Assorted worries and all kinds of memories from the day conspired to keep Jack Crichton from the mental vacation of sleep. Hours passed into the early morning. He was beginning to consider doing something very unlike himself and getting at least a little drunk. Finally he had decided to try forgetting about everything by simply taking a shower and shaving.
Simple wasn't a good description of the experience. The gaudy luxury of the big faux granite shower with its view of Sydney's lights through the glass shower doors and large windows of the expansive penthouse bathroom made him feel more conspicuously alone. Shaving at the black marble bathroom counter with double sinks, faux gold hardware and impressive mirror and lighting seemed downright menial. As usual the distraction worked well for him anyway. Humming and intermittently doing what passed for singing to an old Frank Sinatra song while shaving his face, Jack didn't feel cozy but thought that he was finally feeling a little more relaxed.
Until he saw someone move in his shower from the corner of his eyes. Almost tripping over his own feet, Jack staggered backward into the bathroom door. He almost dropped the straight edge shaving blade in his hand but when he had backed against the wall he belatedly thought to hold up the straight edge shaving blade to defend himself with. Another moment or two of panic later and Jack realized he was looking past the blade at a wide-eyed but not intimidated Chiana.
"What in the-?! What are you doing lurking in my shower?" Jack soon managed to ask.
"Not," Chiana said and shook her head. Then after sliding her eyes to the glass door she was standing against she explained, "I am. I mean I didn't come in to lurk in your shower. I came in through the bathroom window."
"She came in through the bathroom window," Jack said to himself. "Finally I have something to talk about with Paul McCartney."
"Whoa you know him?" Chiana asked while carefully stepping out of the wet shower.
"Not really, I met him once at a party or I should say Leslie, my wife, dragged me over to him," Jack explained while his hand absently took a wash cloth from the counter and wiped the shaving cream from his face. "Sure I wanted to meet him, I was a Beatles fan as much as almost anyone from those days. But I had no idea what to say."
"What did you say?"
"Oh I think I babbled like any fan," Jack remembered, "I had all his records and some stupid talk like that. He probably wanted to be somewhere else. Fortunately she mentioned who I was and fortunately he seemed to be interested and launched into a bunch of usual questions. What was it like to be an astronaut, what's it like on the moon, is it made of cheese. Give regards to Major Tom. That sort of thing."
"Can I meet him?" Chiana asked. "I can't get over A-B Toad."
"Road, and Salt Gin Pepper."
"Yeah that," Chiana pointed at him and exuberantly burst into, "Naaaaaa, naa naa na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na! Hey Jude! Naaaaaa, naa naa-"
"Yes, I know the one," Jack interrupted her.
"And Your Bird Can Sing? But you can't see me!" Chiana recited, hopped into a bow legged crouch and pointed at her head with both hands, "You can't see- meeeeee! And you're making me feel like I've never been born. Neah! Why Don't We Do It In The Road! Whoa yeah! Eleanor Rigby. Frelling brilliant. Makes me cry just thinking about it," she told him, sniffed and wiped her face with her forearm. "Nuh. There it goes," she observed and splayed a hand out while wiping her eyes with the other hand.
"In My Life?"
She held a hand up and agreed, "Love it."
"Huh," Jack was mildly impressed, but not at the cultural references. "So now that you've succeeded in getting me calmed down, what did you want to talk to me about?"
One corner of her mouth dimpled in and her eyes warmed. She asked with a lift of her brow, "If you can read me that well, why don't you just guess what I came here to talk about?"
Jack put the wash cloth back down on the counter and replied, "How bad you were."
Her face sank and she took a seat on the side of the bathtub. Scratching the side of her head she remarked, "Think that'd be enough huh?"
Jack continued, "I think I saw more of you in public than I saw of girls at the kinds of parties I had to stop attending when I married. All right that's stretching it, you kept your shirt on, but parts of your act weren't socially acceptable, Miss. There are people who could have been offended, especially if there were minors around. You're very lucky you didn't meet one of them."
"Like I'd want to?" Chiana retorted. "Besides I think I did, but no problem anyway. I was with somebody rich and influential. A General."
Jack sighed. Gathering his patience he took a few moments to wipe the counter, wash the straight edge shaver, place it down on the sink counter and then comb his hair and check his bath robe. Finally he patiently continued, "I was thinking about other people-"
"Alot of them liked it," Chiana pointed out as she stood up from the side of the bathtub. "You liked it. But that's okay," Chiana waved aside with a slice of her hand in the air while she came to stand facing Jack at the sink beside the one he stood in front of, "I'm used to being blamed for that."
Not being prepared for an argument that direct, Jack took a few moments to respond and what came out sounded lame to him. "That's not the point."
"You think I need to hear the rest? I don't even have to hear it," Chiana said, tapping her head as she hopped up onto the counter in front of the sink. Shiny traces of tears were forming on her painted tan cheeks as she continued, "I can hear it in here. I made a scene out of myself. Took crazy risks. Went off half cocky. Could've frelled everything up, then what? Wasn't thinking. Say it," she tossed her hands up, "I'mm-a testicle."
"Uh a nut, you mean," Jack supposed.
"I didn't mean I agreed," Jack explained, "I just meant that you meant nut."
Shifting her eyes to one side she thought and asked, "Why? What did I say?"
"Never mind," Jack said. "I'm very glad that I knew you were uh, brought up in a different culture. The important thing is that you meant well. All that ends well, went well."
Seemingly impressed and delighted by that saying, Chiana stood and asked, "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Jack said, "uh yes. Generally. But speaking of ending well. I don't know how you made it way up here let alone how you climbed in through that window, but how are you expecting to get out of here unnoticed?" She tilted her head so he continued, "It wouldn't be good for you to be discovered lurking around in my bathroom."
"Here? Why? You don't have any girlfriends."
"If I did I'd ask her to knock first."
"Oh," Chiana uttered and looked at the bathroom door. "I just thought hm," she stepped a little closer along side the counter, absently fussed with the eagle pin on the collar of her little polo shirt and suggested with sidelong big eyes and a smile, "I could stay with you."
Jack scratched his temple and suggested, "Being discovered lurking in my bed might not the best idea either."
She sneered and shrugged, "If I'd wanted to meet John right now I'd try the front door. Or his bedroom window, depending...." she teasingly said and bit the tip of her tongue. "Except mm. Ah. He's not here?"
"Sure he is," Jack said.
"Mm mm hm," Bob hummed and nodded. "What if I told you he was out with some gold haired trelk that looks younger than me?"
"I would say," Jack cut her a glance while he whipped up some fresh shaving cream, "that you could quiet some of those fears and have a little more confidence in John. There are other things to worry about," Jack thought with worry creasing his brow slightly.
Chiana threw her head back, growled and petulantly stalked off to the far end of the bathroom and returned without seeming to have seen anything. "Gonna nnnneed help, in this," she told Jack and seemed so anxious she was short of breath.
Jack paused from shaving and turned to face her directly, hoping he didn't look too ridiculous. "Now that's one of the difficult parts of a relationship," Jack told her as honestly and gently as he could, "both of you have to maintain it yourselves. All I can do is try to prompt him a little perhaps. You will have to apologize and explain yourselves as you need to on your own."
Jack could see her thinking behind her eyes while those unsettling liquid black eyes searched his face. Seemed that she came to some conclusion and abruptly relaxed. "Thanks dad," Chiana gently kidded him, "for taking care of it for me."
Jack resumed shaving and told her, "I would if I could. I'm sure you two need all the help you can get." When he saw the appalled expression on Chiana's face, Jack quickly rethought what he'd said and tried to rephrase it. "What I mean is-"
"You had it right," Chiana agreed. "Frell." Even as she cursed, she impulsively hung onto Jack with one arm and, when he stopped shaving, hugged him with the other, burying her face into his shoulder. A moment later she backed up a couple of steps to stand beside the sink counter. "Want a frelling drink," she said and sniffed.
The spectrum of emotions Chiana could go through amazed him. But then he amazed himself for being able to keep his mind on more than the scene around her outrageous little shorts. The terry material seemed to be stretched and worn unevenly, left draping irregularly and tenuously around her lower hips and upper thighs. Another thing he noticed was that the shorts and shirt were damp as though she had been sweating. Her mention of drink helped Jack to put his finger on another impression he had about her. "I would've said you had one," he told her.
Chiana sullenly turned her head like a child being scolded and avoiding his gaze, but then she looked up stormily and admitted, "One."
"Yes," Jack accepted. To be fair he admitted, "But then I was thinking of getting as drunk as a skunk myself."
"Ye-aw!" Chiana nearly yawled as she hopped around Jack and jumped up onto his back. Suddenly realizing she should keep quiet she covered her mouth, giggled and then whispered in staggering but laughing Jack's ear, "Let's go get glished."
Jack finally regained his balance, held up a hand and pointed out, "I didn't say I was going to do it."
"Aw how far does that getcha?" Chiana grated but dropped off of his back, thinking that she should have known their wasn't a chance they were going to go get drunk together. "And let me guess," she told him, moving to his side as he straightened up, "you want me to talk talk talk to him." Seeing his wince and grumble as he bent back and around as if working his back, she asked, "You okay?"
"Yes, yes I'm okay," Jack said between a few groans. "My old back is complaining. I think I have a kink in it."
"Kink?" Chiana asked very skeptically. "Your back wants to get kinky?" Jack gave her a very plain face which answered her question. "Okay. Oh you mean it aches or something?" Chiana moved to get behind him and position her arms around him and said, "Lemme help you get that."
"Nononono," Jack quickly insisted. "It's still recovering from your earlier help freeing my windpipe."
Chiana nodded knowingly, "Maneuvering the Hindenburg."
"Heimlich," Jack corrected her.
"Yeah that." Chiana continued, "Okay I might've over-reacted. Haven't slept in a while, can't seem to eat worth a frell. I'm a little cleshed."
"Nnot that," Chiana said as she moved around Jack, picked up his straight edge shaving blade and turned to stand in front of him. "Cleshed. You're already dragged out," she explained while casually shaving some spots he missed on his neck and chin, "and keep going until you get kinda bleary and buzzed and don't notice it much anymore. Can be dangerous. Think I'm okay so far."
"Think so?" Jack asked as carefully as possible. "I gather you've been having problems with the food. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Aw now," she complained, pausing to step back and glare at him moment while whisking the shaving cream from the straight edge shaving blade with a flick so fast it was a blur, "don't get ancient on me. Not your little girl." Resuming her fussy finishing touch shave by inspecting the other side of his neck she asked, "Okay?"
"Okay," Jack laughed very slightly. "I can promise you I'm not confused on that point."
"Good," Chiana said with an uneven but genuine smile. Working at shaving a tiny spot here and there, she explained, "If it's gonna get that way to Erfth food, Earth, might get tough but I've had it tough behind. Behind? Before? Before. I'll figure something out. Anyway I was talking to Doug and he said maybe I should give it a rest for a little while and try again. What's a little while I don't know, so I skipped having anything over the weekend and I'll ask him later. Or actually I'll ask you. Think that's enn- hold your chin up, I see a spot on your cheek."
Jack raised his chin and his brow slightly. When she finished shaving the missed spot in a typically odd way, some bad kid still lingering somewhere inside made him suppose, "Might be. It's Monday now. What do you say I take you to get some dinner, something different to eat and we'll see how it goes. Or if you'd rather give it a little more time I could take you somewhere where you can relax, maybe dance and unwind a little."
Chiana seemed startled to be asked. "Whichever," she said first. Jack saw the wily side of her assert itself the next moment. A smirk shifted one side of her lips, her eyes widened even further and she said, "Or I think I might still be a little queasy, pretty sure, definitely. Probably definitely should wait to go eat till um, a little while yet huh? Weekend? Or, whatever. We'll have to do something else, like you were saying. So," she asked while sticking the straight edge shaving blade into a bar of soap by the sink, "Where do we go?"
Jack shook his head to himself while she wasn't looking. Chiana picked up the bar of soap and was carving something with the straight edge shaving blade. Having satisfied that curiosity he told her, "Come to think of it, if you won't get too mad at me, let's go chance that meal. If we can find anywhere open at too late o'clock in the morning."
Chiana, who seemed to be carving the bottom of the soap bar into the shape of a cleft chin, stopped carving and turned a glare with pursed lips to Jack. "I know," Jack said, "Killjoy."
"No, no just," Chiana grumbled as she put the bar of soap back down and threw the straight edge shaving blade into it, "just predictable."
"Predictably boring and disappointing," Jack said with a mild sigh. "Sorry."
"I said okay," slightly annoyed Chiana told him, "and I saw a place coming over. Not far from here. Said open 24 hours, called Cuppa's. Seems to be for coffee and that's all I want. Just what I want. Innn fact I was gonna ask you. So. Meet you there." Apparently ready to leave the way she had come, she started getting up on the shower stall step.
"You don't have to leave that way," Jack quickly told her. Chiana hooked a skeptical look back to him over her shoulder so he suggested, "We'll sneak out."
Smiling at that idea, Chiana returned to circle around him before going into his adjoining room and said, "But not always huh?"
"I'll just be a minute dear," Jack told her, "I'll get dressed."
"Oh," Chiana said, turning right around and returning toward the bathroom.
Shoving her a pat grin and tightened brow, Jack closed the bathroom door before she reached it. Some muffled swear word could be heard through the door. "You might see if you have something to replace or put over those shorts," Jack said as he dressed. But she didn't seem to be listening. He could hear her hop up onto his bed and bounce on it repeatedly. Shaking his head to himself and smiling, he thought how she seemed to be able to swing from being a very young woman to being a mature woman wise beyond her years and to being childlike on the other extreme without the least awkwardness or hesitation and she was so unfettered by decorum that it amazed him. "That girl is just too strange," Jack told himself, not for the first time.
No sooner did Jack open the bathroom door and walk into the bedroom then Chiana hopped off the bed, slipped by and strolled back into the bathroom. "All so much!" she said about the bathroom with her hands up and out, helping herself to a fresh look around at it. "You oughtta have a party of at least six females and that's just for this room!" she imagined. Strolling past the windows she awed at the views of Sydney. "Whoa. Drad." Strolling past the showers, hot tub and bath on the other side she raved, "Nice showers, woo look clear barriers, whoa, tub, no tubs, very very very very nice. You know putting this room to use could change your life." But Jack wasn't following and when she looked back into the bedroom she saw that he wasn't in the bathroom. Jack seemed to be paying her no attention and looking for something in the mess she'd made of the bed instead. Stopping beside the bathroom counter, Chiana put a hand on her hip and asked, "Are you even listening?"
"Yes it's very nice," Jack agreed but didn't more than glance her way.
Chiana shook her head to herself. "Very nice. Yes it's very nice. Nuu," she talked to herself on her way out of the bathroom, "what's it gonna take for that guy."
"Now just a moment," Jack told her.
Chiana turned sharply. "No you should stop stopping," she told him and walked off.
Jack hurried after her but when he reached John's room he hesitated and scratched his chin. Just to be sure, he looked in and turned on the bedroom light. Instead of seeing John in his bed, Jack stared as Doug sat up, obviously startled out of his sleep. "Whoa dude it's like, not my bedroom!" Doug looked around and relaxed. "Sorry, thought you were like, the cops or something. What?"
"Where is he?"
"Wasn't here when I came in man," Doug said. "Why? Don't you know where he is?"
"No," Jack replied, "and worse, I think Chiana does."