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

Rose woke from an ‘afternoon’ nap on the slide out bunk and listened for a while to the sound of the TARDIS’s engines. She was used to its different sounds by now. This one told her they were travelling in what she called ‘impulse drive’ through space but had not engaged the temporal circuits to take them into the time vortex. The fact that they told her that much made her smile with deserved self-pride. She really was a time and space traveller now she could talk the talk.

She looked around and saw The Doctor watching the viewscreen and moved to join him. “What are we looking at?” she asked.

“How many planets does your solar system have?”

“We did this at school,” she said. And he smiled indulgently at the schoolgirl way she counted them down on her fingers. “Nine… Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Pluto… Pluto was discovered last, in the 1930s, because Disney named the dog after it.”

“Well done.” The Doctor put his arms around her from behind and looked at the view of the outer limits of the solar system with her. “Except just about the time I took you away from all of that Earth scientists discovered there was a tenth planet. That’s it, there.” He pointed at the cold, frozen globe that came into view as the TARDIS slowly revolved. “They didn’t even have a name for it. They argued for years if it even WAS a planet or if it WAS in the solar system. Because that’s what you lot do - argue. But it was there all along - which I could have told them, of course if they’d ever asked.”

“Of course you could,” Rose said. “I wonder why they never asked you EVERYTHING.”

“I wouldn’t have told them EVERYTHING. They have to find out some of it for themselves. Otherwise they just get lazy and expect me to do everything.”

Rose laughed and he tightened his hold around her and for a long moment just looked at what was pretty much mundane to him through her joyous young eyes that had not yet seen a fraction of what he wanted her to see. Rose fully appreciated the privilege he offered her above all others of her race. Even the scientists had seen no more than a distant body through their telescopes. She, an ordinary girl from north London, was flying past the new and unnamed planet watching it in close up.

“Jack,” The Doctor said. “Stop humming that song. I got the joke before we passed the asteroid belt.”

“What song?” Rose asked and Jack laughed.

“I left my heart….” Jack began.

“…in San Francisco,” the Doctor finished, and Rose laughed.

“I never thought of that. But it wasn’t so romantic from where I was standing. I can tell you that.” She shuddered slightly as she remembered and turned from the Tenth Planet of Earth’s solar system to embrace her own wonder of the Universe, Her Doctor. Like the planet, he, too, was officially unnamed.

“I’m hungry,” she said, when the moment of intimacy was over. “I think I’ll go fix something. How about you two?” Jack said yes, so did the Doctor, although he was not really hungry. His metabolism did not need food as often as humans, but he had got used to a human timeframe for meals, rest periods and such from being around them so often.

Rose strolled off into the strange corridors of the TARDIS where, among other things, there was a fully functioning kitchen.

“Have you noticed how much that kitchen looks like the one at her mum’s flat?” Jack said.

“Yes,” The Doctor answered as he adjusted the TARDIS control and set it to its next destination in time and space. “The TARDIS is psychic. It models itself around the people in it and their needs. Rose needs something that reminds her of home. So the TARDIS remodelled the kitchen. It used to look like an airline galley.” He looked around the control room. “This has changed over the years, too. It used to be brighter and more high tech. It seems to think this is how I want it to look at the moment.”

He wasn’t sure how the control room had turned itself into a sort of dark upturned cauldron with iron pillars in the organic shapes of a coral reef supporting the high roof. It seemed to have evolved with him the last time he regenerated. He suspected it matched his mood at the time. If he could look into his own head, he rather thought it might even look like a version of this dark, brooding, TARDIS interior.

“Here you go.” Rose’s voice startled him out of his reverie. He took the sandwich from her and half sat, half leant, on one of the coral struts to eat it. She hitched herself up beside him, sitting in the space where the central trunk of the strut split into two curving branches. “Where are we going?” she asked, watching the surreal patterns on the viewscreen as the TARDIS flew through the sub-space vortex.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I told the TARDIS to find us a planet we could breathe on that wasn’t called Earth. There was a time when it was a lot wonkier than it is now, and I could never get it to go anywhere I wanted. Every day was a surprise and a challenge. I thought a little of that random chance might be interesting again.”

“Mystery tour by TARDIS. I can live with that.” She looked at The Doctor and thought he looked a little distracted. “Are you ok?” she asked him. “You are feeling ok, aren’t you?”

“I’m feeling fine,” he said, smiling at her new-found role as his personal nurse since she had tended to him during his ‘operation’. She asked him if he was well at least ten times a day, and he found her concern sweetly touching. There was no need, of course. A Time Lord waiting on the growth of a replacement heart was no worse off than any ordinary human with one healthy organ. She knew that. He had explained the practicalities to her. But something in her sweet soul wanted to worry about his health and he appreciated it. Nobody had really done that for him since he was a boy, except…. He smiled as a memory drifted into his mind of bright, bubbly Mel. Two incarnations ago she had tried to make a new man of him by the more human method of a diet and exercise regime.

“I was just wondering….” He broke from his daydream to see her watching him closely still. “What would you say was the mental state of the person who designed this control room?”

“Manic depressive,” Rose said. “Why?”

“Good guess. I’m glad I have you to keep me sane.” He finished his sandwich and stood up just as the TARDIS’s engines moved into materialisation gear. He turned to Rose and put his arms out to lift her down from her perch, holding her just a second more than necessary. “Let’s go see where in the universe we are.”


Blue sky and green grass - the hallmarks of a planet that humans could live on. Rose looked up at the sky, a pure, cold blue of a winter’s morning, except that it was warm. There was a small bright sun high over them, and lower, to what might have been the west if Earth directions had any meaning, two moons, one a golden-white colour, the other pale red. They hung like ornaments on the blue fabric of the sky. She thought it came close to being the most beautiful alien sky she had yet seen.

“Well,” Jack said. “Let’s remember where we parked and go explore.”

“Good plan,” The Doctor agreed, and he took hold of Rose’s hand as he always did when they set off anywhere. Jack smiled at the sweetly innocent but emotionally loaded gesture that made them an ‘item’ to anyone but themselves and tried not to feel like the spare wheel in their time-travelling trio.

For a while, it seemed as if they were on a stroll in the countryside. It was not too warm to make walking unpleasant and they talked of trivialities. They came through a small coppice of trees that were not unlike Earth trees and up a grassy slope. At the top of it, looking down into the plain beyond, was a sight that startled them all, The Doctor, surprisingly, more than any of them.

In the far distance a huge obelisk rose towards the sky. Radiating from it in neat rows were thousands upon thousands of glass pyramids, each about the size of an average house of 21st century Earth. They walked down the slope towards them. Jack and Rose both wondered if these WERE houses on this planet and this a great city. Rose wondered what sort of people lived here. Or if they WERE people in the sense she expected. She had seen enough non-humanoid species, from Slitheen to the Face of Bo to expect just about anything.

It was almost a disappointment, then, to find that the pyramid city was as silent as a cemetery. Not even birds or animals disturbed the silence, and their footsteps echoed strangely on the marble pavements around the structures.

The Doctor seemed the most perturbed of them all. He looked at the pyramids. They all did. They were all made of what looked like opaque panels of black glass that absorbed the sunlight. Rose put her hand on one and found it cold despite the sun shining on it. She turned to ask The Doctor about it, but he wasn’t looking. He stood with his face turned towards the red moon.

“Oh, well done, my TARDIS,” he said, laughing a little hysterically. “Take us anywhere, I said, and she takes us to SangC’lune.”

“What’s SangC’lune?” Jack asked. “Never heard of it.”

“It’s one of the Time Lords’ Dominion planets, The Doctor said. “A far flung outpost of our Empire.”

“You’ve been here before then?” Rose asked.

“No. I never had a reason to come here. I don’t think I do now. The TARDIS is playing games with me, and cruel ones at that.” He turned around, as if looking for something he expected to find there. “Ok, go on. I’ll bow to the inevitable.”

He strode off and as Jack and Rose followed they both saw where he was headed. ONE of the pyramids was not black. It was silvery-white, surrounded by 12 small obelisks, eight of them pure black and four white like the pyramid itself. Where the other pyramids absorbed the sunlight, this one reflected it. Spears of sunlight came back off it like lasers. It was beautiful, although Rose felt uneasy about it because of The Doctor’s reaction. He looked at it as if it was something he really did not want to see.

And yet, reluctant as he was, he was drawn to it. He was hardly aware of his companions as he approached it. Jack, sensing that there was a reason for that, took hold of Rose’s hand when she would have caught up with The Doctor and had her walk behind with him. Neither of them spoke.

When they did catch up with The Doctor he was standing before what was clearly a door into the pyramid. Jack and Rose came either side of him. They both looked at the door. There were three symbols on it. On the left, was one Rose was familiar with. She touched the pendant The Doctor had given her for her birthday. It was the same pattern – the symbolic representation of Kasterborus, the constellation in which Gallifrey used to be.

The one on the right, Jack recognised at once as Rassilon’s Seal, the symbol of Gallifrey itself.

And in the centre….

The Doctor reached out and touched the symbol gingerly, as if he expected it to burn him.

“The House of Lœngbærrow.”

“Your family name…” Rose looked at him. She had heard the name twice from his own lips since he re-learnt it – it having been erased from his memory for centuries.

“Yes,” The Doctor said.

“So…This is like… the family tomb?” Jack asked.

“Not the FAMILY tomb. MY tomb.”

“What?” Rose stared at him.

“Well… tomb is not quite the right word,” The Doctor continued. “But it’s close enough. These are the resting places of the essences of Time Lord lives. Not the bodies… because one of us would be occupying the body – but the essences. This contains the essences of the eight lives I had before this one.” He pointed to the black obelisks around it. Those represent the lives I have used up. The white ones are my remaining lives.”

“But why are the other pyramids black?” Jack asked.

“When we do, finally, die… when the last regeneration dies, the essence of the last life comes here and the pyramid is sealed. It turns black to show that the life is complete.” He looked to the left and the right of the white pyramid where black ones stood. “That one,” he said with a slight catch in his voice, holds the essences of all my father’s incarnations. “This.…” He pointed to the right. “This was my son’s. He was killed before he had chance to regenerate, but his single life as a Time Lord is still represented by that pyramid.”

“Oh!” Rose turned around, looking at the hundreds of other pyramids in their immediate vision – a fraction of the actual number. “ALL of the others are black… because YOU are the LAST Time Lord.”

She had known that nearly as long as she had known him, but the pyramids were such a stark visual representation of the fact that it seemed as if she was being told for the first time. Suddenly she had a much clearer understanding of what it meant to him. “Oh….”

The Doctor himself looked around at the black pyramids and shook his head. “The day Gallifrey died… this must have been a terrible place.”

Jack and Rose looked at him and at each other. They both had similar visions of miles of white pyramids suddenly turning black. Perhaps there was some kind of noise – a funeral dirge for all the souls cut off at once. And when it was over, only one white pyramid remained.

“Owww!” Rose cried out suddenly. She had gone to put her hand into her coat pocket and something burnt it. As she soothed the blisters on her fingers she saw smoke coming from her pocket and then it scorched and her Tardis key dropped through onto the ground. She bent to pick it up but The Doctor grabbed her arm.

“No!” He bent and took the key himself. “The TARDIS key also opens the Pyramid. And only the Time Lord himself may do that. No-one else can bring a key near to it.”

“Well… Open it then,” Jack said.

“No.” The Doctor turned away deliberately. “There is no reason for me to enter there. I have nothing I need ask myself.” And he walked away with long, deliberate strides. Jack and Rose followed, running to keep up with him as he put as much distance as he could between himself and the reflected light of the white Pyramid of Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow, known to the universe at large as The Doctor.


At the top of the slope they had first seen the pyramids from, he stopped. As Jack and Rose caught up with him they knew why. He watched quietly the approach of the three white haired men in long robes. Rose thought they looked gentle and kind-faced. The Doctor clearly thought so, too. The impatience and irritation he had expressed before softened. He took Rose’s hand and squeezed it gently. Much to Jack’s surprise, he took his hand, too.

Rose was even more surprised at what happened when the three men were within only a few feet of them. The middle and clearly elder of them said something to the Doctor in a language she did not recognise and he replied to them. And then all three fell to their knees, their heads bowed as if in prayer - to the Doctor! He let go of his companions and moved forward. He placed his hands gently on the heads of each of the three elders and bid them stand.

“My Lord,” the eldest of them said. “We are honoured by your presence among us. Will you honour us further by returning to the Great Hall.”

“I will,” he said. “Lead the way.”

“I thought you had never been here before,” Rose said as they followed the three elders to their village.

“I haven’t. But others of my people have. Jack, please, don’t make any jokes, and Rose, please don’t giggle no matter how corny some of this is going to seem. These people are honest and simple and they live to serve the Time Lords.”

“As slaves?” Rose asked, a little appalled.

“No,” the Doctor said. “As believers.” They had reached the village, a simple place built on the lines of medieval Britain with houses of wood and thatch and a busy street market that ceased trading as word went ahead of their presence. The people lined the street, young and old, and as they passed, they all fell quietly to their knees in obeisance.

“Doctor,” Jack whispered, working it out. “They think you are their God.”

“I’m a Time Lord,” he said. “We were ALL gods here. These people tend the pyramids of their gods.”

They were taken to the Great Hall of the village where they were royally treated with fine food and wine brought to them as they relaxed on silk-covered palettes.

“I could get used to this,” Jack said, drinking down a goblet of wine and biting into a large, exotic looking fruit. Rose was less certain. She ate an apple slowly and watched the Doctor carefully.

“I couldn’t,” he said. “These people worship Time Lord’s as living Gods. And I’m the last… so suddenly they are monotheists. But I can’t stay here to be worshipped. And yet I can’t just leave yet, either. Something is not right. Something feels wrong.” He took a sip from his wine goblet, but only because his mouth and throat felt oddly dry. He put it aside and lay back on the cushions, his eyes wide open but saying nothing.

“Feels ok to me.” Jack poured more wine for himself and relaxed.

“You’re not a Time Lord,” The Doctor said. “You’re not psychic, and you’re not feeling what I’m feeling right now.”

“What ARE you feeling?” Rose asked, surprised that she needed to. For a long time now she had become used to an awareness in the back of her mind, not so much of his thoughts, but certainly his mood. But now she could feel nothing.

“As if I am under a curse. Rose, do you know what the first part of my name means on Earth….”

“Christo….” She said, and though classical languages were not a strong feature of her education, it fell in place at once. “Oh…!”

“Exactly. And right now I feel like somebody is going to expect me to be crucified.”

Rose reached out and put her hand on his arm. He pressed his over hers and smiled. “I’m not sure what that makes you,” he said. “We’d best not push the metaphor too far.”

The door to the Great Hall opened, and The Doctor sat up as his adherents approached. He took another sip of the strong wine to allow himself to speak. He clutched Rose’s hand. “Sit beside me. I need you.”

Rose was surprised. He looked edgy and nervous as she had never seen him before. She wished she could do something to help but for the life of her she did not know what.

“My Lord.” The priest again knelt before The Doctor. Rose was startled when he also looked to her and addressed her as “Blessed Lady.”

“We bring the robes of honour for you and your consort. The people beseech that you would be present among them at our Daygone vigil.” Two girls who could only be described as handmaidens took Rose into an ante-room while the Doctor and Jack were similarly escorted by male attendants.

Rose looked at herself in the mirror one of the handmaidens held before her and had to admit the effect was a good one. She had been dressed – a strange experience in itself – in a long white gown made of some kind of fabric that seemed to mould itself to her body except where the skirt fell in soft flutes to her feet. The white was shot through with gold threads and it glittered beautifully. Her hair was fixed up and a strange high, stiff collar was fixed to the dress, an alien planet version of an Elizabethan ruff.

If she thought she looked good, she was nothing next to the Doctor when he appeared. His robes were gold, shot through with silver and the high collar looked as if it was actually made of solid gold. He looked even taller than he usually did. He smiled when he saw her and told her she looked beautiful.

“So do you. Am I allowed to hug you?”

“While my devotees aren’t looking,” he said, putting his arms about her. He kissed her on the forehead and then took her two hands in his. “This is all pretty long-winded and strange, but I think you might enjoy it.”

“Just tell me one thing,” she said. “What is a consort? If it’s anything like prostitute I’m getting back in the jeans.”

“It means… well… wife, basically.” He tried to find an explanation for the old-fashioned word that would not seem patronising and didactic. “The term is usually used for the spouse of a king who is not herself of royal blood and so cannot be called queen. The SangC’lune people are slightly psychic. That’s how they knew who I was. They picked up on the fact that you are special to me though not of my race. So… you are queen consort of a God.”

“My fourth year maths teacher said I would never amount to anything.”

“Well, seeing as I AM a God,” The Doctor said with a flashing grin. “I could probably have him disembowelled.”

Daygone was exactly what it sounded, sunset on SangC’lune. As it approached the people of the village gathered outside the Great Hall in anticipation. When The Doctor and Rose appeared, with Jack in the ruby red robes of an acolyte beside them, a great hush came over the audience. Rose felt like a queen as she and the Doctor were brought to what could only be described as a throne upon a raised dais. The entire village was knelt as The Doctor sat on the throne. He did not seem, Rose thought, to be revelling in it in any way, but was very slightly embarrassed. Even so, for the sake of these wonderful, gentle people he acted the part of living god to the full.

Rose and Jack, who didn’t have to worry about acting godlike, enjoyed the simple but moving ceremony to welcome and bless the coming night. As the sun went down the moons, which seemed in a stationary orbit, became brighter. The red one, especially, cast a fantastic glow upon the scene. It was all very strange, but at the same time wonderful and exciting, and utterly fantastic.

Rose had a sudden vision of a school dance when she was fifteen at which she had found herself alone while the boy she came with danced and flirted with every other girl in her class. She had sat in the cloakroom in the dark and cried, feeling small and ugly and unloved. She imagined the whole school suddenly appearing here now, in their disco clothes, to see her sitting there, dressed like a goddess, the consort of a GOD. She smiled at the idea, and the Doctor, who she suspected had read her thoughts, smiled even more broadly at her before giving his attention to the petitions of his worshippers who came forward to be blessed by him.

“Wow! that was something,” Rose said when they were alone again in the Great Hall, settling to sleep the night on beds of silk and satin cushions. Her handmaidens had made her ready for bed in a long satin nightgown that had caught the eye of both Jack and the Doctor. HE, she saw, had put his old clothes back on, but he was still no less the living God to the attendants before he gently persuaded them that they HAD no immediate needs and sent them on their way.

“Yes, it was,” he said. “And you WERE a beautiful consort.”

Jack was already settling down to sleep on one of the beds. Rose curled under the silken sheets of the other, larger bed, which was clearly intended for two – the Living God and his Consort.

“I think not,” The Doctor said to himself and quietly walked away.

Outside, the village was silent, the night cool under the two moons and a galaxy of stars. The Doctor sat down on the wooden veranda of the Great Hall and looked up at that night sky. He thought about the great expanse of pyramids down on the plain, the repositories of all those souls who died on Gallifrey when it burnt. His father had died that day. They had not even talked for decades, but before… at least he knew the old man was there. Now... one white pyramid left.

“Doctor.…” He felt Rose’s hand on his shoulder and looked up at her. She was wrapped in a silk sheet from the bed. “I wondered where you were. Do you want to be alone, or would you like some company.”

“Stay with me for a little while,” he said. She sat beside him, spreading the sheet around them both. He didn’t need it. He didn’t feel the cold the same way, but it was nice to be snuggled up to her beneath its covering. He put his arms about her waist and pulled her close to him.

“I was just sitting here thinking. Mostly sad thoughts, I’m afraid.”

“That’s bound to happen. This place… it’s like a big cemetery.”

“Yes.” He paused for a while before continuing. “I was thinking of my father. And… my son.”


“Parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children. He should be alive now. He should be with me.”

“What was his name?” Rose asked.

“My wife and I called him Christopher,” he said. “That’s what she wanted him to be called. But obviously he had a Gallifreyan name, too.”

“One of those strange, long ones like yours.”

“His was longer,” The Doctor said, glad of a way to talk about this without it being so personal and painful. “The tradition is that the name passes from father to son and a new part is added to it. About 10,000 years ago, I must have had an ancestor whose name was just simply Chrístõ. Lucky for him. The rest of us, generation by generation, collected all the baggage of mystical symbolism.”

“Which bit was added to make your name then?” Rose asked. She pressed the pendant around her neck carefully and the back opened on it. She extracted a strip of paper folded up many times and opened it out. “You told me to write it down. This is the best place I can think of to keep it.”

He looked at the name written on the piece of paper. It was strange how familiar and unfamiliar it was at the same time. It WAS his name. He knew it was. But nobody had ever spoken that name to him in tender tones of love. Julia had called him Chrístõ. His father… Maybe it was because his memories of his early life were so churned up and fragmented. But he couldn’t remember him EVER calling him by any name. It was always, “Son…” or “My Boy.”

“Cuimhne,” he said, placing the strip of paper back into the locket. “That was the suffix they added for me. It means remembrance. I think… it’s my part to remember what the Time Lord’s were.”

“That’s a big responsibility.”


“One day there will be no white pyramids at all,” Rose said. “When you….”

“Yes. Though if I look after myself and don’t do anything stupid with my remaining lives it could be a thousand years or more yet.”

“You can live that long?

“I’m not far off a thousand years now. And that’s just middle aged.”

“Even if I live to 100 I’ll be dead long before you are,” Rose said. “That’s… ODD.”

“You’ll live in my hearts, Rose,” he promised. “If I forget anything, I shall never forget you.” And he meant it. But when she had said that, the thought of living another millennium alone with just memories to console him didn’t feel worth it.

“Don’t cry,” she said and reached to brush a tear from his eye. He didn’t even realise he was. “I don’t think the locals would be happy to see their God crying.”

“Those people,” he said. “What we’ve done to them is so wrong. The Time Lords. We’re not Gods. We’ve lied to them.”

“They seem happy.”

“Yes, and I’m thankful for that. But if I chose, If I was a different man, I could so hurt them. I could subject them to torture – living sacrifices, goodness knows. There was another rogue Time Lord once… like me… but evil. The Master. If HE had been the only Time Lord left these people would be slaves and worse. And what WILL happen to them when I am no more and the last pyramid is black? False gods…. I hate them. And I hate BEING one. But I have no choice. I can’t let them down.”

“The Master is dead?” Rose asked. There was something in his voice that told her this was somebody to be reckoned with. Had her fearless Doctor feared that man?

“Oh, yes, he is dead,” The Doctor said. “Completely. He used all his lives, tried to steal mine, and ended up being eaten by the TARDIS’s Eye of Harmony. I suppose he HAS a pyramid. I don’t intend to look for it. He’s one problem I don’t have. And he can stay that way.”

“I thought your people were just pedantic and stuffy. I didn’t think there was any evil in them.”

“We have our bad apples, too. As far as the High Council was concerned I was just as bad as him anyway.”

“Why? What did you do?”

“I refused to sit back and let the innocent suffer from the evil of this universe. We were the most powerful race in the universe, but we would not use that power for good. We just OBSERVED. I took Susan and we left Gallifrey for good and set out to try to make a difference. But I was deemed to be a criminal on my home world. Disowned by my family. And… when they caught up with me… I was tried by the High Council and convicted of a capital crime. I was treated leniently… they only took ONE of my lives and banished me to Earth in the 1970s. And don’t you dare tell me that was a fate worse than death.”

“I wasn’t going to,” Rose said. “I was just wondering what my mum would say if she knew you had a criminal record.”

“Let’s not go there.” He smiled at the thought of Jackie Tyler processing this information. “Being ‘executed’ was bad enough. Incurring the wrath of your mum as well.…”

“It seems a sad kind of life.” Rose thought over what he had told her. “Lonely most of the time. And too many things to think about.”

“That’s why the pyramids are there. They… my other selves… share the burden. They hold onto some of the memories of nearly 1,000 years of life, and they take some of the weight off me.”

“Well… are they on strike or something?” Rose asked. “Because I’ve never known anyone so burdened with cares as you.”

The Doctor smiled at her so Human way of putting it, but at the same time….

That’s not as daft as it sounds,” he said. “It might explain why I’ve felt so wrong since we got here. I should have been able to feel them, but there’s nothing there. No connection between us.”

“You’ll sort it out. You always do.”

“Oh, Rose!” He felt his spirits warmed by her belief in him. “You have such faith in me. You don’t doubt I’ll solve the mystery, defeat the alien entity… save the day, save the universe.”

“It’s what you do.”

“And you… you keep me sane.” He had said that before, but it was no less true the second time. “I will go to the pyramid when the sun comes up in the morning.”

But tonight, he added to himself, let me just sit here under the blood moon and hold the woman I love. He felt her mind drift as she fell asleep in his embrace. He caught a thought he wasn’t meant to read. Just being held by him, she had thought, being near him, was better than ‘the real thing’ – her own mental euphemism – with any of the men she had known before. He caught a flash of memory of one of those men and decided he was going to teach that one what pain was next time they were on Earth. Then her thoughts came back to him. Yes, he thought in reply to the question in her head, I COULD make you forget all of them – yes, even Mickey. But you know I won’t, Rose. I can’t. This is as good as it gets for both of us.

He didn’t exactly sleep, but sitting there, with Rose in his arms, he was blissfully unaware of the passage of time until the sky started to lighten and the sun rose. When the first rays hit the white pyramid, it split into dozens of reflected rays, one of which, even from such a distance. bathed them with golden light.

“I don’t believe in omens – good or bad,” he told the empty air, but it was at least a signal that it was time. He stood up, a little stiffly, taking off his jacket to lay under Rose’s head as he laid her on the boards and pulled the sheet around her. He bent and kissed her and then he set off on his lone quest to find himself.

A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so. He wondered why that phrase came into his mind as he walked. He had told somebody that, hundreds of years ago, four or five incarnations back. He couldn’t exactly place which one. It was the fundamental truth about him, though, and it was central to this feeling that something was not right here. It wasn’t that he had forgotten anything, at least as far as he knew. How would he know if he had? But the memories seemed out of sympathy with each other. There were too many negative ones, for one thing. Where were his happy thoughts? He laughed as he recalled the literary reference. Peter Pan needed a happy thought to fly. And maybe he did, too, at least metaphorically.

WHEN in his life had he ever been truly happy?

When he married Julia, an inner voice told him. A distant memory brought a smile to his lips for a fraction of a second. No more than that, for the beautiful day was marred by the bitter memories of her death. Equally, the thought of the day he first held his newborn son in his arms was followed by the memory of the day his world finally crumbled to dust when his own father had been the one to break the news to him. Christopher, and his wife, both killed by a sub-atomic explosion that ripped their bodies into the smallest particles and prevented any possibility of regeneration. He had never taken the smallest satisfaction in seeing their killer placed in the execution chamber. Only absolute evil deserved such a fate. The man had been driven by greed, jealousy, petty political ambition, but not evil. And he just saw that as another waste.

And since then, centuries of wandering, a few triumphs, some good friendships, but none that lasted. Everyone he had come to know left him sooner or later. He had almost given up the fight the last time. It was not through his own choice he survived where so many others died. The TARDIS had saved him. He only vaguely knew how. He had been affected by the radiation of the dying solar system. Regeneration had been inevitable. But he had been too grief stricken to initiate it for himself. He had set the TARDIS on autopilot and put his dying body into stasis. For forty years as Rose would measure time the TARDIS travelled in a temporal orbit around that black hole that remained where the constellation of Kasterborus once was, never close enough to be sucked in, nor far enough away to leave it. His half dead mind had bitterly marked the passage of time. Then a signal had reached him – from Earth - the only other planet he could call home. The TARDIS had completed the regeneration and landed him in London, in March 2005, on top of a Nestene invasion. And whether the TARDIS planned that too, he was not sure, but he found Rose, the one person who had made it worth trying again. She gave him her loyalty, her faith, her LOVE. She had driven the suicidal thoughts out of his mind and made him WANT to live, to fight, to survive, to WIN.

But even her love had been a source of anguish for him as he found out how hard it was to go back to ‘domestic’. There just weren’t enough quiet, sweet, uncomplicated nights like last night. And the dark voice of his own head told him that she, too, would leave him one day, though his better angels did their best to shout that one down.

Rose woke stiffly and wondered at first WHY she was sleeping on a wooden doorstep when she could have been in a luxurious bed. Then she remembered being with The Doctor. She sat up and touched the ‘pillow’ he had left for her head, his leather jacket that she so rarely saw him without. As she picked it up, she became aware of Jack, standing over her. It had been him, shaking her, that woke her.

“He’s gone to the pyramid,” she said in answer to the question he had not asked yet.

“We’d better get after him,” Jack said. “I’m not sure it’s entirely safe there.”

Rose wasn’t sure what either of them could do if Jack was right. But she was not going to let The Doctor face anything alone if she COULD be with him.

Jack again found himself thinking, as they walked along, that her love for The Doctor was so blindingly obvious to anyone. HE was carrying Rose’s coat. SHE was wearing The Doctor’s leather jacket, which must have been about three sizes too big for her. She folded it around herself as a sort of security blanket, a tangible connection with HIM as they trekked through the silence of the new dawn towards the pyramid city.

The Doctor stood before the pyramid and looked at the symbols of family and home. For so many years both had been taken from him. Services rendered had seen him, in the fullness of time, restored to a position of honour among his people. But now they were all gone. The only people who honoured him now were those simple people in the village here. They were practically the only people in the universe that really knew what he was, what a Time Lord actually was. And even they had got it wrong.

He reached into his pocket and took out the TARDIS key. He glanced at the fob with its symbolic representation of Kasterborous and looked at the representation on the door. He pressed the key against the centre star, the one around which his home planet once orbited. There was a faint sound and the door opened.

He stepped inside.

The door closed behind him. That was not surprising, but it was still unnerving. He was part of it now whether he liked it or not.

The pyramid was bigger on the inside, of course. Why would that surprise anyone who knew the Time Lords? It was a hall of mirrors with crystal glass reflecting images all around him. It was a shock to him to realise that although all of the images were familiar to him none of them actually were his face - at least not the one he currently had.

“I swear.…” the reflections all spoke at once, and he knew what they wanted from him. He spoke the words with them. The oath of allegiance to Gallifrey and its law. The oath he had taken seven hundred and fifty years ago when he graduated from the Academy.

“I swear to protect the ancient law of Gallifrey, with all my might and main, and will to the end of my days, with justice and honour, tender my actions and my thoughts.”

He had believed the words then. But somewhere along the line he had lost faith.

“A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so.” The words he had thought to himself earlier were spoken aloud now by one of his incarnations.

“Remember how we died.”

“No,” The Doctor protested. “That’s too much.” He had known that entering the pyramid would require some ordeal of proof of his worth but using his hardest and most painful memories against him was just not fair.

“Remember…” the voice insisted. And he felt suddenly weak and sick, his body contaminated beyond what even Time Lords can take by radioactive energy. That had been the way his first and oldest body had died. Then as that sensation passed he felt his very being torn apart as his next body was subjected to a Time Lord execution that he thought they had made deliberately as painful as possible.

What came next? He tried to fix on it before it came, to be prepared. Radiation again, breaking down his body at a cellular level. But that was possibly not as bad as the next sensation.

His fourth body had died in a ghastly fall from a fatal height. He felt his skull crack and his brain turn to pulp, his vertebrae shatter and his ribcage splinter, piercing his hearts and lungs. The minutes he had clung to that life before regeneration were indescribably painful.

His fifth incarnation had been poisoned, along with his companion, and he had given her the antidote and given himself up to the inevitable. The sixth… he wasn’t even sure what had killed him, but he felt the pain in every fibre of his being. And that had hardly passed when he felt himself riddled with bullets, the death of his seventh life.

As for the eighth….

“No!” he cried out. “You won’t make me relive that… I do that often enough to myself. Now… acknowledge me. I am The Doctor… You… all of you… are a part of me… and I am one with you.”

“So acknowledged,” eight voices said at once, and his former selves stepped forward from the shadows and reflections. The Doctor looked at the ghosts of his other lives – the essences of himself, all different and all a facet of himself, a part of his character and personality, each of them with their experiences, their memories. All eight of them were in his head. He had eight separate memories along with his own and the combined regrets, guilt, sorrow of them all. And all of it weighed on him like a great, dark, oppressive mass.

“What was that all about?” he yelled at them. Even though his ordeal must have been some kind of illusion it still left him feeling physically hurt and sick and he felt a deep resentment of the mind that had devised such a torture.

And the possibility it was his own did not make him feel any better.

“A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so.” He heard the phrase again.

“Ok. You’ve proved that.”

“WE have proved it,” his eldest self told him. “You are one with us.”

“Tis conversation is going round in circles. And it always will,” he said. “I didn’t want to be here. I don’t want to talk to myself. But I am here to ask my former selves such questions and seek such answers as will restore the natural balance of our lives. So I ask, WHY are my memories so sad? Didn’t we ever have any good times? Why can I only feel the pain? I must have been happy at some time in nine hundred and fifty years. I KNOW I have been happy. But something is stopping me from remembering anything but the pain.”

“You feel the pain because we ARE in pain.” The old man said, speaking for his younger selves.

“How can I ease your pain?”

“We need to be released.”

“How?” The Doctor asked. He felt his soul being torn nine ways. The oppressive feeling was so strong it sapped him physically. He found himself on his knees. He felt hot burning tears falling down his cheeks.

“Tell me,” the eight said at once, the combined voice booming around the pyramid, bouncing off the walls and filling his already over-burdened brain.

“Who am I?” The old man asked.

“Who am I?” asked the clown.

“Who am I?” the dandy demanded of him.

“Who am I?” asked the Bohemian.

“Who am I?” asked the young man in the cricket whites.

“Who am I?” asked the one he knew least of all.

“Who am I?” asked the professor.

“Who am I?” asked the new Romantic.

“WHO AM I?” The combined voice again echoed through the hall. The Doctor looked up at his other selves and his head suddenly felt clear.

“That’s all?” he said. “That’s all you need? That’s all WE need?” Slowly he stood up, feeling the pressure against him, but standing up straight. He raised his arms, spread his fingers, lifted his head high. He smiled widely.

“I AM Chrístõdavõreendiamòndhærtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow.” He cried out at the top of his voice. The syllables bounced off the walls, echoing and re-echoing and amplifying rather than fading away.

And then, for a moment, there was a silence that seemed as deafening as the noise.

A bright pillar of light appeared in the centre of the pyramid, beneath the apex. One by one, from the oldest to youngest, his other selves stepped into the light, glowing for a moment then becoming part of it. Finally, he was alone, and he knew what he had to do.

He stepped into the light. He wasn’t sure what he expected; searing pain would have been his first guess. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. It felt like an invigorating shower washing away the burdens of a life that had lasted nearly a millennium. The sorrows, regrets, the guilt, were still there, but the joys, the sweet moments, the triumphs, seemed augmented. He felt a euphoria such as he could never remember feeling in his long, often weary life. Even when it was over he still felt the joy of being alive deep in his soul.

“Thank you,” he called out to the silent, empty chamber. Behind him, there was a soft noise and he knew the door was open again. He turned and walked out into the bright warmth of the SangC’lune sunshine.

“Doctor….” As he emerged Rose ran towards him. He reached out and caught her in his arms, lifting her off her feet in sheer joy. He held her close to him, enjoying her nearness as one of the simple pleasures he knew he had no need to have regrets about. “Are you all right?” she asked, but the question was redundant. Of course he was. In fact….

He reached into himself and realised that his mental state was not the only part of him that had been renewed.

“My hearts are restored,” he said. Rose put her hand on his chest and she knew he was right. She could feel the double hearts beating in time together.

“That’s great.”

“It’s absolutely Fan…tastic,” The Doctor said. “Life is fantastic.” He walked with her to where Jack stood watching them. He put his arm about Jack’s shoulders, too. “Don’t get the wrong idea. Rose is my girl and I don’t need a man in my life, but it’s good to see you, Jack.”

“Good to see you, too, Doctor.” Jack wasn’t sure what had happened inside the pyramid, but the Doctor looked like a man who had laid some ghosts to rest. “Back to the TARDIS?” he asked.

“Not yet,” The Doctor said. “This is the closest I have to home – not counting Jackie’s flat. I’d like to spend a few days here. I need to give the SangC’lunes a bit of my time. I AM supposed to be their God. At least I might be able to teach them not to rely on me and not feel as if their world is at an end if I am not able to return to them. After that, though, time and space are our playthings - as long as we promise not to break them. And after all, that’s not a bad life, is it?”