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

“Granddad!” Sukie Campbell ran into the TARDIS, throwing her schoolbag over the handrail. The Doctor turned and hugged her and his daughter as she did exactly the same thing.

“Hello, my girls,” he said cheerfully. “How was your day?”

“You shouldn’t park the TARDIS outside the school,” Vicki admonished him.

“I thought I’d save you a walk in the snow,” he answered.

“I know. But what will people think?”

“They will think nothing. People don’t notice things like the TARDIS. They walk right on past.”

“You mean that Davie has fixed the perception filter so they won’t notice,” Sukie answered with a cheeky grin. “My brother is a better TARDIS engineer than you, granddad.”

“That may be so,” The Doctor conceded. “But Davie is too busy to take you on fun weekends in his TARDIS.”

“Peter is coming, too, isn’t he?” Vicki watched her father fasten her brother into the child seat on the console that he built when she was little. “He’s big enough, now. Three and a bit. I went on trips with you when I was that age.”

Vicki smiled as she remembered those times. She felt so special when she travelled with her daddy in the TARDIS, visiting wonderful, exciting places and coming home with presents for her mummy. Now, Peter was with them. In a few years, the little babies would be old enough to come with them as well. Although there would have to be two more child seats fitted in, somehow. But what fun it would be, then.

The Doctor caught her thoughts. By the time Jack, Julia and Sarah Jane were old enough to travel Vicki would be fifteen and interested in doing other things than travelling with him. Susan was tired of it by that age, and longing for somewhere to put down roots. Vicki would probably be the same. And he knew he could no more stand in her way than he did with his granddaughter.

But he would miss her, all the same.

The two girls took their places at the console. Like Susan, when she was a girl, and Chris and Davie when they were boys, he allocated them jobs to do, teaching them the rudimentary elements of flying a TARDIS. Sukie went to the environmental control and Vicki to navigation, though he had already programmed their journey and she was really just going through the steps while it all happened automatically.

They were already in the vortex, on their way to their destination, when Sukie alerted him to a problem.

“Granddad,” she said. “I’m reading five people in the console room. There should only be four of us.”

“What?” The Doctor sprinted around the console and looked at the lifesigns monitor. Then he turned and scanned the room visually, knowing he ought to have done that before. But he was sure the perception filter was working and why would anyone have followed the girls into the TARDIS?

He spotted a movement in the crawl space under the gangway and in an eyeblink he had crossed the floor.

“Come on out,” he said. “You’ll get cramp curled up like that in such a little space.” He reached down and pulled the boy upright. He looked slightly travel sick but stubborn and unabashed about being caught.

“Jimmy?” the two girls said his name at once. Sukie left her position by the console and came to stand next to her great-grandfather, looking at the boy in a crumpled school uniform. “What are you doing… Oh…. Oh… I’m sorry. I completely forgot. We were supposed to go to the cinema tonight, after school. And then granddad said he would take us….”

“I saw you go into this box, you and Vicki,” Jimmy answered her. “And it was…” He looked around the TARDIS interior. “Big. Weird. And… the door closed behind me. So I hid… only… it’s moving. It’s….” His eyes widened as he worked out the rest. “It’s a spaceship, isn’t it? An alien spaceship. You’re an alien, Sukie Campbell. And you, Vicki. And…. And him….”

“No, we’re not,” Vicki replied as she came to her father’s side. “According to the New Citizenship of Great Britain Act we’re both as British as you are, Jimmy Forrester. So you can’t call us that. It’s speciesism.”

“Yeah, but this is still an alien spaceship.”

“It’s my spaceship,” The Doctor answered him. “And I’m a citizen of Great Britain, too, according to the same Act. So let’s dispense with this alien business and get on to what I should do with a stowaway. Should I invoke the full penalty of galactic law and throw you in the brig or just make you wax all the internal corridors?”

He only said that to give the boy a bit of a scare for his cheek about aliens. But he might have sounded a bit too genuine. Jimmy went white and struggled out of his grasp. He ran for the door, finding it locked, of course. But then he noticed the emergency release and pressed it. The Doctor reached him just in time to stop him stepping out into the vortex. He pulled him away from the threshold and closed the door again.

“We’re already in flight,” he said. “You’ll have to wait until I can cancel the co-ordinate and take us back home. Just… go and sit down and don’t make any more trouble.”

“He could come with us,” Vicki suggested. “He’s seen the TARDIS now. So there’s no point in pretending. And he might as well. Sukie WAS supposed to go to the cinema with him, and she forgot.”

The Doctor looked at his great granddaughter and wondered where the years had gone. It seemed only yesterday that Susan had first put her in his arms, a tiny, three week old baby. Now she was eleven, going on twelve, and she was going to the cinema with a boy on a Friday night.

On a date?

“I’m sorry, Jimmy,” Sukie told him. “I really did just forget. I didn’t mean to upset you. But… you know… I don’t think I am old enough to have a boyfriend, anyway. It’s probably best.”

“I should say so,” The Doctor said. “Vicki, I hope you don’t have any such plans.”

He forgot, so did Rose, and everyone else in the family, that Vicki was only eleven going on twelve physically, and that she had aged five years instantly when she was hit by a temporal accelerator ray. He treated her as eleven. Intellectually she was ahead of that age, even. But she was still his little girl and if any boy wanted to take her to the cinema or anywhere else he would have something to say about that.

“No, daddy,” Vicki assured him.

“I don’t care about the film,” Jimmy said to Sukie. “But I thought you knew why… I didn’t want to go back to the orphanage, yet.”

“Orphanage?” The Doctor looked at the boy. He knew that Jimmy used to have a father. Not a very good one, it had to be said - the sort who thought his son was a convenient outlet for his temper. But he had a father, and a home.

“My dad… is still missing,” Jimmy explained. “After the war.”

“I’m sorry about that,” The Doctor told him.

“I’m not,” Jimmy snapped. “I hate him. I hope he’s dead. I hope the Dominators tortured him to death. But I hate the orphanage, too. Twenty kids in one room, always making a noise. I hate it.”

Jimmy looked around then and realised he had bared his soul in front of two girls and a man who owned an alien spaceship. His face set tightly as all three looked back at him.

“If I phone the orphanage to say that you’re staying with my family for the weekend would that be all right?” The Doctor asked. Jimmy looked a bit worried. “I don’t mean to wax the floors. I mean to come along and join in with the treats I have planned for the girls.” Jimmy nodded and gave the phone number. The Doctor reached for the retro-looking trimphone on the console and dialled the number.

Five minutes later Jimmy had permission to stay until Sunday night at the home of Lord de Lœngbærrow.

“Are you really a Lord?” he asked. “You’re Vick-Sticks’s dad, aren’t you?”

“Yes, on both counts,” The Doctor answered. “Vick-Stick?” He looked at his daughter. She seemed unconcerned by the nickname.

“He doesn’t call me that in school any more, not in front of the others,” Vicki answered him. “It’s just something… from when we were kids in Miss Wright’s class.”

The Doctor understood. Jimmy Forrester had been a little bully who hated girls generally and Vicki and Sukie in particular. But this summer had worked changes on them all. The least traumatic of events had been their moving up to secondary school. But even that had its terrors, and the cruel nickname of junior school was now something they clung to as familiar and comfortable.

“You’ll all get used to the new school,” he said to them. “It’s not half as bad as mine. Meanwhile, we have a whole weekend to forget about it. We’ll be there in an hour. Time enough for tea, and then you two can show Jimmy the wardrobe. I’m sure there will be something suitable for him to wear.

Jimmy was still doubtful, but he found tea on board an alien spaceship something he could live with. He stopped being scared and managed to enjoy the food. Afterwards, the wardrobe proved a surprise to him, and even more so the clothes he was expected to wear. He came back to the console room in a boy’s suit of the Edwardian era, waistcoat, trousers with a high waistline, stiff white collar, complete with laced shoes, a hat and cloak. He looked at The Doctor, wearing the adult version of the same and managed a conspiratorial grin that changed his whole demeanour.

“So… we’re going to something fancy dress? An alien fancy dress party.

“Not quite,” The Doctor answered. “Are the girls ready?”

Jimmy shrugged. The Doctor knew that body language. “Girls!” Jimmy was already twelve, being one of the oldest of the new school intake. But he was still young enough to pretend to be disdainful of the female of the species.

Except The Doctor caught his first expression when Vicki and Sukie walked into the console room. For a brief moment before he remembered he didn’t like girls, his eyes lit up at the sight of the two of them in girls’ evening dresses. They were cut down and demure versions of the adult fashions of the period. The bodices were high and the sleeves full and the skirts fell softly to their ankles where there was just a glimpse of white stockings before matching shoes in the mint green and light orange satin of the gowns. They wore white gloves on their hands in a ladylike way and their hair was fastened up in top knots decorated with coloured glass beads. They both pulled warm cashmere shawls over their dresses.

“Not bad, I suppose,” Jimmy said in approval. The Doctor was more fulsome.

“Sukie, you look like your mother when she was a girl. The very image of her. And Vicki…”

Vicki was her mother, too, though The Doctor hadn’t actually known Rose when she was eleven. Her eyes were a little darker and her hair was so deep brown that it was nearly black, but the bone structure, the facial features were all of her mother, even if she had two hearts and the blood of a Gallifreyan within her.

Genetics did wonderful things, sometimes.

“You’re both beautiful,” he said. “Come on. We’ve landed already. I’ve parked outside Charing Cross Station. We’ll take a cab to the theatre.

“We’re not on another planet, then?” Jimmy looked disappointed. “I thought this was a spaceship.”

Charing Cross didn’t quite seem exotic enough for a Londoner until he stepped outside and looked at Charing Cross in the winter of 1904. He stared at what were then the most modern electric lights, but seemed to him very old-fashioned. He goggled at the men in frock coats and women in long dresses, at the old newspaper seller with adverts for Bovril and Pears Soap around his stand. He looked at the policeman in an old fashioned helmet and cape who glanced at the TARDIS and then went on directing traffic.

Except for one noisy and smoky automobile that made the ladies and gents shake their heads with disgust, the traffic was horse drawn carriages, carts, even a horse drawn omnibus.

“Wha…” Jimmy managed.

“It’s December 27th, 1904,” The Doctor explained. “My ship travels in time, too. Come on, everyone stick together.” He took Vicki’s gloved hand in his. Sukie came the other side of him. Jimmy grasped her hand - not that he was scared of all the new and strange things around him, of course! The Doctor led them to a row of horse drawn cabs with their black leather hoods up against the fine rain that was melting the slushy piles of snow. The driver, recognising customers of quality opened the door and called The Doctor ‘your Lordship’. Jimmy was surprised to be called ‘young sir’ as he climbed into the cab and sat next to Sukie and Vicki. The Doctor sat beside them with Peter on his knee, and told the driver to take them to the Duke of York theatre.

“So… we’ve missed Christmas,” Jimmy asked. “If it’s December 27th.”

“We’ve missed Christmas in 1904,” Vicki explained to him. “But when we go home it’ll still be the weekend before our own Christmas.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Jimmy said. “I’m not really bothered about Christmas.”

“So said every boy since Ebeneezer Scrooge who had disappointing Christmases,” The Doctor thought. But he didn’t say anything else for now. In any case, Jimmy was as interested in the view outside the cab as the girls were. The West End of London was always a bright, exciting place, with the theatres lit up for their evening performances, but being the Christmas season it was even more so. They looked at it all with excited eyes and Jimmy’s mood was much less belligerent.

One of the most brightly lit of the theatres that night was the Duke of York. The foyer was already thronging with well dressed people arriving to see the first night of a much talked about play. Jimmy was surprised to find that a lot of the theatre patrons knew The Doctor and spoke to him as he passed by with his children in tow. He found himself being taken for The Doctor’s oldest son and admired by old ladies in big, wide hats and men in evening suits who said he was growing up into a strapping young man and other such compliments.

The Doctor looked his way and caught his thoughts. The truculent and troubled boy was actually enjoying the illusion that he belonged to a family, that he had a father who cared about him, who brought him to the theatre and bought him a whole box of chocolates to himself to eat during the performance.

Let him enjoy it, The Doctor thought. The orphanage was probably better for him than the home he had never been happy in, but it was still a lonely, loveless place. Let him have a little bit of colour and light for one night at least.

There was a buzz of interest in the theatre as they took their seats in the front row of the circle overlooking the stage. The time-travellers were the only ones who weren’t asking exactly what this new play was about. They knew, of course. Vicki and Sukie saw an adaptation in this very same theatre two Christmases before. Even Jimmy had once seen a microdisc film. But nobody else knew quite what to expect from the first performance of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by Mr J. M. Barrie.

Jimmy didn’t expect anything so bright and exciting as the performance that unfolded in front of his eyes. He was captivated from the first moment, even forgetting about the chocolates as he leaned forward on the parapet to see all the better. The girls loved it, too. So did Peter. This was the first time he had really been old enough to sit through a real play. He did so on his father’s knee, watching with wide open eyes. He knew the story already. It was one of many fantasy stories he had been read to help expand his young imagination and teach him to use his mind to the full. But to see the play open up in front of him in light and colour and life enthralled him. The Doctor could feel his pleasure expressed in excited flashes of his rudimentary telepathy.

When the play was over, after the curtain calls and bows, The Doctor brought his family to the reception for invited guests where they got to meet the author of the play.

That is to say, the author of the play got to meet them. When Mr Barrie saw them enter the room he at once excused himself from the important dignitaries he was talking to and went to greet them.

“Doctor!” he said with a wide smile and a soft Scottish burr to his voice. “I am so glad you could come tonight. And are these your children?”

“Some of them,” The Doctor answered. “These are my girls, Vicki and Sukie. This little one falling asleep in my arms is my very own Peter, who far from never growing up seems to be doing so far too quickly. And this young man is Jimmy.”

“Ah, a namesake of myself,” Barrie answered, reaching to shake hands with the boy. Jimmy almost had an attack of nerves but remembered to put out his hand politely. “What did you think of my play tonight?”

“It was… great,” Jimmy answered. “Better than the Holovid version.”

Jimmy looked around in horror as he realised what he had said. But Barrie smiled and the two girls noted the wink he gave to The Doctor.

“I’ve been told several times tonight that I have a vivid imagination. But if I have, it was at least partially coloured by meeting a man who lives in the future and who assured me that at least one of my plays will be immortal. You didn’t tell me which one, Doctor. But I think I know, now. Even before this young man let slip about… what was it… hollow wids? Even before then, I had a strong sense of something monumental happening tonight. Isn’t it wonderful! I spent so long writing serious plays for grown ups, and my immortality will be sealed in a play I wrote for the children, instead.”

“The universe will always need fairies and pirates,” The Doctor replied. He looked at his own baby Peter, sleeping now, with his head against his father’s shoulder, oblivious to history being made this night. “He’s dreaming of Neverland!”

“I’m glad to hear of it,” Barrie replied. “But, Doctor, I wonder if you could help me later, when things are quieter. There is something which I think is in your purview rather than mine.”

“Of course,” The Doctor agreed. He sat on an armchair with Peter in his arms and watched the party going on. Vicki and Sukie mingled easily, chatting with old ladies who thought they were an adorable pair and old men who smiled paternally at them. Jimmy, after an initial hesitation, made the most of the food at the buffet. He probably didn’t get to eat his fill very often. The Doctor smiled as he listened to his son’s dreams of boys who could fly and wondered idly what it was that Barrie thought was in his ‘purview’.

The author was one of the few people who had an inkling of who he was, of course. It was an odd thing, but creative geniuses always seemed to see through any disguise he might adopt, and it was easier to come clean with them and admit to his uniqueness. Leonardo da Vinci was a case in point. That man’s imagination hardly belonged to his own time and place anyway. The Doctor and he were kindred spirits. Shakespeare and Marlowe, too. Chaucer - though he could be a bit tedious. Dickens got it eventually, though the man had a lot on his mind at the time. William Blake was fascinated by his mystery. H G Wells ought to have paid him a percentage of royalties considering how much inspiration he got from their encounters. Mozart, Puccini, Janis Joplin in musical circles. Barrie was another of the literary imaginations who, while not fully understanding the whole truth about him, knew that there was more to him than met the eye and never took him for granted.

Something in his purview could cover a multitude of sins.

When the wine and the buffet were depleted and most of the guests had departed, the man of the moment slipped away with The Doctor and his children. He brought them backstage to a room that looked like an overflow props and costume store. But pirate and red Indian costumes and painted flats showing sunset over Neverland were moved aside to make room for a makeshift dormitory with four mattresses and blankets on the floor and a table and chairs. There was food on the table – it looked like some of the buffet from the reception had been diverted down here. Four boys dressed in costumes of ‘Lost Boys’ were enjoying the feast. When the door opened they shrank back. They relaxed when they recognised Mr Barrie, but became concerned again when The Doctor and his family came into the room.

“It’s all right,” Barrie assured them. “These are friends. This is The Doctor. I think he can help you.”

The Doctor put Peter down on one of the makeshift beds, where he immediately curled up and carried on sleeping. Vicki and Sukie, suddenly experiencing an attack of shyness in the presence of four boys all of their own age, sat with him, avoiding the glances their way. Jimmy sat with them. He wasn’t ready to meet four strange boys, yet, either.

“Who are they?” The Doctor asked “And how can I help them?”

“They’re…” Barrie gave a gentle laugh. “They literally are Lost Boys. That’s as good a name as any for them. I put them in costumes tonight and they went on stage as extras. It was a way of keeping them from being discovered with the theatre so busy. I found them in the cellar of the theatre a few days ago, looking very scared. I managed to persuade them that I meant them no harm and they told me their story. They only have a very basic grasp of English, but they told me enough to realise I needed to talk to you. Since I knew you’d be at the performance tonight, I made this temporary billet for them.”

“So…” The Doctor pulled up a stool and sat down at the table, his long legs stretching out. The boys all looked at him. They said nothing.

But he could see what was different about them. It was subtle. No ordinary Human would have passed comment if they were in the street, and in this time, long before DNA testing, even their blood would give away few secrets. But they didn’t blink as often as a Human and there was a very faint yellow-green tinge to the ‘whites’ of their eyes. Their ears were slightly pointed, too, but not so much as to invite comment.

“Delurian?” he guessed. “From the Deluro system?”

The Lost Boys looked at each other then back at The Doctor.

“Yes, sir,” one of them answered on behalf of them all.

“And you got here…”

“Through a Gauzzian Portal,” the same boy replied. “We were on a school tour of the Andromedan planets. We should have been with our class and our teacher. But when we went into the portal, something went wrong. We came here – to this strange place. In the dark.”

“Gauzzian Portals are usually reliable,” The Doctor said. “I wonder what went wrong.”

The boys didn’t know.

“A Gauzz…” Mr Barrie looked at The Doctor. “I realise, of course, that these boys are not from our world. These clothes…” He picked up something from behind one of the costume racks. It was a body suit that would fit one of the Delurian boys. It looked as if it was made of the thinnest, lightest material possible and seemed to glow very slightly. “They looked like fairies in these. I thought the pressure of rehearsals was getting to me and I was seeing the people of Neverland in my delirium.”

“They come from a far off planet,” The Doctor said. “So far its sun isn’t even visible from Earth. Never mind ‘first star to the right and straight on till morning.’ It would take 10,000 mornings even by Earth’s technology a century from now. They are very inventive people. They long ago found a way to travel long distances using portals between their world and any location they choose. My people investigated the process and concluded it was effective and safe. They’ve even been known to borrow the technology now and again. But they concluded that the Delurians were only interested in a sort of educational tourism, visiting worlds to learn about them, and left them to it.”

“Your people?” Barrie looked at The Doctor. “So… as I have suspected… you are not from this world, either? And your children? Are they also from another place?”

“No, they were all born in London, not more than a few miles from where you live, James. They’ve visited the museum where your house still stands. They’re citizens of planet Earth, as am I, now. An emigrant just as you were from your native Scotland.”

“But you do have knowledge that can help these boys?”

“We can take them home in the TARDIS,” Vicki said, her first input into the conversation.

“As a last resort, yes,” The Doctor agreed. “But I might be able to get them home under their own steam. He looked at the boys. “Do you have your portal manipulator?”

“That would be this?” Mr Barrie picked up something else that had been hidden with the clothes. It was certainly nothing to do with the theatre. The Doctor took it from him and examined it carefully. It looked, at first glance, like a 1970s transistor radio, rounded plastic of a pale grey colour with scroll wheels to turn it on and adjust the setting on the LCD screen. He turned it over several times, then put it to his ear and shook it. He smiled and then pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket. He used it to break open the manipulator. It took him only a few seconds before he gave a very satisfied ‘ah!’

“It’s one tiny little spring that broke and sent you off course,” he said. He smiled widely and winked at Sukie. “Did your mum ever tell you about the time a faulty spring nearly sent the TARDIS and all of us aboard rushing backwards in time to the beginning of the universe? We should never underestimate little things like that. A tiny, broken spring sent these four boys hurtling across a galaxy by accident.”

“You can fix it?”

“Oh, yes, no problem. All I need is a spring that will fit.” He looked around and smiled. In one corner was a box full of old, broken watches and clocks – props from the play, broken by Captain Hook. He selected one and took it apart. He found a spring that was about the right size and fitted it into the Portal Manipulator. He closed it and switched it on. It hummed reassuringly.

“Get your own outfits back on, boys,” The Doctor told them. “You’ll not be able to fly in those heavy Earth clothes.”

“Fly?” Mr Barrie looked at him in surprise. So did Jimmy and the girls. The Doctor said nothing more. The Lost Boys went behind the costume rack to change and emerged looking much less Human. The fabric glowed much more when it was against their skin and it brought out a greenish tint to their faces and hands. Their ears really did look pointed, and their eyes glowed. The Doctor gave the manipulator to the oldest of the four.

“Thank you,” the boy said. “To you, Doctor, and to you, Mr Barrie. Thank you for your kindness to us, and for allowing us to be a part of your ‘play’. Your world seemed a cold, dark, grey one to us. But you made it bright for a little while. Almost as bright as our world is.”

The boy touched the dial on the Manipulator and the background hum increased. An actinic bright light came from an aperture and spread out as it hit the wall of the props room, expanding into a pool of shimmering quicksilver before resolving into a portal into another world.

It was a beautiful world. It really was brighter than anywhere on Earth could ever be, even under tropical sunlight. Two silver suns shown down from a sky of mercury blue. The grass, trees, everything that could be seen was not just brightly coloured, but a sort of enhanced colour. It was something like the colour achieved by limelights on stage or floodlighting in a football stadium, but more so. It was a world of light and colour.

“You’d better go,” The Doctor told the boys. “Leaving open a portal for too long is not good for either your world or this one.”

“Yes,” the boys said. They stepped forward together, passing from the dimly lit props room to the super-bright world they came from. Their feet touched the grass on the other side and then, to everyone’s amazement, their feet didn’t touch anything. They hovered above the ground. They were flying.

“It… really is my Neverland,” Mr Barrie said in an awed tone. “It’s real. I could… I could step into it.”

“Yes,” the boys replied, their voices seeming far away and close to at one and the same time. “Yes, come and join us, friend. Come to the bright world, from the dark.”

“No,” The Doctor said, stepping in front of him as he took a pace forward. “No, James. If you go there, you can’t come back. They came here accidentally. Their people have no co-ordinates for Earth.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Barrie answered.

“Yes, you would. Besides, this world needs you, still. It needs people like you who dream of brightness that drives away the dark and the cold. You can’t go.”

He was so busy persuading one of Earth’s greatest imaginations to keep his feet on the ground he didn’t notice that Jimmy had stood up and walked towards the portal. Then Vicki and Sukie both shouted at once. He turned from Mr Barrie and ran to grab the boy as he was on the very threshold of the portal.

“No!” Jimmy screamed as he struggled in The Doctor’s firm but gentle grasp. “No. I want to go. There’s nothing for me in this world. Just the orphanage. Or… or if my dad comes back, more of the same from him. I don’t want to stay here. I want to go THERE.”

“No,” The Doctor insisted. “No, you can’t go, either. I’m sorry, Jimmy. But you belong here.” He looked at the four boys within the portal. They were looking back at him. “Go on, now. Close the portal. Go back to your families. None of us can come with you. Go.”

The portal began to close. Jimmy strained against The Doctor’s arms, trying to reach it, but soon it was gone. The props room seemed a darker, colder place. But that was how it was meant to be.

Mr Barrie was still staring at the wall regretfully. Vicki went to his side. She put her hand in his and smiled at him.

“You really couldn’t go,” she said. “Otherwise nobody else would be able to get to your Neverland. You’ve got to write the book and take the play to Broadway and make it so all the other people who didn’t see it tonight know about it and can imagine it in their own heads.”

Barrie didn’t say anything. He turned and knelt so that he was Vicki’s height and hugged her tightly. He cried softly. But when he was finished crying, he smiled. He was all right, now. The moment of madness had passed.

But Jimmy was still raging and struggling. He broke from The Doctor’s arms and ran to the wall, pounding on it. The Doctor stepped towards him. He turned and kicked him in the shins and hammered his fists against his chest.

“Why did you stop me?” he demanded. “It could have been better there.”

“It’ll be better here,” The Doctor promised him. “Jimmy, life on Earth can be bright and colourful, too. It will be for you.”

The boy didn’t believe him. The Doctor was telling him the truth, though. He had seen a glimpse of it earlier when he held his arm in the TARDIS. A flash of his future timeline which had been quite surprising considering that he had pursued Sukie into the TARDIS. Now, as he held him again, he saw it all. It was a little disjointed, since he had travelled in the time vortex and his future was now in flux. But he saw Jimmy going through a difficult time when his father’s body was finally found and identified, a miserable few months in the orphanage, and then adoption by a couple who had really wanted a boy of their own, and a much brighter time when he learned to trust, learned to love, even learned to look forward to Christmas.

And later, much later, when he was a young man, The Doctor saw him as Vicki’s first serious boyfriend – and even later, he saw his daughter marrying Jimmy in a shimmering white dress covered in diamonds. He wondered when his interest was going to shift from Sukie to Vicki. That part was not clear, though since Sukie was her maid of honour in that vision of the future it was obviously an amicable arrangement between them.

Yes, Jimmy had everything to look forward to in his future. If he let himself have a future.

“It’s all right, Jimmy,” The Doctor said as he felt the boy’s anger, his pain, his disappointments all building up inside him. “Jimmy, you’re allowed to feel it. You’re allowed to cry.”

“No, I can’t,” he answered. “Not… not in front of them…” He looked at the two girls.

“We won’t tell anyone,” Vicki told him.

“Jimmy…” Sukie stepped towards him. She put her hand on his shoulder. The Doctor let go of the boy as he felt the healing power from within her touch that rage. She was like a cooling tide of water that could douse even the heat of a volcano. But she didn’t douse it, yet. The volcano still needed an outlet. She showed him the way. She let him cry until all the hurts he had suffered were gone. Then she let her balm soothe and heal and mend the wounds. Jimmy looked at her through red-rimmed eyes and then hugged her. Just once, quickly, then he stepped back and girded himself once more with the armour of a twelve year old boy’s masculinity. As if he would do something so soppy as hug a girl?

But he was mended now. Sukie smiled with satisfaction. Again, The Doctor wondered what future events would change the dynamic of their relationship. But that was for the future.

“Did somebody say we missed Christmas?” The Doctor said. “Good job I have a time machine. We can go back and do it again. Just as soon as we’ve said goodbye to Mr Barrie. I’m thinking of Christmas Eve with my old friend Clive Staples Lewis. Another of Peter’s favourite writers. Another man who knows how to open doors onto worlds with colour in them.”