The TARDIS materialised beside the large, ornamental gate beyond which was a beautifully kept formal garden with rose beds, fountains and trim lawns. Beyond that, was a large, beautiful house of warm yellow stone with big, inviting windows. Chrístõ looked at it on the viewscreen and sighed happily.

“Where is this?” Julia asked.

“The Gallifreyan Ambassador’s Residence on Ventura IV,” he replied. “This was my first home… at least the first I remember. I was born in our house on Gallifrey, of course – as is proper for the Heir of an Oldblood family. But my father took the post as Ambassador here when I was only a small baby. My earliest memories are of this place. We left after mama died. Father… felt the loss heavily. He wanted… needed to be home again.”

“So… this is sometime between your birth and your mother’s death?” Hext asked. “In there… your mother, and you as a baby, exist.”


“That’s dangerous. You should stay here. I’ll go and bring your father out to the TARDIS.”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “No, I won’t wait here. So close… I want to see my old home. I want to see my father as I remember him in my childhood. I need to spend some time with him.”

“That’s a bad idea, Chrístõ.”

“I know it is, but I’m doing it, anyway. So come on. We need to dress appropriately to present ourselves to the Ambassador.”

Appropriate for Hext and Chrístõ was black robes with silver trim and cloaks of black velvet and silk fastened with brooches of silver bearing the symbols of their Houses. The House of Hext was represented, for reasons lost in time, by a moon being eclipsed by the sun. The House of Lœngbærrow was symbolised, equally obscurely, by two silvertrees whose branches met in an arch.

"We look like two Time Lords, not a pair of space vagabonds,” Hext commented as they stood before a mirror. “But do you really mean to present yourself wearing the symbol of that House?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “What other House could I wear? I will not pretend this time. I want him to know me right away. No more deceptions, even for the best of reasons.”

“If you say so, Chrístõ,” Hext answered, knowing he was never going to win this argument. “Come on then, let’s find our ladies.”

Appropriate for Romana, was her silk robe and veil fixed so that only her eyes were visible. Before the Ambassador and his aides, on what was officially Gallifreyan soil, she could wear nothing else. For Julia, the formal robe of an unmarried woman of Gallifrey, in pale orange and silver was in order. Hext looked at her and made one stipulation.

“That pendant… it’s a family heirloom, isn’t it?” He looked at Chrístõ for confirmation.

“It belonged to my mother,” he agreed.

“Put it away from view, Julia. In this time it still belongs to his mother. It might cause distress.”

Chrístõ nodded. He should have thought of that. Julia hid it inside her robe. He pinned a smaller version of the Lœngbærrow crest in place in compensation then took her arm as they stepped out of the TARDIS. He noted that it hadn’t made any pretence of a disguise. At the Residence of the Gallifreyan Ambassador it was a grey cabinet with his own symbol on the front and the Seal of Rassilon on the other three sides. The guards at the gate, dressed in blue and silver, had noted its presence, and bowed their heads respectfully at them while keeping their hands close to their weapons in case their credentials were not in order.

Their credentials were fully in order and Chrístõ and his entourage were admitted to the Residency gardens. Two guards were detailed to bring his TARDIS to the garage while they headed to the front door. It was opened by a liveried footman. Chrístõ got ready to speak to him, but Hext headed him off.

“I am Paracell Hext, Heir of that House of Gallifrey. I and my friends are here to pay our respects to His Excellency, The Ambassador, Lord de Lœngbærrow. We beg an audience with him.”

“His Excellency is in his drawing room,” the footman replied. “Come this way and I shall announce you.”

“Let’s wait until we are in your father’s presence,” Hext told Chrístõ in explanation.

They followed the footman through the grand entrance hall and along a richly carpeted corridor lit by crystal chandeliers. It led to the private drawing room. Chrístõ knew the way. He remembered learning to walk along that corridor, on that very carpet that was soft on his hands and knees when he stumbled. His memories flooded back. He knew exactly what the drawing room was going to look like. It was bright and airy, with a wide French window leading onto a terrace and more rose gardens and fountains beyond. It had a huge chandelier in the ceiling and a big marble fireplace that wouldn’t be lit in the summer as it was now. There was a big desk in an alcove and two huge, soft sofas with an armchair that his father sat in when he was relaxing. Beside it, was a smaller chair, specially made, where Chrístõ himself had sat. His father would read books or newspapers, or perhaps important documents. He would read his own children’s books, carefully imitating the way his father sat, turning the pages when he did, reaching for a drink when he did – his father drinking malt whiskey while he had a cup of milk with a special lid that he wouldn’t spill if he knocked it over.

He took a deep breath and steadied his hearts as he stepped into that room behind Hext and Romana, clinging to Julia’s hand nervously. He looked at that same scene, not through the child’s eyes, but as an adult. He saw his father putting aside his papers. He saw the small boy, dressed in a deep red robe with white socks and boys’ sandals on his feet, put his own book aside. The Ambassador stood. The Ambassador’s son stood, too. But then as he gazed at the four strangers an attack of shyness took him and he half hid behind his father.

“I am Ambassador de Lœngbærrow,” Chrístõ heard his father say, bowing his head to him and to Hext, and bowing even lower to Romana and Julia. “I bid you welcome.” He looked down to the child tugging at his hand and smiled. “This is my son and heir who already seeks to learn the etiquette of a diplomat, though his nerve fails him sometimes.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said in an emotional whisper. “Yes, I remember.”

The Ambassador looked at him and saw the glazed look in his eyes before he noted the symbol on his cloak. He was about to speak when Julia stepped forward and reached her hand out towards the three year old boy. He looked at her and then put out his hands to her. She lifted him into her arms.

Chrístõ gasped. He had felt a shiver, a tingle, course through his body. It was a good feeling, but a thoroughly overwhelming one. The Ambassador smiled widely as he saw what was happening to him.

“You feel the connection between the two of you… reaching through the years from the child, held by her… to your own soul. It’s only to be expected.” He reached and kissed his young son’s cheek. “Chrístõ, my dear boy, why don’t you let this young lady see your playroom? She can read you a story, perhaps? Would you like that?”

The boy didn’t answer in words, but Chrístõ felt his telepathic reply. Gallifreyan children always tended to speak out loud much later than they spoke telepathically. He was no exception. Julia smiled delightfully and went through the door indicated to her by The Ambassador.

“She’s your promised one?” The Ambassador asked Chrístõ with a smile in his eyes. Chrístõ was too stunned to answer. He had felt that kiss on his cheek, too. “The child version of you, held in the arms of the young woman who will one day hold your own offspring. No wonder you can barely stand up from the emotional resonances. Come… sit. Compose yourself. Now the child is out of the room you should be able to regain your faculties.”

“I said it was a bad idea,” Hext pointed out.

“It wasn’t a bad idea,” Chrístõ insisted. “It was a wonderful idea. I just didn’t expect… But I wanted to come here… call me foolish, sentimental… Blame it on my half blood… My Human side is prone to irrationalism….”

“I have always had a fondness for Human irrationality,” The Ambassador answered. “But sit quiet for a moment.” He turned and looked at Hext. “Where is your TARDIS?”

“It was taken to the garage,” Hext answered. “We landed outside the gate, of course. There are anti-materialisation shields all around the residence.”

“It will do there for a while,” The Ambassador said. “Until we are done, here.”

“Sir,” Hext insisted. “This was not my idea. Chrístõ… Yes, it probably is his Human emotionalism. But you can see the way it has affected him. It would be better if you came and did the duty and then we can be on our way.”

“Yes, it would. But I don’t think my son wants to leave so soon. And we do have a lot to talk about, the two of us. Why don’t you take Romana to sit on the terrace by the reflecting pool. I think she’ll enjoy the peaceful ambience there. I’ll have refreshments sent out to you.”

Hext didn’t seem happy with that either, but he couldn’t argue with The Ambassador. He far outranked him. He nodded and took Romana by the arm. The Ambassador watched them for a minute and then went to his drinks cabinet. He refilled his own glass and poured a measure of the same amber coloured liquor that he passed to Chrístõ.

“I presume you have outgrown milk by now?” he said.

“Just about,” Chrístõ answered. He had drunk whiskey only once before, when his father insisted it was what he needed. He still maintained that strong liquor was not a mark of manhood, but he sipped it anyway, noting the peat flavour that hung on his taste buds, marking it as one of the best quality Scottish single malts, imported from Earth.

“How old are you?” his father asked. “You are still quite young, considering what I know you have done recently.”

“One hundred and ninety six,” Chrístõ answered.

“A boy in years. A man in experiences.”


“At some time in your life… I’m not asking you for details. This is just mathematics. You were born when I was in this life. But I have regenerated since…”

“I was with you,” Chrístõ said. “I was still a schoolboy. It was frightening. But I came to terms with it. You were still my father. But… When I was very young… this is how I remember you. Here in this room, especially. I needed to see you here.”

“I’m glad you did,” his father answered. “Though it was, admittedly, a risk.”

“May I ask you…” Chrístõ added. “My mother… is she… where is she?”

“She is out carriage riding with her friend, the wife of the Earth Ambassador. The fresh air is good for her. She isn’t as well as she should be. But you would know that, of course. There’s another question I could ask of the future. But it would do neither of us any good to dwell on it. Besides, I think it is of the past we need to speak.”

“I wish we didn’t,” Chrístõ said. “I wish I could just sit here with you, remembering these gentle, good times.” He reached and picked up the empty milk cup and smiled as he examined it closer. “It came from Mothercare…. On Earth. And it has a picture of Peter Rabbit on it. I think I’ve probably already outgrown Beatrix Potter.”

“You’ve almost outgrown Harry Potter!” his father confirmed. “But…” Their eyes met, man to man, and Chrístõ knew that there were more serious things to think of. “I know why you wanted to speak to me now. You want it settled in your mind before this mission is over and you speak to me again in your own present... with the face you’ve known last.”

“Yes,” he admitted. “And… you know what it is that troubles me.”

“You’re still bothered by what you saw me do… the execution in Amsterdam.” Chrístõ looked away from him. It WAS what he wanted to talk about, but when the subject was broached he found it impossible to maintain eye contact with his father. “You were shocked… ashamed that your own father could have done that?”


“And yet, the last time we met – on the bio-moon of Ligattya… I saw you do something just as startling – just as morally ambiguous.”

“Only… because… to save them pain and suffering.”

“But you know that euthanasia is frowned upon in almost every civilised part of the galaxy. On our world and on Earth, there are those who would call it murder.”

“They weren’t there,” Chrístõ responded. “They didn’t see. You were there. You saw. How can you say that?”

“You were in Amsterdam. You witnessed everything fully. Yet you called that murder.”

“That WAS murder. You didn’t give that man any chance…”

“He didn’t give the two Panopticon guards chance when he stole the Tear of Omega.”


“You didn’t know that part, did you? You do know that Panopticon Guards are most often drawn from the Caretaker Classes – far more than the Chancellery Guards. They tend to be the youngest sons of Newblood Houses. But the two Guards who he killed were Caretakers, the breadwinners of their families.”

“You said it was to save the President embarrassment.”

“Yes,” his father answered. “It would have been embarrassing to see his brother charged with a double murder. But there was more than that. You didn’t know what he said to me, telepathically. He told me that those lives counted for nothing. He said that the President would make sure the murder charge was dropped – that two Caretaker lives were of no consequence.”

“You killed him because he taunted you with that?”

“I was always much better trained than that. I would not have killed anyone in hot blooded haste simply because he taunted me. No. I executed him because he was right. It would have been that way. If he was taken alive. But I had been given leave to judge the situation. And I did so. Just as you judged those souls whose lives were in your hands. We are alike, Chrístõ. We do terrible things for the best of reasons.”

“I don’t… choose to do those things. In the circumstances, there was nothing else I could do… except let them suffer for longer. But you… had a choice. You didn’t have to be an assassin.”

“No, I didn’t. There is that difference. I concede so much. But will you concede that we both have done our duty, even though it was a hard one.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ did concede that much. “And yet… father… it was you who raised me to respect life and to abhor the idea of taking it. That’s why I was so shocked that you…”

“Did I ever tell you why I left the CIA?”

“No, YOU didn’t,” Chrístõ answered. “I know the story… from Li.”

“You know Li?”

“Knew… in my time… he passed away of old age.”

“Ah. But you know his story… and mine…”

“I do. And it just seems to prove my point. You knew what you were doing was wrong.”

“No, it wasn’t wrong, Chrístõ. I did my duty. Then I did my duty again, in another capacity. I regret nothing of my life in the Agency, except that one terrible mistake that was not entirely of my own doing. What I do regret is that my son is ashamed of me.”

“I’m not ashamed of you. I’m just… I’m not. You’re my father, and I love you. But… I wasn’t ready to see so much as I did. I wasn’t ready to be the son of the Executioner.”

“That’s why I am glad that I gave up that life before I knew your mother. I am glad you were born The Ambassador’s son instead. And I am glad that you value life so dearly. I hoped that you would. I wanted you to be a child of peace.”

“I am,” Chrístõ said. “When I am allowed to be. But I’m not a coward, either. I don’t run from what has to be done.”

“I have seen that demonstrated many times,” his father told him. “At Xiang Xien… You fought very bravely. Once you worked out who you were supposed to be fighting.”

“Don’t remind me,” Chrístõ groaned. “I almost got you and Li killed…”

“And you also saved us both. And you saved my life at Aru XII. You did well, my son. But I would still hope… your friend out there… he’s a CIA agent?”

“Yes, but I’m not.”

“Good. I never wanted that for you. You were a very good doctor at Ligattya. And Julia… your little Earth Child… told me that you are a teacher.”

“I hope to be, when this is over and I can return to that life. I intend to teach… until I am ready to be a diplomat… like my father, The Peacemaker. That was my ambition for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be like you.”

The Ambassador smiled warmly.

“Then… my hopes for my little boy are fulfilled. When I watch him play, when I watch him fall asleep at night…. My only hope is that he will grow up to be a good man. And he is. I have seen that. A little impulsive perhaps… as we found out at Xiang Xien…. Given to emotional outbursts… as I saw in Amsterdam. I wonder how you managed in your Emotional Detachment classes?”

“I passed with first class marks, as it happens,” Chrístõ assured his father. “Even with my Human tears to let me down. But you always told me not to be ashamed of my humanity. You told me that it was a gift from my mother.”

“And it is. But a gift to be used sparingly, perhaps. Don’t let it be used as a weapon against you by those who would not wish you well.”

“I will try, thank you, father.”

The Ambassador smiled again.

“It is good to hear you call me that. It felt good when we walked on the lakeside at Anchoriss. But then, I didn’t really understand what being a father meant. Only when you were born… when I held you in my arms… as I’ve watched you grow… My little boy… my son. You’ve not managed to call me papa in spoken words, yet. It will be a proud moment for me when you do. It was for that reason, so that I would be there to hear you speak my name… as well as for your mother’s sake… that I took this quiet post. I wanted to spend as much time with you both as I could.”

“I remember… you fulfilled that ambition, father.” Chrístõ swallowed the rest of the whiskey. He wondered if he would ever be enough like his father to really enjoy the taste. When he asked him if he would like another he searched for a diplomatic answer.

“I think I would rather have a cup of tea,” he answered.

“Ah, something else that comes from your mother,” The Ambassador laughed as he rang for a servant to bring tea. Chrístõ leaned back on the sofa where he sat and felt peaceful. The burning difficulties that had knotted him up inside seemed easily dispensed with. He knew he had been foolish to let himself become so wound up by those bitter feelings.

A gift to be used sparingly. That was advice he knew he should treasure in his hearts.

He drank the tea that was brought. English tea, served the way his mother always drank it. His father, now the difficult conversation was over, was happy to talk to him about easier things. He asked him about the kind of music he liked, the subjects he was good at when he was at the Academy. Chrístõ was glad to tell him, and to be told that his musical tastes were mostly from his mother’s side, that his academic strengths were from the Lœngbærrow genes.

“I think you get something else from me,” his father added. “Your young Earth Child… it seems preferences for such brief blooms also runs in our blood.”

“I love her,” Chrístõ insisted.

“I can see that. I wish you well. When the time comes, I hope you will be as happy as I have been since the day your mother gave herself to me in Alliance of Unity.”

Chrístõ was about to reply to that when the door from the playroom opened. Julia came in, with the young Chrístõ holding her hand. Behind her, came his mother. Chrístõ managed not to say anything out loud, but his eyes widened as he watched his father reach to take her hand and make sure she was sitting on the other sofa before he allowed their son to climb into her lap.

“I didn’t know you were home, yet, my dear,” he said.

“Only just. I didn’t know we had guests. I found this young lady sitting in the dayroom and little Chrístõ in her lap, being read a story. He is usually so shy with strangers.”

“My dear, these two, and their friends I see coming in from outside to take a cup of tea with us, are travellers from Gallifrey. Their TARDIS developed a fault and they sought help here among their own kind. I think it is a minor problem. I should be able to help them myself shortly. Then they can be on their way.”

“They can stay to high tea, surely?” Lady de Lœngbærrow asked. “We so rarely have young people here. Diplomatic circles tend to be the province of grey haired men.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Hext began.

“I think it is a very good idea,” The Ambassador assured him. “Marion, my dear, this young man’s name is Thete. He’s spent a lot of time on planet Earth and has something of a fondness for it. Which I can certainly understand. He likes Earth music and many other aspects of its culture. I think you will enjoy sitting next to him at the table. And our little one will be perfectly happy to sit next to Julia. Afterwards, I’ll go with young Hext and mend their TARDIS while you talk a little more.”

Hext again found himself outranked by The Ambassador and had to go along with the idea.

Of course, he had done it so that Chrístõ could spend some more time with his mother. He treasured the time he had with her. She looked, as he remembered her, still very beautiful, but in a tired, faded way. She was still only in her early 40s, but her heart was weak and she found many things troublesome. But she smiled and laughed at the things he said to her, and that gladdened his own hearts. He had often thought that he had been a demanding, troublesome boy, without realising how ill his mother was and how worry about him strained her. He was glad to be a relief from the burden for a little while.

Hext and his father did go away after tea when they sat in the drawing room again. When they returned, it was time to go. Julia was almost as hard to part from his younger self than he was from his mother. But they both knew it had to be so.

“May I beg one indulgence,” Chrístõ said as he took his leave. “May I kiss you…”

Lady Marion de Lœngbærrow looked surprised, but her husband seemed to have no objection. She let the pleasant young man who had entertained her reach forward and kiss her on the cheek just once. Then he went, willingly, on his way. At the TARDIS, he was surprised when his father displayed his emotional side. He pulled his grown up son into a close embrace and kissed him on the cheek.

“For making her laugh this day,” he whispered. “Thank you, my son. May I always be proud of you.”

“And you, father,” Chrístõ replied.

“Sir,” Hext said as they parted. “It isn’t just half bloods who can be emotional when it comes to family ties. You know that I must make you forget this meeting – at least that we were more than a group of Gallifreyans paying due respect to The Ambassador.”

His father sighed.

“You are right, of course, young man. Chrístõ… for you it will only be a few hours now before you can talk of our adventures again. For me… there is a slower path. I am glad at least that we have forgiven each other.”

“So am I, father.”

“Until a future time, then, goodbye, my son.”

Chrístõ said his own goodbye and stepped into the TARDIS with Julia and Romana. He felt Humphrey envelop him in a rather excited way.

“He knows,” Julia said. “He knows that your father is complete now, and he’ll be waking, soon.”

“It will take about an hour,” Hext said as he stepped into the TARDIS last and closed the door. Chrístõ went to the console and saw his father outside raise his hand to wave them off.

“Are you sure he doesn’t remember?”

“He does now. But by the time he reaches his drawing room again it will have gone.”

Chrístõ kept his eyes on him until the image dissolved into the vortex. Then he set their course for Gallifrey at last and turned to the Zero Cabinet.

He watched, his hearts thudding with anticipation and just a little fear that it might still go wrong. What if his father’s mind was damaged after all? What if he didn’t know who he was, or who his son was? What if all that he had been was gone for good?

Then he saw him stir. His eyes flickered twice and then opened fully. The same deep brown eyes he had found in so many other faces now looked up at him from the face he had known as his father in his youth.

“Father!” Chrístõ cried out.

“Chrístõ, my son,” he answered in a hoarse voice.

“Father,” Chrístõ said again, before his throat was constricted and he blinked back tears.

“Didn’t I tell you to use the gift of your emotions sparingly?” he said.

“You did,” Chrístõ answered. “But surely this is a time for them?” His father reached out his arm and Chrístõ helped him first to sit, then to stand. He stepped out of the Cabinet and stumbled at first, supported by his son, before he stood up unaided and reached to embrace him.

“I remember it all,” he said. “Everything you did for me. But… the war… the Mallus…”

“The war is over. They’re defeated. We’re going home to a free Gallifrey. Have no fear.”

“Rassilon’s blessing on us all,” he whispered. He turned and saw Julia watching him. He reached out his arm to her and embraced her fondly. “Julia… I felt your presence. You stayed close to me. Thank you, my dear. And Romana, the healer. You helped me.” Romana stepped close and accepted his hand in hers, but she would not be hugged. Nor would Hext, but he did accept a handshake.

At last, the TARDIS landed on the front lawn of Mount Lœng House. Chrístõ noted that the shutters were open and lights were on in the house. It was a home again. They walked up the steps and the door was open by Caolin, their butler, who welcomed the master of the house home gladly.

Chrístõ was pleased as he stepped into the hall, to see that it had been restored. The rugs were back on the floor, the pictures on the wall. It almost seemed as if nothing had happened.

Then Valena came from the drawing room. Garrick was with her. She gathered the child in her arms and ran to embrace her husband joyfully. Then, as he held his youngest son, she turned to his eldest.

“You kept your promise. You brought him back to me.”

“Yes, I did,” Chrístõ said. He couldn’t think what else to say. He accepted her hug, and her grateful kiss on his cheek, then his father took her in his arms again. Chrístõ felt Julia’s hand in his, and the other side of him Hext’s hand rested on his shoulder. Romana watched shyly from behind her veil and sighed with joy to see the family reunion that had been their reason for doing all they had done in the past days.