on a picnic
he pours her a glass of sangria while she puts on even more sunscreen.
“if you put any more of that on, you’ll turn into a ghost,” he jokes, sampling a sip from her glass. though she prefers red, they only had white wine in the house, so they mixed some up with lemons and limes, topped with mint from their garden. cold and refreshing, the drink demands another sip.
“if i were to put any less on,” she counters, taking her glass from him, “i’ll turn into a lobster. which would you prefer?”
leaning back on his forearms, he purses his lips, says, “depends. would there be melted butter involved?”
“would i be in maine or germany at the time?”
“have you ever had german lobster? i haven’t, but i doubt it’s as good as-”
then, he quiets, pours himself a glass.
though summer has reached its peak, the day isn’t too hot; a light breeze drifts by every so often, swaying the tall and golden grasses around their picnic blanket, and the sun is blocked from severity by a partly-cloudy sky. she wears a blue cotton sundress, one she bought before they were even together, and the skirt bellows out around her knees, a brassiere a foreign idea when the dress is so much more comfortable for her without it. with the handmade basket she’s had forever, they packed a lunch that morning, one of brie and pellegrino and whole grain crackers, along with homemade fig jam and grapes. he braided her hair while she packed it all up, and as little pieces of her hair fall toward her freckled face, he smiles.
she’s so beautiful.
“we might need a new blanket,” she frets as she opens the basket, takes out the crackers. “this one’s taken a beating.”
she made this blanket ages ago, hand-stitched it and reinforced the bottom so that they could use it on wet grass, and ever since, it’s been a staple in their lives, a traveling companion and a memorable friend. next to his foot is the hole they burned in it when they went camping six years ago, mulder’s fire-building skills having gone south. on her side of the blanket, there’s a little patch she sewed on after a particularly raucous dave matthews band concert, one that proved that scully, alcohol, and high heels weren’t a good combination. the green blanket is half stains and half restitched tears; certainly, it’s taken a beating, but he can’t bear to think of making a new one.
“this one’s fine,” he rationalizes. “pass me a cracker.”
obliging, she hands him a couple, and as he bites down on one, another breeze comes, rustling up her hair. in the sun, she looks warm and luminous, like a beacon. then, she lies on her back, sangria in one hand and her book in the other. a teenager at their library had recommended scott westerfeld to her, and to mulder’s surprise, scully was reading a third book of his.
“c'mere,” he says, lying down and motioning for her.
confused, she sits up, scoots over toward him; then, he taps on his stomach, so she understands his hint, rests her head on his belly as she lies down again. her hair is warm against his shirt.
while she reads, he watches the clouds move by overhead, wonders what each one looks like. that first one, it’s definitely an elephant; he can see the square body and the little trunk with ease. the next one is a harpsichord, but he may be wrong, for he’s unsure he can remember exactly what a harpsichord looks like. then, he squints, looks closer and sees a heart there instead, the simplest of shapes to see in a cloud. laughing to himself, he disturbs scully, makes her ask, “what’s so funny?”
“this cloud,” he says, pointing up, “looks just like a heart.”
shielding her eyes from the sun and staring up, she says, “no, it doesn’t.”
“there’s no aorta,” she says, then goes back to reading.
to his surprise, she’s not joking, so he shakes his head, goes to pick up his own book and read. as she flips her page, he notices that his pen-marks from last night are still on her skin. with his pen, he tapped her forearm while they got into bed.
“these remind me of something,” he said as she settled in.
“my freckles?” she asked. “of what?”
“cassiopeia, the queen,” he explained, uncapping his pen. “do you mind?”
she shook her head, then watched as he traced from one freckle to another.
“here’s ruchbah,” he pointed out as he connected two freckles. “the next one is shadir, then caph.”
she remembered the constellation, watched as he finished it across her skin. though she hadn’t seen in the constellation in a while, the resemblance between the sky and her skin was remarkably close; the angles were the same.
“did you know that this constellation shines 40,000 times brighter than the sun?” he asked.
“really?” she asked, surprised.
“yeah,” he said, lazily kissing her wrist. “just like you.”
though she hasn’t showered yet today, he’s surprised she hasn’t washed it off yet, but he likes that it’s still there. he likes the constellations within her, even when those constellations get mad that he put her wool socks in the dryer.
“scully?” he says, interrupting her book once more.
she hums a response, stays focused on her page.
“i love you,” he says.
softly, she smiles, then turns to sloppily kiss his stomach.
“love you too,” she says. “now, let me read.”
“okay,” he gives.
he swears he can see cygnus on her shoulder, but he saves that thought for another time.