Vastra told Parker they shouldn't need him again until evening. As soon as they shut the front door Vastra removed her veil, Jenny knew she disliked wearing it.
"I'll 'ave lunch in just a tick, ma'am." Jenny tied on an apron and went to start the stove-fire and get the steak out of the icebox. After starting the stove, it belatedly occurred to her that the fire in the parlour would have died down, and when she went to stock it, found Vastra curled in front of the hearth, carefully adding kindling and blowing on the coals. "Sorry, ma'am..." She grabbed a bellows and carefully coaxed the flame up to the wood Vastra had added. It caught, and the little fire burned brighter, but not much warmer. "Ma'am, go stay warm in the kitchen while I get this going."
"I am not that cold, Jenny." Vastra could be so stubborn. Jenny sighed.
They built up the fire together, and Vastra accompanied Jenny into the kitchen. Jenny effortlessly snagged a chair leg with her foot, pulling it up to the stove and nodding for Vastra to have a seat while her hands moved the steak to a frying pan she had pulled out of the cupboards. Vastra chuckled and sat, watching as Jenny slid the frying pan on the stove with one hand while opening the spice rack with the other hand with practiced familiarity.
"Sorry about not stocking the fire, ma'am, and not realizing 'ow cold you were getting." She added a dash of cumin on the steak and ground some pepper over it, as well.
"Jenny, you did nothing wrong." Vastra smiled and took her girlfriend's hand. "I'm not terribly cold, I was looking to save you some work."
"You don't 'ave to do that, ma'am." Jenny smiled, but Vastra's hands were chilled.
"I can if I want to." They heard the mail slot open and shut, a few papers falling to the floor.
"I've got it- I've got it!" She snapped her apron at Vastra, smiling. "You stay in the kitchen and stay warm." She gathered the mail, sorting it according to importance on her way back to the kitchen.
"Honestly, my dear, I'm not cold. The steak smells wonderful." Vastra had stretched her hands out to the warmth of the stove.
"Thank you. I think it's time to turn it." She passed Vastra the mail and flipped the steak with a fork, adding more cumin and fresh pepper. Jenny hadn't been the best at cooking when she started working for Vastra, but the Silurian had bought her cookbooks and encouraged her to experiment, and Jenny was now good enough for them. "I'll need to do laundry soon." She told Vastra.
"But we have a case." The Silurian held her head in her hands, transferring the heat from the stove to her face.
"Dirty clothes don't wash themselves just 'cause we 'ave a case." She teased. "If I don't do laundry soon we're going to run out of things to wear."
"I will get us more clothes."
"Just so I don't 'ave to do laundry for a day or two? No, you won't. That's a 'orrible waste of money."
"But it would enable you to not have to wash clothes as often."
"And then when I do wash the clothes there'd be even more of 'em. It won't even take all day if I start early enough."
"When are you planning on washing them?" Vastra sighed.
"Tomorrow or the day after. D'you 'ave plans for the rest of today?"
"Just thinking about the case. We may be going out tonight."
"May?" Jenny cut the steak into two portions and moved them to plates, pouring a cup of milk for herself and the drink that looked like red wine but wasn't red wine for Vastra.
"It is near impossible to track someone hours later in this city. So many scent trails winding around each other, and concrete and glass do not hold scent well, and humans rarely brush against buildings..." Vastra retrieved silverware and napkins and they headed into the dining room.
"But you track those awful people at night easy enough."
"Because they are active at night, the scent is stronger, and there are fewer other apes about to complicate the scent."
Jenny often had to correct Vastra when she said 'ape', but she wasn't going to defend those terrible men at all. They deserved far worse than being called apes.
"So if it's so 'ard, why are you trying?"
"I might come across her scent by chance. The steak is delicious my dear. What did you use besides pepper?"
"Cumin, ma'am. It makes it spicier, 'otter, to 'elp us keep warm. Wait, you're saying you want the two of us to just go wandering the streets at night with only one sword between us?" Vastra usually took both her swords.
"You are more than welcome to stay here."
"No disrespect, ma'am, but like 'ell I'm letting you do that alone."
"I would in fact be safer if you stayed here."
"What if a bunch of guys decides you look real pretty? What if a mob of street kids thinks you might 'ave money in your pockets? I'm coming with you, you said I could."
"And if I rescind my offer?" Vastra smiled, testing her.
"I'll follow you, don't think I won't. I still know some of those kids out there, and word gets round fast. There's not many women with a veil walking about late at night." She smiled sweetly at her girlfriend, who laughed.
"You've never threatened to follow me before, why the change?"
"You'll only 'ave one sword, and you won't be tracking someone, you'll be wandering around looking for 'em, 'oping to run into a scent that might not be there. Plus it's getting colder. What if you get lost?"
"You know I can take care of myself." Vastra reached across the table and put a hand over Jenny's, the scales rubbing her skin comfortingly.
"You know I worry about you." She laced their fingers together.
"As do I." They finished their lunch in companionable silence, then Jenny cleaned up as Vastra went to her study to write everything down and think.
As always, please consider taking a few seconds to review! Tell me what you liked, what you didn't like, what you want to happen, what you hope won't happen...