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

Susan and her grandfather stepped into the Chinese TARDIS, wondering why they had both been summoned there. The twins greeted them with smiles, and Susan found herself hugged thoroughly by both of her sons.

“Ok,” she said suspiciously. “What have you broken?”

“MUM!” Davie answered her scornfully. “We’re not ten years old now. We don’t need to pull the emotional blackmail card any more.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” she replied with a laugh.

“We just wanted a chance to sit down with you both and have a pot of tea and talk about old times,” Chris added, taking his mother’s hand and bringing her to the sofa where there WAS, indeed, a tray with tea and biscuits.

“Are you SURE you haven’t broken anything?” The Doctor asked. The twins both gave him a withering look and he grinned disarmingly and sat down next to his granddaughter. Chris poured him a cup of tea with two sugars, just as he had always taken it for as long as he could remember drinking tea. Susan took hers without sugar.

And it was nice, The Doctor thought, as he leaned back on the sofa and put his arm around Susan’s shoulders. She looked at him and smiled and they both seemed to be remembering the same memories. Not of anything monumental, not of adventures in time and space where they had to run for their lives, but the quiet moments they had shared when it was just the two of them together in the TARDIS. Especially, he thought, those peaceful years they lived on Earth in the 1960s. Living a lie, yes. But a good lie that they had both cherished.

“Quiet evenings,” Susan said aloud. “After I had done my schoolwork and you had finished tinkering with whatever you found to tinker with in the TARDIS. And you would make tea, and we’d sit together like this. I always felt so very safe and warm and happy.”

“Yes,” The Doctor sighed. “Seems like such innocent days. We WERE happy. I had you, my little girl. We were free to live how we chose. And we chose peaceful evenings with a cup of tea.”

Susan snuggled closer to her grandfather, as if remembering those quiet times.

“Wasn’t always quiet though, was it?” Davie asked as he passed the biscuits around. “You must have had adventures together.”

“Not during that time while we were on Earth,” Susan said. “The only space travel happening then was humans sending up their own primitive satellites and rockets.”

“It was an exciting time to live on Earth,” The Doctor said. “Watching them make their first baby steps into the universe. I was proud of them.”

“Yeah,” Davie said. “But… Your time wasn’t COMPLETELY incident free, was it?”

As he spoke, he reached out and touched his grandfather’s forehead. At the same time, Chris reached and touched his mother’s head. Both gave astonished cries as they found themselves remembering something they hadn’t remembered before.

Something that had been hidden from them before that moment.

“What…” The Doctor began. He stared at the two boys. “Well… good grief. How did I forget that?”

“You told me to seal the memory for you,” Davie told him.

“Quite right, too,” The Doctor admitted. “I wasn’t so daft as I looked in those days.”

“Not QUITE, anyway,” Susan laughed. “But… now we know OUR side of this. Tell us what YOU two know.”

“Started yesterday,” Davie told them as he poured another cup of tea. “We were testing the time travel circuits in Chris’s TARDIS….”

“1962,” Davie said as he read out the temporal location on the newly restored Gothic TARDIS. “Heck of a year that, in Earth history.”

“Yes, it was,” Chris answered. “Then again, what year wasn’t?”

“I know, but check the date.”

“February 20th?” It took him a split second to match the date with the historical event. It was one they had known for a long time. Before they knew they were Time Lords whose blood came from beyond the stars, they had been as enthusiastic as just about every other boy they knew about the space programme that was starting to establish human colonies in the outer solar system and push back the frontiers of Human possibility. Their bedroom had a solar system mobile for a night light and a telescope aimed through the skylight. And on the wall by Davie’s bed was a poster with the key events of more than two hundred years of Human space travel history detailed on it.

Quite close to the bottom was a picture of an astronaut climbing into a very claustrophobic looking capsule painted in the red, white and blue of an optimistic USA space programme. Davie often wondered what beings from other planets would have thought about the bold stars and stripes flag. But he always hoped that if any such beings did witness it they would have some way of translating the words under the flag. Because if they did, they would know they had nothing to fear from it.

“February 20th, 1962,” Davie murmured as he remembered falling asleep many times with that date imprinted on his brain as the last thing he had seen before he fell asleep. “John Glenn orbits the Earth three times in Friendship 7.”

“It lifted off from Cape Canaveral three minutes ago,” Chris said. “Let’s catch up with it over the Atlantic.”

“Cloaking and shield on, then,” Davie insisted. “You know what granddad would say.”

“Earth hadn’t had First Contact then. We have to be careful.”

“First OFFICIAL Contact,” Davie corrected him. “Apart from mum and granddad, there were LOADS of other aliens who had landed on earth. And the authorities knew about some of them. The Americans had Roswell. The Russians has Tunguska, and the British had Salisbury Plain, all before Humans started reaching for the stars.”

“Yeah,” Chris nodded. “True enough. But John Glenn never reported anything unusual on his trip. So lets make sure we don’t cause him any upset. Otherwise…”

Chris fine tuned their orbit over the Earth and prepared to stand by to match their speed and trajectory to Friendship 7 as it passed them by. He smiled as he saw Davie watching him with a hungry expression on his face.

“You’re just like granddad,” Chris told his brother with a grin. “HE can’t bear to stand by and watch YOU in control of your TARDIS. And now you’re the same.”

“Yeah,” Davie admitted. “You’re right. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to stop my fingers itching.”

“Watch out for Friendship 7,” Chris answered. “We want to match its orbit, not crash into it.”

Friendship 7 was right on time, passing over the Canary Islands when the Gothic TARDIS slipped into simultaneous orbit with it. Neither John Glenn in his capsule or the NASA Command Centre following his journey were aware of them. Davie’s cloaking shield made it invisible to the naked eye as well as to radar.

“Patch into their communications,” Davie suggested. “Let’s hear what they’re saying.”

“This is a great way to do history,” Chris laughed as the conversation between the astronaut and Earth filled the console room. He looked up at the viewscreen as Glenn reported that there was a dust storm over Kano in Nigeria. The storm was clearly visible as they passed over Africa.

Chris and Davie had orbited Earth, and many other planets, too, countless times. But it was something else to be experiencing it through the eyes of the first Human to do so. They shared his delight at seeing his first sunset from orbit as they passed over the Indian Ocean.

“This is cool,” Davie whispered in delight.

“It’s a beautiful sunset,” Chris noted. “Granddad would have loved to see it. He has a thing about sunsets.”

“Me too,” Davie agreed. “This is going to rate as one of the best for me.”

The Earth below was in darkness now. But both the TARDIS and the capsule soon became aware of a brightness ahead. Chris and Davie smiled as they heard the Mercury Tracking Station at Muchea tell John Glenn that every light in Perth was switched on to welcome him.

“Now THAT is cool,” Chris and Davie both agreed. “Mum doesn’t even leave the carport light on for us.”

The night lasted only forty-five minutes for them. Sunrise was over the Pacific ocean as they headed towards the end of the first manned orbit of the Earth. Again, it wasn’t their first space borne sunrise, but they experienced it anew through the enthusiastic commentary of the astronaut. They listened as he reported something unexpected. The Friendship 7 capsule was surrounded by “thousands of little specks, brilliant specks, floating around outside the capsule." He called them fireflies. NASA’s experts theorised that they were ice crystals forming from the exhaust vented from the capsule, lit by the angle of the rising sun.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Chris said. “Davie, take over here. I want to run an analysis.”

“This is an historic event,” Davie told him. “We KNOW nothing happened. Apart from it being the first EVER manned orbit it was practically routine. Beautiful, but routine.”

“Mmmm.” Chris vaguely responded. “Still not so sure. And I’m not sure about THAT, either,” he added as Glenn complained of interference on the HF radio band as they crossed the tracking station at Kauai, Hawaii. “There’s nothing wrong with the transmissions from Kauai. The interference is around the capsule. I think it’s connected with the ‘fireflies’. And by the way, they’re NOT fireflies. Or ice crystals, either. Friendship 7 has made First Contact. Only NASA don’t know it. There’s no way they can detect that sort of lifeform.”

“We can,” Davie noted as he glanced from the drive console to the lifesigns detector. Chris moved back to the drive control and Davie moved around to the computer database. He typed quickly and the screen filled with information. “It’s a swarm of Ogarazis. According to the database, they are a non-hostile creature, attracted to heat and radiation – fireflies after all - but if they come into contact with flesh they can kill.”

“Human flesh?” Chris asked. “Or…”

“Any warm-blooded flesh,” the note said. “Incidentally, the entry was added by granddad. It’s got his signature at the bottom. And… Er…”

“What?” Chris looked at him. Davie had a strangely inscrutable look on his face and he hid his thoughts from his brother.

“It’s probably just a coincidence,” he said. “But the Ogarazis… We need to do something. If they’re still hanging around the capsule when it splashes down, then this WON’T be a routine orbit. It will be a tragedy.”

“We can attract them to the TARDIS,” Chris said. “A burst of artron energy wouldn’t be noticed by NASA. They have nothing that detects it or we’d be seen every time we land on Earth. But the Ogarazis would be attracted to it. I can’t dematerialise because then they’d be left behind and fly right back to the capsule. But we can take off in the opposite direction and Friendship 7 carries on to do three complete orbits perfectly safely and happily. John Glenn gets in the history books and the USA gets back the kudos it lost when the Russians got into space before them.”

“Let’s do it,” Davie decided. But Chris had already started the process. Davie was impressed by the way Chris had taken to his own TARDIS. He really had become symbiotic with it. He didn’t need to press any buttons to have it emit a burst of Artron energy. He did it with the power of his mind.

“It’s working,” he said. And as Friendship 7 crossed the Canary Islands for the second time the ‘fireflies’ veered away from it and clustered around the cloaked and shielded TARDIS. Neither they nor it appeared on any radar screen as the TARDIS changed orbit.

“They’re all over the TARDIS,” Davie said. “Clinging to the exterior.”

“I know,” Chris answered. “I can feel them. They’re like a hive mind – like bees. About the same level of intelligence. They move through space in the same way a swarm of bees do. And…” He stopped speaking. “Uoho…”

“Uoho?” Davie repeated. “That’s never a good word.”

“It’s not. I’ve got a navigation failure. We’re going into a decaying orbit.”

“Let me see,” Davie said, diving under the drive console and beginning to dismantle it while in flight in the way he had learnt from his great-grandfather. As Chris fought to control his ship he heard his brother utter a string of Low Gallifreyan curses that, to his mother’s annoyance, he also learnt from his great-grandfather.

“Is it them doing it?” Chris asked. “The fireflies?”

“No,” Davie’s voice, muffled from holding his sonic screwdriver in his mouth, replied. “It’s my fault. I thought that overlocking …… would hold.”

Chris only understood half of the description of the malfunction. Apart from being muffled it was extremely technical. Chris knew what most of the parts inside the console were, but he tended to call them thingamabobs, whatsits and gizmos. They tended to work, or not work, whether he called them by their technical names or not.

“We’ve got to land,” he added. “I can’t fix it in flight.”

“But that means bringing the fireflies with us,” Chris said. “We can’t….”

“Pick an uninhabited spot,” Davie suggested. “Earth has loads of them still.”

“I CAN’T pick anything,” Chris answered him. “Navigation is malfunctioning. We just missed Friendship 7 on its third orbit of the Earth. We’re orbiting at a 49 degree angle to it. It’s a good job he’s planning to splashdown when he gets back to the Pacific.”

“Just LAND,” Davie yelled as the TARDIS pitched and rolled violently, knocking him back from the underside of the console and winding him as he sprawled on the stone effect floor.

“I’m TRYING,” Chris yelled back. “Navigation is malfunctioning, remember!” He yelped with pain as they pitched the other way and he, too, ended up on his back seeing ‘stars’ in exactly the wrong way for a TARDIS pilot.

But as he lay there, slightly dazed, he knew what to do to bring the TARDIS to land safely. He let his consciousness reach out and touch the heart of the console, feeling the semi-psychic, semi-sentient ‘life’ of the machine. And he WILLED it to initiate a landing.

“Chris?” He heard his brother’s voice but he didn’t dare reply. “Are you… Oh, sweet mother of chaos, you ARE! You’re landing the TARDIS by thought control. Oh, brother of mine. You are brilliant.”

He felt brilliant. He felt one with the TARDIS. He felt as if this was the way TARDISes were MEANT to be piloted.

“You did it,” he heard his brother call out to him. “We’ve landed.” Chris opened his eyes slowly and looked up from the floor to see Davie reaching for the viewscreen. “Oh,” he said with a tone that was half amused and half annoyed. “I said an unpopulated area. You set us down in East London. Could you get a MORE populated area?”

“Quite easily,” Chris responded. “Peking, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles.” He clambered to his feet, feeling slightly as if being upright was an unusual position for his body to be in. “WHERE exactly in East London?”

“The one place your sub-conscious mind knows exists in 1962,” Davie answered, looking pointedly at the viewscreen. Chris looked and grinned as he recognised the street, despite it being a very foggy morning that looked barely light.

“Was it ever NOT foggy in London in the 1960s?” Chris asked. “Or was there just something about THIS street.”

“I don’t know,” he answered. “But I don’t think it’s a very good idea our being here. Now that we’ve got a fixed position let’s try to move somewhere else. The middle of Hampstead Heath at least. Before anyone turns up. We still have the Ogarazis hanging on to the outside of the TARDIS.”

“Too late,” Chris said. “Look.”

They both looked in horror as a young girl came out of the gate of the old junk yard at the end of Totters Lane, East London. She didn’t see the TARDIS at first as she pulled a scarf around her neck and thrust her hands into the pockets of her winter coat. When she looked up, though, her astonishment was clear. She looked back at the closed gate and then stepped forward, reaching to touch the surface.

“No!” Chris yelled, running to the door. As he opened it, he heard Davie yelling that the ‘fireflies’ were swarming.

“Keep still,” he told the girl. “Wait.” She stood still. Around her, the Ogarazi creatures were swarming until she seemed to be bathed in their twinkling light. For a moment he thought it was going to be ok. They were, the database said, only dangerous if they touched flesh and in her winter apparel there wasn’t a lot of her flesh exposed. But as they rose up in the air and began to move away, he saw that her face was stung by them. She looked at him and gave a soft cry before fainting.

“Bring her in,” Davie said as Chris caught her in his arms. “There might be something we can use to treat her.”

“No,” Chris said. “We need to take her home. Davie… don’t you realise. This isn’t just any girl. It’s…. It’s mum. When she was a schoolgirl. When she lived in THERE with granddad.”

“He’s not going to be happy,” Davie said. “This is a paradox.”

“I don’t care,” Chris told him. “Get the gate.”

Davie closed the TARDIS door behind him and ran to open the junkyard gate. Chris carried the girl known to her friends in 1960s London as Susan Foreman. They both looked momentarily at the old-fashioned police box that stood inside the yard.

“Did you notice that YOUR TARDIS turned into one of those when we landed here,” Davie noted. “It probably picked up the resonance from Granddad’s one.”

“At the moment, I don’t care if it looked like a wheelie bin,” Chris answered. “Look in her coat pockets. She must have a key.”

“On a chain round her neck,” Davie told him. “Remember, I used to have it. I gave it to Brenda as a love token.”

“Oh, yes.” Chris took the key, being careful not to let the metal chain touch her swollen face. She had been stung about a dozen times. The worst ones were around the eyelids. They looked puffed up and sore.

He turned the lock on the TARDIS door the way he knew it had to be turned to prevent it locking them out and setting off the alarm. He pushed open both sides of the door and stepped inside.

Of course it looked different inside. They knew the TARDIS changed over the centuries with The Doctor as he aged and changed. Just now the hexagonal console looked as if it had tried to blend in with the 1960s. The knobs and levers and screens all looked as if they were made up from television and radio sets from the time. Near it there was a sofa and soft chairs set around a coffee table for relaxation and a tall hatstand with a hat, cloak and walking cane.

There was nobody in the console room, but as Davie closed the doors behind him the door opposite opened. Both of them suppressed a gasp as they recognised The Doctor from the photo album their mother kept. Her grandfather as she remembered him from her childhood, a white haired, elderly man.

He was carrying some kind of electronic component and fiddling with it as he entered.

“Susan, my dear, I thought you were going out,” he said without looking up. “Isn’t it a school day?”

“Susan is hurt,” Chris said. “Help me with her.”

The Doctor looked up at the sound of his voice. His face was shocked and angry and concerned at the same time. For an old man whose walking canes were not merely for show he covered the floor quickly.

“What happened to her?” he demanded. “Who are YOU and how did you get in here?”

“Susan needs to lie down,” Chris said. “Let us help her first. Then we’ll explain the rest.”

“Yes, yes,” The Doctor said. “Quite right. Bring her over here.” He went to the corner of the room and pressed a button. A narrow bed slid out of the wall. Chris laid her on it. The Doctor brought a medical box from under the console.

“It was Ogarazi,” Chris told him as he began to apply a cooling balm to her face while her grandfather administered an injection of anti-histamine.

“It was what?” The Doctor looked at him sharply.

“Ogarazi. They’re a sort of space insect. Hive brain, swarming instinct. I thought you would know, Doctor. Davie said YOU wrote the entry in the TARDIS database…”

“I have never heard of such creatures,” The Doctor answered.

“He wrote the entry TODAY,” Davie said with a sigh. “Based on THIS experience of dealing with them. I noticed the datestamp on the database.”

“Who ARE you?” The Doctor demanded. “HOW do you know me? Or Susan. How do you know about the TARDIS?”

“Because WE have a TARDIS, too,” Chris answered. “We…”

“You’re agents, aren’t you?” he said, his face suddenly cold. “From Gallifrey.”

“No,” Davie protested. “No, we’re…” But The Doctor wasn’t listening to him.

“Get away from Susan. Get away from me. I won’t have this treachery. I won’t have it.”

“No,” Chris begged. “Please listen to us. We’re not from Gallifrey. We’re… Look…” He grabbed The Doctor’s hand and pressed it against his own head. “Read my psychic identity.”

The Doctor tried to pull away, but Chris’s strength was equal to his own, if not greater. As he felt his psychic identity, the method by which Time Lords all knew each other, his anger and fear turned to astonishment.

“You are…” he began. “You….”

“Mum!” Chris screamed as he felt Susan’s hearts falter. “She’s in arrhythmia,” he added as he began to perform heart massage on her two hearts. The Doctor saw what he was doing and took over one side. For a long time nothing else mattered except saving Susan.

Nothing else could possibly be more important, Chris thought. She had to live. Or they never would.

“You’ve done it, boy,” The Doctor said at last. “Nasty stuff they stung her with. Allergic reaction in the dermis and a delayed shock to the cardio-vascular system.”

“It wasn’t malevolent,” Chris assured him. “No more than a bee is when it stings. Susan was in the wrong place… WE were in the wrong place and she was hurt because of it. I’m sorry for that.” He stroked her cheek gently. “She was so pretty when she was a girl. She still is. But here, now…”

“It can’t be,” The Doctor said, returning to the issue at hand before they had to give their full attention to her. “This can’t be right.”

“It is,” Chris insisted. “Susan is our mother. We’re from your future. And yes, I know we shouldn’t be here. Time lines etc. It WAS accidental. If she’s all right, we’ll get going now. We still have to find where the Ogarazi went and get them off this planet.”

“Susan is going to be fine, now,” The Doctor said. “The worst of the poison is out of her system and your quick thinking prevented her hearts from being damaged. She should come round soon. But these creatures you speak of…” He looked around as Davie went to the console. “Young man that is MY TARDIS. You can’t….”

“I’ve been using this TARDIS console since I was eight years old,” Davie said. “It might look a bit different, but it’s the same console. It KNOWS my DNA. As for the Ogarazi… they’ve settled again. They’ve honed in on a building near here. I think… It’s a school. Coal Hill School.”

“Susan’s school? Why?” The Doctor stood and went to the console. “My goodness, you’re right. But WHY the school?”

“I think because it’s the warmest place near here,” Davie answered. “Look at the area with a heat sensitive filter. Domestic houses are all coal fires in this decade. The only place with central heating, the only really warm building, is the school.”

“It’s also the only building with hundreds of people in it,” The Doctor added. “Oh, my stars. We can’t let that happen.”

“No, we can’t,” Davie agreed. “If I can get Chris’s TARDIS navigation fixed we can repeat the artron burst and draw them out. Fly them away from Earth.”

“What’s wrong with the navigation?” The Doctor asked.

“It’s always been funny. It was sabotaged ages ago to prevent its original owner leaving Earth. I had to re-engineer the whole thing. But I think I made a mistake. Doctor… if you help me…”

“Why should my help be important?”

“It was you that originally sabotaged it,” Davie told him. “It’s a long story and we don’t have time. Chris can look after mum… Susan. Please, won’t you come with me?”

“If I have been tricked by false idents… if this is a way of getting me away from Susan and off Earth… I may be an old man, but I can still fight you, boy.”

Davie doubted very much that The Doctor in this incarnation could possibly fight him physically, and his mind was so bitter and mixed up he didn’t think he would have the mental strength either. But he said nothing. The Doctor had agreed to come with him. And that was what mattered.

Chris smiled as he watched them both leave. As he went to the dispensing machine that The Doctor and Susan were using for a kitchen in this era and requested two cups of tea from it, he reflected that the TARDIS they were using to save Earth from the Ogarazi threat was HIS. But in the heat of the moment Davie and The Doctor had BOTH sprung into action.

Nothing changed, he thought. They both still wanted to be in charge. A pair of control freaks.

The dispenser failed to produce tea. Then he noticed that there was an electric kettle and a teapot on a shelf next to it. Some things never changed. The Doctor’s preference for tea made in a proper pot was one of them. He glanced back at Susan, still sleeping comfortably on the bed and began to make tea.

“I sabotaged this TARDIS?” The Doctor asked as he lay, somewhat stiffly, under the navigation console and worked nearly as swiftly as Davie beside him.

“Yes, you did,” Davie assured him. “Good and proper. The man who owned it drove himself mad trying to make it work again. I almost knew how he felt, fixing it.”

“Yes,” he said. “I must have done a thorough job.” He chuckled. “Very thorough.”

“Well, let’s make a thorough job of mending it now,” Davie answered. “We’ve got to get to the school and stop the Ogarazi from hurting anyone else. According to you they’re VERY dangerous to humans. We can’t let…”

“Yes, yes,” The Doctor said. “Don’t fuss, boy. The school isn’t very far away. At least I don’t think it is. Susan doesn’t take very long to walk there, anyway.”

They worked quietly for a few minutes. The Doctor’s hands looked as if they might be arthritic, but Davie noted he was just as nimble as he was at the delicate circuitry of the TARDIS. The frailty WAS real enough. But he didn’t let it get in the way of what was important.

Or perhaps he was determined not to be outdone by a ‘whippersnapper’ as he had rather tetchily called him when he had suggested that The Doctor should just tell him what needed to be done.

“You have never been to the school?” Davie asked, coming back to the point. “But mum… Susan… went there for years. What about parent teacher meetings, concerts, plays? You never attended ANY of them?”

“The school was Susan’s idea,” The Doctor answered shortly. “I want no part in it. I certainly don’t need some Earth teacher telling me about her progress. I know her educational capacity. I already taught her more than she could possibly learn there. As for concerts and plays… she only has to ask and we will attend any professional performance she desires. The one thing Earth CAN manage is some good quality theatre. Though the music these days… this rubbish she listens to. This Richard Cliffs…”

“I think you mean Cliff Richard,” Davie said with a suppressed laugh. “She still listens to him, and he’s still awful.”

A ghost of a smile passed over the old man’s mouth. Davie thought he had broken through his hard shell with his appraisal of his mother’s musical tastes. But when he spoke again his voice had the same half-angry, half dismissive tone.

“Your accent, boy,” The Doctor said.

“What about it?”

“London… South London…. And lowland SCOTS? There’s barely a cadence of Gallifrey in there. You’ve been bred here on Earth?”

“My father is a Scotsman,” Davie explained. “Though I was born in Southwark and we live in Richmond now. In the 23rd century. I was born in 2198.”

“Our exile was never lifted?” This time The Doctor sounded sad. “Susan and I never left this… this infernal planet?”

“It’s… more complicated than that,” Davie answered. He closed his thoughts desperately as he felt the old man’s will burning into his mind. “Please…” he begged. “You taught both of us not to probe other people’s minds without permission. There are things I know that would be hurtful to you. If I… If I tell you a little, will you promise not to force the rest from me?”

“You seek to bargain with me, boy?” He looked and sounded fierce. Davie found it hard to see in his dark eyes that turned on him anything of the man he loved so dearly, his own great-grandfather.

“I seek to protect YOU and mum… I mean, Susan… from knowing things that can only harm you. A man is not supposed to know too much of his future. YOU taught me and my brother that.”

“Very sensible of me,” he conceded. “And very correct, too. Perhaps something of Gallifrey lives in you.”

“ALL of Gallifrey lives in me,” Davie responded. “I was taught to respect its laws and its traditions and uphold its ideals.”

“By me?” The old man laughed cynically. “I doubt that, I doubt that very much.”

“The High Council DID forgive you,” Davie explained. “You MADE them see reason. You forgave THEM. The exile WAS lifted, but you preferred your freedom to life there. Mum… Susan… married my dad and stayed on Earth. You let her make her own life here. You came back later to live near to us, to teach me and my brother to be Time Lords. You mentored us both through Transcension.”

“Why so young?” he asked. “You ARE still a boy by Gallifreyan standards. Terribly young.”

“We were both ready. You taught us everything we needed to know. Everything you learnt in your years at the Prydonian Academy.”

“Everything?” The Doctor laughed softly. “Hardly, I think. “You never learnt to respect your elders, boy. One of your years ought to address me as ‘sir.’”

“Usually I just call you granddad,” he answered. “And you call ME Davie. Or… or a lot of the time… SON.” Davie blinked back a tear as he said that. “You CHANGED.” He said. “The man we know… We LOVED you from the first day we knew you. You were a second father to us. But YOU… I don’t know how mum puts up with you. I… I’m NOT reading your mind, ok. That still stands. But I can FEEL your mind. You’re so hard and narrow and MEAN. I don’t know where MY granddad is. Where he came from. But you’re NOT him.”

Davie closed the last damaged circuit and pushed himself out from under the console. More slowly, but rejecting any suggestion of needing help, The Doctor did the same. He picked himself up from the floor with only a slight wince as his back protested about the change from horizontal to vertical. He looked at Davie with a slight smile and a tear blinked back from his own eyes.

“My DEAR boy,” The Doctor said. “Oh my dear boy. My child.” Davie felt his wrist grasped and then he shifted his hold and embraced him. “Yes, you ARE of my own flesh. I feel it in you. My own strength. My own arrogance. My own stubbornness. Forgive me, Davie. My bitterness blinds me sometimes. I have so much anger. So many regrets burning in me.”

“Granddad,” Davie said. “I forgive you. As mum does, all the time. Because we love you.”

For a moment more they hugged each other and though by mutual agreement they didn’t read each other’s minds still, they read each other’s souls and felt the blood that bound them both.

“We had better get on,” The Doctor said at last. “Do you have a bearing to that dratted school?”

“Yes, I do,” Davie answered. “We’ll be there in two minutes.”

Susan stirred and opened her eyes. She looked up at Chris. He offered her a cup of tea. She sat up and drank it. He perched on the edge of he bed and drank his. They both looked at each other and searched for an opening to the conversation.

“I remember,” she said. “You were in the other TARDIS. You came to the door. Then something attacked me…”

“It’s a long story. But you’re all right now. There are no side effects.”

“My eyes feel funny.”

“They’re a little red, still. That will wear off. You were lucky. They only got to a small part of your face.”

“What’s your name?”


“That’s a girl’s name. Goes with the hair, does it?”

“It’s short for Christopher,” he answered. “I’ve always been called Chris, though. My… My mum always called me Chris. ”

“Christopher was my father’s name,” Susan said. “I don’t remember him. He died when I was a baby. But I suppose you can’t be so bad if you have the same name as him.” She smiled at him. The same smile he remembered on his mother’s face all his life. Then the smile was replaced by a frown. She looked suspicious of him. “You’re a Time Lord? You must be. You had a TARDIS.”

“Yes, but I’m not… you don’t have to be afraid. I’m not here to hurt you or your grandfather. It’s just an accident that we arrived here.”

She looked at him for a long moment and then sighed and smiled again.

“You’re the first Time Lord I’ve met since I was a little girl. I thought I’d be scared. Grandfather said… Well, we’re on the run, you know. Grandfather is wanted by the government. He’s not a bad man. He didn’t REALLY do anything wrong. He just went against them and they were angry with him. But it does mean we can never go home.”

“I know,” Chris whispered. “I am sorry about that.”

“You won’t tell them, will you?” she said. “You won’t give us away? You seem like a nice boy. I feel as if you are. I almost feel… as if I know you.”

“You don’t know me. But you will. One day.”

“Will we be friends?” she asked. “I hope so.”

“Friends?” Chris smiled. He couldn’t help himself. “More than friends.”

“Oh.” Susan saw his look and made a guess.

The wrong one.

“Oh. You mean… Granddad is very strict about me seeing boys. He says even by Earth standards I’m too young. But… but when I’m older… I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I had a Time Lord boyfriend…”

Chris laughed. “No,” he said quickly, because the idea in her mind right now, was just a little disturbing. “No,” he told her. “Susan…. You’re… you’re my mum.”

“Oh.” She looked at him. And then she smiled and laughed. “Oh. But… You… and your brother. I have twins?”

“There’s three of us.”


“No,” he assured her. “Me and Davie, and our little sister, Sukie. Look…” He reached in his pocket and showed her a photograph of them all. Susan gasped as she saw the picture of herself and David with their children.

“So… he’s my husband. And… Oh, she looks like me. The little girl. And you two…”

“We take after granddad… The Doctor. So he says. Chips off the old block, he says.”

“He’s still alive? He’s all right?” Susan asked. “I do worry about him.”

“We’re all just fine. Granddad is retired. WE do the adventuring now. He’s as happy as he ever could be. You worry about us every time we’re away anywhere. And we keep telling you its ok. Davie has a girlfriend. She’s a nice girl. You like her a lot.”

“What about you, Chris?” she asked. “Don’t you have a girl?”

“No,” he answered and he began to tell her about his plans for the Sanctuary. She listened in awe and amazement. She was only just fifteen years old, and her nineteen year old son from the future was telling her all about his own future plans.

They both forgot that telling people about their future was a paradox and should be avoided at all costs.

The Gothic TARDIS landed in the boiler-room of Coal Hill School. The hottest part of the warmest building in the area. Davie checked the scanner.

“Yes, the Ogarazi are here,” he said. “They seem to be nesting near the furnace. They’re feeding on the thermal energy. Oh no….”

“What is it?” The Doctor said.

“There’s somebody coming. It must be the school janitor, stoking the boilers. If he disturbs them…”

The Doctor watched in astonishment as Davie reached for an unfamiliar panel on the console. He exclaimed in excitement as the janitor appeared in a shimmer of white light that indicated a transmat beam and before he had time to blink, was enfolded in a stasis field.

“This TARDIS can do THAT?”

“Yes. I put the transmat and stasis functions, and a tractor beam function into both mine and Chris’s TARDISes.”

“YOU put them in? You’re THAT good?”

“YOU taught me all you know.” Davie answered. “And then I taught myself some things.”

“Well, I never… hmphh. Well, that’s all very well. But I never needed those kind of fancy things.”

Davie ignored the put down and turned to look at the caretaker.

“He’ll be all right. He’s safe there. After we’ve taken the Ogarazi out of harms way, I’ll pop him right back. He’ll feel as if he had a dizzy spell and go and see the school nurse or go get a cup of tea in the canteen and he’ll be none the wiser. Meanwhile…”

He pressed some more buttons to emit the same short burst of artron energy he used to get the creatures away from Friendship 7. Again, like iron filings attracted to a magnet the Ogarazi flew to the TARDIS. But this time, before they could settle on the surface Davie activated the same transmat and stasis field. Both he and his great-grandfather looked curiously at the creatures now that they were frozen in time and space, hanging in the air within the stasis field. The Doctor reached in his coat pocket for a huge magnifying glass and began to examine them in minute detail while Davie busied himself sending the janitor back into the now perfectly safe boiler room. He checked to make sure the man was standing upright, though still dizzy enough to think the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising was just a ringing in his ears.

“Ok,” Davie said. He looked up to see The Doctor looking at him with a bemused smile. “What?”

“My father used to tell me off for using the word ‘ok’,” he said.

“You use it all the time,” he answered. “You’re a bit less stuffy in the regeneration we know.”

“Stuffy?” The Doctor seemed at a point between anger and amusement. He chose the latter, though Davie thought it was a close thing. “Well, perhaps I am. Just a little. Is there anything you want me to do? This TARDIS… It’s a Type 42?”

“Yes,” Davie answered. “Though to be honest I don’t think it’s any better than the Type 40. And YOU wouldn’t fly any other TARDIS. And to answer your question. No, there’s nothing you can do. Just enjoy the ride. We’re heading for the Horsehead Nebula. Find a nicely brewing plasma storm and let the Ogaranzi think they’re in space firefly heaven.” He looked at The Doctor. He was disappointed. Davie recognised the signs. He was STILL the world’s worst passenger. He wanted to be involved in some way.

“Tell you what,” Davie told him. “I think this might be the time when you add your entry about Ogaranzi into the database. Pull up a chair.”

The Doctor did as he suggested. Davie piloted the TARDIS to the Horsehead Nebula. He wondered if he ought to tell the old man that was The Doctor in this time about how his ninth incarnation taught him and Chris to surf the Horsehead plasma storms in the TARDIS when they were younger than Susan was now. He had a feeling that might be one of those things, like the use of the word ‘ok’ that he might frown upon.

Strange that it wasn’t just his body that was younger, but in so many ways, his mind, too.

“Ok,” Davie said, despite The Doctor’s disapproving look. “Time to say farewell to the Ogaranzi.” He grinned widely and warned him to hang on as he brought the TARDIS in close and he did, indeed, ride the plasma storm as he transmatted the Ogaranzi into the middle of it. The TARDIS rode the wave literally like a surfboard on the tide. When it was over, The Doctor looked at him in a very disapproving way.

“Young man,” he said. “I am….” He gasped for breath and held his chest. “I wasn’t expecting… Good heavens. Did I teach you to do that? I haven’t… When I was younger… I loved that kind of thing. But really. I am too old for it now. You could have given me a hearts attack.”

“No I couldn’t,” Davie answered him. “Your hearts are the strongest in the universe. You can do anything. But let’s get back to Earth now.”

“Let’s take the scenic route,” The Doctor told him. “Now that we’ve fixed the navigation on this TARDIS.” Davie stepped back as he took over. He piloted them smoothly into the vortex once more, bringing them out on the edge of the solar system and then slowly back towards Earth. “I must thank you,” he said. “This morning, watching the television – that young Earthman making the first orbit. I felt as if my feet would never leave the soil of that planet again. You have let a tired old exile remember that he was once an explorer and adventurer.”

“You will be again,” Davie assured him. “It’s not all over.”

The Doctor looked at him and sighed. Davie wondered why. But he didn’t ask. He focussed on the view of Earth that was rapidly approaching and was surprised when the old man who had complained about his hearts suddenly laughed aloud and took them in to land in the junkyard in Totters Lane at the same heartstopping speed he remembered his great-grandfather so often teasing them with when they travelled with him.

“Yes,” he said as they stepped out of the TARDIS. “That was very refreshing. Very refreshing indeed. Thank you very much. I wonder if Susan is feeling well enough now to have a pot of tea ready.”

It was, Davie noted, almost nightfall on the same day. They had been gone, in real time, about eight hours. He hoped Susan, and Chris, were both all right.

They were more than all right. As they stepped into the TARDIS laughter rang in the air. Susan and Chris were sitting on the sofa together, drinking tea while Chris told her stories about their life in the 23rd century.

“Oh, grandfather,” she said happily as she got up and hugged him. “Come and have a cup of tea and talk to Chris. He was telling me all about…”

“I would love a cup of tea, my dear. But when we’re done, these two really must be getting on their way. The longer they are here, the more the risk of a dangerous paradox.”

“Yes, grandfather.” Susan poured tea for him. He and Davie sat and drank and they talked some more. Then The Doctor did something startling. He leaned towards Susan and pressed his hand on her forehead. She gave a soft sigh and fell asleep in his arms. He carried her to the pull out bed and laid her on it.

“What have you done?” Chris asked, though he thought he knew.

“I’ve blocked out her memory of today. When she wakes, she will have a slight headache and think that she has been unwell. Tomorrow I will write a note for that silly school to explain her absence.”

“I told her too much, didn’t I?” Chris admitted. “I’m sorry. But once I started… she wanted to know.”

“I can’t blame her for that,” The Doctor told him. “I, too, asked far too many questions. I know too much. Which is why I must ask you to do the same for me.”

“But… granddad,” Davie protested. “What you said about being sad about the Earth orbit, being stuck here… and being glad to be out there for a while… if we take your memory of that…”

“Then I’ll be no worse off than I was before you arrived,” he answered with perfect logic. “I’m a tired, bitter old man and not very good company for Susan. But it won’t always be that way. For either of us. And, besides, when you get back to your own time and place, you CAN remind us both. The memories are only blocked, not erased. We’ll talk again of these things.”

“All right,” Davie said. He hugged his great-grandfather one more time as Chris went and kissed his future mother on the cheek tenderly. Then he touched him on the forehead and did as he had done to Susan, blocking off the memory of this day. As he fell asleep, Davie caught him in his arms and laid him on the sofa.

“Get the tea things,” he said. “Wash them and put them away, and make sure there’s nothing else around to show we’ve been here.”

“I’m on it,” Chris said. “It was nice, you know. I don’t think me and mum ever talked so much together as we did this afternoon. I’m sorry she had to get hurt because of us being here, but it WAS nice.”

“Yeah,” Davie agreed. “He was great, too.”

“So that was it,” Chris said to his mother and great-grandfather. “We got back ok, obviously. In fact, I think my navigation worked better on the return journey than it EVER did. If Davie hadn’t been so stubborn and let you work on it with him in the first place…”

“I DID offer,” The Doctor said. “But I’m glad we had today. And I’m glad we remember THAT day now. Because….” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. From that he withdrew a very old, faded, and battered photograph. Chris and Davie looked at it. It was only last week that they and Brenda had taken Vicki, Sukie and Peter to Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the 1980s and had a passer by take their photograph together outside the Alice in Wonderland Ride.

“I found it under the sofa later that evening,” The Doctor said. “I didn’t know who any of you were, but I had the strangest feeling that one day I WOULD know you. I started carrying it around with me after Peter was born, when the pieces started to fall into place. I’m glad the past HAS finally caught up with us all.” He caught Susan’s hand in his and they both smiled at each other as they shared that long lost memory just between the two of them for a little while.