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November in the nation's capital was chilly. None of the boys liked to wear coats - it wasn't "brutal", according to Nathan - but Charles convinced them to don some after checking the weather report. Even properly outfitted, the collective members of Dethklok shivered and grumbled as they stepped off their heated tour bus.

"Why are we in Washington D.C. again?" Nathan asked, teeth chattering. The front man's own coat had fur around the hood - real, not fake; Charles pitied whomever was stupid enough to voice concern over this to someone with Nathan Explosion's stature and general demeanor - and privately, Charles was amused at the effect that had. Nathan looked a little like a bunny rabbit - an incredibly overgrown, pissed off bunny rabbit.

To his credit, Charles was patient as he explained for the millionth time why the band had been dragged to the White House. "It's a Thanksgiving tradition for the President to officially 'pardon' a turkey on Thanksgiving," Dethklok's manager-lawyer explained, pausing to polish his glasses. He reaffixed them on his nose and inhaled sharply - it really was cold. "The tradition began with President Harry Truman, and continues today."

"Actually, it's a common misconception that Truman was the first to pardon a turkey," Pickles piped up, his red hair nominally hidden underneath his own furry hood. "It was actually Kennedy in 1963." Everyone gaped at him. "What?" the drummer shrugged. "I can know things."

Charles coughed softly. "Well, anyway," he offered, making a mental note to fact-check his knowledge against Pickles' for future reference, "You are scheduled to pardon the turkey this year. It is a great honor. I've compiled short descriptions of the ceremony for you," he began, pulling papers out of a seemingly random pocket of his own jacket (one without fur).

Nathan held up a meaty hand. "We don't need instructions for what to do with a Thanksgiving turkey," he rumbled. "I mean, who doesn't get that?"

Toki raised his hand slightly. "I donts," he said meekly. He pointed to Skwisgaar, bundled in a custom-made jacket from Milan. "Neither does Skwisgaars."

"Speaks for yourselfs," the Swede huffed, the end of his nose red. "You uses the feathers to makes quills for writings. Duh." Nobody corrected him.

Charles checked his watch. "Come on," he urged, ushering his boys through the first of many legs of security checks. "You all have the turkey pardoning, and then you have to pay a visit to the winner of the Spend Thanksgiving with the Dethklok Family contest."

"Who thought up that piecsh of chrap idea?" Murderface sneered.

"Ah, you did," Charles offered.

"Schtupid," Murderface muttered, and then hocked a wad of phlegm at the ground. It landed on Pickles' boots.




The turkey pardoning ceremony had auspicious beginnings. Nobody was late, and all of the technical equipment worked. Eventually, the turkey was brought out, flanked by White House officials as if it were a dangerous prisoner. Toki made a cooing sound. Nathan whispered to Pickles that the bird's wattle looked like his facial hair, a perfect color match and everything, which set them off into poorly held snickers.

Finally, the President finished speaking to polite applause - the audience was an odd mixture of metal fans and families who had brought their young children mostly to see the turkey, and the two did not gel very well. Mothers clutched their purses and held their kids close as diehard Dethklok fans made appreciative jeers every few seconds.

Nathan was supposed to officially do the pardoning. White House representatives beamed at him as the front man stared down at the giant bird. It stared back.

"Don't dos it, it's too cutes to dies!" Toki screamed. A few children in the audience made horrified noises. Pickles, ever the articulate one of the group, stepped bravely up to the podium facing outwards towards the press.

"Ah, I don't think we're ahctually gonna kill this thing ..." he began.

"Schpeak for yourschelf," Murderface announced. The next few seconds were pure pandemonium. Somehow, possibly through bribery, Murderface had managed to sneak a small, extremely sharp ornamental knife into the affair. He brandished it like a samurai sword, and then swept between Nathan and the turkey. Frowning, Nathan moved backwards, knowing better than to stand anywhere near a weapon-wielding William Murderface.

"I releash you from your earthly dutiesch!" Murderface announced. He swung the giant knife. It hit its intended target, taking the head mostly off, to a large spurting fountain and eventual puddling of turkey blood. Parents in the audience looked appalled. Dethklok fans cheered. Toki yelled something in Norwegian and collapsed into Skwisgaar's arms in a dead faint. Skwisgaar looked surprised, but held him awkwardly.

Amid the chaos, Nathan randomly made eye contact with Charles. Vaguely, the singer recalled Charles talking about the lengths he and the Klokateers went through to ensure that Dethklok remained media darlings. He wondered what it would take this time.


The Spend Thanksgiving with the Dethklok Family event was not even expected to go well by any approximation. Cold, hungry - Murderface was under the mistaken impression that they were allowed to take the turkey he had slaughtered instead of pardoning, and had made a scene with White House security - and irritable, the guys complained the entire ride into Ohio (they took a private helicopter while one of the Klokateers drove the tour bus back to Mordhaus) about their "jag-off fans" and how they didn't want to spend time with their own families on Thanksgiving, let alone someone else's.

"Yeah, my grandma's gravy tastes like horse shit," Murderface chimed in as the band liberally lambasted their respective families. "Old horse shit."

"Maybes it was," Skwisgaar offered helpfully.

"My father mades me eats horse shits once," Toki said. He sighed. "It was chewy." Everyone stared at him, aghast, until Nathan offered a conciliatory "brutal" and Murderface suggested that maybe his grandmother and Toki's father had exchanged recipes. Nobody quite knew what to say whenever Toki revealed some sordid aspect of his past to them - remarking upon it with too much sympathy was suspicious if they all wanted to go on acting like they didn't care about one another outside of the band, but nobody ripped on Skwisgaar for insisting on carrying Toki all the way back to the tour bus after his fainting spell in D.C. either. It was a fine line, a slippery slope, and anybody who brought it up too fervently was usually labeled "a bag of dildos", and nobody really wanted that.

They arrived at their destination, literally landing on top of the contest winner's house. A small group of local press and celebrities had already gathered, and cheered as each member of the band climbed down a lengthy rope ladder to the relative safety of the ground. Introductions were made, photos were snapped, sound bytes were gathered (again, mostly from Pickles and Nathan, since Murderface could only be relied upon to be vulgar, and neither Skwisgaar nor Toki were particularly eloquent in their second language). Eventually, the boys tromped into the house. The contest winner, a pock-marked fourteen-year-old wearing a studded dog collar with a Dethklok tag, gaped at them.

Nathan sniffed the air. "I smell food," he rumbled. "Not dog shit mashed potatoes, either."

"This place looks like my parents' house," Pickles observed. He studied the cadre of family photos hung carefully about the living room. "Check out this douche bag!" he snickered, pointing at a picture slightly off to the right in the collection.

"That's me," the contest winner - Charles had told them his name, but none of them had cared enough to remember it - frowned.

"Ah," Pickles offered. "Well, no offense."

Skwisgaar stared appreciatively of some photos of the contest winner and a woman presumed to be his grandmother. "It is goods to see that she has alls her teeths," he said to no one in particular. "You don'ts always sees that."

"Boys, we're almost ready to sit down and eat," the contest winner's mother, who had a Midwestern soccer mom look to her, asserted. "Everyone go wash your hands!" she chirped.

Nathan grunted and started looking around for a bathroom. When he found it, he also found Murderface, who had not bothered to close the door. The bassist's stream of urine veered off course as he looked up, hitting the floor and then the mirror above the sink. "God, a little warning first!" Nathan yelled. Murderface swore at him, but eventually shoved his audience out of the bathroom, locked it, and yelled at Nathan through the door that he was gay for looking at his schlong.

Skwisgaar was schmoozing up the contest winner's mother when Nathan rejoined the other bandmates, foregoing washing his hands. Toki, too, had seemingly disregarded the request - rather, he may have washed his hands first, but he was now cuddling the family's cat, at the dinner table, no less, so it likely made little difference. "Sos, dids you haves Grandma Ethels cremateds, or burieds?" Skwisgaar was saying.

"Don't light a match in there!" Murderface announced as he came out of the bathroom. Nobody asked if he'd washed his hands, but the contest winner's mother carefully offered to scoop everything for him in lieu of passing him each dish. Once everyone was served, she clapped her hands. "Let's pray before we eat," she chirped. Murderface looked like he was going to have another meltdown, but the contest winner beat him to the punch.

"Mo~om, let's skip it, that's so lame," he whined, pouting. "I mean, it's friggin' Dethklok! Praying isn't brutal."

His mother, in an uncharacteristic move that nonetheless garnered the band's collective appreciation, smacked her son in the back of the head with the wooden spoon she'd just used to scoop potatoes. "I don't care how brutal it is or isn't," she said firmly, arms akimbo. "We are praying to Jesus for this meal and that is that, Joshua."

"Whatever, bitch," Joshua (apparently) snarled. He looked as if he wanted to launch into his own tirade, but a heavy hand on his shoulder kept him (physically, mostly) in his seat. He glanced at Nathan, the fiery expression on his face quickly being replaced by anxiety.

"Hey, kid, you should, uh, listen to your mother. She's pretty cool," Nathan rumbled. The fact that he could have wrapped one hand around Joshua's neck seemed to assuage any further tantrums, and the incident was soon forgotten.

The meal went, surprisingly, without further disruption, abnormality, or freak accident. Pickles was particularly appreciative when Joshua's dad, a blue collar employee at a local brewery began popping open bottles, one of which he simply plunked in front of the drummer. Pickles grew less articulate, the more hammered he got; Nathan tended to become mouthier, and Murderface was always mouthy. Eventually, Nathan was trading stories with Joshua's mom about the days of her Pearl Jam obsession, and Toki babbled about cats.

When Charles phoned them, letting them know that the chopper was prepped and ready to take them back to Mordhaus, they had eaten their fill, though Pickles clutched a new bottle of alcohol to take with him. Mouth-breathing, Joshua asked Nathan for an autograph as they all pulled on their coats anew.

"You think you deserve an autograph? You were a fucking douche," Nathan sneered. Purposefully, he grabbed the sheet of paper the kid was holding and ripped it in two, then four, then let the pieces flutter to the ground. "Ask again when you're as cool as your mother," he glared. Then he flicked Joshua's ear, a trick he'd learned in high school while pantsing the nerds in the Chess Club. The kid burst into tears and ran upstairs, barricading himself in his bedroom with a loud slamming of the door.

"Wow, Nathan," Pickles commented once they were in the air. His breath reeked of booze as he huffed a laugh appreciatively. "You were a real asshole to that kid."

Nathan glanced at Pickles. He blinked slowly. "So?" he asked. "What's your point?"

"Nothin'. It was pretty cool," Pickles grinned. Then he passed out, and the rest of Dethklok took turns drawing dicks on his face, except for Toki, who drew a cat.