The selection of fruits in front of you is varied, and you mull over the possibilities presented to you. “Which ones do you want?”
“Anything is fine,” Soldier: 76 says distractedly, eyes trained on the door and any other potential entrances. He’s been jumpy and somewhat uncomfortable since you both came out on this grocery run. Well, it’s to be expected, he’s a wanted vigilante in several countries, after all. Even if he is wearing civilian clothing and switched out his visor for a scarf, he could still be recognized. You return to your decision-making, eyeing your options carefully.
“What if we do a pink-lady and red delicious combination?”
Soldier’s head whips around so fast, you could swear you hear it.
“For apple pie?”
You blink at him. “Yes?”
He walks over, abandoning his watch point in the corner of the store. He takes one look at the selection and swipes several apples of varying colors, dropping them into your cart. He does it with such confidence and so quickly, you couldn’t help but wonder.
The man nods in satisfaction when he grabs the cart handles, wheeling it away. You follow. “So which did you pick?”
He grunts. “Several different types. Jonagored, Liberties…”
The two of you stop to grab something on the long shopping list off the shelf. “Variety is key. You need both tart and sweet. Best combination is to have some some soft apples mixed with crisp.”
You hum in acknowledgement, comparing the prices between two blocks of butter. “You’re pretty knowledgeable about this.”
Soldier: 76 doesn’t answer, he just continues walking down the aisle. You watch him, and smile to yourself. For all of his griping and awkwardness at the beginning of this trip, he seems to blend in pretty well. You grab the butter of your choice and catch up to your comrade a few aisles over.
“So, about the pie.” You drop the dairy product into the cart. “Should the apples be cubed or sliced?”
“Sliced,” he says quickly. He sounds slightly scandalized as though he can’t believe that cubed apples are even up for consideration. You raise an eyebrow. That’s the strongest opinion he’s had outside of combat that you’ve heard from the man’s mouth.
“Don’t like them cubed?”
“They don’t make any damn sense. Double crust with sliced combinations of crisp tarts and soft sweets in the middle, drizzle of caramel on top.” Wow, that actually sounds pretty delicious.
“Well, since you’re so sure,” you tease, “I guess you’ll have to show me how it’s done.”
“Is that a challenge?” The cart halts and he looks at you, presence suddenly imposing. His blue eyes are practically glowing.
You boldly meet his gaze, grinning. “You bet it is.”
When you both return to base, Soldier: 76 makes good on his promise. And by the end of the night, you have to concede during your second helping of pie.
It is the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted.