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

Spenser Draxic stood up from his lonely meditation on the patch of grass at the top of the cliff when he heard the sound of the Chinese TARDIS materialising. He smiled as he watched it solidifying in the shape of a large, erratic boulder that then split as a door formed in it. Brenda stepped out first and came to hug him in a friendly way. Then Davie, smiling widely, came to hug him, too. The hug didn’t go on for as long as he would have liked, but it was appreciated thoroughly.

“It’s nice to see you both,” he said. “Thanks for coming.”

“It’s good to be here,” Davie answered him. “Away from London for a while. Seems like we’ve got good weather for it, too. The forecast is for sunshine.”

Brenda looked at them both and then gently probed to see if they were saying anything more important telepathically, but Davie had no walls up against her. He really was making small talk with Spenser.

Which meant that both of them were on ‘best behaviour’ for her benefit. She knew that neither of them talked about the weather when Davie came up to Northumberland on his own.

“Are you hungry?” Spenser was asking. “I made up a picnic.”

“Oh, that’s a lovely idea,” Brenda replied. “Let’s do that. Is it safe to sit up here on the cliffs? The view is fantastic.”

Now she was making small talk. But it was friendly small talk. Spenser responded warmly, pointing out some of the landmarks as he spread a blanket and set out the food and drink from a cool box he had prepared.

Spenser was anxious for the weekend to go well. He knew that he had been a cause of friction between Davie and his fiancée and he had been afraid Davie wouldn’t come to see him again. This was a compromise.

He liked Brenda. She was a nice young woman. He wanted to remain friends with her. Because if he couldn’t be, it made it harder for him to be Davie’s friend, and that was important to him.

“You need a friend of your own, Spenser,” Brenda told him. He had forgotten that Tiborans had mind reading skills, too. She had caught the end of his thoughts. “You would be happier.”

“I am happy,” he answered. “I like living up here. It’s peaceful. Peace, solitude, was what I longed for through all those years. Now, I have a home of my own here and my own life. And when I want friends… there’s you and Davie.”

“You should have other friends,” she added,

“I do. Chris visits, sometimes, too.”

“You know that isn’t what I meant.”

“I really AM happy, Brenda,” he assured her. “And I’m glad both of you are here.”

Brenda smiled warmly at him. Yes, he really did seem genuinely happy in his own environment, here on top of the cliff. His house was an old, stone built one only a few yards away from the cliff edge, and beyond that, the ruined monastery that actually was on the edge of it. Part of the ruin had already tumbled down among the wave-washed rocks below.

Spenser owned most of the land that she could see. His father probably acquired it by dishonest means, she supposed. But it was his now, and it allowed him to lead his simple life of meditation and painting and long walks along the cliff top.

His only real difficulty was that he was in love with Davie.

Davie insisted it wasn’t such a great difficulty. Without compromising his honour as a Time Lord or his bond of betrothal with her, he gave back that love platonically at least and Spenser was content. Brenda did her best to understand that definition of love that she knew nothing of in her sheltered upbringing on Tibora.

Brenda just hoped none of them would get hurt by that arrangement.

“I notice you own a few feet less property this year,” Davie commented. “The cliff top has eroded a little more. “

“I still have plenty,” he replied. “I’m going to have the house rebuilt, next year. I’ve got the planning application in. It will be taken down, stone by stone and moved inland. So I won’t be homeless, at least! But it is quite amazing to think… when my father first came here in the 11th century this spot was a good mile inland. There was a small feudal village on the coast – but that’s all gone now. Even in the 17th century when I grew up here, there was a potato field there…. now it’s part of the sea. The farmhouse was abandoned in about… 1835, I think. But of course that’s one of my father’s memories, not my own.”

His face clouded a little when he talked of his father. Small wonder. For centuries, Draxic had used his son as a vessel for his own consciousness, keeping his mind suppressed, not allowing him to act of his own free will. He had been free of that horror for only a few years.

“It’s all in the past,” Davie assured him, and Brenda didn’t mind at all the gentle touch on his shoulder that told Spenser that he had a friend he could rely on when the memories got too much for him.

“Those ruins are where my father committed his crimes against the Laws of Time,” Spenser said. “Not much left of them now. By the time they’ve fallen into the sea completely, I will be a Time Lord. I’ll be ready to make up for his wrongdoing.

“You’ve nothing to make up,” Davie said. “It was none of it your doing. You’re going to be a Time Lord in your own right, and make your own choices. You have a clean sheet. Any blots you put on it will be of your own free will. But I will be proud of you. My first apprentice.”

Brenda stretched herself on the grass, satisfied by the food and wine and listening to the conversation between the two men. The sky looked big overhead, though not as big as they all knew it really was. The sound of seagulls and the tide coming in over the rocks below lulled her. She felt Davie and Spenser settling down to a shared meditation session. They would join their minds together and enter the trance as one single mind. It was something Chris and Davie frequently did, but it was easy for them. They were twins, created together as one soul that split into two. To do it with another soul, another mind, was harder. But she had a feeling that he would manage it with Spenser.

She didn’t mind. She wasn’t a Time Lord or a Time Lord candidate. She was going to be the wife of a Time Lord. The rituals and meditations, all of that, were for them to do.

She knew they had done it, because she felt both their minds slip away from her. It felt a little lonely afterwards, but she knew she was perfectly safe. If any danger should threaten, in any case, both would quickly be awake and ready to defend her.

She was drifting to sleep in the sweet warmth when she heard something other than the sea and wild birds. She sat up and looked around, and screamed.

Davie and Spenser both came out of their trance at once. Both stood up and were at her side, wide awake and alert. As Davie reached to take her hand, wondering what had left her shaking with horror, Spenser looked around at the empty heath.

“I saw…” Brenda shuddered as she found the breath to speak. “I saw a… a man dressed in animal skins and metal… with a big round shield and a sword, and a helmet. He was chasing another man. He was just clothed in a rough sort of… I think it’s called a jerkin. He had no defence against the warrior at all… and he cut him to pieces. It was horrible…”

“You saw?” Davie wasn’t disbelieving her. He just wondered how what she described was possible. He touched her forehead and probed her immediate memories. “A Viking… and one of the local Saxons… ninth, tenth century, I guess. When they used to raid this place.” Cut to pieces was the correct phrase. The Saxon had been hacked to death with the sword, his limbs and head severed and the trunk of his body cleaved in half.

“A ghost?” he speculated.

“Ghosts don’t bleed.” Spenser said looking down at the grass by his feet a few yards from where they were standing. Davie held Brenda close to him as he stepped nearer. She turned her face away from the gory sight. A pool of slick, shiny blood was congealing on the grass. He saw something else glistening a few feet away and pointed. Spenser reached out and picked up a bloodstained broadsword.

“A Viking sword.” Davie stared at it. “That’s not right. Brenda… go to the TARDIS and bring me a specimen kit. I want to examine this blood. It is just possible it’s an animal… a wild deer or a sheep?”

“That doesn’t explain the sword,” Spenser pointed out as Brenda ran to do the errand, glad to do something to take her mind away from what she had seen. “Or what Brenda saw. Remember, she isn’t from Earth. She wouldn’t just imagine Vikings. Why would she even know about them?”

“She went to school on Earth for a while, she might have learnt about them. But still, I don’t think she made this up. Something happened… I want to look at this scientifically. I should rule out non-Human blood even if I do think it’s 10th century Saxon. But what do you think? Has anything like this ever happened before? You live here…”

“I’ve never seen anything. But there are rumours about ghosts. People have always avoided the monastery because of stories. Although I always thought my father did that deliberately. This area does has some bloody history, though. The Vikings, of course. The Scots did a fair bit of raiding down this coast, too. Then there were the pogroms against papists in the 16th century, the Civil War… In the 20th century, the Luftwaffe gave it a battering. And, of course, the Daleks left no part of the country without scars. This peaceful place has some bad memories of its own. But for me, it has always been a quiet refuge. I’ve never felt anything bad here. And when you’ve been up here, you had no sense of trouble. You were more relaxed here with me than anywhere else.”

“Yes, I have been,” he admitted. “I’ve never felt any unease of any kind here. Though I don’t know if that was the place so much as the company.”

Spenser smiled at the gentle compliment. Davie felt his hand touch him on his waist in response. Just a brief touch. He often did that. It seemed enough for him just to make physical contact in that way now and again. It wasn’t because Brenda was returning that he drew his hand back. Davie turned and kissed her cheek and thanked her as he took the sample kit and crouched by the pool of blood. He sealed some of it in a phial, then he took a swab of the sort used by forensic scientists and brushed it against the dried blood on the sword. That, too, he sealed. It occurred to Spenser to ask why Davie kept such tools in his TARDIS. But the answer was in what he had said earlier about needing to examine this in a scientific way.

“At the least, I can tell if this is the same blood. For the record, I don’t think it was a ghost. I think it’s more likely a temporal anomaly that pulled the Viking and his victim briefly into our time. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. And then both would have been returned to where they came from.

“Temporal anomaly?” Brenda queried.

“Yes,” Davie answered her. “They’re…. well, they’re quite normal and natural, actually. They occur everywhere in the universe – except Gallifrey where they had control of time and didn’t put up with that sort of randomness. There are weak spots in time. Some of them are completely erratic, turning up rarely and briefly. Others are like earthquake faults and it is possible to monitor them, even predict them. The biggest one on Earth is in Cardiff. That’s been known about for something like four centuries now. Granddad could tell us a lot about it.” Davie laughed softly. “I’m not sure he might not have caused it. There’s some sort of story there. But this one here, I think it’s just a random, erratic one.”

“Maybe…” Spenser thought about it for a moment. “Well, there was a TARDIS stranded here for nearly 1,000 years. And then it was taken away… and you came back with another TARDIS. Maybe that’s causing it?”

“I’ll examine that possibility, too.” Davie looked at the sample kit. Brenda recognised the look in his eyes. He was itching to be doing something.

“You go and do your tests,” she said. “Spenser can take me for a walk along the cliff tops. You spend hours doing that when you’re here. I might as well find out what the attraction is.”

Davie agreed to that idea. She knew he would. She was the first flesh and blood love of his life. Spenser was possibly his second. But science, discovery, the thrill of the chase, even if he was chasing answers under a microscope, was his first passion. She accepted that.

“He’s like The Doctor,” she said to Spenser as they watched him sprint away towards his TARDIS. Spenser took her by the arm and they walked in the opposite direction.

“That’s a good thing,” Spenser told her. “The Doctor is a good man. I remember… it’s my father’s memory, of course. He outwitted my father, stopped his scheme that would have been so damaging to this planet. But he didn’t harm him. He gave him a chance of life, even if it was in exile. He was merciful.”

“Davie would do the same,” Brenda insisted.

“Davie gave me my chance of life,” Spenser told her. “After he and his brother helped to free me from the dreadful thing that was done to me, I had no thought except to come back here and live quietly, alone. He showed me I could be more, do more. I didn’t want to be half alien. I didn’t want to be anything but an ordinary Human being. He helped me take pride in that part of my heritage again and to want to be a Time Lord. And he showed me…” Spenser blushed and looked at Brenda. “You know it, too. The feeling in your soul when you’re near him? As if you can’t believe your luck that he has chosen you to give his love to.”

“When he first paid court to me I was astounded. He, a Lord of Time… and I just an ordinary Tiboran girl. I was afraid to show him my true feelings. When he kissed me for the first time, I was frightened. I ran from him. But then my father told me that Davie had asked permission… that he wanted to make a Bond of Betrothal with me. And I was to be his…”

Spenser smiled. He understood.

“The first time he came up here, we walked along this same route. He told me that he knew I had feelings for him. He told me that he loved you first and for always. But that he had two hearts and he had room for me in one of them. He promised never to hurt me, never to let me down. Then he held my hand. And I felt… as I think you must have felt when he kissed you.”

“Yes,” Brenda said. “Yes, I think I know what you mean. I’m… I'm trying hard not to be jealous, not to want him all to myself. I don’t want him to hurt you because of me. We’ll… we’ll try to find a way that we can both love him without that happening.”

“Yes,” Spenser agreed. He sighed happily. Then he saw Brenda’s face and turned. His hearts sank as he saw what she was looking at.

Davie almost lost track of time as he conducted his experiments within the TARDIS. Almost, but not quite. He was a Time Lord, after all. Time could never completely escape him. He knew it had taken half an hour to establish that the blood was Human, and came from somebody who lived long before the existence of antibiotics or vaccinations - somebody with chronic anaemia from not getting enough of the right nutrients in his diet, and a bacterial infection that would have killed him in a few weeks even if he hadn’t fallen foul of the Vikings.

He established that the blood on the sword came from the same man.

The TARDIS was less helpful about the anomaly that caused this 9th century death to be witnessed by Brenda in the 23rd century. It had registered a very slight temporal fluctuation, which proved that Brenda was certainly not imagining anything. But it could tell him nothing more.

He smiled as he saw Brenda and Spenser’s lifesigns walking along the cliff top. Spenser, half Gallifreyan like himself, Brenda, a Tiboran, both with the slight glow that indicated they had travelled in the time vortex and had absorbed the background radiation of a TARDIS. He put the viewscreen on and focussed on them. They seemed to be friendly. He was glad of that. Brenda’s jealousy of Spenser had distressed him. He wanted to be able to care for them both.

A strange relationship they would all have, when he and Brenda were married, and she living at home, on Earth, minding his babies, as she so wanted to do, and he going away into space and time with Spenser as his companion. It would need a lot of understanding from all of them for that to work.

The console beeped urgently and he looked at the monitor. Then he turned and ran. He looked back to be sure the TARDIS door shut behind him, then he headed, full pelt, towards his girlfriend and his friend.

“What happened?” he asked as he saw them both crouched in the grass in a mutually comforting embrace. Brenda was crying. Spenser didn’t cry. He had Gallifreyan eyes with a nictating membrane instead of tear ducts, but he looked upset. “What did you see this time?”

“There was a girl,” Spenser said. “Dressed… I don’t know, maybe 10th, 11th century. A peasant girl. And two men… they were wearing Scots kilts… they set upon her…”

“Killed her?”

“No.” Spenser looked at him. He didn’t say anything telepathically or out loud, but Davie understood.

“Oh.” He reached and lifted Brenda to her feet. “We couldn’t have stopped it, sweetheart. It happened hundreds of years ago. You understand that, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” she told him. “But the girl was so scared. Her screams… she begged them not to… they were so cruel and rough… and they laughed. They did such a horrible thing, and they laughed about it.”

“Spenser,” Davie said. “How long did it go on for? If you saw it all…”

“About twenty minutes. I felt as if… I couldn’t look away. I wanted to. It was vile. But I couldn’t. I felt as if it held me.”

“Yes,” Brenda agreed. “That’s how I felt, too. I wanted to run away…. I didn’t want to look. But I felt frozen in place.”

Davie reached out and took both of their hands. He looked at their wristwatches. Both told the same time. And they matched his own. It was a little after half past three in the afternoon. That was all right. But…

“Spenser, let me…” He reached out and touched him on the chest, over both hearts at once. He felt them quicken with excitement and smiled. “Calm down, I just want to look at your body clock.” He gently slowed Spenser’s racing hearts and concentrated on one of the unique features that they both, as Gallifreyans, possessed. Humans talked of their ‘body clock’ metaphorically. But in their species they really did have such a thing. And it kept perfect time. A Time Lord was always aware of the passage of time when he was awake. When he slept, his body kept count of the seconds and when he woke he would know how long he had slept. A Time Lord never really needed a wristwatch. They wore them out of habit.

“Yes, your body has lived about twenty-five minutes longer than mine this afternoon,” Davie told him. “You’re out of synch with me.”

“What does that mean?” Brenda asked.

“It means that these anomalies are being slotted into our time. Twenty five minutes for you took seconds for me. I saw you two walking along, happy. Then the TARDIS registered a microsecond’s anomaly. It was as if those twenty-five minutes were spliced into your experiences like putting an extra scene into a film.”

“That’s a strange idea,” Brenda said. “I don’t think I like it.”

“Neither do I,” Davie admitted. “I need to run more tests. Let’s go back to the TARDIS and, if you don’t mind, Spenser, I’ll take it to your house. Brenda can relax in your drawing room while we work on this.”

“Please,” she said. “Let’s do that. I’ve seen enough.”

Davie held her around the shoulders as they turned and headed towards the TARDIS. It seemed a long way off. They had walked right up past the old ruined monastery before the trouble started.

“What’s that?” Spenser asked as they were walking around the back of the ruin, careful to avoid the fallen stones from broken walls that were sometimes hidden in the grass.

“What’s what?” Brenda asked. But now she could hear it, too. Voices coming from within the monastery. “Oh, not again. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see any one else hurt…”

“Run on to the TARDIS,” Davie told her. “You’ll be safe there. We’ll look.”

Brenda did that. They watched her for a moment before they turned and looked at the monastery ruin.

Only it didn’t look like a ruin now, and it wasn’t falling into the sea. They stepped into a beautiful chapel where a group of monks, led by the Abbot, were in the middle of the ritual that Davie thought was called Matins. They were all kneeling and looking towards the altar. But their peaceful prayers were disturbed. Soldiers poured into the chapel. They wore metal breastplates and clothes of the sort that Davie and Spenser both judged to be 16th century – late Tudor, perhaps. Their captain spoke angrily to the monks. Davie and Spenser guessed this was part of that period of history called the “Dissolution”. The soldiers were there to evict the monks from their monastery because Henry VIII wanted the valuable property as well as the end to the Church’s criticism of his actions. The Abbot rose from his prayers long enough to accuse the soldiers of defiling a holy place and the king of going against God to satisfy his own wantonness and lust. The captain repeated his order to the monks to leave this place. They remained on their knees, praying. The Abbot knelt, too, facing the altar, and led the prayers. The captain turned to his men and with a nod of his head gave them their leave to act.

“No,” Spenser gasped. His hearts raced again, this time in horror. Davie put his hand on his shoulder as they both found themselves unable to turn away. They were reluctant witnesses to a massacre as the soldiers ran each of the monks through with their swords. None put up any kind of fight. They prayed with their last breaths and fell, bleeding, on the chapel floor. The captain himself killed the Abbot. One swing of his sword decapitated him. Davie swallowed bile and felt Spenser shake with grief, too. Then he saw the captain turn and seem to look straight at them both. The man gave a growl of rage and came towards them. Davie gave a yell of fright as he saw the sword blade inches from his neck.

And then they were standing alone in the ruins again, perilously close to the cliff edge. They stepped back, then ran to the safety of the TARDIS. Davie dematerialised it and brought it straight to Spenser’s drawing room where it disguised itself as an oak dresser that was in keeping with the fine antiques in that room.

“Brandy,” Spenser said. “The thing for shock.” He went to a finely made cabinet and poured three glasses. Brenda sat in a soft armchair. She took the brandy and sipped it, though she didn’t like the taste much. Davie and Spenser told her, leaving out as much of the gory detail as possible, what they had witnessed.

“They did nothing to defend themselves?” she asked.

“They were men of God, of peace, who believed in a heaven that would receive them if they died with their souls unsullied,” Davie told her. “They were courageous. Especially the Abbott. I don’t think I could have faced certain death so calmly. But then again, I don’t believe in any god, or afterlife. And I’m not so much of a pacifist that I wouldn’t have resisted.”

“Their names are known,” Spenser said. “In the village church, there is a small shrine where the names of the monks who were killed by Henry’s soldiers are inscribed. They are honoured.”

“I’m not sure that’s much consolation,” Davie sighed.

“So many horrible things happening,” Brenda said. “Horrible…”

Davie and Spenser both looked at her. She was shivering even though the room was warm and her eyes were glazed as if what she was looking at was in another place and time entirely.

“She’s still fretting about what we saw,” Spenser noted.

“Yes.” Davie went to her side. He kissed her cheek and she turned to look at him. “Come on, sweetheart,” he said. “You can’t keep thinking about it. There was nothing you could do. Don’t let it haunt you like this.”

“I don’t want to think about,” she answered. “But every time I close my eyes I see her face… that girl. I hear her screams, her pleas for… for them not to do what they did to her… for them to stop… stop doing it…”

“I can take it away,” Davie said. “Not the memory, but how you feel about the memory. Let me…” She nodded. He put his two hands either side of her face and closed his own eyes. He saw her recent memories, the images that kept recurring. He understood why she was distressed. It had been a shocking thing to witness. But he did what he promised. He didn’t take away the memory. He didn’t take her sense of revulsion at such an ugly deed. But he did take away her feelings of helplessness, of horror, the shock that was stopping her from putting it into perspective. He took away her feelings of guilt for having watched and done nothing – because there was nothing she could do. He left her compassion for the suffering of an innocent woman.

“That’s better,” he said when he saw her eyes calmer and her face less strained. “Now, you lie back on that chair. It looks really comfortable. It would do you good to get a bit of sleep after all that trauma.”

“Don’t patronise me, Davie,” she told him. “Just because I was upset by it all doesn’t make me weak or stupid. You were both upset, too. I don’t make you lie down like good boys and go to sleep.”

Having said that, she did curl up on the chair and in a few minutes, she was asleep. Spenser put a blanket over her and she didn’t even stir.

“Did you do that?” he asked. “Did you hypnotise her?”

“No, not really,” he answered. “But she was so stressed and then I took away the stress and her body relaxed properly.” He looked at Spenser. “What about you? I could do the same for you?”

“Could you make me feel less horrified by the centuries long nightmare of having my own father’s mind suppressing mine while he used my body in ways I would be too ashamed to tell you?”

“Yes, I could,” Davie told him. “If you want me to.” He held Spenser’s left hand in his, feeling the roughness of his father’s Time Lord Ring of Eternity. He put his free hand against his forehead, gently reaching into his mind, seeing an echo of some of those things he was ashamed to speak about.

“No,” Spenser said after a few minutes. “No, I don’t think you should. I think I need to be horrified by those things. I have to strive never to be that sort of man. Besides, The Doctor… he says that our pain and suffering are a part of us. He says… that they make us what we are as much as our joys and our triumphs.”

“Yes,” Davie agreed, “He does say that. I didn’t know he’d said it to you.”

“I saw the memory in your mind. And he’s right. So, no, you needn’t do anything to ease my burden except… except exactly what you’re doing right now. It feels nice.” Spenser gripped his hand a little tighter and drew him closer, letting his head rest on his shoulder for a moment. It was a moment that lasted a long time for both of them. Davie felt his own body clock slowing as Spenser folded time and the brief hug stretched out for several minutes.

“That was a great demonstration of a time fold,” Davie told him as he let it collapse and time caught up with them both. “But… maybe we shouldn’t do that behind Brenda’s back. It isn’t fair. She’s being very patient with us both.”

“One stolen moment that helps me to forget the stolen years of my life. Would Brenda really begrudge me that? My happy thought before I sleep at night.”

“Neither of us are sleeping tonight,” Davie answered him. “Not until we find out what’s going on around here. Will you help me?”

“Of course I will.”

Davie opened the TARDIS door. He left it open as they stepped inside, so he could keep an eye on Brenda. He went to the console and began to construct a map of where and when the anomalies had occurred.

“Three isn’t enough to measure any sort of pattern – if there is one. We might need to re-examine the rumours and ‘ghost’ sightings in the area. You’re sure you’ve never seen any of them yourself before today?”

“No,” Spenser answered. He had said the same earlier, and Davie accepted it. But now he looked at him and wondered. There was something in his eyes in the brief moment it took to say ‘no’ that roused his suspicions.


“I haven’t seen anything like this,” he insisted. “Just rumours of ghosts. You said it yourself. Erratic time anomalies are natural…”

Davie kept looking at him – a steely look that started in his eyes and froze his whole face. He didn’t have to say anything. It was all there in his expression. If his mother had been there to see him, she would have said it was his great-grandfather’s look. He could stare down the strongest will with that look.

But his mother would be wrong. This didn’t come from The Doctor, even though his heart beat in his breast and his soul was nestled inside his own like a Russian doll. This was his own steely will, part Time Lord, part fighting Campbell, and wholly of himself.

And it was too much for Spenser.

“No,” he repeated. “I haven’t seen anything. Not with my own eyes. But my father did. And he built… in the cellar here… a machine.. he was trying… but it didn’t work… He gave up…”

“You knew something, and you didn’t say?”

“It might not be anything to do with it. You said it was natural. You said that. And I really hoped it was. I wanted it to be. Davie, please don’t look at me like that, as if I’ve deceived you.”

“You have deceived me. But it’s not too late. Nothing bad has happened, just three echoes of the past. You’ve not done anything except not tell me the whole story and we can change that right now. If you…”

The console gave a warning signal. He forgot the rest of his words as he checked the readings on the environmental panel.

“Another anomaly,” he said. “Close…” He ran to the TARDIS door. Spenser followed. He stared at a very different room than the one they had left Brenda sleeping in. Spenser whispered to him that there had been an earlier house, a Tudor one, on the site where the 18th century house now stood. It certainly looked like it, for all either of them knew about Tudor houses.

There were people there, dressed in clothes of the era about a century after the house was built. A man, woman and two youngsters, a girl of maybe sixteen or a little older, and a boy of about twelve. All of them were clinging to each other in fear as angry shouts and the sound of marching feet drew closer. The door burst open and soldiers pushed three house servants, two women and a man, into the room before taking up positions that allowed for no escape. Davie’s hearts pounded as he realised they were looking at a situation almost identical to that in the chapel. The captain of these soldiers, dressed in the breastplates and helmets of the Parliamentarian side of the Civil War, accused the man of the house of harbouring Royalists and giving comfort to the enemy.

“Yes, I did,” the man answered in a brave voice with just a slight quaver of fear. “They are no enemies of mine. They are servants of the rightful King of this realm. And I…”

A musket shot drowned the rest of his words and as he saw his son fall dead the man was too lost in grief to continue his defence of his cause. More shots rang out. His wife died as a bullet pierced her heart. The three servants, accused by the captain of aiding and abetting their master, were summarily executed. The girl and her father clung to each other amidst the carnage and waited the same fate. But the captain raised his arm and stayed the firing. He pulled the girl away from her father and held her in a cruel grip.

“You’ll be tried and executed for treason,” he told the man as the soldiers took him in hand. “As for this one, I’ll keep her for myself. I’ve a fancy to take a wife and she’s comely enough. This house will be mine, too, when you are dead and the deeds forfeit.”

The man was dragged away. The girl sobbed in terror and grief. She and the captain looked around in surprise as they heard a scream that came from another place and time.

“No!” It was Spenser who screamed, though Davie, if he was truthful, felt close to it himself. But the vision faded as the others had done. They were back in the comfortable drawing room.

Brenda woke with a start to see Davie holding onto Spenser, trying to calm him down. He was shuddering and gasping for breath. If he was Human he would be crying.

“There was another one?” Brenda asked. “Was it really so horrible?”

“It was bad enough,” Davie answered. “Though I don’t know why… Spenser, what is it? What made it so much worse this time?”

“That was… Davie… you didn’t see… the Captain… that was my father… Mortimus Draxic. That was how he came to own this house and its lands. He had the rightful owner executed for treason… He murdered his family so he could claim the property as his own spoils of war. And the girl…”

“Oh…” Davie had a dreadful thought. “Spenser… that wasn’t your mother, was it?”

“No. I wasn’t born until 1790. He tried many times before I was born. There were other wives who either didn’t produce a child for him or gave birth to children who were too Human for his needs. If I told you what he did to those wives, those children…”

“I don’t think we need to know,” Davie told him. “But Spenser, before that happened, you were trying to tell me something. I think it’s time now for the truth.”

“Let him sit down,” Brenda suggested. “Before he falls down.”

That made sense. He brought Spenser to the sofa. Brenda sat next to him while Davie pressed a fresh glass of brandy into his hand. He swallowed without tasting it and coughed as it burned his throat, but it seemed to steady his nerves enough for him to speak.

“It was about the mid 20th century,” he said. “After the second war, anyway. My father had been living in London for a time… when I say my father… I mean… me… controlled by him, of course. He came back here… He was walking on the cliff as we did, today, and saw something out to sea. It must have been one of the natural anomalies you spoke of. It was a Viking ship… I remember… even my suppressed mind used to see things. And I remember thinking that it was beautiful. The dragon headed prow, the shields gleaming in the sunshine, the oars rowing together. Terrible, but beautiful. My father thought so, too. But he understood what had happened. I didn’t. He began to plan a way to use the natural phenomena. A machine… a time manipulator, he called it. He planned to use it to get back to 1066 and stop The Doctor from sabotaging his ship. Or, failing that, to find The Doctor in some other time and steal his TARDIS. He meant to escape his exile one way or another. He couldn’t have gone home to Gallifrey, but he would have had the universe to do his evil deeds in.”

“Obviously he didn’t succeed…”

“No,” Spenser continued. “All he did was create more time anomalies, more echoes. The sort of thing we’ve been seeing today. There were so many all around the area. People were terrified. There was talk of demons. The vicar denounced it as nonsense. He blamed strong liquor and thundered from the pulpit about the evils of drink… at least until he had an encounter with a former vicar who had been dead for fifty years.”

Brenda and Davie both laughed at that. Spenser managed to smile, too.

“My father never took failure well. I thought he was going to kill somebody. I kept hoping… all that rage… I felt sure his brain would overheat from it and I might be free of him at last. But he was too powerful. I was a prisoner in my own body, still. And he a prisoner of this planet.”

“But the machine, what happened to it?”

“He put it in the cellar, in a locked room. A room that has never been unlocked since. I didn’t even think of it today until… I had forgotten it was there. When I remembered, I hoped it wasn’t true. I hoped it was just natural.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because at first I thought there wasn’t a connection. And then I was afraid of what you would think. You would imagine I had deliberately deceived you. And I have. I’ve let you down. I’m sorry.”

His face was a picture of contrition. His hands clasped together in remorse.

“Davie, he’s sorry,” Brenda said. “Forgive him.”

“I do forgive him,” Davie answered. “There’s no question about that. Spenser… you made a couple of mistakes. But do you think that our friendship is made of so little? Besides, you’re my apprentice. You’re supposed to make mistakes. How else do I teach you not to make them?” He laughed softly. “Do you have any idea how many mistakes Chris and I made before we were Time Lords? How many times Granddad yelled at us for being immature idiots? How many times he didn’t yell at us, but just gave us a look that hurt even more than the yelling because it lasted longer? It’s all right, Spenser. You’re forgiven. But let’s go and look at this machine and see if it is anything to do with what’s been happening here.”

Spenser nodded. He stood up and took a key from a rack by the huge old fireplace. He led them into the hall and then down a stone-flagged corridor that led to the kitchen. He unlocked a wooden door and reached to put on a light switch. They stepped carefully down into the cellar. It was a storage place for food needed in winter when the remote house was sometimes cut off, and a wine cellar, and a general storeroom. But there was a sense that it was only half as big as it might be. Another room lay beyond it. The door was firmly locked and Spenser didn’t have the key, but Davie made short work of it with the sonic screwdriver.

“This cellar must be part of the older house?” Brenda suggested as she waited to see what was beyond the door. “This part is huge and if there is another room here…”

“I think you may be right,” Spenser told her. “I’ve not really thought about it much. I don’t even go down here very often. Only to get a bottle of wine when I have guests for dinner.”

“We’re not going to have time for dinner,” Davie told him as he pushed open the door. “And I think you’re right about this being part of the old house.”

There was no electric light in the locked room. It didn’t need one. There was enough daylight coming through the hole in the back wall where it teetered on the edge of the cliff. They could see a blue expanse of sky and hear the waves below.

That was the first thing that grabbed their attention, but a close second was the mechanical contraption that stood in the centre of the room, the light of the eastern sky early on a spring evening dully reflecting off the tarnished metal and the dusty glass of its VDU screens. Spenser hung back, not wanting to be associated with the thing his father had created. Brenda looked nervously at the open side of the room and tested the floor carefully before inching herself inside. Davie began straight away to examine the contraption in detail. His natural interest in anything mechanical, from a car to a time machine, overrode everything else. Spenser and Brenda both wondered if he had forgotten they were there for a while.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “That’s what he did. This is part of the back up console from a TARDIS. All the Types 40-55 had back ups. I thought it strange when I fixed up the Gothic one for Chris. There was a room next to the temporal engine room. But it was empty, totally gutted ages before.

“So it’s a TARDIS console?”

“It WAS a TARDIS console. Now it’s been cannibalised and turned into something else. He couldn’t have used it to travel spatially or temporally without the capsule to protect him. Even a Time Lord would be seriously injured if he tried. He’d be ripped apart by the forces within the vortex. But I think he was hoping to stabilise the anomalies, so that he could step into them instead of just witnessing what was happening. He was almost there. The idea is sound. It would have been a one way trip, of course. No use for visiting and coming back. So he must have been hoping to refine it enough to reach a particular time and place. But he never got it that accurate by looks of things. And the stabilisation wasn’t complete. That’s why, twice, the people we saw, also saw us, but only briefly. The anomalies began to stabilise. But the two way force was too much and they collapsed again.”

Brenda and Spenser nodded to show that they understood. He then talked very fast for several minutes in technical detail about manifolds and regulators and neither understood. Spenser stopped him with a very strong mental signal. He laughed and looked at them both.

“Sorry, you know me.”

“Very well,” Brenda replied. “But Davie, why is the machine causing problems, now? It’s not switched on, is it?”

“No, it’s not, but it’s been sitting here for a couple of hundred years and some of the energy it did use has been seeping into the room. It’s a good strong room. Thick walls. It contained it all… until that…” He waved towards the broken wall and the blue sky that was starting to get a deeper blue as afternoon turned to evening. “Obviously it’s no longer contained. The energy is free. It’s causing random anomalies. And it will keep on doing so until we stop it.”

“How do we do that?”

“We dismantle the machine, piece by piece, and get it out of here. Best place would be my Zero room. That will contain any residual energy that might still be in the parts themselves. It’s going to take ages. It has to be totally stripped down. And some of these parts are so rusted together even the sonic screwdriver will struggle. I’ll need both of you to fetch and carry. I can’t bring the TARDIS closer to an unprotected field like this. So…”

“I’m with you, Davie,” Spenser assured him.

“Brenda… are you ok about it?” he asked, seeing how nervous she was about even stepping into the room. “I’m sorry, but we might get a lot more of those anomalies… and we know how unpleasant they can be. If you’d rather go and sit in the TARDIS until we’re done…”

“I’ll help,” Brenda insisted. “I don’t want to see any more horrible things happening, but I’m not going to chicken out and leave you two to manage on your own. Besides… when I’m not fetching and carrying, I’ll make coffee, and I’ll cook food. If it’s going to take so long, you’ll need supper.” She caught Davie’s thoughts. “Yes, I know, I’m letting the feminist side down. I’m the little woman making coffee and cooking while the men work. But that’s me. It’s Tibora… I always knew I was going to be a wife and mother one day. I hoped to meet a good man who I would love dearly and I would do my best to serve and to honour. And I did. I met you, Davie, my Lord of Time, and I serve and honour you. If I have to run upstairs with some bit of that contraption, I will. And if you need coffee, I will. I always will. All I ask in return is that I come first in your hearts whether it’s to something with wires and circuits or whether it’s to Spenser… And that you never take me for granted.”

“That’s a promise, Brenda,” Davie answered her. She nodded and turned away to go and make the first of many cups of coffee while he began to unfasten the first part of the machine. Spenser stepped closer to help him.

“I don’t mind coming second in your hearts,” he said. “As long as I am second.”

“Brenda sometimes thinks you’re both trailing behind my TARDIS for first love of my life,” Davie pointed out. “I think that’s a family thing, though. Rose says it about The Doctor, too.”

“I could live with that,” Spenser told him with a smile. “If any flesh and blood rival came along, it might be another matter.”

“I’ve got the two of you, and Chris, and my TARDIS, and the whole universe to look after. I don’t have room for anyone else.”

Spenser’s smile widened and he almost forgot to be daunted by the machine that his father had made in those dark times he was unable to forget. He worked steadily alongside Davie, refreshed by the coffee that Brenda brought, along with reports of seeing various strange things walking the corridors of the house. They included more Vikings, what looked like a druid, and several more highlanders looking for mischief. She took those philosophically and even managed not to spill the coffee when she felt the house shake as the Luftwaffe roared overhead on their way to bomb the shipyards on Tyneside.

“Just so long as there are no more rapes and murders,” she said. “I can cope with the strange people wandering around.”

Spenser reported seeing a few strange people when he started to bring the components up to the TARDIS, too. A pair of Neanderthals dragging the bloody carcass of a deer across his drawing room carpet was the worst of them. He ventured the opinion that the field was weakening and they weren’t being subjected to full scale scenes now, only random moments with individuals thrust into their time.

That theory was disproved when Brenda called them up to the dining room for their supper of a cold roast chicken she found in the fridge and a very tasty mixed salad. She described a very powerful vision she had experienced in the kitchen. One that had been quite different from the earlier ones, but just as vivid.

“Your mother, Spenser,” she said. “Was she fair haired, with green eyes, and a heart shaped birthmark on her neck, just by the shoulder blade?”

“Yes, she was,” he answered. “You saw her? I wish I had.”

“She was there in the kitchen. So was your father.” She saw how Spenser’s eyes changed from excited to pained as she said that. “No, it was all right, really. He was… He was being kind to her. He kissed her. She was pregnant, very pregnant, and he was pleased. He said the baby was a boy, and a strong one, and that he was proud of her. I think… I really DO think he cared about her.”

“No, he didn’t,” Spenser insisted. “He was pleased that she was giving him a strong boy… with more of his blood than hers. She was giving him what he wanted. That’s all. He didn’t love me, or her. I was just a reproduction of his own flesh, his DNA… so that he could cheat death in the most dreadful way imaginable.”

“I don’t think so,” Brenda insisted. “Maybe he changed later. But I think what I saw… Spenser… look into my mind. See what I mean.”

“I don’t want to see him,” Spenser answered. “I saw enough of him.”

“Please,” Brenda pleaded with him. “Please, look. If only to see your mother looking so beautiful and young and happy. You deserve to see that much.”

“Go on, Spenser,” Davie encouraged him. “Try it.”

Spenser put down his knife and fork and pushed his plate away as he turned to Brenda. She took his hands and held them around her face, encouraging him to read her thoughts. She replayed the memory exactly. He gave a soft gasp of surprise as he saw the moment of tenderness between his parents.

“You see… it WAS real. He did love her. And I think it’s possible he loved you, too.”

“No, he didn’t,” Spenser insisted. He turned back to his food and ate, though without tasting it. Davie could feel his confused and agitated thoughts even without physical contact with him. So could Brenda. They both watched him as they ate. He was touched by the scene between his father and mother. But it so went against everything he felt about his father that it was confusing him. How could somebody he hated so much be part of such a tender scene?

“Spenser,” Davie said as Brenda brought through an apple pie and cream, not of her own making, but again from what she found in the fridge. “What DO you remember about your childhood, about your relationship with your father?”

“Nothing,” Spenser answered. “I only know that I hate him for what he did when I was a young man… when he took away my life. I don’t remember anything else.”

“That’s not right,” Davie said. He moved closer. “I can take bad memories away. I can also find good ones. You must have some.”

That was not necessarily true, Davie thought. He was risking hurting Spenser even more if he dug up memories of childhood abuse from his father. But he had a strong hunch that he wouldn’t find anything like that.

And he was right. Spenser’s eyes widened with surprise as Davie opened up long suppressed memories of a childhood that was mostly happy. His father and mother had made a good home here in this house in the countryside. They had both cherished their child. This house had actually been a blissful place for sixteen years of Spenser’s life. He had been close to both his parents.

Then his mother had died. It was just one of those things that happened in the 18th century when medicine wasn’t particularly advanced. Father and son had mourned her deeply. At first, they comforted each other, but slowly the father seemed to draw into himself and the son felt the difference. He saw his father age more rapidly than ever.

“Yes,” Davie said. “Mum says that granddad was like that. When they were exiles from Gallifrey, he got older and bitter very quickly. It’s something to do with how Time Lords and their apparent age is connected to their emotional state. But Granddad… he had some moments when he seemed to lose it, but not completely. I think your father must have been so lost in his grief that it sent him over the edge. Your mother’s love had kept him sane for a while. He put the things he had done behind him and tried to change. But without her he just went mad… He even forgot how much he loved you… And then he became obsessed with living forever… and he used you… But… Oh, don’t dwell on that. Go back. Fix your mind on those good memories. They ARE real. You’re allowed to have them. Cherish those few good moments. Think of your father’s love for you in the good times. Think of THAT before you sleep at night, instead of those stolen hugs from me. I don’t mind, but Brenda would be happier.” He winked at Brenda as he said that, and she nodded and smiled. Spenser smiled, too, as he did what Davie told him. “That’s better. Now, come on, let’s finish our supper. We still have plenty to do yet. And it’s getting dark. We’ll need some lights down there to finish off. And I think I’ll put something up over the hole in the wall. It’ll get cold with a night breeze coming off the sea.”

They did that. The work progressed steadily. The apparitions did get fewer as more of the components were safely stored in the Zero room, separate from the outside world. The very strongest of them was of a WWII plane ditching into the sea, and another of a sailing ship foundering on the rocks before the lighthouse was established further along the shoreline. But then they stopped altogether and Davie confirmed with a sweep of the room with his sonic screwdriver that the energy had dissipated.

Brenda had tried to keep up with them both, but on the return from the TARDIS she had sat down in the drawing room just for a moment and the next minute she was asleep. They made her comfortable and carried on without her.

When it was done, Spenser brought up one of the bottles of wine from the selection his father had laid down in the cool cellar. He opened it and the two of them drank a toast to the future. Spenser drank and then refilled their glasses and toasted his mother with a warm smile. He had his good memories to reflect upon, now.

Though it didn’t stop him wanting new memories to cherish. Davie smiled as he noted that it was only an hour till sunrise and suggested a walk on the cliff top that they could be sure of being free of time anomalies now.

“Wake Brenda and we’ll all go,” he said. “That’s what this weekend is about. Being together, the three of us.”

And he did. A few minutes later they were walking together under a clear velvet sky full of stars as a pink edge spread along the horizon. Davie held hands with Spenser and Brenda as they walked, and when they stopped to wait for the sunrise itself he put his arms around them both and felt himself blessed to be with two people who loved him as this new day began.