Chapter 9: The Doctor Meets a Doctor
"Interesting," the Doctor said mostly to himself as he poked around Stark's lab. Of course, it was nothing compared to what the Time Lords had been doing in the height of the war, but the Doctor estimated that Stark was at least 10 years ahead of the game as far as Earth 2012 was concerned.
"Isn't it great?" Stark beamed as he did a short spin in the center of the room, his arms stretched out wide.
"Yes, yes," the Doctor said with an indulgent smile on his face. He crossed his arms and walked further into the room, looking this way and that. "You're very clever."
"No mocking," Stark tsked, but it was good-natured, the grin never leaving his face. It honestly seemed to delight the man to be surrounded by as many intelligent people he could find and show them his toys.
"Never," the Doctor denied playfully. He uncrossed his arms and started tapping on one of the glass screens hanging next to him. "How long do you think it will take Thor to retrieve his lady love?"
Stark made a face as he shrugged off his jacket and threw it on top of a spinning robotic arm. "Hopefully not too long. Although they sometimes get carried away when they haven't seen each other in a while, just to let you know."
The Doctor chuckled, "Yes, well, consider me warned. I'll try not to be too offended by open displays of affection."
"Don't know why Bruce couldn't be here..." Stark muttered to himself as he sulked and tinkered with one of the projects he'd left behind. "It's not like meditating in the park is more important right now..."
"Oh, I won't be going anywhere for a while," the Doctor said cheerfully as he studied the energy grid for the tower. "Brilliant! I love the work you've done with the arc reactor energy!"
Tony perked up and looked at the Doctor's station. His face soon lost it's pout and he quickly walked around the table to stand next to his newest science buddy.
"Isn't it great," Tony gushed. He tapped the screen a few times and a new grid popped up. "If these levels hold up, here's what I'm predicting for the next..."
The Doctor and Tony Stark talked amiably for a few minutes about the future of clean enery via Stark Industries and the Arc Reactor, but soon they were interrupted by the tell-tale swoosh of an opening door and a polite knocking on the threshold.
"Doctor! Tony!" Thor said enthusiastically as he entered, the hand of a lovely young scientist tucked neatly into his arm. "May I introduce the most lovely Lady Jane."
"Pleasure to meet you!" the Doctor smiled and held out his hand to the petite, young brunette who was blushing at Thor's introduction.
"It's nice to meet you too," she said with a warm smile as she took his hand and shook it firmly. "I'm Dr. Jane Foster."
"Oh? A doctor?" the Doctor smiled to himself a little at his private joke. "What of?"
The Doctor couldn't recall her name right off the bat, but he hoped that once she named her field he'd recall something about her. After all, anyone connected to Thor must have made a significant impact in history somewhere.
"Astrophysics," she told him. "Mostly I study Einstein-Rosen bridges."
She smiled again, but this time her teeth caught her bottom lip as she tried to stop herself from grinning like a fool.
"Oh..." the Doctor said, looking at her and then at Thor with sudden understanding. "So that's how you met then? Must have been a shock for you."
Jane punched out a laugh as she thought back to her first meeting with Thor. "You could say that."
"And..." the Doctor pointed between the two of them. "Have you been together long?"
That got the two of them talking about themselves just a little bit. It seemed that they hadn't had many chances to meet each other after Thor's initial fall to Earth and the shattering of the Bifrost. However, it turned out that Thor's assistance with tracking down the Doctor had been a good excuse for them to spend time together.
'Well, I can't say that I'm happy about being ambushed by SHIELD,' the Doctor thought to himself with a gentle smile as he watched the couple dance around each other verbally as they told their story. 'But at least I was able to help out here a bit...if inadvertently.'
About ten minutes later, after every one (including Tony) had sat down for their conversation, Agent Coulson walked into the room, greeting Jane.
"Dr. Foster, nice to see you again," Coulson said, his smile mild.
Jane smiled in return, but it was noticeably pinched. She'd never quite been able to forgive Coulson's treatment of her and her research when they'd first met. However, they'd forged a tentative friendship when Jane and Selvig had started working with SHIELD after New Mexico.
"Doctor," Coulson addressed the Time Lord sitting on a lab stool. "We delivered your police box on the roof."
The words were like magic for as soon as they fell out of Agent Coulson's mouth, the Doctor visibly lit up. He sat up straighter and the grin he had on nearly split his face in half.
"Really?" his voice breathless with excitement. "I can..."
"No one's stopping you," Coulson assured him. "Now, I've got somewhere to be."
"You don't want to have a look?" the Doctor goaded him a little. "After all the time your lads have spent trying to get in."
Coulson made a face, barely noticeable except for those that were used to his usual lack of expression.
"Maybe when I get back," he said, and he swiftly turned on his heel, heading back out the door.
"So we're going to go see the infamous TARDIS now?" Tony asked, his chin cradled in the palm of his hand, watching in amusement as the Doctor popped up from his seat.
"Well, yes," the Doctor said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"TARDIS?" Jane asked, looking from the Doctor to Tony to Thor, confusion plainly visible on her face. "What's that?"
"Time and Relative Dimension in Space," the Doctor rattled off easily as he clapped his hands together. "Now, are we going to go straight up or do you want to wait for your friend? ?"
"You snooze, you lose," Tony said, not unkindly, but eager to see what all the hype was about. "We can always invite Snuggy bear up to the party later."
"Lead the way then Mr. Stark," the Doctor gestured toward the door. "To the roof!"
Thor, Tony, and Jane crowded into the elevator and then followed Tony up the emergency exit stairs to the roof. Nobody had been up there since Stark had the Tesseract machinery removed. However, there was no other way for SHIELD to drop off something as large as the TARDIS on such short notice. The Doctor was perhaps the only one who wasn't uneasy by being there, and it showed. Thor and Tony were having their own flashbacks while Jane had been well informed by both Thor and Selvig afterwards.
Both Barton and Romanov were waiting for the group next to the bright blue police call box. Although they looked equally discomforted by the location, they also had the immediate distraction of the anachronistic object. Soon enough it caught the attention of the others. The Doctor had never noticed anything but his ship.
All of them watched in with amusement as the Doctor pranced up to his ship and just stood outside of it for a moment, simply staring until he held out a hand to touch the side of the box.
"Do you want is to leave and give you a moment?" Tony quipped, raising a brow at the alien's behavior. "You've been gushing about this thing since I first met you, time to see what all the fuss is about."
"Aye," Thor said. "Even when I was a child this ship has been your pride and joy. Yet I've never seen the inside."
"Well then," the Doctor said, his tender moment put on hold from the comments in the cheap seats. He turned and gave them all full smirk. "I do love this part."
The Doctor rummaged through his coat pocket and pulled out a key on a simple piece of string. Sticking the key into the lock, he turned back to them one more time, gave them a silly grin, and opened up the door.
Once the Doctor got the right door open, he looked at the left door and opened that two. They were a large group after all, and it would be awkward to have them all shuffle in one by one.
"Welcome to the TARDIS!"
The Doctor practically skipped inside, hopped up to the main-control board and spun in a circle, his arms stretched out above his head as he did so. He was facing the doors when he stopped, and he leaned back against the control to witness his favorite part. The reaction.
Agent's Romanov and Barton were first, and while Natasha's reaction was carefully schooled (much to the Doctor's disappointment), the Doctor had spent enough time around her the past few days to recognize that this particular blank look was an expression she put on when she was so confused she couldn't process the information. Funny enough, it was an expression the Doctor saw the most from her.
Barton's reaction was appropriately satisfying. He looked at the wide, open space of the main control room, darted his head back out to look at the outside before stepping completely inside. Jane's reaction was similar, but Thor simply looked inside with a smile of wonder on his face. Of course, to an Asgardian, dimensional pockets weren't as exciting as it was to 21st century earthlings.
Tony's expression was the one that pleased him the most. His naturally expressive eyes were nearly popping out of their sockets as he looked around the inside of the TARDIS, probably trying to process what he was seeing.
"So?" the Doctor prompted as he crossed his arms and casually leaned back against his console a bit more.
"It's..." Jane was the first to respond. "Bigger. On the inside."
The Doctor's face lit up once more with absolute delight.
"It is? Isn't it?" he looked around at his TARDIS adoringly.
"So," Natasha said as she walked up the steps to the main console. "It's sort of like your pockets then?"
"Yes," the Doctor said. "Well, no. Yes and no. My pockets have an extra dimension or two to create more space, and I can fit quite a bit in there. The TARDIS? It's the size of an entire planet. Completely on a different scale."
"A planet?" Barton spoke up from next to one of the coral columns. "Seriously?"
"Of course I'm serious," the Doctor chastised. "Just through there-"
The Doctor pointed at a pair of metal doors.
"Even I don't know of every room in the TARDIS. I've gotten lost more than once. Even recently and I've been living with her for the past 700 years."
It was Jane this time. She was the only one who hadn't been subject to the Doctor waxing poetic about his ship.
"And, I'm sorry, did you say 700 years?" she asked incredulously.
"You're late on that point, baby cakes," Tony said as he walked around the main room slowly. The look in his eyes was akin to hunger as he stared at the TARDIS engine. "The Doctor here is, how old did you say again? 900?"
"907," the Doctor confirmed.
Jane choked, but the rest of the group just smiled. Thor chuckled as he rested his weight against one of the pillars and stared at the wonder of Time Lord technology.
"If you think that's weird," Barton continued. "You should hear one of his stories. It's hard to believe him sometimes."
"Oi," the Doctor said, sitting up from his semi-reclining position to stare accusingly at the agent. "I've always told the truth about my travels. Well, I might have embellished on the exciting parts, but it was always the truth!"
"Relax," Barton said, his hands moving in the universal "calm yourself" gesture. "I believe you. It's hard not to, looking at all.. this."
He looked up and twirled his finger.
"Yes, well," the Doctor coughed, a little embarrassed. "Anyway..."
The Doctor snapped his fingers and the doors of the TARDIS shut. Tony and Jane jumped and looked over at the close doors a little nervously. Thor continued to look as at home as he ever was in the Doctor's presence.
"Now as I say to most of my companions," the Doctor said with a cheeky grin as he started up the TARDIS, darting this way and that, pushing buttons and pulling levers. "All of time and space..."
He stopped what he was doing for a moment, studying them all with a brow raised and a smirk on his face.
"Where do you want to go?"
Sorry for the long wait! Took a writing course this semester so I had to focus on writing long-ass original stories. *shudders* Wasn't all fun and games I can tell you that. Worst part was being forced to read some truly terrible stuff. Not pretty.
Hopefully I can get back on track a bit. I can't promise that there will be more updates because classes are just going to start up again later this month, but I'll try my best. And then, after this upcoming semester, I'll be graduating and who knows what'll happen after that?
Anyway, don't be afraid of telling me what you think! Reviews are always welcome ;D