"Half a dozen eggs." The inside of the Consulate refrigerator was so empty that Fraser's voice echoed. "That's promising."
"They couldn't have left us two slices of pizza or something from their New Year's Eve party, could they?" Ray ate a stale corn chip out of the bowl on the counter. "Well, fine. Gimme the eggs and I'll scramble 'em."
"I think I may be able to come up with something better." Fraser put a milk carton on the counter. Ray shook it. It had maybe a swallow of milk left in it.
"So what were you supposed to have been doing tonight?"
"Dinner and dancing with Laura Reilly." Fraser frowned down at the caterers' trays. He picked up a mostly eaten hunk of cheese, sniffed it, and added it to the pitifully small pile of food on the counter, then began picking through the wreckage of a plate of raw vegetables.
"Bet she was thrilled." Ray bit into a wrinkly black olive and then spat it into a napkin quick as he could. Didn't taste like any olive he'd ever had. "Probably forgive you when she hears the reason, though. 'Sorry to run off in the middle of a waltz, but I hadda go down to the dock and grab a shipment of baby dolls that turned out to be stuffed with heroin.' "
"I doubt I'll get the chance to make an explanation. This was the third date to be interrupted by the exigencies of law enforcement, and I believe Laura operates her dating life on a baseball metaphor."
Ray barked out a laugh. "Sorry," he said. "Been there."
"I'm sure you have." Fraser didn't look too upset, and Ray knew his body language pretty well by now. "There should be a knife in the drawer you're leaning against -- that one. Thank you." He tackled a pile of green onions from the raw-vegetable tray. Geez, raw onions on a kissing holiday -- no wonder there were so many of them left. "What were you doing when the call came in?"
"Get-together with a couple friends from high school. Want me to beat these eggs?" When Fraser nodded, he started cracking shells. "You want to know the truth, I was kind of glad to get out of there. Thought it would be fun to hang out with the old crowd, you know? People I had something in common with?"
Fraser pushed the milk carton at him, and he sniffed what was left of the milk and then poured it in with the eggs. "Only we've all seen the same movies and we all listen to the same music and we all grew up in the same neighborhood, and after a while it was like there was no point in talking because we all knew what everybody was gonna say. Boring."
He looked up, ready to say something about how you hung around with freaks long enough and it was no fun to be with the normal people, but Fraser had his head in one of the cabinets and was making unhappy noises. It was really kind of strange to see him -- or the back half of him, anyway -- in a suit. Though Ray'd already known he cleaned up nice.
"I was sure that there was a skillet of some sort," Fraser said at last, closing all the top cabinet doors and starting on the bottom cabinets. The Consulate had a schmancy kitchen like on a cooking show, but most of the shelves were usually empty. "Perhaps Turnbull has borrowed it again. I suppose we'll have to make do." And he put a cheap metal pie pan on the stove and turned on the gas.
It went in looking like an omelet and came out looking like a pie, and then Fraser started breaking up cheese cubes on top of it with his hands, and even that was like watching a cooking show. "What is that, anyway?" Ray said.
"I don't think it really has a name. I suppose it's a makeshift frittata of some description." Fraser stuck it in one of the little ovens on either side of the big oven.
"And what do you call this meal? Where you didn't get any dinner and you're eating a -- frittata -- at four o'clock in the morning? Deckfast? Brinner?" Fraser smiled, so he kept going. "Cop meal, for sure. Grab what you can find any time you got a couple minutes standing still."
It wasn't bad, whatever it was. A lot more like a real meal than scrambled eggs would have been. Good company, Fraser telling some sort of tale about eating ptarmigan eggs, even though Ray was pretty sure that every animal that started with that p-tuh sound was extinct. It was good to be in here eating -- frittata -- instead of out there making more work for the patrol crew or back home sleeping the sleep of the soused, with an aching head waiting for him in the morning.
They didn't even bother to wash up, since the catering staff was due back sometime in the afternoon to clean up the whole mess. Fraser poked around out in the ballroom and came back with a bottle of champagne that still had some bubbles left in it, and Ray hunted through the cabinets until he came up with one wine glass and one juice glass, and Fraser poured out what was left in the bottle.
"What holiday is it, even?" Ray said. "Not New Year's Eve any more, but you can't really call it New Year's Day till it's actual day." He grinned at Fraser. "Cop holiday."
Fraser nodded, smiling. "Happy whatever, Ray."
"Same to you, buddy." Ray took a swallow of champagne. It was really too flat to bother with. He was putting the glass down on the counter when Fraser surprised him with a hand on his shoulder, and when he looked up, Fraser put an arm around him and gave him a one-sided hug.
Sweet, he thought -- Fraser was just a big red-coated marshmallow, sometimes. He swung around and turned it into a real hug, because Fraser deserved both arms. Fraser held him tight for a second and then loosened his arms.
It was mostly pure orneriness that made him hang on after Fraser started to let go. Mostly.
Fraser's arms dropped down for a moment, and then they came back up again, and this time it went on long enough that it wasn't exactly a hug, because it was more like Fraser was holding him.
"What do you call this?" he murmured to the hair behind Fraser's ear. But he was pretty sure he knew.
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon of spice (depending on your taste, use dill, oregano, basil, sage, or leave out altogether)
2 tablespoons butter, margarine, shortening, or oil
1/2 cup vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, spinach, green peas, Kalamata olives, or any combination)
1/4 cup onion, green onion, or shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 cup grated or crumbled cheese (feta, if available, or any good melting cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey jack, Gruyere)
1/4 cup diced red pepper or tomato, for garnish (optional)
Lightly beat eggs and milk. Add salt, pepper, and spices if using. Set aside.
Thaw frozen vegetables, if using. Drain well.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil or butter over medium heat. Sautee onion and garlic until softened; if your vegetable is one that benefits from sauteeing (such as mushrooms and peppers), add it and sautee until softened. Remove onions and cooked vegetables to small bowl to cool slightly. Mix with eggs. Add raw and frozen vegetables, if using.
Add 1 tablespoon oil or butter to skillet and heat over medium heat. Add egg-vegetable mixture and cook until set. Use a spatula to lift up the edges, letting the raw egg run underneath, until the entire dish is almost cooked.
Sprinkle with cheese. Broil 6" from broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly and top of egg mixture is cooked.
Cut into wedges and garnish with red pepper or tomato.
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November 11, 2003