The first dreadful days of his exile passed into weeks. Winter became spring on Beta Delta IV. Julia was right when she told him that the raw, gnawing pain would ease. But the dull ache never left him. The best he could do was fill the time with activity as the days lengthened and the sun warmed the planet more.

Being with Julia WAS the one consolation for him. When she came home from school and at the weekends, he was able to feel alive. He could actually say that he enjoyed evenings at the theatre or cinema, or concerts, Saturday mornings at the bowling alley, afternoons in Earth Park. He was content playing chess with her in the drawing room and kissing her goodnight on the landing before going to his own room where he would never put on the light because Humphrey would be hiding under the bed waiting to greet him.

But the days when she was at school weighed heavily on him. He spent much of the time in his powered down TARDIS. He went to the Cloister room and meditated in the shadow of the Seal of Rassilon or sought the peace of the zero room, cut off from every part of the universe beyond its soothing walls. But neither the Cloister Room nor the Zero Room gave him the peace he sought. When he was alone it was too easy for memories to push their way into the forefront of his mind and he remembered with awful clarity that he was an exile from his home, that he didn’t even know for sure that his loved ones were alive or dead or if his world was still there.

Marianna was the only one of the family who knew just how unhappy he was. She did her best to be kind to him. When he emerged from his solitary time she gave him coffee and tried to draw him into conversation. He tried his best, but sometimes she knew his responses were only half-hearted.

“Maybe you should get a job,” she suggested as he sat at the kitchen table and watched the clock turn towards the time when Julia would be home.

“A job?” he looked at her as if the word was new to him. She smiled indulgently.

“A job. Like other people who aren’t princes of the universe have,” she answered him.

“What sort of job could I do?”

“You’ve been to school for nearly 200 years. You’ve got a degree haven’t you?”

“It’s in Thermodynamics with an elective in Gallifreyan law,” he answered. “And if Gallifreyan law no longer exists that’s not a lot of use.”

“A degree is a degree as far as the Board of Governors at the school are concerned,” she told him. “New Canberra High School,” she added as he still looked uncharacteristically blank-eyed at her. “Where Julia and the boys go. There’s a job opening for the summer term.”


“Teaching.” Marianna put a sheet of paper in front of him. It was an application form for a teaching post.

“You got the form?”

“Mr Gallighan suggested it. At the parent-teacher’s night. The headmaster. The one who took over in the New Year after the trouble at Christmas. He asked about you. And wondered if you might be interested in the job. It’s not in the mainstream faculty. It’s a new special needs class that they want somebody for.”

“Somebody I have never met before knows about what happened at Christmas and wonders if I would like a job?” Chrístõ thought about that for a while and realised there was nothing sinister about it, really. After all, he did make a big impression. Even so…

“You planned this… without even asking me?”

“Somebody has to. You need something to do, something to take your mind off your troubles. Maybe even in the long term. Have you really thought… in the worst case, you might NEVER be able to return to your old life.”

“The war will be over one day,” Chrístõ said. “I’m NOT going to be an exile forever. I WILL marry Julia, on Gallifrey, in the Panopticon. I WILL.”

That was the hope he held onto. Marianna wouldn’t have robbed him of that hope for anything.

“But in the meantime, this would be better than moping around in your TARDIS.”

“I don’t mope,” he protested. “I meditate.”

But he looked at the form and then he picked up a pen and filled it in, wondering why it was that in a technological age a handwritten form was still the best way of deciding if somebody was fit for a job. He attached a celluloid memory wafer. It contained his final examination results from the Prydonian Academy and the testimonials of his tutors all translated into English. He noticed that Marianna and Herrick had already signed the part where he was asked to provide a personal character reference. And later when he walked in the evening sunshine with Julia he stopped off to post the application.

He almost expected to be rejected. He was sure the fact that he was an ALIEN would go against him. Before the end of the spring term, though, he was interviewed by the new headmaster and a panel of the school managers and governors and seemed to impress them.

In the Easter holiday he went with Herrick to look at cars and bought one for himself that wasn’t too expensive and ostentatious. And on the first day of the summer term HE drove Julia and her cousins to school on what was his own first day.

“This is just a BIT embarrassing,” Julia pointed out. “My boyfriend is one of the teachers.”

“Until the end of the school day I’m not your boyfriend,” Chrístõ answered. “Anyway, I’m not teaching you. I’m in charge of the Advanced Needs Students”

“You’re teaching the bookworms,” Cordell pointed out. “The clever kids who make the rest of us look dumb.”

“Well, at least he’ll never have to teach YOU, then,” Julia answered him. “I hope you have a nice day, Chrístõ.”

He stopped the car by the main gate and Julia leaned over and kissed him on the cheek before getting out of the car with her school bag over her shoulder and waving to one of her friends. The two boys ran off to join their own crowd. Chrístõ drove on to the teacher’s entrance and parked his car there. He sat in the driver’s seat for a long time, looking at the door he was supposed to go through. When he did, he would be a teacher, not an ambassador for his world, not a prince of the universe. Not even a Time Lord. For now, that life would be gone.

Even his name would be gone.

Chrístõ de Leon. That was the name he wrote on the virtual whiteboard with a stylus. It was easier to spell and to pronounce. It was the surname his father used when he worked as a professor of English literature on late twentieth century Earth, so in a way it DID belong to him. But it still felt slightly wrong when he said it out loud to the group of fifteen students who sat looking up at him. It felt as if he had betrayed another part of his heritage.

“You’re the one from the Christmas party,” a girl in a red dress said. “I remember. You broke the window….”

“I won’t be doing anything that spectacular in this classroom,” he answered. “Glass breaking is definitely not on the curriculum.”

They all laughed a little, but he hadn’t QUITE managed to convince them that he WAS going to be their teacher.

“You don’t look old enough to teach us,” said a boy in the front desk. “You DO know that we’re the ADVANCED class? Are you qualified….”

Chrístõ felt he could answer THAT question, at least. He smiled and picked up the maths book the boy had open in front of him. There was a very complicated calculus problem on the page. He gave it back to the boy and turned to the whiteboard. He erased his name and then wrote down the problem before proceeding to solve it in a matter of seconds. Half the class were staring at the whiteboard. The other half were completing the problem themselves and then looking up at him in astonishment when their answers matched the one he had already given.

“You’ve got the answer book,” a girl pointed out.

“Do I?” he asked opening out his hands and showing them to be empty.

“It’s on the shelf over there,” she told him. He turned and looked at the bookshelf with a selection of textbooks crammed onto it. It was well out of arms reach..

“And I’m standing over HERE,” he answered her.

“Good point,” she conceded.

“Glad we cleared that up. Apparently I do the register now. I know that’s WAY below all our intellectual levels, but just wave your hands and say ‘present’ or something and I’ll know who you are after that.”

The register was on an interactive screen built into his desk and it actually showed their names according to where they were sitting, even though two of them switched seats when he wasn’t looking. But he wanted to do it the old fashioned way and put the names to their faces.

Benning, Marle,” he read and the girl who had queried his maths skills raised her hand. She was one of the oldest students, at 17. “Benning, Laurence.” Beside her a boy who had to be her twin brother raised his hand. “Dennis, Carlo, Dutea, Rudie… Joyce, Archie… Keogh, Malcolm… Koetting, Vern… Lee, Damon.. Lovell, Gretta… Massey, Noreen… Nuttino, Lara… Ross, Glenda… Stein, Pieter… Walker, Geoffrey…. Wright, Angela…”

He watched their hands shoot up and committed their names to memory. They were a fair representation of Beta Deltan society. The Benning twins were brown eyed and black haired, and could have passed for an older brother and sister to Julia. Glenda Ross and Rudie Dutea were dark skinned. Glenda had long hair in lots of tight plaits threaded with beads and Rudie had tight, short curled hair. Malcom, Noreen and Archie were all pale complexioned but with dark hair, descended somewhere along the line from either Scots or Irish. Gretta and Pieter were blue eyed, blonde haired and of Swiss or Austrian descent. Lara must have had an olive skinned Mediterranean in her ancestry. Carlo had slightly duskier Spanish ancestry. Vern and Damon had the faintest trace of Afrikaans in their accents despite being born on this planet. Angela had a North American cadence to her voice.

All part of the melting pot of interplanetary colonisation.

For the foreseeable future, he, too, was a colonist. He was a Beta Deltan.

And he was a teacher. Their teacher. They looked at him expectantly. And he panicked for a moment, wondering what he was supposed to do.

“Calm down,” his inner voice told him. “You’ve held hundreds of delegates in the palm of your hands at conference. You can do this.”

“Yes, I can,” he answered himself. He looked back at his students and smiled. “According to your schedule you’ve got another twenty of these problems to get through in the first hour of the morning. So why don’t you get on with that while I sort out where all my pencils go and plan the rest of your lessons.”

The class went quiet apart from the tapping of styluses on the virtual keyboards on each of their desks as they worked through the maths problems. Chrístõ closed the register on his own desktop visual display and with deft fingers opened and read the lesson plan not only for the day, but for the whole term. These were unique children who were far advanced for their age in all of their lessons. They had been put into a separate class where they would not be held back by the other students or feel nervous about showing their genius in front of their peers. His objective was to get them through their advanced curriculum, bypassing the usual examination levels and taking them straight to the university entrance examinations while, at the same time, helping them with the social skills that would allow them to play their part in Beta Deltan society. He therefore had to take them for sports lessons, music, theatre trips, and various other educational field work in addition to the hours they would spend in this room.

“Ok,” he thought. “I can do that.”

He looked at his class. They were quiet, still, engrossed in their work.

At least they appeared to be.

There was something about them….

He picked up a book off the shelf behind him and pretended to be reading it, but he was actually watching them and concentrating his mind on them as he did so.

And what he found surprised him.

He stopped reading the book and concentrated very hard on a single image. Slowly, each of the students looked up from their maths books and looked around at each other before turning to look at them.

“Mr De Leon….” said the girl who he knew from the register as Marle Benning. “Sir….”

“Where IS that, sir?” Laurence Benning asked. “It’s not on Beta Delta IV.”

“You all saw the image in your minds?” he asked. “And you’ve never seen that mountain before?”

“Why does it make you sad, sir?” asked Angela Wright.

That shook him. He had focussed on the image, but almost all of them had picked up his feelings about it.

“The mountain is near my home and I may never be able to go there again,” he answered, truthfully. “You’re all telepathic as well as smart?”

“Yes,” said Marle. “Are you?”

“We’re in trouble now,” he heard one of the boys say telepathically. “We’ve never had a teacher who can listen in on our conversations before.”

“Then this afternoon’s lesson ought to be how to block your private thoughts,” Chrístõ replied to them, out loud. “But first, you’re supposed to be doing Earth literature.” He looked at the bookshelf again and smiled. He picked up a stack of books and handed them out to the class.

“The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham. A 20th century Earth writer with a very rich and vivid imagination.” He opened his own copy of the book on the first page and began to read it aloud. He could read it to himself in a few minutes. He thought his class would probably finish it in an hour. But he wanted them to realise what he had realised long ago - that reading fast was only useful if you wanted to get to grips with a technical manual. For literature, it was better to savour the words at a more ordinary speed.

After fifteen minutes of reading aloud, though, he let them get on by themselves. Again it went quiet in the room except for the turning of pages as they read. He was aware of their random thoughts as they took in a story about a small group of young people with powers like their own, who lived in fear of persecution for not being a ‘norm’ of their society.

By the end of the first hour of their literature lesson they all closed the books and looked up at him expectantly. He sat on the front of his desk, more casual, and hopefully a little more friendly than sitting behind it.

“Sir...” Marle raised her hand and spoke in words. “Do you think…” she paused. She was unsure how to phrase her question. “I mean… would that happen to us?”

“Not quite like that,” he answered. “At least, I hope not. Beta Deltan society is not so fundamentalist as the one described in that book. Even so… Nobody outside this class knows you can do telepathy? Your parents don’t know? Brothers or sisters?”

They all shook their heads.

“Why?” he asked them. “Why is it, do you think, that your instincts all told you to keep this a secret? Why do you hide what you are?”

“What ARE we?” asked Vern Koetting, a small boy for sixteen with a timid looking expression.

“You are Human beings who have evolved with a skill that is latent in ALL Humans but rarely develops into something that they are even aware of. I’ve met maybe three Humans with strong telepathy and they were singular people living light years from each other. To find fifteen of you in one classroom – that’s actually amazing. What you ARE is very special. And don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. But… to return to my first question…”

“We’re freaks enough for being ‘brainy’,” Laurence answered. “If people knew about this…”

The others nodded in agreement.

“Ok, that’s the answer I more or less expected,” Chrístõ said. “And, don’t worry, I’m not here to expose any of you to that sort of hurt. But I will help you. As I said before, you need to learn to block. But there is a lot more you can learn to do with your skills. And I can teach you.”

Fifteen pairs of eyes widened expectantly and enthusiastically.

“I also have to get you through an ordinary curriculum,” he added. “So right now, 1,000 words on the Bildungsroman of Wyndham’s Chrysalids, with citations.”

There was a collective groan about the fact that they were required to WORK after having things easy for the past hour. Telepathic geniuses they may be, but they were still teenagers aged fourteen to seventeen. They set to work right away, though, and Chrístõ went to sit down at his desk again. He had a lot to think about before the afternoon lesson that was not going to follow the set curriculum.

At lunchtime he walked with his students to the refectory. He was expected to sit at the staff table, of course. And he talked with some of the other teachers who asked him kindly about how he was enjoying his first day. While he kept up with the conversation he looked around the room. His students sat at a table together, separate from the mainstream cohort. But, actually, as he looked around, he realised there was nothing unusual about that. All the student body was split along different lines. He noticed Julia at a table of slim young girls who, despite being in school uniform, seemed MADE to wear leotards and gym skirts. Another table was exclusively male and he knew at once they played football. Cordell and Michal sat with a noisy group of boys their own age. Demarcations and cliques were a part of school life, and his students were no different in that respect.

He was glad of that. Because he knew what it was to be marked out as unusual. There was a refectory at the Prydonian Academy. It was a beautiful room with white walls decorated with bas reliefs of ancient Gallifreyan mythological figures. There was a cool, peaceful ambience. But for the first ten years of his school life he had avoided it as often as he could. Almost every lunch and supper he got food he could put in his pocket and slipped away to eat it somewhere private, like the roof of the arboretum or the observatory tower. Eating alone was preferable to being alone surrounded by hundreds of other people.

As he promised, he set aside the curriculum in the afternoon and started to teach them to block their private thoughts from each other. He taught them to build a brick wall in their minds and keep their thoughts behind it. Ironically, he thought, the idea of a mental wall like that came from another Wyndham novel. In his classes at the Academy they simply taught the would-be Time Lords to close the telepathic synapses off from the rest of their brains. The brick wall was a more comfortable idea, and easier in a way. It took only an hour for most of his students to do it. They looked at each other in amazement as they found themselves alone in their own heads for a rare time.

“You should get used to keeping some of your thoughts private that way,” Chrístõ told them. “Everyone needs privacy. But don’t get paranoid and suspicious with each other. Don’t go thinking somebody is hiding things from you. Respect each other’s privacy, Don’t try to knock down each other’s walls.”

He took a breath before he continued.

“HOWEVER, the next part of the exercise is to TRY to break down the walls.”


“So that you learn to resist it,” he answered. “This could be dangerous. You could hurt each other. So… be careful. But work in pairs. One of you concentrate on one single image and put it behind a wall. The other, try to break through. But if it hurts either of you, stop.”

At the first attempt nobody got hurt, because it took only a few seconds to break down the walls. When they tried again it was a bit more effort. The third time, he could see the concentration on all their faces. One by one the walls came down, all except Marle and Laurence. All the others watched as Laurence resisted his sister’s assault on his wall. And when it finally DID crumble they all laughed out loud.

“He hid a WALL behind his WALL,” Marle protested. “A second wall.”

“Very good, Laurence,” Chrístõ said. “If any of us have any BIG secrets, we’ll let you look after them.”

“You have secrets, don’t you, sir?” Marle said.

“Not exactly secrets,” he answered. “Just… things I don’t really want to talk about, right now.”

He felt them probing. They were teenagers, and curiosity got the better of them. But he had learnt to block such probes long ago.

“No,” he said gently but insistently. “Don’t do that. Come on, now. Let’s round off the afternoon with some ordinary theoretical physics and we’ll pick this up tomorrow afternoon.”

He was cheerful as he drove home after his first day as a teacher. He was more talkative at the tea table than any of the family had seen him for a while. And afterwards he sat opposite Julia at the table in the living room. While she did her homework, he used his laptop computer to plan out what he wanted to do with his class tomorrow afternoon. He was still doing it when Julia was finished and she moved her chair around to sit next to him.

“Teachers aren’t supposed to have more homework than students,” she told him.

“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’ll be finished soon. Then we can go out for a walk. It’s a nice evening.”

He smiled brightly. Julia saw the smile and realised that, for the first time in a long while, his eyes smiled, too. He had gone a whole day without remembering he was unhappy.

“Yes,” Chrístõ thought as he caught the end of her thought. “Yes, I have. Marianna was right. I’ve actually been happy all day.”

“What are they like, your students?” she asked him.

“They’re terrific,” he answered. “Totally fantastic. And they really need me. There’s so much I can teach them.”

“Did you read this to them?” she asked, looking at a copy of the Chrysalids that was by the side of the laptop.

“Yes, I did,” he answered.

“It’s an interesting story. I read it with Natalie.”

“Wasn’t it a bit advanced for you?”

“Natalie thought it might interest me. Because it’s about telepaths. People like you.”

“Not exactly like me. On my planet, telepathy is normal. I don’t know anyone who can’t do it. Humans… it frightens them. Anything unusual frightens them.”

“Is that why you read it to them? Because they’re the ‘bookworms’ and people think they’re freaks?”

“Don’t use words like that,” Chrístõ told her. “Freak… It’s not a nice word. Besides, they’re NOT. They’re… they’re MY Chrysalids. That’s what you can call them.”

“Chrístõ’s Chrysalids?” She smiled. “Good name.”

That name stuck with him, anyway. He thought of them as that when he planned their lessons in the evenings. He looked forward to spending his days with them, teaching them their ordinary lessons in the morning, and the extraordinary ones in the afternoon. In the morning, he would sit behind the desk, a teacher. In the afternoon, he sat with them, the seats arranged in a ring. He taught them exercises to strengthen their telepathic abilities. He taught them the rules of multidimensional chess and created a board with his own mind. He taught them to move the pieces with the power of their minds. They all learnt to do it. Some faster than the others. The Benning twins were the strongest telepaths of the whole group, but they all tried so hard that there was no question of them failing.

Little by little, over the first weeks of the summer term, he honed their skills. He moved on from basic telepathy to telekinesis. He admitted that he was not much good at it himself, then managed to write his name on the whiteboard without touching the stylus before they all had a go. He made sure somebody was always watching at the door. They didn’t need the headmaster or another teacher walking in on them in the middle of THIS lesson. For the same reason there were always maths books open in front of them all.

He never forgot he was a proud Gallifreyan, a prince of the universe. But a teacher was a good thing to be until such time as the universe called him again.