Space Enough And Time

Author: MaybeAmanda (Amanda Wilde)
Email: maybe_underscore_a at rocketmail dot com
Categories: Crossover (X-Files/Dr Who (2005))
Word Count: ~7500
Rating: PG. Yeah, really.
Timeline: Very very very very very early Season One (XF), Ten and Rose, whenever. (Dr. Who)
Spoilers: Not really.
Archive: Sure.
Provenance: Second in the "I said I wasn't going to write this," series.
More Disclaimed Against than Disclaiming: Chris Carter owns M&S; Fox owns The X-Files. Dr Who belongs to, um, wow, BBC? Russell T Davies? At this point, who can tell? No infringement intended. Thanks & notes: At the end. Read 'em.
Summary: Scully, Mulder, The Doctor, Rose, and the TARDIS.

AGAIN: VERY early Season One X-Files. That is key!


It's a Wednesday in May and it's rained for a week. Scully's drinking lukewarm coffee, shuffling papers, wishing she were someplace else. Mulder strolls in a little late, polished and pressed, and asks what her plans for the weekend are.

"Laundry," she says, without looking up, because that's always safe, and usually true, especially now that she's single again. And it's a good way of conveying that she isn't in the mood for chasing wild geese, but for something really interesting, she could be persuaded.


"You ever been to Wales?" he asks.

"No," she answers. "Why?"

He holds up an envelope. "Conference this weekend. Leaving tomorrow. I'm speaking."

Scully stops what she's doing, swings around in her chair. "About?"

Mulder half-shrugs, like that's answer enough.

She supposes it is. "Oh. Have fun."

Mulder's mouth twitches from side to side. "Wanna come?"

What? Seriously? "I can't really afford -"

"They sent me two tickets," he says, "and they booked me a suite at a nice hotel. Sent me a couple of really cool t-shirts, too, but I left those at home."


No. No, Mulder, she thinks, this is absolutely not appropriate. "No, Mulder," she says, "this is absol -"

"Cardiff is a really great city," he says, steamrolling over her protests. "Museums and galleries, cathedrals, castles, great places to eat." He glances at her feet. "Great places to buy shoes?"

Cheap shot, she thinks. Very low blow. Footwear is sacred; it should not be invoked in vain.

She should be annoyed.

Why isn't she annoyed?

Oh, right. Because it's rained for a week, she's sick to death of paperwork, and she wishes she were someplace else.

Wales is certainly someplace else.

"What time would I have to be at the airport?"


The flights are long and cramped, the layovers - both of them - interminably dull. In the bookshop at JFK, she buys a paperback about a brilliant, blonde, buxom forensic pathologist, and half- way through the first chapter she wonders if the author even looked up either of those two words - 'forensic' or 'pathologist' - before putting pen to paper. Or fingers to keys.

Mulder conks out about ten minutes into the last flight, which she, a world-class sleeper, considers an impressive feat. She tries to nap, but sleep won't come. She tries to read, but the book gets worse. She pays two dollars for headphones and watches the movie. It's a romantic comedy, lacking both romance and laughs, and oh god, it's awful. She thinks longingly of the piles of laundry she left behind.

She didn't know what to expect of Cardiff, but it's spring- gorgeous and sunny and filled to the brim with someplace-else. The hotel is nice, very nice, and the suite is really two adjoining rooms, so that's nothing new, and not weird at all. She has a view of the bay, and it's beautiful here. She doesn't sleep that night, but not for lack of trying. For lack of what, she doesn't know.

The conference is very well-organized, she will give them that. And very well-attended, too, or so it seems. But she never needs, as long as she lives, to see anyone, male or female, dressed as Sailor Moon again.

Mulder gives a talk on cryptozoology, which, technically, isn't his thing, but you'd never know it. The audience is small, but not embarrassingly so, serious and thoughtful, and boy, do they know their stuff. Furthermore, they know Mulder, they respect Mulder, and it's pretty clear, some of them just plain want Mulder. Several young women, giggling, giddy, and just about half-naked, ask for his autograph, pose with him for pictures, offer him room cards. He signs, smiles, then politely declines, but she wonders if he would have if she weren't there.

She should be annoyed.

Maybe she is.

"Well?" Mulder asks with a cocky grin. He takes a swig from his water bottle, waits for her answer.

She rises from her front-row seat. "Oh, Doctor Mulder," she says, voice breathless, eyelashes fluttering, "Please, please can I see your Loch. Ness. Monster?"

Mulder chokes on his water. That's one for the win column.


There's a dinner they're invited to, a cocktail meet-and-greet they're supposed to attend, but Mulder suggests they blow all that off, explore the town. Scully's gotten her second wind - or maybe her third - and Mulder seems relieved. He tells her to wear jeans, a sweater, a waterproof jacket, and tennis shoes.

She arches a brow. "Anything else?"

Mulder leans on the doorframe between their rooms, shakes his head. "That should be fine. Just want to be prepared."


He shrugs. "Bad weather. Adventure. Armageddon."

He's bristling with a strange kind of energy tonight, one she's never seen before, or one she's never noticed. Maybe it's jetlag. Maybe it's fatigue. Maybe it's -

Maybe it's something she should stop trying to analyze. Maybe she should live in the moment?

Yeah, maybe.

"Armageddon?" she asks.

He shrugs again. "Stranger things..."

She rummages around in her suitcase, finds a stray tube of lip balm. "For Armageddon," she says, "I'm going to need Chap-stik."


They walk, they talk. Well, mostly Mulder talks, but she's okay with that, because the part of her brain that needs sleep is starting to assert itself. He tells her the history and significance of the places and landmarks he knows, makes up outlandish stories about the ones he doesn't. He tells her about the shop that used to be here - or, no, was it over there? - and the best places for fish and chips, sausage and chips, chicken and chips, and just plain chips. He tells her about the weekends he spent hiding out in local bed-and-breaks, occasionally with friends, but more often alone.


"It was good to get away, sometimes," he explains as they go. "And sometimes, it was good to be here."

She thinks he just said the same thing twice, but she's not sure. They change directions, and they are back near the bay. It's dark now, colder, the area is basically deserted. The wind off the water, which had been a little more than a breeze before, is biting now, gnawing at her clothes, and she's glad she took his advice and dressed in layers. She's ready to go back to the hotel, to sleep, really sleep, before their flight the next morning.

She needs to tell him that. And she's going to. In a minute.

They pass the squat, white Norwegian Seafarer's Church for the fourth time and it finally dawns on her that they've been walking in circles. Mulder keeps checking his watch, she's noticed, and it's starting to bother her.

"Gotta date?" she asks.

Mulder stops, frowns, checks his watch again, turns in a circle. He squints at the sky. "Not, um-" he checks his watch again. "Not exactly. But sort of."

"One of those groupies from the conference?"

"One of what?" He scowls. "No."

"Because if -"

The wind picks up suddenly, intensifies, and then there's this sound. It's like, like, well, like the world is grinding its molars, or the universe is dragging its nails across an endless cosmic chalkboard. Whatever it is, it's like nothing she's ever heard before, or ever wants to hear again. She claps her hands over her ears. "Mulder, what -?"

"It's okay." Mulder wraps his arm around her, pulls her to his side. "It's okay."

Well no, it's not, but right now-

Right now, something that looks suspiciously like a blue phone booth is materializing not twenty feet away.

The wind stops, the noise dies. "Mulder, what- ?"

"Oh god, Scully," he whispers, gives her shoulders a squeeze. She feels his lips brush the top of her head, then softly, "Oh my god."

The door of the phone booth opens, light spills onto the ground. A man sticks his head out, peers over his black-rimmed glasses. He blinks at them. "Fox Mulder, I presume?"

"Yeah," Mulder says. He squeezes her again. "And this is Dana Scully. My plus-one."

"Did you bring -?" Phone-booth Man asks.

Mulder pulls something that looks exactly like a penlight out of his pocket. "Right here."

"Brilliant!" The man smiles, waves them over. "Right then, come on. Hurry up. Places to be, and not much time. Well," he corrects himself, "that's not strictly true. Lots of time, loads of it, really. But not current time. Or concurrent time."

Mulder leads her to the phone booth. "It's good to meet you," Mulder says, offers up the penlight. "It's really, really - wow."

The man examines the penlight. "You, too, Mr. Muld - oh, wait, can I call you Fox? No, 'course I can't; who'd want to be called Fox? Well, maybe 'a' fox, or 'the' fox, but -"

"Mulder's fine."

"Right, Mulder. And just in time, too." He flicks the switch and the penlight turns on. "Oh, this is brilliant! Just what we needed. But then," he looks up, squints critically, "you knew that, didn't you?" Mulder shrugs. "I had a feeling."

"Of course you did. Right, well, I need to install this," the man says. He looks at Scully. "Oh, hello. I'm The Doctor."

Scully is lost, perplexed, baffled - pick one, pick them all - and maybe asleep, which, she thinks, would explain a few things, because she finds herself asking the least useful questions she can: "'The' Doctor?" she says. "Doctor who?"

A whoop goes up from behind the man. "Yes!" It's a woman's voice. "I win again! You're doing the washing up for another week! Yes!"

The Doctor grimaces, opens the door, waves them inside. "I fall for that every single time."


So - he's The Doctor, and she's Rose Tyler; he's an alien, and she's from London. He's 900-plus years old, and she's 19.

And the phone booth? The phone booth is a spaceship.

"Police Box," The Doctor says. "And more of a time-and-space ship. Well, Time and Relative Dimension in Space-ship. TARDIS." He runs his hand affectionately over - something - on a panel that's on a board that's set into a kind of bank of - somethings - on a console, and -


Scully's been in shock before, so she knows what it feels like.

And it feels exactly like this.

"So it's - what?" Mulder asks. He's been stalking around, touching the walls, tapping the floor, running his palms over the uprights, damned near fondling the cross-bracings. "Biomechanical?"

"More cyber-organic. Or neurophysiomimetic." The Doctor is disassembling the penlight, frowning. "Both, really. But then again, neither, really."

"Powered by?"

"A singularity. Artificial. Where is that -?"

"All right, Dana?" Rose hands her a cup of tea - mint, two sugars, in the thinnest, most delicate china cup she's ever held - and leads her to a chair that couldn't have been there a minute ago or they all would have tripped over it. "Sit down a bit, yeah?"

Scully sips her perfectly perfect cup of tea. She feels hot, then cold, then hot again. She's afraid she's going to throw up.

"And it was built? Engineered? Where, exactly?" Mulder asks.

"Grown, mostly. Gallifrey Blackhole Shipyard. Well, where else, right? Type 40, and all. Has anyone seen my hyper-calipers?"

"And it's bigger inside than outside because -?"

The Doctor grins. "I love this bit," he says quietly, then, with more force, "Because it has to be!" He ducks under the center console, then emerges again. "I mean, look at all this stuff. All this stuff would not fit into an ordinary police box, now, would it? Not without a great deal of folding, at any rate."

Mulder peers at something on the wall. Scully has the uneasy feeling that the wall is peering back.

"And," The Doctor says, "'it' is a 'she'."

"So noted." Mulder looks over at Scully now. He has his ear to the wall, listening to something. She hasn't known him long, but he is happier than she's ever seen him. Happier than she's ever imagined he could be.

"Hey Scully," he says. "We've been abducted by an alien. How cool is that?"

The handle of the cup snaps off in her hand. Tea spills into her lap.

She doesn't feel a thing.

Yes, Scully thinks. This is exactly what shock feels like.


"-so it's like a bubble, yeah?" Rose 'retail-assistant' Tyler tries to explain to Dr. Dana 'reinterpreted Einstein' Scully as she changes out of her tea-soaked jeans and into a pair of sweat pants. "All of time and space is inside the bubble, yeah, and when we're inside the TARDIS, we're outside the bubble. That's how the Doctor explained it, anyway."

Scully nods. She's familiar with the theory. It's garbage, but she's familiar with it.

"There's something about wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff too, but-" Rose's nose wrinkles.

"But what?"

"Well, that bit's rubbish, innit?"

In spite of herself, Scully grins.

"It's better if you don't think about it too hard at first," Rose concludes. "That way, after a while, you won't think about it at all."


The next morning, or at least, after she's slept, Scully and Rose sit at a table in what has to be the galley. The Doctor asked Mulder for his help, which Mulder, quite nearly the least mechanically-inclined man she has ever met, was only too eager to give, and they've gone off with odd looking tools in hand. Rose asks Scully what she'd like for breakfast, then asks the TARDIS to make Scully a cup of coffee, and somehow, the TARDIS does.

Scully sips. One cream, no sugar. Perfectly perfect.

"Sleep all right? Room okay?'"

Scully nods. Her room is the size of a small yacht; the sheets on the bed are sapphire blue silk. There were chocolates on the pillows, too, her favourite kind. She had planned to be awake all night, either numb with shock or numb with terror, but she'd been asleep almost before her head touched her pillow. "Yes. Very well, thank you."

"Good," Rose says, obviously relieved. "It wasn't there before, right, so I wasn't sure. The TARDIS usually gets that kind of thing right, but sometimes, things go a bit - not right."

Scully blinks.

"But she's always quick to fix it, if she can." Rose rubs the table-top between them affectionately, like she's stroking a well-loved pet. "Aren't you, girl?"

Sure, Scully thinks. Sure. Fine. Whatever.

She looks around quickly, pitches her voice low, sets her demeanour to 'Trained Professional.' "Rose, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions."

So Scully asks her: When was she abducted? Has she been mistreated? Experimented on? Assaulted? Are there other abductees on-board? Other aliens? Has she tried to escape? How dangerous is The Doctor?

Rose sits in silence, her expression cloudier with each rapid- fire question.

Then, she giggles. And then, she laughs. Tears run from the corners of her eyes and she slaps the table-top, making their cups and all the cutlery jump, and then she laughs some more. When she tries to pull herself together, it just gets worse.

Scully thinks back, remembers Theresa Neman, Max Fenig, Darlene Morris, remembers their scars, their terror, their up-ended lives. This isn't the reaction she'd been expecting.

Finally Rose stops laughing, apologizes, and then she explains: how she wasn't abducted, but invited; how she's been shown the edges of space and the fringes of time; how, together, they'd watched the birth of new stars and the death of outdated notions; how much she's learned, how much she's grown. How she never plans to leave.

"But your family," Scully says, "your friends -"

Rose shakes her head. "They know where I am. They've met him, and they know I'm safe, they know he'd never hurt me, or let me be hurt. They know that he's -" Rose looks down, blushes. "Well, they just know," she finishes.

"Who knows what?" The Doctor strolls in, wiping his hands on an oily rag. "And why've you been beating my ship?"

"Sorry," Rose says, more to the ship than The Doctor. "We were just chatting."

"About abusing the TARDIS?"

"No," Rose says, tartly. "'Course not. About alien abduction."

The Doctor stops wiping his hands. "Were you?" He gives Scully a look she can't decipher, but he's clearly not as amused by the idea as Rose had been. "Fancy that."

A shiver rips down Scully's spine. She looks away.

"Scully!" Mulder appears with his own oily rag. "There's a pool! Grab your suit."

She's grateful for the change in topic, but surprised by this new one. "What? I didn't bring my swimsuit."

"No worries," The Doctor says, his cheery, disquieting grin back in place. "By the time you find where your room's got to, I'm sure the TARDIS will have made you one. Blue? Red? One piece or two? Three maybe? What do you fancy? "

Scully stands. "What do you mean, 'where my room's got to?'"

"Well," says the Doctor, "all things being equal, which they almost never are - apart from that one time, of course, but that was clearly an exception - it's not really very likely to be where you left it, is it?"

She decides to take Rose's advice and not to think about it.


As it turns out, her room really isn't where she left it. Instead, it's next to the pool. The pool that, coincidentally, wasn't there twenty minutes ago when she walked by in the search of her room. The room containing the red and blue one-piece bathing suit that fits perfectly.

None of this bothers Mulder. None of it.

They're standing in the shallow end of the pool - it's actually more like what Scully imagines when she hears 'Roman bath' - all marble statues and topiaries and soft lighting and string music that doesn't seem to be coming from anywhere - and Mulder will not listen. Or, more precisely, he will not hear.

"He's an alien," she says, wondering why she thinks whispering will make any difference.


"We're on his ship."

"We are."

"He took us away from where we were - "

"And 'when' we were, too, if I understand the physics of this thing," he points out.

She takes a moment to scowl. "Mulder, you don't understand the physics of a piece of toast."

"Au contraire," he replies. "Toast always lands jam side down."

She draws a deep breath, and another, but it doesn't help. "Dammit, Mulder, we've been abducted."

He grins. "Yeah, I know."

She could - Christ, she could just hit him. She wants very much - very very much - to slap him, smack him, punch him, to pound all of the fear and frustration and confusion out of herself and into him by way of her fists. At least then she wouldn't have to bear it all alone; at least then it would be shared.

"This isn't like you," she says at last. "You question everything, Mulder, you're never content with the easy answer, and this -" she gestures around them "- this is madness, and you're just accepting it, you're just standing there and letting it wash over you. I don't - I don't understand."

"Scully -" Mulder makes a move to touch her, to clasp her by the upper arm, perhaps, or grasp her shoulder, but she pulls away. He lets his arm drop, and his hand creates a ripple that spreads unnaturally out around them.

"We have jobs, Mulder, and families and lives -"

His brow knits in confusion, then his expression clears. "Oh. Is that what this is all about?"

She's not sure. She's not sure of much at the moment. With conviction she doesn't feel, she says, "Of course."

"Oh Scully," he says, and this time, for some reason, she lets him touch her, lets him rest his hand on her cheek, tilt her face upward, lets him smile at her fondly. "Don't worry. He'll have us home practically before we left," Mulder assures her. "It'll be like we were never even gone."


The next time she comes out of her room, there's a door at the end of the hallway that wasn't there before. She frowns, wondering if it was her room that moved, or if the hallway had. So far she's had pretty good luck trying to find her way to what a sailor's daughter can only think of as the bridge and the galley, but -

The door opens. Mulder walks out, spots her, and does a silent- movie worthy double-take. "Is that your room?" She nods. "That yours?"

"Huh," Mulder says. He scans the area. "Where'd the pool go?"

She was just getting around to wondering about that, too. She shrugs.

"Huh," Mulder says again. "Breakfast?"


Sometime later - who knows how long - The Doctor wanders in, pronounces the TARDIS hale and hearty and ready to go.

Scully looks up from her oatmeal. "Go where?"

Next to her, Mulder - who is enjoying a bowl of something purple - asks, "Or go when?"

From the other side of the table, Rose looks up from a plate of something blue. There's a light in her eyes, excitement in her voice. "Gobileen?" The Doctor catches her enthusiasm immediately. "Oh, yes, brilliant!" he says. "One of the most beautiful spots in the universe. Well, two of them, really, since the eighth dimension split off from the other fourteen, but either way, gorgeous. You'll love it!"

And she does. Despite her best intentions, Scully loves the silky red sand, the vivid teal sky, the pale yellow grass that's soft underfoot and covers the hills and fields for as far as she can see in any direction. She loves the three moons that creep above the horizon at twilight, the swath of stars salting the sky, the way Mulder marvels at it all. How happy he is. How happy that makes her.

The less she thinks about it, the more she loves it.


After that, they fall into a routine, if hopping from time to time and place to place can ever be truly be considered routine. A day in ancient Greece; Festival Week in Thrainax on Betelgeuse Prime; a few minutes just outside the blast radius of Krakatoa; three insane months in 14 century France. They watch empires form and fall, civilizations rise and subside, mountains lift out of oceans and fall into the sea. Mulder spends a day watching Elvis rehearse; Scully spends a day watching Einstein lecture. Mulder suggests a trip to Roswell New Mexico, circa 1947; The Doctor asks why people are so fascinated by that weather balloon. The four of them scuba-dive on Tarkinmere, an aquatic planet, where they swim with schools of sentient, welcoming sea creatures in the deep green oceans, radii-ski on Gresslon, a distant moon covered in snow and endless ice, and visit the Shopping Palace on Dagreb IV, because Mulder had mentioned that Scully liked shoes. And then, because she's never been and doesn't know if she'll get the chance again, Rose requests that they go to Disneyland. In 1955.

Scully returns to the TARDIS foot-sore, nose sunburnt, fingers sticky from cotton candy and caramel corn, clutching her mouse ears and Donald Duck keyring and a souvenir photo of the four of them in front of Space Mountain, where none of their faces are quite in focus.

She looks down the hall. Mulder's door is a good two feet closer than it had been when they left.

She rests her head against the jamb a moment, wondering what, if anything, it means.


"The TARDIS seems to have a bit of a head-cold," is how The Doctor explains it when there's a new, exciting, and utterly terrifying sound, so he and Rose spend much of that day in the bowels of the ship (a metaphor that no longer seems quite so metaphorical) administering 'biomimetic chicken soup' and doing 'percussive maintenance.' Mulder isn't at breakfast, isn't at lunch, doesn't even come for dinner, and she misses him. When she checks, he's not in his room, in the pool, in the gym, so Scully sets out to find him.

Mulder, as it turns out, has found the library, and after what feels like hours of searching, Scully has found Mulder. He's tucked into a red velvet arm chair that's tucked into a corner that's tucked under a window that looks out onto the stars. He's turned his kid-at-Christmas grin on something he's holding, something like a PDA, but it's sleeker, somehow, and clunkier, too. The room is all dark-oak paneling and library tables and green-glass shaded lamps, and in all directions, as far as she can see, books, books, books. The over-all feel is academic and snug, a cozy little spot to hide from the world.

Which, Scully gets the feeling, is exactly what Mulder is doing. But why?

She sits in the impossibly comfortable chair opposite his, and waits.

"He has papyruses from the library at Alexandria," Mulder says, wonder in his voice. "He has some books from the library of Ivan the Terrible. There are some things with Shakespeare's name on them that I don't recognize, presumably lost works. He has something from someone named Obama Ellingham that won't be published for forty-odd years and it's - it's wow, is what it is." He looks up, grinning. "He even has first editions of Veldjarn Thrahn."


"No, who, and I have no idea," Mulder replies. "But wherever he, she, or it is from, it isn't Earth."

"How -?"

"The TARDIS thought I'd like it; the TARDIS was right."

Yes, of course.

"Have you slept?" she asks at last.


She scowls. "Since Disney?"

Mulder shakes his head. "Are you kidding? Have you seen the size of this place?"

She glances left and right. The sheer scope of the library gives her vertigo; the idea that it's inside a box slightly larger than the average powder room almost gives her a headache.

"You can't read it all," she says. "You can't learn everything."

His bottom lip juts forward in a theatrical pout. "I can't?"

Scully smiles at him, and it's a fond smile. Because, well, she's fond of him. More than fond. She'd known him less than a year before, before this, and she hadn't always liked him then. It's official; she likes him now. Quite a lot, really.

She wonders how long she's known him at this point, how long they've known each other. She's lost track of the time they've spent here, living on the inside of the outside of time. She wonders, idly, what it will be like, what they'll be like if -

No, not if. When.

"I've been thinking - " Mulder starts, then stops himself.


He clears his throat. "It's not very likely, I know that," he says. "I suppose it's statistically very unlikely, but, maybe this is what happened to Sam."

Oh. Samantha. His lost sister.

He's right, of course. The odds are against it. But she'd done six impossible things before breakfast each and every day she'd been on the TARDIS. Hell, she'd done six impossible things before even getting out of bed most of those days. As terrifying a thought as it is, anything really is possible.

"Have you asked The Doctor?"

Mulder shakes his head.

"Why not?"

Mulder exhales. "He might tell me."

Ah. Yes.

She understands. Mulder is big on The Truth, probably thinks of himself as its Number One Fan. He wants to know what happened to his sister that night so many years ago, he really does, but -

But in her way, Samantha is Schrodinger's cat. And if Mulder never opens that box, well then, that box remains unopened. Forever.

"It's late," she says for lack of anything useful to say. She touches his knee, lightly, affectionately. "I'm going to get some sleep. You should, too."

"I will." Mulder nods. "I only have about two million more books to read first."


Their conversation drags her down. She wanders back to her room - and 'wanders' is the right word; the TARDIS's head-cold must be making the ship dizzy - feeling the burden of each step. She can't imagine what it must be like for Mulder, carrying the added weight of his vanished sister each and every day. She thinks about her own sister, Melissa, and about her brothers and mother and father, all of them trapped in Rose's time-space bubble like bugs in amber.

Or cats in boxes, she supposes.

She reaches her room. Mulder's door is less than an inch from hers.

Scully hopes the TARDIS knows what she's doing.


Scully's wound too tightly to sleep, so she heads out in search of tea. The galley has been kind enough to stay put, she's relieved to see. She's debating the merits of jasmine versus peppermint, when she hears Rose and The Doctor mid-conversation.

"- going to tell them?" Rose asks.

"He's worked it out, I reckon," The Doctor answers, "and she doesn't want to."

"But -"

"Rose, I've told you this before. There are rules -"

"Yeah, rules that you break all the time -"

"I don't have a choice in this."

"There's always a choice," Rose counters. "You say that all the time. There's always a choice, there's always a way."

"Unless there isn't," he says with an air of finality.

"It's not fair."

"No, it's not," he replies. "Live long enough and you learn very little is fair."

"What was all this, then? What was the point of - ?


"You can't do this! It's not -"


Rose's voice is low and deadly. "I'll tell her, then."

"You won't," he scoffs, but then his tone changes, offering no leeway. "Rose, you will not. Are we clear? You absolutely will not."

"But -" her voice breaks.

A rustle of clothing, the soft sound of tears, The Doctor whispering, "Shh, it's all right, it's all right."

"It's not." Rose sniffles.

Silence. Then, "Fine. I'll think of something," he says, at last. "I promise, I'll think of something."

Rose cries harder.

Scully decides she can do without tea.


The next time she sees them, Rose is wearing a grim expression and red-rimmed eyes, and The Doctor is wearing jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, hiking boots, and dark glasses. He has an enormous, full backpack slung over his shoulder. And his hair is - wrong. Very wrong.

Mulder is eating a bowl of blue stuff. "Nice threads," he says conversationally.

"What? Oh." The Doctor's mouth quirks once to the side. "Right," he says, "we're out and about today, the three of us, so -

"The three of us?" Scully asked. "Rose -?

"- is going to stay with the TARDIS," he says before Rose can reply, "as the TARDIS is still under the weather. Odd expression that, as weather is generally above, well, everyone, really, isn't it? Well, not everyone, there are people in aeroplanes, I suppose. So I need you two kitted up- "

Mulder casts her a worried look and Scully sends him an answering one, one meant to say 'yes, it's not just you, this is extra- weird.' "'Kitted up' how? Incognito, like you?"

"Me? What? Incognito? No," The Doctor replies. "No. 'Course I'm not incognito. This is just what I wear when I don't want to be recognized."

Scully puts down her cup. She feels as if something has crawled into her gut and begun waving its arms and legs. All fifty of them. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," The Doctor replies, and gives her that look, the one she remembers from the day after they first came aboard, and her gut-monster grows fifty more limbs, just like that. "Nothing questionable. Nothing against any proclamations, shadowy or otherwise. No, nothing like that. That would be both wrong and dangerous, and we'll have none of that here."

Rose's lips quirk into an apologetic grimace that's trying to pass itself off as a grin, and failing miserably.

"There are just a few things I'd really like to show you two." When neither of them moves he adds, "Now."

"Okay. " Mulder rises. "So, how should we dress?"

"Jeans," The Doctor says. "Comfortable shoes. Waterproof jacket. Dress for bad weather. Adventure. Or, you know -" he shrugs.

Mulder looks at Scully, and his look says, 'Oh, hey Scully, the point of all this? I think we're about to find out.'

What he says is, "Good thing you brought that Chap-stik."


The TARDIS sets down in a grassy field located only slightly to the right of the dead center of nowhere. It's a sunny day, clear and a little cool, spring, she'd guess, working its way toward summer. The waterproof jacket is too warm, so she unzips it as she looks around at all the acres and acres of nothing-much-to- see. She trusts The Doctor because, well, as unsettling as he is, she trusts him, that's why. Otherwise, she'd think this was a great place to dump a body. Or two.

The Doctor spreads out a water-proof blanket, begins pulling gadgets out of his bag. He sets up an old cathode ray tube and ultra-modern sound system and she's not sure what all else. All this electronica somehow combines futuristic sleek efficiency with chunky, clunky impracticality. And, if she's not mistaken, a surreal amount of duct tape.

"Sit, sit " he gestures. "We don't have a lot of time." And for once, he doesn't even qualify that. She sits, looks over at Mulder. He must see something worrying in her expression, because he reaches over and takes her hand.

"Earth," The Doctor begins, "is in a unique position, in that, well, it's in a unique position. In both time-and-space, that is. A prime location at a prime moment. Every location at every moment, really. And that is why - "

There's whirring and beeping and a quick zap with the sonic screwdriver (which she'd once told him was neither and all she'd gotten for her trouble was a withering look and some giggling from Rose) and then -

Well, why isn't she surprised that it starts with a slide show?

"These are the Eldanji," The Doctor points to a blue skinned vaguely humanoid shape on the screen. "In 1506 A.D., they attempted to invade Earth. They were stopped."

The image changes, showing smallish, square-ish smooth-skinned creatures with enormous eyes. "These are the Lantyran. They attempted to invade in 703 B.C.E. They, too, were stopped."

Another image, this one showing small, pale crab-like creatures. "The Drazzini. They made their most recent attempts in your early Middle Ages."

The next: "These are the Fletana. Yes, that picture is to scale. They attempt to invade, oh, about once a week. So far, they've been stopped."

And on and on and on, through the Sycorax and Racnoss, the Skilth and Larconians, the Wandraii and Slitheen. The Doctor gives them an extensive, alarming history of Earth's prospective invaders and it's verging on twilight by the time he finishes.

"I'm sensing a theme here," Mulder says after the fiftieth or sixtieth or thousandth set of would-be squatters flickers by. "Beings keep trying to invade. So far, they've been held off."

The Doctor nods. "Very good, yes. Exactly."

"And you're tell us this now, after all this time, because -"

The Doctor stands, his back to the rise of the hill. All very theatrical, Scully will think later, when they are back on the TARDIS, all very cinematic and beautifully choreographed. All very dramatic.

"Here, now, where we are - this isn't tomorrow. Or next week. It's not even next year. But it's coming."

At first, it's the tiniest dot in the distance. Then it's dots. Then more dots and more dots and impossibly more. They draw closer and closer at impossible speed, morphing in shape and size, becoming triangular, like arrowheads, like spear-points, stabbing their way across the evening sky, sleek and silent, wave after impossible wave -


Scully's been in shock before. It feels nothing like this.

"Foo fighters," Mulder murmurs. "Son of a bitch, foo fighters." He drops her hand - the hand he's been holding all this time - and leaps to his feet. "Who are they?"

"I can't say," The Doctor replies.

"What? What do you mean?"

"I mean that I can't say."

"How much time do we have?"

The Doctor shakes his head.

Scully rises too, finds her voice. "How - how do we stop them? Tell us how to stop them."

"I'm sorry," The Doctor says once more and suddenly, Scully can see everyone of his 900 years etched on his face. "I'm so sorry, I really am, but I cannot, I cannot say." He turns and walks back to the TARDIS.

She and Mulder stare at each other in stunned silence. She tries to think of something - anything - to say. But all her brain is picking up at that moment is the whitest of noise and her mouth hangs open, silent and useless.

Mulder moves first, wrapping his arms around her. He presses a kiss to her forehead, then pulls away. Then he kisses her. Properly. Like he means it.

And just when she thinks it's the best idea he's ever going to have, he runs away.

"Doctor! Doctor, dammit, wait!" he shouts as he takes off after the man.

No, wait, Scully thinks. He was never a man.

Minutes slip away. She stands there, horror struck, helpless, as ten, twenty, a hundred more ships pass overhead, throw her into shadow, into darkness, and then disappear.

No, he was never a man.

She turns back to the TARDIS. She wants to go home.


"We could stay," Mulder whispers into the bare skin of her shoulder. "If you want, we could stay."

When she returned to the TARDIS, Scully hadn't been surprised to find him in her room, somewhere that, in all this time, he'd never been; she hadn't been surprised to find him pacing, livid with fury, mumbling and ranting because The Doctor would tell him nothing more.

It had surprised her when she'd crossed the room and kissed him like 'she' meant it. Because - and again, this was a surprise - she did mean it. Had meant it, as it turns out, across centuries, millennia, days and weeks and years.

He'd just smiled and said, "Finally."

She would be wiling to write this interlude off to stress or adrenaline or 'oh good, we're still alive, quick, let's prove it,' but she isn't willing to just write this off, not now. Why had she waited so long? All that moving of doors, shifting of hallways - god, even the TARDIS had figured it out before she had.

And Mulder had been so patient, more patient than she'd ever have imagined. There was so much more she had to learn about this man. Especially now.

"There are still places we could go," he whispers into the back of her neck between kisses, tightens his arm around her.

He's right about that, of course. So many places to go, things to see. She'd like to spend a day with Eleanor Roosevelt, visit Galileo's studio, hear Mozart in concert, see her grandparents as children, meet the Beatles. Climb Everest again, just because it's still there.

"So many things to do," he murmurs, nuzzles the soft spot behind her right ear.

They're still living outside time and space, and even though they are doing so at The Doctor's pleasure, they could go on doing so for a long, long time, and still make it home for the potential apocalypse. The attack they witnessed will still happen, right on schedule, with or without them. Time waits for no man.

But The Doctor? Well, he was never a man, was he?

Scully knows that, despite appearances, The Doctor doesn't 'do' random, and she's sure he had shown them this for a very specific reason. It had happened before, it was going to happen again. Over and over, these would-be invasions started, and over and over, they were stopped.

Because, over and over, someone stopped them.

"Scully?" Mulder props himself up on his elbow. "Seriously. We can stay. If you want to, we can stay."

Well, she's someone. So is Mulder.

She rolls over, kisses him once, very briefly but very deliberately, making a promise, sealing a pact. "We can," she says, "but we aren't going to."

"No." Mulder smiles. "Of course we aren't."


They tell The Doctor and Rose of their decision over a breakfast of blue something. She thinks she's going to miss the blue something, whatever it is.

The Doctor beams. "Brilliant!" he says, as enthusiastic as she's ever seen him about anything. "That's brilliant. Isn't that brilliant, Rose?"

Rose nods, then covers her hand with her mouth. She makes a strangled sound, gasps, and then leaves.

Mulder shoots The Doctor a look. "Rose doesn't seem to think it's so brilliant."

The Doctor frowns. "No," he says. "No, she doesn't."

"I'll go see -" Scully volunteers.

The Doctor shakes his head. "No. Don't."

She still trusts The Doctor, but just then, she's not entirely sure she likes him.


The knock comes later, while she's packing.

"Come in."

"Oh, this is nice," The Doctor says, scanning the room. "Very nice. My ship does good work. Well, I say, 'my ship,' but -"

"Something you wanted, Doctor?" Even she hears the irritation in her voice.

He arches one brow. "I'd like for you not to be angry with me," he says.

"I'm not angry with you."

"Right," he says. "In that case, I'd like for you not to lie about not being angry with me."

She stops packing. "Doctor -"

"You've probably guessed this by now, but things are going to get bad," he tells her, deadly serious, "and then they are going to get immeasurably worse. There isn't a thing I can do about it, or believe me, I would. I've already done more than was probably wise."

She waits.

"Mulder is a good man, but he's a better man, a much better man, with you, Special Agent Dr. Dana K. Scully. You are much more, so very much more, than his plus-one," he says in a 'pay- attention-this- is-important tone. "Try not to forget that."

Scully blinks at him, wonders what it is he's really trying to say But she can't work it out. "Why would I forget that, Doctor?"

He shrugs in a way that's not at all casual. "You'd be surprised what time makes people forget," he says. "Space and time."

He turns and leaves.

Scully returns to her packing, wondering which part of the universe would collapse if The Doctor just once gave someone a straight answer.


They're all standing on the bridge, listening to the TARDIS grind her teeth and scratch her nails.

"We'll be putting you down close to where we started," The Doctor says, pushing buttons and pulling levers. "Rose, turn that - that 'thing' there, no, no, the other thing."

"What did he tell you?" Mulder asks quietly enough that his words are drowned out by the ambient noise.

Lights flash, bells ring, and something that looks very much like a toaster pops.

"Doctor?" Rose sounds worried.

"Tell me?" Scully asks, puzzled.

"Oh dear," The Doctor says. "That is not right." He frowns, throws his leg up on the console, holds something down with his foot.

"When he was in your room," Mulder says. "I saw him come out."

A new noise gets added to the mix, a buzzing-clanging-thunking sort of sound, that comes with rapidly flashing LEDs. "Doctor," Rose says, tugging at something, "I think this is stuck."

"Unstick it," The Doctor says. "Smack it until it comes loose."

"Are you sure we can't help?" Scully asks again.

"No, no, we've got it under control," The Doctor assures them.

As if to disprove his point, the TARDIS heaves violently from side to side.

"Very funny," The Doctor says, glaring in the general direction of the ceiling. "Really wildly amusing, that."

"So?" Mulder asks.

"Doctor," Rose says, "This date isn't -"

"So what?" Scully replies.

"I see that," The Doctor answers Rose, then slams something hard enough to make it clang. "I see - no no no!"

"What did he tell you?" Mulder says.

"Doctor!?" Rose says.

"Oh. No, it's fine," The Doctor replies. "It's fine now." He looks up, glances at Mulder and then at Scully. "We're here."

The TARDIS doors swing open. It's night in Cardiff. A steady breeze blows in off the bay. A hundred yards away, she and Mulder stand side by side as the TARDIS descends.

"Nothing." Scully takes Mulder's hand, squeezes. "He didn't tell me anything I didn't already know."

The End


Extreme thanks to: Circe for beta and biomimetic chicken soup, Amal and Leigh for beta and percussive maintenance, Weyo for first-through, encouragement, and NECK!, reruns of Dr Who (2005) for hooking me even after I swore "no no no, not again," and David and Gillian, for continued M&S awesome.


(1) Yes - very early season one. If that makes this AU, so be it.

(2) I don't know either! What do you think? Share your theory with me!

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