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

"Doctor?" Rose spoke his name softly. Somehow the library wasn't the place for speaking loudly. He didn't seem to hear her speak at first as he read the book in his own super-fast speed, his pupils dilating and his eyes and fingers the only part of him moving as he scanned and turned the pages.

"You know, I'm sure you could enjoy the story better if you take your time," she said as she came towards him. He looked up and smiled at her.

"It's not a story book," he said, setting it aside and pulling her towards him. She sat straddling his legs, facing him and he held her around the waist. "It's a book about Gallifreyan obstetrics," he added. "I'm still looking for… for the answer to our hopes."

"This is because I was so upset at giving Tammy to her grandparents?"

"That wasn't easy for me either. And besides, the deal when we got engaged was that I would make every effort to find the way for us to have children together. And I've not made much headway yet."

"Is there anything in the book?"

"No. It only mentions the possibility of Humans and Time Lords procreating in order to pour scorn on the idea. But I'm not giving up. One day…" He spanned his big, long-fingered hands around her slender waist. He could almost join them together. He tried to imagine her in the last weeks of a 16 month Gallifreyan pregnancy, her slim figure distorted by the growing child in her womb. If he could find the way for her to carry it safely, then it would be a perfect vision. But unless he found the formula that made it possible he could never risk it. Without the drugs they used to enhance the stamina of a Human woman she would be anaemic to the point of collapse, exhausted beyond all endurance, her heart weakened by the strain, her body simply unable to support two lives at once. And if she survived the birth it would be a miracle he hardly dared to hope for. His mother had lived another six years after his birth, but as an invalid, her heart so badly damaged she could not walk unaided. She couldn't even lift him herself. A nurse would pick him up and put him in her arms when he wanted her love, or when she wanted to hold the child that had cost her so dearly. He couldn't do that to Rose. As much as he longed for children in his life again, he wouldn't use her as a disposable vessel for them. She was too precious to him. Rather they never…

"You'll find a way," she said. Her faith in him was unshakeable. She believed he could make anything happen. Maybe he could. When he concentrated hard he had very real visions of the future and he saw her as the mother of his children. It WAS going to happen. He just didn't know how. He had hoped there was something in these books, but they were no help. They talked of "inter-species breeding" as something socially unacceptable. They had nothing to say about the medical advances that made it possible.

"If you feel that time is slipping by," he said. "And you don't want to wait for me… Rose…you know I wouldn't stand in your way."

"How can you say that? You really think I'd dump you… walk away and leave you on your own… I LOVE YOU, you crazy alien."

"I'm glad," he said. "I love you, and without you I am less than nothing. The loneliest being in the universe." He pulled her close to him, her head on his chest and his face pressed into her hair. "If we can't… If we never can be a real family, at least we have each other." He was certain of that.

He sighed and closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the present moment. He lived, as so many beings did, too much in the hope of the future. He forgot to live for the moment that was. Here he was with the woman he loved pressed against him, and he was too worried about the future to savour the moment.

And before he could fully enjoy it, life threw a spanner in the works again. A violent, painful spanner that hit him square in the head as they were both thrown to the floor by the sudden drop out of the vortex and into an unscheduled materialisation. He had fallen over Rose anyway and he covered her with his own body until the thunder of falling library books was over.

Slowly he stood up, lifting her with him. He put his hand to his head. He was bleeding where the corner of a leather bound book had hit him, but that was already starting to repair. Rose was shaken but unhurt.

"Let's go check out the damage," he said when his head stopped spinning.


The damage was not so bad as it might have been. The flight and navigation controls were offline. They would take a few hours to reboot. Meanwhile environmental controls told him they were on a planet with a breathable atmosphere and a temperate climate.

"Let's take a walk," he said reaching out his hand. Rose took it gladly.

"Looks like Earth," Rose said as they walked through an elegantly laid out urban area. It was clearly one of the better class neighbourhoods. They passed by graceful town houses behind fancy gates and beautiful gardens. She wondered what the residents would make of the blue box parked incongruously at the junction. Much as she loved the TARDIS it could do with a paint job for visiting the upper classes.

"Yes," The Doctor said seeming slightly distracted. "Yes, it always did."

"You've been here before?" Rose asked. "What's the odds of that? A billion planets in the universe and the TARDIS lands us on one you know."

"Symbiotic relationship. It had to make an emergency stop, and it chose a place from my memory. But this one…. Wow. This goes back."

"Where is here?" Rose asked.

"Ventura IV. I lived here when I was a boy," The Doctor said. "I haven't visited since…." He stopped and looked at his watch. "Ooooh."


"We've gone back in time."

"Well… we have a time machine."

"Yes, but we're in my personal past." He said. "I shouldn't…. it's against the Laws of Time to interfere with your own past. It shouldn't…. There used to be restrictions to stop this being possible. I thought they would still hold. The longer Gallifrey is gone… the weaker its hold is on these things."

"And…. That means…." Rose looked at him. He seemed VERY distracted.

"It means I can do something I wish I could have done long ago." He stopped walking and looked at a large, beautifully appointed house behind a wrought iron gate. There was a familiar design in the tracery of the gate - the Seal of Rassilon.


"The residence of the Gallifreyan Ambassador," he said touching the seal reverently. "The first home I remember. My father took the post when I was just a baby. We returned to Gallifrey after my mother died."

"Your father lives there now?"

"Yes," he said as he reached to press the gate entry videocom.

"Then we shouldn't be here," Rose said. "This is a bad idea. It's… It's like when I wanted to see my father. You said…"

"I'm not trying to keep somebody alive who shouldn't be," he told her. "I just want… exactly what you wanted with your dad. Some quirk of fate has brought me here. I didn't choose this destination. I never thought I could. But it has and I want to be with my mother." He looked again at his watch that told time in a way that defied all physical laws. "This is her last day. And I want to be there."

"Just… be careful," Rose told him.

"I always am."

"No you're not. You're a reckless nutter who goes head first into dangerous situations without thinking."

"Well, yes. That's all true."

"So…. Just BE CAREFUL," she said again.

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." He turned to the videocom as a man in the livery of the Gallifreyan diplomatic service answered it. "Hello," he said. "I am here to see the Ambassador, Lord de Lœngbærrow."

"His lordship is not receiving anybody today. His wife is very ill and he cannot be distracted."

"I know. I am a family friend. I wish to pay my respects to the Lady De Lœngbærrow."

"I really don't think…."

"I must speak to his Lordship. He will understand why I am here. But I must see him in person, not on a videocom."

"Sir, I think…"

"I don't think you think at all. I am the heir of one of the most senior oldblood houses of Gallifrey and you keep me standing here at the gate. Do you WANT to be looking for a new job in the morning?" The Doctor kept eye contact with the man as he spoke. It was not possible to hypnotise somebody completely through a video link. The frequency of the picture interfered with the mental frequency. But it was possible to influence a distracted mind that was not on guard against interference. He managed to influence this man enough to get him to open the gate. Whether he would manage to reach the house was another matter.

He took Rose's hand and they walked up the driveway. They were met at the door by the same liveried man who admitted them to the hallway at least.

"Sir, you must understand, whatever your business it cannot be more important to his Lordship than…."

"Just ask him to spare me two minutes," The Doctor insisted, turning his hardest stare on the man. He seemed spellbound by him for a half a minute then turned and went up the wide staircase to the upper floor of the house. A few minutes later a man appeared at the top of the stairs. A tall, dignified looking man in his late middle age by Earth appearances at least. The Doctor looked up at him and breathed in deeply. Rose felt him grasp her hand and he was shaking. The man came down the stairs and approached him.

"Who are you and why have you demanded to see me at such a time?" The Gallifreyan Ambassador to Ventura spoke in tones that were civil but very strained. For a moment The Doctor felt unable to answer him. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again.

"My aide said you claimed to be the heir to one of the Oldblood Houses. But I don't know you. Who's House?"

"Yours," The Doctor said at last.

"What?" The Ambassador looked at him. The Doctor felt briefly the touch of a Time Lord mind on his own. All Gallifreyans could read each other's unique patterns telepathically. It was how they knew each other even when regeneration had altered the body at DNA level. "You are a Time Lord. But… Good gracious. A Time Lord with tear ducts. You're a half-blood. Like… like my son."

"Sir… If you wish to know me, look deeper. I give you leave."

Ambassador de Lœngbærrow put his hand on his shoulder and he felt him enter his mind. The sharp feel like quicksilver running through his synapses was heightened by the knowledge that it was his own father who was touching his mind. It was all he could do to stand up straight. He was sorry when he felt him withdraw suddenly. The ambassador stepped back from him in shock.

"No. It's not possible," he said. "It is against every precept. Only a Renegade would dare to step back into his own past. And my son is not…. Never…. Never could be…. How dare you bring such shame on our family."

"I didn't intend to," The Doctor answered him. His father's anger upset him and he wanted to reassure him. "I would never have done this deliberately. But there was some kind of problem with my TARDIS. It landed me here on this day of all days. And… Please… I didn't mean to be here, but now I am, please let me see her."

"Doctor," Rose took his hand. "This is not a good idea."

"Your young lady is right," his father told him.

"I know she is," The Doctor said. "But…. I feel I must. Please, father."

"Did I raise you so Human? So emotional?"

"No, you didn't. You taught me to be proud of my Gallifreyan heritage. But…. But you also taught me to value my Humanity. To remember my mother's love. And I always have. But it has been so long. I feel as if I hardly remember her face. I need to know her again, if only for the briefest moment. I beg you, let me see my mama before it is too late"

Tears welled up in his Human eyes. He fought them back, but the Ambassador saw his effort. His anger at the inappropriateness of his presence was softened by his compassion for one who he knew loved his wife as much as he did and truly did long to see her.

"She is dying. And you have taken me from her at this precious time. I cannot waste any more time arguing with you. Come, if you must. But be quiet and be discreet. And don't say anything to her that will frighten her." The Ambassador turned and went upstairs. The Doctor followed. Rose followed him. She didn't know what else to do.


The room was beautiful. It was filled with flowers. The big window onto a balcony was open, letting in rose scented air. It hardly seemed like a death room. Only when they looked at the bed and the lady lying there, her eyes open but hardly seeing anything, her breathing shallow and laboured, did the reality hit hard.

The Ambassador went to his wife's side. He took her hand and kissed her cheek. She smiled at him.

"Will you bring my little boy to me," she whispered. "I want to see him."

"The nurse took him for a walk. As soon as they are back I will bring him to you." He paused and looked around at The Doctor. "Marion, my love, there is somebody else who wishes to see you. Will you give him a minute of your precious time?"

"Who?" Her husband stepped away from the bedside. The Doctor stepped forward and took her frail hand in his. She looked up at him and although she was not afraid of him she seemed puzzled.

"I feel as if I should know you," she said. "You seem familiar to me though I don't know your face. You have beautiful eyes." She reached out her other hand and touched his cheek. "I DO know you. I know those eyes."

"They're your eyes," he said. "I have your eyes, mama."

"What?" She looked at him in astonishment. Behind him his father breathed in sharply. So did Rose. Be discreet, he had been told. How INDISCREET could he be?

"I'm your son, mama. I came to see you."

"My son? Is it possible? How?" She looked at her husband as he moved towards the bed. His eyes were angry as he turned towards The Doctor, then they softened. He put a hand on his grown up son's shoulder as he caressed his wife's face.

"We are Time Lords. We can do many things. He has found his way here from the future because he wanted to see you."

"I am glad he did," she said. "My son, you are… so tall and handsome. A man. A strong man. They said you would be a weakling, but I never believed it. You are all I hoped." She tried to sit up to be closer to him. He reached and supported her back and hugged her tight. He could feel her single heartbeat against his own double beat. It was like a clock slowly winding down until it would tick no more. Every beat was one more gone and the end a little closer. But to be there, holding her, in those moments, was something he had never dreamt he would be able to do.

After a while she lay down again but she was smiling brightly, her slate-grey eyes that matched his, telling of her joy. Her husband smiled to see her look so happy. Whatever his reservations about his presence she was happy to see her son in this way. And her happiness had ALWAYS been his first concern.

"That pretty young woman…" she said presently. "Is she…"

"She is my fiancée," The Doctor told his mother.

"Oh. Oh that's wonderful. Our son… getting married. Kristoph, isn't that wonderful?"

"It is wonderful." Her husband told her.

"Let me see her," Marion de Lœngbærrow said. "My son's young lady."

The Ambassador turned and beckoned to Rose, who waited by the door, knowing that she had but a peripheral role in this unfolding drama. She came forward. He looked at her and reached and tucked her silver pendant inside her t.shirt. When she approached the bed she understood why. It wasn't the first time she had seen the same pendant worn by another woman. The last time it was The Doctor's first wife, Julia. This time it was his mother who wore the family heirloom that had come to her after so very many years.

"Mama, this is my Rose, who is going to be my wife one day soon."

His mother smiled as she looked at her. Rose tried to do the same. It was a difficult situation.

"You love my son?" Marion de Lœngbærrow asked her.

"Very much," Rose answered without hesitation.

"I can see that he loves you, my dear. I am glad."

"Thank you," Rose said. "I… I hope you…. feel better soon."

"I don't think I will ever feel better. I am dying. But I don't mind. I know that my little boy is going to become a man. Let me kiss you, and wish you well." Rose bent and let The Doctor's mother kiss her on the cheek. Then she stepped back and let him and his father sit by her.

The door opened and a little boy came into the room. He had black hair and deep brown eyes. The Doctor looked at him. Rose looked at him too then she stepped forward again.

"Come on, out of the way for the moment," she told The Doctor, her hand on his arm cautiously. He nodded and stood up. She drew him away to the window as the six year old version of himself was allowed to come to his mother's bed.

"You were a beautiful little boy," she whispered to him. "But you SHOULDN'T be here. This IS a bad idea."

"I know. But… she is so happy now." They both turned and looked at the child hugging his mother.

"They said I should come and kiss you goodnight," the six year old Ambassador's son said. "But it's not bedtime yet."

"It is for me," his mother told him. "I am so very tired. Let me hold you for a little while, then you go play outside. Make lots of noise. I will be able to hear you from my bed."

She held the boy for as long as she could. After a while he grew weary of being still in her arms. She kissed him and reluctantly let him go. He ran from the room and it wasn't very long before they could hear him outside in the garden, playing on a rope swing fastened to a large, strong tree and singing a nursery rhyme slightly tunelessly but loudly. The sounds of his innocent play cheered his mother. Her husband and The Doctor went back to the bedside. They sat either side of her and held her hands together. Rose looked at them. It WAS completely wrong for him to be there, but at the same time it was RIGHT. He was there, with his mother, at the end - the way he had once made it possible for her to be with her father when he died.

She walked out onto the balcony and watched the child who would one day be the man she loved playing on his swing. He didn't understand what was happening. Later, somebody would have to tell him. That would be hard. Poor child. She was too young to remember - the first time around at least. She had only known her father through her mother's stories about him. And most of those, she later found out, were wishful thinking. She wondered how she would have felt if he had died when she was the age that child was.

She heard an anguished cry in the room and turned. It was all over. The poor woman was dead and for those who loved her all they could do now was grieve. She saw The Doctor lean over and kiss his mother once then step back as his father did the same. Then they embraced each other. The Doctor cried. His father didn't. She had heard him say many times that pureblood Gallifreyans didn't have tear ducts. But that didn't mean that they didn't feel grief. The Ambassador looked like he was about to fall down. They both did. They were holding each other up. If one let go, the other would fall as if his bones were jelly.

Rose went out of the room. She wasn't needed. She went down the stairs past servants who asked her if there was any news. With one wordless look she told them the news and they turned away, sorrowful. They, too, were Gallifreyans who did not cry. She thought it must be strange not having that release for their feelings.

A French window brought her out to the garden where the boy was playing. She watched him for a while. He saw her and stopped swinging and walked up to her. Rose held her breath.

"Hello," he said. "Are you a friend of my mama's?"

"Yes," she answered. There really was no other answer she could give him. "I'm… I'm your friend too, Chrístõ."

"What's your name?" he asked accepting that she knew his.

"Rose," she answered.

"I am pleased to meet you, Rose," the boy said politely and formally as somebody must have taught him to do. He looked past her. "My papa is coming." She looked around as the boy ran to his father. He picked him up in his arms as he and The Doctor came to a shaded place where a table and chairs were set out. A servant brought tea in a silver pot with fine china cups. They sat. Rose went to join them. She poured the tea for them. Milk and two sugars for The Doctor as ever. She put the same quantities into his father's cup without even thinking about it, and poured a cup of milk for the child who sat by his father, opposite The Doctor. That they were one and the same person seemed almost incredible. The scene looked so 'normal' for the moment. Both men were acting as calmly as possible in front of the child, though their eyes betrayed them.

"Is my mama sleeping now?" the child asked.

"Yes," his father told him. "Yes, she is." And he left it at that for now. He seemed not to want to have to say it yet. Let the boy have a few more minutes of sunshine and contentment. Why not. After he had finished his milk he ran off to play once more. "You and him should not be in the same place," the Ambassador said to The Doctor. "It should not even be possible. I still don't see how you could have done it without breaking the protocols."

"I couldn't if this had taken place on Gallifrey. Ventura seems to be outside the field of influence. But I am glad. I am glad I was there at the very end."

"I have to admit," his father said. "Not having to go through that alone… I am glad you were there…. Son." Something passed between the two of them on the telepathic plane. The Ambassador nodded in understanding. The Doctor turned to Rose and reached to take her pendant out from where it had been hidden. "I'm glad that has found a new wearer. I had it made as a wedding present for your mother."

"I know," The Doctor said. "That's why I knew Rose would cherish it."

"Rose…" The Ambassador looked at her and back to his son. "She is an Earth Child, like your mother?"

"Yes," he said.

"Oh, my boy."

"Don't say it," The Doctor told him quietly. "I know what you're going to say. I have heard you say it so many times. But we none of us choose where our hearts dwell. Could anybody have ever told you different when you fell in love with my mother?"

"This day of all days I would have listened to them. My hearts burn with grief. I would save you from that if I could."

"Father." The Doctor smiled wryly. "It is too late anyway. Rose is - will be - my second wife. She is the second Earth child I have risked my hearts on."

"I… see." His father looked at them both. "I… How old are you? I thought you were in your first middle age… but…."

"I'm 952," he said. "And I am in my 9th incarnation."

"As many as that?"

"I've taken risks with more than my hearts. But you knew I would. I am the one with the Mark of Rassilon. You knew from my birth I would tread a different path."

"I should not ask. To know too much about our own destinies is dangerous. Though I am curious to know if I will be around to see your Alliance to this pretty young woman."

The Doctor tried to block his thoughts but he wasn't quick enough. His father's telepathic abilities were as sharp as his. He saw enough to make him pale with shock.

"Our world…."



"I can't tell you. The information might cause a paradox. And it could change nothing. But now you see why I needed to do this. Why I needed to be in touch, if only for a moment, with what used to be. And…. Well, now you understand why I have the Mark. What my destiny was meant to be."

"Yes." The Ambassador turned and looked at his son - the younger version of him. "Though he will be a man before I burden him with that. Meanwhile he has a more immediate burden to carry. I have to tell him…"

"No," The Doctor said quietly. "My memory of this day is vague in parts. It was so long ago. I couldn't even remember who the other people were who were in my mother's room. And I don't remember the man who told me that she had died. But I know it wasn't you. It…. it was….." He sighed and smiled. "I don't remember the words I was told. But I remember being held while I cried. And I remember the smell of old leather against my face as I was held. Funny…. The things that stick in the memory." He stood up and walked across the grass towards his younger self.

"Can he do that?" Rose asked. "Isn't it a paradox? When we were in my past… when I was there as a baby, he said I couldn't touch her… the baby version of me… and when I did it caused a disaster…"

"That's because you were the same person. Because there is only one of you. But we… at our DNA level, we are not the same person we were born as. He has changed so many times. Even though he has the memories of his past lives he is different enough to be able to interact with himself without a paradox."

"Oh." She watched as he approached the child version of himself. She saw him talk to the child. She saw him kneel on the grass and hold him in his arms as he burst into inconsolable tears. There was no paradox, only an adult with all the compassion and understanding possible for a grieving child.

"I am glad he came," his father said to Rose with a sad sigh. "I could not have dreamt it was possible. But I am glad it was. She used to tell me that she wished she could see him grown up. Knowing that she would not live that long. He has answered her dearest wish. As for you… His love for you is so clear. And that is MY dearest wish for him, that he should find somebody to love and cherish as I loved and cherished his mother. I bless you both."

"Thank you," Rose said. She looked again at The Doctor with his younger self. She saw him stand. He seemed to be straightening the boy's shirt collar. Then he took his hand and they walked back to the table. The boy reached to his father who took him on his knee. Rose noticed the silver lapel pin with the engraving of the constellation of Sagittarius on his collar. He was showing it to his father.

"That's where Gallifrey is. Where I was born."

"I know," his father replied. "We're going to go there soon. We have a house there as nice as this one. And we'll live there. And one day… one day maybe you'll see the planet your mother comes from, too. Earth."

"I know he will," The Doctor said quietly. And he reached for Rose's hand. He nodded quietly to his father and they walked away together.

"I'll have to buy you another pin," Rose said as they stepped into the TARDIS.

"No need," The Doctor answered. He went to the console and found everything in working order. He put them into temporal orbit and set a course then he took her to the bedroom they shared. He opened a small drawer in the dresser where he kept the kind of things men keep in such drawers; cuff links, tie pins, collar studs. Rose saw him pick out a silver pin and fasten it to his jacket. It was the same pin, though clearly older, the engraving less well defined after many polishings.

"I kept it all my life," he said. "A treasure given to me by a stranger whose face I never remembered, only the smell of his leather jacket. When you gave it me, I should have known then that something crazy was going to happen. The circle had to turn."

"Then going there wasn't accidental after all?"

"I'm not sure anything is EVER purely accidental. Fate drives us one way or the other. Even meeting you…. I had to do that six years ago so that you would buy me that pin as an anniversary present - so that I could give it to myself on the day my mother died."

"I wish fate would stop messing us about," Rose said as she hugged him. "By the way, have you forgotten we need to put all those books back on the shelves?

"Later," he said. "Just give me a quiet, sweet moment to live in right now."