Chrístõ knew this place was wrong. He had made a mess of the co-ordinates somehow. It wasn't even the right planet. It certainly wasn't the right place.

"February 3rd, 1991," Chrístõ murmured to himself as he finally got the computer to recognise that it was NOT on Castissa in the Andromeda quadrant, but on Earth some time in the twentieth century. "On the northern border of Kuwait…" He looked around. The date and place meant nothing to his 60s flower children or the 1840s Oriental flower who were his companions. Only he knew that the northern border of Kuwait had ceased to exist as a border a few months before this when the Iraqi army had invaded across it, and now one of Earth's nastiest wars with consequences that would dog it for decades was being fought here. It was not a place he WANTED them to be in. That war was nothing to do with any of them and their presence was not a good idea at all.

Even as he tried to key in new co-ordinates, an explosion rocked the TARDIS. They were in the middle of a battle. Cassie and Bo screamed as the sound echoed around the console room.

"Its all right," he assured them. "The TARDIS is impregnable. Remember we blew up a whole SHIP around it once." As he spoke, another artillery shell exploded VERY near them and the TARDIS rocked and settled at a slight angle. And somehow the door mechanism engaged. The door opened wide onto the battlefield. And the girls screamed again as a man stumbled over the threshold, covered in blood and sand and collapsed face down onto the floor. A very large gun fell from his hands and slid across the smooth floor of the TARDIS. Terry reached the door control and sealed it again and Chrístõ finally managed to engage the drive. He decided to forget co-ordinates and just put them into temporal orbit for the time being. Then he ran to the casualty of war who had accidentally come into their presence.

"Is he dead?" Cassie asked, shaking with fear. "Oh…he looks dead." Terry held her and calmed her. Bo came to Chrístõ's side to help him.

"He's not dead," Chrístõ said. It would have been simpler if he had been, of course. They could have given his body a respectful space burial and have nothing on their own consciences. But this man, despite his injuries, WAS alive. And even though Chrístõ never finished his final exams in the 1860s and took the Hippocratic Oath he respected the idea that life was sacred and must be preserved if it was within his power to do so. He lifted the man from the floor and told Cassie to get the door to the inner part of the TARDIS.

"Terry, take that, CAREFULLY." He pointed to the gun. "Put it somewhere safe. Don't press anything. That's an automatic assault rifle with a grenade launcher. I don't want anything going off in here."

"Where are we going?" Cassie asked as Chrístõ moved rapidly down the corridor. She was amazed how easily he could carry the man. He had mentioned before that he had a superior musculature and respiratory system but had never seen a practical application of it before.

"Medical room," he said.

"Do we have one?" Bo asked. "I've never seen it."

"None of you have been ill since you joined me," he said. "But yes, we do." He stopped by a door that looked identical to any other door off the maze of corridors. Cassie opened it for him and they stepped inside. "TARDIS's are NOT meant to be for solo flights. They should have a crew of at least six, and sometimes even people who can heal themselves need extra help. A medical room is compulsory." His explanations done he laid the stricken man on the examination table. With Bo and Cassie's help he took the man's equipment and cut the uniform off to examine him. He had lost a lot of blood and he had several large pieces of shrapnel from an artillery burst in his flesh. Three in his back, one through his left shoulder, another couple of pieces in his left thigh, but the worst was a large piece that went into his side. Another few inches and it might have pierced vital organs and he would have been beyond help.

"Can you… do you have medical training?" Terry asked as he caught up to them.

"Yes, I do," he said. "And I CAN help him. But I need help. Cassie, Bo, you're my nurses for today. Terry, you too." He was already washing his hands with antiseptic and donning a paper surgical gown and gloves and face mask. He showed the others how to do likewise. Then he came back to the table and began to work. He dealt with the most vital wound first. The piece of metal embedded in his side. Easing it back out was a difficult job, and if the patient had not been deeply unconscious the pain would have been impossible for him. Even Chrístõ was astonished at the size of the piece when he finally extracted it.

"He must have been right on top of the explosion," Terry said.

"If he was right on top he'd be burnt," Chrístõ answered. "And he doesn't have any of the internal damage that proximity with an explosion causes. He was far enough away to avoid the worst and most life threatening wounds." But even so he had suffered, and Chrístõ was doing his best to ease that suffering.

Terry had nothing to do as Chrístõ worked so he had set about examining the uniform to find out more about the man who had come among them. "There's nothing at all to identify him here," he said.

"There wouldn't be," Chrístõ said. "Not if he was in combat. In case of capture. That's a British desert camouflage uniform. He's British. That's about all we know. All we need to know for now."

He DID pass that strange class called Emotional Detachment with flying colours. One thing he knew was that not knowing too much about a person was a way of remaining emotionally detached from them. Once you knew their name, you had to care about them. For the moment, all he cared about was saving a man's life. He didn't want to know anything else about him. He turned back to his task, removing pieces of metal from all too pliable Human flesh and suturing the wounds while Cassie and Bo dressed them with bandages. "He's lost a worrying amount of blood, though. Is there anything in his effects that give his blood group?"

"AB," Terry said reading the dog tag that they had taken from around his neck.

"Oh, it would be," Chrístõ groaned. "That's one of the less common ones. I don't suppose any of you have AB blood?" None of them even knew their blood type. Bo didn't even know what a blood type was, which was hardly surprising as even the medical people of her time didn't know about that. Chrístõ left his patient for a few minutes while he ran the simple test on all three of them. Cassie and Terry were type "O" the commonest one, as the law of averages would dictate. Bo, against those odds was AB. He explained to her what he needed to do. The very idea was new to her and she looked frightened but she trusted Chrístõ implicitly. He quickly set up a simple gravity transfusion that would take blood from one body to another. As small and fragile looking as Bo was, he knew she had the same amount of blood in her body as any Human, and could give the stricken soldier enough of it to save his life.

And it worked. Bo looked pale and frightened even before her blood began draining, but the soldier almost immediately began to look better.

"He is part of me now," Bo said, reaching with her free arm and touching the soldier's face. "I must take care of him." Chrístõ looked at her and noted the tender look in her eyes as she caressed his cheek. Why not, he thought. A little tender care was what the man needed now, much more than medicine.

He stopped the transfusion. It should have been enough. He told Bo she ought to sit down but she said she would stay with him - meaning the soldier. His wounds dressed and his blood replenished there was nothing more but rest that could be done for him.

They made up a bed in the corner of the medical room and put him into it. Bo finally did sit down, at Chrístõ's insistence, at his side. He left her to it as he went to clean up after the operation.

"Doesn't his being here cause some kind of paradox type of thing?" Terry asked.

"I'm not sure," Chrístõ answered. "I think he probably would have died if he hadn't fallen into the TARDIS. So he doesn't belong anywhere."

"He's our responsibility now, anyway," Cassie said.

"He seems to be HER responsibility," Terry added, looking at Bo, who was holding the soldier's hand in hers and softly talking to him, even though he was still unconscious.

"She feels a bond with him because her blood is in him," Chrístõ said. "No harm in that. She may be just what he needs."

"What now?" Terry asked. "He definitely wasn't in our plans."

"We'd better spend the night in temporal orbit," Chrístõ decided. "We'll decide 'what now' when we see how our patient is later."

The patient was doing fine. Chrístõ remembered in his studies of Earth culture one of the ugliest wars of its twentieth century. The one they had called The Great War until another superseded it and they renamed it World War One - rather as the war they found their soldier in became renamed Gulf War One some years later. In that first big war of the century that would end with the aftermath of that Gulf conflict, men who had been near to death had sometimes been saved by nothing more than the power of compassion from the brave young women who came to the battlefield as nurses. Chrístõ thought it likely that Bo's attention to him and her sweet compassion would be what would save the man rather than anything he had done for him.

Right through the night she refused to leave his side, sleeping in short naps as she sat. Chrístõ played the doctor's role, checking on the patient every hour, administering the necessary painkillers and checking his vital sign and noting that he did seem to be getting stronger. That was good news.

 

Sammie Thomlinson opened his eyes slowly. His sight had been the last thing to return as he rose from the depths of unconsciousness. The pain had been the first thing he had been aware of. Pain in almost every part of his body, muted by some medication, but not completely masked. As his senses returned he was aware of being bandaged and naked but for his underpants, in a warm bed between clean sheets. He fought back against the pain and forced himself to focus.

His first sight was a very beautiful girl with almond shaped green eyes that almost made him forget himself. But as unlikely as it was that the Iraqis used attractive Chinese girls to trap the enemy his first reaction was defensive.

"Hello," she said to him. "I'm glad you're awake. Don't worry. You're safe now."

"Thomlinson, Samuel, Lieutenant, 55918756" he recited, name rank and number as by the book.

The girl looked surprised at his reaction, and, he thought, disappointed. But his training was the only thing he was clear about. He tried to focus beyond her. The clinically white room looked like a normal medical centre, but since when did hospitals faintly vibrate? He didn't know where he was, and he was not going to put his trust in a pretty face, even if it DIDN'T seem to be an enemy one.

He was surprised when a young man dressed in black jeans, t-shirt and a leather jacket appeared beside her and began to take his pulse and adjust the drip that was administering the pain killers he needed. He DIDN'T look like a doctor, although he was doing all the things a doctor would do. He was confused. He was a bit frightened, though he would not have admitted it to anyone. He mostly wanted to know where the hell he was and who these people were around him. But his training said 'don't talk'.

Two other people appeared in the room. They didn't look like Iraqis. One was a blonde youth, the other a chocolate coloured girl with long hair. They didn't look like medical people either.

"Thomlinson, Samuel, Lieutenant, 55918756," he said again.

"He must be delirious," the chocolate coloured girl said

"No," The one who acted like a doctor told her. "He's perfectly lucid and very well trained. He's acting as a good soldier should when he's among strangers he has no reason to trust." He saw the young man move closer to him. "I know you're confused," he told him in a not unkind way. "And there's plenty of reason to be confused. No, I'm not exactly a doctor, and this isn't exactly a hospital. But you ARE safe. I wish I could persuade you of that."

"Thomlinson, Samuel, Lieutenant, 55918756," he repeated. There was something in that young man's voice that DID make him want to trust him. But his training overruled his heart.

"You need to rest, still," the young man told him. "You've been through a lot." And he told the others to go back to the - console room? What the hell was that? But he heard their footsteps recede and he knew he WAS alone.

Sammie lay back on the pillow for a moment, gathering his strength and collecting his thoughts. He didn't think he was in Iraqi hands. But he couldn't be sure. He had HEARD of subtle methods of interrogation which included making the subject think they were in friendly hands. Although if that was so, surely they would have found somebody who DID look like a real doctor. That didn't add up.

Wherever he was, and whoever these people were, he was NOT in an Allied field hospital. And therefore he was NOT safe. And he had to get out of there. He sat up, resisting the urge to scream as the stitches in his bandaged side pulled painfully. His wounds HAD been treated - all of them. And as he looked at himself he was astonished at just how many wounds he had. But that didn't mean somebody wasn't going to come in and start torturing him any moment.

He removed the drip from his arm and swung his legs off the bed, his bandaged thigh protesting. Somehow he stood up. He almost fell down again. Was there any part of his body that didn't hurt? He looked around the medical room. It looked pretty normal. His uniform was laid aside on a counter, but when he looked at it he saw it was ruined. What the explosion hadn't shredded had been cut off him by whoever treated his wounds. But his webbing was intact and incredibly his Browning pistol and combat knife were in place. If these were Iraqis they must be incompetent.

He had no other clothes but his underpants, but he slipped the webbing on. His back and shoulder felt as if they were being stabbed but he choked down the pain and didn't utter a sound. He didn't know if there was a guard outside. He looked the most ridiculous soldier in the history of warfare, but he WAS a soldier.

He went to the door and looked at it. It fitted close almost like a bulkhead door and when he put his ear to it all he could hear was that same faint vibration he had noticed before. He took hold of the handle and drew his knife. He half expected it to be locked. The fact that it wasn't again made him wonder about the competence of his captors - or was it some kind of elaborate trap?

He pulled the door inwards, standing behind it. Nothing happened. Cautiously he moved around the door keeping his back to it and slowly looked left and right. The corridor was empty, but it was lined with doors that could lead to anything. He moved out into the corridor and flattened himself against the wall as he waited to see if there was any movement at all. He crossed the corridor and tried the handle of the door opposite, flattening himself against the wall again. It was locked.

As he moved down the corridor, ALL the doors seemed locked and there was no sound to be heard, not even his own footsteps. He knew how to move silently.

Finally, one door gave when he tested it. He held the knife ready again and slipped silently into the room, closing the door behind him. There was nobody in it. But to his relief, he saw it was some kind of clothing store. He felt vulnerable in his underpants and REALLY wanted to get dressed. He found a black t-shirt and jeans in his size and put them on, carefully, over his dressings. He replaced the webbing. On another rack he found a selection of shoes, including a pair of boots that made him feel at once himself again. Then he turned and saw, to his astonishment, his M16 assault rifle lying on a sideboard. How DUMB WERE these people? He picked it up and checked it over. It wasn't damaged. It was still loaded. Even the grenade launcher was primed ready to fire. He felt ready to take on anything now. He slung the rifle over his good shoulder, keeping hold of his knife.

He carefully exited the room. This was a big place and he was surprised he had not yet been challenged. Everything so far had been the exact opposite of what he had been trained to expect in such a situation. It seemed TOO easy. He reminded himself not to get careless as he moved slowly down the corridor again.

He didn't have his watch, so he didn't know how long he had been walking in these endless corridors. Finally, he turned a corner and saw a double door at the end of a short walk. The vibration seemed stronger here and he could hear voices beyond the door - male and female.

He stepped towards the door, listening carefully. He looked at it. It appeared to be two way. He pushed it slightly and it swung inwards a fraction. Looking through the gap he saw the four people he had seen earlier around some kind of machinery. He couldn't see much else but he had a feeling they were the only people in the room. Could they be the only people in the building? Again, the strangeness of the situation struck him and he again warned himself against complacency.

He sheathed his knife and unslung the M16. He braced it against his right shoulder, thankful it was his left that was damaged, although he felt the weight of it more than he used to even so. He kicked the doors open with his right foot and stepped through. The four people turned in shocked surprise to see him.

"Nobody move or I fire," he shouted at them.

"Terry, where the hell did you leave that gun?" Chrístõ asked.

"No talking. Get down on the floor, now."

Chrístõ looked at Lieutenant Thomlinson and weighed up the possibilities. He was quite capable of taking him down even armed as he was. He could get across the floor in a time fold and disarm him. But not without hurting him and risking that he might be able to fire first. He dropped to his knees, silently indicating to his friends to do the same.

"LIE DOWN," Sammie shouted at them. "Clasp your hands behind your head where I can see them." They obeyed. He approached cautiously and took four plasicuffs from his webbing and one by one, starting with the one in black who seemed to be the leader, he secured their hands behind their heads. He had no qualms about two of them being women. They were the enemy. He stood above the leader and placed the muzzle of his rifle against the back of his head.

"Who are you people, and what is this place?" he demanded.

Before Chrístõ could answer Terry spoke. "Chrístõ, don't tell him anything. This guy is a psycho."

Sammie couldn't believe it. One of them had just revealed the name of the other. He went over to the other man and kicked him hard in the ribs. "You speak when I speak to you." As the man curled up groaning he returned to the one called Chrístõ.

"I asked you a question. Who ARE you?"

"Chrístõdavõreendiamõndhærtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow" he said. "Of Gallifrey in the Kasterborus quadrant."

Sammie looked at him suspiciously. "What kind of name is that and where the hell is Gallifrey? Sounds Middle Eastern. Whose side are you on?"

"I'm not on anyone's side. I'm not part of your planetary wars. I'm not from Earth and we're not ON Earth."

"What kind of bull is this?" Sammie was starting to feel uneasy. These were NOT the sort of answers he was expecting. "Tell me the truth, now." He kicked out again, this time at Chrístõ.

"That is the truth," Chrístõ said. "I'm an alien from another planet. This is my spacecraft."

"Do you think I'm stupid? What is this? Bloody Star Trek?" He moved around to where the dark skinned girl was lying, sobbing quietly - not the kind of thing he expected from trained operatives. But he was not stupid enough to be taken in by tears from a girl. He pointed the gun at her head. "The truth now, or I blow her head off. You know I can."

"I am telling you the truth," Chrístõ said.

Sammie pushed the gun harder against the girl's head. She squealed loudly and her sobs echoed around the strange room. "The truth, NOW, or she dies."

"Look up at the viewscreen, you bloody psycho," Terry screamed. The Lieutenant ran back to him and kicked him in the head. Terry reeled dizzily but at least he wasn't pointing the gun at Cassie any more.

"Anyone else talk and they're dead." He said. He kicked at Chrístõ again. "The truth… NOW."

"Terry's right. LOOK at the viewscreen behind you."

Slowly, knowing that he had nothing to lose with his prisoners secure, he looked around and up at the viewscreen on the wall. "What the …."

His senses reeled as he saw a view of the Earth from outer space. Recovering his sense of reality, though, he told himself it was a trick, a video display.

And yet….

Too late he heard a sound behind him. He spun around to see Chrístõ standing there, broken plasicuffs hanging from his wrists. He barely saw him move before the M16 was wrenched from his hands. With swift movements Chrístõ removed the magazine and ejected the grenades from the launcher, cocked it back to expel the round that was in the breech and threw it across the room. It landed with a crunch against the bulkhead wall.

Sammie was too stunned to react for a moment. Then he tried to reach for his Browning but his hands felt like lead and he seemed to move as if in slow motion. The pain he had been holding back overwhelmed him and he blacked out, aware in the last seconds of consciousness of the man called Chrístõ catching him before he hit the ground.

 

Chrístõ laid him down on the ground gently and took the Lieutenant's combat knife from it's sheathe. He freed his friends from their plasicuffs then went back to the unconscious man.

"He's a bloody psycho," Terry said and aimed a kick at him but Chrístõ covered him.

"No," he said calmly and repeated what he had said before. "He is a good soldier doing what he was trained to do. He thinks WE are the enemy. And can you blame him for being confused." He lifted him and brought him to the cabin bed that Bo usually slept on. He checked his wounds to make sure he hadn't burst any stitches with his activity.

"Where DID you put the gun?" he asked Terry.

"In the wardrobe," Terry answered. "I thought that was safe."

Chrístõ smiled. The TARDIS would lock almost any door against intruders but for some reason it never locked the wardrobe. "Never mind," he said. He went and picked up the gun and its components and opened a cupboard beneath the console. He placed it inside along with the combat knife, webbing and Browning and closed it.

"He kicked me in the head," Terry protested. And Cassie, wrapping her arms around her lover, was not feeling any happier about their unwanted guest. Bo, though, went quietly to his side and put her hands on his forehead and slowly massaged the stress points until she felt his blackout turn into ordinary and much needed sleep.

"I don't think the Lieutenant is an ordinary soldier," Chrístõ said. "The way he handled himself, while fighting that much pain, he has to be Special Forces trained."

"Special Forces?" Terry asked.

"SAS probably," Chrístõ said. "They're the elite of the British Army. And they WERE active in the battle we found him in."

"SAS?" Terry whistled. "Bloody hell."

"So don't complain about being kicked in the head. Be glad you still HAVE a head." Chrístõ looked again at Bo, who was tending to the lieutenant. "When he wakes again we're going to have to persuade him that we're NOT the enemy."

"How?" Terry asked. "Seeing as I'm not sure we AREN'T the enemy."

"I thought you two were into brotherly love across the universe?" Chrístõ said. "Don't you have it in you to forgive an injured man who reacted the way he has been trained to act in a difficult situation."

"An SAS soldier, when all is said and done, is the opposite of all we believe in. And all YOU believe in, Chrístõ," Cassie said.

"Yes, I know." Chrístõ told her. "But beneath the soldier, beneath the training, he, too, is a Human being, worthy of our respect and love. As ALL Human beings are."

"Maybe," Cassie conceded. "But he WAS really nasty. He'd better apologise." Terry wasn't quite convinced.

"He owes US his life," he said. "And he behaves like that."

"Just give him a chance. Bo has." He went to the bed and touched Bo on the shoulder. She looked up at him and smiled then returned to her gentle caressing of the Lieutenant's face.

"He's not a bad man," Bo said. "I know bad men."

"Yes, you do, don't you, precious," Chrístõ said, kissing her cheek. "You take care of him. But let me know if he stirs. I don't want him to hurt you." He returned to the other two and he put his arms around them both. "Don't let us fall out over this. You ARE my dearest friends. But I feel we DO have to look after this man."

"I trust you, Chrístõ," Terry said. "I always have. Do what you feel is right."

 

It was several hours before the Lieutenant stirred again. Meantime a kind of peace came upon the TARDIS. Terry and Cassie sat together on the sofa and listened to Bob Dylan quietly playing on the CD player that was incorporated into the TARDIS's communications console. Chrístõ did mysterious things to the drive console. Cassie strongly suspected he was just pretending to be busy while he thought about what they should do next.

Bo never left the side of the stricken man. She bathed his face and changed his bandages, soothing his wounds with mysterious ointments of her own devising and she never ceased to gently touch and caress him.

It seemed impossible that he would be hostile when he woke. But his first reaction when consciousness returned was to grab at Bo's arm as she caressed him. His grip was vicelike, but calmly she flicked her wrist and he found his own arm flung back hard and pinned down.

"Don't do that again," Bo said curtly. "No man lays a hand on me without permission."

Chrístõ crossed the room in a moment.

"Stop fighting us," he said. "Or I will use one of several painful alien methods of restraining you until you realise we're NOT your enemy and only want to help you."

Sammie sighed and lay down on the pillow. He became aware of other things around him. Particularly the music. Bob Dylan?

"Ok, you can't possibly be Iraqis," he said. "Bob Dylan? They wouldn't understand the concept!"

"Well, about time you realised," Terry retorted from nearby.

Sammie struggled to sit up. Chrístõ looked at him suspiciously at first.

"Just help me sit up, please," he said. "I don't want to feel helpless on my back." And it was Bo who put her arms around his shoulders, wary of his wounds, and helped him to a sitting position. He looked around the console room. "That wasn't a dream. This really is a spaceship?"

"Yes," Chrístõ said.

"And you're really an alien."

"Yes."

"And you really look like that? You're not some green reptile inside or a grey thing, or a blob or something?"

Chrístõ laughed and remembered that the period he had plucked him from had some very odd things on television.

"I look like this. I do have a few fundamental differences to Humans, but they're not worth going into just now."

"OK….So how did I get here?"

"You fell in through the door," Chrístõ said. "I'm GUESSING that something went very badly wrong for you just at the moment when we turned up accidentally in the middle of your battle."

"I was on an intelligence gathering mission. There were four of us. We were lying in position observing the enemy troops movements when suddenly we found ourselves under artillery bombardment."

"Who from?" Terry asked.

Chrístõ laughed grimly. "Wasn't it in your war the phrase "friendly fire" became a byword."

"Just what I was thinking," Sammie said. "The Americans were in the area." He paused. "What about my comrades? Did they…?"

"I don't know," Chrístõ said. "We only found you."

"We were all running for our lives," Sammie said. "The others were behind me. I heard a shell land. I… I felt as if my back was on fire and I didn't even dare look behind. I think…" He paused and breathed heavily.

Chrístõ was maybe the only one who saw him blink several times - the same trick he used himself when he didn't want anyone to see his tears. "I think my comrades probably took a direct hit. They must be dead. I don't remember. All I know… I saw what looked like a cave in a rock formation and I dived for it." He looked around. "Later, you can explain how the hell this was in a cave…"

"Later you can work that out for yourself," Chrístõ replied.

"So, is Chrístõ right?" Cassie asked. "You're SAS?"

Sammie froze and stared at Chrístõ. "How did you know?" His voice had a suspicious edge again.

"Your fighting style. You're obviously one of the best."

Sammie allowed himself the ghost of a smile. "What, the SAS are known in the… what was it… quadrant of space?"

"I've spent a lot of time on Earth," Chrístõ told him. "You're my favourite species."

"Earth is the only place in the universe with rock music." Terry said.

Sammie laughed and then groaned. "Damn I forgot." He clutched his side. "Don't make me laugh or I'll kick you again."

"Don't try it," Terry said. "You may be SAS but I've been knocking about with an alien who knows five forms of martial arts."

"Hey!" Sammie looked at Terry and Cassie. "Look, I AM sorry. I thought you guys were some kind of… Well, I'm not sure what I thought. But this place is enough to freak anyone out."

"It's not as scary as it looks when you get used to it," Cassie assured him. "It's been our home for ages now."

"Funny kind of home - a cave in space." He winced again at the wound in his side, the deepest and the one giving him the most trouble. "Who stitched me up, anyway?"

"I did," Chrístõ admitted.

"Are you a doctor then? You look way too young."

"I'm 191," he said with a smile. "Though, yes, they don't USUALLY allow us to practice medicine until we graduate even on my planet."

Sammie gave up trying to work out if Chrístõ was on the level or not.

"Besides," Chrístõ went on. "It's Bo you really owe your life to. She gave you her blood."

Sammie looked at the Chinese girl who sat by his side still. He reached to her but she stayed his arm with another painful hold.

"Its ok, Bo," Chrístõ said. "He's not going to hurt you. You said yourself he's not a bad man."

"If I hug you, will you promise not to break my arm?" Sammie asked her. She smiled and nodded. He put his good arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you for my life," he said. "And for being the first beautiful thing I saw when I woke. And I am sorry for being a complete prat."

She responded with a remark in Mandarin that made Chrístõ laugh but he refused to translate it.

"So what happens now?" he asked as he lay back on the bed and Bo attended to his side, which was bleeding slightly. "Can you get me back to where you found me."

"No," Chrístõ told him. "We were there by accident. I put the wrong co-ordinate in the space-time drive and there is no way I can repeat what I did exactly. Besides, I can't take you back to certain death."

"I can't just abandon my oppo's."

"From what you said, I don't think they had a chance anyway," Chrístõ said. "I'm sorry for that. But there really wouldn't be any sense in going back there."

"They'll think I deserted." Sammie said. "I lived for the Regiment. And they'll think I've dishonoured them."

"I'm sorry about that, too," Chrístõ assured him. "I come from a society that places great value on honour and loyalty. I understand your feeling. But I really can't do anything. At least be thankful for your life."

"I am," Sammie said. "I just wonder what my life IS, now."

If he was uncertain then, it was not made any easier for him a week later. With his wounds beginning to heal, under the constant ministrations of Bo, Sammie asked Chrístõ to take him home. Which he was more than willing to do.

Home, for Sammie, was the town of Wigan, in Lancashire. They arrived there in late August of 1991. Chrístõ apologised for being a bit out in his calculations. He thought the navigation was a bit out since the artillery hit it.

The TARDIS had disguised itself as a white transit van parked on the edge of the council estate that Sammie called home. The symbol adorned the side. Chrístõ, Terry, Cassie and Bo walked with him. But when they reached the house it was boarded up and empty. He looked at it for a moment in despair then went to the house next door. He spoke for a few minutes with the woman there then came down the path slowly, looking paler than he had when he had been near death in Chrístõ's operating theatre.

"My mum is dead," he said in a shaking voice. "She was knocked down by a bus… about two days before… She was already dead when you guys found me. They didn't know where to find me to tell me the news because I was on special ops."

Cassie, who had not quite forgiven Sammie for the things he had done to her and Terry, nevertheless at that moment reached out with compassion to him. Bo, also, put her arms around him.

Nor did things get any better for Sammie. He asked Chrístõ to take him to the place where Wigan had its war memorial. One of the men who died in the battle he escaped from was from the same town. He wanted to pay his respects. They all gathered by the big memorial to two world wars and several smaller ones - the newest plaque being for those of the town who had fallen in the Gulf war that year.

"Oh no!" Bo exclaimed softly as they looked at the plaque. She clutched Sammie's hand as he read it and gave a strangled cry.

"They think I'm dead," he said. Everyone looked down at the name on the memorial. Lieutenant Samuel (Sammie) Thomlinson, Special Air Services - Died, February 3rd, 1991. His name appeared beneath that of his comrade.

"If the TARDIS hadn't been there, you would have been," Terry said. "You've been handed a second chance at life. Grab it with both hands."

"You don't understand," Sammie said. "I'm SAS. If you're in THAT regiment then there is no other life. You're SAS or you're dead. I have no family, I have no regiment. Where do I go? What am I?"

"You're one of us," Cassie said, touching his arm. "Come with us in the TARDIS. Some of the things we've seen and done, the places we've been - we could use a man like you." She looked at Chrístõ hoping he would confirm the invitation. It was HIS TARDIS after all. For one heart-stopping moment she thought he might say no. But she noticed he wasn't looking at her or at Sammie, but at Bo, who had put her hand in Sammie's.

"Sammie," he said. "Give me your hand a moment." Sammie looked startled but did as he said. Chrístõ held his hand tightly and seemed to be concentrating really hard. Cassie and Terry both knew what he was doing. He was trying to read Sammie's timeline in the way that he had done to them when they first met. But they knew that it was hard to do once a person had travelled in the TARDIS. It scrambled their patterns. Even so, he seemed determined to piece together Sammie's future. After what seemed a painful age he let go of his hand and smiled widely.

"Sammie, you DO have a future. You DO have a life. And it begins from today with US in the TARDIS. Where it ends…" Chrístõ smiled again. "Well… I can't tell you that. A man should not know too much about his own destiny. But it's worth it."

"Stay with you guys?" Sammie looked at Chrístõ, and at Bo, standing by his side, and the other two, the sixties flower children who were everything he was not, with whom he had got off on the worst possible start. But now THEY were offering him… well… LIFE. Because it was true - he WAS dead to the world. He would have been but for their spaceship. Not being in the SAS anymore was a hard wrench for him. His heart, his head, his body ached with misery at that. But he didn't WANT to be blown apart by "friendly fire" in Kuwait. And if he was going to live, the only friends he had were these people who had been strangers to him a week ago. Everyone else thought he was dead. And if he did turn up alive, they'd think him a deserter. Let them think him dead rather than dishonoured. He turned around and looked at the white transit van that was nothing of the kind inside.

Chrístõ didn't say anything. He knew Sammie was going to accept. He knew something else, too. He looked at Bo, hand in hand with Sammie, hoping more than any of them he would say yes. He remembered Li Tuo's prophecy.

"Your destiny is to love her for a little while, to show her that men's love CAN be trusted, to mend her broken heart, her wounded spirit. But I see you giving her up to another after that."

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