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

Davie and Tristie walked a little way behind the two girls, watching them as they walked up the stone cut steps. They were both dressed in pale yellow blouses and skirts that came down to their ankles and had shawls over their hair.

“I’m surprised Trudi went along with this,” Tristie admitted. “She’s not exactly religious.”

“Neither is Brenda in this sense,” Davie replied. “I thought she was supposed to worship me!”

Tristie gave a soft laugh. They weren’t supposed to talk above a whisper or laugh out loud on the pilgrim trail of Gassib Bau. Telepathy was suppressed by the super-ionised rocks of the great cliff that rose up on either side of them. That was a strange feeling for the two young Time Lords, not being able to use their minds to communicate with each other.

“Funnily enough, it was Trudi’s idea,” Tristie added. “She was the one who read about the pilgrim trail in the TARDIS database.”

“And convinced Brenda it was a good way to spend a weekend!”

“That’s girls for you,” Tristie noted.

“I don’t mind. But I do think it’s a slightly daft idea. Passing through a ‘Marriage Portal’ to test if our love is true.”

“Do you have any doubts?” Tristie asked. “Brenda is nuts about you.”

“I’m nuts about her,” Davie answered. “Anyway, it’s just a ritual. It’s not as if anything could detect whether I really love Brenda or not.”

“I’m not sure I’d do it if I thought it WAS real,” Tristie admitted. “Kind of creepy, really, isn’t it? Besides, who measures love? It’s not something there’s a scale for. Who can say I love Trudi more or less than you love Brenda or more than my mum loves my father, or granddad loves grandma Rose?”

“Exactly,” Davie said. “Come on. Let’s catch up with our girls. Otherwise the Guardians of the Portal might get mixed up and test if Trudi loves Brenda and I love you!”

“Now there’s an interesting point,” Tristie said. “What would the Portal do if you and Spenser tried it out?”

“Implode, I expect,” Davie replied. “Spenser and I are… different. It’s not about.…”

“I know,” Tristie told him. “Don’t forget, I know you in the future, uncle Davie. I know about you and Brenda… and about Spenser, too. There’s nothing you have to explain to me about the two of you. You should bring him, though. See what the Portal makes of your relationship.”

“The Portal isn’t going to make anything of anybody,” Davie insisted. “It’s just a superstition. It’s like a place I heard of once in Ireland, with this split rock that if you pass through and tell a lie you’ll be crushed by the two halves coming together.”

“Did you ever try it?”

“No. The rock is in the middle of a muddy field with a ‘no trespassing’ sign on the gate. It isn’t worth incurring the wrath of a shotgun wielding farmer to test the theory.”

Tristie laughed. Then they both smiled at their respective fiancées who were waiting for them.

“We have to prepare ourselves for the Marriage Portal,” Trudi said. “Cleanse our souls of all impure thoughts and be true to each other’s hearts.”

“It’s because of my impure thoughts that I asked you to marry me,” Tristie answered her with a wide grin. “So I could carry on having them without my mum telling me to make an honest woman of you.”

Trudi scowled at him for not taking the ritual seriously.

“How exactly do we do this cleansing, anyway?” Davie asked.

“By drinking the waters of the Bau,” Brenda replied, pointing to a small booth where men in robes and hoods were passing out glasses of water to the pilgrims who came up the mountain.

“Why not,” Tristie said. “I’m pretty thirsty after all that hiking uphill.”

Davie tasted the water carefully before swallowing it. There were some unusual minerals dissolved in it, but none of them harmful, and it was refreshingly cool after the pilgrimage trail. He wasn’t sure he was cleansed of impure thoughts, though. Not that he was harbouring any particularly bad ones. But Brenda was a lovely woman and he was passionate about her. He could have conjured some up if he wanted.

The trail ended in a wide plateau, high up on the mountain. There was a spectacular view over the valley below and other mountains rising up in the distance. Davie was reminded of Henang province in China or the mountains of Malvoria where the martial art of Sun Ko Du was practiced by the monks who resided there. He had visited both places in his TARDIS and enjoyed the simple and welcoming hospitality. He was less sure about the ‘Guardians’ of the Marriage Portal. He wasn’t sure if they could be called monks. Devotees, perhaps. He was tempted to laugh at them. But then he thought about his own brother and his followers. People who didn’t understand might laugh at him. He reserved judgement about the Guardians.

He kept reserving it even as they approached the Portal and were given ‘instruction’ by them.

“Only the most pure of heart dare pass through the Marriage Portal,” they were told. “The Great Guardian sees into the hearts of all. Those whose love for each other is true receive his blessing. Those who are false lovers, receive his judgement.”

It had to be nonsense, Davie thought. But people took it seriously. There was something about the way the hopeful couples ahead of them clung tightly to each other’s hands that seemed very real. They were prepared to have their love for each other weighed and measured.

Even though that had to be one of those things that could not be measured.

The Portal was a sight to behold, though not necessarily one that filled the beholder with awe. Davie thought at first glance that it looked like a stone age set of football goalposts. Closer to, he could see carvings in the uprights and the cross piece like a totem.

“It’s a man and a woman holding hands,” Trudi said. Brenda gave a soft sigh and agreed.

“What?” Davie looked at the Portal again and tried to see what they meant. It still seemed like a pair of goalposts to him.

“Yes, I think I see it,” Tristie said. “If you look at it in a certain way, the two uprights are stylised people – maybe male and female. And then the cross piece is their arms outstretched to each other.”

Davie looked again and shook his head.

“I need Chris around to see that sort of thing. Give me a seized up engine or a temporal manifest that’s skipping time and I know where I’m at. But abstract symbolism isn’t my thing.”

“Pretend it is for a half hour or so or Brenda will be disappointed,” Tristie told him.

“Romance advice from my great nephew!” Davie laughed and then took Brenda’s hand as Tristie and Trudi went ahead of them. They could see the Portal much closer now. Three other couples were ahead of them and they watched as one pair went up to it.

“Wow!” Davie and Tristie both exclaimed in surprise as they saw the couple who stepped under the Portal. They were bathed in a blue light and their faces lit with an almost religious ecstasy. As the light faded, they hugged each other tightly and had to be urged to move on by the Guardians.

“Their love was true,” Trudi sighed. “They received the blessing.”

So did the other two couples in front of them. Davie tried to analyse what the light was. Could there be some kind of element in it that caused the happy emotions? A sort of hallucinogenic drug in light form? Or was it all psychosomatic? Did the promise of a ‘blessing’ make them excited when they got one?

He watched as Trudi and Tristie went up to the portal. Trudi was a child of the early 1970s. She wasn’t exactly a hippy, but she did have some notions about universal peace and love. This kind of thing appealed to her. She was ready to be ‘blessed’. Tristie, he would expect to be more objective. He had mentored him to his transcension as a Time Lord, after all. He was sure he had done so in a practical, no nonsense way.

So he was quite surprised when Tristie came back from the experience with his eyes shining with joy and holding onto Trudi as if he never meant to let her go again.

“It’s fantastic,” he told Davie. “You’ll love it. Both of you.”

Davie still wasn’t sure he would, but he stepped forward with Brenda. She clung to his hand tightly. She seemed nervous, even though she was smiling. He was nervous, too, but only because he really did suspect some kind of mind altering drug was being used and he didn’t want his body interfered with, still less Brenda’s. But she was determined to go through with this.

They stood under the Portal. Davie looked up at the grey stone and wondered how it could emit any kind of light, let alone anything more sinister. He felt Brenda tug at his arm and he looked around at her.

“You’re meant to be thinking of how much you love me, not what the mineral content of the Portal is.”

“You know how much I love you,” he answered. “And I know how much you love me. We don’t need a…”

Davie screamed. He felt Brenda scream, too. The light that enfolded him wasn’t blue. It was a fiery red and he felt as if he was burning.

Brenda kept screaming as she saw Davie collapse. She tried to lift him, but he was dead weight. She held back her tears as she felt his heartsbeat and knew he was alive. But he was unconscious and she didn’t know why.

“He was untrue,” said a Guardian who approached. “He has been judged.”

“He was nothing of the sort,” Brenda protested, “Help me lift him.”

None of the Guardians would. They just kept murmuring about judgement and saying that Davie had been unworthy.

“Get out of the way,” Tristie said, pushing past the Guardians and bending to lift Davie in his arms. He carried him away to a place where there were canopies erected for people to rest and relax under after their experience with the Portal. He laid Davie down on a low couch there and examined him quickly. Brenda was still trying to hold back her tears, comforted by Trudi.

“I don’t know what it is,” Tristie admitted. “His hearts are fine. He’s breathing ok. But his mind… I can’t reach him. It’s as if he’s in a really deep trance and cut off from us.”

“Get him back to the TARDIS,” Trudi suggested.

“It’s a mile and a half downhill,” Tristie pointed out. “I’ll go and bring it up here if you two look after him.”

“Go,” Brenda said. “As fast as you can. Please, Tristie.”

Davie looked around. He was in some kind of mist. He felt weightless. He wasn’t standing on anything. There was nothing there to stand on.

He wasn’t falling, either.

“Where am I?” he called out. His voice was muffled by the strange mist. “Am I anywhere? What’s happening?”

“Your body is in suspended animation,” replied a deep voice that boomed out of every direction at once. “Your mind is here in this place while you are examined.”

“What do you mean ‘examined’?” Davie demanded. “What right have you… who are you?”

“I am the Great Guardian of the Marriage Portal. You were judged unworthy. You do not truly love the woman who entered the Portal with you.”

“Yes, I do,” Davie responded. “I have loved her since the first moment I saw her. She is beautiful, charming, gentle. We’re going to be married next year and I know she is going to be a perfect wife and mother. I love her dearly.”

“But you don’t love her exclusively. There is another who you have affection for.”

“There are lots of people I have affection for,” Davie answered. “My twin brother, my little sister, my mum and dad, my grandfather and his wife and their little boy, my other grandfather and his wife and all his children. I have so many people I care about. But Brenda is still the one…”

“What about…” The Great Guardian paused as if consulting a list or something. “The one called Spenser. Do you deny that you love her?”

“Him,” Davie corrected. “In my society love isn’t restricted by gender. Yes, I love Spenser. But I have chosen to marry Brenda. We’ve already sorted that out. There’s no issue there.”

“You love Spenser. Your heart is divided. You cannot give your full measure of love to Brenda. You will destroy both in your attempt to do so.”

“No, I will not,” Davie argued. “Not that it is any business of yours, but I have it all in hand. Brenda is my fiancée. We’re going to be married. Spenser is.…”

“You will ruin both of their lives and yours,” the Guardian insisted.

“You know the future, then? You think you can tell what will happen to us?”

“I do,” the Guardian replied. “I will show you. Your punishment for your infidelity of purpose is to see the pain and suffering you will bring upon those you claim to love.”

Davie began to say something else, but his voice seemed far away and the words died on his lips. He felt himself drifting away as an unbidden and unwanted vision took hold of him.

Davie blinked open his eyes. It was morning. He was lying in bed in his apartment above his workshop. He wasn’t alone. He turned and looked at Spenser, sleeping beside him. He reached out and touched his face gently.

His memories stirred. He recalled the civil wedding that had bound the two of them. It had been a quiet, simple ceremony. So few of his family and friends had attended. Chris had been there. His brother would never let him down no matter what he did. His mother had been there, too. She was his mother. She loved him. She wanted to see his wedding even if it was not the solemn Alliance according to Gallifreyan tradition that she had expected her first born son to have. She hadn’t really been happy about it. She sat quietly, holding onto Chris’s arm through the whole twenty minute ceremony in the registry office.

Twenty minutes, a basic legal form of words and the signing of the civil register. It hadn’t exactly been the kind of wedding he imagined having. He had always expected the twelve hour Alliance ceremony conducted by his great-grandfather in his capacity as President of the High Council of Gallifrey in Exile, and as the senior Time Lord of the oldest family of Gallifreyan blood. As a member of that family he should have had the full and complete ceremony binding him in Alliance to his chosen life partner.

It shouldn’t even have mattered that Spenser was a man. The Alliance ceremony as written millennia ago to mark the matrimonial unions of Time Lords assumed that it was a union between a man and a woman, but they all lived on Earth, now, and there was no good reason why it could not have been amended to accommodate them.

Yes, it could have been very different. He and Spenser could have had a beautiful day in which they pledged their love to each other and exchanged their solemn vows just as countless generations of their kind had done before. His mother and father, his brother and sister, could have been there. All his friends, Human, Time Lord and other, might have been there. There would have been a grand reception afterwards before they left for their honeymoon. And their life would have been blissful, dividing their time between exploring the universe together in the TARDIS, working on his science projects in the workshop, racing his car in twenty-first century endurance competitions. And yes, at night, they would have the comfort and the pleasure of each other in bed. Married under the solemn Alliance of Unity nobody could deny them the right to that consummation.

Not that anyone denied them the right, anyway. They were married under the law of the British Federation and nobody could come between them. But it had not been a particularly happy time for either of them. He hadn’t spoken to his mother since the morning of the wedding, six months ago. Chris visited from time to time. But even with him things were awkward. His twin, who he always called the other half of his soul, who he had loved since the day they were born, if not before, felt torn in his loyalties. He wanted to be a friend to him and to Spenser, but he didn’t want to upset his parents and the rest of the family.

He missed Sukie most. She used to worship the ground he walked on. She was always around in her spare time, helping him with the car, talking about school, about the extra lessons she and Vicki were taking with The Doctor, most of them done telepathically at the same time as their school lessons. She talked about the boys in her life. Jimmy Forrester was her favourite Human male. But she also had her ongoing email relationship with Earl Gregory, who was banned from any other kind of contact with her until she was seventeen. Davie always used to tease her about the dangers of having two sweethearts at once. He cited his own life as a case in point. Sukie used to laugh.

She didn’t laugh about it now.

Sukie had expected him to marry Brenda. When she found out that he had broken off his engagement and was proposing to marry Spenser instead she had turned against him just like everyone else. She had called him quite a few things that a fourteen year old girl shouldn’t even know the meaning of and run off in tears. And she hadn’t spoken to him since.

Chris lived in the Sanctuary just across the meadow from him, with all of his acolytes. His parents and sister were a mile away. Even closer were Christopher and Jackie and The Doctor and Rose and their children. But none of them ever came near him. Rose would call the children to her if he approached the garden where they played. Jackie, if she looked at him at all, did so with an expression of disgust. Christopher’s expression was a sad one. He seemed to want to reach out but he didn’t know how. He was a politician, used to breaking the ice at the most difficult of conference tables, but he didn’t know how to speak to his own grandson.

And The Doctor just closed himself off from him. His expression when they met each other was one of betrayal. Davie was the one he had pinned all his hopes on, and he had let him down.

None of them, of course, minded the fact that Spenser was a man. It wasn’t about that. This was the twenty-third century, after all. That wasn’t the reason why everyone he knew and loved had cut him off in such a way.

It was because of Brenda.

He sighed deeply as he thought about Brenda. He was sorry for what had happened to her. He was sorry for his part in her misfortune. But was he going to have to pay for it every day of his life? Were he and Spenser never going to know the smallest measure of peace?

“Hey.” Spenser opened his eyes and reached out to him. He kissed his cheek tenderly. “I hate it when I wake up to find you crying.”

“I’m not crying,” Davie lied. “I’m just.…”

“You’re crying.”

Davie tried and failed to stop the tears running down his face. Spenser embraced him and kissed him lovingly. His nearness was a comfort. Of course it was. He loved Spenser deeply. He had given up everything, everyone, in his life to be with him. Spenser’s love was the one thing he had that didn’t seem wrong. But even that was overshadowed by the sacrifices he had made to be with him.

“You’ll feel better later,” Spenser told him. “After you’ve seen her. You promised you wouldn’t abandon her. You said you’d see her once a fortnight. When you’ve kept your promise, you’ll feel better.”

“I suppose I will,” he sighed. “Spenser… I keep on thinking… if she just died… it would be over. I’d be free of that obligation then…”

“You don’t mean that you would….” Spenser was shocked. Davie reassured him quickly.

“No, of course not. I would never. But she could go any day. And then we’d be free. We could go away, the two of us, and make a new start.”


“Anywhere. Another planet.”

“We wouldn’t be welcome on a lot of them. SangC’lune, Tibora….”

“I wasn’t thinking of either of those places. There’s the whole Beta Delta system, and the Hydra quadrant. All Human colonies.”

“The Hydra quadrant is ultra conservative. They don’t allow people like us. And Beta Delta is like the wild west of America in the nineteenth century. I don’t want to live in a claim shanty on a prairie waiting out the winter to grow our first crops.”

“Somewhere else on Earth,” Davie suggested. “Australia, Canada… anywhere.”

“It wouldn’t matter where we went,” Spenser said. “Your broken hearts would still be here. I don’t think you could ever leave your family behind.”

“Yes, I could,” Davie replied bitterly. “They’ve already left me. They won’t forgive me for….”

“You won’t forgive yourself. You keep blaming yourself.”

“It’s my fault,” Davie responded. “Who else is responsible? I hurt her. I drove her to that desperate act. It is my fault. And you’re right… it’s no use even thinking about going anywhere else. Even if we went to the end of the universe, I’d still be the one to blame. It was stupid to imagine that I could ever escape my own guilt.”

“You’ve got to some time,” Spenser told him. “Because if you don’t, I’m not sure we’re going to make it. We can’t go on like this.”

“I love you,” Davie insisted. “That’s the only thing that really matters.”

“I love you, Davie,” Spenser assured him. “But it’s not the only thing that matters. If it was, you wouldn’t wake up crying. We wouldn’t be having conversations like this. We wouldn’t despair when we think of the future. Davie, I don’t think loving each other is going to be enough.”

Davie clung to his husband. He cried until he couldn’t cry any more. Spenser held him tightly. He kissed him and caressed him tenderly. There was no shortage of love, no dearth of passion between them. But Spenser had given voice to a truth that they both silently acknowledged. Their relationship was doomed to failure because of the huge emotional cost to them both.

After a while Davie rose from the bed. He showered and dressed while Spenser made breakfast. He ate some of the food, but without tasting it. Then he kissed Spenser and left the apartment. He drove his ordinary saloon car to the private hospital just outside Guildford where Brenda was a long term patient. He hoped this wasn’t one of the days when her parents visited. He couldn’t bear the hollow, empty eyes of her mother, or the hard, accusing ones of her father. He didn’t need either. He was hollow enough inside his own soul. And he did enough accusing all by himself.

It was his fault. He had broken her heart when he broke off their engagement because he loved Spenser more than he loved her and couldn’t go through with a marriage that would have been a sham. She had taken the news badly. But he didn’t know how badly until early the next morning when he heard the crash. She had taken his sports car, the one he and Spenser had won so many races in, and driven it at speed into the side of the workshop. The impact had reduced the car to so much scrap metal and she had been trapped inside. She had almost died. If he hadn’t pulled her out just in time…

It might have been better if she had, he reflected as the nurse brought him to the private room. It would have been over for everyone, for her, for her parents, for him. A century ago, even fifty years, twenty years, back, she wouldn’t have survived. Modern medical science saved her from death, even though she had very little life to live.

“Brenda!” He sat in the chair next to her life support wheelchair, by the window. They always sat her by the window, in the sunshine. It was meant to be better than lying down all the time. But he doubted she knew the difference. There was nothing in her blank expression that showed awareness of the sun on her face. She barely even blinked. She didn’t know if the sun was shining or if it was raining. She didn’t know that somebody was there to see her. She didn’t feel his hand clutching hers or the kiss on her cheek.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He said that every time he came to see her. And he was sorry, very sorry. But he had long ago run out of ways of expressing that sorrow. And even if he did, she couldn’t acknowledge it. She couldn’t forgive him.

“I’m sorry, Brenda,” he said again. But it never made him feel any better when he said it. It never would. She could live for a hundred years like this. He could come every month and sit with her for three, four, five hours, and repeat the same mantra. But nothing would ever change.

“No,” Davie protested as he found himself suspended in the nothingness again. “No, it wouldn’t be like that. Even if I did choose Spenser… it wouldn’t be like that. Brenda wouldn’t… and my family… they wouldn’t turn against me. My mum, dad, they wouldn’t. Chris and Sukie… they wouldn’t. It wouldn’t happen like that. They would forgive me. Even if… even if I didn’t forgive myself.”

“You would still destroy that girl’s life because you don’t love her enough.”

“I DO love her enough. We’re getting married next year. We brought the Alliance forward because we’re both ready. We don’t want to wait until she’s twenty-three as we originally planned. I’m building an apartment where we can live as a family. She’s already planning a nursery. And… I love her. I want that life so much. I want her to be my wife. I want to be a husband and father…”

“And what about Spenser?”

“Spenser understands that I love Brenda.”

“But do you love her enough? Or are you just choosing duty over your real desires?”

“No,” Davie insisted. “I love Brenda.”

Davie woke up. It was early morning. The pale blue post dawn sky of another glorious summer morning on Tibora was visible through the window. He turned over in his bed. It was empty.

Brenda was sleeping in the nursery, of course.

He remembered the row last night. It had been something and nothing, as usual. It had come out of the blue, as usual. Nothing in particular had started it. At first they’d been fine. The children were asleep and he suggested a walk down by the lake. Not too far, in case one of the little ones woke. They would hear them cry. But down by the water’s edge, it would almost be like when they were young, when the lodge was new and so was their marriage, before the children came along.

That wasn’t quite right, of course. It sounded as if the children were what made their marriage go wrong. That wasn’t true at all.

It had been wrong long before then.

It had been wrong before they got married.

The Alliance had been a fairy tale wedding of the sort any woman would dream of – or any man in love with a woman. Brenda had been so beautiful in the white satin dress laden down with diamonds as was the tradition in Oldblood Houses. He had been in full Gallifreyan costume, complete with a high collar and headdress. Chris as his best man had been slightly less elaborately dressed. He stuck to plain black with silver trimmings as befitted his status as the guru of his Sanctuary. His father had worn his Campbell plaid, insisting that Time Lords weren’t the only ones with tradition. His mother, Brenda’s mother, Jackie and Rose all looked stunning in their choice of gowns. Brenda’s father was stunned to be attending the Alliance of his daughter to a Lord of Time, the ceremony conducted by the President of the High Council of Gallifrey in Exile and his son, the Chancellor.

Sukie and Vicki were the principal bridesmaids in coral pink dresses. Peter and Garrick had been pageboys in little blue robes. Rose’s youngest daughters, Julia and Sarah Jane, had managed to toddle up the aisle with a flower basket held between them. Their brother, Jack, was entrusted with an embroidered cushion that served no purpose in the ceremony at all, but ensured that he wasn't left out of the proceedings.

Only one person had no formal role in the Alliance ceremony. And that was Spenser. He had asked him to be best man, but he quietly declined. Davie wasn’t even sure if he was going to be there until the very last minute. Then he saw him at the very back of the marquee, sitting alone. Davie wondered if he meant to stop the Alliance. There was a part, near the end, where anyone had the right to object to the final vows and stop the ceremony. He was almost certain Spenser was going to do that.

He didn’t. Davie married Brenda. A sumptuous reception followed and the honeymoon night.

And it was afterwards, when he lay awake with his beautiful wife in his arms, sleeping softly, that he wished fervently that Spenser had spoken up. If he had, he might have saved him from a terrible mistake.

He told himself he did love Brenda. And it was true to a point. He did love her. He had fallen in love with her almost the first time he met her. He had made the bond of Betrothal. He had given his hearts and soul to her.

And he did love her, in his way. He loved the children she had so dutifully born for him - two sets of twins in four years of marriage, two very difficult labours to bring them into the world. Yes, he loved her.

But it wasn’t a passionate love. There was no fire in his hearts. He cared for her. He didn’t want any harm to come to her. And he was fully prepared to live up to the duties of his Alliance to her.

But that was the problem. It felt like a duty, an obligation.

He felt that marrying her was a mistake and he was trapped by that mistake.

He was unhappy. And there was nothing he could do about it.

Except find happiness where he could.

He got up from the bed and dressed himself quickly. He slipped out of the lodge, feeling a cool breeze on his face as he crossed to what looked like a fishing tackle shed by the lakeside. A few seconds later the shed disappeared with a sound and a displacement of air.

In the nursery, sleeping on the sofa, Brenda heard the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising. She knew he would be back, later. She could guess where he was gone. She told herself she wasn’t hurt by his indifference to her feelings. But she was lying to herself. It hurt deeply to know that he sought love elsewhere. It hurt even more deeply to know that he would find it there.

The TARDIS materialised on the edge of the cliff on the Northumberland coast where Spenser’s ancestral home stood perilously close to falling right into the sea. He slipped into the house and up the stairs to the master bedroom. He paused at the door, wondering what he would do if Spenser wasn’t alone.

He was alone. Davie reached out and touched him. He woke suddenly, and spoke his name.

“You should have told me you were coming,” he said. “I might have… been with somebody else.”

“I thought I was the only man in your life,” Davie responded. “Aren’t you glad to see me?”

Spenser wrapped his arms around Davie’s neck and kissed him lovingly. But when he drew back from the kiss he was frowning.

“I am glad to see you. But you only ever come to see me when you’ve had a row with Brenda. It’s not exactly romantic.”

“I came to see you,” Davie answered him, slightly irritated. “Does it really matter?”

“Yes, it does,” Spenser told him. “I love you, Davie. But you don’t give love back. You just turn up here when you need something from me. You use me as a way of working off your frustrations. That’s not love.”

“I don’t want a row with you,” Davie said. “I’ve had enough of that.” He slipped off his coat and shoes and pulled off his shirt before sliding into the bed beside Spenser. “I want….”

“I know what you want,” Spenser replied. “And you know I won’t refuse you.”

Being with Spenser did work off his frustrations. He felt so much better afterwards. At least he usually did. This time, it didn’t feel the same. Spenser made him coffee and a sandwich before he left, as he always did. But there was something about his attitude that didn’t seem right.

“Please don’t do this any more,” he said. “I can’t just be… available… to you. I need a life, too. You’re married to Brenda. You made that choice. I have to make my own choices. I need somebody I can depend on.”

“You’re seeing somebody else?” Davie asked, jealousy piercing his hearts.

“No, but it’s time I did,” Spenser answered. “We’ll… always be friends, Davie. I will always love you. But I need more than we have. And I can’t ask you to leave Brenda and the children. So… I need somebody else in my life. And that means you can’t keep turning up here when it suits you.”

There was nothing more to say. Spenser was right. But it didn’t make it any easier. He finished his coffee and then went back to his TARDIS. Spenser walked with him. He kissed him tenderly as he said goodbye. But it was a kiss with a finality in it that was heartbreaking.

He got back to the lodge no more than half an hour after he left. The sun was rising over the lake and it looked beautiful, but Davie hardly looked at it.

He let himself into the lodge. It was quiet. It should have been quiet, of course. It was still very early. But there was something about the quietness this time that alarmed him.

He ran into the nursery and found it empty. The cots were unmade. The drawers were open as if the contents had been packed in a hurry.

He went to the bedroom. The bed there was unmade, too. There was a note on the pillow. He knew what it would say even before he opened it.

Brenda had left him. She had taken the children and gone to her parent’s house. That was only a mile away around the lake. But he knew there was no point in going there, in pleading with her. She made that clear in her note. She had told him it was no use going on pretending. He loved Spenser more than he loved her. She was releasing him from his obligation to stay with him.

But it was too late. Spenser didn’t want him.

He had lost them both.

“No!” Davie protested as the nothingness enfolded him. “No, it wouldn’t be like that. An Alliance of Unity is a solemn, binding contract. I would never… never break that contract. As much as I love Spenser, he would not be my bit on the side. I would not disrespect him… or Brenda by that sort of behaviour. It would not be like that. When Brenda and I are married, it will be for love. And it will be forever.”

“No, it will not. Because you don’t love her with all your heart. You have feelings for another.”

“Yes, I do,” Davie answered. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t love Brenda wholeheartedly. There is something about me that you don’t know.”

“And what is that?”

“I have two hearts.” He was in a kind of oblivion with no solidity at all, but even so, he stood up straight. He put his feet firmly down on nothing and drew himself up, shoulders squared, head erect. “I am a Time Lord. I have two hearts and at least five millennia to live and to give those hearts to whomsoever I choose. And for the foreseeable future, I choose to love Brenda Freeman AND Spenser Draxic. I won’t give up either of them and I won’t let either of them be hurt through any fault of mine.

“You cannot….”

“Yes, I can. Because that’s the whole problem with your Portal. It only recognises one kind of love, and one kind of marriage. I’ve travelled around this universe. I’ve seen people living happy lives in many different ways. Gendermorphs from Haollstrom – they never love for life. They love for as much as six months if they’re especially passionate. But for those six months it is true, perfect love. Then they move on and find new lovers. Then there is the Kilda of Sbavalan – there are more men than women in their tribes. A woman may have up to a dozen husbands. She loves them all. They love her. Borundian men give equal love and affection to their maximum of four wives. The Massila of B’Assilax have only one gender, and a marriage for them is between three. They think of any number less than that as incomplete. None of those would pass your test. Would you torture them as you have tortured me?”

He sensed the Guardian’s uncertainty even as he responded to him.

“You are of none of those species. You are… Human and Gallifreyan. And both of those races are monogamous.”

“I am something new. And your mind needs to get around it. Because I reject either of your scenarios. THIS is what my future will be.”

It was the morning of his Alliance to Brenda. He had butterflies in his stomach, but he wondered how much worse it was for Brenda. He hadn’t seen her for nearly two days. He had spent the time in meditation with Chris and Spenser. Now the two of them were helping him get ready for the most important day of his life since his Transcension.

“It’s not too late to back out,” Chris told him as he straightened his high collar and settled it a little easier on his shoulders for him. “You and Brenda could go up to the civil registry office and be married under the law of the British Federation in twenty minutes. You don’t have to go through the twelve hours of a Gallifreyan Alliance.”

“Yes, I do,” he answered. “I want her to know I am giving myself to her one hundred per cent – wholeheartedly.”

“You have two hearts, Davie.”

“I know. And one of them belongs to Brenda.”

“The other…”

“Belongs to you, Chris, the other half of my soul, and to fast cars and to the pursuit of justice and mercy in this troubled universe… and… and to Spenser.” He smiled as his other ‘best man’ reached out to him. They embraced fondly and Davie kissed him on the lips briefly.

Then he was ready for his Alliance. Chris and Spenser walked with him to the already crowded marquee and stood beside him as he waited for his bride to arrive. When she did, and he stepped forward to take her hand, they stepped back.

“Spenser knew I was going to marry Brenda long before he admitted that he was in love with me. Even when I acknowledged that love and returned it in some measure, he knew that I couldn’t be his. He accepted that he could be no more than a loving friend.”

And he was. Davie’s precognitive visions moved on a few years. He focussed on a stormy winter’s night with a gale howling and rain pounding on the windows. It was late, but there were lights on all over the house. Davie stepped out of his bedroom and smiled as he saw Spenser waiting anxiously by the stairs. He went to him and hugged him lovingly. There were happy tears in his eyes.

“I’m a dad,” he said emotionally. “Twin boys… five pounds each. Brenda is exhausted, but she’s doing great. Can you imagine it? I’m a dad… I’ve got two sons to raise somehow.”

“You’ll do a wonderful job of it,” Spenser told him. “Don’t let them get behind the wheel of a racing car until they’re at least a hundred, though, or Brenda will have a fit.”

He laughed and sobbed at the same time and hugged his friend tightly.

“We’re going to do the naming ceremony in a little while. According to Gallifreyan tradition. You’ll be their mentor.”

It was the nearest Gallifreyan equivalent to a god-parent as understood in other societies. Spenser nodded happily.

“I’ll probably never have children of my own. To be asked to share in the future of yours… thank you, Davie.”

Another vision. This time they were at the lodge on Tibora, by the lake. It was after sunset, but still beautifully warm and a full moon made a perfect silvery path across the crystal water.

Davie and Spenser sat together on the wooden veranda. They were holding hands. For no reason whatsoever, Davie leaned over and kissed Spenser. Then both turned as Brenda stepped out of the lodge carrying a tray of cocoa. Spenser beat Davie to it as he scrambled up and took the tray from her. Davie solicitously made her sit down with cushions behind her back.

“Two weeks to the birth of our little girls and you’re trying to serve me… as if you still think I’m a god to be worshipped with food and drink.”

“You are,” she told him. She smiled and kissed him lovingly. “My Lord.”

“That’s the kind of talk sixteen months ago that led to you expecting another pair of twins,” Davie told her teasingly. He drew back from his embrace to take the mug that Spenser passed to him. They all drank and looked over the beautiful lake. Davie sighed contentedly. The boys were born on Earth. The girls were going to be born here on Tibora. Spenser would be their mentor, too. He was almost as anxious for their birth as Davie was. He was longing to hold them in his arms.

Davie kissed his wife again, then turned and kissed Spenser. Brenda saw the gesture and smiled. Some women might have been jealous to see their husband giving affection to another man. But Davie never loved her any less just because he loved Spenser, too. He had never been unfaithful to her in the physical sense. She knew that. Spenser didn’t ask him to be. His love wasn’t of that sort. He just wanted to be a part of Davie’s life, to support him in times of trouble and celebrate with him in times of joy. And that’s how it had always been, and always would be. He was here with them on Tibora so that he wouldn’t miss a moment of their newest reason for joy. And she was glad of it.

Many years later, Spenser sat quietly in a solemn room. Davie’s two sons and his two daughters and their spouses and their own children were with him. The littlest of the grandchildren was on his knee. The child’s mother was having a hard time of it. Her husband comforted her. The others were quiet. Something of that famous Gallifreyan stoicism was holding them together, though each and every one of them had tear ducts and might have cried easily.

Davie came into the room. He looked older these past few days. He was three hundred and ninety years old, and looked a healthy thirty-five in Earth reckoning. But grief had left its mark on him. His eyes looked old.

“It’s time to go,” he said quietly and everyone stood at once. Davie stood by the door as his children and grandchildren filed past. He acknowledged their hugs and kisses with a soft smile. When they were gone, he looked at Spenser and held out his hand. Spenser took the hand and held it tightly.

“It’s not exactly appropriate,” Spenser said. “For me to be holding your hand at your wife’s funeral.”

“It was her last wish, remember,” Davie answered. “She told you to look after me.”

“Yes, she did. And I fully intend to do that.” He sighed and shook his head. “I’m going to miss her as much as you will, Davie.”

“I know. But we always knew… I’m a Time Lord. She was Tiboran. They have a longer lifespan than humans. We’ve had a good life together. But it was always going to come to this. ‘When an angel woos the clay, he’ll lose his wings at the close of day’.”

Spenser said nothing. But he closed his arms around Davie and held him tightly for a little while. Then they both squared their shoulders and walked side by side out of the house and into the chief mourning car behind the hearse. Davie held back his tears, grateful for the firm hand that held onto his and stopped it from trembling. Most of the family fully expected that he and Spenser would become an item now. They probably would. Not right away, of course. He wasn’t quite ready. He was still missing Brenda too much. But he knew he could rely on Spenser to give him the same loving support he had given him through his wife’s last illness, and when the time was right, yes, it was almost taken for granted that Spenser would become his lover, his partner, whatever word anyone chose to use. They were both Time Lords. They had millennia to live. And they would be each other’s help and comfort through those millennia, now.

“That’s how you think it would be?” demanded his accuser. “He would wait until your wife dies of old age so that you can be together?”

“If he wants to. I’ve told him many times he should find somebody to be with him. But if he chooses to wait, then, yes. I can give my full measure of devotion to Brenda and still have that other kind of life with Spenser. I don’t have to live my life as narrowly as you demand. I can give my two hearts freely. And I intend to do that. So… let me go right now. Or I’ll find a way to kick you where it hurts, even if you are a disembodied entity with no corporeal form.”

There was no reply, but Davie a hand closing around his. Two hands, one small and feminine, the other masculine. He felt a kiss on his lips. He wasn’t quite sure who it was, but he knew it was somebody he loved.

He opened his eyes and gasped with joy as he saw Brenda leaning over to kiss him again. Then he saw Spenser and reached out to touch him.

“How did you get here?” he asked. “We are still on Gassib Bau?” His long range vision came into focus. He saw beyond the canopy that shaded him from the sun. Yes, there were the mountains, and the plateau, the Marriage Portal which couples were still lining up to pass through and have their true love measured.

“Tristie called Chris,” Brenda explained. “He came straight away when he heard you were hurt. Spenser came with him. He said he had to be with you. We’ve both been beside you all through it. Davie, I was so scared.”

“We all were,” Spenser added. “We thought you were never going to wake up. It’s been seventeen hours. Chris wanted to put you in the TARDIS and bring you home. But that lot… the Guardians of the Portal – they said you could not leave this place until you had faced the Great Guardian and passed or failed his test.”

“You must have passed,” Brenda added.

“No, I don’t think I did,” Davie answered her. “Not according to his rules, anyway. But I made up some of my own.” He stood, leaning on Spenser’s shoulder and reaching to hold Brenda’s hand, still. Chris was there. Tristie, with Trudi clinging to his arm, was waiting, too. They all looked relieved to see him standing upright.

“I’ll slave your TARDIS to mine then you can take a rest on the way home,” Chris said to him. “Yes, I know you’ve been asleep for seventeen hours. But that’s not the point.”

“Not just yet,” Davie answered. “There’s something I have to do, first.” He stood up straight and unaided. Then he took hold of Brenda and Spenser’s hands and walked towards the Portal. Chris began to follow, but Tristie stopped him. He wasn’t sure what Davie meant to do, but he knew nobody else ought to interfere.

“Davie,” Brenda protested. “Don’t. That thing nearly killed you already. Don’t go near it again.”

“That thing has had its definitions of love re-evaluated. And I’m just going to prove it.”

Brenda tightened her hold on his hand. Spenser did, too. The three of them stepped into the Marriage Portal.

All three felt a sensation of pure joy as the blue light enveloped them. They forgot to analyse what it was because it was such a pleasant, enlightening and uplifting experience that to do so would have been like trying to explain a miracle. They just made the most of it for as long as it lasted.

“Ok,” Davie said when it was over and they walked back to the rest of their party. “Let’s go home now.”

Chris slaved the two TARDISes and they travelled back to the space station where Tristie had left his. Davie was quiet during the journey, but not unhappy. He spent most of the time sitting on the sofa in the Chinese TARDIS with Spenser and Brenda, holding hands with them both, kissing and hugging them both. Tristie turned from looking at them and nodded to Chris.

“Brenda was already dead of old age when I was born,” he said. “You must have figured out the maths about that. Stands to reason. But by then, he and Spenser had been married to each other for ages. They were my favourite pair of uncles. Don’t tell either of them that, will you? This living outside of our timelines does get confusing, sometimes.”

Chris looked at Tristie, then back to his brother and the two people he loved. Yes, he could do the maths, too. In Davie’s life one and one and one made three. And he couldn’t think of a single reason why that was wrong.