The orphanage had opened in late November and everyone had come to see the grand opening. The Fieldgates had arranged for a number of barges, filled with fireworks, to sail down the river in front of the building and then had also called on the town to have a fun fair in the Bull Ring near to the church to celebrate.
Caroline had barely had time to think about anything as she had helped William and his parents to register a number of orphans into the home, much to their delight. And all the time Caroline found herself thinking less and less of the Doctor and Danny. She was becoming settled with this life and she was wondering whether she would ever leave it. Even if she was offered the opportunity to leave, she wasn’t sure if she’d want to now.
Earlier in the month Caroline had informed the landlord of the Black Swan that she was going to be leaving, but that she’d work her two weeks notice. And the day of the funfair was also the day of her final shift at the pub.
That day all of the customers had come in to bid her farewell. She knew she had made one or two friends in her time working at the Swan, but she had no idea she was thought of so fondly.
“Good luck, love.”
“All the best, lady.”
“No serving drinks to those urchins.”
They were just some of the comments she received.
But it was one moment and one person that would alter her life forever.
In her time living in 1901 she had often thought about settling down. She had grown extremely fond of
But on this day in November, it wasn’t William who came into the pub and asked her out.
“I beg your pardon?” asked Caroline, a little shocked.
“Would you like to come to the fair tonight?” asked Jim again, looking a little nervous.
“I mean, you don’t ‘ave to,” said Jim, quickly.
For the first time Caroline had seen a nervous side to the young Docker. He had always blustered in with an air of confidence and coolness, but now he seemed very, very uneasy.
Caroline frowned and then smiled at him. “I was planning on going anyway.”
“Oh,” said Jim, looking a little disheartened, “that’s ok.”
“But you can take me if you like,” said Caroline, quickly.
Jim broke into a huge, wide grin. “Really?”
“Really,” said Caroline. She knew William would be going, but he hadn’t asked her. There was no harm in going with Jim. And it was William’s loss anyway. They were only friends after all.
Jim’s grin grew even wider. “I’ll meet you by the White Hart at six then,” he said.
Caroline had informed William of her intentions later that afternoon when he had come in for a pint. William had been noticeably upset by the news. He had tried to hide it, but Caroline had knew she had already hurt him. But what was she to do?
Jim would be waiting for her. William should have made his move sooner.
He had made his excuses and had mumbled something about cleaning the gutters at the orphanage and had left quickly from the Black Swan.
The night at the fair had gone well. All around were lights and sounds and music. There were even fireworks again.
The Fieldgate’s had brought the children out and Hazel had joined in too, but William was nowhere to be seen.
Caroline had strode arm in arm with Jim into the Bull Ring, a triangular space in the town centre, surrounded by lot’s of little old shops and small houses. Over the top of one of the rows of houses, the tower of St. James’ Church could be seen.
She wasn’t even thinking about life in 2012. This was life. Right here, right now.
She found herself looking around, between the big wheel and the merry-go-round, for William, as Jim handed her a toffee apple he had just bought.
But Will was nowhere to be seen. Why was she thinking of Will so much when she was supposed to be enjoying her time with Jim.
Now they were sat on a wall, by one of the small alleyway’s that slipped between two, high buildings.
Jim turned to Caroline and smiled. “Thank you for coming tonight.”
“Thank you for taking me,” smiled Caroline.
“I’ve wanted to ask you out for ages. I just never had the guts to do it.”
Caroline frowned. “You always swagger in so confident though.”
Jim took his cap off, smiled and looked at the ground, shaking his head. “It’s all an act really. I’ve never been one for being able to do anything serious. I’ve always just wandered into situations, never taking control. It’s the way I am.”
Caroline nodded. “I’ve never had much confidence when it comes to men.” She thought back to Danny. “Every relationship I had was more or less a failure. Then I met this guy called Steve and he swept me off my feet.”
“Oh,” said Jim, looking a little concerned.
Caroline smiled and put a comforting hand on his arm. “It’s alright. He’s gone. Long gone. He’s not even arrived yet.” She laughed to herself.
Jim laughed too. “You don’t half talk some funny stuff sometimes, Miss Parker.”
“I know I do,” said Caroline.
“And you ain’t half beautiful.”
Caroline felt herself blush. “I’m not really, you know.”
“Oh, you are,” said Jim. “I knew from the moment I walked into that pub. You’re an angel.”
“Stop it,” said Caroline, tapping him on his arm.
“You just need someone to tell it to you more often. Then maybe you’ll believe it.” He sighed. “If I was that William Fieldgate, I’d have taken my chance a long time ago.”
“You’re too kind.”
“It’s the truth though. Never doubt yourself, Miss Parker.”
There was a sound from behind them. A shuffling sound. Jim turned to look. Standing there, leaning against the wall, was a shadowy figure.
“Can I help you, mate?” asked Jim, getting up and crossing over to the entrance to the alleyway.
The man stepped out from the shadows. He was middle-aged with a beard and looked dirty. “You can give me the ladies jewellery.”
“I don’t have any jewellery,” said Caroline. She wasn’t lying either. She had arrived in 1901 with nothing but the cross her grandma had given her when she was a teenager.
“Then what’s that round your neck?” asked the man.
“What’s it to you, mate?” asked Jim, stepping closer towards the man.
The man’s hands moved like lightning and he pulled out a large, very sharp dagger from the inner pocket of his jacket. “Just give me the cross, sweetheart.”
Caroline’s hand went to the cross.
“Don’t even think about it,” said Jim, holding his hands up and trying to get a little closer.
“Jim, don’t,” said Caroline, worriedly.
“Get out me way,” said the man.
“You stay away from her,” said Jim. “That cross was given to her by her old grandma and you ain’t having it.”
But it was too late. The man lunged forward. Jim stepped out and then grasped his stomach. The man had stabbed him. Blood soaked through his white shirt. Confused and spooked at what he had done, the man ran back down the alleyway and disappeared into the night. Jim collapsed to the floor and rolled onto his back, his hands grasping at the wound in his stomach.
Caroline ran over to Jim and knelt down beside him, holding his head in her hands.
“Jim. Jim, don’t close your eyes,” she said, realising that the wound was severe.
By now a crowd was beginning to appear. Shocked onlookers wondered what they could do to help.
The whole world had shifted out of focus for Caroline.
“Jim, please. Don’t sleep. You need to stay awake.”
Jim, his face pale, reached a white hand up towards Caroline’s face and touched her on the cheek.
“Jim…” Caroline faltered.
“You’re something special,” he said, weakly. “Go and find that William. Go and make him proud.”
“You’re so beautiful…” said Jim Robertson as he took his last breath.
The Doctor was standing by the memorial for the orphanage. He had set up a strange device which consisted of an aerial and wires leading to a generator. He was busy checking readings on a control pad which he was holding and would keep flitting back to the aerial, adjusting it.
“You trying to pick up Channel Five?” asked Danny, hands in his pockets.
“Ah,” said the Doctor. “So you found me?”
“Lisa said you were here,” he said, sitting on one of the wooden benches that surrounded the monument.
“You didn’t say anything-”
“No,” said Danny, shaking his head. “I told you I wouldn’t say anything to her. Not until we know what we’re doing.”
The Doctor turned the aerial again and the there was a high-pitched whine from the control pad. “No.”
“No, I’m not trying to pick up Channel Five. It didn’t come out until the late 90’s.”
Danny nodded. “My mistake. Got me back for the ‘Family Fortunes’ one.”
“What I’m trying to do is find out exactly what started the fire in 1903.”
“And how will that help?”
“I don’t know,” said the Doctor, “but it’s worth a shot.”
Danny got up and wandered over to the aerial. He touched the end of it and the Doctor slapped his hand.
“What exactly does this thing do?”
The Doctor turned a dial at the base of the aerial and looked at the control pad intently. “It reaches back through time. I built it using the time frequency reader from the damaged escape pod.”
“Then why can’t we use it to go back?”
“Because that’s not what it does. It picks up any disturbances in time.”
“Well we already know there’s a disturbance. The changed timelines.”
“No, no, no,” said the Doctor, looking more and more frustrated with Danny. “It picks up time signatures. Time energy.”
The control pad started to beep. “And it’s picked something up.”
“I’m getting lost here, Doc.”
“I have a hunch that something happened to Caroline back in 1903. Something that caused the orphanage to burst into flames, but something which saved her.”
The Doctor checked the readouts on the pad. “I’m picking up traces of energy. Time energy.”
“From Caroline.” He sat down on the bench and looked blankly at the aerial near the memorial. “You know we were doing scans on Caroline because I suspected there was something wrong with her?”
“Well I think that somehow she was loaded with time energy. And my hunch is that somehow she lost control one day and the time energy obliterated the orphanage, leaving Caroline safe.”
“That’s a hell of a deduction. Why do you think she’s full of time energy?”
The Doctor shook his head. “She’s full of something. There’s some deep, hidden power in there somewhere. We need to get her out of that time now.”
Danny and the Doctor returned to the White Hart and the Doctor retired to his room to continue on his plans.
Lisa was behind the bar and gave Danny a smile and a wink.
Danny smiled and went behind the bar.
“Where’ve you two been?” asked Lisa.
Danny poured himself a lemonade, grabbed a Marathon bar and looked closely at Lisa.
“Not answering then?” asked Lisa, frowning.
“Sorry,” said Danny, looking more and more curiously at her. “I’m just trying to see if you remind me of anyone.”
“And do I?”
“No,” said Danny, taking a sip of his lemonade.
“Oh,” said Lisa, a little disappointed. “Who would you like to be reminded of?”
“No one really,” said Danny. “It’s all a little bit…complicated.”
Lisa leaned it closer to him. “We’re having a karaoke competition tonight. Why don’t you enter?”
Danny laughed. “No chance!”
“Aww, what not?” she asked. “I bet you’re a brill singer.”
Danny shook his head. “No way. Not doing it. Not getting involved in anything in this time.”
Lisa looked confused. “You’re a bizarre one, aren’t you? Does that include me?”
“Does that it include me? Don’t you want to get involved with me?”
Danny looked at Lisa, a little bewildered and a little nervous. He hadn’t even thought of it. Sure, over the last few months, he and Lisa had become more and more friendlier with each other. In fact he even now felt close to her, but thing’s were going to change. Once they found a way to go and get Caroline back, he’d leave and she’d be erased from time,
And now he thought about it he wasn’t sure if that’s what he wanted. He wanted to save Caroline, but he wasn’t sure if he was that comfortable with Lisa being erased from time.
He stood there for what seemed like an eternity, looking into her deep blue eyes.
“Do I want to get involved?” he said.
Lisa simply stared at him.
“I would love to,” he said, “but…I can’t.”
“You’re not into blokes, are you?” she asked.
“No,” said Danny, quickly, “but…I just can’t.”
And he grabbed his glass and quickly left the bar area.
Lisa looked sad and disappointed as she watched him go.
The Doctor hadn’t returned to his room after all. He had been stood beside the staircase, listening and watching Danny and Lisa. Danny was holding his emotions in, but he was sure that if he wasn’t careful that this situation might get out of hand very quickly.