He left me on Earth.
I wanted to be left, if I were truly truthful, but that wasn't all I wanted.
I wanted to say goodbye to him properly, I wanted to thank my schoolteachers for teaching both him and me, I wanted to collect my things from the TARDIS.
Grandfather was never very practical about things like that.
A human would have called it the effects of old age, forgetting about such things. It was true that he was getting rather old in this first body, and this was why I also wanted to stay with him. Although he was hardly helpless, his age did slow him down a little. He needed me, or at least someone there, and who knew him better than I?
Back home, he was never one to socialise; at least not when I knew him. I was only thirty when we first reached Earth, though, and he was much older. His age changed each time he mentioned it, seemingly according to his whims. Therefore he may have been more communicative before my birth, but I have no way of knowing.
From the first I can remember of him, he was dissatisfied. He felt constrained by the laws and strictures of the Citadel, and by the very nature of staying still, on one planet. He had been asked to visit one other galaxy, just the once, decades before and had never forgotten the experience, nor the sense of freedom he had standing on alien soil and watching an alien race go about their business, with no idea of who he was. I asked him once if it was beautiful, and he snapped that I shouldn't be ridiculous, that it was only a level five planet and it had only one sun and one moon. I shouldn't waste my time thinking about it.
He always did have a strong reaction to the Earth.
We Gallifreyans do look very similar to humans, if you don't know for what differences you're looking, and there is a reason for this. Humans, and most other 'humanoid' aliens are distantly descended from Gallifreyans. Of course that would never happen now that the Council is in charge, but this was aeons ago. It was enough for the universe to begin populating itself with aliens moulded in our form. As a result, Gallifreyans and humans are actually biologically compatible.
David and I had three children. He was keen for more, but I was cautious. The mixing of our genes could end up being devastating should a scientist find one of my children and begin experimenting on them, or worse. I was not exactly an expert on the history of Earth, but I knew that an alien invader would not be treated well, no matter their intentions. Thankfully it was easy enough to forge identification following my arrival; the battle made things easy through its aftermath of chaos.
We didn't follow the life I had assumed we would have. We never stopped in our work, travelling the Earth and fighting for its independence. I knew enough to know that the Earth would remain under human jurisdiction for millennia after the twenty second century, and we fought to keep it so.
Then the summons came.
I was just bringing dinner to the table on one of the few days when nothing out of the humanly ordinary had happened. The children were all there, though they had left home years ago. John and Ian, my eldest two, had in fact both brought their partners. Ian was married to a lovely girl called Rebecca who, upon finding out that he had alien blood, wondered that he had ever assumed she didn't know. John's girlfriend Alice didn't yet know a thing. Barbara had long ago decided she could not bear to love someone other than family. She felt the effects of her Gallifreyan heritage far more clearly than the others. It was my constant worry that she would never change her mind on such matters.
Though none of the children (I persisted in calling them children, though they were at the ages of 24, 19 and 16) were fully Gallifreyan, neither were they fully human. John and Ian both saw this as a great advantage in life, revelling in their alien cleverness, even if they had nothing else to show for their unusual genes. Barbara, however, wanted only to be human, like her friends. She hated that her education was largely redundant, that she was gifted in the perception Time, that she alone had been born with two hearts. When she was young, a child of five or six, she had loved hearing of my home planet and the tales I could tell of Time and Space, but as she grew in age and awareness, she grew to loathe her uniqueness. I could only hope she would again learn to accept and be proud of what she was.
David was engaged in conversation with John over an aspect of the new vehicle that he was creating, asking questions which were intended to caution him to restrain himself to the limits of the human mind, though I was not sure of their effectiveness. Alice and Barbara were complaining about the boys' obsession with technology, although Barbara herself had a great aptitude for mechanical science and Rebecca and Ian were defending them. I smiled at them, my family. How many years ago had I threatened to leave the TARDIS to live out my life on Earth in the twentieth century? This may be the twenty second, but it only proved that I was right to have given up my travelling life.
I was holding as I walked towards them a great tureen of casserole. Why in the universe the summons couldn't have waited just another thirty seconds, I wish I knew, but it came.
The Time War is upon us. This is the last great stand against the Dalek race. All must fight in this, our final battle to rid the universe of the scourge of Skaro.
Then another whisper:
Susan. A TARDIS will come to you within ten linear Sol 3 minutes.
The shock was so great that of course I dropped the casserole, which promptly went everywhere. Alice squealed in surprise, but David was already by my side. "Susan? What is it? Tell me."
"The Time Lords," I murmured, trying to save the children's ears. "It was a call to war."
"I heard it too."
We turned to face our youngest child, our only daughter. She was staring at her empty plate with resentment in her eyes.
"What?" Ian asked. "What did you hear? Barbara, Mother, what's going on?"
"John?" I said, ignoring Ian for the moment. "Did you hear it?"
"Hear what?" he said.
David, Barbara and I all looked at Alice, who was sitting there bemused, and already a little frightened. War was not an uncommon concept on Earth, even intergalactic war. After all, even Alice would have grown up hearing of the devastation left by the Daleks, even if she didn't understand the role that her boyfriend's parents had played in the battle.
"Stop. Everyone stop." Rebecca, the most level-headed human girl I knew, was taking control. "Mrs Campbell, what did you hear?"
I shook my head numbly, but answered all the same. "My people have sent out a summons. There is to be a war against the Daleks, and everyone is needed."
"Everyone?" John asked.
"Not you," I hastily assured him.
"But they need me," Barbara added.
"Barbara?" Alice said, incredulous.
Rebecca shared a brief look with Ian, who now spoke: "Our mother is an alien. Don't be alarmed. John and I inherited some of her genes; perhaps you've noticed that John's a bit of a genius."
Alice now looked shell-shocked. "When she said 'my people', I thought she meant a unit or a troop or something."
I, however, was not paying attention to this small exchange. Barbara and I were already talking in fast whispers.
"You can't come."
"I must. You know that."
"You've never travelled in Time."
"You've never piloted by yourself! Mother, we both know I don't have a choice!"
"No!" I was close to tears. "Barbara, you've never seen the Daleks. You don't know how dangerous they are, what they can do! I will not have you in the middle of this battle!"
David came between us. "Can you not just refuse? Or can the boys and I come?"
"No," we said, simultaneously.
"They need mental contact on the battlefield," Barbara said. "You haven't the capacity for it."
I looked at her. My daughter, only sixteen years of age, and destined for war. I studied every facet of her face, her thick dark hair, and saw myself as I was when I first met her namesake, yet so different.
"You told me yourself, you're not even fully Gallifreyan, let alone a Time Lord," David said gently.
"I am, though," Barbara responded, but she was talking to me. "You've only got human in you through your great-grandmother; it was a trick of genes that meant you were missing your second heart. The trick ironed itself out in me."
This was why we had first left Gallifrey, my grandfather and I. When I was born with the body of a human and the mind of a Gallifreyan, the Council thought I was an abomination. They sentenced me to exile before I even had a name, and none was willing to take me but him. Half human himself, he felt an affinity to me that no other Gallifreyan could dream of feeling. I never knew my parents.
My odd genes were a quirk of nature, a trick, as Barbara named it now. An illusion. Though I would never regenerate, lacking the cardiovascular energy to do so, I was otherwise just as Gallifreyan as my prejudiced parents, and more Gallifreyan than Barbara. However, I was not a Time Lord. Barbara was.
I had suspected it from a very early age. When Ian fell down the stairs when he was twelve and she four, she maintained that it was a good thing as we rushed him to hospital. I didn't understand until he met a young girl called Becky in hospital, whom of course he had now married. Barbara had sensed their meeting, and her sense of perspective allowed her to forget about his current pain and focus on his future happiness.
Had she been on Gallifrey, she would have been taken to the Academy at the age of eight. No doubt she would have passed all her examinations with flying colours. Nevertheless, I felt glad that she now lived on Earth, so that she would not be taken away from me. When she worked out her own status, I was merely proud of her.
It seemed inevitable that she would be taken from me if we went to war.
"How long do we have?" David asked.
"Seven minutes and forty three seconds at the most," Barbara answered promptly. "We'd best say goodbye."
I tore my gaze from my daughter to face my husband. I had chosen him above the stars, and I would do so a thousand times. It seemed that the stars had other ideas.
"I'll come back," I promised him. "I might be a little late. It depends who's piloting."
A trivial detail, I knew, but I couldn't bear to say anything meaningful.
"I know," he said simply. "You belong here."
We clung together for a minute, as though by being together now, we would never be apart, but we both knew it was useless. I pulled back first, to turn to my boys. They came to me, and I hugged them fiercely.
"I love you," I told them.
"You too," John said, as Ian repeated my words.
Barbara and David were saying goodbye behind me. I knew what she'd be saying, my pragmatic, almost omniscient girl. She'd be telling him that we may not come back. He knew the Daleks once, but not when they were fighting for existence itself, and not when they were fighting the Time Lords.
Rebecca came forward next. "Look after Ian," I told her, smiling as much as I could.
"You two look after each other," she said seriously.
I nodded. We both had our limitations, Barbara and I. She for her lack of experience and I for my lack of intuitive knowledge.
Then came a sound I hadn't heard in nearly thirty years. The pounding wheeze of engines that shouldn't be heard on Earth. Never. Time travel may one day be invented or discovered or scavenged by humans, but a TARDIS doesn't belong on Sol 3. Neither does a Time Lord.
Barbara listened, transported.
"It's too soon," I moaned softly.
"It always would be," David pointed out. "I love you, Susan Campbell."
"Don't say goodbye," I said quickly.
He smiled, and put a hand to my cheek. "This isn't a goodbye. This is a 'take care and I'll see you soon'."
We kissed one last time, and then Barbara was taking my hand and leading me out our back door. She looked... perhaps not happy at this turn of events, but I could sense that she had at least finally accepted her status in the universe and was glad of it.
Purposefully, she strode towards an oak tree that had suddenly appeared in our garden. Although the broken Chameleon Circuit on Grandfather's TARDIS had meant that it had not changed form much in its later trips, I still could see the trace left by the manipulation of the dimensions. Barbara, who of course had never seen a TARDIS in her life, made straight for its door and near-dragged me inside.
The interior of this TARDIS was much like my Grandfather's. It was clean and white and blooming with light, though the walls were not dotted with windows and the Time Rotor extended all the way to the ceiling. The console was far bigger and more complex, too, and I assumed that this was not a Type 40, but one much more advanced. It felt at once like home and like a completely alien environment.
There were six Time Lords already assembled in the console room, and one now stepped forward to address my daughter. They were dressed in the customary dress of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, with their robes long and luxurious, but they lacked the heavy headdresses I was expecting. Perhaps for battle they were too cumbersome.
Barbara dropped my hand and stood straight. "Yes?"
"You will stay with Susan. She has flown a TARDIS and met the Daleks before; you have not. She will be your assistant."
The way they ignored me told me that I was considered to be of a lower caste than she, though this was not a surprise. I already knew that in Gallifreyan customs, I was lowest of the low.
Barbara was almost shining with pride and with a sense of homecoming. I could see in her face that she finally felt right, like she belonged, and I felt a pang of guilt for keeping her from this even though there was nothing I could have done to send her back to Gallifrey.
Suddenly, one of those who had not spoken tugged sharply on a lever, and we dematerialised into the Vortex. The sigh that escaped from Barbara's lips told me that she had missed this feeling, without ever knowing what it was like.
I walked to her, where she was staring longingly at the console, and put a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry," I told her.
"You were right," she said absently. "I was wrong to want to be human. This is all I ever needed."
Despite the horrors and the atrocities we saw, Barbara thrived during the Time War. There were Time Lords who looked at her and openly bemoaned that she had not been taken to the Academy, for she was a true prodigy. This resulted in bittersweet pride for me; of course I was glad that she was good at this, but I couldn't help resenting the notion that she should be so fully accepted by a people who had utterly rejected me.
For myself, I missed David and the boys unbearably and wished only to be back on Earth, back home. Barbara sometimes admitted to missing them, too, but how could she miss humans when she had finally found her people? It was only now that I realised quite how terrible life had been for Barbara on Earth, and quite how awful it must have been for Grandfather when he put himself into exile for my sake.
We met Grandfather at a conference during the War. It was rare that our people should convene, as High Command could communicate to us directly through our minds, but there were one or two group meetings that we were required to attend, in which various members of the Council argued about strategy and those higher placed Time Lords placed suggestions. Barbara herself stepped forward to suggest a division of forces at the Battle of the Nightmare Child. The President himself took up her argument, thanking her by name, and it was this that drew the attention of Grandfather.
He found us once the discussions had finished and the Time Lords were preparing to leave.
"Excuse me, Barbara?"
We turned to face him, and to my shame I did not immediately recognise him. By now accustomed to letting my daughter speak first, I stayed at her shoulder and attempted to appear deferential.
I looked up in utter surprise. "Grandfather?"
Barbara was nonplussed for a moment as we met in a fierce hug.
"Susan! You've grown so much—how are you? How's David? How long has it been for you?"
"How long has it been for you?" I asked, laughing. "You've regenerated."
"Seven times, but don't avoid the question, child."
"Seven!" I was taken aback, but answered nonetheless. "It's been twenty nine years. David is fine. We have three children. Barbara is my daughter."
"Ha! I knew you had Time Lord genes in you. Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Barbara."
Barbara nodded, nervous for the first time at meeting one of her race. "And you too," she said politely.
I looked at my grandfather and noted his rather more lively demeanour, his younger body, his long curling hair, his oddly human manner of dress, even in the midst of a Gallifreyan conference. Suddenly I felt like an imposter in my own robes.
"Who are you travelling with?" he asked. "Unless you have your own TARDIS?"
"No," I said, but Barbara cut across me.
"We were posted with Hyinda and her TARIS," she informed him.
"Don't interrupt your mother," he admonished her, and although the comment was light, she coloured with anger and shame. She was so used now to being of a higher status than me that it was difficult for her to pay attention to my role in her life as her mother. "Anyway, why don't you come with me? Hyinda's got Romana, hasn't she?"
"Romanadvoratrelundar?" Barbara asked.
"She prefers Romana. And she could fly a TARDIS on her own, if she so chose. Come with me, go on. For old time's sake."
Barbara turned to me at the same moment as I turned to her. "Alright," we said together.
"Who's with you?" Barbara asked.
"Just you two, now," he said cheerfully. "Come on!"
And so we left with him, and witnessed Davros' demise in the jaws of the Nightmare Child, the fall of Arcadia, the Daleks' conquer of the Cruciform.
It was at the Cruciform that Barbara was killed. We had already lost. We were retreating. She was killed in retreat.
I saw it happen, from where I was at the controls of the TARDIS as she and Grandfather left the TARDIS. I saw the ray of energy from a Dalek gun as it illuminated her skeleton. I heard her scream of disbelief and of unbearable agony.
I lost all common sense, seeing my daughter fall. I ran to her, knowing that she could not regenerate after a direct shot, and tried to pull her up, to at least get her back to the TARDIS. Grandfather was there, unable to leave me behind, helping me, lifting her body and running. I followed, I was following, I was running after him.
I heard the gun before I felt its attack, I heard the whine of electronics, I felt its heat in the instant before it grazed my skin, I felt the fire.
The Doctor looked down at the body of his great-granddaughter, lying in his arms. He laid her down gently on the floor of his TARDIS, which hummed in bereavement.
"They're gone," he told his ship. "Both of them."
He couldn't bring Susan's body back to the TARDIS. He was already carrying Barbara, and it would have been madness to go out there again.
He straightened up, suddenly filled with determination. Not grief. He could not feel grief yet, not when his mind had not yet accepted that they were dead.
"Let's do this," he said to the TARDIS.
Together, they set into place the plans they had made for this moment, the moment when there was no hope. The moment when the Daleks could not be vanquished by the Time Lords.
The Time Lords had to be vanquished too.
He was meant to die, too. He was not supposed to be left alive. This was wrong, wrong, wrong.
But what choice did he have? His ship, his stupid, beloved TARDIS kept him alive even while he was screaming to die. Instead he simply regenerated for the eighth time, into a bad tempered man with big ears who took on the human colour of mourning, in tribute to Susan's human body, and wore black until the day that this body died in turn.
A/N: I've not watched a grand amount of Susan, only her first and last stories. Obviously there's a lot of controversy over whether or not she's human, therefore I've just given my own take on it, picking and choosing the canon facts wherever I saw fit, so please don't tell me that I've got it all wrong!