“Oh. Avon was right,” Vila said in surprise, stepping into the kitchen where Tarrant was busy preparing himself a meal. “Suppose it had to happen. Sooner or later.”
“What’re you on about now, Vila?” Tarrant asked without looking up.
“Nothing,” Vila said. “Don’t think I like it though.”
“Don’t like what?”
Vila shrugged. “Him being right. Might mean I’m wrong for once. Got to balance the scales, you know.”
Sighing exasperatedly, Tarrant glared at him. “What are you talking about?”
“Just something Avon said, about your cooking dinner for us.”
“I’m not cooking dinner for ‘us,’ I’m making myself a meal.”
“That’s what I mean,” Vila replied. “And that’s what Avon said: you’re too selfish to bother cooking something for the rest of us, even though you’re halfway there already. I tried to defend you, I did, but he wouldn’t listen. No one ever does.” Turning away, Vila said, “Seems he was right, anyway. First time for everything, I suppose.”
He left Tarrant staring at him with concern and made his way onto the flight deck, where Avon was tinkering with another of his gadgets.
“He’s got you there,” Vila said loudly enough that his voice carried. Avon, however, did not look up. “Not much that goes with broccoli cheese.” Sitting at his station, Vila put his hands behind his head. “I should know: me mum used to make it all the time, back when I was a kid, and I never got dessert with it.” He eyed Avon. “’Course, if anyone could overcome broccoli and cheese, it’d be you. I told him so, too, but he wouldn’t listen. Bit of a prat, isn’t it? But then, you knew that.”
“Vila,” Avon finally said, still not glancing up from his work. “You’ve forgotten something.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“To shut up.”
Growing defensive, Vila sat up. “Hey! I’m trying to do you a favor here! What sort of thanks is that?”
Arching an eyebrow at that, Avon finally looked over his shoulder at him. “And just what sort of favor could any of that incessant drivel possible be?”
“Broccoli and cheese,” Vila said, nodding sagaciously. “Tarrant said there was no way even you could come up with a dessert that would suit that. I think he’s right.” Quickly, he added, “But don’t tell him I said so. Go right to his already over-inflated ego, that would.”
Shaking his head with annoyance, Avon returned to his device. “That is not going to work, Vila.”
“Telling me Tarrant is cooking so I’ll go in there to challenge him so you’ll get to sample the finished product to decide whose is better.”
“Hey, I hadn’t thought of that. It’s a good one.”
“Well, it’s not happening. We cook our own meals now, as decided.”
“Oh. Well, you had better tell Tarrant. He’s in there making dinner for everyone, out of the kindness of his bleeding heart. Except he’s being stingy about dessert. Like I said, he doesn’t think anything goes with broccoli and cheese. And he’s right, you know. Don’t think even Cally could combat that, and she makes a mean cheesecake.”
“Vila, shut up.”
Shrugging, Vila pushed to his feet, moving towards the crew cabins. “Suit yourself,” he said, heading out. “But he is wearing your apron.”
Avon sat perfectly still for several minutes after Vila departed. Then, carefully setting down his laser spanner, he got to his feet and stalked off towards the kitchen.
“I don’t know how you did it,” Dayna said, counting off a neat stack of bills into Vila’s hand. “Getting Tarrant to cook for everyone was easy enough, but convincing Avon to go in on dessert too? I thought I had you beat for sure.”
“They’re both very amicable guys,” Vila said, smiling at the money he was being paid out. “If you know what to say to them.” Down the corridor, the sounds of Avon and Tarrant bickering in the kitchen could be heard. “Course, from the sound of that might not be much left by the time they finish.”
“What, and risk destroying all that hard work? I wouldn’t worry about that too much.” Dayna pocketed away the rest of her money, glancing towards the distant voices. “Still, maybe I ought to go rescue the food. Just in case. I’ll meet you in the galley.”
“You do that,” Vila agreed, heading the opposite direction. “I’ll be there in a few.”
Curious, Dayna said, “Where’re you going?”
“Oh,” Vila said with a nonchalant shrug and a little smile. “Just thought I’d mention something to Cally first. Avon does get so disappointed when he does all the cooking and is still left to clean the dishes, you know.”
“You little sneak,” Dayna chided, moving to hit him playfully.
Skipping away, Vila called, “You’re just lucky your credits are more enjoyable than your cooking!”