Title: Stars In Her Eyes

Characters: Three / SJA-era Sarah

Rating: T
Words: ~2750
Summary: Sarah enjoys a peaceful evening when she receives a visit from someone she never expected.

STARS IN HER EYES

'So much in the Universe to explore, Sarah,' The Doctor smiled as he casually draped one arm across Sarah's shoulder while gesturing at the stars with his free hand. 'Where shall we begin?'

Sarah looked up at him, noticing the planet's double moonlight practically sparkling off his silver-white hair, and even in the darkness, she could see a definite glint in his eyes. She smiled and looked back up at the stars. Her first view from an alien world. 'I don't know, Doctor. You pick, you know the Universe better than I do.'

He squeezed her shoulders gently. 'My dear Sarah, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.'

She shivered as a brisk breeze blew by. At least, she told herself it was the breeze and not nerves at standing on a foreign planet with an alien standing next to her.

He noticed her shiver. 'Would you rather go inside the TARDIS where it's warmer?'

She shook her head immediately. 'No. It's beautiful out here. This seems so impossible, or at least highly improbable, I just want to take it all in. I can warm up later.'

Despite her words, the Doctor took off his velvet jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders, then put his arm back around her, holding her tightly to his side.

~!~!~!~

Sarah sat on the bench in her back garden and looked up at the stars, reflecting on the peaceful, quiet night. Luke, Clyde and Rani were all away on an overnight school excursion, and for once, there were no aliens threatening to take over Earth. With that in mind, she'd decided to not lock herself away in the attic until all hours and just come outside to enjoy some peace, quiet and fresh air. She thought about what day it was and smiled. It was the anniversary of the day she had posed as her aunt and snuck into the research centre. The anniversary of the day she met the Doctor.

She sighed as she thought about how he was then, the silver haired dashing dandy who was as quick to embrace her as he was to tug her ear and pull her into the TARDIS. She thought of how he spoke to her in long scientific jargon that she never remembered word for word, but tried to her best to follow along in the moment and then research in detail later.

She remembered one night in particular where they'd stood outside on some planet whose name escaped her at the moment. He'd pointed up at the stars and promised her the Universe. Or at least that's how she took it at the time. Their relationship was never simple. It ebbed and flowed, wide and deep and powerful like the strongest river with ever-present currents that eddied through it.

Over time, things changed, he regenerated, and while their relationship eventually only got stronger, there were many times where she missed her first Doctor. The one that opened her to the realities of the Universe, showing so much of it to her. She allowed the memories to wash over her as she closed her eyes, allowing her head to fall back as she breathed in deeply.

She was so lost in her reminiscing that when she heard the voice calling her name, she assumed it was her mind playing tricks on her. When she heard it a second and then a third time, it jolted her back to reality. She immediately sat up straight and looked around.

He stood there in front of her, looking just as she remembered him from all those years ago. He looked around as he rubbed the back of his neck absently with one hand. 'You know, I'm not exactly sure how I got here.'

Sarah tried to speak, but words escaped her. She opened and closed her mouth several times before just giving up and waiting for him to say something. She did not expect him to drop down on the bench next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. 'You don't seem pleased to see me, Sarah Jane.'

'Oh, I am,' she finally managed to get out as a smile slowly crossed her features, 'but I don't understand what you're doing here.'

His smile was reassuring, even as he said, 'I'm not sure either, Sarah, but I'm sure we'll figure it out.' He reached up with the hand that had been on her shoulder and guided her head to rest on his shoulder. 'I've missed you, Sarah Jane.'

Sarah closed her eyes again, 'Is this real?' As a thought occurred to her, she lifted her head and looked at him. 'Where am I? In your timeline, I mean?'

'You've gone to Sicily on holiday with that horrible Jeremy boy.'

Sarah frowned and let her head drop onto his shoulder again. 'Not one of my better holidays, I must admit.' She felt the weight of him leaning his head against hers. 'I didn't hear the TARDIS,' she said softly, not wanting to break the moment.

'I was in my lab at UNIT HQ, the next thing I knew, I was standing in your garden.'

'What experiment were you working on?'

'You know, that's an idea.' He stood up abruptly, causing Sarah to jolt. She quickly stood up, not wanting him to disappear quite so soon. He turned back towards her. 'What year is this?'

'2010.'

He started laughing. 'Oh this makes perfect sense now.' He shook his head. 'The TARDIS always thinks she knows best.'

Sarah covered her surprise at his laughter and tried to focus more on reminding herself that he was standing there in front of her. His words finally registered. 'She usually does.'

'Oh don't you start too, I'm beginning to think you're ganging up on me.'

Sarah tilted her head sideways. 'Would we do that?' she said with a wicked grin before changing topics, 'As for your experiment, I'm afraid I'm not following you.' More to her self, she added at a whisper, 'Again.'

He reached out and put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. 'Oh, Sarah. You haven't changed a bit.' He lifted one hand to cup her cheek. 'I had been working on something to show you before I found out that you were going on holiday. When I found out you'd gone, I wondered…' he stopped and looked into her eyes, his own searching hers for something. 'I shouldn't ask you this, but…'

She put her hand up to stop him. 'You know I can't give you specifics.'

He sighed as a frown crossed his features. 'You'll leave me one day, I know. I'm just afraid it will be sooner rather than later.'

She reached up and took both his hands in hers and led him back to the bench. 'What is supposed to happen will happen, but I assure you, nothing happens before its time, and there is still so much for us to see and do and experience together.'

'Now who sounds like the time travel expert?'

She laughed, 'I've had a fair bit of experience now.' She regarded him for a moment. 'Doctor, what's really going on? Something is bothering you.'

'Don't be silly.'

Sarah saw through him at that moment, although she couldn't quite peg the reasoning behind it. 'My going on holiday in Sicily, it's bothered you for some reason. Something I didn't see at the time, or you kept from me.'

He patted her hand absently, 'My dear girl, why would I keep something from you?'

'Hmph. You always kept things from me, Doctor, it was your way of protecting me. Although from what, I'll never really know.' She reached up and ran a hand gently along his cheek. The lines that made him seem so much older all those years ago, now reminded her of her own age. Ironically, he was at his youngest right here, right now, and she could see that reflected in his eyes. The haunted look that his current self wore didn't exist in this moment. Here she saw wonder and expectation and a childlike joy that she knew would carry into his next regeneration as well. She realised how much she'd truly missed him.

He noticed the change in her eyes immediately when she touched his face. He'd only seen brief flashes of it in the short time he'd known her younger self. She'd guarded herself back then, as had he, but now, things were different. He saw in her eyes years of having seen more than your average human, of living a life full of extraordinary circumstances. Good and bad, joy and pain, love and loss, all combining to make her something more. Something closer to his equal that he'd ever expected, something he wanted to experience more of.

'Maybe that's why the TARDIS thought I needed to see you here, now,' he said softly as he covered her one hand with his and with his free hand, reached out and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear, allowing his thumb to caress her cheek. He stared intently into her eyes, seeing the deep intensity reflected there. 'I don't know much about human relationships, Sarah.'

'I think you know enough,' she said, her voice barely above a whisper. 'You've been on Earth a long time now, Doctor. I would've thought you'd picked up on the basics. Besides, what about Jo? You were very close to her.'

The Doctor broke contact and sat up straight, turning to look forward, not facing Sarah. 'Of course, I cared very deeply for Jo, you know that. I watched her grow and change over the years she worked at UNIT. But you don't work for UNIT, and yet you still hang around. Why?'

She leaned her shoulder into his. 'I was hoping for a good story,' she said with a smile. 'And you were unlike anyone I'd ever met before.' She reached down and took his hand. 'Or since.'

He looked down at their joined hands. 'Sarah Jane, I need to ask a favour of you.'

She nodded. 'Of course, just name it.'

He stood up, keeping a hold of her hand and pulling her gently to her feet. 'I want to show you something. I need to see you see it as you are now.'

She had forgotten how quickly he walked when he was trying to get somewhere in a hurry, so Sarah struggled to keep up. 'Where are we going?'

He stopped abruptly and turned to her. 'Do you trust me, Sarah?'

She started to give him a flip answer, but his eyes stopped her. There was something there that she'd not expected. A hint of worry that her answer would be no, that she would pull away from him. She glanced down at where he was still holding her hand. She squeezed his hand reassuringly. 'Implicitly. You never need to doubt it.'

Sarah watched the Doctor's features relax as he gave her an easy smile. He lifted their joined hands and placed a gentlemanly kiss on the back of her hand. 'Thank you, Sarah Jane.'

They started walking again, more casually this time, but still hand in hand. As they turned the corner, she smiled as she saw the TARDIS in front of them. The Doctor unlocked and opened the door, then gestured for her to enter before him. Under normal circumstances, she would've put her foot down and stayed right here on Earth, safe, secure and waiting for her son and his friends to return. But these were not normal circumstances. She realised that the Doctor needed this, and if she were truly honest with herself, she needed it too.

As she walked into the console room, Sarah felt the TARDIS hum around her, warming her heart to the core. The familiar white walls and floor soothed her more than she would've expected. She walked over and placed both hands gently on the console, then patted it affectionately. She smiled as she felt the TARDIS thrum beneath her hands, like enveloping her in welcoming hug.

The Doctor was quickly at the controls, inputting coordinates and dematerialising.

After several minutes of simply closing her eyes and absorbing the atmosphere, Sarah looked up to find the Doctor smiling at her. She couldn't help but smile in return. 'So, Doctor, where are we off to?' A dull thud and the stopped time rotor let Sarah know that they'd arrived. 'That was a fairly quick trip.' She walked over and turned the knob for the scanner, then turned around and leaned against the console, waiting for the scanner to display the outside image.

The Doctor walked around to stand beside her. He put one arm around her shoulders and gestured to the scanner. 'Well, Sarah?'

As the image solidified, Sarah smiled and looked up at the Doctor. 'Let's go outside, shall we?'

'Of course, my Sarah Jane,' he smiled as he held out an arm to escort her outside.

~!~!~!~

Sarah stood, her feet on the edges of the effervescent water, feeling it tickle her toes. She inhaled deeply, committing the entire experience to her memory. The Doctor stood behind her and reached out, putting a hand on each of her shoulders. 'What do you think of Florana?' he whispered as he leaned his head close to her ear.

'It's absolutely beautiful,' she whispered back. 'Carpeted with perfumed flowers, with seas like warm milk and sands as soft as swan's down.' She turned slightly to glance back up at him and smile, then reached up and covered his hands with hers. 'Thank you.'

'I'm glad I could show this to you, Sarah.' He heard her sniff, so he turned her gently by the shoulders to face him and was surprised to see tears at the edges of her eyes, just threatening to fall. As a tear escaped, he instantly reached up and wiped it away with the pad of his thumb. 'What's wrong, my dear?'

'I have missed this, Doctor. I never thought I'd stand here and experience something so beautiful again.' She reached up and took his face in her hands, locking gazes with him. 'Travelling with you is one of the highlights of my life. It broadened my horizons and changed my entire perspective.'

He turned his head slightly and pressed a gentle kiss into her wrist. 'Your going off on holiday has shown me one thing. I don't like it when you're not with me, Sarah Jane, and I don't know what to make of it.' A puzzled look crossed his face. 'This is not something I'd normally admit. Certainly not to the younger you, but Sarah, you're different now.'

'It's called experience, Doctor. Maybe that's why the TARDIS brought you here and now. You had questions. I can't give you all the answers you need, but I can tell you this, some things are worth getting your heart broken for.'

He leaned forward and slowly kissed her forehead, then pulled back and looked into her eyes. Seeing the same look as he'd seen back in her back garden, he leaned forward again and gave her a very tentative, very chaste kiss. He was rewarded by her warm smile. 'Did you ever question it, Sarah?'

She shook her head ever so slightly. 'Never. I was always sure.' Her voice was barely above a whisper as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.

~!~!~!~

The Doctor swung open the door of the TARDIS. 'Here we are, my Sarah Jane, back home, safe and sound.' A shrilling noise filled the console before they got outside.

'What is that?' Sarah asked, covering her ears.

The Doctor pushed a few buttons on the console, quickly silencing the din. 'It's a message from the Brigadier. Some odd goings on.' The Doctor smirked. 'Apparently he's in Sicily.'

Sarah smiled. 'You need to go. He'll need your help.'

'And you're there as well.' He walked out the doors and looked around, then turned to Sarah as she made her way past him. He remained standing close by the TARDIS doors. 'I hate to leave you alone here, Sarah.'

Sarah turned back to him and took his hands in hers. 'There are often times when each of us is alone, Doctor. You're always with me, even if I'm not there with you.'

The Doctor quickly embraced her. 'Thank you, my Sarah Jane.'

Sarah stepped back and watched as the Doctor went back in the TARDIS. She took another couple of steps back as the winds of dematerialisation swirled around her. 'Until long ago,' she said softly and turned, walking towards her garden to enjoy the remainder of her relaxing evening.

~!~!~!~