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

Rose looked out of the window. It was not quite dawn yet. The sky was still velvet black except for a faint tinge of pink along the eastern horizon. Nobody else was awake at such a mad hour. But nobody else had Time Lord rituals to contend with.

“On Earth, it's only on the day of the wedding that the bride and groom can’t see each other,” Rose complained.

“On Gallifrey, the groom spends the day before in ritual meditation – twenty-six full hours.”

“Twenty six hours without you,” she sighed. “Longer even. Because by the time you’re done with that I’ll be at Susan’s house getting ready for the ceremony.”

“Yes, but after that you have me forever,” he assured her. “So come on, give me a kiss and promise me you’re going to enjoy yourself. A whole day of being pampered and preened. Saunas and all over body massages, facials, hairdressers, tea and opera and champagne. You’ve got bookings for the whole lot. Plus your mum is here. You won’t need me.”

“Are you sure you’re not doing this BECAUSE my mum is around?”

“Oh yes, that’s why these Time Lord rituals were initiated! So we could avoid the mother-in-law!” He smiled and kissed her lingeringly. “That’s the last kiss I give anyone as a single man. The next time I hold you like this we’ll be married.”

“Joined in Alliance of Unity,” she breathed. “Sounds more impressive.”

“Either way, you’ll be mine.” He held her tight and then released her and walked away, not looking back. The temptation to run back into her arms was strong. But he wanted it all to be done properly. He wanted every moment of their Alliance to be as it should be on Gallifrey.

Rose sighed and went back to bed. At least she got to lie in this morning. Tomorrow they all had to be up early. For the ceremony to begin exactly at nine o’clock she had to be up at the crack of dawn. Today, her first appointment was noon, lunch with her bridesmaids. Though the bed felt cold and empty without him beside her, she stretched out and drifted back to sleep.


He showered and changed into a plain robe and stepped into his new meditation room. It was a beautiful room, decorated to his own specifications. Windowless, in the basement of the house, it was lit by candlelight. It had a polished wooden floor with the great seal of Rassilon inlaid into it in darker woods. The same symbol was in plaster relief on the ceiling exactly above the floor design and it was repeated in wall hangings on the four walls. The wall hangings also displayed the symbols of the House of Lœngbærrow and The Doctor’s own symbol – - as well as representations of the constellation of Kasterborous, both as it appeared from his own galaxy, and how it looked from earth as the bow of Sagittarius.

A beautiful room where he could come and perform the rituals that meant so much to him - and none more important than this one. He was preparing to take Rose as his wife. His body and mind had to be purified. He had to enter into the Alliance as a new man, his past atoned for and his future free of reservation and impediment. This was where that preparation began.

He knelt in the centre of the Seal and looked up at the corresponding one on the ceiling before bowing his head and placing his hands loosely at his side and beginning to drop down through several levels of meditation. This ritual did not call for the complete shut down where all bodily heat was lost and he would look frozen. He stopped at the level just before that, with his hearts beating once every hour and his lungs and other organs barely functioning. His brain was still partially active and slow thoughts ran through it for a while until he managed to compose himself.


In a dark, shadowy place, dark, shadowy men were making preparations of their own. None of them involved 26 hours of deep meditation, but time was a factor for them, even so.

“Why the guns?” one of them asked. “I thought nobody was meant to get killed.”

“Nobody will. But when you’ve got a gun they do what you tell them. And we want them to do EXACTLY what we tell them.”


By eleven o’clock the sun that was reluctant to show itself at four o’clock was now high in the cloudless sky. The wide lawn at the side of the house was already a busy place as two marquees were being erected, for the ceremony, and for the reception afterwards. A lot of people were being paid a lot of money for this wedding to be perfect. For at least half of his 1,000 years, The Doctor had lived a life where he rarely needed money. He’d earned phenomenal amounts of interest. Now he was using it to make his new life the best it could be.

Rose looked back at the activity as the limousine swept out of the gates. She had a strange moment of uncertainty as she looked at the graceful 18th century town house in its own expansive gardens that was her home now. She couldn’t help thinking that this was the moment when she would wake up and find herself in a pink bedroom in a council flat in London, with the alarm clock insisting it was time to get up and be a shelf stacker in a clothes shop.

“It IS real,” she whispered to herself. “It IS real.”

“What is?” Rose turned around and looked at her mum and Susan sitting opposite her in the car that The Doctor had hired to take them to the beauty parlour and shops and restaurant. Her preparations for the Alliance, he said, and told her she should be grateful. Her part of it was a lot more fun than his.

“Everything,” she smiled. “Everything wonderful that is happening at last.”

“The most wonderful thing, if you ask me,” Susan said. “Is actually to have HIM in one place, finally retired from his crazy life. I don’t have to worry about him any more.”

“Yes,” Rose sighed. “If he really has retired. I still don’t know what he’ll do all day. It's not as if he could write his memoirs.”

“Well, he could,” Jackie said.

“It’d be a very long book, and even in the 23rd century most of it is so incredible it would have to be marketed as science fiction,” Susan laughed. “Nobody on Earth would believe most of it.”

“They’d believe about the Daleks,” Rose said.

“I’m not sure about that,” Susan answered her. “You know, there are young people, teenagers now, who are actually questioning if the invasion really happened. They’re saying it was a mass hallucination.”

“They said silly things like that in our time about the Slitheen,” Jackie told her. “But they didn’t have one in their bloody kitchen.”

“We know,” Rose said with a quiet smile. “We know all that he has done for us all. All he is giving up – for me.”


The van was waiting as the limousine disappeared down the road. It pulled up at the gate entry and the driver leaned out and pressed the button. “Delivery for Langburrow?”

“Service entrance to the side of the house,” a voice commanded and the gate opened. The van moved up the driveway and turned to the right.

“What’s going on here, anyway?” one of the men asked. “What’s with the circus tents?”

“Nothing to do with us,” the driver said. “We get in, get what we want, and we’re gone.”

They looked like delivery men until the butler opened the door. At that point they turned into armed men who demanded that he put up his hands. He backed away from the door as they swarmed in.

“Where is he?” the apparent leader demanded, brandishing a pistol.

“Where is who?”

“The ‘master’ of the house, Lord de Lœngbærrow, sometimes known as The Doctor!”

“His Lordship is in his meditation chamber,” the butler said. “You cannot….”

“Take us there,” he was told, the pistol pointed at his face. “Who else is in the building?”

“Nobody. The house is not yet fully staffed. His Lordship is not taking up full residence here until after his honeymoon.”

“His Lordship!” the leader of the gang snarled. “Take us to him now, if you want to live.”

The butler obeyed. What else could he do? There was a gun pointed in his face. He led the way to the basement room where his employer was. His ex-employer, he thought sadly. He’d only been in the job a week. He’d thought Lord de Lœngbærrow and his fiancée were a charming couple. He had been looking forward to serving as butler to their household. But whoever these people were they looked as if they meant harm to his Lordship. And there was nothing he could do to help him.


The Doctor was aware of the invasion of his privacy at a subconscious level. He felt the change in the aura of the meditation room from one of peace and tranquillity to noise and confusion. He felt their malevolence towards him. He began to bring himself out of the meditation, but it took a few minutes to rise from such a deep level of trance, and before he was fully conscious he felt the sharpness of a syringe inserted into his neck and what he knew at once to be a neural inhibiting drug. He felt the excruciating pain as the contaminated blood reached his hearts. He felt the paralysis of his whole body a few seconds later before the oblivion of chemically induced unconsciousness.


“Christopher!” Chris and Davie ran into the quiet study where the man they had come to know by that name was quietly reading a book about contemporary politics in Britain of the 23rd century. “Christopher, something is wrong with granddad.”

Christopher looked up immediately. He caught hold of the two boys and calmed them.

“Will you two EVER call me grandfather,” he asked with a wry smile. Though looking at him, a youthful forty at a first impression, the idea of him being grandfather to two thirteen year old boys was ridiculous. In any other family it would be.

“He’s in trouble,” they insisted. “He’s hurting.”

Christopher stopped smiling. It wasn’t just their words. He had begun to feel it too. Strange that the boys, two generations removed from The Doctor, were closer to him telepathically than he, his son, was. But what they felt strongly he now began to feel as a distant but insistent certainty.

“Jack,” Christopher called as he moved through the house. The muscular young 51st century man appeared from the kitchen. “Come with me,” he said. “My father is in trouble.”


“We need a TARDIS,” Chris said as they drove to the new home of the Lœngbærrow patriarch in their mother’s six seater ‘people-carrier’ hover-car.

“A TARDIS can’t do a mile and a half that much faster than a hover car,” Christopher told him. “Besides, Article VIII of the Laws of Time prohibits use of a TARDIS for personal convenience.”

“No it doesn’t,” Chris argued. “It says ‘No Time Lord shall use time travel for their personal convenience.’ It doesn’t say we can’t travel distances. Only time.”

“You’re a chip off the old block, Chris,” Christopher laughed as he conceded that the youngster was right.

“Yes, granddad always said I’m a lot like him.”

Christopher looked disappointed. That wasn’t what he meant. He had tried to get to know his grandchildren in the weeks since he had come to live with his daughter and her family, but he knew he didn’t have the deep affection they had for his father, their great-grandfather. The fact that The Doctor was their ‘granddad’ and they called HIM by his first name was a clear sign of their remoteness. He tried not to let it become a resentment. He hoped in time he would find a place in their hearts equal to the place his father already held.

Right now, though, they were ALL worried for The Doctor. Jack, sitting in the driving seat next to him, was biting his lip nervously. Christopher’s sheltered life among the sexually reserved Time Lord Society on Gallifrey did not equip him to deal with the sort of suppressed feelings Jack had for his father. But he knew he would die for him, such was the loyalty that went with that strange kind of love.

And the closer they got to Mount Lœng House, the more worried Christopher was that somebody might have to make that kind of sacrifice. He didn’t use his telepathic skills often even on Gallifrey. And he had not used them at all for 500 years of the half life he had been unaware of even living. He was out of practice. But even he could pick up the fact that something bad was happening at his father’s home.

The wrought iron security gates with the house name traced in the design were closed, as they ought to be. The lawns at the side of the house were still busy with people whose job it was to lay artificial floors in the two marquees, set out chairs and tables, arrange flowers and so on. But the house itself looked quiet, as it should be.

Christopher pressed the gate entry buzzer but nothing happened. He tried again several times before searching in his pocket for the Gallifreyan tool his father had lent him. The sonic screwdriver overrode the settings and the gate opened. Jack drove through quickly.


“I STILL can’t get over Buckingham Palace being a hotel now,” Linda said as she waved to Mickey and baby Martin and Shireen’s boyfriend and their baby at the famous gates and got into the limousine.

“I can’t get over it being… What year is it?” Shireen asked.

“2211,” Rose told her. “The 23rd century.”

“I can’t believe the journey to get here,” Tricia Delaney said. “When you phoned and said pack your posh gear and somebody would be picking us up, I thought it would be in a car, not a space ship that travels in time. I thought you were getting married in Paris or something. I brought my passport.”

“We thought about a couple of other planets first,” Rose casually explained. “But we decided they’d do for the honeymoon after.”

“Pinch me,” Shireen said. “There’s no way this is real. Rose is NOT marrying an alien from outer space.”

“A RICH alien from outer space,” Linda added as she relaxed and looked out of the tinted window and was pleased to see that, even in 2211, a limo attracted admiring glances.

“This isn’t our car,” Rose pointed out. “It’s just hired for the day. And I didn’t know he was rich when I fell in love with him.”

“But you knew he was an alien?” Shireen asked her.

“Yes.” Funny, Rose thought. That never bothered her all that much. Even when she first met him, it was not a problem. And the more she got to know him the less she cared what he was or where he came from as long as he was there.

“Who is this guy anyway?” Tricia asked.

“You’ve met him,” Rose told her. “Only you thought he was a docker because of his jacket and went on about the bloke you were going with who worked in a stockbrokers and wore a posh suit.”

“He turned out to be the mail clerk,” Tricia groaned ruefully. “It's not fair.”

“Shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” Rose told her. “Or a man by his clothes. Wait till you see him tomorrow in the full get up they wear where he comes from. He’ll blow your mind.”


“We can’t call the police,” Christopher said as he looked at the ransom demand displayed on the video screen in the drawing room. Jack pressed the button to replay the short sequence that was left on a video-chip in the player. “Don’t,” he said. “The boys don’t need to see that again.” It had been traumatic enough for all of them seeing those pictures. The Doctor, clearly unconscious, but not dead – at least not yet - manhandled by masked men who informed them that they had 12 hours to give them…

Give them WHAT? And WHY?

“The Sash of Rassilon?” Jack queried. “What the hell is that?”

“It's part of the regalia of the Lord High President of Gallifrey,” Christopher explained. “But why would they imagine for a moment that my father would have it? The Sash must have been lost with our planet.”

“Then they’ll kill him,” Davie cried. Chris hugged his brother tightly and both were glad of Christopher’s arm around their shoulders. A strange time for them to bond, he thought bitterly.

“Somebody has to tell Rose,” Chris remembered.

“No,” Jack insisted. “No. This will break her heart. She was meant to have a fun day with Jackie and Susan and her friends. We’re not going to say anything to her, to any of them.”

“Then what do we do?” Christopher asked him. “There’s people out there – caterers and the rest – getting ready for a wedding ceremony that starts at nine o’clock tomorrow morning, and the groom has been kidnapped.”

“Is stating the obvious something they do a lot on your planet?” Jack asked. “Or is it just you? We’re going to get him back, safe, and nobody will ever know there was a problem. OK.”

The Doctor forced himself conscious but he was still under the influence of the neural inhibitor. HOW did they know? That was how many times that kind of thing had been used on him now? Did somebody put the formula on the internet – Handy way to instantly disable a Time Lord? Kidnappers and homicidal nutters take note!

He could breathe. His hearts and lungs were the few parts of his body not paralysed. But he closed his lungs and went into respiratory by-pass. He wasn’t sure how much air there was in the small dark chamber he was in and he had to conserve what there was. Chamber? Coffin? Wherever it was, it was pitch dark. Even his Time Lord eyesight couldn’t see without some light to process. But he sensed that it was small. He knew if he COULD move his arms and reach out he would touch solid walls.

And it was cold. Incredibly cold. Nearly as cold as his body could take without irreparable damage.


“Seriously, a TWELVE HOUR WEDDING.” As they relaxed in the sauna Rose explained what would happen at the ceremony tomorrow. All three of her 21st century friends were having trouble with the concept.

“Alliance of Unity.” Rose corrected them.

“You lot only have to be bridesmaids,” Jackie reassured them. “I’ve got to do a three hour pledge of loyalty to his Lordship!”

“I can’t wait for that bit,” Rose said. “Apart from anything else WE get to sit down during that part. And I really am glad you’re all here. Because nearly everyone else who’s coming is an old friend of HIS, and a lot of them are women, and I’m not sure some of them aren’t old girlfriends. A guy who’s been around 1,000 years gets to know a lot of people.”

“It’s a joke,” Tricia said. “It's like that telly thing when they got people training to be astronauts and told them they were in space. This is some kind of fake London.”

“It's not,” Jackie told her. “This is Rose’s special day. Don’t spoil it.” She looked at Rose. She seemed not quite as joyful as she thought she ought to be. “Sweetheart, you should be happier.”

“I wish he was here,” she said. “Doesn’t seem the same without him around.”

“Here? In the sauna, I don’t think so,” Susan laughed. “Grandfather hasn’t seen me in nothing but a towel since I was seven. And I think we’ll keep it that way.”

“I mean… twenty-six hours he’s just going to be there, in the meditation room, zoned out, and I can’t even phone him to say hello.”

“You can’t have a bridal shower with your bloke in tow,” Linda told her. “Come on, Rose. You’ll have more of him than you need tomorrow. We’re going to have a real girl’s afternoon and evening and not even THINK about men.”

“You know, you’re the only one of the four of us getting married without a baby on the way,” Shireen said. “And I really can’t believe you two have never…. That you’re not going to… until tomorrow night….” Shireen made a gesture that, while unladylike, was far more explicit than her words. “I mean, I groped him once under the table in the pub and…. If he was mine, I’d have…. Years ago….”

“You’re a tart, Shireen,” Rose laughed. “He’s a gentleman. Which is why he never broke your fingers for trying to get off with him under the table. And why we’ve waited until we can be married.”

“I think it's romantic,” Linda sighed.

“Where are the hidden cameras?” Tricia asked, still half sure it was all a hoax.


Andrell closed the door of the deep freeze unit and smiled maliciously. The ice was solid now around the lead-lined container. The Doctor was trapped inside with enough air for a human to last an hour. Not being human he had at least ten hours if he stayed under the deep level trance and didn’t breathe very often. If his people delivered the goods they might get him back alive. Or not. He didn’t really care either way.

“So… he actually IS alive in there?”

Andrell sighed. These humans asked too many questions. Especially this one, the one called Callaghan whose ‘skills’ he had been forced to hire.

“He’s alive. He’s not human, I told you. He can survive without breathing. He’s in the lead coffin to block his telepathic powers. And it’s in the deep freeze because I hate him and I WANT him to suffer while he’s in my hands.”

“Why do you hate him? What’s he done to you?”

“I just do,” Andrell snapped. “What business is it of yours anyway?”


“How do we start looking for him?” Christopher asked as they stepped out into the sunshine that seemed at odds with their deeply worried mood. “I know you’re some kind of military, Jack, but you have no remit in this place, and I’m…. I WAS a politician on a planet that no longer exists. And the boys…”

“Those kids are the smartest kids I know,” Jack said. “And you’re The Doctor’s son. You must be pretty much a genius, too.”

“In politics, YES. But I’m not… I’ve never…. Susan told me some of the things my father has done over the years while I was missing. I’m not like him. I’m not an explorer, an adventurer. I’ve never fought a physical fight. My power is in a debating chamber. And I don’t even have THAT any more.”

“You’re HIS son,” Jack repeated. “You’ve got to have more going for you than that.” He turned to the boys. “Chris, can you do what you did that time on SangC’lune when those Master freaks had your brother? Can you get him in your head?”

“I’m trying,” Chris told him. “All I can feel is…. He’s in a lot of pain. He’s hurting. But he’s separated from me somehow. I can’t reach him.”

“Keep trying,” Jack told him.


He tried not to give in to despair. It wasn’t easy. His hearts felt like lead as they pushed his blood around his body and kept him from freezing. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed. A few hours, maybe. By now his family must know something had happened to him. He thought of Rose. She would be frantic.

She should have married Mickey after all, he thought sadly. Nobody had ever tried to kidnap Mickey. She could have had a nice, ordinary, simple life with no complications. Instead they couldn’t even get married without some nutter trying to freeze-dry him.


“I’ve got him,” Chris said from the back of the car. “But the connection is weak. He is in some kind of cupboard or room or…. Or a box or something and it's shielding… Oh, it must be made of lead.”

“Lead?” Jack queried.

“Lead blocks telepathic messages,” Christopher explained. “We use it on Gallifrey to line the walls of the council chambers so that there’s no leaking of closed session discussions.”

“The people who took him knew he was a Time Lord. They know about the Rassilon thing. They know that he’s telepathic.”

“Yes,” Christopher said.

“How many people can there be who know that much about Time Lords? I mean you and him are the only ones around.”

“I was wondering about that, too,” Christopher said. “It feels like betrayal. That’s the sensation I get. We’ve been betrayed by somebody who ought to have kept our secrets.”

“Not us,” Chris said. “Granddad taught us never to show our abilities to anyone.”

Christopher smiled. “Oh, my boys,” He said. “You could never betray either of us. I am sure of that.”

“You sounded like granddad when you said that,” Davie told him. Christopher wondered if that was a compliment to him or a criticism.

“Work together, both of you,” he said to them. “See if you can penetrate the lead. Sometimes two or three minds together could break our shields.”

“We’re already trying that,” Chris told him. And indeed, both boys looked dazed with the concentration. “Head east,” he said. “I think that’s the right direction.”

“Yes,” Davie agreed. “east.”


“Yes,” The Doctor said as he felt the faint voices in his head. “Yes, east.” He could feel if he really concentrated, his approximate direction from where the boys were. He felt their minds calling to him. But they couldn’t get into him. He couldn’t feel the comfort of them inside his head as they so often were. It was as if they were calling him on a long-distance telephone with bad reception. “Christopher, are you there, too?” He felt his son’s telepathic patterns along with the boys, but even fainter. “Look after the boys, won’t you. I know they want to help me, but don’t let them get hurt.”


After an afternoon of being pampered in the health spa and the hairdressers and beauty parlour they had a high tea at Westminster, the old Parliament building, now a museum. What was once the Commons dining room, with its balcony view over the Thames was now a public restaurant and they were served out on that balcony in the late afternoon sunshine. Rose was starting to miss The Doctor a little less now, and was enjoying herself with her friends and with Susan and her mum.

“So will we ever see you again?” Shireen asked. “When you’re married to your gorgeous hunk of an alien and living in the 23rd century.”

“Course you will,” Rose promised. “We’ve got a time machine. We’ll be back to see mum loads of times. He’s mad about her lasagne.”

“He hates my lasagne,” Jackie admitted with a smile. “He eats it to please you. He does everything to please you. He’s fantastic that way.”

Rose looked at her mum. What she had just said was so telling of the way she had changed towards him over the years. Once nothing would have made her happier than to have her back in ‘normality’ and The Doctor out of their lives. But she had slowly been caught up in his world herself and had started to realise that life would not be the same without him. And she really did care about him now.

Or maybe she always had and was just being mum in her usual contrary way, Rose reflected.


“Do I seem a disappointment?” Christopher asked out of the blue as they drove through the South London suburbs going roughly east.

“Come again?” Jack asked as he kept his eye on the busy traffic lane ahead of him. He wasn’t entirely used to driving hover cars in traffic but neither was Christopher. And Jack had his psychic paper that would pretend to be a driving licence if they were stopped.

“To you. To everyone who knows my father. Do I seem disappointing? I’m not a heroic type like him. I didn’t even know he was. The things I’ve learnt about him in the past couple of months. And there’s me. Like I said before, I’m a politician. I talk all day with other politicians about minor reforms of dull laws that haven’t been amended for centuries. And I just wonder – especially now – am I a disappointment to you?”

“Depends what you do when we reach wherever we’re going. We’re up against people with guns who have your father as a hostage. You’re going to have to do more than talk. Did you never learn the martial arts stuff he knows? I’ve seen him – three or four men coming at us, and they’re on the floor groaning and I’ll swear I never saw him move.”

“He taught me the arts when I was a boy. It was one of the things we did together. But I’ve never used them in combat.”

“Well, this could be your first time.” Jack looked quickly at the man by his side. “For what it's worth, HE isn’t disappointed in you. I was talking to him yesterday. And he went on about you for about an hour, non-stop. I’ve never seen him like that. He’s so glad that you’re alive”

“Thanks,” Christopher said. He looked at Jack. His telepathy must be getting stronger, he thought. Because he could see Jack’s thought right then. It was something like jealousy. He was wishing The Doctor felt as strongly about him as he did about his son. He was thinking about the times The Doctor had saved his life, and how much he owed him. And how desperate he was to be able to save him this once. Payment in full for all those times he was there for him.


“So when you have kids,” Tricia asked. “Will they be like…alien or what?”

“They’ll be perfectly normal,” Rose told her. “Why does everyone ask that question? Susan is his granddaughter, remember. Does she look ‘alien’ to you?”

“She looks normal.”

“There you are, then,” Rose said.

“You’re marrying an alien who is 1,000 years old and a grandfather. Do you know how weird that is?”

“I’m marrying the most wonderful man in the universe,” Rose said. “Tomorrow.” The thought gave her butterflies in her stomach. It was a nice feeling. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been this excited about anything. As strange as her wedding was, this was exactly how she always thought she would feel about it. She was about as happy as it was possible to be at this moment. Only tomorrow, when she finally WAS married to him, would she manage to top this feeling. When they were finally joined in Alliance of Unity and he kissed her as his wife. That was the moment she longed for.

And then there was that other moment to come after that. The moment Shireen had been alluding to all day in her dirty-minded way. She hadn’t answered her questions about how exactly an alien and a human DID it. She knew they could. She knew they would. But they had resisted that physical consummation of their love for so long that she couldn’t quite comprehend that some time tomorrow evening – or more likely some time in the small hours of the next morning after the reception was over – they really WOULD, finally, make love.

Easier not to think about it right now, she decided.


“It's wrong,” Chris said. “We’ve come too far. Turn around.”

“He’s right,” Christopher agreed. “I was feeling him more strongly for a while but now it's gone again.”

Jack took their word for it and turned the car at the next junction.

“It shouldn’t be about distance,” Davie told his grandfather. “We’ve made contact with him over time and space.”

“That’s what’s so weird about this,” Chris sighed. “He can’t be more than a few miles away but I can hardly get through to him.”

“This is no use,” Jack said. “We could be going up and down this road for hours, wasting time he hasn’t got.”

“What else can we do?”

“Get Sukie,” Davie said. “She’s got better psychic powers than any of us. She can do it.”

“Where is she?”

“Dad took her to work with him. Because everyone else is uptown with Rose.”

“That means we’ll have to tell your dad.”

“Good, he can drive. He’s more used to these traffic lanes than I am,” Jack said.


The neural inhibitor was wearing off. He was able to move at last. He reached out and as he expected he touched a wall less than a foot away from his face and either side too.

And the wall was freezing. His fingers stuck momentarily when he touched it. Wherever he was, it was in sub-zero temperature. His body was very cold. He was still wearing the simple meditation robe. It was made of cotton. It was never meant to keep him warm. And it wasn’t. If he was human, he would be dead already. Between the cold and the fact that the air was limited, even he had only a few hours if somebody didn’t get him out of there.

It WAS a coffin, he thought and tried not to panic. He had never suffered from claustrophobia. But being encased in a lead-lined coffin in the dark, in a freezing cold place was frightening. There were no two ways about it. He was frightened.

He was also angry. Somebody had done this to him. And he just KNEW that the reason was going to be something utterly stupid – money, power, something they didn’t deserve.

And whoever HAD done it knew who and what he was. The use of the neural inhibitor was a big clue. The fact that they KNEW putting him in a box with no air holes in a freezer would not kill him was another one. This was somebody who knew what a Time Lord was.

Another human nutter like that Andrews maniac who wanted to take his lives? Or something else? The Envelope still prevented aliens from getting to Earth in their own ships. But since there was space travel to and from Earth that was meaningless. All they had to do was travel on a commercial ship, either as passenger, crew or stowaway. Another snag Rassilon didn’t consider when he put up that barrier. Ok, Earth wasn’t bothered by invasion fleets, but on top of home grown nutters there was the lunatic fringe of the universe to deal with.


Sukie was sitting at a desk beside her father’s in his office. She was drawing, and his work colleagues all smiled and thought it was sweet. David glanced at the perfectly detailed drawing of the view over Tower Bridge from the office window. She may not talk much, but in her own silent world she was a genius.

He looked up as his sons ran into the office followed by their grandfather, and the slightly odd young man, Jack, who The Doctor had invited to be his best man at the wedding tomorrow. For a moment he couldn’t understand what the boys were telling him. When they calmed down and Christopher took over the explanation he felt as if an icy hand had gripped his heart. Sukie had already put down her pencils and gone to stand with her brothers. David stood up.

“What are we waiting for?” If for no other reason, the fact that Susan would never forgive him if he didn’t help, was enough.


“So,” Callaghan demanded as he drove Andrell away from the facility. “Are we leaving the guy to just freeze there? What about the ransom?”

“When I have the Sash of Rassilon all life on this planet will be at my mercy,” Andrell said. “Whether one man lives or dies will be meaningless.”

Callaghan looked at the man paying him and wondered if he was completely sane.

“This Sash of whatever… it's valuable?”


“Good. Because that’s what I’m in this business for.”

“I am aware of that. You are a mercenary. The word comes from the old Earth Italian word ‘Mercante’. You are for hire for money. And you will be paid. The rest is no concern of yours.”

“I’d like to see the colour of your money,” Callaghan said. Mercenary he was. Unscrupulous he was. This was not his first kidnapping. But it was the first where they locked the hostage in a deep freeze and drove away. Keeping the man alive didn’t seem to be a huge priority here. It wasn’t that he had any qualms about killing. But this was just weird. He was starting to wonder if he was being paid enough to be involved in something this insane.


What would happen to Rose if he died now? The thought came into his mind and he couldn't shift it. If this had happened the day after tomorrow it would have been ok. She would be his wife, and everything he owned would be hers. As it was, he knew she would have no legal claim to anything. The house they had chosen together, the furniture she had picked out while he signed the cheques, joking about being bankrupted by her before the wedding, the money in his bank accounts, the share certificates that ensured them a comfortable lifestyle for the whole of the long life they thought they had ahead of them. None of it could be hers without him. He knew his family would see her right. They already regarded her as part of their family anyway. But the lawyer in him wished it could be more certain than that.

Why had he never made a will?

Because he was a Time Lord, he was only 1,000 years old, and he didn’t expect to die. Even when he was roaming the universe getting into all sorts of dangers he never really expected to die. He always had the confidence that he could get himself out of trouble. Only a few times had he actually looked death square in the face and really thought this was it. The Time War. He still couldn’t completely remember what he had been doing when the last moment came. But he knew he had expected to die. When he faced the Daleks again on the Gamestation – they had been within moments of exterminating him. He had as good as told them to go ahead and fire. He’d expected their burning rays to fry his brain any second. The time when he was in the sea with all the other victims of the Titanic, or when the TARDIS was dead in space and they were running out of air. Those were the most recent times when he really had thought this was it, no escape.

This was another. He knew people were looking for him. The boys kept telling him they were trying to reach him. He knew Christopher and Jack were with them, and he knew none of them would stop looking. But he wasn’t at all sure they would get to him in time.

And if they did find him, what was out there, beyond the prison they had trapped him in? Armed men? Jack was a fighter. He could rely on him. Christopher? He wouldn’t let him down, he was sure. But his son was not an action hero. And he didn’t want the boys in a gun fight. He didn’t want any of them risking their lives for him. Not EVEN Jack, though he knew for certain Jack would not hesitate to take on anything for his sake.

If they didn’t find him in a few hours they never would. He would freeze to death or suffocate, or both.

“Oh, my children,” he murmured. “I don’t want to die here in the dark so far away from you all.”


“Granddad,” Chris said aloud as they turned east once more, following the directions the three children all told their father to take. “We’re coming to you. Don’t die. You can’t.”

“He sounds bad,” Davie said. “He’s tired and cold and weak.”

“Turn left here,” Christopher told David suddenly.

“Are you sure?”

“Sukie just said it.”

“She’s picking him up stronger,” Chris said. “She knows where he is.”

Sukie looked at her brothers and nodded solemnly.


“Sukie, my little love,” The Doctor whispered as he felt her innocent young mind reaching into his like a sweet tune or the sound of a crystal clear waterfall. She was not a Gallifreyan. She had only one heart and red, human blood. She could never transcend as a Time Lord. But her telepathic abilities were phenomenal. She could penetrate his lead prison and reach him properly where his son and the twins were locked out. “Oh, my little love! I wish I could pick you up and cuddle you right now. But I can’t reach you. I’m in a dark place here. A dark, cold place.”


“A dark, cold place?” Christopher looked around. “Is he talking in metaphors or is that really where he is?”

“He’s cold,” Davie said. “I’ve felt that since we made contact. It's getting colder outside anyway now that the sun is setting, but I’ve been feeling cold for hours.”

“Me too,” Chris added.

“Industrial estate ahead,” Christopher noted. “Are there any cold storage facilities there?”

“Bound to be,” David said.

“Cold storage?” Jack looked scared. “What have they done to him?”

“Can he…?” David wasn’t sure how to put the question. He glanced at Christopher, the only other Time Lord he knew. The only other Time Lord in the universe until his own kids graduated or whatever it was they were going to do.

“We can survive extremes of temperature for far longer than humanoids,” Christopher said. “But… But there are limits even for us. I think he must be approaching those limits. We have to hurry.”

“He’s alive,” Chris insisted, gripping his sister’s hand tightly. “He’s alive right now. So let’s find him.”

Rose sat back in her seat and smiled dreamily. La Boheme, her favourite opera. Even The Doctor couldn’t have organised for that particular opera to be performed on this night. It was a total coincidence. But she was glad it was. Her mum loved it too. So did Susan. Her 21st century friends were less sure. She knew their idea of a night out would be down some pub somewhere drinking vodka and orange and laughing at things that only seem funny when you’re on your third vodka and orange. They thought she’d sold out and become ‘posh’. They found it more puzzling than her marrying a 1,000 year old alien.

She wouldn’t even HAVE a favourite opera if it wasn’t for him. He gave her the opportunity to learn about such things. He opened up so many worlds for her. She loved him for that. She loved the full and colourful life he had given her in place of dreary and endless monotony.


“Cold storage facility,” David said, driving past the building casually and turning around the corner out of sight before stopping the car.

“There could be more than one of them,” Jack said. “It's a big estate.”

“It's the one,” Chris and Davie said with certainty. “He’s in there somewhere.”

Sukie was certain of it. Her telepathic messages were almost too loud for them now.

“What now?” David asked. “Do we call the police or….”

“I’m going to check the place out,” Jack said. “You guys all stay put for now.” He got out of the car and looked around. David had parked out of sight of the storage facility. Jack moved quickly but cautiously around the furniture warehouse that blocked them from view. Like every other building it was locked up tight for the night. A Luton hover van parked outside it was the only other vehicle in the area.

The cold storage building had only one entrance through wide steel shutters big enough to take a lorry through. At the side was a window that he peered carefully through. He counted four armed men walking up and down the loading bay in front of another wide doorway covered in slotted plastic sheeting. The chilled goods storage area, he supposed. The Doctor must be in there somewhere. But the four armed guards were a problem.

He doubled back to the car. Christopher, David and the children were standing by it, looking anxious. Christopher was holding Sukie in his arms.

“She knows I’m close to her granddad,” Christopher said. “She wants to hug me because she can’t hug him.”

“Sweet,” Jack said and related what he had seen.

“Oh hell,” David swore.

“Can you ask The Doctor if he knows WHERE exactly in the building he is?” Jack asked the boys. Through Sukie they passed on the message.

“He says he didn’t even know he was IN a building. He just knows he’s in some kind of box…”

“Coffin,” Christopher said. “He said coffin. There’s no point pretending otherwise. They put him in a lead-lined coffin.”

“Get Sammie… and Simon,” Chris said.


“I just told him about the guards and everything,” Chris continued. “Jack, he said you’re not to do anything ‘bloody kamikaze’ on account of him. You’re to call Sammie and Simon. He says they’re here for the wedding.”

“Yeah, I dropped them off at the hotel yesterday,” Jack said. He reached for his mobile phone.

“Who are…” Christopher began.

“Sammie is ex-SAS and Simon is the Joint Chief of the US military,” Jack said as he placed the call.

“It’ll take them at least an hour to get here,” David said. “Does he have the time?”

“We have to hope,” Christopher said. He concentrated. With Sukie acting as a sort of ‘booster’ he was able to reach his father’s thoughts more easily. He told him they were getting help and told him to hold on.

“Yes,” he told him in answer to a question. “Michael is all right. No, they didn’t kill him. They just hit him on the head and left him in the meditation room when they took you. He’s a good man, father. We told him to rest. He said he wouldn’t until he knew you were safe.”

“Granddad,” Chris said, feeling his thoughts wander momentarily. “You have to stay awake.”


“I know I do,” The Doctor said. “But it's getting harder. Send me a picture of where you are. Let me see you. Let me feel how near you are. Something to hope for.” They did so. He smiled as he saw Sukie clinging to Christopher so lovingly. He focussed on his son’s thoughts and he could feel as if the little girl was hugging him, too. That would be no bad way to die, he thought. If he couldn’t die in Rose’s arms, with her kiss on his lips, then his children’s love was no bad thing.

“They’re not your children, father,” Christopher told him. “They’re Susan and David’s.”

“I know that. But they’re my blood. And I love them as much as I ever loved you. As I hoped to love the children I would have with Rose in the future.”

“You will,” Christopher told him. “Don’t give up.”

“I’m trying not to, but I feel so tired. How long have I been here? What time is it? What day is it?”

“It's nearly half past ten, and it's the night before your Alliance of Unity,” Christopher said. “And we’ll have you home for it. I promise you.”

“Is Rose worried about me?” he asked. “She must be.”

“She doesn’t know. We didn’t tell her.”

“Oh.” He thought about it for a while. “Yes, that’s good. She doesn’t need to know until…”

“She doesn’t need to know at all,” Chris and Davie told him. “We’re going to rescue you, granddad. Just as soon as the other people get here.”

“If they don’t get here soon, it’ll be too late. I’m sorry. I really am. But I can’t hold on.”

He wasn’t just being melodramatic. He really did feel as if he was slipping away. He had held on so long. But the air was so thin now that even he didn’t have enough to breathe. His blood was pumping so hard to stop himself freezing to death that it was using the little oxygen he had too fast. His hearts were burning as he tried to stay alive another little while. He was glad he could talk to them. They were keeping him alive. If he was completely alone he’d have given up and died by now. He knew it.


Apart from the hover, 23rd century cars had one other big advantage over the ones Simon and Sammie were both used to. They had GPS technology integrated into them. Jack had given them the co-ordinate of where they were, and they were able to head there in the rented people carrier Sammie had taken to explore 23rd century London.

“There they are,” Simon said as they pulled around the corner of the furniture warehouse. He parked behind the other car and he and Sammie and their two wives went to meet The Doctor’s family. Simon knew Jack at least from two occasions when they had fought together alongside The Doctor. The others he recalled from The Doctor’s Christmas party a couple of years ago.

“How is he?” Grace Holloway-Grey asked anxiously.

“He’s getting weaker,” Christopher said. “He’s nearly out of air. Whatever you have in mind, Jack, we have to get on with it right now.”

“We are getting on with it,” he said. “You and the kids get in the car and be ready. Grace, take the other car. We won’t need your skills until we have him safe. Just wait for the signal. Sammie, Simon – Bo...” He smiled at Sammie’s pretty, young, oriental wife. He knew from old that she was a martial arts expert and lethal with edged weapons. Anyone who thought she was too delicate for ‘men’s stuff’ would end up singing soprano if they said so in her hearing. “David, do you know how to hot wire a van?”

“Yes,” he said, to Jack’s surprise. “When we were fighting the Daleks I learnt to do a lot of strange things,” he added in explanation. “What do you have in mind?”

Jack pointed to the Luton van and explained. David nodded. It was a good plan. They walked casually towards it. Even if anyone saw them, they didn’t look like an extraction unit on a mission to rescue a hostage. Since 23rd century security tended to be automatic electronic systems rather than old-fashioned night watchmen, nobody DID notice them.

David broke into the cab and hot-wired it while the other four forced open the rear shutter and got into the back. They hung onto the sides of the empty van as David began to reverse it down the road towards the entrance to the cold storage facility. Memories of his days as a resistance fighter came back to him in a flash as he put his foot on the accelerator and felt the impact of the van hitting the metal doors and crashing straight through them. It was a long time ago, but he still had some of the adrenalin that had driven him then.

In the back of the van the view of the doors coming rapidly towards them had been nearly as terrifying as actually crashing through them, but the four held on tight. It all happened in a very short time, but it felt as if they were moving in slow motion. As David slammed on the brakes they were propelled forwards towards the back of the van. They used the momentum to their advantage. They were out of the van and taking a guard each before the four men could even begin to use the weapons they carried. Bo landed on her target from above, flooring him with a Shaolin kick that was poetry in motion. Sammie and Jack also used martial arts, though less elegantly, and Simon made do with a simple but effective bare knuckle punch.

“Get their guns and guard the door,” Jack said to Sammie and Simon as Bo quickly tied the four unconscious men up with a length of rope before she also took up a guard position. “David, back the van up so we can get the cars in.” David sounded the horn twice, the signal to Christopher and Grace and then backed the van right into the loading bay. Moments later the two people carriers were inside as well. Christopher jumped out straight away and ran for the cold storage area.

“We can’t hear him any more,” Chris said as he and Davie clambered out of the car and ran after him. “Granddad – I think he’s….”

“No!” Christopher screamed. “No, I won’t believe it. We’ve come so near.” He reached the door to the deep freeze area and pulled the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. He didn’t know many of its settings. Welding was one of them. He had used it for odd jobs around the house, trying to make himself useful in a home that he was still a stranger in. Jack and the boys caught up with him and David, with Sukie in his arms, followed. They would have been better out of the way, he thought. But he knew none of them would or could wait behind when the man they all cared about was behind this door close to death.

The lock broke off and he pushed the double doors open. For a moment he couldn’t believe what he saw inside the giant walk-in freezer.



“Oh my God!” Jack swore out loud as he looked at the solid block of ice in which a coffin had been suspended. How it was done, he didn’t even ask. None of them did. But they knew they had to get it open.

“Stand back,” Christopher said. And he put his hands on the ice block and closed his eyes. He concentrated the heat of his body into his hands. The ice slowly started to melt. He felt his cooled blood racing around his body, through his hearts, heating up again and returning to his hands where they made contact with the ice. He forced his body temperature to rise, his blood to become even hotter. He may not be a man of action like his father, but he was still a Time Lord and he still had powers Humans could only dream of. Melting through tons of ice was not one he got marks for as a student at the Prydonian Academy, and it was certainly not something he had ever needed to use in the High Council of Gallifrey. But he could do it. “Thermodynamics, father,” he whispered. “Your favourite subject. You never quite managed to get me excited about it.”

“It's too slow though,” Davie said. “We have to get to him quick. He’s not talking to us now.” His last words had been at least three minutes ago. He had said “Goodbye,” in a weak, fragile way that terrified them.

“Help him,” Chris said to his brother and put his own hands on the ice. Davie did the same. They had the same blood in them as Christopher. The Doctor had told them more than once their DNA was 99% his DNA. Because Gallifreyan blood overrode Human. Whatever Christopher could do, they could. They were not children, they were young Time Lords.

“Yes, you are,” Christopher told them. Their combined effort was speeding up the process.

“Oh my… look,” David said. Under the ice, they saw the screws that held the coffin lid down turning. “Who’s doing that?”

“Sukie,” Chris said. “She’s the one who’s best at telekinesis. She wants to get to her granddad.”

It bought them precious seconds. By the time the ice was melted sufficiently the screws were loose. Jack yanked the lid off. Beneath it was a sealed lead lining though. He looked at it with dismay.

“Welding tool,” Christopher said pulling the sonic screwdriver out again. He worked quickly and steadily, though his hearts were anything but steady and his head was full of the one horrible certainty – none of them could reach his father telepathically any more. If they were lucky he was just unconscious. If….

“Oh, hell,” Jack said as he and Christopher together pulled back the lead lining as soon as enough of it was cut through. The Doctor lay there, still and deathly pale. His skin was cold to the touch and as they lifted him from the coffin he seemed limp and unresponsive. Jack held him close as he ran from the freezing room, through the cold storage, and laid him in the back of the second people carrier. Grace had laid the seats flat while she waited anxiously. It made a makeshift ambulance. She got in beside him and began CPR. Christopher knelt the other side as Jack slammed the door shut. Sammie and Bo moved outside to provide cover if it should be needed while Simon jumped into the driver’s seat and reversed at speed out of the building. Once clear he did a handbrake turn and put his foot down on the accelerator. Jack bundled David and the children into the back seat of the people carrier and told them to keep their heads down as he reversed it out. He did a handbrake turn that left rubber on the forecourt and stopped just long enough for Bo and Sammie to jump in behind him, the guns ready in case of trouble, before he, too, put his foot down and drove off. He overtook Simon as they turned off the industrial estate and pulled into the fast lane.

“Is he all right?” the boys were yelling in the back seat. They seemed to have forgotten it was possible to talk telepathically without words. Jack didn’t blame them. He felt like screaming himself.

“Come on,” Grace said tearfully as she and Christopher both massaged The Doctor’s two hearts, forcing his blood to circulate and bring his body temperature back up. She checked for a pulse underneath his clavicle where Time Lord pulses could be detected and shook her head.

“I think it's too late,” she said with a sob she couldn’t repress. She was a cardio doctor. Losing patients was par for the course. But NOT this patient. Not now.

“No!” Christopher cried out, lifting his father’s body and cradling him in his arms. “No, No. Father, don’t die. You can’t. Not now. We still haven’t got to know each other again properly. And…. And you’re supposed to be getting married in a few hours.”

“Why so formal, Christopher,” The Doctor murmured. “Why can’t you call me dad?”

Grace gasped in surprise as she saw him open his eyes and reach out to his son. She still had her hand on his artery and she felt his pulse suddenly as strong as if he had just been switched on like an electrical current. There was nothing in her medical books to explain such a recovery. But then again, nothing in her medical books explained The Doctor.

Christopher just sobbed for joy and hugged him tightly. “I’ll call you anything you want me to call you,” he said. “Just…. Just stay alive.”

“Got to,” he said. “Rose will kill me if I let her down now.”

In the other car the boys were ecstatic. Jack had to shout at them sharply to quieten them. “Sorry kids,” he said. “I’m as happy as you are. But hush for a couple of minutes, please. I’m trying to relay a sub-space message from a mobile phone to the other side of the Milky Way.” The boys sat silently and spoke telepathically to their great-grandfather and grandfather in the other car until they, too, begged them to be a little quieter. Nothing, in any case, could stop the waves of happy psychic messages Sukie was giving out.

“Hellina, honey,” Jack said. “Are you on your way to this wedding yet? You are? Good. But do me a favour. Bring company strength, half uniform, half civvies, and arm them to the teeth. We’ve got a situation here that I want to contain.”


The boys and Sukie were asleep on the sofa as the clock in the drawing room softly chimed midnight. David was sitting in his armchair reading by the light of a lamp by his elbow. He looked up as the front door opened and Susan, Jackie and Rose came in.

“Did you have a good time?” he asked them.

“Fantastic time,” Rose said with a happy smile.

“You should have sent the kids to bed ages ago,” Susan admonished him. “They’ve got a long day tomorrow. We all have. Where are Christopher and Jack?”

“They went over to the house. Ready for the early start in the morning.” David stood up and woke the boys, lifting Sukie in his arms. “We should ALL get to bed. Especially you, Rose, love.”


At Mount Loeng House The Doctor and Christopher went to the meditation room to spend what hours there were until dawn refreshing their bodies the Time Lord way. Jack ORDERED Michael, the butler, to his own bed. The man had stayed, faithfully, in the house, despite his own ordeal. He had almost cried when The Doctor told him he wasn’t fired for letting the kidnappers into the house.

Bo and Grace drove back to the hotel. The Doctor didn’t need any more medical attention tonight and Bo wanted to get back to her baby that she’d left with her friends while she came with Sammie to rescue the man she had once loved dearly.

Jack, Sammie and Simon, meanwhile, had no intention of sleeping yet. They were tired, too. But The Doctor’s kidnappers were out there still. The four they had left hogtied in the cold store were only the night watchmen. In case there was a plan B the three of them spent the early hours of the morning patrolling the house and gardens ensuring it was secure. Jack watched the skies. He smiled when he saw the shimmer of distortion that meant the cloaked transporter was hovering over the two marquees set up for the wedding. A few minutes later he was giving a briefing to the men.

“I want this place to be fully locked down,” he said. “Nobody comes in or out without ID. Guests, caterers, whoever. Everyone is scanned for weapons. And I mean EVERYONE. I want perimeter guards. I want a full search of both these tents for explosive devices. Tomorrow morning I want a visible presence, but I also want as many men as possible undercover mingling with the guests. ”

“You want your bed,” Hellina told him gently. “Go on, I can handle this now. The Doctor needs you in a few hours.”

“I’ll leave it to you, then, honey,” he said, winking at her. She had strict rules about him kissing her in front of the men.

He was glad enough to be relieved. He figured he had a chance of three hours sleep. It would just about be enough. Best man at a twelve hour wedding ceremony in the morning! The toughest assignment yet. But he’d be up for it.