At least the place was nice. Big windows wrapping around giving views of the beautiful planet outside. Inside was comfortable with its slightly fussy but fairly harmonious decor of pre-made stuff thrown together from who knows where dotted with accents that she guessed were human favorites, fake plants and dead flowers. It was all pleasing to her eyes and being darker indoors, also more comfortable.
Everything was very clean according to her nose, except some of the humans and even they weren't too bad, making this no exception to her observation that humans tended to keep places very clean and neat. So far she hadn't seen one person laying around dying, not even on streets. Likewise she was sure her trouble getting food to settle was some incompatibility with some human food instead of a problem with the food being unclean. Given the things she was used to eating and the risks she was used to taking, this planet was a slice of candy. Or whatever that saying was Crichton used.
An almost too young and handsome man with a strong cleft chin and a uniform appeared from between some tables on their way through the restaurant. Bob recognized him as the man Jack had pointed out to her before she had another sudden failure of sensibility and had to call Jack's frelling son. The young man eagerly greeted Jim gushing, "General Morrison, this is a surprise."
"It qualifies if you stretch it far enough," Jim drolly replied, "but I'm known well enough around here. How the hell are you doing, Philip? Haven't seen you since the wedding."
"That's okay," Philip said, "the ones that bother me are the ones that haven't seen me since the divorce."
"Oh," Jim said, "sorry to hear that. You know Jack," he gestured him to Jack.
"Yes we met earlier," Philip said while shaking hands with Jack, "and I told him it was a surprise seeing him, but I think I can say that in his case."
"I think so," Jack agreed, "although my sound defeat on the links can't be called a surprise."
"Says the man who landed a hole in one!" Jim patted Jack's shoulder and poked at him with his other hand. Bob smiled at watching the two old guys acting like youngsters and joined in a little, mimicking Jim at taking a poke or two at Jack. Poor Jack was trying lamely to deflect their pokes with his arms and poke back but was laughing too hard. In fact Bob thought they were rather cute and stood watching them continue playing around with a big smile.
Philip barely noticed Jack or Jim's horsing around. He was too preoccupied with looking over the girl with them. The bottom of a small shirt hung more like a raised curtain with the little shorts setting the scene so far below. On show was a span of body that struck him as incredibly sexy and inhumanly perfect, from its lean yet supple physique to its flawless skin with an all-over tan to match. Although he couldn't believe the extent of bare hip he was seeing, it still seemed a shame there was anything on it. Distracted as he was, he also managed to notice that her face was cute and animated with enticing cupid's bow lips, huge black eyes and a very strange magnetism. "And who is this? This isn't the girl you mentioned....?"
"Yes," Jack confirmed between catching his breath, "Roberta Chevalier, my son's fiancee. Roberta, Philip Classens, the son of an old associate of mine and an Officer in the Coast Patrol."
Bob couldn't quite read Philip's expression, but his eyes seemed to flash some kind of outrage, his jaw clenched slightly and he continued leering at her still more keenly. Instincts told her this man would mean trouble. Both he and the potential for danger excited and aroused her. She might have taken him for a ride if not for Jack's presence and the fact that she remained determined to be good, or something sort of like it enough to get by with, for Jack and just maybe for John. The impulses flowed through her even as she said, "Hi."
"Miss. May I introduce you to some friends of mine?" Philip asked her.
Bob looked to Jack. He placed a hand on her shoulder, pointed to a table and told her, "Go ahead dear, I think that's where we're headed." With a meaningful look at her he added, "Don't stay a moment more than you want."
"Mmkay," Bob nodded and continued right after the host for the table Jack had pointed out.
Philip's mouth dropped open at her complete lack of tact. Jack barely contained a smile, scratched the side of his mouth and continued after Bob while Jim wryly told Philip, "She's from Quebec," and followed.
Although summarily brushed off, Philip wasn't so easily discouraged. Especially since she was fiancee to a Crichton. Perhaps he would have tried again a little later on, but the sight of her from behind hooked his startled eyes. A startlingly trim rear flexed with her slightly unconventional but sensual walk, immediately blowing away competition in his opinion as the sexiest he'd ever seen. As icing on the outrageous cake, letters that seemed to read 'sweet heartbreaker' were embroidered across the back of the shorts. Any question of taking a hint turned rhetorical and he started after them to their table.
The most nervous man in the room and the most plastered, the groom and the father of the bride respectively, sat at a prominent table not far enough away from Roberta for the men to fail noticing as she was led through the main room occupied by the wedding party to a side area occupied by other customers. The bride was in the midst of a queue of happy, noisy and laughter-laced socializing and only one or two noticed the spectacle of the bodacious Bob in the company of two handsome, somehow familiar seeming older men and a handsome young man trailing behind. The whole cluster of men around and including the groom didn't miss the sight and all craned their necks to watch.
"Strewth what an arse!" the groom blurted, unfortunately loud enough to be heard by the bride, which he discovered when he looked over to her a split second later and found himself in the path of a whithering glare. "I-I mean, the-the nerve, the, what a s-, uh," he verbally stumbled over himself.
"What an arse!" roared the would-be father in law and half the table erupted in laughter. The other half got up to leave in a huff.
All too soon the table-bound party reached their table. Philip appeared at Roberta's side to tell Jim, "Oh General, Sir, your wife had kindly invited me to a party tomorrow night, but I'd had to tell her I didn't know if I could get away for it."
As Jim worked into a chair at the table he replied, "Don't tell me she took no for an answer!"
"Eh? Well uh no Sir," Philip replied. "I mean yes. I mean-"
"Say what you mean, man," the General bellowed.
Philip finally noticed he was blocking Bob's way and moved aside and pulled out a chair for her. "Sorry Miss," he asked, "am I in your way?"
"Not yet," she bluntly answered. Ignoring the chair he pulled out, she walked around the table to a chair next to Jack, pulled it out for herself and sat with her knees up. Her thoughts drifted from the scene and she again wondered what John was doing.
The patient host then handed some menus around and advised the party, "We have some lovely wines from Angullong of Orange as well as select wines from California, special is Roast Duck Marco Polo."
While the host left and Philip conspicuously didn't, Jack remarked to Jim, "Figures. I can't eat duck. Allergic to the quackers."
"Crap on, Jack!" Jim gave Jack a shove and laughed. "So am I!"
"You're what?" Bob asked, having just tuned back in at the sound of Jim's happily boisterous voice. She hopped up onto the table facing her seat and repeated, "What?"
"Oh," Jack explained, "both of us are allergic to duck."
"Wo," Bob half cooed and said, "Glad I'm not a duck."
"So are we," Philip said from where he stood at the other side of the table smiling at the view of Bob on the table. Knowing looks cut up to him from both of the older men and he quickly tried recovering his previous conversation with Jim. "Eh, uh, but I meant to say I can attend after all. Should I call her? Uh your wife?"
"No, no I'll talk to her," Jim answered with a certain brusqueness that perked Bob's attention. Bob looked between the two men and wondered if the problem lay with Philip or between Jim and his wife or some tangle of suspicions or insecurity. Jack wasn't listening, having a look in his gaze that Bob knew all too well from John as the Crichton fixation on thoughts of long ago and far away.
Philip pitched in, "I was just going to order drinks. With the wedding party and all, it might be a bit before table service can get around. Perhaps I can order yours?"
"Coffee, black coffee," Jim said. "Jack?"
"I'll have the veal," Jack said, a lame joke to diffuse the fact he didn't know what the question was. Neither did Bob, she was getting that feeling of really wanting to be with or at least hear John again. The sire's impressions of his son weren't helping.
"To drink," Jim prompted Jack. Reaching into his pockets, Jim teased, "Wait I think I've got a spare battery here for your hearin' aid."
"Coffee," Jack ordered, "sugar, creme."
"Right," Philip said and pointing to Jim then Jack, he mixed up their orders as, "coffee, black and sugar, cream and no sugar."
"No no, black, no cream, no sugar," Jim corrected.
But Philip was determined to get it wrong. "Right, he wants black, no cream, no sugar, and you want?"
The game fooled no one at the table. But Bob thought the guy was so cute and to attempt the game on that thin of a mixup was so pathetic that she looked at the other two men with a shrug. Since they shrugged as well, she decided to cut to the chase, got off the table and allowed herself to be taken to the service area with Philip under the pretext of having to be there to get the orders straight.
Jack turned his attention to reading the paper he'd brought in. Jim shook his head to himself and said, "There you are, you live wire, at a golf club and dinner with a frisky young Miss and here you're spotting the paper and coffee bit. You know you're not in training."
"Strange how that works," Jack remarked. "When I was young enough to meet the physical requirements I was also more apt to willfully break training by following some fool impulse or other, or being under the influence dare I admit. Now that I'm more mature and unlikely to fool around, I'm too old for it."
"Yes youth is often wasted on the young," Jim quoted and sighed. Perking up, he added, "Although it certainly isn't being wasted on Roberta." Jack shared a chuckle with Jim then Jim sighed. "Just as well the bird has flown," Jim said to Jack, "I wanted to talk to you for a minute."
"Sure Jim," Jack said without looking from his paper, "what's on your mind?"
"Actually I was going to ask you what was on yours," Jim said, "but if it's about mine then. Jack I feel bad about it but truth is, when I came out here I was set to lay into you."
"Me?" Jack asked, having the good grace to at least appear surprised.
Jim smiled for a moment then explained, "Yes I was going to have some words about seeing this school girl mixed up with that long-out of school boy of yours. But eh," he stole a glance back at the girl in question before turning his attention back to Jack, "well I see innocence was an impression she gave. My mistake, eh?"
Jack scratched his brow for a moment before relating, "I'm reasonably confident that after some further observation of the two in proximity to one another, you'd have discovered the error of those early impressions."
Jim chuckled. "No doubt of it. Or with Payne maybe?"
"No Jim," Jack assured him. "I don't think so. They've got it pretty bad." Quietly he added, "Or at least she does."
Jim noted the remark. "Hm." Then he grumbled, "Bloody shysters. Imagine them setting John up like that."
"I don't know about Payne," Jack said, "in so far as being too much more than the sum of his ego, but I suppose there'll be some eyes kept on him?"
"At the least," Jim replied.
"This doesn't look good," Philip observed of the commotion brewing with people standing around the restaurant in clusters and a bride wailing in the far corner. 'And this girl doesn't look good, she looks great', he thought to himself since he was busier leering at her than anything else. Bob gave the scene a curious look but then she noticed the service aisle, swung into the oddest almost uncontrolled halt and reverse he'd ever seen, instantly recovered and suddenly started setting up two cups of coffee. "What the- what're you doing?" Philip asked.
She paused in picking up a coffee pot from the warmer long enough to look at him so blankly he felt like he was the one being seen as odd for asking. So he started saying the first things he could think of to say. "Jack said you were John Crichton's fiancee? Where are you from? Canada?"
"Quebec," Bob confirmed and smiled nervously.
Continuing the polite conversation while placing a few packages of creamer on a tray he asked, "What do you think of it here? So far."
"I like it here," Bob told him as she deftly stirred sugar and creamer in one cup.
"Nice feel of nature, with this course," Philip said, "even if we are usually being figurative when we say that we can run into nature out there. Say luv, I'd bet you've never seen a kangaroo. Right out there on the course you can see some of the local red 'roos. Right friendly critters at that."
Bob looked aside at him with wild eyes and an edgy smile and said, "Ah I don't think they like me," as she took the cups of coffee on a tray back towards the table.
"Crazy," Philip told her as he shadowed her, "how couldn't they love ya? I'm sure if they saw you they'd really go for ya."
"They have," Bob said, "and they definitely do."
A commotion seemed to be raising the volume level in the main dinning room even higher and as if on cue some music started blasting from a nearby conference room to signal that the dance party was on. General Morrison checked his watch and gestured to the main dinning room. "I wonder what's happening in there," he said.
"The groom saw our girl and changed his mind?" Jack kidded. The music, which must have been deafening in the conference room, was a song Jack recognized as one that Bob had been playing at the penthouse complex. She'd been introduced to the song through a teenager at the complex, to Jack's regret since he couldn't find any melody in the noise. "What happened to music, Jim?" Jack asked.
"It's going out of style, Jack," Jim said to his coffee cup, "Replaced by images, posturing and sentiments people can cling to and manipulative people can easily construct. Now they're working on medicine. Sciences and the space programs are next."
Jack missed some of the General's rant, lost in memories for a moment. Sadly he said, "I don't remember the song."
Jim pinched his lips, knowing instinctively that Jack meant the song played at his wedding to his late wife. After a moment of silence, Jim remembered, "Eddy Arnold wasn't it?"
Jack's brow rose and he looked at Jim, "That's right. Yes it was. It was playing on the radio when I asked her. What song was that? I'll check my records when I get to Florida. Or are they at the cabin?"
"Or I can check ours," Jim commented, "I think we had to get commercial clearance to play anything on that launch pad, damned bureaucracy."
"Did you really?" Jack asked. "I didn't know that."
"It was no problem," Jim insisted. The two were interrupted by the return of Bob and Philip.
"Right well that was a sure thing," Philip was saying to Bob. "Good the critters give you a taste of the ol' Aussie spirit huh?"
"Drinks boys," Bob announced.
"Why thank you, what a nice hostess," Jack said as he moved his newspaper enough for her to place the drink down.
As Bob served the cups of coffee to a pleased looking Jim and Jack, Philip asked her, "Say, would you care for a drink?"
"Ah I was hoping somebody would ask me that," Bob said. "I'll take a v-um-" she started to order but abruptly stopped. Suddenly remembering the incident at Cadmus about ordering drinks without ident, Bob ducked her head in a flinch, which made the men shift their gazes in curiosity at her strange movement, and then she proudly ordered, "Shirley Temple."
The men all looked away to cover their amusement and barely contained a snicker. Bob's eyes cut one way then the other and the sting of embarrassment tickled behind her. Fortunately as far as she was concerned, the human cultural faux pas wasn't important. She passed over her seat to sit on the side of the table beside Jack and asked, "So ah, what're we doing in here? Sounds like there's a party going."
Philip seized the opportunity to ask, "Would you like to see if we can join in?"
"Yeah!" Bob glared and hopped up. But then she realized she should ask first here. Stopping herself before completely standing, she looked at Jack and asked, "Ah....?"
Jack looked up from his newspaper to look pointedly at Philip, who promised on cue, "I'll keep an eye on her and be back before long."
That seemed to satisfy Jack enough to nod an okay at Bob. She smiled and straightened and started walking around behind Jack. "Now wait," Jack asked her, still without looking from his paper, "what about your dinner? Do you know what you want?"
"Ah," Bob's head tilted one way, her body tilted the opposite way and her shoulder moved a little closer to her head, "do I have to?" Although she was keenly hungry, she didn't want to get sick here. "I'll go back and have plenty of....something at my place."
"Do they have food there?" Jack asked.
"No," Bob answered. Then she closed her eyes for a moment when she realized he was ahead of her. Smiling a little snidely, she admitted to Jack, "Okay maybe I'll go back and have plenty of nothing at my place."
"All right," Jack let it slide and told her, "but if you change your mind, just speak up."
Jim waved her over to him and she walked around to his side of the table. "I'll be off in a bit luv," he told her and was nearly crushed as she bent over and hugged his head. "Oh ho what's this. Now I'll be seeing you at the party tomorrow night, you little heartbreaker. It's formal, so don't go wearing much," he teased her. "Have a good time. Off now."
Bob half hopped the distance over to stand next to Jack and bent over to whisper in his ear. For a moment, Jim glanced away from his prime view of Bob to note Philip stepping sideways to move into a place where he could see her backside while she was bending over. At the last instant, she absently tugged up the back of her shorts, for what little that was worth. Frustrated, Philip cursed under his breath and kicked at a chair next to him.
"If you change your mind, let me know," Bob whispered before giving Jack a kiss on the side of his neck. An odd little giggle and she was gone.