There are many things Nick Torres admires about his teammate and best friend Ellie Bishop. From her compassion for victims to her gentle touch with children. From her ferocity with suspects to her directness with witnesses. From her analytical mind to her broad knowledge base. But above all of that, there was one thing Nick admired the most about her, something he still hadn't gotten used to, and probably never will.
Her love of snacks, especially chocolate.
It used to be that he kept a chocolate bar in his pocket just in case he was ever stuck somewhere but now, he found that he had a new reason to stay stocked up.
Ellie had a healthy appetite and a metabolism to match. When he first started with the team, he’d watch Ellie eat and wonder where she put it all. He used to be concerned that she was eating too much, that her body would soon give out. But as time went on, he stopped worrying and started to appreciate her menu. It didn’t take long for him to be thoroughly amused by how much she ate and how often.
But he hadn't been prepared for her love of snacks. At first, he thought it was because she'd skipped lunch but it wasn't until he was with her when she had had lunch that he realized just how much she ate and, oddly, he found that attractive, which confused the heck out of him.
But, as their friendship grew, Nick learned that Ellie's snacking was about more than sustenance, it was a tool that helped her crack some pretty mind numbing clues which led to her breaking the cases wide open.
And it was because of this that Nick had taken to keeping a good supply of all of her favorites, not only in his desk but also in his backpack, his go bag and even in his apartment, which amused his sister to no end.
Nick had lost count of the number of times he'd used his stash to placate Ellie when she was stressed out during some of their toughest cases. He was sure Gibbs was onto him as every time he gave her something, he would give Nick an approving nod once he'd sat back down at his desk.
He was sure Ellie had no idea what he was doing for her. By the time he pulled the snacks out, she was already firmly focused on her task and wasn’t aware of what was going on around her beyond the papers on her desk. He had planned to keep it that way but, just days before Thanksgiving, Nick and Tim had gone to the airport to pick up a surprise for Ellie and she was neck deep in intel. The stress had been getting to her all day and Nick had had a feeling for the last couple of hours.
They had just left baggage claim and were heading towards the exit when Nick's phone rang and Gibbs’ name appeared on the screen. Nick quickly answered to find that his boss was running out of patience “Bishop’s going mad. Deal with it” Before abruptly hanging up. He quickly turned to face the group. “Hold up guys. I have to call Ellie. Remember to stay quiet.”
Nick stepped aside, just in case one of the brothers made a noise. Ellie answered unusually quickly, making Nick think that Gibbs was there to tell her to answer her phone, “What Nick?” And with those two words, he knew he’d called just in time. “I hear you’re not having a good morning.” Ellie sighed, “So you called just to rub it in?” He wasn’t going to touch that one “Where’s your brain food?” She sighed again, this time sounding a little less agitated “I ran out and I have no cash on me to go to the vending machine” Nick let out a small chuckle “Are you at your desk?” Her curiosity was peaked “Yes.” “Good. Now stand up” He could tell she was about to say something “Don’t say anything B, just do what I tell you. Walk over to my desk. Sit in my chair. Open the bottom drawer” It was then that he heard her gasp in surprise and delight. “Now, take a minute, have something to eat then when you’re done. Get back to work and raid the drawer whenever you need to. Tim and I should be back within the hour.” The only sound that could be heard was the rustling of packets as Ellie dug through the drawer before he heard the sound of a packet being opened and Ellie eating. “Thank you Nick” He smiled, happy to hear that she sounded more relaxed already. Even as he was ending the call, he was already thinking about what he should get her for lunch.
He had been so focused on the call, he hadn’t noticed Ellie’s family watching him closely, clearly able to hear what he was saying. He was sure they would be asking questions at some point. He just hoped they'd wait a bit longer. Thankfully, Tim stepped in, “Ellie uses food to help her think. She can get a little bit scratchy when she runs out so we all keep a supply of her favorites on hand just in case. Nick usually deals with her when she’s particularly bad because, for some reason, he’s the only one she doesn’t feel guilty about snapping at”
Nick and Tim got the Bishop’s checked in and settled in at the Adams House. Tim headed towards his car, intending to go back to the Navy Yard but Nick stopped him “I’ll meet you back at the office. There’s one more stop I want to make.” He stopped at Ellie’s favorite deli to pick up her go-to lunch and something for himself. While waiting in line, he had another idea and before long, he had made lunch plans for both Gibbs and Tim, figuring everyone was stressed out and needed a break away from their desks, that and Gibbs could probably do with some time away from Ellie stressing out.
As the elevator doors slid open, Nick saw a scene he’d only seen once before. Ellie was pacing and ranting, Tim looked slightly scared, Gibbs looked pissed off, Ducky, Jimmy and Kasie were standing off to the side looking concerned and Sloane and Director Vance were upstairs looking down, not sure on what to make of the scene. Judging by Gibbs’ face, Nick had seconds to step in. He had Ducky take Gibbs to the diner for lunch, told McGee to go and have lunch with Delilah and the twins, sent Kasie to the lab and Jimmy to autopsy before grabbing Ellie’s hand and their lunch, practically dragging her to an empty conference room.
The break was exactly what everyone needed and, as they settled back at their desks, it wasn’t long before their hard work and stress started paying off. BOLO’s came to fruition, test results came back, clues were discovered and deciphered and, before long, their suspects were caught, confronted and confessed.
And as Nick stood by and watched as Ellie was surprised by her family, Nick knew that his stash would be needed in the future but, as he got to know Ellie more, he would be able to intervene sooner and prevent possible meltdowns.
No matter what happened in the future, and Nick knew what he wanted to happen, he was sure that he would never get used to Ellie’s eating habits, or her love of snacks. But that wouldn’t stop him from keeping caches of them, ready to feed Ellie’s hungry cravings.