CheekyChi's Chiana & Farscape Fiction

John & Bob

Part Four - Chapter 3
Generally Charming

Jack led Bob through the corridors to General Morrison's office. Charlotte Smythe smiled from behind her desk in the reception area when the small group walked in. "Colonel, Commander, Dr. Knox. How are you? The general is expecting you." She looked curiously at Bob.

Jack smiled back at Charlotte. "I'm fine Charlotte. Thank you for arranging for that visitor's pass. Speaking of which," he drew Bob forward, "I'd like you to meet my future daughter-in-law. This is Bob, or rather Roberta Chevalier."

Bob remembered to hold her hand out and the two women shook hands. The lady reminded Bob of a small yellow Earth bird she'd seen and was certainly cheerful from her bright canary yellow dress suit to her stylishly oversize, thick-framed glasses. If Ms. Smythe was surprised by Bob's age or appearance or the gloved hand she shook, she didn't show it. "It's nice to meet you," Charlotte said properly.

"You too," replied Bob, a bit awkwardly.

Charlotte picked up her phone. "They're here sir. I'll send them right in."

The door behind Charlotte opened. "There's no need for that kind of formality Charlotte, you know Jack and I are old friends," said General Morrison, stepping out of his office. He walked straight to Jack and grasped his outstretched hand. "Jack Crichton, you old space dog. How are you?"

"I'm just fine, Jim," Jack said as he greeted the General with a ready handshake. Jack then turned to Bob. "I have someone here you wanted to meet. Jim, this is Roberta Chevalier, Bob for short, and my future daughter-in-law. Bob, this is General Morrison, a long-time friend of mine and John's boss."

Bob stared at the man, who stared right back. 'Not bad,' she thought, 'for an older human'. Dark hair, just going to gray. Still fit and trim, not fat like so many older human males. Altogether not bad. Bob gave him a dazzling smile and said, "Nice to meet you."

General Morrison stared at her for a long minute until she smiled, and then he immediately was charmed. He vigorously shook the hand she held out and smiled back at her. "It's very nice to meet you Bob. I was so surprised when I heard that John was engaged that I had to meet you. You're darling. I can see now why John keeps you stashed up at that cabin of his. It's to protect you from all the wolves around here. John would have a hard time keeping the competition away from you."

"Thank you," Bob said quietly and looked down shyly, an act she was sure would go well with him.

"He already has," Doug chimed in. "We ran into Payne Adams."

"Ah yes, Adams," the General acridly replied. "I'm not surprised," he said, shaking his head. He took Bob by the arm. "Why don't you come in and we can get acquainted."

John got a panicked look on his face. Jack quickly spoke up. "That's okay Jim. We know You're busy, you probably have a meeting or something, but we just wanted to stop by so you could meet Bob."

"Nonsense Jack," the General bellowed. "I've got plenty of time, don't I Charlotte."

"Yes, in fact you don't have another meeting until 15:00 hours."

General Morrison smiled at Bob. "We have plenty of time to visit then." He led Bob to his office, leaving Jack, John, and Doug little choice but to follow along behind. "You see Bob," the general was explaining to her, "we're like a family here and we'd all like to get to know the future Mrs. John Crichton a little better."

Behind them, John was frantically trying to figure a way out of this. He hadn't counted on the General genuinely wanting to get to know Bob. He thought it was going to be a short, formal meet and greet, otherwise he'd never agreed to this. Bob was notoriously unpredictable, it was part of her charm, but there was no telling what she could or would do. He just had to hope that she stayed on her best behavior and kept trying to quash the feelings of dread.

Bob stopped short as they entered the general's office. "You've got toys," she exclaimed.

"What?" the General asked, confused.

"She means your models," John spoke up with an apologetic shrug.

"My models? Oh yes, my models. They're not really toys." For a moment he wondered where this girl was from, if she didn't know what models were.

"Models are representations of larger objects like cars or planes Bob," John explained as he stepped next to Bob. Seeing that wasn't selling with the General, he tried another tack. "L'art modèle? Délicat?" he tried his best French, knowing it'd translate the same to Bob, but hoping she'd catch what he was doing. To his relief, Bob made a look of sudden understanding. "Just make sure you don't touch any of them," he whispered to Bob. Bob gave him a sour look and pulled away from him.

General Morrison picked up a model of an automobile and showed it to her. "See this one. This is a Model T Ford from the States, first mass-produced automobile. Here you can hold it," he said, handing it to her.

Bob ignored the quiet gasps of the other three men in the room and gently took the model the General held out into her hands. Mindful that she needed to make a good impression, Bob handled the model delicately as she examined it. After a few minutes she smiled and handed it back to General Morrison. "It's....very primitive," she said.

The General smiled. "Yes, I know, compared to today's vehicles, it certainly is. And think, less than a century later, now your future husband rides machines into space." Bob smiled again and ducked her head as the three men behind her breathed a collective sigh of relief. Another bullet dodged.

"Good job Pip," John whispered. Bob moved around the General and began to look closely at the models and personal objects he had on the shelves behind his desk. John kept a careful eye on her just in case she decided to snurch something.

General Morrison sat down at his desk, indicating that the others could also sit. Jack and Doug did, John standing behind the extra chair, but all three watched Bob warily.

"So Bob, where did you and John meet?" the General asked, absently playing with a pen in his hands.

"Canada," Bob replied, spotting something interesting on the shelf and zoning in on it.

"It was Montreal, actually," John added, stepping into the conversation. "I was there for a weekend trip back when I was writing my book. I walked by this little sidewalk café and there she was, sitting at a table by herself, reading a book with these cute little glasses on, and sipping an espresso. It was love at first sight, wasn't it Bob?"

"It would have to be for you to convince such a beautiful woman to leave a city like Montreal to take up housekeeping with you at that one-room cabin of yours," the General jovially replied.

As if on cue, Bob sidled up to John. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. Bob stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, then bit his earlobe, hard. "You are such a frelling liar," she whispered. John bit his tongue to keep from crying out as she bit him. Bob twisted away before he could do anything and resumed her inspection of the objects on the general's shelves, ignoring the men, who continued the conversation.

Suddenly Bob leaped up and crouched on the general's desk beside him. The General practically jumped out of his chair in surprise. She inched forward and held out the object clutched in her hand. "What's this?" she asked.

"That's a....that's a...." the General stammered, unsettled by Bob's sudden in-your-face manner. "That's a model of the starship Enterprise," he was finally able to say.

Bob peered at it closely. "Doesn't look like any starship I've ever seen."

"It's very old and fragile." The General gently took it from her and handed it to Jack, who had leaped out of his seat the second after Bob had jumped on the desk.

Jack put the model carefully back on the shelf. "Get down Bob, that's not polite," he said firmly, hoping the girl would take the hint. She didn't. Instead Bob ignored him and appeared to be gazing intently at General Morrison's head.

"Bob, will ya get down?" John ordered, trying hard to keep a smile plastered on his face as if she were being amusing.

"What's this?" she asked, ignoring John.

"What do you mean?" the uneasy General asked.

Bob inched closer to the general. "This, this," she replied, poking at his head. "What is it?"

"Bob, get down!" John ordered, overcome by a horrible sense of what might happen.

"That's hair," General Morrison sputtered, trying to smile.

Suddenly Bob's hand darted out, snatching the toupee off of the General's head. She started cackling. "It's fake!" she cried. Immediately General Morrison turned an ugly shade of red and sputtered angrily as Bob intently examined the toupee dangling from her hand.

"It's fake," she repeated, "and ugly." With a cackle she threw it over her shoulder and grinned at the General, seemingly oblivious to his growing anger. "See, you look much better without the fake hair. That looked like the stuff Crichton calls road kill. You're much sexier without it," she said matter of factly.

Suddenly Bob was grabbed from behind and dragged bodily off the General's desk. She twisted around but was held firmly in place by John's strong arms. He tucked her under one arm and carried her out of the office as the enraged General finally found his voice.

"Get her out of here!"

Bob could see Jack talking to the General just before John disappeared around the corner with her.

"Jim, I am so sorry about that. So sorry," Jack tried to placate the storming General. "I warned her to be on her best behavior. None of us knew she was going to do that. I am so sorry. Is there anything I can do?"

"Just get out of here Crichton, and get that brat off this base now!" he bellowed. "She is never to set foot here again, you hear me!? You're damn lucky I don't ban the rest of you too, now get out."

Jack winced. "I am so sorry, General. You can be sure she never comes back. I'm sorry," he said as he backed out of the office, nearly knocking over a glaring Charlotte in his haste to leave.

Jack walked rapidly, catching up with John, Doug, and that menace a short distance down the corridor. John had just set the squirming Bob back on her feet. Seeing Jack's face as he walked rapidly toward them Bob nearly squealed, "What did I do? What's so frelling wrong?"

Jack grabbed her arm so hard that she winced in pain. "What have you done? What have you done!?" he practically yelled. "What You've done is probably ruin John and Douglas' careers and a thirty year friendship with your capricious behavior." Bob winced again in pain and started to protest but Jack cut her off. People were starting to come out into the corridors to see what the yelling was about. What Bob had done to the General would be all over the base like wildfire in no time, and he wasn't about to add fuel to that fire. Jack let go of her arm. "Now is not the time or place to discuss this. General Morrison has revoked Bob's visitor's privileges. We're leaving immediately."

Shoving Bob roughly toward John, Jack walked angrily down the corridor. John grabbed the now chastened Bob by the arm and dragged her along behind him with Doug bringing up the rear. It was a very somber group that left the base shortly thereafter.

Chapter Four
No Payne, No Gain

"I can't believe you did that," Jack repeated for the umpteenth time since leaving the base. He opened the apartment door and ushered the other three in, including a greatly chastened Bob. Jack shook his head again as they all trouped into the living room, where he again repeated, "I can't believe you did that."

"Hey, I didn't know it was gonna be such a big deal," Bob said in her own defense as she slipped into a chair and curled up, drawing her legs up and wrapping her arms around them.

Doug chuckled. "Actually I thought it was pretty funny," he said. Bob looked up and gave him a quick smile, thankful for his support. Both Jack and John glared at him. "Well it was," Doug insisted. "After spending the last several months like a layoff waiting to happen, I'll tell you, going out with a laugh is more like it. Maybe that's just me, but hey. Besides, that toupee of his has been the joke of the office for years, and you both know it."

John walked over to stand beside Bob's chair. "Yeah, so?" John glanced askance at Doug, "that still doesn't excuse what she did." He turned to Bob. "What in the hell were you thinking?"

"I don't know," Bob plaintively replied. "I'm sorry. Was I supposed to know human males were so sensitive about their head hair? I thought they were only that sensitive about their peliks." Bob sat up straighter in her chair. "That fake hair of his was fahrbot. I just thought he would look better without it. I didn't know he was gonna get mad about it."

"It may have been ridiculous, but you snatched it right off his head, Chiana," Jack complained, coming to stand on the other side of her chair. The disgust was evident in his voice and it made Bob sink farther down into her chair. She had never heard that in Jack's voice before. John's, yes, but hearing it in Jack's voice nearly made her insides quake. She liked Jack and now he was mad at her, really mad. "I've known the man for years," Jack was saying, "and with one stupid action you've probably cost me, not only the friendship I have with him, but all the credibility I've ever had with the man."

Bob hunkered further down in her chair and looked like she was about to cry. "m-mm 'sorry Jack," she said quietly.

"It's too late for sorry now Chiana," Jack sourly pressed the point.

"I told you it was a bad idea taking her to the base," John shook his head and rested a hand on his hip.

"And I shoulda listened to you, but it's too late now," agreed Jack. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair while he tried to think of a way to salvage this debacle. "I hate to admit it John, but you were right. I think our little alien should go back to the cabin on the first flight we can get her on."

"No!!" Bob cried, jumping to her feet. "Don't wanna go back. I like it here. I'm sorry. Let me stay, I can still help."

The phone rang. "I'll get it," Jack wearily said as he left the room.

John stepped forward and got in Bob's face. He poked at her with his finger to emphasize his point. "Forget it, Miss Manners, you're not staying. You're on the first flight we can get you on. You've done enough damage here. Dad and I will take care of this. We've got to do some massive damage control to clean up your mess." Bob snarled, grabbed John's finger and twisted it. "Oww!" John yelled.

Taking advantage of the momentary opportunity, Bob pushed him away from her. "Frell you, Crichton! You just want me out of the way so you can chase whatever tralk you're frelling this week. Who is it this weeken? Stephanie, Tiffany, Buffy or Spuffy?"

John froze, the color draining from his face. "What are you talking about?" he asked.

Jack chose that moment to walk back into the living room, laughing. "You won't believe who was just on the phone...." He stopped as he noticed Bob and John squared off against one another. The tension in the room was almost thick enough to cut with a knife. "Is something going on here?"

John and Bob glared at each other a few moments longer before John broke away. He smiled reassuringly at Jack. "No, nothing's going on dad," he smoothly replied. "Who was that on the phone?"

Jack looked back and forth between John and Bob as if trying to figure out what was going on before continuing. He finally grinned. "That was good news. That was Jim, I mean General Morrison. He's not angry anymore about what Chiana did. In fact, he's invited her back."

"What!?" the other three exclaimed in disbelief.

"Yep, that's right, he's invited her back," Jack confirmed with a big grin. "Next weekend, in fact. He wants her to come to the base so they can, as he said, 'get to know John's fiancée and give her a personal tour of the base'."

"But how? Why?" John pressed.

Jack laughed. "It seems that his wife, Margaret, has been telling him for years that his toupee looked ridiculous. Said she'd also told him he looked sexier without it, for goodness sake."

"Well he is," Bob chimed in with a big smirk on her face.

"But he never believed it until Chiana's actions convinced him otherwise," Jack continued. "Apparently the young lady here agreeing with his wife was enough to make him decide she was right. He said he isn't going to wear it anymore. Who'd a thunk it?"

"Wuh, I'll have to give the poor old man an extra nice compliment Friday," Bob looked to John with her cheeky smirk spread even wider. "Can we make it Friday?"

Jack looked over at Bob. "Yeah, things may have turned out okay, Chiana, but you got off lucky this time."

Bob shot him a dark look and flipped him off, then turned and left the room.

Jack turned to John. "I obviously missed something. What's going on here, son?"

"I think that you've joined me at the top of Bob's shit list dad," was the reply.

"What do you mean?" Jack started to ask John when the door bell rang. Jack looked at John and Doug. "You expecting someone, son? Douglas?" Both men shook their heads as Jack went to answer the door.

"Yes?" Jack asked the man at the door. The man wore a white shirt with a patch that read "Rainforest Flowers." He had a long, white florist's box under one arm and clipboard in the opposite hand. "I have a delivery for a Bob Chevalier here."

"Bob Chevalier?" Jack reiterated.

"That's what is says here on me clipboard, mate," the deliveryman replied. "Bob here?"

"Yeah, she's here, just a minute," Jack turned around to call her. "Ch- gosh darn it, Bob," he called out. "You've got a delivery."

Bob walked down the hall, a puzzled look on her face. "What?" she asked. Doug and John, both curious as to what was going on, joined them in the penthouse foyer.

"This man has something for you," Jack said, indicating the impatient deliveryman.

"You Bob Chevalier?" the delivery man asked. Bob nodded. "These are for you," he said, shoving the long white box into her arms. The man hesitated and Jack dug in his pockets for some change, finally pulling out a few small bills that he gave to the man, who quickly left. Bob stood there staring at the box in her arms.

"Well, are you gonna open it?" Doug asked.

"Oh yeah," Bob absent-mindedly replied as she took the box into the living room, closely followed by the other three. Setting it down on the table, she quickly ripped off the ribbon, snatched off the lid and threw it over her shoulder, narrowly missing John.

"Hey watch it will ya," John whined, but Bob wasn't paying attention. In the box were a dozen long-stemmed, yellow roses.

"Why....would anyone send me dead plants?" she asked, puzzled.

Jack came up to look at the flowers. "People send flowers for lots of different reasons Chiana, but usually they send them to people they like or love."

"Well- I know, but....?" Bob looked up hopefully at John.

"I didn't send them," John just shrugged.

"Then who did?" Bob looked back and forth between Jack and Doug.

"What does it say on the card, Bob?" Doug asked, pointing at a white square nestled among the roses.

John snatched the card before Bob could reach for it. "Hey, that's mine," she protested, reaching for it. John evaded her reach and ignored her protests as he opened the card. His expression changed from one of curiosity to anger as he read the card.

"Well, who is it from son?" asked Jack.

John looked up, his blue eyes flashing. "They're from that @#%$, Payne Adams." He stalked over to Bob and waved the card under her nose. "Why is that @#%$ sending you flowers?" he demanded.

Bob shrugged, unable to keep a smile off her face. "I dunno. Haven't you ever sent one of your other tralks dead plants before, Crichton?" John didn't answer; he just stood there glaring daggers at Bob, who stared back defiantly.

Doug broke the standoff between them when he put a hand on Bob's shoulder. "Come on Bob; let's find something to put your flowers in." Bob glared at John but she allowed Doug to lead her away.

John threw the card down in disgust. "Why is that major loser sending Chiana flowers?"

"Why not?" Jack asked with a shrug. "You got a problem with some other guy sending one of your girlfriends flowers, son?"

It was Jack's turn to get a glare from John. "Uh she is my only girlfriend, dad."

"You and I, and now from the looks of it, Bob, all know that isn't true, son."

Before John could reply the door bell rang again. Shaking his head to himself, John opened the door to see another deliveryman standing there. "Delivery for Bob Chevalier," the cheerful little guy said.

John held a dangerous small smile on the man for a long moment. "I'll take 'em," John he finally said. He dug in his pocket and threw a crumpled up bill at the deliveryman as he snatched the florist box from him. He slammed the door in the puzzled man's face and ripped open the box.

"Those are Chiana's flowers," Jack protested, but John ignored him. Grabbing the card that accompanied the flowers, a dozen pink roses this time, John ripped it open. "You do realize you gave the man a twenty don't you?" Jack asked, but John ignored him as he read the card.

"Bob!" John yelled, his face a mask of barely concealed anger.

"What?" she impatiently replied as she came out of the kitchen, followed closely by Doug.

"You've got more flowers," John mockingly waved the flowers.

Bob squeaked and jumped up and down in delight as she grabbed the flowers from John. She grinned cheekily as she asked, "Are these from Payne too?"

"Yes," John said, struggling to keep from yelling. "Why is he sending you flowers?"

Bob just smiled and smelled her flowers. "I don't know, maybe he likes me," she coyly replied with a smirk.

Before John could reply, the door bell rang again. John threw up his hands in exasperation. "What now?"

Jack couldn't keep a smirk off his face as he opened the door. Another deliveryman stood there with another bouquet of flowers. "You're looking for Bob Chevalier aren't you?" he said to the deliveryman. The man nodded. Jack pointed to Bob, who still stood in the foyer clutching her roses. "That's her."

The delivery man entered and presented the flowers to Bob. "Two dozen roses for a lady twice lovely," he read his orders fairly well.

"Somebody else get the tip, I'm flat," Jack remarked.

John opened his wallet to fish out a few dollars. He stopped in outrage. "What am I paying this for?" John marveled at himself and turned away.

Jack shrugged and handed the puzzled man a five dollar bill. "Keep the change," he told the delivery man, who gladly took the fiver and left. Jack didn't even have time to close the door behind him when yet another deliveryman stepped off the elevator with another bouquet. He was followed closely by another, and then another.

"Hope they can break down a hundred," Doug shrugged and led Bob to the living room, where she sat on the couch like a queen receiving tribute from her subjects while John hovered in the background, buzzing about like an angry hornet. Bob clapped her hands in delight as each new deliveryman arrived with a new treasure.

Soon the living room was covered with all kinds of floral arrangements, but the gifts did not stop there. After the flowers, boxes of candy, perfume, jewelry, and finally a whole outfit were brought in waves of fancy boxes. Bob squealed as she opened a large box to reveal a red, beaded dress. It was short, gently flared at the hips and cut low across the chest. The box also contained matching red, beaded shoes. Bob held the dress up to herself. It looked like it would be a perfect fit.

"You gotta admit," an entertained if weary Doug observed, "the man has taste. A taste for excess, but a taste."

"That's not the taste I get," John commented, sounding as if he thought he were talking to himself.

Bob spotted a note on the floor that must have fallen out of the dress.

Have dinner with me Friday?

"I made a good choice. It looks perfect for you."

All four people in the living room looked up at once to see Payne Adams standing in the doorway. Ignoring the men, he walked straight over to Bob. He gestured to all the gifts. "I couldn't wait for your answer."

"To what?" Bob asked, deciding to play dumb.

"Will you have dinner with me Friday night?" Payne asked, seemingly all the more charmed.

Before Bob could answer, John pushed his way through the litter of boxes and interrupted. "What in the hell are you doing here, Misss-ter Payne?"

Payne ignored him and kept his attention fixed on Bob. "I wasn't talking to you Crichton, I was talking to this lovely lady." He took Bob's hand and kissed it, making her giggle. John stepped forward, snatching Bob's hand from Payne and pushing her out of the way as he got in Payne's face.

"Keep your hands off my fiancée," John smoothly told Payne.

"Oh I don't see a ring on her finger, Crichton," Payne replied with a smirk. The two men stared at each other, each trying to make the other back down first. Suddenly Bob wormed her way in between them and pushed John back with surprising strength. Caught by surprise, John staggered. Jack and Doug reached out to steady him. "What the hell Bob....?"

"Back off Crichton. You can't tell me what to do," she vehemently informed John. Bob turned to Payne. "I will go out with you."

Payne smiled triumphantly. "Good. I'll pick you up tomorrow night at eight o'clock. Is that all right with you?" Bob nodded. Payne smiled again, then leaned down and kissed her lightly on the lips. "Wear the dress," he told her as he pulled away. Payne turned and left the room, but turned back at the front door and smirked triumphantly at John before leaving.

"Somebody give me an axe," John said and held a hand up to take one as he glared daggers through the door.

"Before you two start anything," Jack spoke up to John and Bob. "One of you can sleep on the couch until it's settled. But I want to know what's the big idea. You can't actually want to go out with that putz?" Jack objected to Bob.

Bob looked at Jack with some surprise, then smirked with a glance at the smoldering John. "Bridget."

"Hm?" Jack asked, completely lost. Doug looked up from his laptop. John kept his virtual gamma rays blaring through the door.

"Bridget," Bob repeated, replacing her sly smirk with entreating good nature. "Doug, he-he said Bridget gave him that card. When Payne was walking me around, we had an interesting meet with a lady there. Ah, Parker."

"Ugh not her," Doug covered his forehead. "Amelia Parker. Lucille Ball gone wrong. That takes some imagination. Oh the horror. I get nightmares about that woman. Dude! How did she get hair that color? Are we sure it isn't radioactive? Those phony eyebrows make her look evil. Which is easy I guess because she is. It'd take the Pope to exorcise that demon. Oh wouldn't be so bad if she was okay, but forget the politics, she's the best argument for atomic weapons. Half the ladies could kill her with the way she brags about how little she weighs. And that's like the mildest manifestation of her ego. Do you know she actually told me I wasn't straight because I hadn't had a real woman? Top that one. If she turns up in a planter with something sticking out of her back, half the IASA are going to be suspects. She's so scary, a Chihuahua doesn't bark-"

"-Doug," Jack interrupted.

"Huh?" Doug asked.

"Your rant about over?" Jack asked.

"Oh," Doug shrugged. "Yeah I guess so. Hey wait, wasn't Bridget friends with Amelia?"

"Bob?" Jack asked her to continue.

Bob seemed to snap out of some kind of trance. "Wha? So Payne put me out of the way where his deficient, well, hearing like his wouldn't catch much of what they said, and he talked to the stuck up trelk. I heard 'em fine. Well you have something in common," Bob glanced back at Doug with a smirk, "neither of you like that tall and so-slender red headed Parker trelk. So, ah, she says Doug hasn't talked to Bridget yet, and she's gonna make arrangements to meet with Payne on Saturday to show him some kind of revealing test results she's got on Crichton, before they show the results to someone named Stepson on Sunday. Satisfied yet?" Bob looked between the guys.

Jack and Doug were abashed but John was still irked. "All right, but we can find stuff out without you trolloping around with that creep!" John insisted with an angry point toward the door.

"Oh and miss all the fun? I love frelling deficient humans!" Bob shouted at John, spun in a turn and stormed out of the living area into the kitchen.

John waited about one minute with his arms crossed. Then he stormed into the kitchen. "Listen little miss dynamite, that might've worked for you out there, but while you're playing house with the Cri-" he lectured at her, suddenly cut off with the breaking of a bottle.

Chapter Five
No Pain, No Gain

"Well you've got to admit," Jack said as he held his hand on his son's forearm. "She got more results in one visit to the base then we'd have if we kept at it 'till next year."

"Yeah," John groggily said, carefully feeling the ice pack on his bandaged head and looking aside at the gear hooked up to the hospital bed. Someone in the cubicle next to them went into another fit of what seemed like whooping cough.

Once the noise settled, Jack dialed his cell phone. "Hey Bob?" Jack asked. He smiled when Bob answered and immediately asked how John was. "Yeah he's fine. Awake and talking." Jack suddenly flinched and held the phone from his ear a little. "I'll tell him you're worried about him."

"Don't forget the flowers!" John sarcastically quipped toward the phone.

Jack turned from John and covered his free ear. "Put it where?" he asked. A frown of surprise passed over his face and he held the phone away from his ear for a second. "Well I uh, yes, well don't worry, I'm sure he'll be out tomorrow. Yeah I know they couldn't stand keeping him longer than that, but I thought you'd want to- hello?" Jack cleared his throat and put the phone away.

Smiling gently, Jack patted John's forearm and assured him, "She's worried about you, son. You know she didn't realize our Earth glass bottle would go quite the way it did."

"Yeah she thought I'd kill me cleanly," John muttered back.

"John. That's not fair," Jack corrected him. "She could have grabbed any number of objects she knew would do that, if she wanted to snuff you out or even hurt you. She was after some drama there, son, thinking the bottle would just crumble away like she saw them do on television. If I thought she meant to get seriously abusive I'd be madder than you."

"Yeah I know. But tell that to my head," John moaned.

"You know it wasn't meant," Jack told him. "I promise I'm not going to be putting my nose in your relationships, son, but I think you both need to get on better footing with each other."

John slightly raised one brow as he looked at his dad through his head bandages. "Really?"

"Yes, I do."

"Yeah I was thinking about that," John agreed. "Between deliriums. We got to get her some better clothes and makeup if she's gonna pull off the disguise very often."

"That's an understatement," Jack agreed.

"Annie," John said.

"Hm?" Jack asked.

"Annie. A babe you were holding out on me," John teased. "She said you know her? Annie Rice?"

"Which one?" Jack wondered.

"Gee dad, I know you're popular...."

"Drop the wise cracks son, who?"

"Actress in town. Cute as a button. A cute kisser like Bob's. Has a girlfriend Lilah or something. She knows the human-safe edition of my life story. I gushed it out on her at a party one night after a drink or two or something."

"Maybe you ought to get some rest, son," Jack patted his forearm.

"I just did dad, out like a light for hours, remember? Pissed off Nebari, bottle, head, thud. Hospital, bruising, IVs, compresses, insane bills. If they let me out of here I'll go see her tomorrow. Anyway, this Annie. There's a lady who'd know makeup and clothes. If I don't, you go see her. Bob'll learn quick, but we gotta get her started or get her back under wraps."

"We'll try getting our act together," Jack gently patted John's shoulder and stood up. "Just rest for now, I'll go home and see if I can't survive the night. Night, son."

"Put away the bottles," John suggested. "Night, dad," he waved as his dad left. "It'll be a woman I care about that'll do me in yet," John groaned.

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