He grabs hold of Omega, just for a moment, maybe finding his balance both physically and psychically. Gallifrey. He'd reconciled himself to never seeing it again, save for in dreams and memories and yet ... there it was. His reckless son had done what he'd dared not do. Had maybe been too frightened, on a subconscious level, to do.
"Just through there..." he echoes. Had he ever, truly, imparted to Omega what he'd lost and what it means, now, to stand here and see a Nexus portal leading to the home, the world, the everything, that had died?
He's aware. The Son of Rassilon grew up in the shadow of Gallifrey, how could he not be? Being sent back in time to periods before his birth to cheer his Father up out of those funks before he truly began his work, he knew the import of this. Why else would he have come back in time so breathlessly to find him?
Steadying Rassilon, he smiles down at him gently. "After you."
He returns the smile and detaches himself, takes a deep breath, and walks forward. He closes his eyes as he steps through the portal, because he suspects....
It hits him like a change in the air, but more. So much more. He stops. Takes a long breath. Tilts his head back and lets it all flow over him and through him. Lets the slight breeze ruffle his hair and caress his skin. His hands are spread, feeling the warmth of the suns.
He's only barely aware that he's trembling.
Omega gives him a moment before following, and then steps through.
It's a garden, on this side, narrow and thickly planted, high on the side of one of the towers of the Citadel. And the view....
The view is nothing short of spectacular. All around them, white and crystal buildings, impossibly delicate, extend as far as the eye can see until, barely detectable, they stop against a shimmering dome. Above them, the ochre sky and the twin suns appear prismed--whether by the city-dome or by the transduction barier, one cannot tell from here.
Below them, even within the dome, lies a thin mist of clouds. The towers are impossibly tall, here.
It is a view that gives them a feeling of suspension. Timeless and completely aware of time, simultaneously. It's all around them. Within them. In every breath and every ray of the suns. In every prismatic colour glinting off the dome and the buildings. In the scent of the grey roses.
A shadow can be seen outside the dome, just there. Tower-shaped and somehow out-of-place in the suspended beauty. Rassilon looks at it for several beats.
Omega stands at his Father's shoulder, the perfect son. Look what he found for you, Father. Not a gift, but a taste, just... Enough to ease the pain?
Behind them, a careful cough disturbs the silence. They weren't there when they arrived, but two men stand there now, in the robes and collars of Time Lords at court. Omega turns with that perfect diplomat's grin that he certainly did not inherit from his father, and bows low. "Lords. My great priviledge to introduce Rassilon of the Seventh Reality. Father, this is President Olvir, Chancellor Borusa, and Castellan Spandrell." His grin sharpened beyond polite boundaries, but he was looking back at his Father by then.
It does. Oh, it does ease the pain and somehow, at the same time, make it sharper. Sweeter.
He could feel the minds of the others even as he stood at the ledge--so close to the edge! The roses brought back a flicker of a memory of wind and rain and a moment of manic defiance, hanging from a balcony--and waits, his head tilted back, calmly taking deep breaths.
He does turn when the others are introduced, and look at them. Modern Gallifreyans. Loomlings. Absolutely bursting with potential but walled up, sheilded, encased in powerful individual prisons of their own making. He nods his head anyway, looking at the floor through lowered lashes for a moment as he extends a mental greeting that he wonders if they can even hear.
The three of them glance reflexively towards that shadow outside the dome before looking back at this pair, this impossible pair. "An honour. Will you come in?" The Castellan sweeps an arm back towards the door they appeared through, his expression strictly controlled. The three of them look unsure what to do with Omega and Rassilon, the President in particular looking a little stunned.
He walks in. Their reactions at his lack of shoes amuse him--he remembers The Other arguing with him constantly to, for the love of reason, at least wear shoes at official appearances!--and it occurs to him, for just a moment, to have some fun with these ossified beings.
The room within has a familiarity to it. After all the millennia, Gallifreyan architecture and interior design has changed little. Become sparser, maybe. Colder. The windows offer a view of the towers and the sky, there are few plants and many graceful decorations. And all is silent...the murmur of thought barely detectable.
"So tell me, Lord President. Chancellor. How has Gallifrey changed while I've been gone, presumably locked up in there?" He tilts his head toward the Tower in the distance. He already knows the answer. He wants to know what they would tell him.
So they tell him.
And they're halfway through the Fifth Era when an almost uncontrollable urge starts to creep in on him. He wants to break those careful, complex shells. Listen to the minds within. Make them hear what they've been closing themselves off from for so long. He folds his hands behind his back to stop himself clenching and unclenching fists. Takes a deep breath. Wonders if Omega feels the same way.
Omega's heard all this history before. Lessons from Borusa and the Doctors, over the course of his whole life have made it rather boring to hear again now, but he's enjoying watching his father.
What on Gallifrey happened to make them all so stuffy?
Change happened. Gallifrey lost its mother and became isolated. Each and every one of these people, new and memoryless, living on this ancient, cursed world, turned inward, and it only increased as history became legend and they completely lost all concept of their own people. My kind died out. And with them died my kind's ways. They're old and young at the same time. Full of contradictions.
The history lesson petered out and the Lord President looked pointedly at them with an expression of polite curiosity and extreme patience. The Castellan simply watched with the air of one easily and calmly ready for absolutely anything, and Borusa watched closely. This one took in absolutely everything.
"Is everything all right, Lord Rassilon?" Olvir queried.
A flicker. The tiniest spark of green flashed across Rassilon's eyes and Omega could hear: I don't think they completely beleive us.
Would you? "Hello, I'm the son of the closest thing you have to an ancestral god, and hang on a sec, I'll bring him 'round for tea." And then you show up without shoes.
Omega can't keep the grin off his face, at all.
It brings a similar grin to Rassilon's own face.
Somehow, they left that bit out of the histories. I wonder if they also forgot my Habidabadi aphrodisiac collection and my tendency to sit on tables at conferences....
The Inner Council are staring, now.
Shame on you, spent all your time playing pranks and didn't even remember to write your own autobiography before swanning off into that Tower...
He laughs, then catches the looks on the faces of the others. "My apologies, Sirs. I just realized when we are. You'll have seen the Doctor recently, then?"
There's blinking, as they're derailed from watching Rassilon grin.
"We have, actually. What do you know of the Doctor's recent ... visit here?" Borusa asks cannily, one eyebrow quirked as he looks at Omega again.
"Just what I was told as a child. He makes it sound like an adventure, fighting the Master, going into the Matrix against Chancellor Goth..."
Borusa makes a rather sardonic "huh" sound at that. "The Doctor would do such a thing. And I daresay that, for him, it was exactly that. A grand adventure, no matter how life-threatening it might have been."
Spandrell simply raises his eyebrows at all of this, and Olvir remains quiet, watchful.
"I remember that," Rassilon says, unexpectedly.
This brings the normally unperturbable Borusa to a full halt. "I beg your pardon?"
"I remember seeing that conflict." Rassilon somehow seats himself on the table with inexplicable ease, looking at the other Time Lords. "You do remember, of course, that my mind was the first to reside within the Matrix," he pointed out. "Though I couldn't do anything other than observe, I saw the entire conflict. I must say, Goth and Kos--er, the Master--were both superb manipulators of the data immersion subroutines. The Matrix was never meant to posess virtual environments to that extent, after all. The fact that they remained afterwards is a testament to that skill."
The three Time Lords blink at him for a moment more. Their eyes slide to the view of the Tower again, then back to Rassilon.
"I think you'll find," Rassilon tells them with a disingenuous smile, "that there's a very very brief mention in the Book Of The Old Time about my rather singular dislike of footwear."
They look at his bare feet. Then back up at his amused smile. Olvir raises a finger as though about to say something.
"Well," Spandrell says, derailing everyone's attempts at speech as he stands from the chair he'd been quietly occupying the entire time. "Quite apart from the Doctor, this is going to be a security disaster. Best get started now while things are still relatively peaceful, hm?"
No-one moves to stop him.
"Lord Rassilon, I beg you, do reconsider!" the attendant Cardinal--or was it Councillor--of the day yelped as he scurried after his charge. For his part, Rassilon strode soundlessly down the corridor, purposeful and as barefoot and blindingly clad as always, leaving whatever Time Lords who had to look after him to clatter in his wake. It was becoming truer every day--this fellow really was none other than Lord Rassilon, he really had arrived from another dimension, and he really was a security nightmare.
Spandrell had handled this as intelligently as possible by starting out NOT doing what everyone and his robotic dog might have wanted him to do--he had not had a dozen guards follow Rassilon and Omega wherever they went. That would have attracted far too much attention and defeated the entire purpose, you see. However, due to a few feats of impossibility, it was now a further impossibility for anyone to disbelieve that this visitor wasn't Lord Rassilon. Therefore, the idea of plainclothes officers had to be invented, given a standard operating manual, a criteria of personnel, and a degree of field competency in the space of five hours relative. Don't bother asking after those eight months you've inexplicably lost to what you thought was a really bad semester at school, you're never getting them back, now.
Problem was, there weren't enough Chancellery guards up to the task, and Spandrell was left enlisting Time Lords, as well. Hence the random Councillors and Cardinals.
They tried keeping Rassilon and Omega in a room. But what the Doctor was able to accomplish in a worrisomely short amount of time with sheer cleverness, these two were able to accomplish in a terrifyingly shorter amount of time with cleverness, charm, sheer power, or any combination thereof.
The most Spandrell's undercover cadre were able to do was keep the damage level to a minimum and to, for the love of sweet reason, stop these two from getting themselves killed by whatever philosophical cult they might run into with an enormous grudge against Rassilon the Thisthat. Rassilon the Tyrant, Rassilon the Xenophobe, Rassilon the Vampire?! (That one's going to have to be flushed out and quickly, before more people find out about this affront to logic....)
Oh, and to keep Lord Rassilon out of as many ladies' boudoirs as they could.
And out of as many restricted areas, unsafe areas, run-down areas, badly populated areas, and generally unwise areas as they could.
Which was what this one was attempting to do right now. Because to-day Lord Rassilon was bored with the Citadel and wanted to explore Lowtown. Lowtown! With all those ... people! He could so easily become lost it was terrifying. And Cardinal Vodin wasn't about to go journeying among the plebians. What would he wear to avoid looking painfully obvious, anyway?!
Trailing behind, keeping pace with the flustered Cardinal, Omega eyes his wayward father with amusement. He, at least, has adopted the dress of the natives. Who are they to complain if he wears blue converses under the robes?
"With all respect, Cardinal, do you realize that the more you protest, the more he wants it?" His tone is pitched to carry, one step above a stage whisper. "He's that sort of stubborn."
"Ah... eh... I've ... come to realise this, Lord Omega. But I'm nevertheless bound to request--" he cuts off, stumbling to a stop as Rassilon suddenly stops at a door.
"That ... he reconsider..." he flounders and then stops completely as Rassilon turns to regard them both.
"I don't know about the both of you--well, all right, I've an inkling of what you might be thinking, Omega--but I've had my fill of processed air and endless corridors," Rassilon observes calmly.
"That's ... as it may be, Lord Rassilon, but ... surely not Lowtown...." Vodin began again. Oh, why couldn't one of the Chancellery guard be doing this to-day? They're much better suited to tromping about and possibly encountering violence....
"Yes, Vodin. Lowtown. You know full well my view regarding the population." The stern expression that flickers across his face is one Omega had only seen a few times, but had learnt to associate with very important concepts indeed.
Vodin wilts. "... that true civilisation mustn't form a precipitate...." he recites.
"Quite!" Rassilon answers, apparently quite proud of his unimaginably scientific view toward the handling of political issues. It's no wonder the original Omega handled matters of state. "Thus, Lowtown!"
"Oh, very well, Lord Rassilon, if you insist..." Vodin started.
"Only do allow me to make myself a bit less.... conspicuous?"
"Conspicuous? My dear chap. You look as Gallifreyan as the rest of us." In fact, if it's anyone who looks conspicuous, it's Rassilon himself, in antiquated robes and no shoes.
"Begging your pardon, my Lord Rassilon, I look like a Time Lord. And that's just the problem. We aren't exactly well-received in some districts," Vodin points out.
There's a pause. "Well, I'd make some pointed query as to whose fault that is, but there's no point in reproachfulness, now is there?" He smiles again. "Well, then, run along and put on something less conspicuous. Spit spot. We'll stay here."
This earned him a patient look. "Lord Rassilon, please don't insult my intelligence."
Vodin sighs hugely. "Oh, all right, I'll admit I wasn't going to come back, either. I'll ... contact the Castellan."
"There, you see? Things go so much more smoothly when everyone is honest. Wouldn't you agree, Omega?"