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

Davie’s hands glided over the TARDIS controls like a pianist playing a piece of music he knew by heart. Spenser was supposed to be calibrating the temporal manifest, but he stood back and watched his mentor at work.

“You really understand this TARDIS, don’t you?” he said to him. “You don’t just pilot it. You’re completely in touch with it. I saw you just now. There was a very slight ripple in the vortex and you adjusted for it without even thinking about it. You knew just how much of a course change it needed instinctively.”

“Granddad always said I had an instinct for it. Flying my own TARDIS… the freedom of the skies… That was my dream from the first day I set foot in his - when I first knew what I really was and how much I could strive to do. My TARDIS is my key to freedom… to the universe. I learnt everything I could from Granddad, and then taught myself the rest. This TARDIS is fully and completely under my control. And it works perfectly.”

“Of course, it does!” Spenser grinned. “You and engines.”

Davie grinned, too, then told him to stabilise the Kers Regulator as he prepared for materialisation.

“What do you think of that, then?” he said with a smile as the TARDIS materialised in one of the most amazing areas of space known to Time Lords. He opened the door wide and he and Spenser stood and looked out to fully appreciate it.

“The Medusa Cascade!” Spenser breathed in deeply as he took in the myriad colours and the incandescent light that the Cascade produced. Around the edges ordinary space looked bent out of shape. But it was difficult to look at the edges for too long. The contrast between the swirling colour and the blackness beyond sucked at the eye.

“It’s ten thousand miles long and fifteen thousand miles wide,” Davie said. “Depth… nobody knows. And exactly what it is… nobody knows. Not even granddad. Except he once sealed a rift in it that could have sucked the universe into the void beyond reality as we know it.”

“Of all the Time Lords, only The Doctor could have done that,” Spenser said, his voice full of admiration. “Even my father would have to admit that.” Spenser’s expression changed as he was reminded of his father.

It’s… rather amazing to be here,” he added, to divert the subject.

“Granddad suggested I should bring you,” Davie told him. “I asked if he meant as a romantic outing and he laughed and wouldn’t say anything else on that matter. But it’s a place you have to see with somebody else to really appreciate it. He took his first wife to see it when they were courting. And his father brought him to see it when he was a boy.”

“You probably should have brought Brenda, not me,” Spenser said. “You and I ought to try to… you know… cool things down a bit… before you two get married.”

“You and I are just fine,” Davie replied. “Besides, you’re still my apprentice. And this is educational. I’ll bring Brenda another time. Maybe we’ll tour the wonders of the nine galaxies for our honeymoon.”

“I don’t think the Medusa Cascade will matter to Brenda when you’re on your honeymoon,” Spenser replied. “You’ll be her whole universe on your own.”

“Well, then I’ll just have to enjoy it with you, right now,” Davie replied. He slipped his arm around Spenser’s shoulder as they stood at the TARDIS door, safely behind a force field that kept them and the atmosphere inside. It wasn’t as intimate as he might have been with him. Spenser was right about that. He was going to marry Brenda in less than a year. But he wasn’t going to leave Spenser out in the cold. He kept his arm around him as they enjoyed the view of the Cascade. If he wasn’t with Brenda, then Spenser was the one other person he wanted to share this moment with.

“Do you have any idea how The Doctor sealed a rift in the Cascade?” Spenser asked after a long, quiet time just looking at the phenomena.

“Yes,” Davie answered. “I do… kind of. That’s one of the things I know through having his soul fused with mine in the Rite of Mori. It’s not my knowledge, exactly, but his. If I concentrate, it’s all there in my mind. It was very painful for him. He almost died. Worse, he almost lost himself in it.”

“Lost himself….” Spenser queried.

“Hard to explain,” Davie replied. “Not sure I want to. It really is painful… and when I connect to memories like that, it’s painful for me, too. And… I’m….”

“You’re twenty-one years old,” Spenser said to him. “On Gallifrey, you would be a new student at one of the Academies, with nearly two centuries of learning ahead of you before you were considered mature enough even for practice sessions in a TARDIS. And yet, you carry the burdens of the universe on your shoulders. Leave memories like that where they are, Davie. It doesn’t matter. I asked an idle question. But if the answer has to be ripped out of your soul, I don’t need to know.”

Spenser turned to him and slid one arm around his waist. He reached out his hand and caressed his face gently. Davie gave a soft sigh as he felt Spenser’s consciousness touching his own, soothing his mind, gently laying those disturbing memories that were not his own back where they belonged, in his deep subconsciousness. It felt like having somebody kind come to his bedside when he was feverish and give him a cool drink before tucking the blankets around him and kissing him goodnight.

“Interesting metaphor,” Spenser told him as he gently withdrew from his mind. “Do you really think of me as the sort of person who would tuck you up in bed when you’re sick?”

“No,” Davie admitted. “That’s… I suppose that’s why you and I are a sweet, wonderful interlude, but Brenda is the one I will pledge to love for the rest of my life. She’s the one who will bring me succour in my times of need. She’ll have to. It’s in the formal vows of the Alliance ceremony.”

“For the record, I would be perfectly happy to give you succour any time you need it,” Spenser answered. “But…”

His next remarks went unsaid. They were both aware of something sudden and monumental happening even before the Cloister Bell sounded deep in the TARDIS interior and several much higher pitched electronic warnings went off on the console. Davie broke from Spenser’s embrace and ran to the environmental control.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “I’m getting the most incredible readings here. Energy spikes off all scales. Huon particles, ion emissions… Barr-Heimer radiation patterns. I think the Cascade is…”

He looked around at Spenser. He was still standing by the door, looking out at the Cascade, witnessing its convulsions with his own eyes. On the environmental monitor Davie had to make do with a multi-coloured schematic that told him which kinds of radiation or energy or cosmic particles were being emitted from which part of the Cascade. He tried to get some kind of analysis of what was happening, and why, to say nothing of what the end result was going to be. But even the TARDIS didn’t know.

“The Rift is opening, close it quickly, boy!” The order came from deep within him. It was The Doctor telling him what he had to do. He closed his eyes for a moment and called up those memories he had laid back to rest a few minutes ago.

“Oh!” His hearts sank. Yes, the Rift could be closed. But there was a cost. A huge cost.

The last time, when The Doctor, himself still a relatively young Time Lord, in his first incarnation, sealed the Rift at the Medusa Cascade, it had almost cost him his soul and his sanity. But it had cost another Time Lord his life. It had taken a desperate sacrifice to do what had to be done.

“No!” he whispered. “Not this time. The Rift won’t have anyone’s blood this time.”

He looked around. Spenser was still at the door. He seemed hypnotised by the sight before him.

“Spenser!” he called out. “Close the door, quickly, and come and help. We’ve got to…”

The Cloister Bell’s deep, sonorous toll, reminiscent of the summoning bell of the Shaolin monks in their lonely mountain retreat, echoed in his head. The warning lights and accompanying beeps from the console piled in on top of him. He pressed buttons and pulled levers desperately. The TARDIS was exerting massive gravitational forces that were straining to hold the edges of the Medusa Rift closed against the full power and might of what lay beyond the universe as he knew it. He could feel the TARDIS engines straining. And when he spoke of ‘TARDIS engines’ he wasn’t speaking of any mere mechanical thing with pistons and pumps. The TARDIS engines were part physical machine, part organic, and in a huge, almost incomprehensible way, the pure energy of an exploded neutron star. Davie did comprehend it. He knew just what the TARDIS was and what it was capable of, and he knew that it might have met its match. He, the warrior who had fought the Dominators and the Sontarans, who knew he was equal to any enemy of mere physical presence, knew that the nameless, formless enormity of what he was fighting now could destroy him. He could be beaten.

And that was a shock to him. Despite being only twenty-one years old, a child by the standards of his mother’s people, he thought himself a man, and he thought himself a powerful and invincible man. It was a shock to realise that he could die, and might do so any moment now.

He called out to Spenser again, but he barely heard his own voice over the din coming from the TARDIS itself. He tried to switch off some of the alerts, then stopped trying. He had too much to do keeping the TARDIS from imploding and exploding at the same time, while possibly opening the Rift so far that the known universe would be turned inside out.

His own scream added to the noise as he desperately poured the last ounce of TARDIS power into the effort to close the Rift. He felt like his own mind was providing the driving force behind it. He clung to the console, feeling the intensity of the Time Rotor’s vibrations increasing until they became one long convulsive spasm that overcame his own body. He was vaguely aware that his nose was bleeding, signalling blood pressure levels that were close to fatal. But he could do nothing about it. He couldn’t even regulate his own heartsbeat or his breathing. It was all he could do to control his ship. If his own body was ripped apart in the process, then it was better than…

He must have passed out. When he came around, he was lying across the environmental monitor itself, his hands clutching at handholds, his face pressed against a cracked visual display unit. He was aware that one side of his face was burnt and most of his body was bruised and battered. There was blood in his mouth as well as his nose, constricting his breathing.

He slowly slid off the console, feeling every muscle in his body scream as he tried to stand upright on the floor. He reached into his pocket for a handkerchief and cleared his nose and mouth before taking a breath of air that tasted slightly acrid but was otherwise good, reviving oxygen.

He glanced at the monitor. The cracked visual display monitor was functioning, even so. It was showing spikes of energy from all over the Cascade, but they were merely aftershocks, and they were all decreasing rapidly.

“We did it,” he gasped. “Spenser… we did it. We closed the Rift.”

Spenser didn’t answer. He turned. The TARDIS door was closed. But Spenser wasn’t there.

But he was sure he had been. He felt his presence in the console room. At least he thought he did.

Phrases like ‘his hearts sank’ or ‘his hearts were in his mouth’ were inadequate to describe the horror that gripped him. Tears stung the raw wounds on his face that were only starting to repair. Grief tore into his soul.

“Spenser!” he screamed as his legs threatened to give way under him. He made it as far as the door on them. He gripped the manual release and held onto it as he slid to the floor on the threshold. He wasn’t sure what he expected to see. Spenser clinging to the outside of the TARDIS, barely alive? His body floating away, asphyxiated in seconds outside the protective shield?

There was nothing. The Cascade was still roiling and boiling beneath and above the TARDIS’s geo-stationary position, but he was looking at it on his own. Spenser was gone.

He didn’t notice the passage of time as he gave into his grief and half lay, wedged in the doorframe, crying openly, painfully aware that there was nobody to witness his tears and to criticise him for unmanliness. There was nobody to tell him to stop crying and pull himself together, to accept that this time Spenser was the sacrifice that had to be made for the sake of every other soul in the universe.

“No!” he screamed as that thought came into his head. “No! I won’t accept that. He didn’t have to die. There DOESN’T have to be a sacrifice. Not him. No. No!”

“There DOES have to be a sacrifice!” said a voice. At first Davie thought it was inside his head. There was something insubstantial about the voice, as if it didn’t come from the lips of a living, breathing being.

He looked up and nearly passed out in shock as he saw a stranger standing over him. Almost standing over him, anyway. The same word ‘insubstantial’ described the man as well as his voice. He was more solid than a hologram, but he shimmered uncertainly in the same way. He was dressed in a simple black robe that matched his dark hair and contrasted with a rather pale complexion. Deep set, hooded eyes of a startling green colour looked strangely hypnotic. He appeared to be about fifty in Earth years, though Davie knew that was a meaningless measurement just about everywhere else in the universe. He was, even at that age, physically attractive in a hard, chiselled way that reminded him of his great-grandfather, though he wasn’t sure why.


“That’s… close enough,” the stranger said. “It’s not exactly right. But it will do for now. Rassilon defend you from finding out just what it feels like to be ripped from your mortal body and left only as a consciousness that remembers the agony and lives for eternity.”

“Rassilon…” Davie grasped the one word that was significant in the stranger’s words. “You’re… you were… a Time Lord?”


“You….” Davie swallowed hard. “You were the one who died when… when The Doctor sealed the Rift?”

“Yes.” The stranger looked at Davie closely and reached out a not quite solid hand. Davie flinched as he felt a softness against his cheek that wasn’t quite living flesh, more the memory of flesh. He felt the strange Time Lord’s mind touch his. Then he withdrew. His ghostly eyes had a sad expression in them. “He’s dead… The Doctor. He’s dead, too?”

“No, he’s alive,” Davie answered. “He’s my great-grandfather. He’s alive and well and… You saw the essence within me. From the Rite of Mori. It’s a long story. And I don’t think we have time for it. But… why are you here and where is…” He gasped and backed away from the stranger. “No. No. No! You… you took Spenser… so you could get back into the real world. You… killed him.”

“No,” the stranger replied in a soft voice. “Sweet mother of chaos, no. I wouldn’t do that, even if it was in my power. I wouldn’t deliberately inflict that horror on any living being. The Doctor would tell you… he would know I wouldn’t, couldn’t do a thing like that. It is true that your friend’s sacrifice gave me the opportunity to reach you. There was a gap in reality, just long enough for me to focus on the Artron energy in this TARDIS and to use it to form this body. But I didn’t do it to him. Believe me I would not…”

“How do I know that?” Davie responded. “Why should I believe you? I accept you are… or were… a Time Lord. But there were plenty of those who were cruel, heartless… The one called The Master… he wouldn’t think twice about using an innocent soul like Spenser for his own ends. If… if you’re him… I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you with my own bare hands. I’ll…”

The stranger reached out to him again. This time Davie backed away, adopting a defensive martial arts position taught to him by The Doctor and honed by daily practice.

“I can’t be killed in any mortal way,” the stranger told him. “Not yet. This body hasn’t fully formed. The molecules are still bonding. But I promise you, I am not The Master. My name… my name was lost. When we fought to save the universe from disaster, his name burned brightly, but mine was lost along with my corporeal being. But… but… if you let me touch you again… HE knows what it was. He will tell you. If you promise not to speak it aloud to any but him.”

Davie had no reason to trust him. But he relaxed his stance and allowed the stranger to step closer to him. Again one hand touched his face. The other pressed against his chest, over his left heart. Davie almost forgot to breathe as he felt the stranger searching his very soul.

Then he felt the answer to that question. The name meant nothing to him, even though he had studied Gallifreyan history in close detail and knew the names of all the Oldblood families and their scions.

“You wouldn’t recognise it. But… you know he does, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Davie admitted. “Yes, he does. And he trusts you. Which is good enough for me. But… what about Spenser? If you can get here… why can’t he?”

“Because he isn’t yet a Time Lord. He’s inexperienced, and he’s frightened and confused and… I’m sorry, but he is in a lot of pain right now. And he can’t do it on his own. That’s why I’m here… that’s why I came to you. It wasn’t out of any selfish desire to be whole again… although that’s something I have desired for half a millennia. I am his best chance of returning to life.”

“Then… there is a chance?” Davie seized on that straw of hope.

“A slim one. And it will need all your courage and ingenuity, and it will mean taking this TARDIS further than it has ever been… further than any TARDIS has ever been… before.”

“You mean into the Cascade, don’t you?” Davie said. “If it means re-opening the Rift… then…” His throat constricted and his voice sounded different when he continued speaking. “Spenser wouldn’t… wouldn’t ask me to risk that for him.”

“The Rift is only one part of the Medusa Cascade,” the ghost of a Time Lord replied. “Where I’m taking you isn’t a part of that. There is no danger to any other soul except mine, yours and his. Will you take the risk? You are the only one of us alive in the real sense of the word. You have the most to lose…”

“Stop talking and let’s do it,” Davie replied. “Of course I would do it. You said he was in pain. I’d give my life to save him from that, if my life was the only one at stake.”

“Then come on.” The stranger moved swiftly. He moved as if he was walking, but Davie thought his feet weren’t actually touching the ground. Likewise, when he glanced at the navigation console and then began pressing switches and inputting a long alphanumeric code, far longer than any ordinary space time co-ordinate, his fingers didn’t actually make contact with anything. But the console responded to him.

“My TARDIS is allowing you to pilot it,” Davie remarked. “But you’re a stranger to me… the imprimatur usually only allows those closest to me… my brother, my sister, Spenser and Brenda…”

“This body is made up of the Artron energy from this TARDIS’s Eye of Harmony,” the stranger reminded him. “It knows me.”

“Ok. I should have thought of that.”

“You would have if you weren’t so overwrought and emotional. Of course, you are young. You’ve never practiced emotional detachment…”

“Granddad taught me everything there is to know about being a Time Lord. He said ‘nuts to emotional detachment’ and didn’t bother. And I’m not sure it would help right now, anyway. Detachment only works if you’re not already emotionally involved with the subject.”

“True enough,” the stranger conceded. Davie watched him initialise their dematerialisation and was startled by the images on the main viewscreen. when they were in the vortex the TARDIS always created a kind of illusion of what it looked like, with a sort of colour code – red for the uncertain future, blue for the past already written. Rarely it would show green for a place that was outside of time.

But what was a sickly yellow-purple like a day old bruise supposed to represent?

“We’re entering the realm of the dead,” the stranger said, even though he hadn’t asked the question.

“We’re… we’re what?” Davie turned pale despite himself. “What…”

“I told you no TARDIS had ever been there before.”

“No Time Lord has, either, surely?”

“None that survived.”

There was a dryness about that answer. Davie realised he had been insensitive. He murmured an apology.

“Don’t worry about it. Just… get ready. The transition will be painful for you. You’ll be protected by the TARDIS, but it will hurt. Hold onto something and try to bear it as best you can. There’s nothing I can do to help you.”

Davie barely had time to take in another breath before the TARDIS came out of the strange vortex and he felt the pain the stranger had just warned him about. He screamed viscerally. He felt as if his body was being ripped to shreds. Every molecule was on fire. His mind and his soul were both being pulled in separate directions out of him. He was dying, but death wouldn’t bring peace. This agony would go on for ever.

Then it was over. He gasped for breath and pulled himself up from the floor where he had fallen. He looked at the stranger.

“You didn’t sugar the pill, anyway,” he said. “I suppose I should thank you for that.”

The stranger didn’t say anything. He looked around at the time rotor as it came to a wheezing stop indicating a materialisation.

“But…” Davie checked the console. “Where are we? According to this data… we’re… nowhere. And yet…the TARDIS thinks it’s landed.”

“It has.” The stranger stepped towards the door and opened it. Davie saw solid ground outside, even though he had no reason to believe in it. He grabbed his jacket from over the guard rail by the door and followed the stranger outside.

It was a black desert. Black sand stretched to the horizon in every direction in an almost featureless way. To the north – if that was north – was a mere smudge that might indicate mountains. And assuming that was north, then to the east there was an impression of elevation into dunes. But there was no kind of vegetation anywhere. He was certain there was no such thing as an oasis in this desert.

The sky was iron grey with a diffused light that wasn’t at all like the sun shining through storm clouds.

There was no sun. There were no days or nights. Time stood still here. No, time didn’t exist here. He felt his own internal body clock. It was stopped. His hearts were beating. He was breathing. His liver and kidneys functioned. He was alive. But time wasn’t passing for him.

“That’s what will kill you in the end,” the stranger said. “If you stay here too long. You’re a child of time. Even more than ordinary organic beings, a Time Lord will suffer. Every heartsbeat is fighting against this place where time doesn’t exist. Sooner or later you will lose the fight. That’s why we have to move fast. We have to find your friend before it is too late for him.”

“Find him where?” Davie looked around the featureless desert again. “How?”

“Focus on him… all that he is… all that he means to you. And sense where he is.”

Davie closed his eyes and thought of Spenser. That wasn’t difficult. He hadn’t stopped thinking of him since he was lost. He pictured his face, now. His blue eyes and soft dark-blonde hair and his gentle smile. He loved that face and his hearts were yearning for him.

“Yes,” he said as he opened his eyes again. “I think I can feel him – that way.”

The direction he pointed in was just as featureless and dull as any other. He could not have made the choice any other way. But he was sure Spenser was there, somewhere, and he set off walking briskly.

The stranger followed him.

“Slow down a little,” he said. “Your hearts will race too much. The faster they go, the more this place will pull at you. The strain will get to you.”

Davie concentrated on his own two hearts and deliberately slowed them, but he didn’t slacken his pace.

“What….” He stared at the plain ahead of him. He had thought it was empty. But now he saw that it wasn’t. He stared at the eerie, insubstantial figures, like people made of smoke. “Who are they?”

“They’re the souls of the people who once populated the region of space where the Medusa Cascade is. Millions of years ago, long before our ancestors discovered the secret of time and space travel, a cataclysm occurred here. A whole planetary system was ripped apart. The Cascade remained as a strange, malleable point where time and space, reality itself didn’t follow the same rules as anywhere else. And within it, something remained – this plane of reality where the souls of the dead reside. It’s where I have been since I died. It’s where your friend is.”

“He’s like them… nothing but smoke? Some of them don’t even look… were they humanoid originally? Some of them are so shapeless.”

“They were. They were a highly developed, highly cultured race, very beautiful to look at. Golden haired, perfect features. Fine intelligences. But it has been so long. They’re losing their memories of what they used to look like. I didn’t try to keep a shape at all. I just moved among them, my consciousness touching theirs from time to time, sharing their memories of life, their grief at their deaths. Your friend… you will know him. He will still look like the man you remember. He will still know you. And… If we’re not too late, he may have a chance of life.”

“He must,” Davie said. “He must. I can’t let him die. I…”

The stranger looked at Davie closely.

“You… care for him very much, don’t you? He’s more than just a friend?”

“I don’t expect you to understand. You’re a Time Lord. We live on Earth. It’s different there.”

“Maybe not so different,” the stranger said cryptically. “But the fact that you are close to him will make it easier to find him.”

“I… hope so,” Davie responded in a choked voice. He stumbled and almost fell. The stranger reached out and touched him on the shoulder. “It’s happening, isn’t it?” he said. “This place is affecting me?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Then let’s get moving.”

Davie broke into a run. His hearts were beating faster, he was breathing hard. But he was bringing himself closer to Spenser. He could feel it instinctively. He knew he was close to him.

But it was hurting him. He felt his hearts faltering, slipping out of syncopation with each other. He stumbled again and fell onto the black sand, gasping for breath, his chest tightening.

“No! I won’t give up. I won’t die here,” he told himself. He put his hands over his hearts and concentrated. He carefully slowed one and speeded up the other until they were working properly. He breathed more easily and tried to stand up. It was a struggle. He felt weakened by the episode.

“I can’t help you,” the stranger said as he stood by him. “I can give the illusion of being able to touch you, but I can’t lift you. This body isn’t solid enough for that.”

“Can’t you make it solid?” Davie asked as he pulled himself upright with an effort. “You said the molecules had not yet bonded… but…”

“I am preventing the process from completing. I have a good reason for it. But it means I am unable to offer you assistance if you falter again.”

“I’m ok now. And I don’t think he’s far away.”

Davie turned around, sensing the direction.

Then he saw him. The stranger was right. He didn’t look like the other poor souls. He was still Spenser. But he clearly wasn’t whole. Davie ran to him, slowing down as he drew close. The sight of him was startling.

He was nearly see through. Davie could see one of the smoke figures behind him. But the shade of Spenser was still wearing the slacks and sweatshirt he had been wearing in the TARDIS. It was Spenser.

“I found you,” Davie gasped. He reached out to him, and stifled a sob as his hand went through his shoulder. “Spenser… I found you.”

“Davie…” Spenser reached out ghostly arms and embraced him. Davie knew he couldn’t return the gesture. He couldn’t even feel his touch, his kiss on his cheek. But Spenser seemed comforted by the intimacy.

“Spenser,” said the stranger. “He found you. Now, please come to me. I can make you whole again.”

“How?” Davie asked. “You can’t even make yourself…”

He watched open mouthed as Spenser’s transparent body and the stranger’s far more substantial one stepped together and became one. He could see both their faces at once. The stranger spoke.

“This is why I did not let these molecules bond. I kept them fluid so that I could give the body to one who needs it.”

“You mean…” Davie understood now. “You’re going to die… for Spenser.”

“I died already. My consciousness will free itself from this corporeal form. It will belong to him. The bonding will complete and he will be whole.”

“Thank you,” Davie said. “Thank you for doing this. For him… for me.”

“Remember me,” said the stranger’s voice, but as if from a distance this time. His face was gone now. Spenser’s face was the one becoming more solid, more real as the bonding completed. Finally he stepped forward and Davie felt his warm flesh and blood embrace.

“He gave you back to me,” Davie managed to say. Then he gave a cry of pain and collapsed to his knees. His face was strained and he clutched at his chest as if he was having a coronary. Spenser dropped to his knees beside him. He put his own hands over his hearts and steadied them. Davie breathed easy again and focussed on him.

“Thanks,” he managed to say.

“This place is starting to kill you,” Spenser said. “You spent too long here, looking for me. You… you’re dying because of me.”

“It’s worth it,” Davie answered.

“No, it’s not,” Spenser insisted. He stood up, lifting Davie to his feet. Then he stretched out one hand and snapped his fingers. Davie was astonished to hear the sound of his TARDIS and see the console room materialising around them both. Spenser made him sit on the sofa while he ran to the navigation control and dematerialised again.

“Don’t ask me to do that again,” he said. “It was a one off. A bit of the Artron energy still sloshing around me, connecting me to this TARDIS. A last gift from him to the both of us.”

“He gave you back to me,” Davie answered. “That was enough of a gift for me.”

Spenser had been preparing to dematerialise the TARDIS and set their course home, but he looked at Davie and locked them off in stationary orbit again before going to his side. They embraced for a long time, just relieved to be able to do that. Then Spenser laid his head on Davie’s shoulder and sighed deeply.

“He gave me a gift, too,” he said. “Feel me, inside… my DNA…”

Davie did so. He was surprised.

“You’re got a quadruple helix… you’re a transcended Time Lord. He… did that for you?”

“You sound disappointed.”

“Just a little bit. I… I was looking forward to being your mentor… sharing the Rite of Transcension with you. But… it’s ok. You’re a Time Lord now. That’s the greatest gift any one of us could have.”

“I’m not your apprentice any more. We’re equals.”

“That means I have no excuse for taking you with me in the TARDIS,” Davie added. “I’ve nothing else to teach you.”

“The TARDIS won’t like that. This body of mine… made with the same energy all regenerated Time Lord bodies are made from. The TARDIS gave that energy. I belong to it as much as you do.”

“Ok,” Davie conceded. Then he turned his head and claimed a kiss from Spenser. It was meant to be a quick, affectionate one, but it turned into something longer. They were so engrossed in each other that they didn’t even feel the slight bump as the TARDIS docked with another time machine. They didn’t hear the door open. Then Davie looked up. Spenser drew back as he ran to his brother’s embrace. The Doctor stepped into the TARDIS behind Chris.

“I felt the convulsion in the Medusa Cascade,” The Doctor said. “After all these years, that damned place is still a raw wound in my soul. I was about to take my TARDIS and investigate when Chris reached me in a panic, saying that Davie was hurt.”

“So you assumed that the Cascade and Davie were connected?” Spenser asked.

“We were right. Do either of you want to tell us what happened?”

Davie explained in as few words as he could. The Doctor looked surprised at mention of the stranger.

“He told you his name?”

“YOU told me his name,” Davie answered. The Doctor understood what he meant. “He was your friend, wasn't he?”

“Yes,” The Doctor replied. “He and I travelled together when we were both young. The Time Lords sent us together to seal the rift. He died. A court of inquisition concluded that I wasn’t at fault. It was an accident. But… it is one of my deepest regrets that I could not save him.”

“He doesn’t blame you,” Davie assured him.

“He certainly doesn’t,” Spenser added. Then he stepped close to The Doctor. To everyone’s surprise he curled his arm around his neck and reached to kiss him on the lips very deliberately.

“That… is a message for you, from Cal Lupus of the House of Oakdaene,” he said.

“That’s a very interesting message,” Chris commented. “Who is…”

“House of Oakdaene?” Davie queried. “You mean he… he was…”

“He was The Master’s illegitimate half brother,” The Doctor explained. “VERY long story. I’ll tell it to you all later, in the comfort of my own drawing room with a strong drink in our hands. But…” The Doctor smiled widely. “I never knew he felt THAT way about me. We were friends… But… really?”

“Really,” Spenser said. “At least I think so. Could be I’m confusing some of my feelings for Davie… but… no, I’m pretty certain…”

The Doctor nodded and smiled a grim smile.

“Wouldn’t have done him any good to say so. Two Oldblood patriarchs on the planet that defined the word ‘Straight’. We never could. But… still…”

“It’s why he was so determined to give me back my life… because he knew we were kindred spirits – in love with the unattainable.”

“He’s still there?” The Doctor asked. “In the Cascade, trapped for eternity with the souls of the dead?

“Yes,” Spenser answered. “He left us when we were on the plain of the dead. But I think he’s in a lot less pain now. Eternity won’t seem so terribly long for him.”

“Good,” The Doctor said. He went to the TARDIS door and opened it. He looked out at the Cascade, quiet now, its brief paroxysms over. “Rassilon bless you, my old friend,” he said. His words were lost in the airless void of space that carried no sound, but he felt in his hearts that Cal Lupus of the House of Oakdaene would hear them, anyway.