Controlled Remotely









Jack laid the remote down in his lap and laced his fingers behind his head. After a few moments, he smiled. A few seconds later, he laughed.

Sam raised her head from her book and glanced at the television screen. She sat cross legged on the couch, leaning on the arm, taking advantage of the light coming in from the window. Jack lounged on the couch next to her, his long legs stretched out in front of him, bare feet resting on the coffee table. He'd been channel surfing for most of the afternoon.

On the screen, two young men were sitting on a couch in a haphazard living room, playing what looked to be a rousing game of rock, paper, scissors.

"What's that?" She scowled at the TV.

"Some show."

"What's it about?"

"Dunno. I just surfed onto it."

"Click the 'info' button."

"The what?"

Sam reached into her husband's lap and grabbed the remote. She unerringly found the correct button with her thumb and clicked it, watching as the blue banner flared across the top of the television.

"The Big Bang Theory." She read out loud.

Jack laughed again, pointing at the screen. "Click that blue thing off—I can't see."

"Wait—I want to see what this is."

Jack listened to the laugh track as Sam scanned the information about the show. "Come on, Sam."

"Hang on."

"Sam." He extended a hand, and she slapped the remote into it. He clicked the clear button, and the blue banner disappeared. He found himself smiling, then laughing again as the young man explained the basics of rock, paper, scissors.

"What's so funny about it?"

"They're geeks." He gestured with one hand towards the TV. "See? Geeks. Playing rock , paper, scissors. It's comedy."

"So, is it funny because they're geeks, or funny because what they're saying is humorous and you appreciate their repartee?"

Jack threw her a sideways look, then returned his attention to the screen. "They're geeks. What's not funny about geeks? They're hilarious. It's like monkeys. They're just funny."

Sam closed her book with a snap. "Jack."

"Yeah, Sam?"

"This is me not being hilarious."

"Huh?" He looked over at her again. "What are you talking about?"

She tilted her head to one side, her blue eyes just the tiniest bit narrower than normal. "What am I?"

"My wife?"


"My beautiful wife?" He raised his eyebrows, fought the urge to flick a look back over to the screen. But she had that expression on her face. The one that said she wasn't amused. Exactly the same look she'd been wearing on that planet with those Genghis Khan wanna-bes and that blue dress she'd had to wear.

He sometimes wished he'd brought that outfit home. It had looked like fun, so to speak.

But he digressed.


"I'm not following."

"What else am I, Jack?"

"A Colonel."


"And a Doctor."


His eyes found their way back to the TV screen, where the guys were now arguing over additional moves available to them in the rock, paper, scissors game. Lizard? Spock?

Jack had thought that the "extra" move in that game was dynamite.

His attention recaptured, he laughed as the geekier of the two geeks explained the new additions to the game, complete with motions. His hand, completely against his will, gestured towards the screen and he found himself saying, "Yes! You see? That's why geeks are funny!"

He looked over to his wife, to punctuate his point, but her look had gone from foreboding to plainly fuming. "Let me get this straight. Geeks are funny. Like monkeys?"

"What—you don't think they're funny?"

"Geeks or monkeys?"

"Either one."

"Which one's funnier?"

Jack thought about it, decided, then answered. "Both—they're equally entertaining."

"Funny to laugh with or at?"

"There's a difference?"

"Oh, yes." His wife had started to sound something like him lately. He wasn't sure it was a good thing.

The mood in the room had gone from companionable warmth to something cold, dark and treacherous. He had a feeling that he'd said something wrong, but what, he couldn't quite figure out.

Rapidly, he reviewed the conversation in his head, staring at his feet on the coffee table. He'd been pleasantly channel surfing, Sam sitting nearby, reading her latest scientific tome. He'd stumbled across a show that had looked interesting—it had made him laugh.

So—TV. Funny geeks. Rock, paper, scissors. Lizard. Spock. His wife, suddenly really quite seriously peeved about something.

Looking for clues, his eyes flickered to the book in her lap. Bright orange, it had lettering on it in bold, black ink. He could just make it out in the evening light.

Symmetry, Molecular Spectroscopy and Laser Engineering: Purposeful Applications for Advanced Students of Physics.

Just looking at the thing gave him the willies. He shivered unconsciously, clutching his remote for protection, as if it were that sword Cam kept bragging about.

Except that he didn't know how a sword, albeit a cool one, could possibly protect him from a book the size of a Yugo. The thing was indeed that big, filled with words—millions of them—the kind of which could only be understood by people who were interested in such things as the symmetry of lasers and advanced physical students. And people like that were—

Awww, crap.


He turned to his wife, and tried to look both apologetic and innocent. He ended up just appearing pathetic, he was certain of it.

"Now, uh, Sam."

"Yes, dear?"

That was really not good. She only called him 'dear' when she was getting ready to make up the couch in the living room.

"You know that I love you?"

"Do you love me, or is it the monkeys that get you going?"

"I didn't mean that you were funny—"

"So now I'm not funny? What exactly does that make me? Simian, yet not humorous about it?"


She snorted.

"Sam, come on. You know that I wasn't laughing at you."

"I know this—how?"

"I would never laugh at you."

"No, because I'd kick your butt."

"Yes." Jack clicked the TV off, and tossed the remote onto the coffee table. "You would. Because deep down, where it really matters, you're not really all that geeky."

"Oh, really?"


"And yet, for how many years did you tease me about being just such a person?"

"It wasn't teasing."


"It was good-natured banter," he explained, "Meant to draw attention away from the fact that in reality, I was insecure about the fact that you are both way smarter and way hotter than I am."

Sam snorted again. She reached out and dropped her book on the coffee table, where it landed next to the remote with a decided thud.

She leaned back into the couch cushions, her jaw tensing and relaxing rhythmically. He thought she was angry, until she bit her top lip, then brought her hand up to cover her mouth.

The woman was laughing at him.

"You're kidding, me, right? Oh, sure." He shook his head, smiling. "Make me think you're mad at me, and all the while you're just making fun of me."

"So, I guess we're both funny."

"What are you talking about now?"

"Well, you said that geeks and monkeys are funny." She scooted closer to him on the couch, fitting herself against him, one hand on his thigh.


"So, if I'm a geek—"

"Which we've already established is not necessarily a bad thing—"

"Yes, well, if I'm a geek, and we're both funny, then that makes you—" She grinned, reached out a hand, and trailed her fingers down his t-shirt.

He looked down as her fingers played with the hem of the t-shirt, then ducked underneath. Her fingertips skimmed his abdomen, then headed higher, to tease at one pectoral. His mouth went a little dry.

"That makes me a what?" Okay—his voice hadn't done that since he was twelve.

A divine, blithe, smile on her face, she searched for, and found the object of her search. Grinning openly, she batted her eyes at him.

Then she yanked one hair out of his chest.

He yelped and slapped at her hand under his shirt.

She withdrew her hand, scooching back over to where she'd been sitting before. Reaching, she regained her book, found her place, and settled back in to read.

He watched until he couldn't stand it any more.

"That makes me what?"

Sam sighed, looked at him, and rolled her eyes.

"You wanna know?"


"Jack, husband mine. Man I adore."

"Yes?" He waited.

"That makes you a monkey."