They use the house for weekends and holidays now. Shortly after Mulder moved to Arlington, Scully followed. It made sense, since she spent most of her time in his condo and her lease was up anyway.
Scully has decided that this year, she’s going to try her hand at cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Wednesday afternoon, they made a grocery run, along with the rest of the last minute shoppers, and loaded up on supplies. In case of disaster, they also made sure to stock up on frozen pizza. The refrigerator and cupboards are now overflowing.
In the weeks leading up to the big day, Scully had prepared a folder on her computer labeled RECIPES. She thought she might collect a few essentials or even try something a little exotic, but she was immediately overwhelmed on the sheer amount of ways there was to cook a turkey. In the end, she chose the simplest and highest rated versions of dishes she intended to make and made her grocery list from there.
Thursday morning, she woke late. Late for her, anyway. But, Mulder had gotten up with the dog, kissed her cheek as she burrowed down under the covers, and told her to go back to bed. She happily complied and the next time she opens her eyes, it’s nearly eight o’clock.
The forecast called for a mild day, but it’s still chilly that morning. Luckily, she keeps an oversized sweater and a pair of slippers on the chair by their bed to slip into when it’s too cold to walk around barefoot. She has her warmest pair of flannel pajamas on, navy blue with white piping, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Unbeknownst to her, Mulder is going to have central heating installed as an early Christmas present. He tried to get it scheduled before Thanksgiving, but it didn’t work out. Two weeks from now though, she won’t have to worry about cold feet.
Mulder is downstairs with Daggoo, watching A Christmas Story. Actually he’s reading a book on folklore with the movie in the background while the dog snores at his feet. He tips his chin down to lift his eyes above the rim of his reading glasses and smiles at her.
“Morning,” he says.
“Good morning,” she answers, stepping over the dog to perch herself on the arm of the couch next to Mulder. He lifts his book up out of her way when she drapes her legs over his lap and then he rests a hand on her knee. He closes his eyes as she eases the glasses off his face and then he marks his page, tosses the book on the coffee table, and leans back to look up at her. She folds his glasses and leans over to place them next to his book.
“What’s the game plan?” he asks, rubbing her knee with one hand and the side of her leg with the other.
“I need to start the turkey around one, I think.”
“Need me to run out for any last minute items?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I made coffee.”
“What about the cinnamon rolls you slipped into the cart when I wasn’t looking?”
He grins and gives her leg a soft shake. “I hid them in the breadbox. Fifteen seconds in the microwave and they’re perfect.”
She runs a hand over his head, threading her fingers into his hair from forehead to nape. He closes his eyes and leans into it, rolling his neck as she moves down the back of his head. She traces the shell of his ear with her thumb and then she slips off the arm of the couch to get her cup of coffee and cinnamon roll. Mulder gives one soft tug on the back hem of her flannel shirt as she walks away and then retrieves his book and glasses.
They spend the morning doing light housework. There are sheets and towels to wash and the lightbulb in the hall needs changing. Dishes that have been in the dishwasher since last weekend need to be put away. The latch on the trash bins needs to be fixed so the raccoons can’t get into it.
Mulder doesn’t say it, but it amuses him to no end that through it all, Scully stays in her pajamas. Last Thanksgiving, he felt like he was practically eating with a stranger. This year, he loves to see her comfortable again. She even put her hair in a ponytail at one point and the sight of it made him happy.
In the background, the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade plays on mute. Every so often, Mulder stops what he’s doing to watch the balloons go by. It gets particularly exciting in one moment when the wind gets the better of the handlers and they almost lose control of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
“Hey, Scully,” he calls during one of his breaks. “A Rockette just tripped!”
“Bummer,” she calls back from the laundry room.
By 12:30, she’s anxious to start cooking. She pulls up her selection of recipes on her iPad and starts pulling items off shelves and out of cupboards. The roasting pan is on the top shelf and she needs to call Mulder in to get it down for her. He watches her, bottom lip caught between her teeth, glasses slipping down her nose as she scans through the step-by-step process of turkey preparation. She’s put a red apron on over her pajamas.
“Give me a task,” Mulder says.
“Find a casserole dish,” she murmurs, plucking at her lip.
While the oven is preheating, Mulder watches her poke and inspect the turkey like she’s about to conduct an autopsy. She looks startled when she finds the frozen bag of giblets inside the cavity of the neck and actually grimaces. Immediately following disposal of the bag, she washes her hands and consults her iPad.
Once the bird goes in the oven, the real cooking begins. Mulder helps peel potatoes and chop vegetables while Scully attempts a pie crust. Every so often, they have to shoo Daggoo out of the kitchen when he comes in to sniff at their progress and get underfoot.
At a certain point, Mulder can sense Scully’s frustration with the way the pie crust sticks to the rolling pin and he finds her phone to dock it into the speaker and puts her music on shuffle. He had assumed something soothing and classical would come on, but the first song that pops up is Katy Perry’s Firework.
“Scully!” he says through his chuckles. “What the hell is this?”
“I like it.” Her cheeks darken a little, but she can’t help but smile and discretely bounce to the beat. She mouths the lyrics under her breath as she works on rolling the dough and her earlier irritation melts away.
When there isn’t much left to do but let things cook, Mulder starts rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher. Scully obsessively checks the oven window, narrowing her eyes to scrutinize the progress of the turkey. When it looks done, and according to the thermometer, is the perfect temperature, she pulls it out to let it cool a little and start the gravy.
“Taste this,” she says, her hand cupped under a wooden spoon with gravy dripping from it.
Mulder bends down, but instead of tasting the gravy off the spoon, he licks the side of Scully’s hand where it’s dripped onto her fingers.
“Mulder!” she chastises.
The mashed potatoes finish too early and are cold by the time they sit down to dinner. The rolls are forgotten in the toaster oven while they watch an instructional YouTube video on how to carve a turkey. The green bean casserole is a little runny. The corn is decent, but a little chewy. The turkey and the stuffing, however, are just right. The verdict on the apple pie will have to wait. Dinner is too filling to dig in to dessert right away.
Scully pretends not to notice as Mulder feeds scraps of their dinner to Daggoo, who waits quietly under the table and scratches at Mulder’s knee when too much time has passed between morsels and he wants to remind Mulder that he’s still there, waiting for his share.
“I’ll do it later,” Mulder says, when Scully starts to pack things into containers for leftovers. “Let’s watch a movie.”
“I’ll just fall asleep.”
A Christmas Story is still on, because a 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story means it’s always on, and Scully is already yawning ten minutes into curling up on the couch next to Mulder.
“Be honest,” Mulder says. “You would’ve killed for a Red Ryder bb gun.”
“Mm, I had one.” She closes her eyes and nuzzles her face against Mulder’s arm.
He put his arm around her. “Of course you did.”
“I’ve been in my pajamas all day,” she said through a yawn.
“So? Did you have somewhere else to be?”
“I should’ve at least...gotten dressed.”
“I like it,” he says, rubbing the soft collar of her shirt between his thumb and finger.
She’s asleep in minutes.