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

Rose woke up and looked around the room, puzzled. Why was she in the pink bedroom? The pink bedroom didn’t exist any more. Her mother had turned it into a spare guest bedroom ages ago, and the one that used to exist in the TARDIS was replaced by Wyn’s room.

She sat up and looked around. The clock on the bedside table showed it was five o’clock in the evening. It was starting to get dark outside. A cold cup of coffee sat beside the clock.

And a note.

“Going to do some shopping. There’s shepherd’s pie in the oven if you feel like eating. And more lemsips in the cupboard. Love Mum.”

“What?” She did have a bad headache. But she didn’t feel like she had a cold or flu. There was no sore throat, no bunged up feeling. And she was certainly well able to smell the shepherd’s pie drying out in the oven.

Which meant she wasn’t in the TARDIS. Nobody ever cooked shepherds pie in there.

Why wasn’t she in the TARDIS? What was going on?

I’m home? But why? Where is the TARDIS? Where is The Doctor?

She opened the door expecting, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it would lead into the TARDIS corridor. It didn’t. It led to the short bit of corridor between the front door and the living room of the flat she had spent her whole life in until she went away with The Doctor.

She went through to the kitchen. She turned the oven off but didn’t bother to look at the food. She wasn’t hungry. She was confused and a bit scared.

She went back to the living room and sat down on the sofa. Almost automatically, she reached for the TV remote. There was a news bulletin talking about the fire at Henricks. The body found in the basement had been identified as Henry Paul Wilson, the chief electrician. His death was not being treated as suspicious, but the fire WAS. Arson, even terrorism, was not being ruled out by the police.

Wilson was already dead before the fire, Rose thought. An autopsy would show that. They SHOULD be treating his death as suspicious. But seeing as he was killed by a shop dummy being thought-controlled by a Nestene Consciousness, they would never find his killer.

What was happening? She thought next. Why was she here? Why was she reliving these events of more than six years ago?

Not reliving. Seeing them from another angle. At five o’clock on the day after the fire she was at the pizza restaurant with the plastic Mickey that began to attack her and The Doctor. After that she ran into the TARDIS and her life had changed forever.

She looked at her hands. She hardly recognised them. Long nails with slightly chipped pink varnish, plastic fashion rings. They were the hands of a teenager. Not the woman she had become. She lifted her hand to her throat and then it hit her. It wasn’t the fact that she wasn’t wearing his engagement ring that caused her so much pain. It was that she didn’t have the pendant – the silver pendant with the constellation of Kasterborus in Gallifreyan diamonds.

It was as if her life with The Doctor had never happened.

Maybe it hadn’t. Maybe it had all been a dream. A wonderful dream, but just, ultimately, a dream.

The thought saddened her. How could she feel this much love for a dream? How could she miss a man that doesn’t exist as much as she did right now. Because there were plenty of things that ran through her mind that she would be happy to be a dream. But not him - not The Doctor. He couldn’t be. She loved him too much.

She’d been sick for how long? A day? Two days? Could she possibly have had such a vivid dream in such a short time? Could she have invented all those things just because she was a bit delirious? Daleks, Slitheen, Arachnoids? She didn’t dream about those things usually.

She didn’t dream about The Doctor. Why would she? If she was going to dream a perfect man, who she would love like no other, why would he be an alien who lived in a police box? And why would he be called The Doctor? That was not the kind of name that could be invented by a fever-induced dream.

So HE was real. Her life was real. And THIS was a dream.

Then I want to wake up from it, she told herself. I want my life back. The life I love, the man I love.

She closed her eyes, but when she opened them again it was to see the TV announcer introducing the evening episode of Neighbours.

The phone rang as she reached to turn the TV off, reflecting idly that she had never seen that episode – or any episode since. TV didn’t matter in the world she lived in. The REAL world.

“Hello sweetheart,” her mum said on the other end of the line. “I rang to see if you were awake.”

“I am now,” she answered. “I had to answer the phone.”

“Less of the sarcasm. I was worried about you.”

“Mum, how long have I been sick?”

“You came home early yesterday because you weren’t well,” Jackie told her. “You’ve slept right through. Ohhhh. You didn’t hear about the fire. I was telling Bev. If you hadn’t come home sick you might have been there.”

“Yeah, I saw it on the news. But… mum… Is there anything… was…”

“Are you all right?”

“No, I’m sick,” Rose answered. “I’m going back to bed. See you later.” She paused. “Mum… I love you. Look after yourself.”

“You really must be sick. Since when did you worry about me?” Jackie asked.

“Just be careful,” Rose said before she put the phone down.

There was a creaking sound in the empty, silent room. She spun around on her heel in time to see the plastic flowers in a vase on the windowsill turn to look at her menacingly.

Nestene controlling plastic things, she thought. It knows I’m here. It wknows I’m its enemy. She watched the flowers. They didn’t move.

Boy! That was some dream! Moving plastic?

No, it WAS real, she told herself and dived to the floor as the plastic flowers launched themselves out of the vase like arrows. There was metal inside the stalks to make them bendy. They were deadly enough if you got one in the eye. She looked up as the last of them flew by and embedded itself in the sofa upholstery.

She grabbed them all and snapped the heads off. She bent the stalks into a ball and threw it out of the window. She turned and looked at the rest of the room suspiciously, and was in time to stop the flex of her mum’s favourite table lamp from wrapping around her ankles.

The living room had it in for her. Well, actually, when you came to think about it, she was never THAT keen on the living room. It WAS pretty cheesy looking. A collection of old souvenirs and tat of a lifetime. If it really wanted a fight she was the woman for the job.

The living room apparently surrendered. Nothing else tried to kill her. Good, she thought with a grim satisfaction. That’s more like it.

But Mum was up town, at the shops. She was where all the shop dummies were. She was going to die.

Her heart sank at the thought.

The Doctor would sort it out. That’s why he was here in London. To sort it out.

Last night at Henricks, The Doctor must have been there. He set off the bomb that destroyed the transmitter on the roof. But SHE wasn’t there. He didn’t rescue her from the dummies. He didn’t pull an arm off one of them. She didn’t bring it home with her.

He didn’t turn up the next day tracking the arm. And she didn’t go to Clive’s looking for information about the Doctor with a blue box. Mickey wasn’t turned into a plastic model. She wasn’t at the restaurant right now.

So The Doctor wouldn’t be either. Where WOULD he be? Because he HAD to be in London somewhere. Because who blew up Henricks otherwise?

Well, anyone could have done that, of course. Anarchists, agents from Marks and Spencers, Eco-terrorists? The logical part of her said that The Doctor didn’t have to be part of it at all. Maybe the fire got mixed up in her subconscious into the whole dream.

No. It was him. It was real, she told herself. And what’s with the questions? She got a nurse’s outfit for her 9th birthday, not a “My first Freudian Analysis” kit.

How did she know that analysing dreams was Freudian theory?

Because they went to tea with him once. Freud had told The Doctor his neuroses stemmed from the fact that his mother died when he was very young. The Doctor was surprised and annoyed because he didn’t think he had any neuroses and he reckoned his mother was his own business. SHE had been surprised to find that a Freudian slip was what the old goat tried to do to her when he thought The Doctor wasn’t looking. As celebrity friends went, she liked old Puccini and Henri Matisse better.

Where would The Doctor be then if he didn’t go to the restaurant? Would he still be parked near Henricks? Or would he be at the Embankment?

He wouldn’t know to go to the Embankment. It was because he got the head of Mickey’s plastic duplicate at the restaurant that he got a lock onto there.

If he didn’t find the lair, then the Nestene would succeed in killing everyone. The Doctor would fail.


She went to her room and found jeans and a sweater. Her head still ached. That was the only thing that seemed to fit the idea that she had been sick. She didn’t even feel as if she had been feverish. Her pyjamas were still fresh, not sticky from sweating like you did when you were sick.

Pink pyjamas. She didn’t wear those any more. When she slept with The Doctor she wore a deep red satin nightdress - sexy, but at the same time covering everything and offering no temptation to him to forget his Gallifreyan honour.

She wished just once he had. If she was trapped here, if that life was over, she wished she had one memory of going ‘all the way’ together. She knew it would have been the night of her life if they had.

Which made her all the more sure it wasn’t a dream. Why would she dream a man like that if she wasn’t going to go all the way with him?

She opened the front door as Mickey reached to knock at it.

“Hey, babe,” he said with a cheesy smile. “You feeling better?” He put his arms around her and groped her bottom while he kissed her.

The Doctor never needed to do that. Never needed to touch her up when he kissed her. She knew which she preferred. His tender loving was miles better than Mickey’s clumsy fumbling.

And that wasn’t the only reason this kiss felt wrong. She’d stopped loving Mickey long ago. If she ever really had loved him that way. He was really all along more like the boy next door. She’d known him since she was a toddler, played with him on the swings. He’d been the standby date for school discos and stuff. Reliable, safe, dull Mickey. And she never REALLY loved him with the same passion she loved The Doctor.

But Mickey didn’t know that right now. He thought she was his woman.

“I’m ok. Can you… Can you give me a lift into town?”

“Sure. Where?”

“I don’t know. Just drive me, please. I’ll know when I get there.”

“Are you sure you’re all right? You look like you could use a drink. Why not come down the pub for a bit.”

“No, I need to go into town. Just… Come on. Let’s go.”

She didn’t know where she was going exactly. She just had a vague idea that the TARDIS would be near Henricks. When she thought about it she couldn’t imagine WHY it would be. He had already done what he had to do there. There were no more clues. But she just felt it would be there. She HOPED it would be there. If not, then she didn’t know where else to look.

It HAD to be there.

It was. She spotted it as he drove past. It was tucked down a side alley just outside the part of the road that had been re-opened now the fire was out. She tried not to look at the sad, dark, blackened shell of Henricks.

“Stop,” she called out urgently. Mickey stopped the car, ignoring the impatient horn of the driver behind him, who gave him a finger signal as he overtook him that Rose knew to be a term of endearment in the Andromeda sector. “Let me out.” She scrambled for the seatbelt release.

“What? Here? Why? What’s going on?” Mickey asked. “Rose… Are you in some sort of trouble? ‘Cause if you are, let me help you. Where are you going? Maybe I ought to come with you.”

“No!” she yelped, more sharply than she intended. “No. Mickey, I’m all right. I just need to sort something out. Look… go on down to the Lamb and Flag. I’ll see you in about an hour. I’ll get a cab back.”

The idea of meeting in the pub worked. Mickey was happy to go off and leave her if it meant he could get a couple of drinks and a game of pool in before she arrived.

It WAS the TARDIS. She looked at it from the other side of the road. It was just sitting there, like something nobody would ever take a bit of notice of. Its “Police Public Call Box” sign and the little windows lit up in the darkness, but that was all.

Lit up like a welcome to her.

She hoped.

She crossed the road and slipped down the alley. For a moment she felt a bit unsure. What if it WASN’T the right TARDIS?

Don’t be daft, she told herself. There’s only ONE TARDIS.

There were lots of Doctors, she reflected.

Yes, and they’re all good men who would help her, she told herself.

She knocked on the door. She had never had to do that. She always had a key or was with The Doctor. It felt strange to have to do that.

There was no answer. She knocked harder. And harder still. She screamed as she hammered on the door.

It opened. He stood there, his arm on the door, his body blocking the way. But she pushed him with all her strength, forcing her way in and shutting the door behind her so that he couldn't just push her back out without listening to her.


“Who are you?” he asked. “And what….how?”

“Doctor…. I….” She looked at him. He was the same man. He WAS The Doctor she knew, not one of his other incarnations. He didn’t know her. That much was obvious in the puzzled expression on his face. But he WAS The Doctor. He was a kind, brave, fantastic person who she could trust.

“How do you know who I am? How did you know about the TARDIS?”

“I’m Rose,” she said. “Rose Tyler. We…We should have met yesterday. We didn’t. And that’s why it's all going wrong for you right now.”

“What do you mean, we SHOULD have met?”

“I was off sick, so I wasn’t in the cellar when the dummies attacked. So we didn’t meet.”

He looked at her with the sort of expression people have when they want to be kind to somebody who clearly hasn’t got a full set of marbles. But she also knew he could get very angry if people messed with him and she didn’t want him angry at her.

“Doctor…” She tried again and stopped. She wanted him to know her. She wanted him to be the man who loved her as much as she loved him. But he wasn’t. This was either her own reality and she had been thrown back to the beginning when he didn’t know her, or it was an alternative reality where he wasn’t MEANT to know her. But either way, he DIDN’T KNOW HER.

And that hurt so much. She felt as if she had been hollowed out. He was so much a part of her life for so long. And now he didn’t even know it.

She gulped back tears and tried again. This time she sounded even more a gibbering wreck than before.

“Look…” he began. “Rose…. That’s your name? Rose?”

“Yes, Rose. Rose Marion Tyler. Your mother’s name is Marion. You told me that once.”

That shook him. She saw his eyes flicker.

“Well, Rose… Look I don’t know how you know me. Especially how you know things like that. I’ve never told anyone on Earth about my mother. And I don’t know what your problem is. But right now… Right now I can’t help you. I have to deal with something way more important. Something that could affect everyone on this planet.”

“The Nestene Consciousness. Yes, I know. That’s why…”

He looked at her. “Ok, I am not even going to bother asking how you know that, either. I know you’re not reading my mind, because I would know. Besides, I get no telepathic aura from you. But yes, I have to find the Nestene’s lair. I thought I had it last night. But…”

“It's under the London Eye,” she said. “The Eye is the transmitter.”


“The London Eye. Big Ferris Wheel. On the Embankment near the Houses of Parliament.”

“I know what it is. But what makes you think…”

“Look, do you have any other ideas? I’m telling you where to find it. Just let’s go there. Take your anti-plastic and do what you have to do. Because if you don’t – My mum is out there shopping. And there are loads of other people I care about. And they’ll die if this thing succeeds. You’re their only hope. So what are we waiting for?”

“Ok,” he decided. “Show me.” He turned and adjusted a setting on the TARDIS console. A few minutes later they stepped out on the Embankment. The London Eye was lit up blue against the dark sky.

“Well, you may have something. It’s big enough for a transmitter.”

“The way down to the lair is this way,” she said, grabbing his hand and hurrying with him down below the Embankment to the hatchway. He opened it and looked down into the orange glow.

“You DO have something.” He looked at her. “This is dangerous. You wait here.”

“The last time you needed me,” she said. “You’d be dead if I hadn’t saved you.”

“You? Save me?” He looked at her sceptically. “Look, seriously. A Nestene lair is no place for a girl.”

“Ok, fine. Be a bloody minded male chauvinist pig then. But take one more piece of advice. If not for yourself, for the people I CARE about. Don’t try to negotiate. This thing isn’t interested. It’s going to try to kill you. Just chuck in the anti-plastic and run like hell.”

“I can’t just kill it. I’m not a murderer.”

“If you don’t it’ll kill you. And even if you’re not MY Doctor, I still don’t want anything happening to you. So just do what I say.”

“I…” The Doctor began but his attention was distracted as a bolt of blue lightning flashed out from the centre of the London Eye and a visible pulsating wave of energy started to emanate from it. “It’s begun.”

“Then stop arguing. Get on with it.”

He dropped down through the service hatch. She watched him disappear into the tunnels below. She walked back up to where the TARDIS was parked. She could hear screaming and cars crashing in the distance. The crazy stuff was starting to happen. She looked around. There was nothing plastic near her. The embankment was good solid stone. The lamps that lit it were wrought iron and glass.

She pulled off the plastic bracelets and rings she was wearing and chucked them over into the river as she suddenly thought of them crushing her hand to a pulp.

“Get it right, Doctor!” she said. “Please. For all our sakes, for your own sake, get it right.”

There was a strange roaring sound and the TARDIS vanished. Of course, she remembered. The Nestene took it down into the lair. It accused The Doctor of using his time machine as a weapon against it. Or something like that. Then its shop dummy lackies grabbed him - tried to kill him by throwing him into the Nestene’s vat.

She couldn’t stand around. She had to do something. She ran back to the service hatch and dropped down into the tunnel. Funny, but she never wondered what this was under the embankment. Something to do with the Thames Barrier? A disused power substation? Anyway, it was big and it had several levels of gantries and platforms. She raced to where the Doctor was standing on one of those platforms negotiating with the Nestene. She could hear him, his voice echoing above the rasping voice of the creature, going on about the Shadow Proclamation. She just made it to the first gantry before the Nestene made the steps collapse, trapping her there.

The Doctor WAS in trouble. He was held by two of the shop dummies. She had wondered the last time why he didn’t just throw them off. She’d since learnt that the living dummies – actually they were called Autons – had superhuman strength. Even HE didn’t have the physical capability to fight two of them. They had him at their mercy. And they had no mercy. They were plastic killing machines.

“Doctor, hold on,” she called out. “I’m coming.” She stood above where he was being slowly pushed towards the edge of the platform. She may look like a useless shopgirl, but she still remembered all he had ever taught her about martial arts. She launched herself off the gantry behind The Doctor as he struggled. As she came parallel with him she kicked out with both legs in a perfectly executed scissor move, propelling both Autons forward into the vat, along with the phial of blue, glowing anti-plastic. She landed gracefully behind The Doctor and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him back as he tottered on the edge. He landed ungracefully on the floor. Below, the Nestene screamed in anger and agony as the anti-plastic poisoned it.

“Oww,” he complained, rubbing his back as he struggled to his feet. “Did you have to be so rough?”

“Would you like me to throw you in after all?” she responded.

“No, this is fine.”

“This is dangerous,” she said. “That thing’s going to blow. Come on.” He didn’t argue. He took out his TARDIS key as they ran for it. The dying Nestene was taking the whole place with it and they had to get out of there fast. It had done them a favour by snatching the TARDIS at least. Otherwise they would have been trapped.

“Ok,” The Doctor said as the TARDIS dematerialised, leaving the inferno of the lair behind. “So I did need a girl to rescue me. I owe you one.”

“You owe me more than one,” she told him. “But who’s counting? We look after each other.”

He shook his head and looked at her carefully. He frowned as if trying to remember how she fitted into his life. But she didn’t. Not yet.

“Rose Tyler…. Who are you and how do you know how to perform Malvorian Sun Ko Du moves?”

“You taught me,” she said.

“Sun Ko Du is…”

“…Is an advanced martial arts. The only people outside of Malvoria who practice it are Time Lords. And you were the best there ever was at it even before all the other Time Lords were annihilated.” She saw him flinch at that and his eyes dim. That had been a cruel thing to say. “I’m sorry,” she told him. “I know that’s painful for you.”

“Who are you?” he said again. “How do I know you and from where or when?”

“I’m Rose Tyler. And I don’t know what’s happening exactly. I think it must be some kind of paradox. I don’t know how I got here. The last thing I remember is we were planning a trip to Germany. You wanted to show me something there. But… Somehow I woke up here. Six years ago. Right back at the day we met…”

“Six years? I… You’ve known me for six years? I’ve not even been in this body for six days. ”

“I know. You regenerated just before you came here to sort out the Nestene. Yes, we’ve known each other six years. But it's more than that. Doctor…. We…. We were in love. We were engaged. We had plans to be married.”

“Now THAT I don’t believe,” he said. “Me? Engaged. I mean, I don’t mean to say you’re not a pretty girl. And you’re a clever one. You think on your feet. I’m not saying you don’t have something. But… Well, I’m not the marrying kind.”

“That’s not what you told Julia.”

“Ok, that’s not funny,” he said. His eyes looked genuinely hurt. “Whatever else you know about me. Don’t… I don’t talk about her. She’s not…. She’s in my past. A memory…”

“I met her a couple of times when we got mixed up in paradoxes. But mostly I know her from you. You DO talk about her to me. You told me about how much you loved her. As much as… as much as you love me.” She looked at him. He was having a hard time taking it all in. He looked at her with suspicion, disbelief, kindness - because he WAS a kind man after all. But certainly NOT with love. “You’re not…You’re not my Doctor. You’re not the man I love. You look like him, but you’re not. This IS a paradox. Or I’m in the wrong timeline or…. Or… I don’t know. You’re the one with 900 odd years’ experience of this kind of thing. But please… Please help me get back where I belong… back to him.”

“Rose…” When he spoke her name it tore into her heart. She felt him reach and take her hand. That was even worse. To be touched by him, yet not to have his love. “Oh… my…” He gripped her hand tighter and she realised he was reading her mind. She felt him there like silver in her head. She saw flashes of the memories he was seeing of their life together; the places they had visited, their adventures in time and space, their growing love for each other. And…

“Those children. The two boys…”

“Susan’s children. Your great grandchildren.”

“My Susan? She’s alive?”

“Alive and well and living in the 23rd century. Go and see her. If we never meet in this timeline, then that’s another thing. Doctor, if nothing else we had in our lives comes to be, at least go there. Find your family. Because otherwise… Otherwise you’re just too sad, too lonely. And saving the universe isn’t enough for you. You need them. You need a reason to keep doing it. You need your family.”

“My family?” He looked sad and lonely right then. She reached out and took his other hand. “Rose…”

“Yes,” she said. “Yes. I’m Rose and I love you. Even if you don’t love me. Even if you don’t know me at all. I still love you.”

She stepped close to him and embraced him around the neck. She reached up and kissed him on the lips. For a moment he seemed frozen in shock, and then he responded to the kiss and he felt right. It felt like the man she loved.

Then she wasn’t sure what it felt like. He seemed to fade away from her. Or she faded from him. She couldn’t feel his touch any more. She screamed out his name as she felt even that reality dissolving away.

“Rose…” She heard her mother’s voice. She groaned. Back to the grind. Time to wake up, go to work, she thought. But her head ached so much. She didn’t want to get up. “Rose… sweetheart, open your eyes.”

“Rose.” Another voice. A voice she loved dearly. Then his hand clutched tightly and she felt his lips on hers as he leaned over to kiss her. She heard her mother tell him to be careful, to let her breathe. She opened her eyes and looked at Her Doctor. She reached out and touched his face.

“It’s you?”

“Who were you expecting?”

“Oh, Rose…” She saw her mother the other side of the hospital bed she was lying in. She was aware of a lot of pain. Her ribs hurt and her legs were both painful. And there was a brace on her neck. “Rose, love, you’re awake at last.”

“How long have I been here?” she asked. “Where IS here?”

“A hospital in Hamburg,” The Doctor told her. “After all the stuff we’ve been through on distant planets we got caught up in an ordinary terrorist bomb in Germany! I woke up here three days ago. All my bones mended ok, of course. Medical miracle. Stunned the doctors. But you…. I called your mum. She flew over. She wouldn’t even let me come get her by TARDIS. In case you needed me. We’ve both been here waiting for you to come back to us.”

“I remember now – the train. The explosion. Then we rolled down the banking or something. So… so I’ve been here unconscious for three days?”

“You’re going to be here a few days more,” her mother said. “You’ve been really badly hurt, sweetheart.”

“Where is…” She lifted her hand. Her engagement ring was missing. When she put her hand to her neck so was her pendant.

“They removed all your jewellery when they gave you a CAT scan for the head injury,” The Doctor explained. “I have them here.” He reached in his pocket and took out the solitaire ring. He placed it on her finger again and kissed her hand. “My Rose,” he said. “I thought I was going to lose you. I am so… so relieved.”

“I thought I HAD lost you,” she said. And she told him what she remembered. “It wasn’t just a dream, I’m sure. It was real. He was real.”

“You’ve had flashes of other timelines before,” The Doctor told her. “This felt more than a dream?”

“Yes. Way more real.”

“I don’t know how,” he said. “But you must have gone into an alternative reality.”

“I hope he DOES go and find Susan,” she said. “He’ll be so lonely otherwise.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “I can’t imagine…. Without you I wouldn’t have made it that day. I’d be dead. And Earth would be defenceless against the Nestene.”

“So that timeline needed Rose to be in it, to make things right?” Jackie asked. She had done her best to follow what they were both saying. “So when she was unconscious it sort of ‘borrowed’ her to help the version of you in that line.”

“Does that make sense?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, sort of,” The Doctor told her. He smiled. “You know, every time we come across one of my alternate reality selves I can’t help thinking I got the best deal of all. I’ve got you.” He kissed her again and told her she ought to rest a bit now. She was still recovering from her injuries after all.

“Stay with me,” she said. “If I seem like I’m anywhere else but here, wake me.”

“We’ll BOTH be right here,” The Doctor promised, glancing at Jackie. “You can count on that.” He watched as she slipped into a peaceful, ordinary sleep. How could he possibly leave her? He needed her. More than he ever realised. Even in other realities he needed her.