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

Wyn and Stella watched the lifesigns monitor anxiously. Jamie, equally anxiously, watched the environmental monitor, noting the build up of radiation outside the TARDIS. The Doctor was fighting time itself to complete the repair to the hyperspace drive of the passenger ship, Brian W. Aldiss. The lives of thousands of Human immigrants to new colonies light years from Earth depended on him. So did the eco-system of the planet the ship was in a decaying orbit around.

But The Doctor’s own life depended on him getting back into the TARDIS in the next one minute and twenty seconds.

“Oh, don’t let him DIE!” Stella whimpered. “Doctor, please do it. I know you left a special protocol for us to get away if you fail, but we don’t want to use it.”

She looked at the screen near her left elbow. It was displaying a single text file name. All three of them knew the password to open it. He had told them it ten minutes ago before he hugged them all and put on the helmet of the hazmat suit and stepped out through the door. The TARDIS’s protective fields held back the radiation until he closed the door.

They waited. They watched the monitors. They hoped and prayed, and they told each other that The Doctor was the BEST, and he WOULD do it. He would come up trumps in the end. He would be back, grinning madly, and reminding them that he was a genius and that he could do anything.

“Forty seconds,” Jamie said. “Thirty-nine, thirty-eight…”

“Stop it,” Wyn cried out. “Don’t do that. Don’t count down his life.”

“He’s coming,” Stella cried. “He’s going to make it.”

“He’s fixed the engines,” Jamie commented. “Look, you can see the different resonance now. And listen…”

The captain of the ship was contacting them, thanking The Doctor for repairing the engines and saving all their lives. It took maybe fifteen seconds of the time that Jamie wasn’t counting down.

“All in a days work,” Jamie replied. “Safe journey, Captain.” Then he turned and looked at the counter. It was showing five seconds beyond the safe margin as the TARDIS door opened. He heard Wyn gasp in horror and Stella start to run towards The Doctor as he stumbled over the threshold. He reached and held her back.

“No, you can’t touch him,” Jamie told her. “He’s contaminated, still. Stand right back here, until the TARDIS does what it has to do.”

Stella turned and buried her face in Jamie’s chest. He reached out and took Wyn’s hand and held her, too. Neither of them wanted to look, but they felt they had to. They gazed at the half disintegrated hazmat suit hanging in tatters. They looked at his face through the visor of the helmet. He was in terrible agony, but he didn’t scream. He gritted his teeth and half closed his eyes as the TARDIS enveloped him in a decontaminating field.

Finally, it was safe to approach him. Wyn reached him first and supported him as he stumbled. Jamie was there next to help her lay him down on the floor gently. He pulled off the helmet. The Doctor’s face was still screwed up in pain, and he was trying to speak, but his teeth seemed clamped together and they couldn’t make out what he was saying.

“Po…o…col,” he stammered.

“He wants us to use the protocol!” Stella exclaimed. “The one he told us to use if… if…”

“If he didn’t make it,” Wyn said. “But he did make it. He’s here… he’s….”

“He’s dying,” Jamie told her as gently as he could. “That’s why we have to use the protocol. Because he…”

Stella went to the TARDIS and opened the file. It was only a text file but as soon as it was opened the TARDIS acted upon it. The time rotor groaned into action and they felt the difference in the vibration. Jamie looked up once to see that they were in the time vortex.

“Where is he sending us?” Jamie asked. But nobody answered. Stella returned to The Doctor’s side. His face seemed calmer now. He was sinking into a coma and was no longer in pain.

“Will he regenerate?” Wyn asked herself rather than either of the other two. She had never seen The Doctor regenerate. She knew it happened. She wondered what it was like seeing him take on a new face.

“I don’t want him to do that,” Stella said, a catch in her voice as she held back her tears. “I know it’s not… not really death. But HE would be… He’s MY Doctor. I don’t want to lose him. He can’t…”

She had expressed exactly what Wyn was feeling, too. She didn’t want to lose the Doctor she had come to love so much. Even if the new version had the same memories, the same deep wisdom, was the same man in all respects, he wouldn’t be THE Doctor.

But he didn’t seem to be regenerating, either. He was alive. She could feel his hearts beating in his breast as she knelt and held him in her arms. But he was deeply unconscious. She couldn’t wake him. She wasn’t even sure she should try.

“Mistress,” K9 said mournfully. “The Master-Doctor is very damaged. I am reading almost no brain waves at all.”

“He’s… brain dead?” Jamie looked at K9 then back at The Doctor again. He stroked his cheek gently. “No, that would be too awful. All that he is… such a great man… lost…”

“We’ve landed somewhere,” Stella said in a dull voice as if she didn’t care. “We’ve landed where The Doctor wanted us to go.”

Jamie took hold of The Doctor and held him as Wyn stood and went to the console. She looked at the temporal co-ordinate and gave an exclamation. She began to run to the door. But she was only partway across the gangway when the door opened and a man stepped in. Wyn and Stella both knew him right away. Jamie was slightly puzzled as Wyn put her arms around the dark haired stranger in a very distressed leather jacket.

“Who is that?” he asked Stella.

“He’s… He’s The Doctor,” Stella answered. “The… OTHER Doctor. He’s… Oh, I think everything will be ok after all. He can help us.”

The ‘other’ Doctor took in the scene inside the TARDIS and then in a few long-legged strides he was there, kneeling beside Jamie. He reached out one long fingered hand and pressed it against The Doctor’s forehead.

“Radiation?” he asked.

“Yes,” Jamie answered and briefly explained about the ship with the damaged plasma engines leaking radiation. “Can you help him?”

“Not on my own,” the Ninth Doctor replied. “I can set him on the way. But it’s more complicated. We need… a Zero Cabinet. A Zero Rom would be better, but we lost that a couple of centuries ago. The Zero Cabinet should be in the junk room by the stairs down to the secondary control room.”

“I know what it looks like,” Wyn said. “Jamie… come and help me.”

Jamie followed her. Stella came and knelt by The Doctor’s side. She was still upset, but the possibility that he might be all right was helping her.

“Hope,” Nine said. “Never give up on hope.”

“I won’t. But…” She turned as Jamie and Wyn rushed back, carrying between them an oblong shaped box. “No!” she cried out. “That’s… it’s… it’s a COFFIN!”

“It’s not,” Nine assured her. “It’s a Zero Cabinet. It is specially designed to cut out all outside forces, including time itself. It will stop his condition from deteriorating until you get him the help he needs.”

Nine lifted the limp, unresponsive body of his other incarnation and laid him in the Zero Cabinet. Then he reached in and pressed both hands around his temples. For a moment his hands, and The Doctor’s head, seemed to glow orange-gold.

“What did you just do?” Wyn asked.

“I gave him a piece of my mind,” Nine answered. “Literally.” He slid the Cabinet lid closed and stood up. He walked to the console and checked several readings before he explained what he meant.

“Are any of you familiar with the Star Trek films?” he asked, in what seemed to all three of them as a strange way to explain what was wrong with THEIR Doctor. “The one where Spock is ‘dead’ and Bones has his consciousness stuck in his head and they have to give it back to him?” Wyn and Stella both nodded. Jamie looked blank. In the 51st century there WERE some classic films of the 20th century that were still well known. Battleship Potemkin, Back To The Future and Forrest Gump were among them, but Star Trek didn’t stand the test of time.

“What… you’re saying that The Doctor’s consciousness is in somebody else’s head?” Stella asked.

“No,” Nine replied. “Not exactly. He’s in the other nine versions of his own head.” The blank looks got even blanker. “Time Lords have a lot of ways of preserving themselves. Regeneration is the last resort. But we can only regenerate successfully as long as our minds are intact. He’s suffered a very severe trauma and his mind is affected. If he regenerated now, he would be an empty shell. He would have lost everything that he is... there might be enough pure intellect to function. He might know he IS The Doctor. But his knowledge would be gone, and more importantly, his personality… all the things that make him – HIM. All the reasons the three of you are here, with him… the reasons why you love him so much.”

“Doctor… get to the point,” Stella told him. “I thought HE was bad enough at rambling.”

“There’s a back up… All those things are shared, psychically, with all of his previous incarnations – me, and the eight others before me. The traces of brain activity K9 picked up, that’s him, the part of him that is HIS incarnation. But he’s only been around a few decades, forty, fifty years, give or take. That’s only a fraction of himself. I’ve given him back that which I was holding for him. But he needs the other parts of himself from the other eight.”

“Well, that’s easy, isn’t it?” Wyn said. “We can go to SangC’lune… the pyramid… with all his old selves in there.”

“No,” Nine answered. “It’s not as easy as that. The pyramid contains the essences of our lives, but not the corporeal bodies. The fractions are a sort of closed off, non-accessible part of our living brains. You’ve got to cross his timeline and find his previous selves when they were alive. And that means I can’t help you. I can’t cross my own timeline to THAT extent without risking a very dangerous paradox. Even WITH him in the Zero Cabinet, separate from us. And besides, my wife will give me hell if I’m not in for supper as I promised. I’m setting up the TARDIS with temporal locations that will bring you into contact with… with me… at different times of my life. I’ve made them all Earth locations. That’s safest for you. And… if you’re REALLY desperate you can get me on the mobile. But I’m afraid it’s up to the three of you.” He smiled, despite the seriousness of the situation, as K9 gave a mechanical cough loaded with meaning. “FOUR of you.”

He looked at the three Humans – correction, two Humans and a Haolstrominian. He raised an eyebrow as he looked more closely at Jamie. He hadn’t met one of THOSE for centuries. All three looked back at him with the same expression. Determination.

“We won’t let him down,” Wyn said for them all. “But will the TARDIS let us do that? I’ve never done more than ‘reverse out of the drive’ as it were. Isn’t he supposed to be the only one who can…”

“I’ve preset the co-ordinates. It recognised my imprimatur. The rest shouldn’t be a problem. Wyn, you’ve been in the TARDIS longest. You’re the pilot. Jamie, you’re a Time Agent? Manhunts are your speciality. You’re in charge of tracking me down in each temporal location. Stella, you look after…” His eyes turned to the Zero Cabinet. “He’s your responsibility. Take care of him.”

“I will,” she promised. “Doctor…” She reached out and hugged him. Wyn did the same. He looked at Jamie hovering near.

“Come on, then,” he said. “Everyone needs a hug.”

“Yes,” Jamie admitted. “But this isn’t the 51st century.”

“And you’re not always a man,” The Doctor pointed out. “Look after them all,” he whispered as he hugged Jamie. “They need you.”

Then he stepped out of the TARDIS and closed the door. They saw him on the viewscreen standing safely out of range, watching. Wyn reached for the dematerialisation switch that would lock them into the first part of their adventure and saw him wave and say something that might have been ‘good journey’ before he faded from sight and they were sliding through the vortex.

“We’re going backwards in time,” she noted aloud to anyone who might be listening. Jamie nodded as if that was significant. Stella was kneeling on the floor beside the Zero Cabinet, her hand over the place where The Doctor’s hearts were as he lay within it. The coffin like nature of the cabinet WAS unnerving. But he WASN’T dead. They all kept telling themselves that. And as soon as they found his other selves he would start to get better.

It was a little under fifteen minutes before they came out of the vortex for the first time. They just about had time to note that they had materialised in mid-air over the Atlantic ocean, which seemed an odd place to meet one of The Doctor’s earlier incarnations, when they heard a yell and looked up. The person who had yelled was not very gracefully sliding down one of the coral shaped roof supports, the TARDIS having apparently materialised around him. Jamie, with his agent’s eye for detail took in that he seemed to be in his mid 30s, attractive to those who would find men attractive, with the sort of long hair associated with the Romantic poets, and clothes that would have fitted into a crowd in the early 1900s. Jamie glanced at the temporal date and saw that it was May 5th, 1937. He made a guess at who the stranger with such a cavalier attitude to temporal fashions was.

Wyn knew straight away.

“Doctor, hang on,” she called out. “There’s a ladder around here somewhere.”

“Too late!” he replied as he lost his grip and fell the last few feet to land in an ungainly heap on the mesh floor. Wyn knew from experience that mesh was not a nice surface to impact against, but it had a certain property to it, a very slight ‘give’ that actually cushioned against broken bones. This she ALSO knew from experience. She and Jamie helped the newcomer to stand.

“Hello,” he said. “Thank you… I owe you my life… whoever you are and…” He looked around the console room. “Oh… This is… a TARDIS?”

“It’s YOUR TARDIS, remodelled a bit,” Wyn told him. “You’re….” She did a quick calculation in her head. “You’re number Eight. I’ve seen pictures.”

Eight looked at Jamie. “He’s not me is he?”

“No,” Wyn quickly corrected him. “You’re…” She glanced at the Zero Cabinet where Stella still kept vigil. There was no easy way to tell him. “That’s….”

Jamie gave a quick, potted version of the story so far. Eight nodded in understanding and knelt by the Cabinet. He touched the lid and it opened. He put his hands either side of The Doctor’s temples and again there was an orange-golden glow that passed between them.

“He blinked!” Stella cried out in excitement. “He did. He blinked. Just the once.”

“My presence stimulated his brainwaves a little,” Eight told her. “He’s still got a VERY long way to go. And so do you all.” He closed the lid again, noting that Stella seemed distressed about that and stood up and looked around. “I’ve lost… well sort of… mislaid MY TARDIS. Would you mind… I can trace it using the console. It won’t take very long… I hope.”

“It’s STILL your TARDIS,” Wyn told him. “Please do… But…”

“Come on!” Jamie asked the question Wyn was having trouble with. “You’ve GOT to tell us. WHAT were you doing at an altitude of….” He glanced at the readout on the console. “600 feet above sea level without a parachute.”

“Falling,” Eight answered with a wry smile. “I was aboard the German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg. I don’t know if that rings any bells with any of you….”

“There’s a film,” Stella said. “I saw it when I was about eight. I cried because the dog died in the fire.” K9, hovering near her, wagged his ears in sympathy with dog-kind everywhere.

“Yes, I’m afraid the ship is doomed to crash and kill thirty-six people and two dogs. I can’t change that. But if I hadn’t acted, a bomb would have blown it to smithereens over the Atlantic and NOBODY would have survived. And that would have had dire consequences for the time continuum. Sixty-two people taken out of history before their time. Trouble was, the bomber found me dismantling it and there was a fight. And believe me, 700 feet above sea level, in the struts of an airship, is not a good place for fending off a man with a big knife. He and his bomb are somewhere in the Atlantic now. I would have been, too, if you lot hadn’t turned up.”

“So your TARDIS is still on the airship then?” Jamie said. “We’re catching up with it?”

“Yes,” he answered as he skilfully manoeuvred the TARDIS. It briefly entered the vortex and came back out again in ‘hover’ mode. “I’m bending the laws of time slightly,” he explained. “I need to get back to a moment after we fell and mend the rip, otherwise the ship is still in trouble and might not make it to Lakenhurst. Don’t want it crashing into New York instead. THAT would be even worse.”

They watched as the TARDIS slid into place underneath the airship. The Doctor opened the doors and held on with one hand while leaning out with his sonic screwdriver held at arms length. He carefully applied one of the 10,000 or more settings it had to invisibly mending the gaping hole in the bottom of the airship. Wyn stood well back and watched. Stella looked up from where she sat protecting HER Doctor. Jamie ventured closer, purely out of curiosity, but he was no more fond of heights than any other member of the TARDIS crew and they were all much happier when The Doctor stepped back and closed the door.

“What would have happened if you fell out?” Stella asked. But she didn’t really need to be told. That sort of shiver that is described as ‘somebody walking over my grave’ passed through her as she imagined a universe where The Doctor ceased to exist two regenerations before the one she had been told to take care of.

The Doctor scanned the ship and smiled as he saw his own TARDIS in the cargo hold. He carefully materialised this TARDIS opposite to it.

“Thanks for everything,” he told the three companions plus robot dog. He shook hands with Jamie and hugged Wyn and Stella. He bent and stroked K9’s ears and called him old friend. Then he opened the door and crossed the short distance between TARDISes in a few long-legged strides. They had a brief glimpse of a TARDIS console room rather different from their own before the door closed and it quickly dematerialised.

“We’d better do the same,” Jamie told Wyn. She nodded and closed their TARDIS door before returning to the console and setting them on their next preset journey. Stella went back to sitting by the Zero Cabinet. Jamie decided they could all do with a cup of coffee after that excitement.

Wyn set them on their way then reached for her mobile. She contacted Nine.

“Don’t worry,” she assured him. “We’re doing ok. Just one question. When you were number EIGHT and you fell out of the Hindenburg… you must have remembered being rescued by us?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I never knew who exactly you were. If you think back on the last half hour, I didn’t ask any of your names. And your purpose for being there… I had a sort of mental block there. I didn’t remember the Zero Cabinet, and Ten. I just remembered a chance encounter with a later TARDIS. It only came back to me fully just a moment before you phoned – when causality caught up on us all. I think that’s going to be the case with ALL the instances when you encounter earlier versions of me. I’ve got another seven vague memories of meeting people from my own future, but not who or WHY.”

“When you DO remember, you’ll know that’s another one of them sorted?”

“Yes, I suppose so. I’ll be able to monitor your progress. That’s going to help me. I won’t be worried about you all. But I still can’t give you any practical help. You’re still on your own. And some of my earlier incarnations won’t be as easy to explain things to as Eight was. I have to admit, I was rather grumpy in my ‘older’ years.”

“You have your moments now,” Wyn joked. She was reluctant to end the call. She had known both Nine and Ten equally in her lifetime and loved them both as a special friend. Talking to Nine took her mind off the danger Ten was in. She wished she could stay in touch with him. Eventually she said goodbye to him. She closed her phone and put it back in her pocket. She turned and took the coffee mug Jamie offered her. She leaned against the same coral column eight had slid down and sipped the coffee. Jamie smiled at her and shimmered into female form still dressed in the casual slacks and sweatshirt but filling them in more interesting ways.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Wyn told her lover. “I think it would have been much harder if it was just the two of us and K9. You’re… the next best thing to The Doctor.”

“That’s still quite a place of honour,” Jamie said. “Second to the most amazing man in the universe.” They both looked around at Stella. “I never knew she was SO attached to him. She loves him like he was her father.”

“He pays her much more attention than dad ever did,” Wyn admitted. “Or me. Not his fault. He’s always busy. The Doctor always has TIME for us. He meant the world to me when I was her age. And history is repeating itself big time.”

“You know, we’ll ALL go our separate ways eventually. You and Stella were meant to be spending a year with him. And I have to go back to the Agency.”

“It’s still a long way off,” Wyn answered just a bit too sharply. “We don’t have to think about that, yet.”

What they DID have to think about was their next destination. The scanner said it was 1942 and they were in Kent, England.

“Oh, lovely! Right where the Germans arrived first when they bombed the hell out of England,” Wyn noted.

“I think we’re safe,” Jamie answered. “According to the environmental monitor we appear to be inside a cliff. “Oh…. Oh! Fantastic.”

“Is it?” Wyn asked. “Why?”

“1942… These are the underground tunnels inside the cliffs of Dover, running under Dover Castle, where the British Government had their War Command Centre. I’ve been here lots of times. The Time Agency use part of it as a secondary base after the main one in the Tower of London. But it’s all modernised then. These are the original medieval tunnels strengthened to use for the war effort.”

“Why is The Doctor here then?” Stella asked, standing and coming to join them at the console. “And WHERE is he?”

“He’s running towards us, around the corner,” Jamie confirmed, noting the blip that indicated a humanoid with two hearts on her wristlet lifesigns monitor. “There’s a young Human, male, I think, with him. And something chasing them. There are some energy patterns that indicate non-contemporaneous weaponry.”

“Stella, open the door, and then DUCK,” Wyn called out to her sister who was closest to the door control. She herself dived behind the console, pulling Jamie down with her. They both watched as two people hurtled through the door and flattened themselves on the floor. An energy beam narrowly missed them and hit one of the coral-like pillars which absorbed it harmlessly. Stella reached once again and shut the door. More beams bounced off the door, merely making an annoying noise.

“Oh, my, what IS that?” Jamie asked as she looked at the humanoid figure outside that kept firing on the TARDIS door.

“That, my dear young woman, is a Cyberman,” said the Second Doctor as he stood up and brushed down his coat. Beside him a young man in Highland plaid stood up and looked around the console room curiously. “I’m The Doctor, this is Jamie…”

“Never mind that, the Cyberman is going to break in!” Stella cried out in panic as she watched the huge, silver creature blasting at the TARDIS door.

“Nonsense,” replied the Second Doctor. “This IS a TARDIS, isn’t it? Nothing can penetrate it, providing that you’ve activated the defence shields. You HAVE, haven’t you?”

“What’s a Cyberman doing in the War tunnels of Dover in 1942?” Jamie asked.

“Some fool of scientist got hold of one that was found frozen in ice in the Antarctic and thought it would be a secret weapon against Hitler. But obviously it couldn’t be controlled. I told them it was foolish. It’s gone on the rampage…”

“Well, we’d better get rid of it,” Wyn said, in a remarkably calm voice. “K9…”

“Yes, mistress,” K9 answered, hovering into position in front of the door. Wyn reached for the door opening mechanism and he fired his laser weapon. The Cyberman’s head was blown clean off and the body swayed before falling back with a crash.

“That’s better,” she said, brushing imaginary dust from her hands.

“That was very effective,” the Doctor said. “I thank you for your timely intervention. But may I ask what three non-Time Lords and a robot dog are doing in a Time Lord TARDIS?”

“Looking after our Time Lord,” Wyn replied and for the second time explained their presence. The Second Doctor looked perturbed. But he understood what he had to do. Stella watched closely as he repeated the same process the other two Doctors had gone through already. Again she saw a flicker of the eyelids, a slight twitch of the facial muscles, but there was still a long way to go yet. Three of the nine Doctors had done their duty by him. There were still another six.

“Would you like to come and meet Winston Churchill?” The Doctor asked. “He’s up in the war-room. I told him I’d sort out the crisis down here.”

“That’s an offer we shouldn’t be able to refuse,” Wyn said on behalf of them all. “But really, Doctor, we ought to be getting along. Thank you for your help.”

“You’re welcome,” The Doctor answered. “Well, come along, Jamie. We’d better see how Zoë’s getting on in the code-breaking room. If they’re lucky, she’ll have cracked the whole German war plan by now.”

“I wish we had been able to stay,” Jamie commented ruefully as they travelled to the next temporal destination. “Meeting Winston Churchill! That would have been interesting. And getting to see the War Room. That’s what time travel is all about…”

“This isn’t a pleasure cruise,” Stella replied angrily. “We don’t have time for sightseeing. HE needs us.”

“I know that.” Jamie answered her. “I just meant….”

“He doesn’t MATTER to you. You’re only here because of Wyn. But we’re here because of HIM… because of The Doctor. He’s the one who matters. And we’ve got to get him back.”

“You know, in the Zero Cabinet he’s ok, no matter how long it takes,” Wyn pointed out. “No time passes for him in there.”

“Are you siding with HER?” Stella demanded. “That’s not FAIR. I thought YOU cared about The Doctor, too!”

“Of course, I care about him,” Wyn answered. “I’ve known him way longer than you have. He’s my best friend. He’s the greatest friend I ever had. I love him.”

“So do I,” Stella responded. “You don’t love him more than I do. Just because you’re older.”

“Stop it!” Jamie cried out. “Stella, stop it. I'm sorry for what I said. I was stupid. But stop, now, before you both say something really cruel that you won’t be able to take back.”

Stella stopped and looked at her sister. Wyn hugged her as they both cried together. Jamie breathed in deeply and touched Wyn on the shoulder as she stepped away from the two sisters. She looked at the console. They were materialising again. She looked at their temporal destination. It was 2032, somewhere near Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. The TARDIS had parked itself in a copse of trees before a meadow leading down to the loch. Jamie ran a lifesigns check and was surprised by what she was picking up. She glanced at Wyn and Stella. They looked like they needed a little longer together. He quietly opened the door and stepped outside.

Jamie understood the frustration. She was the newest of all of the TARDIS crew, but she had come to care about The Doctor. And there weren’t very many men she could say that about. She was as anxious as any of them to see him well again. And this strange temporal game of hunt the Time Lord seemed to be the only way to do that.

There were two other people who had been picked up by the lifesigns monitor. They were standing beside the loch which was calm and beautiful on a warm summer afternoon.

Or it was! Jamie stood at the edge of the copse, frozen to the spot, as a huge creature with mottled reptilian skin and a mouth full of teeth that could snap a man in half rose up from the glassy water. A smaller one, merely the size of a hippopotamus, broke the water in its wake.

The parent seemed to be responding to signals from a hand held and home made looking device that the male of the two people was holding. He was tall, broad-shouldered, seeming even broader in the big tweed coat he was wearing. He had a mop of curly dark hair and his face was split by a wide smile. Jamie heard him explaining in a deep, sonorous voice to the young woman beside him that the famous Loch Ness monster was actually a creature called the Skarasen, genetically modified by aliens called Zygons as part of their plan to take over the planet.

“I defeated their plot, of course,” Jamie heard him say. “But the poor old Skarasen was only their tool. She doesn’t have an evil bone in her body. I sent her back to the loch she had made her home. She’s been here ever since, perfectly happy. And as you can see, she’s produced an offspring.”

“She can reproduce asexually?” said the blonde haired young woman wearing a skirt and blouse and a yachting blazer with a straw boater. “Unusual.”

“Not among reptilian species,” The man assured her. “And for that matter, I know a few humanoid species that can do it. Haolstromnians, for one. Wonderful people that they are. But for our Nessy it’s the best way, of course. Any more than one adult and a child at any one time would be an ecological disaster. She bears one youngster to replace herself in the course of time. The balance is maintained.”

“Well, they both seem fit and well,” said the young woman. Jamie looked at her wristlet and confirmed that she was the same species as the man – Time Lord. But since genderswapping wasn’t something THEIR race were capable of, and judging by the account of his defeat of the Zygons, the male had to be The Doctor.

“Yes, they’re quite well. We can let them go back to their nest before some silly tourist or journalist sees them and gets excited.” He touched the device one last time and the Skarasen and her child turned and dived back under the water. As their ripples spread out across the loch The Doctor and his companion watched thoughtfully.

“And what about you?” The Doctor suddenly called out, without so much as a flinch. “Come on, don’t skulk around behind my back.”

“I wasn’t skulking,” Jamie answered. “I was just biding my time. And I’m not a tourist or a journalist. I'm not here for your creature, fantastic as she is. I’m a Time Agent, and I have a message for The Doctor. That IS you, isn’t it?”

“It is,” The Doctor answered, turning his sternest gaze on Jamie. “Who is the message from?”

“From The Doctor.” Jamie answered.

“Ah!” The Doctor’s face crinkled with humour, and even though, close up, the smile seemed rather predatory, his eyes told of genuine good nature. When Jamie explained what the message was, though, his smile faded and his expression was grave.

“Show me,” he said. “Romana, would you be so good as to finish the water samples and meet me back at the TARDIS.” His eye caught the blue box in the trees and he smiled wryly. “Our TARDIS, that is, where we parked it by the bridge.”

“Well, OBVIOUSLY,” she answered as if she was used to reminding him that she was his intellectual equal. Then her mood softened as she looked at Jamie. “I hope your Doctor will be all right. I’m sure HE will do all he can to help.”

“So do I,” Jamie acknowledged. “Thank you.”

Wyn and Stella were at the open door as The Doctor and Jamie reached it. The Doctor looked at Stella curiously.

“You look familiar, young lady. Do I know you?”

“No,” she answered. “You used to know my mum, ages ago. But please, let’s not waste time. HE needs you.”

“Yes, he does,” The Doctor said. “Don’t worry. I know what to do.”

He went straight to the Zero Cabinet and began the same process the others had done. Stella hovered nearby anxiously.

“Has this happened to you before then?” she asked. “You said you know what to do?”

“Not to me,” he answered. “But a VERY long time ago, my father was injured that way. And I had to get permission to cross his timeline and find his earlier incarnations. It was very traumatic.”

“Tell me about it!” Stella said. “Traumatic doesn’t begin to describe it.” But the Fourth Doctor gave to her Tenth Doctor the fraction of his scattered mind that he needed. Again there was a slight flicker, a twitch, a sign that he was getting better.

“As easy as Pi,” The Doctor said. “As somebody said. Pythagoras or Euclid, one of those chaps.” He looked at Stella as she knelt by the closed Cabinet. It was a damp squid of a joke, but it usually got a better reaction than that. He knelt by her and offered her a paper bag. “Have a jelly baby. They’re good for the soul.”

“How can a sweet be good for the soul?” she responded.

“I don’t know. I just say things like that, sometimes. Have a sweet, anyway. You look like you need cheering up.”

She took a sweet. It was a nice taste. But what she wanted most wasn’t in his power. Not yet, anyway. Still, there was reason to hope.

“Of course there is,” The Doctor assured her. “There’s always hope.” He stood and turned to the other two companions and did his best to reassure them, too, before he went on his way.

“I liked that one,” Wyn commented as they entered the vortex again and noted that they were travelling back in time from that point in the mid twenty-first century. That made sense, since it was the late 20th century that The Doctor had spent most of his time on Earth. “But then… they’re all him. We’re bound to like them all, aren’t we?”

“Any other circumstances we wouldn’t be allowed to meet them at all,” Jamie pointed out. “It’s not a good thing to cross anyone’s personal time line, and HIS time line is even more dangerous.”

“We don’t have any choice. We’re landing again, by the way. I’m starting to feel it in my bones. We’ve never had so many short trips in one day. I hope the TARDIS doesn’t mind.”

“It’s for HIM. The TARDIS won’t mind,” Stella replied. “Where are we this time?”

“1970,” Wyn answered. “That must mean we’re looking for the Third Doctor. That was when he was exiled to Earth. The year before mum met him.”

“So he’s not going to get upset because I look like somebody he knows,” Stella noted. “Good. It’s kind of weird when people think I’m my mum.”

“I wonder where he is,” Jamie commented as he checked the lifesigns detector and found nothing but sheep in the immediate area. The TARDIS seemed to be parked up on a quiet country road flanked by green fields. And there was no Time Lord present anywhere.

“He wouldn’t be in his TARDIS,” Wyn said. “This was the time when he was banished to Earth and his TARDIS wasn’t working. He went about in an old yellow car.”

“That one by any chance?” Jamie stood at the door, looking out on the sunny afternoon as a yellow vintage car appeared over the rise in the far distance. It approached far more rapidly than they expected a vintage car to move. And to their complete surprise it didn’t so much as slow down as it passed the TARDIS.

“It’s only 1970, of course!” Wyn noted. “They still use these for real police boxes. And he knows his own one is at U.N.I.T. HQ.”

“Well, he’ll know this one is unusual when it starts chasing after him,” Jamie noted. “You’re the best at hover mode.”

As it happened, The Doctor DIDN’T notice the TARDIS rapidly catching up with him along the road. He was too concerned with looking directly up above him.

“What’s that?” Wyn asked as the environmental monitor beeped rapidly. “Oooh! It’s a UFO. He’s CHASING a UFO. Or it’s chasing him, maybe?”

“Let’s have a look,” Jamie said, opening up her wristlet and producing a hologram picture of the ship the TARDIS was registering. “I don’t know what it is. I’ve never seen one like it.”

“The TARDIS has,” Stella said, reading the database. “Apparently it’s a Zisafian Harvester. The Doctor encountered one before.” She looked at the date on the data entry. “Ah… He encountered it today… June 28th, 1970. THIS is his first time with one of them.”

“What do they do?” Wyn asked.

“They… harvest… people….” Stella answered. “Oh, I don’t like the SOUND of THAT.

“Neither does he, look!” Jamie pointed to the viewscreen. Wyn halted the TARDIS with a bit of a bump before it collided with the yellow car that had come to a sudden stop. The Doctor was struggling to get out of it as something fell from the space ship hovering overhead. It looked like strands of angel hair off a Christmas tree, except that wherever it landed it turned to a hard, plastic-like substance. The Doctor found himself and his car caked in a layer of it.

“We’d better help him,” Wyn said. “Sonics at the ready. K9….” She opened the door and wasn’t surprised to see a layer of the same white stuff blocking the exit. K9’s laser dealt with that, but they needed to be more subtle on The Doctor and his car.

“Quickly,” Stella cried out. “He’ll suffocate.”

“No, he won’t,” Wyn told her. “He’s doing that thing with recycled air that he does. But let’s figure out how to get this stuff off him, fast.”

“Setting 65$45,” Jamie said as she wielded The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. “Look, it loosens and softens it.”

“Ok,” Wyn decided. “I’ll take care of The Doctor. You… Oh, look… in the field, the sheep and the poor sheepdog. You two help THEM.”

Stella and Jamie ran to the aid of the livestock as Wyn carefully aimed her sonic pen at The Doctor’s face, pulling the stuff away from his eyes, nose and mouth.

“Come on!” she said anxiously. “You ARE just doing the recycling thing, aren’t you? Because otherwise I’m going to have to do mouth to mouth and I hate doing that.”

“I shall save you the embarrassment, then,” The Doctor replied. “Thank you very much for your help.”

“Keep still a while longer,” she told him. “You’re well wrapped up in this stuff. What IS it anyway? What’s the idea?”

“A very unpleasant way to kill their prey without bullets or poison to spoil the flavour,” The Doctor answered. “I WAS the prey. Apparently they believed a Time Lord for supper would be an appetising change from regular humans. Zisafians are nasty creatures. They’re only two and a half feet tall, but they have teeth like a piranha. They can strip a carcass in minutes. And I was going to be that carcass until you turned up.”

“Lucky for all of us,” Wyn told him. “But what about the Zisafians? Will they be back?”

“I don’t think so,” The Doctor answered. “I led them away from the town, to avoid any civilian casualties. But they’re a target even U.N.I.T. couldn’t miss.”

As he said that, there was an ear-splitting explosion and the burning spaceship plummeted towards a ploughed field where it made a huge crater on impact. At the same moment a tank rumbled into view followed by a land rover and two three ton lorries that soldiers poured out of. They spread out across the ploughed field where the remains of the crashed space ship were.

“They’re covering up the evidence of a space ship crash?”

“Best not to scare people,” The Doctor answered. Jamie and Stella were almost finished with the sheep, now. The dog licked their hands in gratitude and set about rounding up its flock. “Can I give you young people a lift somewhere?”

“No,” Wyn told him. “Actually, we need you to do something much more important. That’s why we’re here.” And she pointed to the TARDIS and began once more to explain their mission. Of course he came at once and his part was easily accomplished. Then he stood up and looked around at the console room.

“How strange it looks,” he mused. “But it IS a fully functioning type 40 TARDIS?” His face took on an excited look. “I could get away from this planet… my freedom…”

Wyn saw his expression and remembered some of the stories her mother had told her about The Doctor. Not the childhood tales at bedtime, but later, when they had swapped stories as equals, Time Lord companions, both. Her mum had described how angry and frustrated The Doctor had been when his people banished him to Earth. How he fought against his imprisonment any way he could.

“No,” she said. “No, you can’t. This isn’t your TARDIS yet. But it won’t be long. Really it won’t. The Time Lords WILL forgive you. You will have your freedom. Just… just be patient. And… when you get your new assistant, when the one called Liz goes back to Cambridge… be patient with her, too.”

“You’re quite right,” he said with a sad sigh. “For a while there, I thought… but you are perfectly right. I can’t. Still… we shall meet again. Until then…” He shook hands with her and with Jamie and Stella, and he was gone. They watched him drive off in his bright yellow car that Wyn knew he called Bessie. Then they were on their way again, too.

“This is ODD, you know,” Jamie reported as he looked at the drive computer. “We still have FOUR Doctors to meet, but there are only two presets. Did Nine get it wrong?”

“The Doctor wouldn’t get something wrong,” Stella insisted. “At least he does get things wrong sometimes. But not THAT wrong. Not when it’s so important.”

“Should we call him?” Wyn wondered, reaching for the mobile.

“Let’s find out where we are first,” Jamie suggested. “Maybe the version of The Doctor we meet there will be able to tell us what’s going on.”

The time rotor stilled as they materialised. Jamie reported that they were in the City of Manchester in the summer of 2007.

“Summer?” Stella queried as she noted the external temperature and the grey, sullen sky from which rain was coming down in force.

“Yes,” Wyn sighed. “I remember it. Twice. First time round when I was fourteen and the summer camp I was looking forward to got washed out. And then when I came with The Doctor to investigate WHY it was so wet. Unfortunately it wasn’t any kind of alien interference, just grotty weather, so he couldn’t do anything about it.”

“Tell you what,” Jamie said. “There’s another TARDIS right nearby. In fact…”

They stepped outside and discovered that their TARDIS had become the last in a row of identical police boxes, underneath a sign declaring that the nearby building was the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

“Three TARDISes?” Wyn noted. “Three Doctors? Or is this a convention for police box owners?”

“Three TARDISes,” Jamie answered, looking at her wristlet. “And three non-Humans with double heartbeats in THERE.” She pointed to an annexe to the museum with the words ‘Coffee Shop’ visible through the driving rain.

“Looks good to me.” Wyn said. “Hang on, I’ve got a text…” She reached for her phone and accessed the message.”It’s from Nine. He said that he sent a retrospective homing signal to three of his past incarnations – the three least likely to argue if they’re in the same time zone. He says it will save us a bit of time. He also says Good Luck with them.”

“Well, that was nice of him!” Stella noted. “Anyway, it’s not raining in THERE.”

They stepped into the coffee bar, noticing how cold and wet they had got in the few yards they had walked from the TARDIS. They stood and looked around. It was quite busy, but even so there were three men who were quite easy to spot even without Jamie’s lifesigns detector, because all three of them seemed to have been regenerated without a fashion gene.

The least strange outfit was worn by the one Stella recognised straight away as the Fifth Doctor. Cricket whites and a cream coloured jumper and coat wouldn’t have looked out of place on a sunnier day. The stick of celery on the lapel was the really silly bit.

Opposite him was a man with blonde, curling hair who looked like he had mugged a clown for his outfit. Its most practical component on this day was a multi-coloured umbrella that was propped next to his seat.

The third looked a bit more normal, a middle aged man in a duffel coat, but he, too had an umbrella, with a handle shaped like a question mark. His jumper underneath the coat also had question marks. He looked like a slightly bohemian university professor. The sort that would be a really nice teacher with loads of jokes and anecdotes to lighten the curriculum.

They were sitting in silence, looking at each other over rapidly cooling coffees. They looked like three people who had nothing left to say to each other. There was a distinctly tense atmosphere.

Then they decided they DID have something to say to each other and what looked like round three or four of the same argument broke out, accusing each other of causing the paradox that brought them together.

“Least likely to argue?” Jamie said scornfully.

“Excuse me,” Wyn said, walking right up to them. “Doctor… Doctors… I think you’re here to meet us…”

“You sent a subspace homing signal to my TARDIS?” the blonde haired one in the clown costume asked. “Surely not?”

“No, we didn’t,” Jamie said. “YOU did. Well, one of you, anyway. And another one of you is in trouble. So… if there’s a problem between the three of you, put it aside, because it’s not important right now.”

“Wow!” Stella gasped. “Jamie, you can’t get attitude with The Doctor. Especially not THREE Doctors.”

“Yes, I can. I’m working out how the Doctor we know, a kind, brave, fantastic man, could possibly have any connection to these three circus clowns.”

“He’s ok,” Stella said, pointing to the Fifth Doctor. “I met him before, sort of. He’s the one who looks after the children in the place with the fairground…”

The three Doctors all looked at her curiously. What she said obviously made sense to all three of them. They looked at her curiously.

“You look very familiar,” said the Sixth Doctor. “Do I know you?”

“No, not yet,” she replied. “And I am getting VERY bored with this conversation. Look, this is Wyn, she’s my sister and she’s smart. Let her explain and then we can get this sorted.”

Wyn stepped forward and went through the story for what she hoped was the second last time. The three Doctors listened intently and with increasing concern.

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” Five said on behalf of all three of them. “Show us.”

 

“Why were you so horrible to each other?” Stella asked Five as they watched Six by the Zero Cabinet. “You’re all the same person, really. You’re The Doctor – and he’s a really nice man. But you were all so… I don’t know… it was like you were jealous of each other.”

“Yes, we were,” he admitted. “This sort of thing isn’t meant to happen. And when it does, there’s just a bit too much personality for comfort. Don’t… don’t think badly of… of me… us. I know we were acting stupid there. But really…”

“You’re still a nice man. But I think one of you at a time is probably better. I’ll be glad when we get OUR Doctor back. I miss him.”

“He’s lucky to have such good friends,” Seven told her as he came and stood by his earlier self. “You’re taking good care of him. Funny to think, there are actually rules that say we’re not supposed to have unauthorised people aboard the TARDIS. But without the friends I’ve known over the centuries the universe would be a cold, lonely place.”

“I’ll remind him of that when he’s being superior and big-headed,” Wyn commented. “By the way…” As Six completed his task and stood with the two others, she hit the speed dial on her mobile. “Doctor,” she said when it was answered. “There’s three guys here who’d like to tell you what they think of your idea about getting them together. And do you have any idea how wet it was in Manchester in 2007? Could you not have sent them somewhere warm with cocktails with umbrellas?”

Nine’s answer to that made her laugh. Stella managed to laugh, too. She hadn’t done that for all of the anxious hours they had been travelling. But there was only one more Doctor to find. Then it would all be right again.

“You’d better wait until we dematerialise,” Six told them. “Four TARDISes in one place makes for a tricky manoeuvre. You don’t want to get caught up in our wake. Your mission is far too important.”

They went outside and watched as the three Doctors went to the three TARDISes. Then all three came outside and went to their RIGHT TARDISes. Then they dematerialised, one by one. The rain quickly drenched the dry places where they had been. The three friends hurried back into their own TARDIS and moments later the rain drenched another dry square on the pavement.

 

“It’s still raining,” Jamie said as the TARDIS materialised again. “Earth weather! You have to love it. Still, we shouldn’t be here long. I’ve already located The Doctor. That’s him, there.”

They all looked at the man in the viewscreen. He looked middle aged, maybe fifty at the most, dressed in a brown Ulster coat that would be fashionable for a gentleman in almost any decade of the twentieth century. His head was covered by a trilby hat and he walked down the steps of a large building, hardly seeming to notice the rain.

“Is that him?” Stella asked. “This is meant to be the FIRST Doctor… before he had regenerated the first time. But I’ve seen pictures. He was a really old man. He lived with his granddaughter. She wore really cool clothes.”

“He was in his first regeneration for a long time,” Wyn explained. “Five hundred years at least. I think Nine sent us to a time before he travelled with his granddaughter. I remember him telling me once that he went off by himself for a while, after his son was married, and he felt he wasn’t needed at home any more.”

“That’s sad,” Stella said. “Poor Doctor.”

“He LOOKS sad,” Jamie added. “Right now, he looks REALLY sad.”

“He’s crying,” Stella observed. “He is. He is actually crying.”

The general public on the streets of what the computer told them was Brussels on a cold, drizzly November afternoon didn’t seem to care that a man was crying. And he didn’t seem to care that there WERE people around him. He seemed in a universe of one, and that one was not a happy man.

Neither Wyn nor Jamie noticed Stella slip outside. She pulled her coat close to her and ran towards the unhappy Time Lord.

“Doctor,” she called out. “Doctor, wait, please.”

He stopped and looked around, as she reached to take his hand. He didn’t stop her, but he seemed puzzled that she did so.

“Doctor?” he answered her quizzically. “But… Why did you call me that? Nobody calls me Doctor except…” He looked around at the building he had walked away from. Stella looked at the sign above the door and because of the TARDIS’s influence over her, she found she could read the Flemish words and knew it was a hospital. “The only man who called me that died in there an hour ago. It was a joke on his part. He named me after a character in Italian theatre – a bit of a know it all, like me. Il Dottore… The Doctor. But…” He shook his head. “Why am I telling that to a young girl I have never met before?”

“Doctor…” Stella held his hand even more tightly. “That IS your name. Your friend go it right. You ARE a know it all. You always have been. I’m sorry that he’s dead. And I’m sorry that you’re sad about it. But we need you. Will you please come with me. PLEASE.”

The Doctor looked at her hand gripped in hers and then, with his free hand, he brushed against her face. His eyes opened wide.

“You’re a time traveller. I can feel it. You’ve been in the vortex many times.”

“Yes, I have,” she said. “I’ve been in the vortex so often today I’m starting to feel time sick. That’s why you have to come right now.”

“Very well, child,” he said and allowed her to steer him towards the TARDIS. As he drew close to the blue box that had no business being in a street in Brussels he gasped in astonishment. “It’s a….” He touched the wooden door gingerly. “It’s a TARDIS? But why does it look like that? What’s wrong with the Chameleon circuit?”

“I don’t know. That’s your department,” Stella told him as she opened the door and invited him to step inside. He looked around at the console room that was a LOT different to his own one, but he seemed to accept that it WAS a TARDIS quite easily.

“Doctor,” Wyn said, stepping towards him. “Thank you for coming. We need you.”

“Another one who calls me Doctor? That’s so very strange. I’ve never… Even though I DID complete my post-graduate studies, I’ve never used that title officially. Not even among my fellow Time Lords. It really WAS just a joke between Giacomo and myself….”

“I never knew why you were called The Doctor,” Wyn said. “I even asked my mum, but she didn’t know either. But you ARE… or you will be not very far into your future. And you always WILL be. And that’s why we need you. And… sorry, this is probably more of a shock to you than any of the others….” She explained quickly the reason why they had sought him out. He looked surprised, but he understood.

“Yes, I have always been aware of it. My future… stretched before me. I’ve met some of my older incarnations from time to time. It’s rather unnerving. But only to be expected. Time and space may be almost limitless, but still our paths collide… But this one who needs me…” He stepped towards the Zero Cabinet and opened it as the others had. “Goodness me, he looks so very young. It seems a long time since I really WAS that age. And yet he must have lived so much longer and travelled so much further. What must our souls look like? With every deed and every scar etched into them that doesn’t show on our faces?”

“You have to put your hands around his face,” Jamie said. But The Doctor knew what to do, even this first version of him who had not yet reached the age where he would regenerate. He placed his hands and there was the same glow as before, but this time both their bodies were completely enveloped for a long time.

“Are you all right?” Wyn asked anxiously when the older Doctor stood up. “Is HE all right? I thought…. We all thought…”

“I thought he’d wake up,” Stella finished for her.

“The compartments of his mind need to meld together into one whole again,” The Doctor said. “He just needs a little more rest within the Cabinet. Meanwhile… Do any of you ladies know how to make tea? I feel rather in need of refreshment, and I am quite sure HE will be when he wakes.”

“I’ll do that,” Jamie said and disappeared into the inner corridor. Wyn and Stella took The Doctor to the comfortable sofa and sat with him until she returned with the tea. Stella kept looking at the Cabinet, wondering how they would know when he would be awake.

“He’ll be all right,” The Doctor assured her once again. “You’re VERY fond of him, aren’t you, young lady? I thought at first, maybe you were his… my… our own child. But I see you are Human. I always liked to have Humans around me. You have such special qualities. I just wish… You have such short lives. I seem to have had too many days like today, mourning a friend who has died. My own fault. I chose to wander and be with people other than my own kind. That’s the penalty for such friendships…”

He seemed to be rambling a little. But nobody minded. He was a nice man. Stella thought there was a lot of HER Doctor in this first one. She felt sad that so much hardship and bitterness and grief still lay ahead of him. Sad times that would change him and hurt him.

She was wondering what she could say to him when a sound distracted her. She turned to see the Zero Cabinet opening and ran to it. Wyn and Jamie watched hopefully, but they stayed back, leaving Stella to be the one to greet him. She had kept so long a vigil by him, she deserved that moment to be hers alone.

“Doctor!” she cried as he opened his eyes and looked up, blinking. “Doctor, are you all right?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered. “I feel quite all right. I feel like I have slept for a week.”

Stella reached and helped him to sit up and then stand up, stepping out of the Cabinet.

“Do you know what happened to you?” she asked. “Do you know what we had to do?”

“Yes, I do,” he told her. “And I thank you for it.” He kissed her cheek, to her delight. Then he looked around. He saw his earlier incarnation with Wyn and Jamie. “Oh! Oh, hello. I… Thank you for…” He frowned slightly and went to the console. He looked at the temporal date. “November 29th, 1924. And… we’re in Brussels. The day Giacomo Puccini died. I came to see him, to say goodbye. Not that I DID say that. He didn’t know he was dying. But I was with him…” He looked at his other self. “It was a strange day. An ending. This planet was a darker, less joyous place without him. It was the day I decided to go back home to Gallifrey. I felt the pull of family and home as I never had before. But it was a beginning, too. It was the first day anybody – anybody other than Giacomo, anyway - called me Doctor.” He looked at Stella and smiled as if there was a secret between the two of them.

“The first time,” the other Doctor said with a matching smile. “And yet, when this child called that name to me, in the street, I answered. It seemed to fit – perhaps better than the name I was born with, as proud a name as that is.”

“So… STELLA is the one who named you?” Jamie put into words what she and Wyn were thinking. “Today… in Brussels, in the rain… you became The Doctor.”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered. “Yes, I did. Is that tea? I could really use some tannins and free radicals right now. And then… if I remember, I left the TARDIS in the Meirpark. I always used to park there. Because in 1935 it was renamed Astridpark, and that’s an anagram of Tardis Park, and that’s sort of… like an invitation to park there. And…” He stopped as he noticed even his first incarnation go a bit glassy eyed at his rambling chatter. “Anyway, we can give you a lift there, if you like.”

“Thank you,” the First Doctor answered. “But I think the rain is clearing and I’d quite like to walk. Would you all like to come out for a bit of fresh air with me? The young lady there was saying she was feeling a bit time sick after their adventure and it would do you good to step out onto solid ground for a little while, too.”

“That’s an even BETTER idea,” The Doctor answered. “Let me get my coat. Do you remember this coat. Janis Joplin gave it me… when I was you… only a bit younger…”

“He’s a bit hyperactive,” the first Doctor observed. “The effects of the re-integration of his mind, I suppose. He’ll calm down in a little while.”

“No,” Wyn replied. “He’s always like that. And we wouldn’t have him any other way!”