outdoor outfitters

OctoberFicFest Day 2: Barefoot (inktober prompt)

The cabin is (when she thinks back on it, in the tumult of later) one of her favorite places on the roster of hideaways they used during those years on the run.  

It was late September when they reached Montana, wending their way through the mountains.  Mulder’s network of true believers were nothing if not prepared, and their generosity surprised her consistently.  On the second day of October, she woke up to a world traced with frost.  She slipped out of bed, leaving a pocket of warmth under the down comforter.  Mulder murmured in his sleep and she laid her hand on his back to soothe him.  She had kicked off her socks in the middle of the night, heated through by the furnace of Mulder’s body, and she shivered as her bare feet touched the floor.  The pine boards had been sanded to satiny softness.  She glided across them on the way to her slippers.  They had indulged themselves at the outdoor outfitters.  Her long underwear was a breath of heat against her skin, thin and silky.  She crossed her arms under her breasts and went to turn on the coffee maker.  

There was a woodstove in the corner, although the gas stove worked just fine.  Semper paratus, she thought.  The wind whistled in the flue of the fireplace, wafting heat from last night’s embers into the room. She wrapped herself in a wool blanket and considered the juxtaposition: big-bellied woodstove, handwoven blanket, buckskin slippers lined with fleece, handmade chair, all rubbing elbows with a sleek television, a coffee maker with six modes and a frother, and a security system that made the Hoover Building look like a playhouse.  

The air in the house smelled like frost.  They had kept the heating off thus far; only the nights were really chilly, and then they shared each other’s heat.  She spent the day in lined jeans and big sweaters, taking comfort in her lack of artifice.  In the wild, they needed to be no one but themselves.  She felt some days like she was forgetting even her name.  The two of them didn’t need names.  They had passed that point years ago.  She knew who he was in relation to him, and she could feel himself recalibrating himself as she shifted position.  She had been a physicist, a doctor, a special agent, a partner, a mother: now she was just herself, in the woods, stepping from a hot shower into the steam of Mulder’s arms or hiking on faint trails until she could feel every sinew.  

She opened the fridge.  The cold inside it smelled different than the chill of the house.  She took out a stick of butter, cut it into a bowl of flour, baking powder, buttermilk, and salt, and preheated the oven as she dropped biscuits onto a tray.  She had learned this from her mother, for those special occasions when her father was home from the sea.  She hadn’t done it by herself before this; Will had been too young, and she and Mulder had never had the opportunity.  Her father had liked the precision of rolled biscuits, but she didn’t have the patience when it was only the two of them, and the crags of the drop biscuits held more jam.  While they baked, she set thick bacon sizzling in a pan and then cracked eggs into the fat.  Mulder padded up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling through her loose hair to the nape of her neck as she flipped the eggs.

“Did you ever imagine this?” he asked, his voice hardly more than a whisper.

“No,” she said, “but I like it.”  She shifted the eggs to the plate with the bacon and pushed the pan out of the way before she turned to face him.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Good morning,” she said.  “You missed the sunrise.”

“I don’t think I did,” he said softly, gazing at her.