Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: Magnets in a Minefield

For the b7friday alien customs challenge, 700-odd words of fluff set in season 1.

Magnets in a Minefield

"I don't know why the girls wouldn't come with us," Vila said, looking around the market. "What'd they mean anyway about it being a minefield and not wanting to be with anyone magnetic?"

"I daresay they were worried you'd be caught stealing," said Avon.

Vila was offended. "They wouldn't catch me! And besides, I'm not that petty. Ah! Here's some food at last. I was getting peckish." He approached a stall selling fruit and vegetables, set coyly off in a dark corner and peered with interest. "What d'you think those things are?"

"Bananas," said Gan. "We grew them on Zephron. Takes me right back, that does."

"I'll have one then," said Vila. "I'll try anything once."

The old stallholder waved at him to choose while keeping her eyes averted, and scraped his money into a drawer with the edge of a paper bag.

Avon was amused. "She seems somewhat worried about where your hands have been."

"Nowhere they shouldn't have, surprisingly enough." Vila turned the banana in his hands. "Looks a bit tough."

"You peel the outside off," said Gan. "They're not that tasty on their own though. I think I'll go for a nice juicy pear."

The stallholder hissed with shock and turned away.

Vila sniggered. "Perhaps she doesn't know how to spell that."

Avon contrived to look at if he was not with them and selected an apple, sliding his money towards the woman. As they left, she pushed a pile of paper bags towards them.

"Bags!" she said hoarsely.

"Mine's got a cover of its own," said Vila.

"And I'm eating mine right now, thanks," said Gan.

There was a collective gasp of horror as people moved away from them. Gan shrugged and bit into his pear, the juice running down his chin. Somewhere in the crowd was the sound of soft retching, and a laugh that sounded suspiciously like Jenna.

"Um... I think people are following us," Vila said nervously.

Avon stopped and looked behind them. There was indeed a small group of rather furtive-looking types who had stopped when he did; everyone else near seemed to be looking everywhere but at them. One of the followers licked his lips, very slowly, and a woman was pushed forward by her giggling friend.

"Do you three go together?" she asked, and clapped a hand over her mouth in acute embarrassment.

Avon was beginning to get an inkling of what was going on. "Do not read anything into this. We are just hungry."

There was another gasp of horror, and he held his hand up (the one without the apple). The mood changed to anger and there was the distinct sound of knives and other weapons being drawn.

"I rather think," said Avon, bringing his hand up to his mouth, "that we should teleport now, Blake!"

"What the hell was that about?" Vila demanded, stepping out of the teleport bay.

"I suspect it was the shape of the fruit you chose," said Avon, annoyed. "Trust you to make that sort of mistake."

Behind the teleport controls, Blake sank his head in his hands.

"Then they shouldn't sell them!"

"I think it was more than that." Gan licked his sticky fingers thoughtfully as Jenna and Cally materialised, still laughing.

Jenna shook her head, still trying to get herself under control.

"You should have read up on the local customs like Blake told you to," Cally said reprovingly, then smirked.

"I suppose it was Vila--"

"Oh no, you two were much worse."

"I'm not sure I want to know," said Blake heavily.

"It was bad enough when Gan talked about eating," said Jenna, "but when he actually did?"

"You see," said Cally, "eating and all other necessary bodily functions are only to be performed in private. You're not even supposed to show food in public. I'm just glad none of you coughed or sneezed. And you, Avon, were the worst. Showing the palms of one's hands or the soles of the feet is the deadliest insult you can offer."

Blake sighed and gripped his hair.

"All Vila did was advertise his availability with a suitably-shaped--" Jenna sniggered "--item of food."

"Available, eh?" Vila threw his banana up in the air and caught it again. "Right, I'll see you lot later."

"Oh no, you don't." Blake glowered. "All shore leave is cancelled, and so probably are the talks I was having with their leaders." He turned away in disgust. "And if you want to eat that thing, you can do it well out of my sight."

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