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

The Doctor was crossing the quite contemplation garden, heading towards the dojo. He noticed Marton sitting by the Reflecting Pool, his head down sorrowfully. He had a letter in his hands and the way he was holding it, The Doctor guessed it contained something that distressed him.

He stepped closer. The boy wasn’t crying. But that was because he had vestigal tear ducts like a pure blooded Time Lord and couldn’t cry. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy.

“What’s happened?” The Doctor asked, to the point. Marton didn’t look like there was any use taking the long way round to the question.

“My parents,” he answered. “They’ve been found.”

“Dead?” The Doctors hearts thudded in sympathy. Marton was not the only one of the students at the Sanctuary whose family had been displaced by the actions of the Dominator invaders. Even weeks later, there was either good or bad news for one of them almost every day. Chris’s hope that they would be a closed community, cut off from the outside world and given over to pure contemplation was seriously hampered by the need for his acolytes to find out what had happened to their loved ones. At least half of them had taken days of ‘compassionate leave’.

“They’re in hospital,” Marton answered. “It must be bad, though. They were only just identified after all this time. That must mean…”

“It could mean many things,” The Doctor assured him gently. “It could mean that there was a clerical error. The hospitals, police, military, don’t have their records systems up and running properly. Many of the people whose job it is to maintain those records are still among the missing.”

“So it might not be so bad?” He looked hopeful. “They might be ok?”

“We won’t know until we get there.”


“Come on, son,” The Doctor told him. “Davie can take my classes today. Go and get your coat while I kiss my babies and let Rose know I’ll be out.”

“Yep,” he thought as he stepped into the day nursery and watched his wife feeding his baby daughter. “I’m completely domestic now. I’m asking permission to go off for the afternoon.”

“Well, of course you have to,” Rose told him. “Poor kid. I hope his parents are ok. I’ve heard some terrible stories about what the Dominators did to people for no apparent reason. Horrible cruel things.”

“The stories you’re hearing aren’t even the half of it,” The Doctor said as he bent over the crib and caressed his baby son’s face. Dark eyes looked up at him and he smiled warmly. “I’m trying to be positive for the lad’s sake. But it doesn’t sound good. That’s why I want to be with him if it’s as bad as it could be. He needs somebody.” He kissed his wife and touched his daughter’s head as she was feeding. “If the worst comes to the worst, he still has a home here.”

“Yes, of course,” Rose said. “Chris will let him stay at the Sanctuary for as long as he needs.”

“Yes, the Sanctuary,” The Doctor repeated, though that wasn’t exactly what he meant. “Anyway…” He kissed her again and promised to be home by teatime then he turned and walked downstairs to where Marton stood in the hallway, looking worried and nervous. And no wonder.

“Come on, son,” The Doctor said again to him, and he put his hand on the boy’s shoulder reassuringly as he brought him to the meditation room in the basement where the TARDIS was kept between trips.

It took only a half hour to reach the hospital in Exeter, the county town of Devon, where the Pallisters lived. It took longer for the young woman on reception, using an old fashioned card index because the computer server wasn’t online yet, to find out which ward Mr and Mrs Palliser were in. When she found it, The Doctor and Marton walked up three flights of steps to the fourth floor.

“Oh…” Marton gasped as they walked between the beds in the ward. There were people with terrible injuries in all of them. Many had been burned or lost limbs. A lot of the amputees were because they had been injured in the initial bombardment and the Dominators had prevented them from receiving proper medical treatment. Old fashioned problems like gangrene and septicaemia were exacerbating the problems the medical staff had to cope with.

“But where are…” The Doctor signalled to a nurse who sat at her workstation, busily making up doses of medication for the patients. He told her who they were here to see.

“Come with me,” she said. “They’re in a side ward. Doctor Bellamy said they needed the quiet…”

“How bad are they?” Marton asked. But the nurse seemed reluctant to say. The Doctor squeezed his shoulder reassuringly as they stepped through the door into the private room.

“Mum!” Marton cried as soon as he saw them. “Dad…” He ran to the bedside. His mother looked desperately ill. She was breathing through an oxygen mask and life support monitors bleeped rhythmically as they measured her heart rate and blood pressure constantly. Beside her, sitting in a wheelchair, was Mr Pallister. He looked up when Marton cried out, and his lips moved to form his son’s name, but no sound came out. He gave a soft cry and two big tears rolled down his cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” said the nurse to The Doctor as he stood back from the family. “She’s almost certainly dying. The strain on her heart was too much. We’ve bought her a few days, perhaps. But she could go at any moment.”

Marton looked up as he heard that prognosis. His face was pale and grief-stricken. The Doctor brought a chair for him to sit by her side. He reached to hold her hand, but she hardly seemed aware of her presence.

“What happened to her?” Marton asked. “What did they do to her?”

“We don’t know exactly,” the nurse answered. “Nobody has been able to get a statement from them. They were in one of the ‘processing centres’. It’s a wonder they’re alive. Those places… I was with a paramedic team that went into one of those. Mostly we found dead people.”

The Doctor looked at the nurse. She was doing her best to be professional, but she had seen things in these past dreadful weeks that even her profession had not fitted her for. He reached and touched her face gently. She was surprised by the gesture but didn’t try to stop him. He gently reached into her mind and saw the horrors that haunted her still. The ‘processing centres’ were where the borderline cases were taken, older people or sick people who might still have some use. They were tested in cruel, unspeakable ways and, in most cases, put to death.

“You can’t forget. You mustn’t forget. None of you who witnessed it should. In case some fool comes along in fifty years and tries to say it didn’t happen, or it wasn’t as bad as people say. You stand as testament that it was every bit as bad and worse. But let me ease your mind. Let me make sure that you can sleep at night without seeing those poor faces in your dreams.”

And that was what he did. He didn’t take the memory, or make it any less sharp and clear, because there were still investigations and what she knew would be important. But he took the anxiety away, the feeling of guilt because she had survived and so many others didn’t, and some of the horror and revulsion that troubled her soul.

“Thank you,” she whispered when he was done. “I don’t know what you did. But thank you.” She turned and left the room. She had other patients to attend to. The Doctor turned back to Marton and his family. He wondered what he could do for them.

“Doctor…” Marton called to him softly. He still clung to his mother’s hand as if afraid to let go. The Doctor felt him in his mind, relaying what he had seen in his mother’s subconscious as he held onto her. The Doctor was shocked as he saw the woman tortured cruelly with electric shocks and physical beatings while her husband was made to watch. She bore it all for session after session, until her body could take no more and she was put into a room already full of people who were expected to die of their ill-treatment. These were given no food and only a little water and largely ignored or forgotten by the Dominators.

“Why?” The Doctor asked. “What was the point of doing that to an ordinary woman? What did the Dominators want from them?”

Of course, Mr and Mrs Pallister were not Human. Perhaps the Dominators had found that out and wanted to test their alien bodies. Perhaps they had wanted to know their planet of origin so that could be targeted next.

“It wasn’t that.” He was startled to feel Mr Pallister’s voice in his head. He was trying to put up a mental wall so that his son didn’t hear him.

“Easy,” he answered. “Don’t push yourself. Let me.” The Doctor stepped closer, bending down beside the wheelchair. He took hold of Mr Pallister’s hands. With a telepath, that was all the contact he needed. He could see everything from his point of view easily.

“It wasn’t the Dominators?” That was the first thing that surprised and shocked him as he saw what happened from Mr Pallister’s point of view. At first, his wife hadn’t been harmed. She had merely been held as an incentive for him to talk. He had been interrogated by two men. They were not Dominators. Their physiognomy was different. They didn’t seem to be from Earth, either, though.

“If I had to guess,” Mr Pallister told him. “I’d say they were from Tibora. I had the feeling, all the time, of mental pressure, as if they were trying to get into my head. But I blocked them. They did this to me. They broke my back. I’ll never walk again. But I didn’t tell them what they wanted to know. I would never… never… SHE would not forgive me if I had. Even though they hurt her so much… She begged me not to tell.”

“Tell what?” The Doctor asked. “What did they want to know?”

“Where our son was,” Mr Pallister answered. “They wanted Marton.”

“What!” The Doctor’s senses reeled as he took in that information. Two strangers, not Dominators, yet obviously working in collaboration with them, had demanded to know where Marton was. “They knew his name?”

“No,” Mr Pallister replied. “They asked for ‘the progeny’. That was what they called him. They… they said it was time… for his destiny to be revealed. They said… I didn’t understand most of it. I know Marton isn’t my biological son. I told you that, Doctor. But nobody else on this planet knew. Marton doesn’t know. So how did these people know it? How did they know? And who is it that they think he is? Why is he so important to them?”

“I think I know,” The Doctor sighed. “There’s more to Marton’s birth than you knew at the time. I thought he was safe, all the same. But now… They didn’t find out about the Sanctuary?”

“Not from us,” Mr Pallister answered. “But they took us from our home. They must have searched it. Marton has written to us. We’ve written to him… “

“So they could have come looking. Chris said there was damage to the Sanctuary when he got back. Doors forced off, rooms ransacked. He thought it was no more than looting. But perhaps they were looking for something more. I was right to get them all away from there. They were all safe. But that was probably why they pressurised you and your wife. Because they couldn’t find anyone there. I’m sorry for that.”

“Why should you be sorry?”

“Because I got my own family away to safety. Chris took his students away. But you and your wife, and so many others… I couldn’t help you. I had to abandon you to these fiends.”

“You have nothing to blame yourself for,” Mr Pallister assured him. “But Doctor…”

Both of them were distracted as Mrs Pallister stirred in the bed. She opened her eyes and looked at her son. He gave a sob as she gripped his hand. Mr Pallister reached to hold her, too. But she looked at The Doctor.

“Please, Doctor,” she said to him in spoken words. Then, that being too much effort, she reached out to him telepathically. She didn’t try to mask her thoughts. She hadn’t the strength to do that. “Doctor, you must tell him the truth. Do that for me. He trusts you. He will understand if you tell him.”

The Doctor knew what truth she meant. He nodded and reached to touch her over her racing heart. He steadied it, watching it go down to a safe level again on the monitors. But he knew another truth. She was close to death, now. Very close. Mr Pallister was crying openly. Marton wasn’t. He had no tear ducts. But The Doctor could feel his pain like a knife through his own hearts. He stepped back from the bed. They didn’t need him yet, not until it was over.

It was over within the hour. The medical staff did their best to ensure that the passing away of Mrs Pallister was relatively painless for her. Nothing could take away the pain her husband and son were feeling, though. When it was over, when they had said their goodbyes and let the staff prepare her body to be taken to the morgue, The Doctor came back and took charge of Mr Pallister’s wheelchair. He suggested a walk in the hospital gardens. It was a beautiful late summer day and the sunshine would have cheered any other people who walked by the lawns and flower beds. For Mr Pallister and his son there was little cheer to be had.

They came to rest at a fountain that tinkled away, cooling the air. The Doctor and Marton sat on the low wall around the fountain. There was a quiet moment or two before Marton broached the subject that was inevitable.

“What did she mean… my mother… about the truth?” he asked. “Doctor, it was about me, wasn’t it? What don’t I know? What is it that you do know, that has been kept from me? Why?”

His tone was a mixture of grief, anger and frustration. The answers to his questions needed to be chosen carefully.

“Son…” Mr Pallister said. “Don’t be bitter… with me, or with The Doctor. He kept a confidence at our request. But not to deceive you. Only to protect you.”

“I don’t need protecting. Neither of you had the right to decide that.”

“Yes, you did, Marton,” The Doctor told him. “You still do. But things have changed. Now you need to be protected by knowing the facts. Your mother, bless her poor soul, was right.”

“Is this about my real father?”

Mr Pallister was lost for words as that question was shot back at them both.

“You knew…” The Doctor began.

Marton trailed his hand in the fountain pool. The Doctor remembered the first time he had talked to him, sitting by the reflecting pool at the Sanctuary.

“I can analyse liquids by touch. Do you not think I can look at my own DNA and know that the man I call father is not related to me by blood? My birth certificate is a lie. My mother… yes, she gave birth to me. I know I’m not adopted. But I don’t know who my real father is… except he is not Tiboran.”

“This is your real father, Marton,” The Doctor told him. “The man who loved you from birth, who raised you to be an honest man who knows right from wrong. This is the man who suffered untold pain and misery for your sake at the hands of our enemies. If you turn against him, after all of that, then you’re not who I thought you were, Marton.”

“My biological father, then,” he answered. “I was the product of some sort of IVF procedure? Is that correct?”

“She asked me to tell you the truth. A dying woman’s last request. A sacred obligation. I can’t refuse.” The Doctor sighed. “Yes, your parents went to a huge expense and trouble to have a child that they dearly wanted by a method that some would consider unethical. But that doesn’t matter. You were born to Mr and Mrs Pallister. That is the important fact.”

“I know,” Marton insisted. “But I have to know.”

“This part, you have only me to blame for,” The Doctor told him. “I kept this from you, not your father. Marton, your biological father was a Time Lord.”

“You?” Marton looked at him keenly. There was hope in his eyes. “Were you the one?”

“No,” The Doctor answered, wishing it was as easy as that. “His name… his birth name… was Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene. He was a distant relative of mind. We called each other cousins when we were young. We went to school together. I knew him better than anyone else knew him. I was there when he died. He never married. He never had children. When I met you… I’m good at DNA, too. I knew what must have happened. And I was glad, even though I don’t entirely approve of how it happened. You’re a fine young man. You’re going to be a Time Lord yourself in a few years. And you will do good things.

“That’s why you were so eager for me to become a Time Lord. Because of him… my Time Lord father.”


“You felt you owed it to your cousin… your friend… because he died?”


“No.” Marton shook his head. “No, you’re still holding something back. There’s more. Please, Doctor. My mother asked you… you can’t dishonour her memory.”

“She didn’t know this, it wasn’t what she wanted you to know.”


“Doctor,” Mr Pallister said. “He must know. For his own good. He has to know why they…”

“That man…” The Doctor began.

“My father…”

“No, not your father, merely the man whose DNA was used in your conception. That man was known as The Master. He… went wrong. He became a Renegade, a criminal. He did terrible things. Though… I’m not sure… in hindsight… I’m not sure his deeds were any more terrible than others… the Daleks, the Dominators… Even he… I think he would be sickened by what they did on this planet recently.”

“Not true, Doctor,” Marton told him. “I can see it in your mind. He would have done much worse if you hadn’t stopped him every time. Yet, you never hated him. You pitied him. You wanted to save him… to make him see his error and reform…. To work with you to do good.”

“Marton…” The Doctor gasped. The pressure on his mind as the boy read all of that in the accumulated memories of a lifetime was not quite painful, but it was very distressing. And frightening, too. Marton’s still not fully trained telepathy was as powerful as The Master’s and more.

“When you found out about me…. You were glad. He had a chance to be what you wanted him to be… through me.”

“That sounds so much as if I intended to manipulate you,” The Doctor protested. “I didn’t. I only want you to reach your full potential. That’s all. What you choose to do… I hope your upbringing among good, decent people, the example they set… the guidance I could give you… But I never meant to subvert your free will in any way.”

“But you were afraid for me to find out about The Master, in case I should aspire to be like him?”

The Doctor said nothing. There was no answer to that.

“You had so little faith in me?”

“Because I didn’t want you to dwell upon it… to start to imagine that you have ‘bad blood’ or any kind of pre-destination. You are not The Master. You are Marton Pallister and you will never be anyone else.”

“I don’t want to be anyone else. Father…” He turned to Mr Pallister. “Yes, I’ve known for a long time about my biology. But you ARE my father. You always will be. I will never do anything to let you down. Nor you, Doctor. Despite what you might think of me.”

“I know you won’t,” The Doctor assured him. “Not willingly, anyway. But Marton… there is more. I told you I didn’t seek to subvert your will. But there are others who would. There are people… They call themselves the Followers of The Master. They want him resurrected. And through you they could do that. They would use you as a vessel for him… and his evil. And that’s what we still have to protect you from.”

“They want me…”

“They killed your mother, Marton,” Mr Pallister said. “They did that to her… and to me… to try to find you. They would stop at nothing.”

“She’s dead… because of me?”

“Don’t even entertain that thought for a minute,” The Doctor told him. “You’re not responsible for any of this. Don’t blame yourself for what happened. The Followers are an evil, misguided cult who have a terrible purpose and they won’t use you or anything else to achieve that purpose. That’s my promise to you, and to your father… to the memory of your mother… and even… to the good that I still believe there was inside of HIM.”

“You are wrong, Doctor!” said a cold voice. The Doctor turned to see a tall man standing close by. He wore a dark suit in the style The Master invariably wore. Black to go with his black hearts. “There was no ‘good’ as you call it in my Lord Master. He was not hampered by such feeble emotions and ‘conscience’. He sought power and dominion over those with such weaknesses. And he will have that power again. The reincarnation of my Lord Master knows who he is now. He will embrace his destiny.”

“You are one of them?” Marton demanded. “One of the fiends who murdered my mother?”

“The woman is unimportant. She was the vessel of your birth, that is all.”

“Don’t you dare say that,” Marton replied angrily. “Get away from me. I won’t have any part in your foul scheme. I am not… My father is John Pallister. My mother was Ellisa Pallister. Your Master is no part of me. Get away.”

“You will come with us or they die,” said the man, producing a weapon from within his clothes and pointing it at Mr Pallister and The Doctor. Marton stood in front of them both, protecting them.

“No, Marton,” The Doctor cried, trying to pull him away. But Marton’s physical strength as well as mental was greater than he expected. He pushed him away and stood his ground.

“You will not harm them. I will not allow you to harm anyone.”

The Doctor and Mr Pallister both felt Marton’s mental power as pressure in their own heads. They saw the gun glow as if it was red hot. The Follower dropped it and it scorched the grass where it fell.

“You are him!” the Follower exclaimed. “Only he had such power. You are The Master reborn.”

“I…am… Marton… Pallister,” he insisted. “I… am… NOT… The Master. And you… are a murderer.”

The Doctor yelled out loud as he felt Marton’s anger and grief directed against his enemy. The Follower of The Master screamed and clutched at his clothing as if it was on fire. He cried out that he was burning, that his blood was boiling in his skin.

“Marton, stop!” The Doctor yelled. “No, you can’t. If you kill him, then you ARE what he said you are… what you said you wouldn’t be. Don’t do it.”

“I’m not,” he answered telepathically. “I could… but even for him… my mother wouldn’t want that. I just made him think he was…”

“That’s nearly as bad, Marton. HE used mind games on people, too. Please stop, before it’s too late.”

The man was writhing on the floor in agony, screeching that his skin was burning, though there was nothing wrong with him. The Doctor rolled him over and pinned his arms behind his back. He pulled his prisoner’s leather belt from his trousers to tie him up with, then he stood, with his booted foot against the small of the prisoner’s back and reached for his mobile phone.

“Jack,” he said presently. “Sorry to bother you. I know you’re off duty. But can you get some of your people down here. There’s a prisoner to collect and a hospital that needs securing in case they have another crack at innocent people. In a day or two there will be a funeral that needs discreet security coverage, too.”

“You were supposed to be visiting a patient,” Jack told him. “How did you manage to create a war zone?”

“I didn’t create it,” The Doctor answered tersely. Usually Jack’s banter was something he rose to, but he had too much on his mind right now. He gave Jack the co-ordinates and ended the call. He bent over the prisoner again. He was quiet now, though that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to cause trouble.

“Marton is a very powerful Time Lord,” he whispered to the prisoner. “And an angry and upset one at that. You saw a demonstration. Much as I dislike the idea, I’m prepared to let him go again if you don’t behave.”

The prisoner gave a grunt that seemed to imply that he got the message.

“Ok, first question. How did you find us? We didn’t have an appointment here. Were you watching the hospital?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“So how did you recognise us?”

“DNA signature…. In my pocket.”

The Doctor searched him quickly and carefully, in case the pockets had anything dangerous in them. He found a flat, rounded object something like a fob watch or a compass. He opened it and saw that it was a very sophisticated lifesigns detector, capable of distinguishing species. It was detecting four lifesigns in the immediate area. One surprised The Doctor.

“You are Tiboran?” he said to the prisoner. “That’s where all this comes from? This attachment to The Master? It comes from the Time Lord dominion planet?”

“The true Lord and Master is revered by many Followers on that planet. We have but one aim – to see him restored to life, to glory, to mastery over the weaker races…ahh…”

“Oh, shut up,” The Doctor cut him off with a dig in the ribs. “That sort of thing really gets on my nerves.” He noted the other two lifeforms on the monitor. His own, and Marton’s. The latter was clearly marked out. The gadget was programmed to focus specifically on his mixed blood DNA.

As he pondered the implications, a shuttle craft began to descend. It had the insignia of the 22nd Space Corps. Jack’s people had worked fast.

“Marton,” he said as they took custody of the prisoner and made arrangements for the discreet but complete security of the hospital. “Let’s get your dad inside and comfortable. Then you and I need to get back to London. Don’t worry. I’ll bring you back for the funeral. After that… I have an idea. Rose is not going to like it. I’m not crazy about it myself, but it’s the best idea I have.”

The Doctor held baby Jack in his arms as he explained the idea to Rose, Jack senior, Marton himself, and to Chris and Davie, who had their parts to play in the plan. Rose held baby Julia proprietarily.

“They’re not going to stop looking for him,” The Doctor said. “So we have to protect him. I have to protect him. And if they have his DNA signature then there is only one way to do that. We have to hide his DNA.”

“But…” Marton was puzzled. So was everyone else, except Davie.

“You mean the Chameleon Arch?”

“The what?” Rose queried. Whatever it was, it didn’t sound good.

“Chameleon Arch. It’s part of the TARDIS… all TARDISes. It’s a way for a Time Lord to disguise himself completely if he absolutely has to… by temporarily not being a Time Lord. He can take on any other species in the database. I’ve never had to do it. But I always knew I could. Davie can help me rig the Arch so that it will change Marton’s DNA as well as mine.”

“Why do you have to?” Jack asked.

“Because this gismo had a transmitter,” The Doctor answered, showing the lifesigns compass. “I shut it off. Took two seconds with the sonic screwdriver. But it means that other Followers know that Marton is in the company of another Time Lord. They’ll be looking for me, too. We have both got to become Human until it is safe to be ourselves again. And the sooner the better. Jack’s got this house secure, but even so, the longer we wait, the more chance there will be. I don’t want to fight them here. I’ll take Marton to his mother’s funeral, and then we’ll disappear. Rose, you and the children will be all right, here. Jack will look after you. Your mum and Christopher are safe in his flat in the City, with Martin and Geoff to watch them.”

“Jack is fantastic,” Rose said. “But he’s not you. I don’t want you to go away. How long for?”

“A couple of weeks,” he said. “No longer. I hope not, anyway.”

“A couple of weeks?” Rose hugged her baby close. “Doctor… a couple of weeks. Do you realise how much these two will have grown in that time? How many new words Peter will learn, how many new books Vicki will read and want to talk to you about them. I am sorry for Marton. But, he’s not your son. He’s the son of your worst enemy. Why are you putting him before us… your real family?”

“Because I have to,” The Doctor answered. He said nothing more. He put his baby son in his crib and kissed his wife, then he told Chris to take Marton down to the meditation room to help prepare him for the Chameleon Arch. He told Davie to come with him to the TARDIS. Rose watched them go and turned to look at Jack. He came to her side and was not too surprised when she cried on his shoulder.

“He’s right,” Jack said when her tears subsided. “He does have to protect the kid. Nobody else can.”

“I know,” she admitted. “I know. And… I did the worst thing. The thing I promised I never would… I tried to make him choose between being with me and the children and doing what he has to do. I always said I wouldn’t try to hold him here against his will. But I missed him enough when we were on Tibora. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I thought we had peace now. But now something else takes him away from me. I was horrible to Marton, too. I hope he’ll forgive me.”

Jack didn’t have much to say. He understood her point of view. But he also knew The Doctor. He knew that the idea of him really retiring, of him not rising to the occasion when some crisis came up, was impossible. He wouldn’t be The Doctor if he didn’t.

Davie had some words about the matter, too. He expressed them as he worked with The Doctor on the modified Chameleon Arch.

“I can see why Rose is upset,” he said. “You do seem very attached to Marton. I’ve noticed… the way you always call him ‘son’.”

“That’s just a figure of speech. It’s a Salford expression.”

“You’re not from Salford,” Davie reminded him.

“I call you that. You and Chris. Always have.”

“Yes, and you know how much it annoyed dad. He was convinced you wanted to claim us as yours. Rose thinks you want Marton as your own… and you’ve forgotten you have five children already.”

“I haven’t. That’s silly.”

“It isn’t. And don’t say that to her face if you want to sleep in the same bed with her tonight. I do understand. You want to be a father to him, because that way you can do right by The Master. You can’t forget that he used to be your friend before he went bad.”

“He was never really a friend,” The Doctor answered. “Even at school he was bad news. But we were always two of a kind. We both rebelled against the system… against Gallifrey’s age old ways and customs. We both wanted more… He sought domination… I sought peace and freedom. But… we still had more in common than with any other of our kind. And… yes… Marton… I don’t want to take him away from his father… but we’re alike, too. Half bloods, rebels. I have to help him make the right choices. And for Mrs Pallister… for her sake, I have to take care of him.”

“You’ve got a couple of days before the funeral. Make sure you take care of Rose in that time.”

The Doctor looked at his great grandson and smiled widely.

“When did you get to be the expert on relationships?” he asked.

“I’ve got a twin brother, a fiancée and a boyfriend,” he replied. “Giving all three of them my unconditional love and undivided attention is a full time job. My life is all about relationships.”

“Good point,” The Doctor conceded. “I think this is ready. Ask Chris and Marton to step into the TARDIS.”

“You really want to do this? It’s going to hurt, you know. You’re going to rewrite your whole biology. You’ll become a different person.”

“Not completely. We’ve disabled the memory reconfiguration. We both need to know who we are and why we’re doing this.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“I’m doing this. So is Marton. We have to.”

Davie knew there was no dissuading him. He knew The Doctor better than anyone else – even The Doctor himself, in many ways. He knew nothing could change his mind once it was set. He turned and went to the TARDIS door. Marton came in with his brother. He and Chris helped to put The Doctor and Marton into the Chameleon arch head clamps that fed directly into the heart of the TARDIS itself, the only power source capable of doing something so drastic as this. They stepped back and watched as The Doctor himself reached and pressed the switch.

It hurt. Chris and Davie, watching them screaming and writhing in agony, felt their pain deep inside their own souls. They bit their lips doubtfully and glanced at the switch, willing each other not to give in. If they aborted the process before it was complete they might do untold harm to both The Doctor and Marton. But listening to them scream was terrible.

Finally it was over. Chris reached for Marton. Davie held The Doctor carefully as he released him from the contraption and laid him down on the TARDIS floor. Both of them had fainted from shock.

“He’s…” Davie began to say as The Doctor stirred and reached out to him. He helped him to sit up. “Just take it easy. You’re bound to feel a bit dizzy. Doctor… do you still know who you are? Do you know who I am?”

“You’re Davie, my clever great grandson. And I’m me. But…” He took a deep breath. “That feels strange. My body… only one heart… not like last time. There’s no gap… I’m meant to have only one… I’m Human. I’m… I still have so much knowledge in my head. But… no telepathy. I can’t feel you… or anyone. It’s… lonely. And I’ve got a headache.”

“You got headaches even when you were a Time Lord,” Davie told him. “You’re still you. Still The Doctor.”

“No. Not at the moment. I’m John Smith… an ordinary Human.” He looked at Marton. He was coming around and seemed dizzy and pale of face, but otherwise unharmed.

“Protein,” Davie said. “You both need protein. Come and get something to eat and then you have to talk to Rose.”

“Yes.” The Doctor stood up and looked around. He went to the TARDIS console. He flipped several less vital functions. Nothing happened. “The TARDIS doesn’t recognise me any more… and she made me. That’s… scary.”

“It was your idea,” Davie reminded him.

Rose didn’t say much when they went back upstairs. She made sure The Doctor and Marton both ate plenty and she encouraged The Doctor to spend time with all of his children before their bedtime. When it was his own bedtime she noted that he spent rather longer in the bathroom than usual. And he had cut himself shaving.

“You always do, of course,” she noted. “But usually it mends straight away. “Your blood… is red.”

“I’m Human. Noticing it more now. The shower was colder than I expected. My body temperature is higher than it used to be.”

Rose put her hand to his chest. She sighed softly.

“One heart, red blood. You really are Human. You look like you… but you don’t really feel like you…”

“John Smith, Human…” he said.

“Not yet,” she told him. “For the next few days, at least, you’re still my husband. I’m not committing adultery with this John Smith.”

“Certainly not,” he responded. “But bear in mind… all our married life you’ve had the benefit of a Time Lord stamina… Right now I’m just a man in the wrong end of his 40s. Try not to be disappointed if…”

She tried not to be. He tried not to disappoint her. Afterwards, though, for the first time in their married life, he fell asleep first. She lay awake and watched him breathing softly, aware of how much warmer his body was than usual. She kissed his cheek and held him close and hoped it wouldn’t be too long before she had the man she married back again.