Chrístõ walked along the shoreline in his bare feet, his jeans turned up at the bottom and his shoes and socks left on the high part of the sand. He smiled as he watched Julia, in a pair of shorts and a colourful top and her hair in a neat pony tail adventuring out until the water was up over her ankles. She turned and waved at him and he waved back. She looked happy. And after all she had gone through that was a miracle in itself.

Lyria had been good for her. It was a nice place. It ought not to have been. It was so very commercialised. Beyond the beach, beyond the sea wall and the promenade above were miles of hotels and clubs and bars that ought to have made it awful. But somehow Lyria managed to get the balance between commercial success and unspoilt loveliness right in a way the Spanish Costas dreamed of achieving. They had spent a wonderful fortnight here, with pleasant days like this one, playing on the beach, eating ice cream and swimming in the pool at the hotel he had booked them into, and going to concerts and theatre productions at night or just walking in the sunset as they were tonight, enjoying each other’s company. Now that she wasn’t afraid for her life, she talked to him joyfully about ballet and gymnastics, the books she liked to read, music. She listened as he told her about the places he had visited on his travels and promised to show her at least some of them.

She ran ahead and he called to her, warning her not to go too far without him. She turned and ran back, and they walked along together, she holding his hand as they watched the sunset.

“Our last night here,” she sighed. “It's been lovely.”

“Yes, but this WAS just a holiday. All holidays end. Tomorrow I must get on with what I have to do.”

“Your tasks for the Time Lords?” He had told her as much as he could about what was expected of him by the High Council.

“Some of it might be dangerous. You must be ready to do as I say in case you get hurt.”

“Yes.” He had told her it already. “But I can help you fly the TARDIS, and I can be with you. That’s what I want most. To be with you.”

“I want you with me,” he said. “And it won’t ALL be dangerous. There are nice places to see, too.”

She smiled and put her arm around his waist. He slipped his around her shoulders. It was nice to feel her near him. The future seemed a warmer, brighter and much less lonely prospect as he thought about travelling with her along with him. He WOULD find other places to go than those troublesome presets. He had already enjoyed taking her to the shops in Lyria’s malls. She had left everything she owned on the ship, and he had bought her clothes for all occasions. At 11 she was enough of the little lady to enjoy being able to try on and buy almost anything she wanted, but also child enough to love the beautifully dressed doll he bought in a different shop. She was educated enough to come with him to an opera at night, yet enjoyed building a sandcastle on the beach the next day. The contrasts amused him. The fact that she COULD enjoy those things after the terrible trauma she had lived through was reassuring. Only once, during the night, did she have a nightmare that he was aware of. And even then, she had called his name in her sleep. When he went to her and soothed her it passed easily. She slept quietly after that.

She had no nightmares this night, though. And in the morning they checked out of the hotel and returned to the space port where their space cruiser with the . symbol across the bow had been safely parked for the duration of the holiday.

“Where are we going now?” Julia asked him as he powered up the TARDIS and they left the holiday planet behind.

“We’re going to Earth,” Chrístõ said as he checked out a message that came up on the communications console as soon as they were in orbit.

Julia saw his expression as he said that and came to his side. She slipped her hand in his.

“Is something the matter?”

“Not at all,” he answered. “A friend of mine needs me. I’ve been expecting this call for a while. But anyway, you should meet my friends on Earth. They’ll love to see you - especially Li Tuo. He told me I would meet you. I don’t know if he expected I would meet you so soon. Maybe he did. Maybe the old man had a joke on me all along.”

Julia looked puzzled by his slightly rambling musings and he smiled reassuringly at her. “You’re from the 24th century. We’re going to see Earth in the 21st century. That will be a treat for you. Some living history.” He keyed in the co-ordinate he wanted and then had Julia manage the navigation panel. It was fairly straightforward as long as they stayed on course and weren’t affected by any other objects in the time-space vortex. He took the flight control and set them on their way.

“The autopilot is on and we have three hours till we land,” Chrístõ said. “I think I might spend the time working out in the dojo. I’ve got lazy on holiday.” She followed him through and they both gasped when they saw the room, he because of how different it looked, and she because it was just what she had always wanted. The dojo had somehow doubled in size and the other half was now a dance studio and gymnasium with a ballet practice bar in front of a mirrored wall and at the other end of the floor a balance beam and a set of asymmetric bars.

“Oh, Chrístõ,” Julia said, hugging him. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” he said. “But it wasn’t me. The TARDIS did this. It must have recognised your needs and made the adjustments.”

“The TARDIS is a wonderful ship,” Julia said.

“It’s more than a ship,” Chrístõ said. “It’s home. I’ve lived in it for more than ten years now. It understands me. And it understands you. It’s your home, too, Julia.”

It had even provided a dressing room for her, with everything she needed. While he was warming up with Tai Chi she emerged in a practice leotard and skirt and ballet shoes and began the necessary warm up positions of that discipline. By the time he moved on to practice with the Shaolin sword against a holographic opponent she was happily dancing to a piece of classical music he half recognised. Then she slipped off her ballet shoes and barefoot she moved to the balance beam. He was not a follower of girl’s gymnastics and was only half aware of what the beam was for so when he saw her do a forward somersault roll into splits he was so startled he almost let the hologram beat him. He stopped the programme and stood watching her for a long time. He knew she was athletic. The way she had moved when evading the vampyres proved that. But watching her perform exercises that he knew he could never do in a million years, bending her body in amazing positions, he was filled with joy, admiration and pride.

This lovely creature is your future wife, his inner voice said.

FAR in the future he reminded himself. I can’t even think of her that way yet.

By the time the TARDIS materialised they were both showered and dressed again after time spent in their favourite disciplines. Julia looked bright and vivacious after her workouts. She was in a pretty red dress and her hair in an Alice band. Chrístõ smiled and held out his hand to her. They stepped out of the TARDIS and turned to see it disguised today as a closed and shuttered newspaper stand. Julia laughed. She had seen three or four such disguises now and was always amused by them.

“Will it ever run out of things to be?” she asked as they walked along.

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ answered. “It hasn’t yet.”

They had ‘parked’ a little way from where they needed to be. It wasn’t a miscalculation, rather a chance for Julia to acclimatise herself to the 21st century. She was quite taken with the landscaped area around Liverpool’s waterfront. She had, of course, spent nearly two years on a starship, heading for Beta Delta IV. Open spaces still took her by surprise and she lost no chance to run and play.

The Waterloo Dock, downriver from the more famous Pierhead, and once a busy scene of commerce, was now the centre of a residential area with the warehouses and dock buildings turned into luxury waterfront apartments. They walked around the pedestrian walkway to the newest apartments on the spur of land between the dock and the river Mersey itself. Chrístõ rang the door entry system and was admitted at once. As soon as they stepped out of the lift on the top floor he was greeted excitedly.

“It is so good to see you,” Bo told him and as ever when she was emotional, launched into rapid Mandarin. Chrístõ replied to her in the same language before Terry and Sammie both came out of the apartment to welcome him. He looked around for Julia who was nervously backing away from so many people all at once. He reached out his hand to her and brought her with him into Terry and Cassie’s new home.

“Chrístõ!” Cassie smiled joyfully to see him and he went to where she was lying on the sofa and hugged her. “You’ve got a new friend?”

"This is Julia," he said, introducing her to them all. "She is…" He paused and looked at her, and at his friends. He felt suddenly awkward about how to explain about her. He decided to tell the plain truth. "She is the woman that Li Tuo predicted I should meet, who I should love for all of my life."

Cassie looked at her with interest. So did the others. None of them were quite sure what to say.

A chuckle broke the silence and they all turned. Chrístõ was surprised to see his oldest friend of all sitting in the corner of the room.

“A lovely young woman she is,” he said.

“Yes. She is.”

“Come here, child,” Li Tuo said to Julia kindly. She looked back at Chrístõ uncertainly. He nodded to her with a reassuring smile and she moved towards the old man. “Indeed, very lovely. Let me tell your fortune, child.” Julia let him hold her hand as he read her timeline. It took him a little time. She had travelled in time and space already and it made the timeline harder to read. But after a short time Li Tuo smiled warmly at her. “Yes, it is clear. You are destined to marry your handsome prince.”

“I don’t want to marry a handsome prince,” she said. “I want to marry Chrístõ.”

“You don’t think Chrístõ is handsome?” Li Tuo laughed. “And are not his race the princes of the universe?” Julia looked puzzled at first then her face lit with a broad smile.

“I’m really going to marry Chrístõ?” she whispered. “When?”

“When you grow up,” Chrístõ said. “Then you and I are destined to belong to each other.” He put his arms about her shoulders and she looked up into his face and smiled.

“I wish I was grown up now,” she said.

“Well, you’re not,” he said. “And I have to look after you until you are.”

“You will know what to do, Shang Hui,” the old man told him. He wasn’t sure exactly WHAT he would know what to do or when, but it covered many contingencies.

But Cassie was the reason he was here. He turned to her again as Bo took Julia with her to the kitchen under the pretext of making tea, but in reality, he guessed, to talk to her about him and find out how she came into his life.

“I’m here, as I promised I would be,” he said to Cassie. He sat by her and pressed his hand against her flushed cheeks. “Today is the day. Or perhaps early tomorrow. We do have a long way to go yet.”

“But I am right? The baby is coming? I was almost afraid to let them send the message in case I was wrong and you were angry at me for bringing you here too soon.”

“Why would I be angry with you? I came from the other side of the Milky Way as soon as I heard that you needed me. I would have come from the far side of the universe if I had to. As often as you thought you needed me. But, in fact, the time is right. You’re very early on yet, but I can tell.”

Cassie smiled at him. Terry came to her side and kissed her, but she didn’t need him as much as she needed Chrístõ right now.

“Julia,” Bo said as she prepared tea in the traditional way of her people. “Pretty name.”

“So is yours,” Julia said. “You… you are a friend of my Chrístõ?”

“I used to call him MY Chrístõ,” she admitted. “But I am married to Sammie now.”

“You loved him?”

“He is easy to love. He is a very special man.” Bo looked at the girl. “You are very young.”

“I am 11, nearly 12,” she said defensively.

“Not so young. When I was five I was sent to the Shaolin Temple to learn the Way. By your age I had mastered all but the very highest disciplines.” Julia looked confused. Bo smiled. “All that is in the past. I had much sorrow in my life before Chrístõ found me and gave me back my life.”

“He found me, too,” Julia said. And she related her story to Bo, who at once saw in Julia’s plight something of her own. And Chrístõ, again, had been the one to end her suffering and bring her from the darkness to the light.

“It will be a long time before you can marry him, though,” Bo said. “I thought Li Tuo’s prophecy meant that he would meet a woman who was ready to be his wife.”

“I DO love him,” Julia said. “He is my angel.”

“He is,” Bo agreed. Then she brought the tea through and she poured for them all in the traditional way. Julia, as the newest friend among them was honoured first. Then Chrístõ, the one whose friendship bound them all in fellowship and Li Tuo in honour of his age. Then Cassie in honour of her impending motherhood, and finally Terry and Sammie. They drank their Chinese tea and talked among themselves. Everyone wanted to know more about Julia. She wanted to know about them. They shared the stories of their adventures as the late afternoon wore on and Chrístõ tended to Cassie. They had arrived very early in her labour. She was still able to carry on talking with them and singing along when Terry brought out his guitar and made the evening even more of a friendly party. The sun had gone down before her contractions became so regular and so strong that it was time for Chrístõ to be her doctor in earnest.

“Time to go to the birth room,” he said. “Bo, please bring me the bag I brought with me. Terry, you take her arm and help her. That will be your last responsibility for the time being.”

Terry did as he asked. He helped Cassie to stand up and slowly helped her cross the floor to the door that led into their bedroom. He helped her undress and get into a simple cotton nightgown and put her into the cool sheets of the bed while Chrístõ set out the medical instruments he would need and Bo prepared a mysterious looking brew that she said was the Chinese way of easing the pains of birth.

Terry kissed his wife lovingly and then left the room. He was aware that in the 21st century men were accustomed to being there at the birth, but he was born in a generation when men were expected to be elsewhere. He returned to the drawing room.

“She is in the best hands possible,” he said. “Chrístõ and Bo between them will make sure our baby is born safely.”

He sat down beside Sammie on the sofa. Li Tuo sat opposite them. A silence came upon the room, in which they could hear the quiet voices in the birth room.

Julia was standing by the open French door onto the balcony. Even after sunset it was warm still and the lights of Birkenhead over the river were bright. She watched quietly, enjoying the feel of the night air on her face.

“Are you all right, child?” Li Tuo asked, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder as he came behind her.

“Chrístõ is so very clever isn’t he? He knows how to kill vampyres and to birth babies.”

“He knows very much more than that. He is a very special young man.”

“I know. He is a Time Lord. His body mends when he bleeds and he has two hearts.”

“And you love him very much, don’t you.”

“I’ve only known him a little while,” she said. “But yes, I do love him.”

“Two hearts hurt twice as much if they are broken,” Li Tuo said.

“I won’t break them. I wish I WAS old enough to marry him.”

“I don’t think Chrístõ wants you to wish your life away for him,” Li Tuo told her. “Have patience, child.”

“Li Tuo?” It was Sammie who voiced the thought both of the men had. “Are you really sure about that? This little girl… is destined to be Chrístõ’s true love?”

“She already is in the widest sense of the world, aren’t you, my dear.” Li Tuo took her hand and brought her out onto the cool balcony. Terry and Sammie followed. “I know what you two are both thinking. It is strange. But Chrístõ is a Gallifreyan. His honour as a Gallifreyan means that he WILL wait until this pretty little girl is a woman, because she IS destined to be his.”

“I’m not so little,” she said. “I AM going on twelve.”

“A bit young for marriage still,” Terry laughed. “But you hang in there.”

“We ALL care about Chrístõ,” Sammie added. “If you’re the one for him, then that’s good enough for us. We’re thrilled to know you, Julia.”

She smiled at the three men keeping her company while Chrístõ was busy. She felt a little excited herself at what he was doing. She was looking forward to seeing the new baby. For that reason she refused the offer of a bed in the spare room. She didn’t want to miss anything.

Though in the end, she DID fall asleep, curled up beside Li Tuo, who she seemed to have instinctively trusted as one of Chrístõ’s own kind.

“That a child should trust me that much!” Li Tuo smiled. “If she knew my past, she’d run away from me. I’m not even sure Chrístõ would care for me as he does.”

“Why?” Terry asked. Sammie, he noticed, did not seem surprised at the comment. He wondered about that, too.

“It's not really a story for this night,” he said. “One that will end in joy and new life.”

“It's a long night,” Terry said. “And we have nothing else to do but wait.”

“This story… is one Chrístõ should not know. If I tell it to the two of you, it is in confidence – at least until – When I am dead, I give you permission to tell him as much of this as will answer the question he has wanted to ask me since he has known me.”

“Which is?”

“My true name.”

“I always thought it was Mai Li Tuo,” Terry said. “But of course, it wouldn’t be, would it.”

“Some of this is not my tale to tell, and Chrístõ’s father would wish some of it to be kept a secret still. But you may as well know the full story. There comes a time when an old man who has been so long misunderstood wishes SOMEBODY to know his version of events.” Li Tuo put his hand on Julia’s forehead and checked to be sure she really WAS in full REM sleep. This was not a story for her to hear.

“The tale begins centuries ago,” he said. “When I was younger than I am now, though late middle aged by our standards. I was the director of one department of the Celestial Intervention Agency.”


“CIA?” Sammie smiled wryly.

“Yes, the coincidence of those initials is one I have noted before. The work we did was similar. Our job was to deal with anything that might be a threat to Gallifrey. Rogue planets developing time travel, individuals who might be a threat to us, Renegade Time Lords especially.”


“Renegades expose the secrets of Gallifrey to those not worthy of knowing them. So it is believed, anyway. And our solution was a simple and swift one. Execution.”

“Execution?” It was Sammie who queried the word.

“Assassination is perhaps the more correct term. And the most able agent in my department was the son of an aristocrat of our world, Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow.”

“Chrístõ Mian?” Terry frowned at the name and then realised. “Chrístõ’s father.”

“He was not known by that name in the Agency. There he was called The Executioner.”

Sammie knew that much already. For Terry it was rather startling.

“The Ambassador was an assassin? But he is such a decent man. He works for peace all over the universe.”

“We ALL worked for peace, though we made it happen in a very different way. Or at least we believed so. The Executioner was, we always said, a skilled surgeon cutting out the cancerous tumours blighting our society. We believed that the blood on our collective hands, on the Agency, was justified by the ‘bigger picture’ as Earth people say.”

“There is something in that,” Sammie admitted. “No, Terry, I know what you’re going to say. Yes, life is sacred. We shouldn’t take it just like that. But sometimes… Sometimes it is necessary for some of us to get our hands dirty.”

“Just so,” Li Tuo said. “As I said, we believed that. I believed it. I was proud of operatives like The Executioner. But then a terrible thing happened that shook our belief, our confidence in our right to dispense justice.”

“You killed the wrong man?” Sammie guessed from the look on Li Tuo’s face.

“The Executioner killed the wrong man, based on the information I had given him. He was so shocked that he resigned immediately and vowed that The Executioner was DEAD. He swore that he would do no more work of that kind. He and I had been good friends until then. We had a bond of professional trust as well as liking each other personally. But that bond was broken. He came to hate me and all I stood for. And I came to hate myself. I knew I had been to blame for not checking my sources as thoroughly as I ought to have done. I thought the man WAS guilty. And I let my conviction blind me to the possibility of another suspect.”

The door opened and Bo slipped out, closing it behind her. Terry stood up and looked at her, but she told him it would be a while yet as she went to the basket she had brought from Li Tuo’s shop and got more ingredients for pain-relieving potions.

“Chrístõ,” Cassie said to him as another painful contraction passed. “Take away the pain. You CAN do that, I know you can.”

“I can’t take it away altogether,” he told her. “You NEED this pain. It is a part of the process. You need to know when the baby is ready to be born. Bo will help you to bear it with her Chinese magic.”

“It is not magic,” she said, slipping back into the room. “It is merely an art that is known to only a few.” She quickly made up a stronger dose of the pain-numbing potion and brought it to the bedside. She held her friend’s head gently as she helped her to drink it down. The effect was almost instantaneous. Cassie’s face relaxed as the pain of the contractions became easier to bear, but unlike the gas that a hospital would administer it did not make her disorientated. She was fully aware of herself and of Bo holding her hand and Chrístõ examining her to see how much further along she was.

“If the child is born before dawn, I wonder if Chrístõ knows how to do the naming ceremony?” Li Tuo said with a smile. “But you two are waiting to hear the rest of this story, aren’t you.”

“You can’t leave us there,” Terry said, though he determined to ask again later about ‘naming ceremonies’ and what dawn had to do with it.

“Chrístõ Mian turned his back on violence and embraced peace in the name of Gallifrey. The Executioner became The Ambassador. And because, of course, The Executioner was known only to a few and The Ambassador became a man of wide renown, he easily made the transference. His old life was forgotten. But for me, I could not make that step. I also resigned from the Agency. But I would not do anything more for Gallifrey. I blamed myself for the terrible mistake, but I blamed those above me, too, for putting me in the position where the mistake was made. And I lost faith in what my world stood for. Chrístõ may have told you, that Renegade is the most terrible word that one Time Lord can call another Time Lord.”

“Yes,” Sammie replied. “He is very bitter about that word. He gets very angry with you for suggesting he might be one.”

“Chrístõ’s future contains a lot of darkness. A lot of bitterness. He will come to understand in time what I felt when I turned my back on my world. When a Time Lord is declared Renegade, his name is erased from every record, even from his family tree. He is cast out. That is done, not only to punish the Renegade, but to hide the fact that there ARE Renegades. If they are never spoken of, they are forgotten and their seditious ideas do not taint others!”

“And nobody knows when the CIA catches up with them and finishes them off,” Sammie added dryly.

“Indeed, no.” Li Tuo shook his head sadly. “I succeeded in vanishing for nearly a century. And then I was traced to Earth. And the very agency I used to run brought their best man out of retirement to track me down and kill me.”

“Uohoh!” Sammie and Terry both worked out the next bit for themselves.

“Chrístõ’s father?”

“The Ambassador himself.”

“And he did so?”

“Because he still hated you?”

“No,” Li Tuo said. “Because by then he had realised that he should not have let our friendship die. He told our former masters that if anyone was going to kill me, it would be HIM.”

“Your friend?” Terry was appalled.

“For the sake of friendship, he vowed he would not let any other man take my life.”

“That’s a funny kind of friendship,” Terry said. But Sammie understood.

“They knew I was in the North of England. They sent him here, and he lived undercover for several years gathering information. It was a slow process. But he was a professional. He let nothing get in the way of his work. Just as he had done in the past. But then something changed his life.” Li Tuo smiled. “The Executioner fell in love.”

“Chrístõ’s mother?”

“His Lady Marion. He fell in love with her and almost forgot his mission to kill me. He had almost made up his mind to stay on Earth, to stay in his cover story and marry her as a Human - become a Renegade himself, in fact. But I ruined that.” He looked up and saw both of his audience about to ask the obvious question.

“I decided to destroy my pursuer. I was not going to wait for the Executioner. I would take the initiative and kill him. And I hatched my plan in a terrible way. I kidnapped the woman he loved. I threatened to hurt her unless he surrendered himself to me. It was a heartless thing to do. She was an innocent party and I used her to get to him. That was quite against everything we had believed in. We didn’t use torture. We were efficient, clean executioners. My actions were shameful in that sense.”

“Means to an end,” Sammie said. “I have done worse.”

“Have you?” Terry looked at him in surprise.

“Sometimes you have to,” he said.

“Sammie is right,” Li Tuo said. “But even so, what I did was shameful. And when my old friend caught up with me he told me so. And he issued the Oldblood Challenge. Single combat to the death. Any pretence that he was a professor of literature was blown away as we fought. First with swords – we both bled orange blood and our wounds mended before Marion’s frightened eyes. And when we had fought each other to a physical impasse we fought with our minds. Chrístõ has never witnessed that. Two Time Lords fighting with the power of their psyche, trying to burn each other’s brains out. And I discovered then that my friend was a greater Time Lord than I am, because he almost succeeded in destroying my mind. The only thing that saved me was regeneration. He watched my body regenerate, into my very last life. My thirteenth, and he prepared to kill me as soon as I opened my eyes and looked upon him. But Marion begged him to spare me. That good, sweet woman. She prevailed upon him – for both our sakes. She would not have my blood on his hands. She would not see me die. And she realised that above all we WERE friends. And we both realised that she was right.”

“You made friends again?”

“We made a bond of brotherhood between us. We vowed never to let bitterness come between us. He returned to Gallifrey, taking his lady with him. He told his masters that I had evaded him, that I was no longer on Earth, and that there was no clue to my whereabouts, and he went back to his life as an ambassador of peace and married his Lady, Chrístõ’s mother. Later, when his reputation was strong enough with the High Council he prevailed upon them to partially lift the sentence of death against me. They would kill me at once if my TARDIS was ever detected in the vortex. I cannot leave Earth again. The last time I was away from here was when Marion died. I took the risk in order to pay my respects to that dear lady whose charity to me I never felt I deserved and to comfort her child in his grief. But since then I have been an exile here. I have been happy, it must be said. I am a respected member of this community I adopted. They took me as one of their own. And in Sammie and Bo I have the family, the heirs I should have had if things had been different. But my hearts yearn sometimes for my home-world.”

“I hope you see it one day,” Julia said. All three men looked around at her. They wondered how much she had heard. They hadn’t noticed that she was awake.

“I don’t think I will,” he said. “But you will. And when you do, think of me, won’t you.”

“I promise I will,” she said.

“What time is it?” Terry asked.

“Four o’clock in the morning,” Sammie told him.

“How much longer?”

His question was answered a moment later. Bo came out of the room.

“Terry, Chrístõ says that you can forget about being a 60s man and remember that you live in 2006 now, and in 2006 fathers are expected to be there to see their children born. So get in here right now.”

“Now… it’s happening now?”

“NOW!” Chrístõ yelled from inside. “Get in here, Terry.”

Terry was already on his feet. He ran into the room. Cassie reached for his hand as soon as she saw him.

“Cassie, love,” he said. “What can I do?”

“Hold her hand, and don’t faint,” Chrístõ told him. “Cassie’s doing the hard work. Bo and I are just here to supervise.” He turned to Cassie again. She was nearly ready. The baby would be born in the next few minutes. He took a deep breath and got ready to do his part – rather more than supervision, in fact. This was the most wonderful part of being a doctor, bringing new life into the world. For all the pain Cassie was suffering he knew that she would forget it all in a very short time when she held her baby in her arms for the first time.

“I can’t wait to see the baby,” Julia said. Her youthful enthusiasm summed up all their feelings. Li Tuo, the oldest of them all by millennia, felt the years drop off him as he waited in the same anticipation. He looked at Sammie and caught his thoughts as he looked at the closed door.

“Yes, it will come to you in time,” Li Tuo told him. “But I think….” His Time Lord hearing had caught something the others didn’t yet hear. A moment later they did. The cry of a newborn Human child. It seemed a long time, even for a Time Lord, before the door was opened.

“Come on then,” Chrístõ said to them with a wide smile. He reached out his hand to Julia. She ran to him and he brought her to the bedside. Cassie smiled as she showed the baby to her. He was tinier than she expected, his skin a kind of coffee colour, somewhere between Cassie’s deep chocolate and Terry’s white skin, and a head of dark hair like his mother’s already.

“He’s beautiful,” she whispered, awestruck.

“A beautiful example of Human diversity,” Chrístõ said.

Sammie just smiled and looked from the baby to his own wife. They needed no words between them.

“It’s nearly dawn,” Li Tuo said to Chrístõ.

He nodded in understanding. He knew what he had to do. He took the child from Cassie’s arms and held him. “You’re sure of the name?” he asked.

“There’s only one choice for his first name,” Terry told him.

“Chrístõ DeJohn Terence Michael Phillips,” she told him. “Dejohn is my father’s name. And Terence Michael after my baby’s wonderful father.”

“Bring her,” Chrístõ said to Terry. “Wrap her in a blanket and carry her. She should not miss this. And all of you.”

They none of them knew what Chrístõ meant to do, but they trusted him implicitly. They followed him as he stepped out onto the balcony. The Mersey river was a dark swathe between the city of Liverpool and the Wirral, but to the East the sun was just beginning to rise. Chrístõ turned to face it, holding the child out in his two hands as if showing him to the new sun. He spoke first in ancient Gallifreyan, his voice ringing upon the air. And then he reverted to English.

“A new life, a new day. May the sun’s light always shine on him. May he walk in the good, pure light all his life. May he be brave and courageous and merciful, and true to his heritage. May he know love and give love.” He held the baby closer to him and with one finger traced the intricate curves of the Seal of Rassilon on his forehead. “You are Chrístõ DeJohn Terrence Michael Phillips. I name you in the light of this blessed dawn. I acknowledge your soul. I acknowledge your life.” He held the child out again as the sun rose over the river Mersey and bathed him and the child in a golden light that seemed to be a blessing in itself. Terry, holding Cassie tightly, came forward. They took their baby from Chrístõ. He held all three of them. Sammie and Bo came to them as well, and Li Tuo, holding Julia’s hand, joined them. They all hugged tightly in the first light of that new, sweet day.

“We should go back inside now,” Sammie whispered. “Before Cassie and the little one get cold.” They did so. Chrístõ smiled. He was a long way from his home, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t uphold the traditions of it. The child was named. His soul was claimed for the path of light. He was satisfied.