Red Friday

"Why is it called Black Friday?"

There are entire conversations that do not, in fact, need to happen. It's something of a burden, this boredom in the bullpen, which prompts such debates. Sadly, the normalcies of American life that the team takes for granted require explanation, in detail and occasional defense, to the resident foreigner. Before breakfast.

Because DiNozzo's downed the most coffee per square hour, he is called upon to tackle the question.

"Biggest shopping day of the year," Tony says, never looking up from one of the many catalogs gathered from the suspect's home. "People get up with the chickens and stand outside their favorite stores to nab a big ticket item at a ridiculously cheap price."

Which should have summed it up well enough. Except that Ziva's run out of reports. "So only poultry farmers do this?"

Tony's brow furrows, mentally rewinding his answer to find the error. "Up with the chickens means early."

"You could just say early," Ziva mumbles. "It would save confusion."

Tim considers the pair, debates an entry into the discussion and, erring on the side of sanity, resumes his quiet text session with Abby.

"But why Black? It's hardly festive." This from a woman who believes the holidays are better with bullets.

Tony aims a shrug to McGee, who refuses to acknowledge it for fear of Mossad-flavored retribution. The Sharpie makes considerate circles around objects in the catalog as he says;

"Because stores make a lot of money. Puts their accounts back into plus territory."

"Ah, yes. I know this one. Red is to be negative in balance, yes?"

"She can be taught," Tony praises even as he turns the catalog on its end, centerfold style.

But the idea does not settle well with his rational partner. "So this day is a celebration of shoppers growing poor for the benefit of corporations?"

Which sucks the wind from Tony's sails. "That's not exactly the point."

"Should not the commercialization of the season warrant the label Red Friday?"

Which capsizes Tony's boat entirely. "Not really the spirit of the thing."

"No, the spirit of it is the American institution of greed. And they make you stand outside for hours in the cold for this privilege?"

The pages are now turned far harder than needed. "You take the fun out of everything."

"Fun? May I infer that you joined the economically downtrodden and their chickens this morning?"

"I did not."

"No, because you choose a lazier path." She snatches the catalog from his hands.

"Hey, that's evidence!"

"Of what?" McGee finally chimes in.

"The guy had eight hundred of these, fort-like I remind you, in his trailer." Tony makes an unsuccessful grab at the prize Ziva now ponders. "You can tell a lot from a man's mail."

McGee stares at the senior agent. "Like what?"

Eyebrows reaching her hairline, Ziva rips out a page in question and tosses the remnant of the catalog at McGee, who ventures to peek at the cover, emblazoned with the logo of an expensive jeweler. Ziva slaps the rescued page on Tony's desk and stabs a finger at an uncircled item.

"This style," she informs, "is more my preference."

Neither red nor black suits the expression Tony wears. His smile is the greedless, uncommercialized spirit of Christmas.