Rodney looked up from correcting one of Zelenka's seemingly endless errors. "Chuck, yes, what?"
"I'm getting a funny reading," the technician pointed at his monitor. "In the gateroom."
"Oh really," McKay said, patently unimpressed. "Funny haha or funny..." McKay trailed off, gazing at the screen. "Weird," he finished. He reached up to his ear and tapped his radio. "McKay to Sheppard."
"Sheppard," the colonel answered. He sounded out of breath. "Kinda busy here, Rodney."
Teyla's lilting laugh came over the headset. "Busy getting your butt kicked," Rodney heard Ronon say. The sound of bantos rods striking flesh followed and McKay winced in sympathy.
"OW!" Sheppard yelled. "Later, McKay! Sheppard out!"
"Sheppard!" Rodney thundered at the now dead channel. He glanced at the gateroom. Something was appearing, materializing out of thin air. It looked like a box. This was so not good. Fuming at Sheppard, he tapped his radio again. "Major Lorne," he said sweetly. "Do you have a moment?"
"Sure Doc, what's up?" Lorne said from behind him, making Rodney jump.
"Jeez, what is wrong with you?" McKay snapped irritably. "Look, there's this-"
The major was completely ignoring him, staring over his shoulder at the blue box appearing in the gateroom. "Uh-oh," he muttered before springing into action. Slapping his radio, he hollered, "Security team to the gateroom, ASAP!" Sprinting down the stairs to the gateroom, he called back, "It'll have to wait, McKay!"
"Well, yes, that was what I..." Rodney started, then threw up his hands. "Oh forget it." He hailed Sheppard again and snapped, "You might want to join Lorne in the gateroom," before closing the channel again. McKay started down to the gateroom to check on the disturbance.
However, as the door to the blue box opened, Rodney reflected that there could be all manner of things inside, not the least of which being freaky life-sucking alien vampires. He quickly decided to head in the opposite direction. "I'm- I'll go get Elizabeth," he said to no one in particular and hurried back up the stairs.
The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and frowned. "Aw, this isn't the Cataman Divide!"
A voice from within the blue box hollered, "Maybe you should learn to drive this thing!"
The Doctor ignored her and looked around. He realized where they had landed and smiled widely. "Never mind, this is better! Donna, this is Atlantis! Brilliant!" Suddenly he noticed that he was the target of lots and lots of guns held by very determined soldiers. His smile faltered briefly and he raised his hands in surrender. "Ah, hi there. I'm the Doctor. I'm harmless, really, there's no need for those. If I could just talk to..." He paused, thinking. "What year is it? Who's in charge of the Atlantis Expedition these days?"
A major at the front demanded, "What kind of doctor? Who are you with?"
The Time Lord shrugged carelessly. "I'm just the Doctor, a mishmash kind, little bit of everything, that's me. And I'm with..." He stuck his arm inside the TARDIS and hauled Donna out by the front of her jacket. "...Donna Noble." The lady in question let out an abbreviated yelp at the sight of all the guns and elbowed the Doctor in the side.
"What did you do this time? Where are we?" she hissed at him. He rubbed his sore ribs and gave her a pouty look.
"Atlantis! Do you ever listen?"
The soldier was about to challenge them again when the radio on his chest clicked. "Sheppard to Lorne, what's the problem?"
Never taking his eyes off the Doctor, Lorne spoke into the radio. "You might want to get up here, Colonel. A blue box just appeard in the gateroom. There's a woman inside, and a man claiming to be a doctor."
There was a long pause, then the voice on the radio spoke again. "How much of Halling's wine did you drink last night?"
The Doctor stepped forward. "Let me talk to him, can I..?" Without waiting for an answer he sidestepped Lorne's gun and entered the major's personal space. Ignoring the dozen or so guns now cocked right at his head, he depressed the talk button and spoke.
"Hello, Colonel Sheppard, was it? I'm the Doctor. Not a Doctor just the Doctor. I'm terribly sorry my TARDIS ended up in front of your stargate, but it was a total accident. I assure you, we're quite harmless, Donna and I. Well..." He hesitated, then picked up again brightly. "Anyway, but if you could just tell your men to lower their guns..."
Another, longer pause followed, then Sheppard answered. "Lorne, keep an eye on him. I'll be there in a minute."
The Doctor grabbed for the radio again. "If I could talk to whoever's in charge of the expedition these days-"
"That would be me, Doctor." A woman's voice echoed from the staircase leading down into the gateroom. "I'm Doctor Elizabeth Weir," she introduced herself. The soldiers parted before her and she waved them back. "Stand down. The Doctor isn't going to try anything. Are you," she directed to the Doctor. It wasn't a question.
"Not at all," he promptly replied, raising his hands and putting on his best 'who, innocent lil ole me?' face. Doctor Weir smiled knowingly and it was obvious she didn't buy the act at all.
Another man joined them and Doctor Weir said, "This is Doctor Rodney McKay, chief of sciences. Rodney, this is the Doctor."
"Oh yeah? What kind of doctor?" Rodney muttered, his fingers flitting over his tablet. He looked down at the reading, then up at the blue police box in surprise. "But that... That's impossible! What is this thing? And why are you staring at me like that?" he added sharply.
The Doctor was giving him a long, searching look. "McKay, McKay," he mused to himself. "I know the name and the face, it's just not... It's... Ah!" He snapped his fingers suddenly, the motion so much like Rodney's that Elizabeth blinked. "I know how I know you!" The Doctor said jubilantly. "You're Jeannie's brother!" Rodney stared blankly at him. "Jeannie McKay, well, Miller now, but she's your sister isn't she?" McKay nodded slowly and the Doctor clapped him on the shoulder. "Wonderful girl, traveled with me for a while. I've always wanted to meet you, though, she didn't speak very highly of you."
The occupants of the gateroom were treated to a sight not often seen: Rodney McKay struck speechless. He gaped at the Doctor without words for almost a minute, a record time for him. When it became apparent that he wasn't going to get over the shock very soon, Elizabeth stepped in.
"Come up to my office, Doctor. We need to have a talk." Colonel Sheppard ran into the gateroom at that point, still buckling on his tac vest. Elizabeth waved him over. "Colonel Sheppard will keep your companion and your TARDIS company while you're away."
Donna's gaze bounced from the woman to the Time Lord and back again. "Doctor, who is she? How does she know about the TARDIS? About you?" The Doctor gave Weir a long, searching look.
"I suspect I'm about to find out." Elizabeth turned to lead the way up to her office and the Doctor followed her, muttering, "Allons-y."
McKay found his voice and started after them. "Wait, traveled with you, what does that even mean? Travel in what, in this? Is that why I'm getting this weird-"
"Run some scans, Rodney," Elizabeth called over her shoulder to him. McKay snapped his fingers in agreement.
"Yes, yes, scans! Running...scans..." He quickly became absorbed in his tablet, murmuring to himself to the exclusion of everyone else in the room.
Donna sighed after the Doctor's retreating form. "Bloody stupid man, never tells me anything." Then she took a good look at her bodyguard and her face lit up with a predatory grin. "Well, hello there!"
They entered Weir's office, leaving a pair of young Marines standing just outside the door for backup. "Have a seat, Doctor," Weir offered, waving toward the chairs in front of her desk as she sat behind it.
"How exactly do you know all this about me?" the Doctor asked, taking a seat. "I get around quite a bit, but it's unusual for someone to recognize the TARDIS who by rights shouldn't have seen anything like it before..." His babble trailed off as Elizabeth laid a large file onto her desk and opened it.
"Not long after I became involved with the Stargate program, I was approached by another organization that had some...interesting information for me."
The Doctor blanched as the logo on the file caught his eye. "Oh, not-"
Weir flashed him an ID badge. "Torchwood."
"Oh, do they have to stick their grubby little hands into everything?" the Doctor groused, making a face of supreme annoyance.
Weir looked amused, though she did not allow herself to smile. "As I said, the information was interesting and it came from a very interesting source."
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Let me guess, this source was about yea tall," motioning with his hand, "military coat, flirted with everything breathing plus the houseplants?"
The smile was closer now, though Elizabeth still didn't allow it to blossom over her face. "Yes, I'm quite familiar with Captain Harkness."
The Doctor shot her a look. "How familiar? You didn't let him-"
"I don't see how that's any of your business!" she cut him off harshly. Then her look softened again and she told him. "No, not quite that familiar, Doctor." She hefted the file, which was a considerable size. "But he did give me this file and he told me a story. About a madman with a blue box who liked to meddle."
"Madman? Meddle? Me?" the Doctor scoffed, looking wounded. "Nah, not me." Elizabeth raised an eyebrow in question and her fingers tapped the file laid out before her. "No, never," he assured her. The eyebrow got sterner. "Well, maybe a bit, here and th- Meddle is a very harsh word."
Weir still would not permit herself to smile, but she was closer now than ever. The Doctor, however, ceased to be amused as his eyes fell on a watch sitting on the corner of Weir's desk. He reached out slowly and picked it up, smoothing a thumb over its side. His eyes darkened in thought. He looked up to ask Elizabeth about it, but her head was bent to the file again.
"At last report, you traveled alone," she said, glancing back up at him. "I can only assume by the presence of the woman that that has changed."
"Yes," the Doctor said absently, still fingering the watch. "That's Donna. Donna Noble. She's-" He cut himself off abruptly and started up out of the chair. "She's alone with Colonel Sheppard!" He burst out of Weir's office at a run.
Elizabeth went after him, her shouts echoing around the halls. "Doctor! We're not finished!"
The Time Lord ignored her, pounding down the stairs into the 'Gate room three at a time. Donna and Sheppard were standing next to the TARDIS, talking. Well, Donna was talking and John was leaning against the TARDIS trying to look interested. The Doctor had seen men look that way before around Donna. In fact, he suspected he wore that look often himself. It was a look that said 'HELP ME!'
"-so I said to the Doctor, I said, "I'd like to go to someplace alien, really alien for once." And of course he goes off on the Cataman Divide, whatever that is, but instead he lands us here. Hey presto, smack in the middle of the lost city of Atlantis. Not very alien, mind you, but I think I might like it here." She smiled at him and Sheppard forced a smile of his own.
"Well, we're...certainly glad to have you. However long you end up sticking around," he added with a pleading look thrown at the approaching Doctor. Donna turned around and smiled brightly at the Doctor.
"Doctor! Colonel Sheppard was just about to offer me a tour of the city. Do you want to come? I'm sure he wouldn't mind."
The Doctor glanced at Sheppard whose face was a silent mix of 'I was?' and 'Please don't leave me alone!' He opened his mouth, doubtless to tease Sheppard about his predicament, when something else occurred to him. "Donna, what happened to Doctor McKay? Didn't we leave him with you? If I know him, he wouldn't go far from something like the TARDIS."
Donna suddenly looked uneasy. "Not far, no..."
John grinned at the Doctor. "She locked him in the TARDIS. And she slapped him. I think I like her."
"You locked him in my TARDIS?" the Doctor exclaimed. "What on Earth possessed you to-"
Fortunately Donna was saved by Elizabeth and a pair of Marines who charged up behind the Doctor. "Doctor," she interrupted him. He turned to her and she did not look happy at all. "We're not done. I still need to know why you're here."
The Doctor leveled a finger sternly at Donna. "Get McKay out." He went closer to Elizabeth, ignoring the way the Marines tensed. "It was an accident. I said that already, didn't I say that already?" he consulted Donna and John, who both nodded. The Doctor looked back at Weir, shrugging. "Mistake. Meant to go to the Cataman Divide. Lovely place, not at all like Atlantis." Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at him and the Doctor backtracked quickly. "Not to say that Atlantis isn't lovely, it is, lovely city, love what you've done with the place..." He was really getting to hate that eyebrow of hers.
"Hey, I'm not done in there!" A protesting Rodney McKay was pushed out of the TARDIS, followed by Donna. "I was just getting to the really amazing parts." He looked up at the Doctor, eyes shining with the joy of discovery. "It's a manipulator of space and time. Space and time! There's a whole new science, right behind those doors! Elizabeth," he turned to the leader of Atlantis excitedly. "We have got to study this thing! It- It could revolutionize how we view the universe as a whole! And, and," he said, holding up a finger, "you'll never believe this, but it's bigger on the in-"
"Doctor Weir?" Chuck called from the control room. "You're gonna want to see this." Elizabeth, John, Rodney, Donna, and the Doctor all dutifully trooped over to see. "We got a contact," the technician explained, gesturing at the screen. "Just came out of hyperspace."
"Is it broadcasting IFF?" Elizabeth asked, looking at the blip on the screen.
"Nothing," Rodney reported, sitting down in front of a monitor and going to work.
"Wraith?" Sheppard asked, worry coloring his tone.
"What are Wraith?" Donna asked in concern, her eyes flitting from the colonel to the Doctor.
Chuck ignored her question and answered John instead. "Nah, it's very small, I doubt it."
Sheppard let out a little breath of relief and answered Donna. "Wraith are bad."
Elizabeth, however, still looked concerned. "Raise the shield," she directed towards a man in the background, who hurried to comply. The Doctor fetched his glasses from his pocket and perched them on his nose as he peered at the screen.
"It's taken up a geosynchronous orbit above the city," he reported thoughtfully, tracing the blip with one finger.
"What is it?" Donna asked. "What's wrong?"
"Maybe we should have the Apollo check it out," Sheppard suggested and Weir agreed.
"Tell the colonel he needs to head back to his ship." Sheppard nodded and left the room.
Donna pulled at the Doctor, who was still studying the screen. "Doctor, what is it? What's happening?"
But the Doctor was preoccupied by something at the corner of the screen, something that made his face go dark and unreadable. It was the date.
Elizabeth asked, "Doctor, what's the matter?"
The Doctor straightened, putting his glasses away. "We should leave. Me and Donna, we have this thing. This really important thing, you know, places to go, people to see, that sort of thing. So we really have to go. Really. I'm sorry." He grabbed the protesting Donna's hand and started down the stairs to where the TARDIS was parked.
Elizabeth caught up to them at the door of the TARDIS. "Doctor, you've only just arrived," she said with a smile. "I'm sure there's still a lot we have to talk about." Then she saw the look in his eyes and her face fell. "There's trouble, isn't there. That blip, it's trouble."
"Yes," he admitted. "I'm sorry."
Weir sighed and put a hand to her head. "Jack warned me. He warned me about you. He said that wherever you are, trouble follows and I knew, when I saw that box I knew..."
"I'm so sorry," he said again.
She closed her eyes for a long second, then opened them again. "Will you stay? Will you stay and help us fight? Can you do anything?" The Doctor regarded her with infinitely sad eyes and she answered her own question. "You can't, can you. This is something that has to happen."
"I'm sorry," he repeated. He took her hand and looked her straight in the eye. "But know this, Elizabeth Weir: History will remember what you do here. All of space and time will ring with your victory and your world will be changed for the better because of what happens here on this city. Because of you. Believe me. You don't need my help to win." He pressed something into her hand, then released her and stepped into his TARDIS. "Goodbye."
Elizabeth watched the box fade completely before she looked down at her hand. Nestled in her palm was her father's pocketwatch.
The Doctor shut the door to the TARDIS and went to the console. "Now, Cataman Divide!" he said briskly. "Let's see if I can't get it right this time. Don't know what went wrong last time, maybe a glitch in the-"
"Doctor," Donna said softly. He ignored her, running laps around the console, flicking switches and turning knobs.
"Of course, that's the fun of the journey, not knowing where you'll end up, but consistency is all I ask!" he lamented to the coral walls of his beautiful ship.
"Doctor," Donna said more sharply. Still he ignored her, babbling on about space and time and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey things she didn't and couldn't understand. Finally she stepped in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. "Doctor," she said firmly. "Tell me."
"Tell you?" he feigned ignorance. "Don't know what you mean, tell you what? I do know everything, you know," he said cheekily. Donna was not amused in the slightest. She could see the sadness hiding behind the joviality.
"Tell me what's going to happen on Atlantis."
The Doctor considered lying, considered blowing off her inquiry. Then he sighed and leaned against the console. "A battle. That blip, it's a weapon. There are these things, Replicators, self-replicating robots, nasty buggers. A few days back Atlantis performed a pre-emptive strike, bombed their warship yards. The Replicators send the satellite to destroy Atlantis in return."
Donna gasped in horror, but the Doctor waved a hand at her "No, no, it's alright, they don't succeed." He grinned brightly. "Stubborn lot, you humans. Never say die and all that. Moved the entire city to an entirely new planet rather than give up. Extraordinary. But," he said, sobering, "there are...casualties."
Donna's hand went to her mouth. "Not..." she asked, afraid of the answer she knew would come.
The Doctor confirmed her fears solemnly. "On October 5, 2007, the human race loses one of their greatest assets. Doctor Elizabeth Weir, commander of Atlantis." He smiled sadly, remembering her eyebrow of doom and the resolution in her ways, her determination to keep her people safe at all cost. "But life goes on. And because she lived, two galaxies were changed for good."
Elizabeth Weir was surrounded by Replicators, unable to get away. "Elizabeth?" John questioned from the doorway, gun at the ready. He was ready to take on an entire planet of their enemies just to get her away. Her heart ached for the choice he had to make, and the choice that she had already made.
"Go!" she screamed at him. John didn't blink, didn't hesitate, but followed her order immediately. She blessed him even as the Asurans blocked her in. She faced Oberoth, his triumphant smirk irritating her in more ways than she could name. He'd won. Or thought he'd won.
Elizabeth tightened her fist around the watch in her palm, the heirloom that she had felt compelled to bring along on this daredevil mission. She wasn't sure why, but she knew that it was important. The Doctor's words from only days before echoed in her mind:
But know this, Elizabeth Weir: History will remember what you do here. All of space and time will ring with your victory and your world will be changed for the better because of what happens here on this city. Because of you. Believe me. You don't need my help to win.
"Goodbye," she whispered to herself, to her city, to everything she'd known.
She opened the watch.