General Morrison waved the security officers from the room the moment he burst in. He glared at the disheveled quartet loosely arranged before his desk one at a time. Then he paced to the window and gazed out for a few moments, bouncing on his heels with impatience. Finally he rounded on the group.
"Before any of you get the idea that the IASA is in the business of bailing its men out of jail, you should know that your lawyers have already been served a suit for IASA's compensation," the General bellowed. "The escort is on us. I'm just naturally curious who won the pissing contest."
Jack snickered, but the others didn't give the General anything beyond more discomfort. The General sat down behind his desk, looking between John and Payne. "I would've thought that after spending a night in jail, you two not-so-gentle-men would've had plenty to say. I am curious, though. How did you manage to destroy the nightclub, packed with people, all by yourselves?"
"It's just a really big fish tank and a little water damage," John tried to be flippant.
"Who would've thought anyone's head could be that hard," Payne contributed his two bits.
"You see?" the General observed. "I knew this would be entertaining. Certainly the press was glad they came. Did you know they were invited to cover their grand opening gala set to start soon after you two destroyed the joint? Thanks to the lot of you, they must have set a new record for club closure. As for you, Jack," he looked up to Jack, "why don't you go ahead and leave. All I'm going to tell you, Jack, is that I'm sure you had nothing but good intentions, unlike these two, but I think you should stay out of your son's business. It's bringing you nothing but disgrace. Like the rest of IASA."
Jack promptly left. The General rested his forehead in his hand. "Now. Let's hear it."
"I-" Payne began, simultaneously with, "We-" from John. "Up, sorry," said Payne and, "Scuse me," said John, also at the same time. John left it with, "Go ahead."
"I was out with Roberta, minding our own business," Payne began, "when the Three Stooges show up-"
"-Roberta!" the General said, interrupting Payne. "That reminds me," he said, as he pressed a button on a box on his desk.
"Wooop woop woop woop woop," John had to work in Stooges sound effects while glaring aside out the window, "nyuk nyuk."
The office side door opened and Roberta walked in, distracting Payne and the General from glaring at John as if he'd gone mad. A Roberta that was suddenly every inch a girl dressed for school, from sneakers, to faded low rise jeans with a pink iron-on heart patch on the rear pocket, to a cheesy white belt with toy stickers, to a multi-color, horizontally striped shirt, to a red-with-white-piping girl's long-sleeve jacket, to a black plastic necklace, right up to the clamps holding her hair in two short, funky puppy-ears. The General looked up to her and visibly softened, while the mouths of John, Payne and Doug gaped in unison.
Roberta sat up against the edge of the desk on the General's side. "I'mmm sorry about last night, General, but Mmister Adams gave me a very, very nice dress and I thought I....mbut my boyfriend-" she started to explain.
"-No, say no more," the General said, turning a scowl to the two flabbergasted men standing in front of his desk. He didn't have to use any "shame on you" lines, because they were all over his face. "Well?!" he bellowed.
Payne blurted out, "It won't happen again, Sir." His assurance chimed in with Doug's similar line, drowning out something John said at the back of Roberta's head about hoping she gets an Oscar.
"No," the General agreed. "To help you all cool your heels, we're putting Miss Chevalier up for as long as she wishes in a flat of her own, apart from the pair of you. Compliments of Public Affairs." He held a hand up the second John and Payne went to speak. "Before you say it, this isn't some sort of restraining order. You can see her if you like, but only as far as she does, or if you insist there might be certain difficulties, do I make myself clear?"
Both muttered affirmatives, but Doug interrupted. "Cool maybe I can move in."
The other three gave him a wry glance. "So," the General spoke again, "I hope to hear nothing about public or private scandals from either of you for a while. Now go find something to do, I'm behind on my schedule. You go that way, and you two that way," he gestured Payne to one door and John and Doug to another. "And don't meet in a parking lot, either. Kids today," he mumbled while John, Doug and Payne filed out.
Douglas knocked on the front door, while looking around himself at the industrially boring inner courtyard of the five-storey apartment complex. "Boy," Doug said at the back of his hand between a yawn, "place is right out of the '70's." After knocking several times, the door finally opened up to reveal a tight-faced Bob. "Dude, it's like, boring out here."
Bob stared blankly for a moment, then moved back and let Doug walk in. "Not....that there's a party in here," Bob said, more to herself.
"Got a kitchen and everything," Doug said. "Got high speed?" he asked, looking back at Bob. Seeing her blink, Doug added, "Internet I mean."
"Dunno," Bob sneered and shook her head. "Don't have a console, ah, computer."
"Oh that sucks," Doug said. "Old, but nice. Looks clean," Doug said nodding to himself. "Frickin' huge man, place I started at was like, one room, and I was like, sharing that with whoever, you know?"
"No," Bob flippantly replied, "and you don't have to tell me." She turned and started pacing.
Doug shrugged. "They're not charging you or nothing?"
Bob stopped pacing and turned to face Doug. "What do you want?" Bob asked. "To say. Just make it different, I already got some dren from Jack."
"Jack was by?" Doug asked, absently, as he looked around at a bunch of stuff cluttering the living room. "This has gotta be from Payne," Doug said, holding up a gaudily wrapped calla lily.
"Yeah he," Bob said as she shrugged one shoulder clear up to her cheek, "delivered a few things. Thought he'd nerf off after the meeting earlier, mbut, card says he likes a smart girl, and now he wants me more than ever."
"No he doesn't," Doug said, with amusement in his voice. "He likes them stupid as possible. But the dude likes challenges too. I'll give him that. It's just that he couldn't get you and he got a ton of surprises with things blowing up in his face, and you doing the innocent act, hey, you shook things up. Of course he's all intrigued now. Come on, you know that," he said with a wry glance back at her.
Bob just looked away to one side with a lop-sided smirk. She shrugged again and started to pace when the door rang again. "Knew it," she said, getting the door. "Yeah?"
"Have you um," John said, walking right in to her annoyance, but moving his head close to hers and keeping his voice down. "You know it could be bugged."
"Could," she agreed, smirking while she grabbed up a handful of surveillance gear laying on a table top by the door. "Was. Doesn't bug me," she said, enjoying a play on Earth terms.
John slid her a closed glance as he looked over the items she'd gathered. He frowned, impressed.
"Just a camera left behind the bathroom mirror," Bob playfully said. "Think I'll leave that."
John stormed right into the bathroom, grabbing a chair on the way. He smashed the bathroom mirror with the chair, ripped the video camera that was lurking behind from the wall, dumped it in the shower and smashed it with the chair. Doug stared with wide eyes, astonished to witness John intentionally wrecking anything, while Bob just calmly observed. John then stormed from the bathroom to the living room. His eyes fixed on the living room mirror.
Bob frowned and shook her head. "It's actually a mirror," she told him.
John's posture sagged a bit and he sighed. Resting a hand on his hip, he gazed distantly out the window at the nice view over the area. "It's too dangerous here," he finally spoke up.
"I'm living here," Bob pointed out. "You're not."
"Fine," John tightly said. He walked right out the door and closed it behind him.
"Naaaaugh!" the exasperated Bob said at the ceiling. She grabbed her hair, her knees gave and she began to sink to the floor in anguish.
Moments later, there was a knock at the door. Bob whipped back upright and turned toward the door. The door unlocked by a key and opened to reveal two black suits with black sunglasses and ear mics. They stiffly finished straightening their jackets, probably from having been shoved by John on their way by him.
"Ma'am," the small one said. "We're from IASA security to confirm your safety."
The big one didn't say anything.
A smirk worked onto Bob's face. "Nno need," she said, frowning and swiping her hand in the air. "I can take care of all kinds of men."
Both men stayed frozen for a few long moments. Doug's brow climbed all the way up. Still without a trace of expression, the small one crisply produced a card. "For security, ma'am," he said.
The big one didn't say anything.
Bob stepped forward and took the offered card. She looked at it and saw it was blank except for a phone number.
"Good day, ma'am," the small one said. The big one didn't say anything. Then both turned in unison and left.
"Mishtah Andahsohn," Doug quipped. "Wasn't the small one in Matrix?"
"The big one?" Bob asked.
"Beh," Doug said with a wave off of his hand, "he's there for effect."
"Nice effect," Bob opined. "Small one was kinda cute too."
"Dude he's so screwed," Doug said. "Hey what've you got in the kitchen?" Doug asked, going to find out.
"Not frelling hungry!" Bob nearly yelled back, wanting to break out in anger, but stuck with just pacing into the living area in a huff.
"Perfect," Doug said. "Popcorn!"
A knock at the door was followed by a grunt from Bob and something being thrown in the living room. While the very teenage looking Bob threw a very teenage seeming tantrum, Doug got the door.
"Bob." The delivery man gave Doug a rather odd look, but handed Doug a bouquet flowers. "Crikey," the delivery guy said under his breath while he turned and walked away.
Doug gave the delivery guy the middle finger salute then hurried back into the kitchen in time to get the microwave popcorn. Bob dropped into a chair at the table between the living area and kitchen as Doug walked over to it with the flowers and popcorn.
"Who is it?" Bob morosely asked, wearily taking the bouquet Doug handed out to her.
"Jack," Doug guessed, pointing at the bouquet. "Roses, totally trad."
Bob sneered and looked up at the ceiling, but held the bouquet of roses tenderly enough. "Am not going back there."
"Who said you were?" Doug said and shrugged.
"Who said I went out with Payne just to piss off Crichton?" Bob asked. "Look, we have to....have to find a- a place. Where Payne's gonna be tomorrow, remember?"
"Yeah," Doug patiently recounted, "something about a shopping mall, a bar, somewhere around Sydney. Newport."
"Right," Bob needlessly confirmed as she nervously paced. "I found out enough, I think. If I can follow him there, maybe I can find out who these people are that he's involved with, that are trying to frell up Crichton. Think he's going to meet with them."
"You said that," Doug pointed out as he shoved some popcorn into his mouth.
"Need Amelia's address too," Bob added as she passed by Doug, snurched a few pop corns from his hand and curiously inspected them. They were crunchier and seemed to be coated in something sweet.
Doug stopped in the middle of chewing on some popcorn. "Huh!" he said. "Gimme a hard one man. I got that in my cell address book, like half the base does. Why do you need that? Thought she'd split out of town?"
"Exactly," Bob confirmed with a nod. "Still want it." Doug put down his popcorn long enough to check his cell phone address book, jot down the address on an Anime themed note paper and hand it to Bob. "Thanks. So what are you doing with it anyway? Thought you couldn't stand her?" Bob asked before nibbling a piece of the popcorn.
"Can't," Doug maintained with a shrug. "I just keep it in case John-"
Bob's head instantly snapped toward Doug and she asked, "In case he what?"
"Nothing," Doug claimed with wide eyes. "Want some more?" he asked, holding up the popcorn container. "It's caramel?" Another knock came at the door. "That'll be something from John," Doug supposed. In what seemed like the next instant, Bob was already getting the door.
"Hey Bo-" John's voice began to say, but it was cut off by the door slamming.
"Was John," Doug corrected himself as he hurried to watch out the window while munching popcorn. Just as he saw John storming off toward his car parked on the street, another knock came at the door. Doug hurried to watch, still munching popcorn, as Bob got the door. A scruffy guy handed a huge box to Bob.
While Doug munched his popcorn and moved out of her way, Bob labored the box nearly to the living area, where she pitched over with the box. Doug looked at the box. "Dude, you got a Dell."
"Oh," Bob said while crawling up from behind the box. "A console, ah computer."
"That's right," Doug confirmed while opening the box. "Cool."
"Who- who's it from?" Bob asked.
"Payne," Doug said, not having to guess.
"Is it a good one?" Bob asked.
"Um," Doug said, wading through the packaging, "it's just your basic Dell."
"Oh," Bob said, sounding interested, but a little disappointed.
"Dude, don't you want a Dell?"
"Mmm," Bob hummed a no. "Don't want it," her hand gestured. Her mind was elsewhere.
"Can I have it?"
"What? Sure," she agreed.
"Gnarly," Doug said, instantly repacking his computer.
Another knock came at the door. Bob opened it to the sounds of two men squabbling about who was first and who should be moving out of a person's way. They both asked for "Roberta?"
Bob took the nearest package and opened it while both delivery guys were left holding out their boards to sign. They glanced at each other. Bob cackled with delight at the contents of the box.
Doug walked past Bob while still munching popcorn, mostly to gawk at what she had. "Wow," he whistled at the beaded item of clothing she was looking at. It looked fancy.
"Excuse me, Miss," the guy with the package still to be delivered spoke up.
"Wha?" Bob asked, glancing over at the bouquet he was holding. "Nno, never mind," she said, waving him off.
Doug shrugged. "Sorry dude."
"You're refusing the item?" the guy asked.
"Uh, yeah," both Doug and the other delivery guy said at the same time. "Tough, mate," the other guy said.
"Oh here," Doug said, signing the receipt. The two guys suddenly weren't in a hurry though. Doug looked over his shoulder, and sure enough, they were noticing that Bob was removing her shirt on the way to the living area, to try the new clothes. "Later," Doug said, shaking his head to himself and closing the door. He didn't get five feet when another knock came to the door. "And the beat goes on," he quipped.
"So Bob, can I stay here with you?" asked Doug as he lounged on the plush leather couch sorting through a box of bon bons that Payne had sent Bob.
Selecting one, he took a bite. His face screwed up and he gagged. "Yech, coconut," he said with a grimace. He glanced around to see if Bob was looking, then he put the bon bon back in place, quickly selecting another brightly colored chocolate. He took a bite and grinned broadly. "Chocolate covered cherry, that's more like it."
"Give me one of those," Bob demanded, coming up to Doug. He handed her the box and watched as she popped one of the bon bons whole into her mouth. She chewed rapidly, a blissful look settling on her face as she ate the tasty chocolate. "Your planet may be primitive but it does have some good dren," she said with a grin.
"Yeah we are and do. Viva la chocolate," yelled Doug grabbing the bon bon box from Bob.
"Wha?" Bob jerked her head indignantly. "Mine." Another knock came to the door before she could snatch the box back.
Bob opened the door to find an elegant, petite black lady in a business suit, skirt and fedora, fairly brimming with poise and presenting Bob with a package. Bob frowned, impressed, and took the package. "I believe this is for you," the lady said, handing Bob the package. Then the lady crisply turned and wiggled her way to a nearby apartment.
"Wow what's in it, the Maltese Falcon?" Doug asked, while chewing on a caramel at the same time. "Real '40's dish there, classic."
"Yeah not bad," Bob said, admiringly.
"You're not so bad either," Doug told her while taking the package from Bob and looking over the very striking dress Payne had sent her. "Ha!" Doug said, nearly choking on the caramel. "From John, the dweeb got the address wrong."
"Frell," Bob said, taking the package back. She looked at a moment, then handed it back to Doug. "I don't want it," she said.
"Aw come on, you gotta see what's inside," Doug complained.
Bob sneered and looked away but took the package back. After roughly unwrapping it, Bob opened the box, stared for a moment, then sat down right where she was. She hummed, then cursed, "ah frell."
"Hope it's not his ear or something, yuck," Doug quipped, then came around behind Bob. In the box was a bottle of ketchup.
Bob's posture slumped and she tenderly took the bottle out. She then set it down firmly and stormed off to the bathroom. "Mm going out," she said.
"Huh?" Doug asked, a little confused by the sudden fuss over a cheap bottle of ketchup in a plain box that John sent to the wrong address. Another knock came to the door. Doug got the door and took the package, glaring down another queer look from a delivery guy. "Hey Bob you got yet another package!" Doug yelled out to her.
Bob came running out a minute later and took the package. "Who's it from?" she asked, while ripping the package open.
"Payne," Doug shrugged.
By the time Doug had replied, Bob had the package open and was looking at the sequined fancy handheld purse inside the fancy wrapping. "Oh," she said, absently handing the purse to Doug.
"Hey I can't use it," Doug said.
Bob took it back just as absently, shifted in place, then started for the door. "Let's go."
"Well I'll just wait and get the deliveries," Doug started to say.
"Need the car," Bob said as she grabbed Doug by the short sleeve of his surf shirt and pulled him with her.