Summary: Sarah is going through some family papers and discovers something she wasn't expecting.
Blame: Human Nature and this thread in nostalgia_lj's live journal. And whoever insisted I write the conversation.
Spoilers Through Human Nature
CharactersSarah Jane, Joan Redfern, the Doctor.
Started out as crackfic, but not as crackish as I'd hoped. This is the end, I'm afraid. I find myself wanting to write Sarah/Doctor smut in response. I guess I ship them to much to actually accept the premise of this story. :(
As usual x-posted to my lj.
The Doctor stared as Sarah's face appeared on the monitor before him. She didn't, couldn't have the technology to contact him like this. Not that he minded. He'd meant to fix her mobile the way he had Rose's, but had got distracted. But he was glad to see her. With Martha off doing doctory things, the TARDIS was feeling a bit empty at the moment.
"Sarah Jane. How grand to see you again so soon. You shouldn't be able to do this though. Have you been captured by invading aliens or something?" He'd already fixed on her location. Even if she didn't need rescuing, there was apt to be some running and getting shot at, which sounded very appealing at the moment, as he was currently at loose ends.
"No, I just wanted to talk to you about something." Sarah smiled that bright Sarah smile at him. He missed that smile too much when she wasn't around. Maybe this time she'd come with him, if he asked her nicely.
"Well, that's fine too." No explosions, then, what a pity. "I should be materialising right about now." He turned on the other viewscreen and saw that he had landed in the garden of a house. Sarah's, he presumed. "I think I'm in your back garden."
"I heard the TARDIS," Sarah said dryly. "I'll be right down to let you in. I hope it didn't wake Luke."
He debated letting himself in, but decided that would be too rude, even for him. Instead he leaned against the doorway, wondering who Luke was. The last time he'd seen her she'd implied she had neither lover nor child and he'd worried about her. Even when he'd known her, she'd only had her Aunt Lavinia and he knew must get lonely sometimes. He heard footsteps on the stairs, then the lock clicked and there was Sarah in flannel pyjamas with a rather stunned look on her face.
"I didn't expect you to show up like this." She hung back in the doorway. "We could have just talked on the video connection.
He supposed he deserved that. After all the years he had let pass without a word, she wouldn't expect him to just drop by for tea.
"I thought there would be danger. Saving the world, stuff like that." He shoved his hands in his pockets and studied her thoughtfully. "What's wrong, Sarah?"
"I just...it's complicated. Why don't you come in? Can I offer you something to drink? Tea?"
She reached for two books on the table and picked them up, rather self-consciously.
"Sarah, it's me." He smiled gently at her, catching her hands in his, and absently removing the books in the process. "Why don't you start at the beginning?" Something had upset her, he needed to know what so he could fix it. He leaned against the table and glanced at the books he was now holding.
"Where did you get this?" He had meant to take the journal with him when he left and hadn't realised he hadn't until it was too late. If Torchwood had got their hands on this.
"It was with my grandmother's things," She moved restlessly about the kitchen, starting to make tea, even though he'd refused.
He dropped the books on the table, and strode over to stand behind her. "Sarah, there shouldn't have been anything in that journal to upset you like this. Half remembered glimpses of a life you already knew about." Had he written of the Time War? He couldn't remember.
"I've been working my way through my grandmother's papers. I inherited them when Aunt Lavinia died, a few years ago. And tonight I found this. Your journal, and my grandmother's diary for the same time period." She shook off his hands and continued to make tea mechanically.
"That's the second time you've mentioned your grandmother." The Doctor said softly. He thought for a moment. The adventure itself shouldn't have bothered Sarah. She'd been through things just as bad, if not worse. And there hadn't been that many women at the school. He found a position against the counter where he could see her face, and absently took a fingerful of honey and licked it off.
Sarah nodded. "Joan Redfern." She didn't say anything about the honey.
The Doctor didn't know if she was too distracted or just didn't care. Then the name hit him. "Joan Redfern? Oh, that's brilliant. She reminded me of you, I think...or vice versa. And I can see where your Aunt got her interest in medicine." He froze, stopping abruptly, and staring at Sarah. "Joan's your grandmother?"
"Yes. You didn't know?
"How could I know? I only just met her." He grinned but he could see it was lost on her. And as you've probably guessed the journal is mine. I lost track of it. I was being chased by a group who would have been able to track me easily...the only Time Lord left. So I changed. Made myself human and led them into a trap. I didn't...couldn't remember who I had been, but I had dreams. You found it among your grandmother's things?"
Her voice shook. "Aunt Lavinia died a few years ago. She had boxes in the attic, my parents things, my grandparents.... I don't think she ever bothered to sort through them. I started with my parents things and when I was done, I started on my grandmother's. It was mixed in with a box of her own journals. I started reading them. For a while, I thought I might write a book. Now, I don't know."
"She was a remarkable woman." He'd nearly married her, not knowing any better but Martha had stopped him before it was too late. He froze. Sarah must have read about that, either in his journal or Joan's. But Joan had moved on. She'd had two children. And Sarah. He thought about Susan, lost in the war and felt almost envious of that life. But if he'd stayed with her, he would have robbed her of that happiness.
"Sarah." He reached over and brushed her face with a sticky finger. "You're not...jealous, are you?"
"Of my grandmother? Don't be absurd, Doctor?" But her voice told him otherwise.
He knew she'd had a crush on him once. Had told him much later that no one had ever measured up. But there was something else, that he couldn't put his finger on yet. Instead he said, "Absurd is what I do best. You know that, Sarah Jane." He grinned at her, trying to cheer them both up.
"You slept with her."
He couldn't read that at all. Not jealousy, he thought, and not betrayal, but what it was, he had no idea.
"I didn't remember who I was, Sarah." He resented his defensiveness. "And I'm not the man you knew."
"Not the man I thought I knew either." She finally stopped fussing with the tea things and looked at him properly. "Apparently you were human enough to get her pregnant."
"Sarah." He stared. The jar of honey dropped from his hands and hit the floor with a crash that made them both jump.
"Watch out, there's broken glass," she said mechanically as she abruptly turned away from him to get something to clean the mess up with.
He bent down to help her, trying to gather his thoughts. To parse what she had told him in a way that made sense. "There was a child?" He had fathered a child, or at least Sarah thought he had. After all he had lost, he had to know.
"My father." Sarah choked out the words. "I barely remember him, you know. Both my parents died in a car crash when I was quite young." She pulled out the dustbin from under the sink and he dumped the remains of the jar in there.
"No." This didn't make any sense. After all he'd lost, to lose this too. The chance to see his child grow up. "No," he repeated. "Sarah, I remember reading a biography of your Aunt. Her father's name was Harold Smith. You're mistaken. You have to be."
"I'm not." Sarah hugged herself. "It's all in her journal. You left her pregnant and she married Harold shortly thereafter. He was kind enough to put his name on the birth certificate, but he wasn't my grandfather." The kettle whistled and she left him to wipe up the last of the honey, whilst she finished making the tea.
He couldn't think of anything to say...a rarity for him, so he cleaned in silence. Finally the floor was reduced to an less sticky state and he stood, just in time to see her to pour the tea into two mugs.
"Sugar?" She smiled thinly. "I'm sorry, but that was the only honey I had."
"Sugar's fine." If only what she'd said would sink in. He felt surprisingly numb at the moment.
She pushed Joan's journal across the table at him. "Read it for yourself." She stared down at her tea, stirring it idly, but not drinking.
The Doctor flipped rapidly through the pages, reading what she had written about him and feeling his stomach tighten. "I can't...." He dug his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and scanned her DNA. Human, but there were traces of something else, half hidden by the Artron energy she had absorbed during her travels with him. And the human DNA was a match for his own, when he had been human.
The Doctor reached over and touched her cheek. Having lost one granddaughter in the war, he hadn't expected to discover another one. Awkwardly he reached across the table and hugged her.
"My Sarah Jane." His voice sounded strange to his own ears. How could he believe this or accept it? How could he have lost another child, that he had never seen, never held in his arms.
"Doctor," She gave him a shaky smile. "This is so weird. I wondered if you knew, somehow."
"How could I? It just happened to me." She really was his Sarah Jane. His granddaughter. He found himself wondering if there was any trace of Time Lord in her.
"Hullo." A child's voice. No, a teenager. Humans matured so quickly; were born, grew up, were gone in the blink of an eye. "Mum, is something wrong?"
"Not really." Sarah said briskly. "Just an old friend come to visit. Doctor, this is Luke, Luke, this is the Doctor. I used to work with him ages ago."
"Before you were born." Taking his cue from Sarah, pretending nothing was wrong.
Sarah sputtered and when her eyes caught Luke's they both burst into laughter.
"Oi, did I say something funny? He's not my age, is he?" The Doctor glared at the two of them, forgetting for just a moment.
"Quite the opposite. Luke's only a few months old. It's a long story. I'll tell you about it some other time. Luke, you've got school tomorrow, back to bed with you."
"But mum..." Despite the protest, Luke merely snatched a few biscuits from the plate on the table before running back up the stairs.
The interruption had helped though. The Doctor and Sarah looked at each other and started laughing.
"It's rather absurd, isn't it? After all these years, to find this out, Grandpa." She ended on a teasing note.
"Susan called me grandfather," The Doctor intended to reply pointedly, but his voice broke halfway through.
"You've lost so much, Doctor." She reached over and covered his hand with hers. "But you still have me. Now more than ever."
"I know." He caught her hand and pressed it to his cheek. "My dear, Sarah Jane. I'm not going to lose you now."
"I'm not planning on letting you." She smiled softly at him. "You're too alone. You need me. I'm glad you're taking this so well."
He wasn't, but he was glad she thought he was. She didn't understand how much he had lost. How far he would go to keep her safe.
Somehow they finished the tea on a light note and as they adjourned to the lounge, she told him the story of how Luke had come to live with her.
"Taking in strays, huh. I should have known. That was why I liked you immediately, when we first met, you're so much like me."
"As I recall you didn't even like your other selves when we met them in Rassilon's tomb," Sarah said with a grin.
He kissed Sarah gently on the forehead. "So, granddaughter, what now."
"That sounds so weird, coming from you. At least when I first met you, you looked like my grandfather."
"Humans have such funny ways of looking at things," The Doctor teased. "I missed seeing you grow up, but I'm here now, whatever you need from me. Whether it be as a best friend or a grandfather."
Sarah nodded at him. "I wasn't sure how you would take it."
"You're one of my favourite people. Why wouldn't I be glad to know you were my granddaughter? So, now that you know what I've been up to since I saw you last," He grinned brightly at her. "Sordid as it is. It's your turn next."
Sarah told him of her adventures and he related some of his and they traded stories until she fell asleep on his shoulder, as grandchildren were supposed to. His dear Sarah Jane.