A ship bobbed in the water off the shores of New York. Fog shrouded the vessel, giving it an eerie affect. The masts of the ship were lost in the wisps of the mist. Through the haze, the light of the full moon cast a strange light onto the deck.

Silently, two men were stealthily rowing out to meet the ship. Dressed in black, against the dark wooden dingy, it was difficult if not impossible to make them out.

As they neared the boat the shorter, fairer man whispered, “Are you sure she’s aboard this ship?”

After pausing for a second the darker man replied, “She has to be. Your brother, Robert the Rat, swears he saw Gingerbread take her from her home last night. Where else would she be except on the Catch Me If You Can?”

“Well, Robert has been known to confuse things in the past,” Martin the Lexicon Belden said. He didn’t look like the typical rugged first mate of a sailing ship. He wore his blond hair trimmed short and shaved every day. His clothing never had holes in it. It wasn’t that he didn’t do any work; he just had a sister who would patch them when they did. Of course, he had to pay dearly for that.

“I can’t believe she was kidnapped,” Captain Daniel Mangan of the Straight Arrow said. “We had people watching her and even you’ve got to admit that she’s been careful. After all those years with her family telling her to think before she acted, she’s finally started to do so.”

“Daniel, old man,” Martin said. “You have been spending too much time in the company of our neighbor, the fair Miss Madeleine Wheeler. That was Honeyspeak at its best.”

They made it to the Catch Me If You Can and tied off the dingy to the vessel. Daniel held a finger to his lips. He listened for a few minutes. When he didn’t hear anything, he looked up and then began to scale the side of the ship. When he reached the top, he hoisted himself over the rail and tried to quietly drop himself onto the deck. Despite all of his care, when he landed, it sounded like a huge thump. He grabbed the rail ready to jump overboard as he hastily looked around to see if anyone had heard him. So far so good.

He motioned Martin up to the deck.

“Be quiet, we don’t want Gingerbread to hear us. He might boil us in a vat of hot coffee,” Dan warned as Mart joined him.

When they had found their footing, they took in their surroundings. Either the crew had gotten lax or they were shorthanded. There didn’t appear to be any one on board except the girl, or woman, tied to the main mast of the ship.

Dan looked at her and sighed. For years he had been fighting for her attention. The blond curly hair, the sparkling blue eyes. She was quite a bit shorter than he was but that didn’t bother him. The problem had been that she had eyes for that dastardly Gingerbread. For most of his life he had been battling him. The love of his life hadn’t made it any easier. She would flirt with both of them. That had been until he had rescued her from a pirate even more evil than Gingerbread: Captain Frank “Cupcake” Lytell.

After that she had eyes only for him. The Gingerbread Man didn’t like that at all. With his fiery temper that matched his fiery red hair, he had been battling Captain Dan Mangan for months, trying to win back who he thought was the love of his life. It looked like Gingerbread had gone too far this time.

Quietly, the two men made their way across the deck. They snuck around trying to hide themselves as best as they could. As they got closer, Dan could get a better look at her. He smiled to himself as he saw the defiance in her eyes. Those blue eyes sparked with anger. They matched the color of her skin. If it weren’t for the wide whites of her eyes, you wouldn’t have seen them. That was his love. That was Smurfette .

As they got close enough to catch her attention they heard footsteps on the deck. Dan tapped Mart on the shoulder and motioned to where the sound had come from. He could see a shadow coming up from the lower deck. Quickly, they hid behind a wooden box.

Peering around it, they saw Gingerbread approaching Smurfette. Dressed in cinnamon-colored pants and jacket, with white piping along the shoulders, front and sides of his pants, he looked like he was set to run at any minute. His hat looked like it was made from a cookie cutter. Red hair stuck out from underneath it.

“Well, well, Smurfette,” he sneered. “Where do you suppose your beau Captain Dan is? I thought he would have been here by now. From the way you were spouting off, I figured he would have beaten us here to the Catch Me If You Can.”

Smurfette just glared at him, refusing to rise to the bait. She struggled to pull her hands out from the rope that had been tied around her wrists. They were tightly knotted but she had begun to work her way out of them. She just hoped he wouldn’t notice it.

“Are you hungry, my sweet Smurfette?” he said. He had a plate with fresh gingerbread on it. They were round in shape and looked like there was frosting sandwiched between them. “The cook just made these. They are called O Ree Oh’s.”

She shook her head. “I wouldn’t trust you,” she sneered through clenched teeth. “What do you want with me?”

“You know what I want,” he said. “I want you to want me. I want to marry you and buy you your Barbie Dream House.”

“I would not set foot in a Barbie Dream House if it was something you gave me,” she snapped.

From the corner of her eye she caught some movement. Immediately, she knew Dan had come to rescue her again. He was such a hunk with his dark hair and muscular build. So much better than the supple one in front of him. How had she ever thought herself in love with this man?

When this was all over she was going to have a little talk with Papa Smurf. He had always liked Gingerbread better than Dan. But Dan had rescued her twice. Well, she hoped it would be twice. Papa Smurf just had to give his blessing.

She continued to glare at Gingerbread, trying hard not to give Dan’s position away. “I’ll never give in to you, Gingerbread. You tried to woo me with all kinds of gifts but your true colors came out when you didn’t even try to save me from Captain Cupcake Lytell.”

Gingerbread tried to reason with her. “It wasn’t like that,” he said. “I was on the other side of the sea, trying to rid the world of that notorious captain, Rosette. Did you know the captain was a female? She had dark almost black hair and violet eyes.”

Smurfette shook her head in disgust. “Captain Rosette is not notorious. She’s one of the nicest people I know. I also know that she has her eye on Captain Dan’s first mate, Martin Belden. If he gets wind of this you are going to be in big trouble, buddy.”

He blinked at her in disbelief.

“That rat, Cupcake Lytell, told me Rosette was the evilest pirate around. He said she would trick the captain by pretending to be a damsel in distress. Once she was aboard and had gained the captain’s trust she would set to work. In the dark of night while everyone slept, Rosette’s crew would board the ship and steal all of the silk. Before they would leave they would paint the deck lavender.”

Smurfette giggled. “And you actually believed this? You know Cupcake has had it in for you for years. Ever since you beat him out in the Pillsbury Bake off.”

Behind the wooden box, Mart looked at Dan. “I can’t imagine my lovely Diana as a pirate, although the thought of lavender decks is kind of funny.”

“Shh,” Dan warned. “I want to hear more.”

The Gingerbread Man shook his head. “I guess I was gullible.” He shook his head as if to rid himself of self-pity. “That doesn’t matter. I wasn’t ignoring you. I love you, my little blue-eyed, blue-skinned, blueberry.”

“You just think you love me. You just want that which you can’t have,” she snapped. She began to struggle against her ties. She was growing impatient. When was Dan going to make his move and rescue her?

A commotion was heard on the other side of the deck. Several of Gingerbread’s crew had made their way up onto the deck.

“Captain,” the first mate, Gumdrop, called out. “A ship has been spotted off in the distance.”

Dan and Mart looked at each other. They had anchored their ship in a cove off in the distance. It had required them to row farther but it was not visible from the Catch Me If You Can. Had they miscalculated where they hid their vessel?

Gingerbread grabbed the telescope from Gumdrop and peered off across the bow of the ship.

“I bet it’s that ne’er-do-well, Captain Dan Mangan and the Straight Arrow,” Gumdrop said under his breath. “I knew we should have disabled his ship when we had the chance.”

“We may be pirates, Gumdrop,” Gingerbread said, “but we are gentleman pirates. We don’t do any unnecessary harm to other pirates’ ships. It’s not our way.” As he talked he continued to look through the telescope.

Dan and Mart remained in their hiding place. From their vantage point they could see Smurfette. She was struggling to get her hands free of the ropes and had almost succeeded. If Gingerbread could remain distracted for several more minutes it would make their rescue that much easier.

“That’s not the Straight Arrow!” Gingerbread exclaimed. “It’s that detective Captain Trixie Belden and the Gumshoe’s Revenge.”

Dan and Mart looked at each other with surprise. “What is your sister doing here?” Dan whispered.

“I don’t know. I knew I should have had her repair those breeches I tore the other day. They had rips in both legs. At the rate she sews it would have taken her a week to fix.”

Dan shook his head in wonder. It amazed him that Mart and his brothers were so oblivious to their sister’s actions. The reason why it took so long for her to mend their clothes is because that was always on the bottom of her to-do list. She had better things to do with her time than menial chores that her brothers thought were women’s work.

She was a world class spy. The pirate world thought she was a bumbling pirate but she really worked for the FBI, The Federal Bureau of Icing. There been more pirates brought to justice because of her than all of the other agents working in her unit combined.

“Man the cannons,” Gingerbread said. “Trixie Belden has been a thorn in my side for too long. She nearly poisoned me last year when she sent me gingerbread as a birthday present. That woman has it in for me and I don’t know why.”

“That woman just can’t cook,” whispered Mart under his breath. “If he would only open his eyes he would see that she has had a crush on him since they first met ten years ago. For some reason, in my sister’s mind, having a shotgun pointed at you is a sign of affection.”

nodded in agreement. “And Gingerbread isn’t any better. He’d have to be hit over the head with that trusty shotgun and he still wouldn’t get it.”

Mart suppressed a giggle. “Well, if that happened then his lovely hat would be ruined.”

“Well, that wouldn’t be a loss now would it?” Dan asked. It took all they could not to break out in giggles that would rival a teenage girl’s slumber party.

While they had been talking, Gingerbread had rallied his crew to the bow of the boat. Smurfette was still tied to the mast located amidships. Dan and Mart forgot about their mission to rescue her and stealthily followed the crew to the front of the ship, hiding in the shadows as they made their way.

The men never heard the thud as Trixie boarded the ship from the stern of the boat. She had managed to row out to the boat and approach it from the opposite side of where her boat was anchored. She crept over to Smurfette and released her. Then they both made their way to the bow of the ship.

The crew was frantically lining the cannon up. It was like a Chinese fire drill, everyone running into each other. Someone dropped a cannon ball and it began to roll across the deck. Gumdrop and Lollipop, the second mate, knocked heads as they both dove to save the ammunition.

“You guys are hopeless,” Gingerbread bellowed. “You would think you had never fired a cannon before in your life.”

Gumdrop walked over to the captain, rubbing his head. Sheepishly, he said, “Captain, we never have fired a cannon. Remember we only have two cannon balls.”

Gingerbread shook his head. “Well, if you men hadn’t left the rest of them in port we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Someone tapped Gingerbread on the shoulder. “Not now,” he snapped. “Can’t you see I’m busy?” He started to give another order when he felt a tap again.

“I said, ‘not now’,” he repeated through gritted teeth.

When he felt a third tap, he whirled around ready to dress down whatever crew man had decided he had to be heard.

He was shocked when he saw that the person he had been set on attacking was aboard his ship and ready to attack him.

“Trixie Belden!!” he shouted. “I don’t know what you want from me. You’ve tried to poison me and now you’re set on attacking me and my men.”

“I’m not attacking your men,” she shouted back. “I’m attacking you!” She then launched herself at Gingerbread and they both fell to the ground. Before he knew what hit him, she placed a possessive kiss on his lips.

He was speechless. When he finally came to his senses he returned the kisses with the same enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, Dan turned to Mart and started to give him a high five. Dan was stopped when a ball of blue launched herself at him.

“Dan Mangan,” Smurfette said as she started to pummel him with her fists. “How dare you ignore me in my moment of need? If it weren’t for Trixie I would still be tied up.”

Immediately, Dan looked contrite. “I’m sorry my blueberry muffin. How can I make this up to you?”

Smurfette wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his lips to hers. Before they met she whispered. “Oh, I’m sure I can find a way.”

She placed a wet slobbery kiss on his lips. She continued to do so, almost licking his face. Dan closed his eyes to enjoy the moment.

“Dan, Dan,” he heard. Enjoying the kisses, he refused to open his eyes.

“Go away, Mart,” Dan protested. “If you must, dream about your Rossette.”

Something shook his shoulder, but Dan tried to brush it off. He was enjoying his time with Smurfette.

He heard girls giggle. Slowly he opened his eyes and came face-to-face with Reddy licking his face instead of Smurfette in his arms. Slowly, he remembered what had happened.

He had spent the last three days cramming for his college finals. He had survived on about four hours of sleep a night, lots of coffee, the care package of Christmas cookies Mrs. Belden had sent and whatever he could find in his refrigerator.

As soon as his last final was finished he and Mart had caught the train home. They were the last of the Bob-Whites to make it home. The rest of the Bob-Whites had picked them up at the train station. After taking a detour through Sleepyside to view all of the beautiful light displays, they had returned to Crabapple Farm for a supper of Moms’ famous hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad and Christmas cookies.

After dinner they had sat down to watch Christmas DVDs. They armed themselves with popcorn and Mart’s homemade eggnog. Everyone had chosen one to watch. Honey had wanted to watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town. She sang along with every song and got everyone up to sing “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” Brian had requested the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas. By the time they had started to watch Mart’s choice, The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, Dan had a hard time keeping his eyes open. That was the last he remembered other than his dream.

“That must have been some dream,” Jim teased. He had been sporting a ginger-colored beard since the beginning of November in support of Movember, a movement where men grew mustaches throughout the month to promote awareness for men’s health. Jim had decided to grow a beard as well. While it was well into December, he had decided to keep the facial hair for now.

“Yeah, it was,” Dan said. He then described the dream to the Bob-Whites. He took quite a ribbing from all of them. Trixie couldn’t help laughing about his crush, Smurfette. She would have to make a quick trip to the store tomorrow and find him one for Christmas.

“Well, I must say you have a strange choice of girlfriends,” Diana said. “I do like the idea of being a pirate captain. And the lavender decks sound like fun.”

“All I can say,” Dan concluded, “is that I’m never mixing Mart’s eggnog with the Smurfs again. I may be scarred for life.”

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Author Notes

Merry Christmas, Ryl! I was so excited when I received your name for this year’s giftfic. Then I panicked. How was I going to do a story for you justice? Then I took your advice and “spotted a pirate ship on the horizon”. It took a while but the story finally told itself. It doesn’t have much of a Christmas theme and it’s about Dan not one of the older couples but I hope you do enjoy it.

I had to include Gingerbread in the story for two reasons. It’s one of Ryl’s favorite Christmas cookies but more importantly when I read her story The Straight Arrow I always read her character Gingerbeard as Gingerbread.

The WWW girls always joke that when we get stuck in a story to spot a pirate ship on the horizon. It worked well this time, I think.

I admit I stole the Straight Arrow from Ryl. It’s the ship featured in her story by the same name. If you haven’t read it yet, you really must. It’s really good.

Smurfette made an appearance in honor of the Harry Potter/Smurf story Ryl wrote for her daughter this Christmas.

The O Ree Oh’s were inspired by a comment Ryl made about gingerbread Oreo’s on the message board one day.

The Barbie Dream House was one of Ryl’s favorite Christmas presents.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Smurfs: A Christmas Carol are all holiday shows/ movies. I’ve seen the first two.

I learned about Movember on Jix.

Again, Merry Christmas, Ryl

Word count, 3021


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