he handed the glass back. Beck didn’t say anything as set aside. Instead he just settled down on the couch and gathered Travis close against him.
“Next time you don’t have to bust a gut to show me that you like my cooking,” Beck commented. One of his hands snaked under Travis’ shirt to start rubbing circles onto Travis’ belly.
Travis all but purred, closing his eyes in pleasure. “Sure, I did. Cooking’s your way of saying I love you; eating’s my way of saying I love you too.” He opened his eyes and looked up at Beck. “As long as there is one.”
“What?” Beck asked.
“A next one,” Travis replied.
Beck smiled as he tightened his grip. “You have two options, Travis Walker. Option A, you spend the rest of your holidays with me. Option B, you spend the rest of your life with me.”
“But those are the same thing,” Travis pointed out.
“Yup,” Beck responded smugly.
“And there’s no Option C?” Travis questioned.
“Nope,” Beck was just as smug as he answered again.
Travis grinned. “I guess I can live with that.” And snuggled closer, bellyache long forgotten.
Thanks to epicurious.com for the food ideas.
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