So the flan thing totally intrigued me! Could be read with One Day in Paris but really is a post ep for Patriot Down.
How could it be so hard to put them together? They were so right together. There was something elusive. Something missing. They were doing something wrong.
She surveyed the collection of ingredients on the table before her. Sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Four simple things. She usually liked recipes because they were like rules. She was good with rules. Yet so far, after three tries, they had failed. She did not like failing. She re-read the recipe, although by now she knew it by heart. Tonight would be the night. Or else!
Although they had not arranged anything, she knew he could come. Probably at around 2000. She checked her watch. 1955. It was not like she was sitting here actually waiting for him to arrive, but there was nothing else which needed doing. So she waited. And tried not too think too much about the day. She fidgeted with the paperclip on the recipe.
The case had been hard for her. Harder than she would ever admit. Even to him. Even to herself. But she had gotten through it. Six months ago she knew she might not have.
The highlight of her day had been the flan. Despite what Gibbs said, sometimes there just were coincidences. Small, insignificant ones perhaps but coincidences none the less. It had to be Flan day on the Majestic today.
He had sat across from her, describing the flan, the perfect flan on the Petty Officer's plate. It had obviously been aimed at her. She was supposed to be the accomplished cook between them. She had collected a great deal of recipe books before her house had been burned last year. Yet the simple flan eluded even her!
He had described it in excruciating delicious detail.
"The texture needs to be smooth." They had mixed and mixed until it was like liquid velvet!
"Just the right ratio of milk to vanilla to caramel." They had followed the recipe exactly every time! His sweet tooth prompted him to add a little extra caramel to his mould but that should not change the ultimate structure of the pudding! Yet every time, it was a disgusting blobby mess.
His lack of subtlety had gotten the better of her and she had clenched her fists under the table. She heard herself ask, "Can we stop talking about the flan?" He was infuriating sometimes.
He had turned to her, face slightly defensive but eyes still sparkling with good humour. "What are you, Anti-Flan?" he teased.
She glared at him. One more failed try and she would be Anti-Flan. He might find he was too when he was wearing the upturned bowl over his perfect hair…
She pushed the thought from her mind and returned to the witness across from her. Tony would be punished later.
The day had taken a different course after that, after it had become a rape case. All her efforts were put into following leads and maintaining her composure. She did not want to talk about it but she had been grateful for her partner's subtle expressions of understanding. It had been just the right amount of support. The perfect amount of hovering without smothering her, without too much pressure or heat.
Because too much heat made her to bad things. She went into defense mode. She reverted to her training and it was like her mind and body separated.
Separated. Of course! Why had she not thought of it before. What was flan but essentially thick custard? The mixture was separating when they baked it. She picked up the recipe, which Tony had brought over the first night with the ingredients.
He had called first that time. They had enjoyed a delicious flan on mission in Paris and none that they had found back here in DC had compared. They had joked after another disappointing lunch run that they should try making it themselves. She had not thought any more of it but two nights later he had bought the ingredients and printed a recipe from the internet.
She opened her laptop and typed in "flan recipe" to Google. The first hit was "Easy Flan Recipe". She clicked it. And there it was. The recipe Tony had printed out. "Flan is a traditional Mexican dessert and there are many versions." It sounded the same.
As her eyes skimmed down the window, she stopped. A water bath? They had been putting the ramekins inside another baking dish but Tony's recipe had not said anything about a water bath. Well that was rather a critical omission on the part of the webpage he had used. Except… It looked like had had used this same page. The introduction was the same word for word.
She remembered the raised eyebrows, the hint of a smile. "What are you, Anti-Flan?"
She hit print and scrunched up the old recipe, throwing it in the bin. She returned to the kitchen just as he knocked on the door. She knew exactly how she was going to play this. She let him in and they got to work. The routine was comfortable and familiar now. Tony chattered away while he stirred the caramelizing mixture. She carefully combined the other ingredients. They followed the rules of the recipe to the letter.
Tony artfully swirled the scalding caramel mixture around the base of the ramekins. She poured in the custard mixture. He turned his back to place the ramekins in the baking dish, mumbling something about Audrey and Paris and cooking school. He had no idea…
He turned back to pick up the final ramekin and stopped in his tracks. Before him stood his partner, her face blank, a full kettle of boiling water in her hand. Without a word, she stepped past him and began to pour the water into the baking dish.
"Oh crap" Tony thought. He grabbed the recipe from the bench and realized that he had been busted. His eyes quickly scanned the kitchen. There were too many knives for his comfort. Carefully, he pocketed the paperclip that was holding the two recipe pages together. He tried to lean on the bench and make his phone volume test ring. His tried and tested method of escape was failing him. He remembered he had put it on silent.
By this time, Ziva had slipped the baking dish into the preheated oven. She still did not speak as she brushed past him into the living room. He was afraid to follow. He knew of at least three firearms hidden in there. There would be more. He knew he had to follow. He took a deep breath and started towards the other room.
He stopped in the doorway and took in the sight before him. There was no gun drawn that he could see. His partner lay on the couch, curled up under the blanket on what had become 'her end'. She had started a DVD and Tony could not help but hope that she had thought it an innocent omission. But deep down he still knew he was busted.
He sat down on 'his' end of the couch, bravely crossing his legs, feet on the coffee table. They watched in silence, he laughed nervously at the kitchen humour. Cracking eggs one handed was not something he could do. He had demonstrated that on the night of Flan: The Sequel... Another few minutes passed and he almost missed it, she said it so quietly.
"Paris did change her." She whispered. He knew she was talking as much about herself as the woman in the movie. She turned to face her partner, her face serious but her eyes sparkling. "She thinks that next week, we will graduate to soufflé."
"God help me!" he thought, grinning.