Five Ways the Bane Didn't Return for Luke Smith and One Way They Did
by Amy L. Hull amilynh at comcast dot net
Written in the SJA LJ ficathon For: netgirly2k
Author's Notes and Summary: Sarah Jane, along with Maria and Luke "the Archetype" foiled the Bane's plot for world domination. The Bane are not amused. Thanks to Missy and Partly for the betas.
Luke notices the first tug halfway through his first year on Earth. It's a strange sensation, like an electric charge, or a vibration under his scalp and in his fingertips. It only lasts a second and, after spending five minutes trying to quantify the feeling, he files away the information and returns to work on his poetry homework.
For the next months, he notices nothing except an occasional fleeting fizzle of a hum. Clyde quickly dismisses it as "too much time in front of the computer" before dragging him out for a pizza and another attempt to teach him some form of competitive act of physical exertion.
Near the end of the school year, the frequency seems to increase, but when he asks Mum, she reassures him that these kinds of jitters are normal for exam time.
It's in the holidays, when he's teaching himself advanced applied physics, that the vibrations become a pull, a demand. He finds himself compelled to focus on the computer, on reprogramming it. He stays up all night, grafting various alien bits in the attic onto Mr. Smith, working feverishly without thought.
He barely hears the footsteps, the, "Luke, have you been up all--" and brushes aside the distraction as he makes the final connections and powers up his jury-rigged device. There is the echo of an anguished cry as the hum intensifies like static under every bit of his skin and one of the Bane materalises next to him. He feels its pleasure as leaps onto the human reaching for the dial of the safe.
Sarah Jane notices immediately when another food sensation sweeps the UK. This time it's crisps: crunchy, organic, papaya-flavoured crisps.
Within days people who normally refuse anything more exotic than beef with boiled potatoes are walking the streets with bags big and small, generously sharing with willing strangers.
In spite of her warnings, Maria and Clyde arrive happily crunching away and Luke tries a bite just as Sarah shouts his name.
Sarah notifies UNIT, even drops a clue to Torchwood Three (about whom she knows perfectly well, thank you very much), only to find them as enamoured of papaya crisps as the rest of the country.
Every avenue, every contact, every path to help withers in front of her; the crisps are always there first.
Within ten days of the first bags appearing in stores, ships land to the happy cheers. Sarah desperately, futilely tries every manipulation Mr. Smith can manage, including attempting to hack into missile control. Apparently the security protocols were stiffened after the last time the Doctor did that. The monitor beeps and Mr. Smith displays an image of Luke, wired into the mothership's systems and the simple message, "He and your world are ours."
"Luke, wake up," Sarah calls as she climbs the stairs to Luke's room, slightly amused at this flicker of normal. "You're going to be late!"
There is no sound. She knocks on his door, calls again. Nothing.
"Sleep like the dead, they can," she mutters, slight annoyance creeping in. She has an interview at nine.
A loud thump shakes the floor slightly. "Luke!" The door is locked. "Luke!" She rattles the knob and a chill spreads through her arms and chest. She runs to her coat then back up the stairs, chest too tight to breathe, sonic lipstick in hand. The door springs open instantly. Luke's torso is on the floor, his feet still tangled in the sheets. His hands and lips are blue, his eyes wide, and Sarah turns him, barely hearing her own nattering as she feels for warmth, pulse, anything.
By the time Maria arrives, Sarah has arranged him in the bed, closed his eyes, and is sitting beside him stroking his hair over the words on his forehead: "All information extracted. Archetype obsolete."
Maria is the first to notice something...off...about Luke. She asks Sarah Jane if something is upsetting him, asks Clyde to talk to him. Nothing breaks through his quiet melancholy.
A week later, on his third "Made-day" as he jokingly calls it, he gives them each gifts--a computer game for Clyde that he coded himself, a sonic pen for Maria (fewer features, but functional), a book for Sarah Jane of pictures he's taken over three months as a photography enthusiast--to thank them, he says, for being his family. His gifts from them he opens with reverent joy, as always.
A great crash draws Maria out of bed at midnight and she runs out the door, the belt of her robe streaming behind her. Seeing nothing, she bolts across the street and finds Sarah Jane in the gazebo, face in her hands.
"What happened?" Maria demands.
"It's Luke," Sarah Jane says thickly, swiping at tears. "He handed himself over...to the Bane...in exchange for the planet." Maria sinks soundlessly beside her and watches as Sarah Jane's face crumples.
"Do you ever wonder if they'll come back?" Clyde asks as he deals cards.
Luke shakes his head, peering at his cards. "Why would they?"
"Uh...revenge? General evil? Hey, keep your cards up."
"We don't even know if there are more of them. How many points are the king cards?"
Clyde rolls his eyes. "Don't tell me your cards either." He sorts his hand. "You mean to tell me they made that genius brain of yours and you didn't get any information about them?"
"And what if there's, like, a Bane Father or the like?"
"I hadn't thought of that. I suppose we'll find out if they turn up one of these days. Now is when I anti, right?"
"It's ante. Ante. And we're not playing poker. Just draw a card."
The air around them shudders and Luke suddenly becomes transparent, then disappears. "Bollocks," Clyde exclaims, dropping his cards and running for Sarah Jane's house.
Luke's shoulderblades pull together, tensing a full month in advance of their arrival. This time, he decides, is his turn; Mum won't approve in any case.
He's glad he is more than prepared for his upcoming GCSEs, glad of the big story distracting Mum from his late nights. She frets distractedly over the dark circles under his eyes, ruffles his hair, fixes endless pots of tea for them both, and promises a holiday to celebrate after she files her story and he finishes coursework and exams.
The Bane creep along paths in his mind he'd thought gone, seeking weaknesses. He feeds them inaccurate data and false coordinates while siphoning off information under the buffer of the feedback echo.
It is in the hours just before dawn that his back spasms and they enter orbit. Luke slips from bed and into the attic. He reaches through the connections, sets the ship on course for the sun and beams all Bane personnel to the street below. Running down the stairs, he tosses the disruptor he's built amongst the dazed green forms. The pitch rises, the Bane flail and contract and in seconds the road is littered with green fragments and inky puddles.
He nods once and heads back to the house.