Disclaimer: Better if used by people who enjoy NCIS.
Spoilers: Only on the perishable items.
Summary: Running into someone in the grocery store is only slightly less awkward than bumping into them at a nude beach you mistakenly wandered onto from the regular beach. But only slightly.
Ziva frowned and set the green apple down with its bruised side showing before selecting an undamaged one to finish off her bag of five. A bunch of three not quite ripe bananas joined them in her cart. The grapes were proving harder to judge when her thoughts were interrupted by someone plowing their cart into hers. "Hey, watch where you are…"
"Gotcha!" Tony shouted as she turned. This was the last place she would have expected to bump into him – or be bumped into by him? She was trying to decide whether or not this was a good thing. He clearly was not having the same internal debate; he grinned brightly as he leaned over the handle of his cart. "If I can sneak up on you seventeen-hundred or so more times, we'll be even."
"Do not count on it." She smiled in spite of herself as she swatted his hand away from the grapes she'd finally selected.
"Hey, I just wanna test one to see if they're okay. You don't wanna buy the poisoned grapes meant for some diabolic villain bent on world domination who also happens to shop in Georgetown."
"You cannot eat it if you have not paid for it. They charge by weight."
"Seriously? One grape?"
She narrowed her eyes to remove any doubt. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing if you weren't already filling your cart with healthy…ooh, Granny Smiths!" He made a grab, but seemed to think better of it as he quickly withdrew his hand. "Can I have one?"
"You can buy one if you would like. They are right over there."
"No, I mean can I eat one of yours?" When she rolled her eyes, he continued, "Not before it's been paid for, but, like, on Monday you bring it to work and put it on my desk like a good little probie. And then I'll give you a sticker and an A on your book report."
Ziva sighed, not wanting an explanation. Much as she disliked running errands, she had been looking forward to a Saturday filled with mundane tasks after an unusually long and busy week at work. In fact, grocery shopping gave her a great reason to get out of the house – or at least away from the laundry room in her building's basement. Blood was always such a pain to get out. She mentally added fabric softener to her list and tried to disentangle her cart from Tony's. "Well, I am sure you have a lot of shopping to do…"
He didn't take the hint, falling into step with her as she moved toward a pyramid of broccoli. "They've got a big sale on Italian wines going on."
"I will have to take a look after I have finished the rest of my shopping."
He tried to pull a pepper out of her hand. "Ugh. I say skip the veggies and go straight for the booze. Maybe a couple bags of frozen peas."
"C'mon, you must be as bruised and sore as I am after that arrest yesterday. Those Seabees were surprisingly tough! And it's a well-known fact that frozen peas are second only to alcohol in providing relief from work-related injuries."
"Then perhaps you should head in that direction if that is what you came for."
"You're makin' me sound like a lush!" He continued to follow her through the vegetables. "I usually go to the Giant near my place, but I figured since I was coming here, I'd get it all done in one shot. Plus, there's something reassuring about the name. They're not gonna try to sell me half or three-quarter foods here."
She blinked and came to the conclusion that laughing would only encourage him. "Right."
"Because it's Whole Foods." He looked at her expectantly over the eggplant she was inspecting.
"Y'know, whole, so it's not half or three-quarters."
"Oh, I got it. It was just not funny."
Tony pouted and banged her cart with his again. "McGee would have laughed."
"Only because he is too polite for his own good."
"Hey, I'm funny."
She patted his arm. "You certainly are. See you Monday."
"Huh? Oh, sure." He abruptly swung his cart around. "I've, uh…maybe I'll get some of those tiny oranges I like. And for the record, I don't just like them because they come in their own tiny wooden crate."
"I never…" she started, but he was already too far away and there was no need to start shouting across the produce department.
Ziva picked out the quinoa breakfast cereal Ray had gotten her hooked on, then grabbed a second box. She'd run out after substituting it for dinners over the past week, but she still wasn't sick of it. Other things, however…
Tony stopped his cart just short of hitting hers this time. "Hey, how come there's no name brand food here?"
"Yeah. Like, I like Honey Nut Cheerios, but all I can find in this place is things like organic crunchy sweetened oat rings made by companies I've never heard of. And all the cookies were weird too. No Oreos, but lots of things made with molasses and frogs or something. Nothing good has ever been made with molasses."
She tapped her fingers impatiently against her cart. "What about rum?"
"Ziva, rum is made from, uh…rum and…gold rum. You know, it doesn't even matter, just point me to my Cheerios or something double-stuft."
"Perhaps you should have stuck with your normal store, yes?"
"Oh, I see how it is. I say I'm here for wine and you think I'm not open-minded enough to try your fancy granola?" He grabbed one of the boxes from her cart. "This have enough nuts and berries and twigs in it?"
"It has grains from South America and…"
"Okay, exotic cereal. So I can eat things from more countries before seven in the morning than most people do all day?"
"You really…" She leaned down and grabbed a box off the bottom shelf. "Look what I found."
"Regular Cheerios? Blech. I'll stick with your thing, thanks. Hey, maybe it'll help my endurance the next time a petty officer tries to go all UFC on me while you handle his three accomplices." He dropped her box in his cart and moved up the aisle. She grabbed another off the shelf and headed in the opposite direction without correcting him; there had been five total counts of resisting arrest.
"Flour, sugar, baking powder… Are you planning to make a cake?"
Ziva momentarily stopped reaching for the last canister of cocoa on the top shelf. "Perhaps."
"A chocolate cake?" Tony grabbed the canister, but held it just out of her reach.
"I have not decided yet."
"Is it a get well cake for our poor, pathetic McRib?"
"You should be nicer to McGee while he is healing. Bruised ribs are painful."
"Is there cake or not?"
"There are just ingredients right now."
"So cake later, possibly as comfort food for a guy who curls up in the fetal position ten seconds into the action. Can I have some?"
"A crowbar to the midsection?"
"You would go there. Cake. I like cake."
"Are you going to give me the cocoa if I say something other than yes?"
"Depends. Are you gonna punch me if I don't give it to you?"
"Yes," she replied through gritted teeth; her desire to punch him was not currently predicated on whether or not he gave her the cocoa.
"Okay then." He dropped the canister into her cart, directly on top of her apples. "But I get a piece of the cake when you make it. A big piece with a frosting-flower on it."
"Aren't you supposed to be purchasing wine?"
He winked. "See you in the next aisle."
Ziva rested her hand on a pile of bags of frozen peas, hating how right Tony was about them. She switched from her left to her right. Why had she been using bags of ice wrapped in dishtowels all these years? She glanced up and down the aisle, finding it empty. On the pretext of searching for something, she buried both hands in the bags. So, so good.
"I can't eat a grape but you're allowed to desecrate the entire stock of frozen peas?"
She yanked her hands out of the freezer case. "I was just looking for…"
"Relief for your bruised knuckles? A plausible reason for letting me sneak up on you a second time in less than thirty minutes?"
She looked everywhere but his face and found a suitable distraction in his cart. "Still no wine?"
"I'm working my way up to it. I couldn't help but notice you completely skipped the aisle with the, uh, how can I put this delicately? The hygienic products?"
"Are you saying I smell?"
"No. Well, you've got a distinctive scent, but it's not bad." He waggled his eyebrows, removing any compunction she had about taking him down in the frozen foods section. "It's just helpful to know how much ass you kick without the aid of PMS."
"You are so…"
"Or do you not buy tampons here because they're made of wads of unrefined cotton, complete with leaves and boll weevils?"
"Must you be so disgusting?"
"What's disgusting? I was under the impression it was a natural feminine process, in which you leak angry hormones and blue fluids and threaten me more times a day that usual."
"You really…" The deep bruise on the left side of his neck was visible for a moment as he instinctively flinched away from her and she lost the urge to hit him. They'd had enough of that for one week. She amended her original thought. "You really should go see what is available in the wine department before they sell out."
"Yeah, yeah. Sure." He started toward the end of the aisle. "You comin'?"
"Fine." She noted he was limping just a little bit as she followed him.
Ziva leaned toward the fish case, happy she was almost finished with her shopping. The trip had been far less relaxing than she had anticipated, with Tony leaning into her cart in every aisle to critique her purchases. The only time he'd been something other than an annoyance was in picking out a wine that went well with beef. Hopefully, he was still in the liquor department, pretending to be the store's wine expert as a ploy to attract women. When she'd left him, it had only been working on a single elderly couple.
She was clearly not that lucky as he poked his head over her shoulder. "What are you getting? Swordfish? I love swordfish. And it would be great with that Pinot Grigio I helped you pick."
"I am sure I will enjoy it, then."
"Yep. Good combination. All you need to do is run back and grab some potatoes and sour cream, then you're all set. Oh, and a lemon."
"I make my own marinade, so I do not need lemons. And I have plenty of fresh vegetables."
"Green vegetables. Something like swordfish deserves baked potatoes."
"Potatoes are not vegetables."
"Then why do they sell them in the vegetable department?"
She shook her head as the clerk behind the counter approached and ordered twice the amount of swordfish she had planned. Turning back to Tony, she said, "If you would like me to make you dinner, just ask."
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
"You have been following me around for an hour, telling me what to buy based on what you want to eat."
"And you have a cart full of healthy food, proving you haven't listened to a word I've said, not including the wine. I thought we were just bantering. Why? Are you asking me to come have dinner?"
She reached for the heavy packet of fish and thanked the clerk. "I am asking if you would like me to invite you to dinner."
"That's not the same thing." Tony trailed her toward the registers, joining her in line. "I know it's been a rough week, especially after yesterday. But we had so much going on with work that I never made plans for the weekend and I…hey, if you're sick of me, I get it, but I'd totally eat food you make if you want."
She paused in setting items on the belt. He almost sounded…not desperate, but perhaps vulnerable. He was definitely favoring his right leg and he had more bruises than she'd thought. Resting her forearm against the wire of the cart, she realized she probably did, too. She should have gotten a few bags of those frozen peas. After a moment's consideration, she resumed placing items on the belt. "Bring your own potato."
"If you do not have other plans, I believe I have more fish than I will be able to eat myself, but you will have to bring your own potato if you do not want my vegetables."
"You are going to eat seven baked potatoes?"
"I mean for time." He smiled. "Want me to bring a movie?"
"All right. But nothing violent."
"Yeah, had enough real life Fight Club for one week. Or month. How do you feel about Woody Allen?"
"Just surprise me."
"It'll be the third time today!" He bumped his cart against hers a final time before careening in the direction of the produce department, albeit slowly on his injured leg. She could always call him if she changed her mind.