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

Chris stood in the middle of the beautiful meditation garden and prepared himself mentally for the first of his novices to come through from the initiation area. He went over what he was going to say in his head. He hoped he would sound confident. He hoped he would not look as nervous as he felt. He was embarking on a dream and taking so many other people with him. He had to inspire them with his ability to do that. He hoped when they looked at him they would see beyond his mere twenty years of age and realise that he WAS capable of leading them.

“You look the part,” he heard his brother say to him. And he was right. He stood there in a long robe of white cotton with the seal of Rassilon on one shoulder and the new symbol he had designed on the other – A geometric rendering of the Australian Aboriginal symbol for Earth Dreamer inside a Hexagon that was an old, familiar symbol of Gallifrey. The same symbol was in the silver pendant he wore. After a lot of thought about it he had taken the silver crucifix he had worn since he was ten years old – 15th century Earth silver - and had it melted down and mixed with a portion of Gallifreyan silver. He then recast it into this, the symbol of the New Way. The symbol of Earth piety became part of the symbolic representation of what he hoped would be a joining of the two cultures, the two races, that ran in his blood.

The door opened and the novices came through. They all looked a little bemused. They all had damp hair and faces slightly pink from bathing in the jasmine scented purifying pools before dressing in the simple robes that matched his own. He reached out his hands and beckoned to them to come near to him. He told them to sit on the grassy area beside the reflecting pool in the same hexagonal shape with the New Way design in coloured tiles beneath the still water.

“My friends,” he said in a voice kept carefully steady. “Welcome to the New Way Sanctuary. For the next year you will live, work and learn within these six walls. Celibacy, sobriety and asceticism will be second nature to you as you hone your minds and bodies and become renewed spiritually, mentally and physically. After the first year, some of you will feel ready to return to the outside world, with a new outlook on life, new strengths, new goals. And that is to be expected. Others will stay on to become the new intermediates and eventually the masters of the disciplines you will learn here, to reach the highest level of understanding and enlightenment that I can show you. But either way, your lives will be changed by the experience. That much I can promise you.”

He looked around at his novices. He saw keen, interested faces. Of course he did. He had contacted most of them himself. The minds he had reached out to telepathically, those he had seen the spark of brilliance in.

“The first thing you must know, is that all of you are equal here. Many of you are Gallifreyans. Some of you are from other extra-terrestrial races. A lot of you are pure Human but with rare telepathic abilities that your race is ill-equipped to train. A few of you are, like myself, of mixed blood, with one Human parent and one extra-terrestrial. But my Way does not favour any one section of you. I believe that all of you can reach the same level of enlightenment and understanding if you are prepared to follow me with your whole hearts.”

He smiled and paused and waited to see if there were any questions. One young woman raised her hand.

“What do we call you?” she asked. “Do you prefer ‘master’ or ‘sensei’ or….”

Chris smiled as he heard his brother laugh gently in his head. He had planned every detail so very carefully, but he had forgotten that one small but important factor.

Master sounded good. But there was a very good reason NOT to use that title, quite apart from the fact that it sounded just a little pretentious coming from one as young as himself.

“Call me Chris,” he said after a moment’s thought. “That is my name. Yours is….” He looked at her for a moment. “You are Sonya….”

“Yes,” she said.

“We will all be known by our first names. Teachers and students alike. With the exception of our martial arts instructor who never uses his own name. He answers to ‘Doctor’. It has served him for many centuries now and I don’t think we can expect him to change.”

He noticed a stirring of interest among the Gallifreyans. For them, the chance to meet the legend known as The Doctor was a bonus on top of the chance to gain the enlightenment he promised.

“That is all I need to say for now,” he said. “My brother will take you to your living quarters to settle in, and in half an hour we share our first meal together in the refectory. Then we shall have our first lessons.”

“You did well,” he heard his brother’s voice in his head tell him as he took the novices to the beautifully designed but deliberately simple and modest dormitory block. It was the only part of the Sanctuary built up into more than one floor. The ground floor was the common room and refectory and above were dormitories and bathrooms for male and female novices, intermediates and masters. The apartment he and his brother shared was on the top floor which would house the masters, when he HAD some. As yet there were only the novices.

Seventy five people in all. A real community already. He had reason to feel proud - if the Way did not guard against pride.

His great-grandfather came over from his house to join them for the meal. He sat with them on the cushions in front of long, low tables in which there was no hierarchy, no favourites. They shared a simple meal of a delicately flavoured rice soup followed by fresh fruit and cooled buttermilk. An ascetic meal.

The Doctor sat with two young novices either side of him, both fascinated by him.

“Is it true that you fought in the Time War?” he was asked by the young Gallifreyan boy by his side.

“Yes,” he answered. “But that is not a story to talk about in this place.”

“I never saw Gallifrey,” the boy continued. “It was destroyed before I was born. Was it really as beautiful as my parents said?”

“Yes,” The Doctor told the boy. “But there is no sense in looking back on what cannot be. Earth is a good planet. You are all safe here. And you have a unique chance to learn something in this place. Chris is a remarkable young man and I know he will be able to teach you all so much.”

“He is younger than I expected,” the young woman next to the boy said. “I thought he would be… I don’t know… more like YOUR age, sir. But yet I can feel his aura. He has a great power. We are fortunate to share in it.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “We are ALL fortunate to share Chris’s vision.”

And that was the truth of it. He had known since his great-grandson was a child that he had potential powers greater than his own. He had nurtured and trained him and watched him stretch himself beyond anything he could teach him. As he became a man by Human standards his vision of what he wanted to do with his power coalesced. Looking into Chris’s mind in the past few years had been a privilege.

“Does he have a girlfriend?” one of the other females asked.

“You should not ask that,” somebody else replied. “The Way is a pure, clear path to understanding.”

“Yes, I know,” the female said. “But still….”

The Doctor smiled as he caught her unspoken thoughts. They were not exactly the thoughts Chris imagined his acolytes would have about him. He scanned the room mentally and noted that the same sort of ideas were running through the heads of many of the females, and one or two of the males, too. He was going to have an uphill struggle to teach some of them to cast off worldly things.

“I know,” Chris told him mentally. “I can feel it. I’ve never… even at school, I knew there were girls who ‘fancied’ me and Davie. But not like that. What should I do? Such feelings ARE against the precepts of the Way. Celibacy and purity of thought is paramount.”

“Don’t worry,” The Doctor told him. “They will learn. You have much to teach them. This IS only their first day. You can’t expect them to be completely free of worldly ideas just because they’ve taken a bath and put on a robe.”

“I hope they WILL,” Chris said. “They MUST be ready to turn away from such thoughts.”

“Give them a chance,” The Doctor assured him. “Your Way is a good one. They will all benefit from it in their own way.”

After lunch Chris took his first group of acolytes for their first lesson in his form of meditation. The Doctor went to the beautiful new dojo that he would be teaching them in later.

“I’m a teacher again,” he thought with a smile as he prepared himself for the task with Tai Chi exercises. Teacher. It was an honourable title. Nurturing young minds was a fulfilling occupation and for a retired Time Lord who had promised his wife he would stay out of mischief there was no better way to fill his time.

“Granddad….” He looked around and saw Davie standing by the edge of the floor, dressed in his own black gi. “May I challenge you?”

“You may,” he said. Davie stepped onto the floor. They bowed to each other in the formal way and began to fight in the Shaolin style that both favoured. Davie was good. Very good. He had taught him, after all.

But more than that. He was very good. He was a master of the discipline now. The Doctor smiled joyfully.

Because he knew one thing for certain.

He was going to lose this fight.

He didn’t give an inch. Nor did Davie. It was a hard fight and a painful one for both of them. But they had both learnt long ago to fight through the pain barrier. They did so now. The Doctor felt his body bruised and torn and he knew Davie was receiving as many hurts from him. But they fought on, two masters, two equals in a discipline that made both their bodies into deadly weapons without even touching the gleaming rack of swords and the fighting sticks that could split open a skull.

They were not fighting to the death, but they WERE fighting until one of them was at the mercy of the other. He recalled the time, when Davie was influenced by the strange energy inside the Hill of Tara, when the boy had almost fought him to submission. Without Chris’s mental energy to defend him he would be dead. But Chris was busy elsewhere right now and this WAS the fight that he knew he and Davie had to fight to prove one thing, once and for all.

“Do you submit?” Davie demanded as The Doctor felt himself lying on the floor, beaten by the very skills he taught his opponent. Davie’s knee was against the pressure point on his chest that rendered his limbs paralysed and with slightly more pressure could stop his hearts. His hand lay across his neck. With a single blow he could decapitate him.

He was beaten, as he knew he would be, as he ALWAYS knew he would be from the first day he set eyes on Davie and his brother. He had felt then a premonition, vague, and easily set aside as being part of the emotion of their meeting, that one of the boys would be strong enough one day to beat him.

He had almost longed for that day. He had trained them both in anticipation of it.

“Yes,” he replied. “I submit to you.”

Davie released the pressure on his chest and moved his hand from his neck. He stood back. The Doctor rose from the floor, but only so far as to kneel before him, his head bowed.

“I acknowledge you,” he said. “Davie de Lœngbærrow-Campbell, as master of this dojo.”

“So acknowledged,” Davie replied. Then he knelt and bowed his own head. “But you are STILL the greatest Time Lord and I acknowledge you as MY master in all things else.”

“One day you will take that mantle from me, too,” The Doctor told him.

“Yes,” he said. “When I take your name. When I am The Doctor.”

They stood and faced each other as equals again, bowing formally. They smiled at each other.

It was a relief to know that his great mantle of responsibility could be taken up by another. And one he knew would carry the responsibility as well as he had.

“Your pupils are coming,” Davie said.

“So are yours.”

Davie’s pupils were a select group from among the young Gallifreyans who he planned to teach the theories and practical application of temporal physics. They went with him to one of the classrooms. The Doctor waited for his own pupils to gather in the dojo, all dressed in the plain white gi provided for them. He saw among them various colours of belts around their waists. A few of them were black.

The Doctor smiled. The idea that wearing a colour of belt denoted some superior status always rather amused him. Those who did so always failed to realise that it went against the very ethos of those who first developed the arts centuries ago. They meant it to be a way of levelling the playing field and making the smallest and weakest equal to the tallest and strongest. But the human desire to compete and to be superior made them develop ‘colours’ to denote rank and ability.

Not here, he thought.

He made them stand around the edge of the floor in a single line and he gave each of them a plain white cord to fasten their gi with. Those who had sported the black and brown ones looked confused, some of them a little mutinous. He held out a cord to one young man who at first refused to take it from him. He stared at him with defiance in his eyes. The Doctor met his stare. The young man shuddered visibly and the defiance melted from his face. He reached and took the cord.

“Willpower is another lesson for another day,” The Doctor whispered to him. “Just be glad I’m not the one teaching it to you.”

When he had dispensed with those symbols of vanity and inequality among his pupils he stood in the centre of the floor and looked at them all for a long time. They looked back at him, excited and expectant, a little in awe of him.

Just as it should be.

“I don’t want to know what martial arts you’ve learnt before. I don’t want to know about trophies your mum keeps shiny on the mantelpiece. You are ALL beginners in my class. And here, today, if we’re lucky, I might just teach you all to SIT properly.”

He glanced around the group. That had shaken quite a lot of them. Those who had been confident of going straight to the top of the class looked at him with puzzled expressions. But still more who had not been confident of themselves and their abilities looked less nervous.

“All right,” he said. “Step forward and let’s get on with it.”

Chris had no such difficulty in his class. None of his pupils had attended any courses in what he wanted to teach them. Even the Gallifreyans among them were new to this discipline.

“I want to show you first what IS possible for those who have the ability,” he said to the group who sat and knelt around the meditation floor watching him expectantly. He lay down and put himself into a deep meditative trance. He let himself drop down through the levels of consciousness, letting his body slow down until even his two hearts were hardly beating and his blood slowed in his veins. He timed it carefully. He took no more than a few minutes before he brought himself slowly back to full consciousness.

He sat up and looked at his class. They were all staring at him, some in wonder, some in fear. All very interested.

“You looked DEAD!” one of them told him. “You were FROZEN. There was ice on your lips.”

“How long can you stay like that for?” he was asked. “Is there a limit?”

“I’ve never done it for more than three hours,” he answered. “Not at that level. There is no need. But it is possible to maintain a deep level trance for days, weeks. The body does not need food, drink. It maintains itself at a basic level. And when you return to consciousness, it is... like being reborn.”

“And we can.…” It was his friend Mac who asked the question. “Chris, you’re Gallifreyan. You have two hearts. You can do amazing things. But can we… can Humans do it?”

“I think you can,” Chris said. “We’re all going to discover together what we can do. And we’re going to start right now.” He sat in the middle of the floor, his legs crossed and back straight, in the way of those monks of Mount Loeng on Gallifrey. They had inspired his great-grandfather and he in turn had inspired Chris. And now he made ready to inspire his own followers.

“Take a deep breath,” he said. “Then let it out slowly, and as you do, let out everything else, every thought in your head. Be still and quiet in your hearts.” He breathed with them. He gently reached out and felt their minds. He felt some of them do as he wanted straight away. They emptied their minds and were able to be calm and quiet. Some struggled to rid their minds of concerns from the outside world. Two of the girls and one of the men were still harbouring rather impure thoughts about him that were getting in the way of them clearing their minds. A few were too busy concentrating on clearing their minds to clear them.

He unfolded his own body and quietly moved among them, finding those who had not managed to relax their minds and touching them gently on the forehead. He showed them the way to let go of their anxieties, their doubts.

“I can’t do it,” one young man whispered as he knelt in front of him. “I’m trying. But I can’t. I’m a failure. I always have been. I’m a loser, a freak. Even this… was a mistake.”

“No,” Chris assured him. He reached into his mind. “Tony, isn’t it? I know you. Yes, you are capable. I can feel your aura. You have the ability. I would not have invited you to come, otherwise. You CAN do it. Let me help you.” He put his hands both sides of Tony’s head and let his own calming thoughts flow between them, driving out the doubt. Tony gave a soft sigh as he achieved the point of calm that Chris wanted him to achieve.

As for the ones who were harbouring colourful thoughts about him, his touch only excited them more, but he gently coaxed them into leaving behind those ideas and clearing their minds.

As he knelt once more in the centre of them he could feel all of their minds connected to his. Calm, still minds ready to receive the gift he had for them. “Now concentrate,” he said. He created in his own mind an image of a soft, swirling mist. He let the mist grow and expand into all of their minds. “Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt you. Concentrate on the patterns and let your minds be slow moving like the mist. Let your hearts beat slower. Feel yourself as part of the mist.”

He felt them do as he said. Some, again, did it easily. He felt their minds slipping into the slow trance induced by the mist patterns, but not controlled by him. He wasn’t hypnotising them. He was teaching them to do this for themselves. And they were doing it. They were putting themselves into the easiest level of meditative trance. Their hearts were slowing. Their brain patterns were changing. They were there. All of them.

Chris let himself drop down into the next level to gather his strength. It had taken it out of him a little getting the others started. When he felt mentally and physically refreshed he let himself rise back to full consciousness. He looked around the meditation room and saw his followers, his students, all quiet and still. He gave them another five minutes and then he slowly reached out mentally to each of them and let them come back again. He watched them open their eyes and look around in surprise. Some of them pulled up their sleeves to look at watches before realising they had left them off with their outside world clothes before they went to the purifying bath.

“That is something else you will learn,” Chris told them. “You will be aware of the passage of time without needing watches and clocks. You will feel it in your soul. You were all in the first level of trance for twenty minutes. How do you feel?”

“Fantastic,” was the general verdict. “Energised.” “Ready for anything.” “Hungry” was one unusual comment that made the others laugh.

“What about….” Chris turned to the one called Tony who had doubted his own ability. He was still sitting still. He had not woken from the trance. Chris moved towards him. He put his hands either side of his head again and reached inside to find his consciousness. He was surprised at what he found. Tony had gone much deeper than any of the others. He was at what amounted to a third level trance. He wasn’t planning to take them to that level until they could all control their ‘re-entry’ for themselves.

“Come on,” he said mentally. “Come back with me.” He found Tony’s consciousness and gently coaxed it to surface very slowly, so as not to shock him. Tony was Human. One of those he had found with the latent telepathy that could be trained.

“I did it wrong,” Tony said mournfully.

“No,” Chris assured him. “You did it right. But you went too fast. The Doctor calls it ‘o-er-reaching ambition’. He always warned me and my brother against it. One step at a time. And we take them together.”

Tony blinked and looked at Chris nervously. Was he being praised by him? But he was moving back to the centre and inviting them all to describe what they remembered of the experience.

“Like flying.”

“Like dreaming but not asleep.”

“Like floating in water,”

“Like being in the womb.”

“Like being high,” somebody said.

“How would you know?” somebody else replied and the others laughed.

Chris laughed with them. He understood every one of the descriptions, including the one about being ‘high’ even though he had never tried drugs in his life. He was glad. It made him feel, after all his apprehensions, that everything WAS going to work out all right.

“It was great,” he told his brother and his great-grandfather when he sat with them later in his private room. “They were all so tuned in and ready to learn. It’s going to work out just fine.”

“I had a pretty good day, too,” Davie said. “I’ve got the makings of a couple of temporal mechanics there.”

“Yes,” The Doctor said quietly. He looked at them both. They looked at him.


“I don’t know,” he said. “Most of them I had contact with were terrific. They were willing to learn. They were respectful of the discipline. But I felt something… I couldn’t pinpoint where it was, which student… but there is something here that isn’t right. One of your acolytes isn’t what he or she is supposed to be.”

“What?” Chris looked at him with a disbelieving and shocked expression. “No. That can’t be. I chose them myself, from among our own people and from among those Humans and other species with latent abilities.”

“This is your first day, Chris,” The Doctor told him. “You don’t know them yet. You don’t know their strengths or weaknesses, their personalities. I’ve studied on Malvoria and at the Shaolin monastery of Songshan, and even there, among a group such as yours, they would expect a few dropouts who could not hack it. There have even been those with base intents who tried to pass themselves off as pure of heart.”


“Time will tell. I could be wrong.”

“You’re never wrong, grandfather,” Davie told him.

“I am sometimes,” he answered. “I hope I am. But Chris, be aware. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t let your own good hearts blind you to a possible bad apple.”

“I won’t,” he said.

“Ok. You’ve had a good start, Chris. A very good first day. Get yourself some rest now and be ready to build upon your start tomorrow.” He stood up and stretched his limbs.

“You’re going?”

“I didn’t make a vow of cloistered celibacy,” he answered with a grin. “I want to see my children before they go to bed and spend some time with my wife.”

The Doctor stepped down the back stairs of the dormitory block and out through the regulation emergency exit. It opened out onto a path right by the river Thames. With the sun going down it was a nice spot. He stopped for a moment and listened to the sounds of suburban London drifting across the water. If he had more time he would have enjoyed standing there and reaching out mentally to listen to the minds of the people of South London as they went about their lives. He hadn’t done that for a long time. He used to spend hours just reading the emotions of a sleeping city when he was younger. He never had that sort of time to spare now.

He was a parent after all. He thought about Vicki, and the things she would have to tell him about school and Peter with his baby chatter. He thought of Rose smiling with love for him, telling him how often she had felt the twins moving today.

He used to listen to the city when he was alone and lonely. He was neither any more.

He heard the fire door open again and stepped back into the shadows, wondering who was coming out through an exit that only he expected to use. Cloistered was the word for it. Though the Sanctuary was in no way a prison, the idea was for them to voluntarily cut themselves off from the outside world.

So who was breaking out already?

He watched the young man slip down the path and stop by a bush. He fumbled around under it and found a canvas bag. The Doctor watched as he first lit a cigarette and then took out what he realised was a digital voice recorder. He seemed to be looking at it as if searching for inspiration.

“Don’t tell me,” The Doctor said, stepping towards him. “Journalist.”

“Wha.…” The young man dropped his recorder in shock. “Who….”

“You were in my class this afternoon,” The Doctor said. “Dale, wasn’t it. That’s the name you gave. You did pretty well, I thought. It’s a pity, since I don’t think you should have been there. Do you want to start talking?”

“You can’t question me,” Dale answered. “I’ve got rights.”

“I own this piece of land. You’re trespassing in my garden. Talk and I’ll escort you to the gate and leave it at that. Otherwise, I put you under citizens arrest until the police come.”

“I had a tip off that there was some sort of cult being set up here. I figured it was a money rip off. I signed up to see what was going on - to see when I’d be asked to mortgage my house and hand over the passbook to my savings account.”

“You stupid Human!” The Doctor said with a tone of contempt. “There was and is nothing untoward happening inside those walls. But your stupid, stupid suspicious mind had to try to find the poison, try to find something to discredit us.”

“Well, you have to admit it SOUNDED funny.”

“I think it is a wonderful idea. A place where people can learn to develop the full potential of the mind and body. What is wrong with that?”

“Nothing is wrong with that. But it’s not the whole story. There is something else going on in there. Something even worse than a money scam. And you know what it is. You’re a part of it. You’re maybe one of them.”

He was scared, but The Doctor had to give him credit. He didn’t run. He stood his ground and faced him.

“That place is run by aliens. And you’re one of them, aren’t you?” The Doctor said nothing. “Well, you might as well know, I’m going to expose you. Whatever your plan is… to take over the world… to take over out human bodies or.…”

“What on Earth makes you think that’s what aliens do?”

“Because it IS. My parents died in the Greevascian bombardment when I was fifteen years old. Aliens who attacked without warning, killing. Afterwards, I went to live with my grandfather. HE remembers when the Daleks came and destroyed everything. That’s what aliens do. They destroy.”

“It’s what Daleks do,” The Doctor admitted. He reached out and touched Dale’s shoulder. He stepped back warily. “I’m not going to hurt you. I just.…” He smiled. “You DO have some latent telepathy, I think. But it must be a coincidence. How DID you come to hear of the sanctuary? Chris picked out the students himself and you couldn’t have been one of them.”

“My cousin, Della. She was supposed to come here. But she changed her mind because she got accepted at Oxford. She told me about it. I laughed. I told her it was probably a con and it was a good thing she had changed her mind. But then I thought it would make a story. So I went onto the internet where she signed up for the course and I changed the enrolment. Della… Dale… just a couple of letters. Nobody noticed.”

“So your cousin was telepathic?” The Doctor moved his hand from his shoulder to his forehead. “Keep still. I’m NOT trying to hurt you. Yes, you ARE Human. There’s no non-terrestrial DNA in you. Your cousin is one of the rare Humans who have evolved telepathic skills. It must run in the family, because you’ve got a bit of it, too. But never mind that. You were saying about aliens…. Did you ever think that other people might have been hurt by them, not just Humans? They’ve destroyed whole worlds. I’ve spent my life fighting them. The Sanctuary was my chance to stop fighting and do something peaceful instead - to do something that could heal this world. But you want to write a newspaper article about the Sanctuary, to destroy the wonderful things we could do here, because of your prejudiced, half-ignorant understanding of the universe beyond this planet.

Dale wasn’t listening. He was staring at The Doctor with horrified eyes.

“What now?” he asked. “I told you I wasn’t going to hurt you and I mean it.”

“I saw… in your mind… I saw… a world burning. The Daleks did that. They… Oh… Oh, my God. You saw it happen. You saw them destroy your world.”

“You saw that?”

“I felt it when you were talking about the Daleks. You were thinking about what they had done.”

“A few hundred of us were left. That’s all. We came here to make a new life.”

“Not to conquer us, take over our bodies? Make us slaves?”


“Then what is this place for?”

“It’s so we can give something back to this world, this planet that has become our new home. Can you understand that, Dale? Can you understand what you want to destroy with your exposé?”

“But I can’t just let this… I can’t. I’m a journalist. This is… this is a story.”

He stopped. He looked at The Doctor. He looked around at the white walls of the Sanctuary. He turned again and looked across the Thames, as if he, too, could feel the minds of the city.

“Can you?” The Doctor asked.

“Can I what?” Dale asked.

“Can you feel the city… the people, their hopes and fears, joys and sorrows?”

“I thought… for a moment there… as if I could,” he said. “For a fleeting moment. But what I CAN do is tell if somebody is lying. I have an instinct… I look at somebody and I just know…”

“Then you know I’m telling you the truth. I mean no harm to you or to this planet. Far from it. I have spent my life defending it.”

“I believe you,” he said. “Yes, I do. But…” He looked around again. “It really is for the benefit of humanity?”


Dale hesitated. The Doctor could see his uncertainty. He knew what he was uncertain about.

“What if I went back in there… and… and tried to be a part of it, for real?”

“I wouldn’t believe you. I know what you are now. I know you don’t belong. I’d think you were just gathering evidence to expose us even further.”

“No,” he said. “I wouldn’t. Can’t you tell if I’m lying or not?”

“I can, if you open your mind up to me, no walls or evasions.” He put his hand on Dale’s face again and gently touched his mind. He saw his ambition, his thirst for knowledge, the determination to find the truth. He was curiously reminded of Sarah Jane Smith, another journalist who pretended to be someone she wasn’t to get in somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be. But he also saw him thinking about all he had learnt today, about the martial arts class, about a beginners lecture in philosophy that Christopher had given, about the people he had mixed with, people he had found himself liking despite his prejudices and fears.

And he saw that he genuinely wanted to stay.

“Yes, I do. If you’ll give me a chance. If you’ll believe me. If you’ll have me.”

“You probably could get through the year if you work hard. And give up these.” The Doctor’s hand moved quickly and Dale briefly saw his cigarettes fly through the air and into the Thames. “They’re bad for you and hardly in keeping with Chris’s ideals of asceticism.”

“So… if I go back inside… you won’t say anything?”

“Not for your benefit. For Chris. I don’t want him to know about this conversation. And I’ll be watching very closely. If I think you’re still trying to pull a fast one, I’ll break you.”

“That, I believe,” Dale said.

“Go on then. Before I change my mind and throw you in the river.”

“That I don’t believe. You didn’t mean it.”

“Don’t push your luck, boy!” The Doctor growled. Dale half smiled and turned away. The Doctor listened as the fire door clicked shut again, then he walked back to his own house, to his wife and children and the quiet, domestic evening he had promised himself.

Only one thing bothered him.

Dale was a spy in their camp. But he was NOT the bad apple he thought he had detected. There was something else among the students of the New Way Sanctuary. Something else that jarred against his senses. He didn’t know what it was but he fervently hoped it wasn’t something that could harm Chris’s dream.