"Wow," Terry murmured in awe as he looked at the eighth wonder of the world, the Crystal Palace in its second home at Sydenham Hill. It was a fine spring afternoon, April 25th, 1873 and as a seasoned time traveller now that fact did not bother him as much as it might have done once. Even so, standing there looking at something that Londoners of his generation had only seen in pictures stunned him.

"Wow is the word," Cassie said, taking his hand. "It's so much bigger than I thought it would be."

"It is beautiful," Bo said, her eyes shining.

Sammie said nothing. This was HIS first visit to the past and between coming to terms with that and the uncomfortable Victorian clothing he was dressed in he was in serious culture shock. Bo smiled at Chrístõ and looked meaningfully at their new companion. Chrístõ nodded and she went to Sammie's side, taking his hand.

Sammie looked around at Bo and his bemused look turned to a warm smile. She looked beautiful, he thought. He wasn't especially educated in historical fashions, but the pale blue dress looked good on her. It had an almost sculptured bodice, fitting every curve, leaving nothing to the imagination, but covering it all demurely. It was tight at her waist, which Sammie had to resist the urge to put his hands around, then a full skirt fell to her feet.

He was a soldier. He was used to barrack rooms with page three pinups in lockers. So why was it that the sight of two delicate feet in blue satin shoes peeping from under that skirt excited him? He looked up at her face, her hair done up in an elaborate topknot decorated with blue feathers that matched the dress. Her delicate oriental face was lightly made up and when she smiled at him Sammie's heart flipped. He reminded himself that this lovely creature was a Shaolin master who could break him in half with her bare hands if he made the wrong move - and that Chrístõ was her man.

Yet the way she put her hand in his, he wasn't entirely sure of that. And he wasn't entirely sure of his own responses to her. He decided to play safe.

"The Crystal Palace?" he said looking at it again. "In my time that would be a first division football team."

"They don't exist yet," Chrístõ said. "Later this century they start playing matches on the sports field over there before getting their own stadium a mile south of here."

"Selhurst Park," Terry said.

"You a supporter of Palace?" Sammie asked Terry. One subject he figured he COULD talk to somebody who came from 1969 about.

"Chelsea," Terry answered. "The Blues."

"Wigan Athletic," Sammie admitted with a grin. "I know they're nothing special. Most people I know support Liverpool or Manchester United. But they're my local team."

Sammie and Terry both looked at Chrístõ. WHAT football team, if any, would a man who was born on the other side of the galaxy support? They looked at each other and grinned as they both realised how absurd the question was. But Chrístõ surprised them both by having an answer to them after all.

"Preston North End," he said. "Up the Lilywhites."

"Up the Blues," Terry said. "Champions of England, 2005!" he added proudly. Sammie looked surprised at that comment at first, then remembered they were in the company of a time traveller.

"Don't suppose you could make any predictions about Wigan Athletic?" Sammie asked Chrístõ.

"Not telling," he said with a grin. "Terry only knows because we visited 2005 a couple of weeks ago."

Bo and Cassie shared smiles of resignation as their men carried on talking about football. For Bo, born long before the football league existed, the whole conversation was bewildering. For Cassie it was just boring.

"Chrístõ!" An excited female voice broke into the masculine conversation. Chrístõ turned and his companions all noticed how his already pale complexion seemed to take on a new whiteness for a moment and then flush pink as he recognised the woman who had spoken his name.

"Elizabeth," he answered in an oddly choked voice. The woman stepped closer. Chrístõ swallowed hard as he looked at her. She was older. Eight years older. She still looked beautiful, but in a strong, capable way.

"Chrístõ," she said, reaching and taking his hand in her gloved one. "I never thought to see you again. You…. you haven't changed a bit." That puzzled her. She was in her thirties now, but he still looked no more than twenty. "Oh…" she remembered. "That's because you're…."

"Whatever I am," Chrístõ said. "I hope I shall ALWAYS be your friend, Elizabeth." He turned to his companions and introduced her to them. "This is Elizabeth Garret - Doctor Elizabeth Garret Anderson as she is now. A dear friend of mine. We went through three years of medical studies together."

Terry looked at the way Elizabeth was blushing and the look in Chrístõ's eyes and judged that they went through considerably more than that. He didn't have any personal experience of old flames turning up. Cassie had been the only girl for him since they were both thirteen and stole a kiss in the park on their way home from school. But he recognised the look. Chrístõ had once LOVED this woman.

Sammie got that impression too. And he was dubious. He'd seen PLENTY of reunions between old flames. And most of them went badly.

Bo and Cassie both looked at Elizabeth. Married woman she may be, but seeing Chrístõ again had put a sparkle in her eye. Cassie thought she could understand that. As much as she loved Terry, Chrístõ took her breath away when he looked her way. He probably didn't even KNOW the effect he had on women. The things he had said about his homeworld and the very staid attitude to romance and love there, he would probably be shocked to discover that in any Earth period, regardless of changing fashions and tastes, he was attractive to females.

"Are you here to view the Palace?" Elizabeth asked. "It is marvellous, isn't it?"

"It's fantastic," Chrístõ agreed. "And yes, we were about to go inside."

"May I join you?" she asked, suddenly nervous. Even for a modern woman it was a forward thing to do. "I walked up here by myself, thinking I wanted solitude. But I never expected…. You are the last person on Earth I thought to meet."

"Please," Chrístõ said, offering her his arm in the formal way. Terry took Cassie's arm in the same way and he noticed that Bo linked her arm with Sammie's. Sammie looked surprised at that, but seemed to resign himself to the situation. Chrístõ smiled. Since he had seen them together in Sammie's timeline he had wondered how the translation of her deep, sweet affection was going to be accomplished. Maybe it wouldn't be as difficult as he thought.

Even for Chrístõ, who had seen the wonders of the universe, who WAS one of the wonders of the universe in many ways, the Crystal Palace was a joy. The sheer genius of the design impressed him. It reminded him of what he most admired about Humans, their limitless imagination and unbounded determination to make their dreams reality.

Afterwards they ate lunch in the Crystal Palace restaurant. Cassie beside Terry, Bo next to Sammie, Elizabeth at Chrístõ's side. Cassie thought they looked, to any outsider, like three couples. But Elizabeth was a married woman, and Bo was supposed to love Chrístõ to the end of the universe. How had things become so mixed up?

And why did it not seem wrong?

Elizabeth was fascinated to discover all about Chrístõ's friends, and where and when they came from. She had one question for him though. And it was a painful one.

"Why could I not come with you as these friends have? Why did you leave me, Chrístõ?"

"Because your future was written," he said. "You had to become the first woman doctor in Britain and establish hospitals that would make women's health a primary concern. And you had to marry Mr. Anderson, not me." He looked away from her momentarily. "I loved you, Elizabeth, but I should not have loved you. I knew that you were destined for those things. But I thought I could change history. I thought I could marry you instead of him. But I was so very, very wrong. I could have caused ripples in time that would have reverberated for centuries and then re-echoed and returned so hard that they would destroy this planet. All for my own selfish desire to possess you."

"Crikey," Terry said. "Really?"

"Yes," Chrístõ said. "And besides, once Elizabeth knew what I was - I could not stay. It is against the Laws of Time to reveal the existence of time and space travel in any place where the possibility of life beyond the planet has not been acknowledged. You three all come from the space age. You were all ok. Bo… I had no choice. I had to bring her. She is a rare exception. But Elizabeth…" He turned to her. "I could not take you, Elizabeth. You belong here. And… You ARE happy, I know you are. I've followed your career. You've already done great things. Your New Hospital for Women in Euston…"

"Oh." Elizabeth smiled through the tears that had softly fallen down her cheeks. "Oh, Chrístõ, that was sweet of you. Yes, we've been open for a year. It's a great success. I hope you can come and see what we've done."

"I'd be glad to," he told her, quite genuinely. Although she was the last person he had hoped to see in London in 1873, the reunion was not so painful as he had expected. No, that wasn't quite true. It WAS painful. But it was a cathartic kind of pain, washing the open wound of their sudden parting.

He looked around the table. His eyes stopped on Bo, who was looking at Sammie as he told her something in a low voice. He could easily have listened to the conversation, but he had no need to do that other than for mere prurience. That they were becoming friends was a good thing, though. He told himself that and he made himself believe it.

 

They decided to go to Elizabeth's hospital after lunch. They took a hackney carriage from Sydenham to Euston. It was an odd journey for Chrístõ. He had lived for three years in Victorian London, and it was almost a homecoming for him. He glanced up as they passed the house in Charing Cross where he had lived all that time. He wondered how the empty space he left when his TARDIS dematerialised was ever explained. Even Time Lords go forward in their personal time, even though they could choose what actual time they wanted to be in. This was his past now. Nearly eight months had gone for him and eight years for Elizabeth.

The work she had achieved in those eight years was impressive. The New Hospital was for its time at the leading edge of healthcare. The very idea that women had special needs besides those of men was in itself innovative. That so many women were employed in the hospital was another bold move.

Cassie had been impressed, and a little in awe ever since Chrístõ introduced Elizabeth to them. She was a LEGEND, after all. One of the 'great pioneering women' that feminists of Cassie's decade held up as examples to emulate. To MEET her was awesome. To realise that Chrístõ was actually in love with her once, was something of a shock. But an amazing one at that.

They were taking tea in her private office on the middle floor of the hospital when Elizabeth was alerted to a problem in one of the wards.

"We have a very strange patient," the nurse said. "Screaming the place down in a language nobody understands. Ma'am, I think you ought to come take a look."

Elizabeth said she would come right away. She looked at Chrístõ and asked him if he would join her. "You ARE a doctor after all. You took the same course as I did and you worked in the Free Hospital with me."

Chrístõ nodded. "Might be able to help with the strange language, too. I know a couple of exotic ones."

His friends laughed at that. Five billion was the number of languages Chrístõ claimed to know. They were burning with curiosity to know if the mysterious patient spoke a language he would NOT know, and although not invited, followed behind.

When they reached the ward it was in uproar. Elizabeth had a hard time calming down the duty nurses before she was able to ask where the strange patient was.

"Outside the window," one of them stammered. Elizabeth gave a shriek of horror and ran to the open window at the end of the ward. She looked out and found her patient standing on the narrow ledge outside.

"Please come inside," she said to the woman. "You'll be hurt if you fall." That was an understatement. She would be killed if she fell, and with her the unborn child that was plain to be seen under the simple cotton shift the woman was wearing.

The reply was clearly frightened, but in no language Elizabeth had ever heard. Chrístõ, though, jerked his head in surprise when he heard it and he tapped Elizabeth on the shoulder.

"I can talk to her," he said. "Let me." Elizabeth moved away and Chrístõ sat in the window casement and spoke to the woman in the language she had been speaking. They all listened as they heard her hesitant reply. Then Chrístõ swung his legs up and out of the window. Bo and Cassie both gasped in horror. Elizabeth, too murmured in consternation as he climbed out onto the narrow parapet. Sammie stepped forward to the window and looked out at him.

"Its ok," Chrístõ said to him. "She's just frightened and alone. I'm trying to get her to come inside now." He turned to the woman and spoke to her again. This time her response sounded much more positive. Chrístõ reached out his hand to her and she took it. Slowly he edged back towards the window. Sammie reached a steadying hand to him as he climbed back in through the window and they both helped the woman to clamber to safety.

"We need a private room," Chrístõ said in his authoritative way that had the nurses scurrying to do his bidding. Christo took the woman by her arm and brought her to the room just off the main ward. He laid her down on the bed and spoke to her again in her own language.

"She's afraid because her husband is missing and it is very close to the birth of their child," Chrístõ said. "Which, by the way, you're going to need me for."

"Why? Elizabeth asked.

"Because this woman is from Dephia Roncxio, and she is not having a baby as such but an egg."

"What!" Elizabeth looked at Chrístõ in alarm. "Where is…."

"Dephia Roncxio," Chrístõ repeated. "It's in the Kappa sector of the Omikronos quadrant. Second left from the constellation of Orion on a clear night in February."

"She's a being from another planet," Elizabeth said. "Like you?"

"Not physically," Chrístõ said. "But yes, I am also a being from another planet."

"Do you - do your people - lay eggs?"

"No, they don't," Chrístõ replied shortly to her. "Neither do Dephians. They simply give birth to an egg, which immediately breaks open and the child is born. And it happens under water, by the way, so you need to get a warm bath drawn ready when the time comes." He examined the woman quickly. "You've got a day, maybe, before she's ready. Keep her in here, under close watch. She's very disturbed."

The woman screamed and said something else. Chrístõ replied to her and she calmed down a little. He tucked the blankets around her gently and laid his hand on her forehead, calming her with his touch and telepathic waves of calmness and tranquillity.

"Her name is Zephra. Her husband is Callapha. They have only recently arrived on Earth," Chrístõ said as he turned away from her. "Callapha speaks some English that he managed to learn, but only a little. She has no Earth languages at all. They ran away from Dephia because they married outside of their caste. She is of higher birth than her husband and she would not take a second husband of her own caste and abandon the child they were expecting as an illegitimate."

Chrístõ looked bitter as he spoke. "Their laws of succession are even more unbending than those of my planet." He went out into the corridor and took out his TARDIS key. The companions looked on in curiosity but little surprise as they heard a familiar sound and saw a door marked 'linen' appear where there was only blank wall. Elizabeth looked disturbed by the apparition but all things considered, not as surprised as she might have been if she did not already know Chrístõ. He smiled and unlocked the door. She followed him and his companions through it.

"What is this place?" Elizabeth asked as she looked around the TARDIS console room.

"My time and space travelling ship," Chrístõ told her. "You've been in here before, actually. But then it was disguised as a squalid little room in a Charing Cross boarding house."

"Oh!" Elizabeth's eyes widened. "Chrístõ… this is…. This is almost too much to believe. If I didn't know…" She remembered the last time they had been together. He had bled orange blood until the wound repaired itself before her eyes. Then he had held her in his arms and she had felt two hearts beating in his chest. Chrístõ WAS an alien being from another planet. And his ship was alien. If she believed the one fact, the other went with it.

"What are you doing?" she asked as Chrístõ went to the strange mechanical contraption in the centre of the room and began pressing buttons on it.

"I'm programming the life support console to scan for non-Human life forms in the immediate area."

"Oh." Of that sentence only the words "immediate area" made any sense to her.

"He's looking for her husband," Bo told her. "None of us really understand this…. this miracle." Her hand swept around the whole great room to indicate that she, too, found it amazing. "But it is best not to question miracles."

"Chrístõ IS a miracle," Elizabeth said.

"He is to me," Bo said in a quiet voice. Elizabeth looked at her and recognised in her soft oriental eyes something familiar.

"You love him."

"He is my saviour. I would be dead - or worse than dead - without him. All I am…I am because of him." She looked at Chrístõ and smiled. "I love him. Until the waters of the Earth run dry I love him. But he says we are not meant to be joined as one. So I love him as a friend."

"Come and look," Chrístõ said to Elizabeth and held out his hand to her. She and Bo both came to his side. To them both the very idea of computers was fantastic. A computer that could recognise life was nothing short of miraculous. "See… This is the hospital. And all the people in it. The blue shapes moving about. This is me. I'm part Human, so I appear as a brighter shade of blue. This is your patient. She appears pale red because she comes from a completely different evolutionary pattern to Humans."

"Evolution…" Elizabeth looked at him. "That… you believe it is true… What Mr Darwin said in his book."

"What year was that?" Chrístõ asked absently. "Descent of Man, 1871. This is 1873." He smiled. "It's practically a stoning offence to speak of 'evolution' in these times. But Elizabeth, yes, it is true. Mankind, Humanity, IS descended from apes. Your mysterious patient is from a world where the dominant life form is descended from an amphibious creature that never existed here, that gives birth to its young underwater in an egg. Mr. Darwin was right about many things. One of them was that life exists in infinite variety. He only missed one vital point - that life exists far beyond this one planet."

"But… then… does God… Does He have nothing to do with it?"

"I would not dare to say He does not." Chrístõ said. "For Humans He does. Where I come from, we have no Gods. But we're unique among the infinite variety of the universe in that. Who's to say we're right and everyone else wrong?" Chrístõ punched more buttons as he spoke and the representation on the screen showed the whole of the Euston to Charing Cross area of London. Hundreds of pale blue life-signs were there. And Elizabeth was startled to see some of other colours.

"Those are non-Humans?" she asked.

"Earth has long been a refuge for people of other worlds who sought escape from persecution or disaster. It is peaceful here. And if they live quietly and don't draw attention to themselves they live in peace. As I did for three wonderful years."

"I knew you were odd, Chrístõ," Elizabeth said. "But I never dreamt…"

"That I was from another planet?"

"Why is it so hard for you to believe?" Cassie asked. "I believed him the first moment he told me."

"So did I," Terry said. "He comes from a world that orbits the star in the middle of the bowstring of Sagittarius. That was the first thing either of us knew about Chrístõ. And we believed him."

Sammie looked at the two sixties flower children and at Chrístõ. He had been a lot harder to convince. But then he had been trained not to believe anything of anybody. He still had moments of doubt each morning waking in the bedroom allocated to him, feeling the faint vibration of the TARDIS's engines and wondering how he even came to be alive, let alone travelling in time and space with a man from another planet. Miracle was not a word used often in the Special Forces. But it was about the only one that described it.

"Ahah!" Chrístõ cried out in triumph. "THERE. The species match to your patient, Elizabeth."

Elizabeth looked and there was, indeed, a pale red among the pale blues in one busy section of the glowing screen.

She understood maps, if she didn't understand anything else. "That's Shoreditch, about a mile from here. But… I think he's at the police station. I know the place. I've had to go there sometimes to treat female prisoners who are ill in custody."

"Ok, let's go get our man," Sammie said. Chrístõ looked up at him and smiled.

"I intend to. But get that look off your face. There's a time and a place for you and your grenade launcher. But this isn't it."

Sammie grinned. "When the time and place presents itself, you'll not find me wanting," he promised.

"I know," Chrístõ told him. Then he called Terry to man the navigation control and told Elizabeth to keep an eye on the lifesigns detector as he programmed a short hop to Shoreditch. Elizabeth looked startled as the TARDIS roared into life in its dramatic way and stood away from the central console. Bo took her hand reassuringly.

"The TARDIS is our friend, too," she said. "It won't harm any of us."

The calculation was well done. They emerged from the TARDIS onto a street in central London. Everyone but Elizabeth turned to see what it had disguised itself as. A hackney cab without a horse was certainly not going to draw attention or attract any potential passengers. It would be safe for a short while.

"You'd better let me do the talking," Elizabeth said as they turned towards the building with the blue lamp over the door that denoted a police station. "They know me." Chrístõ acknowledged that and walked with her, the others coming along behind out of sheer curiosity.

"Good afternoon," she said to the duty sergeant at the desk. "I wonder if you could help me. I think you may have a gentleman in your custody who speaks only a little English and may be in some distress."

"There's a right rum character we have, right enough," the sergeant said. "But I'm not sure if a lady like yourself ought to be having dealings with his sort."

"What was he arrested for?" Chrístõ asked and the sergeant looked at him and blinked. The man in front of him - youth even - looked hardly old enough to be a raw recruit in the force. Yet he spoke in the same authoritative tone as the chief inspector.

"Vagrancy, it says here." The sergeant read from the big ledger. "Apparently he was wandering about talking in his foreign lingo."

"And it's an arrestable offence to not speak English these days is it?" Chrístõ asked. "I'd like to see this man."

"Right you are, Sir," the sergeant said. "But… best just yourself. It's no place for ladies down in our cells."

"I have seen your cells," Elizabeth said. "There is nothing there to surprise me."

"It might be best," Chrístõ said calmly. "Vagrancy? So he had no money or means of support?"

"Not that I know, and it says here all he had in his pockets were two stale bread rolls. Like as not they were stolen."

"Terry, you still have the 'insurance' I gave you?" Terry nodded. He knew Chrístõ meant the bag of Gallifreyan diamonds he had entrusted him with. "Elizabeth, do you know a reputable jeweller between here and Euston where a fair price would be given for two or three good quality diamonds?" Elizabeth said she did. "Well, Sammie, you're protection detail for the ladies and for the money. It's a nice afternoon for a walk. I'll see you all back at the hospital." Nobody thought to question his instructions, least of all Sammie. Obeying orders immediately was ingrained in him.

"Now, if you please, the prisoner." He turned back to the duty sergeant who was already finding the keys to the cells on the rack and calling up a constable from the rest room to take over the front desk.

The cells were dark and dismal, being badly lit and in the basement, but dry and clean. Chrístõ could see that the efforts at reform of such establishments in this time were starting to show in that way. The prisoner he wanted to see was in the end cell of a block. The sergeant opened the door and the man backed away fearfully. Chrístõ stepped inside and the man began screaming in fear.

"Foreign lingo," the sergeant said. "I ask you." But Chrístõ ignored him and spoke to the man quietly in the 'foreign lingo' which was even more 'foreign' than the sergeant could even begin to imagine.

The man looked surprised when Chrístõ spoke his name and then began talking to him in his own language. He was clearly relieved when Chrístõ told him his wife was safe in the New Hospital AND that he knew of her 'special' birth needs and was making arrangements. But he was despairing of his own case. He did not know what he was in the prison for. He was convinced it was something to do with their escape from Dephia. Chrístõ assured him it was not. But there was a deep fear in Callapha of Dephia's eyes as he looked past Chrístõ at the sergeant.

"Vagrancy?" Chrístõ turned to the sergeant. "Is that ALL?"

"Says so in the book."

"I'm here to help this man," Chrístõ said standing tall. "Release him to my cognisance and I will ensure he is housed properly and will no longer be a police matter."

Again the sergeant had the strangest feeling that though being spoken to by a mere youth, he had some sort of authority over him. Besides, he was clearly a gentleman, by his dress and his bearing. And if he wanted to take a philanthropic interest in a vagrant then it was his business.

But rules were rules.

"He's to go before the magistrate tomorrow," the sergeant said. "I dare say you could put up a surety for him then. And it would be all fine. But I couldn't just release him to you just like that."

"Of course not," Chrístõ said with a smile. "I shall do that, then." Except tomorrow may be too late. The man needed to be with his wife. Chrístõ had some idea of the Dephian birthing process, but really she needed her husband with her, one of her own species. He reached in his pocket and took out his sonic screwdriver. He adjusted it and held it up and made a note of the readout. Then put it away. He put his hand on Calapha's shoulder and promised him he would be back to get him VERY soon. Calapha nodded. He trusted him. He had no reason to, except that, of all the teeming millions on Earth, Chrístõ spoke his language and knew of his race, but he did.

Chrístõ left the police station and walked down the road to the TARDIS. It was still standing on the roadside, a hackney without a horse in the traces. No interest to anyone. He climbed inside and went to the console. The lifesigns monitor showed Calapha sitting quietly in his cell. He programmed the co-ordinate for that cell, and hoped just for once it would work as a one man operation and not land him in another galaxy.

It worked. Chrístõ smiled as the prison bench, with Calapha sitting on it, materialised inside the TARDIS. Calapha looked up in surprise and blinked at the sudden bright light of the console room.

"Liberation, my friend," Chrístõ said to him. "Lets go find your Zephyra, now."

 

His friends were all waiting in the corridor on the second floor of the New Hospital when he returned the TARDIS to the exact same place as before. When he stepped out they all started to talk at once, and a name was mentioned that turned his hearts to lead.

"One at a time," he protested. "Terry… Did you get the money?"

"Yes," he said, pulling a money bag from his pocket. "But Chrístõ… We saw Epsilon. He was walking down the street. He actually passed us as we came out of the jewellers."

"Are you sure it was him?" Chrístõ looked worried.

"It was him." Bo spoke with a hard edge to her voice. "I should have killed him when I had the chance"

"I didn't see another Time Lord signature on the lifesigns monitor," Chrístõ mused. "You COULD have been mistaken. Though I wasn't really looking for my own species. I might have missed…."

"It was HIM," Cassie insisted.

"Did he recognise you?"

"Sammie and Elizabeth were in front," Terry said. "He doesn't know them. And he wasn't really looking anyway. He seemed intent on something else. It WAS him."

"I believe you," he said. "All of you. Elizabeth, if YOU ever see that man again, turn the other way and look for a policeman. Say he tried to grab your purse, anything to get up a hue and cry and drive him off. There's no need for you to know details, but he's trouble. Big trouble. Sammie… You'd be trained at recognising characters like him even from a quick glance?"

"I got a fairly good look at the bloke. I'd know him again."

"When you DO, it MAY well be time to use that grenade launcher. Stay alert. Meanwhile…"

Calapha suddenly uttered a cry. For the moment, with the thought of Epsilon in the vicinity, Chrístõ had forgotten him.

"Zephyra… she is in pain. It is time…"

"Elizabeth," Chrístõ said. "This is between me and you and him. Sammie, you guard the door and keep everyone out. You three…. Wish me luck. I've never been midwife to a Dephian before."

 

"It WAS Epsilon," Bo said again as they waited in the corridor.

"When he said trouble…." Sammie asked as he stood against the door to the private room looking fiercely at any member of the hospital staff who passed by.

"He committed a murder and had Chrístõ framed for it," Cassie said. "And tried to rape Bo."

"He would have died first," Bo said fiercely. Sammie looked at her and smiled. She looked so sweet and delicate, yet he knew already that a strength lay beneath that delicacy that a military man like him could appreciate. Even so, his first instinct towards her was protective. The likes of this Epsilon would have to go through him first before he got near her to try that again. Yes, he had been trained to recognise people he saw only briefly. And that face was fixed in his mind now. If he saw him again….

"Wonder what's happening in there," Terry said, wanting to change the subject. Epsilon scared him. He didn't want to admit it, but he felt pretty useless against him. Chrístõ had his martial arts. Sammie had his gun. He had a bit of school gym boxing and he wasn't even very good at that. If he had to protect Cassie, he would fight to the death, but he rather feared it would be HIS death.

"She's giving birth to an EGG, under water…" Cassie said.

"I'm sure she'll be fine," Bo said. "Chrístõ is with her."

"Does Chrístõ know anything about childbirth?"

"Is there anything Chrístõ DOESN'T know about?"

"If there is, it's not important," Sammie said. "Where DID you guys find him?"

"Sitting on a hill on the Isle of Wight looking for his homeworld among the stars," Terry said. "He took us on the journey of a lifetime that night and we're with him still. We should have gone back to university months ago, but we've learnt more with him than ANY book could teach us. I can't think of any good reason why we would want to leave him, now."

Cassie looked at the door Sammie was guarding. One day, she and Terry would have children. Chrístõ had foreseen it for them. And they would be Earth children, not space travellers. That, at least, would be a reason to put their feet back down on Earth for good. It would be the one reason worth saying goodbye to her beautiful alien.

 

The door opened. Chrístõ came out. He was wearing only a shirt, his jacket and waistcoat discarded and the shirt sleeves rolled up. His arms were damp looking. And he was smiling broadly while tears pricked his bright eyes.

"Life is beautiful," he said. He looked at Cassie and Bo. "If you girls want to go in and see the baby…" The look on both their faces showed they were more than eager. Sammie held the door and closed it again after them. "When I worked with Elizabeth at the Free Hospital there were always babies to deliver," he said. "But this is my first 'alien' baby." He grinned widely. "Bringing life into the world… any life… any world. There is nothing to beat it. Life… IS beautiful." And he actually did burst into tears. Terry and Sammie looked at each other and decided to leave him be for the moment.

When the emotional moment had passed he wiped his eyes and smiled again, then became suddenly serious. "I'm going to check the monitor. See if Epsilon is anywhere near here." He went to the TARDIS door. Terry, having nothing to do for the moment, followed.

"He has a TARDIS too?" Terry said. "So it could trace YOUR lifesign as easily as you can trace HIS."

"Yes," Chrístõ said. "But there's one thing he can't do." Chrístõ smiled. "When we were students, I designed a gadget - that would allow one TARDIS to detect the immediate presence of another. I haven't had the alert, so it must be a long way off."

"But then he can detect YOUR TARDIS?" Terry said.

"No. I designed a blocking mechanism. Which I never shared with anyone. MY TARDIS can't be detected by any Gallifreyan technology. Which means NO technology can detect it, seeing as we're the best. Outside of its protection, yes, he COULD spot my lifesign amongst the Humans of this planet. But all that tells him is that I'm here. And that shouldn't surprise him. He knows I visit this planet often. Anyway, there's no sign of him or his TARDIS in a good five mile radius so let's not worry about him for now." Chrístõ walked away from the console. "You got that money still? We need to give it to Calapha before we go."

"We're leaving?"

"If Eps is about, I think we'll get out of here. He'll get bored soon enough and find somewhere else to play."

He took the money bag from Terry and went back into the private room. Zephyra and Calapha, with their beautiful new baby, Human-looking at a glance, and only different in the most subtle ways on close study, were smiling widely. Bo and Cassie and Elizabeth looked on with the kind of smiles women always have in the presence of babies no matter if they are feminists or Shaolin warriors. He gave the money to Calapha and told him that Elizabeth would help him find good lodgings for his family, and possibly help him find some work. She promised to do her best. Then she asked him for a word in private and took him through to the bathroom where she had, half an hour before, witnessed something incredible to her experience as a doctor.

"They'll be fine," Chrístõ assured her. "The baby will develop just like a Human except a slightly lower body temperature. I'd be glad if you could keep an eye on them though. The language will be a problem until they are more confident with English."

"I'll do anything I can to help them," she promised. "But… That's not what I wanted you alone for right now. I wanted…" She paused and blushed. He understood. There was one thing they had left unfinished the last time they were together. "Chrístõ… please… Just once…" She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. He responded to her, putting his arms about her shoulders and kissing her as much as she kissed him, making the moment last as long as either of them dared. But when it was over, when they broke apart, both knew it was no more than a kiss between very good friends. They were both 'over' each other. Elizabeth was a married woman. Chrístõ was destined to marry another.

"I'll never forget you, Chrístõ," Elizabeth said.

"I'll always remember you, Elizabeth," Chrístõ promised. And he knew he would. The first woman he lost his hearts to would always mean something to him. As would his precious Bo when she, too, had gone her way. And the unknown woman who was his destined life companion… He would love her to the end of the universe.

"Goodbye, Chrístõ," she said as he went out of the room. She stayed where she was. She didn't want to see him leave. In the other room he kissed the baby and said goodbye to Zephyra and Calapha, wishing them the best of luck. Then he went out into the corridor where his friends waited. He knew they had all guessed what delayed him. He said nothing, but opened his arms wide and put them around the nearest two shoulders, Terry and Sammie as it happened. Cassie took Terry's hand and Bo slipped hers into Sammie's, and they hugged each other in friendship and love before they stepped into the TARDIS.

When Elizabeth came out a few minutes later the wall was blank once more. She felt a little sad that he was gone. But it was probably just as well. Life was far too complicated when he was around.

 

Down on the street, outside the New Hospital, Epsilon looked at the hand held life-sign monitor he had fabricated and saw the unique signature of the half-blood Time Lord disappear, along with four Human signs. Yes, he thought, Thete had done a good job on his blocking mechanism. He couldn't find the TARDIS even if he stood right next to it. But, having stolen his design years ago, neither could Thete find HIS. And the universe was not so big that they wouldn't run into each other again. Epsilon smiled malevolently and walked away. A few minutes later, another horseless hackney cab disappeared from the streets of London without anyone noticing its departure.