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

Chris and Davie tried to slip into the house quietly. Sukie was not making it easy with the running commentary she was having with the new doll they bought her – ironically - to keep her quiet.

“We are in trouble if mum finds out Sukie came with us in the TARDIS,” Chris said.

“Did you seriously think I WOULDN’T find out?” Susan said as she closed the kitchen door. They jumped visibly as they turned to face her. “Sukie, go on to your room.”

Sukie did as she was told. Susan glared at the boys. “Well? And don’t give me that look, Chris. You get it from your great-grandfather and it doesn’t work when HE tries it either.”

“We didn’t do it deliberately,” Davie told her. “She snuck in. We’d already dematerialised before we knew she was there.”

“You could have come straight back with her.”

“It’s a nuisance having to cancel co-ordinates once they’re set,” Davie complained. “Besides, we were only going to Victorian London. What could happen?”

“Anything could happen. They had white slavers that used to kidnap girls her age in those days. And all sorts of other bad stuff. You stupid, irresponsible… If anything happened to her… if she… I would NEVER forgive you.”

“WE travelled with granddad all over the place when we were her age. And so did you,” Chris protested. “What’s the difference?”

“I TRUST grandfather,” Susan answered.

“You don’t trust us?” Chris sounded hurt. Susan looked at him and hesitated, but she knew she couldn’t weaken.

“NO,” she answered him sharply. “Not when you do stupid things like that. I’m grounding you until you can be more responsible. Give me your keys to that damn thing.”

“Our TARDIS keys?” Davie backed away from his mother.

“Your TARDIS keys.”

“NO!” Davie said. “Our TARDIS is nothing to do with you, mum. You have no right to demand the keys and you CAN’T ground us. We’re not kids. We’re adults and we’re very NEARLY Time Lords. You can’t treat us like that.”

“You live in this house, you will DO what I say,” Susan answered. “And don’t you dare take that superior tone with me. Or you’ll be sorry.”

“Don’t threaten us,” Chris said. “Mum, I love you. But Davie is right. I won’t give you my key. And… and I won’t be grounded like a child. No way.”

“Keys, NOW!” she screamed at them. “And go to your rooms.”


“You can’t make us DO anything,” Davie said. “You are inferior to us. We are Time Lords Elect. You have never even trained in any of the disciplines.”

Susan looked at her sons in horror. She couldn’t believe either of them had said that. Even her grandfather in his most arrogant and obnoxious mood would not put her down for not being a fully trained Time Lord.

Her anger boiled over and she raised her hand and slapped Davie on the cheek. It was a forceful slap. He staggered back and his head collided with Chris’s. Both yelled. She burst into tears. In all their lives, she had never hit either of them before. She could hardly believe what she had been driven to.

“That’s it,” Davie said, touching the red mark on his cheek where she had slapped him. “I’m going. You say we have to do as we’re told while we live with you, mum. Well, ok. I’m going. Leaving. Chris…. Are you with me on this?”

Chris’s eyes passed uncertainly between his brother and his mother, but then he turned and went with Davie.

Susan stood in the middle of the kitchen, frozen with shock as she tried to take in what had happened. Then she began to run. She had heard the TARDIS de-materialising outside. The boys really WERE leaving.

“No!” she cried as she reached the garden. She stared at the empty space where the TARDIS had disguised itself as a potting shed and she began to cry. She didn’t even hear David’s car pull into the car port. She didn’t hear him calling to her.

“That felt so wrong,” Chris told his brother as he took the TARDIS into temporal orbit. “We shouldn’t have said those things to mum.”

“SHE shouldn’t have said what she said to US!” Davie replied. “Aren’t you fed up of being treated like a kid?”

“Yes, but… leaving home… really… can we?”

“Why not. We’ve got the TARDIS. Granddad lived in his for centuries. He never even had a home at all until he married Rose. And even then, he only bought the house to make her happy.”

“He lived in a junk yard in the TARDIS when mum was a teenager,” Chris recalled. “I suppose we could find one of those.”

“A junkyard, maybe not. But what’s to stop us just parking up ANYWHERE and living the way we want to?”

“What will granddad say?” Chris wondered.

“He’ll be on our side. He will say mum was making a fuss over nothing. He never told mum about half the stuff we did when we were travelling with him. He’s always been on our side.”

“Didn’t think it was about sides,” Chris sighed. “Besides, granddad is kind of old fashioned about us respecting our elders and that sort of thing. He will be mad at us when mum tells him what we said.”

“Then to hell with him, too,” Davie decided.

Chris looked at him anxiously. “You don’t mean that….”

“I do. I’m fed up of the lot of them. I want… I want to be out there among the stars, exploring, finding things out. Testing myself and my TARDIS….”

“OUR TARDIS,” Chris corrected him. “We’re in this together.”

“Don’t have to be. You can go back if you want. I know you’re not completely sure. I can feel it in your head. You want to go back to mum.”

“So do you. Deep down, you’re scared.”

“No I’m not.”

“Yes,” Chris told him. “You ARE.”

“Well, if I am, I’m not going to let it stop me.”

“There’s that ‘me’ again. We’re in this together. I know you think I’m a total girl, and not as tough as you. And it's true in a lot of ways. We think different. But we’re still… still two halves of the same soul. I love you, Davie, and…”

“You ARE a total girl, Chris,” Davie laughed. “Girl’s name, pony tail, soppy ideas in your head. But… you’re still…. Still the better part of me.” He smiled at his brother. “We don’t need anyone else. We’ve got each other.”

“We don’t have to live far away,” Chris said. “We can go see mum, and dad, and Sukie. And… and granddad and Rose…”

“Yeah,” Davie agreed. “Course we can. We’ll find a junk yard in walking distance. But we’ll be ourselves. We’ll live how we want to live. Go where we want, when we want. And… We’re going to start now. Let’s take this TARDIS where even granddad wouldn’t dare go.”

“Where’s that?” Chris asked.

Davie grinned. Chris stared open mouthed.


“I need to get the children some new clothes,” Rose said as she relaxed in the drawing room after their evening meal. Peter was asleep in the nursery and Vicki was starting to drift to sleep and fighting it as she played a game with her father. Rose lay down on the sofa and smiled as she watched Vicki crack the 16 digit alphanumeric code that unlocked the box where The Doctor had concealed the last piece of the big floor-size jigsaw puzzle she had almost completed. He loved to set puzzles that challenged her mind. But it was more than just fun. She was his child, and that meant that even at her age she was a genius and she needed that sort of stimulation to stop her becoming frustrated and bored. A bored child with the kind of nascent psychic powers Vicki had was a hazard to local traffic.

“Clothes?” The Doctor looked at his wife quizzically. “Didn’t we do that a month ago?”

“Peter is already outgrowing most of his things. And Vicki…” she smiled. “Ok, I admit it. I just like to buy her dresses whether she needs them or not. She’s my little girl. Anyway, we can always keep the stuff Peter’s outgrown for when we have another baby.”

“Why would we need to?” The Doctor asked. “It’s not as if I can’t afford it.”

“I forgot. We’re rich. We don’t have to save and make do. Never get used to that, you know. Any more than I can get used to what things cost in the 23rd century. Even after living here for years now I am still surprised by prices in the shops.”

“How would you like to go shopping in Paris?” he asked her. “We can make a day of it. Just the two of us. Your mum and my son can practice parenthood. Make a night of it, if you like. Romantic in Paris… Maybe we can work on that next baby that isn’t going to need Peter’s cast offs.”

“Romantic in Paris is a nice idea. But I don’t want to have another baby just yet. Mum and Christopher… after they’re married... they’re planning to try straight away. Because mum is getting a bit old for it, after all. They don’t have many chances. And she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for – sixteen months of pregnancy and having to have her husband’s blood injected into her every day so she doesn’t get anaemic, and the weird dreams, and the BACKACHE you would not believe, and all of it. And… it's up to me to help her through it. So it would be better if I wasn’t pregnant as well, wouldn’t it.”

The Doctor looked disappointed. That meant it would be at least another two years before they could add to their little family. But she had a point.

“Romantic in Paris with no strings then,” he said. He took her hand and squeezed it gently. He was about to kiss her when he heard a car on the drive followed by a loud knock on the door. He scrambled to his feet and looked as Michael went to open the door. It couldn’t be anyone they didn’t know or he would not have admitted the car through the entry system, but at this time in the evening it was unusual to have unplanned visitors.

“Where is the arrogant know it all?” David Campbell demanded angrily.

“His Lordship is with her ladyship in the drawing room,” Michael answered with a butler’s cool aplomb. “If you will step inside I will tell him you are here.”

“It’s ok, Michael,” The Doctor said, stepping into the hall. “You should have been off duty an hour ago, anyway. Go on, back to your lady wife.” Michael nodded and slipped away back to the private drawing room near the kitchen where he and his wife spent their quiet evenings. “David… What’s wrong? What have the boys done now? It has to be them. You only ever call me an arrogant know it all when they’ve been up to something.”

“They’ve left home,” David said, his anger softened only a fraction with grief. “They said some things to Susan that they never would have said if you hadn’t taught them to be so bloody arrogant and superior. And then they stormed off in their bloody TARDIS. They said they were never coming back. They’re not even 18 yet, and they’re out there somewhere, God knows where. Or when. And it's all because of you. Your arrogance. Your sense of superiority. They get it from you.”

“They get a lot of things from me,” The Doctor said. “They get some of it from you, too, David. You drove all the way here with all that anger. It’s a wonder you didn’t run the car off the road. Come and sit down and say hello to Rose and calm down.”

“Don’t patronise me,” David snapped. “I’m not one of your children. I just happen to have the misfortune of being MARRIED into your infernal family.”

“David!” Rose came into the hall, carrying Vicki. “Whatever is wrong, there’s no need to be so rude.” She looked at The Doctor. “I’m taking Vicki to bed. Try not to kill each other before I get downstairs again.”

“Why did you come here, David?” The Doctor asked him. “If it was just to berate me about things I have no control over, then don’t you think your priorities are wrong? Finding out what the boys are up to and where they are comes first. You can yell at me all you like after we know they’re safe. Assuming, of course they’re not just sitting in temporal orbit sulking.”

“You’re the one who gave them that infernal machine and let them think they could rule the universe.” David said. “You can get them back.”

“I can’t control their TARDIS,” The Doctor said. “I have no way to BRING them back. I can contact them, try to make them see reason… but…”

“GET MY KIDS BACK!” David yelled. The Doctor was stunned. He had NEVER seen David this angry. Or this upset.

“You really think they’ve gone for good?” The thought made his blood run cold, too. Yes, the boys were old enough and smart enough to pilot the TARDIS alone, to explore, to get themselves in and out of a fair amount of trouble. But not to go it completely alone, cut off from the family altogether.

They WERE nearly as old as Susan when she left him to marry David.

Yes, but it was different. Susan had David to look after her. Besides, he didn’t WANT them to do that. He didn’t want to lose contact with them for centuries. His one deepest regret in his life was staying away from his granddaughter for so long.

“Wait,” he said. He sat down on the sofa and tried to contact the boys mentally. For one moment he thought he had them, but they seemed to slip from him.

“They’re blocking me,” he said. “Deliberately.” He leant his head against the sofa back and cleared his mind of everything but reaching out to Chris and Davie. He was aware of other telepathic minds around. His Israelites. Their minds showed up like beacons in the telepathic plane. But he was honing in on just two. The two nearest and dearest to him, that he had never had trouble contacting before.

He let himself drop into the shallowest level of trance, focussing his mind. Then deeper still, trying to find them.

David looked at The Doctor in surprise. One minute he was talking to him, the next he just seemed to drift off. Was he asleep? Strange thing for him to do. He knew The Doctor was OLD. VERY old even though his regenerated body looked younger than HE did. David remembered when The Doctor was a frail old man they had to leave behind at one point in their fight against the Daleks because he was too tired to go on. Was he, inside the young shell, still as old and tired?

“Doctor?” David reached and touched him. He didn’t move. His body was rigid. He reached and felt for a pulse. He couldn’t feel anything.

“Rose!” David ran to the hallway yelling in panic. “Rose, come quick.”

Rose was halfway down the stairs anyway when she heard him. She took the rest of the steps at a run.

“What is it? The boys… what’s happened?”

“The Doctor… he’s…. Rose, I think he’d dead.”

“What! How can he…” She ran through to the drawing room, David following.

“He just went like that. I can’t find a pulse. I think…maybe he had a heart attack or… Can his sort have heart attacks?”

“Yes, they can,” Rose told him calmly. “They can also have very scary periods of deep meditation. Have you never seen him do that before?”

“He’s not dead? But I tried his pulse…” He lifted The Doctor’s arm again and put his finger on his wrist.

“You’ve been married to Susan for how long?” Rose laughed. “David, you don’t read Gallifreyan pulses THERE. Look.” She slid her hand under his shirt and found his collarbone. Just underneath the clavicle she could feel his pulse all right. It was slow, very slow. He was in about a third level trance. But he was alive. “He’s trying to reach the boys?”

“That’s what he said before…”

“Then let him be,” Rose told him. “Let him do it his way.”


“It’s all right,” Rose assured him. “He’ll find them. He probably already has. He’ll be giving them a tongue lashing to beat them all.”


He hadn’t found them. It took a great deal of mental effort to block him when he went into the deepest state and focussed his mind on them, but he couldn’t find them. Because they didn’t want to be found.

“That was horrible,” Chris gasped when he felt the pressure on his mind ease at last. The Doctor had given up the mental search. “Hiding from him… I never thought we’d ever have to….”

“If he knew what we were doing, he’d TOTALLY want to stop us,” Davie answered. “He’ll NEVER approve of this. We’re breaking half a dozen of the Laws. But I don’t care. I want to do this.” He reached for the navigation console and began to key in a co-ordinate. Chris watched him.

“How come you have that? Granddad took it out of the database. He wiped the cells.”

“Didn’t take it out of my memory, though.”

“It’s 28 characters long.”

“My full Gallifreyan name is 82 characters long.”

Chris conceded the point.

“But that just brings us to the empty space where the solar system used to be. Near the event horizon of the black hole.”

“I know. After that it gets a bit harder. Then we’ve got to seriously break some protocols.”


The Doctor opened his eyes. Rose passed him a cup of coffee. He smiled gratefully at her. She always remembered. These deep trances made his mouth dry and a cup of coffee helped. She’d been doing that for him for nearly as long as they had been together.

“Did you find them?” David asked anxiously.

“I couldn’t make contact,” he said. “But I could feel them out there. They must both be in a real strop. They blocked me out. Wouldn’t answer me at all.”

“The boys can block you?” Rose asked.

“They’re both just as strong telepaths as I am. And working together… they’re formidable. But… well, that’s the good news. They’re ok. They’re in control of what they’re doing.”

“But you don’t know where they are?”

“I’m going to find out.” He drained the coffee cup and stood up. “Rose… Lunch in Paris is still on. But… don’t wait up for me. I don’t know how long this might take.”

“Just find them,” she told him.

“Doctor….” David said. “You’re going out there, in the TARDIS, to look for them?”


“Then I’m coming with you. Rose… Call Susan and tell her what we’re doing. Tell her not to worry.”

“I’ll get Mrs Grahams to mind the children and go over and sit with her,” Rose decided. “Poor Susan. You can’t expect her to be all on her own, not knowing what’s happening.”

The Doctor nodded his approval of that idea and headed to the basement where the TARDIS was waiting. David followed.

“Ok, we’re here,” Davie said as they came out of the green vortex that took them to a place not plotable in ordinary time and space. They looked up at the viewscreen. Both of them felt a little awed and a little sad as they saw the black hole that slowly drew in all the matter around itself. The Doctor had taught them Gallifreyan history thoroughly. Both their imaginations were peopled with the great achievements of their ancestors, the great scientists, the great explorers, the great politicians. The great criminals too, the Renegades, though there was only one of those that interested them.

The one whose blood ran in their veins.

“We’re in the empty space where that great civilisation once was.”

“That’s the first part of the journey. The next bit… we go back in time to before…”

“How do you know what to do?” Chris asked. “This goes way beyond what granddad taught us both.”

“I read up on it in his library,” Davie said. “You read the art and literature sections, and the transcendental philosophy. I read all the temporal physics and thermodynamics books.”

“Does it ever worry you that we seem to be becoming so different now we’re older,” Chris asked his brother. “It’s not just that you’re more into engineering than I am, or that I like the philosophical and the mystical stuff. We do seem to want different things now.”

“We’ll always be us,” Davie assured him. “Even if we were either end of the universe, we’d still be us.”

“Would that happen?”

“It might. If I carry on with the plan to build and sell our own TARDISes and you want to start your own ashram on SangC’lune!”

“The ashram isn’t a bad idea, but I wasn’t planning to do it on SangC’lune. And I do still want to work with you on the designer TARDISes plan.”

“That’s ok then,” Davie told him. “Meanwhile, take the drive engine interface control and get ready.”

“Ready for what?” Chris asked. He felt out of his depth. Davie knew FAR more about these things than he did. Literally because these things interested Davie more. Chris was a competent pilot. The Doctor had taught them both everything they needed to know about safely navigating the TARDIS through the vortex. But Davie was the one who wanted to push the limits and go beyond what they had been taught.

And he knew Davie was smart enough to push those limits. But this idea made him nervous.

Time travel on Gallifrey was prevented by buffers and time barriers even when the planet existed. Most of those barriers collapsed when it was destroyed, but Davie wanted to go back in time to when it WAS there. And that meant they would fly straight into the barriers. He didn’t know what would happen, but words like ‘slam’ and ‘crash’ came to mind and ‘ouch’ closely after them.


“What can I do to help?” David asked as The Doctor got the TARDIS under way.

“Nothing much. Just take a seat.” The Doctor looked at David and realised that was the wrong answer. David needed to be useful, to be helping in the search for his sons. “Actually, yes… take that console opposite me. Put in this code….” He recited a code from memory. David punched it in carefully. The screen in front of him resolved into the videophone ‘call connecting’ logo. After thirty seconds or so, though, ‘no response’ came up and the screen went blank. “Press star, hash 4,” The Doctor said. “Keep doing it.”

“Who are we calling?” David asked.

“The boys. In their TARDIS. They’re not answering. If they get fed up of it ringing and answer the call then we’ve made contact, but even if we don’t, I am trying to trace their location from it. Takes a while. There’s a LOT of space and time for them to be in.”

“Keep trying,” David told him. “Boys… please, pick up the phone.”

One of them did after he had redialled fifteen times. David sighed with relief when he saw Chris’s face on the screen.

“We’ve got nothing to say,” Chris said. “To anyone. Please stop bothering us.”

He hung up the call but The Doctor gave a triumphant cry.

“Locked on,” he said. “I can trace their co-ordinate.” Then his face went pale. “Oh no, what are they doing there?”

“Where are they?”

“They’ve gone to the co-ordinate where Gallifrey used to be. Where the black hole is now. The idiots. Black holes…. I knew those two would be fascinated… I’ll lay odds they’re going to see how close they can get to the event horizon.”

“That’s dangerous?”

“Very. Even if they’re not sucked in, they could damage their TARDIS, expose themselves to radiation….” He worked at the drive controls as he spoke. David noticed they were in the vortex – the green vortex for places outside of time. Whatever that meant.

“There’s a time envelope around the whole area where the solar system used to be. Time doesn’t pass there. It’s separate to any part of time or space. That’s why the co-ordinate is longer than any ordinary space or time location.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know,” David laughed hollowly. “I know nothing about space and time travel co-ordinates. I was a farmer’s son before the Dalek invasion. After that, I did whatever work was needed. I took care of my family. I forgot sometimes for days at a time that my wife was from another planet.”

“Do you think it would have been better if I had never come back to you?” The Doctor asked.

“This is not a good time to ask. If you hadn’t, my children would not be out there in space somewhere, lost. But they probably would have gone insane because they didn’t know how to control their psychic powers. We NEEDED you, Doctor. But you have to realise… I’m trying not to sound like I’m just jealous because they love you more than me…. But they ARE my children. I wish….” He shook his head. “Doctor, I know you love them as if they WERE your sons. But they’re not. They’re mine. You weren’t there. We didn’t even know you were alive. Susan had given up hoping long before then. I was there when she gave birth to the twins. Davie…. I was holding him in my arms when Chris was born. Two beautiful boys… perfect…. My sons. Except that between them they had four hearts and their blood was a different colour to mine. But they WERE my sons. Even if they were half alien. I was there for the first eight years of their lives. Even after that… even when they talked so much about you that I started to dread your visits, knowing I was losing their love to you. Even then, I was there for them far more than you were. They’re MY sons.”

“I know that, David. You NEVER lost them. They always loved you. I never let them forget that you’re their father.”

“That’s easy for you to say.”

“It’s the truth.”

“I just wish… If they die….”

“Don’t give up hope,” The Doctor told him. “David, they’re alive. I’m sure. I think if they were…. I think we’d both know. In our souls.”

“Yes,” David agreed. “Yes, I would.”


“What period of Gallifrey’s history were you planning to take us to?” Chris asked. “Because you know, what we’re doing carries a mandatory death sentence in the later era. And I don’t want to go back to the Time of Chaos. We might as well visit Earth in the Jurassic era.”

“I was thinking of the early golden age. When Rassilon was still in charge. When Time Lords had just become the dominant people of Gallifrey.”

“Cool,” Chris said, becoming interested despite his reservations. “Rassilon and Omega and the Other One.”

“The who?” After perplexing him for long enough, now it was Davie’s turn to not know something.

“The Other One. Rassilon and Omega founded Time Lord society. Rassilon discovered the genetic key to regeneration. Omega cracked time travel. And there was another one… a third great man who worked with them. Nobody knows his name. Nobody knows what he did exactly, except maybe stop Rassilon and Omega from going to war with each other and undoing everything.”

“I wonder…” Davie grinned. “Who do we know who is big enough to take on the two greatest Time Lords of all?”

“No!” Chris laughed nervously. “No way. Granddad IS a great Time Lord in his own right. But he’s NOT… He would have had to have broken ALL the Laws at the same time - except the one about cheating on the lottery and the grandfather paradox.”

“Those ARE the only two granddad says he hasn’t broken,” Davie laughed. “But it would be cool, wouldn’t it. If he WAS the one.”

“Well, let’s go there and find out,” Chris said, suddenly enthusiastic. “What is it you want me to do?”

“Watch the two dials. The top one is temporal stability. We can’t go over 75 or we’ll drop out of the vortex so fast the inside of the TARDIS will fall out of the outside.”

Chris tried not to imagine what that would look like. He figured he’d be too busy finding out what it FEELS like, and then only briefly.

“And the other one is engine pressure. If that reaches 50 we’ll just explode.”

“Ok, and how do I stop either of them from doing that?” Chris asked.

“The two levers. Move them slowly. They’re the TARDIS equivalent of letting out steam in an old Earth steam engine. They’re the safety valve. But don’t let them fall more than one or two percent at once, either. Or the TARDIS could…”


“Implode more like. We’d become a sort of mini black hole with our bodies as the singularity at the centre, crushed to the very smallest size our atoms could go.”

“Davie, are you just trying to scare me, or can it REALLY do that?”

“Just watch those dials and we need never find out,” he said. Chris watched them, his hands on the levers nervously as Davie inputted a new co-ordinate. He didn’t ask him where he had got it. He glanced at the viewscreen. They were in the vortex again. But it was acting even more strangely than when they were in the GREEN vortex. Now it seemed to be red, blue and green alternatively. As if they were travelling back and forwards in time and being buffeted into null-time as well.

“Every bit of headway we make in the vortex it pushes us back a little,” Davie explained, shouting above the sound of the TARDIS engines roaring louder than they ever did. They clung to the handholds on the console to prevent them falling across the floor. Davie tried to increase the power, to break through the force that was keeping them back. The TARDIS engines whined alarmingly.

“Davie!” Chris told him. “Both dials are moving up.” He turned the levers slowly, carefully. The dials stabilised. “69 on Temporal stability. 46 on the engine pressure. Those are both pretty close.”

“Within acceptable margins,” Davie assured him. “Keep it steady.”

“It seems to be holding. But… how much longer will it take? Davie, listen to the engine. It’s pulling itself apart.”

“It’s ok,” Davie assured him. “We should be through it soon.”

They were both jolted as something blew under the interface console. Chris jumped away from it as sparks flew. He drew close again and saw to his alarm that the two dials were dropping rapidly.

“52, 51,50, 45…” he read the temporal stability. “The other one… it's down to 20, 19…”

“Bring them back up,” Davie yelled. “Too low is nearly as bad as too high.”

“We still implode?”

“I’m not sure,” Davie admitted. “But it won’t be pretty.” He grinned. “Then again we won’t be alive to care what it looks like.”

“It’s coming back up,” Chris said. “But…. Davie, I don’t think I can stop it. The lever works one way but not the other… it’s not compensating down.”

“Mind out of the way.” Davie bounded around the console much as they had both seen their grandfather move in his own TARDIS. He bent down under the interface console and started feverishly pulling out wires.

“Davie…. 68, 69, 70… holding at 70. No… climbing again… 71… 72… holding… Oh hell… the other one is at 49…. 49.1… 49.3… DAVIE! Do something, quick. 73… 74…”

“Try now,” Davie said, his voice slightly muffled from holding his sonic screwdriver in his mouth.

“Yes, got it,” Chris said with relief. “48, 47, 46, 45… holding at 45. The other… still climbing…. 75…. 76…. Over the limit… Davie….” Davie jammed his sonic screwdriver into the circuit. Chris felt the lever suddenly respond. “78, 77, 76, 75, 74, 73….. 68. Holding at 68. But we went right up to 78….”

“Within the acceptable margin,” Davie said as he crawled out. “Any higher and we would have been gonners.”

“My NERVES are already gone,” Chris told him. “Are we….” He looked at the viewscreen. They were showing a steady blue vortex now. “Did we…”

“We’re through the buffer,” Davie said, triumphantly. “Golden age of Gallifrey here we come.”


Rose was waiting up after all. Susan was in no mind to go to bed and sleep while both her sons and her husband were somewhere in time and space facing any kind of danger. Sukie was curled up asleep on the sofa with the new doll the boys had bought her cuddled up beside her, but she and Rose sat quietly, drinking coffee and sometimes talking just to pass the time.

“That is a beautiful doll,” Susan admitted. “Genuine antique, too, if they bought it in Victorian London. A nice thing for them to do.”

“They’re good lads,” Rose said. “Most of the time. They didn’t mean any of this, I’m sure.”

“I know,” Susan sighed. “I just want to tell them I forgive them for the things they said… to hold them again and tell them I love them.”

“The Doctor will find them. You can trust him.”

“I do trust him. Of course I do. There’s nobody in the universe I trust more. But I’m still scared. Grandfather isn’t invincible either. There are things he can’t do.”

“Well, I don’t know what they are,” Rose said. “He’s always got the answer to just about any problem.”

“That’s the trouble. The boys see him able to take on just about anything, and they think they can do the same.”

“You don’t regret him coming back to you, do you?” Rose asked. “I know having him around makes for the most incredible complications. But I know I prefer life WITH him than without him.”

“Grandfather…. Is the most infuriating, aggravating man in the universe. He makes my life SO difficult. But I owe him so much. For as much as I have come to love Christopher, Grandfather is still the only parent I ever had. I don’t remember anyone else when I was little. My earliest memory is of him holding me. When we lived on Gallifrey, it was just the two of us in the old house. When we were in exile, the TARDIS was my home and he was the whole universe to me. No matter where else we went, grandfather was there. The one person I could be sure of, until that day when he left me with David. He was gone so long I thought he must be dead, and I cried about it so often. David was so good to me. He always talked so proudly about him, you know. Whenever people talked about the Invasion, David ALWAYS told them it was grandfather who saved us all. But I was sure he WAS dead. Because otherwise he WOULDN’T stay away so long. But then…. suddenly… There he was. At my door.”

Rose smiled as she remembered that day.

“You slapped him. The only other person who ever did that was my mum.”

“He deserved it. He never explained why he was gone so long. He never has. He just came back into my life and complicated it again. But…” Susan sighed deeply. “But no. I have never regretted it. Only that he took so long. And that…” Susan stopped. She looked at Rose. “When he came that first time, with you, he told me he wanted to marry you. I thought… I thought he had lost his mind. I told him he couldn’t. There were good reasons. You know that. But maybe I was just a little bit jealous of you, too. Because I knew how much he loved you. I blamed you for keeping him from me. And that was so wrong. I regret not giving him my blessing when he asked for it. You two could have been married so much sooner if I hadn’t stood in your way.”

“Oh, Susan!” Rose passed her a paper tissue. She’d already gone through so many. Her eyes were red raw from crying over the boys. Now she was crying about something that SO didn’t matter any more.

“When they get back…” she said. “All four of them…”

“Yeah,” Rose said. The important word was WHEN. Not IF. WHEN they get back.


The TARDIS came out of the vortex into the space where Gallifrey’s solar system once was. David looked at the black hole that used to be its sun and shivered. This was the second time in his life he had seen that. And it was twice too many.

But he didn’t see the Chinese TARDIS anywhere.

“They’re not here,” The Doctor said, his hearts sinking. “I really thought they would be.”

“The black hole?” David looked at it again. Any matter that came close to it would be sucked in. The boys had some strong force fields and shields on their machine. They had shown him it all proudly. But he wasn’t sure it could withstand that.

“It can’t,” The Doctor told him. “A black hole is one thing I would never mess with. Yes, a TARDIS can get closer to the event horizon than anything else. But I wouldn’t. It’s just TOO dangerous. And WHY does it have to be this one? If they wanted to explore black holes, there are millions of them. Why THIS one? Did they do this deliberately to hurt me?”

“It isn’t like them to deliberately hurt anyone,” David said. “But… where ARE they? Doctor… have they been pulled into it? Are they dead?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “There’s no way to get readings around it. There is too much distortion of time and reality.”

“If we’re too late… if they’re dead already…”

“Then I’m sorry but…”

“NO,” David was adamant. “If they’re dead now…. then go back in time…. go back to when they were alive and get them.”

“I can’t do that, David,” The Doctor told him. “The Laws of Time…”

“To hell with your laws. The people who made them are long dead. They were sucked into that hell hole years ago.”

“The Laws of Time are not just laws made by the Time Lords,” The Doctor explained gently and calmly. “They are laws of nature, like gravity. Like life and death themselves. Messing with them has terrible consequences. David, I am sorry. But I can’t. If we have lost the boys… then I can’t… it’s their lives, their souls, against every soul in the universe. I can’t.”

David looked at him. He saw the anguish in The Doctor’s eyes as he told him that. He loved the boys as much as he did. He was as much their parent as he was now. And if that was something he had resented, he didn’t now. He wouldn’t wish the grief he was feeling on anyone else.

“David,” The Doctor told him. “I’m not going to give up. I don’t know where they are. I know they came to this co-ordinate. That’s the one thing I DO know. I have picked up the resonance of their TARDIS. They WERE here not long ago. Where they went… I don’t know. The black hole… it’s only one answer. They may have tried another co-ordinate…”


“We’re there!” Davie cried out triumphantly. Look…”

They stood together as they gazed on a sight NOBODY had seen except in hologram for…. Well, nobody was sure. Because Gallifrey existed outside of time nobody actually knew how long ago it was destroyed. They knew their great-grandfather had been in stasis within his TARDIS, injured from the disaster for over forty years before he completed his regeneration and began to pick up his life. But that was only linear time. It was meaningless.

They were in orbit above the planet of the Time Lords, the planet their ancestors came from, where it all began

“It’s beautiful.” Chris whispered. “Just as I imagined. The great ocean, the two great continents. The deserts. Look… that’s Mount Loeng on the southern continent. Where we come from – the de Lœngbærrow family.”

“But this is when our family was new,” Davie said. “The Golden Age when Rassilon sired the great Oldblood Houses.”

“Do you think that should be taken literally?” Chris asked. “Sired… Like he really is our blood ancestor going millions of years back?”

“I don’t think anyone knows. I asked granddad once, he just laughed and said there probably isn’t much else to do when you’re an Immortal Creator.”

“It’s awesome to be here. Are we going to try to land?”

“Yes,” Davie said. “Just as soon as I....” He stopped. From the depths of the TARDIS the Cloister Bell rang. It wasn’t as deep and sonorous as the one in their great-grandfather’s TARDIS, but it still had a tone that spelt danger. Immediate danger. And that was what a Cloister Bell was supposed to spell.

“What?” Chris began. But his question went unanswered. The TARDIS dropped suddenly as if it had lost orbit and bucked and swayed sickeningly. And when they looked again they were in the vortex once more. Davie reached for the controls but they no longer felt as if they were under his command. The TARDIS was out of control and so was the vortex. Again it seemed to be red, blue and green alternatively.

“Davie!” Chris screamed. But Davie could do nothing. He could barely stand up as the ship pitched and tossed as if it WAS a ship on an ocean in a storm. He crawled to where his brother was and reached to hold him. He felt as sure this time that they were going to die. He couldn’t see how the TARDIS could stand up to the forces being exerted upon it. The vortex was pushing and pulling it through time like a lost sock in the washing machine.

“One more metaphor like that, and I’ll be glad to die,” Chris told him. They laughed feebly and clung to each other and prepared for the inevitable.

“I’m glad we tried,” Davie said. “I just wish…”

“Wish we could have made it up with mum…”


The TARDIS stopped dead momentarily. They looked up at the viewscreen and saw the two continents splitting apart in a seismic catastrophe that happened billions of years before the history of the people of Gallifrey began. Then the strange gravity drop and they were in the vortex again.

They dropped out once more and they could see the great Capitol city in the middle of the northern continent. This was the civilised technical time of Gallifrey’s history. Then they heard a siren wail that filled the very air in the console room and the screen flickered and resolved into the face of a man dressed in the uniform of the Gallifreyan Chancellery Guard.

“Unknown, unauthorised time capsule, you have breached the transduction barrier. Surrender now or you will be taken into custody.”

“Should we…” Chris reached towards the communications panel to answer the man. “If we explain….” But before he could open the channel the TARDIS was pulled back into the vortex.

“It won’t let us out,” Davie moaned dismally. “We’re trapped in the vortex. It will spit us out and then grab us back forever.”

“You don’t know that,” Chris told him. “Maybe it will stabilise. Maybe….”

“Oh my $%#@£$!” Davie used a Low Gallifreyan curse his mother would be shocked to hear him use as he stood up from the floor. On the viewscreen he saw the new temporal location they had been ‘spat’ out into. Gallifrey was surrounded by a huge fleet of ships. Huge ships that could be nothing else but warships.

“We’re in the middle of the Time War!” Chris yelled.

“What’s that?” Davie asked. As the TARDIS revolved slowly he saw something hanging there between the planet and the fleet. He had never seen it from that angle before. He never realised that even in space it still looked like a police telephone box. The absurdity of that shape as capable of flying in space occurred to him in the split second before he saw something propelled from the other TARDIS.

A missile! In the same split second Davie remembered his great-grandfather’s anger at him for arming the Chinese TARDIS. The injustice of it burned in him even as the horror overtook him. The missile was heading for THEM.

“Shield!” he screamed and reached for the button that raised the force field he had designed himself. But he never knew if it had worked or not. He felt what might have been an impact just at the same moment the vortex grabbed them again.


The Doctor stared at the empty space around them, tried not to look at the black hole that was emptier than any other space and conversely packed with more matter than the galaxy they were in. He tried not to think of the boys as part of that compressed matter, the pain they would have briefly felt as their bodies were crushed and compacted. He was beginning to be sure that was what had happened. He could think of no other answer to where they were.

How long should he stay here, waiting, if it was so hopeless? How long before he went back to Susan and told her that her boys were lost to her?

“A little longer,” he told himself. “Just a little longer. A little more hope.”

“What hope?” his inner demons demanded. “They’re dead. And it's your fault.”

“Do you think I don’t know that?” he snapped back. “I have to live with that.”

“Like you live with what you did here – with CAUSING the death of a whole solar system. The death of those two innocent children is another consequence. YOU made that black hole.”

“No I didn’t,” he cried out in his own head. “No, I didn’t. I don’t know what happened. I’ve carried the guilt with me for half a century and more. But I don’t know if it WAS my fault or not. I don’t know.”

“Davie!” Chris cried weakly. This really DID feel like the end now. The TARDIS had rematerialised in the same place, a few minutes, or maybe an hour later, they didn’t know. But for the fraction of a second they were outside of the vortex they were caught in the inferno. Before the viewscreen melted they saw the planet burning, saw their ship enveloped in fire, felt the radiation penetrate the TARDIS despite all of its shields. Davie reached for the controls and was thrown bodily away from it. The console had become ‘live’ momentarily before the time rotor shattered and burnt with an acrid, choking smoke.

In the darkness lit only by the glow of melting keyboards Chris reached his brother. His body was slowly repairing itself from the terrible burns he had sustained, but he was unconscious. His own skin was recovering from the blistering heat of the radiation burst now, but he wondered how long he had left. The console room was full of smoke. He could barely breathe. He by-passed his respiratory system but that bought him only a little more time. Time to watch Davie die first, he thought. And his hearts broke.


The Doctor had given it another five minutes half an hour ago. He knew it was pointless to wait any longer. And still he could not bring himself to give up. He had given it another ten minutes. He couldn’t even bring himself to suggest to David that they should leave. David stood there the other side of the viewscreen, staring at the time rotor as it gently moved up and down keeping them in a stationary position against the emptiness of this area of space.


“That’s them?” David asked, relief mixed with horror. “But… what happened to them?”

“They’ve sustained damage,” The Doctor said in a flat, matter of fact tone. He didn’t trust his voice to express any emotion. He was trying to communicate with the stricken TARDIS. He was getting nothing. Which meant that communications were down. He tried contacting the boys mentally, and he THOUGHT there was something, a flicker, enough to give him hope, but it was a forlorn hope. The chances of anyone being alive in that battered, burnt ship….

A TARDIS was not an ordinary space ship. But there was only so much it could take. He knew that to his own cost.

“It’s being pulled towards the black hole!” David shrieked. “Doctor…”

“I’m onto it,” he told him. He was already manually piloting their own ship towards the stricken one. His TARDIS had never had a tractor beam or anything so ‘space tech’ as that. But it did have a couple of tricks of its own. One of them was to extend its own gravitational field to envelop any nearby object and carry it along like an external hitchhiker. As long as they could reach it before the event horizon.

“Got them,” The Doctor said, again in that flat voice. He still didn’t know WHAT they had got. Whether two blackened corpses or…

He pushed the thought away out of his mind. First they had to get well clear of the event horizon. Then he had to connect the two TARDISes so he could get on board. Tractor beams! Transmats! Didn’t need either as long as his TARDIS had power in its cells.

“David… hold this for me, please,” he said as he brought the TARDIS around to face the other one. As long as somebody held the lever down the doors would seal against each other in a few minutes. They could step from one to the other. But he had to know what to expect. If there was fire, radiation…

There was neither. But there was no oxygen. The environmental console gave a list of the poisonous, carcinogenic, unbreathable fumes that filled the other console room. And the lifesigns detector….

…Showed two very weak lifesigns, near the door. As if they were trying to reach it.

David… just… stand by the door and hold your breath!” he yelled as he felt the slight shudder that told him they had made contact. He reached for the door release and then sprinted across the floor. He closed off his breathing as the acrid smoke poured through. His TARDIS’s automatic systems cleared the air as quickly as it could while he reached in and pulled the two bodies together. Chris was lying on top of his brother. He looked as if he had dragged him across the floor, got as far as the door before he, too, collapsed. Had he known help was on its way? He hoped so. He hoped that Chris’s last thoughts before he succumbed were brighter ones than they ought to have been.

“Are they…” David stammered.

“They’re alive,” The Doctor told him. “But just…” He rolled Chris over onto his back and began CPR. David didn’t need to be told. He dropped to his knees beside his eldest son and began the same procedure.

It was incredible, The Doctor thought, for all their Time Lord technology, this procedure, developed by Earth people, that simply involved blowing air from their own lungs, manually compressing the chest, a HUMAN method that needed no technology, just grim determination not to give up until the last moment had passed, and then some, was what would save their lives.

Chris coughed and breathed in a rasping, ragged breath. His lungs would need some time to mend, but he was alive. He tried to speak but The Doctor told him to hush. He turned his head instinctively towards his brother. He saw his father still working on him. He clung to his great-grandfather and both came as close to prayer as two people with no religion could possibly come.

“Daddy?” Davie’s voice was rough when he spoke, but nobody cared. He spoke - that’s what mattered. David sobbed with joy not only that he HAD spoken, but the word he had spoken. Davie’s first word when he was a baby had not been ‘daddy’, but something approximating ‘Chris’. But now as he held him in his arms, seventeen years old and, returned to him from as close to death as anybody, Human or Time Lord or a bit of both, could be, he had reached out to him. To his father.

“I’m here, son,” David whispered, rocking him in his arms as if he was still a baby. “I’m here for you. I always will be. Don’t you worry. I’ll never let you down, my boy.”

Chris scrambled to his feet and went to his father, too. He embraced them both. The Doctor looked at the three of them and nodded. It was how it should be. He went to the door and looked around their TARDIS as clean air was pumped in, clearing the smoke of the smothered fires. There was a lot of damage. The same sort of damage he did to his own TARDIS when he got too close to that black hole.

“Are we grounded?” Chris asked him as he turned back and shut the door and prepared to take both TARDISes back to Earth. The two boys stood up slowly, still looking rough. Their clothes were burnt rags. Their faces were covered in soot and sweat and blood. But their bodies had mended at least. They had the Time Lord capacity to repair themselves. They stood in front of him, looking dejected, knowing that they were facing a man whose capacity for anger was almost as hot as the inferno they had survived.

“You grounded yourselves,” he told them. “You’re going nowhere in that TARDIS for a couple of months. Which should satisfy your mum, at least. You owe her an apology for what you said to her. NEVER forget she IS your mother. You owe her every ounce of respect and love you have. And you can decide for yourselves how you’re going to make it up to her. As for me… I’m… I’m disappointed with you both. What you’ve done… You betrayed my faith in you. I thought you were old enough and mature enough to handle your own TARDIS. But you used it to do something about as stupid as it is possible to do in space. Trying to fly into a black hole…”

“That wasn’t what we tried to do,” Chris told him. “We…”

“We tried to get to Gallifrey, through the protocols,” Davie said.

His hearts clenched as he heard him say that.

“That’s…. even worse,” he told them. “If you’d succeeded…if you’d got there… You wouldn’t have faced the full death sentence for breaking the Law. They would have been merciful to you - because of your age. But it would have meant a public flogging at least. Maybe even Shada…. I’m… I’m glad you failed. The consequences if you’d managed it….”

David clutched the boys to him again. The thought of his sons subjected to such a barbaric punishment as The Doctor described chilled him. He would take a public flogging himself before he’d let them suffer.

“So would I, David,” The Doctor said quietly.

Susan had forgotten to be angry with them as she enveloped them in her arms. Neither David nor The Doctor told her exactly what had happened. The boys had showered and put on clean clothes while they travelled back to Earth. As they stepped out of the TARDIS they looked around at the garden in the cool of the early morning, just after dawn and breathed in deeply. Then they couldn’t breathe for a little while until David reminded his wife that even Time Lords needed oxygen.

Rose reminded The Doctor that they were still on for lunch in Paris and went inside with the family. He turned and looked at the Chinese TARDIS where it had landed next to his. It had managed to engage the chameleon circuit and looked like a potting shed again. But it seemed to want to remind the boys just what they had done to it. It was a derelict potting shed, with windows cracked and broken, roof felting split, paint peeling and partially burnt. He opened the door with Chris’s key. He had borrowed it from him on the promise of assessing the damage for him. But there was another reason why he wanted to get in there.

There WAS just enough power left to do it. He made the connection and then returned to his own TARDIS. He flicked on the viewscreen and played back the TARDIS’s equivalent of the black box flight recorder. He watched the events of the past few hours running in a fast forward mode that would be a blur to Human eyes. He heard every word said by the two boys from the moment they dematerialised in a rage to the moment he opened the doors on their stricken ship.

He rewound the recording and played again the scenes that froze his hearts the first time. He felt his knees buckle beneath him as he watched the death of his world from the point of view of the Chinese TARDIS. He let himself slide down onto the floor, holding his head in his hands. He closed his eyes. The light in the room felt blinding as he tried and failed to hold back his tears.

So now he knew.