sickle_stories: (Crack fics)
[personal profile] sickle_stories
Title: Stonehenge Antimony
Fandom: Doctor Who, Stonehenge Apocalypse
Word Count: 2971
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective agents (which is to say, not me).
A/N: This is what happens when you watch The Pandorica Opens and Stonehenge Apocalypse the same weekend. Less crack and more philosophy than I was aiming for, and gods only know I tried to shut the Doctor up, but he just won't have it.
ETA: Basically, what [livejournal.com profile] mizra's icon says:



Stonehenge Antimony


antimony (n, philosophy): Two valid conclusions that appeared to contradict each other, but that could be resolved when it was seen that they were from two distinct and exclusive sets. So no paradox exists, only the inappropriate application of an idea from one set - being applied to another - causes a seeming paradox.

Jacob tapped his EMF reader in frustration. "Come on, damnit, work!"

He shook it vigorously for a moment, then peered at the screen, cupping his flashlight over it with one hand. The dial, which had been swinging wildly from one side to the other like windshild wipers in a thunderstorm for the past minute, finally settled down on zero. Jacob gave a sigh of relief followed immediately by a scowl as the dial started creeping to the right.

"Okay," he muttered, "that's not a hiccup."

He watched the dial pass line after line, its little button lights blinking as the dial kept on past the 10 mG line and cheerily crossed the whole red area of the 20 mG and then kept on going. Or tried to, at least: the needle strained just at the edge of the screen, trembling and twitching, registering much more than Jacob's cheap reader had ever expected.

"Fuck," whispered Jacob. He shoved the EMF into his jacket pocket without turning it off - he could hear the insistent pinging which in EMF-speak basically meant, "It's gone up to eleven!" - and rubbed his hands. England wasn't a country he associated with cold - more like botched UFO hoaxes, bog bodies and things called "heaths" which had no business trying to pass off as landscape - so he was poorly prepared for the chilly summer night.

Jacob looked across the field that lay between his haphazardly-chosen bush cover and what was currently a throbbing mess of electromagnetism. Stonehenge looked back at him, silently mocking rational science.

Stupid rocks.

* * *

He lost track of how long he stood there, looking out at the monliths, the constant beeping of his EMF reader the only marker of the passage of time. His thoughts flittered through a dozen topics, chasing down one path of logic only to jump to another problem: pyramids, asto-physics, the visible spectrum, magnetism, black matter... Jacob fiddled with the ring that hung around his neck and wished he'd thought to bring gloves.

Then silence struck like a sledge-hammer.

"Alright," said Jacob, fishing out his EMF reader and lancing at the dial. "Down from Certain and Instant Death to, oh, cancer in twenty years?" The dial slipped down a few more notches.

"Showtime," he said, and walked off towrads Stonehenge.

* * *

Twenty minutes later, the giant slabs of stone were presenting quite a scientific conundrum. It looked like there were branching out from puzzling the archaeologists and anthropologists, keen on giving the tougher sciences a run for their money.

Jacob ran his reader over the peripheral stones then worked his way towards the middle. When he passed the reader over the central stone, the dial swung all the way to the right for one brief moment. A shiver ran down Jacob's spine and he blamed it on the cold.

"No touching - got it."

He stooped down to pass the reader over the ground, checking whether it was the monolith itself or the earth that was going crazy.

There was a purple rock tucked in by the stone.

Now, Jacob was no geologist - at least, not officially - but he was a genius - and yes, as officially as a great big whooping monetary prize from your not-quite-peers can be - the kind of genius with rapid-fire neurons and whole encyclopedias stuffed into their cortex. (Also the kind that never refilled the coffee pot, or bothered to fix the printer when it got jammed, and thought that disagreeing loudly with someone through the power of scientific articles was the height of civility.) He knew what this was. What it meant, in the larger sense of things, the "what the fuck is going on" sense, was still anyone's guess.

"Off you go, Binky."

Jacob nearly dropped his reader - his temperamental and yet highly expensive reader - at the unexpected voice. He pressed himself to the ground, considering the situation as his heart bounced about in his throat. He hadn't heard anyone approach. Not that he knew where they'd be approaching from - he hadn't seen any signs of life or surveillance all night, and it's not like Stonehenge was actually close to anything.

Also, Binky?

"Binky?" said another voice, using the same incredulous and confused tonse as Jacob's private thoughts.

"Yeah. What's wrong with Binky?"

"No, nothing... It's not very Roman."

A mockingly exasperated sigh and then, "Alright: Binkus."

Jacob heard footsetps coming closer and the first voice - the woman - murmur appreciatively at the stones then fade as she circled the ring. A second set of footsteps - the man's - walked up to where she stood a bit more slowly, talking to itself.

"Arthur would've been good. Arturius. Good name for a horse."

* * *

Jacob's leg was starting to cramp. This was important because he didn't think he could crouch there, behind the central rock of Stonehenge, for much longer. And this was important because crazy people who showed up at Stonehenge out of nowhere on horses in the middle of the night - Jacob's thought pattern was starting to sound strident even to himself - weren't really the type of people he wanted to meet.

Alright, so he fit that description too. Mostly. Point is, genius, not crazy, and definitely not on horseback. Or maybe that should be "not on horseback and definitely not crazy"? Whatever, he was clearly the saner and least potentially dangerous of the three - the last time he got in a fight and won he'd been twelve. Academics and late night radio hosts aren't known for their athletics so much for their acerbic turns of phrase.

Furthermore, these people were apparently here to investigate the Stonehenge phenomenon as well, if the man's exstatic exclamations were anything to go by. He wasn't saying anything Jacob could quite follow - he seemed to be talking more about temporal physics than anything. This meant that, eventualy, they'd come up to the central monolith and then... What? Jacob would spring up offering co-authorship? attack by purple rock? (No, wait, he'd need that for his research.) Would he try to run away instead, across the dark fields, and leave all the fascinating scientific discoveries to them? Preferably, none of the above. Jacob chewed his lower lip and strained his ears, trying to decide what to do next.

There was a moment of silence interrupted by a highpitched whirring sound that jump-started Jacob's heart to franctic speeds like 1,000 volts and a "Clear!" He rested his forehead against the cool wet stone, half-listening to the discussion going on to his far left, grateful that his ribs could apparently withstand his mad heartbeats and that the noise hadn't been his EMF reader.

"Oh shit."

A wave of anxiety rushed over him, crashing into the receeding wave of startled panic and almost drowning Jacob in adrenaline. He fumbled for his reader, trying to pull it out of his pocket to turn it off - an impossible task when you're wearing rather tight jeans - the radio host pound, if you really need to know - and are currently curled up like a ball behind a rock. At that precise moment, when his right hand was pinched by a denim pocket trying out for the role of Vengeful Bear Trap and his left hand was trying to keep hold of the purple rock while at the same time keeping his balance against the monolith - it was at that precise moment that his EMF started beeping frantically.

Its cheerful beeping told Jacob, insistently, that it was detecting high electromagnetic levels and that it couldn't care less that it was broadcasting his presence to the crazy horse-riding couple on the other side of Stonehenge.

"I'm unscrewing every screw and stripping every wire out of this thing's rotten guts when I get home," promised Jacob to himself.

"Hello!"

Jacob fell backwards flat on his back, looking up at a smiling face peering down at him from the central monolith. The smile twisted into an amiable frown, like a grandfather who's just caught you with the whole cookie jar. "You're not supposed to be here."

"Uh," said the award-winning genius eloquently. He scrambled to his feet, wiping ineffectually at the mud on his jeans. The man standing across from him looked, well, Old School: all tweed and bowtie and suspenders. Jacob wondered if he was some sort of tour guide - Stonehenge By Night (On Horseback)! or something.

"I'm a scientist," said Jacob, in much the same tone one would say, "I'm an FBI agent and a General and I'll be the one doing the asking here." They should give out badges at universities and awards ceremonies, rather than diplomas and misfitting rings, something you could flip out at cocktail parties and restricted areas, when your knowledge or opinion were in questions. "I know," you'd say, "I'm an expert." Jacob pressed his conmemorative ring against his chest, stilling its gentle swinging. "I'm doing research."

"No no no, that's not what I meant. You, here, now."

The man vaulted over the rock and stood nose to nose with Jacob, looking him over, bobbing from side to side as he studied each of Jacob's eyes. "The clothes, the accent - you're American? Oh no," sad the man, shaking his head, "You're much too late for a time like this."

"What?"

"Hello," called a female voice from somewhere over the man's shoulder. A moment later, a young redhead walked around the stone and stood by the tweed-clad man. "What's going on?"

"Amy, this is - what's your name?"

"Jacob-"

"This is Jacob. He's not a Roman."

"Scientist. Physicist, actually," corrected Jacob, then on second-though, he added, "Mainly."

"Right," said the man, tapping Jacob on the chest. "Still not a Roman."

The woman, Amy, took in Jacob's clothes with a confused look. "But how could he be here?" She turned to her companion. "It's 102 AD."

"Yes, that. Details."

"Who are you?" said Jacob, annoyed at his ignorance.

"I'm the Doctor. And would you please turn that beeping off?"

"Doctor of what?" muttered Jacob, reaching into his pocket for his EMF reader. Its dial was whisking back and forth desperately. Yeah, yeah, I know, he thought, and turned it off.

"Hm?" said the man, glancing at the EMF reader and turning away to run his hands over the central monolith as if he were trying to memorize each imperfection. "Oh, everything."

"What year is it?" demanded Amy of Jacob.

"What?" sputtered Jacob. "What the hell kind of question is that? That's a B-grade time-travelling science-fiction question."

"And I'm an A-grade real-life time-traveller. Year?"

"Two-thousand and ten."

Amy took a step closer. "Doctor?" she said to the man currently lying face-down on a World Heritage Site. "Why's there an American scientist from 2010 at Stonehenge?"

"Doing research," repeated Jacob, but Amy ignored him and turned to the Doctor. "I mean, I know it was a long ride from the camp - I can feel it in my legs (I'll be lucky if I can ever walk again) - but it wasn't that long. Not centuries."

"No, right," said the Doctor, leaping to his feet. He pulled something out from his coat pocket - a fat silver pen with a knob on the end - and pointed it towards Jacob. At the push of a button, a green light shone and the high-pitched sound from earlier filled the night air.

"He's from 2010." The Doctor moved the pen down towards Jacob's feet and back up again slowly. "He's in 2010." With a hmm, he waved the pen over Amy and then himself. "We're in 102 AD. And," he bounded onto the monolith, pointing the light at his feet, "Stonehenge is indecisive. Or rather, it's at both those times." He checked his pen. "And a few more. Forty more. Oh, you poor stones."

"But Doctor, same place, different time at the same time? Isn't that impossible?"

"Oooh," pouted the Doctor. "I'd've thought that the TARDIS had zapped that word right out of your vocabulary by now. But yes. It is. But it isn't. That is, it looks like a paradox and acts like one, but it doesn't quack or waddle like one."

"So it's a paradox."

"Yes."

"But it's not one."

"Yes."

"Doctor?"

"Yes?"

"Why are you licking the stone?"

"Checking for residuals. Time travel does that, coats you in residue-"

"What?"

"Good residue! like a sugar coating! Although definately not this one," he added, wiping his tongue on his coat sleeve.

"I'm covered," said Amy, staring down at her shirt as if expecting to suddenly find goo dripping off her, "in time residue."

"I don't know why you're so squemish about it - you've been covered in space whale sick. But," said the Doctor, bouncing to his feet again and snatching Jacob's EMF without hesitation, "if it makes you feel better, you can have a dip in the pool once we're back at the TARDIS."

"Hey!" said Jacob. "That's-"

"You never found the pool again," muttered Amy, running a hand down her front then moving to join the Doctor and Jacob who were huddled around the EMF, Jacob trying to keep the Doctor from breaking his expensive - for a late night radio host, at least - contraption, while the Doctor ran his penlight over it and tapped at the dial, which was currently doing the impression of a metronome on methamphetamines.

"Antimony," said the Doctor.

"Stop poking it!" said Jacob, without much hope of being obeyed. "Wait, what?"

"Antimony," repeated the Doctor, handing back the EMF to Jacob. "Two valid conclusions that appear to contradict each other - a paradox - but only because they come from two and exclusive sets. Like, think about football."

Amy and Jacob shared a confused look and dutifully thought about football, if only as the sanest option in the face of current events.

"Now, the image in your head, Amy, of football is a valid response to the word fooootbaaall," he said, dramatically elongating the word, "but so is Jacob's. You can't say either is wrong because they come from different sets - in this case, different English dialects - even though they appear to contradict each other. So, no paradox!"

"You know," said Jacob, rubbing his face in exasperation, "that was a great explanation, but I'm still completely lost here."

"Me too," said Amy.

"Oh, humans!" cried the Doctor, whirling around and sitting on the monolith, leaving Jacob and Amy standing before him. "Look, Jacob here is at Stonehenge one night in the year twenty-ten. We're at Stonehenge roundabout two-oh-one AD. At the same time."

Jacob thought about this for a moment from a purely theoretical point of view. (That felt safest at the moment.) "Could you write that out as an equation?"

The Doctor looked up at him. "What did you say your name was?"

"Jacob Glaser."

"Oh," said the Doctor, sitting up sharply. Then he seemed to remember something and followed that train of thought with a raised finger. "Oh..." His hand dropped and, for the first time he was completely still. He stared up at Jacob, like he was reading him like a book and he was turning the last page. "Oh," he whispered.

Jacob shifted uneasily and even the Doctor's companion, who'd been relatively unfased by his manic behaviour, looked worried.

"Right," said the Doctor, slapping his hands on his thighs and standing. "Let's see if River is back with those lights, shall we? We have to move away towards the edge if we want to step properly into our time frame.

"What about Jacob here?" asked Amy. "Whatever is going on here, it isn't going to be safe."

"No," said the Doctor softly. "It isn't." He took a step towards Jacob and looked at him - really, properly looked at him - then stuck out his hand. Jacob shook it, a shiver running down his spine. "Goodbye, Dr. Glaser."

"Goodbye, Doctor."

After a moment, the Doctor let go of Jacob's hand.

"Bye," said Amy. "Funny way to meet. Hey, maybe we'll pop round later - can't say when, we'd only be late. What do you think, Doctor?"

The Doctor gave a sad sort of smile. "Yeah. We'd only be late."

And with that, the Doctor and Amy walked away, towards the outer ring of Stonehenge, until Jacob lost sight of them in the dark and they left the Stonehenge antimony for the 3rd century, leaving Jacob in the 21st.


(2,000 years and) 6 minutes later


"I knew it!" Jacob lifted the robot head and gave a short laugh. He brushed the dirt of the metal and sat down on a stone, bending over the head with his flashlight. It was just like the robot - not alien - head he'd discovered on the moon.

"Halt! Put your hands in the air!" The voice - Cockney, authoritarian and most definately belonging to someone with both a uniform and a gun - was a few feet behind him. Jacob dropped the robot head out of sight and raised his hands.


(10 years earlier and) 2,000 years later


"I never took you for one to take trophies,' said Amy, eyeing the scrap of metal in the Doctor's hands with distrust, like it might lunge at her any moment. (Twice was enough, in fact. That first time had been more than enough, actually.)

"Oh, I'm not." The Doctor fiddled with the screwdriver and pulled out wires, apparently disarming the machine. "It's a sort of present. There," he said, "completely harmless."

Amy moved closer and eyed the obsolete cyberman head.

"Are you going to wrap it?"

"Nah. Going to put it on the moon. Sort of an Easter egg for Jacob."

"Robot head on the moon," said Amy with a smile. "You sure he'll find it?"

"Oh, he'll find it."
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