"No, Bob, you can't go on the roller coaster," John repeated, "and no, we're not going to Luna Park. We're gonna chill here until we get a game plan." John stood up and paced once around the bench in Blues Point park looking out at Sydney Harbour Bridge.
"Nnnit's called Wild Mouse," Bob had him know, "and, mmmI can't think here." She stood up and bolted over to the railing at the edge of the park, looking over the harbor.
"I thought that's why we left the penthouse. She said she couldn't think. Darn it, I just knew we shouldn't have let her see the amusement park, and worse, all lit up at night," John grumbled.
"Seems like she'd already had it in her mind to visit the amusement park, son," Jack told John while popping a few potato chips into his mouth.
"Dad. You amaze me. How can you sit there, kicking back on the bench, popping potato chips, while we're in this mess?" John asked Jack.
"It's what I do, son, I'm retired."
"Oh," John said, sitting down at the opposite end of the bench and shaking his head. "I don't know dad, I have a hard time thinking of you as young or old. Just dad."
"Why thank you son. Chips?" Jack offered.
John reached. Jack held the bag out and both blocked Doug's view of his laptop screen. "Dudes!" Doug complained, though he helped himself to a handful of chips.
"Sorry DK, I know Ramona Drews there is worth the full screen options," John apologized. "How can she be that skinny and have buttocks like that? Anyway, if some guy stuck his hairy wrist and bag o'chips in the way of that view, I'd complain too."
"Don't look at me, dude, I'm just weeding out stuff your girlfriend piled up while I think," Doug claimed. "Looks like she found some nude picture sites."
"Trouble is, DK, I believe that," John replied.
"Yeah and she's been piling them up in my pictures folder. Hey, she's got killer taste," Doug shrugged. "And a pretty gross sense of humor. You should see some of this."
"Good grief, you'd better supervise her browsing," Jack suggested.
"Waaay too late for that, dad," John answered, "and besides she'd never obey."
"Hey guys," Doug interrupted. "It says here, it's now free for everyone to visit Luna Park. Come and enjoy the sites and see the attractions. Bring the family for hours of fun."
John turned towards Jack. "This message brought to you by Sydney Chamber of Commerce, the Luna Park Foundation and associates."
"Thank you, Douglas," Jack said. "No luck so far, then?"
"No," Doug replied. "Hey I'm a gamer, not a hacker."
"Yeah, dad, he can't hack it," John drolly joked. "Let's get back to that list of usual suspects. I still think Payne Adams can go right at the top."
"I don't know, dude," Doug yawned, stretched and leaned back against the bench. "Still think we ought to put Richard Straker on our list."
"So an incompetent technician has the sense to quit before being fired. That makes him a suspect?" John reiterated his disagreement.
"He never got along with either of us, dude," Doug reasoned, "and he left in a huff. Good enough for me."
"Then there's the fact he doesn't have the brains to conspire against us," John smiled to himself.
Doug snapped the laptop closed and got up. "I'm gonna look around, f*ck this."
"Sure, man," John stayed on the bench with Jack and watched Doug wonder over to the railing by Bob. John watched the way Doug approached Bob and opened his laptop again on the railing. John chuckled.
"What's so funny son?" Jack asked, still slowly working on his bag of chips.
"He is," John replied, indicating Doug. "I remember that look well. It matches the one that was plastered on my face for months after I got to the Uncharted Territories." John paused, his look becoming strained.
"Was it bad out there son?"
John smiled wanly at Jack. "You can't even begin to imagine dad." He nodded. "Yeah, a lot of it was." John sighed heavily. "Not all of it though. Not Aeryn, or D'Argo, certainly not Chiana." He smiled. "Not all of it was bad. We had some good times too, when we weren't being shot at, invaded, or hunted." John suddenly shivered.
"Anything you want to talk about son?" Jack asked, the directness of his question not reducing the concern in his voice.
John shook his head. "No, dad, not right now. Darn, where are they going?" John asked to himself, watching Doug and Bob walking away from the waterfront and along a path obscured from his view by hedges and trees.
"Isn't it obvious, son?" Jack replied, fishing out another potato chip. "Your best friend is going somewhere hidden where he can have uninhibited sex with your girlfriend."
John turned to Jack. "Thanks for clearing that up, dad."
"Don't mention it," Jack laughed.
Bob bristled at the blare of a ferry in the harbor, taking a step back and looking around guardedly until she figured out what it was.
"That's a ferry taking tourists sight-seeing," Doug pointed to it. "Dumb huh? They just go from the pier over there out to to harbor mouth, then come back in. People pay to go by and see a different angle of everything."
"There's stuff like that out there," Bob smirked. "Ran one going around the Creamisol Nebula." She quirked a shoulder to her ear. "Got rid of me when they found out I'd been keeping all the tips hidden under a floorboard. But I got away with em," she winked and giggled.
"Guy," Doug rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Lemme see your interface," Bob asked.
"Excuse me?" Doug gawked at her.
"That," she pointed to his laptop computer with a very amused smile.
"Oh oh yeah," he started it up and sat down on a nearby bench. "Here." Bob came over and took the laptop. Doug stared at her as she started using it. He couldn't help but stare at her. It wasn't every day that he got to meet a real, live alien, much less an alien that lived with and slept with his best friend. Since learning about Bob's true nature, he half expected someone to come up and tell him he was on Candid Camera or some freaky reality show.
Bob muttered something that he didn't understand and glared at the computer. "What did you say?" he asked. Bob didn't look at him but continued to pound the keys. "Hey, hey, be gentle with my baby," Doug protested.
Bob turned to him with a smirk. "Don't worry; I know how to be gentle with any man's 'baby'." She glared at the computer again. "I said your human interfaces are primitive and too slow."
"Slow," Doug incredulously exclaimed. "I'll have you know that this computer is the best on the market. It's totally state of the art." Bob smirked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Okay, maybe not on your world," Doug conceded.
Bob smirked triumphantly and turned back to the computer while Doug continued to stare. Finally Bob had enough and dropped the laptop off of her lap. Doug gasped and picked up his laptop. Bob bent over and popped her head, upside down, in front of his face. "Let's take a ferry? Yeah?" she pertly asked, half crouched with a glint in her eyes. Then she was off.
"B-bob? Bob?!" Doug got up and ran after her. She stopped at his car and let him catch up. "Whew. Girl. Look. We better go back over to John and-"
"Frelling drive!" she angrily glared in his face as she pushed into and then by him. She hurried around to the passenger side and slipped in through the window. A little startled and scared, Doug got in and quickly drove off. "That way," she pointed along the shore.
"The tour boats probably won't have a space for us without reservation, and we don't have the fare. No fare, no ride. And you can't scare them into it unless you want to be found out by police," he half shouted at her. Something in him thought that he should be quiet and certainly not push, but he wasn't used to being scared, and a strange anger was taking over.
In a moment, a marina came into view just as Doug pulled up to a stoplight. The Honda sputtered to a stop and Doug worked on restarting it. Bob suddenly laughed. Doug glowered sourly. She mockingly widened her eyes. "Wooo. Okay stop somewhere around here. If it starts again."
Doug muttered, got the car started and drove to the nearest parking spot he could find. Bob dropped her head sideways onto the door looking out the window and tapped her feet impatiently. Doug took a few moments to cool off before he found himself thinking how weird it was to be sitting in a car somewhere with an alien girl. He didn't realize he was staring at her again until she turned to him and said, "You're staring human."
"Uh what? Oh sorry," Doug apologized. "It's just that I've never seen a real, live alien before. Aliens are just supposed to be something out of Star Trek or that other show, Space Chase, not living and sleeping with my best friend."
Bob stopped staring out the window and turned to him with a mischievous grin. "What exactly.....are aliens supposed to look like?"
Doug shrugged. "I dunno," he said. "Maybe aliens have lots of eyes and fangs or tentacles. Or maybe giant suckers, you know, for sucking people's brains out. Or something. Or maybe they have pointed ears."
"Like the elf?" Bob asked with a tick of her brows, making him think how elf-like she looked. Doug nodded. Bob grinned at him. "I'm gray. Not good enough for you?"
"No. I mean yes....I mean....Okay, let me rephrase that," Doug stammered.
"Yeah. Please do," Bob nodded.
"I guess....I guess I didn't expect you to look so...."
"Human?" prompted Bob.
Doug nodded. "Yeah, you almost....You have been passing for human."
It was Bob's turn to shrug. "Not hard. Little makeup, wig, and humans think you're human. It's easy," she said with a grin. "Although Sebaceans can pass for human the way they are."
Bob nodded. "Yup. They thought Crichton was one at first."
Doug leaned forward eagerly. "Really? Aliens that look like humans? Who are they? What are they like?"
Suddenly Bob's mood changed and her smile faded. She scowled at Doug and shook her head violently, sending the hair framing the sides of her face flying after her movements. "Nno," she said, "go away. Naah!" Bob hit the side of the door, then suddenly bolted out of the car.
"Hey Bob! Sh*t!" Doug hit the back of his head on the chair. "John is going to....sh*t." Doug sprang out of the car and took off on foot after her. It didn't take two minutes for him to realize he wasn't likely to find her.
By the time he made it onto the marina, Doug was getting some scary ideas about what she might be up to. How human she had seemed is what came most to mind, and he began to worry that the situation she was in might be too much. He hoped she wasn't suicidal, but he really didn't know her well enough. He only knew she was sensitive enough that he couldn't rule the thought out. The other idea seemed just as bad, and he realized it was correct when he saw a small figure out on the ramps.
"Oh crap!" Doug said, hopping over a barrier that had been set up after hours and running towards where he'd seen the small figure. A few moments later, he heard a motor rev to life. "How the....? Oh crap!" he repeated, running fast as he could. But a small private boat was soon speeding away from the marina moorings without lights, heading right out into the harbor.
"Oh....crap!" Doug swore at it, stumbling over his feet in a hurry to get back to his Honda.
Doug wakened with a gasp. "What the-?!"
"Awake?" John asked, looking over Doug. Doug sat up and realized he was laying on a park bench. "You were babbling something about harbor police when you keeled over, remember?"
"No," Doug looked around. "I was running back to my....oh. Sh*t, John! Dude! She's out there in the harbor!"
"What? What?!" John leaned closer and yelled. "Chi- Bob?!"
"Yeah, she's, out, out, out there on a, on a boat, I mean, she stole a boat!"
John turned red, slapped his own face, got up and started pacing. "If they don't get her, I'll....damn," he paced a few more times until he was composed enough again to speak. "Sixteen hundred lashes, bread and water for a year. Scratch the bread. Cool. Just....I have no....frigging idea! Where to look for her. That little...."
"Yeah we do," Jack spoke up. "She's not going back to Namboomboo, son."
"Nebari, dad, that's Nebari."
"Sorry, son. But she's not going back to her island. I mean planet. My bet's on her going to a place with something called a Wild Mouse."
"Shhit," John rubbed his face. "You're right. Come on," he bolted for the car.
Jack shook his head as John paced again. Finally, John knelt down at the railing looking over the harbor and took a troubled breath. "Nowhere," he said. "She's nowhere, specimen of the millenia is gonna wash up on some New Zealand shore, followed shortly by...."
"That's not the way, John," Harvey bobbed in the tidal pool in an inflatable sea horse life preserver near where John found himself sitting on a tiny raft made of broken boards.
"Haarvey!" John bellowed. "Dammit you're dead, gone, finis, what part of go don't you understand!?"
"Do you think I would hesitate to leave a most rude, increasingly crimson faced man with an intolerable presence, poorly washed underarms and a preposterous beard, whose every day is a bad hair day?" Harvey objected. "I am gone, John, you may be sure of that. But! There is room enough for me when your mind has gone," he teased with his most shark-like smile.
"Yeah...." John tapped his hand, looking aimlessly around the deserted island shoreline. "You're right, I must be out of my mind." After another moment, he rested on his side. "Boy, that's happened to me allot. Have you ever been....no, I guess you've never been in your right mind, come to think of it."
Harvey drew in a breath. "You have me there, John. I would say- right is what it is. Wouldn't you say?"
"It's not right. I mean, being wrong. It should be....what am I saying?" John suddenly found himself asking the railing at the harbor. He stood, feeling a little like he'd broken a fever. He looked around, then to his dad. "What....what did I say?"
"Nothing, son," Jack gently patted his shoulder. "That made a damn bit of sense. Like I said, there's no sense in going out of your mind with grief. We don't know what's happened yet, if it's anything near as bad as we might imagine. I'm not ready to say it is. You sit down over there with Douglas and relax for a minute. Both of you. I'll go look around. I'll be back very shortly and then we'll take stock. Right?"
John blew out a long breath and then nodded. "You're right, dad. You're always right. She'll....women are going to finish me off yet," he wiped his face with his hand and went over to the bench to sit with Doug.
"You're dad's pretty cool," Doug said. "He'll find, I mean, he'll think of something, if-"
"-Shut up, Doug," John told him, reaching over to pat his shoulder.
Bob stopped chewing on the ice cream when she looked up and saw Jack standing over her at one end of the bench she was sitting on. She let her feet drop from the nearby tree she was propping them against and took a hard swallow. "Okay...." she quirked her head, seeming to be expecting him to start yelling at her.
Jack wondered how this lady could be the most adult and the most child-like of people at the same time. "You certainly are an odd one," he said, sitting down at the other end of the bench.
She looked at him with vulnerable and very surprised eyes for a moment. A moment later, she offered him her ice cream.
"No thanks," Jack refused. "You better have that. John was saying something about pretty serious number of lashes and a pretty long period living on bread and water without the bread," he teased. Bob made her little cackle, a spark of mischief of some kind flickering in her eyes. "Seriously, he's half out of his mind worried about you."
Bob looked straight ahead and swallowed. She took a hostile bite of ice cream and cone. "Thennn fine," she spewed at it.
"I don't blame either of you," Jack evenly said. "So. Have you thought of anything this way?"
"It's in another territory, right?" Bob asked.
"The account? I don't know, wish I did," Jack shrugged.
"Yeah you do. If it was anywhere around here, they'd be watching for Crichton, well, John, to go access it. They'd want that proof, right? They're not watching him here. So, he can't access it here, which means it's in another territory."
"You might be right, Pip," John said, surprising both of them by walking up to her side of the bench. "Good thinking anyway. Minute was up, dad."
"Well while we're here, I'm going over into the fun house," Jack said, getting up. "Wooden slides and all that newfangled stuff they came up with since I was a youngin'."
"Yeah," John said, barely glancing to Jack.
Jack smiled to himself and walked off to get himself a snack at a nearby stand. After what felt like several moments, Bob finished ravenously eating her ice cream. John crouched down at her side of the bench. "Hey little girl. How's it going?"
"This frelling eyess-cream's too frelling syrupy," she replied, not looking at him.
Undaunted, he smiled and leaned closer to whisper in her ear, "Pip, you wanna take a little break? There's a ride over there called Wild Mouse...."
"No!" she replied emphatically. "Nnnot with you."
John looked at her oddly. "Are you feeling okay Bob? Not sick or anything are you?"
Bob looked up at him, the neon lights of the amusement park reflecting in her big black eyes with almost mirror clarity. She shook her head. "No. Why do you care?"
John was taken aback. "Is there something wrong here Pip? Besides the usual everything being frelled?"
Bob stared at him for a long time before answering. She finally shook her head. "No, nothing's wrong." Bob looked back at the people and lights in the amusement park, ignoring him.
John shook his head, puzzled at Bob's cryptic evasiveness, before walking over to a stand where Doug and Jack were buying snacks.
"What's going on with you two?" asked Jack as soon as John joined them.
John shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe it was something I said, or the usual, didn't."
"Well here's to finding the right words, or lack of," Jack wished him. He headed off. "I'll be over by the fun house."
"Have fun," John limply wished him.
John turned to see Doug looking at him very curiously as he chewed a bite of corn dog. He swallowed and gestured over to Bob with his head. "Is she always that moody?"
"Pip?" John asked, looking over the snack menu. "No, she's not usually moody at all. Usually I have to practically tie her down, she practically bounces off the walls most of the time. What did you two talk about, you know, before she ran away from you?"
"Nothing much," Doug shrugged, taking another bite. "I just told her that I expected aliens to be you know, more alien and not so human," he said with his mouth full.
John gave Doug and odd look and then ordered two hot dogs. Once they were served, John walked aside with Doug. "Aliens are weird, bro. A lot of them are very different and many of them are very dangerous."
"Bob, I mean Chiana, told me about one race, she called them Sebaceans. She said that they look like humans and that for a while they thought you were one of them."
John nodded, took a bite of hot dog and eyed Doug warily. "Did Pip tell you anything else about Sebaceans?"
Doug shook his head. "No. Why? Did you spend a lot of time with these Sebaceans?"
John didn't reply for a long while, instead he looked over at Bob. Finally he looked back at Doug as he started walking over toward Bob, and said, "My wife was one."
Doug's mouth dropped open in disbelief. "Wife? You had a wife? You married an alien, dude?"
John nodded wearily and sighed. "Yeah, I did, but not a dude. It's a long, long, long story that I'd rather not get into now. I'll tell you about it later, bro, when this is all over." John kept heading over to Bob, hoping that Doug wouldn't try asking any questions because he just didn't have the energy to deal with it right then. He still had problems dealing with his time in the Uncharted Territories. The memories were still very painful and difficult to deal with at times. To his surprise Doug didn't say anything. He just nodded and kept eating his corn dog. John was touched that his friend still trusted him that much and was willing to wait for an explanation.
"Hey Pip," John offered her a hot dog. "Want a hot dog?"
"Thought I said no?" she looked up at him with a pointed tick of her brow.
"Well, the dog I was offering wasn't hot, so...." he shrugged. She gaped at him with a sort of crestfallen disappointment with his lame humor but took the hot dog the second time he offered it.
"Think we oughtta get the hell out of Dodge here and hit the hills until things die down and we get us a game plan," John supposed out loud.
"You do?" Bob asked, obviously not impressed with the idea. "You would," Bob sneered. After a minute of him distantly staring off at nothing and her wiggling the hot dog in her hand, she finally took a bite of it and stood up. "Let's go."
"Don't have to return anything?" John asked, shoving the last bite of his hot dog into his mouth. "Stolen hearts, stolen yachts?" he asked with his mouth full.
"Shut up, Crichton, just do it," she said, absently tossing the rest of her hot dog over her shoulder out to the harbor and leading him towards a bathroom with a glance over her shoulder.
John nearly choked on his mouthful of hot dog, but immediately started following. "Hey, um, can't it, um, wait until we get back? To the penthouse?" he asked, but she wasn't so much as slowing down. "Oh man," he blew a breath out and hurried after her.
"I'll admit it," John admitted, "you had me going, there."
Bob bit the tip of her tongue and smiled mischievously. "Think you would've done it in that bathroom?"
"Hey. I'm a guy," John half shrugged and winked at her. "You could've rassled me into it. Would've beat chasing you halfway around Luna Park." He sighed, slouched back on a couch with his feet up on a coffee table, looking over at Bob, who was sitting upright on the edge of the couch along side with her feet on the coffee table. She laughed a little. He smiled wearily, thinking how nice it was that she was so ready to laugh.
"Was better on the boat, wasn't it?" she teased.
"Uh, more private, but pretty hard. All that pitching, hard deck....I dunno."
"Okay, but I'm gonna be nursing a bruise or two. I'm just glad we got that boat back where you got it from before the cops got us," John ran his hands over his face and groaned. "Incredible you got away with that."
Bob shrugged, not too impressed by anything. "More obvious it is, sometimes, the more you can get away with." She sighed and leaned forwards, passing her head between her knees with her legs still straight. John raised his brows watching.
Finally, Jack came into the living area from the kitchen with Doug. Jack came over and scruffed the back of Bob's stringy white hair, then stretched and yawned. "I don't know about you young people, but this old man is tired."
"You're not old Jack," Bob said with a grin.
He gave her a big smile and laughed. "You flatter an old man darlin', but I am old. Of course if I was 30 years younger, my son would have some serious competition."
Bob gave him a smirk as she reached up and caressed his cheek. "What's stopping you?"
Jack pulled back from her abruptly with a nervous laugh. "Uh, well, my back and the fact I probably wouldn't survive the night. And speaking of which, I'm going to bed." He kissed her on the top of her head. "Night, Bob."
"Well that does it for me too," Doug said, putting his laptop down on the couch. He looked meaningfully over at Bob. "I had a long, extremely weird day. I met my first extraterrestrial. I threw up on my first extraterrestrial." Doug suddenly slid a look at John. "She is my first ET isn't she?" he asked.
John laughed and nodded. "Yeah, that I know of, but then again some of your relatives practically scream alien."
"Look whose talking dude. That one uncle of yours has gotta be from outer space."
John shook his head. "Nope, sorry to disappoint, but he's just your average garden variety nut job and perv buddy."
Doug snorted and laughed. "In your family dude, anything is possible."
"Trust me dude, he's not an alien, but she is," John said, pointing at Bob.
"I gotta go to bed dude. See you in the morning. See you too, Bob. If I'm not dreaming, I mean."
"Goodnight Douglas," Bob replied with an impish grin.
"It's already morning," John called after him.
"Whatever," replied Doug. He waved as he walked out of the room.
It was just John and Bob now in the dining room. John sat looking at her for a long time while she got up, went to the table and started to work at the computer. Something was definitely wrong with her but he didn't know what and Bob wasn't giving him any clues. Suddenly he yawned. He'd just have to deal with it tomorrow. Today, he corrected himself. It was late and he was tired. John got up and went over to the table where Bob sat. "Hey Bob, it's late and it's time to go to bed."
"Mmm not tired Crichton."
He yawned again. "Come on Bob. It's been a very long day for all of us. I'm tired and I wanna go to bed. 'Sides, you were sick earlier and probably should rest."
Bob shook her head. "Wanna finish this."
John gave her an odd look. Now that was strange. Usually Bob could hardly wait to go to bed before she was on him like white on rice. This certainly was different. He was in the mood, however, and he leaned over and whispered in her ear, low and seductive, "Come to bed Bob. I'll make it worth your while." He chuckled. "In the mood for a little game of hide-the-sausage, Pipsqueak?" To emphasize his point and his mood, he nibbled her earlobe, then made his way softly down the graceful curve of her neck. Bob caught her breath and closed her eyes, leaning back in her chair as he continued to nibble lightly at her neck. John smiled in triumph at her gasp as he grazed a particularly sensitive spot. Suddenly Bob pushed him away. "Pip?" he asked tentatively.
"You wanna frell, Crichton, go frell yourself. I'm not in the mood."
He stepped toward her, surprised by her sudden change in mood. "Is something wrong Bob?"
"Nothing's wrong Crichton, I just wanna finish this."
"You can finish it tomorrow."
"Just go to bed."
"Something's going on here Pip and I wanna know what it is right now. What in the hell is wrong with you?" Bob ignored him, so he reached over her shoulder and turned off the computer.
Bob jumped up and pushed him away. "Whatta you think you're doin' Crichton? I was workin' on that."
"And now you're done. You need to rest, I don't want you getting sick again, Pip."
Bob stopped and stared at him for a second, momentarily touched by his concern. She stared at him for a long while before she sighed and said, "Fine Crichton, let's go to bed." She brushed past him, leaving him to stare at her back in puzzled silence.
Bob had always been a little moody at times, but this was ridiculous. 'Of course, this was nothing compared to Aeryn's ugly mood swings,' he thought. Sometimes he thought that woman had permanent PMS. Shaking his head and muttering 'women' to himself, he followed Bob into the bedroom.
Bob kept pecking at the laptop keys, going over screen after screen of computer programming dren and random human culture questions that came to mind. Like pouring over legal dren at Litigara, it was very boring, and not challenging, either. This primitive stuff wasn't exactly, as John said, 'rocket science'. Only once in a while, human humor would pop up and rescue her from going numb.
Still, she preferred to keep pecking at it, almost dreading the guys getting up and coming in. But when John shuffled in, looking preposterous and cute in his baggy striped boxers, no shirt and stupid fuzzy blue slippers, Bob had to soften a little. Sneering to herself, Bob got up and went into the kitchen to make some coffee for the poor caffeine deprived humans.
As she finished, Jack wandered in, getting his shirt buttoned. He went right up to the coffee pot and took a long deep breath. "Smells delicious. Thank you, Bob. My son, Douglas and I are going to the base today to talk to a few people, see what we can find out."
"Sounds better than what I'm doin'," Bob put some creamer by the coffee. "Can I come?"
"Absolutely not," said a voice behind them. Jack and Bob turned to see John standing there, hands on hips. "You are not going anywhere Bob."
Bob put down the coffee tray and immediately got in his face. "Don't tell me what to do fekface. I'm not getting anywhere by not going. I wanna go. I can help."
John snorted dismissively as she picked up the tray and carried it into the living area. John followed over her shoulder. "Right Chi. Sorry, but we don't need a thief at the moment, and besides you know you need to stay out of sight."
Jack stood in the background shaking his head at his clueless son as he watched the two of them making a mess of trying to hash things out. Suddenly an idea flashed through his mind. Leaving the two combatants in the living room, he went to the coat closet, rummaged around in his jacket pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He checked the charge on the battery and finding it adequate, he rapidly dialed a number. John and Bob were still arguing loudly when Jack wandered back into the living room.
"Yeah, General Morrison please. Tell him Colonel Jack Crichton is calling," he said into the phone. "Yes, I'll hold." Neither John nor Bob spared him a glance as they continued to argue. "Hi Charlotte. He's not in? Damn. Sorry Charlotte, I was hoping he could help me with a little problem. You see Charlotte, my son's fiancéee just arrived in town and she'd like to see where he works here in Sydney. The problem is we don't have a pass for her to get on the base. Yeah Charlotte, it was kind of a last minute trip for her. Do you know who I could talk to?"
Jack listened for a few minutes and happened to glance over at John and Bob, who had grown ominously silent. He grinned at the look on John's face when he mentioned fiancéee. "My what?" John asked. Bob looked like she might be hiding anxious amusement, but she was being hard to read.
"You can, Charlotte? Oh that would be wonderful. No, no one knows about the engagement yet, just the family and a few friends, and now you. They're keeping it quiet for a while. I don't know why those crazy kids don't just announce it, but you know kids today, Charlotte. Commitment's almost a bad word. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep it to yourself for just a bit. Thanks Charlotte, and thank you for the visitor pass."
Jack glanced over again to see John growing a bit irked and Bob looking startled.
"Her name?" Jack replied to Charlotte. "Oh, thank you for reminding me Charlotte, I don't know what I was thinking. Her name is Roberta Chevalier. That's C. H. E. V. A. L. I. E. R, Chevalier. Yes, it's French. He met her in Canada. I'll bring her by and introduce you. Yes, we'll pick it up at the gate in a few hours. You're a gem Charlotte, James is lucky to have you. Thanks Charlotte. Goodbye."
Jack hung up the phone and put it in his pocket. He looked over at John who stared back in stunned disbelief while Bob now had a look of triumph.
"What in the @#%$ do you think you're doing? You know that Bob is in danger if she goes outside and here you've got her walking straight into the lion's den," John exclaimed. Bob just grinned excitedly.
Jack just shrugged and smiled. "We've gone about as far as we can as things are now. If we don't do anything different, we'll get what we've got before. Which you know is nothing. Well, taking her into headquarters isn't any guarantee of anything, but it's the only practical thing we can pull right now. It's all part of my plan, son. You remember those don't you? Those infamous Crichton plans. Well this is one of them."
"Yeah, but my plans never quite worked out the way they were supposed to." Bob sniggered and John glared at her. "I don't care what you think you're doing dad, Chi is not going to the base."
"Yes, I am Crichton," Bob indignantly contradicted. "Jack wants me to go. I'm going."
"I don't care, you're not going."
"Now hold your horses just a minute son," Jack insisted. Bob watched in fascination as sire squared off against son. Jack moved closer to John, getting almost nose to nose with him like she did. "Bob is going with us, John. She can see things that we might miss, and might provoke some signs of what people at IASA really think." Bob nodded in agreement and Jack had to fight not to smile.
John, however, was standing his ground. "It's too dangerous for her, I can't allow it."
Bob opened her mouth to protest but Jack jumped in before she got a chance to. "You won't allow it, John? Well, the last time I looked, she was an adult and could make her own decisions." Jack turned to Bob. "You are an adult, aren't you?" he asked. Bob giggled and nodded. "You can't make her decisions for her," Jack said. "She's not even your fiancée, John."
"It's too dangerous," John stubbornly insisted.
"She will be with someone at all times, John. Besides, Bob has been passing as human for a while. Sure, a freaky, eccentric human, but still a human. No one on the plane suspected she was an alien, and no one at the base will either. She can do this, I have faith in her."
John shook his head. "I wish I did dad, but Bob has a tendency to be disruptive." He didn't notice the look of hurt that quickly passed over Bob's face, but Jack did.
"I believe she can, son," Jack disagreed.
Bob gave Jack a little smile, touched by his faith in her. "I promise I'll behave. I can help, you'll see," she eagerly nodded in agreement with herself.
Jack smiled at her reassuringly. "See, that settles it. She's going," he said.
"You're making a mistake," John insisted.
Seeing that his son needed further assurance, Jack looked at Bob. "You can come only if you promise to be on your best behavior. You have to be quiet and just observe. No strange, alien stuff, you hear?"
"I promise, I promise," Bob agreed eagerly. She looked at John. "Can I go?" she asked, giving her best vulnerable eyes.
"Gawd, not the eyes," John groaned. He hesitated for a long time before he reluctantly nodded.
Bob jumped up and down gleefully, clapping her hands. "You need to change your clothes, Bob," Jack said interrupting her victory dance. "I want you to put on your most demure outfit and lots of makeup. Go on now," he said. Bob ran off toward her bedroom cackling in glee.
John just shook his head. "She's got only one outfit, dad. Dad, Bob gets carried away, she can't help it sometimes. I sure hope you know what you're doing."
"I do," replied Jack with a grin. "We need a little bait and maybe a distraction. Bob can be both."
"Bob can really piss me off," John began, then sighed. "There's one reason Scorpy and Grayza and all them didn't get me. Because I just know it's women I care about that are going to do me in yet," John sat down on the couch with his face in his hands and groaned.