Evil Plotbunny (hhertzof) wrote,
Evil Plotbunny

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Closer to Fine (Sarah/Doctor, PG, 6/12)

Title: Closer to Fine
Author: hhertzof
Pairings: Doctor/Sarah, Doctor/OC, Sarah/Paul Morley
Rating: PG
Beta(s): whatkaitedid, persiflage_1, attempt_unique, paranoidangel42
Summary: The Doctor believes Luke is his son and that Sarah lied to him at Deffrey Vale. The truth is more complex than anyone suspected.
Notes: Paul Morley is mentioned in Christmas on a Rational Planet. The title and end quote come from the Indigo Girls song, Closer to Fine
Written for Tardis_bigbang 2009. I'll be posting a chapter a week, but if you're eager to read the whole thing you can find it here. The links below will go live as I post each chapter here.

Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 9
Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 10
Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 11
Chapter 4 Chapter 8 Chapter 12

"But why can't we do our science experiment on alien technology?" Clyde was already bored and poking around the attic. The other two had persuaded him that working together on their science project would be fun, but it hadn't been so far. He had expected it would be like when they fought aliens together, but so far it had mostly been Luke reassuring them that he had it all sorted out. At least he'd get good marks, if Luke was involved.

"You know why, Clyde. Technology that we don't have yet showing up at a school. You'd get reporters and not just Luke's mother," Rani replied. Science wasn't her strong suit either, but she trusted Luke for that. "So what are we doing?" There had been some discussion the previous day, but they had decided to let Luke come up with something, since he would probably understand it best.

"Mum ordered some Arduino boards. They're like computer boards, only they're customisable. She's been writing for this cool magazine called Make." Luke went over to Sarah's computer and quickly pulled up the website. "They have all sorts of programming projects. I thought we could do something with LEDs." He'd talked this over with Sarah this morning, making sure that the project he chose was something appropriate for a kid his age and Earth's level of scientific knowledge. Sarah had pointed him to the Make website and let him loose. "We can make them flash in cool patterns. Maybe even work out a way to input the pattern there. Or, and this is really cool, some people are working on 3D printing and there are plans up to make a 3D printer. We could try to build one."

"Ooh, that would be cool," Clyde said. Maybe this wouldn't be so boring.

"It's very primitive," Luke warned, but he surfed over to Instructables and browsed through the available plans. "This one doesn't look like it would be too difficult- if we can find enough Lego," he finished dubiously, but he printed the instructions out anyway.

Clyde jumped on that. "I can help there. I've got lots of Lego. Even a Mindstorms set or two that I never figured out."

"Perfect." Rani grinned as she picked up the instructions from the printer. "Though there seem to be a few gaps."

"I'm sure I can fill them in," Luke replied carelessly. "Clyde, we'll assume you have the right Lego parts, and if not we can run out to Toys'R'Us and pick up another set. Rani, why don't you start reading out the other parts, and we'll see what else we need to buy."

Rani nodded, and started going down the list. "The Ultimate Fabric Painter. Never heard of it."

Luke quickly looked it up. "It seems to be a kit for extruding paint. We don't have one, but we should have all the parts to make one." A little digging provided him with tubing, a motor and plastic syringes. "Rani, your mum knows where to get decorating tips, right?"

"I'll ask her." Rani leaned against the wall and read over Luke's shoulder. "The kit would be easier, but it seems to be an American thing."

The aquarium air pump and tubing were found quickly enough, Rani said she'd make the icing and the rest of the items were common enough to be found in any house.

Clyde had started off wandering around, trying to act like he knew what he was looking for, but once again he quickly grew bored and started fiddling with the objects on Sarah's desk before settling down to check his Facebook account. He picked up something and started throwing and catching it before throwing it over to Luke. "What's this?" It was a small round box decorated with carved designs.

The box had been sitting at Sarah's computer for a week or so now, since the whole business with Clyde's father. The whole attic was strewn with Sarah's (and Luke's) half finished projects and alien artefacts, so he hadn't noticed it as something special before, but when Clyde threw it to him, Luke found himself considering it thoughtfully. "I don't know. I've never looked at it. I haven't had to use mum's computer recently." They had found that having one computer for the two of them hadn't worked, so Luke had received his own laptop for his "origin day".

"Some mysterious alien box. Who knows what it might contain?" Clyde answered in his spookiest voice.

Rani came over and looked at it more closely. "It just looks like a wooden box to me." Without asking she took it from Luke's hands and opened it and looked inside. "Hardly mysterious and alien." She carefully pulled three items out of the box and laid them on the table - a narrow gold ring, a lock of dark hair, and a fob watch. "Oh that's nice. My dad carries a watch like this, but I like the design of this one better. Maybe it used to belong to a famous astronomer or something. Are those constellations?"

"Orbits." Luke studied them. "Maybe it's just a design." But he didn't sound certain. "I have this weird feeling that it's writing of some sort." He didn't know why he thought that. He'd never seen anything like it before.

Clyde shrugged. "Maybe it was a gift for your mum from one of those scientist friends of hers."

"It feels odd," Luke said, suddenly gripping it tightly. "Like it's more than that." He loosened his grip and tried to open it. "Huh, the clasp won't open." He fiddled with it a bit anyway, hoping it was just caught on something.

"Maybe we shouldn't open it." This from Clyde.

The other two looked at him strangely. Usually Clyde was the first one to want to poke and prod at something new.

"I mean, after what happened to my dad and me, maybe we should ask Sarah first." Clyde said defensively.

Rani objected, "It's just a watch. What harm could a watch do?"

Luke fiddled with the clasp again and it suddenly sprang open. The other two crowded round to see and Luke found himself backing up. "You're blocking the light. After a moment's prodding with one fingernail, he pulled out a picture cut to fit in the top.

The other two stared at this, but Luke was looking at the watch. He attempted to wind it. "The watch is broken." He had no idea why this was significant, but he felt like it was.

"I wonder whose hair that is and why your mum kept it." Clyde said. Bored with the picture, he started to reach for the ring, but Luke stopped him.

Meanwhile, Rani asked, "Isn't that your mum?"

It was indeed Sarah, with a tall, curly haired man who Luke didn't recognise. Sarah was younger, her hair was longer and she was wearing a light blue dress that Luke had never seen.

Rani flipped over the tiny photo. There was nothing written on the back. Reaching over she picked up the ring and looked inside, ignoring Luke's reaction. "Aha!" She studied it a moment before reading aloud, "Paul and Sarah 4-5-97."

"I thought your mum said she'd never been married," Clyde suddenly flopped into the chair with a thump.

"So did I," Luke said, almost too softly to hear. Why would his mum have lied to him about something like this?

Rani probably would have said something, but she was interrupted by footsteps on the stairs, followed by the attic door being pushed open.

"Hello, how's the project going?" Sarah asked cheerily as she entered the attic with arms full of packages.

'Well enough. We had some questions to ask you about the technical bits," Luke said in an odd voice, hoping that his friends would keep quiet about what they had found.

Sarah dumped the pile of stuff on the sofa and started to say something.

But Rani couldn't wait any more, "Where did this watch come from, Sarah?"

Sarah stiffened. "Where did you find it?" she asked softly.

"It was by your computer." Luke tried to sound innocent, but he couldn't lie to her. "We opened the box. Mum? Who's Paul?"

"Paul Morley. He was my husband. Sort of." Sarah fell silent for a moment. "Something I try not to remember usually."

Luke reached over and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "Mum?" he asked again.

Suddenly, Sarah got defensive. "Well, if you'd been married to an alien masquerading as a human under false pretences and he left just as unexpectedly as he came, you probably wouldn't want to remember it either." She reached over and gathered up the photo, lock of hair and ring, and after putting the photo back in the watch, she returned them to the box.

"So why did you keep this stuff?" Clyde asked, mimicking Luke at his most tactless.

Sarah sighed. "I can't completely erase the memories, and it's a reminder that even I can be deceived by circumstances. I keep the fob watch because it may have some residual alien tech, I keep the lock of hair because I never know when I might need to check the DNA of another alien of his species masquerading as human." She had tried to convince herself that she wasn't being sentimental about Paul Morley, but she knew she was.

Changing the subject she asked, "So, what did you need to know about your project?"

Rani took the hint and started asking questions, and a moment or two later the other two followed suit. The rest of the afternoon was passed in working out the details for the 3D printer, but Sarah knew that it was bound to come up again. Perhaps then, she'd be ready to talk about what had happened.
Tags: bigbang, closer to fine, fic, sarah/doctor

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