The motion of a shopping bag in each arm pinched and pulled at the pre-ripped double-layer, magenta and black shirt until a fastener was unbuttoned. "Sshaw," Annie complained, but getting into the elevator had new perils. Instead of the expected space on both sides, there was a wall to her right, and striking it with her arm allowed one of the shopping bags to enthusiastically disgorge its contents over every inch of the elevator floor. "Crik- f*ck," she cursed and tried hurriedly putting the things back into her bag.
Bending over, she tried keeping the stiff new denim skirt from running down, but it decided to anyway. Then she noticed that one of the boxes of makeup she was bringing to show John Crichton's poor girl Bob had opened, spilling a bunch of things, one of which in turn spilled out its non-soluble tan makeup into a good sized lake of embarrassment on the elevator carpet. "Oh crap," she said and covered her cheeks with her palms for a moment, then redoubled her efforts to pick everything up.
Naturally, the elevator reached the floor quickly and of course someone was waiting for it. Annie gaped up, with wide-eyed surprise. The obviously wealthy lady who stepped on barely glanced at the mess but looked at Annie sympathetically. "Ooh," she said, regretfully. But she didn't help, and, rather than wait a moment, the lady pushed the buttons and took the elevator down.
When the lady walked out, Annie grumbled "uncommon courtesy" under her breath. "Uncommon...." she whispered. Annie gasped slightly and started trying to get her notepaper out of her skirt pocket. But it was impossible. Finally she put the bags down to write the phrase in her notebook. Still knelt down, she whispered "inspired...." trying to grasp the fleeting tendril of an idea for a song that had occurred to her.
The elevator door opened and someone whistled. One of the bags chose then to squirm free and spew its contents again. Annie gaped up to see a young man. "Pink thong, nice," he gleefully said. Seeing the spill, however, he helped her pick the things up. It helped to stem her frustration.
"Not my day," she said. "Sorry, I'm spilling everything everywhere."
"Well I can take some of that. You live around here or....?" he asked and cringed. "Ugh that sounds like a line. I might as well....hi, my name's Doug."
"Hi," she replied with a smile and a slightly husky hint of amusement. "Annie. Thanks for the hand, Doug. Are you.....John Crichton's friend?"
"Yes, or should I say no?" he asked.
"Yes, hello," she shook his hand gently. "He asked if I wouldn't come by and meet his girl, help her with makeup?"
"Huh, yeah, it's just there," Doug pointed to the door as they traded places. "Nice to have met you Annie, come by often, with however much stuff you like," he joked.
Annie laughed and walked over to the door he'd pointed to as the elevator closed. "Gaw why do I do these things," she asked herself. 'Just send....Oh right, John, son of Dad's friend Jack....no, the poor girl, all right stop complaining....'
Carefully managing the bags, she knocked with her elbow. The door quickly open to reveal a girl about the same size as herself, if thinner, with similar features save strikingly black eyes and a matching black short Bob hairdo. The girl hung by the sides of the door, leaning forwards into Annie's personal space, looked on Annie and smiled. "Whew," Annie said at arriving, anticipating putting the bags down at last.
Bob gave Annie a quick glance up, then down. "You're fine," she simply said, going back in and closing the door.
Annie stared at the door with her mouth gaping. After a moment, she regained some thought. "I'm, John asked me to come by, John Crichton?" she loudly said at the door.
The door opened again with no one there. Bob's head soon appeared around the corner down to her cheeks. After another moment, she stepped out into the doorway and gestured Annie to come in, shifting from a foot to the other. "Wul-welcome," she suggested.
Annie came in a ways and looked around for a place to put the bags. Bob helpfully took them one at a time and set them right down on the floor. "Like a drink?"
"Would I," Annie accepted. "Vodka?"
Bob looked almost startled for a moment, then gestured to the kitchen with a nervous cheer. "Well you can see what we have and, take it."
Annie thought that Bob seemed very repressed and self-conscious in spite of a sort of awkward extroversion. There was a definite self-consciousness in her posture. The odd girl also seemed even thinner than herself. 'Maybe her disorder?' Annie wondered, but it didn't seem so on the other hand, since Bob also radiated an energy and resiliency. Definitely odd, Annie felt.
Bob was certainly using makeup and definitely could stand some improvement in application, Annie noted. What was wrong with her skin, though, she couldn't tell. She seemed very cute to Annie, odd but very attractive, and she found herself staring at times as she helped herself to some water. Unfortunately, they only had beer and soda. Annie didn't like beer and didn't want a syrupy soda.
"So John tells me you have a skin problem?" Annie began, breaking awkward silence.
"It's not mine," Bob corrected. "Was born with it."
"Ah mm, what is it?" Annie asked as casually as possible.
Bob gave a deer-in-the-headlights stare for a moment. Which was all the more remarkable for those big black eyes. "Ah Bluealbinus. Very very rare. Here. Practically unique."
Annie blinked, wondering if she was serious, joking or merely pathologically evasive. Her psychology classes wanted to come back into her head, but she stopped them. "Well I brought some great things that'd make a bushman look Elizabethan underwater. Amazing stuff they've been coming out with, just lately, some things, um...." Annie went back to her bags and rummaged for the makeup among all her shopping things.
Suddenly she noticed Bob was peering over her shoulder, looking intently at all the things in the bags. Annie smiled to herself, figuring Bob must not get out much to do shopping or anything, the poor dear. It really bothered her that some people were so petty to make a fuss over someone because of a skin condition or something, leaving the poor person wanting to stay shut up all the time.
Annie got the makeup out and went to a couch in the living area, with Bob almost on her heels the whole way. She gestured Bob to sit across, a coffee table between them. "All right," Annie began, "remember it isn't so much what you use but how you use it. That's where the trick is-"
"-Can I wear a," Bob gestured around with her hand, "swimsuit?"
"Hm? Well I-well let's not rule that out, we'll look into some things, I'm sure....as I was saying, a talented makeup artist doesn't absolutely have to have tons of all the latest and greatest to do the best job. Best makeup in the world will just be crap if it's not applied well. Right, so let me see your hand."
A smile flashed on and off Bob's face. "M-my hand?" she asked and scooted nervously on her seat. "How about my face, we'll use my face, yeah?"
"Uh, well, can you remove that makeup so we can figure just the foundations and all that we need?" Annie asked. Bob's deer-in-the-headlight look returned. "Well are there certain areas where it's more a problem?" Annie tried.
"Ahm-m my hand?"
"All right let's see it," Annie said and held hers out. "Believe me, I work with, I have lunch with people with tentacles, many eyes, scales, these scary teeth, split open heads, agh," Annie tried joking, "really I promise, I won't be ah," she found herself a bit surprised when Bob tentatively produced a creamy light gray hand with deep blue, almost black nails. "Hm."
"Nothing," Annie reassured her and took her hand. "I think we'll need a strong base here, let's try a few things. Oh do you want a really light color, or something more to tan, or tanned, or bronze, or olive? What's you're fancy?"
"Ah tan? John, like John but ah, less red more yellow green beige yeah," Bob said and smiled. "Or maybe really really light like delicate or maybe really really tan or-"
"-We'll try some things and let you decide hm?" Annie suggested.
"Dra- ah rad," Bob nodded. She looked aside slightly, crossing her eyes at messing up on such an easy term.
Annie began applying makeup to Bob's palm. "Now here, let me show you. Use a base like this, Mulan Two, that's real, well has good coverage, use this brush like so. Then-" Annie found herself noticing that Bob had blue veins at her wrist and palm, which didn't surprise until she notice there was no red anywhere. Her blood was really all blue. Annie looked up to Bob's obsidian eyes with a start and realized the truth.
Almost hissing in a breath, Annie snapped her hand back from Bob's. Her hand knocked over the makeup container balancing on her knee, spilling the makeup onto the rug.
"Hahah," Bob gleefully looked at the mess, then suddenly looked at Annie. "You're telling him you did that! Yeah," she said and nodded. "No way he's going to blame me."
The alien was so understandable and unaffected that it immediately softened the fright and made it more of a simple curiosity. "You're real," Annie managed to wonder.
"Oh I," Bob looked evasively but cheerfully around, "I like to make him wonder." She smiled deviously at Annie. Bob's mirth sank into fright as she understood Annie's reactions. The very tan Annie was getting as white as John's coffee cup. "I'm friendly," Bob assured her and smiled. "Very friendly. Well John, he went into space and we met and....after a really really long story, I'm here, followed him here. Just me. N-no bad, anything."
"There are aliens!" Annie covered her mouth, stood and backed up to the wrong end of the living room. "You're real!"
"Very," Bob said, almost defensively. "I'm very very friendly, I-I'm so friendly I got insulted alot for it too, all the time," she insisted.
"That's nice," Annie assured her, suddenly feeling very spacey herself. "Mmm-mom....you're right. I've got to....go, try the....any kind, goodbye," she turned and ran down the hall into a bedroom. But rather than turn and run back through the living room then to the door, she passed out on the bed in front of her instead.
"Ah frell," Bob said as she tried stirring Annie. "Crichton, he's gonna frelling kill me."
Annie gasped awake and stood, staring at Bob. "Aaaaa!" Annie blurted, backing into the wall. "Aaa-a hello, yes, we're, we mean you no harm."
"Easy," Bob smiled and nodded, "been with John for years. Years. Really. It's okay. Nnobody knows, so they don't dissect me...."
Annie's face fell slack. "Ooh...." Then Bob's wary, ascertaining look registered. "No, I won't tell anyone," she assured the alien.
"Good," Bob simply said.
An acrid moment passed between them as the seriousness of the potential risks they posed to each other was considered.
"Oh my gaaahh," Annie put her hand on her forehead, faced the wall and sank down onto her knees, crying.
"What?" Bob asked, putting her hands out. But the lady kept on crying. "Will- will you stop?" Bob asked.
"I can't belie- I can't oh...." Annie put an arm in front of her stomach. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"Pizza!" John hollered, coming into the flat. He then heard some laughter and talking. "Be darned," he said, realizing the voices were Bob and Annie. "Thank goodness," he rolled his eyes and meandered around to the bedroom they were in.
Annie and Bob were seated sideways on the bed facing each other, talking a mile a minute. Annie's cell phone interrupted. "Cri- I said I'm busy all right, later," she answered it and put it back. One of Bob's arms was largely made up in several different complexions. Bob had not only removed the rest of her makeup, but was topless and evidently perfectly comfortable about that fact. John's brow rose.
"Frell!" Bob exclaimed, pulling the comforter of the bed to cover herself from John's view, but obviously watching him for his reaction.
John fought a smile and cleared his throat with his fist over his mouth. "Hello ladies, make yourselves at home. Is it okay if the guys have a room? We could split kitchen privileges, help each other with the homework...."
"Isn't he a smart arse," Annie remarked to Bob.
"Well yeah not a bad one," Bob remarked.
John smiled, tossed a hand at them and walked to the kitchen as the ladies laughed. But the walk to the kitchen was a long one, spent with his thumb to his front teeth trying to be honest with himself about his guilt in drawing in yet another person.
"Hey hands off the pizza!" John pulled the box of takeout pizza away from the hoarding, rapidly consuming Doug. "You ladies want any pizza, better come get it now before the Dougsposal gets it!"
John nodded, taking another bite of pizza as the hyper Annie talked a blue streak. Seated on a high stool on the kitchen side of the breakfast counter, she animatedly swung her feet, hitting the cupboard as she swung them. The remainder of her single slice of pizza was getting thoroughly cold waiting on her nervously shaking hand. "She just kept laughing, so I said, keep the change," she giggled, finishing her story.
"Where's Bob?" John asked and looked around.
"Oh she's trying stuff, makeup and that," Annie explained while absently taking a bite of pizza.
"I don't mean to give you any mafia crap," John told her and locked a look up across the table at her. "But you know, there's people out there who really shouldn't hear things-"
"I'm not going to tell anyone," Annie assured him, her pale blue eyes looking alarmed. "What am I going to say? People don't- Look, my mom was always saying there's aliens and things, and people, oh we'd tell our friends, and next thing you know you're sitting in front of the teacher, he's looking very serious at you even though he's never taking a word you're saying seriously."
"It's not school," John impressed upon her.
"Oh I know. I know, but that's....how people are, it's all right. I know how they are first hand, I'm the last person who's gonna go blabbing something like that."
John eyed her hard for a few moments. "Cool," he decided to say. "Glad that you two get on, too. It kinda sucks being an odd man out, really out."
Annie soberly nodded. Turning her face to the side, she covered her mouth. John looked over to Doug as Annie started crying. She cleared her throat a few times, becoming a tear-streaked mess of nerves.
"Why don't you stay here," John suggested, "just, you know, a little bit. DK?" he asked. Doug was preoccupied eating still more pizza. "DK?" John repeated. Doug finally looked to John. "Wanna show her, I'm sure Bob wouldn't mind."
"Mmhm umph," Doug got up, clapping his greasy hands to get the crumbs off. "Comphon phal fowya," he muttered, taking her by the arm to Bob's bed.
John groaned, running his hand over his face. Bob wondered in just then, all but tripping on an oversized, makeup-smudged dress and watching Doug lead Annie out of the kitchen. "Nice dress," John sarcastically commented.
"Ah, look," Bob snidely remarked to John, still watching the direction Doug had led Annie. "Next one you're doing, mm tired of putting up with humans getting sick at me. They find out, they vomit. So. Let's not let anyone else in on this, okay?"
"Sounds like an idea," John replied into his hand.
Failing again to get the cling-wrap to spread over the container of fruit the way John had shown her, Chiana gave up on the idea for the better cause of exploring this strange alien substance. Since it had now sealed nicely around and between both of her forearms, Chiana lifted up her forearms in front of her face, walked it over to the light streaming in through the window and stared at the wrap stretched between her forearms.
The door buzzer sounded, and Chiana went leaping for the door in case it was John or her new friend Annie. Once at the door, she realized the dilemma she was in, with someone at the door, her arms occupied and no clothes on. Fortunately, a peep through the peephole revealed Annie scratching her nose.
With some difficulty, Chiana got the door unlatched. Annie pushed the door open, pinning Chiana behind the door, pressing Chiana's forearms up, and sticking the cling-wrap over her face. It immediately sealed over her mouth and nose. "Mmmmfph! MMMMph!!" Chiana urgently squirmed.
Hearing the noise, Annie looked around, found the emergency behind the door, and quickly tried reaching for the cling-wrap on Chiana's face, but found the door and Chiana's forearms in the way. Moving the door allowed her to reach, but Chiana fell forwards. Annie went to stop her, but Chiana was knocked off balance instead, stumbling into Annie. Their attempts to correct themselves and each other somehow quickly involved the hallway wall lamp fixture, a corner stand, a flower vase, a mixture of orchids and paper flowers, pencil sharpener, phone, cord, address book, Gideon's Bible and a paperback romance novel from the stand, and the hallway rug.
After much reaching, squirming, tumbling, falling, twisting, grasping and mayhem, both ended up gasping for breath on the floor somewhere near the door to the kitchen with shredded bits of cling-wrap everywhere.
"Ah, thanks," Chiana said, unsure if Annie had actually been a help or to blame for another near-death experience.
"Yeah," Annie replied, still sitting on her shoulders. "I see you've tried some of the colors," she pointed to different tones and colors of makeup on different spots of Chiana.
"I think we'll have to try the whole thing one way at a time," Chiana decided.
"I brought something," Annie pointed to the door. Finally Annie fell over and sat upright. "After asking around discretely and pleadingly, ha, and spreading a little cash, I think I've got exactly what's called for."
"Cling-wrap repellant?" Chiana asked.
"No," Annie giggled. "Just what you need in makeup. It's pretty progressive stuff, but it's proven. Sort of a little no-smear long-lasting lipstick with a fully opaque, tough skin coverage. Something you can spray on, yourself with any luck, cover any or all of the body, and is very, very hard to smear, sweat or wash off."
"Drad!" Chiana exclaimed, sprang up and brought the stuff in. "This too?" she asked of a second bag, immediately sitting on her knees in front of the second bag and pulling out its contents.
"That's, well, professional applicators for spray on airbrush and other paints and latex actually, from our prosthetics department. And is it ever expensive! But it's just what you need to apply a whole lot of it very well and very quickly."
"I'm-m sure Crichton will pay you back?" Chiana had some device half disassembled and was inspecting all its innards. "And if he doesn't pay, ask Jack, he's a lot softer," Chiana cut a sneaky glance over to Annie.
Annie smirked and rolled her eyes to herself, coming over to rescue the rest of the items. "I remembered something of it 'cause something like it was used on me for a scene where I was to get wet," Annie explained. "The first time it worked, but constantly needed applying," she continued, picking up the items and taking them to the bathroom. "So they called around everywhere, and next time, they tried this. It worked like a charm."
"S-so I can do my whole body with this? And get wet?" Chiana asked, hurriedly following Annie.
"If you're gonna try intense activities, you'll have to consider your hair too," Annie pointed out. "If you don't want that wig coming off. Either be careful with a wig, show your real hair, which is okay after all, people will just assume you're kind of, well, different, and you've bleached your black hair white, or dye your real hair black or whatever it is that works for you."
"Might dye it," Chiana peered diagonally into the mirror.
"You on a diet? Now that's ambition," Annie teased. "Now, the only thing about this makeup is, it's a bitch, a total bitch, to get off," Annie warned, getting the applicators ready. "Oh no, how did this go? Anyway, let's test it here first."
"Yes, son, I hear ya loud and clear," Jack replied into the cell phone and picked out a beige pair of khakis from a rack of pants and took a hard look at them. "You want white, gray or black, preferably all three."
"On a stick," John requested.
"On a stick? Well you said that, son, not me." Jack put the beige khakis back. "You know me, son, I never have a stray off-color thought."
"No I guess my birth was purely accidental," John remarked.
"Yes, I guess you were an accident then, son," Jack answered while he picked out a black pair of pants. "I'm Mister Clean."
"But with hair," John corrected, looking out from the balcony of his flat. Unexpectedly, the simple reality of being on Earth and exchanging small talk with his Dad struck him. Staring off into the blue sky, he swallowed a lump in his throat.
"With hair, that's right," Jack was agreeing. "I think I just found something in pink that'll show your figure."
"That'll get all the chicks, Dad," John replied, with difficulty, and then laughed with fervor.
"You have clean underwear, right?" Jack teased. "Yes, I had to ask you that, son. Do you need a second pair?"
"Oh yeah thanks Daddy-o, and I didn't forget the rubbers you got me for the trip. Just don't pick out anything too old fashioned, okay Dad? And I only need one."
Jack began browsing for a second pair of pants for John. Absently glancing around, he saw two young ladies jogging by the outdoor sale display he was browsing through. One was a cute petite brunette with a cell phone in one hand and a small weight in the other, wearing fashionable tall-soled boots, long jean shorts and a red tank top, with a flash of a pink underwear strap peeking out as the shirt flopped around. The other was Bob, in her black bob wig, beige fishing overalls over a black shirt, and black shoes. Jack looked at the next pair of pants before it registered that Annie and Bob had just jogged past him.
"Hey," Jack called out.
Bob gaped over her shoulder and skidded to a quirky halt. "Jack!" she brightly replied. Grabbing Annie's arm, she hurried back to him. "Annie and me are sweating," she nodded.
"We're testing to see if the makeup will hold up to her perspiring," Annie explained while giving Jack a tomboy firm handshake.
"I'm getting my son a new pair of pants," Jack explained. "He didn't know if he'd get the time today. As it turned out, he was able to leave the event after a couple of hours and is now back putting his feet up at the flat while his old man gets to shop and build his heel spurs."
"Get him something tight to show off his drad arse," Bob suggested.
Annie laughed. "Would you like us to get that for you?"
"No ma'am, in truth I'm enjoying the break," Jack admitted.
"Well come on, Bob, let's keep you sweating," Annie gestured Bob to go. "We'll stop by a favorite shop of mine to get you some deodorant."
Jack smiled and shook his head as he watched the ladies jog away, talking to each other a mile a minute. After a moment, he realized he'd tuned out John, who was still talking. "Oh sorry son," Jack apologized into the cell phone. "I just saw Annie and Bob."
"On the same rack?" John quipped. "Gee how much are they going for?"
"No they were just jogging by," Jack answered. "You can't afford them, son."
"Ha ha" John replied. Then he coughed. "Jogging?!" John was outraged.
"Yes, jogging," Jack replied. "I'm sure it's all right, Annie's there to help if the makeup runs. Should be happy she's got a friend."
"Poor Annie," John sarcastically moaned.
"Now, she's just as happy. At least she knows one person who doesn't give a damn if she's a so-called celebrity or not."
"I don't," John defensively whined.
"I know, son, but you're not entirely unimpressed with her. With Bob, they can be girlfriends. Annie goes through life acting as if she fit in, while having her own perspectives. She's got a creative streak. I think it's entirely possible she associates with Bob better than some things in life, and most people."
"You're a deep thinker on human nature, Dad," John smiled. "You're scaring me again."
"You're right, I'll stop before I hurt my head or unravel the secrets of your psyche," Jack promised.
"Got none, unless Ancients put some there," John explained. "I'm a guy. I just want to keep stupid things I've done from embarrassing me in my old man's eyes."
"Won't happen, son," Jack assured him, putting his decision of a second pair of pants over his forearm and thinking of the son he was getting them for. "Remember when I told you that you'd have to be your own kind of hero?"
"I didn't forget that," John replied.
"Well I realize that you also have to be your own kind of idiot, son," Jack concluded. Both of them laughed.