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The Long Arduous Summer Of 2019

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“Bye.” Twelve said. 

“Alright, bye.” Eleven said. 

“Not even going to ask where I’m going?” Twelve asked. 

“We don’t care.” Ten said. 

“You don’t care?!” Twelve spluttered. “Thirteen-“

Thirteen shook her head. “Nah, I don’t care either.” 

“You can’t just... sit there playing video games-Ten, Eleven, Thirteen, it’s Friday night!”

“Yeah, and?” Eleven asked.

“And... what about River?” Twelve asked. “And Ten, what about Rose?” 

“Chill out, Twelve, it’s not Valentine’s day.” Thirteen said. 

“You’re all just wasting your lives playing... Mario Kart.” Twelve shook his head.

“We’re not playing Mario Kart.” Ten said. 

“You’re not-of course you are!” Twelve grunted. “I can see it! I can hear it!”

“We’re playing Super Mario Brothers.” Eleven said. 

Twelve furrowed his brow as he thought of what to say next. “It’s still that Japanese game about that fat Italian plumber and his brother rescuing a princess!” 

“But they don’t do that in Mario Kart.” Eleven said. “Honestly, it’s like you don’t even play video games.” 

“I can’t.” Twelve said. “And you know this.” 

Eleven sighed. “Look, Twelve... Ten, Thirteen and I like portly Italian plumbers just like you like female Masters’-“

“Just the one!” Twelve blurted out defensively. 

“And you don’t care about how her brother torments me.” Ten said. “And it’s not just me, most of our brothers have been harassed by at least one of the Masters. Delgado, Peter, Geoffrey, Ainley, Eric, Jacobi-“

“I get it.” Twelve said through gritted teeth. 

“They all hate our family, Twelve. I just-I don’t understand why you’re dating one of them.” Ten said. “That’s all.” 

“Yeah, the Masters and the Doctors... we’re the Hatfields and the McCoys.” Eleven said. “Or, in your case, the Montagues and the Capulets. But in the 21st Century.”

“Missy isn’t like the other Masters.” Twelve said. “She’s better. Nicer. She’s my girlfriend.” 

“Well, if you really think that.” Thirteen said. 

“Hey!” Twelve kicked Thirteen’s chair just hard enough to distract her from her video game. 

“Don’t do that!” Thirteen complained. “How would you like it if I came up to you while you were playing guitar or something and kicked your chair?” 

“Well that’s never going to happen now, is it, Thirteen?” Twelve asked to silence. Well, silence from his siblings; he could still hear noise from the Mario game. 

“And if it did, then you’d never see it coming.” Eleven said. 

“Watch your mouth!” Twelve snapped. “Alrighty, I’ll be back a bit later.” 

“Don’t ask for the kids menu.” Eleven said. 

“The kids menu?” Twelve chuckled nervously. “What do I look like?” 

“Someone who orders from the kids menu.” Ten said, not taking his eyes off the screen. 

“Shut up.” Twelve grumbled. He opened the door and stepped out of it.

Twelve’s cane hit the ground with a *tap tap tap* sound roughly every second or so. It was a Friday night, so he would be doing like most students, and going out. Well, not to any clubs, he couldn’t stand those, but rather to a Frankie and Benny’s with his girlfriend, Missy. 

He walked along the pavements pretty easily. They were crowded, sure, it was a Friday night after all. But he carried along. He couldn’t keep Missy waiting, after all. 

That was until he bumped into someone. He always hated when he bumped into someone.

“Oi!” It was a man. A young man. “Watch where you’re going, retard! You blind or something?”

“As a matter of fact,” Twelve turned around to the young man, “yeah, I fuckin’ am. What’s your excuse? Wilful ignorance? Or flat out ableism?” He held tightly to the grip of his cane and his knuckles turned white. “I’m guessing it’s the latter, judging by how you oh-so casually just disparaged those with intellectual disabilities. So you can just fuck the fuck off, mate and drink yourself into oblivion until your liver finally packs in and calls it a day.” 

Twelve turned around and carried on his way. 

He thought nothing of being blind. That was just the way his life was. And none of his siblings treated him any different for it. Even though he was the thirteenth of his siblings, he was hardly the first with a disability. He was, however the first with a physical disability. Well, actually that would be Thirteen. But Twelve had been born first. Never mind that he hadn’t actually been born disabled, while Thirteen had.

And as if it wasn’t enough that he was blind, Twelve was also autistic. Not that that bothered him either. Again, that was just him.

His life was a relatively happy one. Well, except for all the idiots who crossed his path when he was trying to walk and then there was also the idiots who kept asking if they could help and no matter how often Twelve said no, they either wouldn’t get the message or they’d get all huffy. That was why Twelve had gone to the RNIB and had a new cane made-in blue. 

Twelve had always liked the colour blue. And red. And losing a lot of his sight only made him appreciate those colours more. 

As he rounded the corner to Missy’s flat, he took out his phone and decided to call her. 

Six forty-three pm. Swipe to open, the phone dictated to him in Siri’s voice. 

“Yeah, yeah.” Twelve muttered.

Safari. Mail. Messenger, the phone said as Twelve tapped around the bottom of the screen. 

“That’s it, you beauty.” Twelve muttered and double tapped on the Messenger app.

He felt a sense of unease, like someone was watching him from outside his line of vision. He looked up from his phone to see that he was right; someone was indeed staring at him. 

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Twelve snapped. 

“It’s not right to fake being blind, you know.” A girl.

Twelve simply tapped the girl’s ankle with his cane. “Off with you, you judgemental prick.” 

The girl huffed and walked away. At least Twelve thought she walked away, her footsteps did sound farther away. He turned his attention back to his phone. 

I will be there at six forty-five-meet me outside my flat. 

The last message from Missy. 

Twelve brought his phone up close and lifted his sunglasses. He hated to do that, it always made his eyes hurt. But he caught sight of the microphone button and tapped it, lowering his glasses.

In his best English accent he said; “Missy comma, I am outside your dorm full stop. Hope you are ready full stop-“

“I sure am ready, Doctor.” 

Twelve nearly jumped out of his skin and dropped both his phone and his cane. 

“Missy, don’t do that!” He hissed. 

“It’s fun, Darling. You never see it coming.” Missy said. 

“I don’t see it coming because I’m blind. I literally can’t see it coming.” Twelve argued. 

“You can see though.” Missy said. “Here you go.” She pressed Twelve’s phone into his hand. 

Twelve ran his fingers across the screen, feeling for cracks. Nothing. “Thank you.” He said. “And just because I can see some things, doesn’t mean I’m not blind.” He snatched his cane from Missy’s hand. 

“How did you know I had your long cane?” Missy asked. “You saw me picking it up.” 

“No, I heard you picking it up.” Twelve corrected as he put his phone in his pocket. “I can’t see you Missy, you’re far too blurry. You know what I can and can’t see, I’m not explaining it again.” 

“So... you ready to go on that date then?” Missy held out her arm and patted her upper arm. 

Twelve sighed. “As long as you’re a better sighted guide this time around.” He folded up his cane and held onto her arm. “Tripping and falling isn’t my idea of a good Friday night out.”

“Other students do it.” Missy said with a slight shrug.

“Well those other students are drunken idiots.” Twelve said. 

“I take it Scotland didn’t make it into the Euros.” Missy said. “Come on.” She started walking.

Twelve followed a step behind her. “I’m not Scottish.” 

“Could’ve fooled me with that accent.” Missy said. “Weren’t you born in Scotland?” 

“Doesn’t make me Scottish. And besides, your accent’s Scottish.” Twelve pointed out. 

“Yes, but that’s because of you, Darling.” Missy said. “Watch out, the end of the pavement’s coming up.” 

Twelve stopped alongside Missy. “You can’t fake an accent-you really sound Scottish.”

“So do you, Twelve.” Missy said. “You know, I’ve always wondered why you were called Twelve.”

“I’m the twelfth kid.” Twelve said. 

“Yes, but you have twelve brothers and you’re the thirteenth.” 

“War’s adopted.” Twelve said with a shrug. “That makes me the twelfth biological kid.” 

Traffic came to a stop. 

“Come on.” Missy said, as the familiar beep beep beep of the pelican crossing started. “Who names their kid ‘War’ anyway?” 

“Nobody. It’s a nickname. His name’s John.” Twelve said. 

“We’re going to turn left here.” Missy said, gently making a left turn. “And who calls their kid ‘Twelve’?”

“Idiots.” Twelve replied. “Dead idiots. You ask me this all the time.”

“I just can’t believe they named you Twelve is all.” Missy said. “Onto other topics, I haven’t seen you at all this week, Darling.”

“I’ve been busy. Work you see. Westminster’s pretty busy at the moment.”

“Tell me how your brothers and sister are doing.” 

“Ten and Eleven are fine. Thirteen’s attitude is still... saccharine.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Missy asked. 

“She’s a fuckin’ Pollyanna.” Twelve said. “A literal Pollyanna. Sometimes I wonder if anything will depress her.”  

“Boris Johnson?” 

“Don’t.” Twelve said. “Say his name in my presence.”

“Alright, Twelve, switch sides, there’s a man pushing a pram coming up.”

“How do I know you’re not lying to get me in the road and hit by a car?” Twelve asked. He moved around her and took hold of her other arm anyway, switching his cane to his other hand.

“Would I kill you, Darling?” Missy asked. 

Twelve raised his eyebrows. “I’m not going to lie, that sounded like a threat.” 

“Oh I couldn’t threaten you-you’d see it coming.” Missy said. “Well, not literally.”

“Why not literally?” Twelve asked. “I can see-a bit.” 

“How can you see if you’re blind?”

Twelve sighed but gave no answer. 

Back in the flat, Eleven paused the game. 

“Maybe we should play Mario Kart.” 

“I don’t want to play Mario Kart.” Ten complained. 

“We should invite our friends over and play Mario Kart.” Eleven said. 

“You think they’re gonna come?” Ten asked. 

Eleven shrugged. “It’s worth a try.” 

“And if they don’t come, then we can always play together.” Thirteen pointed out. 

“Well Rose isn’t gonna come, she’s got work.” Ten said. “Actually, so has Donna.”

“I can’t remember if Rory’s on his placement or not.” Eleven said.

“Let’s just invite people and if they say no, they say no.” Thirteen shrugged.

“Fine by me.” Eleven said. “Oh, Thirteen, can you get me a Coke from the kitchen, only I’ve ran out.” He held up his empty can and shook it as if to prove it was empty.

“You’ve got two working legs, get it yourself.” Thirteen said. 

“You’ve got two working arms, get it for me.” Eleven argued.

“Yeah, the key word is two, Eleven, I have two arms. I’m not an octopus.” Thirteen said.

“Stop arguing.” Ten said, throwing down his controller. “What would One say if he were here?” 

Eleven shrugged. “You’re all adults now. Act like it?” 

“I don’t know. What would One say if he were here?” Thirteen asked. 

“Dunno really.” Ten said. “But it stopped your arguing. Thirteen, just go and get Eleven his drink.”

Thirteen huffed. She scooted closer to the edge of the armchair and pulled herself up and into her wheelchair. “I don’t know why you couldn’t do it yourself, Eleven.”

“It’s like you said, you have two working arms.” 

“I also said I’m not an octopus.” Thirteen paused for thought. “But at least I have two working arms. I could have been born paralysed and armless.”

“Alright, Coke. Chop-chop.” Eleven clapped his hands. 

Twelve was sitting down in the restaurant across from Missy when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out and tapped the screen. 

Seven eighteen pm. Swipe to open, Siri said. 

Twelve swiped three fingers across the screen and fumbled around with the apps.

Twitter. Audible. Facebook. Tuner. BBC News. FanFiction. Discord. Siri read out. 

“Fanfiction?” Missy asked. 

“Blind people write fanfic, Missy.” Twelve said, tapping on the Discord app. 

“Yeah, I... suppose, but what do you write fanfic of?” 

“It doesn’t matter.” Twelve said quickly. 

Eleven today at seven sixteen pm: We’re having a Mario Kart Party at blindautie one-two-one-two-one-two is out on a date with at mistress evil. 

“For fucks-can’t leave them alone for a minute.” Twelve complained. 

Thirteen today at seven sixteen pm: everyone come to our flat for Super Mario and Dominos Pizza. We also have Sprite. 

Yaz today at seven seventeen pm: at wheeliefun thirteen, sounds like fun, I’m on my way. 

Clara today at seven seventeen pm: yo at ladyme eight-five-seven you in?

“They’re having a pizza party without you.” Missy said. 

“You too!” Twelve said. “It’s on your Discord too-you’ve been tagged in this.” He tapped at a new notification. 

Amy today at seven nineteen pm: wish I could go, but I have work. 

River today at seven nineteen pm: at eleven bowtiesrcool eleven I’ll be there, Sweetie.

“They knew I was going to take you back home.” Twelve growled. “I haven’t had any fuckin’ peace this week.” He brought his phone to his face to look for the microphone symbol. 

“Your Mario party is cancelled full stop. There is no Mario party comma-“

“Twelve? Oh my god, it is you!” 

Twelve sighed loudly. “Hello, Bill. What are you doing here?” 

“I had notifications about Super Mario. Then I heard a voice reader and figured ‘well, that’s gotta be Twelve, he’s the only blind guy I know’, so I came over and, well, here you are.” 

“No, why are you here, specifically. At this restaurant.” 

“Isn’t it obvious, Dear?” Missy said. “She’s on a date, same as us.”

“I take it you’re not going to the Super Mario party my brothers and sister are putting on.” Twelve said. 

“Nah, it’s like Missy said. I’m on a date, right.” Bill said with a shrug. “Oh you know what we should do, right, we should double date.”

“No.” Twelve said firmly. 

“Come on Twelvey, it sounds like fun.” Missy said.

Twelve frowned. “Since when do you ever call me ‘Twelvey’?” 

“Twelve, seriously. Those eyebrows.” Bill said.

“What about my eyebrows, Bill? I can’t see them-I’m still... I’m fuckin’ blind, aren’t I?” Twelve hissed. 

“You look angry.” Bill said.

“I am angry!” Twelve said loudly. 

Missy put her hand on Twelve’s. “Twelve, Dear, people are staring.” 

“I can’t see them staring, can I?” Twelve asked much more calmly this time. 

“I’m gonna, um, go...” Bill said and her footsteps got further away. 

Then they started getting closer again. 

“I told you already, Bill, I don’t want a double date-“

“Twelve, it’s the waitress.” Missy whispered in his ear. 

“Oh.” Twelve said. 

“Are you ready to order?” The waitress asked.

Twelve scratched his eyebrow. “Erm... do you have a kids menu?” He asked, flashing an innocent smile. 

Twelve hadn’t always been blind. And, like most blind people, he wasn’t totally blind. His vision was extremely blurry that it couldn’t be corrected with glasses and had black spots in his field of vision where he was totally blind. That happened after he got sick on his oldest brother One’s watch. One had been twenty-one at the time and Twelve had only been four. It hadn’t been a good time for either of them.

For fifteen years Twelve had been used to those black spots and looking at the world as if it were underwater. He thought nothing of it. He didn’t really remember ever having been sighted. And he definitely didn’t remember waking up in the hospital trying to blink out and rub away the black spots. He’d survived. He adapted. He was doing just fine, thank you very much. 

But every so often, he would have to put up with idiots. 

And unfortunately for Twelve, the waitress noticed his sunglasses and his folded up cane on his lap. 

This was one of those times. 

“I... THINK... IT’S... SO... BRAVE... OF... YOU... TO... COME... OUT... TO-NIGHT!” The waitress shouted in Twelve’s ear. 

Twelve’s brow furrowed and his mouth formed an ‘o’ shape as he tried to work out in his head what was happening. 

Missy snorted, but put her hand over her mouth and pretended it was a sneeze. 

“YOU... ARE... SUCH... AN... IN-SPI-RA-TION!” 

“Are you for real?” Twelve asked in his regular voice. 

“I’LL... GET... YOUR... KIDS... MEN-U...NOW!” 

Her footsteps got further away. 

“Twelve, she’s gone.” Missy said. 

“Thank the fuckin’ gods.” Twelve wanted to put his forehead on the table and not look up. He wanted to leave. He wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole. 

“She really made a right tit out of herself.” Missy said. “I wish you could have seen it-her arms were flailing everywhere.” 

“I bet the whole restaurant was staring.” Twelve mumbled. “Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.” 

“Your face is red.” 

“Of course it’s red, Missy, I’m embarrassed.” Twelve groaned. “Why can’t people keep their stupid opinions to their stupid selves? Wouldn’t it be a novel idea if people just, I don’t know, did their jobs? Of course, it’s hard when idiots like that turn up. I don’t envy her co-workers. Thank god I’m blind or else I might be working as a waiter here too instead of Westminster.” 

“An anti-government man working in the government.” Missy said. “Thrilling.”

“It worked for Ron Swanson.” 

“Ron Swanson isn’t real, Darling.” Missy said. “Oh heads up, she’s coming back.”

The waitress handed Missy the kids menu. 

“Erm... thanks?” Missy asked, wondering why the menu had been handed to her. 

The waitress then put a piece of paper in front of Twelve and a box of what sounded like crayons. 

Twelve couldn’t fathom why this had happened until the waitress started speaking. 

“You’re such a dedicated carer.” She said. “It must be so hard dealing with an adult with the mental age of a child. Now what will he be having?” 

“What the actual fuckin’ hell?” Twelve rose from his seat and put his cane on the table. 

“IT’S... O-KAY... NOW! BE... CALM!” The waitress said. “Oh you poor thing. It must be so hard what with him-“

“I want to speak to your manager.” Missy said. Her voice sounded so calm that it was chilling.

“Is something going on here?” Bill asked. “Only we heard some disparaging comments.” 

“Everything’s fine, Bill.” Twelve said. “Go back to your date.” 

“I can’t do that when yours is being spoiled.” Bill said. 


“I demand to speak to your manager.” Missy repeated. “Right now.” 

“What she said.” Twelve said. “Unless, honey, you want me to pull down your trousers, unfold my cane, and ram it up your arse so hard that it comes out the other end. And believe me, you really don’t want to find out which end.” 

“Twelve, you really should stop with the threats of violence.” Bill said. 

“She deserved it, Bill.” Twelve said. 

“Yeah, but that was going a bit far though with the-oh she’s gone now.” Bill said. “Ran off into the back. With any luck to get the manager.” 

“I never liked her anyway.” Missy said. 

“Bitch.” Twelve cursed under his breath. “How dare anyone presume my incompetence. I’m blind, not deaf, not... Down Syndrome. And even if I did have Down Syndrome or I was deaf, she shouldn’t be talking like that anyway. Who the fuck does she think she is?” 

Meanwhile, at the flat, people were starting to arrive. 

“I got your drink, now you open the door.” Thirteen said. 

Eleven sighed and did as he was told and opened the door. 

“Hello, Sweetie.” 

“Um. River.” Eleven greeted. 

“What’s the matter, aren’t you happy to see me?” River asked. 

“Oh tremendously.” Eleven said. “I just didn’t expect to see you so soon.”

“Well, you know me, I love Super Mario.” River planted a kiss on Eleven’s lips before inviting herself in. 

“Yes.” Eleven closed the door. 

“Hello, Ten. Hey, Thirteen.” River greeted. 

“Good to see you again, River.” Thirteen said. 

Ten smiled at her. “Hey. Nobody else is here yet, you know.” 

“Well, I suppose it’s easier for me to get here,” River said, “after all, I do just live next door.”

“Jack’s hanging out with his friends, but he sends his love.” Ten said, reading from his phone screen. 

“So who is that so far?” Eleven asked. “River, Yaz, Donna, Clara, Ashildr-“

“It’s all girls.” Thirteen said, pouting slightly. 

You’re a girl.” River pointed out. 

Thirteen shrugged. “Yeah, well...” 

“Oh, Rory’s backed out.” Ten said. “He’s at the hospital.” 

“Is he alright?” Thirteen asked. 

“Nah, he’s working.” Ten said. “Still no answers from Bill, Rose, Mickey and Nardole.” 

“Maybe they’re busy.” River reasoned. 

“Nope, scratch that, Bill’s typing something.” Ten said. 

Eleven frowned. “I thought she was on a date with that girl, Heather.” 

“Why is everyone out on a date?” Thirteen asked. 

“Not everyone, Thirteen.” Ten said. “I’m not. Rose is working.” 

Thirteen shrugged. “Still though.” 

“Apparently Twelve’s kicked off at Frankie and Benny’s.” Ten said. 

“Whoa, why?” Eleven asked. 

“I dunno she’s writing now-oh a rude waiter.” Ten said. “Missy’s writing.”

Thirteen took her phone out. “Yeah, I see it. I know it doesn’t take much to set Twelve off, I mean, he is Scottish but-“

“He’s not Scottish, Thirteen, he just picked up the accent.” Eleven said. He was also looking at his phone.

“I know.” River said. “He’d never make a scene in a restaurant.”

Three knocks on the door had Eleven jumping up from his seat to open it. “Ah. Clara, Ashildr, hello.”

“I keep getting notifications.” Clara said. “Something’s happening with Twelve-“

“This waitress noticed Twelve’s cane and started shouting and saying he had the mental age of a child-according to Missy, who was mistaken for his carer.” Ten said. 

“Oh my god.” Clara exclaimed.

“Well that’s just rude.” Ashildr said. 

“Should I call Four?” Eleven asked. “His girlfriend is a journalist after all.” 

“Let Twelve decide if he wants to go to the press or not.” Ten said. 

Clara hummed. “Well, he is angry enough to want to.”

Ashildr nodded. “A political science major who is also an intern at Westminster. My best bet is that he does.”

“Twelve’s bollocking the manager now and the waitress is called Becky.” River said. “And apparently she’s a help teacher for SEN kids.”

“Ooh. That makes it worse.” Clara said. 

River nodded. “Just a bit.” 

“Does Twelve know that Bill and Missy are telling us what’s going on?” Ten asked. 

“Probably not.” Thirteen said. “If he’s busy with the manager. Well...” She grimaced slightly. 

“I don’t care!” Twelve snapped. “She shouldn’t be talking to me in this way-she shouldn’t be talking to anyone in this way!”

“Twelve, Darling, please calm down.” Missy said. 

“Easy for you to say-this Becky girl didn’t insult you.” Twelve snapped. 

“Missy’s right though.” Bill said. “It’s probably best to be calm in this situation.” 

Twelve was standing up behind a table with Bill and her girlfriend Heather trying to hold him back. Missy was at his side. The manager was stood at the opposite side of the table with the waitress, Becky, almost cowering behind him. 

“I’m very sorry for the way that you were treated, but Becky is a hardworking, valued employee at this establishment-“

“Oh don’t give me that bull crap.” Twelve grumbled. “She shouted at me-slowly-as if I were deaf. No deaf person deserves to be treated this way. I am not deaf, of course, I’m fucking blind. Not all disabled persons a-are... fuckin’ homogeneous.” 

“Twelve.” Bill hissed.

“I understand that, sir-“

“Understand this, I am never stepping foot in any...”

“Frankie and Benny’s.” Heather whispered to him. 

“Yes, any Frankie and Benny’s establishments again.” Twelve said. “Until you punish the employee responsible. Preferably by firing.” 

“I cannot fire Becky, she’s-“

“A raging ableist!” Twelve said loudly. “I can sue for that. Or I can get it out in the press. My sister in law-she’s a journalist, yeah. So. What’ll it be?”

“Please leave, you’re causing a scene.” The manager said, almost fearfully.

“She’ll do it again you know.” Twelve said, oddly calmly. “She’ll say some ableist comment, maybe to some mother with her autistic kid-“

“Child suffering from autism-“ Becky interjected. 

Missy let out a near silent; ‘ooh’ and Bill let go of Twelve. 

Twelve could also feel Heather had flinched slightly as well. With his newly freed arm, he reached up and removed his sunglasses, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light. 

Autistic kid.” He said, his usually calming blue eyes now angry and staring down the waitress. His breath was heavy. She hadn’t said the dreaded ‘R’ word. But she might as well have done in his mind. He felt Heather also let go of him.

“I do not suffer from autism-I do not suffer from blindness.” He said through gritted teeth. “What I do suffer from is people like you,” he pointed a finger at the waitress, who he assumed was the waitress, “saying things about me-to my face-talking through me and to my girlfriend instead, assuming my incompetence, like I’m some five year old and giving me fucking crayons while I’m, you know... blind.” He dragged out the last word, for dramatic effect, lowered his hand again and narrowed his eyes. 

“Erm...” The manager said. Or rather he couldn’t think of anything to say. 

Twelve was pretty confident everyone was looking. He didn’t care. Four had always told him that it’s better to stand up for yourself and others than to have people stare. 

“This isn’t the last you’ve heard of me.” Twelve said. “Come on, Missy.” He put his sunglasses back on. 

Heather tapped Twelve on the shoulder. “Here.” She said, handing him his cane. 

“Ah, yes. Thank you.” Twelve nodded, taking it from her. He normally would have smiled, but this whole situation was pretty soured. 

“We’re coming too.” Bill said. 

“No, enjoy your date.” Twelve said.

“I don’t think we can anymore.” Heather said. 

Twelve simply nodded. He put his hand on Missy’s shoulder and followed her out of the restaurant with Bill and Heather close behind them. 

“Twelve. I’m sorry-“ Missy said as soon as they were outside. 

“Don’t.” Twelve said as he unfolded his cane. “It’s not your fault.” 

“So what do we do now then?” Bill asked. 

“Ah... there’s always a Super Mario party back at my flat.” Twelve tried to smile but it didn’t feel sincere. It didn’t look sincere either, but nobody called him out on it. 

“Alright.” Missy said. “Lead the way.” 

At the flat, since there had since there had been no more updates, everyone was playing Mario Kart-or watching the game of Mario Kart. 

“Left, Clara, left!” Eleven exclaimed. 

“I am going left!” Clara said back. 

“Suck it up, Mario, you are not getting beaten by Princess Peach!” Yaz cried. 

“Come on, Luigi.” Ashildr grunted. 

“Come on! Come on!” Thirteen urged. “You can do it, come on-YES!” She held her controller up in her victory. 

“And the winner is, Thirteen.” Ten said with a slight sigh. “Alright, losers hand in their controller to the next person waiting.” 

Ashildr handed her controller over to Donna and Clara to Eleven. 

Nobody noticed the sounds of a key scraping inside a lock over the hubbub of Thirteen’s win. But they sure noticed when Twelve, Missy, Bill and Heather walked in. Because Twelve announced it. 

“Sorry we’re late.” He said. “Is there still pizza?” 

Chapter Text

“Come on, Twelve. You have to come out of there sooner or later.” 

Four was sitting on the floor and leaning against a door. On the other side of the door came the particularly loud guitar riff to Don’t Fear the Reaper clearly played on an electric guitar through an amp.

“Any luck?” Sarah asked. 

“No luck yet.” Four admitted. 

“He hasn’t come out of there in two days.” Ten said. “He won’t let any of us in either.”

“I have no idea where he’s going to the toilet.” Eleven said. 

Four reached behind him and knocked the door. “I have Jelly Babies.” 

“He’s not going to open it.” Eleven said. 

“I don’t think he can even hear over his guitar.” Ten said.

“Has anyone tried texting him?” Sarah asked. 

“Everyone.” Ten replied. 

“And he’s seen them all.” Eleven added. 

“So have you got any clever ideas to get him out?” Ten asked. 

Four pulled himself up on his feet. “Um. I might. I might.” 

“Good because I’m going out.” Ten said. 

“Going out? Out where?” Four asked. 

“Nowhere.” Ten shrugged. “Shopping. Tesco’s. Get some groceries and stuff.” 

“A-and I’ve got to meet... someone.” Eleven said.

Ten quirked an eyebrow. “River?” 

“... yes.” 

“So where’s Thirteen now then?” Four asked. 

“Your brother’s still locked up in his room then?” Ryan asked. 

He, Yaz and Thirteen were walking down the street-well, Thirteen wasn’t exactly walking, but Ryan and Yaz were. Thirteen was wheeling herself, lagging behind them with her eyes half open.

“Yeah. Haven’t slept since Thursday night.” Thirteen answered. “He just keeps playing guitar solos over and over again.” 

“Really?” Yaz asked. “Like what?” 

“Smoke on the Water. Highway to Hell. Back in Black. Don’t Fear the Reaper. Layla.” Thirteen listed. “It’s driving our neighbours crazy and they’re sending all kinds of warnings under the door and in our pigeonhole. But nobody can get him out of there. Four’s back there trying, but I think there’s only so much he‘ll be able to do.” 

Ryan frowned. “Four?” 

“My older brother.” Thirteen said. “Fourth born.” 

“And his name’s Four?” Yaz asked. 

“Mine’s Thirteen.” She pointed out. 

“So... what?” Yaz shrugged. “You have younger siblings called Fourteen and Fifteen?” 

“Course.” Thirteen said. 

“Mate, that is weird.” Ryan said. 

Thirteen shrugged. 

“Do you think Twelve’s ever going to come out of his room?” Yaz asked, changing the subject back. 

“He’s gonna have to at some point.” Thirteen said. “He’ll need to eat and drink and go to work and we still have no idea what he’s been using as a toilet.” 

“Probably his bin.” Ryan said.

Yaz crinkled her nose in disgust. “Ugh. Ryan that’s gross.” 

“Eh, he’s probably right, actually.” Thirteen admitted. 

“No. Stop. Right now.” 

“I just hope Four can get him out. Otherwise we’re gonna hafta call in the big guns.” Thirteen said.

“And that is...?” Ryan questioned.

“One.” Thirteen said.

“One what?” Yaz asked.

“Our oldest brother.” Thirteen said. “One.”

“That shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.” Yaz said. 

“You have an older sister.” Thirteen pointed out. 

“Yeah, but she’s got a normal name.”

“All names are normal, Yaz.” Thirteen said. “They’re all just a bunch of letters strung together to make a word and it doesn’t matter if that name’s Yasmin or Ryan or Thirteen, that word becomes someone’s identity.” She turned at the zebra crossing and looked both ways before crossing the road, knowing that any cars would slow down and stop for her anyway. 

“So your name’s literally just Thirteen Doctor?” Ryan asked. 

“Come on, Ryan, we’ve been over this; of course it is.” Thirteen paused for only a brief moment. “Well, not really, but yes.” 

“And you have twelve older brothers.” Yaz said. 


“Yeah, we know you’re Thirteen, but-“

“No, I have thirteen older brothers.” Thirteen clarified.

“Thirteen older brothers and your name’s Thirteen? Why’s that then?” 

“It just is.” Thirteen said. 

“Mate, I don’t know how I’d live if I had thirteen older siblings.” Ryan said.

“You say that all the time.” Thirteen hummed. “I have younger siblings too. But they probably wouldn’t be able to help Twelve.” 

“What about you?” Yaz asked. 

“Nah.” Thirteen said. “‘S why I’m staying out of it. Leaving it to my much older brothers.” 

“Twelve,” Sarah knocked on the door once the guitar sounds had stopped, “come and see who’s out here for you. It’s K9!”

Arobotic dog with a metallic blue paint job and K-9 embossed on the side in white letters moved over to Sarah. The robot had an LED eyepiece, rotating ears resembling satellite dishes and a tartan collar as if to match Four’s colourful scarf. 

Master sent me here. K9 said in his metallic voice. Master is worried about you.

No answer. Then came the sounds, not of an electric guitar but a much quieter acoustic guitar  playing Fire and Rain. 

Sarah sighed loudly. Not even K9 had able to get through to Twelve. And Twelve loved K9. She and Four had been banking on K9 so now it was back to the drawing board.

K9 looked up at Sarah. Mistress? 

“I’m fine, K9.” Sarah insisted. “Well, maybe a little frustrated.”

“So let me get this straight. Twelve went on a date with Missy. The waitress was rude and treated him poorly, talking to his girlfriend over him. So he flipped and went back to his flat and he hasn’t come out of his room since.” 

“Yep, that’s right, Graham.” Thirteen said. “Exactly right.” 

“I feel like I’m missing something though.” 

“Well, besides Thirteen, Ten and Eleven, nobody else in their family knows that Twelve is seeing Missy.” Yaz said. 

Graham nodded. “Ah. That’ll do it.

“So what do you think?” Ryan asked. 

“I think that they’ll find out at some point. People tend to find out about things like this.” Graham said. 

“Of course they do.” Thirteen, resting her elbows on the table, popped a fry in her mouth. 

Thirteen, Yaz, Ryan and Graham were sitting in a McDonalds at an accessible table. Thirteen’s eyelids were heavy and she was clearly tired. 

“Have you been sleeping at all?” Graham asked. 

“Not since uh, Thursday night.” Thirteen replied with a yawn. 

“Thursday night?!” Graham was taken aback. “It’s Sunday now.”

“He keeps playing the guitar. Loudly. It’s keeping us and the neighbours up.” Thirteen said. “Neighbours hate it, actually. Feel like murdering him myself, nobody pays attention to disabled on disabled crime anyway.” 

“You can stay with me and Ryan if you want.” Graham offered. 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind. It’s just helping out a friend.” Ryan said.

Thirteen yawned. “I’d love that. Get a decent night’s sleep. Until Four and Sarah get it under control.”

“Great.” Graham said. “You can stay on the sofa. Until Twelve starts being more co-operative.” 

“But what about, uh, Ten and Eleven?” Yaz asked. 

“Ten’s gone out I think. Eleven’s got a date.” Thirteen said. “They’ve got other friends they can stay with.”

“It’s just sad that your brother’s driven you out of your flat.” Ryan said. 

“He’s working through some things.” Thirteen said. “It’s not his fault.” 

Eleven was sitting on a swing in the park with River sitting on the swing next to him. Eleven was simply sitting with his head in his hands, while River was swinging gently. 

“You look tired, Sweetie.” 

“I am tired.” Eleven said. “Bloody Twelve keeping me up for past two days and not allowing me into my own bedroom. I haven’t changed my clothes in two days either. Had to go out and buy new underpants from Asda.” 

“Oh charming.” River muttered. 

“He keeps playing his guitar.” Eleven said. 

“I know, I can hear it.” River said. “I only live next door. But can’t you stop it?” 

“No, he has the bedroom locked.” Eleven explained. “I think he’s having some kind of nervous breakdown.” 

“He’s got work tomorrow though, hasn’t he?” River asked. 

“No, there’s a summer recess until September third.” Eleven explained. 

“With Brexit coming up?” 

“Yes. Well... it’s Boris Johnson. I’m quite certain he wants to go over that Brexit cliff edge and drag us all down with him.”

“Still. September third to Halloween isn’t that long a time.” 

“Fifty-six days. Nobody’d get anything done in that time-even if they wanted to.” 

“So...” River raised an eyebrow. “What happens now?” 

“Twelve thinks there’ll be a general election.” Eleven said. 

“And you?” River asked. 

“I hope there’ll be a general election.” Eleven raised his head and grabbed the chains on the swing. “Twelve can be so terrifying sometimes.”

“How so?” 

“The way he just... stares at you when he’s angry. He just locks onto your eyes and stares. Deep down into your soul.”

“But he’s blind.” River pointed out.

“That’s what makes it so terrifying.” Eleven said. “He stares at you, not through you. And the way he grits his teeth. That accent of his doesn’t help either. Nor do those fierce eyebrows. And he’s not even the scariest of all my brothers-no, that particular honour goes to Seven.” 

“It’s hardly surprising that Missy Masters is besotted with him.” River said.“She’s more sadistic than angry.” Eleven said. 

“None of the other Masters know about their relationship, do they?”

“No. And it’s only me, Ten and Thirteen of all our siblings who know.” 

“Oh I hope you’ve told them all about our relationship, Sweetie.” 

“I’m just worried how my older brothers will react to Twelve and Missy’s relationship.” 

“I’ll just have to send a note.” River said. “From the diary of River Song-“

“Don’t even joke about that, River-“

River stood up. “Dear Twelve D. Doctor and Melissa Masters, I wish to congratulate you on your relationship and potential nuptials-“

Eleven leaped to his feet. “No, River, it’ll cause a riot-“ 

“Relax, Sweetie, I’m only teasing.” 

“Don’t joke about something like that-if Three ever found out he’d have Twelve’s head on a plate personally.” Eleven said. “Missy’s oldest brother Delgado was Three’s classmate-and bully-through primary and secondary. And you know Harry hates Ten.” 

“So it’s not just how your family would react, but how the Masters would react too.” River said. 

“I think the Masters would kill Twelve and then Missy.” Eleven said. “I don’t know how Missy’s getting away with it to be completely honest.” 

“She’s a Masters.” River shrugged. “If she’s anything like Harry then she’s getting away with it by pure manipulation.” 

“I’m going to get into that room, Sarah Jane Smith, just watch me.” Four said. 

“I believe you, I believe you.” Sarah said. “It’s just you haven’t done so well so far.” 

“Ah but this time, I’m using force.” 

“Not a robotic dog?” 

“Are you telling me there’s something wrong with my dog?” Four asked. 

Our dog, Four.” Sarah corrected. 

“Yes, yes.” Four nodded. “Our dog.” He took the long multicoloured scarf from around his neck and handed it to Sarah. 

“What are you doing?” Sarah asked. 

“Oh. Something.” Four said, taking a silver pen like object out of his pocket. He pointed the red head at the door and it started buzzing. 

Sarah covered her ears and glowered at Four, who then kicked the door open. 

Twelve turned around. He had an acoustic guitar strapped across his front. “Four-how did you-?”

“Two invented this sonic device. It opens locks.” Four explained quickly. “You have to stop playing guitar. You have to talk to us.”

“I don’t have to do anything.” Twelve said. “I’m almost twenty.”


“Why don’t you go and take your girlfriend and your robot with you?” 


“Because you’re ten years older then me. You should know better than to break into-into locked rooms. I’m doing just fine-“


A silence fell over everyone. 

Twelve removed his guitar and pulled it over his head. His face pulled into a scowl and his eyes narrowed at who he hoped was Four, though it might have been Sarah Jane-they both had long brown hair and they were both really very blurry and blacked out in places so it was hard to tell. 

“Don’t you ever call me that... again.” He hissed. 

“I had to get your attention somehow.” Four argued. 

“Don’t call me that-never fuckin’ call me that!” Twelve shouted. “My name is Twelve! It’s fuckin’ Twelve!”

“Twelve, please don’t swear.” Sarah said calmly.

“... even she gets it.” Twelve said. 

“What’s this really about, Twelve?” Four asked. “Is it about what happened in Pizza Hut on Friday?” 

“It wasn’t Pizza Hut, it was Frankie and Benny’s.” Twelve muttered.

“Frankie and Benny’s.” Four said with a nod. 

“Listen, Twelve. You know me. You can talk to me. And if you want to talk without Four here-“

“I don’t want to talk because there’s no problem.” 

“You’re upset.” Four said. “I know you are. I know when something’s bothering you.” 

“There’s nothing bothering me.” Twelve insisted.

“Twelve...” Sarah said gently. “You forget that we’re not blind. We can see your face right now. You’ve been so used to not hiding your face this past weekend that-“

“Your guard’s down.” Four finished. 

“Yes.” Sarah nodded. “Please. Talk to us.” 

Chapter Text

“Autistic rights now!” Ten shouted as he marched down Oxford Street holding his picket sign. 

Ten was followed in his protest by his girlfriend Rose and his friends, Martha, Donna, Mickey and Jack, who we’re also marching with picket signs. 

Ten’s picket sign was the most simple. It had been made last minute that morning and consisted of a sheet of A4 sellotaped on a bit of cardboard, which had also been sellotaped to a thin plank of wood. On the A4 read ‘Autistic Rights Now!’, each letter in a different colour of Sharpie and obviously hastily written. 

Rose’s picket sign was less hastily made and her cardboard had at least been painted. It still had a picture of a blue puzzle piece stuck on with PVA glue. The letters of the words ‘People Are Not Puzzle Pieces’ had been cut out from print outs from WordArt.

Mickey’s sign was the laziest. His sign comprised only of a piece of A4 paper. And on that piece of A4 paper were the words ‘Diffrent Not Lesser’ scrawled in ballpoint pen (blue ink) typo and all.

Donna was marching with a large sign with a blue puzzle piece in the centre, a no symbol around it with only the words ‘NO CURE’ in big bold capital letters. 

Martha’s picket sign was covered in poorly printed and cut out pictured of needles that were stuck to white painted cardboard with Pritt-Stick (some were peeling off). In a rather eye catching shade of red, her sign read ‘Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism, Genetics Does’. 

And Jack was marching with a rainbow coloured picket sign that in black ink and a calligraphy style font simply read (simply referring to the words, rather than how they were written) ‘Boo Eugenics’. 

Mickey stopped as they passed a news vendor. “Hey, Ten, have you seen this?” He handed his sheet of paper to Martha and held up an issue of The Standard. 

“What is that?” Ten asked walking back towards Mickey. 

“Trouble.” Mickey replied. 

“Yeah, I see that happening.” Jack agreed. 

“Oh crap.” Ten lowered his picket sign and took the newspaper from Mickey. 

The headline read in bold letters:


“Well then. Twelve’s dead.” Jack said. “Shall we start planning the funeral?” 

“Where does it say that he’s died?” Donna asked. 

“Right... there.” Rose pointed to a sentence. “It clearly says ‘Mr Doctor and his girlfriend, Missy Masters’.”

“Oh well. It was nice knowing him.” Donna said. “I’d like to say the same thing about Missy only I wouldn’t mean it.” 

“Shame.” Donna said. “I liked Twelve. He could play the guitar really well.”

“I liked listening to his practicing when I came over.” Rose said. 

“It was always cool when someone would offer unwanted assistance and he’d threaten to ram his long cane up their urethras.” Jack said. “And kinda sexy.”

“Can everyone stop talking about my brother like he’s already dead.” Ten asked. “And/or describing his rage fits as ‘sexy’?” He did air quotes with his fingers. 

“He’s always frowning. Scowling. Even when the rest of his face doesn’t look angry, his eyebrows do. That’s-“

“I swear to god, Jack, if you say ‘sexy’, I’m going to defriend you.” Ten said. “Like, that’s my younger brother-“

“I’m sorry, but people with autism do already have rights.” 

Ten turned from the newspaper and to the woman on the pavement. “In the sense that all people have human rights and it’s autistic people, not people with autism.”

“I’m sorry, but it is people with autism, that’s the correct term.” The woman said. She was holding the hand of a little boy who was sucking his thumb. 

Jack stepped forward. “I’m guessing that’s your little boy, right? Around seven years old? And he’s autistic, isn’t he.” 

“He has autism.” The woman said. 

Jack shrugged slightly. “Eh. He’s autistic. What’s his name?” 

“Oliver.” The woman said. “I don’t see how that’s relevant-“

Jack crouched down to the boy’s eye level. “Hey there, Oliver.” 

Oliver averted his gaze from Jack and carried on sucking his thumb. 

“He has autism. He can’t speak. He doesn’t understand.”

“He understands alright.” Ten said. “He understands that because either you or your partner? Husband? either way one of you is autistic and passed that gene on to him and you resent him for it.” 

“Unless he’s adopted.” Donna suggested.

“Yeah, good point.” Ten said. “Is he adopted?”

“... no.”

“Yeah, then you resent him because you’re unhappy with your own genetics.” Ten said. 

“Excuse me!” The woman growled. “He has autism because he’s had vaccine damage from the MMR and-“

“Oh hey, look who’s fully vaccinated and isn’t autistic.” Ten said. 

Rose waved and Mickey folded his arms. 

“I’m a med student. Vaccines cause nothing except lower disease levels and allergic reactions in some people.” Martha said. 

“Then he had one of them.” The woman said. 

“... you... you know what an allergic reaction is, right?” Martha asked. “Because anaphylaxis doesn’t cause autism.” 

“Well he must have had it-how else did he get autism?” 

Martha frowned. “From you or you partner-do you not know how genetics work?” 

“Leave it.” Mickey said. “There’s no reasoning with martyrs like her.” He said with a flick of his head.

The woman’s nostrils flared in anger. “How dare you-“

“How dare you not read a book.” Rose said. “Andrew Wakefield falsified data so he could patent his own MMR vaccine. He literally had his medical license stripped from him.” 

“Yeah, I barely got A-Levels and even I know this.” Donna said. 

“And you know what I have to say about this guy.” Jack stood up and pointed at his picket sign. “Boo eugenics.” 

Ten sighed. “This is why we need autistic rights.” 

“Boo eugenics.” The little boy, Oliver, said. 

The mother’s eyes opened wide and her jaw nearly dropped down to the floor as she looked at her son.

“At least we got through to someone.” Rose said. 

The woman huffed and pulled her son away. 

“Boo eugenics.” Oliver said again. “Boo eugenics.”

“And read a science journal!” Martha called after her. 

Jack snorted. “Fucking load on her.”

“When that kid started talking I got the feel she was about to keel over.” Mickey said. 

“Oh my son used to be non-verbal but I’ll never hear him say ‘I love you’ because some rat-arsed twenty-something taught him to say ‘boo eugenics’ instead and now that’s all he’ll say.” Donna said, doing a near perfect imitation of the woman. 

“Did I ever tell you that some days I really hate my life?” Ten asked. “Right, where’s that paper? I want to have another look at it.”

“Check it out.” Thirteen said, happily admiring a box. 

“It’s a box.” Eleven said. “From Amazon.” 

“Yeah, but it’s what’s inside the box.” Thirteen said happily. 

“What is inside the box?” Eleven asked. 

“You’ll see now.” Thirteen picked up a pen and used it to stab the tape open. She opened the box and her eyes went wide and a big smile passed across her face. “Oh brilliant!” 

“What is it?” Eleven asked. 

Thirteen pulled the contents of the box out and discarded the box. “Look!” She showed her item to Eleven. 

“A Barbie doll in a wheelchair.” Eleven said. 

“It is a Barbie in a wheelchair!” Thirteen said excitedly. “I’ve never seen a Barbie that looks like me before-it’s... so cool, Eleven! For the first time, I feel seen.” 

“You know who else is seen?” Eleven asked, looking at his phone. “Twelve.” 

“What’d you mean?” Thirteen asked. 

“According to Ten, it’s in the newspaper that Twelve and Missy are dating.” Eleven said. 

“Oh.” Thirteen shook her head and peeled the cardboard backing from her doll. “I’m going to miss him. Sometimes it’s nice having a brother like Twelve.” 

“What about Ten and I?” 

“Twelve’s scarier.” 

Eleven nodded in agreement. “True, true.” 

“But it was cool growing up with thirteen older brothers. Some of them even feared. It kept a lot of people off my back that normally would have bullied someone like me.” Thirteen said. 

“There’s nothing wrong with you.” Eleven said. 

“Really?” Thirteen cocked an eyebrow. “What about the social awkwardness, the impulsiveness, the fact that I had a help teacher, the orthoses-that I still wear, the walker that I had, the way I couldn’t take part in PE-“

“I get it, Thirteen.” Eleven said. “PE was hardly a cakewalk for me either, you know.” 

“But you’re not in a wheelchair.” Thirteen pointed out. “You don’t get the stares that I do. The mutters that I’m ‘faking’. The people groping me and my chair when I try and get on the Tube-which not all the stations are accessible, actually. The people trying to ‘help’ and getting huffy when you say ‘no, I’m fine’, like, my chair doesn’t have handles for a reason. And the catcalling. Ugh. I always try and have another guy with me when I go down the street.”

“No, you’re right.” Eleven said. “You have it worse. But not for long. Pretty sure the next time we see Twelve, he’ll be in a box.” 

“That’s if it’s an open casket.” Thirteen said. 

Eleven nodded. “Ooh yeah, good point.” 

“You’re dating Melissa Masters.” 

Twelve was standing in Three’s very spacious flat in Westminster, squeezing his hands on his cane. Also in the flat was one of Three’s friends, Jo. Despite that they had been doing an experiment for UNIT, Three had called Twelve over, specifically over the piece that had emerged in The Standard. 

“How do you know?” Twelve asked. 

“Benton sent me a text of what was in today’s edition of the Standard.” Three said. “You’re dating Melissa Masters.” He said, not as a question, but as a fact.

“Yes.” Twelve said. 

“Dump her. Now.” Three said, oddly calmly. 


“I beg your pardon?” Three frowned. “After our parents died, I was the one who raised you so you’d best listen to me when I tell you that you need to dump Melissa Masters.” 

“Her name’s Missy.” Twelve said.  

“Don’t get cocky with me, young man.” Three said. 

“I’m not dumping Missy. I like Missy. She likes me.” 

“Can’t you just let this feud go, Three?” Jo asked, stepping into the argument. “You’ve held a grudge against the older Masters man for years-“

“And for good reason, Jo.” Three said. 

“I don’t doubt that.” Jo said. “But Twelve and Missy-“

“She’s going to break his heart.” 

“He’s nineteen, you can’t protect him forever.” Jo said. “You weren’t able to protect him from that waitress after all.” 

“Thank you, Ms Grant.” Twelve said. 

“Twelve is in university. He’s got a job as a civil servant-“

“Intern.” Twelve corrected. 

“He’s a civil service intern. He pays his own rent. He’s a responsible enough lad.” 

“And you’d know all about civil servants, wouldn’t you?” Three asked. 

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Jo asked. 

Three sighed and turned his attention back to Twelve. “Dump her. I’m not going to tell you again.” 

“What happened,” Twelve asked, “between you and Delgado Masters?” 

A silence fell over the room for an uncomfortable amount of time before finally being broken by Three. 

“Dump her.” 

Harry slammed a newspaper down on Missy’s coffee table. “You’re dating a Doctor?!” 

“I never said I was dating anyone.” Missy said. 

“You bloody well did and it’s right here.” Harry tapped his finger down on the paper. “You’re dating the blind one. Of all the people you could have dated, it was the blind Doctor! What’s his name-“

“Twelve.” Missy replied. “He’s not ‘the blind one’, his name is Twelve.” 

“Twelve.” Harry scoffed. “His name’s not actually Twelve. Says in here that it’s... Dougan.” 

Missy waved her hand dismissively. “They’re all numbered from William down to Jodie.” 

“Jodie’s the stupid wheelchair girl.”

“She has cerebral palsy, yes. But she’s not stupid.”

“She’s a Doctor, of course she’s stupid.” 

“What have they ever done to you, Harold?” Missy asked. “As I recall, you and Ten used to be friends.”

“Melissa, we’re not five years old anymore.” Harry said. “There’s a feud. Act like there’s one.”

“No.” Missy said. “No, I like Twelve.”

“I don’t know what you see in him and his grey hair and his stupid angry eyebrows. He can’t see you back he’s blind.”

“I’m very fucking aware that he’s blind, you know. The cane and the Braille books very much give it away.” Missy folded her arms. “Delgado used to be close with Three, you know. They were like brothers-“

“Then something happened and bam! We’re feuding.” Harry said. 

“Do you know what that something was?” Missy asked. 

“Er... no.” Harry admitted. 

“Wouldn’t you like to find out?” 

“I’m not about to ask Delgado ‘hey, what happened between you and Jon Doctor?’ because chances are he’s not going to answer that question anyway.” 

“I want to know because it affects my relationship with Twelve.” Missy said. 

“I’m not asking.” Harry put his hands on his hips. 

“Fine.” Missy huffed slightly. “You can just, I don’t know, sit here watching Teletubbies. Like some kind of twenty year old baby.” She turned to the door to leave.

“Where are you going?” Harry snapped. “I wasn’t done talking with you.”

I was.” Missy opened the door, walked out and slammed it after her. 

That evening, Twelve strapped his acoustic guitar to his back and grabbed his long cane ready to slip back out of the flat. 

“Where are you going?” Eleven asked. 

“Out.” Twelve said. “You didn’t care last weekend, why do you care now?”

“I know Three’s talked to you.” Eleven said. “And you’ve got your guitar-“

“Correction, one of my guitars.” 

“Where are you going?” 

“It’s Open Mic Night at the local.” Twelve said. “Thought I’d play fucking... Wonderwall or some shite.” 

“Do you want me to call Thirteen and we can go and see you?” Eleven offered.

“Where is Thirteen?” 

“Gone to stay at her friend Ryan’s. She came back earlier to get her mail. Took all her meds with her.” 

“You think she’s moved out?” 

“Nah, she’s got her beloved coat here and her spare wheelchair’s still in the closet.” 

“Right, well, I’m going out. And I don’t want you to follow me.” 

“Oh. Right, okay.” Eleven nodded. “I’ll just... call River then.”

“Call her then.” Twelve opened the door and walked out. 

Twelve knew the way to the Tube station. He had his Oyster card with him. There were very few routes Twelve had memorised, but the ones he did have memorised were to his work, to Westminster, to King’s Cross and to Euston. And now he would be stopping off at St James’s Park. 

Twelve always took more caution in the Tube stations. They were always full of people that would ignore that he was blind. Sure, he loved it when people ignored that, but not in places where he could fall down escalators and die. 

He knew his way down from the train station to the District line, that it would take him to Westminster, where he got off to work. St James’s Park was just the next stop along where he’d meet Missy. Another route he knew well was the route to Lewisham, where Missy (and Harry) lived (as well as to Croydon, where Four and Sarah lived). 

When the Tube came, Twelve asked the conductor to make sure it was going to St James’s Park (which it was), so he got on and sat down. He took his guitar off and put it between his legs and put his folded up cane in his lap. It was going to be a long journey of about forty minutes, so he took his earbuds out and started fiddling with his phone; listening to music and texts.

People generally took no notice. Until around halfway through the journey, a man put his hand on Twelve’s shoulder. 

Twelve took one of his earbuds out. “What?” He asked, almost aggressively. 

“I would like to pray for you.” 

Twelve groaned. He’d had nutters try and pray for his eyesight before. He’d always refused. This time was no exception. “No.” He said firmly and went to put his earbud back in. 

The man grabbed his hand to stop him and Twelve closed his eyes and took a deep breath. This guy was one of those guys. 

“I wouldn’t be doing my duty as a Christian if I didn’t pray for the less fortunate.” 

Twelve gritted his teeth as his mind filled with expletives that he wanted to scream at the man, but would also be screamed all over the rest of the Tube carriage. 

“Dear Lord, I pray that you heal this unfortunate blind man’s eyes and help him to-“

“Look mate, there’s fuck all wrong with my eyes.” Twelve hissed in a low voice. “Yes, I’m blind, but that’s because of fucking brain damage that I will not be healed from because guess fucking what? There’s no cure for brain damage! And surprise, fucking, surprise, I was actually cured of the disease that blinded me-I believe you may have heard of it it’s called meningitis.”

Twelve glowered at the man. “And if you don’t get your fucking hand off me right now, I will snap your fucking fingers off and shove them so far up your arse that you’ll have to have surgery to get them removed because there is no way you’re shitting them out yourself. Got that?” 

The man relinquished his grip on Twelve’s hand and gave a weak nod. “Yep.” He squeaked. He was so shocked; he’d never had a disabled person threaten him before. 


“You’re disabled though-I thought you’d be happy to be cured by the hand of God with a miracle since your life is lesser to mine-“

Twelve’s jaw dropped. “Oh ho ho... fucking fuck me. My life is not lesser. After all, I’m not the useless fuck who harassed a random stranger on the Tube. You don’t fucking know me yet but I guarantee you will. And even if I did believe in God and his... Divine Plan, then he clearly fucking meant for me to become blind and it’s un-Christian-like or insulting to God some shite to not believe in that plan or whatever, right?”


“Good. Now we have that cleared up, get the fuck out of my residual sight.” Twelve put his earbud back in his ear and shook his head. At least that man hadn’t confused him for a beggar and offered him money.

Towards the end of the journey, Twelve took his earbuds out; he needed to hear where he was. Embankment. Two stops to St James’s Park.

The next stop was Westminster. He stood up, unfolded his cane and held his guitar between his legs. He put his arm around the handrail to brace himself. He couldn’t see much of... anything, but he could definitely feel they were about to stop. That and the Tube announcement said they would. 

The doors opened and Twelve picked up his guitar and stepped off the train along with around twenty other people. When he was safely on the platform, he swung his guitar over his shoulder and began to find his way out the maze of stairs and escalators. 

Twelve was alone. Most of the time, he liked that. Alone was great. 

Tube stations were not really a place he liked to be alone. And from what he’d heard from his friends and family, even the non-autistic, non-blind, and non-wheelchair users, the Tube could be daunting, especially on unfamiliar routes and stations. He did not know the St James’s Park Tube station like he knew the Westminster Tube station. Or the Lewisham DLR station. Or the Croydon Overground station. Yet he found his way out-mostly by groping walls and ticket barriers. 

“Twelve.” Missy said in concern. “What the hell did you call me here for?” 

“Missy. Missy, they know.” 

“Who knows what?”

“Three knows.” Twelve said. “Jo Grant knows. And apparently some guy they work with called Benton. He knows.”

“Yeah, Harry knows too.” 

“It’s going to come out.” 

“Why did you tell Sarah Jane Smith?”

“You talked to her too.” Twelve said. 

Missy sighed. “What now then? Go on to Victoria and elope while watching Hamilton?” 

“Vegas.” Twelve suggested. 

“I’m being serious.” Missy said.

“So am I. We’ll stay there.” Twelve said. “Eight’s living out in California with his girlfriend and their friends so it’s not like we’ll be alone out there. And apparently one of them’s Irish.” 

“I don’t care about Irish people, Twelve.” 

“Yeah, neither do I really.” Twelve said. “I mean I don’t not care about them. But... What I mean to say is that I have no strong feelings-or connection-to Ireland.”

“I’m not moving to California.” Missy said

“Why not? They have a Disneyland.” Twelve pointed out. 

“I don’t want to go to Disneyland. Twelve, just listen to yourself.” Missy said. 

“I don’t want to.” Twelve admitted. 

Missy sighed. “Come on. There’s a bench here. Let’s just sit down and talk this through.” 

“I don’t want to talk.” Twelve said. 

“And I don’t want to run away.” Missy said. She took Twelve’s guitar off and pulled him down onto the bench.

“I don’t know what else there is to do.” Twelve admitted, putting his head in his hands. 

“Come on. It’s August. It’s evening. We’re in St James’s Park.” Missy said. “You brought your guitar-“

“As an alibi because Eleven asked where I was going.” Twelve said. “I told him I was going to the local, not into London city itself.” 

“Why does that matter so much?” Missy asked. “You’re twenty in three days.”

“Three days.” Twelve moaned. “I’ll be in work then.” 

“I thought Parliament was in recess-“

“It is but I’m not a politician, I’m a civil servant, therefore I have to keep working.” 

Missy frowned. “Mean.” 

“Mean.” Twelve nodded in agreement. He lifted his head from his hands as a thought occurred to him. “Mean.” He repeated, opening his guitar case. 

“What... what are you doing?” Missy asked. 

“You said ‘mean’ and that gave me an idea.” Twelve said. He pulled his guitar out and gently strummed to check that the strings sounded right. “So... what should I play?” 

Chapter Text

Monday morning and Twelve was rather used to his commute. Get through the train station. Down to the Tube. District Line to Westminster. Out to the Tesco Extra to buy lunch. Cross the road onto Parliament Road. Whitehall. Into the Government Offices and up to the DCMS. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (formerly the Department for Culture, Media and Sport until it was renamed by Theresa May). 

Twelve never mentioned to anyone who didn’t already know (which was hardly anyone) that he actually worked on Whitehall. Missy didn’t know. Most people didn’t know what his job even was. It hadn’t even come out in his interview with Sarah Jane. Nobody but his boss and fellow civil servants knew. 

“Morning, Doctor.” 

“Morning, Clarke.” Twelve greeted.

“You heard the news?” Clarke asked. 

“What news? There’s a lot of news. Especially with Boris Johnson.” Twelve said. 

“Priti Patel.” Clarke said. “Wants criminals to literally feel terror at the thought of breaking the law.” 

Twelve shook his head. “Jesus Christ the stupid bitch, as if that’ll solve anything.” 

“We’re civil servants, Doctor, we’re supposed to be neutral.” 

“Yes, yes.” Twelve sighed and took his seat. “You’re right. But I’m just an intern yeah? As long as I’m neutral while I’m Twittering-which is my job-then it’s all good in my hood, bro.”

“You Millennials are all the same.” 

“I’m Generation X not a Millennial!” Twelve protested. “Get it right.” He muttered as he logged onto his computer. “And at least we don’t work for the cunt who claimed for a duck island. Or the one who claimed for horse shit.” He paused briefly. “Or the guy who claimed three thousand eight hundred on beds and carpets.”

Twelve leaned back in his uncomfortable office chair. “Nicola Morgan.” He muttered under his breath, reminding himself of who he was now working for since the previous Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright, had been lost in the reshuffle when Boris Johnson took office. 

“Morning all.” It was Nicky Morgan’s voice. “Now I know we’re all supposed to be in recess. And I’m supposed to be in the East Midlands. But as you all know, Brexit’s coming up in about eighty-something days and quite I’d rather us leave with a deal. And I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. But, uh... yes. Let’s get to work.” 

Twelve turned back to his computer and grabbed his mouse, putting his other hand back on the Braille display, ready to log onto the Internet. 

That plan was scuppered, however as Nicky Morgan approached, and addressed, him personally. 

“Erm, Doctor.” 

Twelve instinctively turned his head to let her know he was listening-he could still feel what he was doing on the computer anyway, thanks to the refreshable Braille display. 

“Earlier this morning, the Opposition Communications Director was hit by a car on The Mall earlier.” She explained. “Probably not looking where he was going because he was giving someone a bollocking on the phone.”

“Oh right.” Twelve nodded. 

“Tweet a nice tribute or... something.” Mrs Morgan was still settling into her new job and it came through. Either that, or she had something against Labour. Which of course she would, she’s a Tory.

“Is he dead?” Twelve asked. 

“I actually don’t know. It’s just on the news that it had happened.” 

“Alright. I’ll Tweet something so heartfelt, in two hundred and forty characters, that I you’ll get a lump in your throat when you read it.”

“Watch the sarcasm around me, Doctor.” Mrs Morgan said.

“I wasn’t being sarcastic, Minister.” Twelve said. 

“Just get on with the Tweet.” With that, she walked away. Presumably to her office. 

“Nobody’s even noticed I’m twenty.” Twelve mumbled before getting on with the task. 


@everyone, it was Twelve’s birthday yesterday. He turned 20 and spent it being berated by Three. So we’re having a surprise belated party today and we want to make it a good one. 


I’m at work. 


You’re always at work. 


I’m a nursing student on placement-I don’t know what you expect


But how do you olan on making it good?


Surprise party?


How are you planning that though?


Since @tennytentennyten10 didn’t think this through, I’m going to take over planning. 




@impossiblegirl27, you’re Twelve’s bezzie mate, right?


Yes why?


You’re gonna be helping me with planning. How cool is that?


I don’t know if I’ll be able to make anything because my dad’s got this thing tonight with his military stuff and he wants me there @thing 1 and @thing 2 can vouch for me there. 


That’s suck a shame, Twelve likes you guys.


We can try and make it. 


There’s jus5no promises. 


And @capnjack don’t forget those weirdo Welsh froends of yours. 

Eleven sat down on the sofa, put his feet up on the coffee table, turned on the TV and set the channel to BBC News. 

“-is very effective at his job, of course. I have asked him to tone down the swearing and the threats, but it seems his reputation-“

“What are you watching?” Ten asked. 

“Oh, it’s Jeremy Corbyn.” Eleven pointed at the TV screen. “A BBC journalist ambushed him outside his home.” 

“Antisemitism?” Ten asked, taking a seat next to Eleven on the sofa. 

“Not this time, no.” Eleven said. “His spin doctor’s been hit by a car or something. Twelve just texted me.” 

“Well that’s a surprise.” Ten said. 

Time for a reminder of the headlines; Protests in Hong Kong-“

“Hong Kong’s made the headlines every day for the last few weeks now.” Eleven said. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel-“

Ten grabbed the remote and turned the TV off. 

“Hey!” Eleven protested. “I was watching that!” 

“You’re supposed to be planning a birthday party for Twelve, though.” Ten said. “This is so typical of you. Take your Ritalin.” 

“What if I don’t want to?” Eleven asked. 

“Then I’ll prise open your mouth, put the pills in myself and massage your throat so they go down.” Ten said. 

“Yeah...” Eleven stood up. “I’m going to get to party planning...” He walked to the front door and opened it to see River standing with her arms folded. 

“Hello, Sweetie.” She greeted. 

“Hey, River.” Eleven half-heartedly greeted back. 

“So tell me,” River said, ignoring Eleven’s tone, “how you’re going to host a party for a blind man.”

Ten rubbed the back of his head. “Maybe I didn’t think it through.” 

“Maybe?” Eleven fiddled with his glasses. “It was a terrible idea.” 

“We can’t just say it’s off though.” Ten said. 

“Just don’t get any bright bunting and I think you’ll be okay.” River said. 

“I’ve asked Clara for help. She’s his friend so she’d know what he likes.” 

“You’re his brother, you should know what he likes.” 

“He keeps to himself, honestly.” Eleven said. “Unless he plays guitar or shouts at one of us, we don’t really hear from him.” 

“Yeah, that’s true.” Ten said. “Since he took that job as a social media manager for the government, we don’t see him as much as we used to.” 

“But you want to have a party anyway because he’s your brother.” River said. “I can understand that.” 

“I just figured he’d enjoy a gathering with his friends.” Eleven said. 

“You’d best find out who’s coming then.” Ten said. 

“I’ll make a list.” Eleven said. 

Now.” Ten said. 

Eleven picked up his phone and sat back down on the sofa. “Relax, I’m making the list.” 

“Okay.” Ten said. “I’ll go to Asda and get the cake and some food.”

“Why not Tesco?” Eleven asked. 

“Asda’s closer.” Ten said. He grabbed his key and swiftly left the flat. 

River picked up a notepad and a pen from the table and sat next to Eleven. “Alright, who’s coming so far?” 

“Erm... me, Ten, you...” Eleven looked down at his phone. “Clara. Jack and those Welsh friends of his-“

“How many Welsh friends has he got?” River asked. She was taking notes. 

“I...’m not sure.” Eleven counted on his fingers. “I think five.” 

“I’m assuming Thirteen’s coming.” River said.

“Yeah, I cant imagine she wouldn’t.” Eleven reasoned. “Kate and Rory can’t make it, but the Osgoods might.” 

“Osgoods... question mark.” River muttered to herself. “Alright, is anyone else coming?” 

“Bill and Missy have both just confirmed.” Eleven said. His phone pinged in his hand and he looked down at it. “Oh and Bill says her girlfriend’s coming too.” 

River scribbled their names down in the notebook. “Great. That’s...” she paused as she counted under her breath. “Twelve.”

Eleven’s phone pinged again. “Mickey and Martha send their regards, but can’t make it tonight. It’s their anniversary.”

“Two years already?” 

“Yep, two years.” Eleven said. He looked over at River, who was still taking notes, and he bit his lip. 

He knew that he loved River. He loved her immensely. And sure they’d had their fights-what couple hadn’t? But it was almost that exact moment he realised what he wanted out of their relationship. 

His phone pinging snapped him from his thoughts. “Oh um... Donna’s coming. And so is Nardole-seriously, where did he come from?” 

“I don’t know, Sweetie, he exists, just leave it at that.” River said, adding the names to the list. 

“Do you know if Amy’s coming?” Eleven asked. 

“I don’t.” River said. “I just let her get on with her own life. Make her own choices.” 

Eleven shrugged. He could understand that. 

“So who hasn’t responded yet?” 

“Erm...” Eleven scrolled up through the conversation. “Ryan, Rose, Amy, Ashildr And Yaz.” 

“Alright, let’s put them down as ‘maybe’ and get this thing underway.” River finished her list and put the pen and notebook down. 

Later on in the afternoon, Clara made her way over to the flat and knocked on the door.

Eleven answered. “Clara, hello.” He greeted. 

“I got some stuff here for Twelve’s party.” Clara said. “Just some music and some decorations-stuff that he can touch rather than see. So no rainbow coloured bunting.” 

“Shame, I like rainbow coloured bunting.” 

“Wouldn’t work for a blind man, would it?” Clara asked, stepping inside. 

“No, I suppose not.” Eleven agreed. 

“Hey, Clara.” Ten greeted. “I’m just setting up the table now.” 

“I can see.” Clara nodded. “Is that a chocolate cake?” 

“Twelve likes chocolate cake.” Ten said. “And crisps. And Fanta.”  He pointed towards the two bowls full of crisps either side of the traybake chocolate cake and three 2L bottles of Asda Orange Crush at the very end of the table. 


“It’s Asda brand Fanta.” Ten said. “More radioactive looking and less... Fanta like. But it’s cheap, so...” he shrugged. 

“And the crisps are cheap too?” Clara asked.

“Asda’s own brand.” Ten confirmed. 

“Why not get the real brands?”

“Well, Twelve’s the only one of us who’s actually earning a wage.” Eleven explained. “Thirteen gets her student loans and Ten and I used to get them. Now we don’t. We’ve graduated. But we get benefits.” 

You get benefits.” Ten said. “I’ve signed on. So yeah, we can only afford the cheap stuff.” 

“That’s actually... Sad.” 

“Well, welcome to life with a disability. You make your family poor, you yourself are poor and the government only works to make you either poorer still, homeless or, best case scenario, you kill yourself by age thirty.” Ten said. “I’m cracking on with life. I’m twenty-one now. I want a job. But what do you do with an English degree?” 

“Be a teacher.” Clara said. “I’m getting my degree in English and I want to be a teacher.” 

“Great, let’s say we both apply for the teaching job-who are they going to hire?” Ten asked. “Me, the autistic person who’s socially awkward, childish and often says things at inappropriate times? Or you, who’s normal?” 

“It’s hardly a conspiracy, Clara, but nobody ever does hire autistic people.” Eleven added. 

Clara walked over to the shelf where Twelve’s cards were. Some of them had raised images, tactile images and large font, others were in Braille. “Let’s just get this party set up.” She said, quietly considering what Ten and Eleven had just said to her. 

Twelve had had a long day at work. He was starting to dislike his boss, who seemed to be asking him for overly political requests and he hated that because it absolutely, categorically was not his place to get involved in Party political matter. He was in the Civil Service and his was his job to remain politically neutral. No matter how much he hated the Party in office. 

He walked as he normally did; trying to look confident as he passed through the Tube stations with his long cane in front, rolling across the floor checking for obstacles and feet. Twelve didn’t just hate the Party in power. He hated people too. Especially when they grabbed him out of the blue. 

“Here, let me help.” It sounded like a man’s voice, but Twelve couldn’t be sure. 

“No.” Twelve said adamantly. 

“Excuse me?” The person sounded affronted. 

“You heard me. I said no.” Twelve said. “I don’t need help. And I certainly don’t need you grabbing me in a place where if I lose my balance, I could fall to my death in front of thousands of people. And by the way, touching me? That’s assault. I could get you done for that if I call 101.”

“Look, mate, I’m just trying to help-I know if I was the tragic blind person, I’d need someone to-“ 

“I wouldn’t fucking piss on you if you were on fire. Now fuck off.” Twelve said. “And let go of my arm.” 

The person let go of his arm instantly. “I thought you people were supposed to be-“

“Blind people are not fucking homogeneous with other disable people. Nor are we all fucking angels. Now let go of the cane or I call a TFL attendant who will call the police for me.” 

The person let go of the cane. 

“That’s what I thought.” Twelve said. He lowered his sunglasses and glowered at the person, who scuttled away. “Wanker.” He muttered to himself and carried on with his commute. 

Twelve found his way down to the platform he needed-at least he hoped he had. When a TFL worker approached him, asking him if he needed help, Twelve responded with; “Is this the District Line to Upminster?” 

“It is indeed, the train will be arriving in around three minutes.” 

“Alright, thanks.” Twelve said. 

“No problem.” The worker then walked away, leaving Twelve to wonder why all his conversations couldn’t be like that. 

At the flat, everyone was gathering, getting ready to surprise Twelve. 

Clara had put up decorations with different textures and at touch level so Twelve could feel them. Ten had put out a spread of finger foods including crisps, pizza, onion rings, sausage rolls, fruit and crackers and in the centre of the spread was a chocolate traybake birthday cake. Eleven had set up the music Clara had brought. It was all on her Spotify account, but he had set up the speakers to her mobile. 

Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers was playing as they hurried to put the finishing touches on the gathering in their small flat (though River, Rory and Amy had offered their flat up as an extra space). 

“Do you think Twelve will appreciate this?” Bill asked as she and Heather entered the flat. 

“Given that he spent yesterday being shouted at by Three, I’m gonna day this will probably be a welcome change.” Ten said. He was pouring the Asda own brand orangeade into the plastic cups Donna had brought with her. 

“Sometimes I feel bad for Twelve. Like he doesn’t catch a break.” Heather said. “Anyway, we brought a present.” 

“Yeah, we meant to come round yesterday with it. Only we forgot.” Bill said with an awkward chuckle. 

“Just leave it on the coffee table.” Ten said.

“When’s Twelve coming anyway?” Donna asked. She was sitting on the sofa. 

Eleven looked at his watch. “Erm, he’s due in around ten minutes, I think.” 

“You’re telling me we’re early?” Bill asked. 

“You could always help out in the kitchen.” Clara said. “Or help River and Amy next door. Or wait with Donna on the sofa.” 

“Who else is next door?” Heather asked. 

“Thirteen, Yaz, Ryan and River and Amy.” Clara said. 

“Yeah, I’ll wait on the sofa.” Bill said, sitting down next to Donna. 

Next door, Ryan and Yaz were blowing up balloons. Ryan was blowing up the balloons with a pump, while Yaz was tying them. Amy was pinning the balloons up, trying to make the flat look festive. It wasn’t working. While Thirteen was packing party favour bags. 

“Are you absolutely sure you want to do what you’ve been talking about?” Yaz asked as she tied a balloon off.

“Yeah, what about your brothers?” Ryan added. 

“Twelve’s already twenty and the twins are twenty-one.” Thirteen said. “They’ve got their own girlfriends. Their own lives.” 

Ryan handed another balloon to Yaz. “Which you’re not a hindrance to.” 

“Never said I was.” Thirteen ripped open a pack of cheap yo-yos. 

“Why are you-the yo-yos.” Yaz said. “Twelve’s blind. Isn’t that insensitive?” 

Thirteen shook her head. “It’s not insensitive to Twelve. He likes yo-yos. Blind people can play with yo-yos.” 

“I know it’s insensitive to me.” Ryan said. “Don’t put one in my bag.” 

“What should I put in yours then, Ryan?” Thirteen asked. 

“Anything but a yo-yo.” Ryan replied. “I mean I only just learned how to ride a bike. I’m not about to go learning how to yo-yo as well.” 

“So you’re really going to do it?” River asked, coming from her bedroom. “You’re going to move out?”

“Don’t tell Ten, Eleven and Twelve, but yes.” Thirteen said. 

“We’ve been looking at flats together in Dagenham.” Yaz said. 

“You’ll be seeing a lot of Eleven then.” Amy said. “Rory’s father lives there. Moved here to be closer to him while he was at uni or something.” 

“What’s that got to do with Eleven? I thought he was seeing River?” Ryan asked. 

“He is.” Amy said. “He’s friends with Rory and I too and through Rory, well, he’s friends with Rory’s dad. Kind of.” 

“He’s a weird person, isn’t he?” Ryan said. 

“Yeah, he’s unusual.” Amy agreed. “Childish. Kind of just saunters around the place like he owns it. He’s funny though, he’s my best friend for a reason.”

“Yeah, well, he befriends who he wants to and tries his best to help everyone.” River said. “That’s why I like him.” 

Thirteen just shrugged. “His bow tie’s embarrassing.” 

River walked over to the door and glanced out. “Missy’s coming. Twelve can’t be far behind.” 

“Shit.” Amy exclaimed. “Let’s just... finish up here. Last balloon.” 

River walked out of her flat to next door, where Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run was now playing. “Hello, Missy.” 

“River Song.” Missy greeted. “Any idea where Twelve is?”

River looked at her phone. “He’s due back in about two minutes. Provided the District Line is running on time.” 

“The District Line is running on time.” Twelve said, appearing behind them. “River. Missy. Are you not going to tell me what’s going on? Or are you going to make me guess?” 

“Guess?” River said with a shrug. 

“Only I bumped into the Osgoods outside.” 

River glowered at Missy. 

‘I never saw the Osgoods.’ Missy mouthed. 

“Something about a... surprise party.” Twelve said. “That and the uh...” He sniffed and his nose twitched. “There’s a smell of cake. And cheese and onion crisps. And Fanta... and Bruce Springsteen’s playing.” 

“Okay, yeah, this is a party.” Missy said. “But they only held it because they were worried about you with what happened yesterday.” 

“Nothing happened yesterday, I’m fine.” Twelve pushed past and folded up his cane. “I mean I did turn twenty.” 

“Yes, it was your birthday and now we’re having a party.” Eleven said. “Come on, we worked hard here.” 

“I worked harder than you did.” Clara said. 

“Clara!” Twelve exclaimed. “Good to see you.” 

“Figuratively?” Clara asked.

“Figuratively. And literally.” Twelve replied. 

Heather stood up from the sofa. “Hey, Twelve.” 

“Sorry we missed your birthday yesterday.” Bill stood up with the present and put it in Twelve’s hand. 

“It’s just a little small... thing.” Heather said. 

“Oh. Thanks.” Twelve said, trying his best to sound sincere. “I just want to get out of these stupid clothes.” He said, referring to his suit, minus the tie. He hated having to wear ties, ties always felt wrong. 

“Oh, okay.” Bill nodded, trying not to sound hurt.

Twelve walked around the flat carefully, just in case he bumped into someone. He did bump into Donna. 

“Shoot, I’m sorry.” Donna said, stepping out of the way. 

“It’s fine.” Twelve said. He opened the door and stepped inside the bedroom only to slam the door shut. 

“Well... that went well.” Ashildr said. She’d been standing next to Rose by the food table with a cup of orangeade. 

“Is that it?” Thirteen asked from the front door. “Party over?” 

“Party over.” Ten confirmed. 

“Well that sucks.” Amy said. 

“Twelve’s touchy like that.” Missy said. “Something must have happened at work.” 

“Do you hear a guitar?” Rose asked. 

“Yeah, it’s Thin Lizzy.” Eleven said. 

“I’m not referring to The Boys Are Back In Town. I’m referring to... something else.” Rose said. 

“If you asked Twelve to reproduce this riff, could he?” Bill asked. “Like, I know he can play guitar and he can do it pretty well, but would be be able to play this riff?” 

“I can play anything.” Twelve said from inside the bedroom. He re-emerged wearing his electric guitar across his body and without his suit jacket. Though with his shirt still tucked in his trousers. 

“Can you play this?” Bill asked. 

Eleven paused the music. 

Twelve positioned his fingers on the fretboard of the guitar and first played the chords before settling down into the riff, which he was able to do with ease and without missing a note. 

“I wish I could play guitar.” Rose said. 

“Ah it wasn’t easy to play.” Twelve said, still playing. “I had to convince my brothers to let me play. One said no. Two said no and handed me a recorder. Three said no. Months I pestered them. Four eventually said yes.” He stopped playing. “I’ve actually been playing guitar longer than I’ve been using my long cane. Muscle memory, see.” 

Twelve began playing a familiar guitar solo. A familiar solo to Missy anyway since she began singing along. 

Four am in the morning, carried away by a moonlight shadow. I watched your vision forming, carried away by a moonlight shadow. Stars roll slowly in a silvery night.

Twelve joined in. “Far away on the other side, will you come to terms with me this night? But she couldn't find how to push through.” 

Carried away by a moonlight shadow...” 

Twelve finished the solo and everyone applauded. 

“Er... thanks.” Twelve said. 

“Twelve, that’s really good.” Amy said. 

“You should be a professional.” Heather said. 

“I wouldn’t say I’m quite that good.” Twelve said. 

“Yeah, but that’s really good for a blind guy.” Donna said. 

Twelve sighed at the backhanded compliment-if it could even be called a compliment. 

“It’s got nothing to do with him being blind.” River said. “He’s just a natural guitarist anyway.” 

“Yeah.” Missy nodded in agreement. “Twelve’s an amazing guitarist. And he’s just as good as any sighted amateur guitarist.” She turned to Twelve. “Go on. Show them. Play that weird instrumental song you love from the 60s.” 

“Jessica?” Twelve asked.

“No, the one that’s not the theme song to Top Gear.” Missy said.

“That’ll be Classical Gas then.” Twelve took his electric guitar off. 

“I’ll get your acoustic guitar.” Clara offered. 

“I have more than one acoustic guitar, Clara.” Twelve said. “And more than one electric guitar. I have a few.” 

“I’m your bezzie mate!” Clara said. “I think I know which one you want.” 

“You know, I’m not in the mood for more guitar.” Twelve said. “I’d rather just do some eating.” 

“If you’re sure.” Ten said. “I’ll pop the music back on.” 

“Fine by me.” Twelve said. 

Ten put Clara’s Spotify playlist back on-I Fought The Law. The Clash’s cover, of course. 

“You really know what kind of music I like, Clara.” Twelve said. 

“Rock and punk.” Clara said as if it were obvious. 

“Rock and punk.” Twelve nodded. 

“What song was that you were singing?” Amy asked Missy. 

“Moonlight Shadow.” Missy replied. “It’s an old eighties song.” 

“Why that specific song though?” Amy asked.

“It’s our song.” Missy said. 

“It’s so... depressing.” 

“Yeah well, we’re being pulled apart by circumstance.” Missy said. “Just because our families hate each other over some stupid feud Three Doctor and my oldest brother Delgado got into years ago.” 

“You feel helpless.” Amy said. 

“I don’t feel helpless.” Missy lied. “Maybe Twelve does, but-“ 

“Hey, everyone! I brought biscuits!”

Almost everyone turned to look at the portly, bald young man at the front door. 

“Fucking Nardole.” Twelve muttered. “Come in.” He said at his normal volume. “Might as well join us, aye. Just don’t touch my cake. I want to stress eat that later.” 

Chapter Text

Malcolm lay stunned in the middle of the road. He wasn’t sure what had just happened but he knew he’d been talking to someone. He tried to look around, but his vision was blurred. A sizeable crowd of pedestrians had gathered to see what had happened, so he tried to pull himself to at least a sitting up position. 

“Jesus fucking Christ, Malcolm!” Jamie MacDonald.

That’s right. Malcolm remembered. He’d been walking with Jamie. And he’d been in the middle of bollocking Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, on the phone. 

Jamie was knelt down beside him in the road. “Holy motherfuck, are ye awrecht?” 

“Am A awrecht’?” Malcolm asked. “O coorse A’m awrecht, why wad A nae be awrecht?” 

“You were just hit by a fucking car, mate.” Jamie said, slipping back into English. 

“A wiz?” Malcolm frowned, having no memory of this. He didn’t feel any pain anywhere, yet Jamie had no reason to be lying, after all Malcolm was the one lying in the middle of the road. On... The Mall. Yes, his vision was coming back into focus now. And so were his thoughts. People. A crowd of people. 

Malcolm put his hand on his knee and tried to pull himself up, but failed. “What...?” 

“Don’t try and fuckin’ get up, Malc, you might be hurt-“

“I’m fine, Jamie.” Malcolm insisted. “Just help me up.” 

Jamie sighed and stood up, pulling Malcolm to his feet. “You uh... is your arm supposed to look like that?” 

“I’m fine, Jamie.” Malcolm insisted. He bent down to pick up his phone and walked, limped, out of the road. “Nothing to see here folks! Disperse!” He shouted to the gathered crowds. He looked over to the driver of the car that had hit him.

“Malcolm, you fucking dare-“

“Hey!” Malcolm knocked on the window of the car. “Give me that phone.” 


“Give it to me or I will ram it where the sun doesn’t shine-“

Jamie grabbed Malcolm’s arm. “Malc! Stop it! You’re acting more erratic than usual-what the fuck’s got into you?”

Malcolm turned and glared at Jamie. 

“That move won’t fucking work on me, mate.” 

Malcolm turned back to the driver. “If you call the cops or an ambulance or the fucking AA, I swear to FUCK it’ll be the last mistake you’ll ever make. Now drive.” 

“Don’t drive, stay there.” Jamie said. “Malcolm.” He pulled Malcolm to the wall. “Jesus H. Christ I think your shoulder’s fucking dislocated.”

“It’s not. I’m fine.” Malcolm lied. He was starting to feel a horrible burning pain at the top of his arm. “Let’s just go to headquarters, yeah?” 

“I think Corbyn’s gonna send you to a hospital if he sees the fucking state o’ you.” 

“Fuck Corbyn. I’m a big boy now. He’s my boss, not my father.” Malcolm took a step forward, but his knee almost buckled under him. 

“Jesus fuck.” Jamie muttered, lunging forward to catch his friend. 

“I’m fine, Jamie.” Malcolm said, a little bit more aggressively. “I mean I just got hit by a fucking car so I’m hardly getting on a Boris Bike any time soon, but I’m not a fucking... dead man fucking walking. Jesus Christ.” 

“Mate, I’m taking you to fucking casualty.” Jamie said. “I’m not having you fucking slipping into a fucking coma gone brain dead on a life support machine and being fed through a fucking tube.”

“That’d be a great time actually.” Malcolm said. “Finally get some fucking peace rather than constantly being on my guard for fucking antisemitism.”

“Where’s the nearest?” 

“St Thomas’s. Through uh... there,” Malcolm pointed to St James’s Park, “and uh... past the bridge-y thing.” He couldn’t think properly-the pain in his arm was much worse and had spread across his shoulder, chest and neck. It was overtaking all of his thoughts and all he could focus on was the pain. 

“You’re not making sense.” Jamie said. 

“No. I-I am.” Malcolm insisted. “I know it.” 

“Your eyes are glazed over. I’m fucking calling a fucking ambulance.” Jamie said, pulling his phone from his jacket pocket. He hit the numbers 999 and put his phone to his ear. “I need an ambulance please.”

“Jamie, no, please don’t fucking do this.” Malcolm practically begged, but was interrupted by Jamie putting his finger up to stop him. 

“Hello, yes. I was just walking down the street with my friend. He was hit by a car.” Jamie lowered his hand and looked over at Malcolm. “He’s acting funny and his eyes are like... glassy. I think he might have broken his arm. Maybe his neck too, he’s holding that funny.” He paused to listen to the operator. “Erm... We’re on The Mall right now. Up at the Trafalgar Square end, by the ICA-Malcolm!” 

Malcolm had collapsed back on the ground, causing more people to look-some were in the earlier crowd. 

“Jesus Christ, why do you do this to me?” Jamie muttered, kneeling down to him. “No, I-he just... he just collapsed. Fell down to the ground. Er... no, I don’t-his eyes aren’t open. I don’t think he’s conscious. It happened earlier too.” He put his fingers on Malcolm’s neck to check for a pulse. “Yeah, there’s a heartbeat. It’s very fast-should it be fast? Oh-okay.” He then put ear to Malcolm’s chest to check for breathing. “Definitely breathing. I think he just... fainted.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, was still in his house, getting ready to leave for work that morning. His phone kept ringing, but each time, it was Diane Abbott, so he sent it to voicemail while he piled up his papers and shooed away El Gato until he couldn’t ignore the calls anymore. 


“Jeremy, thank god you answered this time.”

“Something wrong?” He asked. 

“Tucker-Malcolm Tucker, your senior press guy-he’s just had an accident.” 

“What kind of accident?” 

“A pretty serious one.” Diane said. “According to Jamie MacDonald, he was hit by a car, he’s out cold and they’re waiting an ambulance.” 

Jeremy leaned up against the wall and put his head in his hand. He needed his spin doctor. Yes, he was aggressive and sweary and lots of other things, but he couldn’t afford to lose him. Not right now. Not as the Opposition were about to take on Boris Johnson. 


“I’m here, Diane.” Jeremy said. “What happens now?” 

“You’ve got Jamie and your other advisors. Oh and the press are probably going to hound you about that, so good luck.” 

“Morning, Boris.” Priti Patel greeted, walking into his office at Number 10. “Heard the news?” 

“What news?” Boris asked. “Your tough on crime news?” 

“No.” Priti said. “Well that too.” She leaned towards him. “It’s Malcolm Tucker. There’s been an accident.” 

Boris’s eyes widened. “You’re shitting me.”

“I am not.” Priti said. 

“Oh, don’t tell me he’s finally had that massive aneurysm he’s been working towards? Those bulging veins in his head he gets when he shouts, they’ve finally burst and killed him, right?” Boris asked.

You’re The Prime Minister, you should be checking the news.”

Boris picked up his phone and unlocked it to check the news app. 

“He was hit by a car-parts of The Mall are cordoned off.” Priti said. “What do I say about that if the BBC ask? ‘We can’t rule out terrorism as a motivation’?” 

“Jesus Christ.” Boris slammed his phone on his desk. “This is going to be top news all day, Priti, not your crime policy.”

“Why’d you think I’m here?” Priti asked. “Get your press people and spin doctor onto it.”

“Oh and how the hell do they spin this?” Boris asked. 

“I don’t know, but I’m not a press person nor am I your spin doctor. What I am is the Secretary of State for the Home Department,” Priti began, “and I have a policy coming out about prisons today so that should be top news and not... not Jeremy Corbyn’s top bloody press man being in a coma or whatever-and even if he dies from this, I want my prisons policy to be top news.” 

“I’d love nothing more than that too.” Boris said. “We’re the ones in government. I’m the Prime Minister now. I run the country. It should be us in the news and not Jeremy Corbyn. Unless it’s smearing him for antisemitism or being in the IRA.” 

“Get your press people onto this.” Priti said. 

Boris picked up his phone. “Right on it.” 

Jamie entered St Thomas’s hospital out of breath and stopped at the A&E reception. “I need to-I need... fuck me. I need to see... Malcolm Tucker.” He said, panting heavily. 

The receptionist frowned as if she recognised the name, which she probably did, and tapped something into her computer. Leaving Jamie to catch his breath at the counter, she turned to one of her colleagues. 

“You don’t know if we have a Malcolm Tucker in, do you?” 

“Like the politician?” The other woman asked. 

“I think he means the politician.” 

“There’s a Tucker outside of resus. Not sure if it’s the same one or even if they have the same first name. If that helps.” 

“Yeah, it’s the same one.” A porter said as he passed. “Malcolm Tucker, the politician guy. Hit by a car-saw it on the news when I passed by the waiting area.” 

The first woman turned back to Jamie. “You’ll find him outside resus.” 

“Er... where’s that?” Jamie asked.

“I can take you.” The porter said. “Come on.” 

Jamie followed the other man down the corridor. 

“So how’d you know this politician guy?” 

“Oh uh, we work together.” Jamie answered. “For uh... the Leader of the Opposition.” 

“So you’re a politician guy too?” 

“... yes.” Jamie said. “Except neither of us are politicians. We just work in politics.”

The two walked in silence as they turned a corner and walked down another corridor. 

“Alright, resus is just around the corner. Good luck.” 

“Thank you.” Jamie said. He hurried down the corridor and turned the corner to see a doctor and a nurse standing by a gurney outside. The man on the gurney was Malcolm, still in his suit, but strapped up and immobilised on a spinal board, a neck brace and head blocks, looking rather pitiful.

“Malcolm! Thank fuck I found you.” Jamie stopped at Malcolm’s side. “Fucking fuck me, you look like shit.” He said, noting the visible bruising and grazing on Malcolm’s face. 

“I’ve been hit by a fuckin’ car, Jamie.” Malcolm said. “I’m flat on my back here because you said I broke my fuckin’ neck, you twat.” 

“Well, you might have.” Jamie argued. “I’m not getting into that right now, but, well, look, it’s all over the fuckin’ news that you’re hurt.” 

“No doubt Boris and his government are fucking... celebrating, yes?” Malcolm asked. 

“No, they’re fucking Twittering what a great bloke ye are.” Jamie held his phone over Malcolm’s head and scrolled through them. “Even after you threatened to fucking flay their skin off.” 

“Insulting someone while they’re in the hospital is never a good move.” Malcolm pointed out. A pained expression passed across his face. 

“Somethin’ wrong, Malc?”

“Besides the pain?” 

Jamie opened his mouth to answer, but through the resus doors came another person on a gurney alongside a doctor. 

Malcolm’s doctor had a message on his pager and looked at it. “Alright, Mr Tucker, we’re bringing you through now.” 

“Help me, Jamie.” Malcolm said as he was pushed through the resus doors. 

“I can’t.” Jamie said, mostly to himself, as Malcolm was taken out of view. 

Jeremy was in a meeting with Diane and the Shadow Culture Secretary (and deputy leader of the Opposition), Tom Watson, when his phone started ringing. 

“You should get that.” Diane said. 

“Yes.” Jeremy nodded and answered his phone. “Hello? Oh Jamie, yes. How’s Malcolm?” He nodded again as he listened. “That bad?”

“What’s happening?” Tom asked. 

Jeremy put his finger over the receiver. “He’s over at St Thomas’s and they’re treating him for spinal injuries.”

“Spinal injuries?” Diane muttered.

“I’m sorry, Jamie, I didn’t quite-could you repeat that?” Jeremy asked. “Oh. Oh. Oh no. Is he going to be okay? Come back here and make sure it stays out of the hands of the press then. Alright. See you in half an hour.” 

“Tucker’s in a coma, is he?” Tom asked. 

“No, the BBC are at the hospital.” Jeremy said. 

“Christ, that’s not good.” Diane said.  

“I think we should wait for Jamie to come back and then draft a statement.” Jeremy said. “After all, he knows better than us Malcolm’s condition.” 

Diane nodded. “Yes, you’re right. Focus on the Tories first. Then Malcolm.” 

“And back to the Tories.” Tom said. “We’re still going to go ahead with the plan, right?” 

“Of course. It has to be done.” Jeremy said. “Tom, you know you’ll have to look into the legalities of what we’re about to do.” 

“Of course.” 

“Look for any loophole, any archaic law. Anything. Brexit must be stopped at all costs.” Jeremy said. 

As soon as Jamie stepped outside the hospital, the media frenzy started. 

“Mr MacDonald! Mr MacDonald!”

“-Malcolm Tucker-“ 

“-you were there-“

“-hit by a car-“

“-potential spinal injuries-“



“-broken bones-“

The overlapping voices became too much for Jamie, who pushed through the crowd of journalists with their microphones and notepads, trying to get information out of him. Ghouls. The lot of them. 

Jamie grit his teeth and balled his fists, not realising he was doing so. “No comment.” He said, sounding more angry than he’d liked to, but again, he didn’t realise what he was doing. 

“I’ve got nothing to say. No comment. Let me through.” 

“But Malcolm Tucker’s unconscious-“

“I’m just trying to get to my Uber so I can get to work.” 

“Mr MacDonald!”

“Malcolm Tucker-“

“-he deserves-“

“-is he dying?”

“Oh just get the fuck out of my way, you useless wankers!” Jamie physically pushed a BBC news camera out of his face, knocking it down to the ground. “And fuck you, Laura Kuenssberg.” 

Jamie slipped into the back seat of his Uber and shut the door after him. “Fucking parasites.” He said, noting the reporters still harassing him out the window. 

“You’re going to-“ 

“Hang on a minute.” Jamie said. He pushed a button that lowered the rear window. 

“Mr MacDonald! Have you got anything to say about Malcolm Tucker’s hospitalisation-it’s known to Sky News that the two of you are friends-“ 

“Oh go and harass Eddie Redmayne on the Tube-I hear he’s at Cockfosters today.” 

“Mr MacDonald, what about-“ 

Jamie flicked the overzealous Sky reporter a V sign. Then he made another rude gesture; the Wanker sign. 

“Okay. Now drive.” He said, closing the window.

Some time later, Jamie arrived at headquarters and walked into the meeting room. He was trying to hold himself together with his worry because he had to focus on his job. 

“Jamie.” Diane greeted. 

“If anything happens to Malc, his sister’s gonna call me.” Jamie said. “So what’s happening here?” 

“We were just making a plan to stop a no-deal Brexit.” Jeremy said. “We can make a statement about Malcolm and get back to these plans later.” 

“What would you even say in that statement?” Jamie asked. 

“You’re the senior media advisor.” Diane said. 

“Oh shit I am.” Jamie exclaimed. “Alright.” He took a seat at the table with Diane and Jeremy. “Well,” he picked up a notepad and a pen, “we should start with the basics. Malcolm Tucker was hit by a car on The Mall. He hit his head... and was knocked out-briefly.” He scribbled down in journalist shorthand. “He got up and walked around for a bit before acting erratically and falling down unconscious again. An ambulance was called, so was the police. The driver, as far as I know, is being questioned by police, who have appealed for witnesses.” 

“I though you were a witness?” Jeremy asked. 

“Yeah, and I’ll have to talk to the police later.” Jamie said. “Alright, the paramedics arrived. Malcolm was awake by then. The blue lights were called and another ambulance came and took Malcolm to St Thomas’s Hospital, where he is being treated for a head injury and a potential spinal injury.” 

“Alright.” Jeremy nodded. “Draft that statement.” 

“Aye.” Jamie said. He stood up and took the notepad and walked out of the room. 

“That’s great. Thanks.” Jamie said. He was standing outside the now-vacant Palace of Westminster. The press were gathered in front of him and Jeremy Corbyn was about to make a statement to them. He hung up his phone.

“What’s great?” Jeremy asked, adjusting his tie as he passed. 

“Malcolm’s just had some x-rays taken. He’s doing fine.” Jamie said. 

“That is great.” Jeremy said. 

“Here’s your statement.” Jamie handed a paper over to Jeremy. 

Jeremy looked at the paper and nodded. “Alright. Thank you.” He walked to a lectern that had been set up previously. 

Jamie stayed at the side and put his hand in his pockets. 

“Good afternoon.” Jeremy said. “I’m sure you know why you’re all assembled here. Our Director Of Communications, Malcolm Tucker, was hit by a car earlier today on The Mall. The investigation is ongoing and police have appealed for witnesses. I would like to echo this and say that if anyone witnessed what happened, please come forward to the police. Malcolm Tucker is currently being treated in hospital for a head injury and spinal injuries and will be unable to carry out his duties. Jamie MacDonald will be our Director Of Communications until further notice.”

From the sidelines, Jamie’s eyes widened. He took one of his hands from his pocket and ran it through his hair. Of all the things, he hadn’t expected Jeremy to say that

He carried on watching Jeremy speaking from the sidelines, but knew that some cameras had turned to him. 

“Erm...” Jamie walked over to the lectern, “I will carry this duty out to the best of my ability.” Jamie said. “Until Malcolm Tucker recovers. This is a temporary thing. Wouldn’t... wouldn’t want to put my friend out of a job.” 

“Mr MacDonald!” 

Jamie raised his hands. “No questions.” He walked away from the lectern. 

Jeremy stepped to the microphone. “You’ll have to excuse Jamie, he’s had a long day.” 

“Bloody hell.” Boris exclaimed. He was in his office in Number 10 with Priti Patel and they were both watching the news on the TV. “Corbyn’s making a statement. Your prisons policy’s going to be bumped down the news for this.” 

“Then get the press here and I’ll make a statement.” Priti said. “I’ll make an announcement. And I’ll talk to... George Alagiah If I have to.” 

“Doesn’t he host the News at Six?” Boris asked. 

“Huw Edwards?” Priti asked.

“Simon McCoy.” Boris said. “He hosts the afternoon slot.” 

“How do you know this?” 

“I watch the news, Priti.” Boris replied. “Also Google.” 

“Malcolm Tucker could be comatose on a life support machine for all I care. My prisons policy will be the top headline. Then it’ll be protests in Hong Kong. Then it’ll be horoscopes or some crap. And then, way down at the very bottom, it’ll be Malcolm Tucker.” Priti said. “I want to speak with Simon McCoy and I want to do it ASAP.” 

“I’ll get my press guys right on it.” Boris said.

After delivering the statement, Jeremy and Jamie headed back to headquarters in silence. Once there, Jeremy was about to go to the meeting room, but was stopped when Jamie started speaking.

“You really want me to take over Malcolm’s job?” 

“Well, yes.” Jeremy said. “I can’t think of anyone more qualified-“

“You have plenty of people who are more qualified.” Jamie said. 

“Yes, I suppose. But you’ve known Malcolm an extraordinarily long time.” Jeremy explained. “You’ve worked together in Westminster for years and before that, you used to work on the same Scottish broadsheet.” 

“There’s lots of things I don’t know about Malcolm.” Jamie said. “I don’t know anything about his private life.” 

“But you know how to do his job, don’t you?” Jeremy asked. 

“Yeah.” Jamie said. 

“I’m not asking you to replace him in every aspect of his life, just his job. Temporarily. While he’s incapacitated in the hospital.” 

Jamie nodded. “Yeah. Course.”

“Alright.” Jeremy opened the door to the meeting room. “Are you coming in?” 


“You should be here, but you don’t have to be.” Jeremy said. “Diane, Tom and I are having a meeting about Brexit.”

“Shouldn’t Keir be here too?” Jamie asked. “I mean, he’s the Shadow Brexit Secretary-“

“Keir knows what we’re doing.” Jeremy said. 

Jamie nodded and walked into the meeting room after Jeremy. “Aye.” He said. 

“You seen this?” Tom asked. He turned the telly up. “Priti Patel. She’s giving an exclusive interview to Simon McCoy.” 

“What about?” Jamie asked. “Not her awful ‘tough on crime’ stance?” 

“Exactly that.” Diane said. 

“Sometimes I think the Tories just can’t stand to see another person making the headlines,” Jamie said, “even if it is because that person’s been fuckin’ horribly injured. They’re selfish, evil bastards who dinnae care aboot na ane but themselves.” He cleared his throat, not really meaning to have that outburst. It was hardly his first outburst. He was practically an outburst veteran. But he had just had a temporary promotion and he wanted to make a good impression.

“Yes. Well, it is our aim to make a Britain that’s for the many, not the few.” Jeremy said. 

“Let’s just watch the rest of this.” Tom suggested, pointing at the telly with the remote. 

It was a few hours later when door to the meeting room opened and in walked, limped, Malcolm Tucker, wearing his suit jacket draped over his shoulders because his right arm was resting at his side in a sling. 

“Malcolm, I was so worried about you today.” Jeremy said, partly in shock because the last person he expected to walk through the door. “It’s so good to see you up and about.” 

Malcolm pointed at Jamie. “You. I fucking...” He took a deep breath to compose himself. “The reason my neck was looking funny was because my shoulder was dislocated and my collarbone is broken.” 


“I was holding it that way to compensate and you just... fucking wasted NHS resources.” 

“Haud yer wheesht!” Jamie exclaimed. “Your neck could have been broken.” He argued. “You would have been bollocking me if you were fucking fully paralysed so don’t start that with me.” 

Malcolm sighed and shed his coat. “You’re right. I’m sorry. You’re right.” 

“How are you feeling?” Diane asked. 

“My shoulder hurts.” Malcolm said. “Like a lot. You have no idea how bad it is.”

“He fainted from the pain earlier.” Jamie said. 

“Oh, let’s see you get hit by a fucking car and not faint afterwards.” Malcolm said. 

“So what’s the damage?” Jeremy asked. “Is it just the shoulder-?”

“Dislocated shoulder, broken collarbone, sprained ankle, bruised ribs, concussion, whiplash, some bruises, cuts and a bit of road rash.” Malcolm listed. 

“Sounds painful.” Diane said.

“Aye. I’ll be back in work tomorrow though-“

“No you won’t.” Jeremy said. “You were just hit by a car. You have a concussion. I want you to take at least a week off. Meaning I don’t want to see you here until at least the twelfth.” 

Malcolm opened his mouth to say something. 

“No arguing your way out of this one. Please.” Jeremy said. 

Malcolm pulled a chair and sat down at the table. “But Brexit-“

“We can manage without ye, Malc.” Jamie said. “Just take this time and get better. Ye’d do a better job against Johnson when your mind’s not clouded by painkillers.”

“You should go home.” Jeremy said gently. “We have it all under control here.”

“If you don’t?” Malcolm asked. 

“We can handle it.” Jeremy said. 

“What is your Brexit plan?” Malcolm asked. 

“Oh we’re going to write to every other opposition leader; the LibDems, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and we’re going to ask them to join us in meetings to stop Boris from forcing through a no-deal Brexit.” Tom said. 

“Aye.” Malcolm nodded absently. “Good plan.” 

“It’s our only plan.” Diane said. “If this doesn’t work or if Boris prorogues Parliament, I don’t know what we’re going to do.” 

“Boris said he won’t prorogue Parliament though.” Jamie said. 

“When have you ever known a Tory to either tell the truth or not do a complete 180 on what they say?” Malcolm said. “Remember...” he tapped on the table with his finger as he tried to remember. “Remember Theresa May. She said she wasn’t going to call a snap election and then she did not one week later. Boris Johnson isn’t different. Plan for him proroguing Parliament. Because if I were him, I’d do the same thing.”

“Are you sure?” Jeremy asked. 

“Positive.” Malcolm stood up. “I’m going to call an Uber.” 

Chapter Text

Thirteen, Yaz and Ryan were in the McDonald’s near Trafalgar Square, having been doing a bit of sightseeing. 

“I know it’s weird. We’ve been in London for almost a year now.” Yaz said. “We’ve never actually thought to come out and see Trafalgar Square in person.” 

“Would you like to join in with the anti-Brexit protests?” Thirteen asked. 

“Er, no thanks.” Yaz said. 

Thirteen shrugged slightly. “Well, I don’t blame you, they can get pretty rowdy at times.” She picked up her burger, but a muscle spasm caused her to drop it and it flopped onto the table. “Crap.” She whined.

“Just eat it anyway.” Ryan said, lowering his own burger back in the box. “Like, it’s okay. It just went on the table.” He spread out the paper wrapping of Thirteen’s Big Mac and started to reassemble the burger. “It’s not like it went on the floor.” 

“I just hate that it happens so often.” Thirteen admitted. 

“I-I’ve never seen this happen.” Yaz said. 

“Yeah, nor me.” Ryan put the top bun on the burger and pushed it back towards Thirteen. 

“I have... poor muscle control.” Thirteen said. “Why’d you think I have a wheelchair?” 

“I dunno, mate.” Ryan said. “I always thought you had some accident or something and you were paralysed.” 

“Me too.” Yaz said. 

“I was starved of oxygen at birth. It’s brain damage.” Thirteen explained. “Not the same kind as Twelve, mind-“

“Twelve’s got brain damage?” Yaz’s eyebrows knitted together as she considered that statement. “No. That can’t be right. He’s just blind.” 

“Because of brain damage.” Thirteen said. “Honestly, what do you think brain damage even is? It’s just the destruction of brain cells. In Twelve’s case, the ones that make you see. In my case, the ones that control my arms and legs. Mostly my legs. Sometimes my arms. It’s different for each person really.” 

“I didn’t know that.” Yaz said. “I always thought of like... people in comas on life support.” 

“Yeah, that was Twelve at one point. But that was because he was sick. Anyway, his sickness was cured, he woke up and he’s had a good life ever since.” Thirteen said. “Me? Well, I’ve never been on life support-except when I’ve had general anaesthetics-and I’ve never been in a coma. I’d very much like not to be, thanks.” 

“I don’t know what I thought.” Ryan admitted. “I s’pose I thought of like, people who were fully paralysed and needed full time care and were fed through a tube.” 

Yaz nodded in agreement. 

“It’s just society’s perception of disability, isn’t it?” Thirteen shrugged. She picked up her burger again, this time holding it tighter in her hands, and took a bite. 

“Have you told Eleven, Ten and Twelve that you’re moving out yet?” Yaz asked. 

Thirteen chewed and swallowed, wondering whether to give the honest answer. “Well, no.” She said. “I haven’t. I’m a bit worried how they’ll take it, to be honest. And it’s not like we’ve even found a place to rent.” 

“But when we do.” Ryan said. 

Thirteen sighed softly. “I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Ten doesn’t deal easily with change. He’s the kind of person who’d be like ‘oh it’s all my fault’ when it’s not. He carries a lot of guilt.” 

“Yeah, I kinda get that feeling from him.” Yaz said. 

“I wouldn’t want to freak him out.” Thirteen said. “And I know Eleven’s having some kind of nervous breakdown over something right now that he refuses to tell us about. And Twelve’s busy with the government collapsing.” 

“Eleven?” Ryan asked. 

“Yeah. I don’t know. But he’s... nervous. And... kinda jumpy.” Thirteen said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s got to be something big.” 

Eleven was walking on Oxford Street with Amy. They’d got off the Tube at Marble Arch and were planning to walk the whole length to Tottenham Court Road. After all, they did need to get some things. 

“Alright, Primark first.” Amy said. “It’s just here and I need some new tops.”

“Remind me why I went shopping with you.” Eleven said with a slight groan. It’s not that he didn’t like Primark, but he... didn’t like Primark. It was always noisy, crowded with people not looking where they were going and the lights were so fluorescent. 

“Because you need my help.” Amy said. “And today’s my day off.”

“Yes, that’s right.” Eleven said. 

Amy walked into Primark first and Eleven followed her. And it all hit him. He lowered his head to shield his eyes from the bright lights.

“I think it’s nice that you want to ask my sister to marry you.” Amy said. 

“It’s just... what if she says ‘no’, Amy?” Eleven said. 

“Ah. You’re having second thoughts.” Amy said. A cute Harry Potter t-shirt caught her eye, so she turned to look at it, holding it in her hands. “It’s perfectly fine to have second thoughts about engagement. I’m sure Rory had a few nervy thoughts when he asked me. His palms were wet. It was cute.” 

“Yes well, I’m not Rory.” Eleven rubbed his hands. 

“No, you’re not. You’re not better than him. You’re not worse than him. You’re just different. In the same way I’m different.” Amy picked the t-shirt off the rail and draped it over her arm. “River didn’t fall in love with Rory Williams. I did. And Rory fell in love with me. River fell in love with Matthew Doctor.” 

Eleven opened his mouth to say something. 

“Yes, you.” Amy chuckled lightly. “Just be him and...” she shrugged, “it’ll all be fine.” 

“You can’t tell River about this-this shopping trip.” 

“I think she’s going to notice me coming home with some new clothes, Eleven.” 

“But you can’t tell her that I want to get her a ring.” 

“No, I wouldn’t.” Amy said. “I promise I won’t tell her until you’ve proposed and she’s said ‘yes’ and shown me the ring.” 

“Not even then.” Eleven said. 

“Oh Eleven. Relax. I’m sure she’ll love whatever ring you get her.” Amy said. 

“What if she doesn’t want to marry me?” Eleven asked, wringing his hands. 

“Oh is that what you’re worried about?” Amy chuckled. “River is crazy about you, you know. You think I don’t know my own sister?”

“Yes well, you didn’t grow up together.” Eleven pointed out. 

“Hardly our faults.” Amy said. “Our parents died and we were split up. But we’re twins. We have a connection.” 


“But nothing.” Amy said, turning to Eleven. She put her hand on his shoulder. “After she sees you, River is always so happy. Smiling. Happy. Humming happy songs. Practically dancing about the flat. She loves you, Eleven.” 

“And I-well, I love her too.” Eleven said. 

“And you’re much better than that other guy she used to date.” Amy said. “Bloody arsehole.” 

“Oh nice. I’m just the improvement.” Eleven said. 

“But she’s happy with you.” Amy said. 

“That makes me sound like a broadband provider.” Eleven said nervously. 

“Relax.” Amy chuckled. “You’ll be fine. She’ll say yes. Don’t worry.” 

“I don’t know, Amy.” Eleven said. “I can’t help worrying-“ 

Just as Eleven was halfway through his sentence, the lights went out and the music stopped. 

“I don’t think that was supposed to happen.” Amy said. 

Eleven took his phone from his pocket and unlocked it. “Amy.” He pointed at the ‘no service’ sign at the top left of the screen. 

Amy glanced at it and took out her own phone. “No service for me too.” 

Around the shop, people were talking amongst each other and angrily complaining to members of staff. 

“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to ask you to leave.” A staff member said to Eleven and Amy. 

Ten was on the Tube, the Hammersmith and City Line, on his way to King’s Cross St Pancras to meet up with Rose, Mickey and Martha for a double date to see the Harry Potter Platform Nine and Three Quarters (and an evening at Nando’s) when everything suddenly stopped and everything was plunged into sudden darkness. The only light came from peoples’ electronic devices. 

Ten sat upright and looked around. Lights were shining up and down the carriage from peoples’ phones, iPads, tablets, e-readers, laptops and games consoles. 

There was no way he or anyone else was getting a signal this far below London. He only had to ask himself the question, what had happened up there? Had America declared nuclear war and they’d been hit? Had there been a terrorist attack elsewhere on the line? Had there been a suicide or a murder or an accidental death? 

The worst part was not knowing. 

Malcolm was lying down on his sofa watching a mind numbing teen comedy with his niece, Elspeth, when the telly went off. 

“Uncle Malc, what’s going on?” Ellie asked. “Did you turn the telly off?”

“No, I didn’t.” Malcolm said. He peeled himself up from the sofa one handed and plodded across to the light switch. After flicking the lights on and off with nothing happening, he came to a conclusion. “It’s a power cut.” 

“Uncle Malcolm!” A voice shouted from upstairs. Malcolm’s nephew, Keir. “My game’s gone off!” 

“Aye!” Malcolm shouted back. “There’s a power cut!” 

“You’re a politics guy! Get the power back on!” Keir shouted. “I need to play! I was talking with my mates!” 

“I’m not the National Grid!” Malcolm shouted. “And my Party isn’t even in power!”

“Always excuses!” Keir shouted.

“Keir Iain McLeod, if you want to talk, come down here and do it properly!” Malcolm shouted.

Four was outside in the garden with Sarah and K9. He and Sarah were sitting in cheap camping chairs from the nearby Lidl listening to music, albeit not particularly loudly as in to disturb the neighbours. 

It was hardly sunny outside either, it had been raining and it looked like it would rain again, but it was summer (damn it) so they, like all Brits, would wait for breaks in the weather and go outside.

Four stood up. “I’ll go and get some more drinks, shall I?” He said. 

“Yeah, can you get me a lemonade?” Sarah asked. 

“Water, Master.” K9 said. 

“You’re not getting water, you’re not a real dog. You’re a robot.” Four said. 

K9 bowed his head almost sadly. 

Four walked inside and into the kitchen. He failed to notice that the fridge wasn’t humming as it usually was. He opened the fridge and the light was off so he reached for the switch and pressed it a few times, just to be sure, before heading back outdoors. 

“Sarah Jane, I think we need a new fridge freezer.” 

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked. 

“I mean our fridge is broken.” 

“It was fine ten minutes ago.” 

“Well, now it’s not.” 

Sarah sighed as she stood up. “Are you sure it’s broken?” 

“Very sure.” Four said. “The little light is off.” 

“Well, that could be a blown fuse or something.” Sarah reasoned. “You can replace that. 

They walked inside with K9 following up to the door. He couldn’t get over the weather seal. 


“Sorry, K9.” Four said. He picked the robotic dog up and set him down in the kitchen. 

“Thank you, Master.” K9 said. 

“See, it’s broken.” Four said. 

Sarah had her head in the fridge examining the light. “I’d say it was the light needed replacing, but don’t feel any cool air.” 

Outside, the rain had started again. 

“Master, it it raining.” K9 said. 

“Ah shit.” Four ran outside to get his phone and the wireless speakers. 

Sarah walked over to the light switch and tried to turn it on. She flicked it twice before realising what had happened and went into the living room. 

Four walked back in and slid the door shut after him. He looked around and noticed Sarah wasn’t in the room. 

“K9, where did Sarah go?” He asked. 

“Mistress went to the living room.” K9 said. 

“Thanks. Good dog.” Four hurried into the living room, where he found Sarah trying to turn the telly on. “What’s going on?” He asked. 

“Well, I’m ninety-nine percent sure there’s a power cut.” Sarah said. 

“Oh no.” 

“Oh yes.”

Five was out in the Czech Republic with his friends, Tegan, Nyssa, Peri and Adric. Prague was very nice and they enjoyed it, but they weren’t in Prague. They were on a bus on their way from Prague to Brno, where they would stay overnight. Tegan and Nyssa were sat next to each other behind Five and Adric and Peri was happily sitting in front of them listening to music on her own. 

Five was looking on his phone through his contacts list when Nyssa stood up and tapped him on the shoulder. 

“What’re you doing?” She asked. 

“None of my brothers are answering their phones.” Five said. 

“Try your sister.” Adric suggested unhelpfully. 

“If they won’t answer, then she wouldn’t either.” Five said. 

“Doesn’t Nine live outside of London?” Tegan asked, getting in on the conversation.

“Yes, he lives up north.” Five replied. 

“So try him.” Tegan said with a slight shrug. “I mean, it can’t hurt, right?” 

“I suppose not.” Five opened the contact for Nine (in brackets, Chris) and selected ‘call’, holding the phone up to his ear. 

After a few long seconds, a familiar Northern accent came through. “Hello? Five?” 

“Ah, Nine.” Five said. “Erm... I can’t get through to anyone.”

I’m not surprised.” Nine said.

“Why? What’s happened?” Five asked, sounding slightly panicked. 

 Tegan, Nyssa and Adric leaned towards him slightly, mainly in curiosity. What was Nine going to say?

“Do I need to come home?” 

Nah. It’s all fine over here, as far as I’m aware.” Nine said. “There’s a massive power cut affecting some parts of the UK. You can’t get through to the ones living in London because they’re affected.”

“You’re joking, surely?” 

Nine chuckled. “Nope. Huge power cut. It’s on the news and all.

“How come you’re okay and nobody else is?” Five asked.

Salford’s not affected.” Nine replied. 

Twelve first noticed something was wrong when his refreshable Braille display didn’t refresh. 

The second hint that something was wrong was this:

“Alright everyone!” Jones shouted out across the office. “Can I have your attention please?! There has been a power cut-“

“Yeah, no shit!” A Civil Servant shouted from the back of the room. 

“Fuck you, Jenkins!” Jones shouted. 

“With what? There’s been a fucking power cut! My vibrator won’t fucking work!” 

“Stop being so fucking crass!” Clark shouted. 

Twelve lowered his head and groaned. He hated the way these people talked. Westminster was a fucking sewer. No wonder everyone hated politics. 

Yaz and Ryan were walking around Leicester Square with Thirteen following. It was raining and horrible and of course, very puddle-y. And there were a lot more people than usual with huge crowds coming out of the Tube Station. 

“What’s going on?” Yaz asked. 

“I don’t know.” Ryan said. “Maybe there’s been a suicide.” 

Thirteen scrunched her face up. “It’s horrible when that happens. Think of the poor person, what they were going through to turn them to that.”

Yaz turned to someone who’d just come from the Tube station. “Excuse me, what’s happened down there?”

“Power’s out.” She said. “Mobile service is out too.” She walked away with the rest of the crowd.

“What?” Ryan whipped his phone from his jeans to look. “Mate, it’s true. There’s no service.” 

“No service?” Thirteen asked. 

And a power outage.” Yaz said.

“So we just go to another Tube Station.” Thirteen said. “This one isn’t even accessible anyway.” 

“I don’t think we can.” Ryan said. “Look around. Everywhere’s shut.” 

“Wait, you mean to say that we’re stranded in Leicester Square?” Yaz asked. 

Ryan nodded. “Er, yeah.” 

“I am not walking all the way back to Acton.” Yaz said. “It’ll take hours.” 

“Spare a thought for me.” Thirteen said. “I’ll have no cartilage left in my shoulders by the time I get home. Maybe I should get a scooter. Do they come in orange-y yellow?” 

“This is why we need to rent with each other.” Ryan said. 

“Do you know how much it’ll cost to rent in the City?” Yaz asked. 

“A lot more than we can afford.” Ryan said. 

“Alright. Let’s not lose our heads.” Thirteen said. “So all the shops and the restaurants are shut, it’s throwing it down and we can’t get the Tube back home.”

“You make it sound so nice.” Yaz said. 

“That is the situation though.” Ryan said. 

“Yes, yes it is, Ryan.” Thirteen said. “So now what?” 

Chapter Text

“Oi, Doctor, there’s been a stabbing at the fucking Home Office.” Clark said. 

Twelve snapped from his daydream (work was too boring). “Wait, what?” 

“I just saw it as an alert on my phone-“

Twelve tapped his phone’s home button and tapped on the alerts. 

Home Office cordoned off by armed police amid reports of a stabbing. Siri read. 

“Yeah, I’ve had it too.” Twelve said. “Never a fucking slow news day.”

“What’s happened?” 

“Try and fucking keep up, Jones, there’s been a stabbing at the Home Office.” Clark said. 

“Priti Patel?” Jones asked. 

“I don’t know.” Twelve said, tapping twice on the screen. 

Home Office cordoned off by armed police amid reports of a stabbing.

“Yes, yes, we know that part.” Twelve scrolled down. 

Thursday 15 August 2019 14:33

The Home Office building has been cordoned off by armed police amid reports of a stabbing.

“Doctor, stop your phone from repeating the same shit over again.” Clark said. “Get it to say something new.”

The Independent understands that a victim is thought to have been stabbed or slashed near the government department’s headquarters in Marsham Street, Westminster.

The building was cordoned off by armed police on Thursday afternoon, as staff remained inside. 

More follows...

“Jesus H Christ.” Jones said. 

“I wonder what happened.” Clark said. 

“Isn’t it fucking obvious-someone was either stabbed or slashed at the Home Office. And that someone may or may not be Priti Patel-Schroedinger’s Knife Crime, see.” Twelve said. 

“Alright everyone!” Mrs Morgan clapped her hands. “There’s been a stabbing! Doctor-you are to send a fucking Tweet saying how sorry I am that this has happened, Jones, keep the press away from me and onto Priti, and Clark, just reach out to Tucker and his lot, get their reaction to all this. Cal, in my office with me.” 

As the door slammed shut, frantic phone calls were made. 

“Sky News are all over it like a rat up a drainpipe.” Clark said. “Well, according to... Alex McGuinness, a man suffered life threatening injuries and an ambulance is there.” A pause. “Well I don’t know if it was a fucking civil servant or not. A civil servant might have been the one to do the fucking stabbing. Well of course I have to swear, it’s the only language you fucking know!” 

“Put your attention onto Jeremy Corbyn, the man wants to call No Confidence in Boris so he can be PM for a week!” Jones said. “And Plaid Cymru and the SNP say yes! Focus on that, not the stabbing!” 

“The fucking Met are dealing with it-they’ve arrested the guy.” Clark said. “Yes, for fucks sake, we just want you to fucking agree that it’s bad!” 

“Make sure that Jeremy Corbyn wanting to be PM is the top story on BBC News, not the stabbing-“

Twelve stood up from his chair, unfolded his cane and walked out of the room away from the shouting. 

It had been a rough news day so far. Prep for a General Election, a Labour MP announced his intent to stand down, a Tory MP (Sarah Wollaston) defected to the Liberal Democrats, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to be PM to stop Brexit, which is barrelling toward them, the detention of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar and now a stabbing at the Home Office. This was supposed to be Summer Recess, yet more was happening now than before Summer Recess!

It was all too overwhelming. And Twelve didn’t like overwhelming. 

“There’s fucking sheep outside.” A passing civil servant said. 

“What?” Asked another one.

“Sheep. Actual sheep. Part of a protest or something.” The first one said.

“Jesus Christ what is even going on today?” The second one said.

Twelve didn’t know either. This day had just taken a turn from bad... to weird. 

Eleven was in the City with River. They’d been walking around South Bank and Eleven had got tickets for the London Eye, and they were just trying to kill time until it was their turn. 

“Come on, let’s go to St. James’s Park and feed the birds or something.” Eleven suggested. “Maybe we’ll see Twelve.” 

“Why would Twelve be here?” River asked. 

“Oh he works around here.” Eleven answered. “I don’t know exactly where, but-“

“I thought he worked in government and isn’t the government in recess?”

“Yes, but he’s a civil servant. He’s still working.” 

They stepped onto Westminster Bridge. 

“Oh right.” River nodded. “You know, I didn’t know that. I always thought that once Parliament went into their summer recess, that the MPs would work among their own constituencies or something, but I suppose with Brexit coming up and Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to block it...” 

“... yes. Well, I suppose backbenchers do go home. The Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet probably don’t.” Eleven reasoned.

“What happens to their constituencies?” River asked.

“I’m honestly not sure.” Eleven said. “I don’t know what happens.”

“So you really think we’re going to see Twelve?” 

“I don’t know. I mean I know he works in Westminster and in the government, not the banks, and he’s a Civil Servant.” Eleven said. 

“So that’s a ‘maybe’, then.” River said. 

“Everything’s a maybe, River.” Eleven said. “Will the sun rise tomorrow? Maybe. Will Donald Trump cause a nuclear war with Iran? Maybe. Will Boris Johnson cause a no-deal Brexit-“

“Definitely.” River said. 

Maybe.” Eleven corrected. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, really. Nothing’s certain one way or the other. Except the things that are.” 

“And those things are...?”

“The things that have already happened.”  Eleven said. 

River gave a small shrug. Eleven was right. Of course he was right. 

“But then, even those things aren’t certain either.” Eleven said. “History’s written by the winners. But we did go walking on South Bank. And that is a certainty.” 

“I must say I find your way of thinking very confusing.” River said. 

“It’s all about thinking fourth dimensionally.” 

“Ah.” River smiles. “Back to the Future.” 

“I love that film.” Eleven admitted. 

“And another fucking thing,” an angry Scot shouted on the other side of the road, “you give your fucking condolences to whatever fucking Civil Servant was killed or whatever.” 

“Is it me, or does he look familiar?” River asked, discreetly pointing at the man. 

The angry Scottish man was tall and had short, grey hair and very angry looking eyebrows. His right cheek was scabby and his right arm was in a sling and immobilised at his side. He was clearly shouting down his phone at someone, though nobody seemed fazed. It was almost as though they were used to it. 

“Kinda looks like a sighted Twelve.” Eleven said. “Only Twelve’s hair is wilder and curlier and white and this guy’s is clearly straight. And he’s a lot older and wrinklier and Twelve’s not wrinkled at all-“

“I thought it was Malcolm Tucker. You know, that politician guy?” River asked. 

“Shit, it is too, isn’t it?” Eleven said. 

“You know, I think you’re right. He does look a bit like Twelve.” River said. 

Thirteen was sitting alone in Green Park. Sometimes it was fun to feed pigeons stale Malted Milk biscuits. 

“Need any help, love?” Yet another person asked her. 

Thirteen sighed. “No.” 

That’s what she hated about being out alone. That and the rampant sexualisation. And people trying to grab her wheelchair, but being pissed off then they realised there wasn’t any handles. And the people who did it anyway. 

She waited until the person had walked away before throwing more crumbs out for the pigeons. 

“What are you doing?” She heard someone ask. 

Thirteen looked up and opened her mouth, ready to defend herself, when she realised she knew this particular person. It was Kate Lethbridge-Stewart wearing running gear. 

“Oh. Uh, feeding the pigeons.” Thirteen answered. “My brothers left a pack of Malted Milks get stale so now they’re pigeon food. I didn’t know you ran in Green Park.”

“I usually run in Hyde Park.” Kate answered. “But Dad’s got something on there today. Some kind of drill with your older brother.” 

“Do you know what UNIT does?” Thirteen asked. 

“I’m not at liberty to say anything about what I may or may not know about UNIT.” Kate replied. She took her iPhone from its pouch on her arm and frowned. 

“What?” Thirteen asked. 

“There’s been a stabbing at the Home Office.” Kate said. “I think it’s a civil servant.” 

“Who stabbed someone?” 

“Who was stabbed.” 

“Oh my god, is it Twelve?” Thirteen asked. “I need to know if it’s Twelve-phone your father, he’ll know.” 

“Does Twelve work at the Home Office?” Kate asked. 

“I don’t know, he won’t say where he works.” Thirteen said. 

Kate bit her lip and unlocked her phone. She scrolled through her contacts until she got to the one she wanted and called them. 

“Benton? No, not ‘Katie’, it’s just Kate. I need you to do me a favour. There’s been a stabbing at the Home Office and I need you to tell me who was stabbed.” Kate explained. “Yes it’s important. You know your friend Three? Well, it might be his little brother and my friend, Twelve.” She sighed loudly. “Then please tell me what you know.” 

Thirteen leaned forward in her wheelchair, trying to hear the phone. 

“Really?” Kate said in surprise. “You don’t know? You don’t know or you won’t tell me? Yes, there’s a difference, Benton. Look, my father... yes I know I don’t want preferential treatment. But please just tell me if Twelve’s alright.” She said, almost desperately. “Er... I don’t know his first name, but his last name’s Doctor. Yes I know Twelve Doctor is a stupid name, but it’s not his real name, is it?” 

“What’s going on?” Thirteen asked. “Kate.” She tapped Kate’s arm. “Kate.” 

Kate ripped the phone away from her ear. “Shush!” She said, bringing the phone back. “Yeah, no not you-I’m with someone. Dougan? That’s an unfortunate name-no, that’s an alliterative name. Jesus what a name.”

“I could have told you his name.” Thirteen said. 

“Yeah. Media? Digital, Media, Culture and Sport? He’s with the DCMS? So not the Home Office? Alright thanks, Benton. I owe you one.” Kate took her phone from her ear again and this time, hung up. 

“What’s going on? Is Twelve okay?” Thirteen asked. 

“Twelve’s fine.” Kate said. “He works for the Culture Secretary, not the Home Secretary. Different offices. Different part of Westminster. He’s fine.” 

Thirteen let out a sigh of relief. “Oh thank god.” 

“You worry about him, don’t you?” Kate said.

“No more than I worry about my other brothers.” Thirteen said.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like having to worry about so many siblings.” Kate said. 

“I don’t know any different.” Thirteen said. “One was three years old when Two and Three were born. So he was an only child. I was born when there were already thirteen of them. First girl too.” 

“I honestly can’t imagine.” Kate said. 

“Don’t you have brothers and sisters you worry about?” Thirteen asked. 

“No, no I’m an only child.” Kate replied. 

“I wonder what that’s like.” Thirteen mused. 

“What’s it like being one of... however many siblings you have?” Kate asked. 

“Busy. Crowded. Annoying. You never get any personal space, even on the toilet. But there’s always someone on your side. And there’s less chores because they’re shared out with all of us. And we’re always celebrating something. The Secret Santa’s brilliant.” 

“What about the hand-me-downs?” 

“Oh I didn’t have any.” Thirteen said. “First girl, so everything I got was brand new.”

“Huh.” Kate said. 

“Okay, brand new to my family from the charity shop.” 

“Ah.” Kate nodded. “I... I wouldn’t know what any of that’s like. Anyway, I’m glad Twelve’s okay.”

“You can stay and feed the pigeons with me, if you want.” Thirteen said. 

“I’m still on my run.” Kate said. 

“I’ll come with you.” Thirteen unlocked the brakes on her wheelchair. 

Kate furrowed her brow. “What’s... something’s happened, hasn’t it?” 

“I just don’t want to be alone.” Thirteen said. 

A young woman and her boyfriend, maybe her husband, passed by Thirteen and Kate. They were in Green Park where many people passed by. It wasn’t particularly noteworthy, except they approached Thirteen and Kate. 

“Oh I think it’s so wonderful that people like you are out and about, just enjoying the sunshine.” The young woman put her hand on Thirteen’s shoulder. 

The boyfriend (husband?) cringed slightly and so did Thirteen. Kate watched on in a state of sort of muted horror.

“Well done for getting out.” She patted Thirteen on the head and turned to Kate. “Are you the carer?” 

“No, I’m not now don’t patronise my friend.” Kate snapped. 

“I told you to leave it.” The boyfriend (definitely husband, the wedding rings gave it away). “She’s not brave for living her life.” 

Thirteen nodded at the man. “Thanks.” 

The man grabbed his wife’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go.” He said. 

“Let go of me!” The wife said. “How dare you demand-“

“I wasn’t demanding anything!”

Thirteen looked at the arguing couple before turning her chair and wheeling herself away. 

Kate jogged after her. “What the hell was that?” 

“That, Kate, is what I put up with every day.” Thirteen said. “Though usually it’s a lot worse. That was pretty mild, to be fair.” 

“Mild?” Kate asked. “That was not mild, that woman patted your head and called me your carer.”

“At least she addressed me.” Thirteen shrugged. “Usually when I’m with someone, I don’t get addressed at all.” 

“God. I’m so sorry.” Kate said. 

“Just forget about it.” Thirteen said. 

“Alright.” Kate nodded. She couldn’t help but wonder though, if that’s why Thirteen don’t want to be alone. 

“So how’s, uh, things?” Thirteen asked. 

Eleven and River had made it on the London Eye and were very slowly making their way to the top. 

“It’s really nice up here, Eleven.” River said as she casually leaned forward on the grab rail. 

“It is, isn’t it?” Eleven pulled nervously at his bow tie. 

“Something wrong, Sweetie?” River asked. 

“Nothing.” Eleven said. “Look, you can see the Palace of Westminster over there.” He pointed out of the pod window towards the Palace of Westminster. 

“It’s a shame Big Ben is under refurbishment.” River said. “The view would probably be better.” 

“Actually, it’s the tower under refurbishment.” Eleven said. 


“Big Ben is the bell, not the tower. The tower is Elizabeth Tower.” 

River wandered over to the other side of the pod after noticing another person leaving that spot. “Look, it’s Charing Cross.” 

“I wonder which one of those government buildings Twelve works in.” Eleven said, pointing slightly to the left. 

“It’s the BT tower-wow, you can see everything from up here.” River said. She was focussing on the view from outside the pod. 

Eleven awkwardly cleared his throat and pulled out a little box from his inside jacket pocket. He became acutely aware of the other people in the pod starting to stare at him as he got down on one knee. “River.” He said, stopping to rub his wet palm on his trousers. 

River turned around to see Eleven on one knee and holding the little box. Her eyes widened and her hand flew to her mouth as Eleven opened the box to reveal a dainty silver ring with a small emerald mounted in the middle, surrounded by smaller diamonds. 

“River Song. Melody Pond. Will you, er... will you marry me?” 

Chapter Text

Eleven walked into the flat and was confronted by Ten. 

“You were gone all night.” Ten said. 

“Yeah, I was with River.” Eleven said. 

“What, all night?” 


“I thought you were just asking her to marry you.” 

“I did.” Eleven put his keys in the bowl and went to sit on the sofa. 

“And?” Ten asked. “How did it go?” 

“She said yes.” Eleven said. “We’re engaged now.” 

“Er. Congratulations.” Ten thought he’d feel happy at this news. He didn’t. He didn’t feel unhappy either though. He wasn’t sure what he felt. 

“I just think it’s time to be moving on with my life.” Eleven said.

“You’re moving out, aren’t you?” Ten asked.

“No?” Eleven said. “No, not yet anyway. We’re not married!” 

“But you’re going to get married.” 

“River hasn’t even started her masters yet. And she wants to get her PhD in archaeology before we get married, so that’s a few years yet.” Eleven explained. “I think Four and Sarah Jane will get married first.” 

“Or Twelve and Missy.” Ten suggested.

“I don’t think Three will allow it.” Eleven said. 

“What did happen between him and Delgado anyway?” Ten asked. 

“I don’t know.” Eleven said with a shrug. “But we could always ask Two.” 

“Doctor.” Mrs Morgan said. “I want you to see to my opposite, Tom Watson-“

“I can’t get involved in Party political matter.” Twelve said, typing Braille in on his computer. “I should remind you now that I don’t work for the Tory Party or the Labour Party. I’m a civil servant.”

“It’s not Party matter.” Mrs Morgan said. “It’s a civil service matter.” 

Twelve stopped typing. “Okay. I’m listening.

“Good. Good. So what’s happening is that Tom Watson, his social media manager and one of the Labour Party press advisors are coming over here for a visit. I’ll be dealing with all things political, as will my advisors.”

“Sounds right.” Twelve said. 

“But-and this is a but-I need you to make them feel welcome. You know, make teas, coffees and all that-“

“I’m an intern in communications, not tea making.” Twelve argued. 

“Yes, but you are an intern.” Mrs Morgan pointed out. 

“So you’re getting me to make tea... because I’m an intern?” Twelve asked. “Instead of managing communications, I’m making tea?” 

“Yes, and they’ll be here soon. So uh, get making that tea.” 

Twelve sighed as he stirred the coffee he was making. This is not what he had in mind when he’d signed up for the summer internship. 

“Nicky Morgan.” 

“Tom Watson. It’s good to see you.” Mrs Morgan said. 

“Don’t lie.” Mr Watson said. “We both know how we really feel.” 

“And uh... when Tom said he was bringing a ‘press advisor’ along, I didn’t realise that it would be you.” 

“Yeah, yeah, get on with the fucking pleasantries and get down to fucking business.” A Scottish man said.

“Ah. Um...”

“You don’t have to say anything. We all know we’re here doing work for Jeremy Corbyn.” Mr Watson said.

“I’d like for you to not swear, at least in my office-“

Your office? That’s fucking rich right there. How long do you fucking think that this is going to be your fucking office? Because I can tell you this right fucking now, there’s going to be a general election and the whole fucking country’s planning on it. See this yeah? Don’t get too used to it.” The Scottish man said.

“You always did have a way with words.” Mrs Morgan said.

“Yeah well I try my fucking best, darling.” 

“Doctor, where’s that coffee I asked for?” Mrs Morgan asked. 

Twelve sighed, picked up his cane, which was resting against the table, and the cup of coffee and made his way over to Nicky Morgan and the Labour Party delegation. 

“You’re hiring blind children to make your coffee now? That’s a new low, even for the Tories.” The Scottish man said. 

“Yes, well, he’s not my assistant, he’s an intern.” Mrs Morgan took the coffee from Twelve. “He’s on that summer program for disabled civil service interns.” 

“Oh really? That makes it so much better, yes indeed!” The Scottish man said sarcastically.

“No need for the sarcasm, Tucker.” Mrs Morgan said.

“Can we all just not verbally eviscerate each other?” Mr Watson asked. “This visit will go much smoother then.” 

“Right. Come into my office. We can discuss Brexit in there.” 

Twelve counted three sets of footsteps walking into the office. The problem with that is that there were four people. 

“Hey, Blind Kid.” It was the Scottish man, Tucker. He’d lagged behind. 

“I have a name. It’s Dougan but everyone calls me Twelve.” 

“Oh finally. Someone else who can speak properly.” Mr Tucker said.

“Speak for yourself, sweary man.” Twelve said. 

“Malcolm Tucker. Director of communications and strategy for the Labour Party.” 

“I’ve heard about you. You were hit by a car the day after my birthday.” 

“Why’s your nickname Twelve?” Mr Tucker asked. 

“I’m the twelfth born.” Twelve said. 

“You’re the twelfth... how many brothers and sisters have you got?” 

“More than I’d like.” Twelve said. 

“Yes. Well, you don’t have to take it from her, you know. Making the teas and coffees.” Mr Tucker said. “You could, I don’t know, take it to your superior.” 

“She is my superior.” Twelve said. 

“She is not. The head of Government Communications is your boss. And the head of civil service is your boss’s boss.” 

“Tucker!” Mr Watson called out. 

“Think about that, yeah?” Mr Tucker said before walking into the office himself. 

Ten and Eleven had made a phonecall to their older brother Two on speakerphone on Eleven’s phone (which had more credit than Ten’s). 

“I get the feeling that this isn’t a social call.” Two said. 

“Yeah, it isn’t.” Ten said. 

Two sighed. “What do you want to know?” 

“We want to know about what happened between Three and Delgado Masters.” Eleven said. 

There was a near silence from the other end of the call. The only way they could tell that Two hadn’t hung up was because they could hear him breathing. 

“Two?” Eleven asked. 

They were best friends.” Two said. “Almost inseparable. You have to understand that what happened happened before you two were even born.” 

“What did happen?” Ten asked. “Two, do you know?” 

I know.” Two confirmed. 

“Can you tell us?” Eleven asked. 

I... I can’t.” Two said. “I promised Three I wouldn’t.” 

“You two don’t like each other anyway.” Eleven said. 

That doesn’t mean that promises made to my brothers aren’t important.” Two said. 

“What if we promised not to tell anyone?” Ten said. 

“He didn’t do anything bad, right? Nobody murdered anyone?” Eleven asked.

More silence. 

“Oh my god, who murdered someone?” Ten asked. 

Nobody.” Two said, unconvincingly. “There was no murder. Look, I can’t tell you what happened. But I can tell you someone who can. Her name is Rani. Rani Ushas. Find her and you’ll find the answers.” 

“What kind of name is that?” Eleven asked. 

“A foreign one.” Ten said grabbing a nearby notepad. “Two, what was that name again?” 

Rani Ushas.” Two repeated. “R-A-N-I U-S-H-A-S.” He spelled. 

Ten scribbled the name down and closed the notebook.

She used to be friends with Three and Delgado, before she moved away. She also knew One, me, Four, Five and Six.” 

“Got it.” Ten said. “Thank you for your non-help, Two.” 

“Well, that’s not true.” Eleven argued. “We have a lead now, which is more than we had before.”

And if Three asks, I didn’t tell you anything. This phone call never happened.” 

The line went dead. 

Eleven picked his phone from the table and pressed the lock button on the top. 

“What now?” Ten asked. 

“We find this Rani woman.” Eleven said. 

Twelve finished work that day and sat down in St James’s Park. He didn’t want to go back home, work had been too horrendous for him to want to get on the Tube. Among people. So he stayed where he was, watching (kind of) the people passing by in a blur. 

That was until someone sat down next to him. 

“Long day at work, Darling?” 

“Hey, Missy.” Twelve greeted. “For a second, I thought you were someone who was going to pray for my eyesight to return.” 

“People actually do that?” Missy asked. 

“You’d be surprised.” Twelve said. “How many times have you been mistaken for my carer?” 

“Yeah, but... you’d expect praying for sight to come back to be a thing that happens in America. They’re all god botherers and bible thumpers over there.” Missy said.

“Well not all of them, Missy.” Twelve said. “But most of them.” 

“So how bad was work?” Missy asked. 

“Stressful.” Twelve said. “So fucking stressful. Now I know why politicians have mouths like sailors. Or rather why sailors have mouths like politicians.” 

That bad?” 

“How was your work?” 

“Well, it’s obviously not as hard being a waitress as it is being a politician.” Missy said. “But I’ve got to get to my second job as a barmaid in,” she paused to consult her watch, “an hour and a half.” 

“Don’t you want to do something more ambitious than waitressing and barmaid-ing?” Twelve asked. 

“Oh yes.” Missy said. “But waitressing and barmaid-ing pays the rent. And besides, when I graduate, I’ll be able to get a better job. Pizza Hut and the pub are only temporary. We’re still on for tomorrow, aren’t we, Darling?” 

“Yeah.” Twelve nodded. “We are.” He stood up and unfolded his cane. 

“That’s good.” Missy said. She squeezed his hand and stood on tip toes to kiss him.

“I hate when you kiss me unannounced like that, Missy.” Twelve said. “You know I-“

“Can’t see it coming.” Missy finished. “It’s almost like that’s your favourite joke.” 

“Well I don’t mind.” Twelve said. “But since you have an hour and a half, we could do something if you want.” 

“I’d love to...” Missy said. 

“There’s a ‘but’, isn’t there?” Twelve asked. 

“My bar job’s back in Lewisham.” Missy explained. “So I have to go back home on the Tube now.” 

“Then... I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.” Twelve said. 

“We could... walk down to the Tube station together.” Missy suggested. 

Twelve nodded. “Then let’s do that. Westminster?” 

“Sure. Westminster.” Missy agreed.