"Why this store?" Doug asked limply, hoping he could avoid getting bored standing around a clothing store while the ever-curious Bob shopped. "They have like, clothes that fit right on like, one percent of the population. Though come to think of it, maybe you fall into that one percent huh."
"Two reasons," Bob patiently replied as she walked through the store toward a counter with Doug. "The ad said they do tailoring fast, and they have the shirts I've seen humans wear when golfing and playing tennis and stuff."
"Uh," Doug asked of her, "could you like, be a little less mysterious and stuff?"
"Whatcha think?" she asked and held up a very small low rise pair of pink terry "boy" shorts.
Doug snorted and told her, "That is hot."
"That's what I thought," Bob agreed and nodded to herself. "It's from Payne. I wanna make a few changes." Suddenly Bob stopped in front of a mannequin.
"Hey you could almost get a job as a mannequin," Doug commented to Bob when he looked at it. He gestured to her helmet of black hair and then to the mannequins. Some of the mannequins seemed to be wearing similar looks. "Except," he said, "you're like, hotter."
"And a little more active," Bob added in good humor. "See the shirt?" she asked. Doug looked at the Polo Ralph Lauren shirt and nodded. "Get one for me and meet me at that counter," she told him, pointing him to a counter.
"Uh okay," Doug said.
No sooner had she walked away than a guy walked up to ask, "May I help you?"
"It's not for me it's for flapper girl over there," Doug told the guy. "Got these in like, Junior sizes?"
When Bob reached a register, she loudly announced, "Ah, help please." By the time a lady reached the register, Bob was waiting behind a pair of massive reflective silver blue lensed sunglasses with outlandish zebra striped frames. "What?" Bob asked of the staring woman.
"May I help you?" the attractive blond woman, with a name tag that announced her as Stephanie, asked.
"Maybe," said Bob. "I'm Roberta. Do you know John Crichton?"
"Not personally, no," Stephanie answered and seemed amused. "Why?"
"Good," Bob told her. "Ah, can you have a couple of alterations made to these shorts by Sunday morning?" The lady seemed about to decline, so Bob plopped a fancy beaded shirt onto the counter. "I have this. But I don't want it."
"I'm sorry," Stephanie began to tell the very strange young woman as she made a pretense of inspecting the offering, but when she saw the label and the style a sudden change came over her. "But of course we can make special arrangements, in special circumstances."
"Mm," Bob nodded while she returned the sunglasses onto the counter-top display she'd taken it from. "I want this pair of shorts," she told Stephanie as she placed the pink terry shorts from Payne on the counter, "ah, shorter. And I want a custom thing....two words, sewn across the back. In ah, cursing."
"Um cursive, okay," Stephanie responded as she looked over the shorts. "The message is no problem, but shortening one of these, I don't think-"
Bob grabbed it back from Stephanie, ripped the belt line completely off of the top, removed the draw string, tossed the belt line into a nearby trash can and plunked the remainder of the shorts and draw string onto the counter. "Make a new belt line using what's left here," Bob told her. "And I don't want this either," she added, placing a designer purse on the counter as well.
Something about the young woman's attitude brooked no argument and the expensive purse settled the matter. What was more, Stephanie felt fascinated by this outlandish and rather striking young woman. After taking a longer look her over, Stephanie told the young woman, "That should be, hm, striking. Yes, and what words would you like on the back?"
"This," Bob told her as she produced a piece of paper with two stylishly written words on it. "Just like that."
Stephanie took the paper and quickly started writing a work order and receipt while taking darting glances at Roberta. "Won't you remember me, I mean us for all your special clothing needs. I'll be here on Sunday morning, you can pick it up then."
"How did it go?" Doug asked as he met Bob on her way from the register. He gave a curious look over at the sales lady behind the counter, not so much because she was attractive but because of the amused and flirtatiously interested way she was watching Bob walking away.
"See you Sunday," the sales man called over to Doug as he put a piece of paper into his pocket.
"Doug?" asked an amused Bob.
"Uh so, how did it go?"
"Great," said Bob, "if not as good as yours went. Hate being tied up. Things I do for him. He'll never....Got the shirt?"
"Huh? Yeah," Doug told her and handed her the shirt. "What do you want with one of these? Going into polo or tennis or something?"
"Golf," Bob told him. "Going golfing. They wear these golfing sometimes. I know they do. Seen it on the telephone."
"Television," Doug corrected her. "I'll make John pay me back. This place is so overpriced."
"So's the help," Bob told him, then with a mischievous grin she added, "though I see how I might get a serious discount."
Doug's brow rose and he scratched the back of his head. "Um so now where?"
"Ah," Bob replied, "for a cup of coffee."
John raised his head from resting on his forearms on the table when the waitress filled his cup of coffee. "Oh no tha-" John started to object, but the waitress had already filled his cup to the rim. "And I had that perfect," John mumbled.
He took a sip of water while the coffee cooled. As he sipped, he saw Bob approaching through the water glass and almost spewed his water all over the place. She had an even closer resemblance to a 1920s flapper than usual, with a short puff of feather behind one ear making a stylish accent with the perfectly combed and polished helmet of black bob wig but she was otherwise mostly obscured in a chic dark green velvet cloak. The exceptions were seemingly very high heels and a glimpse in the front of what looked like a fancy blue dress that had a shocking neckline which was still plunging where the cloak met to cover it at her waist. That glimpse, besides the surprise of her finding him at all, left him stunned for a moment.
"Uh," John said. "Hi."
"Well don't have a conniption," Bob smartly remarked as she casually sat down at the end of the booth facing John. "You're really really lucky you know," she continued. "Doug said it's easy for packages to get lost when you send them to the wrong address."
"I did?" John asked.
"Sure did, dude," Doug said, appearing from oblivion to slide in between Bob and the table and sit on the inside. "Screwed up the address. This like, hot business woman came up and gave it to us."
Bob looked at Doug as if realizing a new possibility. "Mmaybe he meant to send her stuff."
"Bob," John objected.
Bob just made a deep little laugh, then smirked. John tried to fix his coffee. "So," John asked. "How did you find me?"
"Uh," Doug answered. "Like, there's a mystery. You always eat here."
"He told me," Bob shrugged her head at Doug. "Now you can't hide from me here," she teased.
John sipped his coffee, but found it very hard to do anything with Bob holding a stare at him with her odd smirk lodged on her face.
"Let's blow this lame little shop and go dance," Bob proposed. "I wanna dance and frell. Doug, you can do dinah or whatever and meet us at Duggan's or Trill Spill later? Should be some places to sit and talk there."
"Dinner? Sure," Doug agreed, "Duggan's sounds cool. Gimme a buzz."
Bob whipped her head in a slight gesture to John and declined, "I'm with Crichton."
Doug stared for a moment but when he recovered explained, "I mean call me on the phone or text me so I know when you're going to be there."
"Oh," Bob rocked her head. To John she asked, "So what about the dance and ah, things?"
John took another sip of bitter, weak coffee and squinted just as bitterly. "Payne give you that dress?"
Doug's eyes rolled up and his head dropped back so far Bob half expected it to roll off. Bob turned a sneer at John. "What if it is?"
"I'm not going out with that jerk's property on you," John griped. Doug groaned and slipped halfway down out of the bench.
Bob blinked at Doug for a moment, then got up, fussed with her cloak, and started for the door. As she went, she looked over her shoulder, almost at John, and said, "Then you've got something to work on."
Doug's brows rose to his hairline. He looked at John, who was stewing over his coffee cup until she said that. Without changing his serious pose, John's narrow look slid from her general direction to Doug. "Excuse me," John said, crisply plunking a wad of bills on the table and taking right off after her.
Doug watched John leave then checked the wad of bills. Way more than enough. Enough for the bill, for another cup of coffee and a vegetable wrap sandwich and little left over for gas. 'Or petrol down here', he reminded himself. 'Hope he gets lucky', Doug thought, feeling lucky himself at the moment.
"Waitress!" Doug called. "Decaf and veggie wrap."
"Aw man," Doug exclaimed as he walked into the penthouse and put his jacket up on a coat hanger. "Good to be back. Can't wait to have a drink, set up my new computer, put some real software on it, check interspace online board while I'm at it, and chill for a few hours."
"Hello Douglas," the other current inhabitant of the penthouse, Jack, said as he shuffled in. His casual clothes and slippers signaled that he was waiting up watching TV. "Good to see somebody back. A few hours? It'll be midnight before you're half done."
"Probably," Doug groaned. "But then it is past midnight dude. And by a few more hours maybe Bob will be back at her flat. Bob and I still have to get together to follow up on the lead she got out of Payne when they went out last night. Like I tried telling you guys, she really was doing it to spy on Payne. Well, and get back at John, but, mostly spy on Payne."
Jack put up a hand. "I wasn't the one arguing. Thought she'd do the right thing in the end. In a way. Sort of. She means well. Mostly. Alot of grey area. Didn't realize how late it was, once it passed too many o'clock. So she's not at her place? Where are they?" Jack asked.
"Oh," Doug replied while rubbing his forehead. "Went out together to a club, I mean some fancy cafe, I mean. I was just in the way, total third wheel. But I think they're all right."
Jack let out a deep breath. "Good. Maybe we'll get some peace around here. Would like a peaceful week to go by after this roller coaster the last several days, if that's possible with them."
"Man," Doug said, going in the kitchen and fixing himself a drink while Jack tagged along, "beats me. Don't know why Payne-in-the-ass is after Bob for, it's not like anybody could keep up with her. She's like, tupperware girl."
"Payne's predictable enough. But those kids. How did they....?" Jack asked.
"Clueless got a clue," Doug said. "Sent her ketchup. It's weird. She just, like, caved in like trade negotiators to China. Fwap. Right on her knees and all, let's go find John."
Jack laughed. "Ketchup," he said between laughs, "you know that's kind of sad, but cute at the same time."
"Dude, he almost blew that!" Doug related. "He sent it to the wrong address."
Jack laughed some more and followed Doug into the living room. "So how were they when you left?"
"Huh," Doug said, getting his computer from where he'd set it by the door. "I don't think he knows where he's at. They're like, rutting season, man. I left after their second time sneaking off to, like, the bathroom or closet or somewhere they can do the dance of love. It wasn't a big secret why, either," Doug said as Jack covered his face with his hand.
"Oh no," Jack said.
"Oh, yeah," Doug said. "But hey, the making up is going like gangbusters," he continued while unpacking his computer. "I hope they settle down before he busts something. Course how she's dressed isn't helping."
Jack kept his hand over his face. "Yeah? How?" he was almost pained to ask.
"Well it's from Payne," Doug explained. "It's like, well, it's got a much longer skirt, and she's not like, popping out over the top, but like, it's got the other one outdone otherwise," Doug told him and shook his head before plugging in his hurriedly assembled computer system.
"Hey, where'd you get this?" Jack asked, suddenly noticing the computer.
"Payne!" Doug said with a laugh. "He gave it to Bob, but she let me have it. Cool huh?"
"Oh, no," Jack groaned. "He's spent a good few thousand on Bob, you know."
"Oh, I know," Doug agreed, nodding. "Gotta update windows before my virtual room gets an open door. And get some stuff I need on it. Like, real software. Then Bob and I can use it at her place. Yeah I know what you're saying, we're gonna have a time getting rid of that flake. The dress John's wining and dinning isn't chicken feed either. Though come to think of it, when have we ever gotten rid of him?"
"He came with his father, just like John came from me," Jack lamented. "A regular Hatfield and McCoy thing going looks like. So let's hear it. The dress?"
"Oh," Doug shrugged and continued while staring at the screen. "Blue, some sequins, like it's two shoulder straps that taper wider all the way down until they finally join down in the danger zone, in the front and like, lower in the back. There's like a few thin ties holding the two sides together at like, her lower chest and middle."
"Uuh, that sounds uuh," Jack said, rubbing a finger on his forehead.
"It is," Doug replied. "Oh, it's stuck to her top with some tape or something and she's got this underskirt, but dude!" Doug shook his head. "By the time I left, it was unsticking from her top, so she had to move like real carefully, and the underskirt, it's like sheer stockings. Can see at least half her rear under 'em in the like, v-shape from where the dress opens? It's so rad, but totally smokin' daring, man."
"Oh my," Jack closed his eyes and shook his head. "I asked. Don't tell me any more."
"That's all," Doug shrugged. "Oh yeah, and I think it was starting to tear apart lower, probably 'cause she shouldn't sit down or bend over in that thing, but she was."
"Why was I afraid of that?" Jack asked, rhetorically.
"Hey, it's like, John's funeral, man," Doug said with a snort. "As long as we finally get some peaceful sleep around here, hey, I'm for whatever works. I'm like, so tweaked out, man."
"Kids today," Jack mumbled on his way over to turn off the TV. "Well here's hoping. Enjoy your ill-gotten goods. I'll be off to sleep. Goodnight, Doug."
"Night, dude," Doug said. "I'll let you know if, I mean when I hear anything bad before I go." When Jack looked back with a concerned expression, Doug retracted his correction, "If, I mean. I meant if."
John's lips were tight as he pulled the rented Mustang up to the curb. His eyes slid, not for the first time, down to see Bob's hand idly but expertly stroking the shift knob and shaft while she innocently looked around out of the passenger window. John cleared his throat. "So," he asked, "did you miss the Payne?"
Bob just slid him a sneer for a moment but didn't reply at first. A few minutes later she spoke up. "Maybe I wouldn't be coming back home so soon. Think I would've had more fun on the way back too," Bob cheekily said while her hand worked the shifter in a way that made John wonder how it kept from melting.
"Oh I doubt that," John muttered as he managed to cross his legs and drive at the same time. He caught Bob glancing and glared. Bob snapped her attention somewhere off in the horizon until they started up the hill to the apartment the IASA had scuttled her off to. "Better check those men in black, or whatever they all wear around here, didn't bug you again," John told her.
"Yeah, I'm not a kid, Crichton," Bob snapped back. "Your friend, gadget boy? He'll be there soon anyway, after he had to go set up his computer at your place and play with it. Does it work?"
"What work?" John asked.
"Getting mad at me," Bob turned a shrewd face to him. "Help you put your tadpole down."
"Flagpole?" John guessed.
"Yeah flagpole or whatever." Bob turned slightly in her seat toward him, suddenly irritated. "You used to do that alot, when you didn't want me distracting your mivonks. Get a fruga up your eema at me. Did it work?"
"Look," John replied, getting irked too, "Who's been on about me and Buffy and Puffy to what's his face? Like you didn't appreciate I was trying to keep faithful to somebody?"
"No," Bob snapped, "that someone wasn't me. Sure all that love dren was really really nice, but if you're thinking I liked being a trelk in your mind to put down so it'd make things better for you with her, forget it. 'sides," Bob scooted to face slightly away from him, "it's not like it worked so well for everyone else, like on that Royal planet, twice, yeah, at least, and who knows who the frell else. Your brilliant little method doesn't seem to work. Except on me."
"Huh?" John screwed his face, having failed to keep track through her rant.
"Close enough, I'll get out here," Bob said, suddenly opening the door.
John barely whipped the Mustang up to an open spot at curbside in time for her to put her feet on the ground and get out. Since he was busy driving, he even missed seeing her getting out in the shocking dress she was wearing. He dropped his head back against the headrest, gritted his teeth, then gave in. "Chiana."
Bob turned and bent down to look back at him, silently waiting. John tapped his fingers. "Why don't you come back to our place. You don't have to do anything you don't want to."
"Oh I'll not do anything I don't want to here," Bob said, starting to close the door.
"We have to stick together, Pip," John called back. Bob froze and openly stared back at him for few long moments. Then she swallowed and looked down. "The sooner we get over these games with Payne and whatever else the better," he said. The door slammed hard before he knew what happened. He couldn't make out whatever she yelled at him over the sounds of his gunning the engine and speeding off.
"Fekkik," Bob groused, kicking a foot over the sidewalk. "Like it's my fault? Knew I shouldn't have gone out with him yet," she grumbled and jerked her head on her way into the apartment building.