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Looking for Eccleston – 3. A Chance to Reconnect


3. A Chance to Reconnect

This story is for The Classics Are Ace whose request was: The 4th Doctor meets his former companion Jo Jones and discusses with her what happened with the crystal he’s got from Metebelis III.


She paused at the main gate of U.N.I.T Headquarters and wondered for maybe the hundredth time if she wasn’t going to regret this little escapade. She had seen an opportunity to visit her friends and former colleagues when her husband had been invited to give a series of lectures in the vicinity. She had been counting the days, looking forward to this impromptu reunion with all those wonderful people she had worked with. As she was about to enter the premises, she felt a bit unsecure. The guard took the decision for her when he opened the door and motioned her to enter. She took a deep breath and stepped in. Despite the fact that she hadn’t been around for a long time, she still managed to find her way in the building. She stopped in front of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s office and knocked on the door. A familiar and authoritative voice ordered her to enter. The man hadn’t changed a bit. He was sitting at his desk, barking orders on the phone. He certainly meant business. He seemed briefly surprised to see her, but it was only when he hung up that his face lightened a little.

“How are you Miss Grant? I mean, Misses Jones?”

He got up and shook her hand, before inviting her to sit on one of the chairs in front of his desk. Jo felt a bit disappointed. She had hoped for a less formal meeting. Lethbridge-Stewart had been in the military too long and had forgotten how to be natural.

“I’m fine, thank you,” she replied.

The Brigadier asked her about her life, her work as a humanitarian and her travels. She spoke freely, sharing anecdotes and stories while her former boss listened politely, obviously amused by the fact that she was still the same go-ahead person she used to be when she worked for U.N.I.T.

“And you? How are you doing?” She finally asked.

The reply was as disappointing as the welcome. The man couldn’t speak openly. She was no longer a member of the staff, therefore she wasn’t supposed to know about U.N.I.T’s missions and projects.

“At least, can you tell me how is the Doctor? Is he still around?”

A shadow crossed the Brigadier’s face and Jo suddenly feared the answer to her questions. She still recalled vividly the last time she had seen him. The mixture of pride and sadness in him had moved her. That evening, when she was celebrating her engagement, he had stepped out of her life and she had feared that he had gone away for good, leaving Earth with his TARDIS.

“Yes, he is still around, sometimes. When it suits him,” finally said Lethbridge-Stewart. “You know how he is. Since his machine is fixed, he comes and goes. We don’t see him for weeks sometimes.”

The soldier noticed Jo’s anxious look and immediately reassured her:

“Yes, he is presently here. You may find him in his laboratory. I’ll ask Sergeant Benton to escort you down there.”

The former U.N.I.T member was about to protest, but she remembered that she was no longer part of the family and the rules were clear: no stranger was allowed to wander alone in the building. At least, she would get an opportunity to see a friendly face. And indeed, Benton looked very happy to see her. Unlike the Brigadier, he welcomed her warmly and chatted on their way to the laboratory, sharing general news about her former colleagues as well as a few harmless anecdotes.

They were approaching the laboratory and Jo noticed that her companion had slowed down.

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

She wasn’t worried yet, she just felt uncomfortable.

“Nothing is wrong, not really,” clumsily explained the sergeant. “It’s simply that…”


He stopped to face her.

“I really don’t know how to tell you.”

“Tell me what?”

“Maybe you should see by yourself.”

His hesitation was driving Jo crazy. As he was about to resume walking, she grabbed his arm firmly and forced him to confront him.

“You better tell me now. I know that something isn’t right. The Brigadier acted strangely too when I mentioned the Doctor. So now is your chance to tell me exactly what is going on.”

Benton sighed heavily:

“Alright. The Doctor. He is not the one you knew. He is…changed.”

“Changed? How?”

Her companion pulled a face and pointed towards the laboratory:

“You really should see by yourself.”

As they walked the few meters that separated them from the laboratory, Jo did her best to mentally prepare herself to anything. All sorts of scenarios went through her mind. Maybe one of his experiments had gone wrong and the Doctor had been horribly disfigured. Maybe he had decided to change his wardrobe and had cut his beautiful hair. When Benton knocked at the door, a deep voice shouted “Enter!”. Jo’s first thought was that the Doctor’s new assistant had quite a nice voice. Both the sergeant and she entered. The woman’s eyes fell on the TARDIS still parked at her usual place. The familiar sight brought a smile on Jo’s face. Then she saw a tall and thin man starring at her. He looked totally out of place in the environment, mostly because of his strange choice of clothes. He had an agreeable face however, brown curly hair and his eyes betrayed an acute intelligence.

“Who are you?” Asked Jo. “Where is the Doctor?”

“Jo, he is the Doctor,” Benton said gently.

He felt sorry for his former colleague when he saw the expression of shock on her features. The scientific advisor didn’t seem otherwise moved by her reaction. Instead, he smiled broadly and took a paper bag from his pocket:

“Care for a jelly baby?” He offered.

There was something touching about the way the Doctor behaved. He seemed unable to decide how to deal with his visitor who looked like she was about to start crying. She managed to get hold of herself and took a few steps towards the Doctor who was still smiling. She placed a hand on his cheek and whispered:

“Is it you? Is it really you?”

“Oh course it’s me!”

The Time Lord gently took the woman’s hand away.

“It’s Jo, right? Jo Grant, my assistant.”

“Your former assistant. And it’s Jo Jones now.”

She read confusion in the Doctor’s eyes and she went on:

“I married Clifford Jones, remember? And I quit U.N.I.T. We travelled to the Amazon.”

“And you returned me the blue crystal from Metebelis III…” Said dreamingly the Time Lord.

Benton realised that the conversation was about to take a very personal turn and that his presence wasn’t required anymore. He motioned Jo to give him a call when she would be ready to leave and he silently left the laboratory.

“What happened, Doctor?” Asked the scientific advisor’s former assistant.

“Oh, nothing very important. Did you know that it was really a silly mistake to steal the crystal in the first place? It always comes back to you eventually! That’s a lesson I should try to remember.”

Jo realised that the Doctor seemed to focus on the blue crystal. She remembered the warnings of the locals when they had first set their eyes on the blue stone. She had been scared which enough to return the crystal to the man who had offered it to her in the first place. She tried to remember what she wrote in her letter. She had explained the reason why she was forced to part with it, because she felt that she should be apologising to the Doctor. The crystal had been a testimony of the happiest time in her life, one that was strangely tainted with sadness at the same time.

“What happened, Doctor?” She insisted.

The Time Lord winced in pain and Jo realised that his efforts to remember were causing him a great distress. She looked around and saw two chairs against the wall. She quickly fetched them and they both sat, facing each other.


He starred at her. Confusion could be read again on his face. Just as she was about to speak, something jumped on the Time Lord’s lap and Jo startled violently. Next thing she knew she was laughing nervously. A Chartreux cat was now resting on the Doctor, his golden eyes fixed on her. There was something quite disturbing about the way he looked at her and she got the feeling that the pet was very protective about the scientific advisor.

“Since when do you have a cat?”

“Oh, meet Eccleston. I found him a long time ago.”

Puzzled, Jo wondered what he meant by “a long time ago”. Her Doctor never had any pet…

“Metebelis III was my mistake,” the Time Lord suddenly said. “And I had to fix it.”

“Your mistake?” Repeated Jo. “I don’t understand.”

The scientific advisor sent her a warm smile. Suddenly he seemed quite himself again.

“I’m sorry if I’m confusing you. Let me explain properly. Giant spiders came on Earth to retrieve the blue crystal I had stolen on Metebelis III long before they crashed.”

“What? Who crashed? And where did those giant spiders come from? I don’t follow, Doctor!”

“Oh my, I forgot how patient I had to be with you. Some things never change, do they?”

Jo wasn’t entirely sure whether he meant this as a token to his affection for her or if he was insulting her. She decided to ignore his comment and tried hard to make sense of what he had said before.

“Let me get it straight. You stole the blue crystal and some giant spiders from Metebelis III followed you on Earth to retrieve it.”

The Doctor made a strange face but nodded:

“Yes, that’s more or less accurate. Now, I had to go back to Metebelis III to…”

“…defeat the giant spiders!” Finished Jo. “See? I got it!”

The Time Lord looked down at the cat and started petting him. Silence fell on the laboratory and Jo wondered once again if coming here had been a good idea. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something had happened and that she was in part responsible. Furthermore, the Doctor seemed distant and it hurt. She recalled her time with “her” scientific advisor and a feeling of nostalgia overwhelmed her.

“I have missed you,” she finally said. “Life with Clifford is exciting and he is a lovely man, but he is not you.”

As soon as she spoke the words, she realised how stupid she sounded. The Doctor had changed and she found it very hard to acknowledge the fact that he was the same person only in a different body. She decided that it was best for her to leave. She felt out of place. Even the cat seemed more at ease than her in the laboratory. She got up and the Time Lord raised his head, a quizzical look on his face.

“Regeneration is a tricky business. It’s not easy to adjust to the change.”

Jo sat back.

“I don’t understand. What happened to you? Why did you change?”

“In order to defeat the giant spider as you named it, I had to go in her lair. My previous body couldn’t stand the radiation levels. You might say that I died of radiation poisoning.”

“But, if you died, then…”

The scientific advisor winked.

“I’m a Time Lord. We regenerate in a new body. Call it the secret of our extended lifespan. But trust my word on this, it’s not as easy as it sounds. We usually experience confusion, dizziness, sometimes even memory losses. For instance, I don’t remember how Eccleston got back here. I know that he is my cat, at least that’s what he claims…”

“And this doesn’t bother you?” Asked his former assistant. “I know that I would hate the feeling.”

The big smile was back. One thing was sure, this Doctor seemed a lot more cheerfull than his previous self.

“I didn’t say that I liked it, I still need to find my balance, so to speak. Your visit triggered some old memories and I need to sort them out, put them in the right order, preferably chronologically.”

Jo couldn’t help it but started laughing.

“I am so glad that I dropped by. I’m glad that I met the new you.”

“Well, you know, there is still room for you on the TARDIS if you miss your old life. The old girl is still in working order.”

The cat didn’t seem to like what he heard. He jumped down and walked towards the time machine, much to Jo’s amazement. He then disappeared inside.

“Of course, Eccleston might be a bit difficult at first. He is very picky when it comes to assistants and he likes being consulted beforehand, hence his reaction right now. He probably didn’t like the fact that I invited you without consulting him.”

“Oh, I see,” smiled Jo. “It’s okay. I’m afraid I have to decline the invitation anyway. I’m really touched, but Clifford might not be very happy to loose his assistant and wife you see.”

“Of course, I’m sorry, I was being selfish again.”

“It’s quite alright. I better get going. We are running on a tight schedule.”

She got up and reached for the phone. She still remembered Benton’s extension number and she was glad when he picked up instantly.

“Would you mind coming down and escort me back to the main gate?”

Jo was grateful to the sergeant who showed up in less than five minutes. She was standing near the door while the Doctor remained sitted. An awkward silence had filled the room.

 “Goodbye, Doctor.”

“Goodbye, Jo.”

For the faintest of moments, the Time Lord sounded like the one she had been used to, up to the way he looked at her. There was kindness in his eyes.

Jo followed Benton into the corridor and they walked in silence until the sergeant couldn’t bear it anymore.

“You don’t look very happy…”

“I’m sorry,” Jo sighed. “It’s just that I didn’t expect him to be so different.”

“He is not that different, you know. A bit sillier, maybe, but one gets used to it.”

That was just the thing. Jo wasn’t part of U.N.I.T anymore, there was no chance she could get used to the change. She didn’t even find him silly. To her, he looked like a confused man struggling to fit in a new environment.

As they were about to reach the main door, they saw a young woman enter the building. She smiled at Benton when she walked past them and he smiled back. She seemed a bit in a hurry and Jo wondered who she might be. She was not wearing the mandatory U.N.I.T uniform and she wasn’t behaving like a soldier. She also didn’t look like a member of the administrative staff.

“That was Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor’s assistant. She is a journalist,” explained Benton. “And a fine one with that.”

“Oh, I see.”

Jo suddenly wished that she hadn’t come. It had been definitively a bad idea.


Third Interlude

“Did you ever see her again?”


“Your former assistant, Jo.”

The Doctor nodded.

“Yes. Years later I got a chance to see her again. She has led a very interesting life, you know. One could even say that she fulfilled her dreams.”

I glanced at the Doctor. He looked nostalgic. He was probably thinking about Jo, how time had passed for her without him.

“I know that they always leave me. She chose Clifford and I was proud that she followed such a brilliant mind. But I don’t like goodbyes and I didn’t know how to react when she dropped by. I think that I drove her away. I wasn’t ready for that discussion.”

And you still aren’t, I thought for myself.

For the first time since I knew the Doctor, I realised that the most unstable person in the galaxy, the perpetual traveller, was desperately looking for a form of stability in his life.

My eyes fell on Eccleston. I briefly got the feeling that the cat was smiling. There it was; the stable element in the Doctor’s unstable life. I smiled too and petted the Time Lord’s furry companion who purred in answer.


Looking for Eccleston – 2. Chaos in the Laboratory


2. Chaos in the Laboratory

This story is for SpacePrincess whose request was: The Second and Third Doctor are forced to work together when the TARDIS is stolen.


It started with a general breakdown. Those who didn’t believe in coincidence claimed that if was a plot orchestrated by the military. Their assumption was however incorrect as the military forces were experiencing the same problem. They were blind, deaf and mute. All surveillance systems were down along with communications. All electronic devices were impacted and no one could explain what was happening. The only certitude was that almost nothing was working anymore. The country was on the brink of disaster and the state of emergency was declared.


When the news reached Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, his bad mood increased and he openly cursed all “those incompetent bureaucrats who don’t know what they are doing”. Those present in the room didn’t dare contradict him. He was the leader after all, which meant that he probably knew what he was saying. Lethbridge-Stewart was a man of action. He wanted answers and he wanted them now. There was only one man he trusted to explain what was happening: his scientific advisor.

The Brigadier considered himself an expert when it came to the rather unconventional scientist working with U.N.I.T. He was rarely surprised by his odd behaviour or actions, and that was his pride. To him, it also meant that he knew the Doctor well enough to anticipate said behaviour or actions. When he went down to the laboratory, he expected the Time Lord to be working on the mystery they were all facing. He wasn’t yet prepared to what he found. The laboratory was a mess of tools and devices, as usual, but this time, it seemed that the scientific advisor had decided to add parts of his (broken) time machine to the collection. Lethbridge-Stewart paused at the door and looked as the scientist hurriedly plugged cables, switched buttons, and checked the results of his apparent random actions on two monitors. He was working fast and with high focus. At first sight, he looked like a Dandy from a decadent aristocracy with his velvet suit and ruffled shirt. Some wrongly identified him as a poet because of the mop of silver hair that gave him a distinctive look. For the Brigadier however, he was the Doctor, an alien exiled on Earth by his own people and an incredible scientist who had helped U.N.I.T many times in the past. The soldier was confident that this time would be no exception. If someone could discover what was happening, it was his scientific advisor.

“Doctor?” He asked to get the man’s attention.

“Shh, not now. Busy.”

“I can see that. But I need answers.”

“Don’t have them now. Come back later.”

And with that, the Time Lord waved his hand dismissively. Lethbridge-Stewart smiled but didn’t leave. He too could be quite stubborn. He walked in the laboratory and stopped next to the Time Lord.

“Is that your TARDIS console?”

Cables ran from the blue box to the object on which buttons, lights and levers of unknown use were displayed.

“It is.”

“How do you manage to keep everything working?”

“Not the same technology as yours.”

It was amazing how the Doctor managed to answer while concentrating on a monitor at the same time.

“Ha ha!” He shouted.

Lethbridge-Stewart waited patiently for the explanation that would follow. It was custom that whenever the Time Lord had a breakthrough he would love an audience to extol his knowledge.

“I may not have found the source of your problem yet, but I can already tell you that it’s due to a massive time-space distortion that has been converted into a disruptive energy beam. If I manage to reverse the polarity of the flux, I might be able to cancel its effects. Everything should be back to normal afterwards.”

“Right. Sounds good,” said the Brigadier who – as usual – hadn’t understood a word, except the part relating to the fact that things would be back to normal.

“In fact, it’s so easy that I can do it right now. It shouldn’t take long to work the settings,” the Time Lord announced happily.

The Doctor fumbled with his control and turned towards Lethbridge-Stewart who had taken a few steps back to give some room to the scientist.

“Ready?” Asked the Time Lord.

“I’m rather impatient to put all this behind. It’s been a proper bureaucratic nightmare,” complained the soldier.

The Time Lord had already lost interest in the Brigadier’s problems with his chain of command. He pulled a lever and jerked.

Lethbridge-Stewart didn’t need to be a scientist to see that something was wrong. Very wrong. A blue serpentine light had appeared as soon as the Doctor had touched the controls. The soldier guessed that it was some sort of energy flux or current. As a matter of fact, the scientist seemed caught in it. He was shaking and shivering like a man experiencing an electric shock. The Brigadier had no idea how the equipment worked but he knew that he had to do something. Time was of the essence. He did the only logical thing he could think about. Running to the power generator at the entrance of the laboratory, he switched it off.

The blue light vanished in an instant. The Doctor staggered back and collapsed. The Brigadier caught him on time and eased him gently on the floor. Eyes open, the Time Lord’s face expressed a mixture of shock and surprise. He was still slightly shivering.

“Doctor? Can you hear me?”

Lethbridge-Stewart checked his pulse. It was racing. The soldier looked around and saw the phone. Then he remembered that all communications had been cut.

“Blast!” He cursed out loud.

He had to leave the laboratory to get help but the Time Lord’s current condition prevented him from doing so.

 “Doctor?” He called again.

The Time Lord seemed miles away. He was whispering incoherent words and the Brigadier started to fear that his brain had sustained damage from the shock. At least he wasn’t in a coma – yet. Still, he needed medical attention and quickly. Lethbridge-Stewart got up and ran in the corridor. He started shouting, hoping to attract his men’s attention. When he looked back inside the laboratory, his eyes widen in surprise. The Doctor’s body was splitting. The Brigadier rubbed his eyes, but it was no illusion. Another silhouette was clearly superimposed on the scientific advisor. The soldier went back in the laboratory and realised that the TARDIS was affected too. There was a second time machine trying to materialise more or less at the same spot as the one already there. Looking down at the Doctor, the soldier saw two bodies resting on the ground. He couldn’t help but smile when he recognised the newcomer.

“Doctor,” he called on a friendly tone.

Both Time Lords opened their eyes, sat upright and noticed their other self.

“You again,” they said in a perfect chorus.

“Here we go again…” Sighed Lethbridge-Stewart as he affected annoyance.

But deep inside, he was quite happy. Things would improve from now on, providing that the two Doctors would be able to work together this time…

They stood up, still facing each other.

“How did I arrive here?” Wondered the short raggedy Doctor with black hair.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t summon you,” said his other self.

“That doesn’t really surprise me. I guess that you’re not even curious to know how I ended up here… again!”

“Gentlemen,” intervened the Brigadier who had the strong feeling that he was about to become their mediator. “What if you tried to find an explanation to all this together.”

“My dear friend! I’m so happy so see you!”

The raggedy Doctor jumped towards the soldier and shook his hand vigorously.

“I’m happy to see you too, Doctor. Too bad it is not under happier circumstances.

“Oh? How so?”

“We are experiencing some sort of unknown crisis.”

“I see, maybe it would be best if my other self brought me up to speed.”

Both Doctors faced one another and closed their eyes. Lethbridge-Stewart looked in amazement as the Time Lords created a telepathic link.



It took them only seconds to share their knowledge. When it was done, they both turned towards the Brigadier:

“We need your help. We must know exactly what happened when I pulled the lever.”

The soldier knew that he better be as accurate as possible. He told them everything, from the blue light to the splitting of the Doctor and the TARDIS.

“Wait, what? The TARDIS?” Interrupted the current science advisor.

“Yes, it was as if there were two TARDIS fighting for the same space.”

The two Doctors rushed inside the time machine and almost got stuck in the doorframe as they tried to enter at the same time.

Lethbridge-Stewart rolled his eyes. This was leading to some major headache. He waited until they came out of the TARDIS. Both wore the same worried expression on their face. Because the Brigadier hadn’t heard any dispute or shouting between them, he started to worry too.

“Is it that bad?” He asked.

He wasn’t sure whether he referred to the general breakdown, the two Doctors or the TARDIS thing.

“I’ve been played all along,” confessed sternly the Doctor with the silver hair.

His gloomy mood wasn’t a good sign.

“You couldn’t know,” his counterpart tried to comfort him.

That too wasn’t a good sign.

“Would someone care to explain?” Ordered Lethbridge-Stewart.

“Whoever organised the breakdown was clever. It was a trap. It was meant to catch my attention. The disruption of all electronic devices led me to investigate and try to find a solution to the problem. That too had been anticipated. Remember when I told you that a distortion in time and space had been converted into an energy beam? Its purpose was to get something from me.”

“And what would that be?” Carefully asked the Brigadier.

“A working TARDIS,” concluded the raggedy Doctor. “My TARDIS.”

“What? You mean that…”

“Yes, someone deliberately forced me to materialise on this timeline with no regards to the potential consequences on Earth or on myself for that matter.”

“All your systems should be working properly from now on,” sighed the science advisor.

And indeed the phone started ringing. The soldier picked up and listened to the report one of his men gave him. When he hung up, he informed the two Doctors that they had been right. All surveillance and communication systems were back online along with all electronic devices.

“It’s as if nothing ever happened,” he said. “The state of emergency has been cancelled.”

“That’s already good news,” smiled the raggedy Doctor.

“Now let’s focus on your TARDIS, shall we?” Suggested the other Time Lord.

“If there is anything I can do to help…” Offered the Brigadier.

The Doctors exchanged a glance.

“As a matter of fact, there might be something you could do… How many men can you spare?”

Lethbridge-Stewart saw the same twinkle shine in the Doctors’ eyes, a fact that amused him. He suddenly felt sorry for the poor bastard who had stolen the TARDIS.

“What’s the plan?”

“If we can trace the source of the energy beam, there is a fair chance that we might find the TARDIS in time.”

The Brigadier frowned.

“Wait, I don’t follow. You said earlier that it was the working TARDIS that had been stolen. What if the thief manages to operate it.”

“Oh I doubt it. You see, first he needs to gain access to it. As you know it can prove quite challenging,” explained the raggedy Doctor. “And then of course, there is Eccleston.”


Lethbridge-Stewart saw the change on his scientific advisor’s face. His eyes mellowed and even the wrinkles seemed to soften.

“My cat,” he said.

There was tenderness in his voice and the soldier realised that he had never seen this aspect of the Doctor before.

“I didn’t know that you had a cat,” he noted.

“That’s because this face never saw him.”

This time, there was sadness in his voice and the Brigadier felt sorry for the Time Lord. He didn’t dare ask the reason why the science advisor hadn’t seen his cat. It felt inappropriate, especially since the raggedy Doctor had put a comforting hand on his counterpart’s shoulder. This was not the time for asking personal questions.

“When we find my TARDIS, you will see him again.”

A hopeful smile blossomed on the scientific advisor’s lips.

“Then let’s not waste any more time. We need to locate the source of the energy beam.”

They started to work on the console while Lethbridge-Stewart organised the search team. He was confident that the two Time Lords would succeed in their efforts to find the missing TARDIS. One question remained unanswered. He wondered what the raggedy Doctor had meant when he had said that even if the thief managed to enter the time machine, there would be Eccleston. How could a cat prevent anyone from using the TARDIS and leave Earth?

“I’ve got an idea,” suddenly said the raggedy Doctor. “Using your TARDIS, we might be able to call back mine!”

“But that would only increase the paradox…”

“Not if we act quickly. As soon as it materialises, all you need to do is…”

“…reverse the polarity flux. I get it.”

Still the scientific advisor didn’t seem very excited about the idea. His other self noticed it and came to the same conclusion as the Brigadier.

“You wish to see Eccleston… I’m sorry, I should have thought about it. It might still be possible. Let’s give it a try, shall we?”

They worked in silence while Lethbridge-Stewart watched as their movements were perfectly synchronised. For an untrained eye, it would have been rather unsettling, but the soldier knew better. Despite their physical differences they were one and the same person and the way they acted was proof enough.

“I would advise you to keep back,” said the raggedy Doctor. “We are about to try and sort this out.”

The Brigadier walked away and stood under the door frame. He was starting to feel nervous about the whole thing but forced himself to keep calm. The Doctors shared a last glance and operated the lever that had provoked the blue light together. At first, nothing happened. Then a muffled sound could be heard. Lethbridge-Stewart looked at the TARDIS. It seemed that another one was trying to materialise at the same spot, just like before.

“It’s working!” He shouted despite himself.

The Doctors turned towards the time machines, apparently satisfied by the result of their experiment.

The raggedy Doctor approached the TARDIS. Instantly his frame started to blur.

“Quickly, we don’t have much time!” He urged to his counterpart, who joined him.

The Brigadier should never forget what he saw next. A Chartreux cat was sitting on the threshold of the time machine. The scientific advisor came closer and kneeled in front of him. When he started to sing, Lethbridge-Stewart felt his heart melt.

“Klokleda partha mennin klatch, 

Haroon, haroon, haroon,

Klokleda shunna teerenatch,

Haroon, haroon, haroon.”

Did the cat recognise the Doctor? The soldier should never know. But Eccleston started to purr. As the TARDIS became increasingly unstable, the raggedy Doctor quickly walked through the entrance, picking up his cat in the process. Before he closed the door, he waved at Letbridge-Stewart.

“Goodbye Brigadier! I hope to see you soon!”

The soldier didn’t have time to reply. The time machine vanished. The scientific advisor got up and went back to his console. He started to tidy it as if nothing had happened.

“We shall not need your help after all,” he said matter of factly.

And with that, he waved his hand dismissively. The Brigadier smiled and left the laboratory, leaving the Doctor to his experiments. He couldn’t help but think that he had learned a great deal about him and that one the mystery around him would disappear for good…


Second Interlude

The Doctor was singing softly. Eyes half closed, Eccleston was purring in delight.

“Tell me,” I said, unable to conceal my curiosity. “What could your cat have done to prevent the theft from the TARDIS?”

The Time Lord stopped singing and looked at me.

“Oh that’s easy. As I mentioned earlier, Eccleston is very clever. It is common knowledge that Chartreux cats can be taught some tricks. I taught him how to operate the safety measures on the TARDIS. That way, should I be disabled, he would still be able to protect my ship and maybe myself…”

The way he spoke was quite moving and I decided that it was time for me to take a break and make some tea, therefore allowing the Doctor and Eccleston to spend some quality time together. When I returned, the cat was curled against the Time Lord who smiled at me. I was ready for his next story.

Looking for Eccleston – 1. The Day the Doctor Said No


1. The Day the Doctor Said No

This story is for Mark J. Simmons whose request was: Second Doctor, 21st October 1966, Welsh Coal mine Aberfan


Polly was pretending not to pay attention to the raggedy short man with his pudding basin cut. He was fumbling with the controls, his black hair dancing on his head as he jumped up and down in a strange way. Ben was openly laughing, but their host didn’t seem to notice. In fact, he probably didn’t remember that he got company, just as he didn’t seem to remember how to fly his own TARDIS properly.

“It will come back to me eventually. Just bear with me,” he kept telling them, while the confused look of his new face said otherwise.

In the meantime, Polly and Ben enjoyed the show, cheered the Doctor up and tried their best not to laugh at his desperate attempts to get the ship under control. This time however, Ben had been unable to refrain from laughing. It was just too funny seeing the Doctor acting in a silly manner.

“I got it!” He suddenly shouted and pulled a lever.

The TARDIS instantly lurked forward, throwing all her passengers on the floor.

“Ouch,” complained Polly.

“Sorry for that,” apologised the Doctor. “Are you alright?”

He looked genuinely concerned and helped the girl up.

“I’m fine, thanks.”

“I think that we have landed,” noted Ben.

They starred at the central column that had come to a halt. The Time Lord managed to operate the scanner that revealed depressing surroundings.

“I wonder where we have materialised this time…” Whispered Polly.

The Doctor checked his controls.

“Radiation levels are within the norm, the air is breathable and…oh… how silly of me!”

Ben and Polly sent him a quizzical look.

“I know where we are!”

“Well?” Asked Ben.

“We’re back on Earth!”

“When?” Polly wanted to know.

“Why don’t we find out?” Offered the Time Lord while he operated the door.


“It’s depressing,” sighed Polly.

The Doctor simply nodded, his attention elsewhere. The smell of rain was hanging heavily in the air. It was sunny, and yet there was something unnatural about the way the sun shone. A dark mud was covering the ground, making a sulking noise when Ben, Polly and the Doctor walked. It was clear to them that it had been raining a lot in the past hours or days. Polly shivered. Everything seemed so wet that she was starting to feel cold.

The Doctor abruptly stopped and starred at a spoil tip set on the edge of the hill’s ridge.

 “There must be a coal mine close by,” Ben said.

He was standing next to the Time Lord, wondering what was so interesting about the pile of debris. Polly looked around her, but all she could see was a black landscape.

“I often wonder why safety is always overlooked on that planet.”


Ben frowned, trying to understand the meaning of his companion’s sentence. The Doctor moved towards a small road and pointed in a specific direction. The couple joined him to discover that they had materialise on a ridge above a small village partially drowned into fog. Ben then understood what the Doctor had meant with his previous statement.

“Considering the amount of debris, this spoil tip must have been there for decades,” Ben pointed out. “Surely local authorities have been consulted regarding the danger of setting a spoil tip on that particular location.”

“Oh come on,” reacted Polly. “Surely you can’t be that naïve. Since when do mining companies consult local authorities on anything? All what matters is their own profit.”

“Never the less safety should never been overlooked. This configuration is too dangerous to be ignored.”

“Oh, I see now,” smiled Polly. “It’s your way of telling us that we should go down to the village!”

“Exactly, my dear!”

There was a twinkle in the Doctor’s eye. The girl took his arm and they both started to walk down the road that soon turned into a slippery path of wet dirt. Ben followed them closely. The walk proved to be quite physical mostly because they had to be very careful not to slip and fall to their death.

The Doctor looked up at the spoil tip and his features darkened.

“I know what you think,” said Ben. “It’s even more impressive from down there. Now I really understand what you meant about safety.”

“Safety against profit, it’s usually a lost cause.”

“And what do you suggest we do about it?” Asked Polly sternly. “I bet people in the village already complained but no one would listen. It’s the usual story.”

“It doesn’t mean that we should give up, right Doctor?”

Their companion nodded absentmindedly. He was still starring upwards. A muffled sound could be heard, like the rumbling of thunder. Only the thunder was growing in intensity and was starting to show the symptoms of an imminent earthquake since the ground under the travellers’ feet was vibrating. A sense of immediate danger overwhelmed Ben who looked at the Doctor only to discover that he too was starring at him as if to get confirmation of what he feared.

“When I say run…” Whispered the Time Lord.

Polly’s piercing scream of fear became the signal. They started to run as the rumbling became a violent thunder. They left the path, climbing clumsily on rocks, clinging on roots and whatever they could find as long as it would help getting out of the way of the thousand cubic meters of debris and mud that were collapsing from the top of the hill.

Ben looked up only to see the black monster created by men about to swallow him. Then he looked down and saw the peaceful village.

“A lost cause,” he whispered, thinking about the lives that where about to be destroyed within minutes.

The Doctor had taken hold of Polly’s hand and was dragging her behind him. The girl stumbled a few times, but managed to restore her balance. She forced herself to look straight ahead, focusing on where she put her feet. She knew that her survival depended on whether she could make it on time to a safe zone and she trusted the Doctor to lead her there. She never expected him to fail and yet she saw him slip even before he realised that he was falling.

“Keep running!” He screamed desperately, before letting go of her hand. “Keep running!”

Polly’s eyes widened with horror as she saw him fall freely, unable to hold on anything. Her survival instincts kicked in at that moment and she ran as fast as she could, but it wasn’t enough. She got caught in a wave of soil, mud and debris and she lost her balance, hitting the ground so hard that she was instantly knocked out.


The silence was almost unbearable. Polly’s first thought when she opened her eyes was that she was deaf. She was laying on her back on the ground, half covered in mud and debris. The sound of her efforts to get free convinced her that she wasn’t deaf, but when the silence returned she felt helpless and lonely. She managed to stand and looked downwards. She started to sob as soon as she saw that the cottages on the way to the village had disappeared, engulfed by the landslide. She refused to look further down as she knew that the village itself would have sustained heavy damage, not to mention heavy casualties.

“Ben! Doctor! Where are you?” She called out.

All she could see was the muddy substance that had once been a spoil pit at the top of the hill now covering everything. She forced herself to keep her mind blank, dismissing her knowledge about landslide or tidal wave effects, catastrophic events usually occurring at the other end of the world. The chances of survival were awfully low. Yet she had survived. She clung to the hope that her companions had too. She tried to define where she had last seen the Doctor, but it was quite impossible to recognise anything. Even the path had vanished. She tried to retrace her steps the best she could. At some point, she wondered if she should go back to the TARDIS and search for a device that could help her locate her friends. A bitter laugh came out of her mouth as she realised that she would have no idea what such instrument would look like anyway.


She startled and turned around. Ben was getting up, a few meters away from her. He looked awful, as if he had been buried in the mud. Polly was so happy to see him that she hugged him anyway.

“Wow, someone is happy to see me! Where is the Doctor?”

“I don’t know, I couldn’t find him…”

Ben’s face expressed his concern:

“We need to find him quickly. Can you remember where you saw him last?”

His friend shook her head and explained how they got pulled apart.

“Alright. Let’s work it from my position then.”

Polly couldn’t help but feel impressed at Ben’s composure. Despite the dramatic situation, he managed to remain calm and she wondered if it was just an act. They started to walk slowly, looking carefully everywhere, calling out the Doctor’s name.

“I think that I can see him!” Suddenly said Polly, pointing downwards.

“You stay here, I go and check.”

Ben ran as fast as he dared, his eyes locked on the ground. There was indeed something almost completely buried straight ahead. As he came closer, the young man recognised the Doctor’s jacket. He didn’t waste any time and pulled the piece of cloth. As he expected he encountered some resistance. The Doctor had been buried alive.

“Polly! Come down and help me!”

He pulled harder and soon the Doctor’s short frame came into view. With Polly’s help, Ben managed to lay the Time Lord on his back and brushed his face that was covered by a mixture of soil and mud. The girl waited anxiously for her friend to check if the Doctor was still breathing, but before Ben could do so, the Time Lord opened his eyes and sat upright before he started coughing.

“Oh my word, what a dreadful experience!” He finally complained.

He then took notice of the couple and smiled:

“You look awful.”

“Speak for yourself,” Polly smiled back.

She was starting to relax now that they were all together.

“I say, we should go back to the TARDIS and get cleaned up,” offered the Doctor.

“No, we can’t.”

Polly shivered when she heard Ben’s serious tone. Even the Time Lord seemed surprised before he looked down at the village. He then considered Ben, and the girl was moved by the sadness in his eyes.

“I understand, but I’m afraid there is little you can do about it,” he said sympathetically. “It’s already too late, history is on its course.”

“Nevertheless, I can’t turn my back on them. It’s my duty to go and try to help save as many as possible.”

The Doctor opened the mouth as if he wanted to add another argument against Ben’s idea, but decided otherwise. Instead, he reached for Polly’s hand and the girl helped him get up. Both followed Ben who was leading the way, his face expressing his determination.


As they approached the village, they got a proper sense of the catastrophe that had occurred only minutes ago. The disaster was beyond imagination. From where they were standing, Aberfan looked like a ghost town.

“It reminds me of Pompeï…” Said the Doctor softly.

Ben shot him an angry glance:

“Only this time, it’s mankind killing men, not a volcano.”

“One could argue that building a town near an active volcano is very similar when it comes to disregarding general safety…”

The young man seemed very upset, but as he was about to snap back, he remembered that the Doctor had probably witnessed so many disasters that he was able to detach himself from the tragedy. Ben sped up a bit both to reach his destination faster and to put some distance with the Time Lord.

“I should probably follow him,” whispered Polly. “Someone has to look after him. I’ve never seen him like that before.”

“That’s a good idea. He will need your support. He doesn’t know what awaits him down in the village. Neither do you… I wish you could be prepared for what you’ll see… I wish I could prevent you from going there.”

The Doctor seemed so worried that Polly felt a sudden urge to hug him. Then, she ran as fast as she dared behind Ben.

“I’m so sorry,” sighed the Doctor.


The first word that came in his mind was “chaos”. Panic had taken over what remained of the village, or so it seemed. People were running in utter confusion screaming and crying. They all had the same words in common:

“The children! The children!”

Ben didn’t like the sound of that. He joined a group of men armed with shovels. Their strong features and the air of determination on their faces suggested that their intention was to help those in need. Soon, Ben was carrying a shovel too and was walking towards the heart of the catastrophe. Polly had managed to reach the village, but she had to struggle to keep sight of her friend as people came in her way, blocking her progress. As they came closer to the site that had suffered the most, the atmosphere became heavier. Despair, pain and horror were gathered together in one place. They were so strong that Polly got the sickening feeling that she was breathing the emotions and that she would soon collapse. If hell existed, then she had found it. When she discovered that a school full of children had been on the path of the murderous wave, she couldn’t walk further. She leaned on the remains of a wall and remembered the Doctor’s words. He was right, she wasn’t prepared for that kind of catastrophe. It was too much to bear. She took refuge under a porch and watched as everyone tried to rescue those trapped under the thousand cubic meters of debris from the spoil tip. She heard words of hatred towards the National Coal Board, she heard desperate screams as the first bodies were pulled out. She felt something wet on her cheeks and she realised that she was crying. Suddenly she wished that she didn’t leave the Doctor. There was nothing she could do here. She wanted to be with a friend, but most of all, she needed to feel secure. She retraced her steps, looking for the Time Lord. No one paid attention to the girl covered in mud. It was as if she was invisible. She entered a narrow street to avoid a crowd of rescuers and her eyes caught sight of a familiar figure sitting on the ground. He was like a ghostly apparition in the last vestige of fog. Polly ran towards him and kneeled in front of him.

“Doctor! We must do something!”

The Time Lord was sitting cross-legged, head down as if he was sleeping. But the girl soon realised that he was petting a dirty kitten.

“I found him trapped in the debris,” he explained. “The poor little creature was shivering from cold and fear.”

Polly recognised the cat’s breed, a Chartreux from the look of it.

“Doctor,” she insisted. “We must do something!”

“And what exactly do you propose we do?”

The Time Lord raised his head to stare at her and she instantly sensed that he already knew what she was about to say.

“Let’s take the TARDIS, go back in time and warn the village. We could save them!”

 “No, I’m sorry,” gently said the Doctor.

“Why? We can do it, we have the means!”

“That may be but we can’t interfere.”

“Oh come on! That’s what you do all the time!”

“To a certain point. This time there is nothing I can do.”

Polly sank on the ground and spoke with anger:

“It’s not that you can’t do it, you don’t want to do it! It’s different! You’re looking for excuses but in fact you simply don’t care about them, about us!”

“Now, that’s not fair,” said the Time Lord on that quiet and irritating tone. “I understand that you let your emotions speak but try to think about the consequences. Major disasters like the one you witnessed today have consequences. As a matter of fact new laws will be implemented. Safety rules will be implemented too. The lives lost today will save countless lives in the future. If we save those children, who knows what disaster will occur tomorrow. Would it be fair on those who weren’t meant to die and who will because of a decision we took today? No. We just experienced a fixed point in time; one that we have no right in amending.”

“But it’s so unfair…”

“I agree. And I’m deeply sorry that I brought you and Ben here. I should have realised sooner what was about to happen. I should have protected you from all that.”

“It’s alright Doctor. You couldn’t know that hell would break loose today. And I’m the one who insisted upon trying to save some of the victims. ”

Polly jumped on her feet when she heard Ben’s voice behind her. His face was drawn and he looked older.

“Please let’s go somewhere else,” he added.

The Doctor got up, the kitten safely tucked in his arms. They walked in silence, leaving the village behind them. It took them some time to climb the hill to reach the TARDIS. As she was about to enter the time machine, Polly cast a last glance to their surroundings.

“I feel bad for those poor people. In a way, we abandoned them to their fate,” she whispered to herself.

When she reached the control room, she saw that the Doctor had put his jacket on the chair with the kitten on it. The pet was starring at her and Polly read a deep wisdom in its eyes.


First Interlude

“What happened to the cat?” I asked.

We were still sitting on the couch. The Doctor was deep in his thoughts as the memories came back to him.

“Well, we named him Eccleston and kept him with us until Polly and Ben left. I decided that it would be best for them to look after him. I missed him a lot, because he was such a great companion; smart, clever, all that sort of things. I kept in touch for a while. I think that he died of old age in a good house. I can’t be sure of course, but that’s what I like to think.”

“But if he died, then…”

“Oh sorry, that was a poor choice of words. He regenerated of course and our paths crossed again after I had experienced one regeneration myself.”

Looking for Eccleston – Prelude




He never takes “no” for an answer, especially when his mind is set on something. How can you say “no” to such fantastic character anyway? The battle is doomed to be lost in advance…


I knew something was wrong when he used the doorbell instead of materialising in my attic/cellar/garage/garden as he usually did. I was tempted to ignore him, but he started banging at the door and since I didn’t want to get in trouble with my neighbours, I opened the door. There he was, standing on my doorstep with a very suspicious smile on his lips.

“How are you?” He asked. “I hope that you don’t mind me popping up unexpectedly like this!”

Either it was one of his jokes or there was something terribly wrong in the universe.

“Are you alright?” I couldn’t help but wonder.

He looked sincerely surprised by my question:

“Why, yes of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because you never use the door let alone the doorbell.”

“There is a first to everything!” He said happily before stepping inside in a rather authoritative manner.

That’s when I noticed the pet carrier he had tried to conceal from my view. My worries took a different turn as I realised that he hadn’t been joking at all. He had been playing me in order to get something from me.

“Oh no,” I grumbled, running after him in the corridor. “No, no, no, no!”

I burst into the living room just in time to see him gently put the pet carrier on the carpet. Then he knelt in front of it, obviously intending in opening its door.

“Just forget it!” I screamed rather angrily. “Whatever creature/monster/alien you want me to look after, it’s no! You have some nerves popping in like this! The least you could do was to ask for my permission before bringing this…this…”

The last words died in my throat as I saw what he had brought to me. The pet carrier’s door was now open and a grey-blue furry head cautiously came out of it, sniffing the air while the black and white whiskers moved like antennas. Big bronze eyes starred at me and then the purring began.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the sofa next to the Doctor and we were petting a chartreux cat that was lazily laying between us.

“Please meet Eccleston,” announced the Time Lord, who seemed very fond of the cat.

“Is it yours?”

Somehow I already knew the answer, but I still couldn’t bring myself to picture the Doctor with a pet, especially considering his way of life.

“It is,” he replied very seriously.

There was something in his tone that preventing me from asking more questions. He explained that his cat needed a new home and that he had thought about me. I must confess that my first reaction was to feel flattered. He probably noticed it because he added a few compliments that were definitively meant to ensure my cooperation in his plan. He had probably thought every possible reaction through and there was virtually no point in me fighting the decision he had made for me. I was to take care of Eccleston.

“Why can’t you keep it?” I finally asked. “If it’s your cat, it’s your responsibility. You can claim it’s yours if you give it away…”

The Doctor sighed:

“I wish it were that simple. First, I didn’t chose him, he chose me. You know cats.”

“They are just as infuriating as Time Lords.”

My visitor seemed hurt by my comment but went on:

“My TARDIS is not a cat person. She is an old girl you know; she finds it hard to adjust to Eccleston’s presence. She happens to be even more difficult than when I introduce her to a new companion.”

I almost burst into laugh hearing him whining about his TARDIS. Since when did he introduce her to his companions?

“Speaking of companions,” he continued, “they too have issues with Eccleston. The only ones who didn’t mind about him were Polly and Ben.”

There were regrets in his voice but I barely noticed. I was in shock. I had managed to make a list of the Doctor’s companions and I recalled that Polly and Ben belonged to a distant past.

“Are you telling me that you’ve had this cat since your second regeneration?”

A feeling of unease crept over me as I looked down at Eccleston.

“Indeed, but he too went through a few regenerations. Only his face never changed so it was easier to recognise him once it happened.”

I felt the urge of pinching myself to check if I was still awake. Suddenly this whole conversation seemed totally grotesque, unreal even.

“On which planet did you find him?”

This time, it was the Doctor’s turn to look shocked.

“Here, on Earth, of course! Where else could I find such wonderful specimen.”

“Of course,” I muttered. “And let me guess, you understand cat language?”

“Of course!”


Once again, I cursed myself for giving up so easily. There was no point in me arguing anyway. I couldn’t resist Eccleston’s cuteness… But I insisted upon knowing the Doctor’s pet companion story and the Time Lord agreed to tell me…

Looking for Eccleston


“Looking for Eccleston” is my project for National Novel Writing Month 2016. The idea behind the project was to invite Whovians from the various Amino communities to request a story featuring their favourite Doctor/companions. Eccleston, the Chartreux cat (who exists for real!) is the common factor of those stories… Please note that free entertainment is this fanfiction’s sole purpose.


Amongst the Doctor’s companion were humans, aliens, a tin dog and a Chartreux cat, named Eccleston. From the day the Doctor rescued him to the day he entrusted him to me, adventures in time and space happened… Here are the ones the Doctor agreed to share with me.

Table of contents



En décembre 2011, « Anthéa » figure au sommaire du premier numéro de La Revue du chat noir, consacré aux femmes fatales. Dans cette nouvelle, Alasdyr Grave, conservateur de la Bibliothèque des Transports de Londres fait une mauvaise rencontre dans une ruelle de la City. Tandis que son assaillant s’acharne sur lui, il a la vision d’une femme aussi belle que mystérieuse : Anthéa…


Le Commissaire des Toits

cover vdr

Alors qu’il se déplace à bord du train suspendu, le Commissaire des Toits profite de son voyage pour observer la société dans laquelle il vit. Une rencontre inopinée bousculera à la fois son déplacement et sa perception de la Cité…

La nouvelle « Le Commissaire des Toits » invite le lecteur à une visite guidée dans l’univers de La Cité, auquel elle appartient. Elle figure au sommaire de l’anthologie numéro 4 des Vagabonds du rêve.

Disponible au format numérique (6 € formats ePub ou Mobi, sans DRM. ISBN : 979-10-91437-06-6) ou papier (17 €, 250 pages A5. ISBN : 979-10-91437-05-9) sur le site des Vagabonds du rêve.