AN: After this, I'll probably have one more update next Monday or Tuesday, and if I have time one more that week, but then I'll be on spring break, so I won't have much access to computers. I might type up some things in advance and head down to an internet cafe to publish them, but I make no promises. Things should be back to normalish around the second week of April. Just so you all know! As always, any comments are welcome.
Two hours later, Baz, Airi and Nyssa were back in their ship, changed into normal clothes, and were relaxing in their ship's small common room, along with their other five companions. They were seated around a large, square table that had drinks and glasses spread out on it, which everyone was enjoying.
"It just seems kind of strange, doesn't it?" Gilla asked, continuing the conversation they'd been having about their day with Tawn. "That we'd find someone so quickly. That valley's not exactly a small place." Gilla had proven to be the over-thinker of the group, never taking anything at face value. Baz had found it infuriating that she couldn't just take anything for what it was. He also found it infuriating that she turned out to be the best friend of his newly ex-girlfriend Vern, and held more than a small grudge against him. They didn't get along well, to say the least.
"I'm recalling a phrase about gift horses and mouths." Baz responded, taking a sip of his juice. No alcohol on the job, and they were on the job 24/7. Unfortunately.
"She does have a point though." Jarred chimed in.
"We got lucky." Corey said simply, supporting Baz. "Don't read too much into it, it sounds like she's been nothing but friendly."
"Thank you." Baz grinned.
"Do you think we'll be able to meet other people from the valley?" Airi inquired.
"Do you think there is anyone else?" Nyssa suggested.
Payton raised his brows. "I don't see why there wouldn't be. We know there were the last time people came here."
"Payton's right." Corey agreed. "There have to be others."
"We have no evidence to support that." Nyssa pointed out.
"We have no evidence otherwise." Corey countered.
"We could ask her tomorrow." Airi suggested.
"Think she'll understand?" Gilla questioned.
"It shouldn't be too hard." Baz replied.
"The real question is more if she'll let you meet them." Toby replied. There was nodding throughout the group as they agreed to that.
"…Respect that, I guess." Baz answered. Gilla laughed and he immediately rolled his eyes.
"When have you respected anything?"
Corey sighed. "Gilla…" he said warningly. She shot him a dirty look and Baz sent her an unfriendly smirk.
"You could try to get her to show you anyways." Toby went on.
"That sounds more in character." Gilla added.
"Hey now." Baz said, "Despite what some people" he directed a pointed look at Gilla, "might think, I always respect when a lady says no." Corey groaned and placed his palm to his face.
"And misinterpretation abounds." Jared muttered.
"I didn't mean it like that." Toby argued, looking to both Gilla and Baz. "What I meant was show her you trust her, then she might be more inclined to trust you." Everyone wore confused looks and Toby let out an exhasperated sigh. "If you want her to show you her family, start by showing her yours."
Baz was still confused. "That's… not really an option, you know."
"I think he was talking about us." Corey ventured.
"…Oh." Baz shot Toby a weird look. "Look, Toby. You're pretty cool and all, but I've only known you for a week. I'm not sure if I'm ready to take the step to 'family' just yet." he said, his cocky tone back and laced with sarcasm. He thought he heard Gilla say something, but couldn't quite make it out. Not that he really wanted to anyways.
Payton took the moment of silence that followed to stand. "I should go to bed." he said, "I have early shift in the morning." Baz grinned. One of the (many) perks of being on the exploration team was that he got out of the mundane tasks assigned to everyone else, such as keeping an eye on the communications channel, cleaning, cooking, or collecting dirt samples.
However, they were given a few hours every night when everyone was free and Gesner watched the communications channel, which required constant supervision, so they could socialize, something Gesner insisted was very important for their development as a team.
"Nighty-night." Baz teased, while the others were much more polite with their good-byes. Payton was the quietest and most polite of the bunch as they had learned quickly, and didn't seem to have much interest in really getting to know anyone.
"Oh, idea!" Airi exclaimed suddenly, startling everyone.
"Go on?" Jared prompted.
"Well, today Tawn brought us some food, right?" she began, looking around the table to watch everyone's reactions, "We ate it for lunch, so I was thinking maybe tomorrow we can bring her some of our food and share it?" she made her statement into a question as she noticed everyone giving her strange looks. "…Or not?" she finished and slumped back down into her seat.
Airi was a strange girl, as Baz had quickly learned. She often had really good ideas, but lacked the self-confidence to pursue them. She would back down almost immediately at the first sign of disapproval. Kind of like a puppy, he'd decided. Eager to please, but quick to tuck her tail between her legs.
"No," Jared chimed in, "it's a good idea." Jared had proven to be the mediator of their group. Not really surprising, considering that before he was transferred to their team he had been in charge of conflict resolution in their company's HR department. He was able to let bad ideas down gently, encourage good ideas without inflating egos and diffuse tense situations easily enough.
"If they gave you a gift, it would be right to return it in some way. Reciprocity would be appreciated in any culture, I'm sure." he continued, and Airi sat up a bit straighter in her chair.
"That's what I was thinking." she said with a small smile.
"What would you bring?" Gilla inquired as she glanced at Toby. The two of them were on cooking duty together.
"Something easy to eat." Airi began, "She's probably not used to a lot of the things we put in our food."
"Though she is used to radiation." Corey interjected, "So she might be able to handle more than we think."
"Maaaaaybe." Toby half-agreed, "Why not bring a bunch of different things and then she can take what she likes? You could watch and bring more of the things she liked another time."
"But we'll have to be careful." Nyssa added, "If she can't handle something in it, it could look like we're trying to get her sick."
Baz considered this all for a moment. "What if we brought her things similar to what she brought us?" he suggested.
"Do we have anything like that?" Nyssa asked.
"We have pitas. And jerky."
"No kesht, too bad." Airi said with a sigh. "Maybe she'll bring more tomorrow?"
"We can hope." Baz agreed, and then turned to smirk at Nyssa. "We can also hope they'll be unpoisoned again."
"It's too bad they weren't." Gilla responded quickly before anyone else had a chance to.
"Oh my god, Gilla, give it a rest already." Baz said, annoyed, "It wasn't working out between Vern and I, okay? It's not like I killed her cat with a ceiling fan or something."
Jarred made a move to respond, to break it up, but Gilla pushed herself to her feet and cut him off. "Her heart was set on you."
"It sounded like it was set on marriage, not me."
"She never talked to me about anything but you."
"Funny, she never mentioned you at all." Baz replied, not getting anywhere near as worked up about this as she was. In fact, he was kind of enjoying it.
"You act like you can just go through life an—"
"That's enough." Jarred's voice interrupted them, calm, but firm, and definitely final. "The last thing we need is a cat fight based on something trivial like this."
Gilla opened her mouth to protest, but a sharp look from Jarred made her close it again. She stood and shot Baz a dirty look before marching out of the room, muttering something about sleep to the rest of them.
Once the door closed behind her, Baz burst out laughing, but was quickly cut off by the same sharp look from Jarred.
"Oh come on." he protested, "That was funny."
"You shouldn't have provoked her." Jarred scolded.
"Provoked? She totally started it."
"What are you, five?" Nyssa asked, "She started it." she mocked.
"Sorry, mom. I'll try to behave better next time." he said, rolling his eyes as he spoke, and then stood. "Anyways, now that I've had my fill of drama, I think I'll head to bed too. Sleep tight you all." and with that he left, leaving the remaining five sitting in an awkward silence.