"Well," said Mr Brand, setting down his glass of champagne, "we really ought to be going now." He stood up, then lent a hand to his very pregnant wife to help her to her feet. "Good bye, Mr West, Mr Gordon."
The four shook hands all around as they said their farewells. Laying her hand on the top of her belly, Mrs Brand smiled at the two agents, tears rimming her eyes. "I can never thank you gentlemen enough for saving Lucius' life."
"Well," said Jim, "seeing real justice done is reward enough for us."
"Yes," Artie added. "The fact that the innocent was exonerated and the guilty parties exposed and arrested... well, that's all in a day's work in our business!"
They laughed, and then Jim saw the young couple to the door. Once they were gone, he set about clearing away the champagne and glasses, taking them all off to the galley.
Artie blew out the candle in the projector on the table and start packing it up. He put the machine away, then sat down at the table, pulled a handful of something out of his pocket, spread those broken bits out on the table top, and sat there glumly staring down at them.
Jim came to Artie's side, laying a hand on his partner's shoulder. "Do you think you can fix it?" he asked.
Artie took up a few slivers of the crystal and sighed. "Well, not this part, obviously, but for the rest, I'll at least give it a shot. You know, Jim, I've had this watch my whole life, as long as I can remember."
"Longer," said Jim, sitting down and rummaging through the bits for himself.
Artie chuckled. "Yeah, you have a point there. Until a couple of months ago when that very watch started talking to me and told me to open it, I couldn't remember my childhood. Everything before the night I found myself on the outskirts of Chicago, all alone with nothing but the clothes on my back and that watch - it was all a complete blank. Twelve years or so that I couldn't remember!"
"Yeah, it's just a good thing that a Good Samaritan like Lemuel Gordon happened along and took you in."
Artie smiled, thinking of his foster father. "Took me in, gave me a name, told everyone that I'd come to live with him because my old Great-Aunt Maude had died..." He sighed now, pulling himself back from a trip down that particular memory lane. "But then when the watch talked to me and I opened it: FOOM! Suddenly it was all different! I was different!"
"Well," said Jim with a smile, "you weren't all that different. You're still the same ol' Artie. You just suddenly had two hearts."
Artie laughed. "Yeah... Come on, James, there were a few more differences that sprang up besides that!"
"Mm. Maybe a few."
"But the main thing," Artie went on, waving a hand over the broken pieces of his watch, "the main thing is that when I opened the watch, I became again what I had been born as, a Gallifreyan, and I remembered everything. I remembered my childhood, and I remembered my parents." Now it was his eyes rimming with tears. "I remembered how my father put me into the Chameleon Arch to make me human so he could hide me here on Earth, both for my safety and my mother's, because of the way Professor Harlequin had blamed me, one of his wife's students, for her death in that lab accident." Artie had to stop talking now and swallowed hard.
Jim gave his buddy a comforting nudge on the shoulder. "It must have worked pretty well. He didn't recognize you the first time we met, and I'm not entirely sure he recognized you the second time."
"Oh no, he knew who I was that time; no doubt about that. He'd tried before to kill my mother before my eyes in the name of revenge, and this time he tried to kill little Abi just because she was my cousin." He paused, then added, "Except... she really isn't my cousin, is she? How can we be related? She's human, and I'm not."
Jim patted Artie's shoulder. "Well, I'm going to go see to the horses right now. Want to give me a hand?"
"Yeah, in a bit, Jim. I'll be along shortly."
Jim went on down the corridor and crossed over to the baggage car while Artie continued to sit and rearrange the broken pieces in front of him. "I wonder," he said to himself at last. "I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't opened the watch that night when it was talking to me? What if today I had still been human, with all my Gallifreyan being, persona, and memories - all of that still locked up inside the watch when it got broken? What would have happened? Would the real me have come bursting forth in that moment and the Chameleon Arch been reversed at that time, renewing me into a Time Lord today the way it did a couple of months ago? Or would my Gallifreyan past have been lost to me forever? I wonder..."
He sat there a little longer, frowning, ruminating over the possibilities, ruminating over his life as it had been, and was now, and might never have been. And then his face cleared as he gave a chuckle and said, "Oh well. What's done is done and can't be undone, as my Great-Aunt Maude used to say. Or would have said, the old dear, if she hadn't been a figment of Lemuel's imagination." With a sigh he got to his feet. "Yeah. I'll fix this tomorrow." He looked around until he found a box, then swept all the pieces into it and set the box down on the table.
He paused, his hand still on the box. "I'm sorry you got broken," he said at length. "And I thank you. Thank you for all those years of keeping the real me stored inside of you, waiting for the right moment to call to me so I would open you and let me out." He smiled, then chuckled again. "Yeah, I'm talking to my watch." He gave the box a little pat, then headed up the corridor to help Jim with the horses.
There on the table sat the little box, the watch parts within it gently gleaming, reflecting the gaslight. And then, almost imperceptibly, the box began to change, to grow, to expand.
But curiously enough, the box was only getting bigger on the inside...
~~ FIN ~~