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

The strange blue box had been a fixture of the yard below the Powell Street flats for more than a week already and Rose was starting to get used to the view when she emerged every morning. As Christmas approached The Doctor was acting curiously domestic and even more curiously secretive. He spent a lot of time inside a room deep in the TARDIS that Rose didn’t know anything about, but which strange noises seemed to emanate from when she brought coffee. He took it from her at the door without giving her any clue as to what was going on.

Since he gave her and her mum unlimited use of his credit cards to go Christmas shopping with she decided to let him alone with his secrets.

“Funny him being into Christmas,” her mum said as they came home on the bus from one of those shopping trips. Rose thought that pretty much summed it up. He seemed to have thrown himself into the spirit of it all with enthusiasm. He did most of the work in decorating Jackie’s living room; including doing things to her collection of fairy lights she was sure they were never meant to do. When they put up the tree and Jackie handed him the Christmas star to put at the top he seemed oddly moved.

Of course, there was significance in Jackie giving him the star. In every other home Rose knew, all her friend’s homes, putting the star on the tree was done by their dad. In a strange way, without any fuss, Jackie had acknowledged him as ‘the man of the house’. Maybe the Christmas spirit was rubbing off even on her, Rose thought.

Later she found out there was another reason why the Christmas Star meant so much to The Doctor.

He had slipped out after supper, saying he wanted a bit of air, and Rose had found him, after looking in several other places, up on the roof of the flats. It was a bright, clear, starry evening, a change from low cloud and drizzle, and even allowing for the light pollution of London most of the constellations could be seen. The Doctor was staring to the southern horizon.

“I wish it was easier to see from England,” he murmured as she hitched herself up on the low wall beside him.

“Easier to see what?” she asked.

“The constellation of Sagittarius.” He pointed. It was very low down on the horizon and the light pollution dimmed it, but Rose could just make out the shape of the bowman and his bow in the sky.

“Yes… and….”

“Look at the bow,” he said. “What does it remind you of?”

She looked for a long time, not understanding what he meant, and then her hand flew to the pendant around her neck with the representation of the constellation of Kasterborus in diamonds set in silver.

“That’s what Kasterborus looks like from our part of the galaxy,” he said, touching the pendant. “Like two arrowheads. But from Earth, it's not the arrow, but the bow – Sagittarius’s bow.”

“You mean… all along… we could SEE Gallifrey from Earth?”

“Not Gallifrey itself, but the star it orbits – or DID orbit.”

“Why can we still see it?” Rose asked, and then, before he could answer she knew. She wasn’t over-endowed with qualifications and astronomy wasn’t on the curriculum of her school, but she had picked up a few things. “Because when a star goes supernova it takes thousands of years for it to be seen across space.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “If you had a strong enough telescope – which nobody on Earth does – you’d see Gallifrey and the five other planets of her system up there orbiting the star on the middle of Sagittarius’s bowstring.”

He looked at it again, as if he COULD see them. Rose looked too. She had never been to Gallifrey, except in an illusion, and never would, because The Doctor said it was impossible to travel backwards in Gallifrey’s history even before it was destroyed. That was one of the special and particular laws of time put in place to prevent the Time Lords interfering with their OWN history. But she felt a sort of second hand affection for it, and mourned its loss as much as he did. She put her hand in his and he squeezed it lovingly.

“Funny thing about Kasterborus, it's no ordinary constellation. Gallifrey and the Time Lords exerted some strange influences on it. You would think that in two thousand years or so Earth will witness the death of my world as a supernova centred on Sagittarius…”


The Doctor smiled and shook his head. “The light wave from Gallifrey and its star being wiped out of existence went backwards. Maybe because of all the special time envelopes and protections around Gallifrey, or maybe just out of love of narrative causality, I don’t know. But the death of my home world WAS recorded on Earth over two thousand years ago. It was particularly bright in the Middle East, especially over a small town called Bethlehem.”

It took a few moments for it to sink in.

“You’re kidding.” But he wasn’t. “Gallifrey’s death… was the Christmas star?”


“Oh, my.”

“It's comforting in a way,” he said. “Knowing that the death of my world marked the birth of something so very significant to yours. And it's why I love Christmas. It feels as if you’re all doing honour to Gallifrey as well.”

“Oh, you soppy article!” Rose put her arms around his neck and hugged him. He embraced her around the waist and pressed her closer. She could feel and hear his two hearts beat, the most precious sound she knew.

After a while, she left him there. She knew he would most likely want to do one of his weird meditations after being so emotional for so long. The fact that he was on top of the flats and it was freezing wouldn’t matter. She went back to the flat to say goodnight to her mum, then down to the TARDIS. Even though she had a bedroom in the flat, she preferred still to sleep in the TARDIS. She still didn’t want to wake and find it was all a dream. Her corner of the console room was where she slept no matter where in the universe they were. She got ready for bed and turned down the overhead lights and slept with the glow of the central column of the TARDIS’s console as her nightlight.

She woke early on Christmas Eve morning to a knock at the door. She got up, expecting it to be either her mum, or Mickey, or just possibly The Doctor if he’d forgotten his key – though that wasn’t very likely. What she didn’t expect was a postman, and she was sure the last thing HE was expecting was a blonde girl in pink bunny pyjamas.

“Um…” he said, and she could see his embarrassment. “Er… there’s no letterbox.”

“No,” Rose conceded. “There isn’t.”

“So I had to knock.”


“Ummm… these are for you, then, I suppose.” He handed her a bundle of letters. She looked at the top one and goggled.

“The Doctor and Rose,
The Blue Police Box,
Back of the Powell Estate Flats,
London NW…..”

“The postcode is correct,” the postman said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t even have tried to deliver. Christmas, most of the weird ones are addressed to the North Pole. There have been some bets running down at the sorting office….”

“And which way did you bet?” The Doctor appeared out of nowhere to ask the question of the bemused man.

“I lost,” he said. “Which I guess is the only reason they’ll believe me. Unless… I don’t suppose I could get a picture?” He held up a cheap disposable camera.

“Sorry, no pictures,” The Doctor said with a disarming smile as he took Rose by the arm into the TARDIS and closed the door.

“We have post?” Rose looked at the envelopes in her hand. None of them looked like they were from the council demanding that he pay ground rent for the space the TARDIS was occupying. She sat on one of the comfy White House sofas and opened the first one.

“Harry and Sarah Jane Sullivan will be delighted to join The Doctor and Rose Tyler for Christmas Eve dinner and dancing at…. The name of a very swanky hotel in the West End followed but Rose was already bowled over before she got to that bit.

“We’re having a party?” she asked.

“Yes.” He joined her in opening the envelopes and was gratified to find that every single one had accepted his invitation. “Fantastic.” He grinned.

“Ok,” Rose said. “Well, for a place like this, I’m going to need a sensational new dress – and I don’t mean from the wardrobe, no matter how good the TARDIS is. And MUM will tell you she has nothing to wear as well.”

The Doctor laughed and pulled out his credit cards. “You two will bankrupt me,” he said, but only in fun. “Do you and your mum fancy doing the shopping in the 23rd century? I’m going to pick up Susan and David and the kids.”

“Susan’s coming to the party?” Rose asked, though why she couldn’t imagine. If he was going to have a Christmas reunion then how could they NOT be there. “No, we’ll just get the bus,” she said after thinking about it. “You just get there and back and no getting lost.”

“Easiest trip of all. We’ve done it so many times now. The TARDIS can do it with her eyes shut.”

“Tell the TARDIS to keep her eyes open,” Rose answered as she went to get ready to spend a little more of The Doctor’s money. “I want you back here by the time we’ve finished shopping.”

Jackie and Rose both found it amazing that no matter which of them signed the receipt, no matter what name they signed, the shop assistants glanced at the card with The Doctor as the cardholder name, then at the signature, and handed card and receipt to them. Rose guessed it must act much like the psychic paper.

She felt a LITTLE bit guilty about splashing out so much at his expense – after all, she needed more than a dress. A dress needed shoes, handbag, earrings, a new hairdo. But only a LITTLE. She had never asked how much money he had, or WHERE it came from, but she had a feeling their shopping trips barely scratched the surface.

Her mum had always wanted her to find a rich man, and now that the dream had come true, the fact that he WAS apparently wealthy beyond either of their dreams hardly seemed important. It certainly did nothing to change Jackie’s opinion of him, which was still that he was a nice man but NOT the man for her daughter. It didn’t matter an iota to Rose. All the reasons she loved him had nothing to do with money.

There was just a tiny little fear in her, as she and her mum returned from their shopping trip, that the TARDIS wouldn’t be there, parked up against the wall with the UFO picture and the toothy green alien amongst the graffiti. As soon as they entered the yard, though, she knew she had no reason to worry. The TARDIS was right there, where it belonged, and The Doctor was playing football with Chris and Davie, using the sign that said “No ball games” as a goalpost.

When he saw Rose he called a halt on the game and the boys ran to hug her. The Doctor relieved her and Jackie of some of their shopping bags. David and Susan, with Sukie in a pushchair, emerged from the TARDIS, and Jackie invited everyone up to her flat for lunch. Naturally, the lift was out of order. The Doctor thought about dragging shopping and pushchair up the steps and decided that was more domestic than he deserved.

“I think it's time I gave these flats a Christmas present,” he said and adjusted a couple of settings on his sonic screwdriver before applying the mysterious blue beam to the operating buttons of the two lifts. Moments later there was a grind of machinery and a double ping as the two lifts opened their doors. Even the LIGHTS were working.

“Show off!” Rose said.

“Shame you can’t do anything about the smell,” Jackie complained as they all crowded into the lift. The doctor pocketed his sonic screwdriver with a flourish. He was happy. The two sides of his Earth family, from the 21st and 23rd centuries, were all together. The first part of his perfect Christmas was already sorted.

If his grin got any wider, Rose thought, his head would fall off. He was even nice to Mickey, who was between girlfriends and down in the dumps. Rose was pleased to discover that Mickey had an invite to the party, too.

Of course, The Doctor had said when she asked. He’s helped save the universe with us hasn’t he?

It started to snow when they were eating lunch, and there was soon enough of it for the children, and one nine-hundred and fifty year old child at heart to play out. Rose watched from the door of the flats as he and the boys built a snow Dalek that was freakishly realistic.

“What’s that?” One of the children from the flats asked The Doctor as he fixed a broken car indicator light on a stick as the eye stalk and added the sink plunger from Jackie’s kitchen to complete the effect.

“It's a Dalek,” he answered, opting for honesty in the face of ten year old imagination.

“What’s one of them?”

“Something you really don’t want to meet for real. If you ever do, run like hell.”

“You’re the alien that lives in that box,” the boy said. “Everyone knows about you.”

“Oh yeah,” The Doctor challenged him. “What do they know about me?” But the boy shrugged and threw a snowball at the Dalek. Chris and Davie threw snowballs at it too, along with all the other kids and The Doctor reflected on the times it had been a lot harder to take a Dalek down. Having dispatched the snow Dalek, though, the kids, including his own flesh and blood, decided he was a fair target. He gave as good as he got, but he was well outnumbered until Rose came and joined his side.

“We’re always together when the chips are down,” she laughed as she faced the onslaught with him and got a large snowball in the face for her efforts. The Doctor laughed and jumped up on the low roof of the bin shelter where there was a fresh, untouched pile of snow for ammunition. As he did so he looked up into the snow-laden sky and saw a shimmer where the snow was falling on something with a cloaking device. He laughed and watched as it came lower and landed on the roof of the flats. He jumped down and ran the gauntlet of snowball attack to the door. Rose followed him, wondering what was going on.

They emerged onto the roof just in time to see the cloaked shuttle craft open up. Jack climbed out followed by Major Hellina Arturo. Both grinned at him. Lenoir, the French soldier that Jack and Hellina had taken with them the last time they were all together, emerged. He smiled at The Doctor with eyes that, while losing none of their enthusiasm, had clearly learnt a lot about the universe in the short time he had been an explorer of it. The Doctor greeted him with a friendly smile. Then Jack reached to the back seat to a pretty woman with long curling hair and strikingly beautiful blue eyes who stepped daintily out of the shuttle and blinked in the light reflected off the snow.

“Nyssa!” The Doctor exclaimed and bounded across the roof to take both her hands in his. “Oh, my dear Nyssa.” But she looked at him with eyes that didn’t recognise his face. Rose looked on as he kissed her gently and saw her confusion. She guessed that this was somebody who had been more than fond of him, maybe several lives ago, and now wasn’t at all sure about the man who stood before her. Rose had wondered too often herself how it would be if she was faced with a NEW Doctor.

He brought Nyssa to introduce to her. Rose was pleased to feel his arm slip affectionately around her waist, clearly indicating that he was HERS now. That was how it should be, even though she did feel a little spark of sympathy for the girl who had, for whatever reason, given him up.

Nyssa smiled sweetly at Rose and said she was glad to meet her. Rose thought she was telling the truth. She WAS yet another friend from the past who was glad to see him, with whatever face he currently had.

“Sorry, Doctor,” Jack said. “She was the only one we could find of the list you gave us.” He looked a little disappointed at that but said it was a big universe and it couldn’t be helped.

“Anyway,” he said brightly. “Jackie has the kettle on. Tea everyone?” Major Hellina Arturo did not look like the kind of person who drank tea, but she locked their craft and then took Jack’s hand as they headed for the stairs. The Doctor thought they were the oddest couple he had ever met, but they looked happy. Who was he to argue. He noticed that Lenoir gallantly gave his arm to Nyssa as they walked across the slippery roof. They also formed a couple of sorts and maybe there were possibilities there.

Jackie was starting to worry about the number of people she could fit into her flat. Rose had to run down to the TARDIS to find some more mugs and a pint of milk. She made sure the local kids didn’t see her go in and out. There were quite enough rumours about the blue box. Chris and Davie, having exhausted the pleasure you could get out of snowball fights came up with her. They had enjoyed their time with ‘normal’ boys. She shared the concern their mother and The Doctor had that they should have an ordinary Earth childhood as well as learning to be Time Lords.

The next few hours were like a surreal dream, dressing to go to dinner, driven there in two beautiful stretch limousines which looked strange waiting outside the council flats with uniformed drivers who opened the door for them.

The Doctor had dressed for the occasion, in an Armani suit – black, of course, but with a luxurious sheen of silver thread shot through it. He had a black shirt and tie underneath and looked amazingly handsome. Slimmer, because the well cut suit fitted better than the scruffy, sloppy leather jacket, and rather sensual in a dark, smouldering way. Of course, he really WAS a Lord – a member of the aristocracy of his world. He had been born to such a life, even if he rarely lived it.

For tonight, he was playing the part for all it was worth. At the hotel the staff had no trouble recognising him as the guest who had paid a great deal of money to have very special arrangements made. They were escorted by the manager to the private lounge where his guests were already assembled.

Very few of those waiting in the lounge drinking a pre-dinner drink and talking quietly together knew The Doctor by his new look. But puzzled eyes lit with joy as they came to see the man they had known and loved in him.

Now that he was here, there was no delay in going through to the dining room where a big table had been set out for them. There were place names at each setting and a small package in gold wrapping paper with the name of the recipient. These were for after the meal.

The Doctor bid them all sit, though he remained standing. He was smiling as he looked around the table, though there was also a hint of sadness in his eyes.

“Too many absences,” he said, though the table was filled and there were no empty seats. “Too many dear friends not with us. Some we have lost. Polly, dearest!” He addressed a still pretty woman in her late 50s part way down the table. “I am sorry to learn that Ben has passed away. I should have visited you both long ago. I have been a totally selfish git as far as you’re all concerned.” There were some nervous laughs at that, and somebody, he wasn’t sure who, replied “You said it, Doc.”

“I could have visited you any time I chose. I just never got around to it. I beg you all to forgive me for the sake of old loyalties.”

He turned his gaze on an elderly couple at the far end of the table. “Ian, Barbara, I have never apologised for kidnapping you from your normal life and throwing you into the most appalling dangers, mostly from my own stubbornness and recalcitrance. You of all people had good reason not to get mixed up with me again. Dodo, my sweet sixties child.” He smiled at a dark haired women who blushed as she smiled back. “And Victoria, who never went back to her own century. I miss you both, I want you to know that.”

Then he looked at four people sitting together. “My oldest friends, who knew me before I was even known by the name all the others here know me as. Cassie, the loveliest of the flower children, Terry who still loves her, Precious Bo, and Sammie… I am glad you could all be here. It's a long time. Too long. And you, too, I ought to have visited when I had the chance.”

“Brigadier Alasdair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart! Sir, I am honoured you could come tonight with your lady wife, and you two, Benton, Yates: England would be lost without men like you in her army. And Liz, who would never believe that science was not the answer to everything and that sometimes you just have to have faith. Jo, Cliff, Sarah, Harry… you four always had faith in abundance. Faith in me. I hope I lived up to that.”

“Tegan, my friend, I know the life I offered was a hard one and you chose the simpler, easier life in the end, so the fact that you flew in from Australia at my call is gratifying. I hope all is forgiven between us.”

The lady addressed that way nodded and told him that he was forgiven.

“Gentle Nyssa. I never WANTED to part with you. Fate is hard sometimes. It dealt us both a cruel blow. Ace, my favourite juvenile delinquent. You know, no matter how old you are, you’ll always be sixteen in my eyes.”

He paused for breath and smiled at them all. “Grace, Simon, San Francisco will never be my favourite place. I seem to spend too much time as Grace’s patient there. But again I am glad you could come all this way at such very short notice. Chang Lee, another of my San Francisco friends, still to live up to your full potential, but I have every faith that you will do it, yet. Jack, we’ve known some grim times and some good. I hardly had time to meet the lady in your life. Hellina, when you’ve fought the kind of fight we had that day, and survived, friendship is an easy thing.”

His smile widened as his eyes focussed on the seats nearest to him. “Mickey, not as daft as he looks; Jackie, my self-appointed mother-in-law. Susan, my grand-daughter, who I neglected for too long, and who forgave me too easily; David, who loved her better than I did. Chris and Davie, and little Sukie, the youngest of our group, the future of us all.”

His eyes scanned the table, wondering if there was anyone he had missed. “And here, finally, my own Rose, who took my stubborn cold hearts of ice and melted them… made me a bit less of a selfish git, made me realise that love IS the better part of me, and remember those who gave their love to me, unconditionally, for so long.”

And then his eyes dimmed a little. “There ARE too many absences. The names are too many. So, my dear friends, before we eat, let us give a moment of reflection on those who are not with us, and wish those who are just too far away the best, and those beyond our help our fondest remembrances.”

He bowed his head as somebody who believed in prayer might and the others did the same for a silent minute before he said an almost whispered “Thank you,” and sat down.

The waiters, who were paid not to take notice of even the most outrageous conversation at the table moved forward to serve the meal and there was, for a while, nothing but small talk around this band of people who came from all walks of life, from all places and classes, and had nothing in common with each other except that, for a brief part of their lives, they had known The Doctor. It was Tegan, the Australian woman, who had departed from his company because she felt there was too much death in her life when she was with him, who, even so, spoke for them all.

“Doctor, the time I spent with you was the BEST time of my life. I have no regrets about that. I am glad to have known you.” The words were echoed and repeated around the room and nobody contradicted them. When the Brigadier stood and proposed a toast to The Doctor it was unanimously echoed.

Finally, the food was finished and they sat drinking coffee and brandy and The Doctor stood again. They looked at him silently.

“Some of you know already – for some of you this will be a shock, but the fact is my planet, Gallifrey, was destroyed a few years ago.”

There was a ripple of shock among those who had not yet heard. When it was over, he went on.

“About a month ago, I remembered that there was one small part of Gallifrey left apart from that which is forever in my hearts. I still had my personal supply of the gold and silver from the mines my family owned on the southern continent. Yes, Jackie, THAT is where my money comes from. I know you’ve wondered about that while you and Rose have been spending it. It was the last piece of Gallifrey left, in a few sacks of gold dust and a few silver ingots. And I decided the best thing I could do with it is share it with my friends, the people who have played their part in saving the universe with me. I want you to share the last precious memory of my homeworld in these tokens of my love and affection and thanks for your love and loyalty to me. Though none of you have ever BEEN to Gallifrey, think kindly of it when you look up into the stars at night.”

He nodded to them all and they as one opened the packages by their place settings. There were murmurs of appreciation and awe. The men among them all found gold key rings with a representation of the constellation of Kasterborus on the fob. The women had silver chain bracelets with a single gold ornament, again the representation of Kasterborus. Even Sukie had one, which Susan promised to keep until it fitted her. Rose had a special one. Hers had three ornaments, the symbol of Kasterborus, matching her pendant, the seal of Rassilon, and the crest of the House of Lœngbærrow.

Everyone, even Jackie, smiled knowingly as The Doctor fastened it around her wrist and kissed her. Short of an engagement ring, that bracelet was as close as he could get to saying that she was his.

Only one person around the table had no gift. That was The Doctor himself. They all felt at the same moment, that there should have been something they could have given him. But at the same time, nobody could think of a single thing they COULD give him. He was at the same time a man who had EVERYTHING and a man who had NOTHING. Then Simon stood up. He looked at The Doctor and then around the room.

“There aren’t many people who know what The Doctor did for me, simply because nobody would believe it. Here, at least, I can say it. I stand here alive because he gave me one of his hearts - literally – in the most incredible transplant operation this world has seen. I have the greatest part of him inside me, keeping me alive. That’s an honour I can’t begin to repay. And he didn’t even wait to be thanked for that. I don’t know whether any of you folks around the table can quite top that, but I’m guessing there’s not one of you doesn’t owe him your life. From the stories that have been passed about here in the past hour or so, I think everyone on this planet would say the same if they KNEW how many times he has been their only defence against some evil. Doctor… your home world may be gone, and we all feel your sorrow. I think the best gift we can give you is OUR planet. Doctor, you HAVE a home. It's called Earth, and we want you to feel that you belong here from now on.”

As he finished, David stood up on the other side of the table. He said nothing, just looked at Simon, then at The Doctor. Then the Brigadier, as well as Benton, Yates and Lenoir stood, all four saluting neatly and standing to attention. Sammie, the other contemporary military man, followed suit. So did Jack and Hellina, both saluting him formally.

One by one each of the party stood, saying nothing, but in their silence endorsing everything that Simon had said. Yes, they all owed their lives to him. On either side of him, Rose and Susan stood, and both put their arms around his back. They were both a little shocked to feel him trembling and they locked their arms in support as he looked at all their faces, biting back tears of gratitude for the love being given back to him with interest. He put his own arms around the women by his side and held them tightly until the emotional time was over.

There was dancing afterwards. For once, Rose didn’t have her Doctor all to herself. There were fourteen other women who wanted him if only for the length of a soft rock ballad and a tender Christmas kiss at the end of it. He even danced with Jackie, one of the few women there who had no partner. Rose thought her mum actually looked very beautiful as she danced with him. He smiled at her in his winning way, and she actually smiled back. At the end of the dance he put his hand under her chin and raised her face towards him and kissed her. Her face lit and she looked nearly as young as her daughter again.

But afterwards he was Rose’s. She danced the last dance with him and she was at his side, his arm gently encircling her waist, as they bid farewell to their friends who went to their hotels or back to their homes by a string of taxis in the first hour of Christmas morning. Then they, too, returned in the hired cars to the mundane and unromantic flatlands of north London.

While everyone else was settled in Jackie’s flat, Jack and Hellina stayed the night in his old room in the TARDIS, which did not yet seem to accept he was no longer one of the crew, and Nyssa was shown Rose’s pink bedroom that was a duplicate of the one in the flat.

Rose put on her nightclothes and slipped under the blankets of her cabin bed in the corner of the console room. The Doctor was there, pretending to be busy as usual. She saw that he had changed back into his usual outfit. She smiled. He did look fantastic in the suit, but this was the real HIM.

For once, he broke the no-go area rule and came to sit by her side for a moment. “Merry Christmas, Rose,” he said and the kiss he gave her before going to turn down the lights lasted a little longer than usual. In the darkness she just saw him on the other side of the room preparing to enter his strange, suspended animation meditation that passed for sleep in his case. Her mother would have a fit if she knew this was how they slept but this was ‘normal’ for her now, and how she liked it.

The snow disappeared overnight, a one day wonder. When The Doctor took a stroll outside in the morning it was gone. In the courtyard he saw a couple of the kids who had soundly snowballed him yesterday on new Christmas skateboards. When he waved they skated up to him.

“You’re an alien and that’s your spaceship,” one said accusingly.

“Does it look like a spaceship?” he said.

“Not really, but it is,” the boy insisted, using the sort of logic that Humans seemed to have in abundance at around the age of ten but sadly lost by the time they were adults. “So what planet do you come from? Mars?”

“Mars is the Tower Hamlets of the universe,” he said. “I belong to a much cooler planet than that.”

As the boys got bored with baiting him and skated off he whispered its name to himself and smiled.