The gas wasn't working in the house, so Michonne had to fashion a makeshift cooking apparatus out of a small barbecue grill that she found in a shed outside of the house. Once she got what she needed out of it, she tied her pets up in the small structure. Michonne figured that they'd be better off hidden. They didn't need to alert anyone to their presence in the house.
She set up the grill by the back door that led into the kitchen. Like that she could easily retreat if she needed to. Even simple tasks like cookery had taken on a life or death aspect. Once she got a fire going, she placed a pot on top of the grill and heated up a couple of cans of beans. At least the people who had lived there had had a decent stash of seasonings, so the food would go down a little easier.
While Michonne worked on that, Andrea tried to figure out what else they could eat. In the cellar there was a sizable stash of homemade jarred goods. She brought up a small jar of deep red pickled beets and what she assumed were peaches.
The sky grew dark, and they lit candles. There was a generator outside, but it was bone dry. So they settled for lighting their dinner the old-fashioned way. The food was slightly mismatched, but it was the best meal either of them could think of at the moment. Andrea devoured the piping hot beans. When she went back for seconds, scraping the pot, Michonne couldn't help but laugh at her enthusiasm.
“At least your appetite isn't affected.”
“Well, you make good beans.” Andrea sat back down at the kitchen table across from the other woman. “Maybe it's the starvation talking, but these are the most delicious beans I've ever tasted.”
Michonne cracked open the jar of peaches, and divided them into two bowls. Their sweetness was comforting, a small call back to a time when things were normal.
“There's only one bathroom upstairs with a tub in it. Do you want to bathe first?”
Andrea looked up from her bowl of peaches. “You can go first if you want. I can wait.” She resisted the urge to suggest that they bathe together for warmth and to save water. Even if she said it in a jesting manner, Andrea doubted that she could hide the fact that she did think it was an excellent idea.
“Alright. Thanks.” Michonne pushed the last peach halve in her bowl around with her spoon. “I'm sorry I was so harsh on you earlier.”
“What? No, you have nothing to be sorry about. You were right. I let my emotions get the better of me.” Andrea hesitated before reaching out and touching Michonne's wrist, her fingers resting lightly on the thin, smooth skin. “You weren't harsh at all.”
Michonne considered moving her arm away, but Andrea's fingers felt good. It was a reckless feeling. “I was brought up being told that you have to hide your emotions away. My family wasn't big on sharing feelings.” She nodded down towards herself, her dreadlocks gliding across her shoulders.
Andrea nodded, letting Michonne know that she was listening, but she didn't speak. She tried not to focus on the prettiness of the movement of her hair.
Ever since she was a little girl, Michonne had been expected to be strong, just like her mother. She couldn't remember ever seeing her cry or break down, ever, even when she was grown. Her mother had told her that she couldn't expect anyone to help her along in this world. She taught her that Black women didn't get to show weakness, and if Michonne did, it would be the end of her.
“Lemme tell you, in my house, there was no time for tears.” Michonne gave a small smile. “So when I see other people cry, I guess I feel frustrated.”
“I get what you're saying.” Andrea's other hand rested on Michonne's. “It must have been so tough for you.”
Michonne shrugged, and let her fingers curl under the heat of the other woman's hand. “I never knew any different.” She allowed herself to stay seated, and feel the kindness from Andrea. She made herself be still even though everything in her being was telling her to run, to get away, not to allow this person to get into her heart. To let that happen would only mean pain, because chances were she would have to watch this person die.
But Andrea was smiling at her, and touching her, and making her feel delicate. Only a few people in her entire life had managed to make her feel that. The last person to was Mike, and he was gone.
“I'll clean up while you bathe. Do you think we should stand watch?”
Michonne shook her head. “No, as long as we lock everything up.”
“Where do you wanna sleep?”
“The small bedroom.” Michonne said it without thinking. She did not want to sleep where they'd found the corpses. Maybe it was foolish, but she did not want to have to go back into that room unless she had to.
“Ok. I can take the couch.” Andrea stood up and took the bowls and the empty jars to the sink.
Michonne watched her wash and rinse out the bowls before she got up and went upstairs with a candle. The house was getting cold, so she shut the bathroom window before stripping off her clothes. Her bath was more of a wipe down. She could not tolerate the freezing water for more than was necessary. By the time she was done, she was trembling and her skin was all goose-flesh. She dried off quickly, and dressed again, but she was still cold. By the time she made it downstairs, Andrea had cleaned up their dinner mess, and had closed all the windows she'd opened earlier. While the blonde washed herself, Michonne forced herself to go into the master bedroom in search of blankets. She found a green wool sweater that fit her, albeit a little loosely. She still couldn't get warm.
The smaller bedroom had belonged to the child, and the bed was small. She placed extra blankets there for herself before taking some down to the couch that Andrea had claimed as her bed, along with a pillow. After making sure all of the windows and doors were secure, Michonne went back up the stairs, just as Andrea exited the bathroom, shivering from the cold water.
“It isn't very fun, is it?”
“Tell me about it.” Andrea hopped from foot to foot, trying to warm up.
Michonne took off the sweater and handed it over to Andrea. “Here, you need it more than me.”
Andrea took it hesitantly. “Are you sure? Won't you get cold?”
“Don't worry. I took a blanket more than what you have, so I'll be fine.”
“Ha ha.” Andrea slipped the sweater over her head. It was tight on her, the wool stretching and cracking a little as it went over her chest. “Thanks.”
“Goodnight blondie.” Michonne turned away and went into the small bedroom, not allowing any time for either of them to linger over goodnights. To linger right now would be too dangerous. So instead she slipped under the covers of the small bed, and curled up, trying to get comfortable. Despite the blankets, she could not shake the chill in her body.
The sound of footstep made Michonne start awake. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she saw that it was Andrea.
“It's too cold downstairs, can I sleep with you?”
The phrasing gave them both pause.
“Sure.” Michonne threw back the covers. She'd been cold as well, and figured that another warm body in the bed wouldn't hurt. That was all it was.
Andrea slipped in between the sheets and had to press up against the length of Michonne's lean body to fit onto the mattress. There was some awkwardness in deciding whose limbs should go where, culminating in Michonne facing the wall, with Andrea on her side facing the same way, her arms tucked against her chest and the other woman's back. Already it was much warmer in the bed. That was the explanation Michonne told herself when she felt her face grow hot. Thankfully Andrea didn't say anything.
The blonde settled in and closed her eyes, trying not to over think the situation. Soon she was lulled to sleep by the heat and the scent of Michonne's body. The other woman was still a relative stranger, but everything about her felt like home. Like help. Like love.