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

As they journeyed on towards their next destination in time they all changed into ordinary clothes and The Doctor vowed that was the last period costume he was going to wear for a LONG time. The next destination black leather would have to do.

Rose, who was still mourning the beautiful white dress with the pearls that she had left behind, teased him with how lovely he looked in tights. He responded by chasing her around the console and tickling her when he caught her. She shrieked with laughter and his eyes were bright with the simple fun, but then his gaze fell upon his great-grandchildren, sitting quietly on the White House sofa. Chris had his legs hunched up under his chin and his arms folded over them as he stared dully at nothing. Davie was cross legged watching him. The Doctor looked silently for a long minute then he went to them. He sat down and pulled Chris onto his knee.

“What’s wrong, son?” he asked, and Chris dissolved into tears. The Doctor hugged him tightly and looked at his twin quizzically.

“It’s about that man. The one we helped escape. Chris is feeling rotten because he’s going to die horribly anyway in another ten years.”

“I should have realised,” The Doctor said. “My boy, what can I tell you?” He looked and saw that Chris was still wearing the silver crucifix the seminarian had given him, now outside his clothes. “You have every right to wear that, and to be proud. You helped that man – not only by helping him escape, but in the little act of kindness you did, unbidden, when you first saw him. You boys were both very brave and you did right. In that instance we HAD to intervene. But Chris, we CAN’T prevent his eventual execution. That IS his destiny. We can’t alter that. He was a brave man who lived with the threat of death every day. I am sure he faced his execution just as courageously. But it is not something we can change.”

“It’s not fair. He was a good man.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “So was Rose’s dad, and he died, and we couldn’t stop it. And she cried like this, too.” He looked at Rose, who bit her lip at the reminder of the painful time when she HAD tried to save her dad and nearly caused the end of all life on Earth. “That’s the penalty of our way of life, Chris. Having to stand by sometimes and accept the inevitable.”

“But how do we know?” Davie asked. “How did we know it was all right to save him today but not in ten years?”

“Experience and sound judgement,” The Doctor said. “And you’ll learn that, in time. I’ll help you to learn some of it. The rest you’ll learn yourselves the hard way, by making mistakes. Hopefully mistakes you can put right – but sometimes they can’t be and they will weigh on your consciences and cause you pain. This wasn’t one of them. We did the right thing. Don’t be sad about it.”

“Have you made mistakes, Granddad?” Davie asked.

“Yes, yes I have. And I HAVE felt guilty for them.”

“The Gelth,” Rose said quietly. “Gwyneth….”

“Yes, that was one time,” he said. “I was taken in by creatures who claimed to want my help. But they deceived me, and an innocent girl died. Rose and I will never forget her. I may forget some of my triumphs, but my failures burn in my hearts forever. And all I can promise you, my boys, is that you will make the same mistakes if you follow in my footsteps. Sometimes your hearts will burn in pain. But sometimes you will be able to make differences - small ones like you did today – or large ones like when your dad and his comrades rid the Earth of Daleks – with a LITTLE help from me. We live to make those differences for the good. And that’s why we keep doing it. But sometimes there IS pain involved - and guilt, and sorrow. And I would be lying if I said otherwise.”

“I wish I knew his name,” Chris said touching the crucifix.

“You don’t need to know,” The Doctor assured him. “You knew he was a good man.”

“I knew your granddad was a good man, long before I knew his name.” Rose said with a smile. “And I knew I loved him. He doesn’t even let me CALL him by his name.”

“Why not?” Chris asked him. “Are you ashamed of your name?”

“Certainly not,” he said. “It’s just such a nuisance to spell.”

Chris laughed at that. The Doctor wiped the last tears from his eyes and hugged him. “Just be glad you both have nice simple names that are easy to write down.”

“We have Gallifreyan names too,” Davie said. “Mum taught them to us when we were little and swore us never to tell anyone at school.”

“She did?”

“Yes,” Chris said. “I’m Chrístõdavõreendiam?ndh?rtmallõupdracœfire-delunmiancuimhnemilágrolúzio de Lœngbærrow-Campbell.”

“And I’m Davõreenchrístõdiam?ndh?rtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne-milágrodánte de Lœngbærrow-Campbell.” Davie recited.

“She carried on the tradition,” The Doctor said, his eyes shining. “She DOES remember. Luzio… Chris, she called you her light – Luzio is Italian for the light. And Dante… means steadfast. Susan was always such a romantic. Bless her.”

“She named them both after you,” Rose said.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “In her way she did. David is the closest English equivalent of Davõreen, and Christopher is close enough to Chrístõ. But I think it’s better if the world at large thinks Davie is named after his dad and Chris after my son – his grandfather. I think the way David feels at the moment we’re not going to leave him out of the loop. But… between us… I am so glad your mum remembered the tradition. You really ARE my heirs.”

“Doctor!” Rose screamed as the TARDIS suddenly lurched and dropped out of the time vortex. The next moment they were materialising. The Doctor ran to the console.

“We should still be an hour away from landing. We’ve come out somewhere completely at random. I HATE it when this happens. We could be anywhere.” He checked the database. “And of course when we land somewhere unscheduled you can ALWAYS guarantee that the buffer sheds the memory before it permanently records the coordinate. So I can’t use it to re-plot our true destination.”

All of that technical detail went right over Rose’s head. Her question was, as always, “Where are we? And when.”

“Oh!” The Doctor groaned. “THAT year again. And WHY is it that the TARDIS always manages to wind up in the worst possible place for any given time? We could have landed on July first, 1916, in Euston Station at rush hour. But that peculiar version of sods law that our TARDIS works by dictated we’d be in no-man’s-land in the battle of the Somme. And guess what would be the worst place in the universe to land on Wednesday, April twenty-sixth, 1916!”

“I have no idea,” Rose admitted, smiling at his way of putting things even though she guessed they were somewhere bad.

“Not your fault,” The Doctor said. “This is one of the big holes in the education system of your country. They teach you all the details about embarrassing male attire of the fifteen-nineties but they never teach you about important events that impacted on the entire century you come from. For the record, we are in Ireland, specifically Dublin, and very specifically, on the second floor of the General Post Office, which is currently occupied by a small band of Irish insurgents fighting for the independence of their country against artillery bombardment from the British army at the other end of the street.”

“Oh.” Rose said. She looked at the viewscreen but all she could see was a dimly lit office and a high window looking out on a square of sky. “So… who are the good guys in that? And whose side are we on?”

“Very good question,” The Doctor mused. “Most of the time I’ve spent on Earth I’ve lived in England. I suppose if I HAD a nationality it would be British. I have worked closely with the British military through U.N.I.T. for a long time and have a lot of respect for them. But… right here and now, I’m with the rebels. They had an honest belief in what they were doing and it is one of history’s great tragedies that they failed. It is also one of those occasions I WISH I could do something to help.” He looked at the boys as he said that. “But there really are some events that you CAN’T interfere in. This is one of them. Even though changing things now would make for a much more peaceful century for this country, and for yours, Rose, and though I have often been tempted to do SOMETHING, I really CAN’T.”

“So what are we going to do?” Rose asked. “Are we getting out of here?”

“Yes,” he said. “Soon. Call me stupid and sentimental, but I have a friend who was in the thick of this battle, and I would really like to talk to him. This is no place for any of you. Susan would KILL me if I deliberately took you boys into a war zone and Rose, it wouldn’t be my first choice of a romantic interlude with you, either. So please… for once in your lives, STAY here. I am going out for maybe half an hour at the most. Then I’ll be back and we can go find a warm beach someplace where they serve drinks with umbrellas in.”

He kissed Rose quickly on the cheek and slipped out of the door. She looked at the closed door and wondered if she ought to be annoyed at him for leaving her behind. It did SOUND dangerous, and yet what he had described sounded so interesting.

The Doctor stepped out of the room and was met on the stairwell beyond by a startled young man who appeared to be on sentry duty. The sentry spoke to him in what he recognised as rather halting Irish, the equivalent in that language of “Who goes there, friend or foe?” The Doctor replied in a much more confident tone in the same language – his five billion languages included every one that was spoken on Earth. When he reverted to English, having exhausted all the Irish the sentry knew, he had a passable local accent. Sounding like he came from Manchester was not a good idea right now.

“Well, if you’re a friend of the General’s, you’d better come with me,” the sentry said, and they began to descend the stairs. They had gone down one flight when there was a devastating noise and the floor beneath their feet, the ceiling above, and even the walls around them, shook.

The Doctor knew what it was straight away. An artillery shell had crashed through the roof of the building – right over where the TARDIS was.

He ran back up the stairs and through the door to the office they had materialised in. He just managed to stop himself falling down the gaping hole where the floor used to be. He knelt over the wreckage and right down to the basement through the wreckage. The TARDIS was NOT there. It must have dematerialised accidentally when it was hit.

“Rose!” He screamed out loud as fear and grief overwhelmed him. And too late realised that was a big mistake. The roof and ceiling above were badly damaged and the sound of his scream was all it took to cause a secondary fall of masonry. The last thing he knew as he was knocked unconscious was the young sentry pulling him back through the door.

Rose picked herself up from the floor and put her hand up to her bruised forehead. She looked around. “Boys… are you all right?” Davie stood up dizzily.

“I am, but I think Chris is hurt.” Rose forgot her own sore head as she ran to the child. He was slumped on the floor. She remembered the shocking crash that had sent them all flying. Chris had been pitched across the drive console in the same way they showed people thrown over car bonnets in those shock tactic road accident adverts. To her relief, he was not badly injured. Those images that flashed into her head had made her think the worst. Even as she held him in her arms he started to come round.

“I can’t find granddad,” he murmured as he opened his eyes and clung to Rose.

“He’s not here,” Rose told him. “He went outside. He’ll be back soon.”

“No… no he won’t,” Davie gasped looking at the viewscreen. Rose looked up and her heart dropped to her stomach. They were in the time vortex. When Chris fell across the console the TARDIS must have dematerialised and now they were….

“Granddad!” Chris cried out and clung to Rose even more tightly. “Granddad, where ARE you?”

“He’s where we were,” Rose told him soothingly. “I’m sure he’s fine. We just need to work out how to get back to him.”

“You don’t understand,” Davie told her. “What Chris means… he can’t FIND him. Neither can I. We… we can’t find him in our minds.”

“Oh!” Rose’s heart felt as if it had turned to lead as she realised the implications of what he had said. The Doctor and the boys could make mental contact with each other through light years of space and thousands of years of time. Since they had been travelling together, they had been almost continuously linked together, sharing their thoughts. If the link was broken - if they couldn’t reach him - he was either dead or so badly hurt that it didn’t bear thinking about.

She stood up, leaving Davie to comfort his brother. She went to the console and tried to make sense of it. The screen that usually gave their time and place was just streaming out figures. The wheel that turned to determine how far into time to take them was spinning on its own. Rose put her hand on it to slow it as she had seen The Doctor do many times. It grazed her hand, it was going so fast, but she felt it slowing. And as it did, so did the figures on the screen, which she realised now were not random, but were dates running backwards. She increased the pressure on the wheel and it finally slowed to a stop.

She looked at the final date. April twenty-third, 1014. They had moved nine hundred years and three days backwards in time from where they had started.

“Well, it’s a date,” she said looking up at the reassuring sight of the Earth from space. They had come out of the vortex into orbit around it. And she KNEW how to land the TARDIS. He let her do it often. She pushed the sliding lever and held it while turning the switch 180 degrees clockwise and held on as she felt the TARDIS’s engines change in tempo. The materialisation sound was the most welcome noise she could imagine.

She switched on the viewscreen and stared in horror as a Viking warrior had his head slashed from his body by a man wielding a huge sword. She ran to the console again and put them back into temporal orbit. The only place she and The Doctor had EVER had a moment’s peace and quiet.

“April twenty-third, 1014 was the Battle of Clontarf,” Davie told her.

“Where the bloody hell is Clontarf?” she asked.

“Dublin… about ten miles from where we were before,” the boy replied. “We’ve done loads of Earth history with granddad. Way more than we learnt at school.”

“Was there a year when there wasn’t a war going on in Ireland?” Rose asked. “Never mind, don’t answer that. Just… tell me what to do. I know you’re only ten, but he taught you loads of stuff about thermodynamics and temporal physics and… and I don’t know any of that stuff.”

She sank down on the floor, crying. She was worried for them. She was desperately worried for The Doctor. She had never been apart from him like this since they first met. Even when they had been separated they were usually on the same planet in the same time zone. Her heart and head ached for him. She needed him so much to be her reassurance, her constant. She didn’t know what to do without him.

“Don’t give up, Rose,” Davie said, touching her hand. She looked up into the ten year old boy’s dark brown eyes. They talked so much older than their years because of the things they had learnt from The Doctor. Chris, though he still looked pale, came to her as well. They both hugged her. She was so glad they were there. If she’d been alone, she didn’t know what she could do. She still didn’t know what to do, but she knew Davie was right. They couldn’t give up.

“We don’t know how to fly the TARDIS,” Chris said. “Granddad was going to teach us that next. But we’ll try to help.”

“We have to get back to him.” Rose stood up and went to the computer console. Even in temporal orbit it was connected to the internet. She keyed in the handful of knowledge she knew about the events in Dublin he had told her about before he left the TARDIS. She found thousands of sites. They might not teach about it in British schools, but it was something people had been writing about for decades. And it didn’t take long before she knew how desperate HIS situation was.

The Doctor woke slowly and painfully and focussed on the face of a man who looked anxiously down at him.

“You took a bad crack to the head,” the man said in a pleasant Irish accent. “But you’re going to be all right.”

“It doesn’t feel all right,” he said as he put his hand to his forehead. His head ached inside and out and he felt a little sick. “Rose…” he cried out.

“Who is Rose?” the man asked.

“She’s…” He paused. He wasn’t sure who she was, except that he could see her face in his mind and he knew she was special to him. So were the children whose faces came to his mind as well. “My wife, I think. She was with me… and the children. Then there was an explosion.”

“Well, they’re not here,” the man said. “You were alone. And…” He paused a moment. “I had somebody check out the damage the shell caused. There were no bodies in the wreckage.”

“Then where are they? And where am I?” He sat up and looked around, taking in the military uniforms and armed men at the windows of the large room he was in.

“Who are you?” the man asked him. “I had the vaguest notion I did know you at first, but now I’m not so sure. I… I thought you were a friend. I hope you are, because we have enough enemies out there.”

“I’m…” he paused for a moment and rubbed his brow. “I’m The Doctor.” That much he was sure of. That’s what Rose called him, though even in his dazed state he thought it was an odd thing for his wife to call him.

“Doctor?” the man looked at him then around at the rather pathetic field hospital where red cross nurses were tending other injured men. “We NEED a Doctor. Perhaps fate has done us ONE good turn this day. When you’re feeling better.…”

He sat up and looked around, too. Slowly his brain was piecing things together. He was starting to know WHERE he was at least. He looked at the man. He was about his own height and age, with dark hair and slate-grey eyes that were remarkably like his own. How did he know what colour his own eyes were? Perhaps some things you just know even when your brain has been scrambled. And though he didn’t quite know who he was he felt he actually was a kindred spirit with this man. He, too, when he saw that something was wrong, would try to right it.

“General Pearse…” A young soldier approached the man and gave him a piece of paper that he read quickly and wrote an instruction on the back before returning it.

“You’re Patrick Pearse, the leader of the Irish Volunteers. And yes, we have met before, a long time ago. I probably looked different.…” Why did he say that? He wasn’t sure. His memories didn’t seem to connect together. He felt as if he had more than one person’s memories in his head for one thing. And none of them seemed to go together with the other to make any kind of sense. “We WERE friends. I warned you about letting your passions get the better of you. I… I see you didn’t take my advice.”

Pearse looked at him and remembered, or thought he did, being given that advice by this man, many years ago. Yes, he did seem to look different, but…

“Power of Suggestion,” The Doctor thought, then wondered what that meant and why he had thought it.

“The Post Office burnt down two days after we were there…” Rose managed to say through the tight knot in her throat. “The rebels evacuated, but many of them were shot down in the race for safety.” She swallowed hard. “If we don’t get back to him, he could either be burnt or shot.”

“He’ll be all right,” Chris assured her. “Granddad is clever. He’ll work something out.”

“Can’t he use the TARDIS key to bring us back on remote autopilot?” Rose asked, suddenly thinking of the many times they had done that. “No, I suppose that only works when the TARDIS is on the same planet as him.”

“Rose,” Davie said. “Look at the computer.” She turned and where there had been web-pages before, it was blinking mauve and white and two files were displayed. One said “Rose’s home co-ordinates.” The other said “Susan’s home co-ordinates.” She clicked on the two files one by one. They were simple text files with a long co-ordinate in each one, that was all.

The TARDIS is telling us to go home,” Davie said. “It’s shown us how to get back to mum and dad and you how to get back to where you live. It thinks we should do that.”

“NO!” Rose screamed. “No, I won’t leave him.”

“He could be dead,” Davie told her. “He was outside when the explosion happened. He wasn’t protected.” The boy had tears in his eyes as he said that. The thought that his great-grandfather was dead hurt him deeply.

“He’s not dead.” The certainty in Chris’s voice as he spoke made Rose and his brother both look around at him. “He’s just… not himself.”

“You’ve made contact?” Of the two, though he loved them equally, and had no favourites, Chris had always seemed to be the one closest to The Doctor emotionally. If anyone COULD make contact with him, it was him. “What do you mean he’s not himself? Do you mean… Ooh! Tell me he hasn’t had to regenerate?”

“No. He’d still be the same inside his head. Its… He’s confused. He doesn’t know… He doesn’t seem to know I’m there, or that he can talk to me. But he’s thinking of us. And he is feeling bad. He doesn’t know where we are and he misses us.”

“I miss him,” Rose said. “Is there any way you can tell him that?”

Chris shook his head. “I’ve been trying but he can’t hear me.”

“Stay with him. Don’t let go.” Chris sat on the sofa. Mental connections were tiring. The Doctor always connected with the boys in deep meditation, so that his body was resting while he had the mental connection. But he must have been right about the boys having greater abilities than his own. Chris looked a little ‘spaced out’ – although that could have been from his fall – but otherwise he was wide awake and aware of his surroundings as well as trying to reach into his great grandfather’s thoughts and determine what was happening.

“If he’s not dead, then I’m not going to give up,” Rose said. “We know the date. We can programme the time co-ordinate. And surely the computer can get us a map of Dublin?”

The Doctor WAS thinking of them. Even though he still wasn’t entirely sure who they were. He pictured Rose. HIS Rose. That phrase came to mind. It was what he called her, though when he thought of her as his wife that did not seem to ring true. He knew he loved her. The choked up but strangely happy feeling in his chest when he thought of her told him that. But if she wasn’t his wife, then how did they have children? He had concentrated hard and knew the boys names now. Chris and Davie. They were named after him. That information puzzled him even more, because although he didn’t know what his own name was, he had the strangest feeling that it WASN’T either Christopher or David.

His immediate surroundings were less puzzling. He knew everything, including things that hadn’t happened yet. He looked at the men around him and knew which were going to survive, which were going to die in the battle, which were going to die against a prison wall in a volley of bullets as punishment for their rebellious actions. His eye fell on his friend, Pearse, and the man by his side as they stood at a table looking over maps of the city. When the Rising was over, Pearse would be one of the first to be court-martialled and executed. The man by his side, James Connolly, his second in command, would be one of the last. His execution had to be delayed because he was so badly injured. And even then they had to sit him in a chair in front of his executioners.

He saw all of that so clearly. It was a matter of historical record. It was unnerving to see them there, alive, and knowing their fate. He wondered about this power he seemed to have that let him know these things. Was it a gift or a curse?

He put it from his mind. His job in the here and now was to tend the wounded. He did it quickly and efficiently, doing all he could to ease the suffering of men with bullet wounds, cuts, burns, some serious, some fatal, some not so serious.

Even that puzzled him a little. Something told him that even though he was called DOCTOR – that was the only name he was sure DID belong to him - he was NOT a medical doctor.

And yet, he WAS. He knew exactly how to look after the patients in his care. The calm looks on their faces when he had tended to them told him he had done well. Most came to him screaming and hurt. Now, as an uneasy end came to the day, the darkness of the night turned to orange by fires that had broken out all over the city, most of his patients were stable. He was able to lie quietly on a pallet near them to rest. His aching body was resting at least, but his mind wouldn’t relax. He wasn’t sure it should. He was still so confused he wasn’t sure he would have any memories at all if he let go. And he didn’t want to lose those precious comforting memories of the people he loved. WHOEVER they were – whoever HE was.

Rose punched in the time co-ordinates for April twenty-sixth, 1916 on the navigation console. She added the nearest thing she could get to a space co-ordinate. A map reference for the building the TARDIS had materialised in – the General Post Office. She pressed the key that should make the TARDIS accept the co-ordinates and start the journey. Nothing happened. There weren’t enough figures in the co-ordinate. It needed more than a longitude and latitude from on the planet. It needed to know WHICH planet.

“Star maps,” Rose murmured. “This thing must have star maps.”

The rebellion was not going well. The Doctor knew that, not only from the strange foreknowledge he had that told him it would all be over by the weekend, but also from the anxious, strained faces of those around him as Thursday morning progressed. His job, though difficult, with very little in the way of medicines and equipment, and more and more patients to treat, was a lot less stressful than being the leader of this rebel army. He looked at Pearse and a memory came to him of meeting him years before, in a quieter place, and talking about poetry and literature. He was a teacher, and a writer. In a million years he wasn’t a soldier. But somewhere along the line he’d become one and he was ready to sacrifice his life for it.

I did the same, he thought to himself, and then wondered where the thought came from. When had he been a fighter? When had he fired a shot in anger? He just knew he had. He knew he had once been in a worse battle than this one, with even worse consequences, an even more dreadful failure than this rebellion was, and the memory of it, the memory he couldn’t even recall right now, was a burden he carried through his life.

Rose kicked the console in frustration. She just couldn’t get the TARDIS to accept any permutation of the co-ordinate that would get them back to where and when The Doctor was. She had tried for hour after hour. The boys had fallen asleep together on the sofa for a while, and Chris had woken in a panic, afraid he would have lost even the tentative mental link to his great-grandfather. When he tried, he quickly made contact, but the story was the same. He still seemed unaware of Chris’s presence, and seemed unsure of himself. But he seemed to be thinking of them all the same.

Rose puzzled over what Chris said. It sounded as if he was suffering from some kind of partial amnesia. That wouldn’t be anything new, from what he had told her of his life. Nine hundred and fifty years of being zapped by radiation and memory modifiers and x-rays and whatever, had wiped chunks of his memory anyway. But now, he really did seem as if he had lost it all. That was a frightening thought. The only comfort she could think of was those two files with the co-ordinates that would get them home. If he was that badly hurt, at least she could take him to Susan’s. They could look after him between them. The two of them would always love him even if he had forgotten that he loved them.

“He hasn’t forgotten us,” Chris assured her. “He just doesn’t know who we are. He knows he loves us though.”

“He thinks you’re his wife,” Davie told her. “He’s so mixed up, he thinks of you as his wife, and he thinks we’re his children.”

“If – WHEN - we get him back, he can think what he likes.” Rose kicked the panel again and the TARDIS responded with a slightly different glow to the central column. “Oh stop complaining,” she shouted at it. “And help us. YOU left him behind. SHOW us how to get back.”

Maybe it was coincidence, but the computer screen that she had put into standby suddenly turned on again and the co-ordinate for Susan's home blinked urgently. She stared at it.

“What?” she asked the console. “Is THAT a message? A clue? You can’t be telling me to give up. YOU need him as much as we do. He’s as much a part of you as he’s a part of us.”

“Rose.” Davie stepped beside her, slipping his hand in hers. “Mum knows about the TARDIS. She can help us.”

“What?” Rose stared at him, at Chris, then back at the console. “Is THAT what its trying to tell me? Was it that obvious?” Susan had told her ages ago that she grew up on board the TARDIS. She and The Doctor travelled in it for more than twelve Earth years. She must understand it better than anyone. And after all she WAS Gallifreyan. And she had HIS DNA. She ought to be able to operate it.

“She’s going to be so angry with him.”

“WHEN we get him back, she can be as angry as she wants,” Davie said.

Rose smiled at the way he had re-used her own words and punched in the co-ordinate for the carport at Susan’s house in 2208.

The day had got MUCH worse. They were under constant artillery attack, although, apparently, the Post Office itself was a harder target to hit than the buildings around it. Unless that was a deliberate tactic to wear the rebels down and force them to surrender. But they seemed to be made of sterner stuff than that and though faces were strained they didn’t even think of giving up yet.

The Doctor knew they would in a few more days.

The real blow was when Connolly was wounded. Just after midday he stumbled in, white-faced and clearly in pain from an ankle wound that, when The Doctor examined it, made him wonder how he could have walked at all. What he guessed was a ricochet bullet had shattered the ankle leaving fragments of bone inside the wound that would need micro-surgery to remove. In this place, and this time, it was impossible.

“No drugs,” Connolly told him as The Doctor began to prepare a morphine injection. “Don’t want the men to think I’m weak.”

“Don’t be daft,” he said. “You need a painkiller. It’s not strong. Just enough to dull the pain.”

“No. Besides, that stuff’s addictive.”

“You think you’re going to live long enough to get a habit?” The Doctor asked.

Connolly grinned.

“Maybe not. But even so….”

“Ok.” He put down the syringe and, looking around to see if anyone was watching, he put his hand on Connolly’s forehead. Concentrating hard he found his pain receptors and blocked them. “Is that better?”

“Good Lord! What did you do?” Connolly looked at The Doctor. “Nobody knows who you are, or where you’re from, but they all reckon you’re a miracle worker.”

“Maybe I am,” The Doctor said. He wasn’t sure how he’d done what he’d just done. He just knew he COULD get into people’s heads and stop their pain.

“You sound British….”

“No,” he said without even thinking. “I’m Gallifreyan.”

“Never heard of it. Where’s that? Sounds Greek or something.”

“Could be.” Again, the words had come from deep in his mind. They sounded right, though he did not know what they meant. “I’m a long way from home, a long way from everyone I love.”

“I can understand that. I can’t help wondering when I’ll see my wife and children again.” Connolly sighed. “But I don’t regret it. We did what we had to do. We had to make a stand.”

“Hold that thought,” The Doctor told him. “People will be saying otherwise for generations so be sure in your own mind that you believe it.”

“You’re a strange man, Doctor,” Connolly said. “Healing hands, and the gift of sight. There are those that say so anyway. I’m meant to be a hard-boiled socialist that doesn’t believe in anything. I’ll reserve judgement.”

“I believe Humanity is basically good and worth fighting for,” The Doctor said.

“I used to think that, until the war began and working men fought each other instead of the ones who are really to blame.”

“I just try to do what I can and not lose faith,” The Doctor answered. “One day, Humanity will work it out. That I do know.”

How he knew THAT, he didn’t know. He seemed to have some strange certainties in a head full of uncertainties.

The one thing he was most sure of was that at least three people in the universe loved him, and missed him and were hoping to see him again alive. They were a good reason to stay alive, at least.

It was almost a relief when the TARDIS materialised in the carport. Almost, because they still had to face Susan. Or rather, Rose did. The boys refused to leave the TARDIS.

“If we leave, mum will never let us in again,” Chris reasoned. “You have to go and fetch her in here.”

There was a certain logic in that, even if it was the logic of a ten year old. Rose told them to sit tight and DEFINITELY not to touch anything, and opened the TARDIS door. She stepped out and went to the door that led from the carport to the house. It was unlocked. She stepped inside. There was music playing – Cliff Richard. Rose smiled despite herself. She could hear somebody moving around.

“Susan,” she called as she moved through the house. “Susan, are you there?”

Susan was in the kitchen feeding the toddler, Sukie, in her high chair. When she saw Rose, on her own, and the look on her face, she knew at once something was wrong. Her face went white.

“The boys….”

“They’re ok,” Rose assured her. “They’re outside, in the TARDIS. But.…” She couldn’t quite suppress a sob as she told Susan that her grandfather was lost. Susan’s face turned even paler as Rose quickly explained the situation.

“He went out of the TARDIS and left you and the children on your own? The irresponsible idiot.”

“It wasn’t his fault,” Rose said. “We think he must be hurt. And we have to find him. There isn’t much time. He could be in real trouble.”

“But Rose… I don’t know much more about how to pilot the TARDIS than you do. You got it HERE! That’s further than I ever took it. Grandfather never let me do much more than ‘park’ it.”

“But you at least know what each of the bits are. I hardly understand any of it. There might be something you can do. Oh please, Susan, please. We need you.”

“I have Sukie to look after. And David will be home for dinner and.…” She stopped and looked at Rose. “Oh, what am I saying? I’m blathering about babies and cooking, and Grandfather could be dying.” She grabbed Sukie from the high chair. “Come on. I just hope we can get back before David gets home, or he will go spare. He is already annoyed at grandfather for giving the boys too many ideas.”

She swept through to the car port, Rose almost running to catch up. When she reached the TARDIS she stopped for a moment. “Going to YOUR house is the furthest I’ve been in the TARDIS for so many years. I’m almost afraid to.…” She touched the door frame and felt its vibration. “Oh, I am being silly. This IS my dear, beloved TARDIS.” She opened the door and stepped inside. “Though I don’t know WHAT he did to the interior.” She looked at the boys, sitting on the sofa and she ran to them, embracing them in her arms.

“We’re all right, mum,” the boys said. “But granddad.… You have to come back with us and get him.”

“I’m going to try,” she told them. “Here, look after your sister for me, and Rose and I will see what we can do.” She put Sukie on the sofa with them and she and Rose went to the console. “You know, it used to be easier to read than this. I honestly don’t KNOW what he’s done to it. But… well.…”

As Susan moved around the console, Rose couldn’t help thinking that she looked like The Doctor at work. She had the same apparently limitless energy about her.

“But I don’t know if I can do it, either,” she said as she took them into temporal orbit. “What you said - about the buffer - it shed the coordinates before they could be fixed. And we’ve no way of working it out. I could get us into the right time zone and at least in orbit around Earth, I think. But we couldn’t land the TARDIS even close to where grandfather is.”

“Let’s do that, at least,” Rose said. “At least that’s closer than we’ve got until now.”

“I don’t know what help it would be,” Susan sighed. But anyway….”

She set the coordinates.

Thursday night turned into Friday morning and The Doctor fell asleep. His patients were all quiet and he was able to lie down for a little while. He let his body relax. He tried to still his mind. He at least put as many thoughts out of his mind as he could. The only one he tried to hold onto was the image of his Rose. He tried to keep that one in the front of his mind. “Oh, Rose, my love,” he whispered. “Will I ever see you again? Where are you?” He closed his eyes and tried to imagine holding her in his arms. The images came easily. He knew he had held her countless times. She WAS HIS Rose. It wasn’t just wishful thinking, a fantasy of what might be. She WAS real. “My love…” he whispered as sleep came over him.

He woke suddenly, with sweat pouring from him and started up. He saw in the half light of a grey pre-dawn General Pearse standing over him, shaking him awake. “What.…”

“I thought I ought to wake you. You were so very agitated in your sleep… calling out strange, worrying things.”

“I had a nightmare,” he said, and he tried to remember what it was. “I… I have been in a war before this…. I was dreaming of what happened then….”

He had dreamt of the death of his home world, he remembered. He had seen his planet burn from a place of safety in space. He had watched an inferno engulf it in a matter of minutes, powerless to help. He had heard the screams of the dying. And those screams haunted him, would continue to haunt him until the day he died.

He had seen his planet burn….

He sat up suddenly and looked around. This was not his planet. The realisation was startling. He was an alien here. But he looked like everyone else, and none of them suspected. They must have accepted him among themselves. He must have made a new home here as a refugee from the holocaust. He wondered if he was the only one. Was SHE from there, too? From Gallifrey - his home world. Or was that a secret he guarded even from those he loved?

“We’re all very overwrought,” Pearse said, and he flinched, not realising he was still there beside him. “I don’t know what this day will bring.”

I do, he thought to himself. By this evening this building will be an inferno, too. We will have to evacuate, in the face of the enemy gun placements. And some won’t survive.

Did he deserve to ask the fates to let him survive again? He had been spared the last time. He couldn’t ask for a second miracle. The inferno or a hail of bullets - both terrible ways to die.

“Oh, my Rose,” he whispered, putting that beautiful vision in front of the sad, hurtful ones. “I want to live, to be with you again.”

“That’s as much as I can do,” Susan said. “We’re in orbit above Earth – on April twenty-eighth, 1916. Somewhere down there… he’s there… if he’s alive.…”

“He’s alive,” Chris said. “I can feel him.”

“Oh, Chris.” Susan looked at her son and felt so deeply for him. He was carrying an adult’s burden and it was only a few weeks since his tenth birthday. She went to him and gathered him in her arms. “Oh, my darling little boy,” she said. “Is there something of you left under all he has tried to teach you?”

“Mum,” Chris murmured, reaching his small arms to put about her neck. “Mum, I love you.”

“Oh, darling,” Susan said with a smile. “That’s HIM teaching you to say that, even. Ten year old boys are NEVER that sentimental. But it’s something. He hasn’t turned you both into cold hearted, logic thinking Time Lords with no feelings for anything or anybody.”

“Time Lords are not like that, really,” Davie said.

“Well, they always seemed it to me,” Susan answered. “They made him into such a bitter man who was so hard to love.”

“But you DID love him,” Rose said. “And you still do. And I… I love him too.” She looked at the viewscreen. It was already late afternoon in the British Isles. She could see by the way the shadow of the night travelled around the Earth. According to what she read, it was about dusk that the evacuation of the Post Office began. They had to get to him before then or they would not know where to find him at all, even if he survived the machine-guns.

The Doctor had less to do now. Mid-afternoon most of the injured men had been taken under a Red Cross flag and surrendered in order to allow them real medical aid. The only one who remained was Connolly, the second-in-command of the rebel army. The Doctor would have had him go too, but he refused. He wanted to see it through. The Doctor admired his courage, but he was powerless to treat his wound and the man was in such constant pain that even his special power to ease suffering was strained. The only consolation was in knowing that it would all be over tomorrow. The rebels would surrender on Saturday afternoon and he would get medical treatment – if only for a few days before he was court-martialled and executed.

The Doctor hated the death penalty. That was another thought that came unbidden and yet seemed to be true when he tested it. He wondered why it was that he was so set against it, even for his mortal enemies. He had a strong feeling he had seen at least one such enemy put to death and had not taken any pleasure from it. He also had the vaguest notion of being on the receiving end of such a punishment, but that made no sense since he was here, alive. Had he been falsely accused and reprieved before such a sentence? Why did his life present so many odd questions?

He knew for sure that there was no reprieve for Connolly, or for many others. They would all die within a very short time. He couldn’t change that. The thought made him angry and sad at the same time.

“I can feel him stronger here,” Chris said. “I think because we ARE in the same time, now. I can feel him.”

“Is he in danger?” Rose asked. “Is he afraid?”

“That proves nothing,” Susan said. “He’s never afraid EVEN when he is in danger.”

“Yes, he is,” Rose answered her. “He just never shows it.”

“He’s tired, and angry, and sad,” Chris told them. “And he feels there is nothing he can do about the fact that people are going to die.”

“He shouldn’t even be trying,” Rose said. “He told us this was one of those events that he couldn’t interfere with.”

“I’m trying to talk to him,” Chris continued. “I think he might be able to hear me, but he doesn’t seem to understand what it is. He thinks he’s just imagining things.”

“Oh, keep trying,” Rose told him. “Don’t give up on him. Not as long as he’s alive.”

“No,” Susan agreed. “Don’t give up. But Chris, don’t hurt yourself, either. Tell me if it’s too much.”

The decision had been taken. The Post Office was going to be evacuated. The upper floors were on fire already and it was only a matter of time. They were going to escape through a hole broken through from the back sorting office to the street beyond. They had to pass in front of a gun emplacement at the end of the street to get to safety, but the leaders had weighed up the risks. They were going to try.

The Doctor listened to their plans silently. He knew it would be dangerous. He knew which among the men there would die. He looked at them and knew, just as if it was tattooed on their foreheads. He could not look at them. He turned from where they were forming up into ranks to brave the onslaught and walked away. The building was going to be fully alight in another hour at the most. There was already smoke in the air. He slowed his breathing so that it didn’t affect him so much – and then wondered how he could do that.

He wondered, too, about the voices he seemed to be hearing. This was no time for hallucinations. Yet he couldn’t shake the child’s voice that kept calling him GRANDDAD.

He must be going mad. He wasn’t sure how old he was, but he couldn’t be more than forty-five. He was nobody’s grandfather. The voices made no sense.

The voices in his head were not making sense! He laughed. Since when did voices in people’s heads make sense? It was a sign that they were becoming unhinged. Why WOULD the voices make sense? He fought against it as he prepared to be among the last to evacuate the building. He had to have all his wits to survive this dangerous manoeuvre. He didn’t need his own head conspiring against him.

“Susan,” Rose turned to her as Chris sighed and shook his head. The Doctor was fighting him, instead of listening to him. “Susan, why don’t you do it? You’re Gallifreyan. And I know you CAN talk to him telepathically. You’ve done it before.”

“In the same ROOM,” Susan protested. “My telepathy is rudimentary. Grandfather is the only person I CAN talk to that way.”

“Distance doesn’t matter,” Davie said. “Mum, please try. Hold onto us, and we’ll help.” Davie put his hand in hers and she sat on the sofa with her two sons and the sleeping baby. They joined hands and connected first with each other. Rose watched them. She couldn’t hear their thoughts, but she COULD see their faces and she knew that a precious thing was happening between the three of them.

Then Susan tried to reach out to her grandfather.

“GRANDFATHER,” Susan called to him out loud and in her head. “Grandfather, can you hear me? Please answer me.”

“Granddad always says the signal is stronger if you just say it in your head,” Davie told her.

“I know,” Susan answered. “But I’ve never been able to do it… not over distances anyway. This is the only way I know how.”

“He heard you,” Chris said.

“What?” Susan looked at him.

“He heard you. But he didn’t understand.”

“Grandfather,” she said again. “It’s me, Susan…”

“He doesn’t understand,” Chris told her. “Because he doesn’t know he IS a grandfather. He doesn’t know who he is, or who you are.”

“He’s lost so much of himself?” Susan asked, biting her lip. Then she took a deep breath and used the same word that she had used once before to get his attention when he was not listening to her.

“Chrístõdavõreendiamondhaertmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow!” Susan screamed and even Rose felt the psychic resonance as she put every last ounce of her telepathic capabilities into the message.

“WHAT?” The Doctor jumped as he felt the message in his head. He stopped in his tracks and moved back from the broken wall. Nobody noticed he was no longer with the rearguard.

“That’s your name, stupid,” he felt the woman’s voice tell him, and he believed her. It was an outlandish idea, but it actually fitted. It felt right.

“Who are you?” he asked. “Where are you?”

“Never mind. Just… take your sonic screwdriver out of your pocket and tell me the co-ordinates for where you are.”

“My….WHAT?” His brow furrowed for a moment and then he did as she said. He didn’t consciously know WHAT he was doing but he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and took out the strange object that was there. He turned the interlocking rings to a setting he seemed to know without thinking. He held it up and looked into the tiny LED panel and read aloud the long number that it displayed.

“Ok,” the woman said. “Hang in there, we’re coming for you.” She paused. “Grandfather, just so you know, even though I am boiling mad at you for getting my children into danger, and for getting yourself into so much trouble and for dragging me out here to get you… I LOVE YOU.”

The voice stopped as suddenly as it had started and he felt strangely lonely afterwards. He looked around the empty room. The heat and smoke were becoming unbearable now. Nobody could survive here for very much longer. But he knew he couldn’t leave. “Hang in there,” she had said. “We’re coming for you.”

“Doctor!” he turned and saw Pearse coming back through the gap in the wall. “I came back to check everyone was away. What are you doing?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “But my destiny is different to yours. I’m not meant to be following you out there. You should go. You know as well as I do your fate is written. Maybe mine is, too. But not here.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I, but please go. Don’t worry about me. I’m going to be ok.”

Pearse looked at him and though he was NOT psychic The Doctor thought he understood for a moment more than he could begin to explain in mere words.

He grasped his hand firmly. “Goodbye, Doctor. I doubt either of us are fated to meet again.”

“No,” The Doctor sighed. “Goodbye.” Pearse left, gone to his short and very certain destiny. The Doctor stood there wondering about his. As he did, he heard a strange but even more strangely, a very familiar, noise and a breeze disturbed the smoke filled air. And then, to his amazement, he seemed to see two places at once. The sorting office of the General Post Office faded away to be replaced by a strange cavernous room lit by a green light from a central column that was moving up and down.

Before he could wonder about where he was, he found himself enfolded in the arms of the woman he had known all along as Rose. She kissed him frantically over and over and sobbed with joy. He was still confused but the one thing he did know was that he loved this woman, and he closed his arms around her and kissed her in return.

"Rose?" he whispered. "My Rose?"

"Yes, Doctor," she said. "My Doctor."

He saw another woman out of the corner of his eye; older, dark of hair and eye, pressing something on the strange contraption in the middle of the room. He felt the floor beneath him vibrate. He looked up at the viewscreen and saw the interior of the burning GPO disappear. Moments later, he was looking at Earth from orbit.

"Temporal orbit," he murmured. He wondered what that meant.

Then the woman came towards him. She pulled him from Rose's arms with a strength he would hardly expect from a woman and first slapped him hard across the face then put her arms around him and hugged him.

"Grandfather," she said tearfully. "Oh, my grandfather, I am so glad you're alive."

Grandfather? She was the one who had called him that. He looked at her. She was too old to be his grandchild, surely.


How old WAS he?

He looked around his TARDIS.


Yes. TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. HIS time and space travel ship that he had owned for over seven hundred years, that he had travelled the universe in, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, companions, family. He remembered travelling with Susan, his granddaughter, when she was younger than she was now, and HE looked much older.

"Susan.…" Suddenly he knew her. Suddenly he knew everything. More than everything. The whole of time and space, the knowledge of the universe came crowding into his head where it had always been. If he was not being hugged by two women at the same time he probably would have fallen down. The shock was overwhelming.

He knew WHO he was.

And who he was…

....was one of the most extraordinary beings in the universe.


...one of the most LOVED.

As the women both hugged him he was aware, too, of the boys. They were trying to reach him as well. He let the women go for a moment as he bent and embraced them. His GREAT-grandchildren, the heirs to all that fantastic knowledge and power his brain was buzzing with.

He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. The love emanating from them, overwhelming his telepathic senses, was enough.

"We're going home," Susan said firmly. She walked to the console. "We're ALL going home." The boys began to protest, but the look on her face silenced them. The Doctor also looked surprised at the way she had taken control of the TARDIS and of their lives, but Rose reclaimed him, putting her arms about his shoulders. He looked at her.

And nothing else mattered.

"We ARE home," he said, holding her so close their THREE hearts seemed as one. "The only home I know."