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

"Wyn, what are you reading there?" The Doctor asked looking at her. She was sitting placidly on the White House sofa with a book he never noticed around the TARDIS before.

"Book of science fiction stories," she said, slightly muffled by the chocolate bar she was eating while reading.

"Why?" Rose asked her. "You LIVE the greatest adventure ever."

"It's something to do in the quiet times in between things trying to eat us," she answered.

"Could be worse," The Doctor said with a smile. "Wyn, did you ever hear the shortest Science Fiction mystery story in the universe?"

"No?" She looked up expectantly.

"The last man on Earth was sitting on his own in his room when there was a knock at the door."

Rose and Wyn looked at each other and grinned.

"He opened the door and the last two women on Earth invited him to a party in their room," they said together.

The Doctor laughed. That was why he loved them both. They thought about things like that and worked them out to their logical and simple conclusion. Everyone else he told that story to started imagining green tentacled things waiting to suck the brains out of the man. They forgot that green tentacled things didn't knock on the door.

"So is Mars anything like in this story?" Wyn asked.

"Don't know," The Doctor said. "What's it like in that story?"

"It has no water and the inhabitants live under the ground in weird bubble-shaped caves."

"Why would a cave be bubble-shaped?" Rose asked.

"Mars is the Tower Hamlets of the universe," The Doctor said. "It's really not that interesting."

"It is to me. I spent my whole life in Llanfairfach."

"You want to go to Mars?" The Doctor asked her.


"Well, ok," he said.

"Ok?" She smiled. "Really? We can go?"

"You've not really had a choice of where to go yet. Why not. Mars it is. But I'm telling you, it's pretty boring." He moved around to the navigation control and pressed a sequence of buttons which, Wyn supposed, fed the co-ordinate for Mars into the TARDIS drives. How did he know? There were billions of places in space and time. Even his brain couldn't keep them all in it.

"No," he told her, and she was surprised until she remembered he COULD read thoughts, especially when he was the subject of the thoughts. "Mars in what would be by your calendar the 27th century is actually a preset that's been in the TARDIS's databanks since I was a student. I only used it once. Like I said, Mars is boring. I mostly wanted to visit Earth."

"Earth is boring," Wyn said.

"Earth is one of the most beautiful planets in the universe," The Doctor told her. "Its biodiversity, its topography, even the way it looks when you approach it from space - blue and white and green. You just haven't learnt to appreciate it."

"SangC'lune is my favourite planet," Rose said. "But Earth is home. Coming back to it is nice."

"Well, I don't want to go back to Earth," Wyn said. "They might make me stay."

The Doctor smiled in understanding. "When I was a teenager - that's about a hundred and ninety in our years - I felt that way about Gallifrey. I tried out about two thouand of those presets, and quite a few random choices and accidental detours. Anything but go home."

Rose smiled. She knew what Wyn was thinking then. What was The Doctor like as a hundred and ninety year old teenager.

"He was Drop Dead Gorgeous and really sweet and cuddly," Rose told her. "But then again, he still is."

"You didn't used to think so," The Doctor said with a grin. "You picked up all sorts of pretty boys - Adam, Jack, that blonde kid on Omega 15.…"

"None of them meant anything to me," Rose protested. "And anyway, YOU were ALWAYS flirting with pretty girls. Would you like a list."

"None of them EVER mean anything to me," The Doctor told her. "They all paled into insignificance beside you." He caught her in his arms and kissed her playfully, if only because it drove Wyn nuts to see them affectionate that way. True to form she made sick noises behind their back until he stopped.

"There's not a man in the universe that measures up to you," Rose whispered. "Jack might have had a shot at it, but he fancied you more."


The TARDIS materialised in the hangar bay of the Mars Station. As they stepped out onto the deck The Doctor passed Rose and Wyn laminated cards.

"Passports," he told them. "Everyone goes through immigration here." He steered them towards a queue that was slowly but steadily moving forward. Wyn's eyes boggled as she noticed how few of the new arrivals were actually Humanoid. There were people with skin colours ranging from bruise-blue to luminous pink and every kind of shape. People with one eye, people with six eyes; one with an inverted nose which stuck INTO the face rather than out; people with any number of arms from one to eight, and the same went for legs.

Rose looked but not with any special interest. She'd seen it all before. The different shapes and colours were just what people were like on the outside, just as Humans were fat or thin, white, black, red haired, blonde. She had travelled the universe enough to know that, ultimately, it was what people were like inside that mattered. And most importantly, no matter what they looked like they were still people. She looked at a case in point. A pair of blobby looking creatures the colour of used blu-tac that didn't even have arms and legs, just sort of thin tentacles part way up the roughly triangular shape. They moved along the floor on what seemed to be hundreds of little blue toes. But they were STILL people.

"Yes, they are," The Doctor whispered to her. "And you know what, those two are as much in love with each other as we are. Some things never change, no matter what species you are."

Rose smiled and watched as the blue blob people were passed through the immigration check. They must have been some kind of celebrities, because they didn't queue but were escorted through by what looked like personal bodyguards. They must be the Posh and Becks of the blu-tac people, she thought. It was nice to think that they were in love, though.

"Which is the guy and which is the girl?" she asked.

"Doesn't work that way on their planet," The Doctor told her. "When they form mating partnerships they BOTH bear the children."

"Oh. Ok." Apparently, some things could still surprise her about the universe and its bio-diversity. "That's…." She thought about it a bit. "Well, that's kind of NICE actually."

"Yeah," The Doctor agreed. "It works for them anyway. Not sure the misogynist species I belong to would go with it, though."

They reached the gate. Rose and Wyn presented their cards and declared that their business was tourism, that they were staying less than three lunar orbits and were not carrying any illegal food substances or alcohol.

When The Doctor presented his passport, though, there was a problem. He was talking to the customs officers for nearly twenty minutes and they did several full body scans with hand held monitors before they finally allowed him through.

"What's up?" Rose asked him when he joined them.

"Apparently I am already here. My biometric details are already in their database."

"Huh?" Wyn looked at him. "How can that be?"

"I said this was a preset from my student days. I FORGOT that I actually USED the preset. That means the cuddly Drop Dead Gorgeous me is around here as WELL. I should have changed the date and come along at a different time."

"Chrístõ is here?" Rose looked excited. "He's nice. I'd love to meet him again."

"Well we're not going to," The Doctor said. "I remember coming here. We never met anyone like - like us. It was just a quick overnight stopover on the way to somewhere else. I wanted to show Julia the Aurora here. It's quite spectacular."

"Julia's here too?"

"Yeah, but aged fourteen. You don't have anything to worry about."

"I wasn't worrying," Rose said. "It would be nice to meet her, too. The girl you loved when you were young and idealistic and not burdened by so many sad memories."

"No," he insisted. "Even for a Time Lord, the past is the past."

"Maybe we should just leave," Wyn said. "I'm not THAT crazy about seeing Mars. If it's a big problem for you."

"It's not. This is a big place. We don't have to run into each other."


And yet, Rose thought, if it really was such a problem them meeting, WHY did they risk it? She thought she knew the answer. He DID want it to happen. He wanted to see Julia. She knew he hadn't consciously arranged for them to be here. She believed he was genuinely shocked when he realised. But now he was here, the possibility of seeing the girl who would grow up to be his wife DID appeal to him. He WAS hoping for a meeting between them.

She wasn't jealous. But she was worried about him. That kind of thing had to mess with his head just a bit. He had buried her when she died, an elderly woman, hundreds of years ago. He had grieved and got over her and he had learned to love again. Seeing her as the young girl, the hope and the opportunity for the future, could not be good for him.

"Euughh, what's that?" Wyn asked as they moved through the foyer of the Mars Station.

"Ohh!" The Doctor groaned. "I forgot they had that. It grossed me out the first time I saw it. I've tangled with live ones since and it's still repulsive.

Rose looked at the object that had caused both Wyn and The Doctor such concern. She had to agree with them. "Euggh" about summed it up.

The creature was clearly no oil painting when it was alive. It had a muddy green reptile skin. Its arms ended not in hands but what seemed to be metallic pincers. The face, also, looked as if it was partially non-organic. The head was reptilian, hairless and sort of bullet shaped. But the eyes looked like they were glass panels in a face mask.

"It's an Ice Warrior," The Doctor told them. "At least that's what they were called on Earth when they tried to invade. They are, in fact, the REAL Martians, the actual indigenous species of this planet."

"But this one is PICKLED," Rose said, appalled. It was definitely dead, and looked as if it had been for a LONG time, preserved in what she guessed was the stuff they used in the biology lab at school for bits of frog. But this was a glass display case about eight foot tall. The creature was taller than The Doctor.

"A museum piece," The Doctor continued. He stepped away from the horrible sight, bringing Rose and Wyn with him. They were glad to go. He brought them to a café out of sight of the main foyer and its gruesome exhibit. They sat by a window and looked out on the Martian landscape. It was green and pleasant around the tourist complex but further away in the distance they saw red plains and mountains, and the sky had a red tint to it.

"It reminds me of Gallifrey," The Doctor said. "Except Gallifrey is natural. Its watered places were always there, and its mountains and deserts. Mars was terra-formed and the green bits and the water and the atmosphere artificially created for the Human colonists."

"So what happened to the Martians, the Ice Warriors?" Wyn asked. "Did we kill them? Humans, I mean, from Earth?"

"No," The Doctor said. "Your race has never been conquerors. When the people of Earth reached for the stars you colonised uninhabited planets or lived in harmony with existing races. You at least have that to your credit." He smiled at his two Human companions. "No, global warming killed them in the end. Not the way it worked on Earth, though. The Ice Warriors lived below ground. That's why all those probes NASA sent up in your era found no trace of them. They lived in ice caves. A huge frozen stratum beneath them kept their habitat at the sub-zero temperature that suited them. But something happened to the core of the planet. Somehow the magma worked its way up and it melted the ice. The caves gradually flooded as the water level rose, in much the same way 21st century scientists predicted for Earth if the ice caps melted. The caves eventually flooded but by that time most of the Martians had died because of the unbearable rise in temperature."

"Did none escape?" Rose asked.

"I think they may have done. They had space travel capability. They may have gone in search of other planets they could live on. They never tried to come back to Earth, anyway. I made it clear they had no place there. And they seem to be one race at least that finally got the message. They were nasty sorts. Earth would have been destroyed by them if they'd got their way. They probably don't deserve my sympathy. But when I see that one there in the foyer, a remnant of a proud race turned into a curiosity…. Well, I'M the last of my kind. I can't help wondering if somebody somewhere might want to stick me in formaldehyde and put me on display for people to gawp at."

"I think they've tried every other way to get rid of you," Wyn laughed. "The things mum used to tell me about you. I used to half suspect you were made up. Nobody could be that brave and that UNLUCKY as to meet so many weird things that wanted to kill you."

"Yeah," The Doctor said with a half smile. He sat back in his seat and looked out of the window. He saw his own reflection overlaid on the view outside. He had a youngish face in this incarnation. It didn't reflect the long lifetime of danger and intrigue as much as other faces he'd had. There was a touch of Dorian Grey about him. But his memories went back nearly a millennia and his soul bore the scars his body didn't show.


"I suppose we wouldn't have been able to breathe on Mars as it used to be," Rose asked as they walked around the tourist complex. She wasn't, it had to be said, entirely impressed. It reminded her of a really big CenterParcs complex with hotels and shops, museums and theatres and concert venues and all the rest. A tourist city under a giant glass roof. Like The Doctor, she preferred places that were real. This was just too much of a fake. Was there Life on Mars? The people of her century asked the question. The answer was yes, but most of it came here as seasonal labour through an employment agency.

The only thing really worth seeing was the Aurora. Even the artificially altered atmosphere didn't spoil that one natural phenomenon the planet had to offer. As the sun went down on a Martian day - which was, The Doctor told them, 39 minutes longer than an Earth one - they joined many other visitors on a huge observation deck on the top floor of the complex.

Rose and Wyn both half remembered Newsround Extra in one of their science specials explaining how the aurora was caused by electrons and protons from the sun colliding with the air molecules in the upper atmosphere. An audio commentary was saying much the same thing, but they both tuned out. If they really wanted technical detail they would have asked The Doctor. They didn't. They just wanted to enjoy the one REAL thing about this unreal planet. The most spectacular display of light and colour and movement. Along with the technical detail was a backing track of classical music. Rose didn't recognise the piece and it didn't come close to matching the majesty of what they were looking at. She tuned out of that, too, and played her own music in her head.

"Well, that was worth seeing, anyway," she said as they waited for the lift back to the ground floor. "I enjoyed that."

"Me too," Wyn said. They both looked at The Doctor but he was distracted. Rose followed his gaze and saw where he was looking at and her suspicions of earlier were confirmed.

"It was just a quick overnight stopover on the way to somewhere else. I wanted to show Julia the Aurora here. It's quite spectacular."

He had known his younger self and his then future wife would be here on the observation deck. And there they were, waiting for the same lift. Chrístõ, the handsome young man, tall, slim, a little pale in the face, as if he ought to get more sun, though that only seemed to set off his all black clothes; shirt, pants, shoes, and LEATHER JACKET. It was the SAME leather jacket as The Doctor wore, only his was NEW.

The girl by his side held hands with him in the same way she held The Doctor's. She was, as he had said, about fourteen. She was slim and pretty with dark hair and deep brown eyes. Susan and her children all had those same eyes, inherited from their Human grandmother.

And she only had eyes for Chrístõ. She laughed and smiled at the things he was saying to her, and he looked at her with an indulgent expression that showed he utterly adored her.

The Doctor was smiling as if he was remembering this conversation all over again.

And then Chrístõ looked up and their eyes met, and Rose had the feeling that they connected telepathically, too. They HAD met a couple of times, of course, in accidental circumstances. But this one was deliberate on The Doctor's part at least.

Rose watched the younger man's reactions. His first was to put his arms around Julia protectively. The Doctor had done the same. She had been almost unaware of his arm on her shoulder until then. Protection? Or Possession? Each staking their claim?

Chrístõ's eyes took in The Doctor, Rose and Wyn, who was ALSO wearing an identical leather jacket. It had become so much a part of HER regular get up that they had all taken it for granted by now. But it identified her as WITH The Doctor in such a unique way.

Chrístõ looked rooted to the spot, unsure what to do. But The Doctor moved towards him. Rose and Wyn both had the same thought. In Low Gallifreyan it was spelt as $£%^&*. They both knew that he was about to deliberately break a fundamental law of temporal physics.

"Hey," he said to his younger self. "How are you?"

"I'm… I'm fine," Chrístõ answered disconcerted. "But…"

"Yeah, I know. It's against the rules. But you know what, I'm past caring. I've lived by those bloody rules all my life. And you aren't old enough yet to contemplate what I mean by that."

"I think I have an idea," Chrístõ said. He grinned. "I thought I was only going to be a rule-breaker in my reckless youth. I figured I'd settle down and get sensible after a bit."

"Well, you did for a while. Then I decided reckless was more fun." He smiled at Julia, who understood more than either of them gave her credit for. She smiled nervously back at him. He tried to think of something he could say to her, but for once even he was lost for words. He decided to buy some time. "We're all staying at the same hotel tonight. How about we have dinner together? Meet for drinks in an hour?"


Rose sat at the dressing table and did her hair to go with the rather nice evening dress. For once dressing up wasn't really pleasing her as much as it should. She was annoyed. The Doctor was annoying her. He was in the shower, SINGING, out of tune. And that was his way of avoiding the tongue-lashing worthy of her mother that she wanted to give him.

Coming to Mars WAS Wyn's idea in a roundabout way. He HAD been reluctant at first. He said it was boring. And it was. He came to please her. But when he REALISED there was something for him here, he HAD gone out of his way to contrive it. He had more or less set them all up for this dinner just to satisfy his own whim.

In a way she didn't blame him. Who wouldn't take a chance to meet again somebody they loved as much as he had loved Julia. She remembered when she had begged him to take her to see her dad.

She remembered the trouble that had caused. He had blamed her for messing it up. And when she had pointed out that HE meddled with people's lives all the time he simply said "I know what I'm doing."

And he did, of course. He was a genius and he knew more than she could begin to know. He knew what was possible and what wasn't.

But this time he had gone too far.

He came out of the bathroom. He had a hotel dressing gown wrapped around him as he went to the wardrobe and picked out clothes for dinner. Rose watched him in the mirror. She certainly wasn't going to turn around and look at him. She was perfectly well aware that he wasn't wearing anything else BUT the gown. And that annoyed her more. Because she knew he was teasing her because she was annoyed with him. He had never come out of the bathroom before without being fully clothed. And now he did it when she was so steamed at him she didn't care if he'd been totally naked.

She carried on ignoring him while he dressed. She didn't even bother looking in the big mirror. She deliberately spent ten minutes on her eye make-up using the hand mirror from her cosmetics kit.

He did look handsome in his dinner suit, she had to admit. She sometimes wondered which was the real him. The working class rough in the scuffed leather jacket he appeared to be most of the time - or the LORD of Time born and raised in the highest ranks of his society.

It didn't really matter. She loved both sides of him. Even when she WAS annoyed at him.

"Are you going to STOP being annoyed at me and enjoy dinner?" he asked her as they all went to the dining room.

"No. I'm going to ignore you and talk to the better looking, younger you," she told him icily.

In fact, she let him talk to his younger self while she and Wyn talked to Julia. The two of them were in very much the same position in a lot of ways. Their future plans involved being married to a man they were crazy about. But both had to wait. She was waiting until it was possible for them to be married in the way The Doctor wanted them to be. Julia had to wait until she was old enough TO be married to Chrístõ.

"In some societies I AM old enough," Julia said. "I've seen at least three planets where I'm MORE than old enough to be married."

"On YOUR planet the right age is 23," Chrístõ told her indulgently. "And that's the age you'll be when I take you to Gallifrey for our Alliance of Unity."

“On Gallifrey,” The Doctor pointed out. “The age of consent is two hundred. And most of us wouldn’t even think about an Alliance before two hundred and ten or so.” He looked at Julia and smiled. “Don’t rush to grow up. Your days are precious. Enjoy every one of them.”

"I do," she said with a smile at him and an even more glowing smile for her own man. "Especially the days I spend with Chrístõ."

"I like being with you," Chrístõ said, touching her hand tenderly. "But he's right. Whatever our future plans, don't wish your life away. Don't rush to grow up and miss out on so much."

"I hated being a kid," Wyn said. "I'm glad I'm old enough to do what I want now."

"Not that old," The Doctor said, moving the wine carafe away from her and refilling her glass with non-alcoholic cordial.

"Bossy, aren't they, these Time Lords," Rose said with a laugh.

"I don't care," Julia said. "I love Chrístõ."

"Yeah," Rose agreed. "I know that feeling." She looked at HER man. Nearly eight hundred years separated Drop Dead Gorgeous Chrístõ from him. And a lot of it had been hard. Julia and him were going to be happy for a relatively short time in the Time Lord scale of things. If they fully realised what was in store for them, would they BE as happy as they seemed to be? She looked at The Doctor. She knew he was thinking the same.

That was why, The Doctor realised, that this WAS a bad idea. Just by being here, together, he with Rose, and his younger self with Julia he was showing them how ephemeral their happiness was. He was smart enough in his Time Lord teens to work it out.

"Let's dance," Julia said to Chrístõ. Several couples of varied species and physiognomy were already on the softly lit dance floor as a small orchestra played romantic music. Chrístõ took her hand. The Doctor watched them for a while then took Rose's hand. She still wasn't QUITE over being mad at him, but he knew she loved dancing. And, indeed, it was hard to stay mad at him as he held her in that way.

"May I have this dance?" Rose was surprised when, as the music changed Chrístõ took her by the arm while The Doctor danced with Julia.

"I don't think that's a good idea, you know," Rose said. "Him and her."

"He wouldn't harm her any more than I would harm you," Chrístõ assured her.

"That's not what I mean. I know how much she was to him. This is just opening up old and painful memories."

Chrístõ smiled and shook his head. "No. He's nuts about you. But… Well if I was him, I know I'd treasure just a moment, one dance with her. That's all. You'll have him back afterwards. That's a promise."

In fact she didn't have him back at the end of that dance. He brought Julia to the table and he took Wyn instead out onto the dance floor. She had been sitting there alone and neglected. Rose and Chrístõ went and sat with Julia and watched.

"That was sweet of him," Julia said. "Giving her a chance."

Rose agreed. It was just the sort of thing he would do. Short, and overweight for her height, in an evening dress she picked out from the wardrobe that really didn't suit her, she looked awkward and uncertain. But The Doctor treated her as if she was the prettiest girl in the room.

"Looks like her dad or uncle dancing with her though," Chrístõ said. "Not like she was really out on a date with him."

"Oh!" Rose exclaimed as she looked at the other couples on the floor. "The blu tac people."

Chrístõ looked at her and smiled wryly. "Blu tac people?"

"I don't know what they are. It's what they remind me of."

"They're Belonians. Planet in the Taurean sector."

"The Doctor told me they were a couple. In love."

"Oh, they are that. They're also very important people on their planet. One of them is a member of the Belonian royal family, and the other an ambassador. Real celebrity couple."

"Wow." Rose watched them for a while. "But I think the nicest thing is that they love each other. Love is nice no matter what you look like."

"It is that," Chrístõ agreed, his hand in Julia's. They all looked again at The Doctor and Wyn. There wasn't quite the same chemistry between them. As the music ended, Chrístõ stood and strolled across the floor and he took Wyn for the next dance. Whatever age he was, in Human terms he looked about nineteen or twenty, and Wyn only a couple of years younger. When he danced with her, they looked like they might be a pair. And she actually seemed a little less awkward and ungainly as he led her around the floor.

The Doctor went back to Rose and Julia. Rose had almost completely forgotten she was mad at him now, and she sat on his knee and snuggled her head on his shoulder. Julia sat close to him, and he put his free arm about her, too.


"That was why you did it, wasn't it," Rose said when they slid beneath the bedclothes in their hotel room later. She snuggled up to him as he put out the light. "That's why you broke so many rules to make sure you met up with your younger self. You wanted a moment, just one moment when you could be with us both. Julia and me, together."

"The two women I have loved in my whole life," he said. "For the length of one dance, I held you both. It was so precious."

"You did Wyn a favour, too," Rose told him. "She had a great time. It was great the way so many other guys asked her after Chrístõ and you danced with her."

"So am I a good guy again?"

"You always were.She kissed him. "I'm sorry I was mad at you."

"I'm sorry I gave you cause to be mad at me. When I was getting dressed earlier, did you look at all?"

"No. I was mad at you."

"Not even a peak?"


"Oh well," he said. "Guess that punctures my ego."

"Serves you right. Don't do it again."

He pulled her close to him. She felt his strong, lithe body through the black satin pyjamas. She slid her hands around his back, resting them in the hollow at the base of his spine.

"Doctor," she whispered.


"I lied."

"About what?"

"I did peek."


"And when we get married, I'm going to be one lucky girl."

"I'm the one with the luck," he replied. "You're mine."

They kissed passionately, pressed close together. But after a full day the passion turned to sleepiness very quickly and they lay together still closely embraced, his strong arms protecting her from whatever harm there might be.


In the morning, they discovered there was a great deal of harm to be had. When they went down to the dining hall for breakfast they discovered the hotel was in the midst of a security lockdown. The doors were guarded by armed and uniformed police and there were men in the reception area and corridors.

"What's happening?" Rose asked, pressing close to The Doctor. He put his arm around her and Wyn protectively as they were all herded into the dining room. He found Chrístõ and Julia already at a table and joined them.

"There's been a murder," Chrístõ said. "In the hotel during the night."

"Who?" The Doctor asked.

"The Prince of Belonia," he answered and Rose realised at once who he meant.

"Oh, no," she cried. "The blu-tac people."

"Oh hell," The Doctor said. "That could mean the breakdown of the political system in their quadrant."

"They were in love," Rose said. That, to her, was the important fact. "Oh what about the other one, the partner?"

"I don't know," Chrístõ said. "I've been zoning in on thought patterns. There's a lot of rumour and nonsense. But that seems to be the truth of it."

"It's horrible." Rose was crying softly. She didn't know why. She had never even spoken to the couple. She only knew what The Doctor and Chrístõ had told her about them. But they had been people she identified with. People who were in love with each other. She felt as if she did know them, had a connection with them. And now one of them was dead. She looked at The Doctor and knew how she would feel in the same place.

"How was the prince murdered?" Wyn asked.

"Strangled," Chrístõ said and Rose sobbed louder. It sounded so horrible. "Apparently he liked to walk alone outside in the dawn. He was attacked and left for dead."

"It's horrible," Julia said and sat closer to Chrístõ. She, too, had a man she loved dearly and could imagine only too easily how it would feel to have him taken from her in such a cruel way.

The manager of the hotel called for silence. He had to call again in several different languages before he got it. Then the chief of police addressed them all. He said that everybody was under house arrest in the hotel and could not leave. All personal space vehicles were impounded. Those with temporal capabilities would be disabled. The Doctor and Chrístõ both looked disturbed by that and started to reach for their TARDIS keys. But there would be no sense in that.

"Each guest will be bio-scanned. Your co-operation is mandatory. If anyone refuses they will be placed under arrest and removed to the security installation."

"We have nothing to fear," The Doctor told everyone around their table. "We stay put and we do what they ask."

They ordered breakfast while they waited to be bio-scanned. None of the women felt like eating much, but The Doctor and Chrístõ both coaxed and encouraged them.

"I don't like this," Chrístõ told The Doctor telepathically. "I feel as if…"

"As if there is a trap closing in," The Doctor finished his sentence. "You feel it, too?" He looked at his younger self. He WAS as smart then as he was now. What he lacked was experience. He'd get more of that than he wanted. But for now, The Doctor felt that he was an ally he could rely on in a crisis that was going on around them all.

"Will you come this way?" The policemen who came to their table were polite but they were still men with guns. In the hotel foyer they separated the men from the women and they were bio-scanned in separate rooms. Rose, Wyn and Julia came back out of the room and looked around. They waited a full five minutes before they began to feel there was any kind of problem. Another ten before they began to be worried. Then they saw people coming out of the dining room. The lockdown had been lifted.

"They've arrested the killer," they heard somebody say.

"What?" Rose was the first to realise what was going on. Her stomach suddenly felt as if it had been frozen and her heart dropped into it. She turned and looked at Wyn and Julia. Slowly the same realisation dawned on them.

"They think it was The Doctor?"

"They think it was Chrístõ?" Julia's voice was small and frightened, and she LOOKED small and frightened. So did Wyn. Rose felt that way too, but she was the oldest of the three of them, the grown up. She had to look after them, and find out what was happening.


What WAS happening? The Doctor looked at his younger self as they were shackled together in the back of a closed vehicle and driven at high speed to the 'security installation' - the Martian euphemism for a prison.

"Not just a prison," their guards said with just too much enthusiasm. "It's the courthouse and execution place as well."

"They have the death penalty on Mars," Chrístõ told The Doctor telepathically.

"I know."

"We're in big trouble."


"You didn't do it, did you?" Chrístõ asked.

"You shouldn't have to ask that question. I haven't changed THAT much since I was you. And YOU couldn't have done a thing like that."

"So, is it a mistake or are we being framed?"

"Not sure. I've had both happen more times than I want to remember, and it's not easy to tell the difference."

"We could escape. We're Time Lords. We're smarter than anyone on this planet."

"No," The Doctor said "That would only make us look guilty and anyway, where would we go? The TARDISes are impounded. Besides, I've never run from anything. WE'VE never run from anything. Whatever evidence they have, it has to be flimsy, circumstantial…"

"Didn't matter on Grepharia III when I nearly got burnt at the stake."

"Didn't matter on a dozen other planets," The Doctor said. "Including Gallifrey."

"Gallifrey?" Chrístõ looked alarmed. "How could I be accused of… there…Our home… What…"

"Never mind. That was a dumb thing to say. The point is we have ALWAYS been innocent."

"How did we get out of this one?"

"I don't know. There is something very strange here. I remember bringing Julia to see the Aurora, staying the night in the hotel, and then going on our way. No being accused of murder, no meeting my future self. This shouldn't be happening to you."

"It seems to be happening right now," Chrístõ told him.

"I know. I'm sorry. Can't help feeling it's my fault. My being here at the same time as you has created a distortion of events. I think, because I deliberately caused us to meet up things have been altered."

"Well, yes, we had a table for five instead of an intimate one for two last night. But I don't see how everything else could be your fault."

"Me neither. But that's because we aren't supposed to break these sort of rules and do this kind of thing."

The vehicle they were travelling in stopped. The door opened. The building outside was far less attractive than the hotel they had been taken from. They were manhandled out of the vehicle and marched quickly up a stairwell and down several long corridors, all heavily guarded. Finally a door was open and they found themselves in....


Rose brought Wyn and Julia back to the hotel room she and The Doctor were booked into. She couldn't think of anything else to do. Julia was near hysterical. Wyn was holding out so far, but only because pretending to be tough was ingrained in her. She, herself, would have screamed the walls down if it would do any good. She knew she had to stay strong for the others - especially for Julia.


….into the prisoner's dock of a courtroom. They looked at each other in dismay. They were both used to a certain concept of innocent until proven guilty in the dispensation of justice. But here such a concept did not seem to exist. The fact that the dock was enclosed and bars separated it from the rest of the court was a big clue. The first of many.

As the trial got underway they realised the worst. There were no lawyers for the defence. There was no cross-examination or any attempt to reach the truth. There was no jury. The trial was heard by a man in robes called 'the Dispensator.' And it appeared his job was simply to decide what sentence the accused should receive. His bailiffs brought the 'evidence'. It was precious little. Some biological evidence was found. Skin cells detected on the body of the Prince matched that of either one of the accused.

There were some urgent questions as to how and why two men could have the same cells, the same biodata. Neither was asked if he could explain. Neither voluntarily offered up an explanation.

But the Dispensator was clear on one thing. One set of evidence was found. Only ONE murderer could be tried. He looked at the two men with a hard, unsympathetic stare. It was clear to them that he expected one of them to speak up. Chrístõ opened his mouth as if to speak but The Doctor put a firm hand on his arm and pulled him back as he stepped forward and gripped the metal bars between him and the court.


Julia had cried herself to sleep on the bed. Wyn just fell asleep out of exhaustion. Rose lay on the sofa and tried to sleep herself. She hoped that when she woke it would all be a bad dream and he would be there.

She woke to somebody shaking her and she saw a familiar black jacket, smelt the comforting smell of the leather, and thought it WAS a dream. But when she opened her eyes fully she saw it was not her Doctor but Chrístõ, his younger self. He looked as if he had run a long way, and he was desperately worried. His eyes seemed to burn with it.

"Rose, I'm sorry," she said. "You must come quickly." He went to wake Julia and Wyn as he broke the awful news. "The trial was a farce. They had no interest in the truth, innocence or guilt. They just wanted to convict and sentence. And they HAVE. Rose, they are going to execute him."

"NO!" She screamed. Chrístõ came back to her and put his arms around her comfortingly. And it was a SMALL comfort. He WAS the same man she loved in his WAY. Julia came to him as well. She was crying. Because she also knew that The Doctor was the same man as her Chrístõ and she cared about him. Wyn tried not to cry at first. But then she, too, broke down. Chrístõ tried to hold all three of them at once.

"They set me free," he said. "Because he… He took the rap. They didn't care about evidence. They wanted one of us to hold up and say they have done their job."

"Why him?" Wyn asked through her tears. "Why not…. Why not you?" Julia gasped at the idea and clung to him even harder. "I'm sorry but…"

"It had to be him," Rose sobbed. "Because if it was... because he wouldn't exist ANYWAY if Chrístõ died. And neither would any of us, because the Earth would have been destroyed long before you or I were born, Wyn, by things he helped fight. And Julia comes from hundreds of years after us so she would never have been born and…."

"Come on," Chrístõ said. "We have to get there. He needs you, Rose. To be with him…."

"Yes," she said.

In the lift to the ground floor he held them all tightly, but once there Rose ran ahead. She stopped when she reached the foyer. There, just to compound her grief, was the surviving "blu-tac person" as they still were in her head. He - or she - or it - was standing there, surrounded by protective guards. Rose took no notice of them as she ran to the Ambassador of Belonia.

"Please," she cried as the guards closed in on her. "Let me talk to him. Let me…"

The Ambassador of Belonia turned the largest and saddest eyes she had ever seen on her and then told his guards to let her through.

"Please," she begged. "I know you are hurting like anything. I know because… because the man I love is being killed right now. Because they say he murdered your partner. But he didn't. He is innocent. I know he is. Because I couldn't love him if he was capable of such a thing."

That was a terrible alibi, she knew. Why would anyone believe her?" But the blue eyes looked at her with an intensity that made her think he might be telepathic.

"I believe you," he said in a voice that was like seawater seeping through sand as the tide recedes. "I do not wish this to happen. One death is enough. But I cannot prevent the statutes of this world being carried out." Again the eyes looked into her. "At least, let me offer you my car to take you where you wish to be."

"I wish to be with him. When they…." Rose couldn't speak any further. The Belonian reached out a tentacle and touched her cheek. Then he turned and gave instructions to his entourage.

It was a fast car, and it had diplomatic plates. It ignored speed limits, it ignored traffic signals. But even so, the time was short.

"Let me get this straight," Wyn said. "A murder happened about five hours ago, around dawn. They identified a suspect, based on some flimsy evidence, and tried and convicted… and now they're about ready to execute."

"Yes," The Ambassador of Belonia said. "It's their way of crime prevention."

"It's horrible," Julia said. "Can't anyone do anything?" She looked at Chrístõ hopefully, but he shook his head.

"No," he told her. "No, we can't. Not without using my TARDIS to break laws that would earn me the same penalty from my own people on Gallifrey."

"I hate those laws," Rose said. "Without them my dad could be alive, and loads of other people who didn't deserve to die. And…"

Strangely, despite the hollowness in her soul, Rose felt proud. He had offered himself as sacrifice because he couldn't let his younger self die. He'd given up his future so that Chrístõ and Julia could have one.

It didn't make the hurt any less. But it did make it less pointless, less senseless.

"Relatives of the condemned, to collect the body," one of the guards insensitively called out as they were swept through the security gates and rushed up endlessly long corridors to a door that said "Execution suite." Rose's heart almost failed her as the door was opened. But she had to keep going. She had to.

They were too late! They had entered a sort of observation area, where several people already sat watching in mute satisfaction as the execution by lethal injection was carried out. She felt her legs give way beneath her as she saw The Doctor lying on the table, his arms and legs secured with straps and a man in a medic's white gown administering the lethal dose of a drug cocktail that paralysed the body and stopped the heart. She felt again the comforting feel and smell of leather as Chrístõ's arms enfolded her. She knew he was feeling as bad as she was. He was witnessing his OWN death, after all.

The medic nodded to the Dispensator. He stood imperially and turned to face the witnesses.

"Justice has been done," he announced and began to walk out of the chamber.

"No!" It was Wyn who shouted out the protest that stopped him in his tracks. "No," she said again as she ran down the steps and stood in front of him. "JUSTICE has not been done. You just murdered an innocent man. A wonderful, fantastic man. And… and I hope you rot in hell for it."

The man looked at her in silence and then walked on.

"You may take the body and dispose of it as you choose," the Dispensator's aide told them.

"Yes," Chrístõ said as he and Rose walked slowly towards the table. She broke from him and ran the last few feet and wrapped her arms around the still warm body of the man she loved, and would always love to the end of her days.

"Wyn," Chrístõ said, suddenly practical. "You have a TARDIS key? For YOUR TARDIS?"

"Yes," she said. "Here…"

"They released the embargo as soon as the trial ended," he said. He pressed the key and a moment later they all heard the sound of the TARDIS materialising. At the same time, he turned and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. He used it to cut through the restraining straps and he lifted The Doctor's body as if it were lightweight. He gave the key back to Wyn without a word. She opened the door and they all came inside. Chrístõ laid The Doctor down on the floor and knelt by him, clutching his hand. Rose knelt too, and bent to kiss him.

Chrístõ grabbed her and pushed her back. She looked at him, startled. "What…"

"Wait till the poison has been expelled before you touch him," he said. "It's lethal to Humans."

"Lethal to…" Rose's heart felt as if it dared to beat again. "Do you mean it's NOT… to you…to him…"

"What?" Wyn and Julia both stared.

"Well, I suppose if we didn't do something about it, sooner or later it'd be lethal to us as well," Chrístõ said. "Funny, but Humans, when they settle on something - it must be seven hundred years, your century, since they decided the formula for this sort of execution and they never changed it."

"I thought it was cynanide," Wyn said. "It's not something I thought about much. We don't do it in our country."

"That's the gas chamber," Chrístõ said. "In lethal injection they use three different drugs. Sodium thiopental, an anaesthetic to make it painless. Well, that does nothing to us. Then Pancuronium bromide to paralyse the muscles. That's not good for us, it has to be said. That's why he's not looking so well at the moment. It acts like a short term neural inhibitor. And a massive overdose of Potassium chloride to stop the heart. But what is an overdose to one Human heart is less of a problem to two Time Lord ones. Even so…"

Rose gasped in relief and astonishment as she saw the poisonous substances secreted from the pores of his body. He seemed for a moment to be covered in a sort of ash. Then it evaporated.

"You can kiss him now," Chrístõ said with a smile. He stood up and reached out to Julia, who came to his side immediately. Wyn stepped closer to The Doctor. As Rose bent and kissed him, she, too, knelt beside him. She was still crying, not quite sure what was happening. But she was aware that a sort of miracle was happening.

"Sarah, stop crying, you're getting my shirt wet," The Doctor murmured. And Rose and Wyn both looked at him in surprise.

"Who's Sarah?" Wyn asked.

"The woman he went about with after your mum," Rose said. "Doctor?" She put her hand on his cheek and felt his facial muscles move as he opened his eyes. "Doctor, it's me… Rose. Sarah is…. Well, a long way off, but if she was here, I'm sure she'd be as worried as we've been. You….You scared the hell out of me. I thought you were dead." She looked at Chrístõ. "And you… Why did you put us through that if you knew he…"

"I didn't know. I hoped…When I knew what he meant to do I thought he might…. But it was a risk still. He COULD have died. He must have had at least one cardiac arrest in the few minutes it took to get the stuff out of his system."

"Two," The Doctor said a little breathlessly. "I felt both hearts stop, but not together. Left one kept going while I restarted the right and then…" He looked at Rose. "Yes, I think I might have been clinically dead for about 30 seconds or so. Not something I want to try again."

"Why did you do it in the first place?" Rose demanded of him. "Have you any idea how scared I was? We all were?"

He sat up and looked at her and at Wyn, her face streaked with hot tears. And even Julia. He reached and hugged Wyn with one arm and put his hand out to the girl who was going to be his wife in that future that was still to come for his other self. She ran to him. Rose understood something she hadn't quite realised before. Julia didn't just love the Drop Dead Gorgeous teenage version of him. She loved him entirely. Julia loved HER Doctor, too.

And that made sense. Of course it did. He WAS the same man, after all. And everything she loved about Chrístõ was in The Doctor. She stood off as his first true love hugged and kissed him, relieved that he was alive. She wasn't jealous. She in no way worried he would not love her. But she knew that Julia was a part of his history - and for a brief moment, a part of his present, too.

"So, if you're ok," Wyn said. "Can we all just get out of this place? I think the original Martians must have been way nicer people than the ones here now."

"Not yet," The Doctor said as he stood up and looked at Chrístõ. "I don't know about you, but I'd really like to find out who framed us."

"Oh, I don't CARE," Julia exclaimed. She stood between the two versions of the man she loved and looked at first one then the other. "I don't care what this is about. You're ok, both of you. So let's just… just… GO."

"Something's happening outside," Rose said. "Look."

She pointed to the viewscreen. Outside the TARDIS in what they had thought was an empty room now that the spectacle of an execution was over, there was a crisis brewing.

"Doctor?" She turned to say something but The Doctor and Chrístõ were both gone. The TARDIS door stood open. She looked at Wyn and Julia and sighed. Then all three ran after them. Wyn closed the door behind them.

"The Ambassador has been shot," somebody cried out above the sound of other voices shouting for medical help.

"Well don't look at me," The Doctor said. "You already executed me once." But he moved aside the gawping bystanders and went to attend to the stricken Ambassador. He reached in his pocket for his sonic screwdriver before he realised that his personal possessions had been taken from him earlier.

"I'll handle this," Chrístõ said kneeling beside him, his own sonic screwdriver already set to medical analysis. "Flesh wound," he said after a moment. "They missed." He adjusted the setting again and began to repair the wound in the blue flesh of the Belonian Ambassador. He opened his eyes as he worked and looked up gratefully to them both. His tentacle arm reached and touched them both.

"Thank you," he said.

"You'll be ok," Christo told him. He put the sonic screwdriver away and looked around.

"The bullet went into the wall there," Chrístõ said. "So…"

"So the shooter was there…." The Doctor turned and looked directly up to the camera gantry. Executions, as well as being swift and unnecessary, were FILMED.

But the shadowy figure up there in the gantry was not a cameraman. A shot rang out. The Doctor raised his hand.

"Oww," he cried. "That bloody hurts." He dropped the bullet and began to run as he saw the gunman make his move. Chrístõ was right behind him. They matched each other for speed and agility as they vaulted over obstacles in their way.

The gantry was accessed through a crawlspace above the main public entrance to the execution room. There was a ladder fixed to the wall. As Chrístõ put his foot on the first rung, though, the assassin leapt through the air, landing some several metres away from them and breaking into a run without a moment of hesitation.

"Wow!" Chrístõ said aloud as he turned to give chase, The Doctor matching his pace.

"Celonian." He heard The Doctor in his head identifying the species. "From the next planet to Belonia. Tall, thin, long-legged. Built for speed and agility. And known to be devious little bleeders. The hired guns of the universe."

"So how come we got the blame pinned on us?" Chrístõ asked.

"Let's get him and find out."

"He's fast."

"So are we."

The chase took them back towards the tourist centre. The Doctor really wanted to stop him before he was among that many innocent people. But he WAS fast. They time folded several times to gain on him, but they were still behind as they entered the shopping mall sector. People screamed and scattered as a dark clad man with a gun ran through them. They screamed again as two more gave chase. Nobody noticed that one of those men had appeared on their video screens not more than half an hour ago being executed for a political murder. The video screens now showed the aftermath of a second assassination attempt and reported that the Ambassador of Belonia was shaken but unharmed.

The Celonian race had the ability to run at high speeds for long distances without getting out of breath due to a bypass respiratory system not unlike that of the Time Lords. The Celonian in question knew he could outrun the two Time Lords who were after him. He knew that was what they were because he had taken the skin sample of the younger one yesterday morning. The arrivals hall had been busy, people were bumping into each other. When his hand was grazed by the handle of a suitcase the Time Lord accepted the apology good-naturedly. The assassin had the cells he needed to artificially grow enough skin to cover his own hands when he killed the Belonian, leaving evidence that would lead to a completely randomly chosen stooge. He had been surprised at the nature of the cells he had taken, but a Time Lord was just as good for his purpose as any other species. He wasn't entirely sure how it was that the police had arrested the other one, but either way the heat was off him.

Except he couldn't make his clean getaway because he had received new information. The other Belonian was expecting a child. There WOULD be an heir to the throne after all. He had cursed his paymasters thoroughly but he had no choice but to set up the second assassination. Ironically, the execution was the perfect cover. But the Belonian had arrived late. The whole thing had been a disaster. And now all he could do was run for his spacecraft and get out of the solar system.

"He's heading for the hangar bay," Chrístõ said to The Doctor telepathically. They were both recycling their air and time folding as often as they dared. "He must have a craft on standby."

"I'm not chasing him by TARDIS," The Doctor said, and they time-folded together pushing the very limit it was safe to move that way.

The Celonian reached the foyer. Ahead was the hangar bay. Getting out of Mars Station was a lot easier than getting in. The turnstile was automatic. He just had to place his passport on the biometric scanner. He reached in his pocket for it. That was why he didn't see that his path was no longer clear. He hit the strange looking blue box that had just appeared out of nowhere with such a force that he rebounded off it and collided with the glass display case containing the last Martian on Mars.

Chrístõ and The Doctor were still in their time fold. To them it all literarily happened in slow motion - the glass shattering into a million tiny pieces, the preservative liquid spilling out over the floor, the long dead Ice Warrior falling onto the startled Celonian.

The TARDIS door opened. Wyn started to step out then changed her mind.

"Eugghh," she said.

"Once again Euggh is the right word," The Doctor said. "Do you want to grab him or will I?"

"Age before beauty," Chrístõ said with a grin. The Doctor grinned too, but grimly, glad that his usual choice of footwear was a sturdy and waterproof sort. He grabbed the man from beneath the rapidly disintegrating Ice Warrior. He held him by the neck, one finger pressing on the jugular vein.

"Just a tiny bit of pressure would cut the oxygen to your brain and you'll be a vegetable," The Doctor said. "Come to think of it, that's probably preferable to the method of execution that awaits you in a few hours anyway. And I don't see any reason to do you any favours, Jimbo. So I'll just move this finger here, instead." He pressed down on a nerve and the Celonian screamed in pain. "Course, I'm a nice guy, so I won't enjoy torturing you. But I've done a lot of things I don't enjoy in my time."

He looked around. The Dispensator and several of his police had entered the foyer. They all looked reluctant to get any closer to the putrid and foul smelling mess. The Doctor marched his prisoner towards them.

"This man is ready to confess," he said. "Aren't you?"

The Celonian was. The Dispensator heard him admit to the murder of the Belonian Prince and the attempted murderer of the Ambassador and his unborn child and the attempt to frame The Doctor.

"Our statutes are clear. You are guilty. You will be executed within the hour." The Dispensator nodded to his guards to take him away.

"Hold!" There was authority in the voice that called out. It came from the door of the TARDIS where the Belonian ambassador now stood. He nodded as two of his own guards appeared. "This man's offences were against the Royal family of Belonia. He will be tried there, after he has furnished the names of those who paid him to commit political assassination. They will doubtless join him in the life sentence on our penal planet."

"That is…." The Dispensator began.

"That is the appropriate action," the Belonian ambassador said. "It will be done. Take him away. Do not raise any more objections unless you wish for an inquiry into how the murderer was so easily able to commit both of his crimes here in your jurisdiction."

The Dispensator conceded the point. He allowed the Celonian to be placed under the close arrest of the Belonian guards.

"I owe you my thanks," The ambassador said to The Doctor. "And you, my young friend," he added to Chrístõ. "For my life, and that of my unborn child who will live in the memory of its slain parent."

"I am glad of that," Chrístõ said. "And for your kindness in our own trouble."

"I am sorry an injustice was committed on you in my name. It was not my wish. I assure you. And I rejoice in the miracle." He turned to The Doctor. "You are looking remarkably well for one who was subjected to Martian justice."

"I had a narrow escape," he said. "So did you. I am sorry your partner was not so fortunate. Political jealousy turned to murder is something I have bitter experience of myself. Please accept my condolences."

The ambassador nodded. He put his tentacle on The Doctor's shoulder momentarily. Then he turned and left.

An hour later everyone had packed and checked out of the Mars Hotel. They stood by two TARDISes in the hangar bay, one a blue police box, the other disguised as a sleek personal space craft with the symbol along the side.

"We make a good team," Chrístõ said to The Doctor with a grin.

"Yeah," he agreed. "But we probably shouldn't do this TOO often. One day we really will cause a paradox that rips apart space and time."

"We'd better be off. I have to take Julia back to school."

The Doctor looked at Julia. And it didn't take any telepathy to know what was on his mind.

"Go on," Rose told him. "You can't not give her a hug before they go."

He went to her and took her hand gently before enfolding her in his arms.

"People aren't supposed to know too much about their future," The Doctor said. "But I want you to know two things at least, Julia. You and I were the happiest couple in the galaxy. And… I have never stopped loving you."

"Not even…" She glanced at Rose.

"Not even. And one reason I love Rose so dearly is that she KNOWS that. But what I said yesterday still holds. Don't rush to grow up just to be with me. You have a wonderful life to look forward to. But the life you have now, your precious years, are worth holding onto. Enjoy them."

"You should know," she said. "You're a Time Lord."

"That's right." He kissed her once and then took her by the hand and gave her to his younger self.

"You need to learn to be patient and hold onto the precious moments, too," he said. "Don't you wish your life away either. It's the most valuable thing you have."

He watched as Chrístõ's TARDIS dematerialised and then he turned and smiled and reached out his arms. Rose and Wyn both came to him and he stepped into the TARDIS with them.

"I presume you've seen enough of Mars?" He asked Wyn.

"More than enough," she said. "You were right. It IS pretty boring really."