"Crikey," Jim grumbled as he tried starting the Holden for the fourth time. Failing again, he sighed and shook his head. "Let's see: new body, new wife, new kids, new friends, new car, new life....what am I forgetting? Oh that's right, I'm stuck with the lot of it."
A knock on the passenger window surprised him and he was doubly surprised to see the adorable smiling face of Roberta. Jim reached over, rolled down the window and Bob leaned her head in, resting her forearms on the door. "Still wanna make me take the bus?" she asked in her patented brand of snideness that somehow came off as cute.
"Huh?" Jim asked, having been a little distracted looking at the side door window of the little car behind her and seeing a reflection of her rear and the incidental terry shorts sporting their message of 'sweet heartbreaker' below. Fighting a silly grin he explained, "Oh, well Miss I don't mind myself but-"
"Jack," Bob said and nodded, "yeah well I told him I was going with you and he can enjoy the bus. I'm a pain in the arse that way."
"Jack has a car here," Jim told her, fighting amusement again that she would miss that detail.
"Oh," said Bob with a little embarrassment and an unusually rapid scratching of her head behind one ear. "Mm," she rephrased the question, her face scrunching slightly, "Gonna mmake me ride with him?"
"Right, I won't ask why," Jim said to himself and then spoke up to her, "Sure, your apartment?"
"Well not yours," she said in that special snidely way as she opened the door and dropped into the seat. "Ne-yah!" she yelled and bolted right back out.
"Awful sorry about that," Jim told her as she popped her head back in the window with the cutest scrunched nose glare he'd ever seen, "but the spring's come through since the foam crumbled. There's a blanket on the back seat you can throw over it."
"Yeah," Bob said with a less cutely snide glare. "You oughtta fix that," she said as she put her knees on the front passenger seat, leaned over the back of the seat and grabbed the blanket he'd mentioned from the back seat.
"Sometimes I feel as worn out and disused as that seat," Jim muttered mostly to himself. For discretion's sake he pretended to be looking out of his door window but mischievously watched the rear view of her in the rear view mirror on his door.
"But now I know you're not in the habit of picking up girls huh?" Bob told him and giggled. She backed out of the car and put the blanket onto the passenger seat. The seat covered by the blanket and fussily fluffed up to her satisfaction, she plopped back onto the seat happily, the incident apparently forgiven and forgotten. Jim tried starting the car at the same time. It turned over as Bob quickly tried wiping off the grime on her thumb and forefinger from the ground wire she'd just reconnected before popping up beside his car.
"You're good luck, girl!" Jim told her as he turned on the headlights.
"Thanks," Bob said, immodestly accepting the remark. But she was thinking of Jack anyway, and said, "Not that I wanted to go with him right now anyway: whatever you said got him really touchy. And cranky."
"Yes, that's my fault I suppose, dammit," Jim said with a sigh. "I don't know when to mind my own business. Jack's a good guy, he is. And he's probably right, as usual. We used to argue all the time. Mind we were great mates, it's just that he was a good bloke as a person might figure these things and I was....I just had my own ideas, that's all."
Bob's rich "huh huh" and smile surprised him and he immediately gathered that she knew exactly what he meant.
Jim scratched his forehead and started backing the car out of the stall. "Of course I had to grow out of that," he explained with an apologetic glance at her, "An officer in certain circumstances can only be so much trouble."
"You mean you had to make yourself fit in where you chose," she corrected him in a simple, honest voice.
Jim found he had no argument to that point and gave her a good look when he had a moment as he drove from the parking lot.
The old Holden creaked up to the flat provided for Roberta by the IASA's department of Public Affairs and stalled at the curbside. "Crap," Jim swore and tried restarting it. "Have to sit a minute," he said when the attempt failed. "Just great with it being after dark now. Shake the car won't you, so we can look more suspicious," he joked. Bob giggled and bounced on the seat until both of them were laughing.
A loud knock on the driver's window startled Jim and he rolled it down to see a hand gesturing him up. "Let's hear the line, bud," demanded John's voice. "Why don't we just come on out of the car and have a little talk."
"Look here," Jim began to retort.
"I said come out of the car, jalopy gigolo," John demanded. When he didn't get an immediate response, he slammed his palm on the door and then opened the door, taunting the unseen driver with, "Bring it on bub, come on out and pay for the joy ride."
When the General got out of the Holden the situation took an immediate reversal. "How's that?" Jim bellowed down at John. He shut the door behind himself and pressed forward at John, who walked backwards in a hurry all the way around the front of the car and up onto the sidewalk. "The IASA hasn't been disgraced in hours, boy. Don't you have a signing to be rude at, a woman somewhere to muck about with or a disco to destroy?"
"What the hell are you doing with her?" the aghast John demanded to know, once he stopped fumbling backward.
"Playing tiddlywinks boy," Jim bellowed back. Fortunately he had a sense of humor. Laughing out loud, he reached out and patted John's shoulder a couple of times then said amiably, "I was golfing, son. With your father. She came to see your father. Lucky for you they're still friendly." Then as if to himself, he said out loud, "I think. Well that can't go too wrong." Back to John he asked, "So what the hell are you doing here?"
John looked out to the street and view of Sydney beyond, took a breath through barred teeth and told him, "I don't expect you to understand this, but someone has to be responsible for her."
"I don't remember assigning you to security detail," Jim replied, "but it's good to see, I suppose, that you're willing to sacrifice your evenings to lurk about the bushes at your girlfriend's flat and pounce on unsuspecting men before they can make a marathon of her huh? But we're back to the question aren't we? What are you doing here?"
"What the hell are you doing in that?" the also incredulous John also asked.
"It's my car, mate," Jim told him. "It's nothing to you if it is. Be glad it's not a certain Porsche eh? I'm glad I'm not Payne Adams, or I might not be standing right now. In fact I'm very glad I'm me, since unlike the pair of you I haven't been asked to steer clear of her for a bit hm?"
"Look, I know this looks bad," John admitted, "but I'm not trying to stalk her, I just want to talk to her."
"Yeah and screw her brains out," Jim assumed and had no argument back on that point. "Son it's not our business to interfere with your lives, but we need to avoid minor publicity snafus like oh, our star figures, the idols of kids and inspiration to others seen wrecking businesses, endangering the public and little incidental things of the sort. So we need to ensure some proper behavior."
"That's impossible," John argued, "Bob's involved."
The General scowled in thought, mainly of the sight she had made, not that there was anything unpleasant about that particular recollection. "Fair point," he acknowledged. "To an extent. But she's just a young lady that might have her wiles and shenanigans. That's not the sort of behavior we're concerned with. She's not directly affiliated with the IASA and she's not responsible for the dingle-brained, life and limb endangering, image-tainting busting about of men like you."
"You have no idea what that little," John started to argue, but he decided to let that go and say, "never mind. I'm terribly sorry Sir, I hope we put this little misunderstanding behind us." Not overly concerned about impressions anymore, John followed the obligatory apology with the internal thought, "Now doesn't that sound stupid?"
"In point a fact it does," the seemingly unflappable General replied just as bluntly. "Thank goodness I'm not the bloke babbling shabby excuses and bogus apologies. I'll tell you what: before I leave I'll ask the young lady if she minds your lingering about or I'll ask you to beat it too. Fair enough?" John's lips were tight but he didn't argue. "Fine then," Jim said and walked past him.
Bob was gazing off toward the street with the look of someone more than a little irked by her troubles. Jim tapped on the door, which prompted her to roll down the window. Her dull face warmed and lit again under his ruddy smiling countenance, knowing that he had no reason to smile, only doing it out of kindness to her. Maybe that was something common among humans but it didn't go unnoticed by her.
But he had to ask, "You all right with this bloke lurking about?" That earned him an annoyed sneer and look away down the street. Jim knew that might mean yes as sure as no, so he waited for her to give it a second thought, which she did, her eyes looking down pensively. Despite the shadowy darkness of the interior, he could see the sparkle of a tear against the striking black of her eyes. To Jim, that suggested a no was coming.
Jerking the door handle back, Bob roughly opened the door, prompting Jim to step back and John to start walking toward her. Instead of either choice, she snapped a reply at him that was neither. "He can hang around the bushes whenever he wants," she said with a glare at John as she stood and started walking for her flat.
John pressed forward, arresting Bob with a hand on each arm. "Now wait a moment," John urged. Jim moved to interfere and John let go of one of her arms to point at him and say, "Unless we're on candid camera, wasn't there something about private lives?"
"Fair enough," Jim said and walked away, but only as far as the nearby lamp post, which he stood back against blatantly facing them.
"Honey," John said softly to her eyelids. Noticing that her makeup had been changed to a richer tan, he smiled and said, "Looks like 'honey' fits you even better now." Confident from her rapid, excited breaths that he was getting somewhere, he popped the question. "Can I come in for a second?"
"In front of him?" the startled Bob asked.
"Um," John said and then had nothing else come to mind for a few moments. "Uh no," he finally explained, "I um meant we could, you know, go up to your flat for a short time to, you know-"
"-Talk?" Bob assumed, looking annoyed at the idea.
"Just for a moment," John continued, "and we could rumba if you wanted?"
"Rum-bah?" Bob echoed and argued, "You don't have enough rum to take a bath in, never mind both of us, and when you start talking, it could take a while, and I don't want to, anyway." With surprising ease, she knocked his hands from her with her forearms and resumed walking toward the courtyard of the complex.
John winced for a moment but then turned around, placed his hands on his hips and said, "It isn't going to work, is it?"
The remark made her stop and turn in place with a quizzically blank face. "It what?"
"Behaving like adults," John cuttingly said.
"You could always behave like a younger child next time," Bob proposed with a smirk on one side of her face and she turned around and continued walking.
A glimpse of her from behind before she walked into darker shadows made John's brow raise way up and he almost started to follow her anyway. A small snicker from behind prompted John to turn a slow glare back to Jim instead. After a dramatic exhale, John decided, "Fine. I'll find something better to do than hang around here," he announced and started walking off down the street.
Still leaning against the light post, Jim shook his head to himself. "Kids today," he said as he walked back to the Holden's drivers door. When he looked up to her room he saw the shadow on a wall of Bob removing her shirt and he made a wolf whistle. It surprised him that he still could, since he hadn't tried to make a wolf whistle in more years than he cared to remember. Bob came to the window, slid it aside and leaned out with an amused and surprised, if incredulous, expression that made him laugh.
Bob darted her tongue out at him then looked down the street, seeing the departing John. Quickly closing the window, she turned to throw something in her frustration.
Jim cringed and decided he'd best be on his way. "Well so much for that non-starter," he grumbled under his breath while he started the Holden, "and time to grin and bear the ugly truth of General Moron and his generally boring life." Once the car was started and idling, he reached for the radio and started dialing for a song he knew.
"Some enchanted evening this is," John complained out loud as he walked alone down a dark Sydney street, the view of the city afforded by the hill he was walking down being completely lost on him. "What are you doing? Stalking her, hanging around in the bushes, out in the dog house and watching her running around everywhere getting too friendly with everyone I know," he rattled on. "What the heck am I doing with a girl that's easier than pie and hot as a- ....hm," John's rant was cut short as the more enticing points crossed his mind. Admitting to them was easy. Too easy.
"Dang that's not it!" he hissed the self-admission and staggered up to a couple of abandoned enclosed stands for ad circulars in his frustration. Chiana wasn't the root of all his troubles, merely the leading cause of madness. There were worse places to be stranded with her, but this one wasn't as advertised.
Standing beside one of the stands resting on a hand placed atop it, John finally took in the impressive view of the city, if only as an ironically beautiful and crowded backdrop to his perpetual displacement. Once he'd dreamed of being in space. Then once he was trapped in space he longed to return. Upon returning he discovered that he wasn't able to stay and needed to be with Aeryn. When that went all kinds of wrong he thought he'd figured a way to return safely to Earth and start over. "Yeah that was smart," John sarcastically told himself and asked, "Why did the chicken return to the egg?"
Taking a seat by walking on the curb in front of the stands and climbing up to sit on top of them, John continued to mull his plight. Instead of a "fresh start," as he feared he found himself haunted by the past. Then Chiana had somehow appeared like a ghost from a past that suddenly became real in his attempted new life on Earth. Alien and scary and all, she became the item which he used to hold at arm's length to keep her from becoming. As much as she drove him nuts, he just knew it was real to both of them and that she was sincere about him, as he always had known on some instinctual level. But she didn't belong on Earth and here he was looking at the stars unsure where or with whom he belonged. Nothing seemed to be working any too well. He wiped tears onto the slick leather arm of his jacket.
A big gray moon cradling John Crichton's silhouette reflected with the stars and city lights in the eyes of an alien invader, one whose eyes were big and black as night and which were currently shedding a tear for a human who had eyes blue as the daytime skies. Lurking in the shadows under an umbrella of trees and shrubs lining the gardens of a house behind him, Chiana watched John from not more than twelve feet away.
"Flake off like bad dandruff," John griped out loud again once a couple of pedestrians had passed by, "and go back to bed alone. All I need now is a pimp to hit me up."
"Would ah, pip do?" came the unexpected voice of Chiana.
John looked around and found her approaching one side of the stands leaning forward slightly in a near crouch with the tips of her fingers resting under the decorative pocket hems of the back pockets on the cute little shorts. He smiled despite tight brows to look at her, such a striking blend of alien Chiana and his Earth culture that didn't really belong anywhere but to herself.
"Alot better really," John replied.
Bob nodded and helped herself to a seat on the rack to his left, drawing her knees up and tying her forearms in front.
John's eyes sneaked aside and slid along her. The streetlights put rich shiny patches on her hair, her shirt looked cute, she had the littlest pink terry "boy" shorts he'd never imagined and cute tennis shoes capped her slim legs. A grin broke through his dim mood. "You look great," he said.
"No," she said.
"Yes you do," he insisted.
Bob gave him a dry look and explained, "I know. Meant no, not going to the vent house."
"Penthouse," he corrected.
"With the way you males vent?" Bob chided him.
"It's not that bad," John claimed. Then he offered, "I'll try beano."
That didn't sell. Bob just sat chewing on a fingernail and gazing out at the city. Suddenly she stuck a hand out gesturing the city and said, "Globular clusters."
"Yeah," John agreed. Looking at those lights glinting in her eyes haunted with wonder, his wonder for her was refreshed and he felt the fond love tug at his heart. Sliding closer he said low in her ear, "And I'm a rogue black hole."
"Yeah," Bob agreed all too honestly. John covered his forehead with his hand and groaned. To his surprise she leaned over and nuzzled his shoulder. "'m cold," she claimed.
"I dunno," said John, "I think you're kinda hot." As he started to extend an arm out to put around her, she prowled forwards on both hands, causing him to lean back. Once she was leaning over him, he looked up at her predatory grin and urgently cautioned, "Um we're on the street."
"Nope," said Bob, "we're on two silly steel boxes on a walkway next to a street. Who's gonna care?"
"Um," he started to resist but resistance dissolved from under him and he tried clearing his froggy throat and said, "okay." The situation was definitely a secondary stimulation compared to the girl prowling over him. This wasn't at all what he had in mind and it was all too exciting. A threat of being tempted by reckless passion had always lurked in her, turning on his alarms and keeping any thoughts of her shorting out in his mind. But since the connection had been opened, that threat was just another of the things that turned on other things. John half groaned as he slid his hand up the back of her thigh and felt the front of his pants getting too tight.
"I don't care if it is," she said while she relieved him of the problem with the pants by deftly unfastening them. Loosely wrapping her silky smooth fingers around his erect shaft, she swayed her hips almost as if a feline signal that she was ready to play or pounce and warned, "and I'mmm nnot gonna ask your okay every time."
That threat wasn't without its exciting elements. Working his hand upward, he grinned when his hand reached a smooth, firm rear. Her little shorts were leaving most if not all of it bare. There was nothing underneath which he assumed to be because the reckless nymph hadn't thought it was necessary, but he almost snickered as he thought how mistaken she was and how attractive her "faults" could be. Time was beginning to blur and he drifted into bliss until the light from a car turning nearby sparkled on the shiny tip above her hand. If he could be glimpsed, she was at greater risk, with the nearby intersection below her and only her shorts in the way. "Too high," he smoothly told her as his hand slipped under the band of her shorts and lowered them a little further down her thighs before returning to caress her silken and warming skin.
A shuddering sigh told him that she was aroused and enjoying this. "Mm I'll....keep that in mmind," she purred. If it was a promise, a threat or just to be sarcastic, John couldn't tell but he was happy to take it as temptation at the moment.
Still, for him this impromptu tryst was as scary as it was exciting. "Do you want to....?" he asked.
But he said it to the side of her face. She looked back to him and withdrew, climbing off of him and the stands saying, "All right since you're so worried about being proper, bush lurker."
"But," John said as he bolted upright and climbed down from the stand while fastening his pants, "then, look if you're not going to come home, you didn't want to talk and you're not going to, look what were you here about?"
Just before melting into the darkness of the garden of the house behind, Bob looked back with a smirk and a universe in her liquid black eyes and said, "Just stalking you."