"Seriously. Really. Right there in the Ancient archives. A time machine." Rodney dropped into his swivel chair and beckoned John closer. "Have a look if you don't believe me."
John leaned over Rodney's shoulder. "That's it? A police box? What the hell's a police box?"
"See, that proves it! They didn't have English back then, let alone the Roman alphabet. It's gotta be the real thing."
John stood up and put his hands in his pockets. "Or a joke."
"Come on, who'd have the knowledge to set something like that up?"
"You, for a start."
"Thanks for the compliment. I didn't though. That thing, that police box--"
"And what is that? A box you keep cops in?"
"Um, no. It's a sort of call-box they used to have in England. I looked it up. Anyway this one travels in time. And space of course."
"Really. A blue telephone box."
"You don't believe me? Why would I make it up? Why would the Ancients? Okay, look, I've set a trap for it." Rodney put his hands behind his head, looked smug, and around swung in his chair.
"A trap?" John looked alarmed. "Whaddaya mean, a trap?"
"Aha! Starting to believe me, are you?"
"Nah" John waved the idea away. "Anyway, what would you trap a time machine with?"
"Fluctuating time streams. A little fiddling with tachyons. At least that's what I'm pretty sure that device I found is meant to do."
"Wee little ones, yeah."
John looked uncertain. "You wouldn't turn it on, would you?"
"C'mon, I'm a scientist! How could I pass up the change to trap a time machine?"
"Yeah, right. Because blowing up a whole solar system just wasn't enough."
"Again with the solar system? It wasn't inhabited!"
"It was, by us!"
"Temporarily is not a word I like having bandied about in connection with me."
"Look, I... What's that noise?"
John looked around. "An elephant with bronchitis?"
The hairs on the back of Rodney's neck stirred as a breeze swirled through the room, lifting the papers on his desk. "A... police box?" he said nervously. "You'd think they'd ring, you know, phone box and all th..." He stood up slowly as a tall blue box materialised. "Huh."
The door opened and a young man wearing a bowtie and nerdily short pants stepped out. "Ooh, yes, just as I predicted. Atlantis," he said with a flourish.
The young red-haired woman who followed looked around eagerly, then her face dropped. "Not really what I expected. But then I suppose I should be used to that." The guy in the bowtie looked a little hurt.
"Yeah, I'd've thought there'd be wise old people in robes, that sort of thing," said a rather nondescript guy. How many people did that phone box hold? "Not a bunch of computers. And shouldn't it be underwater?"
"Oh, there were wise people in robes once. This is a little bit later, isn't it?" He looked brightly at Rodney and John. "And no longer submerged, I take it? Hello, I'm the Doctor," he went on without leaving room for an answer, "and this is Amy and Rory. And who are you?"
"Doctor of physics?" Rodney asked with interest but got nothing back apart from an expectant look. "Uh, right, I'm Rodney McKay and this is John Sheppard."
"Ah, Rodney McKay." Bowtie guy tilted his head on one side and gave Rodney a strangely young-old look. "Blown up that solar system yet?"
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Why can't anyone ever forget the solar system?"
"Ah well, quite big things, solar systems. I only asked because there were some interesting archaeological remains there and a friend had to make sure she got there before you." The Doctor of whatever took a brisk turn about the room, tapping something metallic in the palm of his hand. "Ah, here we are. Found an Ancient emergency beacon, did you?"
John grinned at Rodney. "And here was you thinking it was a time machine trap."
"Uh, yeah." Rodney looked defensive.
The Doctor shot him a sharp look. "And is there an emergency?"
Rodney shuffled a little. "Not really. No."
"Right. Then I'll just disable it, shall I?" The Doctor fired the thing in his hand at Rodney's lovingly restored Ancient device which promptly fritzed and died.
"Hey! I spent a lot of time on that!"
"There's only the one of me these days, you see," the Doctor said apologetically. "Can't have you just calling me up when you feel like it."
"I--I wouldn't do that!"
The Doctor gave Rodney a knowing look. "You wouldn't?"
"There you are, then! Anyway, Amy and Rory, take a look around before we go." The Doctor put his hands in his pockets and looked bland. "This is the real Atlantis, in case you were wondering. The stories just got a bit skewed through the millennia."
Amy screwed up her face. "I think I prefer the stories. I didn't really expect screens and machines and Americans."
"Canadian!" Rodney said indignantly, pointing at his maple-leaf patch.
"Have to agree," said Rory to Amy. "I expected your basic marble columns, a temple or two, an agora full of philosophers."
"I thought you'd have seen enough of those as a Roman," Amy said obscurely.
"Yeah, true, but it's a matter of style. This just doesn't look like Atlantis is meant to."
"I could show you the Stargate," the Doctor said brightly.
John folded his arms. "You can't do that! It's classified."
The Doctor ignored him "You'd like that, you two. Set the dial and step through to another planet. Bit limited though, not being able to send you anywhere else in time. Well, not unless there's a solar storm."
"What, anywhere? You can just walk through it to anywhere?" Amy looked interested.
"If you can dial it up, yeah. Second thoughts though." The Doctor tapped the side of his nose in thought. "Lots of Wraiths about these days. Sooooo," he wiggled his fingers at John and Rodney, "we'll just be on our way. Bye."
"No! Wait!" Rodney rushed forward, babbling, "That's not really fair you know, turning up and dangling the whole possibility of time travel in front of us then whipping it away again."
The Doctor stopped and raised his eyebrows, wrinkling his forehead like an old man.
"So whaddaya think, one small quick trip in to the past to make up for frying my trap, um, Ancient device?"
The Doctor held up a finger. "One."
Rodney beamed and did a little jig.
"Where're you gonna go?" asked John. "And make that 'we'."
"You mean when." Rodney looked distracted. "OK, It's gotta be a scientist. Let's see now. Archimedes!" He pointed his finger at John. "Archimedes is perfect! Brilliant mind, came close to inventing calculus, and you'd love the huge catapults he built for Syracuse."
"In a war against us, I meant the Romans," Rory put in. "You might turn up in the middle of a siege."
"Okay, a massive great catapult might be fun to see in action," said John reluctantly. "But you don't even speak Greek."
"You don't have to," Amy said. "The TARDIS--" she indicated the blue police box, "--telepathically translates."
"And if it's not around," Rory added casually, "it only takes a few years to learn to speak a language like a native. Even ones with lots of conjugations and declensions and cases," he added with a certain amount of smugness.
"Nope. No go, Rodney." John shook his head. "You'd bamboozle the guy with science and give him such an inferiority complex he'd give up the whole idea and go off and grow grapes or something. I'm not letting you change history."
"I wouldn't! I wouldn't say anything."
"Rodney, you wouldn't be able to help yourself."
"To watch the apple fall?"
"C'mon, be serious, he really did invent calculus, well, him and Leibnitz. Or I could go see Leibnitz."
"Yeah, well, you pissing either of them off so much they never bothered to might really stuff history up."
Rodney considered this. "Einstein."
"No, I'd just listen."
"Right. No telling him we can go faster than light?"
Rodney shook his head. "I'd be good. Really. I'd sit there in a lecture and just listen. Come on," he said, ending on a whine like a kid begging for a treat.
John put his head on one side. "Ooookay, but I'll be watching you. If you disappear us, I'll never forgive you."
"All sorted out, then? Good!" The Doctor grinned around at all of them. "Einstein it is!"
"I can't believe you did that, Rodney," John said as he emerged from the TARDIS. He turned and waved.
Rodney watched mournfully as the TARDIS dematerialised. "That was your fault. He asked me if I had any questions--"
"Yeah, of course he did, with you sitting there nodding away like a bobble-head at everything the guy said."
"My mind just went blank after all your harping on at me."
"So you ask your big scientific hero where he got his sweater."
"Stop laughing. It was a nice sweater."
"He looked at you like you were an idiot."
"C'mon, I'll buy you a drink."
"Don’t tell anyone."
"Who'd believe me?"