Holidays in Dim Some Town and New Pork City were usually a big deal in terms of food. Perhaps, more of a big deal in most states across the country. Following an ever eventful Thanksgiving, Christmas was next in line and there's no doubt young food-fighting prodigy, Colby, wanted to go above and beyond in celebrating. Granted, it wasn't one of his favorite holidays like Halloween, but he always made the effort to enjoy it. And to make things a little sweeter for him and his tiny family consisting of his Uncle Dad and cat, Mr. Snugglepuss, his step-brother, Henri, returned from Brazil to join them. The two siblings remained in-touch after their spectacular summer together, texting and having video chats with Sage every so often. Now that the Brazilian was coming to celebrate with them, Colby knew it would probably be the best Christmas he's had yet.
One snowy, winter late morning about a few days before Christmas, Colby lugged a cardboard box filled with ornaments, lights, garlands, and tinsel almost spilling over the edge. Gently dropping beside the Christmas tree in the living room, that he had to beg his uncle relentlessly to get, the master-in-training clapped his hands together and grinned. His dreams of having the perfect Christmas were about to come to fruition.
"Whew, can y'all believe it?" He posed to Mr. Snugglepuss and Uncle Dad, both lounging on the couch and recliner respectively.
"What? That you came close to giving your uncle a heart attack with your boisterous begging?" sneered Mr. Snugglepuss.
"Don't remind me..." groaned the bespectacled uncle, running a hand over his balding head.
"That, AND... in a few moments, Henri's gonna show up so we really get this Christmas started! Man, I didn't think he'd visit us again after summer break but whaddya know?!" Colby widened his smile, jogging to the couch where he sat down next to his cat.
"Kid, I'll never understand your friendship with that crazy Mexican." Uncle Dad grumbled.
"That's because you've never had a friendship like theirs. It's okay to be envious." the brown tabby retorted.
"Right, envious of two food-fighting nutcases who wore my nerves thing last summer."
"And we'll keep wearing them thin this winter break! Lighten up, Uncle Dad, we may annoy every fiber of your grumpy being but trust me! It's totally done out of love! Out of love..." the headband-clad boy stood and rubbed his cheek against his uncle's stubbled one, causing him to smack him away. "Ow! Heh, guess that was done out of love too!"
"Good god, please put me out of my misery..." Uncle Dad groaned again right when the doorbell chimed. "I reiterated, PLEASE put me out of my misery."
"I'll get it!" Colby sang, jogging to the door with Mr. Snugglepuss trotting by his heels.
Opening the door, the master-in-training's coffee brown eyes lit up when he found Henri, still with his short, spiked cut, at the door with his bags.
"Henrrrrrrrrrrrriiii!" the blond didn't hesitate to subject his step-brother to a bone-crushing hug.
"Aww, heh heh," the mahogany-haired boy chuckled, sounding muffled behind his sibling's shoulder. "It's nice to see you too, Colb... but p-please... could you let me... go? I c-can't-"
"Oh, my bad! Man, got so hype about your return, I almost suffocated ya."
"That marks two deaths you nearly caused this week, young man. Also, glad to see you again, Henri." Mr. Snugglepuss walked up to Henri's sneakers, treated to pats on the head.
"Same to you, Mr. Cat," Henri's ears perked at the sound of familiar squealing. Standing up, he saw the formerly small Einswine Jr. had grown about twice his size, running over to him. "Yo, Einswine Jr.! Holy cow, you've gotten so big! You weren't kidding at all, Colby."
"Dude, I told you I've been doing an awesome job looking after him! Raising pigs is second nature to me." Colby boasted with his hands on his hips.
"Wish you'd do a better job caring for me than you do for pigs." the feline sneered as Henri laughed.
"Aww, whatever, Mr. Snuggles. You're pretty much an independent kitty anyway. Shoot, I gotta let Uncle Dad know you're here. Yo, Uncle Dad!"
"I can see you morons from here, you don't need to yell! Don't think I'll be any nicer than I've been to you last summer, ya Mexican!" Uncle Dad hollered from his recliner, seeing the gang by the door.
"Sir, I told you I'm not-ugh... nevermind. Oh, wait, I got a little something for you, Colby." the Brazilian grabbed one of his bags and unzipped it, rummaging through his stuff.
"Aww, for moi? D'oh, Hen, ya shouldn't have..." Colby cooed.
"But it's Christmas, it's all about giving. Anyway, here," Henri handed his step-brother a red, rectangle-shaped gift. "You can open it right now if you want."
"I dunno, it's kind of a taboo to open Christmas gifts early... but what the heck, why resist?!"
With that, the spiky-haired boy tore open the box and gasped at what he received.
"Oh, my gosh, I know what these are... they're foot gloves!" Colby chirped, showing off the black and white snow boots in the box.
"Heh, I know you don't really like shoes that much, but I thought I'd get ya a pair." Henri explained.
"Wow, thanks a ton, Hen! You know what, I think I'll rock these for the remainder of our break together. Then, I'll go back to barefoot!"
Seconds later, an 80's rock ringtone sounded from the master-in-training's gym pants.
"Aw, snap, must be Sage," Colby took out his phone and answered it. "Talk to me, bestie!"
"You dweeb, what's taking you so long?! The Holiday Parade's about to start!" Sage shouted, standing outside of the shopping district.
"Hold your mitts, missy. Just reuniting with Henri real quick."
"Yep, say hi to your lady friend, Hen!" the spiky-haired boy bought his phone to the Brazilian's face.
"Uh, hi, Sage." Henri bashfully greeted.
"Yeah, hi... are you guys coming to the parade or not? I've been standing outside for almost fifteen minutes and I'm in dire need of hot chocolate!" the bluenette complained.
"We'll be there in a few, Sage, just hang tight. Once we get there, we'll treat ya to all the cocoa your little tum-tum desires." Colby grinned.
"With extra cinnamon and marshmallows?"
"And whipped cream!"
"Fine, but hurry up and get here!"
"Gotcha! Welp, time to head to the Holiday Parade where we may or may not deal with Sage's thirst-induced wrath!" the headband-clad boy looked at Henri and Mr. Snugglepuss.
"Can't be any worse than her hunger-induced wrath." snarked the feline.
"Uh, what's the Holiday Parade?" the mahogany-haired boy asked.
"It's this super extravagant parade that's, like, the one that happens on Thanksgiving, minus the crazy-looking balloons and dance numbers. Think you'll love it, aren't parades a big thing in Brazil?" Colby asked, about to leave the house with the others.
"Yeah, but they're a little too outrageous for my taste, especially with those samba girls... I remember one time I tripped on my way to a carnival and fell head-first into a dancer's boobs."
"Geez... that musta been the breast day of your life."
"No, it wasn't, why would you go there?!"
A bus ride to the shopping district later, the step-brothers and Mr. Snugglepuss arrived with the Holiday Parade taking place. Walking through the crowd while searching for Sage, the gang also observed the floats themed around Christmas ingredients and foods, such as candy canes, cranberries, persimmons, and there was also a float with a life-sized gingerbread house. Complete with a family dressed in gingerbread man costumes, waving to the crowd.
"Wow, this is some parade... you can tell those people really put a lot of effort into making those floats." Henri commented.
"Right, that's, like, the best thing about this parade! We should try making a float ourselves some time, that way I can spread my holiday cheer with some curry flair!" Colby grinned.
"Yes, I'm sure plenty of people would like the idea of a curry Christmas." Mr. Snugglepuss snarked, but his owner seemed blind to his sarcasm.
"There you are!" Sage scowled, finally coming across the gang. Her midnight-blue hair had grown back to its original length, falling past her waist underneath the cat beanie she wore. "It's been almost an hour since the parade started, you better be ready to fix me plenty of hot chocolate!"
"We will, girl, cool it... heh, that's probably a poor choice of words with the snow and all." the master-in-training joked, earning a playful punch from his best friend.
"But it's nice to see you again, Sage. Should be fun spending the holidays with you." Henri smiled at the bluenette, giving him a blushing one back.
"S-Same to you..."
"Aww, you've only been together for a minute and you're already flirting with each other? All I need's some mistletoe and-" Colby teased, holding back laughter.
"Colby!" the Brazilian and the rosy-cheeked girl shouted, doing little to prevent themselves from blushing more.
"Hah hah, your faces! Oh, man, these next couple days are gonna be something special..."
"Er, whenever you're done chewing the fat, would one of you mind holding me up?" Mr. Snugglepuss stood on his hind legs.
"Got you covered, Mr. Snugglepuss," Sage scooped up the cat, brushing her gloved finger against his purring chin. "And because I know how much you love your chin rubs..."
"Oh, yes... thank you, young lady... Christmas has definitely come early!"
"Say, isn't that Honey and Maple over there?" Henri pointed at the twins standing on a float designed like a fruitcake with their parents, also waving to the crowd.
"Ah, yeah, every year, their family comes up with the most weirdest idea for their floats. Last year, they did boiled custard and now, they're doing fruitcake?" the bluenette perked a thin, blue brow.
"Eh, someone's gotta be brave enough to do it. ...wait, has anyone made a fruitcake float before?" Colby asked.
"Not that I know of."
"Though, it wouldn't be surprising if no one has. It has a rather poor reputation during the holidays." Mr. Snugglepuss explained.
"What's so bad about it? Fruitcake's not really a thing in Brazil, so I'm curious." the boy with the beauty mark asked.
"It's just a nasty-looking, nasty-tasting dessert. People use it more for doorstops and paperweights rather than eat it."
"And it's got candied fruit in it, yuck! I'd rather eat a whole pineapple pizza than a slice of fruitcake. It's just, ugh..." the spiky-haired boy shuddered as he groaned.
"Hey, all you middle-class and lower-class losers!" Honey cried from her float, standing beside a large, lumpy sack. "I know all of you aren't privileged to eat the amazing stuff we have on Christmas, so we thought we'd be generous, for once, and have you guys try these gourmet fruitcakes! Specially prepared by our chefs and they're yours for free! ...though, we may charge you later on. Enjoy!"
At that, Honey reached into the sack and hurled the deep brown bricks of holiday cake, not caring if she struck someone in the face.
"What on earth is that brat doing?" Mr. Snugglepuss observed.
"What else? She's being an insufferable piece of human garbage." Sage sneered with a bitter look, seeing her childhood rival fling fruitcakes freely.
"Yo, Honey's got a pretty insane arm, though," Colby remarked in awe. "You think she plays softball?"
"Colby, shut up!"
"Oh, hohohohohohohohohohohoho! Free fruitcakes for everyone! You get a fruitcake, you get a fruitcake, and YOU get a fruitcake! Everyone's getting a fruitcake! Including you, ya Brazilian lame-o!" the Japanese girl pulled out another fruitcake and aimed it for Henri, tossing it directly at his skull.
"Ow!" Henri wailed, holding his sore head.
"Oh, snap, Hen! You alright, broseph? Quick, how many fingers am I holding up?" Colby shoved two fingers in his step-brother's face.
"Now, that's preposterous. No one in this universe even has five fingers." the feline said.
"And yet, other people do? Man, that is freak-y." the master-in-training winced, shaking his head.
"But we can talk about how Honey is the epitome of spoiled, rich girls? After putting up with that fake sailor idol chick, I forgot how awful she is." Sage grumbled, squeezing Mr. Snugglepuss to show her vexation.
"Are you alright, young man?" Mr. Snugglepuss asked.
"I think so... my head's hurting a little." Henri moaned, still holding his head.
"Let's head back to The Rice Bowl and get some ice. Come on, Col... Colby, what are you doing?!" the rosy-cheeked girl saw her friend munching on a piece of fruitcake he found on the ground.
"Mmm... dang, this isn't half bad! On second thought, I wouldn't mind having this over pineapple pizza!" Colby commented with a grin.
"Ugh, you dork..."
"Though, I wonder if there is such a thing as edible fruitcake." the human-turned-cat pondered.
At The Rice Bowl, the gang sat at the counter with mugs of hot chocolate and Henri nursed the lump on his head with a small bag of ice.
"What would make a fruitcake edible?" Henri asked.
"Simple, you take all the nasty stuff and replace it good stuff like chocolate! Or a nice cream filling!" Colby chirped.
"It can't be that simple," Sage sneered, rolling her eyes. "I think it could have something to do with the dried fruits in it. Maybe we could try making our own fruitcake and see how to make it less disgusting."
"There's a suggestion," Mr. Snugglepuss blinked, sitting on the counter as Maple entered the restaurant. "Ah, Maple, a pleasure to see you, young lady."
"Ey, what brings ya here, Mape?" the master-in-training greeted.
"Please tell me you bruised your lame sister's face for me." the bluenette sighed.
"Sadly, I have not," Maple shook her head, standing in front of the gang. "But I would like to apologize on her behalf. Our parents originally planned for us to hand out the fruitcakes after the parade but no surprise, Honey had to take it a step further and do things her own way. I hope she didn't hit you too hard, Henri."
"Oh, no, heh heh," the Brazilian chuckled meekly, only to grimace in pain. "Ow... I've suffered worse."
"Is that all you wanted to tell us? Wanna sip some hot cocoa with us, Maple?" Colby offered, showing the Japanese girl his red mug of steaming hot chocolate with marshmallows.
"No thanks, I can't stay for long anyway. Just wanted to apologize and invite you all to a Christmas potluck we're having on Christmas Eve, as a consolation." the rich girl explained.
"A Christmas potluck?" Sage questioned, taking a sip of hot chocolate.
"Yes, it's basically a potluck dinner, but with dishes pertaining to the holidays. I expect you to prepare a dish that will be shared with everyone else. I've already invited Cane and Dijon."
"Oh, sweet! Now I got another reason to be pumped about this winter break! You can count on us to make a darn good dish, Mape! You got our word!" Colby grinned in a cheesy manner, darting a thumb at his chest.
"I certainly hope so. That being said, I'll be taking my leave. Looking forward to seeing what you'll make, farewell." Maple smiled at the gang, waving as she left.
"See ya, Mape!"
"Bye, Maple!" Sage waved as well.
"Until then!" Henri also waved, keeping his other hand on his ice pack.
"With that in mind, why don't you prepare your edible fruitcake for the potluck? You only have a few days until Christmas Eve, that's more than enough time to experiment." Mr. Snugglepuss suggested.
"Great idea, Mr. Snuggles! Once we're done with our cocoa, we can head back home and start brainstorming!" Colby replied.
"I'm down for that." Sage nodded.
"Me too... but I think I need to lie down for a bit." the Brazilian groaned.
Back at the step-brothers' house, the gang wasted no time in inventing their edible fruitcake recipe, but they were also making a huge mess in the kitchen. Flour spilled on the counter and floor, many bottles and seasonings were laying around with dirty bowls and spoons. There were even a few spills on the teens' clothes but they didn't mind. After all, getting one's hands and own self dirty was only a part of the enjoyment of cooking.
"Okay, we got apples. Which apples should we use, red delicious or granny smith?" Colby asked, holding the shiny red and light green apples in each hand.
"Don't bother with granny smith, it's much too sour. Red delicious might be the way to go, but I suppose golden delicious could work too." Mr. Snugglepuss answered, sitting on a stool by a counter.
"Roger that, Mr. Cat. Are the first couple cakes finished, Sage?" Henri started, peeling a few red apples as he glanced at the bluenette by the oven.
"They look like it," Sage replied, placing two freshly baked fruitcakes on the stove. "The first one's without the fruit, right?"
"Yep, and the other's got less molasses than usual. Let 'em cool for a few and we'll taste-test 'em." the master-in-training instructed, grabbing a bowl to start another batch.
Came from Uncle Dad after he stumbled to the ramshackle kitchen. Tilting his glasses, the uncle let his eyes wander around the cake-y, liquid-y, powdery mess than made its territory. He knew kids could be very messy when given any sort of staining substance, but this spectacle really took the cake. In more ways than one.
"Looks like a freakin' bakery exploded in here. What are you kids supposed to be doing, worsening my headache?" Uncle Dad complained, hearing a cheerful laugh from his nephew.
"Nah, Uncle Dad, we're makin' fruitcakes! See, our rich friend's got this pot-luck coming up- Colby started for his step-brother to finish.
"And we're hoping to impress her and the other guests with a fruitcake that's actually worth eating!" Henri grinned.
"Worth eating? ...wow, a couple fruitcakes making fruitcakes. Gotta love the irony in that." the bespectacled male snarked.
"And what brings you here? You've already run out of sitcoms to marathon? Haven't had enough beer to guzzle down?" Mr. Snugglepuss sneered.
"None of your business, you lousy cat. I could care less about your baking, but this kitchen better be spotless when you're done. I know I'm not cleaning up after you pesky kids."
"You say that like you've ever cleaned up anything."
"How about this? We'll clean the kitchen, but you have to be our taste-tester. Sound like a deal?" Sage proposed.
"Whatever. What do I have to taste?" Uncle Dad huffed as the rosy-cheeked girl started cutting a few slices of fruitcake, handing one to him.
"You can start with this, it's a fruitless version of fruitcake."
"Fruitless? Doesn't that ruin the purpose of calling it fruitcake?"
"Just try it."
Taking a bite of the fruitless fruitcake, the uncle chewed on it for a bit and swallowed, wearing the same indifferent expression.
"Heh, it's not terrible. Even if you get rid of all the fruits in a fruitcake, it still lacks the things that make it, well, a fruitcake." Uncle Dad explained.
"We hear ya, Uncle Dad. Now, try the one with less molasses!" Colby chirped as Sage handed the man a slice of the other fruitcake.
"Here we go... meh, doesn't taste that different to me. I mean, it's less disgusting, but eh..."
"Welp, thanks, Uncle Dad. Guess it's back to the drawing board. Oh, that reminds me, I got some Brazil nuts I was gonna use for a chicken recipe I wanted to make for Christmas dinner. Let me grab those." Henri jogged out of the kitchen to his room.
"Welp, it's back to watching TV for me. You got some more things for me to stomach, let me know." Uncle Dad grumbled, making his way to the living room.
"And he's off..." Mr. Snugglepuss watched the male trudge back to his recliner.
"Geez, I never seen such a depressing walk in my life," Sage shook her head, turning to Colby, sampling some fruitcake himself. "What's the plan now?"
"Keep experimenting, duh! Say, why don't we ask Cane for his two cents? He's big on sweets and stuff. If anyone's got a foolproof method for making delicious fruitcake, it's gotta be him." the spiky-haired boy suggested.
"Why? Did you forget that he's going to be at the potluck too? We have to keep our recipe a secret until then."
"Also, he probably has his own recipe for fruitcake. One we'll never to be able to top." the feline added.
"That too." the bluenette nodded.
Two more hours passed and the gang was still unsuccessful in finding their edible fruitcake recipe. After cleaning up the kitchen, they decided to call it a day and resume their experimenting the following afternoon. Colby went into the creative process with high hopes while Henri couldn't help but share his positive attitude. Though, Sage and Mr. Snugglepuss were a little doubtful as Colby expected. They wondered if creating their ideal fruitcake would end up being a lost cause, but the master-in-training used their negativity as a confidence booster as always.
In the step-brothers' kitchen, the gang was more careful about being tidy, having less bowls and spilling less ingredients this time. Sage just pulled out another fruitcake from the oven, one with dried lemon and orange peels, seasoned with ginger and cumin. Giving it a minute to cool, Colby took the liberty of sampling a piece.
"And for the verdict," the spiky-haired boy bit into the piece, taking quick breaths through his mouth. "Ah, still hot, still hot! ...eh, that's a little better."
"Let me try some." Henri also grabbed a piece while Sage did the same.
"Me too," the bluenette ate some of the fruitcake and chewed carefully, contorting her face in disgust. "Ugh, the cumin just ruins it for me. It's so spicy and out of place, whose bright idea was it to add cumin to this?"
"Definitely not mine. This one's another dud, should we trash it?"
"Without a doubt, trash it."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Hold on, you're just gonna throw it away without asking if I wanna keep it?!" Colby tried to stop the Brazilian from tossing the fruitcake in the trash.
"You actually liked that, Colb?" Henri perked a thick brow in question.
"No surprise, cumin's a spice you'd typically find in curry." Mr. Snugglepuss chimed in, sitting on the stool again.
"And we all know that I'm the Prince of Curry, so let me have the rest of it!" the master-in-training begged.
"Alright, Colb, it's all yours." the mahogany-haired boy handed the fruitcake to his sibling, putting on a victorious grin.
"I'll never understand your taste in desserts... that's, like, the third recipe that failed today. Anyone got another idea that hopefully won't suck?" Sage yawned, rubbing her eyes.
"Do you have any dried cranberries?" the human-turned-feline questioned.
"Uh... we should. Should we add that next?" Henri already started looking through the cabinets.
"Found 'em!" Colby held up a package of dried cranberries and waved it around. "Hen, start making that batter!"
"On it, Colby!"
"How much should we add? A cup, two cups?" Sage asked, helping Henri put together more cake batter by adding ingredients while he stirred them in.
"I would make a cake with one and a half a cup of cranberries and another with two cups." Mr. Snugglepuss answered.
"Awesome, and what goes with cranberries? ...uh..." the blond began rummaging through the cabinets again.
"Oh, shoot! ...not cinnamon, I hope 'cause I think I spilled about a tablespoon in that." the rosy-cheeked girl pouted at her mistake, staring at the small pool of golden brown spice in the bowl.
"Actually, cranberries and cinnamon are a fairly common pairing when it comes to baking. Vanilla is another flavor that complements it." the feline explained.
"And it's a good thing I got some vanilla extract! I'll hand that to you guys." Colby handed a small brown bottle to Sage.
"Hopefully, your input will help in the long run, Mr. Cat. We're pretty much desperate at this point." Henri continued to stir the batter with the vanilla extract being added in.
"Then, you're lucky you have a cat that's knowledgeable when it comes to fruit... I love putting my expertise to use." Mr. Snugglepuss snobbishly turned up his snout.
With the two cakes baked in the oven, they were taken out and ready to be tasted by the teens.
"Welp, this is it... time to see if your fruity brain came through for us, Mr. Snuggies." Colby glanced at his cat suspiciously.
"How about you refrain from calling me another sleazy pet name and try it already." Mr. Snugglepuss rolled his lime-green eyes.
"Don't have to tell us twice!"
That being said, the teens all ate a piece of the cranberry fruitcake, infused with vanilla and cinnamon. They were all silent as they took care in tasting every bit of it.
"Holy cow, this is actually... pretty good!" Henri grinned brightly at the others. "The cinnamon and vanilla go really well with cranberries, the more you know!"
"Finally, a fruitcake that doesn't give me the urge to puke! This would be even better with eggnog!" Sage chirped, about to rush to the fridge. "Wait, do you have some? Please tell me you do."
"This is literally the closest thing to the perfect edible fruitcake and it's all thanks to you, Mr. Snuggle-Wuggles! Have I ever told you that you're my favoritest cat in the whole, entire universe?" Colby smiled at his pet affectionately.
"I'd say you're my favorite owner, but I'm not insane. You're all welcome, by the way. Wish I had more time to work as a baker before my incident. At least, you have just the thing to present at the potluck." Mr. Snugglepuss said.
"No doubt about it! Awesome job, pals! To making a fruitcake worth munching on!" the spiky-haired boy raised one of his hands at his friends.
"To doing the impossible!" Henri also raised a hand.
"And to not losing our minds and taste buds doing it!" Sage followed suit, sharing a high-five with the boys.
"Hey, either you take your high-fiving somewhere else or get me another beer!" Uncle Dad shouted from the living room.
The gang couldn't be more excited about attending the twins' Christmas potluck. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, they all arrived at the mansion decked in semi-formal outfits. Colby donned a bright red dress shirt with black jeans, still wearing the black and white boots he received. Henri had on a green and white turtleneck sweater and dark denim jeans and for Sage, a silver hand-knit sweater dress with black leggings and flats. Mr. Snugglepuss sported a collar that almost resembled a Christmas wreath, following the teens escorted to the dining room by the twins' butler. Also there was Dijon, out of his wheelchair and back to having brownish-black hair that went past his waist, wearing a black sweater over a white undershirt. Cane happened to be there as well, having a blue-violet sweater under a dark blue vest, swapping his purple blindfold for a silver one.
"Is that everyone, Joseph?" Maple asked, standing by the dining table in a pink cardigan sweater and brown skirt that fell to her knees.
"I believe so, Miss. Maple." the butler nodded, standing by the entrance of the room.
"Excellent. Everyone, I am so glad you could join us for this fine meal. Honey and I, well, mostly me, have meticulously planned this dinner since the beginning of fall and we hope that everything is to your liking."
"By that she means, if you don't like anything, don't whine to us about it! You got that?!" Honey folded her arms, donning a light green elbow-sleeved sweater with an open, white vest.
"Er, thank you, Honey... without further ado, let's begin the potluck. Did anyone bring any appetizers?" the elder Japanese twin asked.
"I did," Cane presented a platter of round, tan brown crackers, joined by a side of light pink sauce with orange specks stirred in. "These are gingerbread crackers with a cranberry orange spread. You can either spread it on or dip it in, I don't mind. Do what works for you."
"Ooh, it's like the hor d'oeurve version of a gingerbread cookie! Sweet idea, Cane! Heh heh..." Colby chuckled, helping himself to the crackers.
"I never thought that cranberry could be paired with orange. That's news even for me." Mr. Snugglepuss remarked.
"While we're having that, why don't we go around and present the rest of the dishes. Starting with me," Maple showed off a roasted brown, succulent duck, having yet to be sliced. "I knew I had to make my Chinese roast duck, a family favorite during the holidays. It's been roasted in a closed oven to properly bring out its tenderness and juiciness."
"Looks so good, my mouth's already watering. I thought I'd only eat chicken for the rest of my life but after seeing this, I may have to reconsider." Henri beamed.
"Wait, is that the same duck you texted me about last Thanksgiving?" Sage asked as her friend happily nodded.
"The same one. Now, you all have the honor of trying it." Maple smirked.
"Oh, get over yourself. You act like your duck is god's gift to cooking when it clearly isn't, but my dish on the other hand..." Honey presented a burnt red soup with shrimp, mussels, and lobster. "...is the only thing you'll wanna drool over. It's called cioppino, if you know anything about Italian cuisine, you know how important this stew is."
"Looks exquisite, but it's nothing more than a wannabe bouillabaisse to me. For my dish, I've decided to combine my fondness for French and Japanese cuisine once again and create this French version of kara-age, Japanese fried chicken," Dijon showed everyone a platter of small golden brown, fried pieces of chicken with a set of dipping sauces. "What makes it French is that I've used Bresse chicken, only the finest, most expensive chicken you can find in France, if not, the world."
"What did you guys make?" Cane asked the gang, all eager to share.
"Glad you asked, my ninja broski!" Colby presented the cranberry fruitcake they've made on a platter. "We have partaken the challenge of creating an edible fruitcake and here's the result!"
"It's made with dried cranberries and has cinnamon and vanilla to help bring out the flavor." Henri explained.
"And we even added icing with powdered sugar on top as a bonus. It's a winner for us and hopefully, it'll be a winner for you guys." Sage smiled.
"Ooh, it does look rather tantalizing..." Maple remarked, looking at the fruitcake as she licked her lips a little.
"Agreed, and it looks more appetizing than your average fruitcake. Why, it doesn't look like one at all!" the half-French model exclaimed.
"Pfft, it's probably a ruse. It may look less nasty, but it's probably nastier than regular fruitcake." Honey sneered.
"Still, it seems like something I can really sink my teeth into. Especially without all those gross dried fruits." the stoic said with a slight twitch of the shoulders.
"Say, Cane, that reminds me. You're, like, the ninja expert on desserts and stuff, any chance you got your own fruitcake recipe?" Colby questioned as Cane grimaced and shook his head.
"No way, of course not. Just the thought of having one makes my insides wanna tie themselves in knots. I may be a dessert lover, and a proud one at that, but if there's one thing I refuse to put near or in my mouth, it's fruitcake."
"Geez, that's how you know fruitcake's bad when you of all people don't like it, ninja dude." the Brazilian observed with a chuckle.
"Nah, it's not that I don't like it, I hate it. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to eat some, it's just... okay, can we stop talking about my vendetta towards fruitcake and eat already?"
"Yes, that sounds like the best idea. Thanks to everyone who helped put together this meal and now... let the potluck feast begin." Maple smiled with a nod, inviting everyone to fill their plates with the dishes.
It really was a time to eat, drink, and be merry together. Being around loved ones during the holidays may be important but when gathered together with food, it felt more special than any gift they've received. Overall, the potluck went very well and surprisingly, the gang's fruitcake seemed to be a hit with the guests... even Honey, who tried not to express it. After the meal, the group played a holiday version of charades and did karaoke with Christmas songs. Sure, they made a lot of clamor that the twins' parents had to step in to complain but the teens could care less. Nothing would keep them from enjoying an evening of holiday fun and food with friends. A very, merry Christmas Eve, and soon Christmas, to them.
And that concludes Done Like Dinner, one of the more fun, action-packed, dramatic, and just plain absurd things I've ever written. It sucks to know that this is the end of the series, but I've got some good news for you DLD fans... which I'm guessing is two or three of you. I've mentioned about halfway through the story that I've been working on a spin-off of sorts with Colby and Sage's kids called À La Carte, that will be posted on January 15, 2019 and updated every Tuesday. Until then, you can check out the rest of my stories, leave a comment telling me what you liked and what you didn't like, and what could've been done better. Thank you to everyone who checked out the story and here's hoping that À La Carte will be just as well-liked as this. As for now, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.