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

They had their romantic time in Paris. Shopping, lunch, the Louvre, tea in Monmarte, supper and a show at the Eiffel tower, and then to a hotel room overlooking the Seinne where they proved – if proof was needed - that five years of marriage and two children had not dampened their ardour for each other.

But behind it all, Rose knew something was wrong. The Doctor was sad. He had been sad since he got back from wherever it was he had found the boys. She was sure there was much more to what happened out there than he was telling. Something that affected him deeply. And that he felt unable to share with her.

They had no secrets between them. Or at least that was almost true. There was only one thing he had never told her about. Only one thing he had never shared with her, never shared with anyone. Because he wouldn’t EVEN share it with himself. The memory of what happened to his home planet. He had buried that memory so deep even he couldn’t find it.

But for some reason, it was becoming unburied again.

He’d had a nightmare during the night. One disturbing enough to wake her. In the moonlight that came through the window of their room she watched him as he lay there, in a cold sweat, shaking with fear and grief, murmuring names of people long dead. She recognised the name of his brother, repeated often, and other names that had to be people from Gallifrey. People who had died while he had lived.

She went to the bathroom and put cold water on a flannel. She bathed his feverish head gently with it and spoke his name quietly. He seemed to calm after a while and he stopped shaking and slipped into a more normal sleep.

He always said he didn’t sleep because of nightmares. Most nights he didn’t. He lay beside her in bed in a trance in which his brain didn’t function at a high enough level to allow for dreams or nightmares to invade it. But some nights, like tonight, when their passion had been so intense, he slept afterwards in the ordinary, Human way.

Usually, the fact that they had fallen asleep together after making love ensured that he slept soundly, and woke happy in the morning. It worried her that tonight had been far from blissful for him.

She lay down again in the bed and held him close to her. She felt so small beside him. He was a powerful man, in body and spirit. But sometimes he could be so vulnerable. At those times he needed HER strength. It had been that way as long as she had known him. He had always been ‘damaged goods’ with this deep hollowed out place in his soul. Time had never healed the wound. How could it? It was such a deep wound. But it had never stopped her loving him. In some ways his vulnerabilities had been as attractive as his strengths. She accepted both as part of the enigmatic wonder that she had given her heart to.

In the morning he seemed to have forgotten his unhappy night. At breakfast he smiled brightly at her and talked of how pretty Vicki was going to look in the dresses she had bought the day before.

But Rose knew he was just covering up, trying not to let her know he was hurting. When he didn’t know she was looking there was something in his eyes.

She didn’t say anything until they were back on board the TARDIS. As he put them into temporal orbit and prepared for the relatively short journey home she broached the subject carefully.

“I KNOW you will never talk to me about it,” she said. “I’m not asking you to. I’m not sure I want to know. But…. But why don’t you at least talk to yourself about it.”

For a moment even he didn’t understand. Then he smiled at her in a sort of grateful way and reset the destination co-ordinate. Then he moved to the communications console and sent a signal that could only be received in one place.

They landed on the beautiful, peaceful planet of SancC’lune. Rose smiled as she stepped out of the TARDIS. This was their honeymoon planet. It had been a peaceful retreat for them many times before and since. If he couldn’t find peace of mind here, he never would.

She saw the second TARDIS there and smiled another smile as the man she fondly called Ten stepped out and came towards them. She ran forward and hugged him, reflecting that it was nothing short of a miracle, not only that he was there, but that she could manage to feel that way about him.

“Hello, Rose,” he said with the sad smile he always had for her, a smile that hid the lost opportunities of his own life. “What can I do for you today?”

“Take this manic obsessive and straighten out his head,” she replied. Ten looked at his other self and grinned.

“I may be a god on this planet,” he told her. “But I’m not a miracle worker. His head is your problem.”

“There’s something I HAVE to talk about,” The Doctor told him. “And Rose is right, the only person I can talk to about it IS myself. We should go to the pyramid though. There’s another of us that ought to be a part of this conversation.”

“Ok,” Ten said. He looked around at Rose.

“I’ll come along there with you,” she said. “It's a nice walk and I can sit outside just fine.”

They didn’t talk much as they walked. At least not about what they came to talk about. They shared small talk about what they’d both been doing. Ten asked about the children. Rose felt guilty about that. But she showed him the pictures of Vicki and Peter she always carried with her when she was away from them.

“They’re beautiful,” Ten told her with a warm smile. “I’m glad for you both.”

The reason she felt guilty, was that Ten always seemed to her like an old boyfriend whom she had left in order to be happy with Nine. Showing him pictures of their children was a cruel thing in a way. But he seemed to want to know that in one reality of his life things had gone as they should have done.

They walked through the pyramid valley. Rose remembered the first time she had seen that silent city of the dead with the one white pyramid among them all. The pyramid of Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow, the last Time Lord.

Last Time Lord no longer. Now his eldest son’s pyramid glistened white next to his. And beyond that, two nearly complete pyramids. They were the same size as the others now. But the thirteen obelisks around them weren’t yet in place. They wouldn’t be until the twins transcended.

“Rose…” The Doctor held her in his arms lovingly before he turned and went to the door of his own pyramid. Ten gave her a reassuring look before he went with him. The door closed behind them both and she was alone.

She walked on past the two pyramids that stood ready for the two newest Time Lords to be – Chris and Davie Campbell.

But now even THEY weren’t the last. Rose looked in surprise at the sight that lay beyond that point. There were a whole lot more new pyramids – small ones – the pyramids that one day would belong to the first of those Gallifreyan refugees to become fully fledged Time Lords. There were fifty of them. Fifty young men, women and children that he was training already.

Her own children didn’t have a pyramid yet. They were too young. But one day, Vicki and Peter would be Time Lords too. The Doctor had promised her that her daughter, as well as her son would have that honour. Sukie couldn’t transcend. She was a hybrid. Her DNA could not take the change. But Vicki could. She was her father’s daughter and one day she would be a great Time Lord in her own right. So would Peter, her baby boy. When he was born, when The Doctor told her how great he was going to be, she had resisted it. She just wanted him to be a healthy, happy baby. Her baby. But now, as she looked around this scene, this visual proof that The Doctor’s dream was going to come true in the future. She was glad her children would be a part of it.


Ten looked around the inside of the pyramid. He felt nervous about it. Technically, this wasn’t HIS pyramid. Or maybe it was. But from a remove. Nine’s place here was booked before his.

“I try not to think about it that way,” Nine said to him. “By the way, we have NO private thoughts in here. The telepathic field is too strong.”

“Right. So… Where are they?”

“They’re around. They always are. They like to play silly sods with me.”

‘They’ stepped out of the shadows as he spoke. Eight other versions of himself. They looked benignly at Nine, then turned and stared at Ten

“What have you DONE?” his fourth self demanded. “What is HE doing here? The Laws of Time forbid any Time Lord to interact with another version of himself out of his own timestream.”

“Nuts to the Laws of Time,” Nine replied. “We need to talk to Eight. He’s the one with a vested interest in what I have to talk about. The rest of you push off.”

Ten gasped at the irreverent way he spoke to his other incarnations. But they did as he asked, not entirely willingly, to be sure, and with a lot of grumbling.

“Ok,” Eight said to them. “I know what you want to talk about. I’m not sure why. You’re deliberately masking your thoughts.”

“I’ll get to it,” Nine answered. “Can we sit down somewhere?” Eight shrugged as if to imply chairs were not something that concerned the ghosts of his past lives. So he sat on the floor, legs crossed and straight backed. Ten joined him, a little more casually with his legs stretched out. Eight sighed and knelt between them.

“It's the Time War, isn’t it,” Eight said, opening the difficult topic. “I knew we’d have to have this conversation one day. You understand, don’t you, that I don’t know it all. I DID die in the middle of it, remember.”

“No, I don’t remember, not exactly,” Ten answered. “That’s the problem. I remember before… and I remember being semi-conscious, hurting all over, and the TARDIS viewscreen flashing on and off, telling me that the co-ordinate for Gallifrey could not be located. Then… nothing much until I woke up regenerated as him.”

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you both,” Nine explained. “I think I can fill in the gaps for you both. But… let’s start at the beginning. What happened before? Remind me. On Gallifrey… the day before…”

“I had lunch with my brother… half-brother,” Eight said. “Garrick.”

“Yes, I remember that,” Ten said. “He wasn’t exactly comfortable with me.”

“That’s because he had voted along with the other members of the High Council to send me on what was probably going to be a suicide mission,” Nine told them both. “He was feeling guilty.”

“Not guilty, exactly,” Eight continued. “But worried, concerned. Unhappy about it. I think he wanted to try to bridge the gulf between us before….” He sighed. “There was never a chance of that. I never would let him get close to me.”

A unanimous vote,” Ten reflected. “They had no doubt about who should take on the mission that was expected to save their own skins.”

“The Prydonian Renegade!” Eight said scornfully. “I can almost hear them say it. They could never bring themselves to say my name. But that epithet appealed to them. Especially the Arcalians. If I failed they could blame it on all the usual factors. My impetuosity, my half-blood, the fact that I was a Prydonian – the Academy that had graduated the most Renegades.”

Neither of his other incarnations argued with that assessment. Eight sighed and closed his eyes. Behind those closed eyes the images played out in his mind. He knew the other two were seeing it as well as he did. He remembered setting out from Gallifrey, in his TARDIS, with the Doomsday weapon on board – The Hand of Omega - the same doom he had once brought to the Dalek home planet, to Skaro. But Skaro was a dead planet. Empty. He had destroyed it to prevent the Daleks from returning there and making it their home base to grow in power and return to destroy other worlds. This time they had asked him to destroy the Daleks themselves, to launch the weapon AT the huge Dalek fleet.

Genocide. They had asked him to do that before and he failed. This time he had to succeed or Gallifrey, the whole universe, would be doomed. This time his moral scruples had to be set aside. For his people, for all innocent people everywhere.

When they summoned him to the Council chamber and told him what they wanted of him he had asked why they had chosen him. But they had no real answer. He knew they wouldn’t. The Time Lords had grown in on themselves. They had always been peaceful to the point of ennui. They had long since ceased to grow as a society. Even their doomsday weapon was a relic of Rassilon’s golden age. There was nobody else who had the skill or the nerve to carry out such an act on their behalf.

Yes, he had lunched with his half-brother after the meeting. He had wondered as Garrick nervously skirted the issue if it had been his idea to call upon him for the task. Then his half-brother, two hundred years his junior, who he had not exactly hated, but never learnt to love, told him he was proud of him. For doing this last, greatest duty for Gallifrey.


Because they both knew his chances of survival were slim.

That was the other reason. They knew he was the only one among them who would accept a suicide mission. Was it his nerve and his skill that fitted him for the task, or was it that he was so tired he hardly cared if he came back from the mission.

“I had nothing to live for,” Nine said. “Nine hundred years old and I hadn’t family or friends, place or position on Gallifrey. It was home in name only. And travelling the universe had just become the same old thing. I was tired of it. I was ready to go out in a blaze of glory, the last act of my life having some real meaning at least.”

Eight looked at him guiltily. That had been HIS idea, of course. And he HAD died, and found the peace of the grave – or at least of the pyramid. But Nine and Ten had both lived after him, lived with the consequences.

“You weren’t wrong,” Ten assured him. “I WOULD rather die defeating the Daleks any time, than let them conquer another people. I WAS ready to die for the Time Lords. For my OWN people. For any people threatened by them.”

Nobody saw him leave. There ought to have been a send off, he thought. The President, the High Council. But having charged him with the task it was as if he WAS already dead. He stepped into the TARDIS and dematerialised it. He brought it through the Transduction Barrier that protected Gallifrey from ordinary invasion and for the first time he had seen the scale of the enemy pitted against his people. The Dalek fleet virtually surrounded the planet. Thousands of ships, thousands of Daleks aboard each one.

“I remember THAT, Ten said. “I’ll never forget that. The whole Dalek race stacked against us.”

“One last battle. For the universe.” Eight said. “At least… at least that WAS the end of the Daleks. There was THAT compensation.”

Nine and Ten exchanged glances and suppressed the thought they both had, in hindsight. There had been one more act in the Time War and it had cost them both, one way or another.

Eight remembered his TARDIS looking like a minnow in their midst. They probably hadn’t even detected its presence. He turned and made ready to fire the weapon that would end the war once and for all.

“Rassilon, guide me,” he had whispered. His hands had shaken as he reached for the button. “For my people. For Gallifrey… I give my very soul.” He had known he had almost no chance of survival. Nothing in orbit outside the Transduction barrier could have avoided the chain reaction that would be initiated once the weapon impacted.

He had pressed the button. His hand had reached for the dematerialisation switch, his one chance to get away as he watched the silvery ball of death launch from the TARDIS and streak towards the Dalek mothership.

“That’s all I remember,” Eight said. “The rest is a blur.”

“It was for me until yesterday,” Nine told him. “Then the pieces fell into place. I remember it now. When I fired the weapon. When my finger hit the button the trajectory was clear. But as the torpedo launched something was there. It was there for only seconds, before it disappeared again. But it was in the path of the doomsday torpedo and it must have had some sort of deflector shield. Because I saw the torpedo suddenly change direction as if it was a fly swatted by some invisible hand.”

The TARDIS had automatically plotted the new trajectory of the weapon and his hearts had frozen. He hadn’t even tried to dematerialise now. He had known with certainty what was going to happen. He had known he couldn’t stop it. And he had known he didn’t want to be alive when it was over.

Because nobody else would be. The torpedo had slammed into the sun at the centre of Gallifrey’s solar system. And the chain reaction that was meant to destroy the matter that made up a fleet of ships had instead destroyed the sun. It had exploded. The nearest planet, Demos, had been engulfed in seconds. In the few agonising minutes before Gallifrey was consumed by the inferno the radioactive shock wave hit first. The Dalek fleet had been ripped apart by it. The TARDIS had been caught up in the wave and carried along with it as it spread out through the solar system. Inside, The Doctor had felt the radiation penetrate even its powerful shields. He had felt his body begin to burn. But that pain was nothing to what he had felt when the fireball encompassed Gallifrey. His people had cried out as one as they perished in an inescapable holocaust. He had called out his brother’s name as the inconsolable grief seared his soul. He had watched helplessly as his TARDIS span out of control past Karn. He knew that, too, would burn. The people there had maybe an hour, two, to prepare for their doom. And then the Time Lord race would be dead, gone. Forever.

Except he hadn’t died. He was the one who had accepted the inevitability of death, deeming it worthwhile for the sake of his own people and sentient beings everywhere who would be free of a tyrannical threat. But he, ironically, was the one who survived.

He remembered it all now. Until yesterday it had all been fragments, half-memories. The image had seared into his memory of Gallifrey as a burning dead planet; the screams of the dying had echoed in his head, and he had carried the guilty feeling that he had done something wrong, that he had caused the disaster.

He hadn’t. He knew that now. He knew what had happened. The torpedo had been deflected by that other object that had appeared between him and the fleet at the crucial moment.

And he knew what the other object was.

It was another TARDIS. He saw it clearly now. A TARDIS in default mode. A grey rectangular box, slowly spinning, the four walls adorned with the Seal of Rassilon and another symbol…

A ying-yang symbol. The Chinese symbol for twins.

“Twins?” Eight stared at him. Ten’s face was just frozen.

“My twins,” The Doctor said. “Susan’s children. I’ve been training them. They have their own TARDIS now. And they… inherited the same old family trait. O’er-reaching Ambition. They pushed the envelope…. Broke through it and wound up in the middle of the battle.”

“Did I….” Eight struggled to find the words. “Tell me I didn’t kill them….”

“No, they’re ok. They’re shook up. They had a very rough time. Their TARDIS will take months to be operational again…”

“Do they know?” Ten asked. “Do they know that they…”

“Do they know that it’s their fault…”

“It’s NOT their fault,” Nine protested. “It’s not…. NO. You can’t….” He blinked back his tears and choked on a sob. “You can’t put that on them. No, they have no idea, and they never will. Not from me. They’re SEVENTEEN years old. They can’t be made to live with that.”

“No,” Eight decided slowly. “They can’t. However they got there… their presence was purely accidental. It was a horrible, dreadful accident. They mustn’t know what happened.”

“Well, I don’t intend to tell them.” Nine said.

“Then that’s ok then,” Eight told him.

“It feels strange to have the whole story out in the open,” Ten said. “I’ve lived with it so long…. The half memories. The uncertainty.”

“The self-recrimination,” Nine cut in. “I’ve lived with it… with the guilt… for so long. I really thought it was my fault. I thought I had done something wrong. I thought… I even thought sometimes that I might have DELIBERATELY done it. Chosen to kill everyone I ever cared about, kill my own people to take out the Daleks with them. Except I never could believe I was that sort of person. I could not imagine myself making such a choice, pressing that button. So I told myself I must have made a mistake, that I messed up somehow. And blamed myself for being so stupid.”

“But I didn’t,” Eight said. “When I pressed the button there was nothing there. The other TARDIS only appeared after it was too late.”

“So my conscience is clear,” Nine said. “So is yours… and yours.”

“I’m glad I know the truth,” Ten said. “The not knowing was the worst of it.” He looked at Nine. “You brought me here to talk with him – so that the two of us would know. So that we would feel the relief of knowing the whole truth of it. But… for you it isn’t, is it? YOU don’t feel that relief at all, do you?”

“None at all,” Nine told him. Because it's STILL my fault. I taught the boys to pilot a TARDIS. I trained them to be Time Lords. Taught them Gallifrey’s history. Taught them to be proud and arrogant and self-assured. Taught them to strive to do the impossible. And they set out to do that. I’m still guilty. More so than if I’d just been incompetent and missed the target.”

“Oh hell!” Ten groaned. What was it Rose had said? “Take this manic obsessive and straighten out his head!”

“You can’t blame yourself, either,” Eight said “The damn Daleks are to blame. They always have been. They are to blame for everything. They STARTED the Time War.”

“And we finished it. It’s over,” Ten added. “It’s OVER. For us all.” He turned to Nine. He put his hands on his shoulders and forced him to look at him. “Those two kids are NOT to blame. Let’s put that idea out of all our heads right away. And neither are YOU. You really ARE an obsessive, aren’t you! You get over one guilt trip and pick up another. You are NOT to blame.”

“He’s right,” Eight told him. “You can’t beat yourself up over that. The boys… You should be proud of them. You’ve worked so hard with them. Don’t let this spoil it. Don’t let it change how you feel about them.”

“It could never do that. I love them as if they WERE my own children.”

“Well, then,” Ten said. “That just leaves your own obsessive need to have something to blame yourself for. And we’re none of us going to let you do that.” Ten put his hands on Nine’s temples. He resisted at first. He knew what he meant to do to him. And if it had just been Ten he might have prevented him. But Eight joined his mind with him, and he felt the others, too. His other previous incarnations added their mental strength to Ten’s as he reached into his mind, found that aching, raw part of him that was wracked with grief still, burdened with guilt. They didn’t erase the memory, they didn’t take away any of his feelings. But they somehow seemed to strip away the pain, the grief, the GUILT, letting him see it all clearly, objectively, to see that there was no sense in destroying himself with remorse about something that was in no sense his fault.

“Thank you,” he said when it was done. He felt lighter. His hearts felt less burdened than they had since before….

Since a long time. Because even before the Time War he hadn’t exactly been feeling full of the joys of life. Why else had he accepted such a mission of forlorn hope.

Now at last, he really felt as if the Time War WAS over.

“And about bloody time,” Ten whispered to him.

“Let’s go find Rose,” he said. “She’ll be worried about us.”


“One thing I don’t understand…” Ten said as they walked out in the sunshine, both of them feeling better for having been able to talk to themselves for a bit. “I’m from an alternative reality. My life is parallel…. Why do I remember the same events? I’ve never met the boys in my reality.”

“I think your life only BECAME parallel from the point where it went wrong for me in your reality,” Nine told him. “Until then we were one. Somehow in that split second when I expelled the vortex safely and… and the me in your reality exposed himself to it for too long and was forced to regenerate into you…. in that moment we became two people in two realities. Everything that happened before then we have in common.”

“Our destinies seem to be different,” Ten said. “Me… I am the lonely god without a home. You… the patriarch of New Gallifrey. Couldn’t be more different.”

“But it seems right for us both. Doesn’t it? Are you… Are you happy in your world?”

“Yes,” Ten said. “I’ve got a few things I regret. You know that. But yes, I’m happy. I KNOW you are. You’ve got a great life, a great future. So stop dwelling on the past. Stop worrying that wonderful woman who loves you.”

“Stop nagging me,” Nine answered, though he didn’t really mean it. He smiled as he saw Rose coming towards him from among the new pyramids that represented that great future. She ran the last few steps into his waiting arms.

“Are you ok now?” she asked, though that was a silly question. He kissed her joyfully. His eyes shone. The heaviness that had been upon him was gone now. She didn’t know what had happened in the Pyramid. She didn’t want to know. She was just glad it had worked.

“Thanks,” she mouthed to Ten as he stepped back with a smile and watched their loving embrace. The lonely god without a home took a brief second-hand pleasure from the fact that his alter ego was far from lonely or homeless.