Right. This is a new sort of thing (in a way). It's called the This Time
Round pub. This Time Round is an adaptation of the Subreality Cafe,
created by Kielle for the alt.comics.fan-fiction newsgroup. The idea
behind both the Inn and the Cafe is to provide a place for characters to
kick back and relax outside of continuity. Of course, Becky Dowgiert has
done much the same thing with the Land of Fiction in her IA
announcements, but that's a conceptual dimension on the edges of the
physical universe. This is different. Really.

So, here's the introductory piece. There's no real, jihad-causing
continuity (although the Cafe series recently featured a round robin).
Any writer can contribute, using any characters or what-not (it's
generally considered polite to attribute who/what belongs to who).

Anything can happen at the Inn, Blinovitch and the Laws of Time (sounds
like a heavy metal group, dunnit?) most certainly do *not* count.
Versions of the same character might while the night away comparing
themselves. Kadiatu might drop in for a quick pint while a Mentiad and
Ford Prefect have an Janx Spirit drinking contest. Or a gaggle of
Doctors may argue over who's smarter (no, wait, they already did that).

C'mon folks, pitch in! If you're wary of writing your own epic, or don't
want the time constraints of a round robin, or already write shorts like
this, This Time Round is the thing for you!

* * * * *

A Quiet Night Out -- by Tyler Dion

In the dim of the ever present fog, a building could be seen. It was a
creaky affair, painted a dark brown and fairly small. The bay windows of
the main floor were lit up, the watery light spilling into the car park.

People could be seen sitting at tables and moving around. Outside, in
the car park, the muffled strains of a twisted copy of "Robert Hardy
reads 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles'" drifted into the night. With a quiet,
asthmatic shuffle, a blue police box neatly materialised within the
lines of a parking space, next to a line of a second police box, a
potted tree, and an office desk. The doors of the police box swung
inward, allowing a young man with blond hair in a fawn colored frock
coat to step out. He was followed by a pretty young auburn haired woman
in a splotchy rainbow dress and a fellow in a badly tailored navy blue
suit with cropped red hair.

"Here again, is it?" the woman asked, disdainfully glancing over the
dingy building.

"Now, Tegan," the blond man said in a placating tone, "you did say you
wanted to go somewhere restful."

"That's just it, Doctor," Tegan interjected, "I said 'restful.' Not

"Oh, I don't know," the red head said snidely, "it seems just the place
for you."

Tegan raised her fist at him, saying warningly, "Just one more word,

Whether he was intimidated or not, Turlough didn't respond to the rise,
much to the Doctor's relief. He really didn't want to have to mediate
another spitting match between the two. "Come on, you two," the Doctor
said, striding forward. Approaching the building, he noted one of the
the handicap spaces had been filled tonight, by a black sedan with a
license plate reading "DAV1." The Doctor frowned briefly, but continued
anyways. At the door was a young man in a battered army jacket juggling
flaming clubs.

"Hello, Wil," the Doctor said, raising his hat in greetings.

"Hiya, Doc!" Wil replied, not deigning to take his attention from the
clubs. The Doctor grimaced at the nickname. "It's busy tonight, might
not many tables left."

"Oh, I think we'll find one," the Doctor said assuredly. "Who's in

Wil managed to shrug. "Just the regulars, a Legion, half a squad of
Sontarans, and some stray Thals that escaped Peel. Oh yeah, Jacqui and
Sanki are on tonight."

The Doctor nodded absentmindedly. Seeing his companions catch up, he
tipped his hat to Wil and dropped a five grotzi piece in the up-turned
camouflage cap in the ground. "Well, must press on," he said, "'night,

"Doctor," Wil called, "one other thing. Be careful, you and Ace are here
as well."

The Doctor nodded, tapping his nose, "No fear, Wil. I'll be careful."

The trio moved on towards the front stoop, past the sign hanging
crookedly over the door that read "This Time Round" in olde English
script, and into the inn proper.

By now the Robert Hardy tape had been replaced by a live Earth Reptile
duo. The Doctor smiled quietly: Sanki and Jacqui had been somewhat
surprised at the promise of a permanent gig after the fiasco at the Duke
of the Solar System's reception.

Inside, the main room appeared to be a lot bigger than the outside
allowed for. The Doctor knew it wasn't, though, it just looked that way.
The general atmosphere was cheery; dim lighting implied familiarity and
coziness. Decorating the walls were all manner of art: five dimensional
magic eye pieces, some blurry charcoals, a white board reading: "THIS IS
A FAKE," and a portrait of dogs playing poker were just a few. The hound
was winning, the Doctor noted. The ceiling was obscured by the purple
haze of a Legion playing a rubber of whist against three of its other
tentacles, although the broad, indistinct strokes of a bright mural
could be seen in places. The small stage to the left presented the
reptilian singers, currently picking their way through an Arcturan folk
song. Among the varied peoples and beings scattered through the main
room, most noticeable was a Sontaran buying a round of drinks for its
clones in a corner booth. A solitary figure in a coat of blazing colors
sat morosely sipping from a clay mug at the end of the bar on the right
wall. The bedraggled Thals were huddled at one of the tables near the
rear of the room, whispering furtively to one another. In the front
right corner rested a computer and printer, dark for the moment. Taped
to the monitor was a note, unreadable from this distance. An ajar door
in the right corner, next to the bar, revealed what might have been the
kitchen while a creaky-looking spiral staircase next to the kitchen door
rose to the second floor.

The Doctor turned to Turlough, saying, "Get a table, would you?" Before
Turlough could protest, the Doctor motioned to Tegan and walked over to
the bar, briskly tapping it to attract the innkeep's attention.

Popping up from beneath the bar, the diminutive Navarino smiled deeply,
his wrinkled face folding into kindly furrows, asked, "And what can I
serve you, sir?"

The Doctor smiled congenially. "Ah, hello. I'd like a water, please. And
my friend here will have...?"

"Screwdriver, please," Tegan said shortly.

"Right away, sir, ma'am," the innkeeper said, hustling to collect the
necessary ingredients.

"You forgot Turlough," Tegan reminded the Doctor.

"Did I?" The Doctor seemed surprised. "Well, I'm sure he knows what he

The innkeep returned then with the two drinks. "There you go, sir. Oh,
no need for that, sir," he said, seeing the Doctor reach in his pocket.
"On the house, of course."

"Of course," the Doctor agreed amiably. Turning from the bar, he
surveyed the room before him again as he and Tegan sipped their drinks.
They remained at the bar because Turlough hadn't yet secured a table and
was, in fact, exchanging words with a Sontaran. Heated words, the Doctor
noted with concern. He hoped there wouldn't be a repeat of the last
time. No, it looked like the problem was being resolved.

"You see, Tegan?" the Time Lord said to his companion. "Nice and quiet,
just like you asked."

Tegan merely frowned. "That's what you said last time," she said
bitterly, "just before Frohman showed up."

"That wasn't my fault," the Doctor protested weakly, "how was I to

"It was Fan Night!" she retorted. "What did you expect?"

"Yes, well, best forgotten," he said in that placating tone of his.
"It's definitely not Fan Night."

Behind him, the innkeep popped up again. "Oh, no, sir, no. Not Fan
Night, not tonight. It's Author's Night." Tegan made a frightened noise,
jogging her tumbler of vodka and orange juice slightly. The Doctor spun

"*Author's* Night?!" he demanded.

"Oh, yes, sir," the innkeep confirmed. "Every Thursday, Author's Night.
I thought you knew that."

Paling, the Doctor avoided Tegan's look, muttering, "I thought that was

"No, sir," the innkeep shook his head, "not since the drabble writers
won their own night. Things got mighty shuffled with that."

"Author's Night," Tegan repeated dully. "It just had to be tonight."

Shaking his head, the Doctor slumped against the bar, Turlough forgotten
(who was, by the way, now being dragged out the back door by an enraged
Field Major Styre). Suddenly, the front doors were slammed open wide as
Wil came rolling in, tucked up in a somersault. He vaulted into the air
and landed feetfirst on an unoccupied table.

Flinging his arms wide in a flourishing gesture, Wil grandly announced
to the room, "And now, ladies and gentlebeings, heeeeeeeeeeere's Audra!"

The Doctor bent down and pulled the innkeep nose to nose. "I do hope you
have some ventilation shafts around here," he said.

* * * * *

Okay. Credits and somesuch:

The Doctor, the TARDIS, and associated characters belong to the BBC.

The 7th Doctor and Ace referred to feature in Lori Summers' excellent
"Yin Yang" trilogy.

Wil is the creation of Vicky Jewitt and currently co-stars in the A.DW.C
Internet Adventures.

Elsa Frohman and Audra McHugh are people who belong to themselves and
are their names are used here only in light hearted fun. No malice or
insult is intended.

The idea behind the Subreality Cafe and This Time Round was conceived by
Kielle and used with permission.