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

Rose woke feeling dreadful. Her head ached and her throat ached and her skin felt dry and hot and the sheets were twisted strangely around her body. She opened her eyes eventually and the room seemed to be red.

No, it wasn't. It was just her eyes focussing strangely. She blinked painfully a few times - even her eyelids hurt - and she saw that the room was half dark, the lights turned down low and the two big viewscreens darkened. There seemed to be a sort of shade over them so that she could only vaguely see that they were in temporal orbit somewhere in ordinary space and not travelling anywhere in particular.

"Doctor?" she cried out weakly, hoarsely. He was not beside her, and that in itself wasn't right. "Doctor…"

"I'm here!" She heard his voice and he was there by her side. He half lifted her head from the pillow and pressed a cup to her lips. She tasted the bitter liquid and tried to refuse it but he insisted. "It will make you well." His voice sounded odd, too. She looked at him and gasped. He was half dressed in a t.shirt and jeans and his face and arms were covered in dark patches like bruises. She held up her own arms and she was the same. "We're sick," he explained. "So is Wyn. I looked in on her and brought medicine to her. It's called Broen's virus. We must have been infected at the spaceport we stopped off at. I've put the TARDIS in temporal orbit and engaged the quarantine signal. We can't land anywhere or we will infect others, and nobody can come near us until we're free of the infection."

"You're sick too?" Rose looked at him. "Didn't think anything made Time Lords sick."

“Broen’s virus does,” he said as he climbed into bed beside her. “Only thing to do is keep warm until we’re better.” He put his arms around her and she reached to kiss him, but it felt wrong. Both their lips felt dry and unresponsive. She closed her eyes. She wanted to sleep. And slowly and fitfully, sleep came.

She wasn't sure how long she was asleep for. She knew she had woken up several times. Sometimes The Doctor was beside her, sleeping too, his body hotter and more feverish than hers. Sometimes he was gone, fetching more medicine, or water or food for her. She saw him take the medicine, but she never saw him eat or drink and when he snuggled beside her again he still felt unnaturally hot.


Wyn wandered into the console room. She wasn't sick any more. But she was tired and worried and she didn't know what to do. The TARDIS was still sitting in temporal orbit and a light flashed on the console to say that the quarantine was still active.

So the last thing she expected was for the door to open.

She stared in amazement as she looked out, not into the vacuum of space, but into an identical TARDIS. And while she was still processing how impossible that was a man stepped from the 'other' TARDIS into theirs.

"Hello," he said. "I don't think I know you."

"I KNOW I don't know you," she replied. "Who are you?"

"I'm The Doctor," he answered as he began checking the console as if he knew exactly what he was doing.

"No you're not," she protested. "The Doctor is taller than you and he wears a leather jacket and he's really sick right now."

"He has Broen's virus," the man said. "He left notes about it in case anyone found you. I always was smarter than I looked."

"Oh," Wyn thought she understood. "You're one of his earlier lives, like the one my mum knew."

"Not exactly," he said. "You said he was sick? What about Rose? Is she…"

"She's sick too. They both look bad and I don't know where the medicine is that he gave us before."

"Medical room," the other Doctor said, crossing the floor quickly towards the inner door. Wyn ran to follow him. She had been lost for ages in these corridors, but he went straight to the medical room. He found the medicine, but said it had been left out too long and he'd have to make more. She watched as he did so.

"So," he said. "Who did you say you were?"

"I'm Wyn," she told him. "Wyn Grant Jones."

"Grant Jones?" He looked puzzled for a moment then a wide smile crossed his face. "Awwwww. You must be Jo's daughter. And you're travelling with Nine. That's terrific."

"You ARE The Doctor - or one of him," she said with a smile despite her worry for HER Doctor. "Why did you call him Nine?"

"He's the ninth incarnation of us. The one your mum knew was the third."

"And you?"

"I'm number Ten," he said. She looked puzzled. "I come from an alternative timeline where Nine died a lot sooner than he should and I took his place. That's the simplest explanation. I don't think we have time for longer ones." He took the completed medicine and ran again through the corridors. There he DID look a bit confused for the first time. "Where do they sleep?" he asked. Wyn brought them to the bedroom. She thought he looked a little distracted when he saw them both in the same bed, cuddled close together. But after a slight pause he became efficient as he examined them.

"She'll be ok soon," he said as he stroked Rose's face and told Wyn to give her some of the medicine. Wyn did so while he examined his other self. She wondered how it was possible for them to touch. Wasn't it a paradox or something? But he did and nothing horrible happened so she presumed it was okay after all.

"He's not so good," Ten said. "It'll be touch and go."

"How come Rose isn't with you in your TARDIS?" Wyn asked him.

"Are you and her friends?" he asked in return.

"Yes. She's great. So is The Doctor."

"Then don't ask. Because he said she isn't to know the reason and you shouldn't have secrets from friends." He touched Rose's hand. "They're engaged?"



"So you and him have met before?" Wyn asked as she watched him give her Doctor some of the medicine. He was gentle with him, as if he cared deeply. Well he would, of course. That made sense.

"Yes. We didn't get on. He blames me for…." He stopped. "Well, I don't blame him for feeling that way. He's going to hate that it's me looking after him now. But he doesn't have any choice." He pulled the covers over them both again and took Wyn's hand. "Nothing we can do but wait."


Rose woke at last, after a long time in nightmarish half-coma, half sleep, finally feeling a lot better. Her head had stopped aching and her skin felt normal. She opened her eyes and looked up as Wyn, also looking well, put a mug of tea by her side.

"Thanks," she said, pulling herself up and taking the cup in both hands. It tasted good. She looked at her arms. They were normal again. She looked around at The Doctor. She could see HE was still sick. He had so many of the strange bruises his skin looked almost entirely purple-black and his breathing was hollow and strange. "Doctor…"

"He's not doing so good." A strange voice spoke and she looked around and then backed away with a scream. "Rose… please, don't."

Rose turned away and put her arms protectively around The Doctor as the man she recognised as The TENTH incarnation of him came towards the bed. "Go away," she screamed. "Leave us alone."

"Rose," he said again calmly, and patiently, and kindly. "I came to help. I picked up the quarantine signal from the TARDIS and I came to help you."

"We don't need YOUR help," she screamed. "Go away."

"Rose, I'm glad he came," Wyn told her. "I didn't know what to do. I was better three days ago, but you two were still really bad. Then he came and helped me."

"Well I'm ok now. He can go away."

"HE needs me, still, Rose," Ten said pleadingly.

"I can look after him," she insisted defiantly as she cuddled The Doctor in her arms, stroking his sweat-damp hair, caressing his face that was hot and dry and feeling how impossibly hot he still was. He was hers. It was her responsibility to look after him until he was well again.

"Rose," Ten said softly now. "Listen to me. You can't look after him. He's dying."

"No!" Rose screamed and clung to HER Doctor tightly. "No. He can't be." But looking at him, she had the worst feeling that the other one was telling her the truth. He looked dreadful. And he was so hot she could barely touch his skin directly.

"Rose, go and shower and get dressed and then come and help me look after him," Ten told her, and something in the way he spoke had enough of HER Doctor in it to make her do as he said. When she returned, he and Wyn were rolling The Doctor up in one of the bedsheets.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Saving his life," Wyn told her. "Ten said it's the only way."


"She said I can't be called Doctor," he said. "Because THIS is The Doctor."

"Well, he is." Rose insisted. "Ten will do. Funny kind of name, but I've heard worse."

"You can call me what you like, Rose," he said as he lifted HER Doctor from the bed as if he were as light as a feather. He cradled him gently but firmly in his arms and turned to the door. "But if you love… if you love HIM…. come with me now."

He walked briskly out of the bedroom and down the long corridor, turning left, then right, then down another long section that Rose didn't know at all, then down a flight of steps. Wyn ran ahead and opened the double doors that lay at the end of the next short corridor. Rose walked beside Ten. Her head was spinning as she tried to sort out her confused thoughts. HER Doctor was desperately ill and she had to trust a man who she didn't trust at all who WAS The Doctor in another body. It would confuse anyone.

The double doors led to the swimming pool. She had heard there was one, but she'd never been in the mood to swim. It was full of water - very cold water she realised. The room felt cold, unlike most indoor pools she had ever been in.

Ten put The Doctor down gently by the pool side and slipped off his own shoes, jacket and shirt and tie, then he gently unwrapped The Doctor from the sheet and began to pull off his clothes.

"Help me here," he said. Neither moved. He looked at the two girls. "Come on, Rose, you're engaged to him, and Wyn, YOU don't even like men, surely you're not worried about looking at a dying man's body."

"How do you know I don't like…" Wyn began to ask before she realised it didn't matter. Rose knelt beside him and reached to unfasten The Doctor's jeans. His skin was so damp with perspiration that it was difficult to pull them down over his legs. She gently slid his underwear off. She was too worried even to care what sort of underwear he wore. She was stunned when he was undressed not because it was the first time she had seen him naked, but because almost every inch of his body was covered in the bruise like patches.

"He didn't tell you, did he?" Ten said to her as he stepped into the shallow end of the pool. "For humans, Broen's Virus is just like flu. It lays you low for a while but you're ok after. For us, it can kill."

"No," Rose said. "He didn't say. What are you doing? Why are we here… why the pool I mean?"

"His body is close to the critical temperature already. If we don't bring it down he's dead. And I mean dead. Broen's inhibits regeneration. You may hate me looking like this, Rose, but at least I'm alive. He won't be unless…" He lifted The Doctor and gently slid him into the freezing cold water. Rose looked at him and then she kicked off her shoes and jumped in to help him. The water temperature stunned her, but The Doctor needed her. They BOTH did.

"Are you sure this will work?" she asked as she supported The Doctor's head in the water. She was shivering in the cold. So was Ten. But The Doctor was still burning hot.

"Kill or cure," he said. "It's the last resort. If his hearts can stand it he'll be ok."

"If…" Rose took the Doctor's arm as Ten supported him in the water. "What do you mean, IF?"

"If…" he said again and he pushed The Doctor's still body out into the deeper part of the pool and then pushed him under the water for what seemed like a very long time.

"Stop, you'll drown him," Rose screamed and tried to grasp him away.

"Rose, it's all right, I know what I'm doing," Ten assured her. "His body temperature was over one hundred and seventy degrees."

"One hundred and seventy degrees Fahrenheit?" Rose asked, stunned. "Normal is ninety-eight-point-six."

"Normal for US is sixty," Ten said. "He would have been ok at the Human temperature even. When he passed one hundred and twenty it started killing him."

"Then this has to work."

"Yes." Ten lifted The Doctor up again and brought him to the water's edge. "Now I have to massage him to keep the blood circulation going." Ten began rubbing The Doctor's arms and legs vigorously. Rose helped him. Wyn put the blanket around Rose to keep her warm while she was out of the water.

"He's so still," Rose said. "He looks dead."

"He's not," Ten assured her. He put his hands over The Doctor's left and right hearts. "They're both steady. But he's in a deep coma."

"Just so long as you know what you're doing."

"Rose, what choice do you have? Who else do you know with a medical qualification and an understanding of Gallifreyan physiology?" He smiled at her. "Put it another way, TRUST ME, I'M A DOCTOR."

"I can't believe you SAID that." Despite herself Rose giggled. She looked at Ten. His smile was strangely infectious. And somehow she felt she COULD trust him. Somewhere behind those brown eyes that she didn't know at all was HER Doctor's memories and all that WAS him. Of course she trusted him. He WAS the man she had trusted with her life for nearly six years now.

"How come you can do this? What if you get the virus?"

"I got it six months back. Not as bad as him. Signed myself into a hospital for a few days rest and I was ok. And once you've had it you're immune after that." He looked at The Doctor again and felt his temperature.

"One hundred and thirty. Still dangerous, but we're winning."

"You can tell accurate temperatures by touch?" Wyn asked.

"He's The Doctor," Rose said with a smile for him despite her worry, despite all the reasons she had for disliking Ten. "He can do anything."

"He needs to go into the water again several more times." Ten told her. Rose nodded and helped him as they repeated the process twice, three times more.

"The water's getting warmer," Rose said. "Or are we getting used to it?"

"The water is being warmed by the heat transferred from his body. Simple thermodynamics."

Simple to him, Rose thought. Thermodynamics was his postgraduate subject. But just how much fever could be in one body for it to begin to heat a 25 metre swimming pool? It was mind-boggling.

Ten lifted The Doctor from the water again and this time he wrapped him in the blanket. "We've broken the fever," he told Rose. And as she looked at him now his skin was beginning to look normal. The awful bruise like patches were fading. She touched his skin and it felt cool.

"Now we've got to wake him from the coma." Wyn went ahead again opening doors at Ten's instructions. They went even deeper into the TARDIS's depths than Rose had EVER been. They came at last to a room she never even dreamed was a part of the ship. It was bigger than almost every part of it she knew put together.

And it was the most beautiful room she had ever seen.

They entered through one of two doors at the top of a wide flight of stairs going down. Behind them was a huge stained glass window. The light behind it must have been an illusion, of course, but it illuminated a great Seal of Rassilon. The reflection of it was cast onto the ground at the bottom of the stairs in front of a stone altar with Gallifreyan symbols all over it, and beyond that what looked like a great stone covered well. Either side of the well two silver coloured trees grew, impossible as it seemed in a room that saw no real sunlight. Their branches bent towards each other and entwined in the high vaulted ceiling. If she was not scared still for The Doctor Rose thought she would have been enchanted by this room.

"What is this place?" she asked as Ten walked down the stairs and laid The Doctor in the patch of light from the window.

"The Cloister Room," Ten told her as he knelt by The Doctor's side and checked his pulse. "It's the heart of the TARDIS." He pointed to the well. "The Eye of Harmony is under that cover. The TARDIS's power source. This room is much more in tune with me - with us - than any other part of the ship. It will make what we have to do easier."

"What DO we have to do?"

He stood and went to a door by the staircase that revealed a kind of cloakroom. He took four robes from it and gave one each to Wyn and Rose before slipping one on himself and then putting one on The Doctor. Rose felt a lot warmer in the robe anyway, and she was glad that The Doctor had some clothes on him. Now that he wasn't covered in bruises and at death's door she wasn't sure she could cope with a naked Doctor. But she had a feeling there was more to it than keeping everyone warm and sparing her embarrassment.

"They're meditation robes," Ten explained. "In the Cloister Room they seem appropriate. I'm going to go into a deep trance and find where he is in his coma and bring him back to us." He had them kneel either side of The Doctor. Wyn took hold of one of his limp, unresponsive hands and Rose the other. Ten knelt by his head and took their other hands, completing a circle. =

Rose had seen The Doctor meditate many times. Wyn knew nothing of that so she was alarmed when Ten became rigid and his face impassive and still. Rose understood that he was dropping down through different levels of meditative trance until he reached wherever The Doctor was. He then meant to bring him back to consciousness with him. She couldn't help wondering what that would be like for BOTH of them. Essentially, they WERE the same person. Making a telepathic connection to another version of himself must be VERY strange.

"There you are," Ten said as his consciousness found a level on which it could connect with The Doctor. "So are you going to come back with me to where there are people who care about you?"

"What are YOU doing here?" The Doctor's consciousness recoiled from what he recognised as the incarnation of himself that would take everything from him and consign him to eternity as a ghost of SangC'lune. "Go away. I'm not ready to let go."

"Then come back with me. Rose wants you."

"Leave her out of this," he replied. "She's nothing to do with this. She's mine. You…"

"Yes, I know. I'm the biggest idiot in the universe. And you're the smart one. So come on. What are you waiting for?"

"I don't think my hearts will make it if I come out of it too fast," he said. "It's been one hell of a strain on them just staying alive these past days."

"That's why I'm here," Ten told him. "To help you get there. You might not remember this when you come out of it, of course. So you'll probably be crabby to me again. But just believe me when I say I don't want you to die."

"I don't want me to die, either," The Doctor answered him.

"Well, get ready to live again."


Rose knew it was working when she felt The Doctor's hand close around hers. She heard Ten breathe a deep sigh as they both opened their eyes together. A sigh of relief.

The Doctor looked at Rose first and letting go of her hand he reached his arm around her neck and pulled her down until he could kiss her. He released her and looked at Wyn and smiled at her. And then he saw Ten. He sat up quickly and drew away from him in alarm.

"What…" The Doctor looked down at the robe he was wearing and was aware that it was the ONLY thing he was wearing, and that his body was cold and damp beneath it. He saw that his other self and Rose were both soaking wet underneath their robes, too. And he understood.

"I was that FAR gone?" he asked. "You had to use the kill or cure."

"You were," Ten replied. "But you're ok now."

"It was his idea," Wyn told The Doctor. "We didn't know what to do."

"I owe you one," The Doctor said, making eye contact with his other self. "Thanks."

"Hurt to say that, didn't it." Ten smiled wryly. "I know how you feel about me. I'll be out of your hair as soon as I can, anyway."

"Don't go yet," Wyn implored him anxiously. "He doesn't have to go does he?" She looked at Rose and The Doctor.

"No, he doesn't have to go yet," The Doctor decided. "We need to talk about some stuff. We ALL need dry clothes anyway."

Rose and The Doctors were all surprised when they met up again in the console room to find that Wyn, the only one who hadn't got wet, had made coffee for them all. They refrained from making comments about her denting her tomboy image with such a domestic gesture. They sat on the White House sofas together appreciating the hot drink more than they realised. For a while there was a silence and an acute awkwardness, especially between The Doctor and Ten. They eyed each other warily and seemed unsure what to say.

Wyn broke the silence.

"You and him are the same person…" she said to The Doctor. "How come that's possible then?"

"It's not supposed to be," he said. "He's from an alternative universe. And I thought the last time we met he was going back there." There was clearly a question in that statement as he stared hard at his other self.

"I tried," Ten said. "But the gap I accidentally got through closed up. I'm stuck here in your universe."

Wyn and Rose both looked at him with shocked expressions. The Doctor was lost enough, mourning his dead planet. But Ten was trapped outside of his whole UNIVERSE.

“It’s not so bad,” he said. “There was nobody special on that side for me. I’ve nothing to go back there for.”

“But your universe doesn’t have a Doctor to look after it now?” Wyn asked.

“I’m not sure about that. I think… When I crossed over I think there was a duality formed.”

“Ah!” Nine commented. “That’s unusual. But if so then you ARE stuck here. Going back would be a major paradox.”

“Duality?” Rose looked at them both. “You want to explain….”

“My thought exactly,” Wyn added.

“Reality split. Two versions of me were created. One stayed in my universe, carried on, got into a whole new set of trouble. The other… me… I’m here.”

“So…” Wyn said. “Now there are THREE of you. Two of you, and one of him.”

“There are probably hundreds of him,” Rose said. “Alternative universes, according to what he told me, are crammed up against each other like books in a library. We saw one once where my dad was alive and me and him were living in the spare room and he was the local pool champion.”

“There are probably universes where I’m on my last life and look totally different,” The Doctor said. “Or still on my third or fourth or fifth because I took better care of myself.”

“Or ones where I never existed at all,” Ten added. “This is probably the only one with two of us in it, though.”

“And you’re all right with that?” Rose asked him.

“Oh, yes. I’ve been just great. This universe is fine and dandy. I just make sure I stay out of your way – except when I realised you were in trouble here and came to see if I could help.”

“How do you know where I will be to stay out of my way?” The Doctor asked.

"I overrode the override on your DRD so that I can detect your TARDIS if it's in the vicinity. Staying away from earth is a good bet anyway. You spend a lot of time there."

"Well of course I do. I have family there," The Doctor said. Ten looked at him as if the word 'family' was unknown to him, but Wyn and Rose both wanted his explanation translating into terms they understood.

"When I was still a student," The Doctor said, relaxing back on the sofa with Rose snuggled close to him. "I must have been about 150 or so, and I was being a bit of a clever clogs, I patented a handy device that made me quite a bit of personal pocket money. The DRD - Dimensional Recognition Device. They were eventually fitted in every TARDIS as standard. They enabled us to detect when another TARDIS was near. There are practical reasons not to get two TARDISes in the same space."

"Like we saw the last time he was around," Rose interjected. Ten looked embarrassed. It was his mistake that had caused the problems.

"Yeah, that sort of thing. Plus the fact that Time Lords tend to get on each other's nerves and WANT to avoid each other. The whole of time and space was never quite big enough for some of us."

"And the override?"

"Well I may have invented the thing, but I decided in fact that I didn't WANT to be detected by other Time Lords when I was out there in the universe doing my own thing, so I built a second device that suppressed the signal and made MY TARDIS invisible to others."

"But obviously I KNOW how to override that," Ten added.

"Obviously! So, ok. You've been saving the universe in other quadrants. Two Doctor's on the case!"

"Yes." Ten said. "Well, sometimes I just chill out on beaches and enjoy myself. I am sure you do that, too."

"Last time we tried that the beach tried to eat us," Rose told him. "But we TRY."

"Ok," The Doctor conceded as he considered Ten's place in HIS universe. "I guess that works. As long as you DO keep out of my hair."

"No problem," Ten promised. He looked at Rose and smiled. "You two are engaged?" he said. "Congratulations." He touched Rose's hand. "Julia's ring?"

"Yes," The Doctor said.

"I didn't know it was hers," Rose said, looking at the solitaire. Of course, she had vaguely wondered where he got an engagement ring with a Gallifreyan diamond in it.

"That's ok isn't it?" The Doctor asked her.

"Yes," she said. "Goes with the pendant. That was hers, too. You were hers once. Now you're mine."

"I mean it," Ten said. "I'm pleased for you both. "I wish…" He stopped and looked at The Doctor. Rose thought that something might have passed between them telepathically. Ten looked almost tearful for a moment, then he smiled weakly and nodded.

They lapsed into silence. Then The Doctor opened up the conversation again.

"Just out of curiosity, when DID our lives go different directions? When did… When did I DIE in your timeline?"

"When we fought the Dalek Emperor," Rose answered without thinking. Ten and The Doctor both looked at her. "I dreamt it. You said it was echoes of another timeline - HIS timeline."

"She's right," Ten said. "Rose destroyed the fleet with the help of the vortex. You took it out of her head before it killed her, but you absorbed too much of its energy and it killed you instead."

"That's not how it happened," The Doctor said. "I got the vortex out of Rose and then sent it back to the TARDIS. I know it was risky. I had a headache for days after, and bright lights floating in front of my eyes, and I felt as if I had Rose's thoughts in my head as well as my own. But I was ok."

"You never told me it was THAT dangerous," Rose said to The Doctor in an almost accusing tone. "I thought… you being a Time Lord and all you could handle it. I thought…"

"Fraction of a second longer with it in my body I would have died," he said. "That's the difference it made. In his reality I delayed too long."

"And it was my fault," Rose sighed, looking away from them both.

"NO!" Both The Doctor and Ten shouted that idea down. "No, Rose," The Doctor added more calmly. "Don't lose a moment's sleep with that thought in your head. What's done is done. And nobody is to blame except the damned Daleks."

"They're to blame for it all," Ten said. "THEY destroyed our world." The grief of that clearly weighed as heavily on Ten as it did on her Doctor, Rose noted. They looked at each other and seemed to share that burden for a heartsbeat.

"So everything happened differently from then on," Rose said.

"Two different timelines. Two different ways that things happened. We travelled to different places. Met different enemies, different friends. Different dangers." Ten looked at her and at The Doctor. And nobody needed telepathy to know what he wasn't saying. That their relationships happened differently, too.

"So does that mean you didn't…." Rose began to say something but then realised that too would have been painful for him to talk about. But her gaze had automatically turned to the photograph of the twins taped to one of the coral-shaped pillars. The Doctor had put it there where he could see it when the boys weren't around. Even though she looked away quickly Ten followed her glance and saw the picture.

"Who are they?" he asked.

"My…" The Doctor stopped and corrected himself. "OUR great grandchildren. Chris and Davie, Susan's children."

"Susan?" Ten looked at him with a shocked expression. "Susan is alive? She's ok? She's…. she's got children of her own?"

"Yes," The Doctor said. He would rather NOT be having this part of the conversation. It was rather cruel on his other self. But once started he had to finish it. "They're terrific kids. I'm teaching them the Disciplines. They're going to be Time Lords like me… like us."

Ten looked at the picture again, then at The Doctor, and then he turned away. Rose looked at him and suddenly felt very sorry for him. HER Doctor had everything he could wish for. He had his family, he had a place to call home on Earth, even if it was only a parking space for the TARDIS by the bins at the Powell Street flats, and he had HER and their plans for the future. But Ten had nothing. He was alone in the universe. She left The Doctor's side and went to him. She put her hand on his shoulder and he turned to her, wiping the tears from his eyes.

"I never stopped loving you, Rose," he said. "Seeing you, even if you're not mine, is… is fantastic."

"You're still a soppy article," she said, kissing his cheek.

"That I am," he agreed with a smile.

"We're maybe not so different after all," The Doctor conceded.

"We missed Christmas," Wyn said suddenly and they all turned to look at her. They had almost forgotten she was there as they shared memories that she was not a part of. "We must have been sick for AGES. And we missed Christmas."

Rose looked at her watch. The last time she remembered looking at it the date was December 15th. They had been planning to head home to Earth and spend Christmas with her mum. Now it showed an hour before midnight on December 31st.

"We've been totally out of it for sixteen days?" She looked at Ten.

"I'm not sure," he admitted. "I only got here a few days ago, but Broen's Virus CAN do that in worst cases. And I've not seen a WORSE case."

"I was meant to call my mum at Christmas," Wyn said. "She'll be worried."

"This is a time machine," The Doctor reminded them. He went to the console and set co-ordinates. "There you go. December 24th is only three hours away." He looked at Ten. "Have you ever met Rose's mum? In that incarnation, I mean. I don't need to remind you what a good right hook she has, I suppose." They both smiled as they both remembered one of their first encounters with Jackie, when she had punched The Doctor for taking Rose away for a year.

"Yes," Ten said. "But she won't know me in THIS reality."

"Course she won't. Well, then we'll tell her you're a family friend. I've slaved your TARDIS to this one. We're all heading home to Powell Street Flats together. Meanwhile…. Do you still like Bob Dylan?"

"Yes. Why?"

"There's four of us, it's an hour to midnight on New Year's Eve according to Rose and Wyn's watches, and THIS TARDIS has a really nice ballroom. We've got the makings of a party. Let's ring in the New Year BEFORE we go and have Christmas."

"Can we do that?" Wyn asked.

"We're Time Lords," Ten told her. "Having New Year before Christmas is a doddle."


They partied. It was a pleasant, happy time. Rose and Wyn both danced with both Doctors in turn. Bob Dylan featured a lot in the music that played. So did all their other favourites. At midnight by her watch, Rose was with her OWN Doctor, but they ALL joined hands together and sang a very emotional Auld Lang Syne, the words seeming all the more poignant and relevant to their own peculiar circumstances. And they kept on dancing afterwards until the two Doctors both recognised the change in the TARDIS's engines that told them that they were coming out of the vortex and preparing to land. Ordinarily, the TARDIS could land at the familiar location of the Powell Street Flats on autopilot. It often did. But this time they had a second TARDIS slaved to it and they worked together to carefully bring both machines into a soft landing side by side. Rose watched the two of them. They reminded her of the twins in the way they worked symbiotically, anticipating each other's movements. They WERE symbiotic. Even more so than the twins. They WERE one soul in two persons.

Jackie was more or less resigned to a lonely Christmas on her own. She hadn't heard from Rose and The Doctor and she hoped whatever stopped them getting home to her wasn't serious. She tried not to worry. Maybe they had just lost track of time. They had so much of it to deal with, after all.

Even Mickey was away with Linda and the little one at her parents - in a cottage in South Wales of all places! Serve them right if they got snowed in, she thought. She was just wondering if there was likely to be snow in London when the doorbell rang. If it was carollers, she thought, she'd scream. And wearily she went to the door.

"Hope you bought a big enough turkey," Rose said as she opened the door. Jackie beamed with joy and hugged her daughter and The Doctor and warmly greeted the two people they brought with them. She had met Jo four Christmas's ago when The Doctor threw a party for all his old friends. She was pleased enough to meet her daughter. And as for the good-looking man they introduced to her as Ten….

"Funny name," she commented. "Where did you find him?"

"Old friend of the family," The Doctor told her. "He's a bit shy at first, but when you get to know him he's friendly enough."

"Yeah, right," Jackie said. But actually, she reflected later, that was a pretty accurate assessment. Ten WAS friendly. And something about him made her feel as if she had known him for years. Rose and The Doctor both seemed at ease with him, too, and they seemed to have a couple of in-jokes between them that they didn't let her in on.

She never even came close to working out who he really was, even when she noticed that there were now TWO TARDIS's in the yard. The Doctor said something vague about temporal anomalies and she took his word for it since she didn't have a clue what that meant anyway.

Wyn did call her mum, and told her she was going to stick with The Doctor for a while longer before she came home. Jo was tearful because she missed her daughter, but at the same time happy she was experiencing some of the adventures she once had. She couldn't bring herself to mention A Levels and college when the alternative was the universe.

The day after Boxing Day, when they had said goodbye to Jackie and were out in temporal orbit again, The Doctor gave Wyn what he said was a late Christmas present.

"A mobile phone?" she said as she opened the box. "But I have one already."

"This one has some modifications," The Doctor told her. "It allows you to call anyone anywhere in the universe without any signal problems and no bill."

"Wow!" she said. "Cool."

"You'll notice there are two numbers preset into it. One is your mum. You are going to promise to call her every day. The other one is mine. I want to hear from you at least once a week."

"What?" She looked at The Doctor. "Where am I going that I need to phone you?"

"You're going with him," he said pointing to Ten. "In his TARDIS."

"You're chucking me out?" She looked at Ten and the thought of going with him on adventures was thrilling. But…

"You don't want me?" Tears pricked her eyes as she looked at The Doctor. She thought he cared more for her than that.

"It was my idea," Ten said. "He said no at first. We argued about it for an hour up on the roof of the flats."

"You two FOUGHT over me?" Wyn looked at them both in astonishment. "I mean… Wow… cool. You actually care that much."

"Is it so hard to believe anyone could care so much for you?" The Doctor took her by the shoulders and drew her close to him. "I CARE very much, about you, Wyn. But I was being selfish. You can have much more fun, learn much more, with Ten. He has the time to teach you the martial arts you're interested in and take you to exciting places. And you'll be his assistant, helping him. You won't just be tagging along with me and Rose."

"And I won't be making sick noises every time you snog her," she added.

"That never crossed my mind," he lied. "It's not to get rid of you, I promise."

"I believe you," she told him. She hugged her arms around him tightly. "Thanks."

"You can spend a year with Ten," The Doctor told her, and she thought he sounded so much like her dad setting out the ground rules for a camping trip she went on a couple of years back with some of her schoolmates. "After the year is up he'll set the co-ordinates for December 31st, 2010, take you back to your mum for New Year - in other words a couple of days after the Christmas we've just done. You'll still be able to do your A'Levels and live the normal life you're supposed to live but with some fantastic experiences to last you a lifetime."

Wyn wasn't sure she liked the idea of going back on a year of her life. Didn't that mean she'd have to be seventeen all over again when she'd really be 18 by then? That sucked. But to spend a year with Ten - with The Doctor - going all kinds of places. That was way longer than she expected it to last. Every day with The Doctor and Rose she had expected him to say it was time to go home. Now she knew she had a year.

"Won't her mum mind?" Rose asked as Wyn went to pack her belongings for the transfer to the other TARDIS.

"She's travelling with The Doctor. Why should she mind?"


"You take care of yourselves," Ten said to The Doctor and Rose as he stood by the TARDIS door ready to go. His own console room was visible through the door. He only had to step across the threshold. "Take care of each other. Have a fantastic life together." He paused as if trying to think of something more to say. "I don't suppose I can expect an invite to the wedding?" he asked.

"Would you really WANT to be there?" The Doctor asked him. "For you it would just be a bunch of regrets. The might have beens, the could haves…"

"You're right," he sighed. He turned to Rose and hugged her, and was surprised when she permitted him to kiss her just once. "The might have been…." He said with a longing sigh before he let her go. He shook hands with The Doctor. "We might run into each other again…"

"If you're in REAL trouble," The Doctor said. "Wyn has my phone number."

"If you are..." Ten said.

"Yeah." The Doctor reached for Rose's hand as Ten and Wyn crossed the threshold into the other TARDIS. They both looked around and waved before the doors closed.

"Just the two of us again." Rose said.

"Yeah," The Doctor sighed. Then he smiled brightly. "Yeah! Me and you and the whole of time and space for us to explore."

"Except the bit HE's in." She looked at the closed TARDIS door. She hadn't heard or felt anything, but she knew that the other TARDIS was gone now. "At least he won't be quite so lonely with Wyn for company."

"The universe is too big a place for lonely people," The Doctor said. "I learnt that the day I met you." Rose opened her mouth to reply to that. "I know," he laughed. "I'm a soppy article."