Categories > TV > X-Files > Casserole
Peter Crabb paused for a moment on his front step to look around the lush green grass growing in his yard and allowed a satisfied smile to linger on his lips as he dug in his slacks pocket for his keys. The fruits of his labor were visible in every inch of landscaping and the elegant, though homey, facade of his house. He shifted his briefcase to his left hand and reached into the other pocket, shaking the fabric a bit to see if he could hear his keys jingle.
"Musta left them in the car," he muttered, glancing toward the bronze Toyota that sat cooling in the driveway. Before he could go get them, however, he heard his wife's voice calling from inside the house.
"Peter? Is that you, dear? It's unlocked!"
Frowning, he tried the handle and found that it was indeed open. He scowled as he walked through the door, dropping his briefcase by the coat rack and shrugging out of his jacket. He hung it neatly over the rack and began loosening his tie as he made his way toward the kitchen.
"Honey, what have I told you about locking the door?" he sighed as he walked up behind her and placed a kiss on her neck. She swatted him away and moved quickly to the stove where she had something cooking, and he sat down in a chair in the breakfast nook, watching her as she went. "What's the point of paying for a state of the art security system if just any unsavory character can come walking in?"
She lifted the lid of one pot and flinched back as steam rushed up toward her face, muttered something, and turned the heat down under it.
"Amanda, are you listening to me?" he tried again, and she glanced at him over her shoulder, tucking wayward strands of her silky brown hair behind her ear.
"Of course, dear," she answered soothingly, and it was to her credit that she didn't so much as glance toward the sophisticated keypad by the kitchen door that allowed her to lock and unlock any door in the house. "But can we discuss this later? The timing on this is really delicate and -- oh! Did you remember to stop by the grocery store like I asked?"
He nodded and handed her the bag that he'd dropped by his feet when he sat down, and she took it from him with a cursory smile, eagerly digging through the contents. She paused when her hand closed around a small tin and she looked closer at what she held. With wide eyes, she looked up at her husband and whispered, "Peter..."
"What? What is it?" He was on his feet in an instant, tense and alert, his eyes darting around the perimeter of the room and then back to Amanda's face.
"You didn't get the dolphin-safe tuna." Her eyes twinkled as she said it and she dropped one eyelid in a slow, lazy wink.
Disbelief crossed his face and he chuffed out a relieved kind of laugh as all the adrenaline ebbed from his body. He dropped back into the chair and propped his elbows on his knees, lowering his head and raking trembling fingers through his hair. "Jesus, Scu--"
He cut himself off abruptly and real alarm sparked in her eyes. Without a word she turned to the stove and turned the burner up under the pot. "Dinner's almost ready," she said solemnly, and he stood from the table, one hand going into the pocket of his slacks.
"I'll set the table," he mumbled, and she nodded, not moving from her spot.
Two days later, the /Leader/, the local newspaper of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, ran a one-paragraph blurb on the sixth page about an accidental fire in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. It was mostly to fill in the space left over from the layout being changed at the last minute so that the birthday ad Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds were running for their daughter Stacy could be three picas larger, but Hank Alden mused over it for the longest time.
"Whatcha readin', sweetheart?" his wife Mary asked as she looked over his shoulder at the paper.
He tilted his head back to look up at her and gave her a crooked smile, which she returned. He reached up with one long arm to tug on her blonde ponytail and she slapped his arm away gently. Chuckling, he returned his attention to the newspaper in his lap and pointed to the article, shaking his wrist a little to untangle his cheap watch from the sleeve of his flannel work shirt.
"Some yahoos left their stove on, burned down their house."
"Oh no!" she gasped. "Were they hurt?"
"Don't guess so," he shrugged. "Says they didn't find any bodies, and their car was gone."
"Maybe they left it on while they were running an errand or something."
"Haven't found 'em yet. They never came back."
"Well. That's certainly odd."
"Mm," Hank nodded. "Speaking of stoves - what's cooking on ours?"
Mary leaned over and pressed a kiss to the top of his head before walking away without answering his question. He watched her go, his eyebrow raised in silent inquiry, and she paused at the door of the kitchen to call back over her shoulder, "Tuna casserole."
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