Ben was showing Bill the new library model he had finished in his last architecture class before the break- yeah! he was on break now!- when Richie and Bev busted down the door with arms full of bags.
"MOTHER-" Bev started.
"FUCKING-" Richie yelled.
"CHRISTMAS COOKIES," they finished in unison, grinning and trying to high-five each other. Ben was almost positive they had both planned it.
God, he loved them.
Eddie was peering over the top of his laptop screen. "What in the actual hell have you gone and done? Stan and I asked for bananas! To make banana bread! Not-" Richie placed a finger over Eddie's lips.
"Shh, Eddie, my love. All will be revealed once Stanley gets his BUTT DOWN HERE! THIS INSTANT , YOUNG MAN!" Richie shrieked, sounding a lot like the mom in Home Alone.
Stanley marched down the stairs in his neatly ironed shirt and tight belt and khaki pants, looking like he was going to help Richie draft his will instead of just spend a lazy day around the house.
" What do you want , Richie, I'm trying to finish up my New Year's Resolution and get to the end of my forty-ninth pleasure book, and you're screeching like a goddamned banshee."
"We're making Christmas cookies as a group, Stan, and it's mandatory."
"Cool. I'm fucking Jewish, and right in the middle of The Goldfinch, which a book about gays and birds- two of my favorite literary topics- and I'd really like to get back to it-"
"We got Hannukah cookie cutters too!" Bev jumps in, waving a pack of cookie cutters shaped like dreidels and Stars of David and hannukiahs.
"Please, Stan?" Bill asked, having straightened up from looking at Ben's model. "It'll be fun, and it's not as fun doing things with just six of us."
Ben watched in amusement as a blush slowly stained Stan's face and he finally sighed, setting his book on the table. "Fine. Let me change, though."
"So," Ben said, hopping up while Stanley went upstairs to get ready, "What do we have here?"
"Okay!" Bev said, clearly excited. "We have flour and butter and eggs and vanilla, and margarine and baking powder because according to Stan you can never substitute in baking. And then we have what Richie calls the 'fun exciting shit', which is all the icings and decorations!"
"Yeah okay so we have peppermint drops! Sprinkles! Icing in lots of funky colors!" Richie narrated as he unpacked the bags, doing his '60s car salesman voice. "We've got cookie cutters shaped like sweaters so we can make ugly Christmas sweater cookies! We've got the deluxe Hannukah cookie pack! We've got those edible pearls, we've got-"
"Okay! Got it," Ben said, laughing. Stan had come into the kitchen at this point in his "casual outfit", which consisted of an old polo shirt and jeans. Bill was sitting on the counter in his flannel, examining the sprinkles, and Eddie and Mike were already setting up the mixing station.
"So, I'm going to leave it to Mike and Eddie to make the cookie dough, and we can all roll it out in a few minutes," Bev said, having apparently taken charge of the entire situation.
"What can the rest of us doooooooooooooooo," Richie whined. "I'm going to get bored just standing here while Edward Spaghedward and Michael... Bicheal meticulously measure out exactly sixteen and one-eighths teaspoons of salt or whateverthefuck."
"Sixteen and one-eighths teaspoon? Rich, that's the most ridiculous measurement that you could have pulled out of your ass- DON"T YOU DARE MAKE A JOKE ABOUT THAT-"
"Hey, Richie!" Ben said in an attempt to diffuse the tension. "Let's go watch Netflix until the cookies are done!"
"Fine," Richie said, but he was beaming.
Ben selected one of their collective favorite Office episodes: Dinner Party. Richie recited the whole thing practically from memory and Bev joined in to duet from the dining room, where she was setting up the decorating stations.
"That one night!"
"You made everything all righttttttttt!"
"Ooh-ooh-ooh!" Ben added and they all laughed.
The cookies took eight minutes to bake, which was enough time to hurriedly tidy the kitchen and wash their hands and then begin.
Ben snagged one of the sweater cookies and started to pipe red frosting onto it. He had a vision, and it was going to come through, and he was going to win this nonexistent competition or have fun trying. Bev helped him flood the icing and let it harden, and then he did black frosting to make it look like a string of lights complete with little pearls for lights. Heck yeah.
Bev's sweater was the most intricate. She had reading glasses on! She didn't even wear reading glasses! There was a lot of crouching and looking at the cookie from another angle, and a lot of switching to a smaller piping tip. Once she finished- a masterpiece of patterns and piped lace- she declared that it was the greatest thing she would ever create and ate it in two bites.
Mike did a Santa hat one, with the usual red hat and white brim with sprinkles and a buttercream puff on the top. He had made a lot of Santa hats, actually, and Ben asked if he could help him make more, and they decided to make as many as possible and give them to some of the neighbors (they had never met any of their neighbors despite living at the house for two years). Richie and Eddie thoroughly disapproved of this plan: "What if they try to come and talk to us, Haystack?" "Beep beep, we're being nice."
Stanley did a simple Star of David and then a Santa hat, and then Bev helped him do an extremely detailed Hannukiah that went in the very center of the plate.
Richie and Eddie's were, without a doubt, hot messes of cookies. Like, half an inch of icing and every decoration known to man. Richie managed to eat two of them in a minute and then ask Mike if they can order pizza.
"Richie, are you kidding me," Mike sighs as he picks up the phone. Mistake!
"Cheesecheesecheese" Bev and Richie chanted while Bill shouted "Get sausage and pepperoni on half!" and Stan calls "Just olives for me, I need to change," and Ben tried to calm them all down by yelling "Shut up! All of you!" and then Mike plugged his other ear, glared at them all, and said "I am so sorry! One moment!" with a look that could have probably decimated Richie and Eddie (who was currently trying to physically wrestle Richie to the ground) on the spot.
Mike headed up the stairs and Ben heard him say one medium cheese and one small pepperoni-sausage and one medium veggie pizza and the address and thank you! See you then!
"You fucking heathens," he sighed as he tossed his phone down the stairs and onto the couch. "I think I'll shower now, pizza'll be here in like twenty minutes? If it gets here before I get out, Ben's in charge." Then he headed upstairs.
Bill headed into the kitchen to finish cleaning with Eddie, and Richie and Bev settled in to watch Tik Tok compilations on Richie's phone, and Mike's phone started buzzing.
They ignored it.
It buzzed again. Ben looked over the top of his copy of The Hobbit and they kept ignoring it.
It buzzed again and Ben looked over the top of his copy of The Hobbit and said "look, just answer it. It's probably a telemarketer."
Bev confirmed that it was some random number from Brooklyn, and then she said "Haha, watch me wreck this loser," and picked up the phone. She put it on speaker and in her best impression of Kermit the Frog (which wasn't great but still better than Richie's) she said "Hello? Who the fuck is this?"
"This... is... your pizza delivery man..." came a very confused voice from the other end. "Is... is this Michael Hanlon?"
Bev hung up so quickly.
Ben and Richie were laughing in gasps and wheezes, and Bill and Eddie called from the kitchen to see what was wrong. Richie was, like, on the floor, shaking with silent laughter, and Bev had honest-to-god tears in her eyes and a bright red tint to her face.
"Uh, is this not Michael Hanlon?" Richie said in his best impression of the dude and that set them off again. Ben calmed down first.
"Let me call him back," he said pointedly and redialed the number.
"Um, yes, this is... Michael. I'm so sorry about my younger sister," he said in what he thought was a good Mike Impression. "ANyways, is there an issue?"
The address was wrong, that was all, and once Bill went out to get the pizza and paid they were all calm again.
"Never tell the others about that, though," Bev whispered. "I would never live it down."
They ate on the floor after lighting another candle- Eddie's turn- and saying the prayers, and then they polished off most of the cookies and then Richie complained of a stomachache and had to take a TUMS. Mike gave Stan his present- all the Losers had given Stan a present on one of the nights so far, Bev's bowtie and Ben's jigsaw puzzle and Eddie's lightweight jacket- and Stanley was so excited he almost started to read the nook right there on the living-room floor.
And then when Bev curled up next to Ben in his bed without a second thought, and they chatted quietly about a book they had both read, and Ben drifted off to sleep with her hair kind of covering his mouth, he decided that December 16 had been a pretty excellent day.