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

Two Time Lords and a man who was married to the daughter of a Time Lord stood at the bar and watched their women at the restaurant table drinking coffee and talking animatedly.

David looked at his father-in-law and grandfather-in-law and smiled.

“You know they’re talking about you two,” David told them. “Jackie and Rose are comparing notes about being married to Time Lords and Susan is egging them on.”

“I know,” The Doctor said. “We could tell you what they’re talking about. Time Lords have very good hearing, you know.”

“No, they can keep their secrets. I do feel a bit jealous though. They never talk about me that way.”

“Susan loves you,” Christopher assured him. “And the boys talk about you all the time.

“You mean when they’re not talking about your father,” David said with a wry smile.

“It’s a draw, I think,” Christopher said diplomatically.

“Let’s go find out exactly what they’re up to,” The Doctor said, taking his drink and heading towards the table. He used his superior Time Lord hearing to tune out all the other noises of the restaurant and catch the conversation among his own womenfolk.

The phrase “Loch Ness monster” stood out.

“Jackie, don’t you worry about our wee Scottish alien,” he said, kissing her cheek. “You look after your own little alien.” He kissed Susan’s cheek as well before moving around the table to give his wife a more intimate kiss on the mouth as he sat down beside her. Christopher and David followed his lead and joined them at the table where they had eaten a very nice meal and were relaxing with drinks afterwards.

“Don’t say it like that,” Jackie complained. “I’m having a baby, not an alien. You and Christopher are men, even if you are from an alien planet. Not green things with scales or whatever!”

“Sorry Jackie,” The Doctor apologised. “And don’t fret. Your baby is perfectly fine. No reason for you to worry. Just stop reading those books about human pregnancies. None of that counts. Forty-one is NOT too old to have a Gallifreyan baby. There is no danger of abnormalities. And your little boy won’t be born with scales or anything else.”

“You know perfectly well I’m a lot older than 41,” she told him.

“Just a bit,” he answered her gallantly. “Anyway, why ARE you still talking about the poor old Skarasen and her troubles?

“We were talking about some of the weird stuff we’ve all been involved in over the years. I was saying how the Nessy was actually a lot less scary than some of the stuff YOU got me into.”

“So, what you’re saying is that my son offers you a better class of alien monster than I do?” The Doctor teased her.

“Yeah, something like that,” she said, her hand reaching for her husband’s.

“Well, there’s gratitude,” The Doctor answered, feigning hurt.

“Susan was telling us about some of the things you and her came across when she was a little girl travelling with you. It sounds worse than some of the stuff Rose gets into with you.”

“Oh we had some fun, didn’t we, Susan,” The Doctor laughed. “Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti…”

“I wasn’t with you for the Cybermen, Grandfather,” Susan told him. “Or the Yeti.”

“You weren’t?” He looked at her with puzzled eyes. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, Grandfather.” She knew most of the stories of what happened after she left him to marry David second hand through her sons telling her what he had told them of his adventures. “I think there was a girl called Victoria with you when you had the trouble with the Yeti. She was at your wedding. Quiet, well mannered. Seemed a bit over-awed by the huge crowd.”

“Yes, I remember Victoria.” He closed his eyes and ran through those long distance memories. “Jackie, you’d have been just about walking and talking when we had the Yeti in the London Underground. Though even your mum and dad wouldn’t have known about it. The government and military covered the whole thing up.

“Yeti!” Christopher looked at him wryly. “Father, how DO you get in so much trouble?”

“I don’t know,” The Doctor said. “All I ever wanted was a quiet life.”

“Oh, grandfather,” Susan laughed. “That’s not true. You are an incurable, outrageous, interfering, nosy, busybody and you go looking for trouble even when there isn’t any.”

“That’s true,” Rose said. “He does.” And when he protested she listed numerous examples of times when they could have simply walked the other way.

“Except you wouldn’t be you if you did,” she added. “And besides, a lot of people got to live better and safer lives because you stuck your nose in.”

“Absolutely,” Susan agreed. “Besides, I wouldn’t change you for the world. None of us would.”

“Not at all,” Jackie added. “You’re my second favourite Time Lord. Well, fourth favourite including my two wonderful step-grandsons!”

“So now I’m demoted in favour of my offspring!” He laughed and enjoyed the luxury of being able to laugh and relax and even to test his long term memory with those reminiscences about the past.

“Would you like more drinks from the bar before it closes?” the Maitre-D of their favourite restaurant in Rome’s Piazza Navone asked them.

“No,” The Doctor answered for them all. “Would more coffee be possible, though?”

“For the Signore and his gracious family anything is possible,” the Matire-D answered and signalled to a waiter to fetch coffee for all. “Is this a special celebration tonight, Signore?” he added.

“Well,” The Doctor answered. “It’s my birthday, and the lady opposite is exactly three months pregnant with her second bambino, and we have a baby-sitter my wife trusts enough not to have to phone every three minutes with instructions. That in itself makes this a special night.”

“Indeed, Signore,” the maitre-d said with a smile at one of his most regular and gracious patrons who always left the most generous tips.

“Grandfather,” Susan said when the coffees were served and they relaxed once again in the quiet ambience of the late night restaurant. “Are you all right? It’s strange how you forgot it wasn’t me who was with you when you dealt with the Yeti.”

“Those youngsters who travelled with me back then…” he said with a long drawn out sigh. “When I looked at them, I saw you, Susan. They filled a place in my soul left empty by you. So when I remember them, I do seem to see your face sometimes. That’s all.”

“Are you sure, Grandfather?” she insisted. “After all, you ARE over 1,000 now. I’m not even sure how old you ARE. I bet you’ve lost count, too.”

“I am 1,161,” he said. “Including premature aging due to ghosts trains and temporal accelerators. Or 1,006 if I don’t count those little hiccups in my body clock.”

“You look great for it either way,” Rose told him with the kind of smile she usually reserved for bedtime. “And you’re MY number one Time Lord.”

“You’ve ALWAYS been my number one, Grandfather,” Susan admitted. “But talking of ghosts reminds me of something I bet you HAVE forgotten. It was so long ago now I haven’t thought about it for ages myself. And I bet you haven’t been back, even though you said you would.”

“What?” The Doctor asked as he sipped his coffee.

“Remember the Canterbury crypt ghost – only it wasn’t a ghost, of course.”

“Oh yes,” he grinned. “I DID forget that one. Haven’t even told the boys. And no, I haven’t been back. Not for ages. And I DID promise.”

“Go on then,” Jackie said. “You can’t not tell us now.”

“It’s a bit of a long story,” he said. “And I think the manager would like to close the restaurant soon. “Bedtime story when we’re back home.” He drank his coffee and found his credit card and local currency to tip the staff with and then they all put on their coats and stepped out into the cool night air and walked the short way to where he had parked the TARDIS by the porticoed entrance to the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone.


“Aww, look at the lovebirds,” Jackie said with a smile as they all came into the drawing room and saw Davie and Brenda cuddled up asleep on the sofa. They woke and sat up looking guilty, but Rose reported that Peter was sleeping nicely and Sukie and Vicki were probably PRETENDING to be asleep and chatting away telepathically as usual.

“Your baby-sitting credentials are unblemished,” The Doctor told them. “Where’s Chris? I thought he was staying over as well?”

“Meditation room,” Davie answered. “Doing his thing again.”

“Oh well, that’s all right,” The Doctor said. “He’ll miss out on bedtime stories. But I’m sure he’s happy where he is.”

“Bedtime story?” Davie queried. But The Doctor was looking around the room thoughtfully.

“There are more telepaths in this room than non-telepaths,” he said looking at Rose, Jackie and David, the odd ones out. “I think we could manage to do more than TELL a story.” He smiled at his granddaughter, who caught his meaning.

“A Memory Visiting!” she exclaimed. “Oh, yes. Let’s do that.”

“Everyone come and sit down on the floor,” The Doctor said. “Make a ring and hold hands.”

They all did as he said, making sure that the three Humans among them sat between two telepathic Gallifreyans. Jackie and David both looked hesitant. This was their first experience of Memory Visiting, but Rose had done it before with them.

“Now, close your eyes and relax everyone,” The Doctor said “Susan, why don’t you start us off. It’s your memory as much as it’s mine.”

“All right,” she said. And she concentrated her mind as she knew how. The others prepared to help the non-telepaths to receive her memories in the most complete way possible.

Jackie gasped as she felt Susan’s memories take control of all her senses. She knew she was still sitting on the floor of the drawing room, Christopher holding one hand and Brenda the other. But at the same time she was somewhere else. She was looking at an old fashioned London street through Susan’s eyes. Susan as a young girl, dressed in a school uniform, was running and crying. She crashed open the gates of a junk yard called Foreman’s and ran to the TARDIS, parked in amongst the junk. She opened the door noisily and ran inside.

Wow, Jackie thought as she saw it all through Susan’s eyes and felt Susan’s thoughts, Susan’s emotions. She registered some surprise at how different the TARDIS looked inside in those days, but Susan’s emotional state at the time was so strong it overwhelmed most other thoughts.

“Grandfather!" she cried out to the old man who had not even looked up from where he was standing by the console fixing some wires together under one of the panels. “Grandfather, you PROMISED you would send that form to the school.”

“What form?” he asked, looking up from his work. “Is it time for you to be home already?”

“THIS form,” she answered, tears welling up in her eyes as she snatched up a piece of paper with Coal Hill School’s crest at the top. “I wasn’t allowed to go on the trip and that’s why they sent me home early. Everyone else in the class has gone to Canterbury for the day. All except me.”


“It’s in Kent,” she said. “There’s a big cathedral there, and I really wanted to see it.”

“Why? We have nothing to do with Earth religions.”

“Because of the architecture,” she explained. “Because… they have these beautiful cloisters…. I saw pictures. It reminds me of home. Of the cloister halls on Gallifrey. Remember… you used to take me there. I learnt to WALK in the cloister halls.”

“Oh, my dear,” The Doctor’s voice softened as he looked at his grandchild and he, too, remembered when she was a very little girl, before their exile. “Oh, my dear child. I didn’t know you had such strong memories of home.”

“I remember every bit of it. You taught me to have a clear memory of everything I see and do and I have. And I remember… and…” Her tears ran unchecked now and he reached out and held her.

“I miss home, too, Susan,” he told her. “I miss it terribly. More, perhaps than one so young as you could imagine. You do understand why we can never go back.”

“Because they would punish you for being a political dissident,” she said.

“I will have been tried in my absence already,” he told her. “If they ever find out where I am they may carry out the sentence anyway. But if we return certainly I shall be arrested. I wouldn’t mind it. After all, I AM a dissident. And I have disobeyed so many of the laws of our world. Only that I would be separated from you. That I could not bear.”

“As long as we’re together,” Susan told him, drying her tears and hugging him. “We’ll be all right.”

“Yes we will,” he said. “I am sorry about the form. I didn’t know how much it meant to you. This school – it seems such a pointless thing. I have already taught you far more than you would ever learn there.”

“I have friends, and I learn about being Human,” she told him. “That’s important. We ARE part Human, after all.”

“We are more than Human,” The Doctor said. “But no matter. If you really want to see this cathedral, I shall take you.”

“Oh Grandfather, really? In the TARDIS or by train?”

“In the TARDIS. Do you think these old bones are going to allow themselves to be rattled about by the public transport system of this decade!”

Susan smiled joyfully as she ran to the console and carefully followed her grandfather’s instructions.

“Are we going to arrive at the same time as the school group?” she asked.

“Not at all,” he responded. “Traipse around with a load of schoolgirls? I don’t think so. We’ll go for tea time and take the last guided tour of the afternoon after refreshments. I’m sure Canterbury must have some tea shops. Tea, yes. The one thing this planet did right. A good cup of tea!” And he chuckled to himself as he set the time rotor in motion and the TARDIS left the old junk yard for an outing.


“Wait a few minutes,” Susan said as she broke the link and they all found themselves in the present again. “I’m not used to doing this for more than a few minutes at a time.”

“Wow,” Jackie said. “That was…wow. You can all do that?”

“Some better than others,” The Doctor said. “You should get Christopher to show you some things.”

“Christopher already showed me enough,” Jackie answered him. She looked about the room. “Am I the only one who is surprised to learn about you being a ‘dissident’ on your planet, Doctor? I knew there was something about you.”

“Yes, I was exiled from my home. Running in fear of my life and liberty. They used to send out agents to kill rogue Time Lords. I was lucky they had become so insular they didn’t even care that much. But I was a thorn in their side for a long time.”

“Dissident… that’s like those guys escaping communism and stuff. It’s heroic. Not like a criminal thing,” Jackie reasoned. “That’s ok.” She sounded relieved.

“Jackie?” Christopher looked at him. “Do you mean to tell me you thought my father WAS a criminal?”

“Well, I knew there was some kind of a secret about him. And I did wonder sometimes. When I was alone waiting for Rose to come home. She always trusted him. So did I in my way, but I did sometimes wonder what it was he was hiding. And now I know, and it’s not really that terrible, after all.”

“Jackie thought I was a reformed axe murderer, yet she still married into the family,” The Doctor laughed. “Susan, are you ready to go on or shall I take over?”

“Please do,” Susan told him. “I’m out of practice.”

They joined hands again and this time Jackie was surprised to find herself looking at the scene from long ago through The Doctor’s eyes. Her first reaction was that it was a bit rude occupying a MAN’s thoughts. Her second was to be curious, but it seemed that this memory-visiting only gave access to the immediate thoughts of the subject, not their long-term memories.

“Spoilsport,” she told him and then she let herself be overtaken by his thoughts and concentrated on what was happening in The Doctor’s memory.

“Yes,” The Doctor said as he held his fourteen year old granddaughter around the shoulders and walked through the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral in the late afternoon of a summer’s day. “Yes, I see what you mean. It is reminiscent of the Cloister Gardens.” He gave a deep sigh and hugged her closer to him. “This planet has its compensations in pleasant places like this. Yes, it does. And yet… you and I will always be strangers here. We will always have to hide what we are from Humans. If they knew…”

“The Humans I meet at school are kind people, grandfather. They would understand, I am sure.”

“Would they? I wonder. But what if the government of this country knew what we are? They would want to use us. Their ridiculous petty wars with other parts of their own planet. This ‘cold war’ they have. Imagine if they thought they could use you, my child, use your latent telepathy as some kind of weapon against Russia?”

“I wouldn’t do it, Grandfather. I would tell them. I like Russia. The Tzarina was such a nice lady. It was terrible what they did to the family. Oh, but, of course, that was in the past.”

“You must beware of saying things like that, my dear. If you were overheard...” He sighed. “Yes, very nice people. Very nice people indeed. Politically naïve, perhaps. But very nice.”

“Shall we visit the crypt?” Susan asked. “The class was going to go to that. There was a lot of talk about it. There are supposed to be ghosts…”

“Stuff and nonsense,” The Doctor told her. “You know as well as I do that ghosts are almost always something else entirely.”

“Yes, I know that, Grandfather,” Susan laughed with him. “But some of the stories are rather fascinating. There is this one about a ghost of a monk whose image was trapped on a pillar by a man using flash photography in the 1920s. The pillar is there and nobody seems able to remove the mark.”

“That’s interesting,” The Doctor said with a thoughtful smile. “Yes, interesting. I am perfectly sure that is all just superstition that has grown around something entirely different, but it is interesting all the same. Yes, let’s go and examine this crypt.”

Susan smiled up at him and sighed happily. He did, too. His thoughts were best described as bitter-sweet. Yes, the Canterbury Cloisters had been very pleasant. And it was nice to reminisce about the old days. About Gallifrey. But it hurt, too. It hurt so very deeply knowing they could never go home.

But for Susan, he thought, he would go back and surrender himself to whatever fate was awaiting him. She was his reason for going on.

They fell in with the official tour as they went down into the crypt. They listened as the guide told them all about the various ghosts supposed to haunt the Cathedral crypt. The most famous, of course, was St. Thomas a Beckett, murdered in the Cathedral in 1170. Then there was Simon of Sudbury killed in 1381 and a poor woman called Nell Cook who was buried alive in the Cathedral for poisoning her employer.

And then there was the mysterious hooded monk who used to be seen in the crypt.

“Used to be?” Susan asked. “Where did he go?”

“He didn’t go anywhere,” the guide said. “He’s right here with us, now.” He spoke in a deliberately mysterious tone that attracted the attention of his audience of boy scouts and American tourists. “In 1925, an amateur photographer was taking pictures of the crypt using what was then the latest flash photography. He saw the monk passing between the pillars of the crypt and took a photograph. When the light of the flash dissipated the monk was gone, but his shadow was burnt onto the pillar he was passing at the time. THIS very pillar, in fact.” With a flourish the guide showed them what was apparently a perfectly ordinary pillar holding up the crypt roof, except this one had a shadowy mark on it that with only a little imagination could look like a hooded figure. There were gasps of amazement from the crowd and flash bulbs illuminated the scene.

And Susan stepped back and grasped her grandfather’s hand tightly.

“Did you see?” she whispered. “Did you see it move?”

“My eyesight isn’t what it was, my dear,” he said. “I’m afraid I didn’t see anything.”

“Grandfather, your eyesight is no worse than it ever was, and it is better than most Human eyes. You just weren’t looking. And if you dare to tell me it was my imagination, or just a trick of the light, I shall scream.”

“Please don’t do that in such an enclosed space,” he said to her gently. “Besides, you might have seen something, but I HEARD something.”

“You did?”

“Wait,” he said, and the two of them stepped back into the shadows as the tour continued on. When they were alone in the crypt he stepped up to the pillar and put his hand on the place where the heart might be in a living body. “Yes, I hear you,” he said. “But you’re no monk, are you? Hmm. I wonder.”

“Grandfather?” Susan stepped closer to him. “What is it?

“It’s calling to me,” he said.

“It’s alive?”

“Not in the sense you and I would recognise as life,” he told her. “But there is a sentient mind there. Listen with your hearts, not your ears. You will hear it, too.”

She listened carefully. He was right. None of the Humans would ever be able to hear. But on the very edge of her latent and still not quite completely formed telepathic nerves she could hear something like a voice.

“Free me,” it said in a voice that was like the sound mercury might make if it could speak. “Free me from this prison.”


“I don’t know if I can,” he said. “Or if I should. Who or what are you?”

“Who do they say I am?”

“They say you are the ghost of a monk who was slain along with Beckett in 1170,” The Doctor said. “But that is just romance, fantasy. You’re not a ghost. Ghosts do exist, oh yes. In certain circumstances the remnant of the soul of a once living being may remain. But you are not a ghost. You are not the soul of a Human. I can sense that you are not of this world.”

“Nor are YOU, old man,” the voice replied.

“That is very true,” The Doctor said. “But I am asking the questions. Who are you and if I free you, will the Humans of this place be safe?”

“I have no interest in the creatures of this planet. I only wish to return to my own place, my own planet, my own people.”

“You are an exile?” The Doctor said. “You are cut off from your world?” His tone softened as he considered this information. He knew the feeling only too well.

He wanted to help this entity trapped in the pillar.

Because he saw in it a kindred spirit.

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “Yes, I think I can help you. I am sure I can. You must be patient though. I need instruments that are in my ship. Nothing to be done here. Be patient. I will return.”

“Grandfather,” Susan whispered warily. “Are you sure? What if…”

But he wasn’t listening. He had stepped closer to the pillar and his hands rested on the stone around the ‘head’ of the mysterious shadow.

“Yes,” he was saying. “Yes, I see what kind of entity you are. Yes, I should be able to help you. Yes, indeed.” He turned to Susan. “Come along, child. There is work to be done.”

“Yes, Grandfather. But I thought it would just be an essay about Thomas a Beckett.”

“He was a very nice chap,” The Doctor said absently. “Rather intense, very stubborn. But very nice. Tragic, tragic. Breakdown in communications, o’er-reaching ambition. Tragic.”

“Yes, Grandfather,” Susan said again. “Just don’t try to get the TARDIS to take us there to see him. That’s cheating just for a history essay.”


They returned to the TARDIS, parked just outside the gates of the Cathedral grounds with an “out of order” sign on the panel where the telephone was. The Doctor at once became busy with a complicated circuit board with a kind of glass or crystal globe in the middle of it. Susan pulled up a chair to the console and began to type an essay on the word processor. Her fingers blurred as she got up to speed and it was done in no time. When she was done she read it through and then began to transcribe it onto ordinary paper with a ballpoint pen.

“I used to write essays like that,” The Doctor told her as he looked up from his work. “You know we could have settled in a later Earth period when schools allowed word-processed essays.”

Susan looked up and smiled. He knew what she was thinking. She thought he had forgotten about her while he was at his work. But he never forgot her. Not really. He knew her better than she thought he did.

“I like the sixties,” she answered him. “The music… Cliff Richard…”

“Cliff who?” The Doctor asked. “Susan, you know you’re too young for boys.”

“Grandfather! CLIFF RICHARD! You know…” She laughed as she realised he was teasing her. “You haven’t forgotten him at all. You’re just pretending.”

“I never forget anything important,” he said. “I never forget how much I care for you.” He held out his arms. “Come here, child. Just let me hold you for a moment.” She came to him and sat on his knee as he pulled her close to him, her dark haired head resting on his shoulder. “The years have gone by too quickly. You’ve grown up before my eyes. It only seems a little while since you were a baby in my arms. Soon you WON’T be too young for boys. At least not by Human standards. If we were home, you would still be many years away from that kind of thing. I may have let you grow up too quickly.”

“I want to live as a Human, grandfather. I don’t want to wait until I am two hundred to be a grown up. I could…. On Earth… I could be a married woman in only a few years time. I’d like that. If I met the right boy, of course.”

“Oh, Susan,” The Doctor sighed. “You know that would be difficult. You are NOT Human. What will you tell this boy when he comes along?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “The RIGHT boy will understand, I am sure. Just like my grandmother understood you.”

“You look so much like her,” he told her. “You have grown up in her image. But you will leave me. When you find this understanding Human boy. You won’t need your old grandfather.”

“But that’s how it is,” she said. “You know that. You don’t expect me to be your little girl forever?”

“No,” he sighed. “No, indeed. You must do as your hearts dictate, Susan. I won’t stand in your way when you do.”

“Thank you, grandfather,” she said and kissed him on the cheek.

“Thank YOU, for that,” he sighed. Then he gently lifted her from his knee and stood up. “Well, we have things to do in the crypt. Let us return to our mysterious monk who is not a monk.”

“Won’t it be shut now?” Susan asked as they slipped in through the gates again. It was starting to get dark now but there were lights on in the cathedral.

“There is a church service on,” The Doctor said. “Evensong. We may slip quietly into the crypt.”

“Isn’t it beautiful,” Susan whispered as they moved quickly through the side aisle. “The choir. Remember….”

“Yes, we have beautiful choral singing on Gallifrey,” The Doctor said. “Yes, I remember. When your parents were married in the Panopticon we had a choir of two hundred voices. A grand affair. Ah…” They came to the crypt entrance. It was locked. But The Doctor had never found locked doors to be a problem to him. He took his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and applied it to the lock. A moment later they were closing the gate quietly behind them lest anyone see it ajar and continuing down into the now dark crypt. The screwdriver’s penlight mode gave them light enough to see. They found the pillar with the ‘ghost’ imprinted upon it with very little difficulty.

“Hold this, my dear,” The Doctor said, passing her the sonic screwdriver while he placed the instrument he had built on the floor. He carefully connected two wires that had been left loose until he was ready. The crystal globe began to glow and emit a low humming sound.

“Yes,” the entity trapped in the pillar cried triumphantly. “Yes, I can be free at last.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “I just need to boost the power a little more.” He moved a small lever forward on the circuit and the globe glowed even more brightly. “Yes, that’s better. I think the transference will be smooth enough now.”

“Grandfather,” Susan cried out. “No, please, stop. I think it’s wrong. Can’t you feel…”

“Feel what, my dear?” he asked calmly. “It’s quite all right. The entity just needs to be freed from the pillar. You see, it is a creature made up of a different kind of matter to you or I, or anyone on this planet. It exists in a completely different way. And it is very sensitive to light. That’s why it lives in this crypt. It is dark down here. But the man with his photographs hurt it all those years ago. And it has been suffering all that time. I can ease its suffering. I can free it. I may even be able to take it back to its own people.”

“Yes, free!” the mercurial whisper said. “Free from my prison…”

“Look! The Doctor cried excitedly. “Look, it’s working.”

Susan looked with him and saw that the shadow on the pillar was becoming fainter as a cloud of what looked like glowing dust came away from the surface and coalesced in a cloud around the glowing crystal globe.

“No, grandfather,” Susan insisted. “You haven’t thought about it. You saw a creature that was lost and far from home. But… but did you think if it was a GOOD creature. Maybe it deserves its prison. Maybe if you free it…. it may do harm. Grandfather, I’m right. I can feel its thoughts. It is using you. Can’t you feel it?”

“My dear child, you are only beginning to learn how to use your telepathic skills. How can you possibly read the mind of a creature like this when I cannot…”

“Because I’m not blinded by my own self-righteousness,” she answered. “You always tell me not to be sentimental and to use logic. But you’re the one being sentimental. You see this creature as an exile like you and so you think it's like you… think it has your goodness. But you’re wrong. And you won’t see you’re wrong, because you are a stubborn old man who thinks he knows everything.”

“Susan…. That is no way to speak… on Gallifrey a child would not address an elder with such disrespect.”

“Then the elders on Gallifrey must make a lot of silly mistakes,” Susan retorted. “Listen to me, please or….”

She snatched up the circuit board and held it over her head. “Listen to me, grandfather, or I will smash this thing.”

“Susan, don’t be silly,” he said to her. “Calm down. I WILL listen to you….” He put his hand on her shoulder gently and she lowered her arms but she kept hold of the circuit board. The glow of the crystal lit her tear streaked face and his frowning, concerned one. The entity had completed the transference and was enclosed inside the globe. The particles made up of the surface of the pillar swirled around like smoke inside. The Doctor looked at it and closed his eyes. He reached and touched the globe and something like electricity arced and spat inside it. “No, my dear,” he said. “I only see a very lonely mind that has been suffering great pain for a long time because it was trapped here in this piece of rock. But….”

He stopped and put his hand to his forehead.

“Ohhh. Oh no. Oh…. That is the surface memory. There is more… beneath…. A people who exist in semi-corporeal form. People made of smoke. Well, there’s a thing. They have great minds, and great telepathic powers. But… one among them was evil. They cast him out. Banished him to this planet, Earth, where the people have no telepathic powers.... because here he could do no harm. He would be a silent, wandering ghost who can do nothing. And even that ghost was rendered immobile by the camera flash that trapped it in the pillar. It felt no pain. That was a lie. It was aware of time passing, but it was not in pain. Any more than the prisoners on Shada are in pain in their cryogenic chambers.”

“Then he must be put back in his prison,” Susan said. “Grandfather…send it back.”

“Too late!” the same mercurial voice said, this time louder, and the glow pulsated as it spoke. I am free, and I have a telepathic mind to use… in a body that I can use to make my escape from this planet.”

“You will not get into my mind,” The Doctor challenged it. “I am stronger than you are.”

“But she is NOT!” the voice answered. “She will be my hostage. I will use her mind until you return me to my world.” And the particles stopped swirling randomly and came to the walls of the globe. Slowly, like liquid penetrating a membrane by osmosis the constituent parts of the entity were escaping once more.

“Susan!” The Doctor cried. “Hold onto the board. Don’t drop it.” He began to pull at the wires that connected it together. The glow dimmed as the source of power was cut off and the particles lost their cohesion and became swirling smoke again inside the glass prison. The Doctor reached and pulled the globe from the board and threw it against the pillar. As it smashed it gave off a light nearly as bright as a flash bulb in a camera and the creature screamed inside both their heads.

When they could see again by the light of the sonic screwdriver’s penlight there was a mess of broken glass at the base of the pillar and a shadow, maybe it was a little darker now, or it could have been a trick of the light.

But for certain, the entity was trapped in its prison again.

“And there you will stay for eternity,” The Doctor told it. “For I will not be so foolish again.” And he took the remains of the circuit from Susan’s hands and put his arm around her shoulders. “Come my child. Let us be on our way, before Evensong is over and somebody wonders what is going on down here.”

“And it's still there, even today?” Davie asked as they came back to reality and stretched stiff limbs. “Is the cathedral still there?”

“Yes, it is,” David said. “There was a big thanksgiving service there after the Greevascian attack eight years ago.”

“You know,” Susan said. “He never admitted he was wrong. He wouldn’t listen to me, and he nearly messed everything up, and he never said he was wrong. Never said he was sorry for not listening to me.”

“He HASN’T changed,” Rose said. She turned to The Doctor. “You did exactly the same thing with the Gelth. You trusted them, let them play on your sympathy.”

“And that guy who was messing with time in Preston,” Davie reminded him.

“Yeah,” The Doctor admitted. “That’s my fatal weakness. I fall for hard luck stories. And Susan is right. I am lousy at admitting I am wrong. I am sure I did something to make up for that time though. Didn’t I buy you a ticket to see Cliff Richard or something?”

“Yes, you did,” she said. “But all I needed you to do is say you’re sorry and you won’t ignore what I have to say again. And you never did that, and you carried on making the same mistake again and again. Trusting nobody’s judgement but your own, thinking that you’re ALWAYS right.”

“But I’m still your number one Time Lord?” The Doctor said. “Aren’t I?”

“Course you are,” she said. “But don’t push your luck. One of these days you won’t have me or Rose to tell you to stop.”

“I’ll always have at least one of you, surely,” he said. “But even if I do get it wrong sometimes, if something asks for my help, I won’t refuse it. I’ll always try to help.”

“You’re supposed to be retired, Granddad,” Davie pointed out. “You don’t have to try anything any more. It’s my job now. Me and Chris…. Me and Brenda perhaps. Because I think Chris has some other plans these days.”

“Chris is going to save the universe’s soul,” Christopher told his grandson. “You’ll look after it's heart.”

“It’s in good hands anyway,” The Doctor said. “Maybe I can take it easy now.”

“Until the next time something comes up that you can’t stop yourself meddling in,” Susan told him. “You never change, Grandfather.”

And maybe, she thought, reflecting on how much worse things might be without him. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.