Fanfic: Culture Crash.
Rating: PG, for language and themes.
Fandom: Doctor Who.
Synopsis: Jungle planet, Leela threatens to gut Jack, and someone founds a religion around Danger Mouse. Look, just read it, all right?
Written in response to pristow's challenge in my latest round of Iron Author.
"If you move," said the voice, conversationally, "I'll slice you open and let you see what a fool looks like on the inside."
Maybe it was the knife pressed against his belly, or the arm looped tight around his neck, but somehow, Jack wasn't inclined to doubt her. "Has anyone ever told you that you have a real way with words?" he asked, trying to sound charming. 'Charming' and 'about to be gutted by a character from a bad docudrama about the primative inhabitants of twentieth century Wales' don't really go together very well.
The arm around his neck tightened as the point of the knife dug further into his stomach. "What are you doing here?"
"Ow! Leave me a little air, would you?" Jack grimaced, replying, "My companions and I were just passing through. We blew a circuit or something in our ship, had to make an emergency landing to repair it."
"There are more of you?" she demanded, dangerously.
"What are you, the tourist board?"
Jack was getting frustrated. He'd only seen his assailant from a distance; the Doctor and Rose had been having another of their remarkable arguments about absolutely nothing -- this time, for whatever reason, the Doctor was arguing that lime and curry-flavoured crisps were the sole justification for the existence of Liverpool after 1975, and Rose, who had friends from that area, was taking offense -- and Jack had decided that retreating out of the blast radius was the better part of valour. So he'd ignored the Doctor's commentary about dangerous fauna in the area, and gone for a little walk. After all, he was Captain Jack Harkness! The man who tricked the Time Patrol! Voted 'Best Dancer' by the population of space station six! He could handle a few cranky alien snakes.
As it turned out, the snakes weren't the problem. Neither were the mosquitoes the size of his fist, or the acid-spitting squirrels, although one of them managed to melt the toe of his left boot before he realized that it wasn't just marking territory.
No, it was the completely random women in the bunny-fur bikinis that were the issue.
He'd been walking down a narrow path through the trees, carefully avoiding the squirrels, when he saw her standing about ten yards away, slightly crouched, expression wary. She was pretty, he could tell that much at a glance; something about a feral posture and a bikini made from tanned animal hides just flipped a switch at the back of the male brain, causing a sign to pop up that read 'yes, please'. "Hello?" he'd called, and she'd run, darting behind the trees.
"I guess you don't want company, then," he said, philosophically. There was no point in chasing Sheena of the Jungle into the nasty, dirty, evil-squirrel-filled forest. Not when he could just keep taking in the sights and waiting for Rose to finish beating the Doctor to death with her shoe.
He didn't hear her coming up behind him until the knife was to his belly and her arm was around his throat, and -- as his sense of self-preservation was actually quite well-honed -- that was where the buck, as it were, had stopped.
"What is a tourist board?" growled the cavewoman, warily.
"It's a group of busybodies who stick their noses in--" The arm around his throat tightened again. Jack coughed, saying hurriedly, "It's an organization that decides who does or doesn't get to visit a place."
"Oh," she said, with great disdain. "Talking heads. You come with me now."
"Somehow, not an appealing invitation," he said. "How about you let me go back to my friends, and we'll just forget that this little encounter ever happened?"
"How about I slit your guts open and let you leave them a note?"
The thing about primative people is that -- in addition to their painfully accurate and difficult to break strangleholds -- they generally aren't threatening when they offer to gut you; it's more of a promise. Jack disliked promises that resulted in him being formally introduced to his kidneys. They'd gotten on fine for decades without a formal introduction, and he didn't what that to change now.
Smoothly, he said, "As I was saying, let's go! We're wasting daylight."
The cavegirl growled under her breath and urged him forward along the path, arm still locked around his neck. The Doctor and Rose would notice that he was gone soon.
"--and for another thing, you cannot use the fact that they marked hedgehog flavour crisps to tourists to prove that modern Britain is just like ancient Rome! That doesn't even make sense!"
"I'm a superior lifeform, and you people started a religion around a cartoon mouse! Why in the world would I need to start making sense? You certainly haven't bothered."
"We did n--wait, what, really?" Rose blinked. "They started a religion around Mickey Mouse?"
"No, Danger Mouse, actually. Very big in the twenty-fifth century. His priests were called 'Penfolds', they all wore spectacles, and hang on, do you hear that?"
The conversation was starting to give Rose whiplash. "Hear what?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing." The Doctor looked up from the panel he'd been working behind, frowning. "No whinging, no offers of help, no corrections to things I've done a thousand times before..."
"Oh, God." Rose's eyes widened. "Where's Jack?"
"I told him not to wander off. Didn't you hear me tell him? I told him!" The Doctor scowled, standing up and slapping his hands against his knees. "How did your ancestors survive long enough to pass on the racial obsession with wandering off? Seriously, I would really appreciate figuring that one out."
"They learned never to say that they'd be right back," Rose said, grabbing her coat off the console. "Monsters can't get you if you don't say you'll be right back."
"Right, I -- hang on, what?"
Rose grinned. "Sorry. For once, I get the last word." Turning, she flounced out of the TARDIS.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Unbearable," he said, and followed her.
"So, uh, what did you say your name was again?"
Jack sighed. "Right."
Why were the attractive ones always a) insane, b) homicidal, c) working for the wrong side, or d) already joined at the hip to a Time Lord? It just wasn't fair.
But that's life.
Jack wasn't sure what he'd expected when the woman behind him finally withdrew knife and arm and shoved him out into a clearing. A large group of bikini-clad savages, perhaps, or a huge, hairy husband who was going to attempt to add him to the dinner menu. Giant saurians were not entirely outside the range of possibility; neither were primative idols that he was going to be sacrificed to, although in the case of the latter, he hoped the sacrificial rites would at least include some sex. It's unfair to dangle bunny-fur bikinis and certain death at a dashing Time Captain, then refuse him the simple joys that went with them.
He definitely wasn't expecting the familiar blue shape of the TARDIS, now located next to what looked like a natural hot spring, or the curly-haired man with the vastly over-sized scarf who was feeding jelly babies to the evil squirrels.
"I found this in the woods," the woman snarled, pointing her knife at Jack.
"Leela, what have I told you about threatening the natives? It's not nice," said the man, turning to face Jack and flashing him a smile which contained, really, far too many teeth. There were lizards that would envy him, if it weren't for the fact that all those teeth came as a package deal with a truly frightening array of unkempt curls. "Hallo," he said, moving to help Jack to his feet. "Sorry about that. She gets a little bit excitable at times."
"What is she the rest of the time?"
"Sometimes, she can be violent," said the man, with an even broader grin, as the subject of their discussion rolled her eyes and stomped over to sit down next to the TARDIS. Pulling a rock out of the pouch at her waist, she began methodically sharpening the blade of her knife, eyeing Jack all the while.
"How...reassuring," he said, faintly.
"Isn't it? Would you like a jelly baby?"
"I -- hang on. Who are you? And what are you doing with the TARDIS?" Rose and the Doctor were nowhere to be seen. Jack narrowed his eyes. "Where are my friends?"
The man's grin broadened still further, until it seemed like the top of his head was almost assuredly going to fall entirely off. "Why, I'm the Doctor. Who might you be?"
"Jaaaaaack!" Rose uncupped her hands, and huffed. "It's no use, Doctor, either he can't hear us or he's ignoring us."
"Or he's been eaten by the local wildlife. You know, I distinctly remember telling the both of you not to wander off. 'Don't wander off,' I said, 'you might be eaten by squirrels'. So what does he do?"
Rose rolled her eyes. "He wanders off. You've said that six times. Can you wait 'til we find him, then lecture him, instead of wasting your breath on me?"
He grinned. "Got a lot of breath. It's not a waste."
"Lucky me," Rose grumbled, then paused, pointing towards the ground. "Doctor, look."
"Footprints." The Doctor hunkered down, peering at the tracks. "These are Jack's, all right. But these others...look. Someone approached him from behind. No real signs of a struggle, though, and whoever it was, they didn't have any tread to their shoes -- it's all just smooth, you see?"
"Someone attacked him?" Rose asked, eyes wide.
"Or kidnapped him." The Doctor looked up, and grinned. "Let's go find out, shall we?"
"I don't think there's a choice there, Doctor!" Rose shook her head. "We have to rescue those poor people!"
"Exactly! And to think, I thought this day was going to be dull."
Jack stared at the curly-haired man with the teeth, trying to make sense of what he was saying. "Excuse me, but did you just say that you were the Doctor?"
"I did indeed," said the man, holding out his bag of candies. "Jelly baby?"
"And that's...that's the TARDIS! I know that's the TARDIS, I left all my things there!"
"The man is insane," commented the cavegirl. What was her name again? Oh, right -- Leela. "I say we kill him."
"I say we don't, if it's all the same to you, miss," Jack snapped, before looking back to the 'Doctor'. "Look, mister, I don't know what you're trying to pull here, but you don't look a thing like the Doctor. I don't know how you got your hands on the TARDIS, but you'd better tell me where my friends are, before you make me angry."
"I suppose I wouldn't like you when you were angry," agreed teeth-and-curls, amiably. "Leela, please stop threatening our guests. Look, Mister -- what did you say your name was again?"
"Harkness. Jack Harkness."
"Jack. There's actually a very reasonable explaination for all of this, Jack, if you'd just give me a moment to make it. You see, I am the Doctor, and this is my travelling companion, Leela." The primative gave Jack another surly look, and continued sharpening her knife. "We stopped off here because we were detecting a distress beacon from another time machine, much like my own, and felt we should offer aid. Leela was supposed to be finding the castaways, but not, I'm afraid, bringing them here at knifepoint. That was her own idea."
"Too much talking if I do it your way," Leela said, sourly.
"Your home life must be very entertaining, sir," Jack said, "but you haven't answered my question. Where are my friends?"
"Right behind you," replied the Doctor, stepping out of the treeline and moving to stand by Jack's right shoulder, with Rose flanking him on the other side. He looked at teeth-and-curls for a moment, thoughtfully, then grinned. "Hello, then, Doctor. My, I had a lot of hair, didn't I? It's impressive, is what it is."
"Doctor...?" said Jack, uncertainly.
"Doctor, that's the TARDIS!" exclaimed Rose.
Leela rolled her eyes, looking disgusted with the both of them. "More 'civilized men', Doctor?" she demanded.
The Doctor looked over towards her, and his grin broadened. "And Leela! Look at you!"
Teeth-and-curls was studying him thoughtfully. At Leela's name, he grinned, too, and asked, "What number are you?"
"Nine," the Doctor replied. "Rose, Jack, I'd like you to meet, well, me. Me, this is Rose and Jack, my current travelling companions."
"Charmed, I'm sure," said teeth-and-curls, holding out the bag again. "Jelly baby?"
"How did that happen, exactly?" Jack asked, as they walked back towards their own TARDIS with bags of jelly baby in hand. "I thought the timestream had defenses against this sort of thing."
"It does," the Doctor said. "It's just that they break down from time to time. Can't be avoided. Besides, we got candy out of the deal."
"And I nearly got to meet my spleen!"
"And that taught you an important lesson about wandering off, now, didn't it?" The Doctor grinned. "I was a nice bloke, wasn't I? Horrible fashion sense, though. No taste at all. Jellybaby?"
"You used to travel about with a cavegirl," Rose said, disbelievingly. "An actual cavegirl."
"First off, she's from your future, not your past; show some respect," said the Doctor, blithely. "Second off, from where I'm standing, the two of you are next-door neighbors on the evolutionary ladder. Ape number one, meet ape number two."
"She's got a bikini on! Made out of rabbits! Actual dead rabbits, attached to her..." Rose paused, then concluded, "...she's wearing rabbits!"
"And you're wearing impractical shoes," the Doctor said, with a broad grin. "Isn't perspective grand?"
"This day has been very strange," Jack declared.
The Doctor nodded. "All the best ones are."