Fandom: Doctor Who/Stargate: Atlantis
Word count: 5156
Notes: This was a pinch-hit for the Multiverse crossover ficathon, and the request was 'Rodney McKay & the Doctor'. Which I had fun with, even if I did give myself a headache hammering out the two separate-but-interweaving chronological threads :)
Section headings are from A Prayer For The Twenty-First Century by John Marsden.
I owe gratitude to the works of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, and to tammaiya for listening to my deadline-induced panic and helping me over my final blocks.
The Holes In The Ground
May the road be free for the journey
May it lead where it promised it would
May the stars that gave ancient bearings
Be seen, still be understood
Later, Rodney never quite links the first encounter to all of the ones that come after it; for one thing, he's only eight years old when it happens. For another, it's the only time that the ridiculous scarf makes an appearance.
"Excuse me," the man says, "could you tell me where I am?"
"Parlour Street," Rodney says. He is standing leaning against the low wall of the front yard, watching the stars come out and hoping that his mother forgets to call him in. A soft breeze blows scents past his nose: summer dust, rubber, and the grass clippings from the lawn next door.
"Of course." Pause. "Interesting. A deviation of -- and what year is it?"
"I don't have a concussion," Rodney informs him. "I know all this stuff."
There's another pause and Rodney feels jittery under the man's gaze, which is calm and curious as he runs a hand through his hair, having no effect upon the wildness of the curls.
"So, is there anything funny going on around here? Any mysterious disappearances? Or appearances? Any injustices in need of correction?"
Rodney wonders if he's crazy. He certainly looks like he could be. "No," he says warily, bending his knees slightly so that he can run indoors if the man makes any crazy movements. "Not really."
"Ah," the man says. "Nice change, that."
Rodney considers mentioning the fact that his parents refuse to extend his bedtime to 10pm despite the fact that at least ten of the kids in his class get to stay up as long as they want, but he's pretty sure that this isn't the kind of injustice that was meant.
"Lemon drop?" the man enquires suddenly, holding out a paper bag.
"I'm not supposed to take things from strangers," Rodney says, glaring. "'Specially not things that could kill me."
The man looks taken aback. "They're quite safe, I assure you." He puts one in his own mouth to demonstrate.
Rodney rolls his eyes. Grownups are so tedious. "I'm allergic to citrus."
They stare at the stars for a while in silence, and Rodney isn't quite sure what prompts him to blurt out, "I'm going to explore space one day." He hasn't even told his parents about this dream yet.
"Good for you, young man." The stranger smiles. "I've done some exploring of that kind myself."
"You have not," Rodney says scornfully, but part of him is desperate to ask why, how, what was it like?
"Fear not," the man says, his voice solemn, but with a mischievous light in his eyes. "Humanity has the stars in its future."
Two years later Rodney will be tearing his way through the oeuvre of Asimov, and he will come across that quote with a jolt of surprise.
And some time after that he will step through a stargate for the first time and feel the truth of it in his bones, in his fingertips, in the thrilling pounding rush of his own blood.
May every aircraft fly safely
May every traveler be found
May sailors in crossing the ocean
Not hear the cries of the drowned
"McKay," Sheppard drawls, his face adopting the petulant expression that means he has come across something that he cannot charm, threaten, fly or blow up, and he fully intends to blame Rodney for it, "why is there a telephone box in front of my jumper?"
Three words into this sentence, Rodney has already opened the rear of the jumper and is crawling out, calling for Zelenka. The telephone box -- Police Box, proclaim the white letters, but Rodney has never trusted labels and he sees no reason to start now -- doesn't seem to be going anywhere. It has settled neatly in front of the stargate and, inasmuch as a blue wooden box can, is giving off the rather smug impression that neither hell nor high water nor the violently obstinate nature of one Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard is going to budge it a single centimetre.
As if to prove this wrong, there's a sudden creak and one side of the box opens momentarily. The man who steps out is wearing a long brown coat and has hair that sticks up in a manner almost as ridiculous as Sheppard's, and as soon as his eyes alight on Rodney his whole face brightens.
"Dr McKay!" he says, sounding both delighted and British. "I was starting to think I'd -- well, there are certain temporal parameters that have to be jiggled when aiming for a place with such frequent wormhole activity, and the background resonance -- well, it's a bit -- well, never mind. Good to see you."
"Er," says Rodney, aware that he is now as much the centre of attention at the maniacally grinning newcomer. "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but who the hell are you?"
"I'm the Doctor. Just…the Doctor" He beams and looks around the gateroom, appearing quite unperturbed by the number of weapons pointed at him. "Hello! Hello. Lovely place you have here. I've always thought so."
"Rodney?" Elizabeth has reached the bottom step and is looking at him meaningfully from behind a line of Marines. "Would you care to explain the situation?"
"No! No, I wouldn't!" Rodney snaps. "Because I don't have any idea!"
"This man seems to know you."
"Believe me, Elizabeth, I'm as confused as you are. Probably more."
"Well…" Elizabeth looks away and is obviously coming to some kind of silent agreement with Sheppard, because the next moment she nods. "Stand down, gentlemen. Rodney, find out…well, just find out," she finishes firmly. "I need to finish my conversation with Colonel Caldwell."
"Perfect," Rodney says, though not very loudly. "Because it's not like I'm a scientist, no, of course I'm happy to play diplomat to some nutter who lives in a telephone box and knows my name, feel free to interrupt me at any time with an actual explanation, by the way --"
But the unnamed Doctor doesn't seem to be listening: he has whipped a pair of glasses out of his pocket and is peering at the stargate through them, as though he was somehow unable to see the giant blue swirling thing without the aid of two tiny lenses.
"Brilliant," he breathes. "Such a large diameter for an intergalactic wormhole…and you've anchored this end to a single location, haven't you? Blimey, do you know how much power -- well of course you do, you've already -- what are you using to keep it open, cold-state fission?"
"Er," Rodney says again, and then clutches at this opening like a lifeline. "Zero point module."
"Fascinating." The Doctor keeps peering, his mouth half-open. Rodney wonders if he's going to try and lick the wormhole, and what would happen if he did, but he straightens up after a moment and turns back to Rodney. "Anyway, can't stay long, I'm being chased by the Time Agency and this is a bad place to try and disguise the TARDIS's energy signature, so they're probably catching up, but I needed to give you this before I go and hide in the thirteenth century for a while." He rummages in one pocket and then holds out a tiny box made of something that looks like green metal.
"What is it? Is this -- is this why you're being chased?" Rodney narrows his eyes and puts his hands behind his back. "Because if you're just dumping your danger off on someone else, I'm not --"
"Well, no. Well, yes," he admits. "It's why I'm being chased. But they're chasing me rather than it, if you catch my drift, so they're not going to come after you. I think. Well, I'm almost certain."
"Highly comforting," Rodney mutters, but curiosity overcomes wariness and he holds out his hand anyway. "What is it?"
"I can't really tell you. Just…keep it safe for me, Rodney." The Doctor gives him the box and then closes his hand over Rodney's own. His grip is gentle but very firm. "Trust me. I know you can do it."
"Wait," says Rodney's mouth, which is generally quite good at carrying on a conversation while parts of his brain (the thirteenth century?) are still piecing the theory together. "You mean previously in your life and later in my life you met -- will meet -- anyway, you've already taken it back, haven't you? That's how you knew my name."
The Doctor's smile falters and then widens. "Oh, well done. I'd forgotten how quick you are."
"Well." Rodney waves an impatient hand, secretly pleased. "I'm a genius, okay, good, now isn't this a bit dangerous? Telling me about it, using me as some kind of…multidimensional storage cupboard? Isn't that -- that's a predestination paradox, isn't it going to cause some kind of tear in spacetime?"
"Weeell," the Doctor says, looking shifty, and runs a hand through his hair. "Spacetime is a bit more durable than people give it credit for. More like rubber than tissue paper. Bendy," he finishes lamely.
Rodney thinks this sounds like a whole lot of elusive nonsense, and he should know, but he contents himself with scowling and echoing, "Bendy," in tones that are as flat as he can manage.
The Doctor doesn't seem to take the hint; he beams and shoves his hands into his pockets. "Absolutely. No tears as long as you know in which directions the rules can safely be bent, which I do."
Rodney's mind is busy with a whole horde of questions, feverishly shuffling and reshuffling themselves according to different priorities -- time travel? teleportation? really, a telephone box? -- but before he can voice a single one of them, the Doctor has announced, "Well, must be off!" and is stepping back inside the blue thing. Shortly, it begins to glow, and then it disappears completely.
"Aauughh," Rodney says.
May gardens be wild, like jungles
May nature never be tamed
May dangers create of us heroes
May fears always have names
For a long time he holds those questions in his mind, turning them over, waiting for the opportunity to ask them. And so of course it just figures that when the Doctor next visits Atlantis, Rodney is hiding on a tower balcony with a bleeding forehead, a flimsy remote circuitboard in his hands, and less than two minutes to defeat the virus currently locking him out of the shield generator's controls.
"Oh, Rodney!" he says, sticking his head out through the door and causing Rodney to nearly jam a piece of wire though his own thumb in a fit of pure shock. "I just realised that I never thanked you for listening to --" He frowns. "Sorry, is this a bad time?"
"Not at all," Rodney grits out. "By all means, sit down, have a cup of tea. It's not like we're in mortal danger and the fate of the city is in my hands for the tenth time this month or anything."
The missile rain gets heavier, falling down around them like deadly stars, and the Doctor pulls his glasses out and puts them on. "Give me that," he orders. He's got a command-voice like Sheppard's, rare but electrifying, and Rodney hands the circuitboard over without even thinking. "What's wrong with it? No, never mind, I think I can get it working."
"What's that?" Rodney demands, eyeing the silver thing that emerges from the same coat pocket as the glasses.
"Sonic screwdriver," the Doctor says, twisting the tip furiously.
"Setting…yes, setting seventy-two should work."
"Well, maybe, but it shouldn't," Rodney argues. "A sonic screwdriver? That's about as scientific as -- as Star Trek."
"Well," the Doctor says, "actually --" and Rodney slams his hands over his ears.
"NO," he shouts. "I don't want to hear it! Just make it work, save our lives, whatever, please refrain from shattering my sanity any further."
"Right," and thank God, he actually shuts up and just balances the circuitboard on one knee and points his stupid sonic screwdriver at it and presses a button. Blue light buzzes out from the tip and three seconds later there's a shuddering roar from the generators and the shield soars upwards. It's the most ridiculously unscientific thing Rodney has ever seen. He kind of wants to cry.
"Jesus, McKay," comes Sheppard's relieved drawl in his ear. "Cutting it a bit fine there, weren't you?"
"You're welcome, Colonel," Rodney snips, but he's too tired to put any real energy into it.
The missiles are striking the shield above their heads and exploding like fireworks.
"Quite pretty, really," the Doctor murmurs, looking up.
"Well, your timing sucks, but I guess it turned out okay," Rodney mumbles after a while, as the Wraith ships disappear into hyperspace and the Doctor is about to slip away again as well. Exhaustion and gratitude are blunting his voice's usual acerbic edge. "Not that I wouldn't have managed to do it without you, obviously. And not that mortal peril is an uncommon situation for you to have found us in."
The Doctor's face is unreadable. "You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once."
Rodney, who has read Starship Troopers three times since coming to Atlantis -- each time with a deeper sense of irony -- has always been able to recognise Heinlein. For a moment he can smell freshly-cut grass and feel night air on his face.
"Enormously helpful," he snaps. "Was there any other plagiarised wisdom you wanted to impart?"
"Now that you mention it." He reaches out to clap Rodney on the shoulder. "Remember this: know when to fight. And know when to live."
"What does that even mean?" Rodney says, and the Doctor grins.
"I think you'll figure it out."
May the mountains stand to remind us
Of what it mean to be young
May we be outlived by our daughters
May we be outlived by our sons
"Goodnight, Pandora," says Zelenka, who has always had a knack for absorbing the most irritating cultural fragments.
"What? Oh. Yes, goodnight." Rodney returns to spinning his chair in counterclockwise circles and staring at the display screen whenever it comes into view, hoping that a solution to the power routing problem will somehow have appeared since the last revolution.
Rodney's safekeeping mission has become something of an injoke among his friends; nobody has been able to identify or open the thing, it's been years since that first encounter in the gateroom, and -- apart from one agrarian tribe who told Teyla about a man in a blue box who helped save their town from raiders -- in most people's minds the Doctor has become just another of the Pegasus Galaxy's unsolved mysteries.
"Jesus Christ." Rodney spins his chair around with such violence that he overshoots and ends up facing the wall. "You could knock, you know…where's your box, anyway, did you upgrade it and get a fire hydrant or something?"
"Oy." The Doctor protests the joke, but only half-heartedly. "I parked her in some room: full of boxes, very dusty, it looked like the kind of place nobody goes in much."
"Have a seat?" Rodney suggests, after a pause that's probably long enough to qualify as rude; he's not at all used to having people in his lab that he isn't entitled to order around and reduce to tears if they air their moronic ideas within his hearing range. Even Elizabeth and Sheppard know to just hover in the doorway and shout 'Rodney!', preferably in conjunction with 'coffee!', until he looks up.
The Doctor slides onto a stool nearby and drums his feet against the floor for a moment. "Thanks."
"I just wanted to talk," the Doctor says abruptly. He looks almost as awkward as Rodney feels. "Just…" And then he raises his head and looks Rodney straight in the eye, and Rodney almost swallows his own tongue at the expression on the man's face: raw and pale and terrible in the oldest sense of the word. His eyes are old, old, far too old, like layer upon ancient layer of unhappiness has been laid down within them and allowed to accumulate like sediments on an ocean floor. (There are waves whispering against the city's base not far from here, and Atlantis carries the sound along her corridors; Rodney has found himself more prone than usual to ocean metaphors since he started working in this particular lab.)
"Um," Rodney says rather desperately, "are you sure you want to talk to me, I mean, I could go and wake Teyla up, she's good at listening to people, I just tend to talk and talk about myself, you know, I --" He's babbling. He forces his mouth shut and takes a deep breath. "Surely," he says finally, "surely you have someone else, somewhere in the universe, someone normal, that you can talk to about…things."
And then for the first time it hits him that maybe the Doctor doesn't.
Sure enough, the Doctor sighs and sets his own stool spinning with an absent kick. "I did," he says. His voice blurs in a weird Doppler effect as he goes around and around. "And now she's gone."
Rodney has absolutely no clue what to do, what to say, but the Doctor keeps spinning and keeps talking and maybe all he's expected to do is sit there and listen.
"I haven't always looked like this, you know," the Doctor says. "Nine other deaths before I got this body. Nine. That's more than cats, more than anyone else should have to -- and I keep going. D'you know how many people I've seen die?" he adds after a moment. "Really die?"
Rodney feels slightly ill. "No."
The Doctor names a very large number.
"Not prime," Rodney says, automatically, because it's that or actually let himself comprehend what the number means. "Your turn. Nineteen thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven."
The Doctor stops spinning, and turns to look at him, and the bare skeleton of a smile appears on his face. "Not prime."
May the bombs rust away in the bunkers
And the doomsday clock not be rewound
May the solitary scientists, working
Remember the holes in the ground
The night John finally finishes War and Peace, he knocks rather sheepishly on Rodney's door and offers to exchange it for something else. Someone set up a library-exchange system a long time ago, but Rodney looks down at the paperback, battered beyond recognition, and almost smiles.
"Well, that's pretty much useless, isn't it," he says, and goes to fetch his copy of Asimov's Mysteries.
Despite the surface damage the Tolstoy is still quite readable, and Rodney is a few pages into the first chapter when his vision starts flickering blue in a familiar fashion. He doesn't quite get to slap the Doctor in the chest with John's book as soon as he steps out, but that's only because it takes Rodney half a minute to locate his cane and stand up.
"Someone's been in the wars," the Doctor says, gesturing, and Rodney snorts because…well, it's an idiom, but it's nothing more than the truth.
"Shrapnel," he says, with the same feeling of unreality that he always gets when he has to explain the injury. He'd…well, okay, he'd boasted loudly and tragically about it for a full month after the explosion, but…shrapnel is for trenches and veterans and historical novels, shrapnel is for heroes, not for stubborn scientists who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and weren't about to take off running when there were only two shredded wires standing between their team and a functioning gate.
"I said I'd buy you a drink." The Doctor jerks his head towards the blue box.
"Did you?" says Rodney, but vaguely; he's never been one to turn down a free drink, and that looked enough like an invitation that his heart jerks within his chest.
The box is called a TARDIS.
It's bigger on the inside.
Rodney, embarrassingly, almost has hysterics.
The TARDIS seems to respond to the Doctor's touch almost like Atlantis does to John's, all urgent noises and possessive glows, and by the time they land in the storage cellar of a bar, on some planet that has at least eight syllables in its name, Rodney is no closer to figuring out how it works than when they left.
The bar itself is enormous, about half the size of a football stadium; it looks crowded almost to bursting point, but the Doctor flashes a small piece of paper which gets them two comfortable seats.
"This is opening night," the Doctor says, looking around the bar with a pleased expression. "Tomorrow it's going to be blown up by a rival intergalactic chain," and then, before any words can come out of Rodney's gaping mouth: "Hypervodka?"
Two drinks in and the Doctor is explaining Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, pausing occasionally so that Rodney can babble things like wait! and say that again! and scribble frantic notes on a cocktail napkin.
Four drinks in and Rodney's bum knee has stopped hurting, but the Doctor still lets him go on for at least ten minutes about the incompetence of all the other field scientists and how he's sure John has been ending up in the infirmary with much greater frequency since he, Rodney, was banned from offworld missions. "I made a graph," he adds darkly.
The fifth drink is a very bright orange, a colour which Rodney mistrusts, but he cannot seem to communicate this to the robot which is pressing it upon him with increasingly alarmed beeps.
"No," Rodney says, "no, you idiotic machine, oh my God, are you sure you should be serving alcohol when you can't even pass a basic Turing test? I'm allergic to citrus," and the Doctor blinks slowly at him like he's trying to remember something, or maybe just having difficulty focusing.
By the end of the fifth drink Rodney is entering the maudlin stages of his drunkenness, and trying to get the Doctor to drop hints about the future of applied wormhole physics; then the James Bond franchise; then humanity as a whole.
"Because I hate dystopias," he announces. "Hate them."
"Don't worry. You're a resilient race, you lot." The Doctor lifts his own glass in a toast. "Oh, sure, you have your dystopic periods, but you always find a way to rise above them."
"That's good," Rodney says decisively, feeling warm and loose at the edges and quite happy to embrace anything the future has to offer. It is a decidedly novel sensation. "Good."
"Aaand I think we're done." The Doctor hands him his cane and helps him find his balance, looking amused. "Come on. Back home."
"Hang on," Rodney says as he's steered back into the TARDIS, and, "what did you mean, you lot?" as the floor jerks around jubilantly, and finally, "oh."
"Oh, didn’t I mention that?" They're back in Rodney's room in Atlantis, and the Doctor looks surprised.
"No! You didn't!" Rodney wonders if he can hit the man -- the alien -- with his cane without falling over in the process, and decides not. It's not like he cares, it's not like aliens are a new thing, but he really could have remembered to mention it earlier.
"One more thing," the Doctor says, and pulls the cocktail napkin out of Rodney's hand.
"What --" Rodney starts, but the Doctor is already pointing the sonic screwdriver at it, and two seconds later it bursts into flame.
Rodney watches in resigned horror as the ashy scraps of his Nobel Prize drift to the floor.
"But," he splutters, and can't get any further.
"Sorry, Rodney." The Doctor puts his hands into the pockets of his coat and gives him that knowing, uneven smile. "There are free drinks, and then there are things that I just can't give away."
May the knife remain in the holder
May the bullet stay in the gun
May those who live in the shadows
Be seen by those in the sun
Rodney will never understand the female obsession with letter-writing. He's been back on Earth for a few years now, and yet despite his repeated attempts to impress upon her the glorious technologies of telephones and emails, Jeannie still insists upon receiving a real, honest-to-God, ink-on-paper letter every month. Rodney's handwriting is indecipherable even by faculty standards and he never knows what to write about, but he forces himself to make the effort: things don't always have to be important to him to still be important. He learned that lesson slowly, but he did learn it.
He's humming absently to himself as he taps his pen against the blank piece of lined paper, so it takes a little while for the swooping sound to cohere in his consciousness; and by the time it does, the TARDIS has materialised fully not three paces from his chair.
Rodney drops his pen at the exact moment that the door flies open. A man who doesn't look like the Doctor at all steps out, takes in his surroundings, and then pulls his leather jacket tighter around himself with a scowl.
"Bollocks!" he shouts, and kicks the side of the TARDIS, completely ignoring Rodney. "You stupid ship, I'm going to park you in a black hole if you don't…please, please, come on…"
"AHEM," Rodney all but yells.
The man wheels on him, and Rodney feels himself lean away slightly. Not nearly as much hair, and a stern wide mouth in place of the crooked smile, but that endless look of layered misery is exactly the same. "Forget me," the Doctor says flatly. "I was never here. I'm leaving."
"What's wrong with the TARDIS?" Rodney asks.
"What? You -- who are you?" His eyes narrow. "How d'you know it's a TARDIS?"
Rodney doesn't like this version of the Doctor much, and he certainly doesn't like the sensation of gathering stormclouds that has descended upon his office, but he charitably allows that the man is under a good deal of stress and so tries to keep the worst of the impatience out of his voice. "Dr Rodney McKay. You can Google me later; in fact, I'm almost certain you will. Now. What's going on?"
"It's the temporal calendar," the Doctor says, as if in spite of himself, intent anxiety creasing his brow. "She must be infected, something's shifted her destination algorithms to constantly average twin primes so I can't get to where I need to be, and I need a timeless constant to realign her, and -- oh, why am I even telling you this, as if this means anything to you --" He turns back to the TARDIS, now running a gentle hand down the wood as though in mute apology for the earlier insult.
"Hang on," Rodney says, flailing around for his pen and some scrap paper, and then, "Gregorian?"
After a moment the Doctor nods, so Rodney glances at his desk calendar and writes: 09 - 02 - 17
And then: 09 - 02 - 2017
And finally: 2017 - 09 - 02
Rodney gives silent thanks for the endless, pointless games of Prime Or Not Prime that he and Radek still play to pass the time during boring conference talks.
"Of course," he says slowly. "It's enclosed by eight-digit twin primes."
"It's also a Saturday, going by Zeller's congruence." The Doctor eyes him with renewed suspicion. "Why are you even here?"
Rodney bites back his first haughty response, which is I happen to get some of my best work done on Saturdays, thank you, and instead he says:
"I think I'm here to give you this."
And he pulls the green-metal box out of a drawer. It's all a bit too theatrical for his tastes, a bit too neat: what if he'd decided to keep the box at home instead of in his office? What if he hadn't decided to work this Saturday, what if John had dragged him to a football game instead? The whole thing just reeks of predestination, and Rodney is about to open his mouth and make a disparaging remark about paradoxes when he catches the expression growing on the Doctor's face as he stares at the box.
"That's a Euclidean space," the Doctor says, sounding almost strangled. "Where did you get that?"
Rodney's mind goes from Euclidean to Minkowski and then to 'bendy', my ass with increasing amounts of excitement. The Doctor is looking almost violent, though, so he waves his hands in a manner that he hopes is soothing. "You're going to give it to me. Later. When you look -- you know, different."
"Ah," the Doctor says, and takes a breath. The stormcloud sensation lessens, and Rodney finds himself relaxing the muscles of his shoulders. "Of course, the paradox preserves it." A sudden grin breaks out on the Doctor's face, as bright as his previous expression had been dark. "Brilliant!"
Rodney hands him the Euclidean space with hands that are suddenly all thumbs. "It's what you need?"
"It's exactly what I need." Grin, grin. This new -- old -- fuck it, Rodney thinks -- other Doctor is altogether unnerving. "If you'll excuse me, then, I have a war to stop."
"There's a war on?" Rodney swallows. "Where? When?"
"Does it matter? There's always a war on," the Doctor says unhappily. "That's just the way things are."
"If there ever was a time in history when peace meant that there was no fighting going on, I have been unable to find out about it," Rodney says, his mind racing to place the quote even as it passes through his lips. Heinlein. Of course.
The Doctor looks at him with those terrible eyes that don't miss anything, and something like recognition falls over his face. No; not recognition (not yet, Rodney thinks). Fellowship. "Would you come to war, Dr Rodney McKay?" he asks, unsmiling.
Rodney's knee aches, even in the warmth of his office. He is going to dinner with Elizabeth tonight. And sometime within the next three years -- two, his ego corrects him hastily, definitely within two -- his research group is going to crack clean renewable energy.
"No," he says, and something indefinable and bitter and smooth flows out of him. "No. I've done my fighting. I think I'd like to live for a while."
"Right. Well." The Doctor holds up the box, already opening the door of the TARDIS with his other hand. "Thanks for this. I'll buy you a drink sometime, how's that?"
"That'd be nice," Rodney says to the shimmering blue-tinged air.
After a moment, he picks up his pen and begins to write.
For the curious: Wikipedia pages for Euclidean space, Minkowski space, the Turing test and Zeller's congruence.