Planet of the Odd
Luke Danes walked through the curtain leading to his diner, suddenly grinding to a halt when he spotted Lorelai Gilmore and her sixteen year old daughter Rory, sitting at a table near the window. He gazed at them for a moment, smiling as he watched them banter back and forth.
His smile faded when he noticed a large, blue, wooden box sitting on the street, directly in front of his diner. He glared at the offensive object and stormed toward the door. As he yanked it open, he saw Taylor examining the box with fascination, and Luke's blood began to boil.
"Taylor! What the hell is this?" Luke hollered.
Taylor jumped about a foot and backed away from it. "Well, Luke, I-"
Luke cut him off. "You what? You thought you'd put it in front of my diner? What is it, some sort of fancy port-o-potty for whatever stupid festival you've got planned this month? You know I don't do town events, so you'd better get this monstrosity away from my diner right now, or I'll move it for you, and I won't care what happens to it."
"But, Luke -" Taylor began.
"Hello!" broke in a cheerful voice in an accent that sounded as if it came from at least one ocean away.
They both turned, startled to see a man with glasses and messy light brown hair poking his head out of what appeared to be a doorway to the blue box. The man grinned broadly at them as he stepped onto the street. He was wearing a brown pinstriped suit with red running shoes. Luke had a moment to think that the shoes were an odd choice before the man spoke again. "Do you happen to know where we are?"
Luke gawked at him, completely unsure of how to respond.
It was Lorelai, who had followed him out of the diner to watch the street show, who finally answered. "You're in Stars Hollow." She smiled brightly at the stranger and Luke felt a twinge of jealousy. That was the smile she usually reserved for him. The smile that made his chest flutter. When the stranger smiled back, Luke felt like he'd been kicked in the gut. He knew didn't have any claim on her, but that didn't mean he liked watching her flirt with other people.
The man cocked his head to one side. "Stars Hollow." He said it slowly, letting the words roll off his tongue. "Connecticut, isn't it?" Then he grinned. "Brilliant!" He turned back to his blue box then, calling, "Rose, Jack, we're in America!"
Luke frowned. The box wasn't much bigger than a phone booth. How could there be two more people in there? And why did he seem to be surprised that they were in the US? He craned his neck to try and see inside, but all he could see was a greenish glow and some large circles on the walls. He barely had time to process the fact that it seemed to be bigger inside, when a lovely, young blond woman, who he assumed to be Rose, was suddenly blocking his view.
"Hiya!" she said happily, in an accent that mirrored the strange man's. He thought it was maybe a British accent, but he couldn't be sure.
Rose moved aside, and a tall man with short, dark brown hair and a long, old-fashioned army coat came to stand next to her. The new man beamed and strode toward Luke, his hand outstretched. "Hello," he said in an accent that was surprisingly American. "I'm Captain Jack Harkness, and who are you?"
Luke shook the offered hand. "Hi, umm, Luke Danes."
"Great to meet you, Luke Danes." Jack looked him up and down suggestively, causing Luke to shift uncomfortably under the attention. He almost felt like the strange man was flirting with him. Jack's next words confirmed his suspicions. "I love a man in flannel and a baseball cap!" Jack grinned and kept his gaze fixed on Luke's. Luke looked away, shuffling his feet awkwardly.
Lorelai seemed to sense his discomfort and stepped forward, holding out her hand and smiling broadly. "Hi, Jack," she said, "I'm Lorelai."
Jack turned his attention to her and Luke was eternally grateful – until Jack flashed her a thousand watt smile and kissed the back of her hand. "The pleasure is mine."
The man in the suit rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't start," he shot at Jack.
Jack pulled away, looking back at his friend. "Can't I just say hello?"
The man walked forward. "It's never just 'hello' with you, Jack."
Jack laughed and winked at him. "You would know."
The blond intervened. "Stop it, both of you." She smiled at Lorelai. "Don't mind them, they're like this all the time. I'm Rose Tyler, by the way, and this is the Doctor." She gestured to the man in the brown suit who was scowling at Jack.
"A doctor? Doctor of what?" Taylor asked. He'd been standing off to the side, watching incredulously until then.
"Of anything and everything," the Doctor told him.
Taylor frowned. "You must have a specialty."
He shook his head. "Nope, I really am brilliant at everything."
"Do I smell chips?" Rose sniffed the air.
Lorelai frowned. "Chips? You mean, like, potato chips?"
"She means fries," Jack explained helpfully, giving Lorelai another smile that made Luke's insides writhe into knots. A second later, he was the recipient of that exact smile, and Luke found himself wishing Jack would look at Lorelai again.
Lorelai brightened. "Oooh. Luke makes the best fries."
"Really?" Rose was practically salivating at the thought. "I adore chips and I haven't had them in so long."
"I'm not kidding. My daughter, Rory, and I practically live on Luke's fries." Lorelai pointed at a brown haired teenager who was sitting alone at a table by the window, eating fries while she watched the scene on the street.
Rose followed her line of sight, her eyes focused on the chips. "Those look gorgeous!"
"Oh, go on then." The Doctor grinned, catching her gaze, and a look passed between them. Lorelai sensed a fission of sexual tension radiating from them and it made her smile. It kind of reminded her of the night she'd played poker with Luke after a particularly horrid double date. Luke had looked at her like... she shook the thought from her head. Stop thinking crazy, she berated herself. Luke is just a good friend.
Rose disappeared into the diner and the jingling bells woke Lorelai from her reverie to see Luke and the Doctor bickering.
"You cannot leave that here," Luke was insisting.
"Awwww," The Doctor whined. "But she's not hurting anything."
"That thing is blocking the entrance to my diner," Luke shouted.
"We won't be here long," The Doctor argued. "We landed here quite by accident, really."
"But you're always up for an adventure, exploring new places, aren't you, Doctor?" Jack interjected.
"Weeeelllll." The Doctor drew out the word, letting it roll off his tongue. "That's true. Though for once, we seem to have landed in a place without crisis, and little reason for running." He scanned the quiet town square, which appeared to be deserted, save for a heavy-set woman who was strolling toward them. "It's quite a nice change, actually."
Luke had crossed his arms and was glaring at the two men. Lorelai could tell that he was fuming. That little vein in his neck was popping out and she caught herself staring at it. God, he's adorable when he's angry. She blinked. Where were these insane thoughts coming from? She looked up to see Miss Patty approaching. She almost giggled. This is gonna be good.
"My, my, my. What do what have here?" Miss Patty said, running her eager eyes up and down the Doctor and Jack. "Or should I say, who?" She licked her lips and held out her hand to the Doctor.
Both the Doctor and Jack looked a little startled by her obvious leering, but the Doctor flashed a goofy grin and took the offered hand. "I'm the Doctor, pleasure to meet you."
"Oh no. The pleasure is all mine, sweetie." She continued to hold his hand, long after the appropriate length of time for a handshake. The Doctor tried to pull away, but she held firm. "I'm Patricia LaCosta," she said huskily. "But you can call me Patty."
"Errrr, thanks." The Doctor managed to pull his hand away as Patty turned her attention to Jack.
"I do love a man in uniform," she drawled, gesturing to the long, blue army coat that he wore. "This looks vintage."
"It is. Genuine World War II Captain's coat," Jack stated proudly, leering back at Patty.
"Oh, are you a Captain?" Patty ran her hand over the stripes sewn onto his shoulder.
Jack nodded. "Captain Jack Harkness."
Patty had a dreamy expression on her face. "I dated a Captain once. Best sex I ever had."
Luke choked and staggered, nearly falling off the steps to the diner. Lorelai reached out to steady him, her eyes shining with amusement at the crimson flush that appeared on his cheeks.
The Doctor also seemed to be amused as he watched the exchange between Jack and Patty with fascination.
Jack and Patty seemed to be equally unfazed by the attention. "Best sex I ever had was with an a-"
"Oi! Jack, control yourself. These nice people do not need to hear details of your nefarious shagging exploits. Not everyone is attracted to everything that moves." The Doctor looked at Luke and Lorelai. "I haven't visited America in a long time. Nice country, a bit too commercial, but that seems to be the nature of the galaxy these days. On Sklipperpoosh they recently had a revolt over commercial restrictions newly imposed by the government. The riots lasted for days. Very unpleasant place to be at the mo-" he trailed off, suddenly noticing that everyone was gawking at him. "What?"
"You were babbling again," Jack told him. He turned to Lorelai and explained, "He does that all the time."
Lorelai frowned. "That made as much sense as David Letterman's 'Uma, Oprah' joke when he hosted the Oscars."
"You should talk," Luke whispered, causing her to scowl at him.
The Doctor ignored them. "Sooooo, what's something fun to do around here?"
Before anyone could respond, there was a loud whooshing sound. They all looked up to see a large wrecking ball swinging precariously overhead.
Taylor emerged from the market, where he'd slipped off to earlier while everyone else was preoccupied with the newcomers. He was equipped with his megaphone, and immediately started shouting into it, "Kirk, what are you doing?"
A skinny man, wearing a florescent orange hard had stuck his head out of the yellow vehicle. "Tom hired me as his demolition man," Kirk yelled.
Luke gaped up at him in disbelief. "Tom asked you to operate heavy machinery? What, is he nuts?"
Kirk frowned. "Well, he told me to come prepared to tear down a wall at Mrs. Flannigan's house."
"I suppose a hammer didn't occur to you?" Luke said wryly.
Kirk smacked his forehead. "Why didn't I think of that? Although, I got a heck of a deal on this thing." He gestured to the vehicle, managing to bump a control with his knee. The ball swung a second time, this time narrowly missing the blue box.
"Oi! Watch it, that's my TARDIS. You almost nicked the paint job," the Doctor cried, stroking the surface of the blue box protectively before turning to glare at Kirk.
"Oh, sorry." Kirk began frantically pressing controls, trying to retract the ball, but instead it swung toward the diner.
"KIRK!" Luke yelped.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Kirk looked panicked as he tried to regain control of the device. Instead, the black ball descended low enough that all the people standing in the street were in its trajectory path.
"No, no, no, no," Kirk groaned.
"Run," The Doctor commanded, sprinting in the direction of the town square as the ball started to swing toward them.
Luke grabbed Lorelai's hand and they ran after the Doctor. Patty and Jack trailed closely behind.
There was a sickening thud, and they all turned to look as Jack collapsed to the ground, the victim of a head wound inflicted by a colossal wrecking ball.
"Turn that thing off, Kirk," Lorelai shrieked as she raced back toward the fallen captain.
Kirk obliged and the street plunged into silence. The wrecking ball swung overhead a few times before coming to a stop.
Patty reached Jack first. She knelt over his still body, checking for a pulse.
Lorelai's heart nearly stopped at Patty's next words. "He's dead."
When Rose had entered the diner earlier, Rory had immediately invited her to come and sit with her. The diner was packed, after all, plus she was curious about the visitors and she wanted to know more. Rose didn't look like she was much older than her, and yet her eyes held a sense of wisdom that fascinated Rory. Rose explained how she and the Doctor (she pointed to the skinny man in the brown suit) had been travelling together for over a year and how she'd seen some amazing things in that time. Some of the things she talked about didn't make much sense to Rory, but she figured they must have been British terms and she let it go, changing the topic to the current situation.
"I can't believe your friend Jack hit on Luke and my mom," Rory told Rose.
Rose snorted. "I can. Jack does it all the time. You get used to it. Plus, it can come in handy at times."
Rory gaped at her. "My mom flirts sometimes, but not like that. And only with certain people, or if it will get her something in return."
"Jack's not picky. He's quite inclusive, actually. It's one of his many charms." Rose laughed. "He flirted with my mum once. And got himself slapped for the trouble."
Rory giggled. "Wow. That must have been interesting."
Rose shrugged. "He didn't seem bothered by it. Not like the Doctor when she slapped him."
"She slapped the Doctor?"
"Misunderstanding. Or rather, miscalculation of the dates. It's all good now. She likes him. Even helped me nurse him back to health last Christmas. Oh, lovely," she exclaimed as a plate of steaming fries was set before her.
Rory watched with interest as Rose inhaled the scent of the fries and sighed. It actually reminded her of her mother's reaction to food, and Rory found herself biting her lip to avoid giggling.
"These are gorgeous," Rose exclaimed, reaching for another and stuffing it into her mouth.
Rory grinned. She'd never heard food described as 'gorgeous' before. She thought it was cute. "They're good, aren't they?" She glanced out the window and saw Miss Patty approaching the diner. "Uh oh."
"What?" Rose asked, devouring yet another fry.
Rory gestured outside. "Miss Patty. She's sort of the town's version of Jack. If it's male and it breathes, it's fair game."
Rose choked and had to drink water to calm the coughing spasm that followed. "This ought to be fun," she said, once she'd regained her composure.
"Definitely," Rory agreed, just as Patty approached the Doctor and introduced herself. Rory noticed that Rose was staring at the Doctor with a smile on her face and she couldn't resist asking about it. "How long have you and the Doctor been..." she trailed off, not sure how to phrase the question.
Rose looked startled. "What? Oh no, the Doctor and I are just, well, we just travel together, you know?"
Rory looked at her skeptically, and nodded. She had a feeling there was much more to it than that, but she decided not to press the issue. They didn't really know each other, after all. She watched Patty as she approached Jack and laughed in anticipation. "Here we go."
Together they watched as Patty and Jack flirted and Luke nearly fell off the step at something Patty said. The girls looked at each, other equal expressions of mirth dancing across their faces.
Suddenly, someone in the diner gasped and both girls turned in time to see a giant wrecking ball fly through the air.
Rose flinched when it almost hit the blue box, and Rory noticed a similar reaction from the Doctor.
The Doctor started to run, and the corners of Rose's mouth turned upward. "Always running involved when that man's around, even in a small place like Stars Hollow." She shook her head, returning to her fries.
Rory stood at the window with the rest of the diner patrons, watching in horror as the scene unfolded before them. When Jack fell to the ground, she glanced back at Rose who had watched it happen, but surprisingly, she was still sitting at the table shoving fries into her mouth. Rory thought it was odd that she looked completely nonplussed that one of her friends was lying on the ground, supposedly dead, while Rory's own heart was beating rapidly in fear for Jack's safety.
"Aren't you worried about Jack?" Rory asked her, her voice squeaking as she continued to stare at the scene in the street. What if Kirk has killed him? she thought frantically.
Rose shook her head. "Nah. He's fine."
Rory gaped at her. Rose appeared to be in denial. "But I just heard Patty say that he's dead. Oh, god. Kirk killed him!"
Rose shrugged. "Don't worry about it."
How can she be so calm when her friend just DIED? Rory's panicked mind was screaming.
"Why aren't you upset?" Rory shouted. "Shouldn't someone be calling 911?"
"You mean an ambulance? Not necessary."
"Trust me, Rory. He'll be fine. This happens a lot with Jack." She held out a fry. "Chip?" When Rory didn't take it, Rose merely shrugged and stuffed it into her own mouth.
Rory frowned, completely baffled. She noticed that the Doctor also seemed to be unnaturally calm as he stood back and watched Patty fuss over Jack.
Patty seemed to be attempting to do CPR, and she leaned over to place her lips on Jack's. At the exact moment that her lips touched his, Jack's eyes sprung open and his chest heaved as his lungs suddenly filled with air.
Rory yelped and jumped away from the window as though it had given her an electric shock.
Outside, Patty screamed and stumbled backward, landing unceremoniously on her bottom. Luke and Lorelai were clinging to each other. Luke's other hand was over his chest as though that would calm his racing heartbeat and Lorelai looked rather pale.
Jack stood up, grinning, waved at the many gawkers in the window and leaned over to help Patty to her feet.
The diner had erupted into pandemonium at that point and Rory could no longer see what was going on outside. She stormed back to Rose, her panic rising at the girl's continued nonchalance. "What the hell just happened?"
Rose polished off the last of her fries before answering, "Jack can't really die."
Rory did a double take. "What?" She sat in her chair, her whole body shaking. Had she really just seen a man come back from the dead? Fear gripped her chest as she began to wonder who exactly these people were.
"It's a long, complicated story, and I barely understand it myself." Rose took a sip of the tea she'd ordered. The chaos had died down and they could see outside again. Rose pointed to Luke and Lorelai who were still entwined. "How long have they been together?"
Rory choked on the sip of soda she'd just taken, her brain frantically trying to make sense of the abrupt change of topic. "Mom and Luke?" She laughed awkwardly. "Are you kidding? That would be a disaster. They're complete opposites."
"Well, they do say opposites attract," Rose pointed out.
"True, but seriously, they'd probably end up killing each other. He barely tolerates her now, always giving her a hard time about her eating and drinking habits and..." She glanced at Luke and her mom, noticing, for the first time, that there was a vibe between them. Is something going on that Mom hasn't told me about? Rory pushed the thought from her mind. "... well you get the idea," Rory finished lamely.
Rose didn't look convinced, but she didn't say anything more on the topic. The Doctor was gesturing to her. "I better get back outside. It was nice to meet you, Rory."
"You too, Rose. Good luck in your travels."
Rose beamed. "Thank you."
About ten minutes later, Jack, The Doctor and Rose were safely back in the TARDIS, bouncing around as it took them to their next destination.
"Well, that was fun," The Doctor said jovially.
"Easy for you to say," Jack grumbled. "You're not the one who died."
"Ahh, cheer up, it's not like it was permanent," The Doctor told him.
"You try it then, it hurts." Jack rubbed the goose egg that was protruding from his head.
"It's not like you didn't enjoy yourself. You did plenty of flirting." Rose stumbled forward, bumping into the Doctor as the TARDIS jerked again.
Jack smiled. "I did, didn't I?" He rubbed his rear. "That Patty could give me a run for my money, though. She pinches hard."
Rose snorted, and glanced at the Doctor. They locked eyes for a moment, then dissolved into giggles at the memory of Miss Patty pinching Jack's prized posterior. The expression on his face had been classic. Their amusement was contagious, and soon Jack was laughing too.
The TARDIS stopped abruptly and all three of them fell to the floor, still in stitches.
When their hysteria finally died down, the Doctor helped Rose and Jack to their feet and linked arms with them. "Ready for out next adventure?"
Rose gazed up at him affectionately. "Always."