Ironhorse punctuated his statement with a polite knock at Blackwood's office door. When the door failed to open, he knocked much more impolitely. The door persisted in its stubborn shut-ness. Ironhorse tested its handle, and finding that the door was unlocked, he opened it and strode in. "Harrison!" The man was late for dinner yet again, and while the other denizens of the Cottage might be content to let him miss a meal or two while he did whatever the hell it was he did in his office, Ironhorse was determined to instill a little discipline into the man.
Blackwood stood in the middle of the room on his left foot. His right foot was arched behind him, held in his right hand. His left hand was extended outwards for balance, and his head was tilted upwards. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open. If Ironhorse had seen something like this when he had first come to the Cottage, he would have gone for a straitjacket - but, he thought ruefully, a little time with the good Doctor had made him ease his definition of 'sane behavior' a bit.
"What is it, Colonel?" Blackwood asked, not opening his eyes. He was swaying slightly on his foot.
"Dinner has been served for some time, Blackwood. Are you coming down?" Ironhorse growled.
"Are you going to pick me up and carry me down if I don't come down on my own?"
Blackwood was definitely swaying, Ironhorse noted. He watched the man's left foot until the body that was perched atop it overbalanced, then caught Blackwood on his way to the ground. "I might just let you tumble down on your own. What are you doing?" he asked, as Blackwood regained his footing.
"Yoga!" Blackwood replied, shaking his arms and bouncing on his feet slightly. "It's a position that invites introspection and harmony with the world. I was just starting to feel harmonious when you interrupted me." Blackwood walked to his chair and plunked down in it, petulantly.
Ironhorse leaned back against a nearby table. "Enough harmony to tip you to the ground?" he snorted. "You are sillier than any other adult I know, Blackwood, and I have known some good ones."
"Come now, Colonel - I thought the Native Americans were big into harmony with nature?"
"It's a way of life, not a way of hopping around on one foot," Ironhorse countered. Blackwood's New Age affectations smelled fairly strongly of bullshit to him, and he was not above saying so.
"I try to live in a way that's harmonious with nature - you know that." Blackwood pulled a pen from off of his desk and fiddled it in his hands. "But sometimes I need to push things a bit. I was trying to remember something that was just flitting around at the back of my consciousness." He waggled the pen near his ear, as if to demonstrate the motions of a wayward thought.
"And you didn't use the tuning fork?" Ironhorse teased gently.
Blackwood took the suggestion as a serious one. He shook his head. "I try to reserve the tuning fork for when I really need it. This time, I was just trying to coax a thought from the back of my mind to the front of it. And it worked!"
"Great," Ironhorse replied, nodding. "Now will you come down to dinner?"
"Not quite." Blackwood pointed the pen at Ironhorse. "The thought involved you, my friend. You said, when you had checked up on Adrian's file, that he was cleaner than any of us."
"I did." Ironhorse's eyes narrowed. Was Blackwood trying to imply that Adrian's penetration of their security was his fault? Well, it was, and Ironhorse had submitted a list of measures to General Wilson that he intended to implement, including mandatory radioactivity screens of all Cottage personnel. But it was not Blackwood's place to chide. "Are you implying that my check was not thorough?"
Blackwood's hands flew up in a deferential gesture. "God forbid! You're too thorough for any of our good. No, I was just interested in what that implied."
Ironhorse folded his arms. He could not see where this was going. "Implied?"
Blackwood laughed. "Yes! Now, lord knows I know that my file isn't clean. I've taken part in protests, written letters of complaint to the government, associated with foreign scientists, and joined a group or two in college that had an interesting political agenda. I bet Suzanne and Norton have done the same. But you?" Blackwood grinned. "Upright citizen, model officer in the Army? What on earth have you done to make your record not as clean as a some meretricious dolphin scientist's?"
Ironhorse choked slightly, cleared his throat, and replied, firmly, "Youthful indiscretions." He was not about to go into what was none of Blackwood's business. Blackwood did not help his case by using words that Ironhorse was unfamiliar with. It made him feel stupid, and he hated feeling stupid.
Blackwood's mouth twisted. "Oh, come now, Paul, you can do better than that!"
Oh - now it's Paul, Ironhorse thought. When you want something out of me. "Not a chance, Harrison. That's for me to know, and for you not to find out."
"Was it really that bad?" Blackwood leaned over the desk. "If you make it seem too interesting, I'll go dig it up, you know."
Ironhorse stepped forward and rested his hands on the desk. "It's not bad. It's just personal, Harrison." He stared unblinkingly at Blackwood's too-eager green eyes.
Blackwood met his gaze for a moment, then dropped his own eyes and spread his hands. "None of my business? I can understand that." He stood up and clasped Ironhorse's shoulder. "Right. Shall we go to dinner, then?"
Ironhorse followed the pull of the hand on his shoulder, heading down to the dining room in Blackwood's tow. Well, his mission was accomplished - and considering Blackwood's eccentricities, much less painfully than he had any right to hope. Perhaps, he thought, it was possible to teach the man some discipline after all.