"Wha- Wha- You ca- I mean, you can't- You- But- I-" A most decidedly Canadian man continued to splutter, but the Doctor wasn't listening. He had just spied a John Sheppard.
"Oh, you're Canadian!" The Doctor decided it might be best to give his bewildered former-companion a chance to compose himself before he had to face his past. This red-faced, fast-paced man would do the trick nicely. "Isn't that wonderful! I went to Canada once. Only once. They kicked me out, you see." The Doctor almost frowned for a moment because he had gotten John kicked out of Canada as well. "One hell of a day, that was... Or a week, depending on how you look at it. Not a big fan of that woman, though..." The Doctor waved his hands about to illustrate his struggle in his quest to find the name of a Pop 'Sensation'.
"Celine Dion," John put forward, and the Doctor did his ultimate best not to kiss him.
"That's it!" the Doctor clicked his fingers at John before looking at the Canadian again. "Met her while we were there, not very fun, I have to say."
"You exaggerate, Doctor," John grinned, "She was a total bitch."
The Doctor rolled his eyes, "She wasn't that bad. Jada Tyrano was much worse. Remember her?" the Doctor shuddered at the thought. "Always on your case about marriage..."
"Yeah," John agreed enthusiastically, addressing the room as well as the Doctor now, just as the Doctor would have. "I was like, 'can't a guy just have some fun?' I mean, I'm only human after all... Although that doesn't really factor in, since you're the least human bloke I've ever met and you were sleeping with her sister."
"I was not!" the Doctor lied indignantly with a pout and crossed arms. "We were merely friends."
"Yeah," John snorted, "Friends with benefits."
The Doctor rolled his eyes and took his first look around. "Where am I, anyway?" The Doctor changed the subject effortlessly. "Not on Earth, surely. Oh!" The Doctor pointed at a young... Athosian! woman that he happened to be striding past as he spoke. "I'm in the Pegasus Galaxy!" He recognised the architecture now. "City of the Alterans. Beautiful architecture. Not as beautiful as Gallifrey... but then nothing ever lives up to that." The Doctor shared a quietly sad look with John because he was the Doctor's only companion to ever get a real proper tour of the Citadel due to his Ancestry. "Anyway." He shook hands with the serene Athosian. "I'm the Doctor, you're Athosian. What's your name?"
The Athosian made no attempt to answer and a... Satedan! man wandered over protectively and made it clear that the Doctor's hand in hers was wrong.
"Teyla Emmagan," John said at the same moment as the Doctor muttered, "Alright, alright. No need to get snippy." And the Doctor missed John's response entirely.
"I'm sorry, what?"
John sighed, "I said her name's Teyla Emmagan. That's Ronon Dex – but we just call him 'Chewie' – and that lovely Canadian fellow you've somehow managed to render speechless is Doctor Rodney McKay. He has two Ph.D.'s." The grin that stretched across John's face was enormous, and the Doctor knew then that this was John's idea of introducing his 'family' to his family.
"Your team, I assume?"
"That's them." John clapped the nearest one, McKay, on the shoulder. "Whataya think?"
"Who cares what he thinks?" McKay cut the Time Lord off. "He's clearly insane, Sheppard."
John looked hurt and fell silent. The Doctor took over. "Despite appearances, I'm actually quite sane... Well," he amended, "Mostly. And John most certainly does care what I think because I'm the only family he's got!" The Doctor had never thought of it that way but he knew it was true. "We've known each other for a very long time and I taught him everything he knows."
McKay was unphased and the Doctor was a little impressed. "I thought the military did that," he quipped.
"The-" the Doctor faltered. Tac vest, holster, machine gun?! "John Sheppard! Did you join the Army?! After everything I taught you about subduing people and aliens without using lethal force you go and join the Army?!" The Doctor was infuriated and flustered by the idea that John Sheppard, sweet, innocent, pacifist-idealistic John Sheppard had joined the Army.
"Air Force," John corrected.
"Oh! Because that makes all the difference! Doesn't it?" The Doctor was going into full Parental-Mode now and he wasn't about to let rational thought stop him. "How could you? John Sheppard you take that gun off RIGHT NOW!" To the Doctor's (and everyone else's) immense surprise John did as he was told and threw his weapons to the floor.
"Look, I'm sorry, alright?" John looked truly regretful and the Doctor was wracked with guilt for ever having said anything.
"What are you doing?!" McKay demanded, and the Satedan... Dex, was there to back him up.
"You don't have to listen to him, Sheppard." The man's voice, hair, body and overall demeanour – even the part of his mind that the Doctor could sense – screamed 'grunt'.
"Better me than you," the Doctor countered, and Dex's gun was raised.
"Ronon!" John protested, but the Doctor knew that type of gun and had whipped out his Screwdriver and deactivated it before the Satedan could do anything. Dex, thinking the Sonic was some kind of weapon, fired a shot off. "No!" John yelled, and the Doctor realised that if it had have worked John would have just taken a fiery ball of plasma for him.
"Ha-ha," the Doctor said, catching John when he landed from the epic leap he had taken clear across the room. "Calm down, John. I broke it."
John stood beside him and panted a little. "Oh. Cool. I don't want one anymore."
"Yeah," the Doctor replied easily, knowing John well enough to know that he would have wanted the Satedan's gun the moment he saw it and assuming that was John retracting his wish, "Sontaran pulse pistols are way cooler."
"Yes, I'm sure." A woman who he supposed was the domineering one folded her arms loosely across her chest at the door.
"Oh, 'ello," the Doctor greeted immediately with a wave. "How long have you been standing there? You should have joined the party sooner!"
John facepalmed and the Doctor decided that this must be his boss.
"Um..." Blankety - Blank Sheppard was just introducing me to his team. The Doctor spun around. "Hang on, what rank have you made?"
"Lieutenant Colonel." John was so proud the Doctor decided then and there that he wasn't angry anymore.
"Lieutenant Colonel." The Doctor grinned just as proudly before turning back to the woman. "Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard was just introducing me to his team."
"I see. And you are?" She looked speculative. Yep, definitely in charge.
"The Doctor. And you?"
"Doctor Elizabeth Weir. What sort of Doctor?"
"Oh, you know," the Doctor shrugged, "This and that. Time, mostly."
John stepped forward and offered a sheepish grin. "He's an alien, Elizabeth. He has a time machine."
"A time machine?"
"Yep," the Doctor and John chimed as one. Then, "Jinx! Double Jinx! Septuple Gallifreyan Shadow Proclamation Medusa Cascade!"
"What?!" The Canadian guy who was a little bit shorter than he and John got all flustered again and the Doctor wondered if he should take out his human-bomb-diffusal-kit.
"Not yet," John whispered in his ear.
Elizabeth stepped in then, the rational one, apparently, and offered up a challenge. "Prove it."
"To Doctor McKay, mostly. Since he's the brains of this expedition."
"'Expedition'?" The Doctor couldn't help the way his eyes lit up just a little more. "My little adventurer." The Doctor tweaked John's cheek and John smiled like a little kid getting praise from his mother. "Righteo then." The Doctor fished out his key and unlocked the nearby TARDIS. "Off to prove to Doctor McKay that I'm a Time Traveller. Coming John?"
John jumped at the chance. "Sure as hell am."
"Don't swear," the Doctor chided automatically.
"Not taking your guns, John?" McKay asked, pointing to the fallen weapons.
John shook his head like a good boy. "No weapons in the TARDIS without express permission of the pilot." John gasped. "I'm a pilot now! Can I fly it?"
The Doctor shrugged. "Why not."
"If you're the pilot," McKay said slowly, "then aren't you the one who gives permission to have weapons onboard and therefore you can take them?"
John looked from the weapons, to McKay, and then to the Doctor and shook his head. "I won't need them. We're only going to travel back along your timeline and mess you up a bit anyway." With a cheeky grin that rivalled that of the Doctor's himself John followed the Gallifreyan into the TARDIS. "Hey!" It's changed."
The Doctor looked around. "Yeah. Few years ago." And then he dove into the story about the Sycorax and Christmas with the Tylers, all the while instructing John on which buttons to press and levers to pull.
Two minutes later (or half an hour by their timelines) they arrived back in the same spot with McKay's childhood pet, Fluffy. A cat that had run away from him.
"Here you are," the Doctor said, dropping the fat Persian fur-ball in the Canadian's arms. "Fluffy. One hundred percent unadulterated cat from nineteen-eighty."
John chuckled at the look of sheer disbelief on McKay's face. "Like it, buddy?"
"But... But it can't be. That little thing?" He cradled the cat over one shoulder like you might a baby and used his free hand to point at the TARDIS before moving it back to rest on the cat's fur.
"Yep." John grinned. "And it's bigger on the inside."
"Bull." Rodney pushed his way past, clutching onto his cat. The Doctor gladly opened the doors and let McKay inside.
He was back out in a moment, pointing at the TARDIS.
"Bigger on the inside," John and the Doctor chimed.
"Indeed," the Doctor agreed. "It's probably bigger than this whole city... Assuming we're in Atlantis."
"You don't even know where you are?" Doctor Weir looked incredulous.
"It's more fun that way," John said before the Doctor could and the Time Lord wondered if his former-companion was a psychic.
"I see. So how did you meet... the Doctor?" Weir said his name with a hidden malice and mistrust that he immediately disliked. John didn't seem to notice.
"We used to travel in the TARDIS together when I was younger," John explained.
"Right. To other planets."
"And other times!" John protested to Weir's incredulity. John suddenly switched tracks and grinned at the Doctor. "Weren't the Ancients cool? I always said I'd come back to visit, didn't I?"
The Doctor nodded. "Just thought it would be a little bit sooner," he said carefully.
John shrugged, "Nah. This is cool. Wouldn't have my team, otherwise."
The Doctor nodded. "So what do you do out here, exactly?"
"Fight the Wraith," Dex grunted like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Oh." The Doctor's brow furrowed. "I thought this was a sleep cycle? What year is it?"
"Oh, you have got to be-"
"Two thousand and seven."
"Oh." The Doctor blinked and John was hiding guilt poorly. "You woke them up!" he accused. "Didn't you?! You stupid humans barge your way in here with that hijacked Stargate of yours and then you jeopardise the lives of everyone in this galaxy by waking up the Wraith!" The Doctor had turned on Doctor Weir at some point during his rant, because of all the people in this room he disliked her the most. He had no idea why.
Weir's response wasn't what he expected. "Where did John go?"
The Doctor turned and eyed the spot where John had been only moments ago. In the TARDIS. The Doctor pushed past McKay and locked the door behind him. Sure enough, John was sitting elevated off to the left of the main console, in the same spot as Jackie Tyler had once swung her legs.
"We had no choice." John's eyes glistened and his voice was thick as he spoke. The Doctor climbed up the ladder on the opposite side and moved in close behind him, rubbing his back. "We didn't know." John took a deep breath and leaned back against the Doctor, eyes shutting on the Time Lord's shoulder. "Colonel Sumner, some of our Marines and some Athosians were taken for culling by the Wraith that were awake and guarding the hibernating ones. We went to rescue them. We had everyone out except for Sumner so I went to find him... He was being tortured." The Doctor had met the Wraith on numerous occasions and could imagine. "He asked me... to shoot him. So I did. And then I ended up killing the Queen and waking them all up. I'm sorry."
The Doctor shook his head and pulled John closer, his back flush against the Doctor's chest. "I shouldn't have yelled, I'm sorry."
John nodded and slumped down so that his head was on the Doctor's shoulder and they could see each other's faces. John looked over at the console and the lights blinked in acknowledgement and comfort. She really did like him. After a while, when they had both had time to think, John sighed. The Doctor was relieved to hear that it was mostly contentment rather than exasperation. He flopped his hands out by his sides and shut his eyes, nestling into the Doctor's neck somewhat. "I love you," he mumbled.
The Doctor froze and wondered what he was supposed to say to that. He supposed that if he had ever loved anyone in his nine hundred years it would have been John Sheppard, but at the same time he had never said that to anyone. The puzzle pieces slowly fell into place and the Doctor realised why he was so repelled from Doctor Weir. She and John... Well she at least thought that she and John... There was nothing wrong with Weir, he was just jealous.
"You don't have to say it back," John said quietly, still watching the TARDIS console. "I don't expect you to."
The Doctor swallowed. He couldn't, could he? "John. Look at me." John did as the Doctor asked, and the Doctor suddenly realised that John always did as he asked. He even laid down his arms and ran off to eighties Canada with him. "I..."
"What's taking so long?! John?! He hasn't killed you, has he?!"
"Fucking Canadians," John muttered, before ducking his head and apologising. "Sorry."
"At least you remembered." The Doctor shrugged and kissed John's temple. "And I love you anyway, so..."
John's grin was massive and the Doctor's equally so, drowning out McKay's yells with beams of happiness. "Really?"
"Shut up, McKay!" John and the Doctor yelled at the same time, facing the door for a second before looking back at each other.
"Really," the Doctor swore. "Cross my hearts."
John smiled softly and brushed his lips over the Doctor's. "Swear?"
John grinned and the Doctor groaned, realising too late he had walked into the devious Lieutenant Colonel's trap. "You really shouldn't swear, you know."
The Doctor grinned sheepishly, "But you love me anyway, right?"
John nodded. "Time Lord's honour."
Summary: The Doctor wanders into Atlantis and finds an old friend and a pissed off Canadian