"I'm just saying that he's in everything," Soren complained, taking an aggressive bite of scrambled eggs. "Couldn't we be allowed one lousy franchise--"
Katie, returning from the little girls' room, blinked. "Who are we talking about?"
"Bungee Cummerbund," Michael explained.
"Soren's still upset about the Doctor Strange casting announcement," Dan elaborated.
"Because it's too obvious!" Soren said heatedly. "It's totally antithetical to the whole Marvel casting ethos. If there's one thing Kevin Feige's good at, it's finding talented but relatively unknown actors to helm their movies--"
Katie rolled her eyes. "Right, because Robert Downey Jr. was just some dude they picked up off the street."
"Actually," Michael said thoughtfully, "given the whole drug thing, scraped off the street might be more accurate."
"Iron Man was post-rehab, though."
"Are any of us ever really 'post' rehab?"
"Oh, honey, no."
"My point is," Soren said loudly, "Bartleby Codswallop has been playing exactly the same character in every movie and/or TV show for the past five years. Sherlock Holmes, Julian Assange, Alan Turing, Khan--"
Katie tapped her fork against her waffles consideringly. "Smaug, though?"
Dan shrugged. "Smaug is basically Sherlock except evil. Also, dragon."
"Ooh, hey, and Martin Freeman is his much shorter sidekick in that one, too!"
"That's because the real issue is that there are only like twenty actors in all of England, and they're in freaking everything," Michael pointed out. "Bandersnatch Cucumber: BBC's Sherlock, Star Trek, et cetera. Martin Freeman: Sherlock, the original Office, Love Actually, The World's End…"
"Simon Pegg!" Dan chimed in. "The World's End, Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek reboot with Burgundy Custardbath, Doctor Who…"
Katie raised her hand eagerly. "I know, I know! Penelope Wilton's in Doctor Who, Shaun of the Dead, Downton Abbey--"
Soren joined in: "Maggie Smith: Downton Abbey, Harry Potter--"
"David Tennant," Katie said. "Harry Potter again, Doctor Who again, huh--"
"Actually, you could do basically do a list of all the actors in the U.K. just between Harry Potter and Doctor Who alone," Dan said excitedly. "And by 'you,' I mean me, and by me I mean I've done that, there's a list, I made it when I watched all the Harry Potter movies in one sitting so that I could understand your references."
"For the love of all that is holy, please don't share that list with us right now," Soren pleaded.
"Do it!" Michael urged.
Dan opened his mouth.
Soren flagged down their waitress to beg her to add vodka to his glass of orange juice.
"It's like ten in the morning, Soren."
"You don't understand," Soren said in dire tones. "You mentioned Doctor Who. Doctor Who has officially entered this conversation. In all the time we have been meeting up at this or other similar diners, we have successfully managed to avoid discussing Doctor Who and its fifty years of obscenely geeky history, but now you've gone there, and there will be no stopping him. I need alcohol."
"You just ordered a screwdriver," Dan pointed out, nearly vibrating in his excitement. "You do realize that, right?"
"You might even say it's...a little bit sonic."
"I hate you intensely," Soren assured him.
"Wait," Michael said. "Is Dan a Doctor Who fan? I legitimately did not know that."
Dan grinned widely and pulled out his note cards.
"Wait, really?" Michael asked, disappointed. "That's what you're leading with? I thought for sure you'd start with the sonic screwdriver and its alternative uses."
"Besides, didn't we already cover alternate dimensions and agree they were generally horrible?" Katie put in. "You know, that time Soren had the crazy eyes and started coughing up feathers?"
"You guys keep bringing that up like I'm going to suddenly start believing you this time," Soren said, irritated. "Seriously, that never happened. Stop trying to punk me."
Michael did a brief but elaborate mime reenactment of Crazy Eyes Soren that ended with a faceplant into the table, narrowly missing his pancakes. Katie golf clapped.
"Anyway, it's not like the alternate universes on Doctor Who were particularly sexy," Soren went on, glaring indiscriminately across the table. "I mean, I'm assuming. Because obviously I haven't watched your British nerd show."
"Yeah, no, the one the Doctor and Rose stumble across is basically made out of Cybermen," Katie agreed. "Really not sexy."
"I dunno, robots are kind of hot." Michael grinned, making a weird, stiff sort of gesture that might or might not imply a robot jerking off. "EJACULATE! EJACULATE!"
"'Exterminate' is the Daleks' catchphrase, not the Cybermen's," Dan said, covering his eyes. "Also, seriously, why would you do that?"
"There are those sexy lady robots on the future reality show satellite thing, too," Michael added. "You know, the dominatrix-y ones that make John Barrowman take off all his clothes."
Katie smirked. "As if John Barrowman ever needs convincing to take off all his clothes."
"It is canon that Cap'n Jack is willing to do anyone...and anything," Michael agreed.
Dan huffed impatiently. "That's just kind of the standard sexual mores of the 51st century, though. River Song is equally flirtatious, and she's introduced in the 51st century, too. And then the other ex-Time Agent that turns up on Torchwood makes sexual advances on, like, a poodle."
"So the 51st century is pretty bangin', huh?" Michael seemed particularly pleased with himself. "TARDIS: Time And Relative Dimensions In Sex!"
Soren grinned. "Set your sonic screwdriver to vibrate."
"Anyone wanna play doctor?" Dan said, giving Soren a sidelong smirk.
"Ooh, baby," Katie tried, "I'll be your...companion. For sex."
The guys looked at her, then at one another, and sighed in unison. Katie wrinkled her nose and shoveled a forkful of waffles into her mouth in apology.
"Seriously, though, just imagine all the settings on the sonic screwdriver that the Doctor doesn't tell anyone else about," Michael said with a very particular gleam in his eyes.
"Nah," Soren said. "The Doctor's this, like, ancient, asexual being. His screwdriver does just about everything except screw."
Dan waved a note card in the air. "Actually, he does use it as an actual screwdriver. I think twice -- the Second and Third Doctors. With actual screws. Except he doesn't, you know, touch it to the screws."
Michael giggled inappropriately.
"And I thought you said you didn't watch Doctor Who, Soren," Katie said. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously across the table.
"Obviously not," Soren said, rolling his eyes. "It's just...cultural osmosis. I don't live under a rock, you know."
"No, that would be Dan."
"It's a very nice rock," Dan agreed. "You could join me anytime you like, Soren. I mean. Metaphorically. We are being metaphorical, right? Because there is no literal rock."
"Yeah, no way would the underside of a rock be hygienic enough for you," Soren said. Dan looked touched.
"Hey," Michael interrupted, "speaking of things that look like penises--"
"Were we, though?" Katie asked skeptically.
Michael shrugged. "Screwdrivers, rocks...everything's a phallic symbol if you squint. Or if you like penises."
"Wow," Soren said, leaning in. "Are you, like, coming out right now? Is this a thing that's happening?"
"No, but I like my penis an awful lot," Michael said, blithely unoffended. Soren acknowledged his point. "But anyway. Those, like, Gillygorphings or whatever, the other not-Doctors--"
"Gallifreyans," Dan corrected at once. "The other Time Lords."
Michael flapped his hand indifferently. "Yeah, whatever. Have you seen those outfits? They're, like…"
"A drag queen's wet dream?" Katie suggested.
"No, they're like actual penises," Michael said.
"Was there supposed to be a point?" Michael asked, blinking. "I just thought, you know, penis. Stuff that Dan thinks is sexy. Whatever."
Soren looked interested in the conversation again. "Wait, is Dan coming out now?"
"I do not think penis-shaped things are sexy!" Dan protested, but his ears were very pink, and he wouldn't meet anyone's eyes.
Katie shrugged. "Your loss."
"Hey…" Michael gazed at Katie in rapt attention. "Is Katie coming out now?"
"Yes, Michael," Katie said patiently. "I am coming out as a heterosexual woman who, on occasion, enjoys the peen."
"Tell me more!"
"Parallel universes!" Dan said, very loudly. "Were my original point!"
"Right, but I'm pretty sure we already agreed it was a lame point," Katie said. "Because of Cybermen and imminent deletion. Seriously, out of all the wonders of the universe encapsulated within the space fantasy world that is Doctor Who, you're going with parallel universes as your thesis statement? You could have picked Barcelona, the planet! Where they have dogs with no noses!"
Michael grimaces. "I never thought I'd be the one to say this under any circumstances ever, but...that's not really sexy."
"No, but it has the potential to be adorable!"
"Or just really weird and awkward," Soren said.
"Which should also be right up Dan's alley," Katie pointed out. Dan opened his mouth to object, considered the matter carefully, then grudgingly allowed it. "Or, you know, the way the Doctor talks to his time machine like she's a very sexy lady."
"Or that time the TARDIS actually was a very sexy lady," Michael added.
"That's...okay, I do need the support, but I'm not sure I want your support," Dan hedged.
"Plus you could totally do yourself!" Michael went on. He put up a forestalling hand before Soren could comment. "It's not gay if both participants are technically the same person. More like...masturbation."
Dan flapped his notecards in all of their faces. Or, well, mostly in Michael's face. One did slip out of his hand and land on top of Katie's waffle, though. "Not the point! I mean, sure, you could find parallel-you and have weird pseudo-masturbatory sex--"
"Isn't that, like, the only kind of sex you're familiar with?" Michael asked.
Dan chose to ignore his interjection. "But why would you limit yourself like that? Sure, the parallel universe we see is kind of awful, but by that logic, just about every planet or time period or version of London we see on the show basically sucks. I mean, London gets invaded by aliens and/or robots every Christmas. Who would want to live in London? But the places we see on the show are always going to hell because that's the whole point of every episode, that there's some kind of horrible looming crisis that only the Doctor can fix. It's not like the entire universe is awful."
"Huh," Soren said, regarding Dan thoughtfully. "I think that's the most optimistic statement that's ever come out of your mouth."
"It still stands to reason that there are plenty of totally awesome planets out there that aren't about to be destroyed every Saturday teatime," Dan steamrolled onward. "And the same goes for parallel universes. The Doctor even says, he tells Rose's mom that 'every single decision we make creates a parallel universe.'" His accent tragically yearned to resemble something vaguely connected to the British Isles, but didn't quite make the cut.
Soren blinked at him, astounded. "Damn! Flawless Tennant."
"Thanks," Dan said, pleased. "Anyway, even though the universe they found kinda sucked, it wasn't all bad. Rose's dad was still alive. Hell, Mickey liked it enough that he decided to stay there -- for years -- rather than go back home."
"And Rose did eventually get her very own Doctor-shaped sex toy to keep her company there," Katie added with a faraway look in her eyes. "I mean, if that's your thing. And it's totally my thing."
Michael grinned. "You could definitely say he was...handy." He looked around the table for approval. "Because he was cloned or whatever from the severed hand? That is what happened, right?"
"Yes," Soren confirmed, then backtracked. "I mean, I guess. Probably. I wouldn't know. Whatever." He took a healthy swallow of his screwdriver. "You know, this show sounds really weird out of context."
"You mean the context where a recently-regenerated thousand-year-old alien got his hand chopped off on the deck of a spaceship hovering over London, said hand was then picked up by a nymphomaniac time-traveling immortal who held on to it for a couple of years until he could return it to the alien, who then kept it sitting around the console of his time machine until his human friend just happened to absorb some stray regeneration energy which zapped the severed hand which then grew into a human-Time Lord hybrid clone that the original version packed off to live with his ex-girlfriend in a parallel universe?" Katie asked. "Because I really don't think the context makes it any less weird."
"And returning to Captain Jack," Michael added, "can we take a moment to ponder what he might have done with the hand while it was in his possession for two or three years?"
"Can we not?" Dan pleaded.
Soren had, apparently, finally Had Enough. "This whole discussion is completely pointless!" he burst out. "There is nothing sexy about Doctor Who! He doesn't even have sex! Time Lords literally reproduce through looms!"
"I knew you watched the show!" Katie said gleefully. "No casual observer would ever know trivia that obscure."
Soren went on as though he hadn't even noticed the interruption. In fairness, he probably hadn't. "The Doctor is this sexless neurotic genius with no life of his own to speak of who's so desperate for companionship that he latches on to anyone with a modicum of actual personality who happens to drift into his orbit, and yet somehow otherwise sane and very attractive people who should definitely know better just secretly want to get in his pants! It doesn't matter what he looks like or how old he is or how cynical and jaded he tries to be, because he still has this innocent, childlike wonder for all the myriad stories the universe has to tell and it's completely unfair that he'll never realize just how attractive that is!"
"He's not 'sexless,'" Dan argued vehemently. "There's a whole subtext-laden conversation about it in 'The Doctor Dances', he literally does dance with Rose at the end. He's just very, very picky, and he's adventurous and funny and secretly geeky and usually has really great hair, and if there are indeed an infinite number of possible parallel universes branching out from every decision we make, then in one of them, just one, maybe he picks me!"
There was significantly less physical space between Dan and Soren than usual. Probably even the waitress noticed. It was pretty noticeable.
Katie cleared her throat awkwardly. "You do realize you just basically described each other, right?"
"Are Dan and Soren both coming out right now?" Michael whispered to her, enthralled.
"You really have watched all of Doctor Who, haven't you?" Dan asked Soren, voice a little hoarse from all the shouting.
"Maybe he'd pick you if you'd just freaking ask him," Soren said, which wasn't exactly an answer -- but then again, maybe it was.
"Um," Dan said. "Okay. So, uh. Do you wanna get out of here?"
"I thought you'd never ask," Soren said fervently.
"I'm pretty sure I wrote a slash fic that started like this once," Katie said.
"Oooh, hey, was that yours? What's your sexy fanfiction pseudonym? Because I have some suggestions..."