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

Susan had put all the children for an afternoon nap on the White House sofas and was piloting the TARDIS. Rose was looking after The Doctor, who she made lie down and rest on the bed she usually slept on. She refused to believe he was so completely recovered this soon after spending three full days with amnesia.

“I am all right,” he insisted. “I remember everything now. I don’t even have a headache.”

“Just relax for a little while,” Rose insisted even more firmly. She took his hand and kissed his fingers. “You might have a relapse.”

“I think you just want to get me into your bed,” he joked. He reached out his arms and pulled her close to him. “I NEVER forgot you, Rose. I didn’t even know who I WAS but I remembered you. I knew I loved you. I thought you were my wife. It’s… sort of disappointing to find that we’re not married.”

“Well, the fountain in Turin promised we would be one day,” she said.

“Yes, it did.” He kissed her again, glad of the chance to do so. He had missed her more than he thought in those strange days and wanted to make up for it. “One day. I promise it, too.”

“Grandfather,” Susan called to him with a note of anxiety in his voice. “I think there’s a problem….”

“Duty calls,” he said with a grin. Rose sighed and reluctantly let him up. It was good while it lasted, anyway.

“Well?” He bounded around the console to his granddaughter. “What’s wrong? I thought you knew the way home.”

“I thought I did. I put the same co-ordinate in that Rose used to get to my house. But we should have arrived an hour ago. And I don’t think now we’re even in the same space sector.”

“No, we’re not.” The Doctor glanced at the co-ordinates. “In fact, I think we’re utterly and spectacularly lost. Well done, Susan. So much for going home.” He swung her in his arms and kissed her.


“Sorry, but it’s so funny. Here’s the two of you treating me like I’m a geriatric who can’t be trusted and YOU get us lost.”

“It’s not funny, grandfather.” Susan actually was near to tears. “I wanted to get us all back home before David gets in from work.”

“Oh dear. Looks like his tea might be late.”

“For YOUR sake as well as anyone else,” she added. “Because if David finds out how much trouble you have had, he will ban you from going anywhere NEAR the boys, let alone taking them with you in the TARDIS.”

“I really do need to talk to David.”

“Well he won’t let you do that, either if we don’t get back, so for heaven sake sort it out.”

“Me?” he said. “Aren’t you the expert?”

“Oh, stop it!” She screamed at him and really did burst into tears. He looked at her for a moment then he put his arms around her and hugged her tight.

“All right, Susan,” he told her soothingly. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’ll get us all back. I promise. It just looks like we’re taking the scenic route like we used to do when you were a little girl. Don’t you remember the fun we had?”

“I remember being scared to death a lot of the time.”

“I remember you falling down and spraining your ankle half the time.”

“I remember knowing I’d be all right in the end as long as you were there.”

“I remember it all being worth the effort as long as I had you there, my Susan.”

“I remember loving you no matter what, grandfather. And I still do.”

“Oh, me too. I love you, my child.”

“It WAS fun,” she admitted. “But that was then. Now… I’ve got to think of my own children. I have to get home before my husband finds out that I’ve taken our baby into outer space.”

“It will all be fine in the end,” he promised kindly. “Really it will. My dear Susan, trust me, won’t you.”

“I do, Grandfather,” she said. “Really I do.”

“By the way, you two,” Rose interrupted the little interlude between them. “We’ve landed.”

“But where?” The Doctor asked.

“No idea,” Rose answered. “YOU TWO ARE THE EXPERTS!”

“Well, Susan, you know the routine… check the environmental controls for life-signs in the immediate vicinity, radiation levels… whether the atmosphere is breathable.”

“Are we going out there?” Susan asked, even though she instinctively moved to the environmental console and began checking the readings. “Wouldn’t we be better getting straight off and trying to get home?”

“This is a time machine, Susan. I could bring you back home ten minutes before you left if it didn’t cause a dangerous paradox. But here we are on a strange planet and don’t you feel the urge to explore?”

“No,” she answered. “I’m just wondering if I set the timer on the cooker before we came out.

“I do,” Rose said. “I’ve been stuck on the TARDIS for DAYS searching for you. I want to get out in the fresh air. Assuming it IS fresh.”

“Yes, it’s fresh,” Susan said. “It’s a perfect planet as far as we’re concerned. Perfectly clean air just as Humans and Gallifreyans like it. But….”

The Doctor had roused the boys from their nap and was picking up the baby. “Come on, Sukie, we’re going for a nice stroll. And since your mum didn’t bring your pushchair, I guess I’m going to have to carry you. So be a good girl for your old great-granddad.” Sukie replied with something that sounded like ‘gada’ which might have been her version of great-granddad or not. Anyway, he lifted her up, her head on his shoulder and his arm safely holding her. “Come on then, anyone who’s coming.”

It WAS a very lovely planet. The air smelt clean and pure. They came down a small hill to a river running through a wide valley, beyond which was a plain before low hills rose up on the horizon.

“It is an inhabited planet,” Rose said. “Or it was at some time.”

“How do you know?” Susan asked. The boys ran ahead of them, they, too, needing to stretch their legs after being stuck on board the TARDIS for so long.

“Because bridges don’t grow by accretion like stalagmites,” Rose said.

The Doctor smiled, not only at her assessment of the planet but her use of the word accretion, which he knew was not in her vocabulary before she came under his influence. She was learning things she would never get a chance to learn in that small life she used to live. And she didn’t even know it.

They came to the bridge presently. It carried a road across the river. The Doctor looked at it.

“This road hasn’t been maintained for many years. Nor has the bridge. It’s possible the planet is no longer inhabited.”

“Or they built a big dual carriageway in the next valley and nobody uses this road any more,” Rose suggested.

“That IS a possibility, too.” He smiled again. Of course she was always sharp. He had been impressed by that ever since he first heard her use the same kind of logic in that lift at Henricks. “Why should it be students?” he had asked her. And her reply, that only students would a) be that stupid and b) able to get that many people together to be stupid, while utterly wrong, was a good, logical answer to why there were living plastic shop dummies in the basement trying to kill her.

The raw material was always there. He had simply given her the opportunity to hone and polish it.

“It doesn’t seem like a place with a dual carriageway in it though,” Rose said after a few minutes. The air is TOO pure. Nothing with engines has been around here.”

“She’s right,” Susan said. “This is a non-industrial world.”

“You’re both pretty sharp today,” The Doctor said.

“Lucky for you we are,” Rose told him. “Or you’d be in REAL trouble.”

“Yes,” he admitted. “I would. And I haven’t said thank you properly yet.”

“The boys never gave up on you, either,” Rose added. “They were terrific. Chris kept trying to reach you with his mind all the time. Davie helped me to keep trying to find a way to get the TARDIS back to you. They were fantastic.”

“They’re my boys,” he smiled. “They’re going to be Time Lords in their own right when they’re old enough.”

“It scares us, you know,” Susan said. “David and me… The idea that they will be Time Lords. We never thought they were THAT much different from Human children.”

“Susan, YOU should have been a Time Lord, too. You should have had the training. If you had stayed with me instead of marrying David, you WOULD have.”

“Can girls be Time Lords?” Rose asked. The idea struck her as odd. “I always just thought that it was for men only. And anyway aren’t they called Time Ladies?”

“No. The females are called Time Lords too. Don’t ask why. It’s always been that way. I suppose because as well as being arrogant snobs we’re also basically misogynists.”

“Well… Does that mean Sukie will be one, too?” Rose asked, looking at the little girl in his arms.

“Sukie is Human,” Susan said.

“She’s a hybrid,”

“She’s what?”

“I can tell, holding her. She isn’t pure Human, Susan. She only has one heart, and I’m guessing her blood is Human… unlike you and the boys. But she DOES have Gallifreyan DNA. And she does have telepathic ability. I can feel it even now. When she’s older, you’ll see it.”

“What do you mean, you can feel it?” Susan asked, fearful for her daughter. “And… if she has Gallifreyan DNA….does that mean she’ll have our lifespan?”

“I can feel her thoughts,” he said. “She has a strong resonance. She’s happy right now. She likes being with me. And she knows who I am instinctively. As for her lifespan - I’m not sure. Hybrids are rare. Don’t forget for about 400 years there were laws banning intermarriage with Humans. And even those of us whose DNA was 99% Gallifreyan suffered prejudice for that 1% that wasn’t. Hybrids… nobody ever took any notice of them. They would NEVER be accepted in the academy, never properly trained. They’d have low grade jobs and be just about tolerated.”

“You aren’t very nice people, are you?” Rose said. “You treat those who are different so crummily.”

“That’s why I took Susan away from it all,” he said. “I was tired of it. But it’s true that I did take her away from her true destiny as a Time Lord. After all, her mother was one.”

“My mother.” Susan looked at him in surprise. “I know so little about her. Even you told me nothing. I know her name and that is all.”

“Ámándáliá Mírraflaex,” The Doctor said. “She was a beautiful woman. Daughter of one of the Oldblood houses, a gifted temporal engineer. And although it was a politically expedient match, she and your father DID in fact marry for love - which was rare enough in our society. THAT is the only thing that really matters, Susan. YOU are the product of two people who loved each other dearly. And who both loved you very much.”

“I never knew that,” she said. “It’s good to know they loved each other. They… died together didn’t they?”

“Yes. But… that’s not something that’s easy for me to talk about, Susan. Maybe one day. But not now.”

“That’s all right, Grandfather,” she said. “I have you. I’ve always had you.” He looked at her and smiled. Whatever his faults, she had never lost faith in him. Not for the first time he felt sorry for leaving her for so long.

“Granddad!” Chris called to him in his mind suddenly. The boys were a long way ahead and had reached the top of a low rise as they followed the neglected road.

“Chris says there’s a village over the rise,” The Doctor said, reading his telepathic message. “With people.”

“Oh dear,” Rose thought. “This is where paradise turns sour, when we meet the people of the planet.” But she picked up the pace to catch up with The Doctor, who, even burdened with Sukie in his arms sprinted up the rise to reach the boys.

There was, indeed, a village. It looked as neglected as the road. Many of the houses had slates missing from the roofs and there were cracked windows, paint peeling from the woodwork and weeds in the gardens. But it was a village and it had people in it. Or at least, it had children. Everywhere they looked there were children, all playing games happily with each other. Or they were until they saw the strangers approach. At the sight they all stopped and stared, and when they passed the children all followed behind in an increasingly large procession.

They came to the village centre, a large grassed common with a communal well which was one of the few things that looked properly maintained. There was a big stone seat beside it, and The Doctor came to it and sat down, Sukie resting on his knee. He looked around at the children who stood and stared at him.

“School holidays?” he asked them. They all exchanged puzzled looks with each other. His words clearly had no meaning to them. Susan and Rose came and sat either side of him, Susan taking Sukie from him now they were resting. The boys stood close to The Doctor.

They all looked at the children. They were healthy looking, and they seemed happy. Their clothes, Susan thought, could all do with laundering and mending, and all of them needed to learn what soap and water was for. But they were all right. It was just unnerving to see so many at once and no adults in sight.

“There don’t seem to be any under the age of about eight and none older than fourteen or so,” Rose said looking at them.

“Well observed,” The Doctor told her.

“Where are your parents?” Susan asked. And again the blank looks. “Who looks after you? Who is in charge?”

“We look after each other,” said a girl who stepped forward towards them. She reached out tentatively to touch Sukie, who turned her deep brown eyes on the child almost as if she was studying her. “She is so little. How does she play?”

“We play with her,” Chris and Davie said. “She’s our sister.”

“Sister?” the girl frowned as if that was a word she knew. “I think I have a sister. Why do you look the same?”

“We’re brothers,” Davie said and clutched Chris’s hand.

“Brothers and a sister…” The two words rippled through the crowd. They were words they knew, but seemed to have lost any context for.

“Why are there no adults around?” Rose whispered to The Doctor.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t look as if they NEED any.”

“All the houses are dirty and unkempt,” Susan said, and The Doctor smiled. Only a wife and mother could possibly use the word unkempt in a spoken sentence. Susan was SO domestic.

Unlike him.

Unlike anyone on this planet.

But even The Doctor was domestic enough to prefer clean clothes and personal hygiene and he WAS starting to wonder about these grubby children and their neglected world.

“What is this place called?” he asked a boy who had approached him speculatively.

“Paradise,” he said. “This is Paradise.”

“Ah,” he said. “Ok.”

“And you’re the children of Paradise?” Susan said.

“That is too good to be true,” Rose thought. “Children of Paradise!” There had to be a catch.

“Granddad!” The Doctor heard Chris say to him telepathically. “Their minds are wrong.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, not in any way disbelieving him, but hoping he could expand on his train of thought.

“I don’t know exactly. You said we shouldn’t go into Human minds. But they FEEL wrong.”

“They feel like they’re not really children,” Davie came in on the silent conversation. “But very old people pretending to be children.”

The Doctor nodded. None of it made sense yet, but there WAS something wrong with this planet. It had felt too perfect. He was always automatically suspicious of anything that looked like Paradise, and he was invariably right to be. Just once it would be nice to be wrong, to find a place that was genuinely wonderful. But usually he was right.

“But where are your parents?” To Susan that was the primary concern. The Doctor smiled. She was a parent. Looking after children was what she did. It automatically seemed wrong to her as well. “Who looks after you?”

“We look after each other,” the first girl said. “When one of us falls, another picks him up. We take care of each other as we play.”

“Can they come and play with us?” the boy asked, pointing to Chris and Davie.

“No,” Susan began to say but The Doctor put a hand on her arm.

“Yes, of course they can,” he said. “Boys, you know how to behave nice among new friends?”

“Yes, granddad,” they chorused. But they also seemed to be talking with him telepathically.

“I told them to try to find out some more as they play,” he explained as they went off with the main band of children to a large ball game going on in the middle of the village green. “Children are more likely to answer other children’s questions.”

“True,” Susan conceded. “But….”

“They’re smart kids,” Rose assured her. “Very smart. The Doctor is their teacher, remember!”

“I don’t think temporal physics will be a lot of use here.”

“He’s taught them loads more than that.”

“And so have you,” The Doctor told Susan. “They were already fantastic kids before I began. So don’t worry.”

“Right now,” Rose said. “I’m worried about how we eat around here.”

“I feel a little hungry, too,” Susan admitted. “But more to the point, I’d like to feed Sukie, and this doesn’t seem a place where they have baby food.”

“What do you all eat?” Rose asked the straggle of children who had remained behind curious by their presence.

“We don’t need food,” they were told by one of the youngsters. “We have the Well of Life.”

“Ah!” The Doctor looked at the well. The only thing in the whole village not untidy. It wasn’t a twee looking wishing well, but a serious water source with a strongly-built wall about it, a windlass directly above it and a tiled roof a few feet above that to protect the well from the elements. Beside it were a selection of cups and mugs that were clearly used to drink the water.

“May I try it?” he asked and one of the children scurried to fetch a tin cup of water to him. “Thank you.” He looked at the water carefully. It looked perfectly clear. There was no obvious smell. Rose and Susan both looked at him in alarm as he took a mouthful.

It tasted of… water. But it was more than water. He knew immediately as he swallowed. He closed his eyes and looked inwards analysing the liquid he had taken into his body.


It could, indeed, be called “Water of Life”. It contained every possible nutrient that the best food could provide. Even the mouthful he had taken made him feel as if he had eaten well. If that was all there was to it then there WAS an element of paradise to this place. How many worlds were there in the universe cursed by famine? What this water could do for those people….

But was it all? He thought there was something else, too. Something that didn’t quite seem wrong, but wasn’t exactly RIGHT either.

Rose and Susan watched The Doctor as he took out his sonic screwdriver. He adjusted it and put the business end into the cup of water then lifted it out and looked at the readout on the tiny LED.

“Have you ever found anything the sonic screwdriver can’t be used for?” Rose asked Susan who laughed and said there used to be a manual in the TARDIS, a thousand pages long, with 100 different settings to each page. She rather suspected her grandfather could have added a few dozen new pages to the book if he had the sort of mind that recorded that sort of detail.

“It’s rubbish at being a screwdriver,” The Doctor said with a disarming smile. “And this water is the answer to why these kids are kids. There is a rejuvenation agent in it as well as it being as good as a three course meal. If they took a glass of it every day, not only would they not need to eat, but they would never age.

“But is it safe?” Rose asked, her first concern for The Doctor, who only thought of analysing the water with his sonic screwdriver AFTER he had tasted it.

“Perfectly safe,” he said. “Unless you drink too much of it. Then you’d start to get younger.”

“That’s a drawback?” Rose queried. “This stuff would cost £50 for a sip on Earth.”

“At least,” Susan added.

“Yes,” The Doctor looked at Rose and he knew she had the same thought as him.

“Cassandra would KILL for the secret.” Rose remembered the strange ‘creature’ who called herself Human but had lost all trace of her Humanity through her efforts to stay ‘youthful’ and live beyond her natural years.

“And people like her.” The Doctor was thoughtful again. “Paradise… Well, maybe. In a way. These children… These people ARE happy, even if they are in a serious denial of reality. But what would happen to them if somebody with ambitions turned up here and built a health spa for the rich and shameless over their “Well of Life.”

“They don’t look like they could afford the monthly subscription.” Rose said.

“Exactly. And if WE can land here, the planet must be plotable on a star chart. One day it WILL happen.”

“That’s a sad idea,” Susan admitted. “But right now, my question is, can I let Sukie drink it?” Sukie was, indeed, showing all the signs of a one year old who was hungry. The Doctor considered the idea. He had idly wondered just how much he would have to drink to revert to his own childhood. He figured it was probably safe for him. Susan and Rose would not come to any harm over a short term.

But Sukie was nineteen months old. 575 days. And he wasn’t sure he wanted to risk even ONE of those precious days.

“No,” he said. “We’ll get back to the TARDIS before she REALLY needs to eat. I would bring it here on remote but I don’t want to disturb the locals by its appearance. But nobody is touching this water. Least of all Sukie.”

“Granddad!” He looked up as the two boys came running. “We’ve found some stuff out.”

“There’s a grown up who lives in the library,” Chris said. “They told us about her.”

“Where’s the library?” The Doctor asked.

“Over there.” Davie pointed to the other side of the village green.

“Ok.” The Doctor picked up Sukie in his arms. She was fretful, and maybe she WAS hungry, but he would open his veins and let her drink his blood before he’d give her that water. That was a method of providing emergency sustenance that Time Lords COULD use if they were in a real bind. They weren’t there yet.

Nobody stopped them walking away. The children resumed their play as they passed. Their novelty value had clearly worn off.

The library was so very different to every other building in the village. It was tidy, it was repaired. The grass was cut. There was a tree with apples growing on it.

“So there IS food, if you want it,” The Doctor said. Rose reached as if to pluck a fruit but he stayed her hand. “Let’s ask permission, first.” He reached for a bell pull rope. It worked.

Presently the door was opened by a young woman of perhaps twenty-five years with red hair tied back from her face and green eyes. She was dressed in a clean white blouse and a black skirt. She seemed to whisper ‘librarian’ in every inch of her being.

“Hello, I’m The Doctor.”

“I’m Wendy.”

“How appropriate,” he answered. “We’ve already met the Lost Boys – and Girls.”

She smiled at his literary allusion and looked beyond them to the children playing on the green. “You don’t look like pirates, so you’d better come in.”

They followed her inside. The library was, indeed, a library with shelf upon shelf of books in beautifully kept condition. To one side, separated by a screen, a cosy drawing room had been created, with soft chairs around a fireplace. Wendy invited them to sit and busied herself making tea.

Not, they realised when they tasted it, REAL tea, but a sort of home brew of nettles and herbs. Tasty in its way and more satisfying than ‘magic’ water for all its nutrients. There was home made barley bread with it, and butter.

Susan buttered a slice of the good bread and cut it into ‘soldiers’ to give to Sukie, who chewed on it happily. Vein opening could wait for another day.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” Wendy asked as they ate.

“What makes you think that?” The Doctor responded, not willing to tell her the truth about who they were until he knew a few more facts.

“You’re old, for one thing,” she said. “Well…older. You have a baby, for another. Everyone here, even the few of us who are adult, are infertile.”

“The water?” Rose asked looking at The Doctor and remembering that he was the only one who had tried it.

“Yes, but don’t worry. You have to drink it for years to be affected.”

“I think you should start from the beginning,” The Doctor said.

“It begins about a thousand years ago,” Wendy began. “When the properties of the Well of Life were first known. At first, people just used it occasionally, taking sips of it to refresh themselves, to cure ailments, to regain strength after an illness. People would take a bottle to keep in the house and it would be used sparingly, a teaspoon at a time, as a daily tonic. Then… I suppose we got greedy. We knew it would preserve life if we used it regularly. For hundreds of years nobody aged more than ten years or so. Only the children grew up. We didn’t let them drink from the well until they were in their twenties. But then… generation by generation, less children were born.”

“Then where.…” Rose began but The Doctor shushed her and let Wendy finish her story.

“We realised it WAS the water. We realised that the damage was permanent. A sort of madness came over the people. We decided that if we couldn’t have children there was no point in the burdens of adulthood. We started drinking so much of the water that we all regressed to childhood, slowly. Few went below the age of about eight or so – we had to be able to take care of ourselves, because there were no adults to turn to. But we were free. We could play and enjoy life without the pressures of adulthood. Not even the relationships of adulthood – romance, love – which so often were the cause of sorrow. People who WERE married, just became childhood friends and forgot those former ties. The young people who were the children of older ones – forgot who was parent and who was child as they all played without care. The well sustained them. There was no need to work, no need to grow food. We wore what clothes we could find and didn’t care if they got torn or dirty.”

“So why are you grown?” Susan asked as she fed Sukie. The boys were occupied in the library, looking at the books. Outside, children were playing, but her boys preferred to read. Was that grandfather’s influence, she wondered. Or was it that they had already had enough of the endless playtime out there. She rather thought SHE would be, too. When she was a girl, in London, she had often preferred to sit quietly and read rather than be romping around with other girls.

“Some few of us realised how pointless it was. We let ourselves grow up.”

“How?” Rose asked.

“By only drinking the water once every three days. We were hungry, but we gained a few days at a time. We grew up a half year to every one. Slowly we became adults again. We repaired our homes. I came back to the library I worked in before we lost our senses. There are some who tend farms, grow a few fields of barley, vegetables, keep cows – that’s how we have the bread and butter and milk. But there are no more than fifteen or twenty of us who have seen sense. The rest refuse to face up to their responsibilities.”

“That’s their choice,” The Doctor said. “Wendy… mother to the Lost Boys. Perhaps the allusion is not so inaccurate. When they WANT to grow up, you’re here to show them the way.”

“But it’s so wrong,” Susan protested. “They’re living such a false life.”

“They’re living the life they chose.” The Doctor said. “And in that, they’re maybe to be envied. How many of us really live the life we would choose?”

“You do,” Susan said to him. But he smiled sadly and shook his head.

“I live the best life I can,” he said. “If I lived the life I would choose… it would be maybe a little way down the road from you, where I can see you and the children any time I want, and Rose would be my wife and we’d have half a dozen half-blood children who might grow up to be Time Lords when they’re ready, or might just decide to be ordinary Earth people with lesser ambitions, depending on what THEY would choose.”

Rose and Susan both looked at him in astonishment. Neither realised he had ever thought things through that far. And neither could imagine him living in the suburbs of London without the TARDIS, as an ordinary family man. Not even Rose, for whom that dream actually sounded VERY desirable.

“But the point is, nothing evil is making these people be what they are. Wendy chose her life. They chose theirs. There is nothing I need to stick my big nose into. The only thing that worries me is somebody less nice than me coming along and spoiling it.”

“Who could do that?” Wendy asked. He looked at her thoughtfully.

“You recognised the Peter Pan allusion. Somewhere along the line your people must have been Earth colonists. So you must realise that there are other planets with people on them.”

“Yes,” Wendy said. “But we’ve never had contact with any others… not for thousands of years.”

“Well, you have now. Between us, we represent two planets from opposite ends of the universe. But you have nothing to fear from us. We landed here by accident and we’ll be off as soon as we’ve had another cup of that very nice tea you make. But….”

He gently explained his fear to her. Of how they might be exploited. Then he stood up and pulled out his TARDIS key. “Wendy, don’t be afraid of this. It’s just our space ship.”

He pressed the key and the TARDIS materialised by the non-fiction section. He opened the door and stepped inside. He came back a few minutes later with what looked like a mauve crystal inside a glass hexagon. “This is an inter-galactic emergency beacon. If any strangers come to this planet who make you feel in any way uncomfortable, if there is ANY threat to Paradise and its children – I’ll be HERE to help. That’s a promise.”

“You’re just one man,” Wendy said. “As kind as you are. CAN you help?”

“He’s not just any man,” Rose told her. “He’s The DOCTOR.”

“Exactly,” The Doctor grinned. Then he did, indeed, sit down and let Wendy pour him another cup of tea. They all had another cup before he said they must go. The Doctor shook Wendy’s hand and wished her luck then they all stepped aboard the TARDIS. The Doctor shut the door and put them into orbit above the Paradise planet.

“It really does look like a paradise from orbit,” Rose said. The planet was even smaller than Earth, with just one continent surrounded by blue seas. It looked lovely. “But what were YOU thinking of?” She turned to The Doctor. “You tell us not to touch and all that. And you DRANK that water that can make people infertile. So much for a dream of half a dozen half blood kids….”

“You think I’m daft enough to digest something I don’t know?” he said. “I learnt that lesson centuries ago. Anything I’m not sure of just goes straight through. Which reminds me,…” He disappeared into the back corridor of the TARDIS. Rose laughed.

“Well, I always assumed he must…” she giggled. “But that’s the first time I’ve seen him need to go to the loo.”

When he came back, he spent some time at the computer, calculating something, then he moved to another part of the console and pressed some buttons.

“I hope all that effort was to get us back to Earth,” Susan said. “We still have the problem of getting home before David.”

“In a moment,” The Doctor replied. “Right now, I’m doing what I can to look after this planet.”

“You doing an envelope on it like Rassilon?”

“No. That’s way beyond me and my humble TARDIS. Or I’d have done it for Earth long ago. What I am doing, is sending out a computer virus that will wipe its co-ordinates off every star chart in the universe. Nobody will know it is there.”

“You can do that?” Rose asked.


“And getting us home?”

“Well, now I know what you did wrong…” He pulled his granddaughter into his arms where he kissed her on the cheek playfully. “You transposed the two middle co-ordinates. That’s how you got it wrong.”

“We got lost because Susan made a typo?” Rose laughed. Susan blushed and looked cross, but The Doctor kissed her again and told her it WAS an easy mistake.

“You wouldn’t make it though,” Susan said.

“I wouldn’t DARE. YOU would have me hung out to dry.” He laughed. “We’ll be there in half an hour, and we WILL be home before David even knows we’re gone. So all of this will be OUR secret.”

He was as good as his word. When David got home from work they were all sitting in the living room of the Campbell home talking quietly. He looked surprised to see them, but relieved his sons were well and happy. Both of them ran to hug him as he came in the door and told him they loved him. He looked at The Doctor and smiled. There were issues between them still, but his sons were still his. His fears in that respect were unfounded.

“Are you staying a while?” he asked them. “Susan likes to have you around, Doctor. She worries about you wandering about the universe.”

“She thinks I’m going to get lost,” The Doctor said. “But why would I when the most precious people IN my universe are here? Yes, we’ll stay a few days. But then I think we need to go see Rose’s mum. She misses us, too.”

“She misses ME,” Rose teased him. “Not sure about you.”

“Jackie would miss me if I wasn’t around,” he said. “She’d have nobody to moan about.” It wasn’t true at all, but he had to have one defence against falling into complete domesticity, and with Christmas approaching he didn’t have too many of those.