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"I can't believe you're not working on Thanksgiving," Tony said, sitting on the counter in Steve's kitchen, while Steve industriously kneaded a mound of bread dough. Watching Steve's forearms knead dough was entertainment in itself. "Thanksgiving is the best day of the year for a chef!"

"We're going to revisit what you just said, because it's very insane, but I never said I wasn't working," Steve said patiently. "I just said I'd be at TOBRU with the truck a little later than usual. War On Hunger and Potato Rescue are handing out turkey sandwiches, fried mashed potatoes, and hot mac and cheese in the park from two to five, and then I'll be here by five-thirty. I'm doing all desserts," he added with a smile.

"No desserts on the TOBRU menu, gotcha," Tony said, pinching off a bit of dough and popping it in his mouth. "Are you soup kitchening in the morning or something else unsettlingly virtuous?"

"No," Steve said with a smile, blocking a second attempt.

"Are you sleeping in? Oh my God, the self-indulgence."

"Tony -- " Steve elbowed him down the counter. "I'm...wurgndurgnlin," he mumbled, face turned away.

"You're what now?" Tony asked leaning in.

"I'm wurkindurkyhollin," Steve muttered.

"Honey, I'm old and deaf, speak up," Tony said, catching Steve's nose between his fingers to get his attention. Steve gave him a patient look.

"I'm working a turkey hotline," he said, slightly nasal.

Tony let go of his nose. "A turkey hotline?"

"Yes. A friend of mine who works the hotline asked if I wanted to earn a few bucks and help out, I guess they're short-handed this year. And I like fixing things for people, so..." Steve shrugged, blushing.

"You're working a...oh my God. Oh my God, you're a Butterball boy," Tony said, pointing at him accusingly. "You're going to spend Thanksgiving answering peoples' questions about why their turkey isn't thawed and how to get the chihuahua out of the cavity! For Butterball Turkeys!"

"Nothing wrong with a Butterball turkey, it's a perfectly serviceable bird, and I might get to help someone learn how to roast a turkey so the breast doesn't dry out," Steve said, returning to his kneading.

"I can't believe you won't work for TOBRU but you'll answer phones for the Kraft of poultry," Tony said.

Steve leaned over and kissed his forehead. "My mama told me never to let my boyfriend be my boss," he said. "And also you and Bruce set each other on fire on the regular, I can't cook under those conditions."

"Nonsense. Tension heightens the skills of all chefs."

"That is on a level with the crazy of Thanksgiving being the happiest day in a chef's year. What's that about, by the way?" Steve asked, setting the dough in the bowl to rise and washing his hands. "Thanksgiving is awful for chefs, you never get the day off, you're short-handed, and you usually have to do buffet."

"I just like it," Tony said. "I never had a big family dinner thing on Thanksgiving so I don't miss it, and most people eating out on Thanksgiving are in the same shoes as me, or they're unhappy about having to eat out for whatever reason. Lot of 'em are lonely. I get to give them a fun time and a nice meal." He shrugged, looking away. "I make more people happy on Thanksgiving than probably any other day of the year."

Steve's smile turned fond, and he chucked Tony under the chin, kissing him on the mouth. "You're always so ashamed of being sweet. Gets me right in the giblets."

"Hey, go fuck yourself, Chef," Tony said, and Steve pulled him forward, slinging his arms over Tony's shoulders.

"The bread needs to rise for an hour," he said. "I could go...screw myself, or you could lend a hand..."

***

"Yes, hi, I have a question about a really big turkey."

Steve, sitting in the call center at Butterball Turkeys with a headset on, pinched the bridge of his nose.

"How many times did you call before you got put through to me, Tony?" he asked.

"Only three before I found someone who would look you up and transfer me," Tony said.

"I'm not having phone sex with you at the Butterball Turkey Emergency Hotline," Steve said, and the little old lady sitting at the desk next to him gave him a huge grin and a wink.

"I'm appalled, I'm working, I don't have time to have phone sex."

"You're not calling about an actual issue," Steve said.

"No, I was going to try to harass you with a prank call, you saw through my clever ruse."

"Caller ID shows up on my computer screen."

"Curse modern technology!"

"You own a cellphone so new it's not even on the market in the US yet."

"That doesn't mean I can't curse it. Okay, I admit, I wanted to hear your voice," Tony said, and Steve warmed inside at the admission. "Have you had any true disasters on the line yet? No chihuahuas in the turkeys?"

"Well, I did save a guy's life when he said he had a bet with his friends that he could deep-fry a completely frozen turkey," Steve said.

"You talked him out of it?"

"I talked him into doing it in the middle of a parking lot rather than his back porch. At least that way he won't burn his house down."

"I hope you got his email address."

"He promised to send me footage. I have to go, Tony, there are a lot of people freaked out about real, actual, not-imaginary turkeys out there," Steve said.

"Okay, fine, abandon me for your agricultural-industrial complex weapons-grade turkeys. I see how it is."

"I'll talk to you later, Tony," Steve said firmly, and cut the call.

"I'd have gone for the phone sex," the lady next to him said.

"It doesn't do to encourage him," Steve replied.

"One of those, huh? My Albert was like that, God rest his soul. Four times a week and twice on Sundays if we skipped church. Hello, Butterball Hotline, how may I help with your Turkey Emergency?"

Steve stared at her for probably a good twenty seconds until his own line beeped.

"Hello, Butterball Hotline, how may I help with your Turkey Emergency?" he said.

"You're not gonna believe this, but my toddler is stuck in a turkey," a voice said on the other end of the line.

"Head first or feet first?" Steve asked.

"Head first."

"Can he breathe?" Steve asked.

"Oh sure, he's yelling and having a grand old time."

Steve breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay, well, first, I'm gonna give you my email address so you can send me your cellphone footage. Next, let's talk about spatchcocking as a way of removing the turkey but still preserving it for cooking..."

Artwork of Steve and Tony in the autumn leaves by Chibiesque; original post here.