CheekyChi's Chiana & Farscape Fiction

John & Bob

Part Four - Chapter 1
A Payne in the Base

'Richard Stepson
- coordinator
Styx Enterprises'

John looked over the nondescript business card Doug had produced. "Well I don't know," John opinioned, "but that's better than nothing. Especially if you don't remember doing anything in particular to make anyone believe you were hawking your services around the block."

"I don't think I did," Doug shrugged and reached up to take the card back from John, who was seated in the front passenger seat. "I hadn't seen Bridget in years, she just slid that card over on me. I wouldn't say she acted suspiciously, I even forgot about it, you know? But now, man."

"Here goes," Jack muttered under his breath as he finally pulled up to the guard shack at the entrance to the IASA facility. "It's Saturday, isn't it? Milton or Jeb?"

"Or not," John muttered in agreement. "Milton? Jeb? That was years ago, Dad. Who does Saturdays?" John asked Doug as a milquetoast guard came out of the tiny shack by the gate. "Well shut my mouth, it's Uncle Miltie."

"ID please!" the guard John had dubbed 'Uncle Miltie' demanded, casting a scowling glance into the vehicle. "Jack!" he exclaimed, reaching in and shaking Jack's hand with a crescent smile. "Bringing the kids in huh? John, Doug," he nodded at them, still holding his hand out for their ID.

The three men immediately presented their IASA identification to Milton, who cursorily glanced at each. The guard then glanced inquiringly at the petite young lady busily arranging stuff in the center console. "Miss?"

Jack held out Bob's passport and cheerfully introduced Doug's companion in the back seat. "Sergeant Milton, this is Roberta Chevalier, John's fiancée. Charlotte Smythe, General Morrison's secretary, has arranged a visitor's pass for her. She said it would be here at the gate."

John slid a glance back at Bob and noticed her tension. He forced a grin on his face when she looked at him, hoping it'd calm her down.

The guard looked at the passport then at a clipboard. He nodded when he spotted a name and handed Jack a visitor's badge. "Make sure she that she stays with you and wears this at all times." The Sergeant leaned forward and smiled in his odd way at Bob. "Welcome to the base, Miss Chevalier."

All Bob could manage was a brief smile at the Sergeant as Jack drove the car through the gates, but John could see her tension melting away. Bob could hardly contain her excitement by the time Jack pulled into John's assigned space at the base. She leapt out of the car almost before it stopped.

"Wait for us, Bobbie girl," John yelled after her as he got out. "You're gonna need your visitors badge too."

Bob walked over to John, who helped her put it on her overalls. Jack came around the car and looked at her carefully, checking her hair and makeup. "You'll do," he said with a smile, offering her his arm. Bob giggled with excitement. Finally she was going to get to help earn her keep here.

All four showed their badges to the guard at the front door, except Bob, who went one step further. She ripped it off the front of her overalls and showed it to the startled guard. "See, says I'm a visitor. I'm Bob," she exclaimed as she waived it under his nose.

John grabbed the badge, earning a brief glare from Bob in the process, and attached it once more to her overalls. "She gets very excited about meeting new people," John explained to the guard. "This is Bob, my fiancée. You've already met."

The guard chuckled and held out his hand to Bob who stared at it. John nudged her. "Shake hands Bob," John clued her in under his breath and through clenched teeth.

Bob shook hands with the guard, sheepishly remembering that human custom. "It's nice to meet you Bob," the guard said, firmly pumping her arm. He abruptly stopped and turned his attention to the men, leaving Bob plunging forward and down with her out held hand still reflexively raising and lowering. She staggered forwards to the ground, unnoticed behind the guard. After a tumble, stagger and spin, Bob managed to recover her feet.

"Hello, Commander, Colonel, and Dr. Knox," the guard greeted, turning to Bob again just as she straightened upright. "Enjoy your stay Bob," he offered his hand and sucked her into another hand pumping despite her skeptically alarmed eyes. "If you have any questions feel free to ask," he said as he turned to shake Jack's hand.

Bob stared at him in confusion as she managed to recover with only a few side scuffles on one foot. "You mean it usually costs currency to ask questions around here?"

"Come on Bob, let's go," John said, grabbing her arm and dragging the somewhat disoriented Bob away. "We've got a lot more people to meet and it's a ways to our office."

"What's on the way?" Bob inquired.

"Not a thing," John absently replied as he led her from a vast entrance area to a long, plain, beige-walled hallway with orange and black fishnet carpet, "just a hundred miles of lonely, tasteless interior hallway."

Without warning, the group found themselves at the center of a packed hallway. People seemed to hurry to meet John from all directions a once. "Yeah? Well what do you call busy?" Bob sneered indignantly at John as they were hemmed in from all sides.

Jack and Doug started out ahead of John and Bob, leading the way to the office, but quickly lost the other two. Doug shook his head as he backed the door open to his office and gestured Jack to enter. "Guess you're right about word getting around about John's fiancée," Doug observed, closing the door. "I didn't know there were that many people in this building at any time."

"And all wanting to get a glimpse of or be introduced to 'the fiancée'," Jack smiled in amusement. "Well the hoopala over John's mystery woman keeps the attention away from us. You know," Jack chuckled to himself, "I haven't seen this much excitement in the halls since I first brought John here. It was an endless stream of bad puns and remarks about starting a dynasty and all that. Anyway, it's a good thing that girl seems to thrive on attention and can amuse herself varying things as she does, or she'll never make the endless round of introductions to get here."

"Bah you're getting old, man, just 'cause she's young and lively you think she's so much trouble," Doug clicked his tongue as he sat at a desk and started a computer.

"You don't?" Jack asked.

Doug froze in thought for a moment. "Well...." he thought a moment. "No," he doubtfully replied.

After what seemed like forever to John, he finally made it with Bob in tow to rejoin Jack and Doug in his office. John pulled Bob from her gape at the name plate on his office door and closed the door behind them.

"Gawd," John sighed. "Thought we'd never get here. Everybody and their brother, including some people I don't think I've ever met, wanted to meet my illegal alien," John ran his hand over his face. Bob stared closely at his face. "What?" he asked Bob.

"Sign. On your door. Very inefficient," she held one hand up toward the door. "If they don't know where your office is, aren't there any better ways of finding out information without looking at every frelling door in this place until they find it? Like ask any of the ladies?" Bob smirked lopsidedly and ticked her brow.

John went to answer but just stood there for a moment with his mouth open. Instead of trying to reply, he turned to Jack. "What a scene. You'd think this was 1950 and I was dragging along Elizabeth Taylor as my 'fiancée.'" He turned back to Bob, who was now curiously looking around their office.

Bob stuck a pencil into the electric pencil sharpener and almost leapt back when it whirred to life and chewed the pencil. After a confused moment, she pulled out the remaining stub, then gawked at the sharpener. "Well that's useful," she sarcastically observed.

"You handled yourself pretty well out there Pip," John suppressed a chuckle and smiled.

Bob smiled proudly at the rare praise from John. "Thanks," she replied, uneasily resuming her inspection of their office.

"See, I told you she'd be a distraction," Jack pointed out, trying and failing to keep from looking smug.

"The day is still young dad," John cautioned. "Plenty of time for things to go down the tubes in the best Crichton traditions."

"Don't be such a pessimist son," Jack lectured John, looking over at Bob, who at that moment had spotted the toys and action figures that spilled over both John and Doug's desks. Giving a hoot, she plopped herself in John's chair and began to examine them.

"I'm not being a pessimist; I'm being a realist, dad. Crichton plans are usually screwed up the ass from the get go. I'm just waiting for Murphy's law to kick in here." John glanced over at Bob, immediately forestalling any comment Jack had on the matter. "What in the hell are you doing Bob?" John walked over and grabbed the Godzilla figure out of her hands.

"Hey!" Bob hissed.

"What are you doing to my Godzilla....and Oh My God, my Captain Kirk action figures?" John stared at the positions Bob had put them in.

"Why call them action figures if they don't get any action?" Bob teased.

"That is sick Bob. Oh that is....There's no way Captain Kirk would ever be caught dead doing that to Godzilla. It's unnatural, that's what it is. And Oh my God, not Gumby and Mr. Spock. Bob you are one sick puppy." John grabbed the figures from her and began to disentangle them. "Just leave my toys alone will ya."

Bob was not disturbed in the least and gave John a smirk. "But I thought you liked it when I played with your boys."

John turned a bright crimson and stammered. "Ch-ti toys. Toys, not boys. I said don't play with my toys."

"Yeah? Well that's one thing you humans have right. Why you make them sound so much alike," Bob shrugged and sidled up to John. "Boys, toys....same thing."

There was a loud snicker from Doug, which earned him a glare from John, but Doug refused to be cowed. Unable to contain himself, Doug burst out laughing.

Jack laughed too, but then he coughed loudly. "Maybe this would be a good time to go see Charlotte Smythe before anything happens." Jack offered Bob his arm. Bob accepted it with a giggle as Jack led the way out of the office.

People called out greetings to the small group as they walked down the corridors leading to General Morrison's office. Rounding a sharp corner, Jack and Bob nearly ran into Payne Adams coming the other direction down the corridor.

"Payne," acknowledged Jack.

"Jack Crichton," Payne replied with an oversolicitous smile that reminded Bob of a Sleejah Black Lizard stalking its prey. Payne held out a hand and the two men shook hands. "How are you?" asked Payne who turned to look at Bob before Jack could answer. "And who is this lovely lady?"

Jack made the introductions. "This is Roberta Chevalier, John's fiancée. Bob, this is Payne Adams, a colleague of John's."

Payne looked at Bob in shock, stunned into momentary silence. But he recovered quickly, smiling predatorily at Bob. He reached down, took one of Bob's gloved hands and brought it to his mouth, making a great show of kissing it. "I'm Payne Adams," he said smoothly.

"Yeah, Payne in the ass," Jack could hear John mutter behind him.

"Call me Bob," she smoothly replied.

"Bob," he said, rolling her name about on his tongue. "Bob. Bob-ba-bob. Bob. I like it." Bob giggled again.

"Payne," John enunciated the name, rolled his eyes and eschewed any pretense of tact. "Adams, why don't you just slither back under your rock?"

Payne looked at John with a smirk. "I would, but it seems that you're already under it," he retorted without missing a beat.

Bob giggled loudly. "You're funny," she exaggerated. "And cute too," she frankly stated.

"He thinks so too," Doug muttered under his breath to John, who gave a snort.

Payne gave her a strange look and then he smiled. "Thank you, I think you're beautiful." Payne looked up momentarily from Bob to address Jack. "Where were you headed with this lovely find?"

"We were going to see Charlotte Smythe to thank her for arranging Bob's visitors pass," Jack replied, glaring at John and Doug.

"I was just there," Payne quickly replied, once more turning his predatory gaze on Bob. "She isn't there at the moment, and neither is the General. Some last minute meeting, I heard."

"And how'd you hear that?" Jack asked.

Ignoring Jack, Payne addressed Bob. "How about you and I blow this popsicle stand?" Bob giggled again and nodded eagerly. Payne took Bob by the arm and began to guide her away from the other three. "Don't worry," he said, "I'll have her back in time for your little rendezvous with the General. There are some important people she really ought to meet."

Giggling, Bob allowed herself to be led away by Payne. She turned around briefly as he led her around the corner, blew a kiss at John, then flipped him off before disappearing around the corner.

Chapter 2
A Payne in the Base Pt. 2

"What will it be," Payne asked with exaggerated excitement, "Physical Sciences, Materials Research, Propulsion Computation, Astrology Ancillary or Archive, Media, Medical or, oh, Human Resource?"

"Mmmedical," Bob brightly decided.

"Oh that's always an exciting one," Payne sarcastically replied. "Tests, tests, and more tests, until you fall asleep, letting them test you in peace. I suspect that department has never accepted the truth of my physical perfection. They'd refuse Michaelangelo's David, no doubt."

"They haven't seen mine," Bob giggled. She kept sneaking looks at this rival of John's, Payne Adams. He was John's total opposite in looks. Tall, taller than John, Bob gauged, he also had a longer face, dark hair and brown eyes. He was also lankier, not so compact and stocky as John, an altogether different, and not completely bad package, she mused. "They sure test John, like an obsession," Bob leadingly mentioned.

"A price, I suppose, for being the IASA pet?" Payne supposed with anything but sympathy. "It's right around the corner here, you can see where John Crichton spends his er, well let's call them working hours," Payne gestured with a hand as they passed double doors into a busy, aqua painted area of wider corridors and big spacious rooms.

"Do you know where they test him at?" Bob asked, trying to appear as if she were only trying to stay interested.

"Of course, though it depends on the test. Oh here is the office of the head of the Medical Department, Major Manly Manick, and Nursing head Major Hedda Downer," Payne explained, leading her into a prim, sparely furnished waiting room.

"Bertha Throttlebottom?" Bob blinked at the sign on the secretary's desk and oddly cocked her head, wondering if she was reading that right.

"No jokes or we won't be walking out of here," Payne suggested with a wink. The formidable secretary that walked in seemed to bear out his point. "Bertie," he called her, "meet Ms. Chevalier, John Crichton's fiancée."

Bertha, or Bertie, reached over the desk, looked Bob square in the face and firmly shook Bob's little hand. "Pleased to meetcha. They're both in," she gestured to Payne with her pencil. Bob immediately took a liking to the frank woman.

"Pa-leezed ta meecha," Bob awkwardly replied as Payne led her off into an adjoining room.

"Across the way here is the lab where they process the bad news into records, which they keep over there," Payne pointed to a long, narrow room beside a bathroom door.

"What kind of bad news?" Bob absently asked as she craned her neck to look into the room. She noticed the adjoining bathroom had one door in the hall and another in the room where they kept the records.

"All the results telling them how out of shape they think you are," he explained and jokingly wheezed. "And standing inside is a lady let's hope we can avoid," he said, hurrying to lead her down the hall between medical areas. "So what is a beautiful girl like you doing with a real loser like that?" Payne acerbically asked.

"What loser?" Bob innocently asked.

"Crichton, that's who," Payne facetiously stared at her. "Jack has some old school class, but it was all lost on his boy. I mean John. I honestly don't know what you see in that guy."

"He's good in bed," Bob blithely replied.

Payne coughed and sputtered for a moment at Bob's direct answer, but then he laughed. "Is that all," he shook his head. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, "I'm much better."

Bob sidled up close to him and ran a finger seductively down his chest. "We'll see," she said with an amused pursing of her lips. She slid a glance back towards the bathroom door they passed. "They don't monitor the bathrooms here, do they?" she suggestively asked.

"No, uh," Payne looked at her with some surprise before recovering his poise and starting to smile.

"Adams!" a klaxon voice called out. "There you are!"

Bob and Payne looked around to see a tall, red-headed woman bearing down on them, the one from the processing room that Payne had wanted to avoid. Instantly Bob got shivers down her spine. The woman was somehow familiar, perhaps reminding her of someone, but she couldn't place who. From her oversized shoulder pads under her dress suit to her obnoxious makeup to her showy movement, everything about her screamed "enemy" to Bob, and she took an instinctive and immediate dislike to the woman before she even said a word. Still, Bob had to gape in some awe at the woman's sheer overbearing character.

"You bellowed, Amelia?" Payne tactlessly asked the woman. "Can't you see I'm busy? What do you want?"

"I've been looking everywhere for you, Adams. I've got important news, and here I find you babysitting," the woman named Amelia snapped.

"Mmm not a baby," Bob replied testily.

The woman stared down her nose at the young lady's retort. Bob had seen that haughty look a million times before, and she really wanted to knock it off of her with her fist, but she restrained herself. She had to make a good impression for John, Doug, and Jack's sakes, and kicking some human woman's eema wouldn't be good. Though she was suspecting they wouldn't entirely fail to understand.

"Get rid of the little tart," the woman snapped, still looking condescendingly at Bob. "This is important."

Payne smiled slyly and pulled Bob slightly forward. "The older she gets, the more bitter of other, younger, and nicer, women she becomes," Payne winked at Bob. "Roberta Chevalier, this rude woman is Amelia Parker. Amelia Parker, this is Roberta Chevalier, John Crichton's fiancée."

Ms. Parker stared at Bob, stunned for several long moments. Finally Amelia started laughing. "Is this a joke?" she said to Payne.

He shook his head. "Nope, no joke."

Bob kept an unsettling cat-that-ate-the-canary smirk on her face. It was a look of knowing something that someone else didn't, and a look that made Amelia bristle, as Bob knew it would. Amelai looked down her nose at Bob. "But she's just a child," Amelia exclaimed.

Bob bristled angrily. "Mmm not a child you tralk."

Ms. Parker just laughed. "Ooo, I'm scared now," she mocked. "Crichton's little kitten thinks she has claws."

Bob angrily started for Amelia, only to be caught and restrained by Payne. She struggled, yelling incoherently at the laughing Ms. Parker, as Payne hauled her bodily a short distance down the hall.

"Hey, calm down will ya?" Payne lectured Bob with obvious amusement. Bob barely noticed him, looking instead like she was going to go after Ms. Parker again. "Hey, look at me Roberta," Payne held her arms at the elbows. Bob finally stopped glaring daggers at Ms. Parker long enough to look at him. "Ignore her," he continued. "She's just some stupid bitch who's jealous cause Crichton wouldn't give her the time of day. Who would? Just forget about her." Payne sighed and dusted his hands. "Sorry to accost you like that. Are you okay?"

Bob nodded, keeping her focus on him to prevent herself from seeing that woman again and going for her arrogant face. "Fine," she flatly replied.

Payne put his hands on her shoulders. "Look I gotta go talk to her, see what she wants, then I'll get rid of her, okay? Okay Roberta?" Bob looked up at him for a long time before finally nodding. Payne grinned at her and kissed her hand. "Thanks. You keep your mod little self right here and I'll be back in a minute." With a last smile, Payne turned away from her and went to meet Ms. Parker.

Bob leaned against the wall, doing her best to look like a sullen, bored human teenager, which wasn't hard to do. So that was one of the women that kept trying to frell Crichton. Bob paused. No, Payne had said that John had said no. Well, Bob snickered; maybe Crichton had a brain after all. Suddenly Bob felt a surge of anger but it was directed at herself. She'd nearly blown it, losing her temper over the woman's tactless taunts. She wanted so badly to make a good impression with the humans John worked with and she'd almost ruined everything. That frelling woman was looking in her direction again. Bob rearranged her face into a pout, appearing to be bored and annoyed, and of course, out of hearing range.

"What do you want, Amelia? Can't you see I'm busy?" Payne complained, impatiently glancing back at Bob while leading Amelia by the arm a distance until he was certain they wouldn't be overheard.

Amelia laughed. "Is it your turn to baby-sit today?" She looked over at Bob with near distaste. "Is that really Crichton's fiancée?"

Payne nodded. "Yes she really is. She was with him, Knox and his father when I ran into them in the hall."

Ms. Parker looked over at Bob again. "I didn't know Crichton liked them so young. Maybe her name is really Lolita?"

Payne smirked. "What's the matter Amelia? Jealous?"

"Of a child?" Amelia made a stale hack of a laugh. "Are you kidding?"

"Well, you never could make it to first base with him," Payne pointed out, not particularly caring how tactless he was toward the woman who had so rudely interrupted an amazing opportunity.

"And now I see why," Amelia sneered. "He obviously likes them short, and underdeveloped. Maybe it's the school uniform thing that gets him off."

Payne laughed. "So are you gonna go out and get one now, see if works on him?"

Ms. Parker looked insulted. "Of course not. Crichton's not my type." She smiled predatorily at Payne, "But you are. Why don't you dump the kid and come up to my place after work." She ran a hand down his arm. "We could get to know each other."

Payne stepped back from her and suppressed a shudder. "No thanks Amelia. I don't date anything that eats its own mate. Now what did you want to talk to me about?"

Anger and hurt flared briefly in Ms. Parker's eyes but she covered it quickly with a smile. It was a terrifying sight. "I have the test results on Crichton."

"Well why in the hell didn't you tell me in the first place," Payne nearly whined, not bothering to hide the annoyance in his voice. "And?"

Ms. Parker smiled again. "They definitely show anomalies."

"What kind of anomalies? These had better not be errors," Payne gestured quotation marks in the air, "caused by the developing solution or who knows what again. And do they suspect....?"

Ms. Parker shook her head. "No, it's nothing like that this time. I did the tests myself, replacing the actual results with a copy of an old test before forwarding to the lab. We have the real tests in case we need to...."

"Make a deal with Crichton, fine," Payne impatiently continued. "Then....they don't suspect anything?"

"They know nothing," Amelia smugly confirmed. "I have very limited time with the lab for my own experiment, which, unknown to them, are John's test results. I have looked over the new brain scans myself and compiled one proof on my own so far. I'll have enough proofs interpreted by Friday, if you want to look them over on Saturday. We could meet here," she slowly ran her eyes down him.

"No wonder Stepson wants to see me that Sunday," Payne muttered. "And what have you seen so far?" Payne prompted impatiently.

"Us," Ms. Parker corrected. "I'll be bringing the results as well to give to Stepson that Sunday. The test results," she held back for a moment, toying with his impatience, "are not the same as before he went through that wormhole."

Payne thought for a moment. "Its not unheard of for the tests to vary," he ventured.

"I know that, dimwit," Amelia snipped. "What I'm saying is that his tests are nowhere near the norms that were established for him. In fact, there are some major, major discrepancies."

"Like what?" Payne said, his voice full of glee.

Amelia looked pointedly at Bob, who now looked bored and impatient. "I don't think that this is the time or the place to discuss this, not with Lo-li-ta waiting for you."

He looked thoughtfully over at Bob. "You're right. Anything else then? I should be going."

"Since this might involve a few more weeks, Stepson would like to be aware of John Crichton's comings and goings in detail, to be aware if he's planning to leave the country or something," she tossed her upheld hand back a bit.

"Not an unpleasant idea at that," Payne looked back in Bob's direction with a smirk. She looked supremely bored, agitated and slightly spaced. She would be impetuous but lots of fun, he mused to himself. "Then tell Stepson to rest assured. I'll be glad to keep an eye on her, um, them. You have my cell phone number don't you?" he asked.

She nodded. Payne nodded and started to walk away, but Ms. Parker caught him by the sleeve. "One more thing. Bridget says that Dr. Knox hasn't contacted Stepson yet."

Payne laughed. "Don't worry. John and Knox may be buddy-buddy again right now, but no one can put up with Crichton's ego for long. Look at his ex-girlfriend Alex. That's one of the reasons she left him."

Ms. Parker looked at him skeptically. "And you had absolutely nothing to do with that I suppose?"

Payne laughed again. "No, I can't take credit for that. Crichton did it all on his own. The jerk expected her to stay at home all barefoot and pregnant and bask in the reflection of his glory." He jerked his head in Bob's direction. "It's probably why he's with a teenager now. She wouldn't know any better."

"I still don't know what he sees in that little tart," Ms. Parker complained.

"Consider yourself lucky. Call me Saturday," Payne called back over his shoulder as he walked back to the impatiently waiting Bob.

"Sorry about that," he said apologetically, taking her hand again and kissing it. "It was some business I had to take care of. It couldn't wait."


He smiled down at Bob. "Shall we continue our tour now?"

"Sure," Bob nodded and giggled as he led her down the corridor. After a moment, she felt his arm and sidled up to him. "So, think we can find a restroom?" she asked, her breath tight. As soon as he looked around and she knew he'd go for it, she rolled her head back and her eyes up. "Naah we better get back."

"As you like," he said and sighed with some annoyance.

John paced back and forth in his office, something he'd done ever since Payne had left with Bob. Doug looked up from where he sat at his computer. "Dude, would you chill out? You're making me dizzy with all that back and forth."

"Sorry," John claimed, but he didn't stop his pacing.

"Dude!! Would you knock it off?" Doug snapped.

John looked up, startled. "Sorry bud. I'm worried ya know about Bob. Damn. I shoulda never her let her go with that loser Payne. What could he possibly be doing with Bob that's taking so damn long?"

"It hasn't been more than half an hour son," Jack helpfully observed. "You can't go far in this base in a time like that. I'm sure everything is fine."

"Or maybe they're in a closet somewhere having wild, monkey sex," Doug offered.

Both Jack and John turned to glare at him. Doug flinched. "Hey, I was just making a joke."

"Very funny, ha, ha. You see me laughing dude," John testily sniped back.

"Hey, I'm sorry. Don't yell at me dude. I'm sure Bob's okay and not in a closet somewhere experiencing Payne," Doug bit the tip of his tongue and nodded. John set a brooding glare out the window.

"You're really not helping, Douglas," Jack quietly scolded.

"No humor, man," Doug grumbled under his breath and shook his head as he resumed his game of Duke Nukem on the computer. John resumed pacing. The phone rang a few minutes later. Doug picked it up before either John or Jack could reach it and sighed with relief. "Knox here." He listened intently. "Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay I'll tell them." Doug hung up the phone and looked at John and Jack standing there waiting expectantly. "That was Charlotte," Doug explained. "Apparently General Morrison got out of the meeting early and he heard Bob was here. He wants to meet her."

"So would we," John shrugged. "Bob's not here, what are we supposed to do?"

"You're asking me, Mr. I've always got a plan?" Doug complained.

Before either John or Jack could reply, they heard laughter and voices outside the office. The door opened and Bob entered, followed closely by Payne, who greeted John with a smirk.

"See Cretin," he gestured between Bob and himself. "I brought her back in one piece; although I'm sure she enjoyed spending time with a real man for a change." He looked at Jack, "Sorry no offense Colonel."

"Why, who showed her around then?" Doug quipped. Payne ignored Doug's quip and continued to smirk at John.

"The name is Crichton, oh Payne in the ass," John snipped and turned to Bob. "Oh we're always like this," John pretended to explain. "Are you all right?"

Bob, who had been watching their byplay with intense interest, was suddenly touched by John's concern. "Mmm fine," she replied.

Payne grasped her hand again and courteously took his officer's cap off and placed his cap under his arm. "I had a lovely time Roberta. I hope I can see more of you sometime."

Bob giggled and nodded and somehow, deep down, John felt oddly betrayed. "Would be nice," Bob replied to the solicitous Payne.

"I'll see you another time then," Payne said, kissing her hand again. He made a great show of looking around John and Doug's office as he turned to go. "Looks kinda bare in here boys. You moving?" he asked with a malicious smile. "Nice to see you again Colonel," he called over his shoulder as he left the office.

John made at face at Payne's back as he slammed the door shut. Bob plopped herself down in John's chair. John propped himself up on the edge of his desk. "Where did he take you?" John demanded.

Bob shrugged. "Dunno. Around."

"Where exactly?" John demanded. Bob sat up straight in the chair. John's questioning was beginning to sound like an interrogation to her. "Told you I don't know. This place is confusing. We saw a lot of humans."

"Who? What took you so long?"

Bob began to bristle angrily as Jack stepped in. "May I remind you that the General wants to see Bob? He's a busy man and we're keeping him waiting. Your interrogation of Bob can wait, son." Jack reached down, pulled Bob out of the chair and checked her appearance carefully. After a stern look over, he took Bob by the arm and led her out of the office. "Let's go get this over with."

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