Wyn walked into the console room. It was dark. The only light was the green glow that came from the console itself. But it was enough to see The Doctor sitting there, on the battered and patched leather command chair, his feet jammed against the console and his shoulders hunched over. She was shocked to hear him crying.

She watched quietly for a while. She had rarely seen a man cry before. Her older brothers would never do any such thing. The Doctor was about the only man she had seen cry. Nine had a couple of times when he was under a LOT of stress. But this was the first time she had seen Ten, HER Doctor, actually crying. Not just shedding a few silent tears, but crying, tears streaming down his face, his shoulders shaking, his breath coming in short, painful, gasping sobs.

It was about three o’clock in the morning, in so far as time meant anything in the TARDIS. She was only awake because she was thirsty and went to get a drink of water. Then she heard the sounds and came to see what was wrong.

She wondered if he often sat like that at night. She knew he didn’t sleep the way Humans did, and if he didn’t have Humans with him in the TARDIS he probably wouldn’t even take any notice of the idea of night and day. He did it for her, and for all the other people who had been with him in the past. He bent his life to fit a Human pattern. At night when she was asleep he was alone with his own thoughts and his own feelings. She was shocked to discover how sad those thoughts and feelings were.

She slipped away. This was something she wasn’t meant to see. He would never have broken down that way in front of her. He thought he was alone. She didn’t want him to think she had intruded on him.

Poor Doctor, she thought as she went back to her own bed. It wasn’t fair. He was a good man. He helped so many people. There must be millions of them who owed him their very lives. But he himself was SO lonely. He had no home but the TARDIS. She was about his only friend at the moment. No wonder, sometimes, it all got too much for him.

She turned over in her bed and buried her head in the pillow. She could hear the faint vibration of the TARDIS engines. It was a nice sound. She had come to love that sound. When the time came for her to go home to her family again, she would miss the TARDIS as much as she would miss The Doctor.

She had been in bed no more than five minutes when the room suddenly lurched violently and she was pitched out of the bed. She stood up, nursing bruises on elbows and knees and a bang on the head and reached for the door.

“Doctor?” she yelled as she ran through to the console room again. “Doctor…what happened?”

“I don’t know,” he answered her as he began to pull himself up from the floor. “Hurt though. Owww. I should get soft bumpers for the console.” He was making light of it in front of her, Wyn thought. As he turned the lights up and went to the console to check the sensors he was clearly hiding the fact that he had been so upset before, but the redness of his eyes gave him away.

“Can’t keep anything from you, Wyn,” he thought as he saw her looking closely at him.

“Something bad going on somewhere,” he said as he turned to the console.

Something very bad, he told himself. He tried to shake off the feeling that had washed over him just before the shockwave hit the TARDIS.

He had felt sudden death come to a lot of people all at once. Millions, billions of souls crying out in pain.

The last time he felt that happen….

Was every old wound going to be opened tonight? He thought bitterly.

The last time he felt that happen was when his own planet was destroyed.

A planet had been destroyed somewhere. A planet with people living on it - lots of people.

“I’d better go get dressed,” Wyn said. “It looks like we’ve got a mystery to solve. And I’m not going to do it in my jammies.”

“I saved the world in a pair of borrowed jimjams once,” The Doctor said with a grin that hid the dread in his hearts. He turned to the console as she slipped back to her bedroom. They were still in the vortex. They were travelling back in time. Wyn had expressed an interest in visiting prehistoric Earth, to see dinosaurs in their real environment. And that was a good enough plan for an afternoon’s recreation as long as they took a few precautions to avoid becoming T-Rex snacks.

He looked at the readings on his long range temporal sensors. They were going crazy. Something was causing major ripples in time. That was what had hit the TARDIS - a time ripple. The TARDIS had been like an ocean-going ship overwhelmed by a tsunami.

And there was another one coming. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Wyn coming back into the console room dressed in her black jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket outfit that she loved because it was modelled on the clothes his predecessor wore.

“Hold on,” he yelled out to her as he gripped the handholds of the console tightly. She reached the handrail by the ramp from the main door before the wave hit them and the TARDIS span and bucked like a Wurlitzer ride. When that wave was over she ran to his side. He reached out to put his arm around her shoulders. She slipped hers around his waist. He looked at her and smiled.

“As long as we’re together it can’t be so bad,” she said to him.

“Yeah,” he said. “Get ready. It's coming again.”

Wyn clung tightly, one arm around his waist, the other grabbing the console tightly. Again, it felt like a far scarier version of a fairground ride. The difference being that somebody was operating the ride and could hit the brake if anything went wrong. Nobody was in control of the TARDIS. Not even The Doctor. She had a good idea of just how that bugged him. The Doctor liked to be in control of his own craft.

“Woww!” he yelled as the TARDIS suddenly dropped like a stone. They both looked up at the viewscreen at the same time and saw that they had come out of the vortex into ordinary space.

“But where ARE we?” he muttered as he tried to get a lock onto any co-ordinate at all. “We SHOULD be in Earth’s solar system. But….” He looked at the star chart on his navigation panel. He looked up at the viewscreen that showed the actual space outside the TARDIS. He gasped as he saw something come into view.

It was Earth’s moon. But the schematic on the console showed that it was moving through space like an asteroid, free of any gravitational pull. It had broken free of Earth and gone on its own journey through the solar system. He punched several keys and overlaid a projected course and noted that it would, in time, reach Jupiter’s gravitational pull and become a new moon orbiting that planet.


“Where’s Earth?” Wyn asked as she looked at the schematic the TARDIS had created based on what it was reading in the immediate area of space. She counted the planets. There was one missing. The third one. Where it should be, was nothing but debris that was forming an asteroid belt in the residual gravitational field where the planet should be.


“Oh %$£@!” he swore. Wyn looked at him sharply. Nine had often employed those phrases that she knew were quite rude expressions in Low Gallifreyan. But Ten rarely did. It must be bad.

“It’s bad,” he said. “It’s VERY, VERY, VERY bad. About as bad as it’s possible to be. It’s…. it’s…..” Even his incoherent babble dried up as the full consequences of what he was seeing overwhelmed him.

“What’s happened? Doctor….”

“This isn’t the future,” he said, trying to hold his voice steady. “This is the past. Earth was destroyed in what your calendar would call the year 550,500 BC.”

“What?” Wyn struggled to get her head around what he was saying. “But…. Doctor….that doesn’t make sense. If Earth was destroyed then… how… what….”

“It doesn’t. Nothing you know about, no history, nothing, ever happened.”

“1066, The Great Fire of London, World War II, Neil Armstrong on the Moon, Margaret Thatcher, 9/11….”

The Doctor would have had something to say about the events Wyn thought of as being the most significant in the history of her planet at any other time. As it was….

“None of it happened.”

Was it possible to grieve over the fact that Margaret Thatcher never existed?

Yes. Because as even Wyn was slowly realising – he could see it in her eyes – there was a bigger picture here.

“Earth… is… was… should be… the planet from which the greatest colonising people in the universe come from. Humans who originated on Earth account for the population of at least a quarter of the inhabited planets in all of Creation. If it is destroyed before Humans discover deep space travel….”

“Doctor… if Earth is destroyed nearly half a million years before I was born….”

“Yes, I know,” he said. Gently he reached into the inside pocket of her jacket. He pulled out something he knew she kept there. Despite all the dismissive things she had ever said about her family, she had a photo of them with her all the time - her mother and father, her three brothers and herself all together, standing by the Wholewheal factory that was the source of the family income.

He looked at the blank piece of photographic paper and tried to put it back before she saw, but she grabbed it from his hand. She stared at it. Meanwhile he reached into his own coat pocket and pulled out a similar piece of paper.

“Rose?” Wyn guessed.

“No,” he said. “No, I never… the memories are still fresh enough. I never NEEDED a photo. No. This… this was a picture I’ve had for much longer than that. It was a picture of my mother.”

“Your mother?”

“I’m half Human… You know that don’t you… I’ve mentioned it before haven’t I?”

“Nine mentioned it,” Wyn said. “You never did. We never talked about that.” She looked at him. “You keep a picture of your mother on you?”

“I DID,” he said, dropping the blank piece of paper. “Now… she never existed. My mother was never born. She….”

He grasped Wyn by the shoulders tightly.

“Wyn, tell me your mother’s name. Quickly.”

“Jo,” she said. “Josephine Grant Jones.”

“My mother’s name was Marion,” he said. “I almost forgot it for a moment. I felt as if she was being erased from my memory. Wyn, hold onto the memory of everyone you have ever known from Earth. Hold onto them. Because… because our memories of them are all that is left. We are the only proof Earth ever existed.”

“Why are we here?” Wyn asked. “If everyone who ever existed on Earth is gone… then I wasn’t born. Neither were you. How come….”

“We’re in the TARDIS. We were in the vortex when it happened. We were protected. We exist as an aberration – a freak of time.”

“That’s creepy,” Wyn said. “It’s horrible. It's…..”

“Yeah, I know,” The Doctor said. “I’ve lived with being the last of my kind for a while now. But… but at least my world had a history. At least I knew it used to exist. This….” He stopped. “Wyn…what did I say my mother’s name was…”

“Marion,” she replied. “It’s…. It was Rose’s middle name, too.”

“Rose.…” He reached into his pocket and found something. Wyn looked at it. It was a hairslide, an ordinary metal hair slide, coated with a pale pink plastic to make it look pretty - to the sort of person who liked pink, anyway.

It was the sort of hair slide Rose used.

“Found it in the bathroom, behind the basin. She must have dropped it there…. I know… I’m a lousy housekeeper. All this time it was down there. Found it last night.…”

That was why he was crying, Wyn thought. She looked at him and wished he would answer the one question she never asked him.

What DID happen to Rose in his reality?

Because whatever it was, it hurt him so deep.

When she got back to her mum, Wyn had a whole heap of things she meant to ask about The Doctor. She really wanted to know what he was like before so many bad things had happened to him. Both of the versions of him she knew were so emotionally scarred that she was sure there must have been a huge difference in his personality before then.

WHEN she got back to her mum.

Wyn choked back her tears. She couldn’t go back. Her home wasn’t there. Her mum wasn’t there.

The Doctor gave a sudden cry. She looked at him as he stood there, his palm outstretched. The hairslide was disappearing, fading away. He closed his hand into a fist over the emptiness.

“NO!” he screamed. “NO. I’ve lost so much already. I won’t lose the memory, too. I won’t.” He turned to the console and began pressing buttons, pulling levers, moving around the different sections of the console frantically. Wyn knew there was absolutely NO point in asking him what he was doing.

“Oh Rassilon defend us!” he cried out suddenly. “What…”

“What’s wrong?” Wyn asked before she noticed a light flashing insistently on the communications panel - a light she had never seen light up before. “Or… what’s more wrong than before,” she added.

“Not wrong… just improbable.” She watched as he typed a co-ordinate into the navigation console. “Hold this thing down for me,” he said. She came to the console and held the lever he indicated while he went to the flight control and initiated a new journey in the vortex. He didn’t tell her where they were going. She thought it better not to ask. If he didn’t want to tell her, then he must have good reason.

“It’s there…it’s really there…” The Doctor murmured as they came out of the vortex and into ordinary space. “I never thought I would ever see….” He stared at the planet that filled the viewscreen. Wyn looked, too. It was about the same size as Earth, with two large continents mostly red, as if there was a lot of desert. He was talking under his breath in a language that the TARDIS didn’t seem to want to translate.

“Unidentified craft, do not approach the Transduction Barrier without authorisation.” Wyn jumped as the voice filled the console room. “Do not approach.”

The Doctor moved to the communications console and opened a channel. He spoke quickly, giving a long alphanumeric code.

“That code is not recognised.”

“I guessed it wouldn’t be,” The Doctor said. “But it IS a valid code. It just hasn’t been assigned, I suppose. I am…. I am a Time Lord of Gallifrey. I am out of my proper time stream and yes, I know that is against the Laws of Time. I know that. It was unintentional. But I beg you… I am asking you… to give me authorisation. I am asking for sanctuary for myself and my companion within the safety of the Transduction Barrier. In the name of Our Lord Rassilon, I ask you….”

“This is improper… irregular….”

“I know it is,” he said. “But I am desperate. Please….”

“Doctor... where are we?” Wyn asked. “What is going on?”

“This is Gallifrey.”


“I can’t explain it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s happening. But…we’re here.”

“Unauthorised craft,” the voice said again. “You will be permitted to land at the co-ordinate being transmitted now. But you will surrender yourself and any crew to the Chancellery Guard pending inquiries.”

“I will do so,” The Doctor said. “You have my fullest co-operation.”

“Surrender?” Wyn looked at him. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

“It will be all right. They are being cautious. But they’re my people. I don’t know how, or why, but… Gallifrey exists. It wasn’t destroyed. I’m home.”

He looked at her. His eyes were wide and he looked as if he was plugged directly into the console. Wyn was sure if she touched him he would be vibrating like the TARDIS.

“Your home is here… mine is gone,” she said. “Are the two things connected?”

“I don’t know. I intend to find out. But first I have to prove to my own people that I am not a spy or an enemy agent.”

“That won’t be hard, will it? After all you ARE a Time Lord.”

“I’m….” He began to speak but the sound of the TARDIS materialising cut him off. He breathed in deeply and walked to the door. Wyn followed. Before he opened the door he grasped her hand tightly.

They stepped out and a phalanx of Chancellery guard closed in. Wyn swallowed hard as she looked at them. Their uniforms were ridiculous looking - red with gold braiding and decorations – more like a ceremonial guard than anything that served a real purpose. But they carried weapons that made them anything but the objects of ridicule that they looked at first sight.

“We are refugees. We request sanctuary. We surrender ourselves unconditionally pending verification of our identity. I guarantee that we are both unarmed and pose no threat to the safety of Gallifrey or its citizens.” The Doctor spoke calmly but Wyn felt the same faint tremble in his hand.

The Chancellery Guard were firm and insistent as they marched them down a series of long corridors before putting them into a room. Wyn looked around and thought it wasn’t the worst prison cell she could imagine. It looked more like a comfortable lounge with soft furniture, pictures on the walls, some sort of drink that was a lot like cappuccino coffee in a pot on the table as well as a basket of exotic looking fruits. Wyn picked up something that looked like an orange except purple with white flecks.

“Moon fruit,” The Doctor said with a smile despite himself as he poured two cups of Gallifreyan coffee. “You’ll like it. And eat some of the cúl nuts. They’re a good source of protein.” He picked up one of the nuts himself and chewed it as he moved to a big viewscreen and put it on. There was a news report of some sort being broadcast, but he was too impatient to listen. He pressed a button and the programme began to speed up until, to Wyn’s eyes, it was just a flickering white screen. The Doctor took out his glasses from his pocket and put them on. His eyes flickered as quickly as the screen. Watching his pupils dilate rapidly made Wyn’s own eyes water. She concentrated on the food instead.

“They treat prisoners well here,” she said.

“We’re not prisoners,” The Doctor answered. “Even though the door is locked and there is a guard outside, we’re not prisoners… not in that sense. I asked for sanctuary. They are duty bound to offer it unless we are proved to be bogus asylum seekers.”

“They treat asylum seekers well here,” Wyn said. “Compared to how we do it on Earth, anyway.”

But that reminded her of the reason they were here. She bit her lip and tried not to cry.

“Doctor…. Is that really what we are? Refugees… with nowhere to go but here?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “There has been a massive disturbance in the time continuum. Earth was destroyed. But GALLIFREY wasn’t. And that… I’m… Wyn, believe me, I am not happy about this. My mother came from Earth. Earth has been my home for almost as long as Gallifrey… and for the most part I was better treated there than here. I grieve as deeply for the Earth and all the precious people I knew there, all the equally precious people I didn’t know… as I ever did for this…. the planet of my birth. I don’t know what is going to happen. But… Wyn, if it came to that, and if they would let us stay…. This is a beautiful planet. The people are… they are arrogant and stuffy and pig-headed, but they’re not unkind. It could be worse.”

“Doctor, what was my mother’s name?”


“You told me to hang onto the memories. But… I feel them fading. What was my mother’s name? What was my father’s name? What did they look like?”

“Your mother was Jo. Your father was Cliff. They look like… middle aged people whose hearts are still in the 1970s when they were young, bless them.”

“Yes, I think I remember.”

“Wyn, what was MY mother’s name?” The Doctor asked suddenly.

“Marion,” she replied. “Same as Rose’s middle name.”

“Rose?” For a moment he looked puzzled as if he wasn’t sure who she was. Then he gave an anguished moan. “No. That is one memory that could never be erased. No. I have to hold onto her if nothing else.”

“What’s happening?” Wyn asked him fearfully. “Why do we keep losing these memories?”

“Because in this time continuum none of them existed and our being here defies logic. Logic is trying to reassert itself. But if we’re strong… if we hold on, it can’t take away who we are.” He smiled wryly as a stray memory came to him. “A man is the sum of his memories. A Time Lord even more so.”

“And a girl?”

“Yes, and a girl. Hold onto your memories, Wyn. They are who you are. And right now who you are is the most important person in this universe, because you are PROOF that this universe is wrong.”

The door opened and two of the guards escorted a man with the look of a medical officer and two people pushing something that looked to Wyn like the walk-through metal detectors they use at airports. Apparently, the purpose was similar, though more sophisticated.

“It’s a DNA scanner,” The Doctor told her. “Don’t be scared. Just step through it.”

“I’m trusting you on this one, Doctor,” she said as she stepped through. She didn’t feel anything, and no lights flashed or alarms sounded. She figured she must have passed.

The Doctor looked more nervous than she did, in fact. He took a deep breath and clenched his hands as he stepped through. Again there was no sign of anything amiss. But the medical officer looked puzzled at the results.

“The Chancellor should see this,” he said. “Please wait a little longer.”

“We are at your convenience,” The Doctor replied. Wyn knew he must be very worried. This situation called for his usual smart responses and he didn’t seem to have any.

“We’re going to be all right,” he promised her.

“I’ll be ok, as long as I’m with you,” she answered. “I trust you, Doctor.”

“I know you do.” He sat down beside her and took her hand in his. “Somebody to hold hands with - that’s such an important thing. Rose held my hand always. She was my hand holder, my special hand holder. I loved to feel her hand in mine a soft, small hand. I always felt ok when we held hands.”

“You’re babbling,” Wyn told him. “You do that when you’re worried. It’s weird. You sound like that guy from that film… you know… the Rain Man.”

“I miss her,” he sighed. “I miss her so much.”

“Would you rather she was the last Human being instead of me?” Wyn asked. That question shook him from his melancholy. He looked at her with eyes that were one hundred per cent in the here and now with her instead of some other place with his memories.

“No, Wyn, no.” he assured her. “The past is the past. It's over. You’re the present. You’re here now. And… and I’m glad you are. I really am. Don’t ever think otherwise.” He hugged her tightly. She felt warm and soft, as a living body should, but also reassuringly solid and real in a universe where reality seemed to be unravelling.

“Now you’re just being a total girl,” Wyn told him as the hug went on longer than she expected. But he kept on holding her, and she didn’t really mind. He was the most solid thing in HER universe and she was glad he was there.

The door opened again and the Chancellery Guards took up positions either side. Then a man came in who even Wyn realised must be in some position of authority here. He was dressed in an amazing looking robe of deep red and a gown of purple that shone like silk. It had the Seal of Rassilon design on the shoulders. The Doctor stood and stepped towards him, and though the bow of his head was quick and slight, as if only slightly acknowledging the rank, he nevertheless looked serious, as if he was now dealing with somebody who mattered.

“I am Chancellor of the High Council,” the man said. “I was notified of your request for sanctuary and I have been shown the biometric data on you both. I am perplexed. First of all by this young female whose DNA does not correspond to any known species… and secondly by you. Part of your DNA is the same unknown quantity. But the rest….”

“You don’t know me, Garrick?” The Doctor asked. “That means we’re in worse trouble than I thought.”

“You’re in bad enough trouble anyway,” one of the guards said. “Addressing his Lordship in such a way.”

“That’s quite all right, Guard Marcus,” the Chancellor said. “You may wait outside. I do not fear any attack on my person by either of these two.”

The guard looked as if he might protest then changed his mind. The guards left the room before the Chancellor spoke again.

“Why should I know you?” he asked.

“Because our father did his best to make me love you,” The Doctor answered. “You’re my brother… my half brother.”

“I don’t have a half-brother,” the Chancellor answered . “I was an only child.”

“You used to be my younger half-brother - the product of my father’s second marriage.”

“What are you talking about? My father married late in life even for a Gallifreyan. He put his duty to our world before his duty to produce an heir to his House.”

“Then why do you not have the name of the primogeniture, according to our tradition?” The Doctor asked him. “You should be named after your father. Instead you take your name from your grandfather on your mother’s side.”

“I….” He began to speak then looked at The Doctor closely. “I….”

“There’s a gap in your life - where I should be. There has been a serious, catastrophic disruption to the time continuum. Until I saw you, I didn’t know HOW serious. I understood that all Humans were erased from existence except Wyn, because she was protected by my TARDIS. But I didn’t expect…. My mother was erased, too. My father never met her, never married an Earth woman and produced a half-blood heir to one of the noble Oldblood Houses of Gallifrey. I don’t exist.”

“Doctor….” Wyn came and stood by his side. She took his hand in hers as the full consequences of his non-existence filled his mind.

“Two people who don’t exist,” the Chancellor said with a half-laugh. “What am I supposed to do with you?”

“It's not what you have to do with us,” The Doctor replied. “We’re Time Lords. You and I. We’re supposed to prevent what happened to Earth. The one thing we have always done, even if we don’t prevent evil megalomaniacs taking over the universe, even if we turn a blind eye to all the misery and suffering of the twelve galaxies, we ALWAYS prevented disruption to the time continuum. You have to put things right.”

“We are aware of the disruption. It registered on our monitors. We had a major alert and then YOU turned up. And that’s too much of a coincidence for most of the Council. They are assuming YOU were responsible.”

“How could I cause that kind of devastation?”

“I don’t know. I don’t even know who you are or what you are. Apart from the story you spun about being my brother….”

“Look deep,” The Doctor told him. He stepped closer to the Chancellor. He stepped back warily. “Oh, don’t be daft. I just want to show you the universe as I remember it so that you can see what has gone wrong.”

“I….” The Chancellor looked at him nervously. “But….”

“Are you afraid to look?” The Doctor asked. “I never took you for a coward, Garrick. Of all the stuffy, pompous, self-righteous lot that sat on the High Council I regarded you as one of the best - one with a bit of spirit, at least. And you have enough of our father’s genes in you, surely, to give you a bit of fight, even if you always were a bit of a mummy’s boy.”

Garrick looked ready to refute the slander, but instead sighed and nodded and let The Doctor step towards him. He put his hands either side of the Chancellor’s head and closed his eyes. Wyn looked in surprise at the viewscreen as images started to appear on it that she realised were The Doctor’s own memories. For a while she could follow them easily. But gradually they speeded up until there was the same white flickering blur as when he watched the news bulletin. Despite claiming to hate science she actually understood why. The images were there, but they were so fast that the colours all merged, the way a spinner with all the colours of the spectrum on it looked grey-white when spun.

To her surprise, she actually felt as if she understood it as she watched. Though it was too fast for her eyes details seemed to register in her head. She saw his childhood, growing up a lonely, bullied half–blood, scorned by the other children. She saw him rise above it to become a respected member of Time Lord Society, become a father and a grandfather, before tragedy and disillusion made him become an exile from Gallifrey with his granddaughter.

Then came the long years roaming the universe, the struggles and fights, triumphs and failures. She saw friends come into his life. She even saw her mother for a brief moment. She saw the devastation of the war that destroyed the planet they were now standing upon against all reason.

“WHAT!” Garrick stepped back, breaking the connection. “NO. That’s…. No, that can’t be true.”

“It isn’t, not at the moment,” The Doctor said. “Not since the disruption. I don’t know why, but the Time War never happened. I don’t know why THAT is the case. Why Earth not being there made that difference.”

“I do,” Garrick said, quietly. He looked at The Doctor with something like horror on his face. Now it was his turn to shake with disbelief at what he had seen. “I know.” He turned away and faced the now blank viewscreen. For nearly a minute he said nothing. Then he managed two words.

“It’s YOU.”

The Doctor stared at him. Wyn stared at them both.

“Doctor, what’s going on?” she asked. “What is he talking about?”

“I don’t know,” he answered. “Garrick, cryptic talking is a habit some of us have, but not you. What are you trying to say?”

“YOU are the reason the Time War happened in the first reality,” Garrick said. “I can see it now. Your memories triggered it. I know… I remember you… I remember you as my brother… I remember everything that happened. And I remember the other reality, too. I have two sets of memories. And the one thing that is different is YOU.”

“Are you telling me that the Time War was MY fault?” The Doctor retorted angrily. “All those people… all those races… not just our own….”

“YOU are the one who fought the Daleks at every turn. You are the one who became the nemesis written into their very mythology. And that is why they turned their attentions on our planet.”

“YOU lot sent me to prevent the Dalek race from ever even existing,” The Doctor replied. “Up until then I had simply stopped them from taking over other planets. It was a fair fight. But YOU LOT upped the ante. You sent me to make a pre-emptive strike against them before they had ever raised a tentacle against any other race. You wanted me to commit genocide. And… and I am glad I didn’t, even though it cost me so much in the end. I kept the better part of me… my humanity… by NOT doing what you would have me do.”

“Your humanity?”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m half Human. My mother came from Earth. She was a wonderful, beautiful, gentle woman who would have been so ashamed of me if I had done such a thing, even out of duty to Gallifrey.”

“Are you saying that you believe Human beings are a greater race than Time Lords?” Garrick asked him angrily.

“Yes,” The Doctor said, and the answer surprised even him. “Yes, in a lot of ways they are. Humans don’t sit around WATCHING while evil prevails in the universe. They fight it. Their instinct is to fight against what is wrong. They have more courage and compassion than we EVER had, and at the same time, they know what loyalty and duty are just as we do. They ARE better than us, and they cannot be erased. The universe NEEDS them. Without them, evil will prevail. Sooner or later it will even come here. Gallifrey won’t escape for long.”

“Guys,” Wyn said. “Focus. This thing with the Daleks….”

“THAT is what it’s all about,” The Doctor said. “That is when the Time War really began, when the Time Lords decided to strike the first blow, when they used me as a weapon of mass destruction against their enemy.” He turned and looked at the viewscreen again. They all did. Wyn saw a man who she knew had to be The Doctor, though he looked very different. Another regeneration, of course. He was standing in a strange, bleak landscape that triggered an odd memory in Wyn’s mind of one of the most interesting school trips she had been on. She recalled a quarry just outside Cardiff where her class had been allowed to be extras in a BBC Wales drama in which lots of people apparently ran about aimlessly while the special effects crew let off explosions all over the place.

“Strange clothes,” Garrick commented. Wyn thought so, too, but she wasn’t going to say so. That would be disloyalty to The Doctor.

“Not as strange as Time Lord fashions of the day,” The Doctor retorted as another figure appeared in the landscape. “I’m so glad you don’t wear those silly hats any more. I think Wyn would have exploded with the effort not to laugh if you’d walked in here looking like HIM.”

Wyn took that as leave to allow herself to laugh. When she was done, though, there was a serious point being made by the man in the amusing headgear. He was telling The Doctor that the Time Lords wanted him to destroy the Daleks before they were created, to prevent them from being a menace to the whole universe. The Doctor reluctantly accepted the mission.

“This was before my time,” Garrick said. “I would have ruled this out of order. We have no mandate to do such things.”

“Glad to hear it,” The Doctor told him. But then they turned their attention to the images, the snatches of his memory. They saw the previous incarnation of The Doctor trying to reason with those who created the Daleks. They saw him double crossed and nearly killed more than once. They saw him wire up the proto-Dalek incubators and prepare to detonate a bomb that would destroy them. They saw him hesitate and question his right to commit genocide, his friends assuring him he had to.

“I didn’t, in the end. And I was glad I didn’t. Though there have been times when I’ve wondered.... If I was sent back now… I think I’d do it without hesitation, knowing what I know now. But I’d still be wrong. Genocide is wrong, even for the Daleks.”

“You’re right,” Garrick agreed. “But still, it can’t be denied. These are the events that began the Dalek obsession with conquering the universe. You are still the catalyst for all that occurred.”

“Wait a minute,” Wyn said. “Run back a bit, to the part where the scientists on that planet were trying to find out who you are.”

“What?” The Doctor looked at Wyn and then did as she said. They all saw the earlier Doctor questioned about where he came from. They heard the scientist say that their chief scientist, Davros, had confirmed that there is no intelligent life in the universe other than on Skaro.

“Hear that,” Wyn said. “THAT’S the catalyst. Up until then they really believed that the Daleks had only one function – to conquer their own planet. THAT was when they discovered there were other worlds to conquer. And it was the fault of the Time Lords for sending you there and letting them see that they could have other ambitions. So don’t go blaming yourself, Doctor. Don’t go thinking any of it was your fault. And YOU…. don’t you DARE try to load the guilt of your government onto him. He’s a terrific guy. He’s the smartest, bravest man I ever knew. And he DOES things to help people while you lot sit here MONITORING. So don’t you DARE accuse him of anything. And anyway, who started the Time War has nothing to do with anything. What is important is…. What happened to the Earth and what can we do about it?”

“She’s right about THAT,” The Doctor said. “All of it. I’m not taking the blame for the Time Lords mistakes. And if you had monitors detecting the situation, then you should have answers to that last question, which, come to think of it, was the FIRST question we should have asked. We’ve been bogged down in irrelevancies since you walked through that door. So let’s stop messing about. This is NOT the real reality. The fact that Wyn and I are here proves that. We need to know WHAT caused the disruption. Then we need to fix it and restore the Earth and the Human race wherever it has been all over the universe.”

“If you do that….” Garrick spoke slowly. His face looked tense suddenly, and rather pale. “Do you know what you are asking… what you are saying.”

“Yes, I do. Restore Earth, the Human race, lose Gallifrey and the Time Lords. It's an either/or situation. I can’t have both.”

“I have a family… children… grandchildren,” Garrick said, and his voice had a catch to it. “They would be destroyed.”

“Wyn has a family,” The Doctor answered. “Are they less important than yours?”

“No,” Garrick conceded. “But….”

“I understand,” The Doctor said. “Garrick… you KNOW that this is wrong. You do, don’t you. We were not meant to be standing here. The last time I saw you, the last time I set foot on Gallifrey, was the day before the holocaust. I’ve been alone ever since. And I wish it could be another way. But it isn’t. You’re supposed to be dead. I’m more sorry about that than you can begin to imagine. Because of all the things I regret, the fact that I never let go of my own bitterness, never let you know that I did love you… as my brother… is in the top ten.”

“Not the first?” Garrick noted with a wry smile.

“I’m nearly 1,000 years old. I’ve collected quite a few regrets. You have to get in line. But you’re there.”

“You daft pair,” Wyn told them suddenly. “Just do it. Hug each other.”

“I am Chancellor of the High Council of Gallifrey,” Garrick answered her. “I don’t ‘hug’.”

“Yes you do.” The Doctor reached and hugged him. Garrick looked surprised for a moment and then he closed his arms around The Doctor’s shoulders and held him for a long time.

“What is that?” Garrick asked as they broke apart at last. He reached tentatively and touched The Doctor’s face where a tear had escaped from his eye.

“That’s what makes me only your half-brother, Garrick. That’s my mother’s gift to me.”

“It doesn’t seem very practical.”

“It’s not. But it's very Human.”

“Ok,” Wyn said. “Now you’ve bonded. Now what?”

“Now, we have to make things right,” Garrick said. “I must find out what caused the destruction of Earth.” He looked at The Doctor and Wyn. “You need not remain in here. I will arrange for a car… Take a tour of the city. Enjoy our hospitality for a time.”

“That is kind of you,” The Doctor said. “Garrick… thank you.”

Wyn was expecting an ordinary car such as she knew on Earth. She was rather surprised at the Gallifreyan definition of the word. It was more like a hovercraft, but one capable of taking off vertically and then flying above the streets of the city which The Doctor said was simply called The Capitol. A man in the livery of the Chancellery Guard drove the car, but this time he was simply an escort for two guests in the city not a guard over two asylum seekers without proper paperwork. Wyn allowed herself to enjoy the tour. The Doctor was enjoying it, too. He had fond memories and not so fond ones.

“Can we get out of the city,” he asked. “Let’s go see the Great Red Desert.” The driver nodded and the car went faster as it left the city behind and crossed a wide desert with strange rock formations rising from it here and there like those in the famous Death Valley on Earth. The Doctor smiled as they raced across the land about ten feet above the surface.

“This is the main feature of the northern continent where The Capitol is,” he said. “We don’t have time to go to the southern continent where I come from. That really IS beautiful. Mount Lœng… rising up above the green, watered valley where my family lived for millennia. I used to go up the mountain to visit the monks in their monastery. They taught me to do their meditations, though they reckoned I was too impatient to be really good at it.”

“They’re probably right,” Wyn told him. “I’ve never seen you sit still for more than ten minutes.”

“You’ve never seen me do one of the great rituals. Three days in deep trance. And bear in mind our days are two hours longer than yours. Being able to stand up straight afterwards… that’s the REAL skill. Pins and needles isn’t in it.”

“Doctor…” she began. But he squeezed her hand. He knew what she was thinking and he didn’t want her to say it. Later, maybe. Later they would face facts. But right now he was happy to be home. The reason why could wait. Leaving again, never, ever to return except in his dreams, could wait. A man was the sum of his memories. But right now he didn’t need them. He just wanted to live in the here and now for a little while, on Gallifrey.

They returned to the city. He dismissed the car and driver and he brought them to the most important place in the whole city, the Panopticon. It was here that the High Council met. It was here that all the great public rituals and ceremonies went on, where the Matrix was kept - the minds of all the Time Lords who had ever lived pooled to form a great source of knowledge and intelligence.

He sat in the gallery above the great hall of the Panopticon. Wyn sat by his side quietly. He seemed to be thinking deeply, and she knew it was not a good time for talking. Something about that place made her want to be quiet. It was like a cathedral, except she knew Time Lords didn’t HAVE a religion.

“I was once invested as Lord High President down there,” The Doctor said after a long silence. “Proud moment.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Wyn said. “Wish I could have seen you. Wish I could have seen Gallifrey when it was… you know… BEFORE.”

“Yes,” he sighed.

“You’ve got to make the decision. Earth or Gallifrey….”

“There’s no question,” he said, very quickly. “No decision to be made. I know what has to be done.”

“Brother…” The Doctor turned as Garrick entered the gallery by a door behind them. “The information you need….” He gave him a memory chip. He put it in his inside pocket. “I suppose you will want to go straight away. I was hoping…. You would be welcome… my home…. I would like you to meet….”

“No,” The Doctor said firmly. “No, Garrick. What I have to do… better not.” He smiled. “You failed your Emotional Detachment exam, didn’t you?”

“I never lived up to my older brother,” he said.

“Yes, you did.” The Doctor assured him. “This… If there was another way….”

“I’ll walk with you back to your craft,” Garrick said. The Doctor nodded. There wasn’t much else to say. They didn’t say anything at all as they made their way to the place where he had landed the TARDIS. What COULD they say? But the few minutes of his brother’s company were precious to him all the same.

“Wyn,” The Doctor said when they reached the TARDIS. “Can you get the pre-flight diagnostic check started. Remember I showed you how… Save me a few minutes.”

Wyn didn’t say anything. She obeyed his instruction. Yes, she knew how to do a pre-flight diagnostic check. It was a completely non-essential function. He had taught her to do it just as an exercise in how the TARDIS actually worked.

What he really wanted was a few minutes alone with his brother. She understood that. She ran the diagnostic and waited for him.

“Ok,” he said when he came into the TARDIS and closed the door. “Let’s get down to business.” He took the memory chip and inserted it in the TARDIS. He looked at the information it contained for a long time then he programmed a co-ordinate.

“You know, I liked your planet. It's nice. Kind of… I think….”

“Nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here?”

“I’d rather live on Earth,” she said. “It’s not fair. If you make it right, so that my planet exists and my family are alive… your planet and your family dies.”

“Yes. But that’s already happened once. I’ve come to terms with it. It happened. It was… in a sort of a way… meant to happen. The day I was born an astrologer read my future – it's a sort of tradition we have - and he was so frightened by it he refused to ever reveal what he had seen. It was only after that I realised what it was he saw - the death of our world – and I the only witness to it. It was written in the stars! But Earth isn’t supposed to die. Not until it is more than five billion years old, anyway. Not until Humankind has touched every star in the universe.”


“Hang on,” he said. “We’re there.” He turned to the drive console and initiated a materialisation. “Come on.”

They stepped outside the TARDIS and found themselves on the bridge of a ship. The crew were all staring at them. They were a humanoid species, though not Human. They had greyish-silver skin with a fish-like sheen to it and were all well over seven feet tall, though thinner than The Doctor. They were surprised rather than hostile.

“Stop what you are doing,” he ordered before the surprise wore off. “Do not fire that weapon. You have no idea the damage you will do.”

“What? Who are you?” A female whom he took to be the captain of the ship stepped forward. “What are you doing on this Bridge?”

“I am here to stop you doing something catastrophic to the whole universe,” he said. “You are about to fire a weapon…”

“It is not a weapon. It is a terra-forming tool,” the captain said. “The planet is uninhabited by anything but primitive animals. It is suitable for the test.”

“No, it is not,” The Doctor said. “For two reasons. One, there is something wrong with your ‘tool’. It won’t terra-form, it will blow up the planet… and take this ship with it. And two… You made a mistake when you travelled in hyperdrive. You have come too far back in time. This planet WILL be inhabited in a few hundred thousand years. You cannot use it.”

“You can prove this?”

“Yes, I can,” he said. “Here…” He handed the memory chip Garrick had given him to the captain. She gave it to her communications officer who interfaced it with his computer. She stared at the information it contained then she turned and looked at The Doctor.

“But…. How did you know?”

“That does not matter. Do you understand what you must do?”

“Set our course back to Gkoiria,” the captain said, turning to her navigator. “This mission is aborted.” She turned back to where The Doctor had stood, meaning to thank him for the information that prevented a disaster. He was not there. She watched the strange blue box disappear.

“That was all there was to it?” Wyn asked. “A mistake by those people… did all of that?”

“One little mistake.”

“But it's all right now? You made it right?”

He wasn’t listening to her. He was looking at the communications console. He picked something up from beside the keyboard.

A pink hairslide. He looked at it and then fastened it to his tie like a tiepin. He bent down and picked up the photograph of his mother he had dropped on the floor earlier. He looked at it and then reached under the console and found a reel of sticky tape. He fixed the photo to the navigation console. Then he reached in Wyn’s pocket and took her photo of her family and taped it there as well. She nodded. Yes. That was the way it should be.

“Is… can you contact Gallifrey?” She noticed that the light that had lit up to indicate a connection with the planet was off now.

“No,” he said. “It’s gone. They’re all gone. Again.”

“It was a beautiful planet,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“Gallifrey will never truly die until I do,” he said. “It lives in my memory. It’s in my hearts, in my soul. The TARDIS remembers, too. Don’t you, my old girl?” He touched the console and it responded to him with a slight change in the tone of the engines.

“Besides, I know a planet that is just as beautiful.” He moved to the navigation console and set the co-ordinate for Earth in Wyn’s present. He brought them into a low orbit and they watched on the viewscreen as the TARDIS went right around the world passing over familiar coastlines and continents, seas and oceans.

“Beautiful,” Wyn agreed.

“Absolutely beautiful,” The Doctor said. His chest heaved with a deep sigh, but he smiled all the same. “Just how it should be.”