The Perils of a City of a Thousand Species

A Discworld Crossover

Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story. Except the version of MS Word I typed it on because that shit is legal. I don't pirate software, hell naw, that's for squares.

"Bodies in the Bodhi tree, bodies making chemistry, bodies are my family, bodies in the way of me, bodies in the cemetery, and that's the way it's gonna be."

-- Robbie Williams

--

Lord Vetinari worked on the eighth floor of the Palace. The disadvantages to this were that there were an awful lot of stairs to deal with every time he wanted to step out. The main advantage, however, was that anything and everything that happened on the roof was very, very audible. And for someone who has been the target of more than one assassination attempt, this is a very big advantage indeed.

Which was why he was able to hear the gentle 'thump' one clear morning. It was a quiet sound, but the rain of plaster from the ceiling that followed was markedly more noticeable. Calmly, brushing plaster out of his hair, the Patrician sent his clerk up to see what the disturbance was.

"It appears to be a box, sir," Drumknott reported when he arrived back.

"A box?" Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "Any particular sort of box?"

"It is a blue box, sir." Drumknott shrugged. "Beats me if I know what it is. And it wasn't there ten minutes ago - someone would have noticed."

"Indeed." Vetinari tapped his pen on the stack of papers once or twice before rising and heading for the door. "Well in that case, I think I should have a look at it."

"Sir?"

Vetinari shrugged. "Tell Clerk Brian to stand on the ready to run down to the University, would you? Just in case."

Up on the roof, there was indeed a blue box. Vetinari approached it slowly, reading the text along the top of it as he went. 'Police Box' or not, it wasn't something he'd seen, or Vimes had ever mentioned, so he approached the thing slowly and with caution. And then the doors snapped open on the right side of the thing, and a tall, thin man in a brown pinstriped suit stepped out, stretched his arms and, against every health advisory in the multiverse, took a deep breath.

"Ah, Ankh-Morpork!" he said, before coughing profusely. Contrary to what was expected, however, he smiled widely and bounced on his rubber-soled trainers. "Just like in the book then!" He stood for a moment, taking in the view. "Well there's the Tower of Art then, so that must be Broad Way, means I'd be on the Palace . . ." He turned to his right. He stopped.

"Why are you on my roof?" Vetinari asked, because it was the most logical first question. The man looked pleased beyond belief.

"Oh, brilliant," he breathed.

"I'm sorry?"

The man crossed the space between them in three strides and before Vetinari really knew what was going on, he was having his hand shook so vigorously he rather feared for his arm. Or at least the elbow.

"So pleased to meet you, it's an honor, really it is, sir, I'm the Doctor."

"Just . . . the Doctor?" Vetinari asked warily, extracting his hand.

The man bounced once. "Oh yes, yes just the Doctor! Brilliant, brilliant. You must be Lord Vetinari, Patrician of the city, most powerful man in the whole world, top of your class, mysteriously - "

"Why are you on my roof?" Vetinari cut in, before the Doctor could get rolling any more.

"What? Oh, I just set my ship down somewhere flat, you know how it is, eh?" The man spun around and spread his arms. "What a city! And all the people down there! Humans!"

"Er, broadly, yes," Vetinari corrected. For the first time in a very long while he felt completely at a loss, and more than a little put-off by the mysterious Doctor's enthusiasm. "I'm sorry, you said your ship?"

The Doctor spun around, still grinning from ear to ear. "Yeah, the Tardis. You know, like the Kite. But better. Well, sometimes better." He jumped suddenly, as if remembering something of great importance. "You play chess, don't you?"

Vetinari was still trying to come to terms with the man's ship, which if what he had said was true was some sort of out-of-world transportation mechanism, and so he was somewhat caught off-guard by the question. "Yes?"

"Fancy a game then?"

"What?" He blinked. "No. Maybe. Who are you? Where do you come from?"

The Doctor smiled and made his way back to the box from whence he'd come. "Well, I'm an alien, see. I've got two hearts. That I was born with - an Igor didn't put them there. Hah, I guess I should clarify that, eh? Oh!" He fumbled a tube from his pocket and pointed it at the Patrician. Vetinari flinched, but all it did was whistle and glow. "Oh, brilliant, physiological adaptations to adapt to the high magic field." The light snapped off and he tucked the thing back into his jacket. "I love humans," he smiled at the Patrician.

"Hopefully not for breakfast," the Patrician thought to himself, but he did not vocalize it. Instead, with a completely straight face, he said, "Capital, good to hear it."

"Anyway!" the Doctor said, gesturing to the box, "fancy a game of chess then? It's in the Tardis, though, sorry." He looked exactly like Vetinari had seen Young Sam on Hogswatch morning - all childish excitement and glee. "I don't normally do this, but you, well, you're a legend."

"A space legend?" Vetinari asked, slightly incredulous, following the Doctor to the door against his better instincts. And then, like multitude others before him, he froze. "Er." He grabbed the door with one hand and leaned around the side of the box, taking in its dimensions. Inside, the doctor stood on a metal ramp leading to a large, pulsing, greenish version of Hex.

"It's bigger on the inside," the Doctor said helpfully.

"I do see that, yes," the Patrician replied, voice faint. Then he blinked, seemed to mentally shake himself, and looked sternly to the Doctor. "Before this goes any further I must know, what is the chance of tentacles?"

"Tentacles? Oh, hardly any at all I should think." He smiled faintly. "But there is a very good chance someone might beat you at chess."

"Doubtful," Vetinari answered absently, stepping inside with all the caution of a man boldly going where only several dozen have gone before.

The Doctor shrugged. "Well, I don't know. How long have you been playing?"

Vetinari was watching the heart of the Tardis pump up and down. "Oh, forty years or so, I suppose. More or less."

The Doctor patted the man on the shoulder and led him to the console. "I only have several hundred years behind me myself, but I'm sure you'll be fine." He smiled again, that brilliant ear-to-ear smile. "I hope you don't mind if I have a lot of questions."

"I can't be gone too long," the Patrician said, looking warily back at the door, reassuring himself that a) it was still there and b) it was not covered in tentacles.

"Really?" The Doctor laughed. "I don't think that's any kind of problem at all. Now will it be coffee or tea?"

--

Inside the Tardis time didn't seem to pass as quickly as it did outside – Vetinari was well-aware that judging on the pace of the game and the moves made they'd been playing for hours, yet it seemed no where near that long. He looked quizzically to the Doctor as the man contemplated his next move.

"So, and please pardon me if this question seems obvious, I am assuming that since you have this, this Tardis, you are not human, despite appearing as such?" He paused. "Obviously you stated you were an alien, but you mean that in the, ah, the racial sense then, yes? What with the two hearts and all?"

The Doctor nodded, chin in his hand, peering intently at the board. Slowly, deliberately, he moved his knight to an empty black square. Vetinari blinked. "Check," said the Doctor, grinning broadly. "Get out of that one, eh?"

Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "I rather think I will, thanks," he said, flicking the king diagonally to a white square. The Doctor's face crinkled into an expression of shocked disbelief. "Missed it, did you?" Vetinari asked coolly.

"I can't believe it!" The Doctor looked to the other man. "You know, for a human, you're quite good. Almost freakishly good."

"I'm not sure if that 'for a human' remark made that statement a compliment or an insult," Vetinari mused. "Either way, Doctor, I look forward to your next move." He leaned back as the thin alien looked over the board, tapping his fingers on his knees. "And this can travel anywhere in space, can it?"

"And time, yeah," the Doctor muttered distantly.

"Time too? How useful." Vetinari looked over the control panel, smiling quietly to himself. "How very, very useful. Are you a betting man, Doctor?"

"Eh?" The Doctor snapped out of his concentration and looked up. "Not really. Why?"

Vetinari leaned back, hands behind his head. "I was contemplating a little wager, really. On the outcome of this game." He gestured to the board. "You win, I give you a free pass to the whole city, against my better judgment. Should keep Commander Vimes entertained, anyway." He took in the Doctor's expression. "Oh, don't look so put-off, I get the distinct feeling that trouble tends to follow you, Doctor."

The man cocked his head from left to right, casting his eyes upward. "I suppose it does a bit, yeah, I'll give you that one. And so what's in it for you, if you win?"

"I should think that answer is patently obvious," Vetinari said, looking around. "One trip, that's all I ask."

The Doctor frowned. "I don't do traveling companions."

Vetinari smirked and held up a pair of ladies' sneakers. "You're a liar." The Doctor scowled. "Come on, Doctor, you wouldn't even have to land anywhere. Just to see space!" He shrugged. "Really, what harm could it do?"

The Doctor exhaled through his nose. "You're not a legend for nothing, you know that?"

"Probably not."

The alien rubbed his forehead and sighed. "Alright, one trip, up and back. But that's it!" He laughed a little and moved a bishop. "Ha, anyway, it would be, if you were going to win. Sorry, mate, can't beat nine-hundred years of Gallifreyan experience!"

Vetinari gave the board a long, hard look. Then, very slowly, he picked up a knight and swept it across its prescribed path, finally settling it on a black space, knocking the Doctor's king aside. He gave the Doctor as innocent a look as he could manage. "Oops. Checkmate, Doctor."

"What?" The Doctor leaned over the board. "What? What? But! How did you?" He threw himself backwards in his chair, hands over his face. "I can't believe I missed that! Should have known this bloody regeneration would be rubbish at chess!" He sighed and lowered his hands. "Alright, you win." He looked around to find the Patrician standing by the console of the Tardis, tapping at the keys. Numbers scrolled across the screen. "Oi, what are you doing?" He slid out of his seat and walked over.

"Setting a course," the Patrician said with an unsettling dark glee.

The Doctor, somewhat alarmed now, snatched the computer screen and put his black-rimmed specs on. "The Gliese system?" He turned to the dark-haired man. "Oh, brilliant. Oh, I should have known, I should have known," he breathed. Then he threw up his hands and strode around the console of the ship, waving his hands and yelling to himself. "Of course not! Most brilliant thinker on a planet that has yet to discover steel, political genius, knows everything and no one can ever prove spying, but they're all so sure of it, oh it's brilliant." He leaned on the console and pounded his forehead with his fist. "Now Gliese, Gliese, what's in Gliese?" He looked up and snapped his fingers. "That's the Libra constellation! Libra, Libra, what's in Libra . . ."

"My home," Vetinari said calmly. "And I'd be obliged if you'd drop me off."

The Doctor gave him a startled look, almost as if he'd forgotten the other man was there. "Ah, er, but you see I can't. I'm, uh, I'm half-Ood, tentacles only come from the mother, ha, and, er, not quite sure how to pilot this ship totally, so, ah, no."

Vetinari nodded, smiled to himself, and crossed the floor in two steps, stopping just in front of the Doctor, eye-to-eye. "Time Lord, Tardis, yeah." He leaned on the console, arms crossed. "I'm not hostile, Doctor, just stranded. And lucky me you show up with a space ship that can take me home. Please, I'm not inclined to beg, so I ask that you don't force me to."

The Doctor breathed out, running a hand through his already-tousled hair. "You can't. You can't just leave; you rule this whole city! It's magnificently successful! What would happen if you left?"

"It would be fine," Vetinari said serenely. "I've had emergency mechanisms in place for years. Just in case. Since the Kite, actually. Drumknott knows what to do, he's the only one who knows why." He fixed the Time Lord with a Look. "Doctor, as charmingly rustic and absurd as the Disc is, I've quite had my fill of it." He looked down. "I miss home."

The Doctor looked him over warily. "But what are you? My readings showed you to be human although . . ." he tapped a few keys on the console and glanced to the screen. "High-level psychic compression field." He looked back to the man leaning on the console, who had his head tilted back, eyes closed. "You're not human, you're just inside a human." His mouth set. "Get out."

"I'd rather not," Vetinari said lightly. "And frankly I don't see the reason to."

"Don't see – Don't see any reason to?!" The Doctor shook a finger at the other alien, who raised an eyebrow in amusement. "You're compressing him! The real Havelock Vetinari, he's in there, you're killing him, if he's not dead already!"

"He never existed, Doctor, go easy on the righteous indignation," the Patrician said calmly.

"But he had to! You're a psychic being, you can't exist independently of a body you, you have to snatch bodies!" His eyes grew wide and he slapped his forehead. "Of course! Thick, thick, thickety thick! Libra, Gliese, Gliese 581d!" He pointed. "Body Snatcher, ha!"

Vetinari sighed. "We prefer the name Pirolause – Body Snatcher is quaint but inaccurate – and it's rude to point, Doctor."

"Of course, the Pirolause, I forgot about you lot! You do tend to keep to yourselves, don't you?"

"Yes, and for good reason, as you just demonstrated," Vetinari said, rolling his eyes. "Body Snatchers, honestly. Just because you're not physically manifest, you're suddenly the Big Bad Wolf of the Universe."

"Please don't say that."

"What?" Vetinari grinned wickedly. "Bad Wolf? Take me home, Doctor, I give you my word I'm not hostile."

"No. Let Vetinari go."

"Oh, honestly." The man sighed and his eyes rolled back into his head. There was a suggestion of a dusty cloud and the body – because clearly that was all it was – slouched backwards onto the console, limp. The doctor then became aware of a calm voice in his own head, accompanied by a small, quiet presence.

"There is no Havelock Vetinari, Doctor. It's the name I've been using for near sixty years, and that's the body that's been my vehicle on this planet. Without me in that body, it's just meat. Although I do allow it to biologically function independently, which was a rather brilliant foresight on my part." The Doctor shook his head as the feeling of his left lobe being swathed in cotton dissipated and the dust cloud trickled back into the motionless body on his console. Vetinari stood back up with a wince and straightened his cuffs, totally calm. "Interesting physiology you have there, Doctor," he said, has if this was something that he did every day.

"Where did you get that body?" the Doctor asked warily. "Havelock Vetinari was born on the Disc."

"I, ha, snatched it as an embryo. Beat the intended soul to the punch, as it were." He caught the Doctor's expression. "Oh, don't look so scandalized, it's all perfectly humane and legal, as per the 2679 Physicality Code, Section 12. 'Any viable, soulless physical body, regardless of chronological age, gender or species is a humane and fair vessel for the use of any intangible, psychic being of consciousness.'" He looked reflectively down at the skinny form. "Of course, I didn't manage to get there fast enough to modify the genetic code, unfortunately. So, ah, yes, I am, right now, in this body, utterly human. It has been an experience, believe you me."

"You mean you could have modified the appearance?" the Doctor asked, flicking a few switches on the console, still watching the other man.

"Of course, although I wouldn't have bothered. No, as I'm sure you're aware Pirolause have a few special . . . physiological modifications that we make to a host, should we be able to tap into the DNA in time."

"For what?"

"The link to the L-Space," Vetinari said calmly. "Any Pirolause in the pure form and all with full-bodied physical manifestations are able to link directly to the L-Space and gain access to all knowledge therein." He smirked. "That's the root in our supposed omnipotence. We know everything there is, so long as it's written down somewhere."

The Doctor nodded. "That's actually brilliant. Useful wherever you go, eh? Except, you don't have whatever it is you need to do that, so how is it you know everything that goes on in the city, eh?" The Doctor crossed his arms and took on a self-satisfied expression. "Riddle me that."

Vetinari smiled thinly. "Thankfully, the thaumic field around this planet comes quite in useful in that case. Half an hour at the Unseen University Library once a week seems to charge this form up adequately to allow for, at the very least, a weak psychic link. Can't access everything, mind you, but I've been around long enough to know how to get what I need even in the very worst of situations." He paused. "Well, that and spies. I have to admit, relying on spies did lend a certain flavor of excitement to the whole exercise."

The Doctor nodded. "Fascinating." He looked to the computer screen for a moment, and the two stood in silence. "I can't in good conscience just abduct you," he said finally. "Why don't you just go home through the L-space, eh? Surely you could manage that."

"Hah, you'd think so, wouldn't you?" Vetinari crossed his arms and shook his head. "After the Third War revealed how much of an Achilles heel the L-Space is the whole planet was modified to make it a one-way path. Of course, if you leave via the L-Space there you can get back in, but otherwise it's only out, not in. I'd have been home ages ago were that not the case, Doctor."

"I'm not just going to abduct you," the Doctor said firmly.

"That usually requires some resistance of the part of the abductee," Vetinari noted dryly. "In this case, when the so-called abductee is giving the directions I call into question whether abduction is really what's going on. More like hitching a ride, in my opinion." He sighed. "Doctor, please, I will reimburse you, I'll fix your chameleon circuit –" A knock at the door interrupted him. Both aliens looked. The Doctor turned to Vetinari.

"If I had to guess, I'd say it's for you," he said quietly. Vetinari raised an eyebrow, the Doctor nodded toward the door. "Go on, answer it." He sighed. "Listen, if you're really stranded, I'll take you home, on my word. No hostile being would have ruled over Ankh-Morpork benevolently for the apparent enjoyment of it, far as I figure." He sighed and flipped a couple other switches. "So go on, it's probably your clerk. At least tell him you're going."

Vetinari nodded, not saying anything, and crossed to the door. He opened it just far enough the slip out. When he'd been gone long enough, the Doctor slipped to the door and peered out through a crack to watch.

The man's clerk, Drumknott, was outside with a taller, grizzled-looking man beside him. "We were about to launch a city-wide search, sir," the unshaven man was saying as his armor weakly tried to glint in the sunlight, failing miserably.

Vetinari flashed a lightening-quick smile. "There's no need Commander. Right here, all in one piece, still among the living." He turned to the clerk. "Now, Drumknott, unfortunately that is not to remain the case. I think we should go with Emergency Protocol Seven Beta."

The Commander blinked. "What do you mean that's not going to remain the case? Going to jump off the roof, are you?" His eyes narrowed. "You do rule the city, sir, you can't just up and leave."

"Oh, but I can, Commander." The Commander snorted. "If it's the city you're worried about, it will be fine. The Emergency Protocol is literally fail-safe."

"And what then?" The watchman pulled a cigar out of a silver case and bit the end off. "What happens when the plan runs out, eh?"

Vetinari smiled thinly. "Just trust me, Vimes." He looked out over the city. "All good things must come to an end, eh? And when you get the chance, Commander, sometimes you have to leave."

Vimes looked hard at the Patrician, and then turned his gaze to the blue box. He looked back to the taller man. "That's where you're going?"

Vetinari nodded. "It's how I'm getting where I'm going."

A hint of a smile pulled at the corner of Vimes's mouth, around the cigar. "I knew you weren't human, you bastard. I always figured vampire, but I suppose alien is a good an explanation as any, eh?"

"Just don't go telling everyone about it, Vimes," Vetinari snorted. "The Emergency Protocol is contingent on everyone thinking I was human, unfortunately. Word gets out I'm still alive I'd never get a moment, even in deep space."

"Probably not." Vimes and Vetinari looked at the city reflectively for a moment. "So who's next in the hot seat?"

"Well, technically, it's all up to a vote by the city council," Vetinari said, amusement in his voice. "But, spoiler alert, it's going to be von Lipwig. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the idea," he added, catching Vimes's expression out of the corner of his eye.

"I never liked that shiny bastard. Still, suppose it could be worse. It could be Rust."

Vetinari nodded. "An excellent point to consider."

"And this city will make it through?" Vimes looked to Vetinari.

Vetinari looked skyward reflectively. "Honestly, Commander, I give no guarantee beyond the next seven years. But the next seven years ought to be fine." He smirked. "And think about it, Vimes, it's von Lipwig. Anything he touches turns to gold. A new age for Ankh-Morpork."

"A golden age?" Vimes shook his head, though he was smiling. "You know, it's a wonder no one else has figured out you're an alien. You'd have to be, wouldn't you, to do what you've done with the city."

"Ah, well, I'd hate to take credit." He patted the Commander on the shoulder. "If you lot hadn't bunged it up so badly I wouldn't have had anything to be brilliant at fixing!"

"I'm fairly certain that's speciesist."

"I'm fairly certain it doesn't matter, Commander." He turned on his heel and headed back to the doors of the Tardis. "Ah, and Commander, a word for you to remember. Think of it, oh, think of it as a code word."

Vimes smirked. "A code word? You planning on dropping back in and being unrecognizable?"

Vetinari shrugged. "Perhaps to make sure you haven't mucked up my city again. The word's Gliese, and don't forget it."

"What's it mean, then?"

"Nothing, not to you." He took a step before Vimes called out.

"Vetinari, wait." Vetinari turned and Vimes took shook his hand before pulling him down into a hug. "Thank you. I wouldn't know, but I'm fairly certain you didn't have to do what you did for the city." Vetinari smiled and pulled back. "And thanks for not consuming the world in tentacles or anything." As an afterthought, he shook his finger at the man and mumbled "Tell anyone about this on this planet or anywhere else and I'll give you a smack in the mouth, tentacles or not."

Vetinari took a step back to the doors of the Tardis and saluted. "Commander, Drumknott. Godspeed, gentlemen." And with that, the ruler of the city ducked out of sight. Vimes and Drumknott flinched as the noise began, accompanied by the light atop the blue box beginning to pulse, slowly at first and then more rapidly as the box itself seemed to fade into non-existence. When the wind had finished whipping through their hair and the noise had died down, the two stood, staring into empty air where the Tardis had been just before.

"How long did you know?" Vimes asked at last.

"Since the Kite," Drumknott answered.

"Did you ever, you know . . . Did he ever look like an alien?"

"Not once."

"Huh." Vimes rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet for a moment. "Funny how a chap can rule a city for years and no one ever figures out he's from a different planet, isn't it?"

"Indeed, Commander. But as his Lordship liked to say, how dull the world would be if we were all the same."

--

"That went better than I expected," Vetinari said, leaning on the Tardis door, eyes closed. "I expected an outburst of rage followed by a punch in the face. It almost seemed like he'd expected it."

"Well he did say he never thought you were human," the Doctor pointed out.

"Yes, but that was always the theory among the populace. It wasn't the species part I expected him to be upset about, it was the leaving."

The Doctor shrugged. "Who knows? Humans are a funny species. Always acting and reacting, sometimes no rhyme or reason, ruled by emotions . . ." He smiled. "It's all a bit mad, and a bit wonderful, eh?"

"Your optimism indicates you've never been in charge of a large group of them," Vetinari smirked. "I would leave out the wonderful and just go with mad."

"Everyone's got their own opinion, I suppose," the Doctor said brightly. "Now Gliese 581d, you said?"

"Sunwards hemisphere, magnetic north, if you don't mind. Should put me at least close to home."

"What's at home?" The Doctor asked idly, turning a knob and then pulling it outwards. The ship shuddered.

Vetinari shrugged. "A new body, for starters. I haven't been particularly kind to this one. It hasn't got very long."

The Doctor looked up from the control panel. "How long?"

"Don't misunderstand, Doctor," Vetinari said quickly, "it won't be keeling over within the next hour. But when you consider that it takes an average of six years to grow a new body to specifications, I'm cutting it quite close." He shrugged. "At the outside, considering there are no more extenuating circumstances – which there always are, it seems – I'd say maybe, maybe ten years. Maybe. More likely it's closer to eight."

"Ah, well, no worries, we'll have you home well before then," the Doctor said, flopping back into the pilot's chair. "So they build bodies on your planet then? To specifications you give them, like a house?" He looked to the ceiling. "Must be quite complicated."

"It is, very much so, but it avoids the whole 'body snatching' issue. The created bodies are soulless, for the most part."

"The most part? What happens to the exceptions?"

Vetinari sighed. "They are given free rein of the planet and by and large go on to live happy, productive lives. We're not monsters, Doctor. There are no slaves, not anymore and believe me, the period of literal body snatching is not a proud one in our history. Technological advances and some well-meaning guidance from both leaders within our own society and emissaries from various other species have, thankfully, put all that in the past and made usage of host bodies unnecessary."

"Except in emergencies." The Doctor nodded to Vetinari. "You snatched that body, soul or not. That was to be someone's child."

"And it was, Doctor, albeit a freakishly intelligent one. It was a struggle to fake my way through all that early learning nonsense, believe you me. Maths and history and science were all simple enough to give the impression of ignorance of, but speech patterns were extremely difficult. I'm afraid I never did get the hang of it." He sighed. "The mother of this body died before three years' time, and the sire shortly thereafter. I had nothing to do with their deaths, and they never knew I was anything but a clever child."

"But it doesn't strike you as wrong?"

"Regrettable, yes, and certainly undesirable, but it's also perfectly legal, if frowned upon. It's a bit like jumping the queue, really." He sighed. "Doctor, I see where you're coming from, really I do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And I was in no position to find a way home from the bodies I'd been inhabiting." He caught the Doctor's expression. "If you're about to get all high and mighty about inhabiting squirrels, rabbits and dogs, I'd suggest a healthy dose of perspective, Doctor."

The Doctor sighed. "I suppose you did do a world of good for that planet, body thief or not." He ran his hands through his hair once more. "Well, no sense dwelling on it, it's done, I suppose. The sooner I get you home, the sooner you're out of my hair."

Vetinari's expression changed then. Alarmed, he strode up the ramp toward the console, looking to the computer screen. "Are we clear of the Discworld yet?"

"Eh?" The Doctor leaned back, hands behind his head. "What, did you forget something? Another back-up body, maybe?"

Vetinari glared and stood back from the console, arms crossed over his chest. "The Disc has a high field of Narrativium-generated magic around it. It's why the water that falls over the Edge always comes back as rain, why anything BS Johnson ever invented was even remotely imaginable, and why you're very careful to avoid clichés."

"Like what?" The Doctor raised an eyebrow.

"Like 'the sooner I get you home the sooner you're out of my hair,' for example," Vetinari said pointedly. "Something like that is just asking for something to go wrong, resulting in you and I being stuck together for longer than a simple trip back to Gliese."

"Ah." The Doctor looked around the Tardis, from the gently swinging wires and tubes to the slow pulse of the central core. "Well, no harm done, it seems, eh?"

Vetinari barely had time for a facepalm before the ship lurched and the thrumming sound that seemed to fill the control room turned to a high-pitched whine. The Doctor was pitched from his seat and landed on his feet, clutching the control panel. He looked to Vetinari, who was likewise clinging to anything that wasn't shaking violently or flying across the room. "I really do hate to say I told you so, contrary to popular belief," the man yelled.

The Doctor frowned and looked to the control panel. "Well bugger," he muttered, and punched the throttle.

--

Oh hay, Doctor Who fandom, what's going on?

Review and I write more, that's what's going on. I'm a simple creature, fueled by attention. Just call me the Lady Cassandra, bitches.