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The Multiversal Intervention Agency had only two rules: first, no skiving off. And second, no building death rays.

The third rule was 'don't be lasagna', which had actually happened once, whereupon the rule had been tacked on. With actual tacks.

The Thyme Lord would have liked to think it ruled the MIA with an iron fist, but as it lacked both fists and iron, it had to make do with tasty leaves instead. That is, the agents assumed they were tasty. No one had ever dared to find out.

(Once, an agent had attempted to determine whether the Thyme Lord was really made of thyme, or was simply a hologram. Of course, the agent attempted to find out by going up close to the Thyme Lord...and sniffing. Being Jewish, the agent first made the blessing of 'boreh minei b'samim'--'Creator of fragrant grasses'.)

(The Thyme Lord was in no way amused.)

The Sage, who ran the Department of Untangling, did its best never to be afraid of being put into a lasagna. Despite this, some fear did seep through, to the point where agents were forbidden to eat--or even chew--within two rooms-lengths. As MIA HQ had a tendency to transport its those who transversed it in both time and space, most agents elected to simply leave, eat, and then attempt to come back earlier.

('Attempt' was the key term. It was hardly unknown for agents to get lost in time and emerge weeks, months, minutes, or years later. Agent Acacia had once switched places with some kid with the surname Illian; five Technicians had worked feverishly to fix this, and managed with some helpful prodding from Acacia's friend, the Thorn--well, Agent Thorntree, really, but only Acacia called her that.)

The Parsley Duke, who headed up the specialized Tea Cafeteria, greatly enjoyed eavesdropping. It (or, occasionally, he) most certainly did not relish the thought of one day being mistaken for tea leaves; fortunately, most agents tended to avoid trying to put giant stalks of parsley in their cups of boiling water, and simply talked instead.

"Lady Rosemary wants to see me," one agent said mournfully. She sipped at her tea, and made a face. "I did fine on my last mission, you know. No one regenerated. No Reapers turned up. I didn't even create any temporal paradoxes. Why's she want to see me?"

The second agent (on xir fifth cup, the Parsley Duke noted approvingly) shrugged. "Was it a Doctor/Master fic again?"

"Ugh," the first agent agreed. "I don't remember what good slash looks like anymore, y'know?"

The second agent patted her hand sympathetically, and passed the tea leaves.

(At that point, the entirety of the Continuity Council of Gallifrey-in-Exile blew into the Tea Cafeteria, and the Parsley Duke was understandably distracted. That group drank a lot of tea, and in very odd combinations, to boot.)

"Cranberry-Cinnamon for the Notary," Morgan began. "Vanilla-Maple-Grass for Fish, the Reader'll have something orange with a dash of whiskey, Dis and the Agent can order for themselves, thanks, and I want the strongest black tea you've got in stock. Oh, and that stuff that smells like dust for the Librarian." With that done, everyone but the Disentangler and the Agent left to find tables, arguing all the way.

"Lemon Zinger for him, Blueberry Whateveritis for me," the Disentangler said, and dragged the Agent away from the counter.

This left the Parsley Duke to organize beverages, while keeping a wary eye on the Council of Time Lords…

Morgan took a swig of her black tea - it actually seemed to have edged into vantablack territory - and grimaced. "Yep, still vile."

"Then why are you drinking it?" the Reader asked.

"It keeps me alert and grumpy," Morgan said. "Now then, people - thoughts?"

"I still do not trust this place," the Notary said, and sipped her own concoction. "Ahhh. Though I must note yet again that they make truly excellent tea."

"'Don't trust?'" The Disentangler scoffed. "Wasn't it your TARDIS that brought us here?"

"Correction," the Notary replied in the tone of one who had said the same thing many times before (though she pretty much always talked like that), "it was my TARDIS that brought us here the first time. Which, a) did not require you to pick up your own and 'suggest' a return trip, and b) would not have happened at all were a certain Ruby Shipwright doing his job."

"Huh? Me? What?" The Fisherman turned a glare on his Vanilla-Maple-Grass tea. "That's what happens when I let myself get distracted by you," he accused it. "What've I done?"

"According to our precise colleague here, not your job," the Librarian supplied. "Though I remain unconvinced that fixing her TARDIS falls under your position."

"What, that old wreck?" The Fisherman shook his head firmly. "Nah, I'm responsible for HQ's TARDISes, not blockade runners stolen from the Time War."

"I did not steal it," the Notary growled. "I simply-"

"Borrowed it without the intent to return?" the Agent chimed in.

"Quiet, renegade."

"I have to admit I have some concerns about this place as well," the Librarian cut in, draining the last of his tea. "Professionally speaking, I mean."

Morgan frowned. "Does it really fall under the Jade Warden's responsibility?"

"I can't see who else would take it," the Reader pointed out. "It's not a TARDIS problem-"

"I dunno," the Fisherman muttered, "some of these temporal effects, their whole HQ might well be a TARDIS."

"- it's certainly not a theoretical issue," the Reader went on, not missing a beat. "It's not something I should be monitoring, it doesn't come from TV or other media canon, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't need the attentions of Rassilon's Advocate there. So what does that leave?"

"It could be a security issue," Morgan suggested in a low voice, one hand stroking the grip of her gun.

"Yeah, but it's not," the Reader countered. "It's a fake PPC filled with Time Lords."

"There's still no evidence of that," the Disentangler pointed out. "You three have been going on about 'oh, they're all Time Lords here, isn't it amazing-slash-terrifying', but have we seen anyone regenerating? Have we performed open-heart surgery to check? Can we feel them?"

"Not being able to sense them fits entirely within the theory that we have entered an alternate multiverse-" the Notary began, only to be cut off by the Disentangler.

"Sorry, was someone talking? I must have been ignoring them." She took one last gulp from her cup and set it down firmly. "Anyway, there's one thing we can all agree on, with the possible exception of Grumpy In Orange: whoever they are, they make fantastic tea."

"Hear, hear," the Agent said, getting to his feet. "Want another one?"

"Would blow up a star for one. Same again, please."


Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. The various Time Lords of the Continuity Council belong to their writers and creators. The Multiversal Intervention Agency setting comes from an idea by Huinesoron, and was written out by DawnFire; this story is written half by DawnFire, half by Huinesoron.