Bundt or Nothing

Written by Maggie the Cat

"...it could be hot French semen for all I know!"

Kay skidded to a stop just inside the breakroom door, her face freezing in an expression of disgust. "Ah, jeez, guys," she said, "can't you keep the locker-room stories for the locker room? Some of us come in here to /eat/, y'know!"

Kellerman blinked innocently at her as Lewis guffawed into his sleeve. "Sorry, Sarge," Mike said affably. "I was just telling Meldrick a joke."

"That's okay, don't bother explaining to me--I'm sure I really don't wanna know." Kay rummaged around in the refrigerator before locating a small Tupperware bottle and extracting it with pleasure. She poured herself a massive cup of coffee and gently added some of the milk from the bottle, watching carefully as the coffee lightened and swirled into a pale caramel color.

"Whose turn is it today?" She leaned against the counter and whiffed contentedly at the steam rising from her mug as Mike punched Meldrick in the arm.

"Lewis'," he said disdainfully.

"Ain't my fault none a' you all got taste," Meldrick said laconically, propping his feet up on the table.

Kay and Mike shared a grimace. "What is it /this/ time?" she asked. "Not more Bundt cake, I hope. Gad, I can't stand that stuff...."

"Comes from being a law enforcement officer for too many years, Kay." Munch wandered in, crossing over to the counter, and shuffled around the sugar, stir-sticks, and paper cups aimlessly. "We're trained to want doughnuts and doughnuts alone. No cake, no pie, no cookie or strudel will do. Well, the occasional danish, but that's it."

"I /like/ strudel," Meldrick objected. Munch raised an eloquent eyebrow.

"I rest my case."

"Yeah, what's wrong with doughnuts, Meldrick?" Mike sat forward in his chair. "How hard can it be to stop off at Dunkin' Donuts or something and pick up a dozen assorted? I mean, sure, they won't have those maple-frosted ones you're queer for, but--"

"/Maple/?" Kay pulled a face before downing some more of her coffee. "Maple belongs in pancake syrup and that's about it."

"Shows how much /you/ know, Howard." Meldrick swung his feet off the table, sparing an irritated glance for Kellerman before addressing the Sergeant. "There's maple cookies, maple sugar, maple candies, maple ice-cream...damn near anything you can /think/ of, they got one with maple in it."

"Is this a little something you learned on your vacation to exotic Toronto?" Munch wanted to know.

Meldrick sniffed. "As a matter of fact, yeah." Bracing his hands against his thighs, he stood up forcefully and came over to the counter, elbowing Munch aside. "Now if you don't mind, Munch, I'm gonna have some coffee."

"Be my guest."

Mike snickered. "We don't have any maple milk, though."

"You guys are e-vil." Affronted, Meldrick rather over-enthusiastically poured himself a paper cupful of coffee, slopping it over the rim and scalding his hand. He then proceeded to do a little dance of pain while Munch and Kay tried to find ice to put on the burn.

"There's no ice," Mike offered helpfully from his seat. "Meldrick used it all in his iced tea yesterday and didn't refill the trays."

Kay threw up her hands in resignation and collected her coffee mug, sitting down across from Kellerman. Meldrick sulkily nursed his injured hand, Munch patting his shoulder in a concilatory--if amused--manner.

"Hoist by your own petard, my friend," he crowed.

"Screw you, Munchkin."

"Is that fresh coffee I smell?" Frank breezed into the breakroom, tucking his scarlet scarf into his pocket and flicking up his mug in one smooth gesture. Tim followed close behind, stifling a yawn as his partner poured with satisfaction. "I haven't had a cup all morning and I'm starting to feel decidedly...."

"Cranky?" Tim opened the fridge and bent double to look inside.

Frank pursed his lips over the brim of the mug. "I was going to say 'thirsty', actually."

"You don't drink coffee because you're thirsty," Mike scoffed from the table. "It's got caffeine. It makes you need to go to the bathroom. You drink /water/ when you're thirsty."

"Or juice," Kay chimed in.

"Nah." Meldrick shook his head, then his seared hand. "Water's better."

"What's wrong with juice?"

"It don't.../absorb/ right. In fact--" Meldrick sat down heavily next to Mike, who was listening with interest, "--in fact, you give juice to your kids, and they grow up fat."

"Ahhh, come /on/." Kay grimaced in disbelief. "I lived on apple juice when I was a kid. It's healthy!"

"Is there /ever/ any milk in here?" Tim's voice echoed from the recesses of the fridge. Much to the amusement of Frank, who was standing beside him, Tim then proceeded to wedge his upper half further into the refrigerator in his quest.

"Don't get stuck," Frank cautioned mildly.

"Hey, Tim--if you come across a pastrami and provolone on sourdough, it's mine," Munch called.

Tim grunted, wiggling around some more. "Anything I find in here, Munch, you wouldn't want to eat," he said. "Does this thing ever get cleaned out?" He tossed out a white styrofoam container and Frank read the name that was penmarked into the lid.

"It's yours, Kellerman. From the Phoenician Deli."

Mike screwed up his face. "I haven't been there for three weeks!"

"Finding anything else interesting in there, Timmy?" Munch craned his neck in a vain attempt to see past Tim into the fridge. "The Holy Grail? The Lindbergh baby? Jimmy Hoffa?"

"Gah!" Tim withdrew in a flurry of trenchcoat, holding a sandwich bag filled with something gooey and squishy-looking. "I think I found a piece of Meldrick's wedding cake!"

Munch flicked his eyebrows in repugnance. "Ugh--I'll pass."

Shaking her head, Kay addressed Tim, who had deposited the squidgy bag in the trash and was scrubbing at his fingers with rapidly-shredding paper towel even though they were perfectly clean. "I've got some vanilla milk in the fridge, Tim. You can have some, if you want."

"Sarge!" Mike feigned hurt. "You been holding out on us?"

"Just /you/, Kellerman," Frank cut in. "Because the rest of us /do/ occasionally make a milk run--even if we don't drink it," he finished, forestalling Mike's protests.

"Hey, thanks, Kay." Tim found the Tupperware bottle and messily splashed a dollop into his coffee, licking his fingers as he circled around Frank to the pastry box. "Whose turn?"

"Meldrick's," three voices chorused. Lewis looked belligerent and folded his arms.

Frank grinned as Tim's fingers halted inches above the box's lid. "Do you dare, bunkie?" he intoned. "After the previous debacles of orange layer cake, chocolate-chip-mint cookies, and "Tunnel O'Fudge" Bundt cake, are you prepared to see what kind of gastronomic terrorism Detective Lewis is serving up today?"

"Hmmmm." Tim frowned, indecisive. "I...hmmm."

"/What/ is the big deal?" Meldrick finally exploded. "I'm not gonna /poison/ you, Timmy! Y'all are hurting my feelings, y'know!"

Mike waved him off. "Shut up, Meldrick--we wanna see if he's man enough to face the pastry." He grinned, blinking nineteen to the dozen, as Tim's fingers slowly headed for the lip of the box.

Kay finished her cup of coffee and, biting back a smile, quietly said, "Put my milk back in the fridge, Tim."

Tim bounced back from the box, smiling around. "Sure! Sure, Kay. Right away." He sprang over to the fridge with what could only be called unmitigated relief as Giardello entered the breakroom, heading straight for the brightly-colored box on the counter.

"Uh, Gee--" Frank began.

"Don't get in my way, Frank," the lieutenant warned. "My blood sugar is dangerously low. I need sweet and I need it now!"

The detectives watched as Gee opened the box, dipped his enormous hand in, and came out with a small custard tart. He beamed around at them, the silver foil balanced on the tips of his fingers.

"I love egg tarts," he announced. "Detective Lewis is the only one who knows how to order them in Chinese." Giardello turned his beatific smile on Meldrick, who was looking distinctly smug. "Thank you, Meldrick."

"Ain't no thing, Gee."

The silence held until Giardello was safely back in his office. Mike was the first one to pipe up, "/Egg/ tarts?"

"Yeah." Meldrick sniffed and shook out the Metro section of the newspaper with great aplomb. "They're Chinese custard tarts."

"Nothing weird in them?" Munch asked, uncertainly. "No jellyfish, or prunes, or beef jerky?"


"Well," Tim said, glancing at Frank, "I knew it'd be okay. In fact, if I didn't need to put Kay's milk in the fridge, I would've had one before Gee came in. I was /going/ to."

"Yeah, /sure/, Tim." Meldrick stood up, folding the paper. "You're a real hero."

End =====