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

Christopher slipped into the TARDIS parked in the corner of his father’s meditation room. He found The Doctor working at the console, so intent on what he was doing he didn’t even see him come in. Christopher waited and watched him working, remembering that it was always that way. When he was a child he had often sat quietly, watching his father at some task, not even aware of his presence. Then he would suddenly look up and see him and he would smile, and it would be as if the world had become a little brighter.

It was like that, now. The Doctor looked up suddenly and saw Christopher standing there and he smiled brightly and invitingly.

“Hello,” he said. “And how is my beautiful daughter-in-law?”

“Still beautiful,” Christopher answered. “A bit fretful. Rose and Susan told me to ‘sling my hook’ for a while, because they said I was the fretful one.”

“It’s going to be today.”

“I think so,” Christopher agreed. “It FEELS right. I’m glad we didn’t plan to do anything much for New Year’s Eve. Jackie doesn’t need a party tonight. She needs peace and quiet.”

“Peace and quiet and Jackie in the same paragraph?” The Doctor laughed. Christopher gave him a look of mild disdain. He knew his father adored Jackie. But he never missed a chance to tease him about her. The fact that he had married his father’s wife’s mother was a joke that still had a lot of mileage in it.

“It’ll be all right,” The Doctor assured him. He reached out and put his hands on his son’s shoulders and drew him close. Christopher smiled. He didn’t remember much about the centuries when he was ‘lost’. His father did, and when they shared intimate moments like this, a little of the sorrow for those wasted years dissipated.

“I am a little worried,” Christopher admitted. “Jackie… she’s not… When Mandy gave birth to Susan for me, it was easier. We knew what to expect. I knew she would not suffer too much. But….”

“Jackie is a strong woman. She will be fine. And I’m taking care of her. I’m The Doctor, remember.”

“You’re not called The Doctor because of your medical skills.”

“No, but I’ve been delivering babies since I was 190. Not all of them humanoid. YOU were my 325th. My proudest moment.”

Christopher sighed as his father hugged him even closer and he felt his memories. He saw with absolute clarity the master bedroom of the house on Gallifrey made into a birthing room. He saw his mother, young, beautiful, though tired and her face wracked with pain. His father’s stepmother was there, holding her hand, helping her through it. His father coaxed her gently through the final stage of her labour, supporting the head of the baby as she pushed one more time. Then he was holding the baby. He gave his first cry held safely in his father’s arms before he gave him to his mother to hold.

“That was me?”

“That was you. My son and heir. So human looking. You cried tears. A rare thing on Gallifrey. Another half-blood heir to an Ancient Oldblood House. There were the same mutters and grumblings as there were when I was born, but your mother and I didn’t care. We had what we both wanted. A healthy son. In the first light of dawn I gave you your Gallifreyan name. But we always called you Christopher, your human name.”

“If that’s a subtle way of asking what I’m going to call MY son, then tough,” Christopher answered with a laugh. “You’ll find out when he’s born. Jackie knows. We decided together. But nobody else will until I hold him in my arms.”

“Well,” The Doctor laughed. “If that’s the way of it, I’ll just be getting back to what I was doing here.” He turned and extended the sonic screwdriver again .”Pass me the temporal lance, would you.”

Christopher fished in the toolbox for a small cutting tool that hardly deserved such an exotic name as ‘temporal lance’ and handed it to him. Again it felt like when he was a child, helping his father build some device or other.

“What are you doing, anyway?” Christopher asked.

“Augmenting the psychic interface,” The Doctor answered. “I want to be able to pilot the TARDIS telepathically. The way Chris does.”

“Ah!” Christopher nodded. “You feel left behind by the innovations my grandsons are introducing to TARDIS travel and want to catch up.”

“Not at all,” The Doctor protested. “I learnt to do it when I was a student. But it used to give me really bad headaches. These augmentations will allow me to do it without risking an aneurism.”

“Why not just admit it, father. You’re jealous of Chris’s talents.”

“Why are you always so formal?” The Doctor answered, ignoring the fact that Christopher WAS absolutely right. “Vicki and Peter call me daddy. With you… it was always ‘father’. Even when you were little.”

“That’s how it was on Gallifrey. Most of my friends at the Academy called their fathers ‘sir’ or ‘Lord.’ And a lot of them didn’t even see their parents for years at a time. I was lucky. You were always there for me. Vicki and Peter are lucky to have you all over again as I did.”

The Doctor paused again in what he was doing. He reached out and took his son’s hand. As he did so, the temporal lance slipped from where he had left it on the ceramic framework of the console. It fell with an audible thud into the glowing machinery beneath. Sparks flew, and something more, besides. The Doctor yelled in pain as he felt the energy wave ground in him. Christopher yelled too as they were both enveloped in the glow. Then their cries were cut off as they collapsed together.

The Doctor recovered consciousness first. He breathed deeply and felt his chest. After the problems he’d had this year, the last thing he wanted was another heart attack. But everything seemed to be working normally.

“Christopher?” he whispered as he reached for the body of his son lying beside him.

Except it wasn’t his son’s body. It was his own. He had called out with his son’s voice, and he heard Christopher dizzily reply to him in HIS voice.

“Oh, hell!” he thought. “Not again.”

He reached out and touched the cheek of the middle aged man who insisted on always wearing an increasingly elderly leather jacket that didn’t at all go with his social position. He reached with younger hands at the end of neatly pressed shirt cuffs, and he knew when Christopher opened those eyes and looked up it was going to be a shock.

It WAS. He swore a very rude Low Gallifreyan swear word and struggled to sit up.

“It’s ok,” The Doctor told him. “We got hit by a wave of psychic energy and it scrambled our brains. It… swapped our brains. I’m you and you’re me. It’s ok. It should only be temporary. It happened to me once before and I was fine afterwards.”

“But….” In The Doctor’s body, Christopher looked at his father, occupying HIS body. “How…”

“Well, I’m not sure how, but I am guessing it has something to do with our psychic abilities and the imprimatur of the TARDIS and the fact that you and I are about 90% the same DNA. I think…”

Christopher stood back from the console as his father, adapting far better to being in HIS body than he was in his father’s body, which felt too long-limbed and awkward, began to type rapidly at a keyboard. Data flashed across the screen and eventually he gave a sigh of relief.

“Yes, it’s temporary. But it’s going to take about twelve hours before the TARDIS builds up enough of the same energy to switch us back. We’re stuck in the meantime…”

“Twelve hours.” Christopher looked at his watch and realized it was the wrong watch. His father wore a thirteen hour Gallifreyan watch which also told him the current local date and time in a panel in the centre of the swirling design that, to anyone who could read Gallifreyan lettering said ‘Lord of Time, Master of Destiny’ - a quote from an old poem about Time Lords that he remembered his father reciting to him as a youngster.

“It’s four thirty in the afternoon,” The Doctor said. “We missed tea! But can’t you judge the time by instinct anyway? You should be able to feel it in your molecules.”

“These aren’t MY molecules. Father… this is serious. We can’t stay like this for twelve hours.”

“I know it’s serious. And we DON’T have any choice.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“Well, for a start,” The Doctor said, glancing at the viewscreen and seeing Rose approaching the door. “We’re not going to tell EITHER of our wives about this. Yours doesn’t need the worry, and mine got really upset the last time this happened and she’s already got a lot on her mind right now.”

“We’ll never get away with it,” Christopher answered him.

“Get away with what?” Rose asked as she stepped inside the TARDIS.

“Calling my son Rupert,” said The Doctor with Christopher’s voice.

“You’re NOT are you?” Rose giggled then stepped up to her husband and kissed him on the cheek. She didn’t notice his embarrassed blush. “Mum needs you,” she said. “She’s been pretending its ok, but she can’t disguise it any more. We can see when she’s hurting.”

“I can’t…” Christopher said to his father telepathically. “Father….”

“We’ll both be there in a moment,” The Doctor told her. “Is she in bed?”

“Not yet. She’s telling Peter a story in the drawing room.”

“Come on,” The Doctor said to Christopher telepathically. “You’re me for the next twelve hours. I’ll tell you what to do. She’ll want YOU around as well, so that’s ok.” Then he laughed. “Good job neither of our wives fancied a romantic early night.”

“That is SO not funny,” Christopher replied, hiding a blush that came to his face as Rose caught hold of his hand.

No, The Doctor thought as he followed his wife and his son up to the drawing room. It wasn’t funny. It was a very serious situation. Of all the twelve hours for them to be stuck in each other’s bodies, THESE twelve hours had to be the worst.

And what if it didn’t work out after twelve hours? What if they were stuck this way?

He was fond of Jackie. But he didn’t want to be married to her. He looked at the way Rose clung tightly to the man she THOUGHT was him, and he wanted her back.

And Christopher needed Jackie back. And their baby. He was going to be a father sometime this day. NOT a grandfather.

“We have to get it right,” he told Christopher telepathically. “They can’t know anything. So… for the time being… you’re me. But… try not to get too cosy with my wife, would you.”

“What about mine? You’re her doctor, not me. I don’t know anything about babies. When Susan was born, all I did was hold my wife’s hand.”

“Well, this will be a fantastic experience for you. Don’t worry. I’m not anticipating any complications.”

When they entered the drawing room Jackie was sitting on the sofa with Peter on her knee and Vicki and Sukie sitting beside her. She was reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe out loud. Peter was listening intently and watching fantastic mythological creatures conjured in the air by the telepathic minds of the two girls. The Doctor watched for a few minutes. There was a moment when Jackie tried to disguise the fact that she was in discomfort. Her face seemed to freeze and she stumbled over a line in the story.

“Children,” he said. “Take the book and read it to Peter over on the play cushions for a bit, while The Doctor talks to grandma Jackie.”

“We don’t need the book,” Vicki said as she and Sukie between them helped Peter to toddle over to the corner of the drawing room where he played among soft cushions. Christopher hesitated a moment before approaching Jackie. She smiled at him, but it was the smile she had for The Doctor, her son-in-law or father-in-law depending on which way you wanted to consider their relationship, and for the past sixteen months, her gynaecologist.

Not for her husband.

“Do what I tell you,” The Doctor told him telepathically. “Don’t worry. She trusts me.”

Carefully, Christopher followed his father’s instructions. He laid Jackie down on the sofa and knelt beside her, putting his hands on her swollen stomach through the maternity dress. He concentrated hard, his father guiding him, and made the mental connection. He felt his unborn child within her. His mind was fully formed but there were no thoughts and experiences in it. There was just a soft cloud of instincts and what would be emotions as the child grew and learnt. He seemed to know his father, at least. Christopher sighed happily as he felt the genetic connection between him and his baby translated into something like love.

Everything was well. The baby was ready to be born in a few hours time, as soon as his mother’s body was ready. He was strong. His two hearts were beating robustly in his tiny breast. His lungs were ready for their first breath of air. The Doctor was right when he said there was no reason to expect complications.

“You’re doing fine,” Christopher said to her, prompted by his father. “But it’s still the early stages. Long way to go.”

“I know,” she said, “I wasn’t going to bother anyone yet. But Rose and Susan panicked when I had a bit of a twinge.”

“Typical!” Christopher said in a perfect imitation of his father. “Just like a pair of women!”

“Cheeky sod,” Jackie replied. “Anyway, where’s my husband? Christopher?”

“I’m here,” Christopher wanted to say. But he couldn’t. Instead he stood back and watched as his father sat by her, letting her lay her head in his lap as he stroked her hair and face gently. She smiled at him lovingly. The Doctor smiled back at her.

“I’m sorry about this,” he told Christopher. “But the important thing is not to worry her.”

“I know,” he said. “I don’t mind, really.”

He did mind, but there was nothing he could do about it.

“Christopher, there is no point in us being jealous of each other,” The Doctor told him. “I’m not going to do anything out of order here. She’s STILL your wife. And we’re both going to look after her. We were always going to do that when the time came.”

Christopher said nothing. He went and sat on the floor with the children. Peter toddled to him and put out his hands to be hugged by the man he believed was his father. Christopher hugged his very much younger brother anyway. His little sister and his granddaughter moved closer.

“Christopher is going to be a daddy, soon,” Vicki said. “Grandma Jackie’s baby is going to be born today.”

“Christopher already IS a daddy,” Sukie pointed out. “He’s my mum’s daddy.”

“Yes, but now he’ll have a baby to be daddy of,” Vicki pointed out. “That’s different.”

“Yes, it is,” Christopher said in a choked voice. “You’ll be an auntie, Vicki Katarina.”

“That’s all right,” she answered him. “Auntie’s don’t have to do the yukkie parts of looking after babies.”

“No, I don’t imagine they do.” Christopher smiled despite himself. Trust Vicki to think of it that way. She was a genius by the standards of this planet, and understood much more than anyone imagined somebody so innocent looking could understand. But she was still a little girl, with a little girl’s logic that somehow made more sense sometimes than adult logic.

“Daddy?” He realised that Vicki was looking at him and she was puzzled. So was Sukie. They were both focussing on him. Little girls they may be, but they were little girls with very strong psychic abilities and they saw that there was something not right.

“It’s a sort of game,” he told them in a quiet voice. “A secret game. Jackie and Rose don’t know. We’re pretending to be each other. Like Chris and Davie used to do when they were younger and looked more alike.”

“I always knew which one was which,” Sukie replied. “Chris has a different kind of mind to Davie. And you and granddad do, too.”

“I know,” he answered. I’m not as clever as he is. I haven’t done as many things as he has. I haven’t even been a daddy as much as he has. Susan was my baby, but I was lost when she was still only little. And by the time I was found again she was grown up and Sukie was her little girl.”

“Poor Christopher,” Sukie said, kissing his cheek tenderly. “Is that why you want to pretend to be granddad for a while?”

“Something like that,” he said. “Now, shall we read some more of this book? Sukie, you read and Vicki can make the pictures, and Peter and I will enjoy listening and watching.”

That took their minds off everything for a little while. Even Christopher managed to forget his troubles for a little while. Jackie slept, soothed by the sound of Sukie’s quiet reading voice. Everyone was calm.

“He’s so wonderful with the children,” Jackie said when she woke again, disturbed by another contraction. “He’s a great dad. I never thought I’d say that. When I first knew him, I thought he was a monster. I hated him. But I was so very wrong.” She smiled and reached out her hand to her husband. “You’re wonderful, too. And I know you’re going to be a great dad, too.”

“I hope so,” The Doctor said on behalf of his son. “I’ve not had much practice.”

“That wasn’t your fault, father,” Susan told him. “Don’t blame yourself. I don’t… I’m just sorry that I never missed you. Grandfather always looked after me so well. I never felt like an orphan. If I had known you… but my earliest memories are of grandfather. Like the time when there was a total eclipse of the sun and he held me as we watched from the roof of our house.”

The Doctor looked at her, then at his son. He felt Christopher’s emotional response to that.

“It wasn’t… It wasn’t your grandfather who held you. It was… It was me. That was before… the accident. You DO have a memory of…”

“Ohh!” Susan’s eyes grew wide with surprise. She looked at her father and grandfather in turn. “Oh, I remembered it wrong. But it was always one of my most precious memories. Whenever I was afraid of the dark, I would think of the time when the sun went away and came back and I was held by my… by my father… and felt safe.”

“Then…” The Doctor listened to what Christopher wanted to say and repeated it to her. “Then I never did really leave you, Susan. I was with you in that memory all your life.”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m so glad.”

“Susan doesn’t know,” Christopher told his father.

“I know,” The Doctor answered. “Her telepathy was always VERY rudimentary. My fault. I never spent the time on that aspect of her development. But it was probably for the best. She has lived most of her life as a Human. Easier to do that without powers that mark her out from them.”

“Later, when we’re… ourselves again… I need to talk to her. I didn’t know she had any memories of me. I would like to share what I remember of her as my little girl. But not like this. Not by proxy. She already loves you like a father. I need to connect with her that way.”

“Later, you’ll be too busy being a father to your newborn son,” The Doctor reminded him. “But you and Susan will always have each other.”

“I hope so. I hope… Father… this time, I want to see my child grow up. I don’t want to miss a day of his life. I keep wondering… would fate be so cruel to me a second time?”

“No it won’t,” The Doctor promised. “Christopher, I promise you. It’s ALL going to be all right.”

“I believe you. I just… This isn’t the way I hoped THIS day to be, even. Let alone our future.”

The Doctor was about to reply when he felt Jackie stir and groan much louder than before. This time the contraction was so strong she couldn’t suppress it.

“You should be in bed,” he told her. “I think it’s time we made you comfortable upstairs.”

Christopher was on his feet at once, passing Peter to Rose. He looked at his father questioningly.

“Nothing to worry about. Still hours yet. But she WOULD be better in bed. And you need to start preparing for the birth, to do MY job.”

He lifted her into his arms. Jackie looked at the man she thought was her husband and put her arms about his neck, her head on his shoulder. The Doctor held her carefully. Even if she wasn’t his wife, she was precious to him. She was giving birth to his grandson. He carried her gently out of the drawing room.

As he crossed the hallway, Michael was going to the front door to let in the other half of the immediate family. David and his sons, and Brenda were arriving to spend the New Years Eve there.

“Perfect timing,” said Christopher. “Brenda, you can look after the children, then Susan is free to help me.”

“What’s going on?” asked Chris, looking at his grandfather and great-grandfather. “Something is wrong with you two.”

“Some secret!” The Doctor laughed telepathically. “No time to explain. Got to look after Jackie.” He carried on up the stairs. Christopher followed. Rose and Susan ran behind them. Between them they made Jackie comfortable in the bedroom, where the housemaids had been instructed to make things ready for the birth. The room had been scrupulously cleaned. The bed had been made up with clean sheets and fresh linen was on the sideboard for afterwards. Chilled water was in a carafe by the bedside, as well as a bowl of warm water and a sponge. The Doctor’s medical equipment was sterilised and ready.

The only one not ready was Christopher.

“I’ll have to deliver the baby,” he said. “I don’t think I can.”

“Jackie’s doing the hard work,” The Doctor told him as he sat at her side and helped her through the next contraction. “You just do as I say. And it will be the most wonderful experience for you. You get to deliver your own baby. That’s a wonderful feeling. I’m glad, in a way, that you can experience it.”

“That’s supposed to be some sort of silver lining to all this?”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered.

“Not if I get it wrong. What do I do now?”

“We need to know how far along she is. So now you do a thorough examination, following my instructions.”

“You two are talking telepathically, aren’t you?” Jackie said. “I can feel you doing it. Stop it. You make me think there’s something wrong. There isn’t anything wrong? Is there? Doctor… Christopher. Tell me…”

“Nothing is wrong,” The Doctor assured her as he guided Christopher through the process that would tell him how much longer Jackie’s labour was going to be. “We’re just discussing whether Rupert is a good name for a Time Lord son.”

“Rupert?” Jackie laughed. “We’re not going to call our son Rupert. He’s been bugging you about it, hasn’t he!”

“Well,” Christopher said, trying to sound like his father. “It IS important, you know. Can’t have a Time Lord with a stupid name.”

“Oh, really?” Jackie responded. “So who named Tristie then? If that’s not a stupid name…”

“It’s short for Tristan, as in Sir Tristan, Cornish hero and Knight of the Round Table,” The Doctor answered. “He fell in love with the wrong woman and came to a sticky end. And that’s the very short version of the story.”

“Just as well you’re dad’s not telling it,” Jackie remarked. “Or we’d be here all night.”

An hour passed in that sort of not too meaningful conversation. Jackie’s contractions were getting longer and more frequent. The Doctor told Christopher to say it would all be over by around midnight.

“Good,” Jackie answered. “Then I can get a good night’s sleep afterwards.” But she was joking about that. A good night’s sleep was a thing of the past for a while.

“Besides, at first light we have to name the child,” Christopher added. “By Gallifreyan tradition, a newborn child is named at the first dawn after his birth, in the first rays of the morning sun.”

“It’s perishing cold outside and there probably won’t BE any sun,” Jackie pointed out. “Tomorrow is the first of January!”

“Granddad!” The Doctor was distracted from the conversation by Chris’s voice in his head. Davie was listening, too. “Vicki and Sukie just told us something… about a game you and Christopher are playing.”

“It’s NOT a game,” The Doctor replied. “I wish it was.” He quickly related their sorry state of affairs.

“Wow!” Davie said. “But that means…”

“We KNOW what it means, both The Doctor and his son answered. “Rose and Jackie don’t know. And they’re not GOING to know.”

“The TARDIS’s psychic circuits did it?” Chris asked.


“After we’ve put the kids to bed we’ll go and look. See if there’s anything we can do to speed things up.”

“No,” The Doctor responded. “It’s ok. We can manage.”

“No, we can’t,” Christopher contradicted him. “Boys, please do anything you can. Get this sorted before my son is born.”

“No,” The Doctor said again. “Leave it alone.”

“NO.” Christopher sounded angry. “Father, I’m not going to put up with this situation a moment longer than I have to. If they can do something to help, then don’t stop them just because you’re too stubborn to admit there may be something they know that you don’t.”

“I’m not…” The Doctor protested.

“I think you ARE,” Christopher replied. “Father, I love you. I respect you. But don’t test that love, or that respect, this way. Let them help us. We have enough to do here.”

“All right,” he conceded at last. “Chris… Davie… Be careful. Don’t you two get your heads scrambled, too.”

Chris laughed and made a comment about the two of them KNOWING what they were doing. It was meant as a joke but didn’t seem like one to The Doctor. He knew Christopher was right. He was being stubborn. He didn’t want Chris and Davie to sort out his mistake.

And he knew Christopher was right earlier, too. The only reason he was in this mess was because he was trying to keep up with the boys. Because he felt he should be the one who knew everything.

He had been stupid. Jealous and stubborn and downright stupid. He should have been proud of the boys for being more than he could have ever been and at such a young age, too.

“I’m sorry,” he said to Christopher.

“That’s all right,” Christopher answered. “I forgive you. Anyway, what matters now is Jackie and my son. If the boys can’t work something out…”

“I’ll talk you through it. We’ll do this together.” Then he gave his attention to Jackie and helped her through another difficult few minutes. He held her in his arms and drew off some of the pain. She smiled gratefully at him as the contraction passed.

“You’re better than an epidural,” Jackie told him. “I’m so glad you’re here, Christopher. Beside me, all the way, sharing it all. Even the pain.”

“Wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” he answered truthfully, although he had not planned to be in this particular role. He didn’t mind. He had done that before, drawing off the pain for his wife as she went through the pains of labour. When Julia was giving birth to Christopher, he had been thrilled to share her pains. Each one brought him that much closer to fatherhood. He had been so excited. It was the same when Vicki was born. He had almost missed Peter’s birth, but now he was able to be there for Jackie and do the same for her. And he was glad to do so.

“Let me,” Christopher said. “It should be me.”

“You need to concentrate,” The Doctor told him. “Let me do this much. For both of you.”

They all had a role to play, even if they were strangely reversed ones. Rose and Susan, Jackie’s daughter and stepdaughter, were her nurses now, bathing her face when she was hot and sweating from the effort, holding her hand when she needed them, helping The Doctor – Christopher – to examine her more and more frequently to see how much longer it was likely to be.

The house was quiet and it was coming up to nearly eleven o’clock when her water’s broke and things began to happen much more quickly. Christopher had to take instructions from his father very rapidly and he was truly nervous about the prospect of having to deliver the baby.

“How much longer?” Christopher asked.

“Half an hour, an hour at the most,” The Doctor answered. “I don’t think the boys are going to be able to do anything in that time. It IS going to be down to you. But like I said, Jackie is the one doing the hard work. The rest, I’ll talk you through.”

And he fully meant to do just that. But Jackie was having a difficult time of it now. The pains were coming faster and harder and he was almost overwhelmed trying to make it bearable for her. She clung tightly to him, calling her husband’s name again and again. Christopher was distracted by that, wanting to be the one giving her the comfort. He wanted to kiss his wife, and tell her how much he loved her, and to thank her for going through this for him, to give him a son. He WASN’T jealous, but it did hurt when Jackie reached to his father and kissed him on the lips. Of course, she thought she was kissing him, but it still hurt. And he had to hide that hurt and hope that it would all work out right very soon.

“Hey.” He felt Rose touch his shoulder and he turned to look at her. “You don’t seem with it. Mum needs you. Don’t let us down.”

“I won’t,” he promised her. Then she reached and kissed him on the lips. She was a beautiful woman, and her kiss was sweet. But it wasn’t meant for him, and he didn’t want it. He wanted to kiss his own wife. But if he tried, she would probably think he had gone mad.

“Go and look after your mum,” he told Rose. “Yes, I know she has Christopher. But a woman needs another woman about at times like this. And she was there for you both times.”

“I know,” Rose said and kissed him on the cheek this time before going and sitting next to her mum, holding her hand tightly as they went into the final phase. The minutes went by in a haze of pain and delirium. It was coming close to a quarter to twelve. Jackie was crying out loud in pain as the baby moved down the birth canal and she pushed a little further with each contraction. The birth was minutes away.

Then The Doctor and Christopher both heard Chris’s voice in their heads.

“Stand by,” he said. “We’ve accelerated the process, and augmented it. We can get you back right now. I’m releasing the energy wave. It will reach you in a few seconds.”

“No!” The Doctor called out. “Jackie is only minutes away from the birth. We can’t change around now.”

“Yes, we CAN!” Christopher answered him.


“Too late,” Chris said. “Already started the process.”

Christopher and his father looked at each other. Even Jackie’s struggle was forgotten for a frozen moment as they felt the energy wave envelop them. They both wondered briefly how exactly Chris and Davie ensured that it affected only them, and not anyone else in the house. Then for a few seconds they didn’t think anything at all. The world around them was a strange, surreal place of slowed down voices and bright colours.


“Doctor!” Rose cried out. “What’s happened? Are you all right? What’s wrong with Christopher?”

The Doctor shook his head, almost surprised to find he was back in it again and looked at his son. He didn’t look right at all. His eyes were unfocussed and his lips trembled and he seemed to have forgotten how his legs worked. The Doctor caught hold of him as he collapsed to the floor. He touched his forehead and reached into his mind and was startled by what he found there.

“Susan, look after him, will you. He’s…. he’ll be all right in a minute or two, I think. But I have to look after the baby. Rose… you look after your mum.”

“But…” Jackie protested. “Christopher… I wanted him to be… He can’t have fainted? The daft sod. Even Pete managed to stay on his feet until Rose was actually born.”

“He hasn’t fainted,” The Doctor insisted. “And he’ll be all right soon enough. Jackie, don’t worry about him. What matters is your baby. We’re nearly there. One push for the head. When you’re ready. You know the routine.”

“Don’t know this bit,” she said. “Rose was a breach birth. God almighty it was agony.”

“Mum,” Rose told her. “This is not the time for that sort of detail.”

“Then I don’t know what time IS,” she responded and the last word was almost lost in her groan of effort. Rose held her shoulders and spoke encouraging words to her. She glanced once at Christopher as Susan sat on the floor and cradled him in her arms. He was curled up like a baby. Fetal position they called it. And he was either unconscious or asleep. Then she heard The Doctor telling Jackie to relax for a moment and get ready one last time. She hugged her mother tightly as she pushed again and The Doctor gave a cry of delight as he held up the baby in his arms, still attached by the umbilical cord. The baby gave a cry and as he did, Christopher opened his eyes and looked at him. Susan helped him to his feet and he stumbled towards his father and his newborn son.

“Here,” The Doctor said to him gently. “You hold him.” Christopher held his son while The Doctor cut and clamped the cord. He washed him in warm water and wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to Jackie who was smiling through her tears. Rose and Susan hugged each other as they watched the two proud parents.

“I’m a big sister and a granny,” Rose said.

“I’m a big sister, too,” Susan answered her. “And… possibly something else. I don’t know. If Jackie is my grandfather’s mother in law… and my father’s wife… Oh, I give up. It’s a boy isn’t it? And he’s healthy?”

The Doctor turned from clearing up after the birth and smiled happily.

“It’s a boy. And he’s…” He reached out and Jackie let him take the baby back long enough for him to give him a more thorough examination. “He’s a perfect Gallifreyan child. Two hearts, strong lungs. I can even detect his nascent telepathic nerves. Oh… but he has tear ducts. Like me and Christopher. There’s that little bit of wonderful, fantastic human in him. I’m so glad of that.” He wrapped the child again and gave him back to Jackie, who began to feed him for the first time. Christopher was still smiling joyfully as he held his wife around the shoulders.

“So…” Susan was the one who said it. “What is my little brother going to be called? Not Rupert, surely?”

“Garrick,” Jackie said. “That’s what Christopher said he was to be called. He said it was the only choice.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. And his voice seemed odd all of a sudden. “Yes, that’s a perfect name.”

“After my uncle,” Christopher said. “Uncle Garrick, who always strove to be as great a Time Lord as my father was.”

“He WAS,” The Doctor said. “And… will be again.”

“We should name him properly at dawn,” Susan added. “That’s how it is done.”

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “Meanwhile let’s leave the new parents in peace.” He turned and took hold of his granddaughter’s arm and his wife’s and they left the room. Downstairs the clock in the hall struck midnight and in the City of London there were cannons fired and fireworks let off to usher in the New Year.

Garrick Christopher Remonte Alan Harry Miraglo de Lœngbærrow was named in the first light of dawn as was traditional on Gallifrey. It WAS cold, but the sun came up in a clear sky and its rays bathed the newborn child’s face as his grandfather traced the Seal of Rassilon on his forehead and claimed him for the forces of light and for the memory of Gallifrey.

Several hours after dawn Christopher found his father sitting quietly in the drawing room. He had a steaming pot of coffee on the table in front of him.

“Have a cup of coffee,” The Doctor said, offering the pot to his son. Christopher poured himself a cup and sat down. “Hell of a night.”

“Wonderful night,” Christopher answered. He smiled broadly. “I… I have a son.”

“I have a grandson. That’s a first for me, too.”


There was a silence for a long minute, broken only by the sound of a light rain on the patio beyond the French doors that had blissfully held off until AFTER the naming ceremony.

“Just before Garrick was born… for a few minutes… did… what I think happen?”

“I think it did,” Christopher said. “You and I are 90% the same DNA… that’s what you said. So is my son. When the reverting wave washed over us… he and I were switched very briefly. My unborn son’s mind was in my body and I… It was a beautiful experience. It felt more like a dream than reality. But I felt myself being born. The pain of being pushed out into the world. The brightness of the light in my eyes. And… and you… holding me. My father holding me. I saw you. Felt your hands holding me safely. Then I was back in my own body in time to hear my baby cry for the first time. Somewhere in the midst of Garrick’s first breath it all sorted itself out.”

“I’m trying to imagine what could have happened if it hadn’t,” The Doctor said with a wicked grin. “No, let’s not go there. This has been surreal enough. One thing though. You’re unique among Time Lords now. We can die thirteen times. But you’re the only one to have been BORN more than once.”