Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

“Actually,” the Doctor said as they materialised in south London on a warm evening in mid-April, 2007. “I’m not sure Sarah Jane IS a better cook than Jackie. I lied about that. I don’t even know if she CAN cook. She is a freelance journalist. She doesn’t really do domestic either.”

“Freelance journalist? Doesn’t that mean unemployed?” Rose laughed.

“Come on, you.” The Doctor put his arms around her shoulder as they walked up the neat front path of the suburban bungalow. She loved the nearness of him like that. It felt as if he really WAS what they neither of them would acknowledge – that he was her - boyfriend? Maybe. Well, she was sure of one thing. He was her DOCTOR and that was enough to go on with.

Sarah Jane opened the door and looked at the two strangers standing there. “Yes? Can I help you?”

“Hello, Sarah.” The Doctor smiled broadly at her. “You look fantastic. Even after all these years.”

“Do I know you?” She looked at him closely. The face was totally unfamiliar, so was the voice but something, all the same, stirred her.

“You did, my dear, my Sarah Jane. Five lifetimes ago you knew me well. I’m The Doctor.”

“Ooooh!” Rose jumped back as Sarah Jane squealed with pleasure and embraced him enthusiastically. “Oh, Doctor… It’s been so long…. You look… so…. Oh… come on in. Come in, both of you.” She let go of him just as breathing might have become a problem for somebody who was not capable of bypassing their lungs and ushered them both inside.

“Oh, it’s been so long. I can’t believe you’re here….” Rose found it hard to keep up with the constant stream of words from Sarah Jane as she moved around her kitchen trying to find the makings of coffee. They sat on the sofa in her drawing room and The Doctor held her hand gently. That was nice. It again made her feel as if she was special to him. She looked at their hands. His was so much bigger than hers, excitingly masculine, but with long, agile fingers.

“Do you still take coffee with milk and no sugar?” Sarah called to him from the kitchen. “Oh, never mind. I’ll put everything on the tray and you can help yourselves. It really is amazing. I think about you so often. I thought you must be dead though. You never came to see me.”

“Is she always like this?” Rose asked. “Running on Duracells.”

“Yes. Always. Give her a moment,” The Doctor laughed. “I’ve not seen her for a long time. It’s all a bit of a shock. You should have seen her when she was your age. A human dynamo, charging into trouble all the time.”

“Not like me then?” Rose asked with a grin.

“You’re a lot like her, actually.”

“And that’s a compliment?”

“Yes,” he grinned again. “Oh yes, yes, it is. I said long ago, I only take the best in my TARDIS.”

“And Sarah Jane was one of the best?”

The Doctor’s reply to that was cut off by a mechanical squeak and a whirr that was definitely out of place in a suburban home.

“What the hell is that?” Rose pulled her legs up onto the sofa as a knee high mechanical dog rumbled to a stop in front of her. A tray of coffee was mounted on its back. “Coffee is served, Master,” it said in a mechanical voice.

“Sarah-Jane!” The Doctor called to her in a disgusted tone. “K9 is the most intelligent artificial intelligence on this planet, bar none. And you are using him as a hostess trolley.”

“He also programmes the DVD memory,” Sarah said as she came from the kitchen with a plate of sandwiches. Rose giggled at the idea. The Doctor sighed resignedly and took two sandwiches at once.

“Mmm. Tuna and egg mayonnaise….” Rose slowly uncurled herself and looked closely at K9.

“It’s a dog?”

“Yes,” Sarah Jane said

“A mechanical dog!”


“An alien mechanical dog….”

“Yes.” The Doctor laughed between sandwiches. “Well, invented by a Human, but he was living on Titan at the time, so technically extra-terrestrial, at least.”

“He gave him to me, as a present,” Sarah explained. “To remember him by.”

“I gave him to you because I was sick of him cluttering up the TARDIS.”

“What did he do?” Rose asked. “Leave suspicious puddles of oil in the corner and piles of ball bearings?”

The Doctor laughed and choked on his tuna sandwich at the same time.

“Something like that.”

“You used to travel with the Doctor?” Rose asked Sarah, moving on from the K9 issue quickly.

“Yes. Although not…” Sarah Jane looked at The Doctor and smiled. “Not YOUR Doctor.”

“Not my….”

Sarah Jane stood up and went to the dresser. She brought back two framed pictures that had pride of place there. One was of a white haired man in a shirt that screamed ‘1974’, the other, a man in his mid-40s with the most outlandish clothes Rose had ever seen, thick dark, curly hair and a smile that was disconcertingly familiar. She looked at HER Doctor who was, she thought, paying so much attention to the coffee pot that he had to be deliberately ignoring them.

“You’ve not seen him regenerate?” Sarah Jane asked. Rose looked blank. The word clearly meant nothing to her. “When Time Lords are fatally injured they get a new body. They’re the same person inside, but the body is totally different. THESE two were BOTH my Doctor. And… and now he’s YOURS looking like THAT.”

“The ears have definitely let him down this time,” Rose said. It was the only thing she could think of to say.

“Oi!” he protested.

“They work ok though,” Sarah Jane whispered and the two women both laughed together.

“Oh, those were the days. Sometimes when I think back on that part of my life – the danger, the excitement, worrying because that daft pillock had got himself into trouble AGAIN and I thought this time he really was dead….”

The Doctor flashed them a smile. “I used to come around from being whacked by an alien death ray to find her wetting my shirt with tears.”

“And he never appreciated how much I cared.” Sarah Jane sighed. “He never realised how much I loved him and how scared I was of losing him.”

“I can relate to that,” Rose said.

“You don’t sniffle as much,” The Doctor told Rose. “And you never told me you loved me, Sarah Jane.”

“Doctor.…” Sarah Jane turned to him with a softened look in her eyes. “All those years, all the things we went through. You didn’t need to be told that. You knew.”

He smiled at her. “Yes, of course I knew. And you know I loved you as a dear, dear friend and companion.”

“Yes,” she said. “That’s why I never regretted a moment. Not even the Daleks.”

“You’ve had Daleks…” Rose exclaimed. She was only half keeping up with the conversation. She had grasped the fact that HER Doctor once looked completely different, and that Sarah Jane had once been his companion – and had worried about him, and CARED about him just as deeply as she did. It was kind of like meeting an ex-girlfriend, she thought. Only not quite. Sarah Jane was a middle aged woman now. The idea of them being rivals for his affection was just not in it.

“Mistress!” K9 jerked into action, narrowly missing tipping the tray of coffee over the Doctor, who caught it up quickly. “Master Harry is home.”

“Oh! He does the DOOR as well!” The Doctor groaned. “Honestly, Sarah, you are really undervaluing K9.”

“He loves to do it,” Sarah said. “He wants to serve me.” They all watched as K9 rumbled to the door and operated a lock at knee level with something very like a sonic screwdriver that came out of his mouth. “Good evening, Master Harry,” he said. “We have guests.”

Captain Harry Sullivan, GMO came into the living room, followed by K9. As he swept off his cap and gave it to the mechanical dog to put away, the Doctor stood up and saluted him in a half-mocking, half serious way. “Harry, this is a surprise. I didn’t know you and Sarah were….”

“We’ve been married 15 years, Doctor.” He said, and Rose was surprised that he had worked it out so quickly. “You really should keep up with old friends more often.”

“I have so many old friends,” he admitted. “There isn’t enough time… even for a Time Lord.”

“Pour yourself coffee,” Sarah Jane told her husband. “Rose was just asking about Daleks.”

“Daleks weren’t the worst of it,” Harry said. “For me it was Cybermen.”

“I don’t know those,” Rose admitted. “Daleks, definitely.”

“Daleks are much worse than Cybermen,” Sarah Jane confirmed. “They are so totally ruthless. I never understood why you didn’t get rid of them when you had the chance, Doctor.”

“I told you. It wasn’t right. They should never have asked me to do that.”

“Do what?” Rose asked.

“The Time Lords sent him back to when the Daleks were being created,” Sarah explained. “They wanted him to erase them from time – to never have been. He was standing there – all he had to do was connect the two wires in his hands and he would have destroyed the Daleks forever - before they could be born - before they became the greatest menace in the universe and killed millions of people.”

“And I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I couldn’t commit genocide.”

“Not even for the Daleks?” Sarah asked, though clearly not for the first time.

“Not EVEN for the Daleks,” the Doctor said. “They should never have put me in that position. Besides, if the Daleks had never existed, the universe would NOT have been a better place. It would just have been twisted in some other way. Places like Earth would not have had organisations like U.N.I.T. to combat not only Daleks but other alien threats. None of us would be sitting here now drinking coffee in a leafy South London suburb. Rose would probably never have been born. This planet would have been taken over by Autons or Zygons or Sea Devils or the atmosphere turned into hydrogen acid or….”

“I get it,” Rose said. “I understand.” The Doctor turned to her and smiled grimly.

“Thank you.” He touched her arm and caught her eye for a long moment before they both turned back to the conversation.

“If U.N.I.T. was never formed Sarah and I would never have met,” Harry interjected. “I know that’s the LEAST important thing about it, but….”

“Not at all,” The Doctor said. “It’s not just about fighting aliens. What matters is that people like you and Sarah, Jo and her Cliff, Ace and all the others can live a peaceful normal ordinary life at the end of it all. That’s what it’s REALLY all about.”

“He saved my mum’s life today,” Rose told them. She didn’t know why she said that. It just fitted. “She doesn’t even know it, because after he was done, the thing that was going to kill her never happened. And she just cooked the worst lasagne in the world and made him coffee.”

“There are only a few of us among the billions on this planet who REALLY know how often the Doctor has saved us all.” Harry said. “He saved me about a dozen times, and Sarah, and I don’t think any of us have REALLY thanked him.”

“Well, that’s easily fixed,” Sarah reached towards The Doctor, and before he realised, she had kissed him. Harry grinned. Rose looked surprised, though not as much as the Doctor. “I should have done that years ago.”

“Well,” The Doctor said, failing to hide his disconcertion. “Better late than never.”

“Speaking of Jo,” Harry said. “Sarah is going to see her tomorrow. Did she say?”

“No.” The Doctor looked very interested in the news. “Is she still in Wales?”

“Not at the moment,” Sarah explained. “That’s why I was going to join her. She and Clifford are in Ireland. They’re with a group that have been trying to stop a motorway being built next to the Hill of Tara, and Jo reckons there’s something going on that doesn’t meet the eye and reckons we should join forces.”

“The Hill of Tara! A motorway by that would be sacrilege! The Doctor looked very worried. Rose wondered why. “They have no idea how important it is. Tell you what, Sarah, how about we take The TARDIS. I had planned to take Rose to meet Jo, anyway. This is perfect. And I can have a nosey at what’s going on there. Harry, are you up for a TARDIS trip for old times sake?”

“No can do,” he said. “I’ve got a full schedule this week at the RNR hospital. Three major operations in a row. Just you bring my wife back safe and sound and don’t get lost somewhere round the Omega galaxy or whatever.”

“I was thinking of a stopover in Cumbria, actually.” The Doctor mused. There’s somebody else I think Rose would like to meet and who could be very handy if we’re up against it.”

“Doctor?” As they snuggled down in the sleeping bags on the living room floor that Sarah and Harry had provided in the way of overnight hospitality, Rose had several thoughts in her head.

“Yes,” he murmured, sounding sleepy, though she suspected he was putting it on.



“How many women have you HAD in the TARDIS?”

“What do you mean, HAD?” he asked. “I have been a perfect gentleman with each and every one of them, I’ll have you know.”

“I mean…. It’s obvious I’m not the first of us ‘stupid apes’ that you’ve had with you?”

“I thought you knew that.”

“I guess I did. But I never really thought about it before. I thought I was special.”

“You ARE special, Rose.” The Doctor assured her. More than you can know, he thought.

“Truth time though,” she said. “How many have there been?”

“Yes,” he admitted. “There have been a lot. He tried to picture their faces as he counted them. “Susan, Barbara, Vicki, Katarina, Dodo….”

“Blimey!” Rose stopped him before his list was even half completed. “It’s a harem. And I heard Time Lords had no sex drive.”

“WHAT?” The Doctor sat up in his sleeping bag and banged his head on the coffee table. “Owww.”

“Master needs assistance...” K9’s metallic voice came from the shadows of the darkened room.

“No I don’t,” he said. “Go away.”

“Master is in need of assistance.!” K9 insisted and Rose began to see why the Doctor had given him to Sarah Jane.

“Go get me a glass of water and a paracetamol, then.” K9 whirred away. “Who told you that….”

“Jack,” Rose said. “He said you guys were known as the least sexy race in the universe.”

“I’ll deal with him later,” The Doctor promised with a hint of menace in his tone. “For the record it’s not true. Just because we have a reputation for being bloody-minded pedants with steel rods for spines doesn’t mean we don’t also understand the fundamental things that matter to every race in the universe - apart from Daleks and Cybermen. Yes, we have a perfectly healthy sex drive, thank you very much. But we are also civilised people. We don’t… I don’t.…”

Rose laughed suddenly. “You’re blushing, aren’t you? I can feel the heat from here.” The sound of K9 returning with a glass of water and a box of headache pills interrupted the conversation and gave the Doctor chance to recover himself.

“Rose,” he said. “My own dear, wonderful Rose. Yes, you are special. I can’t tell you how much. I don’t have the words for it. But yes, before I knew you, there were others who came with me in the TARDIS, who shared the risks, the terrors, the near-death experiences. Sarah and Jo were two of them. They have in so many ways the same qualities you have. You’re all brave, quick-thinking, loyal and wonderful. And I’d be a dead Time Lord many times over without all of you in your turn. But you.. you’re… More than that. I have already lost count how often you’ve saved my life. And I love you for it. Plus, you’re the only one who EVER wanted me to meet her mum.”

“Is that ALL that makes me special?” she asked, laughing despite desperately wanting a different kind of answer to that question.

“Isn’t it enough?”

“It’s a start.”

“And by the way, not all of the people who came with me were female. There were plenty of strapping young men like Harry. Now go to sleep. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow.” He turned over in his sleeping bag and lay quiet. After a while, he heard her breathing softly as if in sleep. Just to be sure, he turned his sonic screwdriver to the relevant setting and examined the reading that told him that she was, indeed, in full REM cycle. Then he leaned over and kissed her on the lips long and lingeringly as he so wanted to do. “Sleep well, my own, dear Rose,” he whispered. He lay back. He didn’t sleep for a while. Time Lords didn’t need to sleep as long as humans anyway. But there was a thought playing on his mind. “She could do worse…. So could you…. Maybe you shouldn’t shut out the option.” He had shut out the option for nearly 700 years. Until recently he had not even thought of letting it in. She was special. Oh yes. But did he dare, could he ever let her know how much?