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

"You're staying in bed," The Doctor told Rose. "No arguments. The Doctor knows best." And to prove it he took the thermometer from her mouth and looked at it expertly. "Another couple of degrees and you'll be the same temperature as a Grolian Volcano Lizard after a day soaking up the heat."

"You're making that up," Rose said. "There's no such thing."

"When you're over this bout of flu I'll take you to Grolia to find out," he answered. "Fantastic place. More volcanic than Reykjavik."

"You're only saying that because I'm too bunged up to SAY Reykja…" He smiled impishly and silenced her complaint with a kiss. "You'll catch the lurgy off of me."

"Time Lords don't get flu," he replied.

"Well that's not fair," Rose complained. "You get to play doctor with me. But I'll never get to be nurse to you if you don't get sick."

"Hush up and go to sleep for a bit," he told her. "I'm going to take the boys for a quick wander around this planet we've landed on before your next dose of medicine is due." Then he kissed her again and brushed his cool hand against her fevered and flushed cheek. "You're still beautiful when you're sick."

"So are you," she answered and turned over in the bed, burying her aching head in the pillow. She felt him pull the blankets around her gently then move away from her, telling the boys to get their coats. She heard the sound of the TARDIS door opening and a cool breeze came in through the door for a moment. Then it closed again and she was alone in the console room. Even 'parked' there was a very tiny vibration but that just felt soothing as she drifted into welcome sleep.


"Poor Rose," Chris said as he walked next to his great-grandfather in the cool air of the planet's early morning. "Why don't we get flu?"

"Don't really know," The Doctor answered him. "It's a Human thing. And we're not Human. That's all. She'll be ok."

"We're part Human."

"Our eyes are Human. Flu isn't contracted through the eyes."

"We should pick her some flowers," Davie suggested. "She'd like that."

"Yeah," The Doctor smiled. "We'll do that on our way back. The sensors showed some kind of built up area around here. But no life-signs. Curious."

"Plenty of reasons why that should be," Chris said. "The colony might have been abandoned. Or they might have moved to a bigger city."

"Or it could have been plague or war or radiation," Davie added.

"They might all be on holiday," The Doctor suggested hopefully. Just for once it would be NICE to have a simple explanation.

"Granddad, that CAN'T be true," Chris said with a laugh. "In 700 years there must be a planet you've landed on where NOTHING was wrong."

"Chris, get out of my private thoughts," he told him. "One of these days you're going to see something there that will shock you."

"It's not me doing it," Chris protested. "When we're close like this, I can't help it. Its like we're…." Chris couldn't think of the word. His great-grandfather did. "Yes, symbiotic."

"Do you get that, too, Davie?" The Doctor asked his other great-grandson.

"No," he admitted. "I have to concentrate. But I hear all Chris's thoughts so I get to know anyway."

"We should all practice thought blocking some time, I think," The Doctor decided. "It really isn't a good idea to know everything about each other. I have too much stuff going on in my mind."

"Granddad," Chris said to him. "You make it sound like you've been a bad man. You're not. You're a very good man. You've never done anything selfish or mean or wrong, ever."

"Yes, I have. If you were to dig deep enough you would find selfish motives. I'm not perfect. Nobody is."

They reached the built up area. The occupants had clearly NOT gone on holiday. The houses were derelict and had been so for maybe forty or fifty years. Roofs were fallen in, walls too in some cases, weeds cracked the paving and ivy covered all the broken walls.

"Granddad!" Chris suddenly gave a horrified cry and his thoughts so utterly overwhelmed both his brother and his great-grandfather that both felt as if they had been blinded for several minutes. The Doctor grasped him around the shoulders and held him tightly as he began crying. Davie, too, cried, and then The Doctor also felt the reason for their grief. It was that the whole ruined town emanated that emotion - pure, raw, inconsolable grief. Chris and Davie had never suffered the sort of personal loss that brings that sort of sorrow. For them it was a new feeling, though one they recognised instinctively. For The Doctor, it was one he had known too often. Every sudden and unnecessary death he had ever experienced came into his mind; his personal losses - the death of his son was a sharp knife in his soul - and those he was merely a witness to - the souls who died on the Titanic, or those victims in New York he had felt helplessly cry out to him. And of course the greatest tragedy of his life - the death of his people, his planet. The closest he had ever felt to what he was feeling now was when he witnessed the fireball engulfing Gallifrey.

He could not stand up. He sank to his knees as if weighed down by the raw emotions that seemed to fill the air. He felt the boys put their arms about him. Before he had been comforting them, now they were comforting him. He clung to them as he fought to rid his head of grief that was not his own. He had enough of it to contend with already. As much as he empathised he could not bear the burden of other people's sorrow too.

When he finally did it he felt as if he had become somehow lighter. He stood up again. He looked at the boys. They were taking his lead and fighting it off, pushing it from their minds. He felt them free themselves from it. Chris, when he did, grasped The Doctor's hands tightly.

"Granddad," he said. "Is that REALLY what it's like - being you?"

"Not all of the time," he assured him. "I'd be a complete basket case. Yes, there have been times when I've felt like that. But I've been happy, too." He didn't need to tell them. The psychic connection was there. They both knew that his 'happy thoughts' were the warm, family ones. The day his son was born, the day years later when his granddaughter, their mother, was born. Even the day he discovered he had great-grandchildren. They looked at him and he smiled even though the grief of this place hung around like radiation after a nuclear blast.

"Yes, that was one of my happiest moments, when I held you two in my arms for the first time. Rose would tell me I'm a soppy article. And I am. But that's NOT a bad thing."

"Its one of our happiest memories, too," Davie said. "We never knew we had a granddad. Mum never told us. It was a great surprise. You played football with us. You showed us how to do penalty kicks."

“Hold that thought,” The Doctor told them. “Hold it tight. Let your good memories be your shield against whatever it is that’s wrong here.” He focussed his mind on Rose, the centre of his universe, on the joy of loving her and his hopes for their future together. It was a feeling powerful enough to keep any horror at bay. He held out his hands and took hold of the boys either side of him. Together they walked towards the nearest relatively intact house, a substantial one that once had two floors. Only the top floor was fallen in. Much of the ground floor was still standing.

"Whatever happened here, happened suddenly and the people had no chance to escape. They probably never even knew what hit them." He looked at the skeletal remains still sat at the table in the kitchen-parlour. This was a family; parents, children. The Doctor looked once and looked away from the crib with the remains of a baby in it. Even the skeleton of a dog curled by the hearth. Death had come swiftly. And it had come to every living thing at once.

"Not plague. Some of them at least would be in beds. And the dog would have survived on the gnawed bones of the dead for a little while."

"Not nuclear," Chris said. "The buildings were intact." The Doctor felt a swell of pride at how the boys reasoned as well as he did.

"Must have happened a long time ago," Davie said. "Takes ages for bodies to get this way."

"About forty or fifty years," The Doctor said. His guess about the buildings was confirmed at sight of the Human remains. Then his hearts froze.

In so far as it could be measured in linear time, the Time War ended about forty or fifty years ago when the two last races in it - the Daleks and the Time Lords - were wiped out of existence. But before then, many other planets and people had suffered its effects. The Nestene Consciousness he had battled with the day he met Rose was a refugee from the same war. The Gelth claimed they were, too, though he was never sure about them. He thought they might have said that to gain his sympathy.

This was another planet that had been wiped out by that same holocaust that his own people died in. But here there was no inferno. Whatever happened had killed all life on the planet in an instant but left - as Davie pointed out - all the buildings intact.

And it had left the grieving souls of the dead. Though he was blocking them from his head, he knew they were there still, all around him. His earlier thought was the most accurate. It was like residual radiation. - Except radiation dies away eventually. These souls remained as strong as before, hanging onto the most potent emotion - grief.

But they had other emotions too. Chris and Davie felt the jolt in their heads and stared at their great-grandfather. Something had intruded on his mind again and it had blocked them out.

"NO!" he cried out loud. "No, it's not my fault…. I didn't even know your planet existed. If I did, I'd have tried to help. I AM the only survivor of the Time War. Yes, I know. But it's not my fault. Don't blame me for living when so many died. I've paid the price for my life a thousand times over."

The boys could do nothing except watch as his eyes filled with painful tears. He turned and ran from the ruined house. The boys looked at each other and then ran after him.

"Help? How can I help you?" They heard him say as they reached him. "You're all dead. I can't help that. The dead stay dead. I can't change that. I CAN'T help you."

"NO!" he suddenly shouted. He turned to the boys. "Get back to the TARDIS. Run, now!" They didn't wait. They didn't try to argue or ask why. They began to run. "No, you can't blackmail me," he said. "You won't use them. I'm sorry for what happened to you, but threatening to hurt my children won't make me help you. I will NOT be threatened. "

He couldn't risk bringing the TARDIS closer by remote. These lost and desperate souls could easily penetrate it and then they would have no defence. But they seemed to be concentrated on the village. He had been holding them off until the boys were clear of their influence. Now he turned and ran himself, back towards the TARDIS. He caught up with the boys when they were in sight of it. He didn't waste any time in explanations. He simply urged them to keep running, staying slightly behind them all the way. He didn't want to be ahead and leave them exposed. When they reached the door he sprinted forward, inserting the key in the lock and half pushing the boys through the door.

"Were they… were they bad?" Chris asked breathlessly as The Doctor went to the console and put them into temporal orbit. "They didn't seem to be. They just seemed very sad."

"No, I don't think they were bad," The Doctor told him. "But I think they were desperate. Desperate enough to hurt the two of you to make me help them. But I can't help them. There is nothing I can do. I have no power over life and death. I can't restore life. There's nothing I could have done for them."

"I wish we could," Davie said. "They WERE so sad."

"Why did they think it was your fault?" Chris asked. The Doctor smiled grimly at him. He always asked the sharpest and most relevant questions. And in this case the most painful.

"Because I AM the only survivor of the Time War. Millions died on so many planets. Not only those who were combatants. There were many where innocent people were caught up in it. I don't even know what happened there. Something ripped through those people in an instant, killed without mercy, without discrimination. I don't know what sort of weapon could even do that. I REALLY hope that its inventors died with everyone else." He looked at the viewscreen. They were safe in temporal orbit. Time to think. Time to look after Rose.

"Never did pick any flowers," he said as he looked at her. She was still asleep. He went and sat by her. It WAS just flu, and she'd get better faster with the medicine he had made up for her than anything they sold at Superdrug. But he still felt concerned. That was love, he reminded himself. It made you so nuts about another person that you worried even when they had a minor ailment. He leaned over and kissed her. Her lips felt hot and dry, not quite right. She stirred in her sleep and he felt her respond to the kiss. Her arms went around his neck and she pulled him closer.

"Miss me?" he asked and she said yes but he knew she had been asleep the whole time. "I missed you. But you probably wouldn't have liked what we found out there."

"What DID you find?" She asked, awake now and interested. He told her.

"So… All those souls are floating around there, sad and lonely, desperate for bodies."

"That's about the size of it."

"Last year… on Beta Delta IV, we met a bunch of people who had LOST their souls and wanted to steal other people's."

"Yes." The Doctor looked at her thoughtfully. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Could we get them together?"

"Don't know we should do that lot any favours." But then he thought of those sad ghosts on the planet below. He WANTED to help them. It WASN'T his fault. But he had felt guilty all the same. And if he could do something, then it was another part of his repentance fulfilled.

The Time War! Would he have to deal with the consequences of that his whole life? The Doctor sighed deeply and felt the long years of his life weighing on him and the years ahead so little lighter. His Human friends thought of his long lifespan as a blessing. He wondered sometimes if it was a curse.

"Granddad," Chris came to him and put his arms around his neck. "Don't think such sad things."

"Stop reading my thoughts," he told him.

"Stop thinking of death," Chris insisted. "We need you. We love you."

"Why are you thinking of death?" Rose asked him. He shook his head to indicate he couldn't tell her about it, but Chris told her instead.

"He is sad because he's the ONLY being that survived the Time War unharmed. He feels guilty."

"Oh, you soppy article," Rose sat up and hugged him. "You didn't start the war. Neither did your people. The Dalek's did that. Stop beating yourself up about it."

"You didn't feel it out there. You didn't FEEL them in your soul."

"No, I didn't," Rose conceded. She looked at him, and at the two boys. They ALL looked as if they had experienced something that would haunt them forever. "Hey, you're Time Lords too, so you can't get flu. Come give me a hug." The boys smiled and climbed on the bed and hugged her affectionately. If she really DID marry The Doctor these would be her GREAT GRANDCHILDREN. That was something to think about. She loved them as much as he did anyway. And she worried about what they had experienced and how it might affect them.

"You weren't expecting anything creepy today, were you?" she asked The Doctor. "Or you wouldn't have taken the boys."

"No." He hugged them too. "It was a bad experience. And one I wouldn't have DELIBERATELY taken any of you into. But you both were fantastic. You handled it wonderfully. You have Human compassion as well as Gallifreyan dispassion. And that's good. That's what I would hope. It means that horrible things like that WILL frighten you. But you have the strength of mind not to let it get to you."

"So CAN we help them?" Chris asked.

"We might be able to. We might be able to help some other people, too. If I can find them. We'll have to go to Beta Delta IV. Sadly, Rose is still infectious to other Humans, so she'll miss out there."

"Oh rats," she said. "I liked that place." But The Doctor was busy now. First bringing her the next dose of medicine for her flu, and then setting course for Beta Delta. The boys sat with her and told her a little more of what had happened on the planet. It felt strange being so completely out of the loop. But it couldn't be helped.


The arrival of the TARDIS in Sally's coffee shop caused surprise but no consternation among its clientele. The Doctor smiled as he stepped out and saw all of the friends he made on his last visit there. He called the boys to come out with him and went to the counter. Sally greeted him joyfully and so did the woman working at the till.

"Milly, dear," he said, addressing her. "How are you doing now?"

"I'm doing just fine," she answered with a smile. "So is the baby. Look." The Doctor turned and saw the baby whose soul he had restored on his last visit. Now he was a strapping one year old, sitting in a play pen in the corner of the café.

"I'm glad. Any chance of a coffee? White, no sugar. And maybe a couple of milkshakes for the boys."

"I didn't know you had kids of your own, Doctor." He turned and greeted his other two friends from his adventure on Beta Delta IV, Peter the bank clerk and Greg, his in-law several dozen times removed.

"These are my great-grandchildren," he said with a smile, sitting down at the table with Peter and Greg and pulling some extra chairs across for the boys.

"Great…." Greg looked startled. Then he remembered what he knew of Time Lords and The Doctor in particular. "Oh, right."

"You're all keeping ok?" he asked them. Milly brought the coffee and milk shakes and said they were 'on the house." She sat with them, too.

"We all owe you so much," she said. "Me, especially. You gave me back my baby and my husband."

"We ALL owe you, Doctor," Greg told him. "But you didn't stick around for us to say thank you properly."

"Not my thing. I fight the demons, see off the invaders. But the putting society back together after is best left to people themselves. And you've done that?"

"Yes. We're all fine now."

"Would be better if I didn't bring it all back up again then, really. But I have to. Milly, I'd like to talk to your husband if I can. He might be able to help me out." Milly nodded and went to the telephone to call him. She came back to the table with the baby in her arms. "Let me have a look at him."

The Doctor held out his arms to take the child from her. He smiled as he held him on his knee. The baby smiled back at him and seemed content to be held by him, as if he was somebody familiar, not a stranger. He touched the baby's forehead and let his mind reach inside. He felt, as he expected to find, a healthy growing baby mind, full of the joys of life's learning processes, knowing a little something new every day, but knowing most of all that it was loved.

"Doctor?" He withdrew slowly from the baby mind and looked around as his name was called. He saw Milly's policeman husband at the door. "There's nothing wrong is there?" he asked as he came and sat with him. "You're not here because there's something bad going on?"

"Nothing that affects you folks," he promised. "But you might be able to help me make some things right in the universe." He quickly outlined his idea to them all. They reacted with surprise that he wanted to do a good turn by those who had caused them all such pain.

"I know how you feel," he told them. "Believe me it's not for THEM so much as the people of this OTHER planet. They have suffered so very much. I want to ease THEIR pain and suffering. And they ARE suffering. I have never felt so much grief in one place. It was unbearable. If I can help them and prevent any more ideas of STEALING souls then I can call it a job well done."

"But you don't know where the invaders of our planet came from?" Greg said. "And you're hoping we know."


"The information will be at the police HQ," Milly's husband said. "If you'd like to come down with me, Doctor."

"Good idea." He looked at the boys. "You two can stay here and have another milk shake." He looked in his pocket for money to pay for this one, but Peter got there first.

"Least we can do for you, Doctor."

He smiled and turned to go with Milly's husband. The boys accepted their second milkshake with polite thanks but found it hard to think what else to say to these old friends of their great-grandfather's. Milly brought them a plate of biscuits to go with the shakes.

"What did granddad do here?" Davie asked her.

"Saved our world." Peter told them the story of the last time a strange blue box had been seen on their planet.

"But you could have done that yourselves," Chris said. "You just needed the courage to fight."

"Yes. But we didn't have that courage until he showed us the way."

"I think maybe he does that a lot," Davie mused. "Dad told us about the Daleks on Earth. It was granddad who came along and helped them work out how to beat them. But they mostly did it by themselves."

"I think it's more than that," Greg considered. "He came here - a total stranger - and when he saw we needed help, he didn't hesitate."

"Yes," Millie added. "And it felt as if he cared for each and every one of us - as if he was doing it for love of us all."

"As if he was one of us," Peter added.

"That's because he loves Humans," Davie said.

"He loves Humans because his mother was one, and his wife - and Rose, too." Chris added absently. "Everyone he loved deeply was Human. So he loves all Humanity."

"He's not Human?" Millie asked startled.

"He's a Time Lord," Greg reminded her.

"Yes. But I thought… aren't they Human?"

"No," Greg said. "They're something else. His wife was my great, great-aunt, you know. We're related. But I'm from the Human side of the family."

The boys looked at him and smiled.

"So…. Are YOU two Human or Time Lord?" Millie asked the boys.

"He's teaching us to be Time Lords," Chris told them.

"I didn't think that was how it worked," Greg said. "Then again, what do any of us really know about them? Time Lords. They're a mysterious lot."

"Well," Millie said, hugging her baby. "All I know is he is the kindest man in the universe. If he's not Human, then Humanity should be sorry for that. And the people he does come from should be so PROUD of him.

Chris thought about that. He knew enough about his grandfather to know that his race were NOT proud of him. They had treated him very badly for breaking their rules that said he COULDN'T help people like these.

And anyway, they were all dead now.

"WE are proud of him," Davie said.

"We're his people," Chris added.

The Doctor came back presently. He told the boys they had to go now. They stood up dutifully.

"Are you….did you find out what you needed?" Greg asked him.

"Yes," he said.

"So now you're going to the planet where the people came from who tried to make us into mindless zombies in order to save themselves."


"Must you?" Millie looked frightened for him. "Those people were so…."

"They're dangerous," Peter said. "You're putting your life at risk for another bunch of strangers you know nothing about."

"It's what I do," The Doctor told him. "You lot know that, if anybody does." He smiled at them. Millie hugged him. So did Sally. Greg and Peter shook hands with him, but looked as if they wanted to hug him too. Then he took the boys and went into the TARDIS. The Beta Deltans stood and watched as the man they had talked about more than any other faded from their lives once more.

"Next stop Pretan Omega, home of the Soul Stealers." He became busy at the console, keying in the co-ordinate he had obtained from the police records of Beta Delta IV.

"We're really going there?" Rose looked up from her bed at him. He looked animated as he prepared to take them to goodness knows what danger. He really DID thrive on it. When things are going smoothly he gets bored.

"Would he get bored with me?" she thought. Maybe it was because her head ached and her throat hurt and her nose felt like it belonged to somebody else, but a strange doubt crept in. He told her - he told everybody - that she was his, that he meant to marry her one day. He told her that he actually WOULD prefer to give up all of this and live quietly with her, and have an ordinary family life. Or as ordinary as it is possible to get considering he IS The Doctor, the last of the Time Lords. But she had always believed that was possible. Now she wasn't so sure. Could he give it all up and be happy? She thought about that alternative reality they had stumbled into. From where she lay she could see the photograph she kept as a souvenir. Her wedding photo - The Doctor and herself hugging each other outside the registry office. She thought of the simple life they had lived in that reality. And then she remembered how disgusted he had been about it. How he recoiled from the ordinariness of it, against being a bloke who went down the pub with her dad and drank lager and played pool.

He wouldn't be happy, she realised with a sinking heart. He couldn't give up the thrill of the chase, the adrenalin buzz of danger, the challenge of a mystery to solve. He might pretend he could, to please her. She knew he loved her enough to do that. But it would be as false as the alternate reality life had been. What would he do? Put up shelves with his sonic screwdriver, tinker with a car in the garage, grow roses in the garden? Get old and overweight and resentful of all he had given up? And blame her deep down inside. She knew people who had given up far less who had gone that way.

"Oh Rose!" The Doctor looked at her and saw all those thoughts so clearly. "You're right, and you're wrong, too. No, I couldn't live that life we glimpsed." Suburban bliss with roses over the door didn't sound like him either. He wasn't even sure it was HER. But yet, for all that he DID find a kind of satisfaction in the thrill of the chase, he was weary of it. As long as they could avoid the kind of cliché's that had run through her mind - washing the car, mowing the lawn, and spending Sunday afternoon in the DIY superstore - if they could find a way to live a quiet, simple life without losing who they both were, then he would settle for it any time. He yearned for it. He had been too long the lonely wanderer without roots. He remembered that was the main reason - apart from falling in love with David - that Susan had chosen to give up that life. To put down roots. It had taken him nearly five hundred years longer, but he was about ready to admit that she was right.

He saw Chris looking at him solemnly and knew the boy had seen all that he had thought. "No," he said in his mind. "I can't tell her that. She'd think I was just saying it to make her feel better. I have to find a way to SHOW her I mean it…. I don't know how. I'm working on it…. No, I don't think flowers would be enough. Or chocolates."

The TARDIS engines changed in tempo and pitch as they came out of the vortex. He turned his attention to the landing. He didn't want to hang about in this place. He wanted to land right where he could find the right people to discuss this matter with, get their attention, and settle it quickly.

"You two stay here this time," he said. "Nothing for you to do and just in case there is any danger…." They looked mutinous. "And don't tell me you aren't planning to psychically eavesdrop on me. You can keep Rose up to date on what's happening." He grinned and hugged them all before he exited the TARDIS.

"Ok, so what's happening?" Rose asked lying back on her pillow as the boys sat on the edge of the bed.

"We landed in the middle of their government council chamber," Chris told her. "Right in the middle of a session. And they're all really scared. Cos they've heard about the man who travels in a blue box." Chris and Davie laughed at the idea of anyone being scared of their granddad.

"They're all waiting for him to speak. But he's scanning them - reading their minds, to see if they mean any tricks. So that's what he meant about no souls. They're EMPTY. It's…. It's so weird."

"Yeah, I know," Rose said. "Met that lot before."

The Doctor was, indeed, biding his time. He stood in the middle of the council floor and looked around at the leaders of this race that had suffered a great cataclysm of their own and had sought desperate means to restore themselves to whole beings.

"You know who I am?" He asked the one seated at the head of the chamber, clearly the president or chancellor of the council.

"You are the one they call The Doctor. We know of you. We know what you did to prevent us from fulfilling our destiny."

"You had no right to fulfil anything at cost to others," he said. "That was an act of the worst villainy. But strangely, I understand your desperation. I understand your need. And I am here because I can help you."

"You? Help us?"

"Yes," he said. "But I'm not going to hang about. I'm making you an offer. Take it or leave it." And he outlined his plan to them. At mention of the lonely planet of souls they became interested.

"What are the co-ordinates of this planet?" the chancellor demanded.

"Like I'm going to just give it to you lot, a bunch of pirates. There are terms and conditions. If you are prepared to obey them, then I offer you a solution to your greatest problem. If not, I get back in my box and I'm away. And you can go on being shunned by the whole galaxy."

"We are prepared to listen."

"He's got them now," Rose said. "He's in full on Gallifreyan autocrat mode. They don't have a chance. She laughed and then coughed. Chris passed her a cough lozenge. "Thanks."

They didn't have long to wait before he was back, and with him a group of plenipotentiaries from Pretan Omega he had agreed to take back to the planet to see if an accommodation could be made between the soulless and the tortured, bodiless souls of that place. He was cool with them. He made them sit on the two sofas and hardly spoke to them as he set the course.


Again he left Rose and the boys in the TARDIS. He brought the plenipotentiaries to the village. As he drew close he had to block his mind from the strength of the grief all around him. But those with him, the soulless ones of Pretan Omega were unaffected. At least at first.

It happened suddenly. It wasn't dramatic. For a moment each of the plenipotentiaries glowed slightly blue, and their eyes became glassy.

"I'm…. I'm whole!" one of them cried. "I am alive. I can feel… touch…. I'm…."

"I'm alive," another said, tearfully. "Yet….!"

"I'm two people," another cried, eyes shining with wonder. "I know this place. I had a home here. But I am somebody else too…. I live on Pretan Omega. I am…."

"You've each absorbed one of the souls from this planet," The Doctor said. "You're more than whole. You are combined. How you cope with that is up to you. Might be best if you sort out some family relationships. But that's for you all to decide. I'll bring you back to Pretan Omega now. You can have the co-ordinates and make arrangements to bring your people here with whatever you used to use to trap the souls on Beta Delta. But this time you do it by negotiation."

By the time they had RETURNED to Pretan Omega and The Doctor had spent several hours discussing terms with the council, it was late evening by the Earth watches Rose and the boys went by and the twins had taken themselves to bed. The Doctor put the TARDIS in temporal orbit and went to say goodnight to them, then he came back to Rose.

"Hey," he said, coming to sit by her. "How are you feeling?"

"Bit better." She sat up and smoothed down her hair. She knew it looked pretty ratty after sleeping all day. "The headache has gone now."

"I've neglected you," he said apologetically. "I've spent most of the day putting the universe first and you second."

"Isn't that how it should be? I never wanted to be a hindrance to you."

"You're never that. But I don't want looking after the universe to get in the way of loving you, either. You SHOULD be more important to me."

Rose smiled. It was nice to be told the universe was less important than she was. Even if it wasn't true.

"If you're going to talk daft you'll give me another headache."

"The boys think I should have got you flowers," he said. "But I don't know where you'd put them. There's no vases here, no shelf to put it on." He looked around at the corner of the console room she had made her own like a little nest. A glass and a bottle of lucozade and a box of tissues and a wastebin for the used tissues sat on the floor within arms reach. "You should sleep in your bedroom. Don't you think after all this time you ought to have a room of your own?"

"I want to wake in the morning and know I'm here, with you," she told him. "I like knowing you're there, near me. Doing… doing your thing." He laughed at that shorthand description of the tasks that generally occupied his time while she slept the 'night' hours.

"You're afraid to wake and find it was all a dream."


"So… before you met me how often did you have dreams about travelling the universe with a tall dark stranger in a blue box?"

"Never. But… that's not the point. You know what I mean."

"Yes. Have you ever thought that maybe it seems to me that you don't want a permanent room because you don't feel you intend to be here permanently."

"Do you think that?"

"No. If you're really happy like this, it's fine by me. I don't even HAVE a bedroom on the TARDIS. Never have. And I'm not planning to leave either. But…" He smiled. "Flowers aren't a good idea, and you complain that chocolates are bad for your complexion. But is there anything that you would enjoy right now, and that might qualify as a romantic gesture from me to you?"

"Passion fruit and mango sorbet and mint-chip ice cream," she said. "And iced home made lemonade."


"You can do that."

"People keep telling me I am the most powerful man in the universe. I think I can manage a bit of ice cream." He was willing to bet the TARDIS had already made sure those things were in the fridge. Fulfilling those short term needs were easy enough. The other things she needed from him, long term, took a little more thought, but he would move the stars for her if she wanted it. And he hoped she would realise that one day soon.