The car pulled up to the park and they got out, making their way down the winding path that led past the bushes and towards the old, wooden bandstand which stood on the other side of the park.
Danny was shaking a little as they approached the bandstand and he walked a little way ahead. As he approached, Adrian had his back to Danny.
Jayne held out an arm to stop him. “Danny, just be careful okay?”
“He’s my brother,” said Danny, trying to get past Jayne.
“We don’t yet know what he’s doing back. It might be a trap.”
“He’s my brother,” said Danny again.
Danny pushed past and made his way up the steps to the centre of the bandstand. Adrian slowly turned to face him and Danny gasped. He hadn’t changed at all. Hadn’t aged a single day. He still wore the same clothes he had left in for college that day, and even his bag was the same - still full of holes, threatening to widen and let his college books fall to the floor.
Danny opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out.
“Hi, Dan,” smiled Adrian.
“You…you haven’t changed,” said Danny, trying to compose himself.
“You have. You look old,” said Adrian, smiling.
Danny laughed, the tears starting to fall from his eyes. “I thought you were dead.”
“I didn’t even realise.”
The two of them stared at each other, and then they both embraced in the centre of the bandstand.
A little way off Caroline watched on, smiling at the reunion. She had always known about Danny’s heartbreak at losing his brother, but he had always clammed up about it. He didn’t really tend to talk about it. She was happy for him.
“It’s been so long,” said Danny.
“It’s difficult to understand,” said Adrian.
“What do you mean?”
“Time. Time moved so slowly there. At different speeds sometimes. It’s difficult to work out what’s going on.”
“You were there, weren’t you? With the Apparites?”
“The who?” asked Adrian as they released each other.
“A name my friend came up with,” said Danny, pointing towards the Doctor.
“You need to be careful of your friend,” said Adrian.
“What do you mean?”
Adrian tilted his head to the side. “Is it still inside you?”
Danny had forgotten. He had been taken the pills he’d received on Xanji-For, and they had dulled his senses to the creature inside him. He had forgotten it was even in there.
“Yeah,” said Danny, “but I can’t hear it at the moment.”
Adrian took his hand. “I can help get it out of you.”
“You need to come with me.”
“Back to our side.”
Danny frowned. “Our side? Adrian, you’re not one of them, you’re one of us. A Human being.”
Adrian shook his head. “You’ve only heard one side of the story, Dan. You need to come with me. Now.”
“I can’t,” said Danny.
“I’m sorry,” said Adrian, grabbing Danny’s arm tighter, “but you have no choice in the matter.”
There was a gush of wind. Then, with a flash, he and Danny were gone.
As soon as Danny and Adrian had disappeared, the Doctor, Jayne, Caroline, Margot and Ben had piled back into the car and they had driven as fast as legally possible through the streets of Thornsby, arriving just ten minutes later at St. James’s Church.
The Doctor hurriedly got out of the car and made his way through the old building and down the stone steps towards the crypt.
“Hold on a minute!” yelled Jayne, trying to keep up with him.
The Doctor turned to look at Jayne and then stumbled. He leant against the wall and clutched at his chest.
“Are you alright?”
“Doctor,” said Caroline, pushing past Jayne and getting to the Doctor’s side. “Are you alright?”
“Just gone a little weak,” said the Doctor, giving a little smile.
“You should have brought your walking stick,” said Caroline, helping him to straighten up.
“I’m not finished yet,” he said, grinning and continuing on his way down the stairs.
“Wait!” said Jayne. “You can’t just go barging into our base of operations.”
“Do you want my help or not?” said the Doctor, sternly.
Jayne was quiet for a few moments and then reluctantly said, “Yes.”
“Good,” said the Doctor, standing in front of the door to their HQ. “Now if I remember, last time I was here, I heard the voices on the other side, but there was nothing there.”
“The time barrier,” said Jayne. “It’s a second-”
“Yes, a second out of time,” said the Doctor, irritably. “Re-tune it now.”
Jayne glared at him and then spoke into a walkie-talkie. “Switch off the barrier, we’re back with the Doctor.”
There was a hum from the other side of the door and Jayne pushed her way inside.
The team were busy looking at all the data they had gathered from Adrian’s appearance in the park, but they looked tired and fed up.
“People,” said Jayne, ushering the Doctor and Caroline inside, “this is the Doctor.”
The rest of the team nodded their greetings to him.
“I want you all to work with him. We need to get this sorted out.”
One of the older members of the team, Michael, approached Jayne with a piece of paper. “We may have a problem, Miss Robson.”
Jayne looked at the paper and then showed it to the Doctor.
“Hmmm,” said the Doctor, “I need to see that TARDIS right now.”
“What is it, Doctor?” asked Caroline, trying to get a look at the piece of paper.
“Come with me,” he said.
They left the crypt and went back into the picturesque area outside of the church. The sky was getting darker and Caroline noticed that it had gotten colder. She could see her breath in the air.
“Look,” said the Doctor, pointing towards the fountains in the Old Market Place.
Caroline squinted. The air was shimmering and a small slither of light was appearing above the fountains.
She followed the direction of his finger. Above the White Hart was another slither of light. It was getting bigger. And then another slither of light, this time next to the flyover on the other side of the church area.
“Are these what I think they are?” asked Caroline.
“They are indeed. The Apparites are coming through again.”
“But how?” asked Caroline. “This didn’t happen before. Not in this way anyway. Last time I had to touch it and that’s when the gap - the one gap - began opening.”
The Doctor shook his head. “It’s like a piece of paper. Pour enough water on it and eventually the whole sheet will go soggy and split open. Adrian coming through and then going back - with Danny as well, with an Apparite trapped inside - was the final push they needed. The barrier between the TARDIS dimensions and ours is at it’s weakest.”
Caroline ran her hands through her hair, looking lost. “Then what do we do to stop them?”
“I’m not sure we can,” said the Doctor, worriedly.
They made their way back to the control centre and Jayne brought another piece of paper to show the Doctor and Caroline.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“It’s not just Thornsby,” said Jayne, “they’re starting to appear all over the surrounding area. Cracks forming. Nothing coming through yet, but they’re there. In Yarathorpe, Suntersby, Fallington. It’s only a matter of time.”
“I need to see that TARDIS, Jayne,” said the Doctor.
Jayne nodded. “We can’t open it though. They’ll come through.”
“They’re going come through anyway,” said the Doctor.
Before they could leave Caroline’s mobile began ringing. She frowned and reached into her jeans pocket. She looked at the readout and frowned, answering the phone.
“What do you want?” she said.
She listened to the voice on the other end of the line. Her face slowly sank and turned to white. She swallowed hard and nodded.
“Okay, I’ll be there,” she said shakily.
“Caroline?” said the Doctor. “Caroline is everything okay?”
Caroline put the phone back in her jean pocket and looked at the Doctor. She shook her head. “No. That was my Mum - my adopted Mum,” she said, shaking her head at her mistake.
“What is it?”
“It’s Dad. He’s had a heart attack.”
Next chapter: Caroline confronts her parents with the truth. Coming Thursday November 7th.