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

Rose felt a lot older than twenty-three as she looked at Brenda. She felt more like thirty. Was it really ONLY four years that she and The Doctor had been together? Sometimes it was hard to keep track of time in a time machine.

“You don’t EVEN look twenty-three,” The Doctor told her and she looked up from the sofa where she was sitting, startled to realise that he had read her thoughts. “You’re still my teenage cockney sparrow.” He smiled and kissed her and she felt more like fifteen. He did that to her. Funny, but she never thought THAT was what him being a Time Lord meant.

“My Lord….” Brenda broke into their conversation with a phrase that utterly disconcerted The Doctor.

“Brenda, please… I’m not anybody’s Lord. Just “Doctor” is fine. What’s up?”

“There is something on the sensors… coming towards us.”

“Ok, I’ll take care of that. Why don’t you and Rose have an old chin wag. I know what you girls are like.”

“My Lord?” Rose smiled at the idea as Brenda sat beside her.

“That is the proper way to address one of the Lords of Time,” Brenda said. “My mother would be distressed if I spoke to him any other way. Especially now we are away from Earth and among the stars that are his domain.”

“I’ve never called him that,” Rose said. She’d never thought of the stars as his domain, either - although it was an interesting way of looking at it.

“But you are his… his promised one. Surely, when you are his wife, it would only be proper. Gallifreyan wives call their husbands Lord.”

“Do they?” Rose looked at him as he worked at the console. Of course, he WAS a Lord, and she loved the reactions from people when he pulled rank and let them know he was. But to call him that just didn’t work for her. Besides, “WHEN you are his wife….”

“Do you doubt that you will?” Brenda asked and again Rose was sharply reminded that she had few private thoughts among all this telepathy. “He does not. He keeps the diamonds for your wedding gown stored safely.”

“He does what?” Rose jumped up and went to him. “What have you told that kid about us?” she demanded.

“Nothing,” he said. “Her telepathic abilities are so strong I have trouble keeping her out. She needs some lessons in self-control. She’s a lot like the twins were when I first started to train them.”

“Diamonds for a wedding gown?”

“Gallifreyan brides wear white gowns with diamonds sewn in. The more of them, the higher the rank.” His eyes twinkled like diamonds then. “And you are going to want to be there when we tell Jackie she does the sewing.”

“I’ll make sure there are cameras to record the event.” Rose shared the same vision of her mum’s face. “But I’m wondering about you standing here and thinking of me in….”

“Yes,” he blushed and smiled and his eyes shone even more brightly. “Yes, I was.”

“You really think of us being….”

“Yes. Don’t you?”

“I thought it was impossible. I don’t dare to hope. I’m just glad to wake up every morning and be here with you.”

“I don’t know how, or when, but I KNOW you will wear a diamond gown for me one day,” he said. “I AM a Time Lord. If I couldn’t see into the future, even vaguely, I wouldn’t be much good. I’ve seen it. It WILL happen. And yes, I DO have a stash of diamonds for that purpose.”

“Well,” Rose said. “That’s.…”

“That’s the very least you deserve, Rose,” he told her. “That I can’t do it for you now, and we must wait, is the hardest part.”

“Well, you know, I am not going to call you ‘my Lord’ no matter if I can’t WALK for the jewels on the dress.”

“Good,” he said. “Bloody silly tradition anyway.” But he smiled as he remembered how Julia had actually LOVED the idea. She had been so devoted to him that she made My Lord a term of endearment. And unbidden, the thought came to him of her whispering it to him in their love-making. A blush came to his face as he remembered that all too vividly. He pushed that old memory back where it belonged - in the past. He looked at Rose, his future, and blushed again as an equally unbidden thought came into his mind - of her whispering the same terms of endearment as he held her in his arms on that wedding night that still seemed a far off impossibility.

Then the shock wave hit the TARDIS and all such thoughts went out of his head as he struggled to bring his ship back under his control. Rose held onto the console as they were jolted violently. Business as usual, she thought grimly.

“What’s happening?” Brenda screamed and ran to The Doctor. He caught her by the arm as the TARDIS rocked and showed her how to grip hold of the handles on the console. He kept Rose and Brenda both close beside him but he needed his hands free to control the TARDIS and he couldn’t give comfort to either of them just yet.

“Something is creating shockwaves in the vortex,” he said as the TARDIS settled itself finally. “The thing Brenda spotted. It’s a ship of some kind – with rudimentary time travel capabilities. Nothing like the TARDIS can do, just enough to shave a few days off getting from one place in the galaxy to the next. But its drives must be malfunctioning to create those kind of waves.” He studied the strange craft’s specifications in the TARDIS’s diagnostic console. “Yep. I was right.”

“Smug git,” Rose called him and Brenda gasped at her audacity to talk to one of the Lords of Time in such a way. Then the Doctor uttered one of his low Gallifreyan swear words and Brenda gasped at him instead.

“Sorry, forgot you know what that means,” he grinned. “But the other ship just dropped out of the vortex. I will have to get after it. In case anyone needs help.”

“The Doctor to the rescue,” Rose cried out, catching something of the adrenaline rush that motivated him in these situations and taking a tight hold of the console again.

“Course I am,” he said. “It’s against intergalactic law not to answer a distress signal.”

“What distress signal?” Brenda asked a moment before the TARDIS began to emit an insistent beeping noise. He reached to switch it off, because it was a pretty annoying noise when all was said and done. Then they, too, dropped out of the vortex.

“Ok, your psychic powers aren’t THAT good,” Rose told him. “That was a GUESS.”

“Yes, it was,” he admitted with an even wider grin. He opened a communications channel to the other ship. “Hello,” he said. “What is the nature of your emergency? How can I help?”

“Oh, thank goodness,” a distressed female voice came back. “Our emergency is our ship is about to blow up. The plasma injectors are jammed and we’re going into meltdown. We can’t get to the escape pods because there’s radiation everywhere but the ships bridge.”

“Do you have transmat technology?” The Doctor asked. “I’ll send our co-ordinates and override the anti-transmat shield. Stand by.”

If he had been any other space traveller, if he had been a little less of a gentleman, if it hadn’t been a woman with a plaintive voice, and he a sucker for females in distress, he might have been a bit more suspicious, a bit more cautious.

Or maybe if he really DID have better developed immediate precognition. As a psychic skill, it was better than his telekinesis, but it was one that he didn’t use much because having the future looming in front of him all the time gave him a headache. But as the figures began to solidify he had enough instinct to realise something was wrong. He stepped forward, pushing Rose and Brenda behind him and shielding them with his own body just a fraction of a second before his every nerve screamed in agony. His brain immediately shut down to protect itself from the neural disrupter that must have been set to the highest setting short of kill.

“I am a bloody %/*£$*,” he said the moment he came around.

“Very probably,” Rose answered him. “If I knew what a %/*£$* was.”

“No you’re not,” Brenda told him. “And you should stop saying words like that.”

“Yes, I should,” he admitted. “Especially around you, Brenda. You’re too young to know what that even means.”

“I am definitely going to get myself a Gallifreyan phrasebook,” Rose said.

“Where the hell are we, anyway?” he asked. “And are you two all right?”

“We’re in my bedroom,” Rose told him. “Don’t you recognise it?”

“Turn the light on and I might,” he replied. “Do you mean your bedroom on the TARDIS or the real one in London.”

“The one on the TARDIS. And the light IS on.”

“What?” The Doctor sat up and put his hand up to his face. “I can’t see anything.”

“Oh my….” Rose held him by the shoulders and looked at his eyes. They looked strange. The pupils were so large that the slate-grey irises she loved so much were almost non-existent, and they looked glassy and empty. “Oh!”

“Wait,” he said. He reached and held onto her with one arm as he looked into himself and tried to trace where the damage had been done. “My retinas are completely burnt out,” he said. “They used a neural disrupter on me. And… I’m blind.”

“You’ll be all right,” Brenda said. “You have to be. You are one of the Great Lords of Time. You cannot be hurt.”

“I can be hurt,” he said. “THAT hurt like hell. Neural disruptors are evil things. Banned by at least a dozen intergalactic treaties. But.…” He tried to stand up and got tangled in Rose’s pink duvet. Rose and Brenda both reached to support him. He sat back down again on the edge of the bed, his arms outstretched to both their shoulders. “Space pirates are in control of my TARDIS and I have you two to look after and it’s going to be hours before my regenerative powers can restore my sight.”

“Oh!” Rose sighed with relief. “Then it’s not PERMANENT.”

“No,” he said. “But eyes are tricky. It will take time. Meanwhile, they could be doing just about anything to the TARDIS.”

“Well, not much, actually,” Rose told him. “THIS was the only door they could get to open, which is why we’re locked in here. And when one of them went near the console it gave him an electric shock and shut down.”

“She’s a loyal girl,” he said with a smile. “The TARDIS can handle a little twerp like Edgar, and it isn’t going to let this lot get away with anything either.” He smiled even wider. “MY TARDIS! We’re symbiotic. She can be my eyes.” He stood up again and walked across the room, unaided, to the dresser where he reached out and picked up a pair of sunglasses and put them on.

“You can see?” Rose asked.

“No,” he said. “But the TARDIS is showing me where I am. Strange, she only sees in two colours – magenta and pink. No wonder the décor gets weird sometimes. But I CAN get around.” He reached for his sonic screwdriver and went to use it to unlock the door, but it opened anyway. “Ah,” he said. “As if anyone could lock me in a room in my own TARDIS!” He opened it and looked around the corridor outside. “Come on, you two,” he said. “Let’s sort out the bad guys.”

“Are you sure you’re ok?” Rose asked. He seemed to be walking perfectly confidently. But he looked strange in the GIRL’S shades. True, they were less disturbing than his empty eyes. She hoped he was telling the truth about them repairing in a few hours. If he was permanently blinded, the TARDIS couldn’t be his eyes outside of its confines. What then?

Brenda looked as worried as she did. Despite being in total awe of him as one of the ‘Lords of Time’ she had become quite attached to him in the few hours they had been travelling. Rose even felt a little envious of the little conversations they had shared in Gallifreyan. Another of those little things, like the telepathy, that made her feel the odd one out. But that was The Doctor. He inspired confidence in people. He inspired their friendship and their love.

“I’m….” He was going to say ‘ok’, but he knew he was not ok. He ached all over from the disrupter and his head hurt. Seeing everything in magenta and pink was not helping the headache. It made him feel slightly sick, like looking at a brightly coloured picture for too long. But it was better than falling over in the dark. He was not a person who could handle physical disability. He was too much of a control freak to have parts of his own body not fully under his control and in working order.

“I’ve been better,” he admitted.

They reached the console room without any interference. They expected to find all the intruders there, and were surprised to find it empty but for one man slumped on the floor by the console. Brenda said that was the one that got zapped by the TARDIS. The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to examine the man and found that he was alive but unconscious. Then he went to a cupboard under the console and pulled out a box that contained, for reasons he had totally forgotten now, several dozen pairs of plasicuffs. He secured the unconscious man, then turned the sonic screwdriver to a new setting and aimed it at his head. It revived him, though not gently.

“Who are you? And what are you doing on my ship?” The Doctor demanded.

“%/*£$*,” the man replied.

“Not in front of the ladies if you please,” The Doctor said, and they both giggled at his blatant display of double standards. “WHO are you? And where are your friends?”

“I’m saying nothing,” the man said.

“Ok, fine.” The Doctor reset the sonic screwdriver and aimed it at his head. The man slumped back into unconsciousness.

“You killed him!” Brenda shrieked.

“Don’t be silly, you can’t kill anyone with a sonic screwdriver.” Rose assured her.

“You can if it’s set for welding,” The Doctor said. “But that was just sleepy-bye mode.” He moved to the console again and felt his way around the various buttons and switches, his long fingers knowing well what they were looking for. He pressed numbers on a keypad quickly and the viewscreen switched to videophone mode and connected to the galactic police.

“I am reporting an attempted act of space piracy and illegal use of banned neural disrupter weapons technology at the co-ordinates being transmitted to you. I hope to have the perpetrators under control by the time you get here to put them under arrest.” He waited for acknowledgement of his report but ignored the request to identify himself. He flipped the videophone off and moved around the console to the life-signs monitor. He sighed. “Rose… you’ll have to do this. I can’t see anything on it. Magenta and pink! Honestly.”

“They’re split up,” Rose said. “Looks like they’re all over the TARDIS. Different rooms…. There’s about thirty of them. How did that many get here? We only saw about six or seven transmat over.”

“Obviously they brought their friends over afterwards,” The Doctor said. “Ok, it’s hunt the pirates time. Brenda, you take the plasicuffs. Rose….” He looked into the cupboard under the console again and pulled out what she recognised as one of Jack’s wrist held life-signs monitors. He gave it to her.

“So,” Rose said as they headed down the corridor. “There are thirty bad guys scattered throughout the TARDIS – and the ones we saw looked nasty pieces of work, by the way, all armed to the teeth. And there’s us – two girls and a blind Time Lord. Who would you put your money on if there was a betting shop near here?”

“Us!” The Doctor said confidently. “I’m STILL a Time Lord. YOU are a competent Shaolin apprentice, and Brenda can read minds. We’re not exactly without skills between us.”

Rose stopped by the door to what used to be Jack’s bedroom. “There are two of them in here,” she whispered. “What’s the plan?”

“Where are they in the room?” The Doctor whispered.

“Right behind the door, trying to break it open by looks of it,” she said.

“Ok,” The Doctor said. “They must be pretty tired of being in there with Jack’s old socks. They’ll probably try to rush out as soon as the door is open. Rose…. You’ve practiced the moves often enough.”

“You want me to take out two at once?” Rose looked at him doubtfully. “I’ve only fought the holograms one at a time.”

“Same principle though. Brenda, you stay back here with me.” The Doctor pressed the girl against the wall. Rose stood to one side of the door. He looked up and smiled and told the TARDIS to open the door. They heard the click of the lock disengaging. The door opened. The first of the two men rushed out straight into a lightning fast backhand Gung Fu punch he didn’t even see coming. As he dropped to the floor, Rose leapt over him and pulled the other man over her shoulder with one of the judo throws she had perfected long ago. He landed hard and was no more trouble to anyone. Brenda moved forward at once and plasicuffed the two men together. The Doctor quickly searched them and found several stun grenades which he pocketed. “Could be useful,” he said. “Where next?”

“Seven of them in the ballroom,” Rose confirmed. “What exactly are they looking for?”

“Oh, they know they captured a TARDIS,” The Doctor said, sounding almost bored. “And there are these spaceport rumours that Time Lords keep vaults full of treasure.”

“Do you?” Rose asked, recalling his comment about the stash of diamonds.

“THEY will never know,” The Doctor said. “The TARDIS won’t let them anywhere near.”

“So you DO?” Rose asked.

“I thought you loved me for my charm and wit, not my wealth,” he answered vaguely.

“Ooh, I hate it when you do that. Can’t you ever give a straight answer to a question?”

“Where are the bad guys?” The Doctor asked, dropping his voice as they came near the ballroom.

“All over the place. Two near the door – the others seem to be just milling around.”

“Ok.” Again they took up position either side of the door, The Doctor keeping Brenda behind him. He threw one of the stun grenades to Rose, who looked at it VERY doubtfully. “You just pull the pin and throw, he said. “You aim to the right, I’ll aim to the left.” Brenda, you stay here, there’s NOTHING you can do.” He took off his shades and put them in his pocket. “Shaolin masters can fight blindfolded,” he said. “Ok, ready?”

Rose nodded. The door clicked as it unlocked and he leapt and kicked it open with the fabulous knife like manoeuvre she had often seen him practice. Rose was ready and as he landed they both pulled the pins and threw the stun grenades. They turned away, The Doctor shielding Brenda as a bright light and an ear -shattering bang filled the room. As the sound dissipated, he and Rose rushed in. They took the two nearest the door with identical Gung Fu flying kicks then split apart to finish off the other five before they recovered from their disorientation. Rose wasn’t sure exactly HOW much he could see, but from the corner of her eye as she fought her quota of the space pirates, he seemed to be doing ok. Brenda had moved in and begun plasicuffing the unconscious and semi-conscious would-be pirates as the two of them stood catching their breath. The Doctor put his shades back on and smiled. “Nine down, twenty-one to go.”

“That many?” Rose felt dismayed. They seemed to have been fighting forever as it was. “I’m so tired already.”

“You’re not,” The Doctor said. “You only think you are. The muscles you use for fighting are finely honed by the practice you’ve put in. You’re just feeling a little phased because this is your first real fight. But you’ve done great, Rose. I’m proud of you.”

“You’re not so bad yourself, for a blind man.” His words had done what he intended, given her spirits a boost so she was ready to face up to the task. “Next stop, the bathroom. WHY have three of them gone into the bathroom?”

“Must be the women. You lot never go to the bathroom on your own,” It was just as well The Doctor couldn’t see the glares both Rose and Brenda gave him. “Same routine as before. We’ve got another couple of stun grenades out of that lot.”

It worked every time. The isolated groups of pirates in the bathroom, the kitchen and the wardrobe all succumbed to their surprise attacks and found themselves knocked out by either a girl or a man who could only see in magenta and pink before being plasicuffed by a teenager as they lost consciousness.

“Ok, now we have a problem,” Rose said. “We’re out of stun grenades and there are nine of them in that room, there.”

“We’re Shaolin,” The Doctor said. “We should be able to handle them. I can still fold time to get us in there and give us the element of surprise.” He reached and touched her hand, and he could telepathically feel her uncertainty. “We CAN do it, Rose,” he told her.

“If we don’t… At least I’ll die with you.”

“We’re not going to die. My precognition isn’t THAT lousy. Now… are you ready?” She nodded. They took up positions either side of the door as it clicked open. Before they could move, though, two men came rushing out of the door, screaming in terror. They ran blindly and bounced off the blank wall the other side of the corridor. Brenda immediately stepped in and they were cuffed before their heads stopped spinning. Meanwhile, Rose looked inside the room in trepidation. The others looked just as scared. She and The Doctor rounded them up easily as they gibbered about ‘things’ trying to get them. Rose looked around. The room was empty and silent.


“Seems like the TARDIS isn’t just sitting back and letting us do all the work,” The Doctor said with a laugh. “I don’t know WHAT she conjured up in here. And I don’t think I want to know. THIS is the room she made into our bit of Gallifrey a while back. It reacts to the imagination. These people certainly don’t seem to lack imagination.”

“Don’t leave us here!” one of the pirates cried out as they turned to leave. “Please!”

“There’s nothing in there that can harm them,” The Doctor assured his companions, both of whom were disturbed by the pleas for mercy. “It IS all in their minds. I can’t help it, and neither can my TARDIS if they haven’t any happy thoughts. They should have led better lives.”

“One left,” Rose said. “Ohhh! It’s HIM. The leader of them - the one who hurt you.”

“His name is Ravelon,” Brenda said. “And he is a killer – he kills without mercy, without thinking. He didn’t know his gun would not affect a Time Lord so badly. He intended for you to die. You would have if you were Human.”

“His eyes are Human,” Rose said.

“He thinks he’s a killer,” The Doctor said. “But we’re all alive. Where is he?”

“He’s…. in the dojo,” Rose said.

“Fantastic,” The Doctor grinned. “The one room with two doors into it. We can surprise him from both sides.” They headed back towards the console room. One door of the dojo was a near invisible one set in the back wall, the other came off the internal corridor. “Rose, Brenda, you go in from the console room,” he told them. “I’ll take this door. Brenda – I’ll count three – you count with me, then Rose knows when to move. YOU stay behind her. This man is dangerous.”

Rose and Brenda stood by the door in the console room while The Doctor slipped back to the corridor. Brenda counted down on her hand silently and Rose opened the door.

Ravelon WAS taken by surprise, but he was not a pushover. He pointed his gun first at Rose as she crossed the floor, then at The Doctor as he came in the other way.

“Stop,” he called out, “Or he dies this time. Even a Time Lord can’t take that kind of punishment twice.” They heard the whirr of the disrupter coming online.

“No,” Brenda screamed and raced across the room towards The Doctor. “No, you won’t hurt him.” The Doctor looked at her in shock and crossed the floor quickly, pushing her to the ground as the shot went wide.

“No way,” he said. “I don’t let a child stand in the way of death for me.”

Ravelon levelled the gun again and was about to shoot when Rose called out behind him.

“No, you don’t,” she yelled and lunged forward to grab one of the swords from the rack. Ravelon turned, the disrupter aiming at her. Rose side-stepped its deadly beam and then spun around, the sword flashing in her hands.

She expected him to duck, the way The Doctor did, the way the hologram opponents did. He didn’t. She screamed in horror as the sword sliced through his neck. Head and body fell almost in slow motion to the floor. There was a silence before Rose dropped the sword and began to scream.

“I killed him! I killed him.”

“You did what you had to do, Rose,” The Doctor told her, reaching her in two quick strides and hugging her close in his arms. “You did what you had to do for me and for Brenda. And… and I’m proud of you.”

“I killed him… how can you be proud of that?”

“Rose,” he said calmly. “It’s all right.”

“No, it’s not. You never killed someone.”

“Yes I have. Too many times. When I had to…when they would have killed me and those I care about. I killed hundreds of the Arachnoids.”

“But they were just monsters. Not Human.”

“Rose,” The Doctor told her gently. “Sometimes monsters can be human. Don’t you remember the monster your mum made the mistake of dating, when you were thirteen, and you locked your bedroom door every night for fear of him?”

“How did you know about that?”

“I’m YOUR Doctor, I know everything. And I’m telling you not to worry.” But as he looked into her face, at her eyes that were wide with horror, as he looked with his inner eye at her thoughts, it was clear that this was going to be something that would haunt her, that would cause her pain, and change her. The idea that she had taken a life would poison her soul.

He held her close to him and reached for his sonic screwdriver. The last time he had done this, it was to blur the memory of a moment of intimacy between them that had come too soon in their relationship, when neither of them was ready. Now, he adjusted the sonic screwdriver and fully erased the memory of what had just happened. She fell into a faint as he did it. He lifted her in his arms and brought her to the bed in the console room. He laid her there gently and turned to Brenda. “Look after her, please, and when she wakes, say nothing of what happened. She won’t remember and it’s better that way.”

“I could have so easily killed somebody when Edgar was using me,” Brenda said. “Would you have done that for me? Taken away the memory….”

“Yes, I would. You’re both too young to live with that. I… I have killed. I claim to be a pacifist, but the universe won’t let me be one. Sometimes I’ve had to do terrible things – things I never wanted to do – to defend myself, or the people I care for – or even people I know nothing about but who need defending. I’ve learnt to live with it – with myself. Neither of you need to.”

He touched her on the shoulder and went back to the dojo. He picked up the sword and cleaned it – first rule – never leave a sword uncleaned. Then he picked up the disrupter gun and turned it to the highest setting. He aimed it at the body which glowed white for a moment and turned to ash. Then he looked on as the TARDIS did the rest for him. The ash dissolved into the floor, then slowly, like his own tissue regenerating, the ugly scorch mark left on the dojo floor disappeared.

And speaking of regenerating tissue…..

He walked back into the console room and sat on the edge of the bed as Rose stirred and began to wake up. She looked disorientated.

“Hi there,” The Doctor said as she looked up at him. “How are you now? You had me worried when you fell.”

“Is that what happened?” She put a hand to her head. “I feel kind of fuzzy. I remember going into the dojo like you said – and Ravelon was there. And then nothing.”

“Nothing much to tell after that. There was a scuffle and he got disrupted by his own disrupter. Nobody’s problem any more.”

“He’s dead?”

“Yes.” Then before she could think any deeper about that he gave a wide smile and swept off the shades. “By the way, Rose Tyler, did I ever tell you, you LOOK fantastic!”

“You can see!” she cried. She reached and touched his face. “But… the colour’s wrong. Green…. Beautiful, like emeralds…. But it’s not you.”

“You choose,” he said, and blinked. She was startled to see that his eyes had changed colour – now to a deep, dark brown like his granddaughter, Susan’s - the colour his eyes had been when he was born, before eight complete regenerations of his body.

“Oh, those are lovely,” she said. “But… no. It doesn’t look right, still.” She laughed as he blinked again and they turned bright, piercing blue, and then a soft hazel, then a lighter brown, like her own. “No,” she said. “I think… I prefer them the way they were.” He smiled again and blinked and there they were, the eyes she had fallen in love with, soft slate-grey now, looking at her, but as hard as flint when he was angered and like pools of mercury when he was laughing.

“Happy now?” he asked her.


“Good.” He kissed her gently, then stood up. “You two talk among yourselves for a bit. I’m going to disable that ship, then stick its crew back in it to await the arrival of the Galactic Police. They can explain what happened to them if they want - that they were beaten by two girls and a blind man! That’ll earn them some respect in jail, I don’t think! Then we’ll get on with taking Brenda home to her family.”