Cookies and Quizzes

July 2003

Dana Scully entered her apartment, wiping the sweat out of her eyes with a graceful flick of her hand. The A/C in her car had decided to die just in time for DC's heat wave. She peeled off her blazer, neatly hanging it on the rack as she reveled in the cold of her apartment.

"Honey?" she called. "I'm home." Silence greeted her. "Are you?" she called again, grinning.

A blonde head poked out of the kitchen doorway, nodding while chewing and swallowing. "I'm here, sorry. Peanut butter stuck my mouth shut. Hi!"

"Hi, yourself. So that's what I smell?" She followed her lover into the kitchen after a kiss hello.

"Well, actually, what you smell are peanut butter cookies. I-I hope. I've never been very good at cooking."

Dana stood behind the blonde, who was stirring a bowl at the counter, and put her hands on the shoulders in front of her. "You're always so hard on yourself, Tara," she chided, lightly shaking her. "You haven't poisoned me yet, and it's been two years."

"Well, I have a history," her girlfriend, Tara Maclay, reminded her, tilting her head to look at Dana. "Not of poisoning people," she said quickly, "Of bad cooking. You know that. I've even messed up Stovetop Stuffing."

"Is that even possible?" Dana asked, furrowing her brow.

"Oh, yes! If you mix up the columns and put three cups of water in and only one and a half cups of stuffing mix, interesting things happen," Tara responded seriously.

"That would do it," Dana nodded in agreement. She grabbed a grape out of the bowl next to the fridge and popped it into her mouth. "You know, we've had this conversation several times, and you always have some new disaster as proof. I'm beginning to think you're making these up," she teased.

Tara made a face. "No, sorry. I'm the Anne Shirley of cooking, but I haven't grown out of it yet. I keep h-hoping, though, you know?"

"You've been doing just fine lately, so I'd say you're well on your way," Dana responded. "I'm going to change and maybe try to cool down before dinner, all right?"

"Okay. The cookies should be done in about fifteen minutes," Tara told her. "Will you make the salad when you get out?"

"Sure," Dana agreed, heading down the hallway with a second grape.

Tara hummed to herself as she stirred the cookie mix. She could hear Dana getting ready down the hall - the closet doors opening and closing, a drawer opening and closing, another door opening. . . Tara let go of the spoon, which remained upright in the batter. "Oh, no!" Please don't let that be water, she prayed to the Goddess as the door slammed. Not the. . .

"Tara?" Dana called, her voice strangled. She appeared in the doorway, holding a pair of shorts and a shirt.

. . .bathroom, Tara finished mentally. "Um, did I tell you that Mr. Skinner's here?" she asked sheepishly.

"Nope. You forgot to mention that." Dana crossed her arms over her chest and raised her eyebrow.

"Oh. Well, Mr. Skinner called. His apartment complex's boiler broke, so he wanted to know if he could come over here and use our shower. I told him that it would be fine." She waved her hands helplessly. "He got here about ten minutes ago. Did you. . ." she trailed off.

"See that?" Dana finished. "Oh, yes. Among a good many other things that I never thought I'd see."

Tara knew it wasn't funny, and tried to fight off her smile. "I'm sorry. Really."

"Uh-huh. That's certainly evident here," Dana said pointedly, but not very upset. "I'm going to go get changed. Without a shower." She turned on her heel and Tara grinned at her retreating back.

"I'll make the salad," she called after her.

"I would think that's the least you could do," Dana shouted back.

Tara quickly finished mixing the dough and spooned it onto a cookie sheet. Just as she was pulling the first batch out from the oven, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it," she called. Wiping her hands on the dish towel, she pushed the hot sheet into the freezer to cool. She headed for the living room and opened the door. Her jaw dropped.

"Hi, Tara. Is Dana here? I have a folder for her on our current case." John Doggett, Dana's partner of three years, held up the file as evidence.

Tara recovered herself. "Um, yeah. She's changing, though. Do you want me to take it, or do you want to wait?"

"I'll just leave it with you," he decided. "I have to meet Walter soon, and-"

He was cut off by a snort of laughter. John looked up over her head as Tara whirled around.

"What the hell is that on your head?" Walter Skinner asked as he walked into the living room.

John grinned. "What, you don't like my hat?" He took off the tiny fur hat that had surprised Tara and placed it on her head as she blushed. "That look better?"

"You, yes. Not poor Tara, though," Skinner smirked.

Tara grabbed the hat and handed it back to John, still blushing. She liked John, but sometimes he still intimidated her.

"What are you doing here, John? And where did you get that hat?" Skinner asked.

"I'm dropping off a file for Dana and I found the hat in a box in the attic. What are you doing here?" he retorted.

"I'm getting ready for our dinner," Skinner informed him. "The boiler at my place broke down."

"As for me, this is where I live. Now that we've all established our motives for being here, are you staying or going?" Both men looked surprised as they focused on the blonde woman between them. Tara ducked her head. "I-I have a salad to make," she said defensively. "And cookies. And if you want to stay for cookies, that's fine, because I have plenty. So are you staying?"

John's face broke into a grin. "Tara, I think that's the most you have ever said in front of me."

Tara felt her face burn again before Skinner rescued her. "That's a nice offer, but we should go. Give Dana a few to bring in on Monday, okay?"

"Okay," Tara agreed, following them to the door. "Have fun tonight."

Skinner smiled at her, his hand on John's back. "We will. Goodnight, Tara. Thanks for lending me your shower."

"Any time," Tara said as she closed the door behind them. She turned the deadlock and called out to Dana, "They're gone! It's safe to come out now."

Dana emerged from the bedroom, her hair pulled back with a blue scrunchy that matched her linen shorts. "Was that John?" she asked, passing Tara as the blonde went back to the kitchen.

"Yeah. He dropped off a file from your case. It's on the coffee table," Tara told her, removing the cookies from the freezer.

Dana sat down to review the report while Tara finished with her cookies and the salad. Even though Dana insisted that it wasn't necessary, Tara had spent the weeks since her graduation from Georgetown trying to improve her cooking and other domestic skills. Smiling, Dana opened the folders, as she watched Tara out of the corner of her eye. She couldn't deny that it was nice coming home to a home cooked meal most nights. If it made Tara happy, who was she to complain? With one last glance at the blonde gliding through the kitchen, she turned back to the analysis of the pipette she had turned in the day before.

It wasn't long before Tara called her in to eat. She smiled appreciatively at the nicely decorated table, with a dried flower centerpiece and the dishes arranged neatly around the place settings.

"Tara, this looks lovely," she exclaimed. "What's the occasion?"

Tara beamed at the compliment. "No-nothing, really," she replied. "Just a nice way to start the weekend, I thought. Do you like it?" she asked anxiously as Dana spooned the first bite of tuna casserole into her mouth.

Dana swallowed and her eyebrows rose involuntarily. "It's-it's good, Tara. I especially like the, uh, pepper. And is that. . .sugar?"

Tara's face fell. "It's bad?" she asked.

"No, no," Dana reassured her. "It was just a surprise. I never had sugar in my tuna before."

Tara tried to smile. "Well, it said 'add pepper to taste.' But the cap was loose, and too much fell in. And my mom once told me that a little bit of sugar would balance that out, so I added some in. But then it was too much sugar, so I added in more pepper to balance that." She sighed. "I was hoping it would fix itself as it cooled."

"Well, I think it came out fine," Dana insisted, taking another small bite and chasing it with her ice water.

This time Tara did smile. "Thanks."

The two talked about their respective days as they finished eating. Dana cleared the table while Tara put the cookies onto a platter and carried it into the living room. Dana joined her shortly and found her browsing through the latest edition of The Witches' Voice, delivered just that afternoon. She rifled through the other magazines on the table, raising her eyebrow at the latest issue of Cosmo, which had also arrived that day.

"Sweetie, you have the same reaction every month," Tara reminded her with amusement. "Do you not remember that I subscribe? Or do you just think it's silly?"

"It's not silly, it just doesn't seem like something that would interest you," Dana told her, picking it up. "Are you really ever going to try ten steps to bed your man?"

Tara smiled. "No, I don't think so. But it's usually fun to read. When I lived in California, my girlfriend's roommate always had it lying around, so I would read it sometimes. I got hooked," she explained. "The quizzes are fun."

Dana leafed through the pages until she found one. "How well do you and your partner know each other?" she read.

"Like that. Let's try it." Tara got up for paper and pens.

"Are you serious?" Dana asked.

"Yes! Don't look like that," she said, "It'll be fun."

"All right," Dana said skeptically, skimming the quiz. "Answer each of the twenty questions twice - once for yourself and once for your partner. Compare answers at the end to see how well they match and how well you know each other." She looked up at Tara. "Ready?"

Dana read the questions aloud and they made the appropriate marks on their papers. They laughed over some of the questions and amended a few others as they nibbled on the hard cookies. When they finished, they laid the papers between them and started to compare answers.

"You have not stolen a car!" exclaimed Tara, pointing at Dana's response to the third question.

"I was 17," she clarified. "My best friend dared me to steal the principal's Caddy as part of a senior prank. You really thought you were a demon?"

"My family's way to control women," Tara nodded. "Tell them they're monsters and no one will ever love them." She continued to compare their answers as she spoke. "I matched thirteen of yours and you got fourteen of mine," she announced. "That puts us both into the second category: 'Congratulations! You and your partner have achieved a balance between intimacy and mystery. You have obviously taken the time to become friends and learn the little things that make you you, but have still preserved some mystery in the relationship. If you missed some of the more basic questions, though, why don't you plan a night for the two of you to stay in with a sexually-charged game of Truth Or Consequences (see page 173)? Meanwhile, keep up the good work!'

"That sounds about right," Tara said, sounding satisfied. She caught the look on Dana's face and flushed. "I know, it's silly. But I enjoy them."

"It was fun," Dana allowed. "I was just looking at your answer to question eighteen, actually," she said meaningfully, and Tara grinned even as her cheeks grew redder. "Think you can make my bed jump and shake?" she continued.

Tara stood and extended her hand to Dana. "I think we can together."


Notes: Okay, this ended up taking so much more time that I thought it would. It was unbelievably hard to write about Dana, Walter, and John, and quite jarring even to read. Once I switched from last to first names, it's like their entire personalities shifted! That really threw me. I'm generally against first names in this fandom, but I thought it fit better with this story and timeline. Although who knows what you'll read on my website next month. LOL I also didn't remember until after I'd started writing that there was already a Tara in the Scully family. By then, though, it was too late. I had to prove that Dana and Tara Maclay could be a couple. Matter of pride. LOL I have this whole backstory worked out for them and everything. Maybe someday I'll share.

Elements included:
Nekkid Skinner , Doggett wearing a tiny fur hat , Scully's bed jumping and moving , a pipette , Scully stealing a car, Scully taking a quiz in Cosmo