Chrístõ looked around the console room and smiled. Everyone seemed content. Sammie and Bo were relaxing after their morning workout in the dojo. Terry was talking with Penne, who had accepted the offer to return to his home planet by TARDIS, knowing that even if they took a few extra days to show him some of their favourite planets along the way he could still get home sooner than the interplanetary shuttle service could do. Even Humphrey was humming away to himself cheerfully in the specially darkened corner where he sat watching his friends.

Chrístõ looked around as Cassie came into the room. And there he noticed a jarring note. She looked pale and a little worried. He remembered that she hadn't eaten much breakfast and wondered if she was feeling ill.

As she sat on the sofa and idly picked up a book that Chrístõ was sure she was not really reading, Bo also looked at her. She watched for a little while and then she quietly came to Chrístõ and whispered a short but very clear message. What she said surprised him. Then on reflection he was surprised that he hadn't seen it before.

He went to where Cassie was sitting and raised her to her feet. He put one arm around her shoulders and hugged her, and as he did he pressed his other hand against her stomach through her simple cotton dress. He looked inside her. He found the eight week old spark of life within her and he touched it gently with his mind. It wasn't old enough yet to know of his presence, to be aware of anything, but it was alive. It was healthy. It was wonderful.

"Terry," he said, and Terry looked up from his discussion of Earth musical trends with a slightly bewildered Penne. "Congratulations."

"On what?" he asked.

"Cassie is the first Human to conceive on board a TARDIS. Possibly the first being of any kind."

Cassie gasped and clung to Chrístõ tightly. "You mean…" Her face lit up. "Oh, I thought I'd caught some horrible space bug. I was afraid to tell anyone."

"You're having a baby, Cassie," Chrístõ told her as he embraced her again and kissed her once on the lips before he gave her to her lover's arms. He hugged them both and withdrew. They both needed a moment. Bo came to him and took his hand silently. Her face was bright with pleasure, too, for her friend's happiness.

"This calls for a celebration," Penne exclaimed, shaking Terry's hand. "If we were home now I have some very fine champagne in my wine cellar."

Terry was still slightly stunned. But there was something else on his mind.

"This calls for a wedding," he said. "Cassie, my love, I should have married you ages ago." He looked troubled by it and Chrístõ realised that being flower-children who believe in free love was one thing, but being parents was another. And their conventional upbringing in 1960s England prevailed.

"Get Chrístõ to do it," Sammie said. "This is a ship, technically, and he's the captain - technically."

Chrístõ smiled at the idea but pointed out that it was, in fact, a myth that ships captains could perform marriages.

"Even so I would rather you did it than anyone else," Cassie told him. "Chrístõ, my beautiful alien, we're out in space. Earth rules don't count. Let's do it our own way." She looked at Terry. He smiled and nodded.

Bo went to Sammie's side. He looked at her. She looked at him. He whispered something to her and she nodded and smiled.

"Chrístõ," Sammie said. "Seeing as you're doing one wedding, any chance you could do two?"

"You're not…." Cassie began. Bo blushed and turned to Sammie, who put his arm around her.

"No, she's not, at least not yet," Sammie grinned. "But…. She's from 1845 and I'm supposed to be dead. How else could we be married?"

Chrístõ looked at the four of them. Cassie and Terry had loved each other long before he knew them. He had watched Bo and Sammie fall in love with each other in his presence. He loved all of them. He was thrilled to know that Cassie was going to have a baby, even though he could foresee complications to their companionship aboard the TARDIS.

A ceremony of their own devising, that joined the two couples WAS a wonderful idea. Even if it was nothing like the elaborate, twelve hour Alliance of Unity that took place on his homeworld, the wedding he expected to have when he finally found the woman he hoped to spend his eternity with.

"Its 9 o'clock by Human time," he said. "I'll conduct weddings in six hours time in the Cloister Room provided everyone knows what they want to say to each other." They all looked blank at him. "You all must have a declaration of intent - to say why you wish to be joined with your chosen one. It's how it is done on my planet. Only there the declarations are anything up to two hours long. If you want to keep them to a few minutes that would do."

"Oh, you mean in place of the traditional vows?" Terry said. "I get you." He grinned.

"Not going to be great poetry from me," Sammie admitted. "But I'll have a go."

"You'd better see what the wardrobe can throw together for wedding dresses," Chrístõ told the girls. And he smiled inscrutably and left them to it. There was one detail they had all forgotten and he knew how to provide it.

There were many doors that were locked to the Human companions aboard the TARDIS. One of them was what Chrístõ might have termed his 'lair' - a sort of study crossed with laboratory and workshop. It wasn't a room he used a lot, but it was there when he needed it.

The room also contained his vault. It didn't have a combination. The TARDIS knew him and opened the door as he approached it. He took a cloth bag from a shelf and closed the door again. It clicked shut in a very definite way.

He brought the bag to the workbench where he put on a pair of protective glasses. He lit a hot Bunsen burner flame and placed a crucible over it. Into that he poured a measure of the pure gold dust that was contained in the bag. Gallifreyan gold, he thought with a smile. Specifically from the gold mines of the Lœngbærrow estate, the source of his family's wealth. A piece of home. While it melted over the heat, he prepared moulds in a tray of fine sand. Ring moulds. Knowing exactly what sizes were needed was an indefinable instinct. He poured the gold into the moulds and then gently blew on them with breath carefully reduced in temperature to help the pure gold to cool and set. It took half an hour of careful blowing to make them hard enough and cool enough to lift from the mould. Then he put them one by one onto the tapered metal holder and began to file away the rough edges and add the detail to the four wedding rings. It was a patient job. Chrístõ was known by his teachers to have no patience. He had taught himself the craft of ring-making in order to learn patience.

"Hey," Penne slipped into the room. Chrístõ looked up at him in surprise. He thought the door was secure. Did the TARDIS have as much trouble telling them apart as anyone else? Surely the TARDIS knew him at DNA level. But nonetheless it had admitted him to his lair.

"Here," he said passing him a pair of goggles. "Put these on if you're staying. You don't want metal filings in your eyes." Penne put the goggles on and quietly watched as Chrístõ worked on the rings, inscribing each one on the inside with an engraving tool.

"My haven, shield and shelter?" Penne read. "Pretty words."

"They're from the Alliance of Unity ceremony," Chrístõ said. "Twelve hours of memorised vows of intent and promises of honour and fidelity to each other. Three hours of the bride's mother vowing loyalty to the groom. It's a long ceremony. But very beautiful, very solemn, and utterly binding. We marry for life."

Chrístõ remembered that the last Alliance of Unity he attended was when his father was joined with Valena. He had not found that especially beautiful. He had been required to attend the ceremony, but had found a way to disappear from the reception afterwards as quickly as possible. It had been an uncomfortable and difficult day that he would rather forget. Except he couldn't. Gallifreyans DID marry for life. There was no undoing it. And with Valena expecting a child now, that relationship was even further compounded.

"I suppose you've never heard the ceremony performed?" He asked Penne if only to move on from those thoughts.

"I know so little of Gallifreyan culture," Penne sighed. "I may have the blood in my veins, but I'm NOT Gallifreyan. I am not allowed to be. I can't even go there. Your father risked a great deal in making it possible for my government and yours to have diplomatic relations. He had to hide who I really am from your people."

"I know," Chrístõ said. "It's not fair. It really isn't. You did no wrong. I know you're a good man. But… I would not even be allowed to invite you to MY wedding whenever it should be."

"You can come to mine," Penne told him. "Gallifrey is NOT my home. Its culture is not mine. I was born and raised on Adano Menor. That is my home and my culture. Gallifrey is a planet I have diplomatic and trade ties with and that is all."

"It should be different."

"It isn't the only thing that should be different." Penne looked at his blood-brother seriously. "When you were last on Adano Menor with me, anyone looking at you and Bo would have said you were lovers for life. What went wrong? Why is she marrying Sammie? Not that he isn't a good man. But she was so very much in love with you, and I know you…"

"Nothing went wrong. She was not MEANT to be mine. She belongs to Sammie. I loved her for a while. Until he came into her life. After that it was my role to bring her to him. And you can see how happy they are with each other."

"But what about you, Chrístõ." Penne asked him.

"I'm happy for them," he said.

"No you're not." Penne reached and touched his shoulder. "Chrístõ, I may not be Gallifreyan, but thanks to you, I AM a Time Lord. I can feel what you feel. And deep inside, under the smile you smile for them, for your friends, your heart is breaking."

"Penne…" Chrístõ put down the tools and pulled the goggles from his face. He turned and tried to speak but there was no need for words. His blood-brother reached out to hold him as his true feelings expressed themselves in the one way in which Penne was more Gallifreyan than he was. His Human tears fell unchecked for a long time. When he had expended all the tears he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and put the goggles back on. He picked up the tools and continued to make wedding rings for his four friends. Penne watched as he worked and said nothing. He knew there was nothing he could say. He wondered if he could make such a deep personal sacrifice himself. He was a lot less selfish than he used to be. Knowing Chrístõ, and even more so, knowing his father, possibly the wisest and kindest man he had ever met in his life, had taught him a lot. But he still wasn't sure he could give up what Chrístõ had with Bo for any reason.

Chrístõ finished the rings. He was rather proud of the results. He put each one into a velvet lined box as he polished and finished them. He put the box in his pocket and went to the Cloister Room. Penne followed. There was nothing else for him to do.

The Cloister Room was another door that was usually locked to all but Chrístõ. It contained wonder and it contained danger. The danger and the wonder were particularly contained beneath the elaborately carved cover set into the floor in the centre of the great room. The Eye of Harmony, the heart of the TARDIS. When he approached it, Chrístõ could feel its power vibrating through him. But there was no need for the Eye to be opened on this occasion.

Penne felt the vibration too and looked nervously at the cover then turned from it and looked up at the high vaulted ceiling, at the two silver trees that grew impossibly within the room that saw no sunlight, their branches meeting and intertwining in the middle of the roof. Two silver-trees enjoined - the heraldic symbol of the House of Lœngbærrow.

"They grew here since I took over this TARDIS," Chrístõ said. "It's one of the ways in which the machine became symbiotic with me as soon as I took over its controls."

"What symbol would grow here if the last son of Ixion owned it?" Penne asked. "A tower of broken bones?"

"A cúl nut tree with golden fruits," Chrístõ told him. "Blood was not always the mark of your House. Your ancestors were honourable people. Only one generation chose to walk in the darkness."

"There's hope for me then?" He said with a half smile

"There's every hope for you, Penne. But you said it yourself. You belong to Adano Menor. Your connection with Gallifrey is trade and diplomacy. All that remains is for you to find a wife and produce an heir and found your own dynasty."

"I was thinking about that," Penne said with a grin. "I think I need more than one heir. To rule my three planets. Do you think I could make a law allowing polygamy?"

"They're your planets," Chrístõ said with a laugh. "And if you really think you can handle three wives…. I rather think they'll handle you and make you wish you'd stayed single. Meanwhile, I have two weddings here to arrange."

Beneath the trees was an altar of a sort, made of natural stone, unpolished or worked except in the centre where the elaborate seal of Rassilon was carved in deep relief. Beyond the altar the stairs swept up to a big, cathedral-like stained glass window, with the seal of Rassilon in the centre. It was brightly lit as if by sunlight, although Chrístõ knew that was just illusion. The false sunlight cast a perfect pattern of the seal onto the floor though, just in front of the altar. Either side of the window were the doors that led back to the mundane corridor to the console room.

Chrístõ snapped his fingers and a thousand candles lit themselves in holders and chandeliers all around the room. He snapped them again and they were extinguished. But he knew the effect would work later. Meanwhile he placed the four rings on the altar in the middle of the seal of Rassilon and he and Penne left the Cloister Room for now.


The time was both too short to complete all preparations, and agonisingly long as the excitement grew. Chrístõ and Penne both quietly settled themselves to a period of light meditation while the girls flitted through the console room, and the men went about their own business. Finally, as the hour approached Chrístõ told Terry and Sammie to come first, then the girls after them, as was customary in an Earth wedding, and he went to prepare himself.


The wardrobe had done them proud. Sammie and Terry looked at each other for a moment. Terry was dressed in a light grey suit which must have had silk woven into the fabric by the way it caught the light. His long blonde hair was neatly fastened in a pony tail. Sammie was even more distinguished looking. His heart had almost jumped out of his chest when he found in the wardrobe what looked like an identical copy of his own formal dress uniform. It had fitted like it was made to measure for him. He wasn't sure if it was slightly against the rules for him to get married in the uniform when he was no longer officially in the Regiment. But he was officially dead and marrying a girl who was born more than a century before he was, in a time machine in outer space. What possible section of the Queens Regulations could apply to him? He felt more himself than he had for a long time as he put on the jacket with the silver winged daggers on the lapels and the two pips on the shoulders denoting his rank. He put the beret on his head, with the same winged dagger he was so proud of and felt ready for anything - even marriage.

"We look a handsome pair," Sammie assured his friend as they adjusted each other's ties and smoothed down collars and took deep breaths. "Come on then. Now or never."

They stepped into the Cloister Room and both stared for a moment. It looked a more beautiful and more fitting place for a wedding than the finest cathedral. The thousands of candles lit it with a warm glow.

And by far the most impressive thing in the room was Chrístõ. They both gasped when they saw him. He was dressed in a robe that appeared to be made of spun gold and glistened in the candlelight as if diamonds were incorporated into the fabric. The robe had an elaborate collar that rose up behind his head framing his black hair with gold.

"Where did you get THAT outfit," Terry asked him as they stepped forward.

"Its mine," he said. "This is how we dress for special occasions on my world."

"It's terrific," Sammie said. "I hope you don't outshine the brides."

"I don't think so," Chrístõ looked up and smiled. The two men looked around and saw their brides standing at the top of the staircase, framed by the light of the great window. Penne, dressed in his own maroon and scarlet robes, stood between the two of them, ready to escort them to the altar. Chrístõ's eyes with their binocular vision saw them in detail as they stood, beaming with joy. Bo was in a red gown - the traditional colour of Chinese brides - with a high mandarin collar and long skirt, the whole decorated with gold dragons and silver phoenixes, symbols of union and fertility. A traditional Chinese wedding headdress, almost as elaborate as the Gallifreyan regalia completed the ensemble. Cassie, by contrast, was in white. Her gown was strapless, with her smooth milk chocolate shoulders bare. The bodice fitted to the waist and then an almost impossibly wide skirt fell to her feet. The skirt was embroidered in silver with pearls sewn in and her hair was fastened up with silver feathers, lace and more pearls.

Chrístõ reached out his two arms in a gesture to them and they slowly came down the stairs. Both were smiling happily as they crossed the floor and came to stand beside their husbands to be. Penne took his place between the two couples, and to his surprise the strange dark entity they called Humphrey came and hovered beside him.

The whole of the TARDIS crew was thus assembled.

Chrístõ nodded silently and smiled and then began to speak in his own language. He continued for a long time. None of them knew what he was saying but they all felt that it was good, solemn words.

At last he reverted to English.

"Terrence Phillips, Cassandra Jameson, Samuel Thomlinson, Hui Ying Bo Juan you have each petitioned to be joined in Alliance of Unity. Before you make your vows to each other, you must pledge that you make the Alliance freely and that it is for eternity."

"I pledge…" Cassie said. And Terry, smiling at her, said the same.

"I pledge…" Bo and Sammie both said at once.

"Now make this request of each other," Chrístõ said and recited the shortest and easiest part of the twelve hour ceremony, and the part he thought was most relevant. After each line he paused as the two brides and two grooms each asked each other to be…..

"My Haven in my distress.
My Shield and my Shelter in my woes.
My Asylum and Refuge in time of need
And in my loneliness my Companion!
In my anguish my Solace,
And in my solitude a loving Friend!
The Remover of the pangs of my sorrows
And the Pardoner of my sins!"

“Now make your vows of Alliance,” Chrístõ said, turning first to Cassie and Terry. He took both their hands in his and then placed one over the other. His own hand was steady, but theirs both trembled a little as they faced each other. Terry spoke first.

"Cassie, my love, we have stood together through the hatred and scorn of others. We have been strong for each other and our love has grown despite those who would set us apart. We have touched the stars together and all I ask is to spend my lifetime with you, my Cassie, my love."

Cassie smiled and began to speak. "Terry, my bright love, you are the blue sky and the warm sea of my life. You are my sun and moon and stars. I love you for eternity. I want nothing more than to be your wife, mother of your children, your companion in life's wonderful journey."

Terry put both his hands in Cassie's and held them. Chrístõ smiled and turned to Bo and Sammie and took their hands as he had done before. This time it was his that trembled. His hearts were both happy and sad at the same time. He looked at Bo, so beautiful in her traditional gown and wished for a moment that it was he who was making an Alliance of Unity with her, in the full tradition of his world. But she was not his. She was Sammie's. And this was the best he could wish for her.

"Bo Juan, precious, bright," Sammie said when Chrístõ nodded to him. "You are my reason to be alive. You are the reason I AM alive. You gave me your blood. You gave me your trust when there was no reason to trust me. You gave me your love when I hardly dared hope for it. Let me fulfil your destiny and be the man who will love you for all eternity."

Bo smiled and spoke, first in Mandarin, and Chrístõ alone knew what she had said. He knew that it was a traditional declaration of undying love from her culture. Then she reverted to English.

"Sammie, my destiny is in your hands. I ask only for your constant love. I give only my heart. For all eternity." And she bowed her head first to Chrístõ, then to Sammie in deference to him. This ceremony was not the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony any more than it was a Western one or an Alliance of Unity such as Chrístõ knew it. It was a compromise between all their cultures.

Chrístõ turned and took the first pair of rings from the altar, the two men's rings. He gave them to Cassie and Bo. Together, they placed the rings on the fingers of their two men. Then he took the smaller ones, meant for the slender fingers of the women and gave them to Terry and Sammie. They did the same. And both, without asking, without any further thought, took their brides in their arms and kissed them. Chrístõ smiled and raised his arms over them all.

"My Lord Rassilon at whose altar we gather, blesses your Alliance of Unity and calls you husband and wife for eternity." Then he stood and watched them until they too stood straight and looked at him. The two girls broke from their new husbands and embraced him lovingly. He felt their kisses on his lips as he blinked back tears of joy and sorrow that threatened to undo his dignified poise as he acted the part of marriage broker to his dearest friends.


Chrístõ changed from his elaborate robes into his usual black ensemble. Penne, too, changed, and so did Sammie from his dress uniform to civilian clothes before they arrived in the only place they could think of going next, to see the only person they all wanted to share their celebration with.

The TARDIS materialised as a disused shop by the Chinese arch at the entrance to Liverpool's Chinatown and in a short time they were in Mai Li Tuo's home above the herbalist's store. The old Time Lord, posing in the last years of his last life as a venerable old mandarin, was pleased at all their news. He held Cassie's hands tightly and predicted that their child - the first of many - would be born healthy and fine in due course, and be a joy to their lives. Then he embraced Bo fondly.

"Your destiny is fulfilled, my child," he said. "I am delighted." Then at once he took charge and in a short time they found themselves at a beautiful Chinese restaurant where Li Tuo was, it seemed, an honoured regular customer. He had told the manager of the special occasion and the kitchen rose to the occasion, even providing a magnificent cake, which the two couples cut together, to the delight of everyone else in the restaurant who applauded them cheerfully.

"Your destiny is yet to come," Li Tuo said to Chrístõ as the three men of Gallifreyan blood watched their Human friends on the small dance floor the restaurant had available for those who the fancy took.

"I know," Chrístõ said, swallowing the hard lump that came to his throat. He felt a little irritated. Penne had already forced him to admit his feelings once. Now Li Tuo was bringing it back to the fore.

"It WILL come," Li Tuo assured him. "You shall have your own Alliance of Unity yet. Though the waiting will seem long."

"I can't imagine I will love anyone as much as I loved Bo. She was so precious to me. And I gave her away to another man."

"For whom she is also precious. He will love her for as long as they both live," Li Tuo assured him. "She will be very happy."

"I know she will." Chrístõ blinked rapidly to hold back his tears. But just as earlier he could not hide his feelings from Penne, he could not hide them from Li Tuo, who looked right into his soul.

"You did right. Don't doubt yourself. You did what is best for Bo Juan. When the time is right, you will do right for yourself. There is a bright, warm light in your future as well as the darkness and the hardship that you choose. There is love as well as hate. Peace and serenity as well as struggle and suffering. You won't always be lonely, Shang Hui."

Chrístõ looked at Li Tuo and shivered. He could feel the old Time Lord's touch upon his soul and it made him uneasy. Because it called up that darkness, that side of him he tried to suppress, the side that craved danger and thrived upon it, the side that would be called, by those who half-expected it of him anyway - RENEGADE. He pushed it back down. He resisted it. He was not a Renegade. He was a loyal son of Gallifrey. He walked in the light, not the dark.

"Yes," Li Tuo said. "You do walk in the light. But the shadows are there nonetheless."

"I'm not a RENEGADE," Chrístõ declared a little more loudly than he intended. "I am loyal to Gallifrey. I love my world. When I go home I will dedicate my life to its service. I will…. I will make my father proud of me. I will achieve as much as he has."

"Your father was proud of you the day you were born, Shang Hui," Li Tuo told him. "You have nothing to prove to him. Or to me."

"Nevertheless, I shall. I shall honour Gallifrey in all I do. I shall never let it be dishonoured."

"Your loyalty to our world, our way of life does you credit." Li Tuo smiled. "Would it surprise you if I said you remind me of myself when I was your age? I, too, had such loyalty. I hope you never become as disillusioned as I was."

"What of me?" Penne asked. "Sir… you… at least made the choices in your life that made you an exile. Chrístõ… from what you say… may make those choices too. But I did nothing. I am branded a Renegade for the sins of my father and mother."

"Gallifrey's laws are hard and narrow. And too often the innocent are caught up in their narrowness. That is why I chose a certain path in my life. What that path was is a secret I cannot share with either of you, if only because I don't wish to set a precedence that Shang Hui might one day seek to emulate despite his protestations now. No, I did not choose to become an outlaw of our society. That was a decision taken by men who had it within their power to soften and widen those laws and did not. Perhaps Shang Hui's generation, when they come to power, will act differently. If they don't, then he may find walking in the light much harder than he thought. He may find that between light and dark is a grey twilight where people like the three of us truly walk. But one thing is sure. You must make those decisions yourself, Son of Lœngbærrow, and you, too, Son of Ixion. You must make your own mistakes, your own successes, your own triumphs and failures."

Penne and Chrístõ both looked at him solemnly. They both felt as if they had been given a glimpse of the future by one who could see it more clearly than they could. Chrístõ was uneasy about that future. He wondered why Li Tuo kept pushing the issue, insisting that he had Renegade traits, knowing how angry and hurt it made him feel. Was he testing him in some way? If so he didn't understand the purpose of the test. But why would Li Tuo seek to distress him otherwise? He was a good man, a good friend. He had never led him wrong before.

"Come on," Penne said, breaking into his reverie. "There are good looking girls over there. And I STILL need to find my princess." He took Chrístõ by the arm and steered him to the bar where they quickly found dancing partners.

Li Tuo watched them and smiled. Penne understood the matter well. Chrístõ had too many things to think about for one night and taking him out of himself with a couple of pretty girls was a good idea. But the time would come when all he had predicted would come to pass. He knew it would. Shang Hui was a young Time Lord. He had yet to explore the full possibilities of time travel. He still didn't quite think four dimensionally. He didn't know that Li Tuo had seen his future not only in the vague flashes of timeline to be seen when they made physical contact, but in his own travels through time. Li Tuo knew that Chrístõ's devotion to Gallifreyan laws and customs were the product of youthful zeal combined with family loyalties. But experience would tell upon him. Long before he was anything close to Li Tuo's great age he would taste the bitter waters of disillusionment. And Chrístõ's response to that disillusionment would rock Gallifrey's self-righteous hierarchy even more surely than his own rebellion had.

But that was still in the future yet. Chrístõ believed he was going to follow his father in the diplomatic corps and then work his way up through the ranks of the High Council, changing the system from within. And to tell him it would not be so would not only be a severe challenge to the immutable Laws of Time and Causality that even Li Tuo obeyed, but a cause of unnecessary distress in the good, pure hearts of a fine young man who Li Tuo would have been proud to call his son.