"Where's Bob?" asked Jack, looking up from his newspaper as John walked into the living room.
"She's getting ready for her 'date,' John sullenly replied as he flopped down into a chair opposite Jack. "She kicked me out so she could finish getting dressed."
Behind him, from where he sat working on his computer, Doug laughed. "She kicked you out? When's a better time to 'persuade' her to forget about her date with Payne in the ass, wasn't that what you said the plan was?"
"That plan thing again," John turned around and glared at Doug. "I tried, but apparently my powers of persuasion ain't what they're cracked up to be. She still insists on going."
Unbowed by John's glare, Doug continued to snicker. "So you tried convincing her with your charm and good looks but she didn't buy it did she?" John said nothing, he just continued to glare. "Wait. Actually I bet she was brazenly amused. Did you try reasoning with her?" Doug continued. "Of course you didn't," he laughed, "because you'd be going into a battle of wits completely unarmed." Doug snorted loudly. "My money's on Bob to win that one."
Just as John opened his mouth to retort, Jack interrupted. "Did you and Bob manage to get the new makeup on okay?" he asked, while setting his coffee cup down and reading the paper at the same time.
John nodded absentmindedly. "Yeah, stuff went on slicker n' snot, just like Annie said it would. Not that she let me help much."
"That's a shame. Is she going to be able to pass for human with this new stuff?" asked Jack, glancing away from the newspaper to look pointedly at John.
John nodded again. "Yeah, but I tried to tell her she didn't need put up with Payne, because we've already got him by the short and curly's," John sighed, "but she's being pig-headed about it."
"Dude, lemme think, who does that remind me of?" Doug sarcastically asked.
Before John could put in a retort, Bob reappeared. With her best grace, she walked into the living room, the red bead dress that Payne had given her making a soft hissing as she went. Bob paused in the doorway and struck a pose, like a model she'd seen on television, while the attention of all three men in the room instantly riveted to her. The jaws of all three men dropped in unison. As she kept her eyes purposefully part closed in a demure affectation, Bob looked completely and totally human. There was nothing visibly alien about Bob at all.
Bob shifted her pose and the beading on the short dress sparkled in the light as she moved. It was a snug fit on the petite Bob, but most becomingly. It allowed a hint of skin through. The dress was also low cut, Jack noticed, so low-cut in fact that he wondered how she managed to breathe and stay in the dress at the same time. 'There's something different about Bob,' Jack thought as he looked closely at her trying to figure out what it was.
"How do I look?" Bob asked anxiously.
"You look wonderful," replied Jack as he stepped forward to meet her. Bob visibly relaxed and gave him a dazzling smile. Jack noticed that she had somehow managed to sweep the hair of her wig up off of her face and pile it artfully on top of her head. To his eyes the effect made her look as though she was a child playing dress up with her mother's things, but the youngsters probably went for it just fine. Still, that wasn't what made her seem different. Peering closely at her, Jack finally realized what was different about Bob. Stepping closer and lowering his voice, he gestured at her chest. "Why is there more of you?" he asked.
Bob looked down to where he was gesturing and then back up at Jack, her eyes brimming with mischief and a cheeky grin on her face. "Why, should there be less of me?" she retorted with a tick of her brow and an impudent smirk.
"Well I uh no," Jack made a less than smooth attempt at a recovery.
"Wonderbra," Bob explained with a sassy smirk. "Does wonders for my loomas, doesn't it?" Bob cackled at her bad joke.
Jack chuckled in spite of himself. "Just don't breathe too hard," he warned.
"You're not wearing that!"
The other three people in the room turned almost as one and looked at John. "Why can't she wear that?" Doug asked, a baited question not quite disguised by the innocent way he said it.
"Yeah, why not?" demanded Bob.
"Because...." John said, floridly gesturing around her with one hand.
"Because?" Bob repeated demandingly.
"Yes, son, why can't she wear the dress on her date with Payne?" Jack asked, trying to conceal his smile. John was actually sounding jealous. "What's wrong with it? It looks amazing and had to cost plenty. Payne did give it to her, with a specific request that she wear it tonight." Jack was forced to conceal another grin as John gave him a look that said he wasn't helping.
"It's too provocative, that's why," John argued, pointing to Bob and looking pointedly at the two men.
Doug walked around Bob, eyeing her speculatively. "Too provocative? No waaay, dude. You should see what they're wearin' to the clubs these days. No way is that 'too provocative'."
"And how would you know what they wear to clubs these days?" John smoothly asked Doug. "None of your dates wear dresses."
Doug grinned and laughed, "That you know of, dude. Besides I do notice what women wear and that thing," he said pointing at Bob, "covers far more of Bob than some of the things I've seen at the clubs."
Jack scratched his head. He couldn't help but feel for his son, but he also had to admit the remark wasn't exactly tactful of John. Either way, he wasn't going there. Although he had half a mind to back Doug on his defense of Bob, the other half of a mind pointed out that it might be a bit risky defending Bob. Doing so despite the dress being so daring might embolden the girl further, but then, she was likely to be that way in the future and John would have to deal with it. Finally he decided that getting them to confront this was worth whatever risk. "Looks fine to me," Jack chimed in.
Bob gave Doug and Jack a dazzling smile for their support. All three then looked at John to see what he was going to say next. "Well Crichton?" asked Bob as she waited impatiently for an answer.
John gave Doug a glare before turning back to Bob. "Come on Pip, you know you don't need to do this?"
"Why not?" Bob asked, hopefully.
"Because we've got the goods on Payne already, so you don't need to go on this so-called date," John replied triumphantly.
Bob stared at John for a moment, disappointment flooding her. She had hoped for a different answer. Bob turned her back to him, shrugging away the hurt like she always did. "Sorry Crichton, I'm going."
Doug poked John in the arm with a rude buzz sound. "Pssst dude, wrong answer," Doug warned in a whisper, but John shook him off.
Bob walked over to the couch and grabbed her matching purse and shawl while John followed her, puzzled. "Chi," he said tentatively. Bob just ignored him.
Deciding to try another approach, John came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her against his body. Leaning down he whispered in her ear, "Pip, how about you stay here? You get outta the date, I'll order in, then we can have ourselves a party, and I can help you get outta that dress."
Bob twisted in his arms to face him and gave him one of her patented smirks. "Really? You mean it?" she whispered back. John grinned triumphantly and nodded. Bob returned his grin and pulled away, taking his hand in hers and twining their fingers together for a moment. "In that case, you can go frell yourself," she abruptly snapped, loudly slapping his hand against his crotch. "Or better yet, get one of your tralks to do it. Maybe Stephanie isn't busy, you fekkik. Why don't you go frell her?" Bob defiantly retorted. "Oh, I forget, being the stupid tralk that I am, you already do, and I'm still going."
The three men stood there in momentary shock. "She uh-" John absently remarked.
"About the others?" Doug unhelpfully prompted. "Uh ya think?"
"Yes, I know Crichton," Bob continued as if reading his mind. "But hey, its okay, isn't it, because I'm just another tralk to you, right?"
"Pip?" she asked. "Pip, the, the, the, favorite frelling traveling companion you always forget about. Forget about this, Crichton, I don't wanna hear it," Bob said turning away from him, struggling to hide the hurt that was still plain in her eyes.
Before John could reply, the doorbell rang. Doug went to the door and looked through the peephole. "Dude you'll never guess. It's Payne in the ass," he said to the other three.
John and Jack didn't look at Doug, as they were still staring at Bob, but she ignored them. Bob put on her best smile and spoke up to Doug, "Well, you drednaught, are you gonna let him in or what?"
Giving John a last, cringing look, Doug opened that door and was nearly bowled over by Payne as he pushed past him and dominated the penthouse from three feet inside. "Hey! Watch it," Doug cried.
Payne looked at Doug as if he were some insect that had happened to be hanging around the wall. "Oh Knox, it's you. I didn't see you standing there."
"Yeah right," Doug skeptically snapped. "Maybe you need glasses." Doug gave him a big smirk. "Maybe that's why you always come in second to me and John. You just need glasses. Hey look everyone," he said, turning to the others, "It's Payne in the ass." Doug held his hand up to his forehead, his thumb and index finger forming a big L. "Loser," he mouthed at the others.
Bob giggled, while Jack coughed hard to hide his laugh, shaking his head at these juvenile kids at the same time. John didn't seem to notice, he was still looking at Bob. Payne whipped around suddenly to see what made the others smile, but by then Doug was just scratching his head.
"Hello Payne," said Jack, coming forward with his hand out. The two men shook hands. "Excuse the boys. You're here for Bob, of course."
"Here I am," Bob offered as she jumped out from behind Jack and smiled at him.
Payne's mouth dropped open at the sight of her. "You're....you're....you're beautiful," he stammered.
"Thanks," Bob nearly whispered through a coy smile.
"Maybe you should give her those," Doug suggested, pointing to the bundle in Payne's arms.
Startled, Payne said, "Oh yeah," and handed Bob the bundle of red roses he had brought with him.
Bob smiled at him, delighted at the gift. "Thanks. You're the only one who gives me dead plants," she said.
Payne laughed heartily and looked at her with some surprise. "You mean Crichton has never given you flowers?"
Bob shook her head. "Nope. The frellnick hasn't ever given me anything."
"Hey, uh, yoohoo, I'm right here," John reminded the two with a little wave, finally deciding to contribute to the conversation. He turned to Bob with a glare. "I have too given you stuff. I gave you those books, the gym set, that t-shirt I got when I was in Japan-"
Bob gave Payne a long-suffering look as Payne burst out laughing. "A t-shirt. You give her a t-shirt?" Payne incredulously asked. "Those books were rare first editions or something?" Payne laughed again, turned to Bob, took her hand and kissed it. "I apologize, Ms. Chevalier, that I didn't get you a t-shirt or a discount paperback. Maybe I'll make up for it later, and scrape up the change to throw in some thongs for your pretty little feet."
"How do you know I've got pretty feet?" Bob breezily asked. "For all you know I could have six toes. With suction cups."
Jack looked to John and quietly began to ask, "She doesn't have-?"
John redoubtably scowled and shook his head no.
"It would only make you the more special if you did," Payne flattered, "but I'm sure they're as lovely as the rest of you. For now, sadly, I guess you'll have to make due with that thousand dollar designer dress and shoes. Next time I'm out, I'll make sure I get you a t-shirt and thongs." Payne grinned at John, who had the good grace to look embarrassed.
"Thongs?" Bob turned to John, reminded. "You never told me that thongs are for your feet," she indignantly accused. "Why did you have me wear this thing up my eema if it's for my feet, you fekkik." Bob shook her head and muttered something about dumb humans as she began to wriggle and started to pull up her dress.
John leapt in front of her, startling her and stopping her motion. "Whoa, whoa Bob, just a minute here." He grabbed Bob, dragged her a short distance from the group and whispered frantically in her ear. "This is Australia, down here they call sandals thongs and those things are undies I guess, hell I dunno."
"Well, now you tell me," Bob said aloud, pushing John away and stepping back over to Payne. John put his hands on his hips.
Doug tapped John on the arm and gestured to Bob with a shrug. "Hey dude, at least you know she's wearing underwear now," Doug quietly pointed out to the irked John. "Well, a little tiny bit of some."
"She's the one that picked the darn thongs, not me, and not for a dress like that," John started a whispered rant.
"Now he's bothered she's even got a thong," Doug said with shrug at Jack.
"That's not what I said," John argued back. "I meant for a dress like that, a thong-"
"-Is there a problem?" Payne spoke up over John. "May we go or were you going to take the rest of her evening getting her more flowers, a two thousand dollar dress and two pairs of thongs?" he rubbed in.
"Hey," John protested, "I've been meaning to, you know, get her some stuff, but I've been busy."
"Yeah," Bob blazed ahead, "its name is Stephanie, or Buffy, or Puffy or some other name you probably can't remember."
Payne laughed, earning him a glare from John and a smile from Bob. "Well Miss Chevalier, shall we go? I've got reservations at Cadmus. It's at the Opera Quays. The food is great and it has a smashing view."
Bob blinked uncomprehendingly at Payne, puzzled. "What are they smashing?"
Payne looked at her, confused for a second, then decided to burst out laughing. "Roberta, you are hilarious. Smashing, really. It means the view is spectacular. Since you're from Quebec," he continued, "I thought you might like French, and Cadmus is, I can comfortably say, one of the best in the city."
"I adore French," Bob said with a sly grin.
"No you don't," John unfolded his arms and protested.
"Ignore him," Bob suggested to Payne in a low voice.
Payne smiled down at her and gave John another triumphant grin. "Then let's go. Our reservation is for eight." He held out his arm. Bob folded her arm in his and started with him to the door. "Goodnight frellnicks," Bob called back over her shoulder while they left the apartment.
"Come home alone," John yelled at her.
Bob paused at the door and turned. "If I bother to come home at all," she said taking Payne's arm once more and walking out the door.
The three men stared at the closed door, momentarily dumbstruck. Jack turned, and shaking his head, went back to the couch and picked up his newspaper, apparently picking up where he left off. Doug went back to his computer, leaving John still staring at the door. Even though both men appeared to be reabsorbed in their tasks, each surreptitiously watched John for his reaction.
John stood staring at the door for a long moment, then turned and sharply left the room. Jack looked at Doug, who just shrugged. Jack shook his head again. Suddenly, a loud 'thunk' sounded from down the hall, and a moment later John reappeared. He sat down on the couch, grabbed the TV remote and turned on the TV. He began to flip through the channels without stopping long enough on any channel to see what it was. After a few minutes, he threw the remote down impatiently and began to pace, back and forth, back and forth.
"Son, you're wearing a hole in the carpet!" Jack objected.
"Huh?" John asked, giving his father a confused look.
"Thanks dude," interrupted Doug, "he was seriously making me dizzy here."
"I wasn't doing anything," John replied defensively.
"I know you're worried about Bob, son, but please sit down. You're making me nervous."
John gave a derisive snort. "Me? I'm not worried about Miss I Can Handle Myself, dad," he said flopping down in a chair. "If I were worried, it would be about Payne. Bob can handle herself, but Payne in the ass, she'll eat him alive."
"Uh huh," replied Jack skeptically.
"Really dad, I'm not concerned about Bob. I'm perfectly fine." John picked up a magazine, crossed one leg over the other, took in a casual sniff, and started to read.
Doug started to laugh when he looked at the cover. John shot him an irritable look. "Dude are you concerned about your breast health?" he said pointing at the magazine cover.
John hastily looked at the cover and stared at it in horror. He'd picked up a Cosmopolitan without realizing it. With a disgusted look, he dropped it on the coffee table. "No, I just....was looking at the pictures," John said as he got up and left the room.
Doug and Jack looked at each other and laughed. "He's not concerned," said Doug.
"Of course not," replied Jack.
A few moments later, John practically erupted from the hallway, in a quick bustle. "I'm going out to get some cigarettes," he yelled as he headed for the door.
"But you don't smoke dude," Doug pointed out.
"I know, but maybe it's time I started," John replied absent-mindedly, as he grabbed his jacket from the closet and missed getting his arm in the sleeve the first five times.
"Why don't you just admit it son?" Jack asked, hiding a grin. "You're worried about Bob."
John gave him a glare, then his expression softened and he sighed. "Fine," admitted John, "I'm worried. I know how unpredictable she can be, and for some reason I don't want anyone dissected. Happy now?"
Jack nodded and looked over at Doug.
Doug stood up. "Well what are we waiting for? Are we gonna go after them or what?"
"Whatta you mean we, white boy? I'm goin' on this er 'spy mission' alone," John insisted.
Jack stood up and went to stand next to Doug. "No way son. If you go, we go."
John looked back and forth between the two men, seeing the stubborn looks upon their faces. He knew he was beaten. He sighed. "Fine then, let's go."
Doug grinned. "I'll drive," he volunteered.
"No way dude," protested John. "We are not taking that hunk of junk you call a car. I wanna actually get there sometime tonight, before the glass slipper goes organic at midnight. I'll drive."
"Fine, then let's stop standing around here talking and go," Jack said while shepherding the two other men toward the door. Doug followed Jack and John to the elevator, pouting slightly and muttering under his breath. "My car is not is hunk of junk."
The three men rode the elevator down to the parking garage and walked over to John's rented Mustang. Jack and Doug waited patiently while John figured out the keyfob and unlocked the car. "Damn give me my GTO."
Doug gestured over to his Honda. "Are you sure you don't want to take my car? Think of the stir we'll cause when we pull up in that."
"And probably cause a public scene when the hazmat guys have to come and haul away that hunk of toxic waste?" John asked. "Besides with the way that thing stalls and belches smoke, we'll never get there in this century."
"Hey," Doug argued, "it's a great car, four valves per cylinder-"
"The only thing that junk heap can perform adequately is polluting the atmosphere." John and Doug started to argue but Jack interrupted them.
"So are you two going to stand there and argue all night or are we going to go on this spy mission?" Jack demanded.
"It's not a spy mission," John replied petulantly, "we're just going to make sure Bob's okay. And we weren't arguing, we were merely discussing the finer points of our respective vehicles."
"Bull crap, son," Jack pointed out. "You two couldn't pick out a fine car from Leno's garage. Are we going?"
The chastened John and Doug nodded and they all climbed into the Mustang. John started it, revved the engine and threw the gearshift into the reverse. The Mustang lurched backwards as John quickly backed out of the space, almost hitting another parked car. Accelerating rapidly, he drove out of the parking garage, just barely clearing the rising parking garage door as the car lunged out onto the city street. The Mustang skidded as John abruptly turned right, again nearly hitting a car parked along the street before John straightened the car out and drove down the street at a high rate of speed.
"Whoa dude," a slightly shaken Doug complained as he picked himself up off the floor of the back seat. "Watch it will ya? This ain't NASCAR you know. We wanna get there in one piece."
"That's whatcha get for not puttin' on your seatbelt, dude," John lectured him. "Now shut up and let me drive," John snapped.
Glancing over at the speedometer, Jack said, "Son, you might want to ease back on the throttle a bit before this car goes into warp speed. We do want to get to the restaurant, but preferably without a police escort."
John looked down at the speedometer, then eased his foot off the accelerator. He turned and gave Jack a sheepish grin. Suddenly there was a loud bang and the car careened wildly as John struggled to maintain control. A moment later, he eased the car over to the side of the street. Doug breathed a sigh of relief when they came to a full stop. The three men got out and went to the front of the car. There, just as they suspected from the noise, was a flat tire. John looked down at it in disgust.
"Told ya we shoulda taken my car," Doug said with a little smirk.
Jack shot him a glare and interposed himself between John and Doug before either one could start something. "You," Jack said, pointing at Doug, "get into the trunk and get the spare tire and the jack. We're going to change this thing right now." Doug started to protest. "Now!!" Jack roared. Doug jumped to it, just like he had the few times Jack had raised his voice to him when he was a boy, and went around to the trunk while Jack and John stayed next to the flat tire.
John suddenly kicked the tire viciously. "F*ck," he yelled. "Why do these things always happen to me?"
"What do you mean son?" Jack asked quietly, try to calm John down.
His outburst over, John sighed. "Every time I have a plan, every single frikkin' time, something goes wrong and everything always gets f*cked up. Every single frikkin' time." John looked down at the tire in disgust. "Like now. Can't even get a frikkin' break on my own planet."
"Uh guys," Doug called them from the rear of the car. "You'd better come here."
Giving each other a "what now?" look, John and Jack went to join Doug at the rear of the Mustang. "Look," said Doug, pointing to the trunk.
"What? I don't see anything," John impatiently replied.
"D'uh," Doug said.
All three men looked at a pristine and very obviously empty trunk. "Where's the jack?" John yelled as he barged past Doug and began to search the trunk for either the spare tire or the jack.
"Right here, son," Jack offered, seemingly amused by the whole thing.
"Very funny, dad," John grumbled as he pulled aside the floor covering and stood staring at the empty well where the spare tire and jack should be. John turned to Doug and grabbed him. "Where is it?"
"Hey!" Doug protested. "I didn't take it dude." He shoved John back. "Get a grip dude."
Stepping away from Doug, John yelled, "F*ck." He kicked the car viciously. "Oww, gawdammit," he yelled again, jumping around in pain. John calmed down a moment later but still limped around on his injured foot, muttering and cursing under his breath.
"Are you finished now?" Jack finally asked.
John glared at him for a long moment but finally nodded. "Fine," John muttered.
"Let's get going then," Jack told them.
"Go where?" asked Doug.
Jack looked at him and shook his head. For brilliant scientists, both Douglas and his son could both be spectacularly dense at times. "To the restaurant of course," Jack replied.
"But the car's got a flat and we don't have a spare," whined Doug. "How are we gonna get there now?"
"We walk," said John. At Doug's pained look he added, "At least until we can find a taxi."
"Fine, let's go then," Jack said, starting ahead of them. Pausing a moment, John locked the car, shut the trunk and set off after his dad.
Giving the Mustang a disgusted look, Doug muttered, "See, I told ya we shoulda taken my car," as he fell in behind John.