[A/N] Bit of a spur of the moment fic this one, but then the best one's usually are. I suppose in continuity terms this is set after the end of Season 6 of Doctor Who and Somewhere in Season 6 of Star Trek Voyager. I have no idea how well this one will turn out, but I suppose there really is only one way to find out. Game on.

Disclaimer: I own Star Trek, Doctor Who and all related copyrights and this fic is made entirely for financial gain and not in any way purely for entertainment purposes only….Wait… Strike that. Reverse it.

Stepping Back

Chapter 1: Laying Low

It had all seemed so simple at first. I mean just how hard was it to stay out of public view for a little while? I mean it's not like he meant to go round destroying evil empires and saving planets on a regular basis.

It turned out to not be very simple at all. Over 900 years of saving planets and the universe as a whole pretty much daily will do that to you.

The Doctor slumped against a column, a hand outstretched, idly flicking switches on the central console.

His eyes flicked up as the console let out a slight whirr of disagreement. It really was always one step ahead of him.

"Oh, come on, dear. It's just for a little while. One quick trip out of sight and out of mind."

The Doctor patted the console with a smile as a few of the controls moved of their own accord as if in grudging agreement, the TARDIS orienting itself into a perfectly accurate position directly above the central plane of the Medusa Cascade.

The Doctor eyed the control his left finger had been holding down for some time. He had filled up the backup power cells prior to leaving Earth, which should give the ship enough charge to find a place to land after doing what he was about to do.

The Cascade was a weak spot in the membrane between realities. With the loss of the CVE's into E-space and the loss of the Time Lords, no more a convenient method existed for leaving one's own universe.

His eyes lingered on that button apprehensively, the brake already thrown off, "…Geronimo" he whispered under his breath, and let the button go.

The built up Artron energy in the ship was suddenly released. The TARDIS lurched into a spin, throwing its lone occupant against the console as the ship lurched and spun down into the heart of the Medusa Cascade, shimmering and dematerialising from regular space. There was a blaze of multi-coloured light as the blue box tore through the material that separated realities.

The Time Lord was thrown back against a column, dazing him for a second, the ship pushing through into a new, unknown dimension; a world that had never known him… a world he knew absolutely nothing about.

A wild, boyish smile pulled at his mouth at the concept, "Brilliant."

The TARDIS cruised through open space, running on its internal power; the alien dimension being incompatible with it in terms of providing power (or like putting petrol in a diesel engine as he had once said).

The plan was simple: find a place to take some (relative) time out, maybe a vacation at this universe's Eye of Orion, and when it was time to head home and meet up with River, simply charge up some additional internal power and head home; the tiny rift the TARDIS had created would remain in place for long enough for that.

Rubbing the back of his head and dusting himself down, the Doctor tilted the monitor around and manipulated the console controls.

"Now, let's see…" he murmured, bringing up the ship's scanning systems, "Oh, Earth's here; always good for a laugh. No Gallifrey…" He hesitated to wonder how he should feel about that, then carried on, "No Skaro; looking up. No sign of Mondas. No Sontar either. No Raxacoricofallapatorius either. Not even Clom…" he shrugged his shoulders; not many people would notice Clom being missing unless they really looked for it.

He let out a hum of intrigue as the TARDIS sought out different worlds, looking at patterns in civilisations across space-time, "Looks like Earth's at least a level 8 civilisation going by the space traffic, good for them…" His eyes regarded a corner of the galaxy that seemed to be made up entirely of cyborgs and nothing else; he'd probably avoid that, too much samey stuff was usually boring.

He decided to go for a bit of spontaneity, especially since he could feel the TARDIS was in a bit of a grumpy mood with him, and so he turned it over to self-control.

"Okay, Girl. All yours."

He regretted it an instant later.

An echoing crash shuddered through the TARDIS, the Doctor again being hurled to the floor as the ship went back into normal space just in time to be caught up in the warp eddies of a passing Star Ship, the TARDIS doing what came naturally to it and materializing inside.

The Doctor pulled himself back up, feeling more than a little irritated, "Alright! Now we're even!" he barked, stabbing a finger up at the central column.

It responded with a dull whine and sank down. The Doctor's eyes went wide as the cloister bell let out a single chime.

"Wh-what, what is it, girl?" he asked, flipping some controls and pulling the scanner up to check the readout. "Power reserves at three percent?" he mumbled.

Checking the log and realising that pulling out of the vortex and just for a moment flying through space in parallel with the other ship at the speed it was travelling, combined with the rematerialization, and had left the time capsule with barely enough power to keep the lights on.

He let out a tired breath, blowing the lock of his fringe back out of his face, "I suppose I'll have to trust you…as usual, eh girl?"

There was no response, verbal or otherwise. Though the power systems weren't completely dead, there was no way the ship had enough power to take off again.

Until such time as he felt it time to actually leave and go home, he really was stranded.

Deciding there was no use in complaining further, he punched up the exterior scanner, and then frowned in momentary confusion.

He appeared to have landed outside what looked like a traditional earth tavern, possibly European or British in design. His eyes went back to the location readout; he was definitely on a ship.

"Hmm" he hummed thoughtfully, grabbing his tweed coat and flipping his sonic screwdriver up into his hand, he headed for the door with as much caution and foresight as he normally exercised, hesitating only to decide between Stetson and Fez.

Deciding that choosing based on their equal coolness factor alone presented a paradox of universe destroying proportions, he quickly tossed a coin.

"Fez it is." He said, perching it on his head and closing the doors behind him.

-X-

The Doctor glanced about, the TARDIS had landed just alongside the small building, due to the architecture and its perception filter, and it appeared no more or less out of touch than normal.

He paused as people entered and left the building.

"Chez Sandrine…" the Time Lord mumbled, reading the wooden sign outside, people would enter and exit on occasion, their clothing being difficult to place an exact era on, some appeared 18th century, others had clothes made clearly of synthetics that he'd never seen before, nor was there any pattern or uniform nature in them.

He flicked his screwdriver open, sweeping it in an arc as the green light on its tip illuminated and scanned the area.

He flipped it about again, holding it up as the psychic interface fed the results back to him.

A knowing smile spread across his face, "Photonics held together with energy fields…it's a simulation. Oh how wonderfully human."

Twirling in a full about circle he orientated on the door and marched inside as if he were merely one of the clientele.

-X-

The other occupants of the bar were so engrossed with their own conversations that they barely noticed the man in the back breeze in, walk by everyone and settle down in a stool by the bar, his back to everyone.

The Doctor calmly sat his hat down on the bar as a blonde lady in a snug fitting dress sauntered over and asked in a smooth French accent, "So what can I get for you, stranger?"

The Doctor smiled, pleasantly, "Ginger beer please."

The woman flashed a simulated smile and went off to comply with the order.

The Doctor slowly spun about in his chair to take in the room.

He noticed the uniforms instantly; they stuck out like a sore thumb against the casual wear most of the other occupants wore: Black with a band of single colour, each with an insignia and varying numbers of golden pips on the collar.

He also noticed a number of the others in the room, albeit in civilian clothing, also had one of the gold badges over their left breast.

A group of them seemed far more interested in their game of billiards to pay attention. The two who were playing; a man in a red uniform with two pips on his collar and a younger man in yellow with a single one were talking to a dark skinned man with three pips and also in yellow. The Doctor of course noted the man's pointed ears, immediately marking him as an alien species, one the Doctor was unfamiliar with.

That was a refreshing rarity.

The Doctor half-turned back to sip his drink, tuning in on the conversation.

"-telling you, Harry. You're not making that shot, but if you want to bet your next weeks' worth of replicator rations on it, be my guest." The man in red said, pointing at the table with his cue, a smug smile on his face.

"And I'm telling you, Tom," began Harry, "to watch that overconfident streak."

"Might I remind you, Gentlemen, what the captain's policy is on gambling on the holodeck?"

"Oh, lighten up, Tuvok. It's not gambling really." Said Paris.

"Sure," agreed Harry, "More a…friendly wager to make the game more… interesting."

Tuvok folded his arms, "I find those things… synonymous."

"Yeah?" said, Harry, leaning in to take his shot, "Well what's the point in living if you can't make things interesting once in a while?"

Tuvok seemed to suppress a sigh, deciding to overlook the matter for now.

The Doctor spared the table a glance, it was a simple shot. Pot the black by rebounding the ball once of the cushion. He glanced at the young man, judging his height and amount of force he was putting behind the stroke.

The Time Lord pursed his lips, the shot was perfect, but unfortunately he could feel a two micron imbalance in the ship's inertial dampeners which, at the ship's current speed, threw off the shot by a fraction of a degree in the middle of the cue-ball's roll. The black went in, as did the white in the opposite pocket with the little extra assistance.

Harry cursed lightly as the one named Tom smirked and patted him in a non-too consoling way on the back, "Better luck next time, Harry. Just remember; they don't call me the Parisian Pool Shark for nothing."

Harry's shoulder slumped as he sank down into a chair by Tuvok, if only because he was probably one of the only people on the ship who wouldn't rub salt in the wound.

"Anyone else?" Tom asked, glancing about, "Oh, come on. Surely one of you feels up to the Tom Paris challenge. Tuvok?"

The Vulcan responded by turning about in his chair and focusing on the PADD in his hand.

Tom sighed, grasping Harry's cue which he had left against the wall and headed for the wall rack, "Well I guess that's me for the-" He was cut off as Harry's cue was nimbly slid out of his hand.

"I'll give it a whack."

"W-wha?" Tom asked, turning about to try and face the man as he weaved about him and circled the table.

"Billiards right?" asked the Doctor briskly, his hands nimbly sliding the balls to the table and into their triangle.

"R-right." Stammered Paris somewhat bewilderingly.

Harry edged up to Tom, "You know this program?" he asked.

Tom shook his head, "Never seen him before. Must be a new one. B'elanna just upgraded the whole simulation. He must be a new program."

The Doctor considered their words. Obviously the other simulated people were programmed not to pay attention to such things else he doubted they'd speak as if he weren't there.

"Yes" said the Doctor sharply enough to startle the two officers out of their conversation, and stood waiting by the head of the table, "I'm new around here… very new."

Tom hesitated; there was something about the newcomer. The glint in his eyes betrayed something deep and incomprehensible to him. If this was one of the chief engineer's programs, he wouldn't be surprised if she'd programmed him especially as some kind of foil for him.

Shoving his uneasiness to the side (something he found oddly difficult to do) he swelled his chest up, straightened his uniform, and stepped forward, "Okay then, newcomer. Let's see what you've got. Oh, and what do we call you?"

The doctor paused, "Hm?"

"I mean, what's your name. You were given one, right?"

The man's smile turned wistful, "Oh yes… so very long ago. You can just call me… The Doctor."

The Doctor noticed Paris' and Harry's eyes widen and they looked at each other, "The Doctor?" Paris echoed.

"As in..." Harry prompted.

"Just…The Doctor."

Tom leaned back over to Harry, "One of the Doctor's programs then you think?"

Harry cocked his head, "Could be. It seems to have his… flare for the dramatic."

Tom nodded, suppressing a laugh "He hasn't even bothered to change the name on the program." he said with a quiet laugh, "but then he never was one for practical jokes."

"Bit weird for a hologram to make that kind of mistake when making another hologram though." Commented Harry.

The Doctor didn't really know how to respond. Being accused of being a program named 'The Doctor', created by a program also named 'The Doctor' was a bit of a meta concept to say the least.

"So what's your wager?" Asked Tom, leaning on his cue.

"Sorry?"

"Your bet." Clarified Tom under his breath, but he knew the Vulcan had heard him anyway.

"Ah." Nodded The Doctor, "How about…" he paused to think, "If I win, you return this young man's rations."

Harry blinked in surprise, suddenly finding himself instantly liking the 'hologram'.

Tom also looked startled for a second, but then nodded acceptingly, "Fair enough, and what do I get if I win?" he asked somewhat sardonically, wondering what a hologram could possibly offer.

"Umm…" mumbled the Doctor, bracing his cue against his neck and rummaging about in his pockets, "I will give you…" he pulled out his hands and began laying the contents down on the green table top, "One packet of custard powder… slightly opened; a bag of jelly babies, all lemon and orange (or the ones he doesn't like as they're also known) ; a crumpled lottery ticket; one pair of Queen Elizabeth the first's bloomers –don't ask-; one broken Cybermat and… a banana."

Tom stood in silence, a little unsure as to how to respond; finally deciding questioning the insanity might just affect him with it too, and settling on, "Okay, let's play."

The Doctor smiled, somehow stuffing all the items easily back into his pockets without cramping them at all.

"Shall we flip a coin to break?"

"Oh no, by all means… be my guest." Replied Tom with an air of cunning, ready to spot if the program had been altered to utilise unnatural levels of dexterity or accuracy that only a computer could have calculated.

The outcome would be what he thought it was, but not for the reason he was thinking it…

-X-

A few moments earlier, on the bridge…

Kathryn Janeway enjoyed the late shift. It wasn't something she partook in on a regular basis, but she found the quiet, almost solitary duty quite therapeutic as she lounged back in the captain's chair with a mild brew of black coffee and a well-worn copy of Pride and Prejudice resting in her lap, the star field on the view screen stretched out as the ship cruised calmly along at warp 9.8.

Seven of Nine, who had been performing some maintenance on the tactical console to improve feedback from the targeting sensors by a few milliseconds, clipped the access hatch shut closed.

"Finished, Seven?" Asked Janeway, not looking up from her book and flipping another page.

"Yes, Captain. The linkup with the upgraded internal sensor relays linking to the primary sensor arrays is complete and tactical systems are back online."

Janeway nodded, "Excellent work, Seven. I'll have Tuvok run a full test on the targeting sensors in the morning," she turned about in her chair to look back, "Now go and get some r&r, that's an order."

Seven inclined her head curtly, "Of course, Captain."

Janeway just smiled weakly and went back to her book.

Seven paused as she passed her bridge console on the way to the turbo lift as an indicator sound began bleeping, attracting her attention.

She drifted quickly over to the console, her implant-clad hand moving over the controls quickly.

"Problem, Seven?" asked Janeway, looking back once more, frowning as she noticed the look on her crewman's face.

"I'm unsure…" she said, manipulating the controls, "There is what appears to be some kind of temporal anomaly moving in parallel with us five hundred metres off our port bow."

Janeway's frown deepened slightly, "'appears to be'? It's not like you to sound so unsure, Seven."

The former drone cocked her head acceptingly, "That's just it; it's not like any anomaly I've ever encountered. It appears to be emitting some kind of chronoton-"she paused, frowning.

"What is it?"

"It disappeared." She replied, sounding slightly irritated by the mystery, "For a brief time it seemed to occupy a position outside the ship and also inside, but now sensors are reading nothing."

"Could it have been a sensor ghost?" asked the captain.

Seven inclined her head, "It's entirely possible. Sensors were not entirely back online, and irregularities and differences from currently known phenomena could also be explained that way."

Janeway contemplated it for a moment, "Run a quick diagnostic on the sensor arrays. Are they showing any errors or alignments that could account for the ghost?"

Seven entered several commands, "It will take several moments to be sure, Captain."

"Right," she said acceptingly, nodding in thought, her book closed around her index finger, her middle tapping the leather jacket ponderingly.

"Seven?" she asked.

"Yes, Captain?" she replied, not looking up from her work.

"Where about on the ship did you say this anomaly was manifesting?"

Seven glanced at her console, "Deck 6, Holodeck 2."

Janeway nodded again as her instinct flared up. It wasn't a regular instinct, no. This was the instinct that only seemed to manifest in a select few, this was the instinct that made the difference between having three pips on your collar or four.

"Bridge to Holodeck 2." Said Janeway levelly.

There was a second's pause and Tuvok's voice responded over the comm system, "Tuvok speaking. Is there a problem, captain?"

Janeway spoke carefully, "Is there anything going on down there?"

There was a second's hesitation, "Please elaborate, captain."

Janeway sighed, rubbing her brow and wondering if she really had been staying up too late, "Is there anything you feel you need to report?"

He replied as confidently and evenly as always, "Besides Mr Paris engaging in… questionable wagers with Ensign Kim, which I suppose we can only expect of him, then no, Captain, there is nothing to report, we are the only ones here. Is there something I should be made aware of?"

"It's not gambling." Paris could be heard objecting in the background, "Besides, that stupid hologram-"the annoyed Lieutenant trailed off as Tuvok obviously walked out of range

Janeway smiled weakly and felt a wave of relief, but there was still a nagging sense of something being off, "No… No, I'm sure it's fine. As you were, Tuvok."

"As you wish, Captain."

"How's it looking, Seven?"

"No errors have been detected so far, Captain." She replied, "Though the internal sensors are not fully operational yet, I can still confirm there are no anomalous readings coming from Holodeck 2: four humanoid life signs and no unaccounted energy signatures."

"Right." Janeway said already in the process of dismissing it, when her mind caught what she had said, and immediately processed it alongside what Commander Tuvok had reported. She spoke up again, less thought and far more authority in her voice, "Janeway to Tuvok."

"Yes, Captain?" he said, his normally apathetic voice holding a subtle edge of curiosity.

Janeway gave the officer a quick brief on what was detected before asking, "Tuvok, has anyone entered or left the Holodeck since I last contacted you?"

There was a second's pause as he obviously surveyed the room, "No, Captain. It is still only myself, Lieutenant Paris and Ensign Kim."

"Tuvok…" said Janeway carefully.

"Yes, Captain?" asked Tuvok as Janeway eyed a feed from internal sensors on the display by her chair.

"Internal sensors are still coming fully back online, but I can definitely tell you… there are four life signs in Sandrine's at the moment."

There was no pause this time, and nothing but surety and pure refined professionalism in the reply, "Stand by, Captain."

Janeway paused and then, deciding, dropped her book onto Chakotay's chair and set her cup down and strode quickly for the turbolift, "Seven, with me."

Seven nodded and followed, stopping only to retrieve a phaser from the bridge weapons locker.

-X-

Tuvok slid straight to his feet the instant the conversation ended, hand drawing his tricorder out with fluidic grace.

Tom and Harry stood up, having listened in and began carefully sweeping the tavern with their eyes.

Tuvok set his tricorder to scan for life signs and residual temporal radiation and began slowly sweeping.

There was a loud beep in his arc, he swept back, closing in and walking towards the bar.

The tricorder beeped with increasing speed as Tuvok found himself closing in on the man in the tweed coat, who was drumming his hands nervously on the bar, not turning about, and trying to make himself look as innocent and inconspicuous as possible. Ironically he ended up doing the exact opposite.

The Doctor's shoulders winced as he heard the tricorder give a loud series of bleeps, confirming the presence of an alien life form positively soaked in a form of temporal energy.

Tuvok slid his phaser free, replacing his tricorder to keep his other hand available, and levelled it at the man's back, "Stand up, slowly."

The Doctor sighed and did as directed, he heard the sound of a pair of large doors opening outside and a second later the doors to the bar opened.

-X-

Captain Janeway entered to find Tuvok with his phaser levelled at a strange young man who was backed against the bar. She saw Seven in her peripheral vision cover the man with her phaser also.

He meekly raised his hands, backing up and scrambling until he was standing on the bar.

"Step down, sir." Said Tuvok calmly.

Suddenly the man flourished a bronze silver tube in the air, pointing it warningly between Tuvok and Seven, "Ah hah!" he said, "Nobody move, or I swear I'll shoot you with my sonic… super space gun… thingy."

Despite the threat, Janeway looked dryly at the man and cocked an eyebrow and sighed, "Computer…End program."

Suddenly the entire tavern vanished and the doctor let out a panicked cry and landed flat on his backside, "Owww. That was really rude!" he groaned, but was silenced when he felt Janeway kick his sonic screwdriver clear of his hand and send it bouncing across the empty holodeck.

Now covered by both weapons, the TARDIS stood at his back but with the doors inaccessible, the Doctor staggered back, his hat somehow still in place.

Janeway strode up to him, all measure of complacency gone, "I am Captain Kathryn Janeway. Captain of the Federation Starship Voyager. Now who are you and what the hell are you doing on board my ship?"

The doctor backed up another step from the woman and, collecting himself as much as possible, said, "I am The Doctor, I fly round space in a blue wooden box fighting monsters and wear a fez." He squared back up to her as much as possible as one can with guns pointed at you, "And Fez's are cool."

To be continued…

-XA-

[A/N] Actually an author's challenge this one from a friend, not sure how I'm going to go with it or if I am, I dunno, I guess I'll see. I've got the plot sort of planned out so I'll see what happens.

I'll see you possibly in Chapter 2: Encounter.