The Doctor smiled as he watched his wife tenderly moving the temporal manifold millimetre by millimetre. It was offline. The TARDIS was flying through the vortex on a pre-programmed flight. But he was showing her how to calibrate a temporal destination manually. And she was doing it admirably. He was always a little haphazard with the manifold, spinning it like a wheel of fortune and seeing where it might take him. Fiddling around trying to pinpoint a specific minute of a specific day made his fingers ache. But her small, nimble hands, accustomed to spinning and weaving fine silks, seemed made for the very fine adjustments to the manifold which could bring the TARDIS to a temporal location that was precise to the very second.

“Well done, sweetheart,” he said. “Next time we go anywhere, I’ll let you do the driving.”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” she answered. “Not really.”

“You could,” he assured her. “The TARDIS responds to your touch. She knows that you’re my wife, and she will let you do anything I can. You’re not just a passenger, along for the ride, my dear. You are a part of the team.”

Louise smiled warmly. She was glad of that. She wanted to be part of his team. She wanted to travel through time and space with him.

For how long, he had never said. Nor had she. One day, surely, they would return to Forêt. It was her home. It was his in so many ways, even if he was not born there. She knew she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life travelling in time and space. But for as long as he wanted her to do that with him, she would.

When it was time to go home…

She hoped he would stay with her, the way he had stayed with Dominique. But sometimes she wondered if he could. The universe was so big and he belonged in it. To ask him to live a small life with her was selfish.

“No, it isn’t,” The Doctor said to her very quietly. She was surprised. He had read her thoughts so easily. “Louise, I want to be with you forever. Or as close to forever as Human life allows. Whether in the TARDIS, or on Forêt, I don’t know. That’s the future, and I know no more about that than anyone. But I am yours, either way, until your dying day, Louise. I promise.”

And he meant it. Of course he did. Time Lords didn’t give their hearts away easily. But when they did, they did it for keeps.

He reached to hug her. There weren’t very many times in his life when he had hugged a woman in the TARDIS. He had lived far too long without that warmth and comfort. Now he wanted to make up for lost time.

The TARDIS WAS female. And he was pretty sure its semi-organic, semi-sentient mind approved of his relationship with Louise. So it was rather unfair that they both got thrown to the floor in an undignified heap when the TARDIS came to a bone crunching stop in the middle of his indulgence.

“Are you all right?” he asked Louise as he scrambled to his feet and lifted her onto the command chair.

“I think so,” she managed to reply. She put her hand to her forehead and rubbed it. There was a bruise there, and another on her elbow, but otherwise she seemed unscathed. He adjusted his sonic screwdriver to tissue repair mode and showed her how to use it while he turned to find out what had happened.

“We’ve… crashed… into something…” he stammered in amazement. “We’re still in the time vortex, but we’ve actually collided with something. Hang on….” He adjusted a dial on the environmental panel and pulled a lever. On the big viewscreen the TARDIS was still tumbling through the vortex. But it looked as if it was doing so while towing a wide load along with it. The movement was wrong, and so were several other readings on the control panel.

Then the communications panel flashed. He reached around with one hand to accept the audio message.

“Help,” said a female voice that was clearly in distress. “Please help me. Something has gone wrong with the machine, and grandfather is unconscious and I don’t know what to do.”

Grandfather? The Doctor felt as if the ghost of his own past life had crossed his path. But he cast that thought away as he responded.

“Your craft is caught up with mine. I’m going to try to bring us both out of the vortex and land somewhere safe. It might be bumpy. Make sure your grandfather is safe and secure yourself. I’ll be with you just as soon as I can.”

He turned to Louise and told her to hang on as well, then he initiated the emergency landing procedure. He didn’t have much time. He was picking up telemetry from the other craft, whatever it was. Life support was damaged. They didn’t have time for him to choose a landing spot. As long as there was a breathable atmosphere the nearest planet would have to do.

The nearest planet turned out to be Earth. But the temporal location worried The Doctor a little.

“We’re somewhere near the end of the last ice age,” he said. “It’ll be cold out. Put your warm coat on, sweetheart. Let’s go and exchange insurance details and check the damage.”

Louise didn’t understand the reference to insurance details. That was one thing he missed about some of his Earth born companions. Donna or Wyn, or Rose, would have been falling over laughing and asking if he was a member of the intergalactic AA or something. But she did as he asked and came running after him as he stepped out of the TARDIS onto an icy tundra that would one day be South Wales.

“Oh, dear,” he murmured as he turned and looked at the TARDIS. It was wedged into the side of an orange and white Volkswagon camper van manufactured sometime in the early 1970s. The TARDIS was undamaged, but the camper van was in a very sorry state. Louise waited while he nipped back inside. There was a grinding of the TARDIS engines and it dematerialised momentarily and rematerialised a few yards away. The Doctor came back out and stepped up to the sliding door of the van. It wouldn’t open at first, but the sonic screwdriver released it and he stepped inside. Louise followed him.

He wasn’t sure what to expect inside. A fully functional TARDIS console room would not have surprised him. After all, the camper van HAD been in the time vortex. Some kind of space ship interior would have made sense.

He didn’t really expect to see a 1970s Volkswagon camper van interior.

But what it looked like wasn’t important right now. He moved quickly towards the two people inside. A young woman, about eighteen in Earth years, was kneeling beside the leather couch at the back end of the camper where she had made an elderly man comfortable. He was bleeding from a head wound and The Doctor set to work on that straight away.

“It looks more serious than it is,” he assured the girl and the man. “Hold still a moment.” He took his sonic screwdriver back from Louise and applied it to the wound. The girl gasped in surprise. The old man sighed. The tissue repair mode was like a cooling balm as it mended the slight concussion and closed the wound that the blood was coming from. “There you go. Even the headache should have gone, by now.”

“Yes, thank you,” the old man said. “Thank you, very much. I am very grateful to you. But…” He looked around at the damaged side of the camper van. There was a TARDIS shaped dent and daylight where the metal had split on impact. “Oh dear.”

“That’s exactly what I said,” The Doctor replied. “Oh, dear. May I ask who you both are?”

“I am Gideon Walsh,” the old man said. “This is my granddaughter, Iris.”

“I’m The Doctor. This is my wife, Louise. And I am sorry we are meeting under such unfortunate circumstances. At this stage… in any usual circumstances, we should be exchanging insurance details…”

Gideon chuckled at the joke. That answered the question The Doctor was going to ask next.

“You’re Human… from Earth.”

“Where else would we be from?” Iris asked. “Of course we’re Human.”

The Doctor let that pass for now.

“But this… is a time machine?” He looked around at the van interior again. He was actually having trouble believing what he was seeing. “You were in the vortex… when we crashed into each other.”

“Vortex?” Iris looked puzzled. “Oh, you mean the temporal tunnel.” The Doctor looked at her quizzically. “Grandfather called it that, when he developed the technology. They all laughed at him, of course. He presented a paper to the Royal Society – The Theory of Time Travel. And… they laughed. They humiliated him.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” The Doctor said. “I would have liked to have heard your presentation. When was that?”

“July 1973,” Gideon answered him. “It was my life’s work. And they laughed.”

The old man looked close to tears. It was clearly a raw wound for him. The Doctor didn’t laugh. He was thoughtful. Again he looked around at the camper van. It was neat and tidy, apart from the damage to the side and a heap of clothes that had spilled from a cupboard that took the brunt of the impact. If this was a time machine, it was the oddest one he had ever seen. But he certainly wasn’t laughing about it.

“Mon Docteur!” Louise broke into his thoughts. She pointed to the cracked camper van window. The Doctor saw her meaning right away. The sun had begun to set while they were talking. It was getting dark.

And cold.

“It will be sub-zero in a very short time,” he said. “You can’t stay here.”

“This van… everything I own is in it,” Gideon protested. “My whole life. I won’t leave it.”

“You must, for now,” The Doctor insisted. “At the very least there is some bodywork that needs to be done before this vehicle can enter the vortex again. And I think I ought to look at your engines. But I mean it. The temperature is going to drop like a stone in the next half hour. Come back to my ship. It is warm. We have food, beds. Tomorrow we will assess the situation.”

“Grandfather,” Iris said. “Please, it feels cold already. I think he’s right.”

“How can we be sure… can we trust him?”

Iris looked at her grandfather and then she turned to The Doctor. He said nothing. His expression was carefully neutral. She turned back to her grandfather.

“Yes, we can,” she answered.

“Good enough for me,” the old man said. He pushed back the blankets and swung his legs off the couch. He had to stop for a moment and let a dizzy spell pass before he stood up. The Doctor noticed that, but didn’t comment. Gideon, when he wasn’t injured and shaken, was a man of fierce determination and independence. And those were just two qualities that The Doctor valued. He waited patiently until the grandfather and granddaughter both put on warm coats and scarves and then he led the way back out of the stricken camper van/time machine.

“That’s YOUR ship?” Iris was puzzled when she saw the TARDIS. “But it’s….”

The Doctor smiled reassuringly and opened the door. Louise smiled reassuringly at their two guests, who slowly stepped forward over the TARDIS threshold.

“Oh, my goodness,” Iris said as she stared around at the console room. “It’s….”

“It’s beautiful,” Gideon said as he stepped towards the console, hypnotised by the glow of the time rotor. “It’s…. what I dreamed of all those years ago… It’s….”

The old man looked close to tears as he turned to look at The Doctor.

“It is yours? This… wonderful machine.”

“It is. But… I didn’t build it. Not originally. I’ve maintained it over the years. Had to learn to be a very good temporal mechanic. And you can’t just pop into Halfords for parts. The console, especially, has had to be refitted with non-standard parts from time to time. But she works, still.”

Gideon reached out and touched the console reverently. His eyes shone with joy. The Doctor was surprised by his reaction, even a little puzzled. The thing about him dreaming of it was odd. But at the same time he was a little proud. Gideon was, apparently, the designer of a working time machine, and here he was admiring the TARDIS. The Doctor felt as if he and his ship were being praised by a master craftsman.

Louise closed the main door and crossed the floor to the inner door. She looked at Iris and smiled warmly.

“The kitchen is this way. We’ll make supper while the men talk about engines.”

Iris was even more astonished to discover that there was more of the TARDIS than the console room, but Louise’s suggestion was reassuring. Making supper was something ordinary that she could do in an extra-ordinary situation. She met her host’s smile with one of her own and went along with her. The Doctor turned to Gideon and asked if he would like to see the engine room.

The old man’s smile couldn’t have got much wider without his head falling off.

“You are The Doctor’s wife?” Iris asked as she helped Louise to prepare the meal.


“He is an interesting man. I am grateful for his help… with grandfather. And your hospitality.”

“He is a kind man,” Louise said. “He will do what he can to help you. But… you and your grandfather? You have your own time machine. That… vehicle.”

“Grandfather built it when I was very young,” Iris explained. “I really don’t know much about how it works. Only that it does. We have been travelling for a long time, going to different times. We lived for two years in Victorian England. Grandfather got a job with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, helping him build The Great Western. Then we moved on from there, to the Georgian era. I liked that time. We lived in a little village. Grandfather was a miller. We lived in a watermill. He ground corn and looked after the machinery. And then for a little while we lived in the future – in the 1990s. But I didn’t like it. It was so very noisy. So much traffic.”

“I hate traffic, too,” Louise managed. She only understood a little of the history Iris spoke of. The Doctor had given her a book with the history of Earth in easy sections. She remembered that Brunel was an inventor and the Great Western was a ship. She understood that the Georgian era was something to do with a king, but she couldn’t recall which one. A watermill that ground corn was a concept she understood. There was something like that on Forêt where they ground nuts from the trees and used them the way other societies used wheat and grains.

“In between, we visited lots of different places for short periods, just to see what they were like – a sort of holiday.”

“But how long have you been travelling?”

“I was five when we left,” Iris answered. “It was very sudden. I know grandfather was angry about something. And he packed up all my clothes and toys and things for himself and put lots of food in a box in the back of the camper, and he put me in a special seat he made, with a safety strap, and he sat in the driver’s seat and operated the special controls he had built. It was amazing the first time we went into the temporal tunnel. The colours were fascinating. I fell asleep watching it, and when I woke up we were in a different time. It was so exciting. Grandfather wouldn’t let me go out at first. I had to stay in the camper while he went and got clothes for us that matched the time. Then we went and explored.”

“Didn’t the camper look funny in the other time?” Louise asked. “The TARDIS does. But Mon Docteur has a way of making people think they are seeing something else. He calls it a perception filter.”

“We didn’t call it that, but the camper had something like that, too,” Iris explained. “I think it broke when we crashed. I hope grandfather remembers that when he and your Doctor mend it tomorrow. Or we might arrive somewhere and get in trouble. Like the time when grandfather got accused of witchcraft. We had to escape very quickly.”

“We have had some adventures, The Doctor and I,” Louise admitted. “But he has never been accused of witchcraft.”

“I was accused of witchcraft in that same century, once,” The Doctor told Gideon as he related the very same story on the way back from the engine room. “Left it very late to make my escape, too. They already had the bonfire burning round my feet. Ruined a pair of very good shoes.”

Gideon laughed. He and The Doctor had established a rapport as they looked at the machinery and swapped stories about time travel. So much so that by the time they returned to the console room The Doctor felt he could safely approach an important question.

“You and Iris have been travelling for a very long time?” he asked as he demonstrated the temporal manifold and the helmic regulator to a fellow scientist and engineer who understood it all remarkably well for a Human. Only a glance at the outdoor temperature stopped The Doctor wanting to go and look at Gideon’s own time machine right now.

“Since she was five years old,” Gideon replied openly and honestly to what was a very personal question. “I took care of her after her parents were killed. She was six months old. There was a fire in their house. They managed to pass her down from a small upstairs window to a neighbour, but they couldn’t get out themselves…”

“I am sorry,” The Doctor said. He bit his lip as he remembered, for the first time in many years, when his own son and daughter in law had died, leaving him as Susan’s only living relative. She was only a little older than Iris. The circumstances were almost identical. “So you raised her, and you developed your time machine. Why did you decide to take her with you? Did you not expect to go back….”

“I didn’t want to go back. They were trying to take my little girl away from me. She was the light of my life. I lost my wife the year before my son and daughter in law were taken from me. She was all I had left. And we were fine together. But the nosy old baggage next door complained that Iris hadn’t started school.” Gideon made a disgusted sound in his throat. “School! I had already taught her to read and write, maths, history, geography, science. What more did she need? Then the old witch said it wasn’t right that a young girl was in a house on her own with an old man… that she needed youngsters her own age, needed a mother…. She called social services. They came nosing around, asking questions that were none of their business. Then they served notice on me. They were coming to take Iris away to an orphanage. She’d be made a ward of court. I could apply for visiting rights once a month, until she was adopted. After that… I would never see her again…”

Gideon’s hands shook, and The Doctor pretended he hadn’t seen that, or the way tears pricked his eyes again. In any case, he was having trouble choking back a lump in his own throat. Nobody had tried to take Susan away from him, but life on Gallifrey had become unbearable for other reasons by the time he came home from the Citadel that night, put his granddaughter in her outdoor cloak and gone with her to the TARDIS depot….

“There would have been a warrant put out for me,” Gideon added. “If I’d shown my face again, I’d have been arrested for kidnapping my own granddaughter. So we travelled. We kept travelling. A lot of it was good. We saw some magnificent places, wonderful times. ‘Youngsters of her own age’. Iris never needed them. We had each other. We were happy.”

“Yes.” The Doctor’s voice was strange as he uttered that one word and remembered how happy he and Susan had been in those years when she was growing up.

And yet….

“She’s not a child any more,” The Doctor noted. “Have you ever thought… one day she might…”

“Yes.” Gideon cut him off quickly, as if he didn’t want any one else to put the thought into words. “Yes, I’ve thought about it. And I know I will have to let her go. It breaks my heart, but I know it. I think… I think I’ll not be long before I find the peace of the grave after that. But at least I’ll die knowing she is safe and well and with somebody who will care for her. There isn’t much more we can hope for our children, is there, Doctor?”

“You… how do you know I have children?” he managed to ask.

“It’s in your eyes. You look young. But your eyes… they’re older than mine. And when I was talking… You’ve been there, haven’t you? You’ve let a child of your own go her own way….”

“Yes, I have,” The Doctor admitted. “She was a happy child. She did have some regrets. She’d get used to a place, make friends, and then we’d leave. Usually because I wanted to. I never really asked her if she wanted to stay. By the time she was a young woman, she was longing to put down roots, to make a life for herself. And when a young man came into her life, one who could give her all of that, I let her go. My greatest regret… was waiting too long to think about seeing her again. I missed so much. But it can’t be helped. Regrets… self-destructive thoughts, those. What’s done is done.”

“Yes,” Gideon agreed. “I’ve never said any of this to Iris, you understand. Never said it to anyone. You… I knew you would understand, Doctor.”

“I understand very well,” The Doctor agreed. He and Gideon looked at each other again and they clearly both understood each other. They were kindred spirits in so very many ways.

Then both looked around and adopted bright smiles. Iris and Louise announced that supper was ready. They followed the ladies to the kitchen where the table had been set for four. They ate a cheerful meal, sharing yet more tales of time travelling adventures. The Doctor told his guests about many of his own adventures, but he very carefully steered the conversation more towards Gideon and Iris’s adventures and listened to everything they said.

“You’ve done amazingly well,” The Doctor said. “All these years exploring time, just the way my people meant for it to be explored. I am impressed. Well done.”

Of course, he reflected as he watched the two of them, his own people would have been appalled. They regarded the time vortex as their birthright. They tolerated a few other higher intelligences using it, but the idea of a mere Human, in a machine of his own design, would have appalled them. They would have sent somebody to stop him.

And The Doctor strongly suspected he would have been that somebody.

Now he was the last guardian of causality, the highest authority and final arbitrator of such things. And he was inclined to be lenient with this Human.

In fact, he seriously wondered why his people even thought they had the right to tell people like Gideon that they were inferior. A few well placed questions about the time machine’s engine piqued his curiosity and convinced him even more that, far from being a laughing stock in scientific circles, Gideon Walsh should have been one of its leading lights, pushing Human understanding of the nature of existence to its limits.

He was itching to get a look at that engine.

But even he couldn’t go out of the TARDIS now. The air temperature outside was cold enough to instantly freeze the blood of any unprotected organic being, even a Time Lord. It would be several centuries yet before mammalian life could start to migrate into these inhospitable lands that would eventually become the British Isles.

He would have to be patient.

Which was not something he was especially good at. But he was giving it a try.

After supper, Louise acted as host to Iris, showing her how to reach into the TARDIS databanks for samples of music from various times in Earth history. She proved to have a liking for late 1960s and early 1970s songs, which tied in with the manufacture of the camper van. Her choices made for a pleasant atmosphere in the console room and the sight of the Earth woman teaching Louise to dance to the songs of her childhood was interesting.

The Doctor looked in the storage space under the console room floor and pulled out an elaborate structure made of highly polished marquetry. He explained that it was an antique Multidimensional chess set. The rules were less complicated than they ought to be, he added, and proceeded to explain them to Gideon. Within a very short time the old man had grasped the principles and was holding The Doctor to a hard fought game.

“This is a popular game on your world?” Gideon asked.

“Very popular. Though, in fact, it is rarely played on a physical board like this. Such sets are kept for their intrinsic interest – as ornaments. When two Time Lords play, they create the board and pieces with the power of their mind and move using telekinesis.”

“I should like to see that!” Gideon commented.

“Unfortunately, finding two Time Lords is difficult these days,” The Doctor replied with a sad expression. Gideon nodded and decided not to press the matter.

When their Human guests were tired enough to sleep The Doctor and Louise showed them to guest rooms that must have seemed palatial after living so long in a camper van. They said goodnight and went to their own room.

“I like Iris very much,” Louise said as she slid into bed next to The Doctor. “You liked her grandfather, didn’t you?”

“He is a very remarkable man,” The Doctor replied. “I have come across very few men or women who have impressed me in the way he has.”

“I wish we could know them better,” Louise sighed. “Don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. But it wouldn’t really be practical. Tomorrow I’ll make sure their time machine is safe to travel. And then they can continue their journey, and we will continue ours.”

“What if they travelled with us?” Louise asked. “They could, couldn’t they?”

“You mean a sort of time travelling caravan in the vortex? I’m afraid their machine would never be able to keep up with the TARDIS. As amazing as it is, it isn’t a patch on a Type 40.”

“They could travel with us, in the TARDIS?”

“I don’t think Gideon would want that. He is an independent soul. He chose to travel as his own way of being free of other people and their ways. Much as I did. I would have none as master over my destiny, and I don’t think Gideon would, either.”

“It’s a pity. I like having somebody to talk to. I mean… I know I can talk to you, chéri. But…”

“I understand,” The Doctor assured her. And he did, only too well. That was just what Susan started to say before they settled for a while in that junkyard in East London. It was the kind of thing she said again before she met David in the midst of the Dalek invasion and chose to put down her roots with him.

Was Louise already regretting joining him in this space gypsy life? His hearts lurched. He didn’t want her to be unhappy. But he didn’t want to be unhappy himself. And for the time being, what made him happy was travelling in space and time with her.

“J'et aime, mon docteur à moi,” she said softly as his arms closed around her shoulders. She slipped into even more passionate French and he responded in kind. He relaxed. Yes, meeting Iris had reminded her that there were other sorts of companionship. But she was more than happy with THIS sort and the compensations it offered.

In the morning, after a cheerful breakfast, Louise took Iris to see the Cloister Room while The Doctor went with Gideon to the camper van. The overnight freeze had done its worst. Even now, with the sun up in the sky, there was still ice on the outside and a rime of frost on the inside of the vehicle. The Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver and adjusted the setting. The blue light turned to a warm red and radiated a gentle heat until the frost evaporated and their breath was no longer visible. Then The Doctor asked Gideon to show him the time travel system that powered his craft.

And what he saw astonished him on very many levels.

“Gideon,” he said as he examined the power source at the heart of the amazing engine. “How did you come by this idea? Was it… entirely your own design?”

Gideon shook his head a little guiltily.

“That’s what I meant about the dream,” he said. It was over forty years ago… in my own lifetime, that is. My son was only a boy… 1953… the coronation year. I was working on an experiment with cathode rays… you know… the things they used to use for producing the pictures on televisions….”

“Yes, I understand the principle,” The Doctor replied with a wry smile. “But… do go on.”

“Something happened. I don’t know what it was. I suddenly felt as if my head was being sucked into the cathode tube. And I must have passed out for a while. But when I came around, on the floor of my workshop, I had this amazing vision in my head… of a machine… that could travel in time. It was a fantastically complicated machine, but I understood how it worked. And I understood how to simplify the design and make something that would do the same thing. I also understood about the temporal corridor… the vortex as you called it. It was as if all the information had suddenly been crammed into my head. I thought at first it wouldn’t contain it all. I was in a frenzy, drawing diagrams, schematics, writing it all down before it faded. Eventually it did. After a week, it all began to seem much more vague and dreamlike. But by then I knew it was a viable project. It took me ten years to finish the design and to write the paper that explained the idea to the scientific community…”

“It was just theory then… blueprints…”

“Yes. But when they rejected me, I began to build my time machine for real. And then… you know the rest. I wonder sometimes if I would ever have had the courage to test the machine if the personal issues had not crowded in on me. But as you said, yesterday, Doctor, what’s done is done. And… here I am…”

The Doctor nodded. He remembered 1953. He remembered the coronation. Well, actually, he missed most of it. He was fighting an electronic entity that sucked out the minds of its victims through television. It had almost got him - that same day when Gideon, a scientific mind almost as strong as his own, was experimenting with cathode ray tubes. Somehow, a portion of his mind, the bit that understood exactly how the TARDIS worked, had been downloaded into Gideon’s mind. Why it happened, The Doctor didn’t know for sure. He suspected it was because Gideon was a genius already, with a mind receptive to new ideas, and just happened to be near the technology that the entity used to trap its victims. It was a million to one chance. But million to one chances happened nine times out of ten, as The Doctor liked to remark in the presence of people who would be puzzled by that.

“Even though the memory faded, you extrapolated from it and built something amazing,” The Doctor said, unable to disguise his admiration. “Gideon, you are a genius. I am so glad to have met you. And by the way, you did a fantastic job on this engine. There is NOTHING wrong with it. We have to get some welding gear from the TARDIS and fix the big crack in the side of the van, but when that’s done, she’ll take you anywhere you want to go, for as long as you want.”

Gideon didn’t seem as thrilled by that diagnosis as The Doctor expected. He sat down on one of the 1970s up to date polyurethane padded seats and waited for him to explain.

“It’s Iris,” he said. “What I said yesterday about her meeting a nice man, and moving on…”

“She won’t, because she cares about you too much?” Again, The Doctor felt as if Gideon was reading his own life story. Susan hadn’t stayed with David wholly of her own free will. She had planned to leave him and come along in the TARDIS with her old grandfather, because she felt an obligation to him. He had to take some extreme measures to make sure Susan did what was right for herself.

Yes, he could see Iris doing the same thing, giving up her own chances of happiness to stay by her grandfather’s side.

“And that’s what worries me. If she stays with me… and we keep on travelling… there will come a time… I’m an old man… If I were to die… she doesn’t know how to run the time machine. She could be stranded in some inhospitable place like this.”

Yes. The same thought had occurred to The Doctor in those times. What would Susan do if anything happened to him? At the worst, she had a recall button that would have taken her back to Gallifrey. His daughter in law’s family were snobs whom he detested, but they would have taken care of Susan. She would have had a good life.

But the camper van had no such recall button.

“You’re a stranger to us,” Gideon said. “I have no right to ask you any favours. But your machine… the TARDIS… If there was a way she could contact you in an emergency… if you could reach her….”

“Oh!” The Doctor sighed deeply. “Oh, Gideon, if it came to that… yes, yes, I would come at once. I wouldn’t let her fret for a moment. But is that all I could do? What if…”

“She wouldn’t be destitute.” Gideon looked at him steadily for a while, as if making a decision. Then he reached and opened a panel in the floor of the camper. Beneath it was a small safe with an old fashioned combination dial. Gideon turned the dial several times, using a code he knew well enough. The Doctor’s eyes were quick enough to read it, and he guessed it was probably Iris’s birthday. He watched as Gideon pulled out a small Hessian sack. He passed it to The Doctor silently. He examined the contents and was surprised.

“In any century, Gideon, this would set her up nicely,” he said as he examined some of the jewels inside the sack. They were all genuine, some of them very finely cut and beautiful. “May I ask… where….”

“Ten years ago in our personal time,” Gideon said. “The time machine brought us to Amsterdam, in early 1940. You know the history of that year?”

“The Nazis invaded the Low Countries,” he said. “You didn’t stay long, I hope?”

“Long enough to get myself mixed up in the movement of gems from Amsterdam’s predominantly Jewish diamond quarter. The immediate future was only too obvious even to those without time machines. I helped in the effort. Those whose wealth we helped to safeguard were generous. This was a percentage of what I helped ship to England. A fair percentage. I don’t want you to think I cheated anyone… least of all men who were almost certainly doomed to a short, cruel life under the coming regime. But for a few days of risk taking, I secured what… as you say… would ensure Iris’s future. I’m telling you, Doctor, because I trust you. You’ll see that… after I’m gone… she is able to make use of this nest egg…”

“I could do that,” The Doctor told him. “But…” He looked around the camper van. “Is there anything else in here that you value?”

“Iris is the most precious thing in my life. There are a few mementoes… I have pictures of her parents… of her as a child… When I said that everything I own is here… it is precious little for a lifetime, in fact….” He paused. He saw The Doctor’s expression and knew what his plan was. “Oh… Doctor… After all these years… it would be hard… and yet…”

“Gather whatever you cannot live without,” The Doctor said. “And that nest egg. The rest…”

Gideon nodded. It took a depressingly short time to collect what he and Iris most valued into one battered suitcase. While he did, The Doctor opened up the time machine engines and cross-wired several crucial circuits. He did so with heavy hearts. This machine was an engineering masterpiece. But he knew it was the right thing to do.

“We have about three minutes,” he told Gideon. He took hold of the suitcase and they walked quickly but steadily back to the TARDIS.

They had just time to hide the suitcase under one of the floor panels before an explosion rocked the TARDIS. As it settled again Louise and Iris came running, their eyes wide with shock.

“I’m sorry, my dear,” Gideon said, catching his granddaughter in his arms. “There was such a lot of damage… The Doctor and I tried, but it only made things worse. In the end, we had to run for it. The energy source had gone critical. I’m just glad you were safe in here.”

“But grandfather!” Iris protested as tears rolled down her face. “What will we do now? Where can we go?”

The Doctor stepped towards them.

“With your grandfather’s permission, Iris, I think I know what to do. Don’t worry. You are both our welcome guests for a little while longer.”

He set a new course for Earth in the early twenty-first century. There was a friend there he hadn’t seen for a little while. Somebody who would be utterly thrilled when he introduced Louise as his wife, and who would be glad to help Gideon and Iris settle down to living their lives one day after the other.

“Iris is a very bright young woman,” The Doctor told his old friend, Sarah Jane Smith. “But she has no formal qualifications, on account of her unusual but very educational upbringing. Even so, I was wondering if you could find her a position with one of those magazines you write for. As for Gideon…” He paused. “I checked. There was still an outstanding warrant for his arrest. I’ve fixed that – or the TARDIS computer has. But I was thinking that you might be able to pull some strings with U.N.I.T. They need a scientific advisor, and if my word still counts with them, now this new lot are in charge and the old brigadier has finally retired…”

“Your name is whispered in awe at U.N.I.T.,” Sarah Jane answered. “A word from you will have them jumping. And they can both stay with me until they’re sorted out.”

“That’s what I hoped you’d say,” The Doctor sad with a beaming smile. “Thank you, Sarah Jane. I knew I could depend on you.” He looked as if that concluded his business and he was ready to go, but Sarah Jane pressed him down into his seat firmly.

“Stay right there, you,” she said. “At least until after tea. You can’t just turn up here and tell me you’ve got married since I saw you last, and not tell me EVERYTHING.”

The Doctor smiled. He had no intention of not telling her everything. He intended to take his time about it. And when they did leave, he would make sure he had an invitation to visit again. Not only did he want to make full certain that Gideon and Iris were both safe and happy, but he knew Sarah Jane would make Louise feel perfectly at home when they came back. She would be another friend for her when his own company wasn’t enough.

He felt pretty well pleased with himself.