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

“Madam, what ARE you doing?” Michael Grahams came into the kitchen and was astonished to see the lady of the house attempting to wash the dishes. Attempt being the operative word since she found it difficult even to reach the sink at the advanced stage of her pregnancy. “Please, madam, stop that. Pauline can do it when she has finished doing the bedrooms. You should not be on your feet like that anyway. His Lordship will be most upset when he finds out.”

“I have to do something useful. With Mrs Grahams in hospital, I ought to pitch in and help.”

“The lady from the temp agency will be here later,” Michael told her. He gently took her arm and led her back upstairs to the drawing room. He made her comfortable on the sofa and poured her a cup of tea.

“I am always drinking tea,” she said. “It's a good job it's tannin free nowadays. You know, 200 years ago it was considered unhealthy to drink so much of it.”

“Madam,” Michael said gently. “You really must not worry about the domestic arrangements. Everything is under control. His Lordship instructed me this morning when he went out to make sure you were not worrying.”

“But I can’t just sit around being waited on, hand and foot,” she protested.

“Yes, you can. Even if you were NOT the Lady of the House, you ARE in a delicate condition, Madam. You must rest.”

“Rest is all I do these days. I don’t even get to look after my daughter.”

“Where is Miss Vicki at present?” Michael asked her.

“Christopher took her to the fair. He’s great with her. Loves her just like her dad does. And don’t even ASK where his Lordship is. I NEVER know that.”

“No, Madam.” Michael smiled wryly. There were some ODD things about the family he served. Of course, if he were given to gossip, he would not hold such a position of responsibility anyway. He would never have uttered a word out loud. But in his private thoughts, he did think it peculiar that the gentleman called Christopher addressed the Lord de Lœngbærrow as ‘father’ when there seemed no more than ten years between them in age. He wasn’t sure he entirely believed the explanation that they belonged to a minor religious sect which called the elder of the household ‘father’.

Her ladyship didn’t seem to belong to any religious sect, anyway. Michael was aware that, even after five years of marriage to his Lordship she still felt uncomfortable giving orders to him or any of the other servants of the house and felt she had to ‘pitch in’ with the housework. Of course, it was obvious from her accent that she was NOT ‘born to the manor’. He found her a refreshing change from the high born women he had worked for in the past, but he WAS as concerned as her husband was to prevent her doing unnecessary work.

The Lord de Lœngbærrow himself did not SOUND as if he was of aristocratic birth, either. And Michael never understood why his wife called him ‘Doctor’. Or why, despite being a man of wealth, he habitually dressed to match his working class accent in an old leather jacket that was badly in need of a seamstress.

Yet in all else about his manner, his bearing, he WAS a gentleman of rank and position. And there was more than a hint of mystery about him. Michael suspected that his Lordship had retired from some dangerous occupation. He was not a man given to fancy, but the word ‘spy’ came to his mind readily. And that fitted in a strange kind of way. He suspected – as her Ladyship possibly also suspected – that he had not entirely given up his former work after all. That was why she didn’t ask where he was when he left the house.

Michael knew a great many things about his employer and his family did not add up. But he didn’t let it worry him. Because he had never been happier in his work than in these past years. Whatever their foibles, their secrets, he was proud to serve them in any way he could, even carrying out his Lordship’s instructions to be firm with his wife if she should start trying to do housework again.

The front door opened and a moment later Miss Vicki ran into the drawing room and hugged her mother. She gave her a giant plastic daisy that she had acquired at the fair. Michael smiled to see the affection of mother and child and turned to return to his duties. Christopher nodded to him in the hall before going to his study to attend to his constituency work.

The Doctor felt a little guilty. He WAS supposed to have given up this kind of thing. If Rose knew he and the boys were running for their lives from a plasma entity that could kill on contact she would not only be worried sick but also boiling mad. Not only because they had put themselves in danger, but also because SHE wasn’t with them.

He knew she was bored, stuck at home with nothing but baby clothes catalogues and Michael bringing her tea and toast every hour. She used to love the thrill of the chase as much as he did. He loved having her with him, sharing the danger. And maybe she would again. But not yet. He needed her safe at home, the mother of his children. He needed her to come home to when he had vanquished evil and brought peace to another part of the universe.

Michael was in the butler’s room by the kitchen when the gate entry videophone buzzed. He flicked the switch and looked at the woman who identified herself as one of Mr. De Lœngbærrow’s constituents with an appointment to see him. He checked the diary and confirmed that there WAS an appointment booked for that day and asked the housemaid, Pauline, to open the door.

It was purely by chance that he was heading into the drawing room to bring a fresh pot of tea to the Lady of the House when Pauline opened the front door. He heard the exchange of conversation.

“But the appointment was for two people,” she protested and then squealed in fright. Michael looked cautiously back and saw four men force their way into the house behind the woman who had clearly been the ruse to get past the gate security. He saw guns and knives in their hands and he knew at once what he had to do.

He put the tea tray down and stepped quickly forwards. He reached and picked up Vicki from the rug where she was playing and continued across the room to the French door.

“Madam, please come quickly,” he said as he opened the door. If the intruders went to the study first, he thought, then this side of the house was screened from view for now.

“What’s happening, Michael?” Rose asked as she followed him outside. She took Vicki from him and hugged her tightly. The psychic abilities she acquired from the Gallifreyan blood of her unborn child told her something was very wrong. She could feel Michael’s fear and worry even though outwardly he kept an inscrutable butler’s calm.

“Terrorists, Madam,” he said. “They are in the house. Mr Christopher is in danger. I must try to help him. But you must get away. Here…” He gave her his car keys. “There is a phone in the car. Call the police, and drive yourself and the little girl away safely.”

“Michael…” Rose said. “Come with us. Don’t put yourself at risk.”

“I really ought to try to help Mr Christopher,” he said. “Please, madam. Go quickly.”

“All right,” she said. She took the keys and thanked him and turned to go as quickly as she could. Carrying Vicki, and burdened as she was she couldn’t move VERY quickly, but she did her best.

Michael turned and slipped quietly back into the house. He was scared, but he knew he could not let his employer down. This wonderful family he cared for were under threat. He had to help them.

“What is going on here?” he heard Christopher say as the terrorists – he could think of no better word than that for them – pushed the hysterical maid into the study. “Mrs Browning – I was expecting you to call. But - are these people with you? What…?”

“Shut it!” Mrs Browning’s reply was short and sharp as she produced a weapon to match that of her comrades. “And you shut it as well!” The higher pitched shout was obviously aimed at Pauline, who stopped screaming out loud but continued to sob in fright.

He crossed the hallway and reached for the telephone but as he almost expected, it was dead. No way to call for help. He had to hope that her Ladyship had got away in his car.

She hadn’t. As he stepped towards the study again the front door opened with a crash that broke two of the panes of glass. Mrs de Lœngbærrow, still holding the little girl, was pushed forward ahead of two more gunmen. One gunman and one woman, he amended.

“I’m sorry,” Rose told him. “Nice try, Michael. But they were at the gate.”

“Let me help you, Madam,” he said taking Vicki from her as they, too, were herded into the study.

Christopher stood from his seat as he saw them enter. Mrs Browning ordered him to sit. He looked at her. She was sitting in the chair opposite him with her gun pointed directly at him.

“I am offering a pregnant lady my seat, that is all. If you insist on keeping us in a room with only two chairs and you yourself are occupying one of them, then it falls to me to do the decent thing.”

“Let her stand,” Mrs Browning snapped. “She is the mother of abominations. Her children are half-blood aliens.”

“What?” Rose looked at the woman. She was in her early thirties, quite pretty if her face was not screwed up in a scowl of hate. She thought she might have seen her at some of the public meetings that Christopher attended.

“Sit down, Rose,” Christopher insisted and despite the weapons trained on him he held the chair for her. She sat, taking Vicki on her knee. Christopher stood by her side. Michael moved to the other side of the chair and looked at the people who were holding them hostage.

Rose knew perfectly well what the woman was talking about, of course. The Doctor and Christopher had both mentioned more than once a movement that had started to take hold around London and other cities of Earth. It sought to expose ‘aliens’. By some means or other it had come to their notice that there were people not of Earth origin or birth living on the planet. The Doctor had told her years ago that ‘aliens’ of humanoid form had long been coming to Earth and living quiet, unobtrusive lives. They were never the people who became pop stars or movie actors or politicians, never pushing themselves forward into the limelight. Rather, they avoided it. They took ordinary jobs, lived in ordinary houses, were buried at the end of their lives in ordinary graveyards with nobody ever knowing they were different.

But this group, calling themselves ‘Pure Earth’ threatened that anonymity. They had a leaflet campaign and they tried putting candidates up for local elections promising Homes for Humans First, and other such nonsense.

And nobody had taken any notice of them. As a political movement they were ridiculed. They had failed to make the people of Earth look suspiciously at their neighbours and expose them as alien beings. There were no pogroms, no house burnings, no segregations, no forced wearing of identifying tattoos, no registration of non-terrestrial beings.

The Lœngbærrow family were different, of course. They didn’t live a quiet, low-profile life. They lived in the biggest house in the neighbourhood and they had parties with high profile guests. Christopher was a Member of Parliament – and one who was often in the media as the instigator of reforms of law for the betterment of the people. There were those who believed he might become Prime Minister, even President in a few years.

And nobody had ever questioned where he or any of them came from. Nobody had realised that the Honourable Member for Richmond Upon Thames had no personal history, went to no school, no university, had not worked for any corporation or business. He simply put himself up for election two years ago and began to work tirelessly for the people who elected him.

But now, it seemed, somebody DID question his background. And they did so at gunpoint.

“Alien?” Christopher laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“It's not ridiculous.” One of the men pushed forward, his gun pointed at Christopher’s head. He did not flinch. He turned his head calmly and looked past the weapon at the face of the man who held it. His calm expression was a contrast to the gunman’s own pale, drawn and anxious visage.

“Get back, Carter.” The one who was clearly the leader spoke and the man stepped back, nervously fingering the safety catch of his gun.

“I am John Patterson, leader of the militant wing of the Pure Earth movement.” Patterson stood before Christopher, his hand steady on his own gun though he held it down and didn’t feel the need to point it. “No, I am not afraid to tell you my name, show you my face. I am here to purify the Earth of the alien scourge that you represent. So look at my face and remember it for the short time you have to live.”

“As I said,” Christopher repeated. “Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. You Pure Earth lunatics with your conspiracy theories would be dangerous if anyone believed you.”

“They will believe us when we are done here,” Patterson replied. “You have been quietly growing in numbers for decades. Mixing your alien blood with ours through willing collaborators like that one.” He shot an accusing finger at Rose.

“You are the worst,” the one called Carter said, turning his attention to Rose. “You make me sick. You have already produced one filthy half-breed and you carry another of the alien spawn within you.”

Rose looked at the man and understood exactly what he was. Pure Earth was just the National Front with a new agenda.

Racists. The worst thing about them was that you never knew what they looked like. They weren’t just skinheads with swastika tattoos. She remembered being actually slapped one day in Trafalgar Square by a little old lady with a shopping trolley, because she had seen her holding hands with Mickey – betraying the white race. Even some of her friends from school had been shocked when they started dating, even though they had all been friends for years. It was all right to be friends. But going out together….

And now she was a traitor to the Human Race for loving The Doctor, for bearing his children. She hugged Vicki closer to her. The little girl was frightened but quiet. She could feel her telepathic voice in her head though.

“Vicki,” she said in her head, knowing that she could read her mind easily. “Don’t be frightened. Daddy will be home soon. And he’ll help us all.”

If they were anything but Gallifreyan, with their superior musculature and their bypassed respiratory systems they’d have been dead by now. As it was, they were running flat out and those Gallifreyan muscles were pushed to the limit.

“Does this tunnel go on forever?” he heard Chris ask him mentally. “It didn’t seem this long earlier.”

“We haven’t taken a wrong turning have we?” Davie asked, panicking slightly.

“No, we’re fine,” The Doctor told them. We didn’t run the tunnel coming. We were walking, and you two were too busy listening to me telling you about Sontarans. You didn’t notice how far it was.”

“Why isn’t the TARDIS responding to us?” Chris asked the other obvious question. “We shouldn’t need to run. Why hasn’t it come to us?”

“These walls are lead-lined,” The Doctor said. “I can’t summon the TARDIS. Anyway, it's a lazy way out, using the remote auto-pilot. And it's not good for the engine either.”

“We didn’t even get what we came for,” Davie sighed dismally. “How will we get OUR TARDIS going without an Eye of Harmony.”

“If we don’t run faster that’s not going to be a problem. We’ll be disintegrated by that plasma thing.”

The Doctor risked a look behind him. The ball of actinic white light would have blinded him if he didn’t have the Gallifreyan ability to shield his eyes from harm. It was like being chased by a small, bright sun. The light fully illuminated what had been dimly lit tunnels when they came this way earlier.

They turned a corner and he gasped out loud in relief when he saw the TARDIS at last. He found an extra ounce of energy and sprinted forward, reaching for his key. He opened the door and dived in. The boys followed. Chris slammed the door shut moments before the plasma ball enveloped the TARDIS.

“Where is the other alien?” Patterson looked hard at Christopher. “The one who calls himself Lord de Lœngbærrow.”

“He’s out,” Rose said. “He didn’t say when he would be back.”

“We have plenty of time to wait. When we have him, the originator of this foul spawn, he can watch his family die before he is wiped from this Earth.”

“You’re going to kill us?” Rose looked at the man who had spoken. He looked back at her with an expression of utter hatred and disgust. The fact that she was pregnant didn’t soften his loathing. Rather, it hardened it. He really WOULD kill her and her daughter, and her unborn son, and he would make her husband, the father of her children, watch.

“Cowards,” Christopher snarled at them. “You would harm a pregnant woman, a small child.”

“An abomination and a woman who breeds abominations. And YOU, Alien.”

“This is absurd,” Michael said. “I have worked for Lord de Lœngbærrow and his family for five years now. They are as normal as anyone. They cannot possibly be what you say.”

“They LOOK Human, but they are not.” One of the men pulled a knife from his pocket and approached Rose. She held Vicki close and shrank back from him. “If I cut the flesh of this homunculus what colour blood will pour from it?”

“Leave her alone,” Rose screamed. “Don’t you dare touch my baby!”

“Slit its throat,” Mrs Browning screamed hysterically. “See the alien blood pour out.”

“No!” Christopher put himself between Rose and Vicki and the man with the knife. “If you want to cut an alien’s throat then cut mine.”

Rose screamed softly as she saw the knife slice through the air. She heard Christopher give a soft cry as it slashed his throat. She knew he had prepared for the attack. He had bypassed his respiratory system, but even so the sight of the gash right across his throat, severing the windpipe, was frightening. He leaned forward slightly, his two hands on the desk and his blood dripped onto the surface.

Orange blood.

Everyone stared. Michael was astonished. Mrs Browning was aghast. The men who had forced their way into the house with her were triumphant.

“Alien blood,” they said. Then they stared as the blood stopped. Christopher’s tissue regenerating cells were working as they should. They mended his trachea and he breathed out slowly while the sliced flesh knitted together leaving not even a scar on his throat.

“My mother was Human,” he said as he stood up straight. “I was taught to honour the planet she came from. I never even saw it until five years ago, but I loved it. My mother’s homeworld. A place I knew I could call home. And I have. I love this planet. But people like you…. I thought my home planet had some funny ideas about eugenics. But they would never consider murdering a helpless child. And we consider unborn life to be just as valuable. You would disgust even the most extreme pureblood fanatic of my world.”

That wasn’t true, he thought. These people were amateurs when it came to hate. He thought about those Gallifreyans who had tried to bully him as a child, who had shunned him at university, opposed his entry into every level of Time Lord society. Even the one who had murdered his wife and dealt him such a blow that he had been as good as dead for nearly 500 years.

He had been told many times that his mother should have been forced to abort him before he was born; that he ought to have been smothered at birth for the half-blooded mongrel he was; that he should never have been allowed to attend the same school as purebloods; never allowed to transcend and BECOME a Time Lord in his own right.

Christopher, and his father before him, had fought the kind of prejudice these Pure Earth fanatics espoused all their lives. They had both gained respect through hard work, dedication, through their proven loyalty to Gallifrey and had risen through its ranks to a position where those who opposed them did so in whispers. But there WERE such whispers. There WAS prejudice against them simply for their mother’s blood, for the Human tear ducts that they had instead of Gallifreyan nictating membranes.

He thought he’d seen the end of that at least when he made Earth his new home in exile. But if he did, it was only because nobody knew he was different. He had soon come to realise that differences were despised and feared here, too. Susan and her children had hidden their true origins all along. And now he and his father did the same.

But he was an alien in a high profile position. He was pictured in the media. He was talked about. He was a celebrity. An alien celebrity.

It was HIS fault, Christopher realised. He had exposed himself, his family, maybe EVERY alien or descendent of an alien on the planet.

The Doctor laughed triumphantly as he reached to put the TARDIS into temporal orbit. But his laughter was short-lived. He felt the change in the atmosphere even within the TARDIS as the plasma entity enveloped it. He reached for the console and jumped back as static electricity sparked off it. The walls seemed to radiate unnatural brightness. It was strange. He had never actually seen this version of the console room in full light. It had always had its dark shadows, reflecting his own personality.

The air crackled with static. When he moved he felt as if he was moving through water.

“Granddad!” Chris looked pale and frightened. “I can feel the entity’s mind. It wants to get in. It wants to consume us.”

“Block it from your mind,” The Doctor said. “Block it out. Davie, is it affecting you?”

“No,” he said. “I know it's there, but I can block it. Chris is the best telepath. It makes him more sensitive to that kind of thing than I am.”

“I can feel it too,” The Doctor said. “But it's not getting through. Chris, concentrate. Block it from your mind. Push it out.” He held his great-grandson’s shoulders and connected with his mind. Davie was right. Chris’s mind was much more sensitive to any kind of brain patterns. He could read minds easily, even at a distance and picked up any psychic waves. The plasma entity was filling his head with its blind fear of their flesh and blood forms. That was why it wanted to destroy them. It feared what was not like itself. In that, it was not as alone in the universe as it thought. Every creature had a fear of the unknown, the unalike, the alien.

Understanding it did not make it any less of a threat. Chris’s brain would burn as surely as if he had been in physical contact with it. He looked around at Davie. He had pulled on a leather glove before approaching the controls. He was able to touch them at least.

“We can’t dematerialise,” he said. “The entity seems to be holding us back.”

“Boost the power,” The Doctor told him. “Button on your left. If that doesn’t work….”

“..take the safety protocols offline and feed the alternate current directly into the time rotor…”

“Yes,” The Doctor replied without thinking. Then he realised what he had said. “No! That’ll blow the TARDIS to smithereens.” But Chris’s mental fight with the entity was overwhelming his mind, too. He could hardly see what Davie was doing. His vision was obscured by the blinding, painful psychic waves emitted by the entity. He pushed back, forcing his own mind clear, forcing his way into Chris’s mind.

“Hold onto me, Chris,” he told him mentally. “Hold on. Reach into my thoughts. Find a memory to hold onto. One we share.” He smiled as Chris found the memory of the first time he had played football with them - the first day he met his great-grandchildren. It was a treasured memory for them both, one they could both cling to like an anchor, keeping both their minds secure as they slowly forced the entity back.

Davie pulled the panel from beneath the drive control and feverishly crossed and re-crossed the wires, overriding the safety protocols and feeding the alternate current directly into the time rotor. He looked up and saw the central column glow a brighter green than ever and begin to move up and down. He smiled and reached to put them into temporal orbit.

“How did you know?” Michael asked “Even I didn’t…. How did you know they were…” He had been stunned by what he saw, the clearly alien blood that spilled, the wound repairing itself in front of their very eyes.

“That’s a very good question,” Christopher said. “How DID you know?”

“Your biography is false. You didn’t EXIST on this planet until five years ago. Neither did the other one. He came here, bought this house outright. We traced the transaction. The bank account that had not existed until a month before then. The so called Lord de Lœngbærrow did not exist until then. Nobody had ever heard of him. He has no identity before then. Neither do you. You came here from nowhere.”

“Not nowhere,” Mrs Browning said. “From there. From the same place the murderers came who killed my husband and my little boy.”

“Murderers?” Rose looked at her and thought she at least partly understood why this woman was a part of this crazy organisation. “Not… not the Daleks?”

“Daleks?” The leader of the group spat the word. “They nearly wiped us out. But that was years ago. She’s talking about the attack nine years ago, when all the major cities of Earth were firebombed by aliens.”

“The Greevascian attack.” Rose remembered that well enough. The Doctor had almost killed himself trying to rescue people from the fires of their homes. He had saved dozens with his own bare hands. He had burnt himself so badly he was barely recognisable. A human would have succumbed long before. As it was, his Gallifreyan anatomy allowed his body to repair.

And then he had flown the TARDIS straight to the Greevascian mothership, confronted those who had attacked Earth and forced them to ceasefire. He had saved the planet from destruction. Yes, a lot of people had died. The Doctor had grieved for them all deep in his soul. It was one more reason why he never slept at night, but lay beside her in a state of meditative trance where dreams, nightmares, could not penetrate his brain. He never forgot any soul that died when he thought he could have saved them. He kept them all stored in a dark, untouchable part of his soul and grieved for them. This woman’s husband and child included.

“The Doctor tried to save everyone,” Rose said. “He did his best.”

“The Doctor?” By the window one of the Pure Earthers shifted his position. He stood forward and looked at Rose curiously. “I heard that name.”

“So did I,” Mrs Browning said. “The man called The Doctor stopped the war, defeated the Greevascians. Forced them to surrender.”

“You have a very short memory for details, madam,” Michael said. “The Greevascians did not SURRENDER. They made a truce with Earth. And they only attacked Earth because members of our space programme had killed Greevascians. We were as much at fault as they were.”

“That’s right,” Rose said. “I didn’t know you knew about that, Michael.”

“My previous employer was the Cabinet Secretary for external affairs, your Ladyship,” Michael said. “I should not be saying this, of course. What a butler may overhear in conversations between his master and his guests in the drawing room… It is a confidentiality akin to the confessional. But I do remember him talking about the Treaty that had been made with the Greevascians, and saying that it was a lucky thing that they accepted the terms, since Earth WAS clearly the first aggressor.”

“Yes, The Doctor… He made them back off.”

“Stirling,” the leader of the group snapped. “This is all irrelevant. The Greevascian attack is EXACTLY the sort of thing we have to guard against. Aliens murdering innocent people on Earth. That’s why they all have to leave or die.”

“You’ve heard of The Doctor?” Rose turned to the one called Stirling.

“Yes,” he said. “A hero. That’s what he is. He saved Earth.”

“That he is.” Rose smiled. “And he’s saved Earth many times.”

“Well I’ve never heard of him,” Patterson said. “If he’s so good, why isn’t he one of us?”

“Because he IS an alien, you idiots,” Rose told him

“No,” Stirling said. “That’s not possible. The Doctor… He is… He IS one of us. He protected Earth from them.”

“He is an alien,” Rose repeated. “I should know. You…” She looked at Stirling. “The Doctor that you have heard of, the ‘hero’ who saved Earth. He has been saving it for centuries. He is my husband. Lord de Lœngbærrow. The man YOU want to kill.”

“He is?” Michael looked at her in surprise.

“Yes, Michael, he is.”

“Good heavens. I never realised. Even though you call him that. I never realised he was THAT Doctor.”

“No!” Mrs Browning howled in rage. “No, that’s not true. It can’t be. The Doctor is HUMAN. He has to be. Otherwise….”

“Otherwise everything you believed in is false,” Christopher said. “You believe all aliens are evil monsters who mean you harm. The Doctor makes nonsense of your organisation’s whole premise. He is the alien who has defended your planet all along. He defeated the Daleks before most of you were born. He stopped the Greevascians from bombarding this planet. He was there time and again to save you because HE cares about Earth and about Humanity. My father – The Doctor – is the reason you even HAVE a planet. It would have been destroyed long ago but for him.”

“That’s a lie,” Mrs Browning screamed. “It’s a lie.”

“Kill them now,” Carter screamed. “Don’t wait for the other one. Kill them now, before they fill our minds with their lies.”

“Yes,” Mrs Browning said. “Kill them.” She snatched up her gun and pointed it at Rose, who stood up from the chair and backed away, Vicki crying in her arms. Christopher dived in front of her and pushed her to the ground as Mrs Browning squeezed the trigger.

“Christopher?” Rose spoke to him in her mind. “Christopher… Are you alive?”

“Yes,” he replied. “I’m hit… in the back. But I’m alive.”

“They’re not dead,” Carter screamed and he, too, fired. Rose stifled a scream as she felt Christopher’s body take the bullets. One ploughed straight through his shoulder and grazed her head. She heard Vicki cry out in pain, too. Christopher’s body slumped heavily over her as he lost consciousness.

“Stop!” As she, too slipped into unconsciousness she heard Michael yell. She saw the butler put himself between them and the gunman. “I’m a Human being. If you kill me, then everything you say you stand for… protecting Humans… is a lie.”

The Doctor sagged with relief as he felt himself freed from the entity. He looked around and saw Davie standing triumphantly by the console.

“I hope you know how to put those wires back the way they should be,” he said. “You didn’t smithereen us THIS time, but next time we may not be so lucky.”

Davie looked disappointed. He had expected praise for his quick thinking.

“You did good,” The Doctor added, realising his words had not quite been in order. “I’m proud of you.” He turned back to Chris momentarily and steadied him as his vision slowly cleared and he looked about giddily. Then he went to the console. He put his hand on Davie’s shoulder as the boy stood back and let him take over the controls. “Come on. Your mum will have my guts if I don’t get you home in time for supper.”

“Granddad!” Chris’s voice had an edge to it again. “I’m getting something else. Get us home QUICKLY. Something is wrong there. Sukie is calling out to me. She can hear Vicki screaming. I can almost hear her, too. She’s right on the edge of my perception.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I can hear them both.” Home was a preset destination, but it took a few minutes even so. In those few minutes the telepathic connection to his daughter and great-granddaughter grew steadily stronger. He didn’t need Chris to relay it to him. His hearts burned. Vicki was hurt. Rose was hurt, too. On the edge of his perception he could feel her, too.

And Christopher…..

“No!” he cried. “No.”

Time is relative. The Doctor thought he must have been born knowing that. But never before in his life had a few minutes seemed so relatively LONG. He was overwhelmed by so many incoming signals. His wife’s terror was there, his little girl crying from fear and hurt, Sukie, and her mother now, demanding to know if her sons were hurt. Even his unborn child. He could feel his distress, too.

But he couldn’t feel his son. Christopher’s mind seemed switched off. And that silence scared him more than all the urgent cries from the others.

“Please stop,” he cried out to them. “Tell me what’s happening and where.”

“There are terrorists in the house,” Chris said. “They’re in the study. They’ve shot Christopher. He’s…. Granddad, I think he’s dead.”

“Can you see how many there are?” The Doctor asked him, trying to hold back his grief at what he had already known and concentrate on what he could do for the rest of his family. “And where they are? Chris, focus on a mind in there. Is Michael there? Focus on him. He’s not telepathic so you’ll get a clearer picture without all the feedback.”

“Yes, he’s there,” Chris said and he closed his eyes and reached out to the mind of the butler. Through his eyes he saw six people, all with guns, four of them looking at him, two looking at each other. “Something strange going on between them all,” he added as he reported their positions to his great-grandfather.

“That’s their problem,” he said. “Mine is my wife and children.”

“No,” Stirling yelled. “No, I won’t have any more to do with this. It was never right. That little girl… even if she is alien… she’s still just a little girl. And… and if The Doctor is an alien… then…”

“Weak fool,” Patterson cried and turned and fired at him. Stirling gave a cry of pain and slid slowly to the ground, but his hand was still on his own gun. He squeezed the trigger and before he lost consciousness he saw Patterson fall, a bullet between his eyes.

The Doctor heard the gunfire as he ran up the stairs from the basement where the TARDIS automatically materialised. The boys followed quickly. He almost laughed at Davie’s telepathic remark that they spent all their time running today. But he was too worried about Rose and Vicki and Christopher.

“It’s all right,” Chris told him. “They shot each other. There are two down.”

“That leaves four.”

“Two of them are women,” Chris said.

“Rose is a woman,” The Doctor told him. “If she wasn’t 15 months pregnant she would have taken the lot of them by now. The way I taught her. Davie, you take the one by the window. Chris, the WOMAN on the left. Don’t hesitate because she IS a woman. She has a gun. I’ll deal with the other man and the other woman.”

“Mum will go spare when she finds out,” Davie said with a grin. “Me and Chris in a gunfight.”

“I’ll deal with your mum later. Ready?”

He touched their hands and folded time long enough for them to get inside the study. As they came out of the fold, Davie went into a neat scissor kick that sent the man by the window flying across the room to land with a crunch against the opposite wall. Chris was slightly gentler, but no less sure, as he karate chopped the woman on the neck. She slid into unconsciousness on the floor.

The Doctor had intended to take the man first, but Michael caught his eye and then lunged towards him with a simple but effective bare knuckle punch. The Doctor nodded his thanks as he went for the woman. The woman who had already shot his son. He felt her fear. She had never killed anyone before. She had not been ready for the consequences of her own actions.

Even so, self-preservation overrode her remorse. She screamed and opened fire on him. He felt the bullet go straight through his shoulder. He didn’t hesitate as he reached with his other arm and grabbed the gun from her hand. He broke the firing pin and cast it aside then pulled her around by the arm and rendered her unconscious with a simple technique involving pinching certain nerves in the neck. He never ceased to wonder why peace-loving monks who dedicated their lives to prayer and meditation knew such tricks. But there had been many times when he had been glad he learnt it from them. This was one of them. Because if he had not known how to render her unconscious the urge to simply break the neck was struggling to rise up through his self-control.

He let the unconscious woman fall to the floor as his mind turned to his family. He was by them in moments. Michael came to his side and helped him lift Christopher’s still body aside. Rose lay beneath him, Vicki in her arms. Both were unconscious. Both were bleeding. Rose’s head was grazed by a bullet track. Vicki had a bullet in her arm.

“I think he’s dead,” Michael said, referring to Christopher. The Doctor turned and looked at him. His hearts sobbed with grief.

“Granddad,” Chris said as he came to his side. “Go to him. I don’t think he is dead yet.”

“Rose… Vicki…” he murmured, torn between them and his son.

“We can help them,” Davie told him.

The Doctor nodded. Chris took Vicki as The Doctor passed him the sonic screwdriver set to the right mode for extracting bullets from flesh. Davie began tending to Rose’s wound in a more traditional way, with a clean handkerchief as a bandage.

The Doctor turned to Christopher. He put his hands either side of his head and looked deep inside. He gave a sigh of relief. He wasn’t dead. Not yet. He was on the edge of a pre-regenerative coma though.

“My son,” he whispered. “Thank you. For the lives of my wife and my babies. I know you have taken this hurt for them.”

“I’m ready,” he heard Christopher say to him.

“Ready for what?” he asked, though he knew well enough..

“To regenerate. Stay with me, please.”

“I’m not going anywhere. But you know if you regenerate you’ll have to stand for re-election. It’ll seriously mess up your political ambitions. And what are you going to tell Jackie? You’ve got a date with her tomorrow night.”

“What else can I do?”

“I was shot like this once. I went into the deepest level of meditation and fixed the damage. It hurt a lot more than regenerating but I didn’t lose everything that matters to me.”

“Show me how,” he said. “Father…”

“I’m here, son,” he told him. “We’re going to do it together.”

Rose opened her eyes and looked up at Davie as he sat holding her hand and pressing a cloth against her head. Her first thought was for Vicki.

“She’s ok. She’s just fine.” Chris came to her as she sat up and put the little girl in her arms. The sonic screwdriver had repaired her arm. She looked tearful still but she was all right.

“Christopher…” She looked around and saw The Doctor kneeling by him. “Oh…”

She recognised the signs. She could see even from where she was sitting that Christopher had entered the deepest level of meditative trance, his body at sub-zero temperature. The Doctor was doing the same. Around them were two dead men, three unconscious terrorists and Pauline the maid quiet for the first time all afternoon, having fainted when the shooting began. Michael was the only one standing. He stared fixedly at The Doctor as he knelt by his son.

“Seven bullets,” The Doctor said. “Three through and through. They just messed up the back of your suit jacket. You’ll have to fight Rose later to stop her trying to darn it.”

“Don’t make me laugh,” Christopher said. “Don’t think my body can take it.”

“You’re not in your body. Your mind is outside of it right now. The dangerous one is the one right next to your left heart. Good job it shut down. You’ve got one kidney out of action as well. Made a right mess there. It’ll take a day or two to grow a new one. The one in your shoulder isn’t a problem either. I’ve taken about a dozen of them there over the years. Makes your arm stiff for a while. Oh *£%£^.”


“Hope nobody tries to move you for the next minute. There’s a bullet right on your medulla oblongata.”

“You’re the Doctor, father,” Christopher said. “I don’t even know what that means.”

“It’s the part of your brain stem that regulates your breathing and blood circulation. If that gets damaged, I’ve lost you for good. Not even regeneration can help you.”

“What are you doing?”

“Removing the bullet.”

“You’re hopeless at telekinesis,” Christopher told him.

“I’m good at getting bullets out,” he said. “Trust me, son.”

The Doctor concentrated as hard as he had ever concentrated in his life. His son’s life depended on it. He was BAD at telekinesis, but not hopeless. He remembered Christopher laughing at him when he was a boy. When he had played games with him to improve his skills and his son had quickly outstripped him.

But this was no game. Slowly the bullet edged back away from the crucial brain tissue, following the track through the back of his neck where it had penetrated.

Out of his body or not, Christopher breathed a sigh of relief.

“Let’s get the others now. I’ll take the kidney. You deal with the one by your heart.”

“Madam,” Michael said at last. “What is…. Mr. Christopher and….”

“They’re ok,” Rose said as she stood up and looked around. “They’re both going to be all right. It's quite hard to kill Gallifreyans, you know.”


“The Doctor will explain it to you later, Michael,” she promised. She looked at the woman who had fired the first shot. She was starting to come around. Rose knelt in front of her. “You are a very stupid woman,” she said. “And you’re going to go to jail for a long time.” Then she reached and applied the same Malvorian pinch to her neck that The Doctor had used. She did the same to all four of the surviving Pure Earthers.

“Shouldn’t we call the police?” Michael asked.

“Not yet,” Rose said. “When The Doctor is awake.”

“I’m awake,” he said turning to look at them and tossing his mobile phone to Michael. He caught it despite his astonishment and began to dial the number.

Christopher sat up and looked around. He looked dazed but otherwise perfectly well. He stood up shakily and his grandchildren, half sister and his step-mother all ran to hug him. His father grinned and left them to it. He saw that their assailants were all sleeping it off and went to attend to Pauline, the distressed maid who was murmuring something incoherent about orange blood. When The Doctor touched her she shrank back from him, but he made her look at him. His eyes fixed on hers and she couldn’t look away.

“Pauline,” he said. “You’ve had a very bad afternoon. Thieves broke into the house and hit you over the head. You don’t remember anything else after that. We’re going to send you home to your mother’s in a taxi that Michael is going to call right after he calls the police. You may take tomorrow off to recover. You’re a good girl, and I think you deserve a bonus in your wages this week.”

“Yes sir,” the girl said as she stood up, supported by her arm. Michael thought nothing else could astonish him today.


“She didn’t look like she could handle remembering what went on this afternoon. What about yourself? It wasn’t exactly in your job description. If you would prefer not to remember…”

“I’m quite all right, sir. I’m privileged to know that I am employed by such a great and honourable man as your Lordship. Madam said you would explain a few things that are still puzzling me, though.”

“That I will, Michael,” he said. “Though let’s deal with the police, first.” The Doppler sound of their sirens became louder as four cars and a van for the prisoners pulled up on the driveway. He smiled as he saw the Chief Superintendent was personally dealing with this matter. He and Christopher were on enough local residents committees to be fully acquainted with the man.

“Aliens?” The superintendent laughed as the four living Pure Earthers were led away. “If you two gentlemen are aliens I’m a giraffe. If they tell that story in court it’ll be the padded cells for them. I expect their lawyers will advise them to put their hands up to attempted robbery. That’s the only sensible explanation for what went on here.”

“I’ll leave it in your hands,” The Doctor said.

“You know, we’re even more short of staff now,” Rose said as Pauline departed in a taxi that followed the police cars up the drive. “The woman from the temp agency never did turn up.”

“Does that mean there’s no supper?” The Doctor asked. “Oh well, let’s eat out. Michael, would you care to join us? I can answer some of those questions while we eat. I was thinking of a rather nice place in Rome where I first proposed to Rose.”