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

"Why are we staying here?" Rose asked as they waited in the hotel reception while the manager went to find out why his credit card reader wasn't working. This was a couple of rungs below the kind of hotel they USUALLY stayed in when they stayed overnight in any location. Two star, with that sort of wallpaper on the walls of the reception/bar/lounge that suggested that either it hadn't been redecorated for a long while or somebody really believed that the 1970s were the height of good taste.

"We're not IN the 1970s are we?" she added, since those things were never entirely certain when you travelled with The Doctor.

"No, definitely the 21st century, Davie observed, looking around the room. "The big screen TV system, push button phone, the chip and pin credit card reader - when he remembers to plug it in - 2011 edition of the phone book…."

"Show off," Chris teased his brother.

"Good observation," The Doctor told his great-grandson. "Show off? Yes, maybe. But no harm in that. Takes after me."

"Show off," Rose told him. He flashed a smile at her and she giggled.

"So why ARE we here?" she asked. "In a two star hotel behind Blackpool Pleasure Beach called 'The Tuscadero.' What IS a Tuscadero anyway?"

"It's a type of leather jacket used by serious motor bike riders," The Doctor answered. "I have a feeling the proprietor intended to call it the Trocadero and got it misspelled."

"Trocadero is a place in Spain where a battle was fought in 1823," Chris said. "So that's a silly name for a hotel, too."

"And to answer the more important part of my question now," Rose said. "WHY are we here?"

"I have detected some strange signals coming from this place. Something interfering with time. And as I have said more than once in my life - TIME is my business."

"Right, so we're not going to go on the roller coaster?" Rose pretended to be disappointed. She was kidding. She had ridden the shock waves of supernovas in the TARDIS. Being with The Doctor was LIKE riding the shock wave of a supernova most of the time. There wasn't much a man-made white knuckle ride could do to match the thrills of her ordinary everyday LIFE.

And they were in the queue for another trip of a lifetime, apparently.

"There we go, Sir," the manager said, giving The Doctor back his credit card. "All sorted. And here's your key. You're on the third floor. May I help you with your bags?"

"Please do," The Doctor replied, thinking of three flights of stairs.

"Nice photos," Rose said as she followed the manager and The Doctor up the stairs. All the walls were lined with old sepia pictures of Blackpool in, she guessed, the 1930s. Scenes of the promenade, the Tower, the Pleasure Beach, the beach itself in days gone by when swimming costumes covered a lot more and the bikini hadn't been invented.

"My grandfather used to be a keen photographer. He has hundreds of them." Rose looked at the retreating back of the manager. He had spoken those words in such a dull way. If she had a grandfather who was so clever and artistic as the man who took all those lovely pictures she thought she'd sound just a bit proud when she showed them off to strangers. He said it almost as if his grandfather was an embarrassment to him.

"They're nice," she said again.

Anyway, they certainly took her mind off the three steep flights of stairs. Not that they were a real problem. She had walked up mountains with The Doctor. This was nothing. But she couldn't help feeling nostalgic for the top class hotels with lifts that they USUALLY stayed in.

She was even less impressed by the room. It was just about big enough to take a three-quarter width bed, a couple of beside cabinets and a wardrobe. And the en-suite bathroom was simply a shower cubicle with an opaque plastic door.

"Ok, I'm a snob," she said, sitting on the bed and looking out of the window at a view of a railway line. "I'm too used to the luxury lifestyle. And it's all your fault for giving me ideas above my station."

The Doctor wasn't really listening to her. He was using his sonic screwdriver to take readings, apparently of the walls. He stepped into the shower unit to test that wall and Rose laughed when she heard the sound of the shower running and The Doctor yelling. He stepped out and she threw him a small and rather scratchy hotel towel to dry himself off with.

"There doesn't seem to be any hot water," he informed her. "But the source of the time anomaly is definitely on this floor."

"You think?" she said, still laughing. "So what next?"

"Play it cool, pretend to be tourists. Take the kids on the roller coaster. And I'll have a close look at the rest of the guests at breakfast tomorrow."

She thought he WAS kidding. He wasn't. He really did take them to the Pleasure Beach, and they went on ALL the roller coasters and several other rides as well. And Rose discovered a very good reason to enjoy them. For all that they had ridden plasma storms and raced supernovas across the universe, riding a roller coaster or a log flume or even a carousel horse with The Doctor's arms around her, was a simple pleasure that she would never take for granted.

It was late when they all came back to the hotel. They had been to a show and had a meal together and returned just like any ordinary family to their hotel rooms. They said goodnight to the boys on the landing and The Doctor searched his pockets for the key to their room.

"How can you miss it?" Rose asked. "It's got a big plastic room number stuck to it." She yawned a little theatrically. "Come on, even though I know that bed is going to be hard as a rock it's looking very welcome to me right now."

The Doctor found the key and smiled. He was willing to bet the bed was hard, too. But he would sleep on a bare floor if she was beside him.

As he inserted the key in the lock, the door to the room next to theirs opened. An elderly man looked out. The Doctor nodded to him politely, but the man stared at him as if he had seen a ghost. The Doctor turned and was about to step towards him when the man pulled his head back inside the door and slammed it shut.

"Odd," Rose said. "Rude, too."

"He's in the room the strange readings are coming from," The Doctor said. "He's the one I need to talk to, I think." He paused and looked at the closed door. "Tomorrow," he added. "What was it you were saying about the bed?"


"That bed was horrible," Rose complained at breakfast the next morning. "The mattress was rock hard and there weren't enough pillows. And the blankets were scratchy."

"Felt ok to me," The Doctor said. "All I remember is being pestered all night by a girl in a silk nightie who kept wanting me to snog her."

The boys giggled and Rose told him he shouldn't say such things in front of them.

"And why not?" he asked. "Will it warp their minds to find out that we love each other?"

"We've known THAT for ages," Chris told them as he ate his bacon and eggs enthusiastically. His mum was a bit of a stickler for healthy breakfasts, and it was a treat to have that kind of thing. The Doctor always broke food rules when he had the boys with them. He loved the way Susan tried to be mad with him about it and usually failed spectacularly.

"There you go then," he said with a mischievous grin. "Snogging is allowed between people who are in love."

Rose laughed and blushed. Being cuddled up to him in a bed that felt half the size of the king size one they usually slept in WAS the one compensation it had. Each time the lumpy mattress and uncomfortable pillows had woken her it had been nice to feel him beside her. She thought he had hardly slept at all, because whenever she had stirred he had reached out and held her. Of course, he never really slept much. His Time Lord metabolism didn't need it. But she had wondered once or twice if he had been keeping himself awake because he was concerned about something he felt he needed to protect her from.

"I stay awake to watch you sleep," he whispered and made her blush again. He was half telling the truth. Lying there in the dark, feeling her warmth beside him, hearing her breathe, hearing her heart beat, was nice. It was how he spent most nights once he had slept or meditated enough to refresh his own body. But last night he had felt a need to stay alert. Something disturbed his mind. Something he couldn't exactly put his finger on, that made him uneasy.

"It's in that room," Chris said, out of the blue. "The thing that frightened you, Granddad."

"I wasn't frightened," he protested. "And Chris, STOP READING MY MIND."

"You WERE frightened," Davie insisted, defending his brother. "And he WASN'T reading your mind. We could FEEL your emotions. You WERE scared. But that's ok. Sometimes people GET scared. Even us."

"There's something there that only people like us could feel," Chris continued. "Something that is a part of the very fabric of time and space itself. Like WE are. And it really IS scary. Because it's something VERY wrong and very dangerous."

"Every being in the universe is a part of that fabric," The Doctor said. "But yes, we are the only species that would sense anomalies in it."

"And you sensed them last night?" Rose asked.

"Yes, he did," Chris told her. "We did, too. But Granddad knows what they are."

"I've got a theory," he said. "I mean…"

"It's really you…" A cracked and aged voice spoke by his ear and The Doctor turned sharply to see the elderly man who had looked out at them last night. He walked with a stick and his eyes looked rheumy and weak, but they also looked full of intelligence, and, The Doctor thought, a sort of fire of excitement as if something fantastic was happening. "All these years I have waited and at last…." And he dropped something onto the table in front of The Doctor. Before he had time to look at what it was, though, the manager rushed into the dining room and grabbed the old man by the arm, ushering him away. The Doctor pocketed the object and looked around at the sad spectacle.

"Grandfather," the manager said in the tone of voice even small children find embarrassing. "You know you're not allowed in here when the guests are eating. You are not allowed to bother people." He ushered the old man away, calling as soon as they were out of the dining room to his wife to come and take him back to his room. The manager returned presently, apologising to The Doctor for the intrusion on their breakfast.

"That is quite all right," The Doctor replied to him. "No harm done. But, you know, in my culture we are a lot more respectful to our elders than that. Your grandfather…."

"He is a sick old man who doesn't know what he is doing," the manager said in a tone that suggested that he had been told that more than once by other people and didn't want to argue the point any further.

The Doctor shrugged and turned back to his own family. He looked at the twins and thought of the time before his first regeneration when he had often felt as if he didn't know what he was doing or where he was. He had been afraid of losing his mind, losing his identity and his touch on reality. Susan had been so patient with him. It was hard for a teenage girl to take on the burden of looking after an old man. Especially one who could so often be irrational and bad tempered to the point of cruelty and then a moment later be so befuddled that he had to stop what he was doing or saying and look to her for confirmation that he was even making sense. Susan had borne the burden so well, without complaint, and without ever treating him with anything less than dignity and respect.

Regeneration had cured him of the one ailment no race ever cured without losing touch with who they were - old age. But he remembered looking out at the world through an old man's eyes. And he knew that even the most wandering and apparently senile utterances of the old had some meaning in them to those who cared to listen.

"What did he give you?" Davie asked when the other guests had all stopped looking and gone on with their breakfast.

"Not here," he said. "Come on." He stood and led them out of the dining room, smiling politely as other guests wished them good morning and commented on the weather. He smiled politely at the manager's wife, too, as they passed her on the stairs. Having dealt with her embarrassing relative, she disappeared down to the kitchen to assist her husband with the second wave of breakfasts for the guests.

"That's them out of the way for a bit," The Doctor said as he brought them all into the room. Rose and the boys seated themselves on the bed. The Doctor sat on the edge of it and pulled the mysterious object from his pocket.

It was an old fashioned picture frame, with a photograph inside that looked as if it dated from the same period as those on the walls of the hotel. But this one was not scenery. It was a candid snapshot of two people, caught unexpectedly by the cameraman, judging by their startled expressions.

He looked at Rose. Her outfit for today was a tight fitting pair of trousers that had elicited the question when she was dressing 'does my bum look big in this'. A question he had felt utterly inadequate to answer. Her bum looked fine in anything as far as he was concerned. The trousers were complimented with a sporty looking sweatshirt with a stripe running from one cuff, up the arm and along the shoulder and down to the other cuff. She looked casual and comfortable and very much as if she belonged in the year 2011.

But in this photograph they both appeared to be somewhere in the 1930s. He could make out in the background people walking along Blackpool promenade in the fashions of the pre-war era. And there was something about the picture, the sepia colour, the crease lines where for a long time it must have been folded lengthways and widthways, that made it look like something that was more than seventy years old.

He showed it to her and the boys. They were as shocked as he was.


"That's us," Rose said. "I'm wearing this outfit. I only bought this top the other day. I've never worn it before. How…"

"This is a picture from the past of us in the near future," The Doctor said. "For some reason, later today, we end up going to the 1930s and we get our picture taken."

"Were we planning to go to the 1930s?" Rose asked.

"No, we weren't. The TARDIS is still in the freight yard of North Station. I wasn't planning to go anywhere in it today."

"Since when did PLANS come into anything with you, granddad," Davie said with a grin. "Everything just happens. And you sort it out sooner or later."

"I have a feeling it's going to be one of those times today," The Doctor said. "Come on then, let's go visit the old man next door. See how he fits in with things."

"Maybe the boys ought to wait behind," Rose suggested. "The way you were all talking downstairs, it seemed like something bad is going on in that room."

"No way!" Being telepathic gave a unique harmony to their protests. It was like one voice from stereophonic speakers. And to their delight The Doctor came down on their side.

"They've shared plenty of trouble with us. And besides, I feel I want to keep us all together. I want you all where I can see you."

What WAS the uneasiness he had felt all night? Whatever it was, it increased as he approached the door to the old man's room. The boys were feeling it too. Only Rose was unaware of anything wrong. His theory was that somebody was creating some kind of temporal field without any kind of dampener or protection. And that was why he, as a Time Lord, and the boys, who were near enough to being Time Lords, were picking up resonances of it.

He knocked at the door. It was opened almost immediately by the old man.

"We need to talk," The Doctor said. The man nodded and stepped aside to let them into his room.

It was a large room. Much larger than theirs, Rose noted. But much more sparsely furnished. There was a bed in one corner and an armchair by the window with its view over the railway line that couldn't be very interesting for somebody who obviously spent so much time in this room. And that was it. No TV or radio, no books.

But every single wall in the room was covered in photographs.

There were more of the scenes of Blackpool in the 1930s. But there were also a lot of portraits of a very pretty woman who might well have been a professional model of her day - which was, like the scenes, some time in the 1930s.

"Your wife?" The Doctor turned to the old man who looked startled.

"How did you know?"

"I can see it in your eyes," The Doctor said gently. "When you look at her. All these years and you've never stopped loving her. When did she die?"

"1946, flu, during the big winter."

The Doctor nodded. It had been the case both times that the people of Earth had fought a major war in the 20th century. The winter of 1918 had seen as many die of influenza as in four years of fighting. In the 1939-45 war they organised things a little better. There were poster campaigns to make people aware of nutrition and hygiene. But even so, rationing had taken its toll on the population's resistance to disease and the 1946 winter was one of the coldest on record. The more vulnerable succumbed.

"She was pregnant?" Again the old man nodded, not quite understanding how The Doctor could read his heartbreak so easily.

"My son survived, she didn't," he said. "He's dead now, too. The useless lump you've met already is my grandson. He couldn't even get the name of the hotel right when he decided to rename it."

The Doctor half-smiled at that last comment, but his thoughts were elsewhere. He was looking at the pictures of the pretty, smiling woman. Long black hair and dark eyes, he noted.

Rose noted it, too, and saw in his eyes a distant memory that was no less heartbreaking than the one the old man had suffered so many years ago. The same look her mum had when she got out the old photo albums and looked at the pictures of her dad.

"Twenty years, Sixty years, Seven hundred years, it's all the same," The Doctor said quietly. "The one who said time is a great healer didn't know what he was talking about." For a moment he and the old man maintained eye contact and they understood each other perfectly. "When my people conquered time travel many millennia ago now, they made rules. One of them was a cruel, hard one. But it was a wise one. It ruled that going into your own personal past was not permitted. So many times I wanted to go back, to spend just a little time with her. But I had to accept the inevitable. The same was true when my son died. I would have given my soul for them to let me break that rule just once, to hold him in my arms for five minutes and tell him I love him and I'm proud of him."

The old man stared at The Doctor. He didn't entirely understand what he was saying, but he seemed to have touched a nerve.

"You can't do it, either," The Doctor told him. "We ALL have to accept the inevitable."

"Sixty years," he said. "It has taken me that long to make it work. And you come along and tell me I can't. You're wrong. I CAN make time travel happen. I HAVE done. You've seen the proof."

"The photo," Chris said. He and his brother had listened to what was going on, both the words spoken, and the thoughts not spoken. They had seen all too easily The Doctor's thoughts about his long dead wife. She looked so much like their own mother it was quite emotional for them, too, when he pictured her in his head. They had also seen the old man's thoughts. Sad, like The Doctor's, but at the same time hopeful. He was, after so many years, going to see his wife again.

"Yes," the old man said. "The photo. I don't quite know how you two became involved in my journey. I'm not sure why you think it is any of your business anyway. But you did. That picture was taken on May 1st, 1937. Two days before I met Pauline. She was a contestant in the beauty contest on the South Pier on the bank holiday afternoon. I took photographs of all the girls, but she was the clear winner for me, and for the judges." He sighed. "That's the weekend I want to return to. To see her young and beautiful and happy. I just want to see her win that competition and to thank the young photographer who took her picture. She told him he was her good luck…"

"I understand," The Doctor told him. "Really, I do. But you can't. Not only is it terribly wrong emotionally, but it is wrong practically, too. I've felt the resonances of your machine. There is something not right with it. Something dangerously unstable."

"Where IS the machine?" Rose asked, looking around the room. "I know what time machines look like. They're big. And they make a lot of noise. Where would you put it?"

"Through there," Chris said pointing to a door in one wall.

"That can't be a real door," Rose said. "That would lead to the back of the shower in our room."

"Where the resonances were strongest," The Doctor exclaimed. "And I felt it all night when I was lying there in the bed - only a few metres the other side of that wall. Good grief, man! If you're THAT clever, why are you working in a back bedroom of a Blackpool Boarding House. You could have been helping your government sort out its messes for years and saved me some trouble." He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and took a reading and then he smiled broadly as he reached to open the door.

"Wow!" Despite his concerns about the stability of the fields being generated he was impressed. "You've actually got some rudimentary relative dimensions going on. This room occupies the same space as the bedroom we slept in last night. No wonder it was doing my head in. I could feel both dimensions at the same time. It was like living in a three-dimensional version of a double exposed photograph."

"The analogy is very apt," the old man said. "But as you can see, there is nothing wrong with the machine. It will work perfectly."

"No," The Doctor became serious again. "It won't. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shut this down. You have the basic principles correct. But there's no way to stabilise the…." He stepped forward into the room and began examining the curious looking contraption in the middle of the floor carefully. "Where did you get one of those!" he exclaimed. Then he groaned. "Don't tell me! If it wasn't ALSO against the rules I'd save the world and myself in particular a whole heap of grief by strangling the people who invented Ebay!" He looked up as the old man followed him inside. Rose and the boys hovered in the doorway uncertainly. "Rose," he said. "Come here. You can help me. And you boys. See that panel there - it's the temporal deliminator. Carefully unscrew it from the base so that I can look at it…"

And that was why they were all inside the room when the old man moved faster than any of them expected. The Doctor felt as if he was moving in slow motion as he tried to reach him before he turned on the main power switch. He turned in time to see Rose call out his name. He reached his hand out to her, but she seemed much further away than he thought she was. So were the boys. He saw them reach out for each other and hold on tight, but he couldn't reach them himself.

Rose gasped for air. She got more of it than she bargained for. A gust of wind coming off the sea blew her hair even more awry than it already was. She looked around.

She was on Blackpool promenade. She realised that. Somewhere between the central and north piers. Roughly where the Sea Life Centre ought to be, she thought and turned and looked. There was nothing like that now. The Louis Tussauds Wax Museum WAS there, but its front was a sort of mock Egyptian style, with none of the gaudy and colourful displays she had seen when they came by it yesterday.

Yesterday must be about seventy years in the future, Rose thought as she took in the clothes worn by passers by, the cars on the road, the trams on the tramway.

The old man's time machine HAD worked. But how did she get here? And where was The Doctor, and the boys, and the old man for that matter?

She was on her own.

She was just starting to feel scared about that when she heard her name being called by a familiar, wonderful voice. She turned and watched as The Doctor ran across the wide promenade road, dodging vintage cars. He barely paused as he darted in front of both the north and south bound trams, eliciting choice swearwords from both drivers. The next moment he was holding her tightly, kissing her as if he hadn't kissed her in months.

"Not months," he said, his eyes wet with tears. "Years."


"I've been stuck here for three years. I almost gave up hope of being with you again. Oh Rose, just let me…. Let me hold you."

"Three years?" Rose let him hold her for a long time. Passers by stared at them. Their strange clothes and the fact that they were kissing and hugging in the middle of the promenade in broad daylight combined to make them something of an object of curiosity. She saw a woman with children who were grinning at the sight make disgusted noises and pull them away quickly. But he just didn't seem to want to let her go.

"Doctor…" she whispered. "Please remember I can't recycle my breathing."

"I'm sorry," he said, loosening his hold just a little. "But…."

"I say," a voice cut in. "That's a lovely picture. Smile won't you."

Neither of them did smile. Rose looked around startled. The Doctor looked shocked as a street photographer took their picture then gave them a card with his address on, telling them they could obtain the picture by sending a postal order for….

They didn't listen to the rest of the spiel. The Doctor showed her the address. It was the Hotel Tuscadero in its previous life as the Hotel Sunshine.

"Now there's a coincidence, I don't think!" Rose said. "Doctor, what IS going on? What did you mean about three years?"

"We were sucked into an unstable time loop. You arrived here, now, today. I arrived three years ago, February 1934."

"Three years? You hung around here for three years?"

"I couldn't do anything else. I didn't even know…. I had to hope that you would be here eventually. I didn't know how long. But I waited. I hoped. I lost hope so many times. I thought I'd never get back to you. Then… then I felt you, in my head. And I looked around and there you were."

"What did you do for three years?" Rose asked. "Where have you been living?"

"I've been working on the Pleasure Beach," he said. "Running the carousel."

"Really?" Rose laughed despite herself. "I can't imagine you…"

"I'm quite good at it actually," he said with a smile. "Give you a free ride later. There's a horse called Rosie, with a pink bridle. Always let the prettiest little girls ride that one."

"Oh, you soppy article," she laughed. "You missed me a lot?"

"Like a lead ball in the centre of my soul every minute," he told her. "But you're here now."

"What about the boys?" Rose asked. "Where are they? Or…. When are they?" His smiled faded as he realised he had forgotten them in his joy at finding Rose at last.

"I don't know," he admitted. "They could still be lost. Or…" He gave a sudden cry as if he had felt a light go on in his head. "No, they're here," he said, his eyes shining with joy. "They called out to me. They…." He turned around and around looking. Then he ran to the balustrade overlooking the beach. He sighed with relief as he saw them running across the sand and bounded down the steps three at a time.

Rose followed more slowly. By the time she reached the bottom step he was sitting on it hugging the boys with nearly the same intensity he had embraced her before. She sat next to him and they all hugged each other for a long time.

"This feels better," he said. "Now I have you all together with me. I've been so lonely. I thought I might have to wait until 2011 to see you all again."

"You couldn't do that," Rose said. "Oh… I suppose you could, couldn't you."

"I'd wait forever for you, Rose," he said. "I'm glad I don't have to. I must have been thrown a bit further back in time than the three of you."

"What is the date?" Davie asked, practical as ever.

"Saturday, May 1st, 1937," The Doctor told them. "Preston North End are due to be slaughtered 3-1 by Sunderland in the FA Cup final at Wembley later, and all the bunting you see going up is for the coronation in eleven days time."

"Nothing wrong with your history," Rose said with a smile. "I'm glad you didn't go to Wembley. I'd have missed you."

"Might have if they were going to win it. Next year… maybe. 1-0 in extra time against Huddersfield. Last gasp penalty."

"We're not going to be HERE next year are we?" Rose asked anxiously. "Doctor… tell me we can get back home."

"I don't know," he admitted. "We probably need to find the old man, as well. We at least know where he will be on Monday."

"Do we?" Rose asked. Then she hit her head with her fist. "Course we do!"

"On the pier, watching the beauty pageant." Chris and Davie chorused.

"So hopefully we only have to hang about here for a couple of days, until we find the old man and reverse what he did and get us home."

"What if we don't, or if he can't?" Davie asked. "He wasn't exactly a Time Lord."

"No, he wasn't," The Doctor said. "But he was a very clever man. He was almost there. Nearly had a fully functioning time machine. It even had a bit of TARDIS technology in it."

"Courtesy of Ebay?"

"How do bits of TARDIS technology get on Ebay anyway?" Rose asked.

"Mine isn't the only one that ever landed on Earth. There's a redundant one in Liverpool that I know of. There might still be one in Northumberland. I once defeated a very nasty customer there who tried to prevent the Battle of Stamford Bridge so that Harold could win The Battle of Hastings.."

"Oooeer," Chris said. "Very bad idea."

"Harold wouldn't think so," Rose commented.

The Doctor began to explain, but then he stopped. "No," he said "Think about it for a moment. What would happen to this country if the Normans lost?"

Rose thought about it. She could see that the boys understood and she was determined to work it out for herself.

"Oh! Of course!" she said at last. "Because almost everyone - at least the white people anyway - in this country, are all descended from the Anglo-Normans. Most of us would not have been born."

"Full marks," The Doctor told her. "Well done."

"But I'm not smart enough to figure out how we get out of this situation. It's scary, being stuck in time without the TARDIS."

"We could live here ok," Chris said. "If the worst happened. If Granddad can't get us home. We could be a family together, here."

"I'd be seventy two by the time I'm born," Rose complained. "And… Oh God, two years from now, the war. The Blitz. I don't want to live through THAT. I've seen two days of that and it was enough for me."

"Blackpool wasn't badly affected by the Blitz," The Doctor told them. "It was relatively safe. If there is no alternative, we COULD. I could bear it much easier with the three of you here with me. I missed you all so much. But I have to do something. We would be all right. But Susan and your mum would be frantic for us. I can't."

"Oh, of course," Chris said and he sighed. The Doctor half-smiled. He had caught the boy's thoughts. He had been thinking that it would be nice if the four of them could be together as a family. He had been picturing him and Rose getting married in some simple ceremony here in 1937 and them finding a place to live. Then he remembered his mother and father and his sister and pangs of homesickness overwhelmed him and his brother. They clung to their great-grandfather. He hugged them all, together. For several long minutes he just held them, glad to be able to do that after three long years of hoping against hope. He had often walked this beach alone, in the dark of night, when there was nobody there to see his lonely tears.

Now they were there. They were together, and it was time to do something about it.

"Let's get the three of you some clothes that don't look so out of place here," he said, becoming animated again as he found himself able to do something practical at last. The boys in their jeans and sweatshirts with a 23rd century rock band on them looked bad enough, but Rose's outfit was even worse. It would be the 1950s before women in trousers were really acceptable and her polyester sports top was distinctly 21st century.

She stepped out into the afternoon sun dressed in a pretty polka dot cotton dress and thought about how HIS clothes seemed to pass without comment. He was wearing a different shirt under his leather jacket, and the trousers were contemporary, but otherwise he looked just as he had looked the day she first met him in 2005, the way he looked at the end of the world, how he had looked when Jack Harkness called him 'a u-boat captain' in 1941 and Charles Dickens in 1869 said he looked like a navvy.

She didn't care WHAT he looked like. She was just glad to have him there, beside her. She was worried about the situation. She didn't know what The Doctor could do to get them home. But she had faith that he would.

And meanwhile, he brought them to the Hotel Sunshine. They stood in the same bar/reception room with rather different décor but otherwise disturbingly familiar fixtures and fittings and waited to be attended to. They were all rather surprised when the owner/manager turned out to be the man who had taken their photograph earlier. HE was surprised to discover that they wanted rooms as well as copies of his pictures.

"Providence must have brought you here," he said as The Doctor signed the register. "Doctor…" The manager, who had introduced himself as Benjamin Lucas, looked at his name and then to his clothes. "You don't look like a medical man," he said. "If you pardon me saying so."

"I am a Doctor of science," he explained. "Physics mostly. A bit of chemistry thrown in."

"Indeed?" Lucas said as he took a key from the rack and indicated to them to follow him up. "I am a bit of an amateur scientist myself. I dabble. The photography…. I designed the camera myself and I have the dark room here on the top floor. As well as my experiments. Perhaps…. Later… you might like to take a look… A professional eye…"

"That would be interesting," The Doctor said absently. "Don't forget to give us a copy of that photograph."

"Certainly, sir," Lucas said as he unlocked and opened the bedroom door. He stepped inside and gave a cry of fright. The Doctor looked in after him and pushed him aside as he ran to the aid of the old man lying there on the ground, the Benjamin Lucas of seventy years later.

"Stand back," The Doctor warned him. "Don't touch him. If you do, we'll all be destroyed. Time will unravel."

"Like with me and the baby me?" Rose asked.

"Yes," The Doctor said. "His experiments have caused the same kind of instability in the fabric of time and space."

"Is he dead?" Chris asked, tears pricking his eyes. For all the trouble he had caused, they had liked the old man. He wasn't bad. Just sad in a way they all had understood and sympathised with.

"No, he's unconscious. He's an old man to go through the strain of an undampened temporal transfer. And we're going to have to take him back through it, too." The Doctor put his hands around the man's head and gently put him into a slow meditative state with his heart beating much slower and his lungs and brain activity slowed. It would help reduce the shock of going back through it again.

"What is this all about?" the younger Lucas asked. "What is he doing to the old man?"

"He's looking after him," Rose assured him. "Don't you worry."

"There is nothing for you to worryabout," Chris said, taking hold of Lucas's arm and turning him to look at him. Chris still had a lot of growing to do to reach his adult height, but somehow he made eye contact with Lucas who found it impossible to turn away. "We will all be gone soon. You will remember all that has happened, but you won't worry about it or think it strange. In time, one day, you will understand. When you meet the people in the photograph."

Lucas nodded slowly and stepped aside as The Doctor lifted the older Lucas in his arms as easily as if he was a child. He carried him to the other room, Lucas's own room. Rose and the boys followed him, and Lucas followed behind, looking a little dazed.

"Good hypnosis, by the way," The Doctor told Chris. "Well done."

Lucas had not been brainwashed or had any part of his memory modified. He would remember the strange events in his life. But he would not be anxious about them or let them affect his future. Especially not the very crucial future when he would meet his wife-to-be in two days time. It was the best way to do it where possible. Don't take the memory, only the distress about the memory.

"Davie, open the door won't you," he said. Davie went to do so. He noticed that the rooms at this time had a communal door between them. But he had felt the temporal field when they were in the other room, and he knew just what they would find when they opened it from this side.

"Oh my!" Rose gasped as she looked at what looked like a wall of cold fire.

"It's the time stream," The Doctor said. "And it's our way home."

"We have to get into that?"

"Yes," he said. "But I'm not going to risk losing anyone this time. Mr. Lucas, can you please go and get me the fire hose I saw on the stairs as we came up." Lucas turned and did so obediently. "Very good hypnosis, Chris. He's obeying everything we ask him to do. He'll come out of it once we're gone and be perfectly all right."

Lucas brought the hose. The Doctor tied a section of it around the older Mr. Lucas's waist and then around his own, and then the boys and Rose, and then back to himself again so that they were tied together in a circle. Rose giggled a little as they tried to work out how to move together. The Doctor smiled, too, but entering that unstable time stream was something he felt VERY serious about.

"Goodbye, Lucas," he said and backed into the stream with the older Lucas. Rose and the boys followed him, dreading what it might feel like, but knowing there was no other choice.

"Ow!" Rose squealed as she jarred her leg against the side of the uncomfortable double bed in the room they had slept in the night before. She yelped again as both Chris and Davie stepped on her feet, and then all three of them fell over on top of The Doctor and Mr Lucas who had fallen to the floor when they landed. None of them knew quite whether to laugh or cry and they did both as they fumbled with the knotted fire hose and extricated themselves from the pile. The Doctor lifted Mr Lucas onto the bed and released him from the slow meditation.

"Rose, look after him, please. He should wake up in a minute or two. Make him a cup of tea and see if there are any biscuits left on the hospitality tray."

"Ok," she said, going to put the kettle on in the corner of the room that passed for 'tea and coffee facilities in all rooms'. "What are you going to do?"

"Me and the boys are going to finish dismantling the time machine, as we were doing before Mr Lucas interfered."

Rose nodded. She made the tea with the one-cup bags with labels on the end and the little individual cartons of milk and sachets of sugar. Mr Lucas stirred and tried to sit up and she brought the tea to him along with a packet of rich tea biscuits. He drank the tea and told her she was a nice girl.

"I try to be," she said. "The Doctor thinks you're a nice man when you're not trying to rip holes in time. He understands WHY you did it. But you just can't break the rules that way."

"HE can't," The Doctor said as he and the boys returned to the room. "I can. Do you feel up to a little trip, Mr. Lucas?" He reached to help the old man up from the bed. He seemed little worse for his experience. "The machine is gone, by the way. It must have cancelled itself out. The door opened onto a blank wall."

"So I failed," he said. "Perhaps you were right. It wasn't meant to be. I just would have liked to have seen her that once - to watch her win the contest."

"I'm sure she was the prettiest girl there," The Doctor said kindly and he winked at Rose and the boys and told them to follow him along.

May Day bank holiday, 1937 was a glorious day. The sun shone brightly and even the most disconsolate Preston North End fan had to smile if they were among the crowds watching the contest to find Miss South Pier, 1937. The dark haired beauty who received the first prize smiled prettily, her brightest smile being reserved for the photographer who she posed for in her crown and sash.

"The prettiest of them all, don't you agree Doctor," said Mr. Lucas as he sat in a deckchair and applauded enthusiastically.

"Well, the prettiest in the competition," The Doctor admitted with a wink that Mr. Lucas understood to mean he was not going to commit himself any further within the hearing of his own pretty girl. "We should go soon," he added. "We don't want you and your younger self in the same place for too long."

"Yes," Mr Lucas said, standing up. "I just wanted to see her win the competition. That was the happiest time for her. Well, maybe that and our wedding, but this was the best day to come back and see." He glanced at the blue police box incongruously standing beside the hoopla sideshow. "Home again now?" he asked.

"In a while," The Doctor said "I promised Rose a ride on the carousel."