Summary: For the Hugs, Cuddles and Kisses challenge. A piece of backstory for Unexpected (link goes to most recent chapter).
Blame: Whoever came up with the prompt "Nine/Sarah, Unexpected".
As usual x-posted to my sarahjane_fic.
They ran into each other in Brighton, quite literally. Another alien invasion. It had been less than a year since she'd seen him (four of him) in the Death Zone, but more time had passed for him. He looked young now, about her age, and was travelling alone.
"So, you're the Sixth Doctor."
"Eighth." He'd smiled at her, that manic grin that she'd always recognise, no matter what face he wore. "Now, run."
It was like old times. She could almost forget the way he'd left her.
Once they'd saved the world again, he teased her into taking one more trip.
"Florana," he'd said. "We never made it there."
"And given the way you steer, we never will." But she had gone with him, as he knew she would.
They never made it to Florana. They had barely left Earth before he was summoned back to Gallifrey, and this time he didn't have time to drop her off at home first. It didn't matter anyway; the High Council had more important things to worry about.
War with the Daleks.
There wasn't time for him to take her home and she would never have asked him to, so she stayed and helped where she could. She knew it was killing him that she was standing on the front lines, but there wasn't a safe place left to stand and there wasn't anywhere else for her to go.
Each time the Council gave him another impossible mission she was there with him. After the first few, they no longer tried to stop her. For a while there was gossip to deal with, but war has a way of changing priorities and soon she found she was tolerated by his people.
She slept alone in their bed most nights. Even the nights he joined her he didn't stay. She found herself sleeping only when she was too exhausted to go on. There was too much to be done, and the horrors of war haunted her dreams.
Sometimes Sarah thought the war would never end. She'd lost track of how long she'd been fighting. She didn't seem to be getting older, but the Time Lords had messed with her genes, so she couldn't trust the normal signs of ageing any more.
Sarah didn't notice when her past started to fragment so she could no longer trust her own memories. There was no one from her old life around, except for him, and no time to talk about anything but the war. She wouldn't notice that particular war wound until much later.
The fall of Arcadia was a nightmare which would haunt her dreams for a long time to come, causing her to wake screaming. When it happened there was no time to scream, just to act. They had watched helplessly as the Daleks had massacred the population, while the Doctor worked to disarm the bomb which would condemn any survivors to a slow and painful death.
In the end, they failed. Sarah shakily helped the Doctor back to the TARDIS. He'd taken the brunt of the blast, shielding her with his body. She got him and what was left of their team inside, and closed the door. There was nothing left to be done and if she tried to stay and help anyone, within an hour she'd be dying herself with no help of a cure.
By the time she turned around his regeneration had started.
Through all the death and destruction, she hadn't thought it might touch her directly. Not like this, stealing the third Doctor she'd travelled with away. She had watched him regenerate once before, long ago when she was so much younger. She wasn't young now.
Sarah held him as he regenerated. And tried to calm him as he pulled away abruptly talking nonsense and bouncing off the walls. His old form had been Byronic, unsuited for war. This body was leaner and looked like it was made for it.
Leaving the others to set the course back to Gallifrey, she followed him to the wardrobe room and watched silently as he traded in Edwardian garb for a battered leather jacket, jumper and jeans. It was impossible not to see the outfit as armour.
"The jacket was Fitz's," he told her. Fitz Kreiner. One of many companions she had never met. She almost envied them, the others, who had been spared the reality of this eternal, unforgiving war. But she would not leave him, not as long as he needed her.
She just wrapped him in her arms and held him tight. He was damaged, now, but then so was she. They knew the war would be over soon one way or another.