Sweeping a stray sunflower shell off of the flannel shirt of John's hanging on her for an all purpose night and day gown, Chiana sniffed again and then dropped a few more seeds into the flower planter outside of the window over the kitchen sink. Her attention remained glued into the drugstore novel in her other hand.
Again the male made sweeter talk than she'd ever heard of. But he was still saying goodbye to the awesomely lovely, sexy, intelligent, successful, brooding and artistic sweet talking lady who loved him so much that there was nothing else to her life except her emotions concerning her love affair with the awesomely handsome, sexy, hunky, intelligent, successful, brooding and artistic sweet talking man.
"Nuah," Chiana moaned and wiped her tear streaked face. She just made it into the living room, in time to collapse across the couch at the same time the lady collapsed, when the man closed the door and walked out of her life. "Frell," she managed to get out between sniffles.
It was definitely time to do something uplifting. Fighting the heaving sobs, Chiana turned on the television and the incredibly primitive play interaction renderer. The tears welling in her eyes made her vision mostly a blur. Fortunately she knew how the game opened. Fighting not to choke on a bad sob, she chose the gatlin plasma cannon option and steered her player out into the apocalyptic future ghetto street.
She kept seeing the beautiful male speaking so beautifully and walking out the door. By the time she tuned into the game, the policeman had splattered so much of her player's blood onto the graffiti'd walls that almost all of her strength points were already used up. Fortunately, after jerking all over the couch frantically commanding the game controller, she managed to get her player up enough to blow the policeman's internal organs and a few gallons of blood all over the street with the gatlin plasma cannon. Feeling a little calmer, she managed a halfway steady sigh, smiling slightly again.
After getting so engrossed she stood in the center of the room and thrashed all over acting out her commands to the player, she eventually settled down on the couch. Sitting upside down with her legs over the back of the couch, the trunk on the seat and her head hanging over the edge, she sighed while beating the dren out of the twentieth opponent. They were getting predictable and she was getting bored. "Why can't you play the policeman and beat bad guys up?" she asked out loud.
Eventually she won so many rounds she got bored and dropped the controller with a petulant sigh. Gaping blankly at the screen, she watched the opponent blow her player's head off. "Woo," she widened her eyes and stuck her tongue out at it the evil laugh of the gloating enemy.
Throwing her feet over her head, she flipped onto her feet. Approaching the television, her hands and posture swayed as she wondered again how it turned off. She remembered how to turn down the volume. So she decided to turn the sound all the way down, pick up the television and put it face down on the floor so it couldn't be seen that it was on. She nodded to herself that the television was taken care of for now and hopped away across the living room.
She caught at the juncture of the living room, the kitchen ahead on her right and the bathroom and past the bathroom, bedroom, on her left. The same anxieties came right back. Wrenching her hand on her forehead, her black eyes cut around herself. The less options there were the harder it got to decide which to do. She dropped her head back, groaned at the ceiling and headed for the bedroom to dig around in John's belongings again. That was her most favorite thing to do.
Carefully setting everything in a special order so that she could quickly put it all back as it was if he suddenly returned, she soon had things spread all over the bed and floor around her and was still digging in the closet. To her disappointment, this time she found the closet floor. "Ah frell."
Then she noticed there was a handle on it. "Wha-?" She cleared more space and found it was a trap door. "Whoa." Therefore she had to open it. There was a lot of cobwebs on the back of it and a few arachnids. She saw a spider and wondered again how these creatures ever got here from Farrwi IX anyhow. Well maybe they'd had visitors at some time which the primitive humans didn't know about. Or maybe it was way before there were humans. Thanks to those traveling Farrwi, these frelling critters were all over the galaxy by now. She repeatedly pressed on the long legged spider's back to harass it as it tried bobbing along away from her. She giggled. Then she smashed it and stuck her head in the hole.
There was plenty of light for her to see with, coming from small gaps in the sidings. It looked like this just gave access to the small gap under the raised building. There didn't seem to be anything under here but dirt and infestations left over from Farrwi IX. After hanging upside down a while, she dropped in onto her feet. Crawling around, she found a construction tool and a few old nails. She decided to take them up and surprise John that she'd found these things he'd lost under here.
Then she heard a chattering sound. Over in a far corner, a big rounded black mass moved. Chiana dropped the items she'd found and looked around. There was no way out but the trap door. The powerful critter lunged at her. She lunged for the trap door at first but soon noticed she wasn't fast enough. She turned and sprung for one of the side panels.
A side panel at the bottom of the outside kitchen wall exploded to splinters, unleashing a hollering Chiana and hot on her heels, a chattering, now offensive Raccoon.
Early morning sunlight was dispersing the mists surrounding the cabin when the silence was disturbed by the crunching of footsteps and a voice. "Nuh! Stop pulling the hair, Jack!" Chiana lectured the raccoon hanging between one of her forearms and her shoulder and reaching for her hair. "Ah! Frell!" Chiana hissed at it when it yanked another catch of her hair out. It tried eating her hair and she giggled at it and its funny mannerisms.
"Now if you're still around later I'll get you....whatever's left to eat okay?" she bent over to set it down on the driveway in front of the cabin. It leapt for the ground but took the shoulder of the old worn out flannel shirt John had given her with it. She tried to grab it back but the raccoon took off, and she ended up with the back bottom of the flannel shirt up over her head, her bare behind up in the air and her shoulder and the side of her face in the dirt. "Ungh" Chiana dropped the rest of herself onto the dirt and rolled over onto her back.
"Well," she muttered to herself. "At least I don't have to take a run today." Cursing about the craziness of everything on this planet, she stiffly walked back toward the cabin door.
Having all this time and no point in occupying it had become uncomfortably common to John. Time seemed to be at a premium, except for stretches like these where he found himself with free time, but nothing worthwhile to do, nowhere interesting to be, and apart from anyone he wanted to spend time with.
Several chairs in front and to one side of John's randomly chosen table in the virtually dead airport food court, a lady sat eating her dinner. He watched her. The lady was somewhere around 30 and tall, with long black hair. Her black suit and skirt combination told him she was the business type, in case her laptop, cell phone and briefcase didn't. It looked as if she was of the salad diet and spa sort, thin with fair pampered skin, and neatly eating a small, relatively low fat meal. The way she flipped her long straight black hair over one ear suggested she was the confident, calculating and demanding career woman type.
Folding his arms and sitting back a bit in his chair, John's thoughts weren't absorbed on the woman he watched for long, becoming entangled with the thoughts of a certain other black haired lady. One his whole being had been invested with. Yet, if anything, Aeryn differed more sharply from himself than the business woman he was so coolly analyzing. Aeryn appeared similar, but she wasn't even, strictly speaking, human. A derivative, perhaps, but it begged the question of what similarities and differences mattered.
When Aeryn and himself had succeeded in becoming a couple complete with child, John had considered himself to have been enlightened on the subject of what mattered most to a couple. Not is so many words of course, but he did believe he knew. At the time, he never thought that he was still early in the process of learning, and not at an end.
Love had made his radiant Aeryn Sun seem as though she could be everything that mattered as far as he was concerned, even if she hadn't conceived anything of the sort. She had resisted for a time. He could hear Aeryn speaking one of her fears now, telling him that he left her nothing of her own. There were differences that he admired and found attractive, such as her inner strength, and there were things he didn't approve of, such as many elements of Peacekeeper mentalities, that he believed would be overcome as she grew to be more.
What seemed like a lifetime later, she came to find it as all-encompassing as he did, growing into being everything they thought they wanted. What she came to think she wanted, however, was essentially what he wanted. She became his lover, his wife and mother of their child. Aeryn committed herself to whatever he believed to matter the most and retained the things he fancied. He couldn't have been happier, but neither had faced what she had tried telling him before she became as committed as he was.
For all he knew, the lovely black-haired lady he watched had found a relationship she was satisfied in. But he'd be surprised. Watching her was the closest he'd come to the feeling he'd felt watching Aeryn shortly before their last encounter. He was watching a woman who'd grown into her own life, one that might have want of him but had no need for him.
To be wanted would have been enough for him. But Aeryn grew to be more, growing out of the place they had found for her. To find one day that she resented being what she thought he wanted, it was shattering. He thought it was just about love. That wasn't quite the whole picture, as one day she made him see more.
It was near enough to Christmas that he overlooked the mistaken timing when she gave him some shirts. She didn't like shopping for such things, so it was a special, caring gesture. "I respect you very much," Aeryn had said. Then she said she should go. He didn't understand her few attempts to explain. It was probably a crude translation, but what she'd said had seemed underwhelming or even hurtful at the time. In truth, she'd said the most meaningful thing she could. He knew now that should have let her go, but at the time he simply kept after her as resiliently as ever.
She no longer followed his plans, doing some things he came to understand, but could never accept that she would do. Aeryn hadn't believed what he had, she didn't come from where he did. Not literally, he had watched her learning and growing with so much love and pride. It had been a long time before she recognized him as equal and not inferior. It never entered his mind to think her inferior. He'd always treated her with the fairest kindness, from the first moment he'd offered her his hand and she had beaten him and literally kicked him when he was down.
It never occurred to him to think a negative thing of her, until the bitterness set in. Then he came to question her at every stage, wondering what kind of person could turn in their lover to certain torture and death, for simply doing the right thing. Long after she'd confessed her betrayal of Velorek, he came to think that man's fate should have meant more to himself. After a while longer, when the universe no longer hung on what he thought of her, he learned again to understand she had learned better, and he gave up any blame.
The bitterness came too quick to be fair. He fully understood her having had enough of the universe being against her, against their child, against them. She had known better than to try a life on Earth, it offered no escape for her or any child of theirs. What was more, she no longer cared to try. It was a part of what changed her. Too many sorrows, too much grief, too much on her shoulders for her, never mind supporting him or a child through what seemed like endless traumas. Too many times breaking each other apart, and too many times pulling together again, only to be tried again.
He had seen his share of change as well. He was hopelessly in love. Being hopeless was never his natural way. The universe had revolved around their love, and all they went through to live it was turning his heart into stone. 'It was all part of the process', he told himself now. The changes had been seeping into his awareness, like water through an aquifer, carrying wisdom of the soul like water carried traces of the fabric of the earth.
He felt an understanding for Aeryn. It didn't make the change feel good, but it did bring some peace to be able to think better of her and of what happened. He could respect it. The black haired business woman turned and looked back at John, knowing she was being watched. She smiled functionally, but he smiled genuinely enough. He didn't feel bitter towards either lady, any more than he felt any love, but he'd be all right, and it was good to think they would be. She smiled a bit more genuinely before returning to her meal.
He remembered vividly what a major event it was to him when Aeryn had first been able to return a look at him and show genuine care. It was a nice, human smile, he remembered telling himself, even if he did have to prompt it. But Bob- Chiana, he minded himself -had always had a ready smile and had always cared.
Chiana was obviously alien in ways Aeryn didn't seem to be at first, but he was discovering that what he had in common with Chiana might have been more crucial, and with gradual understanding, easily outweighed the keen differences they would always have. They'd always intuitively understood what the other believed. They'd always loved the other for it, as little as he used to notice.
Chiana didn't have to change. He didn't have to change. It wouldn't matter much if they did. The more he understood of himself, the more he understood her, and what she understood about him in turn. He'd wanted a dream of love, while he'd ignored the love already there. Humbling didn't seem to fully cover it, but it was a frame of mind he now felt that perhaps he couldn't have back when he and his world were shattered by a wormhole. He'd needed change and growth. He needed the dreams. Now he needed other things.
It almost startled him that someone else joined them at the cafe, a man with dark about his eyes. John remembered seeing him on the flight here. He was perhaps middle-eastern and had ordered food John didn't recognize.
That reminded him that his dinner was getting cold. He just wasn't motivated to eat unless it was made with caring intent, like Chiana cooked for him back at the cabin. It felt like....home. This stuff wasn't nearly as good either. He lectured himself for being spoiled and just ate it. It was fair, a little like eating food cubes. He usually ate food cubes on Moya. Chiana had cooked a few times after arriving on Moya, but only a few. She'd quit and ate junk too. They even ate Noranti's sometimes horrid meals.
Unlike Noranti, Chiana hadn't asked what anyone thought of her cooking. He wondered now if Chiana had stopped because no one cared enough to say they liked her cooking without being prompted. At least, he couldn't remember ever mentioning it. It seemed odd now that he'd never even thought about it before, not to mention ironic since he had often told Aeryn that such little things could mean allot. Perhaps it was the lack of thought that didn't count.
He didn't really mind being interrupted most of the way through dinner by his cell phone ringing, until he picked it up and the voice at the other end told him General Morrison wanted to talk to him. The first thing the General said was "Where are you?"
"Well, General, I'm talking to you right now from," John bent back in his chair to check the sign, "Cafe Aroma. I'm on a stopover between flights. If you want to meet me here, you'll have to hurry though. Besides the fact I leave in a while, someone running this racket's bound to notice it's doing about as well as an honest DVD importer in China. Just me, a lady in the kitchen that's understandably not mentally present, a nice lookin' business lady in a snappy black suit and skirt," he winked over at the nearby lady, who glanced over her shoulder at his mention, "and the Pakistani terrorist from my flight."
The lady looked down at him and returned to eating. John stuck out his tongue at her back. "What? Why no Sir, I'm not being impertinent. I'm just elaborating so you'll have more information with which to base any consideration of the veracity of my information. Yeah, I know, that's why I'm on my way right now, Sir. Yes, Sir. Fine idea Sir, that would allow all this to be settled in a timely and thorough fashion. Sir. Certainly I will, General. Good day, Sir." John closed the line and put his phone away. "Gawd that guy is unreal. If I see fighters escorting the plane I'll try not to be surprised."
"You're in the service?" the lady spoke. John looked up to see her standing at the other side of his table with her tray in her hand. She had a very pretty smile, of an almost blunt power, not unlike Aeryn's. It looked trained.
"In a sense, I'm an Astronaut."
"So that's moon dust on your shoes," she kidded him, "how remarkable."
John got the distinct sense she recognized who he was while he was speaking to the General. "I'm a different kind of Astronaut," he replied, to which he added to himself, "I oughtta put that on my bumper sticker."
"Well you don't have to be a stranger, eating by yourself here. We're on the same flight to Sydney. Why not come up to the cabin and talk, it might make the flight seem a little shorter."
John looked her over, suddenly noticing her pilot's jacket and cap over her briefcase. She was a pilot. He smiled to himself. Yes, she would have to be. "I like to fly my own planes now, thanks," he smiled.
Her face sharpened and she crisply walked away. He eyed her lean body and strong walk. Even had he been able to strike up something, he just didn't feel a need anymore. There was an innate cuteness and spontaneous life he found lacking in her smile, and she didn't have a sense of silk, bone and breath or an aura of magic that had filtered its way into his senses. It wasn't Chiana. No one was like Chiana.
He pulled out his phone and dialed. "C'mon Bob answer the phone," he muttered into it.
"H-hi," Bob nervously answered.
"Hey Bob. Chi there?"
"Na, she's in a bath," she replied. He could practically hear her just smiling broadly, and could definitely hear a little water sloshing.
"Having Aroma therapy here. Dinner at a Cafe Aroma." John took another bite of lukewarm dinner, continuing to talk the best he could with food in his mouth. "Bath? Hm you're making me jealous of Mr. Ducky." He heard the yellow rubber duck squeak as she squeezed it a couple times and laughed.
"Why, wasn't playing with Mihser Duhc-ey," she retorted. "You didn't bring me that bash wash pad you promised so I could make bathing a fun sensual experience just like the models do in the soap commercials. Playing with my nipples the whole time keeps making my fingers tired."
John choked on his last swallow for a moment then had to laugh. He was often caught a little off guard by her deftly sliding in human culture jokes. "Sorry about that, I'll bring some back with me. I'd bring back some other kinds of toys but I don't think you need them. So, everything okay there?" There was a few moments of silence on her end, only the noise of some movement in the water. So he spoke again. "I'll bring back some new scents for you to try. I'll ask Sue or someone what shampoos and soaps they like."
"Yeah, sounds drad," her voice dropped to a mutter, "if you remember this time."
He thought he heard but wasn't perfectly sure that's what she said. "Huh?"
"Nothing. And bring back something silk."
"You got it. Hey. Bob. Love you."
"I wish I was back already, Bob. Take care of yourself. Call you from Sydney when I get settled in. Bye." He hung on the line until she clicked it off. Yearning to go home and resentment at being where he was crept back. How he hated those feelings half the time. There'd been too much of that.
"Hello, Mister Crichton," John was surprised by the man with dark about his eyes approaching him in a very halting English. "I see your especial space to. Much great esteems, I is Ahmed Ahmed, Allah praise be, much is success for future," the man nodded slightly.
"Thank you, Mister Ahmed, God bless," he shook his hand and the man departed. "Some more nice guys like that sure wouldn't hurt," John told the last bite of his dinner and ate it. But the way the man carried his suitcase raised John's suspicion. Then the appearance of a couple of happy children running up to the man, evidently their father, counteracted the suspicion. "Damn those that aren't," he commented, picking up his tray.
John opened his briefcase to look at a few papers the IASA wanted signed as he walked to the terminal. But a very petite Goth girl walked in front of him the whole way, and he kept watching her, thinking of Bob, and wondering if he shouldn't have brought her along. He told himself that he needed to quit questioning himself about it. Someone needed to decide how to approach their situation and stick to it, and she'd be too impulsive.
John sat down at the terminal and rolled his head back with a groan. 'Too bad I can't involve Dad', he thought. It wasn't that he'd ever want to shatter Jack's Earthy views, it was just that he could use a firmer point of view. He felt like he was turning into an increasingly easy pushover for a certain young lady he called Bob.
Drying her hair with her flannel shirt, Chiana decided that everything felt so much better after bathing that she'd skip her previous plan of taking a nap. She decided she'd either do something fun like go outside naked and hose off under the eaves again or do something that would make the nerves calmer later, like doing a nice hard work out for a while. But then she heard noises from the bedroom.
Frightened, she dropped the torn flannel shirt over herself, yanked the wig onto her head, threw a few towels around herself and crept toward the bedroom. She then saw the bedroom was a disaster area, with all John's stuff strewn all over the place. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes flew wide and enraged on the raccoon.
It locked its big black eyes on hers and blinked. Some photograph was partly chewed in its mouth. "Now Jack....be niiiice, niiiice Jack give, give that here," she coaxed it. It then leapt to its escape out the trap door she'd left open. "Jack!" she screamed at it. She tore the towels and wig from herself on her way down the trap door.
John smiled at the flight attendant who set his beer down on his tray table. She smiled invitingly at him before turning away to give another passenger their drink. John took a drink and stared at the liquid sloshing around in the glass for a moment. He sighed. 'Gawd', he muttered to himself. He missed Bob already. 'Yup, you're whipped Johnny,' he thought with a grin and a chuckle.
He stared some more at his glass, his mood turning somber. Stupid IASA, wanting him in Sydney, knowing damn good and well that they were interrupting his long-overdue and hard-earned vacation. For what? Yet another bunch of ever inconclusive tests. Anomalies they said. Irregularities they said. Questions they said.
'Well duh,' he thought. Crash landing in the Western Australian desert hadn't exactly been the Number One choice on his top ten list either, but it had served its purpose, disposing of and concealing the alien technology on his module. Simple. The world wasn't ready for it and they weren't ready for Bob either. At least not yet.
He knew. He'd seen it happen. Twice. Once it had been based in his own perceptions, so perhaps he could argue it wasn't accurate. But the other time was real, or, real enough to give him some insight. It had profound consequences, only some of which he could observe. There was something about the events, though, that had always felt odd to him. Eventually that sense became part of the reason he finally chose not to leave that be.
Of course, at the time, he hadn't thought hard about Sikozu, and what she might have done, and not hard enough about Scorpius, and what he might have done. He hadn't thought a whole lot about anyone except Aeryn, unless they had more or less been in his face. What was happening to him and around him was already overwhelming enough. When he changed things again, he was better prepared. That didn't make things rosy for too many people for him to ever count, but there was no way to make everything right.
He'd said goodbye to his Dad in that reality, and now he was in another, back before all that happened, back shortly after he'd left. This time Earth would never be faced with knowing what was out there, at least not in any generation soon. Somewhere out there, he tried not to consider as he glanced out the window, things were taking their course, and would continue to until he had left it, leaving this reality to continue in a restructure he'd described to Chiana as a finite doubletrack. And nobody but Chiana knew what he knew.
His thoughts returned to the present, his ears overhearing some guy behind him talking to someone in harsh cadences about how no one understood. Every other word, something was mother-f*cking. 'No, no they'd never be ready', he shook his head to himself.
John smiled briefly as he thought about Bob but then he sighed again. Gawd he missed her. He took another sip of his beer as he sat there, wrapped in his thoughts. There was a time when he hadn't missed Bob at all; in fact, for a while he barely noticed she was around, and when that time had passed, he could hardly wait to get away from her. Because Bob, or, Chiana, he mentally corrected himself to think, reminded him of Moya and a certain black-haired woman. And again, he was remembering.
That black-haired woman was intended to be here, that was all he wanted at one point. At one time she said that from the moment she'd met him, she couldn't see an end to it. Then at the end, she saw more to herself than living forever in what she called a part of her life. She told him she needed somewhere else, that some of his future may include Earth, but that hers did not. He'd made sure she would be all right as far as he could foresee, but he'd also never foreseen he'd survive being without her. He couldn't even think why he would.
Life kept on going by somehow, and he struggled to forget with what came easily to hand, booze and the bodies of other women, sometimes including Bob. For a long time, whenever he looked at Bob, he half-expected Aeryn to come barreling through the door behind Bob, bellowing "Crichton!" in that 'you're just an annoying, deficient human,' tone of voice she sometimes had. Every time that burst into his mind, he ran as far as he could from Bob and anything that reminded him of Aeryn. Sometimes he still felt the need to try forgetting. Only now was the need fading to the point he could even admit to it. He considered that it may only be Bob still caring for him through all this time that was bringing any effective peace.
John took another drink, emptying the glass and setting it on his tray table. He looked out the window and saw nothing but clouds. Doug sat on the other side of the aisle absorbed completely in some computer magazine. He hadn't said much since coming on board, preferring his magazine to talking to John, so John was left with his thoughts. He hadn't even looked once at the stuff in his brief case, and didn't want to. He sighed again. Gawd he missed Bob.
He didn't know all of the reasons why in plain text, and he didn't know exactly when, but in the last few months he found himself actually looking forward to seeing Bob and resenting the work and public appearances that kept him away from home. 'Home,' he mused. It was a feeling he hadn't known in so very long, before the eternity ago that he first lost home through a wormhole.
It hadn't seemed like that until recently. All he knew was that he missed her laugh and her twitchy smiles, her odd, alien mannerisms and her frequent commentaries on stupid, human customs, among other things. He'd thought, at first, it was her honest caring about him that made him want to seek her freely offered arms, but he was gradually discovering that there was far more to it than comfort, someone who knew what he did, good meals or great times.
John grinned. Oh and yeah, the mind-blowing sex didn't hurt. Well, sometimes it did, but never that he minded. Okay, he admitted to himself maybe it wasn't mind-blowing but....oh hell, who was he trying to fool, it was mind-blowing, the best he ever had. He'd always joked to himself that she was sex on a stick, but how little he knew.
That little girl tied him up, tied him down, turned him inside out and every which way but loose before wringing him dry. She was manic about it, and probably gonna give him a heart attack one day, but whatta way to go. His smile grew broader, threatening to split his face in half if it got any bigger, but John didn't care. He shook his head.
It was too bad that he couldn't find a way to bottle Bob because he'd be rich if he did. Who needed Viagra when you had Bob, not that he needed Viagra, he reminded himself. Course, if they continued to stay together, he'd need that Viagra to keep up with her when he got older, which, if they kept up this pace, could be next week. John made a snicker and checked his glass, just then remembering it was empty.
John sighed again. One of the things that had changed was the fact that their relationship was no longer just about comfort or sex anymore, it was something else, something that he couldn't put his finger on. If he just wanted sex he could get it from anyone, including the flight attendant who stood just a few rows ahead of his seat. He smiled at her when she looked at him. She took his smile as an invitation to come back to his seat.
"Can I get you something Mr. Crichton?" she loudly asked. Her words implied more than that simple phrase, and John tried not to wince at how loud she said them.
"Just another beer, please," he replied curtly. The flight attendant looked visibly disappointed as she took his empty glass away. John felt a kind of petty satisfaction in disappointing her. Yeah he could have her six ways from Sunday, probably even up against the bathroom wall while she was still on duty, but strangely enough he didn't want her. He realized that he just wanted Bob. 'Is somebody getting spoiled?' he chided himself. 'Or just needing that something more,' he found himself adding. The 'something more' that he'd thought had left his life along with Aeryn. It had been right there....
"Hey mister, are you John Crichton?" asked a childish voice interrupting his thoughts.
John turned to see a red-headed boy, about seven or eight years old, staring at him. John smiled at him. "Yeah, I'm John Crichton."
"Can I have your autograph?" the boy asked shyly.
"Sure," John replied, still smiling at the boy. He looked around himself. "Do you have a pen or something and a piece of paper?" he asked, almost absently.
"Bobby, there you are," a feminine voice interrupted them.
John looked up to see a tall, good-looking blond woman bearing down on them. 'Just my type,' he thought. The woman came up to him and the boy and grabbed the boy's hand. "I'm sorry Mr. Crichton, but Bobby's a big fan of yours. He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up and wanted your autograph."
"Nu uh! You were the one..." the boy peevishly retorted before his mother covered his mouth with her hand.
"Don't mind my son, Mr. Crichton. He's kind of shy around strangers." She held out her hand for John to shake. "My name is Melissa."
John shook her hand. "Call me John. I call my father Mr. Crichton." Proving a sinking feeling right, their meeting went on for a few minutes and drew several others aboard the plane who wanted to meet the famous and good-looking astronaut.
But Bobby began to fidget. "Mom," the boy whined as he pulled at her hand. "C'mon let's go."
"Just a minute Bobby, I've still got to get your autograph," she replied impatiently.
"Looks like the natives are gettin' restless," said John. "You got a piece of paper?"
Melissa held out her hand and leaned in close enough to whisper in his ear, "Why don't you sign here, and make sure you put down your phone number."
Without missing a beat John pulled back and scrawled "John Crichton, NO WAY" on her hand. All the color drained from Melissa's face and she scowled at John. He was non-plussed, however, and ruffled Bobby's hair playfully as he crouched down to the child's level.
"I got a nephew named Bobby and he's a lot like you. And my girlfriend's name is Bobby too."
The child snorted in disbelief. "Girls can't have boy's names," he said with the absolute surety of the young.
"Sure they can. Her name is Roberta, but I call her Bob for short. Rob, Bob, you know."
Bobby giggled and opened his mouth to say something but his mother yanked him away. "Come on Bobby, your father is waiting for us."
John hid a grin as he watched them depart and the small group that had gathered around him began to disperse. He'd just known she was a married mother. He then frowned slightly, wondering to himself if he'd have been as quick to refuse if she'd been single and without a son. John sat down. And then he wondered what had made him wonder, until he recalled Bob pressing him about such morality. She was nothing if not sensitive to hypocrisy, and her questioning had been making him think and rethink many things he'd never thought much of before.
The flight attendant brought his beer and set it down before moving quickly away, without a trace of the inviting smile she'd had earlier. John sighed quietly as his thoughts returned to Bob and their relationship. 'Quit trying to name us', she'd said when he'd asked what she wanted him to call her. Pip, Bob, Chi, Chiana, baby, sugar....a dozen others. He'd thought at the time that she seemed to respond best to sugar, and he was fond of that for her too. Now he was more aware that she'd known he was really asking much more. He still felt as if he needed some definition.
Exactly what was their relationship? He struggled to define it. What were they? Friends, certainly, although he hadn't exactly been there for her lately. Which, he reminded himself with a grimace, had been typical pretty much all along. F*ck buddies like he and Caroline? Maybe for a time, but now it was something more. Family? Sure, he'd always felt mostly ready to accept that much. Assigning her a sibling approach had worked when they needed that, or at least when he did. The sexual chemistry that had always danced around the edges told him different, but only more recently could he embrace a relationship outside of that convenient pigeonhole. Lovers? Not like him and Aeryn. Something else, something that eluded definition at the moment, something that he needed to figure out. He needed to know exactly what he and Chiana were and where to go from this point. Besides quietly mad.
John picked up his glass and stared into the depths of the amber liquid as if searching for the answer there. He did miss Chi. Damn IASA. If those IASA types hadn't interrupted, then maybe he, they, could have had a chance to work things out. For now it would have to wait until he got back from Australia. He resolved that when he did get back, he'd have a long talk with Bob to see where things stood between them.
'Talk?' he asked himself. He'd never get her to sit still and talk like that. Well, she had her own way. Strange, he thought, that he found that more endearing than inconvenient now. More like it'd come around to the point sooner or later, in some way or another, and when it did....First he had to take care of this IASA business and tie up a few loose ends, and then it was just him and Bob.
John grinned broadly. Yeah, just him and Bob and a long, cold winter in a cabin in the mountains. They'd have to get nice and cozy in order to stay warm. 'Hell yeah,' he relished the thought, his grin sparkling, boyish and slightly flushed, 'just me and the little thang alone in that isolated cabin, the fire, the bear skin rug, now that's something to look forward to.' John sat back in his seat and smiled as the possibilities ran through his head. First Sydney, then a winter with Bob. Things were definitely beginning to look brighter.
"So much," Chiana grumbled to herself as she approached the cabin in the moonlight, "for my bath. He is going to have a Hynerian Donkey when he sees all his junk got messed with," she yanked out a few more slivers of wood and a few pine needles from her forearms, "and I am going to serve him raccoon zoup." She ran her fingers over a bunch of spider bites on her shoulders. "Spiced with spider."
By the time everything had been neatly replaced into their containers and stored in the closet, the sun had just risen and was shining in through the bedroom window. She walked over to the window and leaned outside. Looking up at the sounds of birds overhead, her face was immediately splattered with the droppings of some bird. She looked straight ahead out at the trees and blinked again. "Maybe bird zoup."
Washing her face in the bathroom, the water stopped. "Ah frell. So much....for bathing...." she muttered, walking out of the bathroom to see if she could figure out how to fix the primitive water pump John had pointed out to her a ways down the road.
But then a reflection of a filthy naked little body on a decorative copper pan on the wall caught her attention. She moved closer to it and posed, wondering at its rich reflective surfaces as much as looking at the distorted reflections of herself. Stepping back into the bathroom half in the door to take a reminding glance at herself in the mirror, her mouth moved to one side of her face. Somehow it all made her frustrated and very nervous.
Hurrying to the training equipment in the living room, she quickly set it up, clicked the resistance settings a few notches harder and began working her shoulders and torso. Once heated up and sweaty, the routine finally worked down her nerves. Moving to a forward and backward workout of her hips and legs, she let her thoughts absorb into the routine.
Once she felt she could think without that stress, she leaned her head aside against the window, looking aimlessly out at the trees. Her mind wandered while her leg strained repeatedly at the training machine. Her mouth muttered off the count, going past the number to quit without any notice. Why had the thought of staying with any male long term ever crossed her mind, she wondered, and when had it?
After some feeling it through again, she decided it wasn't the long term that bothered her, strangely. It felt very foolish but something in her believed it wasn't going to be a problem to be around John even after he'd grown old. By then John would probably be about as much fun as watching Rygel's nightly recounting of his lineage. But that didn't trouble her at all, to her surprise. It saddened her but didn't trouble her. That assumed they were companions.
Succeeding at being more between now and then, that was closer to it, a pinching of nerves confirmed to her. Sure she could just be around, being whatever he found less trouble, just as they'd done in the past. It just wouldn't due anymore. But how could she get him to keep with her on a more personal and intense level?
The increasingly severe trembling of her leg as it strained to keep working against the machine finally reminded her to switch legs. She started counting and soon wandered off in thought again.
With all the more convenient human females around, she was sure getting and keeping his attention meant she had to stand out in certain ways. That was great with her since she'd always desired to be different and stand out. Trying to figure out how to do it and if she could connected to the nervousness.
Making herself perform hotter sex than any of the more convenient human females, as often and as long as he would even be thinking of it was a task that seemed very simple and doable to her. Making herself hotter than anything out there should they ever somehow leave this planet was more intimidating, but it was easy to resolve herself to it. Just deciding that and reminding herself occasionally was already raising her normal level of arousal so much she easily felt the improvement. A smirk worked on her face. She was sure she could work his up, way up if she had her way. She giggled to herself.
Her body was just as easy to commit. Making it stand out from any human female was going to be easier than making it keep attention if they were off this planet, but that didn't bother her. It was already changing, but from the fact that she wasn't convinced he was sincerely impressed, it obviously had to do way better.
It was brutally simple, she decided to herself with the acceptance of a lifetime of far more painful things that were brutally simple. Simply keep the heat on it to get more interesting. Some of the negative stresses melted away just realizing how easy that would be. Nerves and arousal killed her appetite, made it almost impossible to rest and working out hard soothed the tensions. Not being soft with it was easy to make a habit and increasingly easy to decide to keep it that way.
But she hadn't planned on keeping anyone's interest long term. He'd be there in the end, she believed in him. But to make it really click she felt was up to her as much or more than him. She didn't know what else she could do beyond with her body and all the kissing, kicking and crying she could muster. She hadn't had to face that before, but now she did, and she wanted to with every bit of her being.
Unconsciously, she urged her body faster and faster in its workout, not noticing the strain until the line of thought she was absorbed in finished. Realizing it must be time to put some seeds out for the really cute silvery furry creatures outside, she got off the training machine. Her stiffened hips gnawed with ache from their overexertion but it was just as well, she decided, since the hips were what she wanted to change the most anyway. Everything was going to keep impressing, but everything in that region was definitely going to have to excel even more than anything else, she smirked to herself.
Again she stopped in front of the reflection. Well, she revised, that and getting the midsection harder and slimmer and- "Nuh!" she stopped herself with a toss of her head back. "Fharbot," she mumbled to herself, "he is driving me fharbot." That didn't stop her thought from spacing to the beautiful blue of his eyes when she saw the sun streaming through the kitchen window. He brought so much beauty and softness to her life and soul that it just made her cry.
Tears rolled down her cheek as she stared off into the sky through the trees outside the window. Her hand went to drop flower seeds for the squirrels into the planter that was supposed to be planted with the seeds. Instead her hand laid palm up on the planter. A couple of squirrels came up and ate the seeds out of her hand without her noticing. When she looked down, she noticed she'd felt something and that the seeds were gone. Just in case, she dropped some more on the planter. The squirrels were joined by several more in a mad dash to claim the surplus.
Chiana watched them bicker and frolic and laughed when one skittered around so much he fell out of the planter. She rushed outside to see if it was okay. It scurried away. "So you're the one that's more like me," she said to it. She took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in her throat, feeling better.
Then she noticed the hole she'd made in the wall. "Frell. He'll frelling kill me." Her mind raced, soon catching on the memory of a pile of materials just like that used on the siding. Where had she seen it? By the shed that the water pump was in. And that was another thing. "Well," she told herself. "Better busy than bored on my eema."
Wiping the splattered paint off of herself made her realize something. She now had the major projects done. What the frell to do now? A smile crept onto her face. Well, there was enjoying some sexual practice, but before she got into that for a while, she remembered a few of the belongings she'd found at the bottom of John's closet. Especially the video tapes she'd found in the locked box. If it hadn't been for Jack the frelling raccoon, she may not have found where he'd hidden the key. But she had and she still wanted to see what he'd hidden on those tapes in that locked box.
Emerging from the bedroom with the box of tapes in her hands, she was amazed to see photos of naked humans all over some of the tape packages. Giggling, she hurried into the living room and picked the television off of the floor back onto the table. She soon remembered how John operated the tape player, despite the fact her attention had been more set on the sight of his drad arse in his tighter pair of jeans. She relished the memory again a few moments then put a tape in.
She sat back to watch the movie and a few minutes later was shaking with uncontrollable laughter. So this was pornography, human pornography. The very same stuff that Crichton swore he didn't have. She shook her head. That liar.
As the movie progressed, she began to watch the performances of the humans with the critical eye of the professional, occasionally laughing uproariously. The music was a cheap variation of the same cycled dren she was used to, more or less. Otherwise it was crude, amateurish, and actually kind of boring. All but clumsy child's play. She shook her head. This was what humans liked? More important than that, this was what John liked? She wondered if John would still like this silly dren.
Bob shook her head again. Now if the humans wanted real pornography she knew where to find the real stuff. There was this shop on Triltixxa Prime that sold cerebral vid chips where you could put them on and make up your own porn. Much more interesting than this. Or that place on Veltanrrz. Now that place had porn that would make a Scarran running screaming the other way, in fright. 'Now that was porn,' she thought with a smirk, 'not this tepid human stuff.' Why, the participants didn't even look like they were having fun.
The humans themselves looked silly! The female had what looked like an oversized wig on and these gigantic, flabby and obviously phony breasts. Huge areolas with nipples that seemed to show how bored she probably was. She had tattoos that didn't seem to have much to say. And what was it with humans and blindingly red lips? The male, well. Bob barked a laugh. Her John sure had that slob beat. Compared to John that human's manhood didn't look half aroused even though they acted like he was fully aroused. Body wise that hairy human was no contest from John's more muscular arms to his dradder behind.
Most of all there was just nothing going on! Even when the male seemed to unload at her face, it was more anti-climax than climax. How did the female act as if she was moaning with pleasure when they did everything wrong. In every interaction or contact they seemed to go from too coy to totally impersonal. Maybe it was some sort of admirable feat that they could act this out like that and still sort of do sexual acts? She blinked her black eyes and tilted her head, trying to find some way of looking at it that didn't make it look horribly ridiculous.
Bob continued to watch the movie intending to give John a full critique when he returned. She'd just decided she was doing very well making it about halfway through when the phone rang, the satellite phone. Bob scurried to answer it because only one person could possibly be calling on that phone, John. He'd bought the extremely expensive phone so that they could talk privately when he was away.
"John?" she said.
"I'm in Sydney."
"No dren Crichton. Is something wrong?"
"My, aren't we bitchy today. What's eatin' you?" he asked, she just knew he was squinting.
"You wanna know what's eatin' me Crichton?" She tried holding back, but it just lasted a microt then it all came out. "You, you're what's eatin' me. You come home, promise to stay for a while, frell me a few times, then take off without a thought. That's what's eatin' me."
"Hey, don't get mad at me missay. It's not my fault that IASA wanted to do more tests on me." He paused and sighed. "It's not like I wanted to leave Bob."
"Coulda fooled me," she replied sullenly.
"Hey, I'm disappointed too and it wasn't just a few times Bob, more like ten. Jeez Pip, you practically wore it off. Maybe this trip was a good thing, I can rest and recharge for round two when I get back."
"I don't remember you complaining much Crichton. Mmm, I remember and 'Oh god, oh god Bob, its so good Bob', more than a few times, just before you started snoring."
"I don't snore Bob."
"Yeah right, Crichton."
"What's all that noise Bob?"
"Just the TV, I'm watching a movie."
"One of yours that I found in a box, called Debbie Does Dallas."
Suddenly there was coughing, sputtering, and choking at the other end of the phone.
"You okay Crichton?" Bob asked.
The choking and sputtering stopped. "You got into my stuff Bob!!" John sounded outraged.
Bob just grinned. "What you think I'll just sit around like all those people and listen to some humans with an easy life blubber at Opera about how drezzed it is?"
"Oprah! That's not the-!" John cut himself off and muttered something she couldn't make out. "That's not the point," he picked up, "I asked you to leave my stuff alone, Bob!"
"You didn't ask, you told me to but you didn't even ask me if I would."
"And don't get your chivvies in an uproar, Crichton, it's not like I'm having a great frelling time. I almost lost all my sex drive watching this dren."
He spit out a laugh. "Jeeessh, Bob, just....look, those tapes, I was just a dumb boy, so don't rub it in, that's exactly why I put those away like that, and did you get into anything else?"
"No, mostly," Chiana swallowed and hoped for the best.
"I said no."
"Yeah you also said mostly. So, besides being a damn snoop and a porno junkie, what else you been doin'?"
Bob found herself suddenly at a loss for words. He asked what she had been doing. "Ah kee-ep nnn-nn mbusy," she stammered out. She swallowed, a big lump was suddenly in her throat.
"Nothing you wouldn't be doing if I was there I hope?"
One side of her mouth worked into a smile and she walked to the kitchen with the wireless unit. "You here, I'd be keeping you up" she softly teased.
"Hey your voice does a pretty good job at that."
"Woo if you could actually keep it up maybe I'd believe that," she teased.
"Oh man, just all the time? Even if it could, wouldn't that get a little awkward?"
"Not for me," she ran the tip of her tongue under her upper teeth, smiling now. "Mhey....miss you."
"Yeah....I mean, miss you too. Miss me too, I don't know." He sighed. She leaned into a corner looking into the kitchen. "Wish I wasn't here....what the heck do they want?" he muttered. She had some ideas but there was little point in saying what he also knew, it'd just add to his stress. "Well you have enough to do?" he changed the subject.
"Didn't say I could have anyone over to do," she teased. "Can I have ten, or twenty?"
"Ha ha Bob, what was that about that show nuking your sex drive? Tell you what, next time there's a big to-do I'll have a dozen or two spare guys just for you."
"Oo can we get these to-do's every weekend?"
"Heck I'll make them every afternoon just to make you pay for that, darlin' but ah, the first one might be a while away yet," he snickered.
She laughed once. "Miss you," she softly repeated leaning the side of her face against the wall.
"Oh crap, you're not going to go soft on me, Bob?!"
"Mm? No! Ah-ah y-you going, do anything tonight? What are you going to do?"
"Nothing a guy'll admit to. What've you got on?"
"Shirt you gave me," she lifted it from her chest with two fingers as if he could see.
"Nothing," she lifted it up absently.
"Whewee! Yeowee! I meant," he cleared his throat, "what've you got on the agenda?"
"Now....? Mnafter hearing from you....keep myself busy for a while," she teased. "Maybe have to stop at morning, go fix the water pump. Till then...."
"The water pump's out? Oh man, hey I can call....somebody...."
"N-no, I think I know how to fix it now, the last try didn't work I got, distracted, got to thinking about....mmmm....other things," she breathed, "had to stop and....do....other things."
She heard him blow onto the phone. "What a visual, yeah hey, are you sure? We can call someone, they can come out, we'll tell them no one's home yet?"
"The gas, power on though so you can cook right?"
"Yeah....don't need them to cook."
"Talking about food here."
"Not what I'm hungry for," she breathed.
"Oh crap there went the idea of keeping your cool, Johnny," he muttered to himself. "Well, you keep yourself busy but behave and don't go quenching those appetites, silky."
Bob smirked, "Mm keep self busy, yeah, don't quench appetites, right. Anything else?"
"Ye....ah, you comfortable in that old shirt?"
"Well that's flannel....maybe you oughtta leave it off, darlin'."
"Mmmaybe I will," she smirked, took off the shirt and hung it on the hat rack by the door where he was sure to see it when he came in. She walked to the center of the living room with nothing but the phone in her hand. "Anything else?"
"Yeah....would you check the shower to make sure the water's still out? One of those lines used to freeze sometimes."
Bob rolled her eyes and walked into the bathroom. She turned on the faucet and nothing happened. "Right. Nothing."
"You been wearing out the water pump taking baths 24-7, water girl?"
"Wha- me? No."
"Haven't been using that shower hose nozzle for anything else have you?"
"Wha- me?" she picked up the nozzle and frowned at its shape and size. "Ah maybe...." she decided there might be a reason to fix the water pump after all. He chuckled at the other end. "But no. Haven't got to that."
"Aw shoot, you mean that mean old pump cut out on you before you found all 101 uses for a shower hose? Bummer."
Bob smiled wickedly at the phone. "Well yeah, used the water, got me going a few times but didn't try the nozzle for size and turn it on." She bit her tongue and waited for his response.
"Whoa ho ah, forget I mentioned that, just, blank out there, shift, delete, yes, shred, don't make me hate the damn shower nozzle," he replied. Bob smiled getting just the sort of silly but cute response she expected. "Reminds me though, you haven't been climbing trees, rolling down hills inside hollow logs, fighting badgers, beating yourself up out there? You been keeping the weight goin' and talking care of yourself?"
"Nope not climbing trees, haven't been into any logs hollow or not," she looked at the bathroom scale, stepping out of the shower and onto the scale. "Nope no ba-jurs fighting." Taking the nail file out of the nearby drawer, she carved the latest numbers into the side of the cabinet with all the previous times, where he could see them. One side of her lips turned in. If she had human symbols right, it wasn't the biggest difference between measures. Disappointing, but the symbol still meant smaller. She smiled mischievously at the phone. "Yeah, keeping weight goin' and ah," she barely glanced over the bruises, cuts, skins, scrapes, splinters and bites, "taking good care. Yeah," she shrugged. As if he minded, she thought to herself.
"Taking care of your hair? Has the mirror melted with you in front of it?" he snickered.
"Yeah," she simply answered, busy quickly trimming her hair back. She put her fingers on the mirror for a moment. "And nope."
"Can you picture what I'd do if I were there?"
"Bump me out of your way to the toilet, take a piss, sniff in loudly, spit into the toilet, pull up your pants, belch, claim I look great, slip your fingers around my crotch, pat my buttocks while you look into the mirror to put some of your hair in place with your other hand, then walk out?" she recited a typical encounter. She looked at the phone that had suddenly gone quiet, waiting.
"Well maybe not first thing in the morning....no, no! Like if, I was interested."
"Ah glancing at me on your way to the toilet, taking a piss and complaining how I made it hard for you to take a leak when I kept making you hard? Then doing the rest the same except cutting me a smug little smile in the mirror on your way out thinking I'd be hot after you because of your irresistible charm?" She waited through another few quiet moments.
"Well. You follow," he feebly defended himself.
"Yeah just to find out you aren't fully hard, oh and there's the times you wander out with your zipper down."
"You always fix it, honey. Whichever. Besides, seeing you puts a guy in a daze." He waited while she barely held back a laugh to keep him in silence. "Bob?" he finally asked. She laughed.
"Dang. No, look if I was there....if I was there, I'd have my hands slipping around your silky little body, just- lightly. At first. Smell your scent at the nape of your neck, it's like....minty crisp. Gotta slide my hands around, make sure your hard little obsidian nipples get the treatment they ask for. Your silky smooth hard ass against me's got it at full throb ready to blow, gotta get in but just so you know it, gotta brush it against those damn tight gates of yours before you'll let me in there. Your hard breaths under my hands on your sides, then you moan. Man how you moan. Legs are turning to jello here, I'm just about to drop down onto the floor when somehow it finally slips into-" he stopped when he heard noises. "Hey? Bob!?"
"Hm what?" she breathlessly asked, trying to get up from the floor. "I'm-mm-mm, fine, m-fine, what?"
"Ah....damn, nevermind, almost lost it here, hey, you haven't burnt down the kitchen or anything?"
"M-no," she labored to catch her breath and got up onto her feet, muttering that the only thing in danger of burning is her if he pulls that again.
"Gonna go. You keep the fire on. I mean, keep a fire on if you get cold, the cabin, the fireplace, if you get cold in there and, um, don't burn down the kitchen cooking or anything, just be careful. You got all that?"
"K-keep me on fire in the fireplace so I don't go cold or burn down the kitchen, right."
"Right, no, Bob! And remember the old shack up over that hill if someone comes around, I'd look there first, and keep a look out for me."
"H-how long you going to be?!"
"I don't know what's up their sleeves. Hell, wish I did. I just. Can't say."
"Crichton!" she shouted at the phone. Then she was quiet for a moment.
"No," she sniffed. "N-I-want-" she sniffed. "N-frell!" she shouted.
"Hey, hey I know, you've....just gotta keep a stiff upper lip and be the trouper you are, I'll be back. I think I've got company so I better go. Talk to you later," he said then hung up.
Bob knawed on the end of the phone and fretted for a moment. Then she walked out of the bathroom, put her face against the wall and waited. After a few moments, she walked toward the kitchen and put the phone back. "Fharbot. Driving me fharbot," she decided.
After looking out the kitchen window for several minutes she decided she might as well do something. Looking down at the sink, she decided to fix the pump. She took the tool belt from a drawer and put it on. Walking past the hat rack, she went to take the shirt and put it on. She smiled. "Maybe I ought to leave it off," she decided with a giggle and flung it back onto the hat rack instead. "Tooooo hot," she sighed, sauntering out the door into the sunshine wearing only a little leather tool belt decorated on the back of the belt with the words "ratchet it up."