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

On a foggy night in November, two teachers left their school in the East End of London together. They were the last members of the faculty to leave. The school was left silent and still and, with the lights off, pitch dark.

It wasn’t quite fully light in the morning when a cleaner entered the science room where the two teachers had been talking about a problem student before heading off. She picked up a piece of paper that somebody had dropped ink all over as if trying to create some kind of ‘modern’ art. This wasn’t the art class so the cleaner considered it to be rubbish and put it in the bin before she carried on cleaning.

She paused in her work and looked around the classroom, wondering where the odd noise had come from, like a clogged up vacuum cleaner. She saw a pile of exercise books slither off a shelf and picked them up. There was some sort of toy next to them, shaped like a police public call box. She didn’t bother to wonder what it was doing there. But it was heavy enough to hold the books on the shelf so she put it on top of them and got on with her work.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory stood up cautiously. The TARDIS seemed to have settled down now.

“What happened?” Rory asked. “I thought we’d stopped moving. The time rotor thingy was still. And then we were all over the place again.”

“I’m not sure what happened,” The Doctor replied. “But it’s stopped now, so it should be all right. The scanner is reading what I laughingly call ‘Earth normal’ atmosphere, although there are some rather high concentrations of chemicals...”

“We’re in a classroom,” Rory said looking at what he had laughingly called ‘the round window’ – the big circular viewscreen showing what was outside. He could see chairs and desks, test tubes and Bunsen burners. “The science room. Does the TARDIS think we need to brush up on o’level chemistry?”

He turned and watched Amy open the door and step outside. He made to follow her, and was surprised when she ran back inside.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “Did you get a d-merit for lateness?”

“N... n... no,” she stammered. “We’re... we’re... Doctor... there’s something really, really wrong... either with us or with the world.”

Rory reached the door a few seconds before The Doctor. He had a few moments more to take it in. But his response was no more intelligible than Amy’s.

“What... how... but... it can’t be...” he stammered.

“Ooops,” The Doctor said.

“Ooops?” Amy dared to come as far as the door, but she wasn’t stepping out there again, not for anyone. “That’s all you can say? Ooops? We’ve shrunk. We’re tiny. We’re on a shelf on top of a pile of school books that look like room sized rugs.”

“I wonder how big we actually are,” Rory said. He picked his way across the slippery paper surface of the exercise books and slid off them. He found a ruler and, with some effort, stood it up on end like a ladder. He stood beside it.

“Five inches,” he said. “I’m five inches tall. I’m an action figure. We’re all five inch action figures.”

“Either that, or we’re in the land of the giants where an inch is more like a yard,” Amy suggested.

“No, we’re five inches,” The Doctor confirmed. “I know for two reasons. First, because there’s no such thing as a land of giants. At least not in this sort of dimension. The tallest humanoids in the universe are the Overgans in the Messian sector. Their adults are never less than ten foot tall. Had a couple of them in the TARDIS once, just dropped in for tea. They kept bumping their heads on the doors. Very nice about it, didn’t sue...”

He stopped rambling about reason number one and was about to start on reason number two that proved they were small rather than the world huge, when Rory fell off the shelf. Amy screamed and ran to the edge. It was a dizzying drop to the linoleum tiled floor of the classroom and she couldn’t see Rory anywhere.

“It’s all right,” The Doctor said, kneeling and peering over carefully. “He landed on the next shelf down. Good job those jars are sealed. They’ve all got very nasty labels on them. Rory in an acid bath wouldn’t be nice at all...”

“Is he ok?” Amy asked. “Doctor...”

“He’s unconscious. He must have bumped his head. But I’m pretty sure he’s breathing. Quick... run into the TARDIS and grab some rope and the first aid kit. I’ll have to go down to him.”

“Why can’t we just take the TARDIS down to him?”

“Lots of complicated reasons to do with dimensional anomalies,” The Doctor replied. “Sorry, but we’re going to have to do it the hard way.”

Amy sighed and went to fetch the rope and first aid kit. The Doctor looked at Rory again. Yes, he was starting to regain consciousness. It was a bad fall, but not as bad as it could have been. The floor looked extremely hard and extremely far away. That would have been fatal.

While he was waiting for Amy he looked down at the surface beneath his own feet again and remembered reason number two. This was a massive coincidence, and he didn’t like coincidences.

Amy brought the rope. The Doctor tied it firmly to a brass hook screwed into the edge of the shelf. It made a serviceable anchor. Then he slung the strap of the first aid kit around his shoulder and got ready to abseil down.

“Go back inside the TARDIS,” The Doctor told Amy. “You’ll be safe there. We’ll be back as soon as possible.”

“As soon as possible is worse than ‘five minutes’,” Amy told him. “It’s a promise you don’t even have to try to keep. Just make sure he’s all right. Or... or I’ll sue. I’m sure there must be something about TARDIS travel that guarantees passenger safety.”

“Only for registered passengers,” The Doctor replied. “I’ve never filled in the papers. Nobody ever stays long enough to make it worth it.”

He took hold of the rope and dropped down. Amy leaned over and watched to make sure he reached the next shelf safely and didn’t have to be rescued as well, then she turned and went into the TARDIS, closing the door behind her.

The Doctor landed awkwardly, but with nothing broken, scraped or sprained. He hurried to where Rory was lying on a pad of litmus paper. He used the sonic screwdriver in analysis mode to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Then he adjusted the setting and used emergency tissue repair mode to fix the concussion that would have led to a serious oedema if left untreated. He used the ordinary first aid kit on the assorted bruises and abrasions elsewhere on Rory’s body. He only used the sonic’s function for life-threatening injuries when there was no chance of immediate medical help. Anything further would be cheating.

“I’ve got the mother of all headaches,” Rory complained as he sat up and tried to decide which bit of him was the most sore. “Could have been worse, though, I suppose?”

“Much worse. The bad news is you’ve got to climb a rope back up to the TARDIS.”

“Oh.” Rory looked at the rope and thought about the drop. “Don’t fancy that. Why didn’t you just bring the TARDIS down here?”

“Lot’s of complicated reasons to do with dimensional anomalies.” The Doctor gave the same answer as he did when Amy asked the question. “Come on, we need to get up there quickly. It isn’t safe for us to be away from the TARDIS for long.”

The words ‘why not’ were on Rory’s lips when The Doctor grabbed him by the shirt collar and made him duck down behind a jar of cyanide impregnated cotton wool balls with a skull and cross bone label. The reason was soon obvious. Students were pouring into the classroom.

“First years,” Rory said with undisguised dislike. “Noisy lot.”

Indeed, the students were very noisy as they took up seats around the room, and they got even noisier as they realised that their teacher wasn’t in the room and didn’t seem to be arriving any time soon. They started to move around, touching things that they obviously couldn’t touch when there was an adult present. One boy was dancing with the plastic skeleton that was the mainstay of biology. Another opened a jar of something disgusting and slimy and flung them at a group of girls. Another boy drew close to the shelf they were hiding on. Then he reached higher. Rory and The Doctor both gasped in horror but didn’t dare move as the boy’s hand came down again clutching the miniaturised TARDIS with Amy locked inside.

“What’s that, Finchy?” another boy asked.

“Some kind of model,” Finchy replied. “Don’t know what old Chesty had it for. But I’m keeping it.”

The boy slipped the TARDIS into his pocket. Just as he did so, the classroom door opened and a teacher walked in. The students all hurriedly tried to look as if they were behaving, but too much of their mischief was obvious.

“I’ve never seen such disgraceful behaviour,” she told them, stepping over a puddle of slime from one of the biology specimens. “Mr Chesterton is absent today, for... reasons that are none of your business. You’ll be having registration in room Four B. Pick up your bags and coats and come with me right now. Finch, Carter and Melling, you will be coming back here at break to clean up this disgusting mess. Now get a move on, all of you, or you’ll be sent up to the headmaster’s office.”

The students began to gather their belongings together and make their way out of the classroom. The Doctor and Rory peered out from behind the cyanide balls and gloomily watched Finch transfer the TARDIS to his school satchel before heading for the door.

“We are in trouble, aren’t we?” Rory said as the room went quiet again.

“We are in huge, huge trouble,” The Doctor said. “You have no idea how much trouble. Depending on how far away room Four B is, I may have time to explain just how much trouble we’re in. But first, we’d better get down off this shelf.”

He looked at the rope still hanging down from the top shelf. It was held fast by a very good knot. He reached for his sonic screwdriver and adjusted the setting. The sonic was sold with a manual that listed 10,000 uses. Knot untying was one of the extra ones he had written into the appendix. The loosened rope fell to his feet. He tied it to another handy hook and dropped the end. It reached as far as the next shelf down.

Rory said nothing. He certainly wasn’t going to say that he was rubbish at rope climbing at school. He followed The Doctor down, far more slowly and gingerly.

“Now what?” he asked. “This is the last shelf. After this it’s just a long drop to the floor. Longer than the rope.”

“No problem,” The Doctor said. He was already tugging at a reel of string that, from their perspective, was as thick as a rope. He made it fast and they repeated the process. The string was just as strong as a rope, but it was the rough, hairy sort used for tying parcels and at their scale the loose fibres cut their hands as they slowly descended to the floor.

“We left the first aid kit on the top shelf,” Rory noted as he pulled a fibre out of his palm and tried to stanch the bleeding.

“Tissue repair mode.” The Doctor adjusted the sonic screwdriver again. This wasn’t strictly life threatening, but they didn’t need bleeding hands with all the other problems they had to face.

“The immediate problem is getting to room Four B,” The Doctor explained as he mended Rory’s hands. “And we don’t have all day to do it. The TARDIS materialised in the wrong dimensions, and we were, obviously, shrunk down to this size with it. Our atoms have been compressed to an intolerable degree. Outside the TARDIS, our bodies will only put up with that for so long before it kills us in a very unpleasant and devastating way.”

“Devastating just to us... or to other people, too?”

“To other people.” The first aid done The Doctor began to walk across the classroom, skirting the pools of biology specimens and formaldehyde. “Think of the amount of matter our full sized bodies contain suddenly exploding outwards with the force of a small nuclear device.”

“You mean we could nuke this school?”

“We could nuke most of the East End of London.”

“How do you know we’re in the East End of London?” Rory asked. “This school could be anywhere.”

“This is Coal Hill School, in Shoreditch,” The Doctor replied. “And it’s November, 1963.

“And you know that because...”

“Up on the top shelf, the exercise books we were standing on had the name of the school printed on them. And it’s November 1963, because that’s when the science teacher, Mr Ian Chesterton, didn’t turn up for class. He was in the stone age with me.”

“Right. So you’ve been here before.”

“Funnily enough I was never in this school when Ian worked here. I came back later, years later. In two weeks time, a faction of Daleks are going to cause trouble around here. As I recall, this classroom will get severely damaged. But we don’t have to worry about that. Either we’re long gone by then or....”

“Or the East End of London is nuked. In which case... the Daleks won’t have anywhere to cause trouble. Does that mean... well, if you were here two weeks from now, then we must make it, right? Besides, I think I’d know if the East End blew up half a century before I was born.”

“Time isn’t constant,” The Doctor replied. “Events can be changed. Our being here, our bodies blowing the area to smithereens, could change everything. It could happen. Which is another good reason not to let that happen. Quite apart from the fact that I don’t want that to happen. I’m only a thousand years old. I’m too young to be smithereened.”

“Then you’d better figure a way out of this one,” Rory told him. He pointed to the door. It was closed. It was made of wood panels that a concerted kick from a really angry student could make a hole in, but for five inch high people it was an impossible barrier.

“Nothing is ever impossible,” The Doctor said. “Well, some things are meant to be. But they very often aren’t.”

“So open this dratted door, then,” Rory insisted.

The Doctor looked at the sonic screwdriver and chose another setting.

“You know, the sonic was never intended to be an everyday tool. I remember a time when I only used it occasionally. In fact, I went for two centuries without one once, when the tereleptils destroyed the one I had and I was too busy to pop into the shop and buy a new one.”

He started to cut a hole in the wood panelling with a laser beam. The smell of burnt wood was pungent to them, but it probably wouldn’t be enough for the normal sized people to notice.

“I’m not going to comment, I’m really not,” Rory said. Then he did, anyway. “There’s a shop where you can buy sonic screwdrivers?”

“Used to be,” The Doctor answered. “These days they don’t bother. It’s easier to order online.”

“And... where does the postman bring your online purchases?” Rory asked. The Doctor didn’t answer. He had scored a rough circle in the wood and now he was pushing at it. Rory lent his shoulder to the effort and the circle pushed out leaving a hole. The Doctor peered through and reported that the coast was clear before clambering through. Rory followed.

“Ok, which way is Four B?” he asked, looking both ways down a school corridor with doors every few yards. To them, even one of the floor tiles was room sized. It would be a trek even if Four B was right next door.

“It’s...” The Doctor licked his finger and held it in the air. Rory gave an impatient sigh. There was no way that was going to work.

Then a bell rang. The Doctor grabbed Rory and pushed him into a recess in the skirting board. Moments later there was a noise like thunder as fifty or more students stomped past, their patent leather shoes capable of dealing sudden and painful death to any five inch organic being incautious enough to be in their way. The sound was intercut with a sharper noise of a teacher calling out warnings like ‘walk, don’t run’ and ‘no talking’.

After what felt like an eternity the corridor went quiet again.

“It’s assembly,” Rory pointed out. “That used to take about half an hour at my school. We’ve got a chance.”

“Finchy went past,” The Doctor added. “He came from that direction. And he wasn’t carrying his satchel.”

“Course not. Bringing bags to assembly unless it was swimming right after was a hanging offence at my school,” Rory noted. He followed The Doctor along the edge of the corridor. Stepping out into the middle was just too terrifying. The wide expanse of linoleum tile was a desert they didn’t want to have to face.

“Four A,” Rory said after what seemed an eternity, “That room opposite us is Four A. The next one must be Four B.”

The next door was six yards away, but it looked like a quarter mile.

“Cross over, while we can,” The Doctor said. “It’s getting on for twenty minutes. Assembly will be over, soon.”

They ran for it, across the terrifying nothingness scuffed and scarred by hundreds of feet pounding it daily. They were doing fine until a foot from the far skirting board when Rory got his foot caught in a discarded polo mint and tripped. The Doctor paused and lifted him to his feet and dragged him the last few paces to the safety of another niche in the skirting board before the noise of returning students was heard again.

“Doctor,” Rory said. “We made a mistake. I just saw Finchy go into that room opposite. The room numbers must alternate, left to right. Four B is back over the corridor.”

“Yes,” The Doctor sighed. “I just worked that out, too.”

“And another thing,” Rory added. “They were just in there for registration. They’ll be picking up their bags and going to another class. We’ve got no chance of reaching Finchy’s satchel even if we risk being crushed to get into that room.”

“Yes,” The Doctor sighed again. “I’d worked that out, as well.”


“So... this is fate,” The Doctor said. “It’s hubris. It’s the final irony that I should meet my death right here in this place, as a consequence of my own actions. If I hadn’t whisked Chesterton away last night, leaving his class teacherless this morning, Finchy’s satchel would have been in the science room all through assembly and we’d have just had to cross the floor and hop into the TARDIS. It’s all my fault. My past has caught up with me with a vengeance.”

“Exactly how long ago did all this happen?” Rory asked. “In your time, that is. Not here.”

“About.... four hundred and something years,” The Doctor replied. “Depending on whether you mean Earth years or Galactic Standard or the Time Lord calendar...”

“I only ask out of morbid curiosity, you understand,” Rory said. “Because we’ve got nothing else to do but wait to explode. Do I have time before that happens to find out why you went around picking up science teachers in your younger days?”

“I didn’t ‘pick him up’ in that sense,” The Doctor replied indignantly. “Actually, there was a female teacher, too. Barbara Wright. She taught history. Nice lady. Her class will be a teacher short, too.”

“Sort of... like me and Amy then?” Rory pointed out. “You went off around the universe with this couple... What happened to them? Did they ever get back here? Did they still have jobs when they did?”

“Not in this school,” The Doctor admitted. “Everything was just too complicated by the time they returned. I checked up on them a couple of years back and retrospectively got Ian a job at a nice private school in the countryside. With married quarters. Of course, back in this time, women had to stop teaching when they got married. But I don’t think Barbara minded.”

“Well, lucky them. They got a happy ending. Unlike us if we don’t get a break soon.”

Four B’s door opened and the students started to stream out. They saw the boy called Finchy walk past, and it looked like all hope was lost. Then one of the other boys was called back by the teacher. He dropped his satchel on the floor as he listened half heartedly to a lecture about tardiness. The Doctor and Rory broke cover and reached the satchel. The Doctor used the sonic screwdriver in laser mode to make a small hole in the leather, hoping neither pupil nor teacher would notice the burning smell. They climbed inside among the paraphernalia of an eleven year old school boy.

“There’s a big hole in the side of his bag,” Rory pointed out. “He’s going to notice if all his stuff falls out.”

“Give me a hand with this,” The Doctor replied, pushing an apple that was nearly as big as he was. Rory heaved with him and the apple successfully blocked the hole. The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver in penlight mode to illuminate the leather-walled space they shared with a collection of books, a pencil case, a half of a kitkat bar hastily re-wrapped in its foil and an open packet of cigarettes with a matchbook wedged inside.

“Well, at least we won’t get stepped on,” Rory pointed out as he wedged his back against a maths text book and tried not to mind the swaying and bumping as the boy rushed to catch up with his friends. “But we could be squished. I always thought I got too much homework. But this is ridiculous.”

The Doctor peeled back the wrapping from the kitkat bar and broke two pieces off.

“Comfort food,” he said giving one piece to Rory. “Let’s hope this boy sits near Finchy in the next class.”

But to their dismay, when the bumping stopped they weren’t in a classroom. The satchel opened and they saw a gloomy grey sky above before the view was blocked by the face of the satchel owner. The Doctor and Rory hid behind the pencil case as the boy found his packet of cigarettes.

“I haven’t finished my maths,” the boy said to another boy. “I’m not going to the lesson just to get old Parky moaning at me. It’s PE after. I don’t mind that. We don’t get PE homework.”

The other boy, whose name, apparently, was Tim, expressed the opinion that PE was rubbish, too. The smell of tobacco burning drifted down into the satchel.

“PE,” Rory said. “I just hope Finchy doesn’t think that’s rubbish. His satchel will be in the changing room. We’ll have time.”

“It’s our only chance,” The Doctor agreed. “As long as our bodies can withstand the pressure.”

“How would we know if they weren’t?” Rory asked. “Would it be instant or would we start getting muscle spasms or headaches or something? Will we have any warning of impending explosive force?”

“Probably not. Since your Human body is more fragile than mine, the chances are you’ll start to go first. But that won’t be much help to me, since you’ll probably start a chain reaction.”

“That is no comfort at all. Besides...”

They stopped talking and drew back against the books as a hand was thrust into the satchel, hiding the cigarettes.

“Oi, Dobson, you scared the wick out of me,” complained the boy. “I thought it was Poky Parsons on the prowl.”

“He’s too busy talking to the police,” Dobson replied. “Here, Donny, give us one of your smokes and I’ll tell you about it. I heard the whole thing. I was outside his office waiting to see him about my homework and he sent me off without a word.”

“If he sent you off, how do you know anything?” Donny queried, but his hand retreated again and there was a sound of a match flaring and a fresh waft of smoke.

“Stuck around and listened. Old Chesty’s done a runner with Miss Wright and one of the fifth year girls.”

“He hasn’t!” Donny and Tim protested loudly before remembering that they were having a secret smoke.

“He has. His car was found abandoned near her address and none of them turned up today.”

“If his car is at her house, where did they go, and how?” Donny pointed out. He seemed to have the brains of the three and asked the obvious questions. But the idea of a scandal in the school took hold of their imaginations and they speculated about it all the way up to the bell indicating the end of the hated maths lesson. Donny put his last cigarette away and fastened his satchel. The Doctor and Rory held tight as they moved off again.

“You took a girl, as well?” Rory asked The Doctor accusingly.

“I was allowed to take her,” The Doctor replied defensively. “She was my granddaughter.”

The Doctor looked about the same age as Rory. That statement made no sense at all. But quite a lot of what he said didn’t.

“Look, the teachers followed Susan, being nosy about her home life. They stumbled into the TARDIS. I couldn’t let them give the game away. Not in the 1960s, with the Cold War and UFO paranoia. We’d have ended up at Torchwood being dissected or something. So I had to get away.”

“You kidnapped the two teachers?”

“No,” The Doctor insisted. “Well, yes. I suppose so. But... they enjoyed it. Most of the time. Look, I didn’t kidnap you, did I? It’s not something I make a habit of.”

“Yeah, but...” Rory gave up. He said nothing else. He clung to Donny’s pencil case and fought off nausea until the swinging movement stopped and the sound of boys’ voices proved that they were in the changing room.

“It’s... a good job we weren’t in a girl’s satchel,” Rory said as he shifted the apple and peered out. “By the way, how are we supposed to know which one belongs to Finchy? One satchel is like another. Not like in my time when everyone has different stuff.”

“I have been piloting that TARDIS for the best part of a millennia,” The Doctor replied.

“With kidnapped teachers pressed ganged into your crew?”

“Not all the time. Sometimes people ASKED to come with me. Anyway, the point is, I am symbiotic with it. I will know where it is instinctively. Trust me.”

It went quiet outside. They pushed the apple out of the hole and peered out. The coast was clear. And as luck would have it Donny had left his satchel on the floor under the bench.

But Finchy obviously had more regard for his property. The Doctor looked up mournfully at the satchel hooked on a peg high above his head.

“We should have kept that string,” Rory pointed out.

“Shoelaces,” The Doctor replied, apparently at random before Rory realised what he meant. There were plenty of shoes left under the bench. It was hard work pulling the laces out, but they managed to knot enough together to make a long, serviceable rope.

“Right, stand back,” The Doctor said, and twirled the end of the laces around his head like a lasso. It was quite impressive, and it got all of two feet into the air before it fell down again. “Oh... well... er...”

“How about this?” Rory ducked under the bench and pulled something out of another satchel. It was heavy, and The Doctor came to help him.

“It.... might just do,” The Doctor admitted. “You hold down the end. Keep it steady.”

The boys’ catapult was as big as a two man medieval ballista to The Doctor and Rory. Just getting it into position was hard work. Then The Doctor attached the shoelace end to a paper clip Rory found in the same satchel as the catapult – ammunition - and loaded it onto the elastic band. He pulled back with all the strength of his allegedly superior Time Lord body and let go. The shoelace rope with its paperclip grapple sailed up in the air and caught on the very same hook that Finchy’s satchel was attached to.

“At last, something is going right,” Rory sighed. The Doctor tested the rope and thought it would take their weight. He set off first. Rory followed, much slower. Going down a rope was considerably easier than going up it. His first attempt failed and he slithered down again. Then he thought about exploding and taking out the East End of London.

“Come on, Rory, old son, you can do it,” he told himself and grasped the shoelace again. He made it to the first knot and clung on getting his second wind.

The Doctor was way ahead of him, looking like he learned to climb ropes the same day he learnt to walk. He reached the bottom of Finchy’s satchel and picked a spot to start burning a hole.

“Doctor, hurry,” Rory called out. “I think somebody is coming.”

The Doctor cut through the leather as fast as he could. He was relieved to see the TARDIS door right inside as he pulled the thick piece of satchel away. He reached into his pocket for his key, but the door opened. Amy was standing on the threshold.

“About time,” she told him. “I couldn’t get out, and the TARDIS is making really funny noises. And I don’t mean funny jokes. I mean funny, like it might implode any moment.”

“I can hear,” The Doctor said. “It’s not good. We only have seconds. Quick, help me haul Rory up.”

“There’s a kid watching us,” Rory shouted as The Doctor and Amy started to pull the shoelace rope and he clung on for dear life. The boy was Finchy, the one who had stolen the TARDIS in the first place. He was standing in the middle of the changing room staring at the five inch tall people leaning out of a hole in his satchel to pull another man up on a very odd looking rope. Then he stepped closer. Rory gulped as the boy peered closely at him and then reached out and grabbed him. Amy screamed. The Doctor got ready to use the laser mode of his sonic screwdriver on an eleven year old boy’s hand, not something that sat well with his moral code.

Then the boy set Rory down on the threshold of the open TARDIS door.

“Thanks,” Rory said to him.

“Likewise,” The Doctor added. “Now, get back out of the way, kid. Things are going to get dangerous around here. Cover your face.”

The boy hesitated and then ran to the changing room door. He covered his face with his hands as The Doctor closed the TARDIS door and ran to the console.

“Two seconds,” he said looking at the dial. “Two seconds until we returned to our normal dimensions with explosive force. We’re ok now. Inside the TARDIS, we’re protected. Look...”

They all looked at the viewscreen. They saw bits of satchel, pencils, shredded books, fly away as the TARDIS started to expand. Finchy watched from between his fingers as a full sized police box smashed the coat rail to pieces, obliterating at least four satchels, six coats, several pairs of shoes and a number of school uniforms.

The Doctor stepped outside long enough to look at the devastation.

“Believe me, it could have been a lot worse,” he said to the horrified Finchy. “A LOT worse.”

“But....” the boy began to exclaim. “But... what...”

“I wouldn’t tell anyone about this. Just toddle on back to the gym and act surprised when you all come back again. You don’t want them blaming you for it, do you?”

Finchy yanked open the changing room door and ran for it. The Doctor stepped back inside the TARDIS and very calmly closed the door before hitting the dematerialisation switch.

When they were safely in the vortex, he looked at his two companions. Rory had been filling Amy in on what they had gone through to get back to her.

“Doctor,” she said. “Seriously, you’re a grandfather.”

“Probably a great-grandfather by now,” he said. “She left me to get married to a nice young man from Dumfries. There’s a disturbing thought. My descendents are part Scots.”

“The better part,” Amy told him fiercely. “But... you’re a grandfather.... And I snogged you, once.”

The Doctor shrugged.

“How about a weekend in New Las Vegas?” he asked. “My treat. Guaranteed wins on all the roulette wheels. The owners haven’t quite worked out the flaw in their system, yet.”