4. Headlining at the Chupacabra Cabaret

"What do you suggest we do? Sing 'Rawhide'?" Jane's eyes dart across the serried ranks of ugly in front of him.

"I can't do witty repartee and concentrate on this." Smith snaps. "Work, you bloody thing!"

Heavy claws scrape the dirt, and something with a face out of nightmare, all scarred muzzle and dripping fangs, hulks forward. Snarls right in Jane's face. Blast of heat and old blood.

Jane smiles back, wide, delighted, sincere.

Show-time.

"Hi, my name's Patrick. Now, you – you're the leader, yes? Big noise in the pack. Pick of the females, and first in for blood." Points a finger. "But I have to tell you, that one at the back, second from right, he'd challenge you in a heartbeat."

And there it is. The faintest movement of the head. Gotcha.

"Oh, yes. Classic positioning. The followers huddle up close. That guy's just watching for an opening. Smart and focused." Finger swings. "Now, the big one on the left, Stinky...bed-wetting issues."

Whatever the aliens had been expecting, this obviously wasn't it. And they just as obviously understand what Jane is saying. 'Stinky' growls, then aims a swipe at the one next to him, who is sniffing curiously.

"I would guess...his brood mother kicked him out of the nest too early. Not like...him." Finger moves again. "Mommy loved him best. Still has separation anxiety."

The mood is definitely changing. Little currents of unease. The mommy's boy gets a shove from somewhere. Jane takes a breath, moves his finger again, and there are muted growls and some hasty shuffling.

"And you...you've been mating with your nest-brother's..."

There's a satisfied "Ha!" from behind him, and the signal goes off.

It's less a noise, more a wave of pain.

His last conscious thought is that he really should have kis...

10101010101010101010

"Lsbnn?"

"Nope. Sorry. Just me." Smith's face, upside down. Jane blinks. He's flat on his back, aching all over, with what feels like a Martini hangover doing a tango on his eyeballs. Quite a lot like Cleveland, then.

Above him, three red-orange lights, rising fast. Smith bounces back on his heels, watching them go.

"That was fun."

"Wasn't it." Jane clambers to his feet, picking assorted bits of vegetation off himself.

"Weeell, fills the time, doesn't it?" He turns his head, dark brows tilted. They understand each other perfectly. "'S'what I like about you humans. Always bounce back."

10101010101010101010

Lisbon picks herself up off the floor, shaking her head. What the hell... She'd been on her way to the door, when she'd met that – blast – coming in. Luckily, she'd landed on something soft. (Rigsby groans.)

Now, she's going out of that door, and she's going to find whatever those things have left of Jane...closes her eyes, closes her mind to the mental picture...she is going to find Jane, and then she is going to kick his ass into goddam orbit.

Any bloody lizard-thing gets in her way, it's well on the way to becoming a handbag.

10101010101010101010

Outside, it's so late, it's getting early. There is an awesome hush across the landscape, the very faintest beginnings of dawn. The only movement is a trio of lights on the cusp of the horizon. And two figures swaggering nonchalantly towards them. One, hands in pockets, coat swirling about him like a cape. The other, jacket swung casually over a shoulder. When he sees Lisbon hurtling towards him, he stops, big grin, arms open.

The team hold their collective breath. Will this finally be it?

She plants one on him alright. Small hard fist thumps into his chest.

"Dammit, Jane! You go chasing off against a ravening alien horde armed with a...a flashlight, and all you do is kiss my damn hand?!"

"I had to keep a clear head, woman. Couldn't have you distracting me..." He captures her flailing fists, keeps grinning at her. Drops his voice. "When I kiss you properly, it's not going to be because we're in peril. Believe me."

Lisbon looks adorable when she's flustered, he thinks.

Smith coughs elaborately, breaking the moment.

"Right, best be getting on. My work here is done, and all that."

Lisbon looks out over a field of wrecked and trampled corn, a meadow full of MacDonald's meat-puzzles. There are deep scratches in the side of the SUV, and something has been chewing the dash-board.

"I don't know how we're even going to begin to start the report on this."

"Ooh, I've never liked paperwork. More of a man of action, me."

"She's a stickler for procedure." Jane warns him. Smith begins to back away, jerks a thumb.

"Just parked over the hill. Never been one for long good-byes..."

A last cheery wave, and he jumps down out of sight. His voice floats back.

"Besides, someone has to escort those little buggers out of the atmosphere..."

Jane laughs at the varied facial expressions around him as that gets processed. And after a minute, Lisbon starts to laugh, too.

"And I always thought you were the one on a different planet."

"No. But did I ever tell you about that ballet dancer from the Missoula state fair?..."

10101010101010101010

Another beautiful day in California, and the dawn chorus begins...

"...no, you can't drive..."

"...diner on the road back...think the boss..."

"...much cholesterol is bad for your arteries..."

"...never want to see another hamburger..."

"...don't drive too fast. C'mon, I'll even let you cuff me again..."

"...said no..."

The gentle wrangling fades off, with the sound of car doors slamming, engines starting. Then there is nothing to disturb the peace, except a strange cyclical mechanical wheezing...

...vworp, vworp...

10101010101010101010

The TARDIS gives a reproachful lurch. The Doctor braces himself against the console.

"No, we couldn't have brought him along." He says to it. "I don't care how cute you thought his smile was."

-End-

SpaceAnJL – dealing only the very finest crackfic. Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal ;)