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

Long ago when she first met The Doctor, Amy had learnt that there was a library in the TARDIS. There was also a swimming pool and at one point they were both in the same place.

There was no swimming pool in THIS library. Amy looked up at the domed glass roof through which she could see the Fornean Nebula, so The Doctor told them when he put the TARDIS in parking mode next to it. In six hours time, there was going to be the most spectacular nebula storm, something that made the Aurora Borealis look tame. When Rory asked what they were supposed to do for six hours, The Doctor had told them that the TARDIS had many fine amenities and they were free to explore them. Amy had decided to look for the library. The Doctor had offered to show Rory his private collection, whatever that meant.

She looked away from the ceiling, which was probably just an optical illusion. She had gone down four long flights of stairs to get here. There was no way there was a ceiling like that in the bowels of the TARDIS.

But there most certainly WAS a library. It was a rotunda style like she always imagined public libraries were meant to be, with ten floors of these galleries full of bookshelves, and far below a mosaic floor in one of those strange geometric patterns that swirled around all the viewscreens and monitors in the console room.

THIS was The Doctor’s personal library!

She was so much in awe of the size of the library that she hadn’t even looked at the books, yet.

Rory was impressed by the ‘private collection’.

“It’s a museum,” he said. “A Doctor museum. Some of this stuff looks really valuable. Is that gold?”

He stared at something like the Mask from the film of the same name, except this was made of yellow metal. He lifted it from the plinth where it lay and noted the weight.

“Gold, yes,” The Doctor replied. “But on the planet Vaga gold is as common as dirt. They don’t prize it as humans do. The value in that piece is in the workmanship. It was a gift from the emperor as a reward for curing the entire royal family of a nasty affliction.”

“What sort of affliction?”

“They were all slowly turning to gold. They had been infected by a bacterial form of the mineral and it was spreading.”

“Err,” Rory commented. “The Emperor’s name wasn’t Midas, was it?”

“No, but I’ve often wondered if there was anything in that Earth legend.”

Rory passed from the mask to a rather less precious but equally curious pair of artefacts. They were two rocks about the size of his fist, both with a smooth surface that might have been polished by hundreds of years of tides washing over them on a beach. Two strange symbols, interlocking triangles, were etched into the smoothness with such precision Rory wondered what kind of tool could have been used to do it.

“Those are Sharon Stones,” The Doctor explained.

“What... she gave them to you?” Rory asked.

“No, they are stones from the planet Sharon in the Megallion sector. Have you heard of the Rosetta Stone? I don’t mean the 1970s heavy metal band, though they weren’t bad.”

“Thing that was found in Egypt, translated the hieroglyphics or something?” Rory ventured.

“Same principle. Only the Sharon Stones translate anything. Bring one of the stones near any piece of text, no matter how ancient, and it will appear to you in your native tongue.”


“Don’t need it, of course. The TARDIS does the same job with low-level artron energy. But they’re a great party piece. Got to show you this...”

The library was organised in a way that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the Dewey Decimal System as favoured by every library Amy had ever seen before. On the floors dedicated to history, politics and physical geography, there were rows of books categorised by the planet they were written on or about. The two largest sections were labelled Earth and Gallifrey. There were also large sections for Draconia, Venusia, Jupiter, Adano-Ambrado and Ventura. There was a small section for a planet called Skaro which wasn’t physical books, but computer memory chips in neat plastic holders. Several other alien worlds seemed to prefer to keep their literature on memory chips or long cylindrical objects that looked as if they might slot into a receptacle for reading.

On another floor, Amy found the fiction section. But that wasn’t categorised alphabetically. Instead the rows were labelled as ‘favourites’.

“Susan’s Favourites,” Amy read. “Barbara’s favourites. Ian’s favourites.” Whoever those people were, Ian had a penchant for mysteries. His shelf had the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, as well as some of the more thoughtful modern thriller writers, those whose stories involved some kind of systematic, scientifically thought out method of detection.

Barbara obviously liked to chill out with a long, thick historical novel.

So did Susan, but her choices leaned more towards the hopelessly romantic. Amy compared the two rows and concluded that Susan was far younger and more idealistic than Barbara.

Other names labelled the rows, some male, mostly female. One row was very nearly empty and was the literary favourites of somebody called Leela. Beside that was a shelf for a Romana. That, also, was largely empty. Her favourite reading books were a pair of long poems written in an alien language that translated as Amy flipped through the pages and decided it was all very interesting but a bit dry and cerebral for her tastes.

She was only slightly surprised to find that there was a shelf for ‘Amy’s Favourites’. It was a long one, crammed with every single book she could ever remember reading from the first rag book with one word on each page accompanied by a picture, to her Ladybird book of Romans, a bigger book on the same subject she had read when she was a little older, the assorted fairy tales that her mother had read to her when she was little, a complete set of the Narnia Chronicles, a whole lot of Mills and Boon romances she had read when she was thirteen, and the Catherine Cookson phase she went through the year after. Then all the books she had read at school for English. All except Lord of the Flies and Merchant of Venice, because she had hated both those books and this was Amy’s Favourites, of course.

Rory’s Favourites were on the next shelf. Amy knew exactly what kind of books he liked to read. She didn’t need to look at them.

The shelf labelled ‘The Doctor’s Favourites’ was not as big as she expected. After all he had lived for hundreds of years. He must have read millions of books. But clearly not many of them were ‘favourites’. Interestingly, he had the same set of Narnia books on his shelf, and the complete works of HG Wells. The copy of The Time Machine was a first edition inscribed ‘To The Doctor, thanks for the inspiration, Herbert George.’

Things like that no longer surprised Amy. She put the book back and moved on towards a spiral staircase to the next floor – biographies!

“So, what’s this?” Rory asked. He peered into a large glass case that held a very small exhibit. It looked like a large marble with a grey-green coloured ‘eye’ embedded in it. “The Bullseye of Andromeda?”

“It’s the Anteres Minor Galaxy,” The Doctor replied. He reached into his pocket for a large magnifying glass and gave it to Rory. He examined the marble close up and gasped in astonishment.

“Hey, wow! It’s… it’s like… I mean… wow. It’s really… like the one in….”

“Yes, like in that film,” The Doctor said with a wry smile.

“It’s actually a galaxy, made up of thousands of millions of stars, inside a tiny little marble….”


“How come?”

“Because it’s safe in there,” The Doctor replied. “Among the many titles a Time Lord has, warden of causality, prince of the universe, guardian of the galaxy… The last one is literally true in my case. I’ve been looking after the galaxy for something like eight hundred years. It’s been ticking along nicely all that time. Should be all right for another fifty millennia or so.”

“But… are there people on the planets?” Rory asked. “Do they know… that they’re living inside a marble?”

“They don’t know anything about it. From their point of view, the galaxy is vast and the universe beyond it infinite.”

“So how do we know we’re not living in a bigger marble inside a glass case?” Rory asked. “How would we know?”

“You wouldn’t. I would,” The Doctor assured him. “Don’t get your head wound up with problems like that.”

Rory gazed at the galaxy for a little longer before giving the magnifying glass back to The Doctor and moving on to the next curious item in the collection.

The biography section wasn’t exactly what Amy was expecting. It didn’t have books about kings and queens or celebrities and sporting heroes. Instead, the biographies were of ordinary people who The Doctor knew or had known at some time in his life. Most of them had multiple volumes, organised by year. Amy picked out one of them, the most recent volume of the life of Sarah Jane Smith. She flicked through the pages. At least three quarters of the pages were blank. She found the last one in which anything was written and read it curiously.

“Sarah Jane sat under the gazebo in her back garden and looked up at the clear, starry sky. Even in the middle of Ealing, with so much light pollution, she could still clearly see the meteor shower that had brought her out there on a cold winter night. It was a beautiful sight. Even so, her mind drifted to the times when she had travelled in the TARDIS and had seen the universe from much closer than that. As she so often did, she thought about The Doctor, wondering where he was now, and whether he had any friends travelling with him. She hoped so. He needed somebody with him. The universe was too big a place to be alone in.”

Amy found a big squashy armchair with a table lamp on a little table beside it and sat in it as she went on reading.

“She went indoors after a while. She made herself a cup of cocoa and took it to her bedroom. She drank the cocoa in bed, while reading her emails on her laptop. There was one from her son, Luke, telling her all about the field study he was doing as part of his university coursework. Another was from her friend Jo who was on a safari trip across South Africa. The rest were Google alerts about unusual phenomena. Her semi-sentient computer, Mr Smith, would filter those overnight and she would know in the morning if any of them were worth her further attention. She shut down the laptop and finished her cocoa before settling down to sleep. Her last thought was for The Doctor. She whispered his name and wished him a good journey, wherever he was.”

“Strange kind of biography,” Amy muttered aloud. “More like a blog. Except it’s written in third person. Anyway, how does anyone know what she was thinking before she went to sleep?”

Amy put that volume back and picked out another one. It was the biography of somebody called Susan.

“Susan stood at the window and looked up at the stars. She didn’t see as many as she liked because there was too much light pollution from the city around her. Even so she could make out some of the constellations seen in the northern hemisphere of Earth.”

“She could just about remember seeing different constellations in the sky of her home world, before her grandfather took her away with him, to explore the universe, seeing other skies, but none of them for very long. When she was a little girl it had been exciting, but when she was older, she longed for friendships that lasted longer than a few weeks and a home that was more permanent than a TARDIS.”

“Then she met David, and she seized the chance. The life she led, here on Earth, living as a Human, was less exciting than travelling to distant planets, but it was satisfying in its way. She loved her husband and her children. She cherished the roots she had put down here. She didn’t want anything to change that.”

“But now and again she looked up at the stars and thought of her grandfather. She wondered where he was, and if he had any friends to console him when he was lonely.”

“She wondered if he would ever keep the promise he made when they parted – to come back. One part of her longed to see him. He was her closest blood kin apart from the children and she loved him.”

“Part of her dreaded the chaos and disruption that he would cause if he ever did turn up. This simple domestic bliss that she treasured would be changed completely by his presence. Nothing would quite be the same again.”

“So as much as she had missed him in a small corner of her hearts every day for the past forty five years, she knew that they had both made the right decision, and were both living the life they chose to live.”

“No regrets.”

“She turned away from the window and climbed into bed beside her husband. He was asleep already, but his arm snaked around her waist and pulled her close. The sound of his single Human heart quietly beating next to her double hearts lulled her to sleep.”

Amy closed that volume. There was a lot of food for thought in that brief glimpse into somebody else’s life. It didn’t take a whole load of psychology degrees to work out that Susan’s grandfather was The Doctor. He had let slip once that he had a granddaughter. This was her. She was called Susan, a surprisingly ordinary name for a woman who came from another planet. She was married to a Human called David, and living a happy, ordinary life in an ordinary house, with their children.

Everything Amy secretly hoped for even though she loved the excitement and wonder of life with The Doctor.

Did everyone choose ordinary life when the extraordinary got too much for them? Even his own closest relative?

Amy had empathised with Susan as she read. But now, she was starting to get a tiny insight into what it was like to be The Doctor. She looked down the long shelves of biographies. All of them told the stories of people who had been his friends, his travelling companions, for a while, and had then moved on, and she hoped most of them were as happy as the two she had just read about.

But what about The Doctor? How did he feel about it? Every time he made friends like herself and Rory, every time somebody came aboard the TARDIS with him, he knew that they would only be there for a short time, and then they would move on.

It must be heartbreaking for him.

“Oh, that!” The Doctor laughed out loud. “Gift from the Attric of Je-Hu-Mba.”

“Attric?” Rory laughed at the name. “Hat trick?” He picked up the floppy black hat. It reminded him of the sorting hat from Harry Potter, but rather less battered.

Rory put it on his head.

“Wow!” he exclaimed, but the exclamation was swallowed up by the vastness of space. He knew, deep down, that he was standing on a relatively solid floor in The Doctor’s TARDIS. But at the same time he was floating freely in space. He could breathe – or at least he couldn’t, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t need air. He didn’t need ground under his feet. He was a free floating body in space, at one with the stars, the planets. He looked at one particularly bright star and he felt as if he was swooping towards it – or it was swooping towards him. He was flying through a solar system of amazing looking planets. The outermost one was a cold, grey, frozen giant. Then there was one with three sets of rings, one around its equator and two more at the tropics. It was like Saturn, but more.

The next planet was fiery red. Literally fiery. It looked as if the whole surface was burning up. Then by complete contrast there was a cool blue-green world that might have been Earth if it had nothing but water and two frozen poles and no continents or islands at all.

After that were three small planets whose atmospheres were so gaseous it was impossible to see the surface at all and one with a surface that was molten. It was so close to the sun it would never solidify.

Rory was starting to worry about being too close to the sun himself. Then he felt himself being dragged back, past all of those amazing planets, back through the emptiness of space until he was in the Fornean Nebula once more.

Then he was back in the TARDIS, in The Doctor’s private museum again. The Doctor was standing near him, holding the hat. He placed it back on the plaster display head.

“Ummm...” Rory began.

Amy was reading another biography. This one was about somebody called Jo. Yes, the same Jo that Sarah Jane had the email from. She hadn’t come back to Earth and settled down to an ordinary life. Far from it. Her life was one adventure after another, saving rainforests in South America, saving whales in the South Atlantic, saving Wales... well, a valley in South Wales, anyway, from the grasp of greedy developers. Wherever there was an environmental or ecological cause, Jo Grant Jones was in the thick of it.

Right now she was on a crusade to save the animal life of southern Africa from mankind. She was part of a team who were walking across the veldt cataloguing rare species in order to show the United Nations just what was at stake.

“Jo was enjoying the trek, even though she was feeling a little footsore now at the end of day four of the adventure. She took a deep breath of the hot dry air and looked across the wide, scrubby plain towards the horizon. The distant hills looked dark blue, distinct against the sky now that the sun was going down and the shadows were longer. They would be making camp soon. She was looking forward to it, cooking over a camp fire, singing songs, then settling down for the night in the tents.

She looked back and smiled at her husband, Cliff, walking with one of the local guides, listening to him point out the many different varieties of succulent plants that survived in the arid, waterless plain. Cliff was always interested in plants. Jo wondered if he was thinking about ways to use the succulents as a new food protein to feed the world....”

Amy blinked in surprise. She was on the last page of text. Or at least she had been. As she watched, new text was appearing on the page as rapidly as a fast typist could type it out. The new text described Jo’s thoughts about her husband, how much she loved him, despite such dedication to his work that he often forgot she was there beside him. It described the rapidly oncoming sunset and the camp that they made.

Amy stopped reading, despite being tempted to keep going, enjoying the peaceful evening on the African Veldt with Jo and her husband and their friends second hand. She could almost feel the cool air that replaced the dry heat after dark, see the canopy of stars over head, hear the sounds of night insects chirruping.

It was fantastic. But she had realised something.

Like the fiction section, the biographies were connected to all the people The Doctor knew or had known in his travels.

So... somewhere... she and Rory must have biographies that were writing themselves every minute.

“It’s a navigational aid,” The Doctor explained. “It allows the wearer to focus on any system in the galaxy and ‘travel’ to it virtually before making the journey for real.”

“So the planets I saw...”

“The Rigan system. Not very interesting. Nobody lives there, now. The two middle planets used to be inhabited, but they all moved out in big deep space liners, heading for a new life, a bit like your lot on Starship UK.”

“The one that looked like it was on fire...”

“Arboreat,” The Doctor said in a solemn tone. “The forest planet... or it was. One carelessly discarded match....”

Rory decided not to ask for more details.

“And the wet one...”

“You know the legend of Atlantis?”


“The cities are all down there, perfectly preserved. But the people got fed up of living in damp houses. Last I heard, they’d settled down on a very nice planet, climate rather like Australia.”

“Lucky them,” Rory commented. “So... how come you don’t use the hat when you’re piloting the TARDIS?”

“Don’t need it,” he replied. “I have a perfect sense of direction.”

Rory laughed and reminded The Doctor of at least three occasions when he had promised to take them to Rio and they had ended up in South Wales, a space station night club called The Rio Lounge and a planetoid called R’i-O.

The Doctor decided to show him another of his artefacts.

Amy put down her own biography. It was just a bit weird reading a book that was writing itself, describing her sitting on a squashy armchair, reading the same book.

She opened Rory’s biography and read about the fantastic things he had seen in The Doctor’s private collection.

“The Doctor was pointing out a whole collection of blue crystals from Metebelis Three, and explaining what interesting properties the crystals had. Rory really was interested, honestly he was. But he absently picked up another of the artefacts and turned it over in his hands. It looked like some sort of Chinese puzzle box, but far less complicated than those usually were. He twisted it in the middle and pulled and then pushed and there was an audible click. The Doctor looked around and called out a warning.

“No... don’t turn that. It’s...”

Then all the lights went out.

It was only for about thirty seconds, then some kind of emergency lighting kicked in. Amy looked down at the page in Rory’s biography. It was still printing. The Doctor was explaining what had happened.

“That’s a null point box,” he told Rory, gently taking the artefact from his hands and putting it back on the display shelf. “Nothing to do with anybody in the Eurovision Song Contest. What it does, as you will have noticed, is neutralise the nearest power source to it. In this instance, the TARDIS engines. We’re on back up battery right now.”

“How long will the battery last?” Rory asked.

“About six hours with all but essential life support closed down. Which is more than enough, because the engines only need two hours to automatically cycle back up to full power. We just need to wait here. There’s plenty more to see in the museum. You won’t get bored.”

“Why can’t we go to the console room?” Rory asked.

“Can’t get there,” The Doctor replied. “On emergency battery, most of the TARDIS folds down to save power. Basically... the only rooms that exist are the console room, the cloister room and engine room... and any room that living beings happen to be in at the time. That’s a new safety measure I introduced. Originally it was only those three sections. Everything else is stored as data strings...”


“Amy will be fine. The area she is in will have life support, too. But you can’t get to her. All the corridors outside don’t exist in real dimensions.”

“That is a seriously creepy idea, Doctor,” Rory said. “I always assumed everything inside the TARDIS was real, even if it wasn’t real in the same dimensions as the outside.”

“It is real,” The Doctor assured him. “Just, a different kind of reality.”

“Rory sighed. He understood everything The Doctor was telling him, but it didn’t make him feel any better. He wished he could let Amy know that everything would be all right in two hours.”

“I do know,” she whispered, closing the book. But, of course, there was no way Rory could hear her say that. The biography was a one way mirror into his life. He had no idea that she knew exactly what had happened.

She snuggled a bit further into the armchair and read the description of herself doing just that in the biography. She felt safe and untroubled, despite the library being in semi-darkness in the low-level emergency lights.

At least she did until the biography started to write again.

“Amy looked around warily at the shadowy darkness. She suddenly wondered if she was completely alone in the library. Was that a movement behind the stack? Was there a soft sound as if something had disturbed the air?”

She looked around warily. She stared at the patch of darkness between the shelves. There was nothing there.

Or was there?

“Amy slowly uncurled herself from the chair and stood up carefully.”

“Oh, stop it,” she said, throwing down the book. Then she picked it up again.

“Still clutching the biography, ready to use the heavy volume as a weapon if she had to, Amy stepped between the bookshelves, straining her eyes to see what was moving towards her. She held her breath and listened to the silence, convinced that there was something there.”

“Then she screamed and threw the book into the darkness.”

Amy really did scream as she hurled the book away from her. But she wasn’t sure what scared her more, the unknown something that she couldn’t see, or a biography that was writing her life a split second before she actually lived it.

There was nothing there. She was being silly. She never used to be scared of the dark.

But the dark used to be a lot less creepy.

The dark didn’t used to have eyes that blinked at her.

She stepped back, and the dark moved towards her - a round piece of darkness like a woolly, insubstantial ball that drifted out of the shadows. It really did have eyes in it. They were big round eyes. It had a mouth, too – a wide slit that turned up at the corners like a smile.

She wasn’t scared. How could she possibly be scared of something that had big eyes and a turned up smile of a mouth?

“Hello,” she said. “Who are you? I’m... I’m Amy. I’m a friend. That’s what my name means. Amy... it means friend in French.”

The strange entity shook like a dog that had been out in a shower.

“I don’t suppose you even know French. That’s stupid. But do you know what ‘friend’ means?”

“Fri..en...dddd....” the entity drawled in a slow whisper. “Fri...end.. Am..eee.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Amy said. “I’m Amy. Do you have a name?”

“Hhhuu....” the entity replied. It sounded as if it was trying to pronounce a name, but couldn’t quite do it. Amy reached out. It was about knee high to her, like a dog, and the urge to pat it was irresistible.

But impossible. The entity was made of the darkness. Her hand went straight through. She drew it back quickly, thinking she had done something wrong, but the entity trilled at her in a friendly way and the smile turned up further. It drew closer to her and grew bigger. It enveloped her, just for a few seconds, before pulling back and shrinking down to the friendly dog size.

Amy gasped in surprise. She felt as if she had been hugged by everyone she had ever loved in her entire life, all at once – her mother, father, grandmother, Rory, Orlando Bloom... Yes, she had fancied him for a bit when she was fifteen. Anyway, it was a nice feeling.

“You’re sweet,” she told the entity. “What are you doing here, though? Does The Doctor know about you?”

“Ddd...ooo...cc...torrr fri...ee...nd....” the entity replied.

“Oh, I can well believe that,” Amy said. “He’s a friend to everyone. But why are you here in the library, in that case?”

“Sl..eee...ppp. Big sl...eee...ppp.”

“Like... hibernation?”

Hibernation seemed too complicated a word for the entity. She tried again.

“You went to sleep in the dark, shadowy corner of the library, for a long time. Did the swimming pool wake you when it got into the library?”

Again the question was too complicated, but she got the impression from the few words the entity managed to tell her that it had been hibernating in the library for quite a long time.

And now it was awake and hugging people.

Of all the surprises the TARDIS had to offer, that had to be the biggest one. The library had been amazing, the biographies blew her mind. But this topped the lot.

She sat back down in the armchair with Rory’s and her own biography on her lap and the strange darkness entity hunkered at her feet, just exactly like a dog. It made a soft trilling sound that Amy thought was the definitive sound of contentment. She read her own biography describing how comfortable she was on the chair in the half dark with her unusual friend.

She read Rory’s biography. He was less content, because he was worried about her. He kept asking The Doctor if he was sure Amy was all right. Could the place were she was have ‘folded’. If it had, would she be safe as a data string? Would she come back whole? The Doctor reassured him over and over, but Rory continued to worry. Amy felt sorry that she couldn’t send a message to reassure him. Seeing him so distressed was disturbing. But at the same time his fretfulness was a sign of just how much he really, really loved her.

The power came on again after two hours, exactly as The Doctor promised. Amy felt it first as a vibration in the floor. There had always been a slight vibration even when the TARDIS was stationary. She was so used to it she hadn’t even noticed it was gone – until it came back again.

Then the lights came on in the library. And that was good, except that she could no longer see her strange friend. She turned off the desk lamp. He was still there, the big eyes and the friendly slit of a mouth, in the shadows between the biography shelves. He winked at her and trilled her name.

In his biography, Rory was running down the restored TARDIS corridors calling her name. The Doctor was running after him shouting directions, since Rory didn’t actually know where the library was and had run without considering where he was running to.

They both burst into the library on the ground floor. Rory’s voice, calling her name, echoed up through the galleries. She looked down at them.

“Stop shouting,” she told her husband. “This IS a library, you know.”

“Rory sighed with relief and ran to the spiral stairs, taking them two at a time until he reached the floor marked ‘biographies.’”

Amy closed the book and braced herself for Rory’s enthusiastic embrace. The Doctor joined them in the biography section as he finally remembered that she had to breathe and let her go.

“You weren’t scared on your own in the dark?” The Doctor asked. “I’m sorry about the shutdown. It was...”

Amy waved Rory’s biography.

“I know. I read all about it. You should keep that thing under glass out of reach of nosy people who like to fiddle.”

The Doctor smiled knowingly and glanced around the shelves. He reached out and touched one of the volumes lovingly. Amy wasn’t sure which one it was.

“I’m sorry you were stuck down here on your own,” he said. “It must have been lonely.”

“No,” Amy replied. “I had company. Look...”

The Doctor turned and looked into the shadows where she pointed. He gave an astonished gasp and stepped back as the darkness entity bowled towards him enthusiastically. The pet dog analogy was complete. He was greeting his master.

“Humphrey!” The Doctor cried out in delight as he was treated to one of those hugs. “How lovely to see you again.”

“Humphrey? That’s his name?” Amy asked.

“Humphrey?” Rory queried.

“Humphrey Boggart,” The Doctor said as if that was all the explanation he needed to give. “I’d almost forgotten he was down here. He went into hibernation... oh... it must be about seven hundred years ago. Could be more. He said it would be a long one, and he was right.”

“Humphrey Boggart?” Rory said again before the creature turned its big smile on him. “Er... hi... Humphrey. I’m Rory. I’m... er... I’m a friend.”

“Fr...ie...nddd Rrrrrrrr....orrry,” Humphrey rolled his r’s spectacularly before giving him a hug. Amy went to The Doctor’s side. He was looking closely at the biography titles, now.

“Humphrey loves being near people. In shadowy places we can see him. In brighter light he’s invisible, but still there. He gets a kick out of the emotions of people. That’s why he made his hibernation nest in the biography section. All the people who ever came into the TARDIS are here, in essence, at least. All the highs and lows of their lives. He’s got them all to himself. He loves it as much as being around real people. And he can keep tabs on the friends that have moved on. That’s what I use it for, too. You read some of them?”


“I come down here to see how my friends are. If any of them were in trouble they couldn’t handle I’d be there in an eyeblink. Mostly, though, I think it is better to let them get on with their lives without me, coping with the ordinary problems by their own wits.”

“Even Susan?”

The Doctor paused for a heartbeat – possibly heartsbeat in his case.

“Susan especially,” he said. “She... needs the normality more than any of them. Again, if there was a real threat, I’d be there. But as it is... I’d turn her life upside down. I tend to do that to people. It’s best... this way.”

“If you’re sure about that?” Amy questioned him.

“I’m sure.” Then he grinned widely and turned to look at Humphrey, whose smile was turned up even further now. “If you’re awake now, we’d better go over the old rules. No jumping out at people in corridors. And remember, you stay away from the bathrooms, especially when there are ladies in them. Amy doesn’t want to be looking around for you every time she wants a shower.”

Humphrey trilled his assent to the rules and gave all three of them an extra wide hug.

“Ok,” The Doctor concluded. “Is anyone still interested in the Fornean Nebula after all our fun with the TARDIS amenities?”