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

“If he wakes up with his teeth, you have to give him a little ointment on his gums. And he’ll need his feed about 8pm. The bottles are in the fridge. And then….”

“Rose,” The Doctor took her by the arm and steered her away. “We’ll be late for dinner if you don’t come.”

“We’re going by TARDIS,” she said. “We’ll only be late if you get us lost. And you better hadn’t do that. Because we have to be back by midnight.”

“Come on, Cinderella,” he laughed. Rose tried to give another set of instructions to Brenda but The Doctor physically lifted her over the TARDIS threshold, not exactly kicking and screaming, but there were muffled and disjointed words like ‘wet wipes’ and ‘rose-hip syrup’. The door closed then opened again. The word ‘rusks’ was heard as The Doctor’s hand reached out and something flew through the air. Davie caught it and grinned as he looked.

It was Rose’s mobile phone.

The door closed and then opened again to let the word ‘bottle warmer’ escape and The Doctor’s hand again reached out. Chris stepped forward to take the dangling object that he recognised as the trimphone from the TARDIS.

Chris, Davie and Brenda waited a full five minutes after the TARDIS finally dematerialised, half expecting it to re-materialise because Rose had thought of something else she hadn’t told Brenda about looking after Peter for the evening. When they finally reckoned the coast was clear they returned to the drawing room. Sukie and Vicki were completely unconcerned that their parents had all gone off to Rome for the evening, engaged as they were in a hard fought game of multi-dimensional chess using telekinesis to move the pieces. Peter, in his playpen was equally unconcerned about being left with the girlfriend of his great-nephew to take care of him.

“I’m going to take a walk before it gets too dark,” Chris decided. “You two don’t need me cramping your style.”

Davie grinned at his brother as he stepped out through the French doors. Brenda sat down on the sofa and Davie sat next to her. His arm reached around her shoulders and he drew her close, smiling as he remembered how nervous she had been the first time he tried to kiss her.

“I’m glad you don’t try to bow in front of me any more,” he whispered to her as he kissed her.

“I can if you want,” she answered telepathically because her mouth was busy responding to his kiss. “My Lord.”

“Maybe when we’re married,” he answered. Then even their telepathic words were overwhelmed.

When Chris returned they looked up in surprise. They had hardly noticed a full half hour pass by.

“You’re a Time Lord,” Chris told his brother. “Awareness of the passage of time is natural to you. Even when you’re ‘busy’ with your girlfriend.”

“I knew it was passing. I just didn’t care that it WAS passing,” Davie replied with a smile at Brenda.

“Where did you walk to?” she asked Chris to take the subject away from her and Davie’s romancing.

“Same as every night,” Davie answered for his brother. “He goes down to the meadow and walks around the perimeter of his temple. He says when he walks there he can see it as if it really existed.”

“It does exist,” Chris told them. “In the future it does. If we took the TARDIS and went forward in time a few years you would see it. And it’s not a temple. It’s a sanctuary of learning and peace.”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Brenda told him as she picked up Peter from his playpen and hugged him, just because she was naturally attracted to babies and loved to hug him. “Could we go and look at it, do you think?”

“What? Now?” Davie looked at her. “We’re supposed to be babysitting.”

“So?” Chris grinned. “We wouldn’t even be leaving the property. The kids love travelling in the TARDIS. Even Peter sleeps really good in his travel crib.”

Sukie and Vicki looked up hopefully. They had been listening to the conversation and thought the prospect of a TARDIS trip before bedtime sounded good to them.

“I’ll get Peter’s feeds from the fridge,” Brenda said. “And the carrier.”

“Just to confirm,” Davie said as his hand hovered over the time controls of his TARDIS. “Everyone is fully agreed that we don’t tell mum and dad or Rose and Granddad about this.”

“Our secret,” Chris told him.

“Secret!” Vicki and Sukie laughed.

“Ok, then, here we go,” he said and he pushed the wheel forward just five years. Long enough for Chris’s sanctuary to be built and populated with the followers of his meditation method and the other philosophies he wanted to teach there.

They materialised just outside the formal garden, concealed from view of the house by the wall. They didn’t want to cause any problems for the future versions of themselves.

“The house looks different,” Brenda noted. “It looks as if a whole piece of the roof and the upper floor has been replaced.”

“Yes, it does,” Davie agreed. “About a year back. There’s a bit of weathering of the bricks. But you can still see the difference.”

“Did we have a fire or something?” Chris asked. It was a horrible thought. Knowing that a disaster was going to befall the house he regarded as his second home. He wondered if there would be any casualties. He looked again at the part of the house that had suffered the damage. Vicki’s room and Jackie and Christopher’s looked like they had taken the most damage.

He looked at Vicki and at Sukie and thought how often his sister slept in that room with her, and he shivered.

“I suppose we’ll find out,” Davie said. “Sometime in the five years we’ve passed through. But look…” He turned and looked towards what in their real time was a meadow leading down to a stand of trees that screened it from the Thames.

Now a beautiful building was there. Or rather several buildings, enclosed within a high wall made of warm, cream-coloured stone and decorated with symbols of peace and harmony.

“Just as I imagined it,” Chris said. “Just perfect.”

“Pretty,” Vicki said, slipping her hand into Chris’s. Sukie came the other side of him. Brenda took Davie’s hand. For a long time they looked at Chris’s dream made real and solid.

“Come on,” Davie said at last. “Let’s get back before we get into trouble.”

“Peter slept right through it,” Brenda said as she took him from the carrier and settled down on the sofa to give him his bottle. Davie went to the console and set the co-ordinate to take them back home in time to get the girls to bed on time.

“We won’t even have been missed,” he said as he initiated the dematerialisation. “Not even if Rose phones as soon as she gets to Rome.”

“It was worth it even if we do get found out,” Chris said. “To see the Sanctuary built.”

“Yeah,” Davie smiled at his brother. He had harboured a secret thought for some time that Chris’s plan was all pie in the sky

“Now you know differently,” Chris told him telepathically. “Now you KNOW it’s going to work.”

“Do you think we ought to tell granddad about the house?” Chris said out loud. “There has to be some reason why it needed so much rebuilding on it. If he knows in advance…. He could do something to prevent it.”

“That would be a paradox,” Davie said. “Whatever caused that, we have to let it happen. I just hope…” He looked at the two girls as they sat with Brenda and Peter. “If anything happens to them…”

“Don’t…” Chris told him.

“If something happens to either of them and we could prevent it because we have foreknowledge… Could we live with that?”

“Davie… you can’t do that to yourself. We just have to…” Chris broke off. He felt telepathically the change in the way the TARDIS was moving a fraction of a second before he felt and heard the change physically. It was as if the TARDIS had been spun around in the vortex and instead of travelling back five years they were suddenly going forwards rapidly.

“Wow!” Davie watched in alarm as the time control span out of control and the monitor filled with rapidly scrolling figures. He looked up at the viewscreen and saw the fiery red swirl of time racing forward.

Red for the unknown future. Red for danger.

“What’s happening?” Brenda asked. She clung to Peter. Vicki and Sukie both clung to her.

“I don’t know,” Davie answered. “But… Get down on the floor. Lie down flat and hold onto Peter. Vicki, Sukie, you too. This could get bumpy and the floor is the safest place.”

“Nowhere further to fall,” Chris said. He kept his hand close to the gravity control, ready to switch on the safety cushions if the ride got any bumpier. Davie was doing everything he could to get them back on the right course. There was nothing else he could do.

“I can’t stop it,” Davie told his brother. “It's like we’re running downhill without brakes.”

“I think it's a physical problem,” Chris said. “I heard something break inside the console.”

“The temporal stabilizer,” Davie said. “It broke… and it snapped us backwards and span us about and now we’re racing forward in time and I have no way of stopping us.”

“What will happen if we….” Brenda looked up from the floor at them. “Davie…”

“I don’t know,” he said. “The Earth gets burnt up in a supernova in the year five billion. I don’t know if that would affect us as long as we’re in the vortex. But it would mean we have nowhere to come out of it into. Sooner or later we reach the end of the universe itself and the vortex would collapse…”

“How long would it take for that to…”

“A couple of hundred billion years in real time,” Davie said. “I don’t think…”

“It’s slowing.” Brenda pointed to the vortex on the viewscreen. Davie looked from it to the time indicator. The figures that had blurred as they filled the monitor screen were now readable at least.

“We’re slowing down. What…” Davie looked at his brother. Chris was standing with his eyes shut, touching the console and murmuring something quietly under his breath. “Chris…”

He didn’t answer. He kept murmuring and Davie realised he was reciting time co-ordinates. They matched the ones on the screen. And they WERE slowing.

“What is he doing?” Brenda asked.

“I don’t know,” Davie admitted. He had stopped trying to look at his brother’s mind. It was like watching five different computer screens full of information at once.

“He’s piloting the TARDIS by thought,” Vicki and Sukie said. Davie looked around at the two of them. “We asked if we could help,” Vicki added. “But he told us we couldn’t because we’re not imprinted on the TARDIS and it might go wrong.”

“Can he do that?” Brenda asked.

“He’s DOING it,” Davie answered.

“He’s getting tired,” Sukie warned them. “It’s hard work.”

“We’re nearly there,” Davie said looking at the co-ordinates. We’re slowing down, stopping.”

They stopped. Chris gave a soft gasp and passed out. Davie was by his side in an instant. Neither he nor Brenda as she attended to Peter noticed Sukie reach for the door control. They didn’t see the door open and a man step into the TARDIS. Vicki and Sukie looked at him with puzzled but not scared expressions.

“He’ll be all right,” the man said as he bent and looked at Chris. “Piloting a TARDIS by mental power alone is hard work. I NEVER did it if I could help it. When I did I usually ended up flat on my back like that. See, he’s coming around now.”

“Granddad,” Chris murmured as he looked up at the grey haired, aged man whose voice, nevertheless, was familiar to them all.

Granddad? Brenda and Davie looked at him in shock. Vicki and Sukie smiled proudly. They had worked it out already.

“Daddy!” Vicki said, hugging him.

“Hello, my little love,” he answered and his slate-grey eyes were soft with love for his first born daughter. “It’s good to see you. It's good to see all of you. Even if you are breaking a fundamental Time Law by being here.” He looked at Davie with a stern expression and a harder glint in those eyes.

“Time Stabilizer was damaged,” he explained. “We didn’t mean to come this far.”

“How far are we?” Brenda asked as she and Davie helped Chris stand up, still a little dizzy on his feet.

“If this is the little trip you tried to keep a secret from me in the autumn of 2216, then you’ve gone forward eight hundred and thirty years. It’s the year 3046.” The Doctor moved around the console and examined the drive control briefly. “Yes, your Time Stabilizer blew a circuit. But that’s not a major problem. We can fix that in two tics.” He looked as Brenda moved to Peter’s crib and picked him His eyes were moist as he saw her cuddling the baby. “I thought for a moment that he was one of your own first born. But, no, that’s my Peter isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” she answered. “Doctor….”

“Oh, let me hold him. It’s so long since he was that small. So long since I’ve been able to hold him.” Brenda hesitated for only a moment then gave the baby to his father. He hugged him lovingly for a long time before he seemed aware of them all again.

“The sensible thing would be to fix your stabilizer and get you on your way again before we cause a paradox. But when did I ever do the SENSIBLE thing?” He flashed a smile that Chris and Davie had known since they were eight years old. A smile that meant mischief brewing. Their great-grandfather had always had something of a child spirit in him and never played by the rules, even the ones he himself had made.

“Come on,” he said. “It’s tea time. And Rose will just love to see you all.”

Vicki and Sukie walked by his side as they left the TARDIS beside the gate of the formal garden and headed towards the French doors into the drawing room that they had come out of in 2216 to embark on this short field trip. No matter what year it was he was Sukie’s granddaddy and Vicki’s daddy and they loved him all the same.

Eight hundred and thirty years, Davie thought as he stepped into the drawing room. And almost nothing had changed. Well, the furniture had, of course. A sofa was never going to last that long. But the room, even so, was not much different to how they had left it.

“Never took to the modern furniture style,” The Doctor said. “It's too functional. Reminds me of the TARDIS in its early days before it developed its own taste.”

The furniture wasn’t what attracted Brenda’s attention. She gave a soft ‘aww’ sound and went to the day crib where a baby lay gurgling contentedly. She picked the child up and cuddled it before she even thought of asking if it was all right to do so.

“Babies were always like a magnet to you, Brenda,” a female voice said and she turned and saw the woman sitting on the sofa. She still had dark blonde hair, only slightly streaked with white and grey and her face was only slightly lined with age. She looked like a woman in her late forties or early fifties who still retained the beauty of her youth in a mature, dignified way, just as her husband still looked the strong, capable man he did in his younger days.

“Rose?” Brenda looked at her as The Doctor stepped forward and put baby Peter in his wife’s arms. She smiled broadly when she looked at him and cuddled him lovingly.

“Yes,” she said. “And that is Dorothy Grace, my youngest child. By MANY years,” she added with a smile at her husband. “I thought we’d done our share of child-bearing when I turned two hundred. But suddenly last year I found myself with these insatiable cravings for seafood and cheese and I remembered that’s what happened when I was expecting Vicki. And it was hard work, but wonderful to still be able.” She looked from Brenda holding her youngest child to where her eldest, Vicki, and Sukie, had sat down at the table by the window with a boy their own age. They were already engaged in telepathic conversation while they helped him construct some complicated piece of micro-engineered circuitry.

“Now THAT is amazing,” The Doctor said as he sat down by his wife and waved to the others to sit. He pressed a buzzer and very quickly a maid answered the summons. A robot maid, Davie noted, a very impressively lifelike artificial intelligence which was about the only difference he could see between his own century and this one.

The Doctor told the robot maid to bring a pot of tea, orange juice, sandwiches and cakes for all before turning back to watch the children. “Vicki and Tristie playing like that. And Sukie. It shouldn’t even be possible.”

“Why?” Davie asked.

“Because Tristie is Vicki’s youngest child and his father is Sukie’s eldest son,” Rose explained. “Have I got that right?” she asked her husband. “Honestly, our family tree is more like a forest.”

“Vicki married Sukie’s son?” Chris looked at them carefully. “So Tristie is our….”

“Great nephew,” Davie worked it out. “That’s…. mind-boggling.”

“Brian is Vicki’s fourth husband,” Rose said. “I don’t know how she ever coped. In her first lifetime she had two Human husbands who both died of old age. Then she spent two hundred and fifty years in the closed Sanctuary on SangC’lune. She said she needed the time to restore her spirit. She came home to us after she regenerated. Then she married another Human before finally deciding that happy ever after was only going to happen if she married one of her own kind.”

Davie looked at Vicki. She was still REALLY only four years old even if she looked and acted nine. The idea of her being on her fourth husband and her second life was rather alarming. But it was one of those things you learnt to cope with as a Time Lord.

The conversation trailed as the maid returned with a trolley of food and beverages. Vicki, Sukie and Tristie all eyed a plate of iced cakes hungrily and were easily gratified. The Doctor smiled as Rose tried to decide between pouring tea or holding onto Peter a little longer.

“Give him to me,” he said, taking the child from her. “He feels like Peter, doesn’t he,” he said to his wife. “I can feel everything he is going to be. His future potential was all there in him even at this age.”

“He just felt like my little boy to me,” Rose answered him. “But it did feel wonderful. To hold him as a baby after all these years.”

“Is Peter…” Davie began. “Is he alive still now?”

“Of course he is,” Rose assured him. “But I’ve not seen him except by videophone for…. Oh, it must be two hundred years. He couldn’t even make it back for Dorothy’s naming ceremony. He wanted to, but something came up.”

“Peter followed in my father’s footsteps,” The Doctor explained. “He is a diplomat, a peacemaker. When Dorothy was born he was negotiating a truce between the Sontaran and Rutans. And it looks as if this one might actually hold.”

“I just wish he wasn’t so alone,” Rose sighed. “He needs a wife.”

“No he doesn’t,” The Doctor said with an indulgent smile. “You just want another daughter-in-law to swap gossip with. Peter is doing just fine. I’m proud of him.”

“What about us?” Chris asked. “Do we turn out all right?” He looked at Vicki and Sukie with – he laughed inwardly at the thought – Vicki’s son, Sukie’s grandson. He looked at Peter, in his father’s arms. His future seemed assured.

“Well… Davie and I must be all right,” Brenda said as she petted baby Dorothy. “Because The Doctor said that he thought Peter was ours when he saw us first. So we must get married and have our own children.”

“We really shouldn’t be telling them these things,” Rose told The Doctor. “Isn’t it a paradox.”

“They can find out this much by reading each other’s timelines if they try hard enough,” The Doctor answered. “They all have the power within them.”

“I never liked to do that,” Chris said. “Ever since….”

“The Seminarian in the forest.” The Doctor looked at him kindly. He smiled as he saw the silver crucifix against his black sweater. “You looked into his future and saw him executed painfully. I understand that. That’s why it's an ability none of us use very often. Knowing the length of life given out to our fellow beings – knowing the means by which that length is cut… it takes a strong mind to cope with it. But…”

He reached out and took hold of Chris’s hand, gripping it firmly. He touched his forehead with his other hand and closed his eyes in concentration. The others looked and knew what he was doing. He was reading Chris’s future timeline while at the same time transmitting to him what he saw.

“Wow. Really?” Chris asked as they both opened their eyes and looked at each other.

“Really,” his great-grandfather said with a smile. Then he hugged him tightly. “It’s been a long time since we saw you, too, Chris. You spend so long in seclusion, so much time thinking. Even when you come home to the first Sanctuary, just across the garden, you are too much apart from us. We don’t see enough of you at all.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“No need to be. You achieved so very much. And you, Davie. Yes, you and Brenda are going to be happy together. And you’re going to have adventures that even I could envy.”

“I don’t need to know more than that,” Davie said. “Just to know we’re all going to be alive and well this far into the future is enough.”

“Well, it's not going to be an easy ride,” The Doctor said. “There are some storms ahead for you all. But we’ll get there.”

“We’ve got to get BACK first,” Davie remembered. “And I can’t do that until I fix my TARDIS.”

“We have to get back before The Doctor and Rose and your mum and dad and Christopher and Jackie get back from Rome,” Brenda told him.

“That you do,” The Doctor laughed. “Tell you what, boys, we’ll leave Brenda to talk to Rose and the girls look happy enough there. And we’ll go and take a look at your TARDIS.”

“I’d like to take a look at the Sanctuary,” Chris said. “Do you think it would be all right?”

“It’s your Sanctuary,” The Doctor told him.

They went there first. And as fine as it looked when it was new, a few years after he had the idea, now it was beautiful. Because it was alive. The dojos were ringing with the sounds of people learning advanced techniques of martial arts. The meditation rooms were places of serene contemplation, lectures in the study halls. And around the garden of peace in the middle of the complex were happy followers of his Way relaxing and talking quietly. The Doctor and Davie watched as Chris stepped up to a group of young people his own age and spoke to them. He smiled at their responses and sat by the reflecting pool to talk.

“They think he’s a candidate come to visit to see if he wants to join,” Davie said with a smile as he heard his brother’s happy voice in his head. “They’re telling him all about the Sanctuary, inviting him to join with them in a meditation practice.”

“Tell him to enjoy himself. We’ll come and get him when we’re ready.” The Doctor put his arm around Davie’s shoulders and they walked back to where the TARDIS had landed by the formal garden. “Just like old times. You and me and a broken TARDIS.”

Davie looked at his great-grandfather and saw a smile in his eyes that wasn’t there before.

“Don’t you have your TARDIS any more?” he asked him.

“Yes, but I rarely use it. My children all have their own personal time and space runabouts. Thanks to your designs. Remember your first prototype – the one based on a DeLorean.”

“No… I haven’t built a prototype yet. And do I really do anything so corny as making it out of a DeLorean?”

“Oh.” The Doctor looked at him. “Oh dear, I think I just introduced a small paradox. Never mind. Chris knows all about his Sanctuary and heaven knows what Sukie and Vicki might be learning from Tristie.”

They stepped into the TARDIS and The Doctor looked at the console and sighed.

“Sometimes I DO miss the thrill of the chase,” he said. “But I’m getting a bit old for it, now. Time to settle down. Live out my last couple of hundred years in peace.”

“You’re that close to…” Davie looked at him sadly as he knelt down and began to open up the damaged part of the console. “Granddad…”

“I’ve had a fantastic life,” he answered. “I’ve nothing to complain about. I’ve restored my race. Time Lords are the most successful ethnic minority on this planet. All my children are out there doing great things. So are their children. I’ve fulfilled my destiny. The only adventure left now is death.” He looked at Davie’s face and smiled. “Seems pretty likely I’ll do that in my own bed, quietly. And considering the life I used to lead that’s an achievement in itself.”

“Can’t imagine the universe without you in it.” Davie told him.

“It’ll have you in it. You ARE the chip off the old block, Davie. Chris… He’s the side of me that was always subsumed by the other. He’s the thinker, the dreamer. But you and I never have time for dreams. We’re always on the move. Always doing things.” He paused and looked at Davie. “Can I tell you one thing about your future?” he asked.

“How can I say no?” he asked. “I’ll regret not knowing every day if I do.”

“YOU inherited the one thing I thought I could never pass on. My name. YOU are The Doctor now.”

“Oh!” Davie gasped. That really did surprise him. He felt a little weak at the knees as the implication of that sank in. “Oh…. So…”

“A lot of people think you ARE me. The same man, regenerated once more. And we neither of us bother to correct them. There’s no need. You carry the honour and the burden as well as I ever did.” Then he became busy for a long while in the coils and circuits of Davie’s console. Davie said nothing and did nothing except watch him. He could have mended the Temporal Stabiliser himself, of course. But he had the feeling it meant something to his great-grandfather to be doing it. A brief remembrance of the past. He remembered well enough how it used to be when he and his brother first travelled with him. Emergency repairs while flying through the vortex were a regular occurrence. So were adventures in places they never intended to travel to.

“Quick test drive?” he said at last when the repair was made.

“Just the two of us?”

“For old time’s sake.”

Davie grinned as his great-grandfather manned the navigation console and he took the drive control. They didn’t need to ask each other where they wanted to go. They didn’t go anywhere in particular. The TARDIS entered the vortex and flew forwards in time a thousand years. They materialised long enough to see Mount Lœng House now lived in by The Doctor’s children and grandchildren. Ten thousand years after that, the house was no longer standing, but Chris’s Sanctuary was now a much bigger and busier place.

Five billion years later they maintained a safe position as they watched the Earth die in the supernova of its sun.

“No need to be sorry,” The Doctor said. “Everything has its time. Earth is gone, but its legacy goes on. Human and Time Lord. We’re all out there now. Touching every star in the universe.”

“I know,” Davie sighed. “And yet… I still feel… MORTAL when I think about it.”

“We were always mortal,” The Doctor reminded him. “Time Lords never asked for, never wanted, immortality. Death comes to us all in time and it is right that it does. But let’s turn the clock back again now. Time to go pick up the rest of your family.”

“Yes,” Davie agreed. He took the controls and programmed the return to 3046.

At least he thought he had.

As the TARDIS materialised it was shook by an explosion outside. Davie looked up at the viewscreen and saw the same garden at night, and something, it might have been a garden shed, burning fiercely.

“Is this the time when Vicki’s room got destroyed?” Davie asked.

“No, that’s another matter entirely,” The Doctor answered him as he looked at the navigation console. “We overshot. It’s 1941. The London Blitz. One of the time periods your mother banned me from taking you to when I was teaching you to pilot the TARDIS.”

“Our house was in the Blitz?” Davie thought about that. “Of course, it’s 18th century. It survived through all sorts of bad stuff.”

“Come on,” The Doctor said. “We might be needed in this bad stuff.” He reached under the console for the first aid kit that was standard equipment in any TARDIS.

As they stepped outside into a night air filled with the acrid smell of burning they heard somebody screaming for a doctor. The Doctor smiled grimly.

“Duty calls.”

The meadow that was going to be Chris’s sanctuary of peace was anything but that right now. It was the scene of death and fear. They took in the situation at once. This was a centre for south London blitz victims. Tents had been set up to give them shelter and refreshments. But a stray bomb – it had to be a stray since there was no military or other objective here in this residential part of London – had cruelly shattered the illusion of safety for those who had already seen enough.

“The doctor is dead,” somebody else yelled as the two Time Lords ran into the fray. “The medical tent took a direct hit.” A terrified man in an ARP uniform almost ran into them in his panic.

“I’m a doctor,” The Doctor said, steadying and calming the man. “Show me where the worst injured are.” He turned to Davie. “This won’t be pretty, but come on… they need every able bodied man they can get.”

Davie said nothing, but he followed his great-grandfather as he always did. The ARP man brought them to a big tent that had a sign posted outside reading “WVRS”.

Inside several middle aged women in armbands with those initials, denoting them as volunteers, were doing the best they could. Their tent was intended for handing out blankets and clothing and tins of corned beef to the newly arrived bomb victims. Instead they were having to organise a makeshift field hospital. They were doing their best, but the British bulldog spirit was flagging a little in the face of the situation.

Davie noticed a middle aged woman who was dressed very finely in what they used to call a ‘twin set’ of pale pink fabric doing her best not to break down in tears as she held an old man who was bleeding badly. Her fine outfit was becoming ruined.

“All right,” The Doctor said as he put down the first aid kit and knelt beside her. “Let me do what I can.”

“You’re a doctor?” she asked.

“I am,” he answered. “This young man is my assistant. Davie… lint, sutures, bandages, please.” He turned back to the lady. “Do you know this man? Is he your…”

“No,” she replied. “I don’t know him. One of the evacuees. I’m Lady Sarah Longmount. This is our house. My husband is… he’s in North Africa, I think. Though they don’t tell us much about that sort of thing. Careless talk etc. I opened up the grounds here to do my bit…” The lady choked back a sob and then a little scream as the injured man coughed up blood over her blouse. “I’m so silly. I thought dressing nicely and pretending everything was normal… but it’s not normal. This is…”

“I’m afraid this man is dead,” The Doctor said. “We can’t do anything more for him.” He looked around at the other wounded. “Davie, see to that one there, and I’ll look at the burn victim…” Davie looked on the point of saying he didn’t know what to do, but a look from The Doctor spurred him. It was a look he knew well. The one that said “I trust you, I believe in you. I know you won’t shirk a hard task.

The Doctor looked at Lady Longmount. Despite being a lady brought up to give dinner parties and attend Royal Ascot in an impressive hat he didn’t think she was one to shirk a hard task, either. “Can you start bandaging the less severe wounds?” he asked her. She nodded and dried her tears and put on a brave smile as she went to do just that. The ARP man covered the body of the man who hadn’t made it and set him aside for collection by the mortuary ambulances later.

The Doctor moved to the next patient. Death always bothered him. But in situations like this there was no time to dwell on it. Somebody else needed his help. A woman in a simple cotton dress who held a baby against her despite her leg being almost blown off at the knee. The Doctor was almost sure the baby was dead until he heard it cry. He put his hand on the mother’s forehead and gently reached in to block her pain receptors. She fed her baby as he completed the amputation of a leg that would have been hard to save even in much later centuries and impossible in these conditions. She would live, so would her baby. It was the best he could do.

As he moved to the next serious case he watched Davie briefly. He was comforting a child who had suffered a broken arm. He smiled as he saw him fix a sling to hold the child’s arm and then use a small piece of spare lint to do the same for a teddy bear who, the child insisted, was wounded the same way. He watched Davie do the same as he did, drawing out the pain mentally and leaving the patient smiling.

Chip off the old block. Absolutely.

They were busy all night. The victims kept coming but nobody seemed able to send any extra hands to help along with them. Lady Longmount proved herself a genuine trooper as she worked alongside them long after The Doctor would have sent her to bed if his own steely resolve hadn’t been met by one equally unmoveable.

It was an hour after dawn when they were at last able to call it a night. By then, finally, help arrived in the form of a fleet of ambulances to take the dead and wounded to a real hospital.

“We couldn’t have done it without you two doctors,” Lady Longmount told them as they sat in the ornamental garden drinking tea served in her Ladyships second best bone china set. “I don’t know where you came from but you were the miracle I was praying for.”

“All in a night’s work,” The Doctor told her. He looked around at the garden and the house that would be his own home in the far future. “It will be over in a few years,” he told her. “The war won’t last forever. Life does go on.” He took her hand gently and Davie knew he was reading her timeline. “Yes, it does.” He smiled warmly at her.

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Lady Longmount. But we’d best be off now. Things to do.” He shook hands with her. So did Davie, and they headed back to the TARDIS, disguised as a potting shed that nobody had paid any attention to with so much else to worry about.

“I hope I get it right this time,” Davie said as he programmed the co-ordinate. “I’m sure we calibrated the Time Stabilizer properly.”

“You just need a slightly lighter hand on the control,” The Doctor told him. “You’ll be just fine. Remember you’re going forward this time. Unless you want to witness Lady Longmount’s ancestors fighting duels on the meadow in the 1790s.”

“Sounds fun,” Davie grinned. “But maybe another day. I have to get everyone home before midnight.” He looked at The Doctor. “Duels?”

“Picked up the resonances. When I was reading her timeline. Past Longmounts defending their territory. Just as she is now. Holding the fort, doing her bit until her husband comes home from the war.” He saw Davie about to ask the obvious question. “Yes, he will. Limping for the rest of his life and with an aversion to sand. But they’ll be among the lucky ones.”

“I’m glad of that,” Davie said. “But if it was any other way we couldn’t have done anything about it, could we. Causality…all of that.”

“No. And I can’t do anything about the thing you and Chris are worried about. The thing that will happen in your near future. You will have guessed by now that Vicki and your sister weren’t home when the room was destroyed. There’s no need to fret about that. But it’s one of the storms ahead that I mentioned earlier. When it bursts, you’ll know. There will be no mistaking the warning signs. I can’t tell you any more than that. But….” He moved around to the computer database and typed something in rapidly.

“What’s that?” Davie asked when he was done.

“It’s a locked file. Protected by the computer equivalent of a deadlock seal. Don’t try to break it. When it’s needed it will unlock and there is some information in there that will help us all. But there’s nothing I can do about Vicki’s bedroom. That’ll be for my home insurance to sort out.”

Davie looked on the point of asking another question. “No. No more clues. I think we’ve risked enough paradoxes. Time for you all to go home. I ought to be mad at you. But I gave you this TARDIS. I gave you the freedom to choose what to do with it. And it WAS nice to see you all, just this once. A reminder of what it was all about.” He smiled dreamily and Davie said nothing more. He just brought his TARDIS out of the vortex. They were in the right time co-ordinate but he had deliberately brought them into orbit over the Earth. He grinned widely and warned his great-grandfather to hang on tight while he put the TARDIS into a fast dive towards South London, a manoeuvre he had learnt from him when he was fourteen. The Doctor laughed with joy as they rode the white knuckle ride together.

“Something else I’d almost forgotten about,” he said. “Thank you for that.”

It was an almost tearful parting. Vicki and Sukie were hard to persuade that Tristie could NOT come with them back to 2216. Brenda was reluctant to leave baby Dorothy. Rose didn’t want to part with Peter. Chris looked longingly at the Sanctuary. Davie grinned at him, knowing that he was going to hear all about it every night when they settled down to sleep.

“It was worth it.”

“Can we go and visit Tristie again?” Vicki asked when they arrived home, finally. It was dark and Davie had insisted firmly it was bedtime for the two girls. “I liked him.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “That isn’t a good idea. When you’re older, you’ll understand why.” Both girls looked at him with the same big, pleading eyes they usually used on The Doctor to good effect. But he had to say no. That accidental visit to the future didn’t do any real harm. But they would be pushing their luck if they did anything else.

“Tristie’s mummy has the same name as me, you know,” Vicki told him as he took them to their bedroom.

“I know,” Davie told her.

“We can still talk to him anyway,” Sukie added. “He’s a supertelepath, too. We can talk to each other.”

Davie thought about that and couldn’t think of anything to say. It probably wouldn’t do any harm.


“Tell us a story, Davie,” Vicki asked when they were in bed. “Tell us all a story. Sukie and me and Tristie.”

“He’s listening?”

“He’s at school now,” Sukie explained. The time is different where he is. But he’s talking to us and doing his lesson as well.”

“Chris and me used to do that when we were your age and granddad taught us telepathically from wherever he was in time and space. Eight hundred years is nothing really. Sometimes he’d be millions of years and millions of light years away from us.” He tucked them into their beds and told them to say goodnight to Tristie and go to sleep.

“Story,” they insisted.

“You don’t need a story from me,” he said. “The three of you can tell your own stories.”

But he told them one anyway. He sat on the window seat and watched the stars come out in the night sky as he talked them to sleep. As he felt their minds withdraw into REM sleep his voice trailed off and he sat there quietly. He looked out over the peaceful garden, to the meadow that was a duelling field in the 1790s and an air raid refuge in 1941 and was going to be something else entirely in a few short years. He looked up at the starlit sky on a cool, quiet autumn night. And he shivered as he thought of what he had been told.

A storm ahead.

“Davie?” Brenda spoke quietly and he looked around to see him at the door. “Peter is asleep. Chris has gone down to the meditation room. And nobody will disturb us for a couple of hours.”

He grinned and stood up. The storm was still in the future. The honour and burden of following in The Doctor’s footsteps was in the future. Right now he could still be a teenage boy with a girl on the sofa and the lights turned down low.