and this, he thinks, is supposed to be something.
the heat in his car does not work so she is swallowed up in a coat and a scarf and he doesn't look at her, busies himself with the frost on the grass and the signs for towns with names that sound like middle-america. they are in something like nebraska and it is nearing dinnertime. it's supposed to be something but it's not, it's just them, in a car, cold, not talking.
by the time the digital clock strikes 6:40 they are in the gravel parking lot of a diner, the sun completely set and them, not talking, silent. radio stations are unfamiliar ground here and he does not want to risk it (a silly thing, he thinks, to not want to risk).
they walk inside and are greeted by a wicker cornucopia, a chalkboard resting atop it: happy turkey day! it beams, and she shakes her head and rolls her eyes and he thinks, so this is nebraska. the houses all look the same and the and the grass is frosty and she rolls her eyes at chalkboards.
the booth they sit in (because they always sit in booths; the prospect of chairs, of tables, of straight-backs and metal seems to official for them, he guesses) is old and picked-apart and their waitress wears a nametag that screams mollie! in red. she brings them hot chocolate that they had not ordered, piled with whipped cream – you looked cold, she says, putting the mugs down. this one's on me. happy turkey day.
he notices how no one says thanksgiving, wonders if it's a nebraska thing. she still hasn't said anything and he's almost worried until she takes a sip of her cocoa and the whipped cream gives her a white mustache and he laughs, and so does she, and he reaches out with his napkin to wipe it off and underneath it all she's smiling.
mollie leaves and so finally she says, happy turkey day mulder, softly, into her mug. and he says, happy turkey day scully and that's that. he says, sorry about the heating. i’ve been meaning to get it fixed…
“it's fine.” and then, sensing, maybe, that he’s taken aback by the harshness in her voice, “you're fine, mulder.”
mollie comes back and they order the special without looking at the menu and they expect it to be dry and it is. more cocoa is given to them and they say thank you and after mollie leaves again he says, so what are you thankful for.
she rolls her eyes. “come on…”
“no, tell me.” and he means it, and he knows she must think he looks like an idiot, bouncing up and down in his chewed-up red booth seat. “we've known each other however many years and we’ve never been together on thanksgiving so i might as well ask you.”
she sighs. “i don't…” then, slowly, “my job. being able to afford a good apartment. car rides.”
“only the ones where i get to pick the music.” she pushes her last piece of turkey around her plate with her fork, eventually abandons it and folds her hands in front of her. “your go.”
and he knows she knows what he is going to say the second after she asks him, but she raises her eyebrows anyway and so he's forced to say “you” like he's dying (which he might as well be, the heat not so good in this place either). and he expects her to do something, to get up, ask for the check and not talk to him. but instead she just kind of rolls her eyes and he tries not to be too visibly in love with her and she says “you're ridiculous” and he says, yes.
mollie brings out two slices of pumpkin pie and they eat without saying much but she kind of grabs his hand towards the end of it all while he's writing out a thirty percent tip on the check and so in the end they go, hand in hand, out into the dry nebraska almost-winter. the gravel crunches beneath them and she buttons her coat and he turns on the radio in his shit car. she reaches out to turn to a radio station she likes and he laughs, almost, because he remembers what she'd said about being thankful for that.
the song is good, peppered with static. it's almost like a déjà-vu, almost like they'd done this before; he can't believe he hasn't ever been with her on thanksgiving.
he asks, did you like the food? once they're twenty minutes on the road and she says, yeah.
“we're almost there. i should find a place to stay…”
and they drive in silence for something like fifteen more minutes while he checks the metal highway signs for anything that says lodging and it's after he says “i’ll pull off here” that she says “i mean i’m thankful for you too mulder.”
he doesn't register that she's said anything at first but he looks over at her, layers and layers of fabric making her look like a black snowball, rubbing her hands together to try and keep warm.
“oh.” is what he finally says, not sure of how else to respond. “i mean, thank you. or…”
“you're welcome.” and she almost smiles.
and he's at a stoplight and the sun has set and it's kind of like a perfect something so he kisses her, and she smiles into him and he pulls away and the light is still red, so he grabs her hand and says, thank you. and she says, shut up mulder. and he says thank you again, brings her hand to his lips and kisses it.
“i don't know. everything.”
“have i ever told you you're crazy?”
and the light turns green and that is when she says thank you back to him. for what, he says, smiling, and she shrugs and responds, everything.