Jackson Van de Kamp peeled apples with a surgical precision that would make Scully proud. Mulder could not help but smile as he watched his son focus so intently on preparing them. The kid was smart. And if Mulder was successful in leafing through old recipes while snacking on candy corn, they were all in for a treat.
While Jackson had experienced many of the family traditions such as being experimented on by the government and living on the run, he had never experienced Maggie Scully’s glorious apple pie. While Maggie was no longer with them, her recipe for apple pie was. It was a recipe that had special meaning for Mulder. When he was depressed in the unremarkable house, alone as Scully returned to the medical field, he had taught himself to cook. It was sometime hard to be alone for the long hours Scully worked so that meant frequent visits to her mother. Cooking with Maggie was soothing, got him out of his head. Scully was grateful for that. The warm meals at the end of difficult work days were also welcomed.
Mulder’s mother never made apple pies. She had bought them occasionally from bakeries sometimes when he and Samantha were kids. After Samantha was abducted, gin became her favourite dessert. Mulder never learned how to cook from his mother.
After years of prepackaged meals, takeout, and gas station snacks; cooking opened up a whole new world for Mulder. He loved breadmaking, it improved his patience and the cold dough was smooth between his anxious fingers. Pies were also enjoyable, there was something liberating about making his favourite desserts with his own hands. Sweet potato was his favourite, but Maggie’s apple pie always made him feel warm inside. It was Scully’s favourite as well. The filling was simple, but the pie crust took time for him to master. Now, after all these years, he could get it just right.
Pulling the recipe out of the old binder, he placed it on the counter for both him and his son to see.
“Okay Jackson, I’ve got all the ingredients out for you to make the filling. I’ll make the crust,” he instructed.
“Thanks Mulder, apple pie’s actually my favourite.” Jackson still called them Mulder and Scully, it was fitting in a way.
“You and Scully both. You never knew your grandmother, but this is her recipe.” Mulder buttered the pie pan and turned the oven on.
“I can see why she likes you Mulder.”
“For my sparkling personality?”
“Because you’re tall and can actually reach the apples on the trees.” The three of them had gone apple picking last weekend. Watching Scully try to pick apples was both tragic and hilarious. She had worn flat running shoes to the orchard, and the only way she was able to reach any of the apples was by climbing on Mulder’s shoulders. Mulder suspected that Jackson had leaked some of those pictures onto the internet.
“We work together, we are partners after all.” Mulder mixed the dry ingredients for the dough. With a pastry blender he cut in butter and shortening. Maggie always used both and he didn’t want to mess up a good thing.
“Okay, I just finished the filling. I’ll wait for you to finish the crust.” Jackson went to wash his hands as Mulder slowly added ice cold water and mixed the gently dough into a ball. Scully would be coming home within the hour and had no idea they were making a pie. Mulder and Jackson had planned it in advance, texting each other using the codename ‘Perationopay Aggiemay’s Ppleaay IePay’: operation Maggie’s apple pie. In pig latin no less. If Scully had caught on, she hadn’t made either of them aware of it.
“Alright kid, pass me the rolling pin.” Jackson passed him the rolling pin and he rolled out the dough. Mulder pressed the bottom half of the dough delicately against the pie plate, Jackson poured in the filling with a spatula and Mulder rolled the top of the dough onto the top of the pie. He trimmed off the extra pie crust and pinched the edges together to form ridges. Cutting slats in the top of the crust Mulder couldn’t believe he was really cooking with his son while waiting for Scully to come home from work. It was almost too good to be true.
“And now we wait,” Mulder explained as he put the pie in the oven and set the timer.
“Hey Mulder, where’d the caramel corn go?” Jackson picked an empty bag off of the floor. It must have fallen, but there had still been half a bag.
“Scully’s not going to be happy.” The empty bag was covered in fur and drool.
“Daggoo is.” The dog was running around the house frantically, panting and wagging his tail.
“Who knew dogs could get sugar highs?” Jackson raised an eyebrow at Mulder. It was the same way Scully raised an eyebrow. Daggoo kept running in circles until he started retching and vomited the entire half bag of caramel corn onto the floor. Both father and son stared at each other in disgust.
“So Mulder, I’ll do the dishes if you clean up the dog puke.”
By the time Scully came home the house was clean, Daggoo was peaceful, and the pie was cooked. Finally, after all those years, they felt like a family.