It was a cold night.
A cold, thundery night.
The kind of cold thundery night that makes a good story.
Tonight, let me introduce you to Fimeria, the capital city of Evachand. Nice town, good food, cases of lead poisoning down by fifty-percent on last year, though that probably has something to do with the ministry of health exploding. As well as the department of disease control going up in smoke.
Not a great place to visit right now.
Anyway, that cold thundery night, it just happened to take place in the center of Fimeria and the Great Vermer Museum of Antiquities, though someone had tampered with one of the signs so it actually read 'Vermer keeps a very large behind', which was very funny, yes indeed.
It probably doesn't translate well. Evaach, funny old language. Three-hundred ways to say sorry and just one to say goodbye. Long story. Also took place on a cold thundery night.
But back to the museum on this cold night.
There were intruders and in an interesting turn of events, every one of these intruders had broken into the building without ever having crossed any of the thresholds. Of course, someone with dishonest intentions working on the inside could have hidden in a sarcophagus and climbed out after closing time and carried out their evil plan, but technically you can't call that person an intruder, not really. That's more of a... well, a stayer. They're not really intruding, they just staying. Staying is easy. You, sitting there, reading? That's staying. That person looking over your shoulder? An, intruder. A bit of a rubbish intruder, but the point stands.
That cold night in Vermer's large behind, intruders, lots of them, well, eight, that's a lot. They arrived in two groups, three and five, both groups unaware of each other. An oddity in itself as they both arrived using modes of transport which are not exactly known for being on the quiet side.
We'll start in a large room at the interesting end of the museum, one of many filled with the ruins of an ancient Evaach civilization called the Misi, an enigma, their language complex and their culture shrouded in mystery. They left behind nothing but questions for modern Evaach people and only a few answers on faded mosaics. Lovely people though, a bit touchy, but mostly forgiving and understanding types.
In one of the darker corners of the Misi room was the TARDIS, taking up barely any space at all. Well, on the outside. On the inside... travellers.
“And that's why the Beatles had those haircuts.”
Words spoken by the Doctor, he who flew the TARDIS, to his companions, they who travelled beside him.
He looked very dapper as on most occasions in a smashing blazer with sensible trousers held up by even more sensible braces with a slightly itchy shirt. It was a smart ensemble topped off by a timeless classic, a burgundy bow tie.
He looked incredibly cool. People told him so. Often.
“Why are you fiddling around with your bow tie like that and staring off into space?” Rory, one of his companions, asked with a ridiculously unwarranted look of suspicion.
“Space is everywhere, Rory. Looking at it is quite unavoidable,” the Doctor said. Then he smiled and said, “We're here. Let's go.”
Amy, his other companion, frowned and pouted at him simultaneously. That particular expression was so adorable it usually threw the Doctor off even before Amy could ask her sensible question, thus ensuring the Doctor always ended up giving a less than reassuring answer.
“Um, where's here?”
“A dark room in a museum on a cold and thundery night,” the Doctor said plainly before he grinned and asked, “Sounds like fun, eh?”
Rory and Amy gave him an identical blank stare. For a moment the Doctor wondered if they used to do this before they married, but then it occurred to him that even people who were not married to Rory or Amy had given him that stare at some time or another.
The Doctor gave them both a patient look. “It's a museum. Any people here are already dead... most likely, so really no way we could possibly start an end of the universe scenario. Also--”
“You want to see if they have any of your stuff,” Rory and Amy both said.
The Doctor smiled and happily jabbed a finger in their direction, bouncing a little. “Well, it has been a while.”
“Didn't we visit a museum for that exact reason last Tuesday?” Rory asked with a frown.
The Doctor thought about this. “Possibly. But we're in a time machine, Rory. Last Tuesday doesn't necessarily have to be last Tuesday. It could actually be an entirely different Tuesday altogether. For all we know it could be next Monday and we're now overdue a trip.”
Rory nodded slowly and said, “Errr, yeah. I'm pretty sure that makes no sense and it was actually last Tuesday.”
The Doctor damned Rory's wiles. A thought occurred to him. “There has to be a bow tie museum somewhere. Everything has a history. History has a history, so why not bow ties?”
Rory suddenly walked towards the door, pulling Amy along as he said, “Yeah, let's go.”
“Oh, excellent,” the Doctor said, positively bouncing behind Rory and Amy, right into the dark room with the Misi ruins, bathed blue by moonbeams through the skylight overhead. “Yes, very nice.”
Amy shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself, which prompted Rory to put an arm around her. She said, “It's freezing in here.”
“It is a bit nippy. No heating. No electricity either. Not for a while in any case,” the Doctor said absently, zeroing in on a marble bust, missing an ear.
He looked into the white vacant eyes of the figure, tilting his head side to side, letting the tide of memories slip and slide waiting for the right flotsam to float into view.
Rory sidled up next to the Doctor and asked, “You having another one of those Yorick moments?”
The Doctor nodded and replied, “Funny story actually. Alas, I did know Yorick. I'd say infinite of jest was just good old Will using his creative license to great effect.”
Rory was still staring at the Doctor and in the middle of formulating his next question when Amy shoved him over to appear into view and comment, “You knew Shakespeare.”
The Doctor nodded. “Yes. Funny guy.” The Doctor spun about on his heel and resumed his zeroing in on objects of interest. “And since you ask, keep your eyes open for a mosaic. You'll know the one I mean when you see it. I'd like to salvage it if possible.”
Behind him, Rory said, “So he knows fictional people too now?”
Amy, disappointingly, answered, “Maybe his bow tie's on too tight.”
The Doctor snorted and straightened his bow tie, muttering, “It's not tight, it's cool. Unless tight means cool. In which case, it is very tight.”
“It doesn't mean cool,” Amy called out as the Doctor wandered into the next room.
“Well, then it's not tight at all,” he said, straightening up to meerkat-like alertness as he looked around and... “Hello.”
The Doctor, fine-tuned to the sounds of the universe, felt something odd. He slowly crouched down until he was on his knees bending down and pressing his ear to the floor. Something in time and space had shifted, leaving behind excited ripples. It hadn't been caused by the TARDIS. No, the TARDIS didn't really leave ripples. This was something else.
“Shhup!” the Doctor said, sitting up, trying to decipher the sound in his mind. Rory and Amy ran into the room and questioned him with quizzical looks. The Doctor jumped up to his feet and pointed at the newlyweds. “We need to go downstairs.”
“Need?” Rory asked, latching onto that most important part of the Doctor's statement.
The Doctor searched for an apt reply, his mouth making movements all the while. “I saw a sign. That's where the gift shop is. Let's buy some postcards.”
“And the mosaic?” Rory asked.
“Not for sale, Rory,” the Doctor said, walking off ahead. “That we'll be stealing. Well, borrowing. Well, stealing, definitely stealing. We'll just call it borrowing. This way!”
The Doctor followed the echo of that now gone sound, through winding corridors and down two floors. There were ripples in space sent out by the source of the disturbance and easily followed. Even though Amy and Rory insisted on shouting about the sign to the gift shop, which the Doctor had ignored.
“The sign is wrong. Ignore the sign. Ignore all signs,” the Doctor said rounding a corner and skidding across the floor, straight into the light of five torches, all trained on him.
On top of guns. Big ones.
Rory and Amy skidded into the back of the Doctor, coming to a sudden stop as the Doctor grinned at the torch bearers. “Company, excellent.”
“Company with guns, Doctor. Guns,” Amy hissed into his ear from behind.
“I definitely don't think they got those in the gift shop,” Rory said slowly. The Doctor could hear Rory turning to look at Amy. “Unless they did. I mean... you know, aliens.”
The Doctor ignored the noise behind him and concentrated on the people in front, taking a few tentative steps. “You're not Evaach. In fact, you're not from this planet.”
“Doctor?” Amy called out.
The Doctor smiled. “You're from Earth. And if I'm reading those patches on your arms correctly, you just came through a Star Gate. I'd forgotten the Evaach had one. They must have removed the cover stone. Star Gates, don't like them very much. Motion sickness.”
“What, with the way he flies that ship?” Rory whispered.
“Shut up, Rory,” Amy hissed back.
The intruder with the steely blue eyes aimed his weapon straight at the Doctor's head. “Earth. Star Gate. That's two things more than we know about you,” he said.
“Easily rectified,” the Doctor said. “This is Rory and Amy. Friends of mine. They just got married. Look at them, they're adorable. You, not so much, with the whole pointing guns at ours heads.”
The man in front frowned, the corner of his mouth shifting just enough to give away his amusement. He was travelling with two men and two women. One of the women was very attracted to the shiniest objects on display in the room on the left and one of the men was interested in objects in the room on the right, rocks in varying sizes and shapes.
The other woman was more interested in observing the Doctor, which was why he felt compelled to straighten his tie. She frowned at him and the Doctor quickly looked away at the man who towered amongst his friends.
He had a single stripe of white in his hair and a gold tattoo on his forehead. The Doctor blinked at him before pointing. Then he realised he was pointing and pointed at himself instead, drawing a small circle on his forehead.
Circle, squiggle. Sign of the serpent! Oh! Yes. Exactly.
“Are you all right?” The Doctor spun around to find Amy and Rory watching him as if he was insane. Actually, they looked at him like that an awful lot. “Doctor?”
“Amy, Rory, I may have to ask one of you to pinch me in a moment.” Rory, always enthusiastic about helping out the Doctor pinched him very hard on the arm. The Doctor swatted him away and rubbed his arm. “I said in a moment.”
“I was worried you might change your mind,” Rory said with a grin.
The Doctor glared at Amy. “Divorce him.” Amy grabbed Rory's arm and pulled him close protectively with a scowl. “Fine. Don't. If you feel safe with a man who has pincers for fingers.”
“Doctor, why are we pinching you in a moment?” Amy asked with an impatient roll of the eyes.
The Doctor looked back quickly, smiling and waving at the others who were now engaged in their own conversation. He turned back to his companions and said, “That's Teal'c. I've only ever seen pictures and heard a few recordings. Who would have thought I'd actually run into him? I mean, traveling through space there's always a chance of running into people, but the odds of meeting someone who probably won't want to kill me are very slim. Look at him, he's at least ten feet taller than I expected.”
Amy grinned. “Oh my god. Are you a fan? Is he like space Elvis or something?”
Rory grinned. “Oh, that is just adorable.”
“Don't be silly,” the Doctor said, patting his hair down. “How do I look? How's the tie? What am I saying, it's cool, it's always cool.”
“Does anyone hear that?”
The Doctor turned back to the steely-eyed man. His team was standing still, listening. The Doctor held up his hand to silence Rory and Amy before they could speak. Yes, he could hear something. It was a high pitched whirring whine that was almost inaudible.
“This way,” the Doctor said, following the sound into an exhibition room filled with old rusted objects.
Behind him, someone said, “Why are we following him?”
Steel-Eyes replied. “Seems like the thing to do.”
“Is he wearing a bow-tie?” the man who had been staring at rocks asked.
The Doctor smiled and straightened his tie. The classics, you could never go wrong. Except on Gregoria One, where inanimate objects had a funny habit of suddenly developing teeth and going for your ears. The Doctor shuddered, trying to shake off the remnant of a long forgotten memory.
They all entered a dark room which housed display cases with old rusted remains of mysterious objects. The Doctor spotted at least one thing that might have been a kettle once and was being mistaken for something entirely different.
“You appear to know who we are,” a serene and deep voice spoke somewhere behind him. The Doctor most certainly did not jump a little as he turned to look at a rather satisfied smile on the large man behind him. “I heard you speak my name.”
The Doctor nodded. “Yes, yes, I know you. Teal'c of Chulak. I know all of you actually. You're SG-1, at least, one of the original teams to carry that designation. Samantha Carter, Cameron Mitchell, Daniel Jackson, Vala Mal Doran and you. You're... Teal'c. Yes, Teal'c. Amazing.”
Amy elbowed him and said, “ You already said that.”
The Doctor frowned. “Did I? Good. Excellent, we all know each other then.”
“Actually, we don't,” Sam said with an amused smile. “We didn't get your name.”
“The Doctor. I'm the Doctor.” The Doctor gave them all a polite nod. An exchange of kisses was out of the question. Especially with those guns between him and SG-1.
“The Doctor,” Vala said slowly, before frowning at Sam.
Cameron joined Vala in frowning. “What?”
“It's him,” Sam said after a while. “The Doctor.”
“The Doctor?” Daniel said, frowning, which was hilarious because almost all the images the Doctor had ever seen of Daniel Jackson had that frown.
“Whoa, spaceships over Buckingham Palace Doctor?” Cameron asked, whole face scrunched up in disbelief.
The Doctor pointed at him with a most pleased grin. “That's the one.”
“You know, NORAD thought you were about to strafe the Queen,” Daniel said slowly, squinting as if he himself could not quite believe the ridiculousness of that notion.
“They know you?” Amy asked, tapping the Doctor on the shoulder.
He opened his mouth to say it was only polite that fellow space travelers should be aware of his presence, but Sam was quicker to reply with, “The Pentagon has a file on your friend. It's probably about the same size as his TARDIS, which I gather is pretty big. On the inside anyway.”
The Doctor cocked his head at Sam and smiled. “Yes... well, now the introductions are over, what are you doing here in the middle of this museum on a dark cold stormy night?”
“Actually, it's more thundery than stormy,” Sam said as the Doctor scowled.
“Basic recon mission. Just another hit on the database of addresses,” Cameron said, smiling and giving Sam an odd look.
“Interesting,” the Doctor said, the notion of coincidences pleasant but entirely too ridiculous to accept.
“You know, this is the fifth time we've ended up gating into a museum,” Daniel said.
“Daniel hates that. All the work's already been done, you see,” Vala said, batting her eyelashes at Daniel. “Ooh, is that made of gold?”
“So, time travel,” Daniel said with a smile.
The Doctor lifted up a finger before gesturing to the side. “Yes, but first, that noise, that very irritating noise. What is that?” The Doctor stopped pointing and stuck his finger in his ear to partially block the annoying noise.
Daniel turned to Sam and said, “He has his finger in his ear.”
Sam nodded with a smile, but unlike Daniel she seemed rather pleased about the whole thing. Clearly she was the smartest amongst them, not dismissing a man based on where he kept his finger.
“Hello? I think I found something,” Vala called out. They all turned to see her peering into a display case.
The Doctor, his companions and SG-1 all headed to the small display perched on a small marble pedestal. They gathered around it, ridiculously squashed together in a circle as they peered at the display in the middle.
“Looks like a toaster,” Amy said, looking at the rusted object, once green and metallic, now eroded and flaking, its colours hard to make out in the unlit building. She narrowed her eyes at the Doctor. “Is it a toaster?”
Rory snorted. “It's never a toaster. Even if it is, it probably makes toast that explodes and kills you after you eat it.”
“I'm with you on that,” Daniel said slowly, casting a suspicious look at the toaster.
“Well, you're both wrong. It's definitely a toaster,” the Doctor said.
Daniel peered closer, frowning. “Really?”
The Doctor whipped his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and aimed it at the toaster, scanning. “Nope. Not a toaster. Maybe a coffee maker. Not that either. Oh, that's interesting. Looks like it's been dormant up until recently.”
“How recently?” Sam asked.
“Today. Tonight,” the Doctor said. “Actually, it activated about ten minutes ago to be exact.”
“That the sonic screwdriver?” Sam asked with a smile.
The Doctor smiled back, “Yes, yes it is.”
“Cool.” Sam grinned.
The Doctor grinned too, until Rory and Amy dissolved into childish laughter either side of him.
“We we arrived through the Star Gate approximately ten minutes ago,” Teal'c said.
“That's around the time the TARDIS landed,” Amy said with a nod, looking at Teal'c who arched a brow at the coincidence.
The Doctor looked at Amy and then at the display. The Doctor aimed the sonic screwdriver at the toaster again.
“Looks like a major time space event triggered our little toaster here to switch on. But, it's not transmitting or receiving. However, it does appear to be recording data.”
“Wait, what kind of major space time event?” Cameron asked. “We're not talking suns going supernova or black holes, are we?”
“Ah, no. Slightly smaller than that,” the Doctor said slowly.
Sam was nodding. “The TARDIS and the Star Gate. The TARDIS must have landed exactly when the gate activated and we came through.” She looked at the Doctor. “I mean, that's a pretty unlikely and big event. Not too mention too much of a coincidence.”
The Doctor smiled at Sam until Amy stabbed him in the back with her freakishly bony fist. The Doctor regained his wits and said, “Yes. Exactly that. Big. Unlikely.”
“Why?” Teal'c asked, looking at Sam.
The Doctor answered, “Wrong question. It's obvious why this is here, it's here to record. The question is who put it here and--?”
“Why?” Teal'c asked, smiling at the Doctor in quiet amusement.
“Yes... actually, that is a good question.” The Doctor frowned. “You know, for someone who's not a Timelord, you do age spectacularly well.”
“I don't get it,” Rory said, tapping on the glass display, while Amy just stared at the Doctor and shook her head. “That plaque looks like it says this thing's five hundred years old.” Everyone stared at Rory until he started to fidget. “What? It's dark in here, I can barely read it.”
They stared at him a little longer before turning to each other for more staring. When they were done with the pointless staring, they joined the Doctor in peering at the plaque which did indeed appear to say the toaster had been found in a dig five hundred years ago.
“Let me get this right,” Vala said smoothly, prompting everyone to turn in her direction and find that she had moved out of the circle of inquisition and was now looking at items of more interest. Shinier... goldier items. She didn't bother looking at them as she said, “Someone left that lying around for five hundred years to start recording if any of us ever showed up in the same place at the same time? The people of this world, would they have had the technology to do this all that time ago?”
Now the Doctor watched SG-1 staring at Vala as she moved closer to the display to peer at her own reflection. “No,” the Doctor said. “They may never get to that stage.” He took another scan. “This is much more advanced technology. At least, whatever's inside the shell of our little toaster is much more advanced.”
“How advanced?” Rory asked, peering over the Doctor's shoulder.
“Well, I'd say it's from a few years in the future actually. Five.”
“Five years from the future?” Amy asked.
“Yes, five hundred,” the Doctor said, putting the sonic screwdriver away.
“Wait wait wait,” Amy said shaking her head. “Someone from five hundred years in the future put this here in case of some big time space event thing?”
“Precisely that,” the Doctor said with a nod.
Amy nodded. “Okay.”
Rory gave her a blank look. “I hate it when you pretend we're not in some totally mental situation.”
The Doctor frowned, holding up both hands and then pointing available forefingers at his own head. “So, wait. What? Oh.” He brought his hands down and blinked. “Yes, Amy's right. Someone's been expecting us.”
Rory frowned. “What?”
Amy smiled at Rory. “See?”
Rory scowled at her. “That's not what you said.”
Cameron was meanwhile aiming his weapon in preparation to start shooting as he asked, “Trap?”
“No,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “We'd know by now if it was.”
“What do you think it is then?”
The Doctor peered closer at the future spy in the glass box, waving at it. “It's here for us. All of us. All of the people who were expected to be here on this night.”
Rory seemed to appear out of thin air, poking his head over the Doctor's shoulder. “Right. So now what?”
The Doctor stroked his chin, having a serious think about Rory's question before replying, “I've got just the thing.”
“You know,” Cameron said, casually standing on the other side of the display case with one arm resting over the gun clipped to his vest. “When you said you had just the thing, I didn't expect you to come back with tea and cake.”
The Doctor frowned as he ate cake. “You don't like tea?”
Cameron lifted his cup and said, “It's in a china cup. Come on.”
The Doctor nodded. “Right. I could probably do you a coffee if you like. It would have to be museum coffee. Or how about some tea? Tea sounds nice.”
Cameron smiled, slightly shaking his head. “You know what, tea's great.”
Rory appeared at the display case to cast it another look, piece of cake in hand. He looked at the Doctor and said, “I can't believe you ran off for cake.”
“Not just cake,” the Doctor pointed out.
Rory's eyes rolled up towards the hard hat he was now wearing, similar to Amy's one. “Right. Not to mention the miner's hats.”
“Health and safety,” the Doctor said, squinting at the light shining directly in his eyes from Rory's hat.
“You're not wearing one,” Rory pointed out.
“Of course not, they look ridiculous,” the Doctor said.
“You wear a bow tie,” Rory said, as if that were any kind of sane point.
“Bow ties are cool,” the Doctor said, not fidgeting or defensive in any way whatsoever. Rory sighed, shook his head and walked off as the Doctor picked up more cake from the saucer which sat on top of the glass case. He took a nibble. “Mmmm. That's it.”
Cameron took a gulp of sweet tea, watching Rory fall into conversation with Daniel. “Knowing what I know about you, Doctor, my guess is there's more to us standing around without a care in the world than meets the eye.”
“No guards,” the Doctor said. “Not tonight. Not for a few nights. The city's on alert.”
Cameron grew serious. “Alert for what?”
“Air raid. Bit of a war going on.” Cameron stared, placing his tea on top of the display case. “Most of this city will be flattened, well, country. Ironically, the museum will turn out to be the safest place. They'll lose the Taxxon ark, but it's the equivalent of a medieval bus, a bit rubbish--”
“Stop,” Cameron said, holding up a hand. “I get it. I get that you're... you. Just tell me, do I need to get my team out of here?”
The Doctor sobered, too much and too quick, his brain easily filling with facts and figures about the war, all grim and terrible. “We're not in danger. The tourists get to walk away.”
Cameron gave the Doctor a long assessing look. It was nothing the Doctor hadn't seen before. In fact, it was one of the more politer looks he had received in the last nine hundred years.
“Yeah,” he said. “Tourists. Does kinda feel that way sometimes.” He looked back at the members of his team scattered around the room, slowly drifting outwards. “I think I'll take a look around this place. We're not due back for a while.”
The Doctor nodded, watching Cameron walk off towards Sam, guiding her by her elbow into a dark doorway as they spoke in hushed tones. The Doctor knew exactly when Cameron mentioned the war by the way Sam looked up past him and right at the Doctor. There was an odd look of shock in her eyes and it made the Doctor turn his back on them, seeking out other faces, other voices.
Rory, he was a good voice, always a good voice, always good chatter. There he was standing with Daniel as they both stood in front of the rusted and twisted innards of an old clock.
“So, newlyweds and time travel. Hell of a way to spend your honeymoon,” Daniel said with a small smile.
“Well, yeah. A bit mad. But...” Rory trailed off, looking for Amy and finding her laughing at something Vala was saying with great relish, going by her grin. Rory's face, that look. His eyes said he remembered to clearly what it was to wait for the dead to wake. “Amy. I'd go anywhere with her.”
Daniel had a sombre look on his face, but he smiled and nodded, averting his gaze so he was looking at the clock. He said, “You guys been together long?”
Rory frowned, mulling over the question. The Doctor smiled, listening. “In normal terms, a few years and in totally mental stuff that only happens when you're with the Doctor terms, about two thousand years. Which then... never actually happened. Kind of.”
Daniel's face went blank as he nodded and said, “Wow. Two thousand years. You don't generally find that kind of commitment.”
Rory nodded, hands in pockets as he rocked back and forth like he was about to start talking football. “That's what my gran would say.” Daniel blinked some more. “She's getting on a bit though. Keeps calling me Roy.”
Daniel nodded. All he could muster was, “Wow.”
The Doctor smiled, putting his hands into his pockets and walking into the corridor. It was dark throughout the museum, the best way to avoid inviting enemy fire. Looking out of one of the large windows, the Doctor knew soon the city outside would be no more than rubble. But sometimes destruction was necessary for resurrection.
“You look like you're waiting for something.” The Doctor looked back to see Daniel approaching. He nodded in reply. “May I ask what?”
The night was suddenly lit up by fast falling stars which met the ground with explosion. Daniel was staring at the sight as the Doctor said, “The last great war on this world. Everyone'll be too afraid to do this again after tonight.”
“Is that why you came here tonight? To watch this?”
“It's the end of an era,” the Doctor said.
Daniel turned to the window, watching in silence before turning to look at the Doctor with that look, the one they always had for him. The one that said, why aren't you doing something, Timelord?
A large explosion rocked the building. Daniel swore in shock and looked at the Doctor. “I thought you said we were safe,” he said.
“That was the west wing. It's the only damage the museum's going to sustain during the air raid,” the Doctor said, watching another bright streak across the sky before it went to ground. “It's the people out there that are in danger.”
Daniel's face had a tight look about it, like he might jump out from under his skin. “We should be doing something to help.”
The Doctor nodded, agreeing. But he said, “You save the wrong life out there, you could change the history of this planet.”
“So we just sit here and watch.”
“You're free to leave.”
“And you?” Daniel asked.
The Doctor watched another explosion, in the town square this time. He didn't reply to Daniel's question. Daniel was watching the Doctor, the stretch of disappointment obvious across his face.
“Fixed points,” the Doctor said quietly. “Pins holding together the fabric of time and space. Move the wrong pin and you end up with an embarrassing cosmic faux pas.”
“What makes you so sure this is one of them?” Daniel asked.
The Doctor turned, his gaze falling on the display case in the next room. He smiled and another bomb went off somewhere outside. “Someone knew we'd all be here tonight, which is why that little box is scanning everything around it, preserving everything that happens here tonight.”
Daniel said, “You know who it is, don't you?”
“Not yet,” the Doctor said, taking out his sonic screwdriver and looking at the readings again. “But I'll find out.”
“How can you be so sure?”
The Doctor turned and frowned at Daniel, wondering exactly why those Pentagon files were so thick if they had no relevant information. He looked around, searching for a simple way to explain why he was sure of the things of which he was so sure before settling on the easiest of explanations. “I'm the Doctor.”
Daniel nodded slowly before a frown began to crease his forehead. He blinked. The Doctor could see it was taking Daniel great pains to find a way to formulate his next question. He then smiled at the Doctor, a precursor to what must have been his sense of politeness, only he also shut his eyes for what seemed an unnecessary long two seconds which hinted at annoyance and frustration.
“What exactly are you a doctor of?”
Luckily, it wasn't of sentences that ended in prepositions. Other than that, as the Doctor replied, “Well, everything.”
Daniel's smile became a little unreal and stiff. “That's, I mean, it's not really possible. You know, not really.”
The Doctor agreed, smiling and pointing at Daniel. “No, it's not. For other people anyway.” Daniel nodded, his eyes shifting to find a new focal point. He pointed to the room behind him and gave the Doctor a clamped down smile as he backed away, the Doctor calling after him. “You think anyone's for more tea?”
An hour later the Doctor was getting jittery. The seconds were ticking away and the raids showed no sign of slowing or stopping. If this continued, then history... well, it wouldn't be history anymore. It would be different. On this day, different was bad.
“Very bad,” the Doctor muttered as another bomb exploded out there somewhere, destroying another piece of Evaach civilization in a very uncivilized manner. How tedious, the Doctor thought, much like most ironic moments.
“That's the third time you've said that.” The Doctor turned to see Vala watching him curiously. She was standing awfully close. “So, time travel. That's nice. Bouncing around time. Righting wrongs. Sounds like fun. And I'm sure there are a lot people who could use some timely favours. Such as avoiding particularly snakey creatures from taking very attractive hosts.”
The Doctor nodded. “Yes. Yes, I could go back in time and stop snakey creatures from taking certain attractive hosts. I could even stop certain attractive people from choosing the path, or many paths they've chosen that subsequently led to trouble. It could result in a very prosperous life, not to mention peaceful, tranquil and not involving nearly as much running.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Yes. There's just one thing, well two. One, you'd get bored very quickly and two, you would never be a part of SG-1 and go on to do the things you do. Not to mention steal the things you do.”
Vala smiled. “A life without much consequence or a life without nothing but consequences.”
The Doctor nodded. “Something like that.”
“Well, I suppose I do like Teal'c too much to want to mess around with the past,” Vala said. “Or the future.”
“Of course! Look at him!” The Doctor said in wide-eyed approval. Teal'c heard the commotion and turned to arch an intrigued eyebrow. The Doctor waved back, receiving a tilted head and frown. “White hair, white hair. What is that? What's going on there?”
“A secret,” Vala said, moving away. “You should talk to Teal'c. He's probably dying to tell someone.”
The Doctor nodded, pulling Vala back by her elbow before reaching for her hand and retrieving the key to the TARDIS. He dangled it in front of his face and smiled, shaking his head. “Vala Mal Doran just picked my pocket. Ha!”
Vala frowned and shook her head. “You're a very strange man. But I like it.”
The Doctor nodded. “Thank you. Now if you'd just give me back my wallet. And the sweets too.” Vala pulled a sad face and the Doctor sighed. “Okay, fine. Keep the sweets.”
Vala grinned and did just that. She opened the small bag and took out a Jelly Baby, popping it into her mouth before asking, “Now, what's very bad?”
She held out the bag of sweets and the Doctor took out a red one, because they tasted the best even though they supposedly tasted the same, which was silly because the red ones tasted very red. “Time stuff.”
“Time stuff?” Vala asked.
“Yes, complicated weird time stuff. I'll explain later. In the mean time,” the Doctor said as he took another red sweet. “Small detour. I'll be right back.”
Vala shrugged and smiled as the Doctor made to leave. “The neck-wear?” The Doctor stopped, his fingers flying to the knot on his tie. “I like it. It's cute.”
The Doctor turned and smiled at her, straightening his tie for good measure before turning and darting away. He rushed through the exhibit room where everyone was still milling around the future spy toaster. “Don't mind me! Need the little Doctor's room.”
The air raid wasn't letting up. The bombs were falling and at this rate, there was no way the museum was going to be left standing at the end of the night. It was all wrong. Very wrong. Wrong in exactly the way it had felt right to come here tonight.
Very wibbly wobbly timey wimey weirdness.
The Doctor ran to the TARDIS, key at the ready and then he was inside and a quick tap, dial, smack and jaunt later the TARDIS landed as delicately as it usually did. The Doctor ran to the door, opened ir and stood there on the threshold with a frown on his face.
“Why haven't you stopped? You're supposed to be calling the raids off by now. Why haven't you?” he demanded.
The TARDIS had landed in an office. Too much oaky wood for the Doctor's taste, but not completely offensive either. At the window stood a middle-aged woman in a long dark navy dress that was buttoned all the way to her throat. Her dark hair was held up neat and french loaf-like atop her head and her startled brown eyes were darting from him to the door and back again.
She gave him a longer look, peering at the scene behind him before stepping a little closer. All alone in this office with a man in a box, and she was still moving towards him and not the door. He had to smile, just a little.
“Who are you? What is this?” she demanded, her voice firm despite the slightest tremor of fear.
“I'm the Doctor and I'm here to ask you why the raids haven't stopped, First Chancellor.”
“The Evaach. They sent you?” she asked with a frown.
“No one sent me. I came because tonight the war between Evachand and Galan is supposed to end. But you haven't called off the air raids, Lady Miren. Why not?”
“Why not?” Miren snapped, clearly frustrated. “There has been no talk of ceasefire or peace.”
The Doctor sagged, his hand falling away from the door as he stepped out. Softly he said, “But that is what you want. I know you want peace.”
“We all want peace,” Miren said. “But we must also fight for victory.”
“Because you don't know what this victory is going to cost you,” the Doctor said. He held out his hand. “Come with me.”
Miren frowned, staring at his hand. “Where?”
“I want to show you something. Please. Trust me.”
“Why should I trust you?” Miren asked.
The Doctor shrugged. “What's the worst thing that could happen?”
The question made Miren tense up. She looked at the window, towards the sound of sirens and air raids. She turned and stepped closer, placing her hand in the Doctor's. He nodded and took her into the TARDIS, only letting go of her hand at the console.
“What is this?” she asked, half awed and half terrified, but not enough to stop herself from touching the console in wide-eyed wonder.
“Your future. It's all going wrong. It's supposed to be brilliant and wonderful, but for some reason, you're not doing what you're supposed to, so I'm here to change your mind,” the Doctor said, inputting his next destination.
Miren frowned and said, “Am I dead?”
“No, but you'll be happy to know it's not the first time I've been asked that question. Now, hang on to something, bit of a jolt.” They both hung on as the TARDIS creaked and screeched to a stop. Not her fault really, she just flew smoother on the longer journeys. This one was practically from one door to the next. “Just one more passenger. Stay right there.”
The Doctor ran past Miren who just nodded, nice and pliable in her shock and bewilderment. The Doctor did like these moments when people were too busy being in awe of the TARDIS to ask silly questions or demand stopping in silly places like Disneyland.
All though... come to think of it, it might have been him who wanted to make that particular stop.
The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors and pointed at the tall thin man with the overly bushy beard at the end of the long table before him. “Minister Arcvald. A word in your ear.”
Arcvald was staring as were the others around the table. After a moment they were all talking over each other in confusion and calling for the guards. The Doctor aimed his sonic screwdriver at the door, locking out anyone who might want to intrude. Everyone proceeded to continue in their loud reactions to the Doctor which were anything and everything other than calm.
“Please please, gentleman, no fighting in the war room.” The Doctor grinned and looked around the room at the quiet and rather judgmental frowns. The smile from his face faded. “Well, it really does depend on the audience I suppose.”
“What is this? Who are you?” Arcvald asked, rising from his seat and holding up a silencing hand to be observed by the others in the room.
“I come to you in peace,” the Doctor said. “And I really don't have to if I don't want to.” Arcvald was wise enough to hear the threat as it was intended, which saved precious time for getting to the crux of the matter. “I've come here to help you end the war, Minister. If you'll give me the opportunity.”
“This war can only end in one way. That is the destruction of our enemies,” Arcvald said grimly.
“That destruction will come at a great cost,” the Doctor said. “But it can be avoided.”
“Minister, surely you're not going to listen to this man!” The Doctor rolled his eyes at the red-faced idiot who had just given Arcvald that nugget of advice.
“Minister,” the Doctor said. “Just a few minutes of your time, so you can at the very least tell your grandchildren one day that you tried.”
That had his attention and prompted silence from some members of his cabinet too. He nodded and said, “Just a few minutes.”
The Doctor nodded. “If you'll step inside for a moment then.”
Everyone looked at the TARDIS, which for them had materialized out of thin air, probably looking no less than magic. Arcvald said, “What is it?”
“A quiet place to talk,” the Doctor said. “We'll step in, step out. Easy.”
Arcvald gave it some thought before nodding and stepping away from the table. There was objection from the others, but he pushed past his people, shut down their warnings as he rather determinedly approached the TARDIS. The Doctor stepped aside and let him in before closing the doors behind him.
The Doctor ran past Arcvald who was staring open mouthed. “Bigger on the inside, yes, can't really go into that. No time. Well, plenty of time actually, this is after all a time machine, but I'm getting hungry and when I'm hungry I'm cranky. At least I think I am. Still getting used to the new suit.”
Miren looked down at Arcvald from the console and then at the Doctor who was plotting a course. “I don't understand.”
“You both need to see. Together,” the Doctor said.
“It's bigger on the inside,” Arcvald mumbled as he made his way up to the console, staring vacantly at Miren before frowning at her and asking, “What is this?”
“He says he needs to show us something,” Miren said. She was silent for a while, watching Arcvald. Then she shook her head and said, “What's happened to you? Once upon a time you would have gone with your gut and not what those fools in the senate will have you do. You have the power to stop this. But you won't.”
“And you?” Arcvald said tersely. “I have heard nothing of peace from you.”
“My people are watching me. I will not have them think I am weak. I fight because they want me to fight,” Miren retaliated.
“You're wrong,” the Doctor said. “And you're idiots. Shouldn't have the power to get yourself a library card, let alone run a country.” Then the Doctor held on tight as the TARDIS took flight, sending Miren and Arcvald to the floor. The Doctor was more than sure their equally inflated egos would prevent their too cushioned behinds from feeling the impact.
When the TARDIS stopped he smiled at them and said. “We're here.”
Miren and Arcvald both stood up shakily. The Doctor pointed at the doors, before turning his hand over and gently clicking his fingers. The doors opened, bringing in a cold gust of wind, a shower of rain. Miren and Arcvald stared at him.
“Out there is what happens if you don't end the war,” the Doctor said quietly. “That's your future. Take a look and decide whether you like what you see.”
“You?” Arcvald asked.
The Doctor shook his head. Whatever was out there, it wasn't for his eyes. He knew about the future the Evaach and Gal were supposed to have and it didn't smell like the nightmares that were being carried on the back of the rain and wind coming into the TARDIS.
“What's the matter?” the Doctor asked as both Miren and Arcvald looked at him with some apprehension. “Not scared are you?”
“How do we know this isn't some trick?” Arcvald said.
“You don't,” the Doctor said. He smiled. “Off you go then. Time to take a look at your handiwork.”
The Doctor watched them both slowly leaving him behind, throwing worried looks at him and at each other as they went. He turned his back on their departure, tapping the monitor to life and pulling up the ship logs.
The trip to the museum was a random destination, one of many key moments in time ripe for a visit. There were millions of things happening throughout time right now, right in this second as he stood in his TARDIS. Some of them were mundane and of little to no consequences, but others were grand and glorious and ready to burst and bloom out of the past, present and future. It meant that every time the TARDIS doors opened, something was guaranteed to be insanely wonderful.
And out of all those moments, he had landed in the museum. The same place where the SGC's dialling program had sent SG-1, on the same night and same time.
“No such thing,” the Doctor whispered at the monitor. “First cracks. Now convergences.” He turned away and reached into his pocket for an emergency pack of Jelly Babies, ripping it open and taking out a blue one before chomping at it furiously as the cogs in his brain turned and turned and whirred and whizzed. “Very interesting.” He spat out the sweet. “Yuck. Blue. Disgusting. Blue never used to be disgusting. That's new.”
He'd finished the red ones and green ones by the time Miren and Arcvald stumbled back inside. Miren was supporting Arcvald who was wiping the back of his mouth. He looked rather pasty and shaky, like he might empty the content of his stomachs inside the TARDIS.
“You're not going to be sick, are you?” the Doctor asked with worry. “It's just, bodily fluids. You wouldn't believe the kind of temporal bio hazards they can turn into.”
Both Miren and Arcvald stared at the Doctor. Miren's face was slightly smudged, the bottom of her dressed soiled and dirty. Arcvald's sleeve was torn. Both looked shaky and grey. The Doctor ran down and closed the doors, only allowing his eyes a glance of concrete buildings that looked like skeletal mouths open and drinking in the hard rain.
“Time to leave,” the Doctor said, running back to the console and tapping, dialing, pulling, whacking and... “Hold on!”
The TARDIS jolted to a stop. The Doctor frowned at the console. It was a good stop. A nice solid jolt of a stop. Yes, very solid. Giving the console a please slap he went down to Miren and Arcvald.
“Minister Arcvald, your stop first.” The Doctor opened the door to curious faces.
Arcvald looked at Miren. It was a long and tortured gaze. He seemed to want to say something, but clearly lacked the courage. Didn't matter. Actions were on occasion more important than words. He bade Miren goodbye with a weary nod and Miren nodded back, her eyes glassy, her hair now losing composure, loosening and frizzy.
“We will speak, Chancellor,” Arcvald said, voice rusty.
Miren swallowed, before replying, “It is time, I think.”
Arcvald turned away from Miren and looked at the Doctor. “You said... you said if I came with you, I could at least tell my grandchildren I tried. I appreciate the sentiment, Doctor, but my wife and I... we will never have children.”
The Doctor nodded. “Well, maybe when the war's over you can both take a little trip to the country and have a nice stress free weekend of... talking. And... well, more talking.”
Arcvald frowned at the Doctor. “You are an enigma, sir.”
“Thank you.” The Doctor beamed. Arcvald nodded to the Doctor and stepped out. The Doctor quickly grabbed Arcvald's arm and pulled him back to whisper, “You might want to invest in less tight undergarments. Statistically, Evaach men in tight undies had a bit of trouble making babies with their ladies. Just a suggestion. Feel free to ignore it.”
Arcvald left with a frown which was quizzical for a second and then quickly eased into what looked like understanding. Looked like maybe he had been smothering the old boys a bit too much. The Doctor closed the doors, hearing the ministers in the room objecting to the fact that Arcvald had been gone even a minute.
“And now you, Lady Miren,” the Doctor said, back on his way to the console. Miren followed him, eyes as wide as saucers.
“Why did you come here?” she asked. “I mean, why you? Who are you?”
“I'm the Doctor,” he replied firmly, ready to tap, dial, whack. She stopped him though, grabbing his hand in hers, forcing him to look at her. Her eyes were desperately searching for something profound, magical perhaps. He sighed, frowning at her hand before covering it with his and looking her in the eyes. “No more war. Promise me.”
She she nodded, tears in her eyes, too proud to fall. “No more war.”
The Doctor smiled, plotted the course for their next stop and held out his hand. “Hold on tight.”
The Doctor opened the doors to the TARDIS and came face to face with Sam. She was frowning at him, eyes narrowed. “That was weird.”
“What?” the Doctor asked.
“You went in, your ship faded out, faded in, and you stepped right back out again,” Sam said.
The Doctor nodded. “Yes, I completely forgot what I came back for. Don't you hate it when that happens?”
Sam didn't look too convinced and smiled, blandly asking, “Where'd you go?”
“Not important. What's important is, I have biscuits.” He pulled out a packet to illustrate his point. “They have chocolate on the top. It's amazing what you can do with biscuits these days.”
Sam laughed a little, shaking her head. “You know, from your file, I had no idea you'd be so--”
The Doctor straightened his tie. “Cool.”
“Um.” The Doctor frowned at her. She pulled a face and relented with a small smile. “Well, a little maybe.”
“I'll take what I can get,” the Doctor said, grabbing Sam's hand and pulling her into the TARDIS.
“Come on, you're practically drooling,” the Doctor said, taking her up to the console and letting her go, to hold out his arms and present the TARDIS. Sam stared, turning and looking around. It wasn't in disbelief, not even awe. There was something else in her eyes, the way they shone. The way she smiled. “You're supposed to say, it's bigger on the inside. But then you already knew that.”
Sam nodded and smiled at him. “It's amazing.”
She lapsed into silence, and there it was again, that expression. The soft look in her eyes was coupled with something... something that made the Doctor feel as though he was staring right into the furniture of someone's heart.
“What?” he felt compelled to ask.
She smiled slightly, blinking and turning to face him. “It's like seeing the impossible.” Sam swallowed and tentatively reached out to touch the console. She laughed. “And I have seen a lot of impossible things. None of them bigger on the inside.” Sam turned and leaned against the console, smiling at the Doctor in a somewhat mischievous fashion. “So... I have a question.”
The Doctor put his hands in his pockets, nodding and taking a step towards Sam. “You'd like to know why I'm not asking you to come with me.”
Sam shrugged. “It's kind of what you do, right?”
The Doctor pointed at her. “Fixed points in time, you have a habit of being in them. I'm not allowed to entertain the thought of stealing from SG-1.”
Sam nodded slowly. “Right.”
The Doctor gave her a long look. He wanted to tell her the legends, the stories that would spawn hundreds of years after the Star Gate would become common knowledge. They would be the first ones, the pioneers. They would leave behind the kind of legacy it was a Timelord's duty to protect.
“No matter how much I would like to,” the Doctor said quietly.
Sam smiled at him, appearing to understand all too quickly about time and her strange foibles. “Well, Doctor, if you ever have the time, make sure you drop by and say hello.”
“Well... Doctor, I'm sure I'll find the time.”
Sam laughed. “That was kind of corny.”
The Doctor grinned. “I like corny. Corny is cool.”
Sam smiled and pushed away from the console, heading for the doors. “I don't suppose you're any closer to solving the toaster mystery.”
The Doctor followed her down and out, locking the door as she waited. They both set off down the corridor together as the Doctor said, “The trick is, push down once. And then again, but stop it half way the second time. Perfect toast.”
Sam narrowed her eyes at the Doctor, “Not that mystery. I mean the toaster downstairs.”
“Ah, yes, that toaster. Afraid not,” the Doctor said. “Clearly, someone knew we would be here, left the device to record and will no doubt return for the device at a later point.”
“What if we take it?” Sam asked.
“I would advise against that,” the Doctor said. “It's been put together rather delicately. Tamper with it in any way and we prove Rory right about a toaster that make bombs.”
Sam stopped and turned to stare. “It's rigged?”
“Yes. And not to burn toast,” the Doctor said. “We have to leave it here and assume we're being recorded for purposes of posterity.”
“Or until you can come back later and find out what's really happening,” Sam said with a knowing smile.
The Doctor smiled back. “Or that.”
Sam was watching him closely. “It has something to do with you, doesn't it? No one else recognized that technology. You know more than you're telling us, Doctor.”
The Doctor pulled a face. “Maybe. Not entirely sure yet.”
Sam smiled, giving him an appraising look. “Are you really a doctor of everything?” Sam asked, her expression far too innocent to be actually innocent.
The Doctor shrugged. “It's an ongoing process. I don't think Daniel would believe me though.”
“It's driving him a little nuts,” Sam said with a nod.
The Doctor held up the packet in his hand. “Biscuits.”
Sam eyed the biscuits, smiling with a twinkle in her eye before she turned and walked on ahead, the Doctor following, his mouth fidgety with good mischief. When they reached the exhibition room with the toaster, it was to find it empty. Everyone had moved to the corridor on the other side of the room. They were looking out of the windows in silence.
The Doctor joined Rory and Amy as Sam went to her team. “What's going on?”
“The bombing stopped just after you left,” Rory said. “All these people just started turning up.”
“What if the raids start up again?” Amy asked.
“They won't. Everyone's probably heard the declaration of ceasefire over the old wireless. The war is over,” the Doctor said quietly.
“Why do you have a packet of biscuits in your hand?” Rory asked, poking the biscuits.
“We ran out of cake,” the Doctor said. “Here, do the honours. I need to find that mosaic before we leave.”
“Why? What's so special about it?” Amy asked.
“It's pretty, I like it. Be a shame if it went missing in the next few weeks when the rest of this stuff is going to mysteriously disappear and end up in private collections,” the Doctor said.
“Wait a second. I thought you said these guys were going to have a brilliant future,” Cameron said, turning his nose up. “You said nothing about it including looting.”
“Well, I didn't say it was going to be perfect,” the Doctor said. He stepped away from everyone and said, “This mosaic, it's small. Probably in the exhibition room upstairs. Easier to find with more than one pair of eyes.”
“Is it valuable?” Vala asked.
“Yes,” the Doctor said as Vala grinned. “Okay, no. It's just pretty, like I said. You'll know it when you see it.”
Sam looked at her watch and then her team. “I guess we can help the guy who saves the world when we're not around.”
“Um, yeah, he kind of saved the universe like a week ago,” Rory said, pointing his thumb at the Doctor and not looking nearly impressed enough. “He does that kind of thing quite a lot actually.”
SG-1 also seemed to resist showing how impressed they were. Cameron turned his face slightly towards Sam and very quietly said from the corner of his mouth, “Come on, we've saved the universe, a few times, right?”
“Not enough,” Teal'c said. He gave the Doctor a slight nod, something like a thank you, maybe? Or maybe some kind of acknowledgment. Some kind of Jaffa warrior acknowledgment. An invitation into a sacred brotherhood of sorts--
“Doctor? Doctor!” Amy said, shoving him necessarily hard.
“I'm sweating. A bit dizzy,” the Doctor whispered to her discreetly.
“You are so weird,” Amy said, watching SG-1 disperse. “Are you serious about this mosaic thing?”
The Doctor nodded and shooed Amy away with both hands, prodding Rory to follow her. Off they all went as the Doctor went to the window to see people in the square below, embracing, laughing and crying. Some of them doing all three at the same time. The Doctor nodded. This was how it was supposed to be. It felt right.
Turning around, the Doctor slowly walked back into the exhibition room and went to the display case with the toaster. He put his hands in his pockets and watched it. No need for more scans. When he looked up it was to find Teal'c approaching the other side of the display. Of course Teal'c wasn't going to look for any mosaic. Of course not. The Doctor smiled at him, receiving a friendly smile in return.
“The white hair,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “Not really a give away, but definitely a hint at there not being something quite right about you. You're out of sync with time and space. The universe. You shouldn't be here, yet, here you are. How? ”
Teal'c smiled and said. “It is as as you might say a lengthy tale.”
The Doctor laughed. “Ha, yes. Too much to do. Not enough time for lengthy tales. Even with time machines.”
“And Star Gates,” Teal'c said, his expression serene, but his dark eyes flickering with much humour. After a while he said, “You do not appear to be concerned with the presence of this device anymore.”
The Doctor nodded. “No. Just curious now.”
“It was meant for you,” Teal'c said thoughtfully. “You know this.”
“Yes,” the Doctor said quietly. “I know.”
“Yet you have not told your companions,” Teal'c said.
“Well, they may never need to know,” the Doctor said, not adding the fact that companions came and went. Who knew when the recordings on this device would surface? “Besides, we can't tell our friends everything.”
Teal'c nodded in quiet agreement, gently smiling. “You wish to protect them from danger they may never encounter, even if it would only be a danger to you.”
The Doctor blinked and then frowned. He may have pouted a little, but it would be a long time before he would admit that... well, he may have pouted a little.
“I am most certainly not coddling them, if that's implication. There's just no point in worrying Amy and Rory, not on their honeymoon. It has nothing to do with protecting them like some old mother hen.” The Doctor turned and looked around. “Actually, I should probably go find them before they get themselves into danger in this cold dark scary museum.” He looked back to find Teal'c smiling a whole different kind of amusing smile. The Doctor told him, “That doesn't mean anything. It's a saying.”
“I would protect my friends too,” Teal'c said most seriously. “Whether they desired it or not.”
The Doctor would have protested the fact that he was definitely feeling some accusations of mother hennish behaviour here, but... Rory had died. Amy had died too. One day River would die saving him. People just seemed to get hurt, no matter how much he would have them be safe.
The Doctor blinked, feeling an odd sting, but smiled despite his face feeling oddly heavy and numb. “Cluck cluck, I suppose.” The words came out hoarse and heavy in his heart, but... well, cluck cluck indeed.
“Look at this. Just hanging out and talking about the kids with Teal'c of Chulak,” the Doctor said. It earned a curious look from Teal'c, but no offense. “Brilliant.”
“Found it!” Rory yelled from somewhere, probably alerting people outside the building as well as inside.
“Good,” the Doctor said. “Time to be off.”
Teal'c joined him as they began to leave the room, hearing a number of footsteps headed in their direction. Teal'c said, “Perhaps our paths will cross again.”
The Doctor nodded. He wasn't opposed to such an idea, though it would require caution. These were people who had much to do yet. Much to endure. And yet, despite thinking of caution he couldn't help it when his mouth just idiotically flapped open and said, “In the future, about two hundred years from now, the new Jaffa nation is going to issue an apology, you know.”
Teal'c frowned and the Doctor told himself to shut up, while also finding himself ignoring his stupid self. “For the slur of Sholva against one of the most brave Jaffa. They'll ask his family for forgiveness and they'll bestow the title, Teal'c, First Son of Chulak.”
Teal'c was silent. A whole different kind of silent in comparison to the quiet composure the Doctor had noticed tonight.
The Doctor smiled awkwardly. “Bit of a long name, but it will enter popular usage you'll be pleased to know.”
Teal'c, poised and unreadable until now appeared to have the most expressive of faces the Doctor might ever have seen. There was a history of pain and grief there and his liquid eyes spoke of emotions of which the Doctor would have felt too frightened to even skim the surface. The Doctor felt weighed down at the hint of the sadness that Teal'c appeared to carry on those broad shoulders.
Teal'c nodded, but said nothing. The Doctor cleared his throat and nodded back, unable to look at Teal'c, instead wittering on. “Of course, the downside of being famous is your face ends up on all sorts of things. I mean, I'm not sure how I'd feel about being on a tea towel. Probably not as bad being on a bath towel.”
Teal'c and the Doctor turned to see Sam in the corridor outside the far end of the room. “Looks like the museum's been opened up. We can't be in here, Teal'c.”
The Doctor nodded. “Right yes, they'll be setting a relief centre in this place. You need to leave.”
“You?” Sam asked. The Doctor pointed up. Sam grinned at him and nodded. “Hey. Don't be a stranger.”
The Doctor nodded at Sam with a smile and held out his hand to Teal'c. Teal'c in a very simple gesture stepped forward and clasped the Doctor's arm at close proximity. The Doctor leaned forward and hugged the other man as much as he could with one free arm.
“It's been an honour,” he said. “First Son of Chulak.”
Teal'c gave a bow of his head and a smile, before he followed Sam and they both disappeared into the corridor just as Rory bounded over and held up a small mosaic carefully attached to a wooden backing panel, Amy close behind him, helping to blind the Doctor with their torch lights on their ridiculous hats.
Rory was grinning. “That's just hilarious.” He showed it to Amy. “Will you look at that? Isn't it hilarious?”
The Doctor said, “Small misunderstanding with the Misi. The TARDIS may have malfunctioned slightly in the translation process.”
“Doctor, why is there a naked man tied to a stake in the middle of a fire with a TARDIS in the background?” Amy asked with a sweet smile.
The Doctor grabbed the mosaic and held it to his chest. “Long story. I'll tell you later. Right now, we have to leave.”
“Why?” Rory asked.
“Talking later, leaving now, come on.”
The Doctor was peering at the mosaic when Amy thumped bodily against the console, boneless and lazy. “You know, what with getting out of there so fast, you forgot about the toaster.”
“Well, once it stopped working, it didn't seem to matter.” the Doctor said with a shrug.
“It switched off. About the time the air raids stopped and the town square got noisy,” the Doctor said. “I suppose it was just someone's idea of a historical documentation.”
Amy frowned at the Doctor. “Huh. Well... okay.”
The Doctor shrugged. “So. Onwards, Pond. Time for a real adventure now.”
Amy pushed away from the console and gave the Doctor a peck on his cheek. “I'm going to bed.”
“Right, yes. Sleep. Beauty sleep. That's a good idea. Give Mr. Pond a goodnight kiss from me too when you see him.”
“I said I'm going to bed. Not to sleep,” Amy said with a wink as she climbed the stairs.
“Bit late for Scrabble, isn't it?” The Doctor frowned while Amy disappeared with all too mischievous laugh.
After a few minutes had passed, the Doctor looked at the stairs and slowly walked around to the console. It was time for a less lazy brand of flying. Brakes, inertial dampers, manual navigation and even furry dice. If it was there, the Doctor was using it because it meant when the TARDIS landed this time, it did so without noise, jolt or tremor. For all Amy and Rory would know, the TARDIS was still in flight.
The Doctor left quietly, leaving the TARDIS in a dark corner amongst wooden crates and boxes. Outside, he waited around the corner when he heard voices and finally saw Cameron and Daniel.
“Okay, we gotta move,” Cameron said as Daniel nodded. Daniel ran, Cameron waited a few seconds and then Vala came running past him to join Daniel. Cameron spoke into his radio. “Sam, we're on our way to the gate.”
They disappeared into a storage room and the Doctor continued on. He made it back to the upper floor just in time to see Sam and Teal'c running past him as he hid behind a large plant. By the time he reached the right floor, the TARDIS would have flown and the Star Gate was depositing SG-1 back to Earth. Downstairs, the museum doors were open and people were beginning to occupy the ground floor. He reached the exhibit room and stopped at the threshold.
Like a fool he had come without a torch, and now he was without the benefit of SG-1's handy weapon attachments too or Rory and Amy's hard hats. All he had was the moon casting enough light into the exhibit room to outline one half of a body. A man. Tall, thin, in possession of a thick mop of hair and wearing a long coat.
He had the device in his hands.
“You came. I was hoping to see you.” The voice was deep, using a deliberate and measured tone. It wasn't a voice the Doctor knew, yet there was something familiar in its tone. The Doctor stepped closer, but it didn't help. The man was still obscured by shadows. Unafraid, he hadn't moved back at the Doctor's approach either. “No questions?”
“No,” the Doctor said evenly. “No questions.”
The stranger laughed, quiet and short. “Yes. You're always so sure of yourself. It's rather tedious.”
The stranger did something that alarmed the Doctor then. He stepped forward, right out of the shadow to reveal his pale face, one that was not known to the Doctor. But there was something dark in his eyes that made anxiety flutter furiously like a dark moth in the Doctor's chest.
The man tilted his head slightly and smiled, his eyes roaming all over the Doctor. The Doctor felt himself breathing hard, unsure of why it felt, as the saying went, that someone had just walked over his grave.
The Doctor frowned. “I know you, don't I?”
The other man smiled and backed away and though the Doctor chased him into the dark, he was left alone without any clue to how his tormentor had escaped. Even his sonic screwdriver failed to detect the remnants of the sudden departure. He ran down the corridor and back again in hope of finding this shadow man. But nothing.
The Doctor returned to the TARDIS, slowly walking in and closing the doors behind him.
“Told you, he's not going to let it go,” Rory said.
The Doctor frowned and turned to see both Rory and Amy lounging about the console. He said. “I thought you were playing Scrabble.”
“She cheats,” Rory said, before giving Amy a look that made her laugh too easily. The Doctor climbed the stairs to join them. “Well, what did you find out?”
The Doctor shook his head. “No idea. It's gone.”
Amy gave him a suspicious look. “Really?”
“Really,” the Doctor said.
Rory and Amy both stared at him and then each other, before they both arrived at the conclusion that their Doctor was, “Lying.”
The Doctor smiled, walking past both of them. “The question, Rory, Amy, is not whether I know anything about the toaster. The question is, white stripe. Why is it still bothering me?”
“What do mean?” Rory asked.
The Doctor was pointing his own head, mapping out a single white stripe of hair. He muttered, “I've seen it somewhere else. Somewhere I wasn't looking for it.”
Amy shrugged, telling him, “Well, you said you'd seen lots of pictures of him.”
The Doctor stared at her a moment, before grabbing her face in his hands and kissing her. “Amy! You're brilliant.”
Amy frowned, mouth pursed and face squashed between his hands. “I am?”
“A-hem,” Rory coughed. The Doctor looked at him. “Yeah, kissing my wife.”
“Oh! Sorry, Rory,” the Doctor said, letting go of Amy and taking Rory's face in his hands, laying on one hell of a smacker, if he did think so himself. He pulled away and smiled. “There, all better?”
Rory pulled a face, his arms flailing a little. “No. No, I meant, don't kiss my wife?”
The Doctor frowned and looked at Amy. “He's not going to be like this all the time now, is he?”
“Oh, you know what, forget it,” Rory said waving a dismissing hand at both the Doctor and Amy. “So, why is Amy brilliant?”
“Hey!” Amy said, looking wounded.
“I meant this time,” Rory explained.
“Well, let me show you, Ponds.” The Doctor pulled the monitor above the console closer and brought up the TARDIS archives. After some sifting, he found the image he needed. It showed thousands attending a rally in front of a brand new structure inspired by classical architecture. Smooth and sleek, yet grand and beautiful.
“What is it?” Rory asked.
“That is Chulak, some two hundred years from now, at the height of success. That's the day of the apology. The highest orders are given out on that day. Now, let's find this picture I've never seen before, but apparently have?” The Doctor mumbled as he quickly scrolled through more images, close ups of the podium, of the security detail, the crowds and... “Ah! There! Look. I must have noticed it before, but ignore it until today when we met the real First Son of Chulak himself.”
Rory and Amy both peered at the picture. There, just in the corner, hidden in the shadow of the podium was a group of people hidden under their robe hoods. Except, there was one man whose hood had slipped enough to reveal a streak of white hair. The Doctor tapped on the figure, zooming in on the image. The height, the size of the man, hint of a down-turned mouth.
Rory straightened up and looked at the Doctor. “I don't get it.”
Amy peered closer. “Is that Teal'c?”
Rory frowned at the image again. “Huh. It is him. So, what does that mean?”
“Rory, Rory. The man hasn't aged a single day. He's got the exact same stripe of white we saw today. Two hundred years from now. That doesn't strike you as odd?”
“You realise you don't look over nine-hundred years old, right?” Amy asked the Doctor.
The Doctor nodded. “Point taken. I'm a Timelord though. He's a Jaffa. They age slowly, but they do age. That is Teal'c and those people with him, I'm willing to bet are SG-1.” The Doctor turned his back to the monitor with a smile. “You see, sometimes the wormholes created between Star Gates can jump the tracks like a train because of a power surge or other weird gate nonsense and end up depositing their travellers not just to a different point in space, but a different point in time.”
Rory nodded. “Okay. Why is this important?”
“Rory,” the Doctor said evenly. “Too many coincidences for one night. Including a picture I don't recall ever having paid attention to before today. So why is it important now? Why is that white stripe bothering me today?”
Rory nodded slowly. “Right, does seem a bit important when you put it that way.”
Amy was nodding too. “So now what?”
“I hope you've both had a chance to catch up on your beauty sleep,” the Doctor said.
“Oh god. Why?” Rory asked.
The Doctor smiled and turned to tap tap tap, dial and whack on the console before yelling over the noise of the TARDIS's excited spiral into space, “Hold on tight! Small bump in the road up ahead!”