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

Davie Campbell ran an approving hand over the bonnet of his newest car. For a petrolhead like himself there was nothing finer than a perfectly tuned and lovingly finished vehicle, especially one as beautiful as a 2009 Lotus Evora in his own Team Campbell black with a silver ying-yang symbol ringed around with a fiery dragon across the bonnet. The addition of racing numbers and sponsorship decals didn’t detract from the beauty of it in his eyes.

“It’s not going to look as pretty after twenty-four hours on the asphalt,” Spenser said, breaking into his reverie.

“It’ll be even more beautiful when it’s collected the dust of Silverstone,” he replied. He stood at the door of the garage allocated to him and looked at the pre-race activity going on up and down the pit lane. “I can’t believe this day has actually come around. A real, competitive race in our own time. The first since before the Dalek Invasion.”

Spenser looked up at the huge electronic billboard across the top of the crowded pit grandstand. “Sponsored by the National Power Company. I suppose it couldn’t be sponsored by Campbell Enterprises or it’d be a bit of a give away.”

Davie smiled enigmatically.

“And you broke the laws of time big style,” Spenser added. “Investing money retrospectively is strictly against the Time Lord honour code.”

“I didn’t keep any of the profits for myself,” Davie pointed out. “I have enough money to keep me and Brenda and the children in clover. This was for motorsport.”

“You could have timed the race better. With Brenda only a week away from giving birth... “

“I didn’t have anything to do with that,” Davie answered him. “But if you ask me, it’s timed perfectly right. I love Brenda. I can’t wait until the day. I want to hold those babies in my arms. But I need something else to think about for a little while or I’m going to go absolutely raving mad. A twenty-four hour endurance race is what I need to calm me down ready for the birth.”

“You’re avoiding your in-laws,” Spenser teased him.

“The in-laws are fine. Marcus and Doreen are too awestruck about being The Doctor’s guests to be any trouble. It’s Rose, Jackie and mum with their matronly advice and Carya and Trudi at Brenda’s side constantly. Even Vicki is in on it. The only woman in my family who isn’t going on about breathing exercises and natural birthing techniques is my sister.”

Sukie was in her own Team Campbell firesuit talking animatedly to his pit manager, almost certainly giving him advice since she had attended five twenty-four hour races and this was the manager’s first time.

It was everybody’s first time except for himself and Spenser - the pit crews and drivers, the spectators, TV reporters covering the race. This was an important event because nothing like it had happened for more than fifty years. It had taken two generations for Humans to rebuild their society after the Dalek invasion of 2164. Only now was there the leisure, the enthusiasm and the money to relaunch a sport like motor-racing. And, yes, it was true that he had helped with that last bit, not just with an investment he never wanted his great-grandfather to find out about, but also by persuading the National Power Company that a spectacle like this was an excellent way to launch their new solar power initiative. If the new micro-cells could generate enough electricity to light and heat Silverstone racetrack, its garages, grandstands and hospitality suites, in February, with the flat Northamptonshire countryside around it under a blanket of snow, then that would be all the advertising they were ever going to need.

Stuart came out of the pit garage looking good in his own matching firesuit. Motor bikes were his first passion, but he had become a more than competent racing driver under Spenser’s tutelage. This was his debut as third driver on Team Campbell. Spenser looked at him proudly. Sukie looked at him enviously.

“When you’re old enough and we can sedate mum for the duration of the race, Stuart will be happy to stand down in your favour,” Davie told her. “For now, you’re my favourite member of the pit crew.” He hugged his sister fondly and kissed her on the cheek. He hugged his two co-drivers just as fondly and kissed both of them, too, before he got into the driving seat of the Evora. His safety officer saw that he was properly fastened into the harness and that his helmet was securely buckled on. Then he was ready to make his way to the grid. In qualifying, yesterday, his ‘classic’ car had been ranked seventh of the fifty cars taking part in the race, so he was not far from the front of the starting grid, on the racing line on the outside of the track. The Lotus was the highest placed of the V8 class.

As he took his place on the grid he recalled the apparently casual conversation he had with the only two other classic car owners in the V8 class, enthusiasts who had lovingly restored a Porsche Panamera and Ferrari f430 made in the same early twenty-first century supercar era. Both of the enthusiasts knew that the Lotus Evora was originally a V6. He had been reckoning on nobody knowing that in the twenty-third century. Not that it mattered. In a sport whose rules had to be re-written in time for this event, it was perfectly legitimate to upgrade the engine to one with a very good chance of winning the race outright, even against contemporary V12 engines that were assumed to be superior.

And he wanted to win this one. He had carved a niche for himself in endurance and touring car racing in the twenty-first century, but he had never won a race because it would have been a paradox if he took the prizes rather than the men whose names were in the record books already. He drove for the adrenaline rush, and the joy of putting his restored cars up against the best of their era.

But this race had not yet been run in his own lifetime. It was a blank canvas he was ready to write on in tyre rubber and high octane bio-butanol fuel. This one was his race to win.

“OUR race,” Spenser reminded him in a gentle telepathic message that broke into his thoughts. “You’re the principal driver of Team Campbell, but you need me and Stuart, still.”

“Of course I do,” he replied, accepting the rebuke with good grace. “I couldn’t do it without either of you guys. Or you, either, Sukie. Wish me luck. We’re almost ready.”

Directly in front of him on the racing line, another restored ‘classic’ car, a Porsche Carrera GT in the V10 class flashed its brakelights as the driver engaged the engine. Ahead of it were six contemporary sports cars including a Ferrari Nova on pole and a Lamborghini Murcielago in second place. When he raced in the twenty-first century old-fashioned national pride kicked in and he tended to be a little dismissive of the Italian cars. But he knew the recent history of those two companies. The Ferrari plant in Maranello had been used by the Daleks as a base for robomen conversions and the Lambhorgini factory had simply been flattened along with the town of Santagata Bolognese which had resisted the invaders with legendary if futile courage. That luxury cars had been built under those two names for the past ten years was testament to the Human ability to triumph over adversity. When he saw them on the grid he felt a surge of pride in his paternal species that transcended nationalism.

But he still intended to beat both of them to the chequered flag. On paper those two cars were better than his, but none of the amateur drivers in this open competition had the advantage he and Spenser had. They had never competed in a real race before. That and the careful attention he had given to his car gave his team the winning edge.

He hoped.

The adrenaline was coursing through his veins while butterflies performed aeronautical displays in his stomach as he waited for the beginning of the rolling start. They were sensations he craved. He needed that mixture of fear and excitement, apprehension and anticipation. It was what kept him alive when he fought the tyrants of the galaxy, and it was what made him a very good racing driver.

The lights on the gantry across the track turned red one by one, warning the drivers to be ready. Then all five winked out. The pace car moved off. The first two cars followed it, then the rest of the pack, maintaining formation and matching speed on that first lap of the classic ‘Bridge’ circuit used for some of the greatest grand prix races of the twentieth century. The pace car kept them all restrained for seventeen turns and three-point-one-nine miles of track before it turned off and the lead cars accelerated away. Davie put his foot down on the pedal and felt the difference at once. Now he was really racing. He watched the tail lights of the Carrera carefully and got ready to overtake it as soon as they crossed the safety line and were permitted to do so.

And he did. Both the classic Carrera and a contemporary BMW were left behind in one manoeuvre that put him into fifth place. Not bad for his first racing lap. He heard his race manager congratulating him over the radio and Sukie urging him on telepathically.

“There’s plenty of time, yet,” he assured her. “This is just the first lap. Wait until I’m on my first hour of driving. See where we are, then.”

He had moved up into fourth place by the time the first hour mark approached. But a few minutes later he had a message over the radio that distracted him from his objective.

“Davie,” Sukie called. “Be calm. Don’t go and crash or anything. But mum just called. Brenda has gone into labour.”

“It’s only February,” he answered. “Too early for an April Fool joke.”

“It’s not a joke,” Sukie insisted. “Her contractions started three hours ago. Mum waited in case it was a false alarm. But it’s not. It’s for real. She says you have to go home.”

A number of swear words passed through his mind, some in English, some in Low Gallifreyan and one very choice one he learnt in the Gamma quadrant. He couldn’t say any of them with his sister on the radio.

“Tell mum I won’t be off this track for another hour, yet,” he decided. “Tell her... to tell Brenda... that I love her... and that I’ll be with her as soon as I can.”

“She won’t like it,” Sukie pointed out.

“I’ll be with her as soon as I can,” he repeated. Then he gave his attention to the road ahead. The news was startling, but he knew it wasn’t completely unexpected. A week either side of full term was considered on time. Brenda was ready to give birth. It was exciting news, welcome news. But he couldn’t do anything about it until he had completed his two hours on the track and handed over to Spenser.

He forced himself not to think about it. Brenda was healthy. The babies were strong, and this was early in the labour. He wasn’t even really needed, yet. He gave his attention to the cars in front of him. The two Italians, a BMW and a 2216 Maseratti Rinascita were marginally faster than he was at the present time. He was perfectly confident of outpacing them when the time was right. He watched them all overtake the two slower cars that the front runners were now outlapping. He, too, slid easily past them. Lapped cars would be one of the unknown factors that made the race interesting and offered him opportunities to move up the leader board. And, indeed, when he came around the Brooklands curve and the tight looping Luffield bend that reminded him of the Karussell on his favourite Nürburgring track, he found the fourth placed BMW bunched up behind two back markers and seized the chance to accelerate past all three cars.

“Is there any news from home?” he asked when his supporters had calmed down a little.

“Only that the women all want your blood,” Spenser replied. “There is more than one television around, you know. They’ve SEEN you racing when you should be on your way to your wife’s side.”

Davie used one of those Low Gallifreyan swear words. Spenser laughed.

“I’ll be there when I’ve done this first two hour slot. I can leave the rest of the race to you and Stuart. It’s a pity. I wanted to win this one.”

“We’ll win it for you,” Spenser promised. “Stuart and me. Have faith in us.”

“I always do,” he answered. Then he gave his attention to the road ahead, passing more of the back markers with his mind on the clock. He had to stop after two hours, anyway. He had half an hour to move up one more place before he pitted.

And he managed to do so, again just after the Luffield turn. When he came into the pit lane he was in third position with a thirty second advantage over the fourth placed car. Tyres and fuel were attended to quickly. Spenser changed position with him while he reeled off advice to him.

“Slow in, fast out on Brooklands,” he was saying as the race manager closed the door. He continued telepathically. “Keep on the outside into the first part of the corner to take the apex lightly. Get ready to pick up speed on the old pit straight afterwards if it’s clear ahead.”

“I know what I’m doing,” Spenser told him. “You go and look after your wife, and don’t worry about us.”

Davie walked back into the pit garage calculating how long it would take him to get back to London in an ordinary hover car. He had left his TARDIS at home, intending to make this race weekend a Time Lord technology free time. But that meant he was at least an hour away from home.

“Uncle Davie!” He looked around to see his great-nephew Tristie emerging from a tyre store that wasn’t there when he set off two hours ago. “Grandma Rose and grandma Susan told me I had to come and get you, right now.”

“No argument from me,” he replied. He turned to see Sukie hovering uncertainly. She was torn between her passion for racing and affection for her sister-in-law.

“You stay here and keep Stuart company,” he told her. “There are enough people at home with nothing to do but fuss about Brenda. I’ll call you when anything happens.”

He stepped into Tristie’s gleaming, hi-tech console room. Five minutes later he stepped out again into his workshop-garage with his McLaren F1 and Spenser’s Holden Commodore time car parked beside the inspection pit. He took the stairs up to his apartment three at a time before gathering his breath at the door.

He was surprised to find Brenda in the drawing room rather than in bed. Carya and Trudi were with her. They both quietly left the room as he took his place beside his wife. She was looking out of the window onto a snow-covered meadow where Vicki was helping the younger members of the family to make snowmen. Rose, Jackie, his own mother and Mrs Freeman were watching them in a feminine huddle. Chris, The Doctor and Sukie’s future boyfriend, Earl, were sweeping snow from the paths. His father, his two grandfathers and Mr Freeman, with Brenda’s little brother Phillip, were building a bonfire on a snow free patch of ground. They all looked like they were trying to keep busy and not worry about what was happening in the apartment.

“There’s a long way to go yet,” Brenda told him. “But I really wanted you home with me. I’m sorry to spoil the race for you. I didn’t do it deliberately, I promise.”

“I never thought it for one minute,” he assured her. He noticed that the television was on. The sound was turned down but race stats were scrolling down the screen. He noted that Spenser had lost a place, dropping down to fourth again. Then he turned back to his wife and kissed her gently. “You’re more important than the race.”

Brenda smiled wryly. She knew it was a close call.

“I was watching,” she told him. “There was a camera on you before you got into the car. The commentator thought it was strange to see you kissing your team-mates before you started.”

“Everyone has their pre-race rituals,” he said. “You should see the things they used to do in the old Formula One pit garages.”

“I don’t care who you kiss as long as you come home to me,” she told him. Then she gave a soft sigh and her face screwed up against the pain of a contraction. It was soon over. They were still brief and far apart. There was a very long way to go. But he was glad to be there with her at the start of it all. He let her lie down on the sofa and gently touched her stomach through her maternity dress. He felt the babies kicking strongly even before he made telepathic contact with them, feeling their infant thoughts about the world they had lived in for the past sixteen months. They were a little distressed. The contractions were a disturbance in their environment.

“Calm, my babies,” he said to them. “Everything is all right. This is the day we’ve all waited for. In a little while the pain will be over and you’ll be safe in your mother’s arms.”

He felt a response. Of course they didn’t understand his words, but they understood his love for them.

“I wish I could do that,” Brenda said. “I tried so often, but I couldn’t connect with them, even though I’ve carried them all this time.”

“They’re much more of my DNA than yours,” he explained. “Besides, I’ve had practice.”

“I forgot.” Brenda smiled and pressed her hands over his. “You’ve been here before me... when you gave birth to your Mizzonian baby.”

“It was quicker for me. Only three hours in total. You’ve already been more patient than me. And I know you’re going to be braver. I was a complete wuss, screaming the place down. Spenser threatened to gag me at one point.”

“That’s not true. Spenser told me all about it the other day. I asked him. He said you were brilliant. Even though you were in agony, you hardly screamed at all.”

Davie smiled. He was glad he had told Brenda his most unusual secret. It had allowed him to share these long months of her pregnancy much more fully. He understood the back aches and the weariness, the doubts and worries, the highs and lows. And he fully understood what she was going through now.

“It’s tea time,” he said after a long quiet time. “What would you like to eat?”

“Soft cheese and salad,” she answered predictably. Davie smiled as he went to prepare the meal. She had practically lived on soft cheese for the past sixteen months, and if it was what she wanted now, he wasn’t going to deny her.

As they ate together, his mother and Mrs Freeman came into the room. They brought a huge pot of tea and made the sort of fuss that had made him want to spend four days in Northamptonshire in the first place. They both looked disapprovingly at the firesuit he was still wearing.

“You look as if you’re about to run off back to the race,” Susan told him. “Brenda needs you here, now. You do realise that?”

“Of course, I do,” he answered. “It’s all right, mum. I know my responsibilities. I’m here. And I’ll be here all the way.”

“Stop nagging him,” Brenda told both women. “He looks fantastic in that outfit. Black suits him. And I don’t care if he wears it all the time.”

The sky was darkening outside. The winter evening was drawing in, making the bonfire a bright pool in the darkness. On the television, the National Power Company were getting their money’s worth as the floodlights illuminated Silverstone. He saw Spenser make up that lost place and move into third again, before turning his attention back to his wife.

“You should turn the TV off,” Susan told him. “I hardly think Brenda wants to watch it.”

“I don’t mind,” she replied, quickly. “Spenser is my friend. And Stuart. It’ll be his turn to drive, soon. It’s his first race. I hope he does well.”

“I can’t bear to watch that kind of thing at all,” Susan said. She looked at Davie and shook her head. She really didn’t understand her son’s expensive and dangerous hobby. She wasn’t happy with him encouraging her only daughter to get involved in it, either. She was hoping that becoming a father would focus Davie’s attention and he might settle for his science projects and leave fast cars alone.

Davie saw those thoughts in his mother’s mind and knew he could never explain to her the reasons he loved racing and why he would never give it up, not even when he was the father of twins.

“I don’t want you to give anything up,” Brenda told him as he grasped her hand and helped her through a slightly stronger contraction than before. “You can still be you. I won’t ask you to do anything differently.”

“Let’s just get through the next few hours,” he said.

“It could be more than a few hours. It might be a close call between me and Spenser and Stuart at the end of the race.”

Susan agreed with that assessment.

“I was twenty three hours in labour when you and Chris were born,” she said. “That’s why you need to be here for her. It’s going to be a very long night.”

He knew that. He didn’t need his mother to keep telling him. He really was a little irritated with the women of his family. They all seemed to have adopted the same nag mode, insisting that his place was beside Brenda in her time of need.

He didn’t intend to be anywhere else. He had always planned to be there when his children were born. They had all slightly miscalculated the day it was going to happen, but that was all right. By tomorrow afternoon, around about when the race was finishing, he would have something far more precious than a trophy to hold. He really did mean that.

“I believe you,” Brenda told him. Then she looked past him and screamed. Davie turned to see what she was looking at. Susan gave a horrified cry. Brenda’s mother murmured a Tiboran keen. At the same moment the drawing room door opened with a crash. Tristie, followed by Carya and Trudi rushed in.

Davie stood and watched the replay of the moment when four cars were involved in a devastating crash on that straight just past Luffield corner that he had been so anxious to advise Spenser about.

It was obvious how it had happened. One of the back markers had ignored, or missed, the blue flag warning him to give way to the faster drivers who were lapping him. He had swerved in front of the second placed Ferrari, which had crashed into it. The two careered across the track, bent and buckled together and one of the other back markers and the Porsche Carrera couldn’t avoid them.

Davie had forgotten to breathe at all for several seconds. Then he gave a deep sigh of relief and gulped in new air as he saw the Lotus Evora emerge from the cloud of smoke.

“Something isn’t right, though,” he said. “He’s slow. Either the car is damaged or he’s hurt.”

“Stuart’s driving, isn’t he?” Brenda asked.

Davie nodded. He didn’t trust himself to speak. He saw the double yellow lights beside the track. The Lamborghini and Lotus in first and second place slowed accordingly while the other cars formed a bunch further back. The Lotus definitely looked wrong, though. It was barely keeping the racing line. If they were still competitive it would be hazardous to anybody thinking of overtaking.

Then the yellow lights were replaced by red. The race was being stopped until the track was cleared. The cars slowed as they came up to the pit lane and turned off the race track.

Davie looked around and realised that everyone else in the room was looking at him.

“I... I need to...” he started to say.

“Davie... you need to go there,” Brenda told him. “Tristie, get him back there, quickly. I’ll be all right, here. Go and find out what’s happening there.”

“No!” Susan protested. “No, you can’t. Davie, they can handle this. You need to be here.”

“I’ll BE here,” he promised. “But I also have to be there. Brenda... ten minutes, maximum. I promise.”

He kissed her quickly, then turned and followed Tristie down the stairs to his workshop. The journey would be no trouble at all. He just had to hit the fast return switch to get back to the pit garage. It took less than three minutes. It seemed longer for Davie.

When he emerged from the TARDIS he felt the emotions of everyone in the pit garage like a nearly physical force. Sukie looked around and squealed with relief. He held onto her as he stepped towards his car and saw Spenser helping Stuart out of the driver’s seat.

“Be careful with him,” Davie instructed him. “He’s injured.”

“It’s his arm,” Spenser told him. “It’s broken. He swerved sharply to avoid the pile up and...”

Stuart was pale with shock. They made him lie down on the rest sofa. Davie helped him peel off the firesuit and the under layers and made a preliminary examination. He agreed that the humerus was snapped. It was also badly dislocated at the shoulder. All from turning the steering wheel quickly to avoid a perilous crash.

“Let me help,” Sukie said. She knelt by his side and put her hands on Stuart’s arm. She was the healer. She could mend him much faster and less painfully than any medic. Davie let her carry on and turned to look at his car. It had come out of the incident unscathed. It was having an oil, petrol and tyre change and a tune up, but it would be ready as soon as the race restarted.

But its driver wasn’t ready. Even with Sukie’s ministrations Stuart wouldn’t be fit to get behind the wheel again for hours.

And Spenser couldn’t. Stuart had only been driving for three quarters of an hour. Spenser wasn’t even close to the mandatory two hour break between sessions on the track.

“I’m sorry,” Spenser said to him. “We’ll have to resign from the race.”

“No,” he answered. “You haven’t scratched me from the team yet, have you?”

“Not officially, no. But...”

“Three minutes to the restart,” the pit manager said.

“Give me my helmet,” Davie said in a tone that brooked no refusal.

“But...” Tristie protested. “You told Brenda you’d be gone ten minutes. You can’t.”

“It’s the Flintstone Stratagem,” he said as he climbed into the car and let himself be buckled in safely. He drove out of the garage and into the pit lane before following the instructions over the radio as he took his place in the reformed race order. The pace car was ahead. The Lamborghini Murcielago was in first place, now. He was second. He was aware of the remaining cars behind him as they got ready to race again now that the track was clear.

“I never asked,” he said as he watched the yellow lights at the side of the track and waited for the chance to race competitively again. “The four drivers...”

“They’re all alive,” Spenser assured him. “They’re on the way to hospital, but nobody’s seriously hurt.”

“Phone my mum and tell her that,” he said. “She thinks we’re all in mortal peril on the track.”

“I’m not telling your mum anything,” Spenser replied. “I’m not brave enough for that. What the hell is the Flintstone Stratagem?”

Davie didn’t answer. The race was on and his eyes were focussed on the tail lights of the Lamborghini. The crash had removed two of their main rivals and the restart meant that neither of them had to worry about back markers for a little while. It could be a race between the two of them for a few laps.

In fact, for the best part of an hour it felt as if they were the only two cars on the track. Several times he almost overtook the Lamborghini, but the opportunity didn’t quite present itself fully.

Then, on the hour, as they came out of the Club turn, heading down towards the Bridge, his Italian rival burst a tyre. He braked to avoid another accident as the car swerved. Then as the Lamborghini slowed right down, with no option but to limp back to the pit lane on a flat inside right tyre he overtook and accelerated joyfully, aware of the jubilation among his team.

For the next hour, nobody else came close to him. The only tail lights he saw were lapped cars, and he steadily increased his lead on his nearest rivals. He wasn’t at all surprised to learn that the Lamborghini was one of them. If the pit crew couldn’t change that tyre and get the car back into the race without dropping more than five or six places then they didn’t deserve to be in the game. But when he reached the two hour mark and turned into the pit himself he knew the thirty seconds it would take to swap places with Spenser while the fuel and tyres were attended to would not jeopardise their lead.

Stuart was still looking pale and sick, but Sukie reported that she had mended his arm and he would be able to drive again in a few hours.

“Good,” Davie said. “Tristie, get me home, ten minutes after I left.”

“What?” Tristie was surprised. He expected to be running him home again, but he hadn’t expected that. “But...”

“Flintstone Stratagem,” he said again. Stuart and Sukie looked puzzled. Tristie didn’t even try to understand. He was pre-occupied with a more important detail.

“I can’t take you back in time,” he argued. “That would be crossing your own timeline. You’d be here and at home at the same time. You can’t...”

“Yes, I can,” Davie answered. “I promised Brenda.”

“Tristie,” Sukie said, settling the discussion. “Be a good boy and do as your grandma tells you. Take uncle Davie where he wants to go.”

Tristie looked at the slender fourteen year old in a close-fitting firesuit who didn’t look anything like the grandmother he knew in his own proper time.

Then he did as she said.

Davie arrived back home only a few minutes after he left. He was aware of the paradox. It gave him a very slight pain in the back of his head, where the main psychic nerves were situated in a Time Lord brain. It was a warning not to push the envelope of physical possibility. But it could only be really dangerous if he actually met himself. And since he was currently driving a car at Silverstone, that wasn’t likely to happen.

When he stepped into the living room, Brenda was getting over a strong contraction. She looked up at him through watery eyes and smiled weakly.

“Time you went to bed,” he said, reaching to lift her into his arms. He carried her to the bedroom that had been prepared by Susan and Mrs Freeman. Crisp linen sheets were on the bed and a carafe of iced water was on the bedside table along with a dish of sweets and a bowl of fruit. Davie helped her to change into a cool cotton nightdress and climb into the bed. Outside the door he knew the family were gathering. The women would all want to come in and give Brenda their support and help as the night went on. But for a little while it was just the two of them. The contractions were getting stronger and longer, but there were still peaceful times between when he just held her in his arms and kissed her lovingly. This night was one they had waited for since the night the twins had been conceived in hot, sweet, honeymoon passion. They had both prepared for it mentally and physically. The room next door to this was fitted out as a beautiful nursery with everything ready for the babies. They had talked over and over about what it would mean to be parents. They had discussed exactly how the birth was going to be. Now it was happening almost as they planned.

“I’m a little scared,” Brenda admitted. “What if something goes wrong in the end? What if... what if...”

“Nothing is going to go wrong. It’s going to be hard work. It’s going to hurt a lot. I know just how much. But we’re going to get through it together and it’ll be well worth it.”

“When you say so I believe you. I really do.”

For nearly two hours he kept his word. He sat with Brenda and counted the contractions with her. He helped her through them by drawing off some of the pain into his own body. He took note when The Doctor came to examine her and said that she would probably be ready by about ten o’clock the next morning.

“Good,” she said. “Davie will be able to see the end of his race.”

“Davie will have other things to think about then,” The Doctor replied. “Personally I don’t know what the fuss is about. I’m waiting for the football league to restart.”

Davie had plenty to think about, but when he knew it was almost time for Spenser to come in from his allotted two hours he was torn between his duty to Brenda and his petrolhead ambitions.

“Sweetheart,” he said. “I need to call Sukie and find out what’s happening there. Will you be all right for five minutes without me?”

“There are twelve other people next door ready to look after me,” she pointed out. “Hurry back.”

He kissed her lovingly and then dashed from the room making the vague excuse to his assembled relatives of getting a little fresh air. Susan and Mrs Freeman went into the bedroom as he headed downstairs, followed by Tristie.

“Flintstone Stratagem?” his great-nephew asked as he opened the TARDIS door.

“Yep,” Davie replied without further comment.

Stuart and Sukie both looked at him as he stepped into the pit garage. Sukie with concern, Stuart with relief.

“I’m not ready to drive again,” he admitted. “My shoulder still aches like crazy, and I’m not sure I’ve got the confidence to drive in the dark after that near miss. Maybe in the morning....”

“We’ve lost the first place,” Sukie added. “Spenser couldn’t help it. That Lambo driver is good. You know he trained at the old Ferrari factory’s test track along with the other Italians. He’s nearly as good as you. Spenser got wrong-footed on one of the turns and lost the lead.”

“It’s all right, I’m here. I’m ready.” Davie pulled on his driving gloves and helmet and was ready for the change-over when Spenser pitted.

By the time he came back into the pit two hours later, he had got the lead back, but the margin was fine. The pressure was on Spenser. He wished him luck and ran to the TARDIS.

“Flintstone Stratagem,” he called out to Stuart and Sukie.

“What does that mean?” Stuart asked.

“I have no idea,” Sukie replied. “But I think he’s going to have one huge hangover when all these paradoxes catch up on him.”

Indeed, the headache was a little bit worse this time as he crossed his own timeline and counted his wife’s contractions while simultaneously driving a Lotus Evora through midnight. This was his second paradox of the night.

Brenda slept a little between contractions. He used the quiet moments to refresh his body with short bursts of deep meditative trance. He was awake every time she woke, though. He didn’t miss any part of the long slog for her.

At least, no more than ten minutes around one-thirty and again at five-thirty when Tristie took him to Silverstone to do his two hour session on the track.

While he was racing through a pale, snow-laden dawn, another TARDIS sound was heard in the pit garage. Chris stepped out and was immediately greeted by Sukie.

“I came to find out what Davie’s up to,” he said. “I can feel the paradox in my telepathic cortex. Also, I’ve had the TV on in my room. The race commentators are full of praise for Team Campbell’s principal driver. It’s a good job MUM has the other side on. She’d have his hide for it.”

“He says it’s the Flintstone Stratagem,” Spenser replied. “And we’d ALL really like to know what the blinking flip that is.”

“The...” Chris laughed. The others looked at him curiously. “Sukie, don’t you remember when we were kids. We all used to stay over at Grannie Jackie’s flat in the twenty-first century and watch cartoons on a Saturday morning before she took us to Macdonalds and ten pin bowling.”

Sukie was much younger than her brothers when they used to do that, but she did remember. She still wasn’t sure what it had to do with anything.

“Davie and I liked the Flintstones. It’s a classic episode. Fred has to organise his daughter’s first birthday party on the same night as the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes have their boys’ night out. He tries to be in both places at once and please his wife and the Buffaloes.”

The others looked at him with expressions ranging from bemused to amused.

“What Davie seems to have forgotten is that it didn’t work for Fred. He ended up sending the kids clown entertainer to the Buffaloes and the dancing girls to the kids party and his wife gave him merry hell for it.”

“Fred didn’t have a TARDIS,” Sukie pointed out. “Davie might get away with it.”

“Not without a lot of luck and some help from us,” Chris replied. He watched the monitors showing Davie taking the lead once again and waited until just before half past seven when he drove into the pit lane and Spenser swapped places with him.

“Sweet Mother of Chaos,” Chris said as he gripped his brother and held him upright. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Flintstone Stratagem,” he murmured.

“Nuts to the Flintstones,” Chris told him. “You’re not going to do this again. One more paradox and your head will explode. Get home to Brenda and stay there. Stuart is ready to race again when Spenser comes in. If he can stay on the track the full two hours Spenser will only have to do an hour and a half to the finish. You might not win, but you’ll have completed the twenty-four hours, at least.”

“I... really wanted to win,” Davie protested.

“Brenda wants to have those twins safely and with you at her side.” Tristie was hovering nearby. Chris turned to him. “Take your TARDIS into temporal orbit and make sure he gets at least three hours in a level three trance within your zero room. It will neutralise the paradox and lift the tension on his brain, as well as giving him some real rest. And make him get out of that fire suit and take a shower, too. Seriously, Davie, it’s a wonder Brenda wants you anywhere near her the way you’ve been sweating.”

Davie didn’t say anything else. He and Chris had always been two halves of the same soul. Whenever his half was out of control, it was Chris’s calming influence that acted as a brake on his impulses. It did so now. He allowed Tristie to take him to the Zero Room aboard his TARDIS. He gratefully took the chance to rest and let his mind and body refresh itself fully. He took that shower and put on clean clothes before he returned to his home only ten minutes after he left. Twenty minutes after that, Brenda’s waters broke and he barely had the chance to think about anything else for the next three and a half hours.

At two minutes past ten, with her mother and husband at her side, her mother-in-law as midwife, and The Doctor as senior obstetrician, Brenda gave birth to the first of the twin boys. He was a healthy five pounds and The Doctor confirmed he was a perfectly formed Gallifreyan child with two hearts, vestigial tear ducts and, when his mother’s blood stopped circulating, the orange blood of a future Time Lord.

Four minutes later, his brother was delivered, equally perfect in every way.

Brenda fed them both before letting Davie hold them. Everyone else, in the room and outside, was waiting for one decision from him, now. He looked at Brenda and smiled enigmatically.

“Remember what we discussed,” she told him. “Neither of the boys is going to be called Freddie or any other name connected with your favourite rock band.”

“And there are enough Davids and Christophers in this family, too,” Chris told him. “I hope you intend to break the mould.”

“They will have to have their Gallifreyan names,” Davie noted. “But I’ve already decided.” He passed the youngest baby back to his mother and held his first born son in his arms. The naming would be formally done in the first light of the next morning after their birth, but that would be about six-thirty tomorrow. They couldn’t go that long without a name.

“Sebastian,” he said. “Sebastian David Robert Campbell is his Human name. “SebastianDavõreenchrístõdiamaondheartmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhnemilágrodántevencejo de Lœngbærrow-Campbell will be his Gallifreyan name.”

He gave Sebastian into his mother’s arms and took his younger brother.

“Mark,” he said, touching the child’s face. “Mark Christopher Spenser Campbell is the name he will proudly have in the face of this world. MarcusDavõreenchrístõdiamondheartmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhnemilágrodántevencedor de Lœngbærrow-Campbell to the universe at large.”

Brenda beamed happily. He had named one of their sons after her father. At least she thought he had. Somewhere in the back of her mind she wondered whether the names Sebastian and Mark had some other significance. But it didn’t matter.

“Vencejo and Vencedor?” Susan looked at her son. “Old Gallifreyan for Swift Victor. You know, the idea of the suffix is to describe a characteristic the child itself will have in manhood, not you.”

“I’m not a victor, today,” Davie replied. “Not the way I planned, anyway. Spenser is finishing the race for me. I’m busy, here.”

“Davie,” Brenda said to him, taking both babies in her arms. “There are still two hours to the end of the race. I got there before the chequered flag.”

“Yes, you did.” He smiled warmly at her. “And I’m proud of you, my darling.”

“Go and make me proud. Tristie can take you back again, the way he’s been doing all night. Only this time you won’t have to break the laws of time. Go and win that race. Somebody put the television on. Me and your two sons will watch.”

Susan protested. But Brenda was adamant. Davie kissed her and his two newborn babies and then dashed out of the room. Tristie was at his side again. So was his brother. They both helped him change back into a Team Campbell firesuit during the four minute journey to Silverstone.

“Davie!” Sukie ran to hug him as he emerged from the TARDIS. “I didn’t think you were coming back. Is everything all right.”

“Everything is fine,” he answered. He smiled widely as Spenser came to him. He reached out and embraced his former lover and kissed him fondly on the mouth. “I’m a father. Both boys and Brenda doing just great.”

“Oh, I’m so glad,” Spenser replied.

“Need you back home later, for their naming ceremony. You and Stuart. I want you to be their mentors.”

Spenser was speechless. To be asked to be the Gallifreyan equivalent of a godparent to Davie’s children was an honour.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t top it off by winning that race for you,” he said. “Stuart’s doing his best. He’s great on a motor bike, and he’s a sensational lover. But he’s really only average in a car. We’re down to third. And...”

Spenser looked at Davie, noting that he was in a fresh, clean firesuit. He searched for the right words.

“It should be you up next when Stuart comes in,” Davie told him. “If you really want to try, I’ll stay here and watch with Sukie and I’ll be proud of you, no matter what the result.”

“If I go out for the last hour and a half, we might make second,” Spenser said. “But if you get behind that wheel....”

1`“You can win it, Davie,” Sukie told him. “Go on.”

“You don’t mind?” he asked Spenser one more time.

“This is your day, Davie. Go for it.”

Stuart was surprised but not unhappy when he pitted and found their principal driver ready to take over. He held onto his own lover as they both waved him off onto the track. There was a leaden sky overhead, still full of snow that didn’t have a chance of sticking on the Silverstone asphalt. Davie considered it an advantage. The sunlight was so diffused it wouldn’t dazzle his eyes even at midday.

He easily got past the Maseratti Rinascita that was in third place, recalling that Rinascita meant ‘rebirth’ in Italian. That was another company that had come back from the brink after the Daleks had all but wiped out the town it was based in. Rebirth seemed appropriate today for so many reasons. But he wasn’t sentimental enough to let that car beat him.

The problem was the Lamborghini Murcielago, named after that company’s most famous car of the twentieth century. It was a full minute and a half ahead of him when both cars left the pit for the last time. Team Italia had also got their best driver behind the wheel and an ambition to win.

After half an hour’s hard driving, Davie was only two seconds and the length of one car behind the Lamborghini, but the problem was that length was almost constantly filled by one of the twenty-eight lapped cars still in the race. He had no opportunity to overtake his rival.

For another half hour that remained the problem. Davie matched the Lamborghini for speed. He was inches away from its rear bumper, but he couldn’t get past.

Then with only thirty minutes of the endurance race to go, he went into Brooklands and Luffield behind the Italian driver. They both swung around the two deep curves as if they were guided by an invisible force. Ahead, as far as the more gentle Woodcote bend there was a clear track. He put his foot down on the accelerator and came off the racing line as he inched ahead and drew neck and neck with the Lamborghini. He was almost there. They took Woodcote together with Davie on the inside of the bend. Now there was the racing straight to Copse but there were four lapped cars twenty metres ahead. Blue flags signalled madly and they moved off the racing line directly in front of Davie who was still trying to get back on it. If he didn’t get ahead, he would have to slow very soon and lose the chance.

“Vencejo Vencedor!” he cried as he jammed his foot on the accelerator and urged his car forward. He swung the steering wheel around and slid into first place in front of the Lamborghini just before the lapped cars gave the Italian driver no opportunity to take it back.

And that was the way it stayed for the next twenty minutes, until he saw the last lap indicators. The names of each of the sections of the track flashed through his head as he raced along them. Abbey, Bridge, Priory.... Brooklands and Luffield gave him a sensation in the pit of his stomach like piloting his TARDIS through an ion storm. Woodcote and Copse were empty ahead of him. At Maggots and Becket the back markers gave way to the leader. He glimpsed the Lamborghini behind him as he came around Chapel Curve into Hangar Straight. He gained valuable seconds on that stretch as more lapped cars gave way to him. Stowe Corner, Vale, and Club, then ahead of him was the finish line, the chequered flag, an actual physical one waving frenetically and one made of lights on the gantry that he passed under. He heard the screams of jubilation as he slowed down before being waved into parc ferme.

There were some formalities to be gone through. He did so in a daze before he was ushered onto the winner’s podium. Spenser and Stuart joined him. They all held the trophy in turn, then Davie let Stuart hold it aloft while he hugged both his co-drivers and kissed them on the cheek. All of them managed to regain a little composure long enough for the flag of the British Federation to be raised, to the strains of the national anthem. Then they celebrated in traditional style by showering each other with champagne made in French vineyards that had been reborn along with the sport of motor racing and so many other aspects of Human existence that had once almost been exterminated.

If there ever was a more potent symbol of the rebirth of humanity, two generations after that near extinction, Davie Campbell couldn’t name it.

“Let’s make the interviews as short as possible,” he said. “I want to go home to my wife and children, soon. They’re waiting for me.”