The Doctor groaned and opened his eyes. He closed them again. The light was too bright. He tried to focus his mind on solid facts like where he was. And WHY was he there. Not existential philosophies, but serious questions.

“You’re going to be just fine. Take it easy,” a voice said in the unmistakeable tone of a nurse.

He was in a hospital.


How did he get there?

Oh yes!

It was a bomb, wasn’t it! At the space port. He remembered being blown through a plate glass window. He remembered looking up at the orange sky of Demiter IV and thinking how hard the ground was just before he passed out.


He sat up so abruptly the nurse jumped back in surprise.

“Where’s Wyn?” he demanded. “My friend who was with me…where is she?”

“Well… the female ward, I suppose,” the nurse stammered. “But you cannot…. You need to see the doctor before you can….”

“I AM The Doctor,” he replied. “Where are my clothes?” He looked at the hospital gown he was wearing. His arms were both bandaged and so was his head, but he pulled the dressings off. Underneath his body was unmarked. “I’m perfectly well. Get me my clothes, I need to get out of here and find my friend.”

He didn’t even need hypnotism. The tone of his voice was enough. The nurse found his clothes for him and he closed the curtains around the bed while he dressed. Even allowing for his Time Lord abilities to recover from injury he’d had a pretty lucky escape. The front of his suit jacket was full of tiny splinters of glass and the back of his coat was scorched from the blast.

“Blodwyn Grant-Jones,” he said to the receptionist. “She is 17, Human, from Earth, five foot one, hazel eyes, brown hair, weight… none of my business….”

“I’m sorry,” the receptionist told him. “There is nobody listed as a patient. There are…” She swallowed hard as she looked up at him. “There are still a lot of unidentified bodies. The space port was crowded….”

“Where do I go?” he asked. He had already started running as she finished giving him directions to the morgue. He dreaded what he might find there. He tried to remember what had happened immediately before the explosion. Where had Wyn been?

He had been at the window. He would remember that window for a long time. It wasn’t actually his body that broke the window. The pressure wave that lifted him from his feet also shattered the glass. But he would remember the sensation of being thrown through something that should have been solid but wasn’t for a very long time. Just as he would remember how hard the tarmac outside was in contrast.

Wyn had gone to stock up on chocolate for the trip. She said the idea of watching a triple sunset from high altitude was a terrific idea but she would need a sugar rush to completely appreciate it. He did point out that her line of thinking was completely illogical, but that didn’t keep her from the sweetie counter. He had turned from watching her to look at the shuttle craft they were getting ready to board.

The suicide bomber had been somewhere between him and her. He remembered the man standing up. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and he had a heavy looking backpack. He had shouted something in a dialect that registered in his mind as identifying him as a citizen of Demiter III, the twin planet. There was an ongoing campaign for autonomous government of that planet, but not to the extent that anybody would want to kill themselves and others for the cause. Even so, The Doctor had recognised the signs and had begun to step towards the bomber when he pulled the pin that detonated the explosives in his backpack.

What he remembered after that was as fragmented as the window he was blown through, and he was glad of that. He didn’t know any of the other people in the departure lounge. But he did remember some of the faces. There were a group of young people from a galactic scout troop in their rather geeky looking uniforms that did nothing for the male or female figure. There were two harassed parents with a noisy child who wouldn’t be satisfied if they’d bought the whole comic rack and the sweet shop, too. He remembered a man with a laptop computer and a phone, a young couple who looked like they might be on honeymoon…

They were the faces imprinted on his memory from the moment BEFORE the bomb went off. He was glad he didn’t remember what it looked like a moment later.

There were a lot of people in the corridor outside the morgue. They were ALL distressed. He recognised one of them as the father of the noisy child. The man was beyond distressed. A nurse was trying to comfort him, but there was no comfort to give at a time like that.

The Doctor went to the reception and gave Wyn’s description then he took a seat as instructed. He tried to block out the sounds of grief and pain around him. He tried to be emotionally detached as they taught him to be at college. He passed that exam with honours, though he had rarely practiced the skills. He believed emotional attachment was what separated him from the emotionless creatures of the universe that he hated with every fibre in his body, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and so many others that considered life to be an inconvenient barrier to their domination of the galaxies.

But right now he was trying hard to do what he had been taught to do. He tried not to care about these strangers with whom he had nothing in common except that he had been standing in the same room with them at the fateful moment.

He failed. Their grief was overwhelming his senses. At least one of the people here must have been psychic, because their grief was a pressure on his mind that he didn’t need right now.

“Mr Grant-Jones?” Somebody stood over him and addressed him by the name he had given, thinking it might be better to appear to be immediate next of kin in this situation. “Come with me.”

He stood and followed the white-coated morgue attendant. The room beyond the closed door was a dismal place with at least a dozen bodies on tables, some covered in sheets, a few still in the body bags. There was a faint smell of burnt flesh and blood that the antiseptic hospital smell could not disguise for his heightened senses.

“This may be distressing,” the morgue attendant said as he pulled back the sheet. The Doctor steeled himself for the worst and looked.

“Are you… completely… stupid,” he said with barely contained anger. “This is a boy.” He looked at the youngster. It was one of the galactic scouts. His face was so white it was as if every drop of his blood had already drained from his body. He must have been about Wyn’s age, though his rounded face, especially now with his eyes closed as if in sleep, made him look younger. A vision of his parents being informed of his death cut straight through the last pretence he had of any detachment. “For the sake of this child’s parents get your act together right now,” he said.

The morgue attendant muttered something about a clerical error. The Doctor drew breath ready to take him to task about such a pathetic excuse when he heard a mobile phone ringing. He looked around as an icy hand gripped at his spleen. How many mobile phones on a planet 55 million light years from Earth had The Manic Street Preachers playing Australia as the ring tone? He ran towards the sound. It was coming from a table in the corner of the room that was piled high with phones, cameras, personal stereos and spectacles.

“Those are personal possessions found at the bomb site,” he was told. “Sir… you can’t… they’re evidence….”

He ignored the protests and found the ringing phone. The incoming call was from Rose. His hearts thudded. He wished it could have been anyone else. But Wyn’s phone only had three presets other than his own. Her mum, Rose’s mobile and Nine’s TARDIS phone.

“Rose,” he said as he pressed the button to connect the call. He tried to keep his voice steady as he saw her face appear on the tiny video screen. She was surprised to see him answering Wyn’s phone. “She’s not here just now,” he told her. “She’s… she’s unavailable. Rose… is… is HE there with you? Can I have a quick word?”

“He’s jogging on the moon,” Rose told him.

“He’s WHAT?” Despite the desperation of this situation The Doctor couldn’t help being interested.

“Well, it looks like jogging. All these years I never knew we had space suits in the TARDIS. He’s on a mission for Harriet Jones. Apparently the British government sent up this space probe – the smallest ever communications satellite apparently, only the size of a personal computer, the new generation of space technology, blah blah blah. And anyway, they lost it on the dark side of the moon. And it was less embarrassing for them to ask The Doctor to retrieve it for them than the USA. He should be back in a minute or two.” She paused. “You have to tell Wyn. She’ll be thrilled. Can you believe it? I’m actually on the MOON!”

“Yeah, that’s cool,” he replied. Any other time he would have treasured this conversation with Rose. He was swallowing a lump in his throat that had nothing to do with his worry about Wyn as he listened to her chatter.

“Hang on, here he is,” she said. On the tiny screen he saw the TARDIS doors open behind her and his other self came in, encased in a space suit and laden down with a rather battered piece of space debris with a Union Flag on the side. He closed the door and put Earth’s first miniaturised satellite down before taking off his helmet and coming to take the mobile from Rose.

“Hey, what’s up?” Nine asked. The Doctor hesitated and was grateful when his other incarnation turned to Rose and asked her to go put the kettle on because he was gagging for a cuppa after being stuck in that helmet so long. As soon as she was out of earshot he explained what had happened. He saw his other self rock on his feet and catch his breath as he tried to hold it together. He knew what he was thinking. Who was going to tell her mum, and how.

But Nine pulled himself together and told it to him straight.

“Don’t give up yet. If there’s no body, if you can’t find her among the dead, then there’s hope. And as long as there’s hope…” He saw him bite his lip. “I won’t tell Rose yet, either. Do what you can… call me if there is ANY news.”

“I will,” he promised and closed the connection.

Nine was right. He had every reason to hope yet. She wasn’t among the dead here. He took out his sonic screwdriver and used it to scan the bodies. Most of them were Human, but none of them were from 21st century Earth. These all came from future Earth or from colonies where the air was cleaner and the bodies did not contain as many toxins as Wyn’s would, even coming from rural Wales in her century.

Wyn was alive, somewhere.

He checked all the wards again. Just to be sure.

She wasn’t there.

She wasn’t among the dead. She wasn’t among the injured. And she wasn’t among those who escaped injury, because if she was, she would have been there beside him when he woke. He knew that for an absolute certainty.

She would have been there. She would have been pretending she hadn’t been crying, because she was a girl who tried to act like a boy, and she thought crying was for wimps. But her eyes would be red and her cheeks puffed and he would have had to pretend he didn’t know she had been crying.

He knew that for certain because Wyn was the latest of a long line of people he had trusted who would have done the same. Sarah Jane Smith popped into his mind and refused to leave. She was always there when he needed here. She was there when he regenerated from his third to fourth incarnation, holding back her tears, trying to understand what she had just seen, and time and time again when some creature had knocked him senseless he came round to the sound of her tears. She was always there. Before her, Jo, Wyn’s mum, bless her, would be there at a time like that. And Wyn, though she was a very different person, had enough of her mum in her that he knew without a doubt.

She would have been there if she could have been there.

Which meant that something was stopping her from being there.

He needed the TARDIS. And he needed to look at the bomb site. He took a cab back to the space port to find both. The TARDIS was in short term parking. He was too distracted even to laugh about how much it would be costing him by now if the TARDIS was a regular vehicle.

It felt too quiet in the TARDIS. He glanced at Wyn’s electric guitar sitting on the sofa in the corner and he sighed. He wasn’t giving up hope, but he was feeling an uneasy sense of Déjà vu. He remembered only too well when he first came back into the TARDIS after Rose…..

Her things all over the place. Even going into the kitchen, opening a carton of milk he knew she had put in the fridge gave him a lump in the throat. It had been a long haul back from that brink of misery. And then finding out about the doorway through to the other timeline, where Nine and Rose were still going strong ripped his hearts open again, while at the same time offering him the small compensation that at least ONE of him was getting it right.

He didn’t want to lose Wyn, too. He didn’t want to have to tell them she was dead. He had promised Nine he would look after her, show her adventure, teach her the martial arts she wanted to master, and bring her back safe to her mum. And this happened on an ordinary, run of the mill trip to watch a sunset.

Keep it together. He reminded himself what Nine had told him. Focus. Check the lifesigns monitor. It was just possible that she was here still. Maybe dazed and disorientated, wondering where he was. It was pretty unlikely, he told himself. It had been a good eight hours since the bomb went off. The police had the space port in lockdown now. He only got in to the TARDIS with a confident tone of voice and his psychic paper telling them he was allowed to be there.

But he tried anyway. And that was when he found out something very unexpected.

“Wyn,” he whispered as he realised what had happened. “I’m coming for you. Hold on there, girl.” He knew she wouldn’t be able to hear him, but it helped him to say it.

He took a deep breath and put himself into a time fold, slowing down the time around him. As he did so, he saw her. She was alive. She was unharmed but she was trapped out of phase with ‘real time’ like a living subliminal message, unseen by the naked eye at normal speed.

“Wyn,” he said. “You’re a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been so worried about you.”

“Doctor,” she cried out and stepped towards him. “You can see me! You couldn’t before. I’m glad you’ve found a way. I so wanted to talk to you. To… to say goodbye.”

“Why goodbye? Where do you think you’re going?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Wherever people go when they’re dead, I suppose. Heaven maybe? I don’t think I’ve been such a bad person to deserve the other. But….”

“You think you’re dead?”

“Yes. That’s why I’m a ghost, stuck here, with you, but unable to do anything about it.”

“But you’re….”

“I was there all the time,” she told him. “All the time you were unconscious. I never left your side. I was there when they picked you up in the hover ambulance. I tried to tell them not to mess with you, and that your body would repair itself. But they couldn’t hear me, of course. They were really puzzled about you. The two hearts bit gave them a bit of worry at first. Good job somebody realised you’re a Time Lord. They were going to operate. But when they knew what species you were they just bandaged the really bad bits – your head was oozing blood and your arms were broken and you had cuts EVERYWHERE - and put you to bed. I didn’t look when they were undressing you, by the way. I waited outside the screen. But after... I waited with you. I tried to touch you. But I couldn’t. My hand just went straight through. Like… like this….”

She reached out to him. He caught her hand and held it tightly. The effect on her was startling. She burst into tears.

“You’re dead, too,” she cried. “Oh, Doctor. Oh no. I thought you were ok. I thought….”

“Wyn,” The Doctor said, holding her by the shoulders. “Wyn, I’m not dead. I’m alive. We’re both alive.” He pulled her close to him. She could feel his two hearts beating. It was the most glorious sound she had ever heard. But.…

But what’s happening, then? What’s going on?”

“We’re out of phase,” he said. “We’re here but we’re not in the same here as everyone else. But we ARE alive and where there’s life….”

“I’m alive!” Wyn’s face lit with relief and joy. “We’re alive. I’m so glad. You don’t have to tell my mum that I’m…. I was so worried about how you were going to manage that. And Nine and Rose, they’d be gutted, too. But how do we get back in phase again?”

“I get back by coming out of a time fold. Which I have to do very soon. But you can’t come with me. I’m sorry.”

“I have to stay here… not dead….” She looked at him in horror. “Doctor… please… don’t leave me.”

“I have to,” he told her. “The Laws of Time I’ve bent out of shape more often than I can count. But the Laws of Physics… if I don’t get out of the time fold… physics will start fighting back. And I’ll lose in the sort of way that will leave my internal organs as a rather ugly bit of modern art on the TARDIS walls. But… here, take this….”

Wyn took her mobile phone from him. When she started to ask why he was gone.

No he wasn’t. He was standing on the other side of the TARDIS console. He had that retro looking Trimphone receiver in his left hand and with the right he was typing something very rapidly into the console beside him.

Her mobile rang.

“Wyn,” he said to her. “It worked. We can talk at least. Where are you?”

“I’m in the TARDIS,” she said. “With you.”

“Yeah, I know. But… come here… stand next to me. Put your hand on mine. I won’t be able to feel it, but I’ll… I’ll use my imagination.”

Wyn did as he said. She stepped towards him. He typed some more and then put the trimphone back on the hook. He spoke normally. She could hear him. She replied and her voice came to him with about a ten second delay through a speaker grill in the console. She put her hand over his as it rested on the console, carefully so that it didn’t go right through him.

“I can’t feel you,” she said. “It’s not right. I can’t feel you. And… and I know you can’t feel me, because you didn’t before you knew what was happening and I tried loads of times to hug you. I wanted to tell you it was ok, and I wasn’t hurt. You were so upset. The nicest bit of this is knowing how much you REALLY do care about me.”

“Of course I care about you,” he told her. “Did you ever doubt it?”

“No, not really,” she said. “Doctor… I’m… I’m going to do something totally girly that I wouldn’t do any other time. I’m going to kiss you. On the cheek, ok. I’m not into lip suction and you’re not my type if I was. But… just stand still there. Don’t move.” She stepped towards him and kissed him on the cheek. He didn’t react. How could he.

“I’m sorry, I can’t feel you,” he admitted. “I wish I could. It is horrible. But I know you’re there now. And that helps. Stay with me. Stay beside me. On the left. I’ll know you ARE there then.”

“Am I stuck here forever?” she asked. “Like this.”

“No,” he answered, but too quickly.

“You don’t know, do you? You don’t know how this happened.”

“I know HOW it happened. It was a freak accident. The bomb blast somehow knocked you out of phase. Probably because you’ve travelled in the vortex. It makes your body subject to different physical laws than anyone ordinary and humanoid. You didn’t get a mark on you but you got knocked out of real time.” He was moving around the console as he spoke, punching keys apparently at random, though Wyn thought he MUST be doing something important. She knew he DID hit keys and push buttons that did nothing, but not when something so vital was happening. He WAS trying to find something that would help her.

“I saw the people who got hit by the blast the ordinary way,” Wyn said. “I’m… I suppose… I’m lucky, really. I’m not even hurt. But…” Something occurred to her. Her voice sounded a higher pitch as she panicked. “Doctor… how will I eat like this? My hand goes through everything that’s in the real reality. I’ll starve…”

“I’ll bring you food. I can do the time fold every ten minutes or so without damaging myself irreparably. I’ll bring you food the same way I brought the mobile. What would you like? Chocolate, bacon butty?”

“I don’t want either at the moment,” she said. “I’m too scared.”

“Wyn, don’t give up. Trust me.”

“I’ve always trusted you,” she said. “Runs in the family.”

“Yeah, it does.” He stopped moving around and concentrated on one panel of the drive console. “I’m going to try something. Hang on…” He pushed a final button and the time rotor moved up and down but it made a rather more different sound. For a moment he thought it was working. He thought he could see her coming back into phase with him. Then she screamed. He saw her mouth open in terror and over the console phone he could hear her.

“It’s not working,” she cried. “It hurts too much… I feel… Doctor, stop, please stop.”

He saw her mouth say the word stop before he heard her say it. He was already reaching to cancel the process. As the time rotor halted a silence filled the room.

“Wyn?” he called out. “Are you there? Wyn? Speak to me.” He tried the phone and got the dial tone. But when he tried to call her back it rang on until it transferred to voice mail. He shut it off and time folded. As he entered the phase she was occupying he saw her lying in a crumpled heap by the console. He knelt by her side and lifted her into his arms.

She was ok. She had just fainted.

“I’m sorry,” he told her as she came round. “I’m sorry you hurt so much trying that. But… I have another idea. It means breaking some rules, but I don’t care. I have to get you back.”

“Breaking what rules?” Wyn asked.

“The Laws of Time,” he said. “The ones I couldn’t break to save my own people, to save….” He stopped. “Wyn, for you, I’m going to do what I didn’t do for so many other people I cared about and lost.”

“You’re babbling,” she told him. “You do that when you’re scared or nervous.”

“I know,” he said. “I’m going to break a fundamental Law of Time. Before I do… before I have to leave you again….” He put his arms around her and hugged her. “That kiss… do it again. I promise no-one will ever know you did anything so girly.”

“Oh, Doctor!” She hugged him around his neck and kissed his cheek. He felt it that time. But his time was running out again. He let her go and stood up.

“It’s going to be all right,” he said. “I promise.”

“I believe you,” she told him.

He let the fold collapse. She faded from his view again. He turned to the console and got ready to break a fundamental Law of Time. He justified it by telling himself that she wasn’t dead. If he tried to go back and make somebody who was dead live again it would be wrong. But Wyn wasn’t dead. And he was just trying to help her.

The TARDIS materialised in a quiet corner of the corridor outside the departure lounge. Nobody saw him step out and head towards the door. He opened it partially and looked to where he was standing by the window. When he turned away from looking at Wyn at the sweet shop he moved inside quickly. He glanced at the man who was going to kill himself and so many other people in less than a minute. He looked at the parents with the noisy child, the scout troop, the man with the laptop. He looked at Wyn. He stepped towards her as she turned from the chocolate counter. She looked at him and then at him standing by the window. She began to speak.

He grabbed her by the hand and said just one word, the irony of which didn’t fail to escape him.


He pulled her towards the door. She didn’t resist. She ran with him. He let the door close behind them and kept running for another thirty seconds before the bomb went off behind them. The door blew open and the pressure wave of the blast knocked down those people who had not hit the ground seconds after The Doctor pulled Wyn down and covered her with his own body.

“Doctor!” Wyn screamed as he helped her up. “In there… he….”

“He’s alive,” The Doctor told her. “He’s hurt, and he needs you. But he’s alive. Go to him now. Stay with him.”

Wyn looked at him and then turned and ran. The Doctor watched her go to the broken window. He saw her step through the empty frame and kneel beside the unconscious earlier version of himself. He knew she would stay with him. She would be with him in the hover ambulance. She would tell the paramedics not to mess with him, tell the doctors at the hospital that he didn’t need to be operated on, that they just needed to let him rest until his body mended itself. She WOULD stand outside while the nurses undressed him and put him to bed, but then she would stay there beside him, holding his hand, trying not to cry, or at least not let anyone see her cry.

She would be there when he woke.

He turned away and walked back to the TARDIS. He stepped inside.

“What’s going on?” Wyn asked. “What did you do out there?” She looked at his face and he didn’t have to answer her. He knew she had worked it out.

“I did what I had to do,” he told her. “Are you ok?”

“I am a bit tired,” she said. “I was up all night while you were sleeping it off. Are you really ok now? I know you’re a Time Lord and everything. But you were cut up horribly.”

“I’m ok. We’re going to get out of here in a moment. I think we’ve seen enough of Demeter IV.”

“Does anyone even know why the guy did it?” she asked.

“Because he was a sad, misinformed man, like anyone who does a thing like that,” The Doctor said. “The universe has too many of them in it. And there’s not a thing I can do about it.”

“You….” Wyn began to say something but she forgot what she was going to say. She turned as The Doctor turned towards the light that seemed to be coming in through the TARDIS door - a light that steadily grew bigger and brighter and filled the air between them and the door. The Doctor put his arm on her shoulder in a way that made her feel as if he was protecting her.

“What’s happening?” she asked in a whisper.

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. He watched as the light coalesced and a figure stepped out of it - a tall man in late middle age, wearing a black robe with a gold Seal of Rassilon over the breast.

“Who is he?” Wyn asked.

“He’s my great, great grandfather,” The Doctor said in a surprised voice. “He’s been dead for about a thousand years.”

“He’s a ghost?”

“Something like that.” The Doctor stepped towards his ancestor. He knew he probably ought to kneel or bow or show some other form of deference to a venerable elder, but he really didn’t feel like it after the day he had.

“Still flouting the laws of Time?” The apparition of his ancestor said to him scathingly. “Humans in a TARDIS?”

“Oh don’t be ridiculous,” The Doctor replied. “Those archaic laws preventing interaction with other species were worthless even before they were space dust.”

“Using the TARDIS to change the course of historical events… going back in time to get the girl out of the room before the bomb went off. You could have caused a paradox.”

“No I couldn’t. Not just by moving her away from the blast. If I’d done what I wanted to do… stopped that foolish man from blowing himself and so many other people to pieces – THAT would have been a paradox. That would have REALLY broken the Laws of Time. And you have no idea how much I WANTED to do it. You can’t begin to imagine how I would have liked to have NOT seen the body of a teenage boy, heard the inconsolable cries of the parents of a dead child.…” He stopped and looked at the apparition. “You’re just winding me up. This is nothing to do with what just happened. I’ve bent the rules before without a visitation from beyond the grave. So what is it that you want?”

“To warn you….”

“About what? Daleks, Cybermen, Satan rising from his pit? Been there, done it. Next challenge, please!”

“I will speak to you in the Ancient Dialect,” the apparition said. “I will not have this chit of a Human girl listening to matters of importance to Time Lords.”

Wyn made a disgusted noise in her throat. The Doctor’s response was slightly more vocal but on the same lines.

“That Human girl is as brave and smart as half a dozen stuffy, stick in the mud Time Lords put together. So watch what you’re saying about my friends.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“What’s the point?” The Doctor answered. “You’re a ghost. What threat could I possibly carry out against you? Very well, Ancient Gallifreyan if you like. Stand back, Wyn, it's worse than Welsh for loosening phlegm.”

He grinned at her, but as the apparition started to talk in the ancient form of his home language he stopped laughing and became serious. Very serious.

“I am in trouble,” he said when the apparition disappeared. “Big, Big, Big, trouble.”

“What sort of trouble?”

“The sort where I could die,” he answered. “And if that happens, I need to make sure you’re ok. Can you get Nine on your mobile for me. I’m going to have to catch up with him and Rose, just in case.”

“In case what?” Wyn looked at him. “What’s this all about?”

“I’ll explain just as soon as we’re on our way,” he said.

“Doctor.…” Wyn came to his side and hugged him. “Whatever it is, we can see it through together just as always, can’t we? It’ll be ok.”

“No,” he said. “Not this time. This time I’m on my own.”