Title: Let's Do the Time Loop Again
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Character(s): Tenth Doctor, Donna, the TARDIS, Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c
Spoilers: Minor, minor spoilers for the Doctor Who episodes The Fires of Pompeii and Midnight, and major spoilers for the SG-1 episode Window of Opportunity
Notes: Originally written for the 2008 dwcross ficathon on LiveJournal, based on ladyyueh's prompt: "The Doctor abhors the results of the Ancients' clumsy experiments with Time." This is a slightly edited version of the story as it appears in that ficathon.
The Doctor tapped the TARDIS's console screen in annoyance, his brow furrowing. "What's wrong with you?" he muttered. "You're the one who wanted to refuel—so why land us in Siberia?"
The TARDIS gave a little mechanical groan, and his frown deepened. Nausea? But what could possibly have caused it? The TARDIS hadn't consumed anything unusual in quite a while, at least as far as he knew, and they were light-years and centuries away from any temporal anomaly that could cause such a reaction. She had been more sensitive than usual to such things in recent years, he knew, but there weren't any paradoxes or time wrinkles anywhere near close enough to them to have caused the time ship's discomfort—or at least, there shouldn't have been.
"Did we land?" asked Donna, emerging from the side corridor to stand beside him, glancing back and forth between the Doctor and the screen. "Everything all right?"
"I think we're somewhere near Omsk," replied the Doctor, straightening up and shoving his hands in his pockets. "Just a little detour, nothing to worry about."
Donna raised an eyebrow. "I thought you said we were just going to stop off in Cardiff before we headed to that resort planet," she said. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Omsk somewhere in Russia?"
"Something's bothering the TARDIS," explained the Doctor. "Never mind, though, we'll just try again."
The rest of the day passed innocuously enough. Donna took the Doctor shopping (or perhaps he took her, considering it was his credit card they used), and by the time they had stopped off to look at some shoes after lunch he found himself carrying enough boxes and bags that he was beginning to get pitying sidelong looks from some of the men they passed in the street. Soon after, he left Donna to her own devices, using the excuse of taking her purchases to the TARDIS to go back to his ship and spend the rest of the afternoon hiding (or rather, he told himself, relaxing) in the library. Donna returned a few hours later, but she seemed satisfied to simply head to her own room with the things she had purchased after his departure.
The TARDIS hadn't needed the rift energy too badly, but considering how often he and his companions seemed to get sidetracked, it was probably better to refuel sooner rather than later. He planned to give her twelve hours to soak it in (no sense staying longer, or she was likely to overeat and make herself sick, though he wisely kept that opinion to himself), and then it was off to…somewhere nice. He'd promised Donna a proper vacation, but he would have to decide where later.
Then, without warning, while he was in the middle of making himself a peanut butter and banana sandwich in the galley, the Doctor was struck with a wave of nausea to match the one the TARDIS had felt that morning. He knocked the plate off the counter as he flailed for a moment, gasping for air and wondering desperately what could possibly be the matter. Then, as the plate shattered and the piece of bread on which he had been spreading peanut butter hit the floor (peanut butter side down, of course, why was it always topping side down?), everything went black.
Just as quickly, everything rushed back into place, but it was wrong, he was in the console room and there was Donna and the screen displaying the endless steppe outside, and his head swam with the sensations.
"—Omsk," said the Doctor, his body finishing a word he had already started saying on automatic. He blinked, the nausea fading just as quickly as it had arrived. "Uhmm."
Donna raised an eyebrow. "I thought you said we were just going to stop off in Cardiff before we headed to that resort planet," she said. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Omsk somewhere in Russia?"
"What?" asked the Doctor distractedly, gazing about the console room in confusion. "Oh—yes. Russia."
"What's the matter with you, then?" asked Donna, her expression somewhere between amusement and concern.
"Nothing, nothing," lied the Doctor, flapping his hands dismissively. "Just got a bit distracted, that's all. Nothing to worry about—we'll just try again."
Their second day in Cardiff was less fun for both the Doctor and Donna, because he insisted on staying behind to do repairs to the TARDIS while she did her shopping on her own. While she was gone, the Doctor delved into his connection with the TARDIS, seeking answers she didn't seem to have. Whatever had sent them all back to the beginning of the day originated from somewhere outside the ship, but where he had no idea.
Donna returned several hours earlier than she had the first time. The Doctor liked to think that it was because she had missed having his company, but the more cynical side of him pointed out that one of the main reasons she had wanted him along was probably for his services as a pack mule. He was no closer to figuring out what had happened than he had been before she left, and was beginning to feel anxious, which must have shown on his face when she found him in the galley, making the sandwich he had been unable to finish and eat the day before.
"Is something wrong, Doctor?" asked Donna, forgetting for the moment about the tirade she had planned about his absence on her outing. "You've been acting weird all day—first you start trailing off in the middle of sentences, and now you're looking at that sandwich like it called you a mean name."
"I am not!" The Doctor finished assembling the sandwich and took it to the table. Donna joined him after a moment, armed with a mug of tea and a bag of crisps. "It's just…something unusual is going on."
"Unusual like what?" Donna gave him a wary look. "Is this going to end in us running for our lives?"
"No. Well, probably not." The Doctor bit into his sandwich moodily. "The thing is, though, we've done this before."
"Had a chat in the kitchen?" asked Donna dryly, fishing a crisp out of the bag. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure we have."
"No, I mean today, we already did today," said the Doctor impatiently. The word was not 'today' in Gallifreyan, but that was the closest the TARDIS was able to render it in English without devoting several sentences to an explanation of the concept. "Today we landed in Omsk, and then I took you to Cardiff, and we went shopping."
Donna stared at him as if he'd dribbled down the front of his shirt. "No…today we landed in Omsk, and then when we got to Cardiff you spouted off something about some time doodad or another and refused to leave the TARDIS."
"Yes," agreed the Doctor, brow furrowing in frustration. "We did that today as well. We did today twice, and this time I did things differently."
"Then why don't I remember?" asked Donna reasonably.
"Human brains aren't equipped to perceive fluctuations in the time stream," replied the Doctor. "We-ell…there's déjà vu, but most of the time that's just faulty wiring." He ignored the indignant look Donna was giving him, and continued. "Time Lords, on the other hand…well, let's just say I'm a little more sensitive."
"So it's like Groundhog Day, then?"
The Doctor looked at her, his eyes big. "Oh, I hope not. Twice was more than enough."
"All right, then," said Donna firmly. "Say I believe you. If we are in a sort of…time loop or whatever…why don't you just fly us out? I mean, if I remember correctly, we are sitting in a time machine right now."
The Doctor stared. "Why didn't I think of that?" he asked. Donna shrugged. "No, really," said the Doctor. "Why didn't I think of that? It's so obvious!"
"Says the man who didn't think of it." Donna smirked into her tea and watched the Doctor dash from the room.
The Doctor soon discovered, to his chagrin, that the TARDIS had become stuck in time. He simply could not remove his ship from the regular flow of linear time for anything longer than the period it took her to travel through the vortex to a different geographical location. He might as well have been trying to walk through a brick wall for all the success he had. Donna brought him a cup of tea after a while, and even seemed to believe him when he explained what was happening.
Then, finally, the Doctor had a breakthrough. After jury-rigging several pieces of the TARDIS together that were never meant to associate with each other on any level, he finally had the means to send the TARDIS back in time by twenty-four hours—plenty far to break out of the loop, if that was what they were in, and get on their merry way. He had less than an hour to spare before they would reach the time at which the day had previously reset, so as soon as the Doctor found the solution, he instantly activated the time rotor, not bothering to summon Donna.
The TARDIS groaned loudly and the Doctor sucked in a breath as he was hit with nausea once more. Then, of course, everything went black.
"—Oh—uhmm." The Doctor trailed off mid-word, prompting a confused look from Donna.
"Somewhere near what?" she asked.
The Doctor sighed.
He spent the next few dozen loops directing the TARDIS in one direction after another in order to discover whether the time loop was local, and if so, whether he would be able to leave it by simply leaving the area. The first time he found the edge of the effected patch of space/time, the Doctor was nearly sick on his own trainers when the TARDIS attempted to cross it.
By the time he had ascertained for certain that Earth was not the center of the bubble, as he had begun to think of it, the Doctor had given up on creating a detailed map of the bubble's edges. He got enough nausea from being forced back to the beginning of the loop every ten hours without bringing more on himself, and sometimes poking at the edges of the anomaly too hard caused them to be sent back to the beginning early.
Living with Donna was becoming difficult, since it was so hard to convince her of what was happening. Some days he would find a way to make her believe him, but then the next day she'd be back to telling him he was mad as a hatter, even if he tried the exact same method as before. While he was usually quite grateful for Donna's presence onboard the TARDIS, not knowing from day to day whether she would be supportive or spend the entire ten hours complaining about the vacation he had promised her was beginning to take its toll on his nerves.
The worst part, though, was not knowing whether the loop really would reset. One day, a few weeks into the experience, the Doctor tried dropping Donna off in Cardiff and setting out alone to probe at the edges of the bubble in peace. Soon, though, he began to fear the consequences if that day should happen to be the day when time began moving properly once more and Donna was still alone in Cardiff, and came zipping back to pick her up. She had been sitting forlornly on a bench, the day's shopping piled around her, and for a moment the Doctor had felt an overwhelming rush of guilt at the sight of her. Then she slapped him and yelled at him, he took her out to dinner at the best restaurant he could find, they both got drunk, and the loop restarted with the Doctor's brain still feeling the effects of the excessive amount of beer he had consumed.. Alcohol alone would not have been enough to incapacitate him, but when it was coupled with timesickness, it was enough to make him keel over in front of Donna mid-sentence.
At least that day he got a chance to sleep, even if it was only because Donna thought he might be coming down with "some sort of horrible, flesh-eating Martian flu" and he was able to convince her that Time Lords could heal any and all illnesses simply by being allowed to take very long naps. It was rather sweet, he thought, how Donna kept checking in on him and bringing him nibbles, even though she was sure to negate it constantly by making all sorts of impertinent comments about "sickly spaceboy nancies." He was touched by her concern.
Donna never seemed to notice that she was no longer sleeping due to existing in a time loop, and the Doctor came to envy her fiercely for it. No matter what had happened to her the 'day' before, she was just as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as ever as soon as time rewound itself. While his body seemed to follow the same laws, never wearing down or collapsing out of physical exhaustion no matter what he had been up to, his mind was being run ragged. The TARDIS became increasingly hysterical every day, which certainly wasn't helping him maintain his own sanity, much less actually do anything to get them out of their predicament. Several times, he simply powered the TARDIS down, forcing her into a state somewhere between meditation and a coma, and told Donna that they had broken down. He only did it at their landing spot in Russia once—as soon as she heard that they were stuck for the day, Donna had insisted on both of them trekking out over the steppe in search of a city in which to go exploring. The Doctor was normally quite good at finding his way back to the TARDIS, but with his mind muddled, the TARDIS forced into silent slumber, and the landscape being one solid unchanging mass, he had had trouble finding even the correct general direction. He had actually been grateful when the loop had restarted and taken him back from where he had been huddled out in the cold and dark with a miserable, belligerent Donna. After that, he was always sure to move closer to civilization before powering down.
Donna meandered into the console room after breakfasting by herself one morning to find the Doctor staring at the screen on the TARDIS's console and muttering about temporal anomalies. She watched silently for a moment or two, realizing that something seemed to be wrong, before stepping forward.
"Did we land?" she asked, glancing back and forth between him and the screen. "Everything all right?"
"I think we're somewhere near—oh, Rassilon's knickers, this is getting really old!"
Donna took a step back, not having expected that particular outburst. "What? What's getting old?"
"Nothing!" The Doctor looked away, fiddling with a knob on the TARDIS console. "Nothing at all. Just…er. Yeah. Never mind."
"Oh no, you don't!" Donna puffed herself up a bit and fixed the Doctor with her third best authoritarian glare. "You don't get to have an outburst like that in the middle of a sentence and then not even tell me what it's about."
The Doctor regarded her doubtfully, looking terribly serious. When coupled with his wonky eyes, though, the expression was a fair bit more comical than dramatic, and Donna had to remind herself not to giggle at him.
"You're going to accuse me of being completely off my head," he finally said.
"When aren't you?" asked Donna.
The Doctor cracked a smile at that, but only for a moment. "All right. The thing is, Donna, we're stuck in a time loop."
"A time loop. We spend ten hours—well, ten hours, three minutes, and twenty-six seconds—going about our day, and then, WHAM!" He snapped his fingers in front of her face, making her blink. "It sends us right back to this moment. Or, rather, a few minutes ago now, when I was in the middle of that sentence." He wrinkled his nose at her. "Really bad timing, if you ask me. I can't even remember how it starts anymore, much less how it's supposed to end."
"Riiiiight," said Donna, unconvinced. "You wouldn't happen to be running a fever, would you?" She reached up to put her hand on his forehead, but he brushed it away impatiently.
"It's true!" protested the Doctor. "This, here, now, is the seventy-third time we've repeated this loop. You can't feel it, you're only human, but I can, and the TARDIS can, and it hurts."
Donna took in his earnest look, and decided that he might not be making it up. "All right, then. Say you're not crazy—how could that happen? Time doesn't just loop itself…does it?"
"I have no idea," sighed the Doctor. "I've spent all this time—well, most of it, some days I get sidetracked—trying to figure it out, but it's hard to locate the source, not least because the TARDIS gets a little more upset and confused every time we start over. It helps when I shut her down for a loop, but not much." He frowned and tugged at his hair absentmindedly. "Also the fact that I haven't slept in a few weeks doesn't help, either. My body may not notice the lack of sleep, but my mind does."
"Well, that one's easy enough to solve," said Donna, giving a warm little smile. "If the same thing happens every day, it won't matter if you take a day off to sleep, now, will it?"
"And what would you think, Donna, if I abruptly told you I had to take a nap and just walked off? Or what if I didn't wake up before the reset and wound up half-asleep on my feet and just fell over? I mean, obviously I know what you would do, since you've done it before, but I want you to think it through yourself, now."
"Well, if that happened, I'd know you'd gone off your nut," Donna said confidently. "But what I'm trying to tell you is that you could take a nap today, since you've already gone and told me."
"…Have I ever told you how brilliantly wonderfully brilliant you are?" asked the Doctor. "Here, take my credit card, buy anything you want. Buy a planet, if you like."
"You'll have to take me somewhere where they're for sale first," laughed Donna, tugging the Doctor back from where he had been about to toddle off toward his bedroom.
"Ah. Right, yes, I forgot. I usually take you to…well, to Cardiff, but I think today the megamall of Yllastgne is in order, don't you?"
Donna looked on as the Doctor, looking ragged around the edges now that she knew what to look for, piloted the TARDIS to their new destination. If he was right about the time loop, she wouldn't remember this shopping trip. Still, though, shopping was shopping, and sleep could only do the Doctor good, regardless of whether he was telling the truth or simply crazy.
Finally, on the ninety-seventh day, the Doctor narrowed down the source of the time loop to one star system. From there, he was able to narrow it down to one planet easily enough, and on the ninety-ninth, he felt fairly confident that he had found the continent where the mystery thing that caused the loops was being kept. Donna spent most of her time feeling confused and angry, as the Doctor devoted all his time to tracking down the source despite her protests about the vacation he had promised her yesterday, so long ago. He felt mildly guilty about the way he was treating her, but with the end of the loop so tantalizingly close, it was impossible for him to put his mind to anything else.
It was, therefore, a source of monstrous portions of frustration when he discovered that he was unable to land, or even enter the atmosphere. A geomagnetic storm was raging down on the planet, and while the TARDIS would normally be able to fight her way down to the surface despite the heavy ionization in the atmosphere, the months of pain, nausea, and confusion had left her unable or simply unwilling to make the difficult trip.
The next eight days were spent cajoling the TARDIS, to no avail. She began to resist his commands to even go near the rocky, windswept planet he knew to be the source of their troubles. On the ninth day, he tried threats, and then the tenth was spent in Siberia with the Doctor apologizing profusely to his time ship, which was now ignoring his commands altogether. This time, with the TARDIS as good as broken down for real, he didn't let Donna go outside. Several more looped days passed, and the Doctor began to despair.
One evening in Siberia, the Doctor sat at the table in the galley, poking morosely at a bowl of Froot Loops. He glanced at his watch—only a few minutes to go, and the loop would start over. The TARDIS didn't seem to be angry with him anymore, but she still hadn't moved in more than half a week.
"What's gotten into you?" asked Donna as she slid into the chair across from him. "Yeah, the TARDIS is broken, but you could at least try to fix it—all you've done all day is mope."
The Doctor's head dropped and his shoulders shook, and for a moment she thought he was crying. Then he lifted his head, and she saw that he was shaking with silent, desperate laughter. She leaned across the table and gripped one of his hands, squeezing until she had to be hurting him.
"What's wrong?" she asked urgently, her eyes searching his face. The Doctor's spasms of laughter slowed, leaving him breathing unevenly.
"I've explained it so many times," he wheezed.
Donna began to feel afraid for the Doctor's sanity. Moping was one thing, but this was another entirely. "Explain it again."
"We're stuck in a time loop," said the Doctor. "In, oh…" he checked his watch again, "twenty seconds, we're going to shoot back to the beginning of today, and I'll remember, and you won't, and we'll still be stuck here. And if I try to explain, maybe it will be one of those days when you actually believe me, but it probably won't. You'll think I'm completely out of my mind."
"Gee, I wonder why that would be," said Donna with a flippancy she didn't really feel. After a moment, she glanced at her own watch. "…Doctor?"
"You said twenty seconds, right?"
"Ye-es…" the Doctor stared at her.
"The thing is, Doctor, it's been at least a minute since you said that."
The Doctor jerked his hand out of her grasp to stare intently at his watch. He tapped it with one long finger, then held it up to his ear to make sure it was still ticking.
"It can't be," he gasped, looking at it again in wonderment. Without another word, he shoved his chair back from the table and sprinted from the room.
"Well," said Donna to herself after a moment of shocked silence, "Now I know he's completely barking."
After some hours of coaxing and gentle adjustments to her wiring, the TARDIS reluctantly took to the Vortex once more. This time as they neared the planet, she only hesitated for a moment or two before landing exactly where the Doctor had figured the device causing the loop would be. The atmosphere was clean and clear now, the storm having finally blown over after its months of sustainment, and the Doctor bounded out onto the rocky surface as soon as the TARDIS had landed.
"Where are you going?" called Donna after him from the doorway.
The Doctor ran straight for the arrangement of stone pillars a few dozen feet from them, not bothering to stop long enough to answer her question. Donna huffed and stepped outside, following at a more sedate pace.
When she caught up, the Doctor was standing beside what looked like a gigantic stone altar with square panels set into its top surface. He was running his sonic screwdriver over one of the panels, a determined expression on his face.
"You know, Doctor," said Donna, watching him. "You promised me a vacation. 'Best scenery in the universe,' you said, 'and all the room service you could want.' And now we're standing on some dead planet, and you're attacking some sort of table."
"I have to do this, Donna," hissed the Doctor, finally getting a panel open to reveal a complex jumble of components, which he began methodically disconnecting and removing, leaving them in a pile on top of the altar.
"What? Why?" Donna eyed the…whatever those pieces were. They didn't look like anything she'd ever seen on Earth, and that included the things she'd seen in Pompeii. "Did it insult your family or something?"
"We covered this!" said the Doctor tersely, yanking a piece out less gently than might have been expected. "Because of this thing, I've been living through the same day for three months!" He paused, looking at her over the rims of his glasses with a lost expression. "We did go over this today, didn't we? Only I've explained it to you fifty or sixty times now, and it's all starting to blur together."
"I'm still not sure you're not just having me on!" She crossed her arms. "Why would someone build a machine that did something like that?"
"It's one of the Alterans' failed attempts at time travel," explained the Doctor. "When the Time Lords were still in existence, they would have dismantled anything like this the moment they had the chance."
"Ah," Donna nodded, as if that explained everything. "Fine, then, do whatever it is you think you need to do. I'll be over here when you get done playing with your space junk."
"Too bad the time machine doesn't work," said Sam as SG-1 waited for the gate to finish dialing out from the SGC. "Just think of what we could accomplish with controlled time travel."
"Oho, no, you don't" replied Jack, giving her a dark look. "As soon as we get through the gate we're taking that damned thing apart, and after that no one ever gets to touch it again."
"I agree with Colonel O'Neill," said Teal'c. "No good can come of tampering with the machine again."
"I know." Sam looked wistful—the fact that she hadn't been aware of the time loop probably made it easier for her to feel curious rather than bitter about the experience. "Anyway, didn't we discover that the storms only come once every fifty years? I don't think we'd be able to turn it back on even if we wanted to."
Daniel nodded. "It's going to be a long time before that thing is going to be useful as anything other than a giant paperweight."
"Not long enough," muttered Jack. "The sooner this thing is destroyed, the better."
A surprise awaited SG-1 on the other side of the wormhole. Malikai was gone, as expected, but in his place was a gangly man in brown, busy doing something they couldn't see next to the altar. A redheaded woman sat against a pillar nearby, staring at the Stargate in obvious surprise.
"Hold it right there!" shouted Jack as his team instantly went on alert, weapons trained on the strangers. "Hands where I can see them!"
The man straightened and raised his hands obediently, dropping something that looked like a silver flashlight on the altar in the process. He looked them up and down with a scowl on his face. "You're from the SGC, aren't you?" he asked. "When you found this machine, did you even know what it did, or did you just start pressing buttons?"
"Who are you?" asked Jack, taken aback but not enough to let down his guard.
"This is the worst vacation ever," hissed the woman sitting by the altar, giving her companion a withering look.
"Vacation?" asked Daniel quietly, brow furrowing.
"I'm the Doctor," said their new acquaintance, ignoring the woman. "Stay back. I don't want you coming anywhere near this thing."
"I could say the same about you," replied Jack dryly.
"I'm Donna, by the way, since you thought to ask," interjected the woman. "Donna Noble, and no, I don't know what's gotten into him. He's not usually quite this bad."
"Can we just hold on for a moment?" asked Daniel. "What, exactly, do you think is going on here?"
"It's obvious," replied the Doctor. "A bunch of idiot humans—no offense, Donna—"
"Oh, plenty taken."
"—found something they didn't recognize and used it to cause a bloody huge temporal anomaly without any thought as to the consequences of their actions—and is it really necessary to point those guns at me?"
"You tell me," said Jack. "We didn't turn it on, anyway—that was someone we thought was one of our allies. We just spent three months figuring out what was going on and how to stop it."
The Doctor deflated visibly. "Oh. So you didn't…right."
"How do you know about it, anyway?" asked Sam. "Only the people who were next to the machine when it was first activated should have been able to perceive the time loop for what it was."
"Wait, time loop?" asked Donna. "You mean there really was one?"
"Yeah," said Jack. "I take it you didn't know?"
"Of course she didn't," said the Doctor. "Like you said, only someone at the center of the anomaly would be able to see it—if they were human."
"And you're…not." Jack raised an eyebrow.
"Of course not," scoffed the Doctor. "What I am is a Time Lord. Do you understand what I'm saying? I'm a Lord of Time. I see the ebb and flow of the universe, I feel every eddy in the flow of time, and just now, this thing," he gestured disgustedly at the altar, "subjected billions and billions of miles of space to a time loop for three months while I happened to be parked next door. I don't know what you plan to do with it, but I refuse to leave without making sure it will never operate again."
"Then we're here on the same mission," said Sam disarmingly. "We feel the same way about it as you do—or at least Jack and Teal'c do, since they were aware of the loop."
"Hang on," said Daniel. "'Time Lord'? Teal'c, have you ever heard of anything like that?"
"I have not, Daniel Jackson," replied Teal'c. "It appears that we may be encountering an unknown race."
"Yes, and you're still pointing your guns at me," the Doctor pointed out testily. "Look, I'm not even armed." He waved his hands for emphasis. Donna, who had never bothered to raise her arms in the first place, looked at them expectantly.
Jack nodded to his team and they lowered their guns, still on alert but keeping a more relaxed stance. "Just how do you know about the SGC?" he asked.
"Basic Earth history, innit?" asked the Doctor, lowering his arms and reaching for the thing he had dropped on the altar. He stopped and held it up between his forefinger and thumb when Jack's gun came back up to point at him again. "It's just a screwdriver," he said. "Scout's honor." He tucked it away inside his jacket, before carefully bringing both hands back into view. "Trust me, when your little science fair project goes public, it's going to mean big changes for Earth."
"Wait a minute," Sam gave him an incredulous look. "Are you saying that you're from the future?"
"It's all relative," replied the Doctor vaguely. "Listen, I'd love to stand here all day answering questions at gunpoint, but all I came here to do was disable this machine, and as long as I take this with me," he pointed at one of the pieces he had evidently pulled out of the altar, "it's mission accomplished."
"Or you could always show us where the Ancients went wrong in building this thing," pointed out Sam, not sounding particularly hopeful that he actually would. "I'm sure we could find something to offer you in return."
"Oh no," the Doctor laughed ruefully. "No. Trust me, there's nothing I want—not enough to unleash time-traveling humans on the universe, at any rate. That's the last thing anyone needs."
"Oi!" Donna looked offended, but it was hard to say if the expression was genuine.
"Except for you, Donna."
"But if you can travel in time, there are all sorts of things you could teach us other than your technology," protested Daniel, as the Doctor picked up the component he had indicated earlier and gestured to Donna. "Even if you didn't want to tell us about the future, there's so much we don't know about the past, even on our own planet."
"Oh, you'll figure it all out eventually," said the Doctor dismissively as he took Donna's hand, turning his back on them. "Now, Donna, are you ready for that vacation? I was thinking about the Medusa Cascade, or—ooh! How about Midnight? You'd love it on Midnight, it's all crystals and luxury spas…."
As SG-1 watched the blue box the other two travelers had stepped into disappear with a grinding noise, Jack heaved a dramatic sigh.
"I don't even want to think about the paperwork we're going to have to fill out for this one."