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

The TARDIS materialised in the corner of the dark office. The door opened and The Doctor emerged first, followed by Rose and Sarah Jane.

“Where are we?” Rose asked. “And when?”

“We’re at the Coniston View hostel for girls,” The Doctor replied. “And it’s four a.m. I slightly miscalculated our arrival time.”

“You do realise we could have flown to Ireland in two hours from Gatwick,” Sarah told him.

“Don’t worry,” Rose said. The Doctor can get us there before we set off…”

“Or more likely three hundred years in the future.” Sarah Jane commented dryly.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, both of you. I wish Harry had come – then I wouldn’t have been outnumbered by females. And keep your voices down. It’s four a.m.”

The Doctor edged his way around the office desk. He picked up the name plate. “Dorothy Weir, House Manager. Mmmm!” He turned around and bumped into a filing cabinet, knocking over the over-stacked intray on top.

“Keep the noise down,” Sarah whispered loudly. “It’s four a.m.”

“Very funny.” The Doctor reached the door and opened it. Rose and Sarah Jane followed. He stepped out into the corridor beyond. “Ace!” he called out just as the light snapped on and an aluminium baseball bat came down on his head.

“Doctor!” Rose and Sarah Jane screamed together as he crumpled to the ground, but it was Rose who reached his side first. She didn’t even look at the woman standing over him with the baseball bat raised over her head as she knelt and cradled his head. “Oh! I think he’s dead. I can’t find a pulse.” Tears welled in her eyes and fear knotted in her stomach.

“Time Lord pulses can’t be felt that way,” Sarah Jane told her, bending beside him. “Look.” She guided Rose’s hand onto his shoulder just beneath the clavicle. “There, see. And look, he’s healing already.” Rose breathed a sigh of relief mixed with astonishment and a little fear as the bruising beneath his close cropped dark hair miraculously cleared and the blood disappeared.

A moment later he opened his eyes and looked up at her, at Sarah Jane, and at Dorothy Weir, aka Ace, who stood above him, still clutching the baseball bat, but now shaking with horror as she began to realise what she had done, and who she had done it to.

“He called me Ace,” she trembled. “Nobody on Earth calls me Ace… only…. Oh… Professor, is it really you?”

“After that remodelling of my head, I’m not so sure. Give me a minute.” The Doctor scrambled to his feet agilely. He looked at the woman who know called heself Dorothy Weir. She was in her early forties, now, but with a freshness to her face that made her seem younger. Her expression was something between horror and disbelief.

The Doctor reached out and hugged her. “Hello Ace,” he said. “You haven’t changed a bit - and I am so glad. I’d like you to meet Sarah Jane, who is a VERY old friend…”

“Oi, less of the OLD, thank you very much….”

“A very DEAR friend,” The Doctor amended. “And Rose who is new and VERY dear to me. We’d like to invite you to join us in a trip to Ireland to help another friend sort out a mystery.”

“I’d love to,” she said. “Just like old times. But I have responsibilities now. My husband, Mike, and I… we run this place. It’s a home for delinquent teenagers… to help them rehabilitate.”

“Very worthwhile,” The Doctor said approvingly. “So I suppose you don’t have an armoury full of nitro-9 any more.”

“Fraid not.” Ace – Aka Dorothy laughed grimly. “I wouldn’t like to think what some of the girls might do with it.”

“I’ll bring you back right here after we’re finished,” he promised. “Nobody will even know you were gone.”

“Or he could lose you in the Omega Galaxy,” Sarah said. Rose laughed. The Doctor scowled at them both.

“Oh, what the heck!” Ace handed the baseball bat to the Doctor while she reached for a leather jacket on the hatstand inside her office. She put it on and looked ten years younger at once. Rose goggled at the assortment of badges pinned to it, including two Blue Peter badges and a Charlton Athletic supporters club one.

“Charlton Athletic? She queried.

“Yes, I know. He used to tease me all the time about it. Though I don’t know why. They’re better than Preston North End any day.” She took the baseball bat back from the Doctor and swung it over her shoulder. “Come on then, let’s go.”