AN: A small idea I had when re-watching School Reunion, where Sarah Jane decided to take the Doctor up on his offer to travel with him again. This story roughly takes place at the end of School Reunion and during The Girl in the Fireplace.
A New Beginning
Sarah Jane Smith walked through the doors of the Tardis, familiar yet oh so different at the same time. As she looked around at the interior, she saw that he had redecorated. She missed the familiar white walls, that always seemed welcoming. Now, the Tardis was a mix of bronze and coral. While she had much preferred the earlier version he had when she travelled with him, she couldn't deny she still looked as grand as ever.
As she walked around the console room, she traced her hands along the walls, feeling a familiar hum underneath her fingertips almost as if the Tardis was welcoming her home.
"Do you like it?" The Doctor asked staring at her with his hands in his trouser pockets.
"Oh, I do. I preferred her as she was, but yeah it will do."
"I love it," Rose exclaimed with a smile.
"Hey you, what's forty-seven times three hundred and sixty-four?'
"No idea. It's gone now, the oil's faded." Rose replied softly.
"But you're still clever. More than a match for him." She said causing Rose to smile.
"You, and me both."
Sarah Jane gave a small nod in acknowledgment, seeing Rose looking over at the Doctor. Following her gaze, she couldn't help but smile at seeing the Doctor fiddling with the computer knowing from his actions that he had wanted to ask her something.
"Doctor..." Rose prompted causing him to look up and over at Sarah Jane.
"Um, we're about to head off, but you could come with us."
Sarah turns to Rose who is looking at her expectantly, before turning back to look at the Doctor, seeing the hopefulness in his eyes. She had waited years for this moment. Now that it was here, she didn't know what to do.
"Rose, Mickey, could you give us a few moments." The Doctor said softly.
"Of course." Rose tugged on Mickey's arm and walked out of the console room, leaving Sarah and Doctor alone.
"So, what do you say, Sarah? The Tardis misses you. And the last few days have made me realise how much I've missed you."
Sarah shook her head sadly, "You don't need me, Doctor. You've got Rose..."
"I'll always need you, Sarah. You're my best friend. Besides, think of all the fun we could have together. I never did take you to Florana. So, what do you say? One last trip for old times sake."
His words were tempting and she wanted nothing more than to say yes, but there was something holding her back. She wasn't as young as she once was, and she couldn't help but feel she would be holding him back.
"Yes, but that one trip usually ends up more than one and before you know it, you're stuck with me again for years."
"That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Think of all the new adventures we could have, the new worlds we could explore."
Sarah Jane looked away, knowing her resolve would break if she kept looking into his pleading brown eyes.
"Why now? You had all those years to come back for me, Doctor. So many opportunities, yet you decide to wait until now."
"I wanted more than anything to come back for you Sarah, but I couldn't as much I desperately wanted to." He declared. "I tried so hard to move on, picking up new companions, but I would always compare them to you. It made me realise how much I took you for granted."
"Then you met, Rose."
"Yes, she reminds me so much of you, but no one could ever replace you, Sarah. I need you to know that if you decide to walk out that door. I need you to know that I never forgot you and I never will."
She felt the tears gather in her eyes at his declaration.
"If you want to leave, I'll understand."
Sarah Jane looked up at him, with a watery smile, "I never did thank you for that time, Doctor. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, which is why my answer to your question will be, yes."
"My answer is yes, I would love to travel with you again. If you'll have me."
The Doctor gave her a grin before throwing his arms around her and lifting her off the ground as he held her in a tight embrace.
"My Sarah Jane.
At the familiar endearment, she held onto him tighter, hoping all of this wasn't a dream. It felt like forever, before her feet touched the ground once again and he pulled back slightly to look down at her smiling softly wiping a stray tear from her eye.
"A tear, Sarah Jane."
She couldn't help but laugh at the familiar words his third self-had said to her as he lay dying in her arms before he regenerated into the eccentric Doctor she had come to know and was undoubtedly a tough act to follow. But it seemed this new incarnation was doing just fine.
"Now, I know you haven't changed much since we went our separate ways. You always still seem to surprise me, even after all these years."
"That's me, full of surprises. And speaking of surprises." he grinned and grabbed her hand, pulling her along behind him.
"Where are we going?"
"You'll see. I was going to give you this as a parting gift, but it can be a welcome home gift instead."
Sarah let him pull her down the winding corridors of the Tardis until they stopped in front of a familiar door.
"You kept it? Even after all these years, you still kept my room?"
"Yup, couldn't bear the thought of getting rid of it," he told her with a hint of nervousness in his voice. "Well, go on, have a look."
She narrowed her eyes, and placed her hand on the door knob, then twisted it slowly, pushing the door open. She took a tentative step forward, and couldn't help but give a small gasp in shock and surprise.
"I kept it the way it was the day you left. I hope you don't mind."
She walked further into the room and saw the discarded clothes she had worn in Italy during the trouble with the Mandragora Helix and a huge stack of books that were still sitting in the corner waiting to be read. It was then she saw the framed photo on the bedside table, and inwardly smiled as she picked it up, seeing the Doctor in his fourth incarnation, with she and Harry smiling widely, his long scarf wrapped around them both as they posed for the camera.
Sarah traced her fingers over the photo, as memory after memory flashed before her eyes. She would give anything to go back to that time and place, but the universe had to move forward.
"Thank you, Doctor." she said looking over at him.
"No need to thank me. I only wish I could have done more."
"Ah, and here is your gift."
She looked down at hearing the familiar robotic voice she thought she would never hear again.
"K9," she said softly placing the photo frame on the bed, and crouched down on the floor, as he trundled towards her nearly knocking the Doctor out the way. "But you were blown up."
"Master rebuilt me. My systems are much improved with new undetectable hyperlink facilities."
Sarah couldn't help but beam, "He replaced you with a new model."
"Well, I thought, since it was my fault he got destroyed, it was only right I rebuilt him. I knew how much he meant to you, Sarah."
"Thank you, Doctor. "
"Right then, I'll leave you to get settled. If you need me..."
"I'll come and find you."
The Doctor gave her one last smile and was about to leave when Sarah's voice stopped him.
"If Mickey asks to stay, let him. You could do with another Smith on board."
The Doctor turned to look at her. "How do you know he will?" he challenged.
"Because, I saw the same glint in his eye, that I had all those years ago."
"Well, I suppose I could let him stay if that's what he wants I don't think Rose will be too thrilled."
"Give it a chance, you would be surprised how things turn out, in the end, Doctor. I mean, here I am again after all these years, thinking I would never get the chance to see or travel with you again, but it seemed my waiting paid off."
"Yeah, about that, I really am sorry for the way I left you, Sarah."
"I know, Doctor, but here I am. If you decide to drop me off unannounced again, please make sure it's not Aberdeen."
He gave her a sad smile, "Duly noted, but that won't be happening anytime soon. If you ever want to leave, it will be your decision this time, not mine."
Sarah Jane could hear the faint desperation in his voice as if he was almost begging her to stay with him for as long as possible. She had only planned on one trip, but she had a feeling it would be hard to say no to another afterward. It was then she decided that she would stay around for as long as he needed her. When her time finally did come to an end, she would leave happy knowing that she got a few more months or years with him.
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Good, great even. I'll just go and give you some time alone." He said walking out, and back to the console room.
She waited until his footsteps disappeared shaking her head in amusement at his behaviour. It was as if he had suddenly grown nervous around her. She would need to look into it later.
"Is everything alright, Mistress?"
"Everything's fine K9. In fact, it couldn't be better."
"Affirmative. Master has left two gifts in my side compartment."
Sarah Jane reached around and opened K9's side compartment to see a wrist watch and a gold device sitting inside. Picking them up she inspected each item, in turn, starting with the watch. Turning it over in her hands, it just looked like your standard watch.
"It's a scanner device to detect and identify alien species and their origin mistress."
Looking more closely, she saw a small catch on each side of the clock face and pulled it up to reveal a concealed small screen that emitted a small humming sound.
"Impressive." she muttered, closing the screen then put the watch on her wrist for safe keeping.
Next, she turned to the gold device realising it resembled what appeared to be a lipstick. As she weighed it in her hands, she found it to be a bit heavier than it appeared. Pulling off the lid, she twisted the bottom to reveal a small red emitter similar to the Doctor's blue one on his sonic screwdriver.
"He built me a sonic lipstick?"
"Affirmative. Master wanted to ensure you remain safe on Earth."
She retwisted the lipstick and replaced the lid before placing it in her jacket pocket. If it was thirty years ago, she would have told him she didn't need protecting. Even to this day, she was more than capable of looking after herself. But she couldn't deny that they would certainly come in handy, with the trouble the Doctor will no doubt get into on a daily basis. At least now they would have a backup plan should an occasion ever arise.
"My sensors detect that master is happy you are with him again, mistress."
"It would seem so," she whispered fondly with a smile. "Good dog."
Sarah Jane stood up and went to find the Doctor with K9 following behind her. She was near the console room when she heard Mickey ask if he could come along. She would have loved to be in the same room to have told the Doctor 'told you so'.
She entered the room just as Mickey told them he wanted to see what was out there. He saw her enter and she gave him an encouraging smile, only for it to disappear when she saw Rose mouth a silent 'no' to the Doctor.
"Oh go on, Doctor. You need another Smith on board," she said smirking when she saw the Doctor jump in surprise as he turned to look at her in mock annoyance before turning back to Mickey.
"Oh okay then. I could do with a laugh."
The Doctor and Sarah Jane didn't miss the way Rose rolled her eyes, as Mickey gave a laugh in delight before it came to an abrupt stop when he seemed to notice Rose's lack of response.
"Rose, is that okay?"
Sarah's heart went out to him, to hear such uncertainty in his voice. It was another matter she would need to look into find out what happened between Mickey and Rose for the younger woman to look unhappy with the outcome.
"No, great. Why not?" Rose said sarcastically.
The silence started to become awkward when Sarah remembered why she had come to find the Doctor in the first place.
"Doctor, you and I need to have some words."
"Words? What sort of words?"
"LIke why you think I need protection? I'm old enough to handle myself."
The Doctor looked down at K9, "You told her, didn't you?"
"Told her what?" Rose asked feeling a spark of jealousy.
"It's nothing..." the Doctor started only for Sarah to cut him off.
"I don't think giving me a scanner watch and sonic lipstick is nothing, do you?"
"You gave her a sonic lipstick?"
"Well... he looked around nonchalantly. "It was more of a gift for K9 to give her if she decided to turn down my offer. I needed to reassure myself that she would be safe."
"I see. You got any more of those lying around?" Rose said somewhat bitter that he hadn't offered to design and give her a sonic lipstick.
"Nope, only the one. I meant to give it to Sarah when she travelled with me all those years ago, but I forgot."
Sarah stepped towards him, "You mean to tell me you kept it all this time? Why not give it to someone else?"
"Because I designed it specifically for you and I didn't want anyone else to have it." he admitted sheepishly.
"Oh Doctor, what am I going to do with you."
"I guess making me a cuppa is out of the question?"
She narrowed her eyes at that remark. "I'll tell you what I told you the first day I met you. You can make your own."
"It was worth a try."
"Sorry to interrupt, but how did the two of you actually meet?" Mickey asked curiously.
"Do you really want to know?" Sarah asked surprised that he seemed genuinely interested.
"Of course. You can fill us in on what he was like all those years ago." Mickey said gleefully rubbing his hands together.
"Sarah, don't you dare tell them anything." He warned pointing a finger in her direction.
"Oh fine, spoil all my fun." she turned to look over at Mickey and mouthed 'later' causing him to grin.
"Right, well if that's everything, I think we had best get a move on. Allonsy."
The three companions held onto the console rail as the Tardis shuddered and shook, causing Sarah Jane to smile at the familiarity of it all. To her, it felt like she had never left. When the Tardis finally came to a stop, the Doctor looked over at her in excitement.
"After you, Miss Smith."
"Where are we exactly?" Mickey asked almost afraid to see what was waiting for them out there.
"Only one way to find out," Rose told him, following after Sarah Jane.
The two women walked out to find themselves in what appeared to be a dark and apparently disused spaceship.
"So much for taking us to Florana," Sarah muttered just as the Doctor and Mickey walked out to join them.
"It's a spaceship," Mickey said in wonderment. "Brilliant, I got a spaceship on my first go."
"It looks kind of abandoned," Rose said as she walked around the corridor they were in. "Do you think anyone is on board?"
"Nah, nothing here. Well. Nothing dangerous." He saw Sarah staring at him with her arms crossed clearly not believing a word of what he was saying. "You know what, I'll just have a quick scan, in case there's anything dangerous."
Mickey and Rose gave a smirk as they watched him walk over to a control panel in the centre of the room.
Sarah shook her head and looked down at her watch, lifting up the clock face to test out the scanner. The readings appeared to be normal, with no sign of life on board. It made no sense, why anyone would abandon a spaceship without a responsible explanation for doing so.
Closing the scanner, she moved further down the darkened corridor, wondering if they were anything else that could give them some idea as to what was going on. The surrounding area was silent with the exception of the Doctor tapping away at some buttons on the control panel.
"So what's the date? How far we were gone?" Rose asked standing next to the Doctor watching him work.
"About three thousand years into your future, give or take." He said pulling on a switch causing the lights to turn on and the roof to gradually open showing a spectacular view of the stars outside.
"Fifty-first century. Diagmar Cluster. You're a long way from home, Mickey. Two and a half galaxies."
Sarah gazed out in awe taking in the beauty of such a sight. The universe really was quite a spectacular place, with views that you wouldn't get at home.
"So what do you think?" the Doctor asked as he stood next to her.
"It's beautiful. I thought I would never get to see anything like this again."
"There's plenty more sights like this out there, just waiting to be discovered."
Sarah Jane looks over at Mickey who still seems to be in awe at what he was currently witnessing.
"He seems to be taking it well." muttered the Doctor.
"Never underestimate a Smith." she said turning back to look at him.
"I never plan to." he said giving her a wink, before walking back over to the control panel.
Sarah Jane watched in fond amusement as he rummaged around picking up bits and pieces of what she could only assume was broken technology. She didn't miss the unimpressed look on his face, as he looked at the two panels in his hands.
"Who ever tried to do this repair work, did a lousy job." he said chuckling he pieces down casually, noticing a screen with a diagram of the spaceship on it.
"Well, this is certainly odd."
Sarah's eyes narrowed as she walked over to the control panel.
"What's odd?" she said looking at the diagram.
"All the warp engines are going... full capacity! There's enough power running through this ship to punch a hole in the universe... and we're not moving. so the question is...
"Where's all that power going?"
"But there is still a minor problem, where is all the crew? Surely if the warp engines are running there must be someone here?"
The Doctor looked over at her in pride, "Good question."
"Can you guys smell that?" Rose asked over at the Doctor and Sarah.
The Doctor sniffed, as a waft of roast chicken filled his senses.
"It smells like Sunday roast," Mickey said aloud.
Sarah watched as the Doctor pressed a button to his left, causing the door to slide open behind them
Sarah and the Doctor looked at each other, then walked through the doorway, with Mickey and Rose following behind.
"Well, there's something you don't see every day in your average spaceship."
Sarah, Rose, and Mickey looked at each other in confusion as they continue to stare at the wall seeing the 18th-century decor, and a magnificent lit fireplace.
"Nice mantel," Mickey said watching as the Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it towards the fireplace.
"No hologram," he muttered bending down to examine it closely.
Rose and Mickey look around the rest of the room, while Sarah bends down next to him.
"Is it real?"
"It would appear so. This isn't even a reproduction, this is actually an eighteenth-century fireplace. It appears it's double sided, there is another room through there."
"Why eighteenth century? I mean they have all of history yet they choose this century. It doesn't make sense."
"I have to agree with, Sarah Jane, Doctor, there can't be another room, that's the outer hull of the ship. There's only the rest of space out there."
The Doctor didn't answer but instead looked through the fire and into the other room seeing a young girl with long blonde hair, dressed in a nightgown looking back at him.
'Hello! what's your name?" The Doctor gave the girl a small wave.
Sarah Jane looks at him, wondering who on earth he's talking too when she hears a young girl's voice echo back.
"Reinette that's a lovely name. Can you tell me where you are at the moment?"
"In my bedroom."
"And where is your bedroom? Where do you live?"
"Paris, of course."
"Paris, right." The Doctor muttered.
"Monsieur, what are you doing in my fireplace?"
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh, it's just a routine... fire check."
Sarah looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Out of all the excuses he could think of, that was the best one he could come up with.
"Can you tell me what year it is?"
"Of course I can! Seventeen hundred and twenty-seven."
"Right, lovely. One of my favourites... August is rubbish though. Stay indoors. Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for your help. Hope you enjoy the rest of the fire. Goodnight!
"Well, that was certainly interesting," Sarah muttered as she stood up, with the Doctor following suit, a thoughtful look on his face.
"You said this was the fifty-first century," Mickey called out to him.
"I also said this ship was generating enough power to punch a hole in the universe. I think we just found the hole. Must be a spatiotemporal hyperlink."
"Which is what, exactly?" Mickey asked confused.
"No idea. Just made it up. Didn't wanna say' magic door'."
"Oh, Doctor," Sarah whispered amusement lacing her voice as she inspected the fireplace some more.
"So let me get this straight. On the other side of the 'magic door' is France 1972?" Rose asked for confirmation.
"Yes." the Doctor nods and looks back at the fireplace, before walking across the room, taking his coat off and throwing it in the corner.
"Well, she was speaking French. Right period French too."
"She was speaking English, I heard her!"
Rose draped an arm around Mickey's shoulders as the Doctor strides back to the fireplace.
"That's because the Tardis translates for ya."
"What? Even French?"
Sarah listened to their conversation and couldn't stop her smile from breaking free as her fingers ran across the mantle. She gave a triumphant 'gotcha' when she found a small switch and pressed it causing the wall to rotate taking Sarah with it.
The Doctor turned around to see no sign of Sarah, causing his eyes to fill with worry.
He ran over to the fireplace, frantically searching for a way to bring her back.
"It seems Sarah found a way through the door." The Doctor told them gravely, while pulling his hair in frustration.
He needed to find her and fast.