Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood. If I did, I'd be happy, and all you Ten/Rose and Janto fans would be happy too. ;)
A/N – Okay, I'm not ever gonna promise a specific update time range again, cos I'll probably get a chapter done quicker if I don't. Basically, I had troubles with internet, redrafting took a long time, etc. No excuse really, but I have smoothed out a lot of plans for the series 3 stuff...
Anyway, this is the final chapter of this story. I have the sequel planned out, and it will be written as soon as I finish my summer homework. Which will probably by sometime next week... so don't expect any updates very soon.
Oh, and thanks as always to my beta, Eilonwyn, who helps turn this story into what it is.
In an attic in Ealing, a woman sat on a small flight of steps giving orders to her supercomputer.
"Mr Smith, can you make sure that there are no more Cybermen or Daleks left on Earth?"
"I can confirm with certainty that there are no unfriendly alien presences on Earth or in it's vicinity at this point in time, Sarah Jane."
Sarah Jane sighed in relief. She had been out shopping at the time of the invasion, and had gotten stuck, unable to get home because of the Cybermen taking over the streets. She'd never liked those ghosts, but she hadn't been able to do anything about them – when she'd contacted UNIT, they'd told her that even they couldn't do anything.
She'd watched, terrified, as Daleks had zoomed through the skies, and had stared incredulously as they'd been sucked back towards the City Centre - and as the Cybermen had been pulled up into the sky and sucked away in the same direction.
As soon as the last Cyberman had gone, she'd turned tail and raced home, bursting into her attic to find out exactly what had happened.
Mr Smith's tale of a parallel universe was unusual, but when he had traced certain signals from UNIT and Torchwood, and hacked into Torchwood's failed security system, the mention of the Doctor had calmed her. Whatever had happened, the Earth was surely safe now. If the Doctor was there, and the Daleks and Cybermen were gone, then everything was under control.
Mr Smith interrupted her musings. "Sarah Jane, I am detecting an escalation of temporal flux in the immediate vicinity."
She stood up sharply, turning just as a familiar sound rang through the attic.
"Sarah Jane?" Mr Smith questioned, unable to tell if it was a threat or not.
"It's okay, Mr Smith. It's just an old friend, come to pay a visit."
The TARDIS materialised at the top of the steps, the familiar blue box bringing a smile to Sarah Jane's face. The door opened and Rose appeared, popping her head around the door. She grinned broadly at Sarah Jane's slightly stunned expression and her eyes widened as she took in the cluttered attic. Rose opened her mouth to say something, but was forestalled as someone gave her a light shove out of the TARDIS doorway. Rose turned to scowl at the man, and Sarah Jane diverted her attention to the doorway, expecting to see the Doctor.
But instead, she saw a tall, handsome man in smart, period military uniform, with a charming grin on his face. He strode forward confidently and took her hand.
"Captain Jack Harkness. It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Smith."
"Jack, stop it," the Doctor said sternly, stepping out of the TARDIS just as Sarah Jane was about to answer. The Captain pouted slightly, but a glare from the Doctor made him release Sarah Jane's hand and step away.
The Doctor grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back towards the TARDIS.
"Why don't you keep Mr Jones company?" he said, as though talking to a child. Jack gave him a funny look but did as he was asked and stepped back into the TARDIS. The Doctor then turned back to Sarah Jane, who had been watching the whole exchange with raised eyebrows and an amused smile.
"Hello again Sarah! You all right?" His tone was jovial, but Sarah Jane picked up on the deep meaning in his question: had she survived the attack unscathed, and without reliving too many bad memories.
She nodded slowly. "And you? Are you two okay?" she asked, glancing between the Doctor and Rose.
"Recovering," the Doctor replied with a small smile. Sarah Jane nodded slowly, noting the sadness in Rose's eyes and the half hidden pain in the Doctor's, and hastened to change the subject.
"So, I'm guessing you didn't just come here to check on me?..."
The Doctor grinned ruefully. "No. We were rather hoping to ask quite a large favour of you."
She raised her eyebrows.
"What do you want?"she asked suspiciously, before pausing and holding a hand up to forestall the Doctor, who had opened his mouth to reply. "Wait. First, tell me exactly what happened in London today."
"So who is Sarah Jane Smith?"
Ianto and Jack were sitting in the console room of the TARDIS, waiting for the Doctor and Rose to finish talking.
"An old companion of the Doctor's," Jack said. "I've never met her – come to that, I don't think I've actually ever met any of his other companions except Rose and Mickey."
"Mickey?" Ianto asked.
"Rose's, er, ex." Ianto tensed slightly and sighed, and Jack decided to change the subject before Ianto broke down again.
"I knew about Sarah Jane because the files we hacked from UNIT mentioned her several times as the Doctor's assistant. I admire her work, but I've never met her in person."
Ianto nodded wryly. "So we're entrusting my safety to someone neither of us knows."
"The Doctor trusts her, as does Rose. That's good enough for me."
Ianto looked at him, one eyebrow raised. "Do you make a habit of trusting people you barely know?" he asked, a hint of a smirk on his face.
Jack grinned, glad that Ianto's mood had improved. Of course, that probably meant that he was bottling his feelings up – but then, wasn't that part of the point of putting him in Sarah Jane's care instead of keeping him on the TARDIS, so that he didn't trigger his grief at the wrong moment and get himself, or even someone else, killed?
Jolting himself out of his inner discussion, Jack replied with a cheeky grin,"Only when my Doctor recommends it."
Ianto smiled properly, and although it didn't reach his eyes, Jack was satisfied. For now.
"So, you want me to look after a young man with no family, whose girlfriend has just been shot at her own request, and who, quite possibly, has UNIT on his tail?" Sarah Jane repeated, somewhat incredulously. Apart from the fact that she hadn't really expected to see the Doctor again – what chance was there that they'd meet up again? – now they were asking her to look after someone that they themselves had only just met? "I've worked quite hard to stop UNIT from finding out what I've got hidden up here."
"Well, strictly speaking, it's very unlikely that UNIT would know he was here. if they saw us leave then they only know that he's with me, and if they didn't, they'll say he's unaccounted for, and therefore, dead." The Doctor grimaced, and Sarah Jane exchanged a look with Rose before smiling.
"All right. You've convinced me. I'll take him - Ianto, you said? - in."
Rose and the Doctor broke into identical grins.
"Told you so, didn't I?" the Doctor said to Rose with a cocky grin.
"Oi!" she retorted, poking him in the side. "It was my idea, mister!"
The Doctor continued to grin at her, albeit slightly guiltily. Rose scowled at him playfully and pushed him back towards the TARDIS. "You go and tell Jack and Ianto; I want to talk with Sarah Jane."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows but obeyed, stepping back into the TARDIS. Sarah Jane shifted her gaze to Rose. She'd noticed the young girl seemed slightly more forlorn than she had when they'd last met, and the events the Doctor had just explained told her why. She'd lost her mother - willingly, maybe, but Sarah Jane knew that that was probably little consolation.
Rose seemed unsure of what to say now that she'd gotten rid of the Doctor, so Sarah Jane spoke first. "If you ever need anything, or just want to escape for a while, you're always welcome here."
Rose nodded. "It's not just that... it's..." Unsure of how to say it, Rose decided to be blunt. "You loved him, didn't you? Your Doctor, I mean."
Overcoming her initial shock at the question, Sarah Jane nodded, an odd expression on her face. "Sometimes I think I did, but sometimes it just felt like a silly schoolgirl crush." She paused. "Why?"
"It's just... I don't know what to do. He's all I've got now; I don't want to ruin what we've got, but I don't know if I can go on like this. Sometimes he gives off the right sort of signs, but then sometimes..."
"He's just so alien," Sarah Jane finished, nodding. She frowned slightly as she thought it over. "I wish I could tell you something comforting, but really all I can tell you is to wait for him to make the first move. Remember, he is an alien, and however human he might act, I'm not sure he totally understands us humans all the time. But really, from what I've seen of you and him, I'd say you have a rather good chance." A hopeful light lit in Rose's eyes. "And if you ever feel you've had enough of it all," Sarah Jane continued, "as I said before, you are very welcome here."
Rose smiled gratefully and relaxed slightly. It had obviously been worrying her, exactly what she'd do if for some reason she ever wanted to leave the Doctor. Not that that was likely to happen: the Doctor and Rose fit together too well, even as friends. A few months ago, before she'd reunited with the Doctor, Sarah Jane might have been jealous. But she wasn't now. Her motherly instincts had awoken at Rose's distress, and now she was hoping just as much as Rose for the Doctor to come to his senses. With a slightly ironic smile, Sarah Jane shifted uncomfortably and changed the subject.
"What've you been up to since I saw you last, then?"
Jack and Ianto looked up as the Doctor returned to the TARDIS.
"So, good news or bad news?" Jack asked.
"Huh?" The Doctor blinked at Jack for a second before realising what the Captain meant. "Oh, yes, she's perfectly happy to have Mr Jones stay with her for as long as he wants." He grinned at Ianto, who smiled gratefully. The Doctor perched on the edge of the console next to the two men. "They're having some kind of girly talk out there. Better give them a few minutes."
"What about all my stuff? I mean, if UNIT thinks I'm dead they'll get rid of it, won't they?" Ianto asked after a moment.
The Doctor and Jack exchanged glances.
"I... hadn't thought of that," the Doctor said after a second. Jack nodded, slightly guiltily.
Ianto rolled his eyes at the pair of them. "So, shouldn't we go now and get it, before UNIT gets around to it?"
The Doctor tilted his head slightly, a grin forming on his face. "No need to worry about that, Mr Jones." Ianto gave him a confused look, but the Doctor had already carried on. "I presume that at, ooh, roughly 10.00 am this morning, your house was empty? I mean, that no-one was there?"
"Yes..." Ianto said slowly, not sure where this was going. Beside him, the Captain chuckled quietly. He'd figured it out.
"Well, then," the Doctor continued, "we'll just pop back and pick your stuff up this morning."
A light turned on in Ianto's head. "Time machine," he said, slightly bitterly.
The Doctor picked up on this immediately. "I'm sorry. If I could go back and stop the whole battle happening, I would. But it's part of events now. A fixed point in time. Changing that would cause a paradox... and a paradox twisted enough that it would probably bring down the Reapers."
"The Reapers?" Jack questioned.
"Nasty things. If time gets damaged enough, they manifest and sterilise the wound. They consume everything in sight, making them stronger. Wounds in time..." he trailed off, smiling absently, as though lost in a memory, before breaking himself away. "All right then! Jack, if you just pop out and tell the girls that where we're going and that we'll be back in a minute..."
Jack snorted at that – he remembered Rose telling him about the time the Doctor returned with her a year late; in fact, he remembered being in the city when all the 'missing' posters were up...
"Hello, ladies," he said, stepping out of the TARDIS. "We're going on a little trip to this morning to fetch some of Ianto's stuff. The Doctor says we'll be back in a minute, but I wouldn't count on it." He finished with a wink at Rose and stepped backwards towards the TARDIS.
Rose smiled at him cheekily. "Tell him I'll be counting. And if he's more than a day, he's in big trouble."
Jack laughed and stepped back into the TARDIS, relaying Rose's message to the Doctor; he was rather indignant about it, muttering something about 'designed for six pilots' and 'old, older than me'. The shock he received from the TARDIS for the last comment when he'd touched the console even made Ianto crack a smile.
The TARDIS materialised in a small, cosy flat in East London. Ianto breathed out shakily as he stepped out of the door into a flat of ghosts and memories. Tears welled up in his eyes when his eyes fell on Lisa's stuff mixed in with his own, when he saw the photos on the mantelpiece out of the corner of his eye. He stepped forward as though in a daze. He had believed the Doctor and Jack when they'd said he wouldn't want to come home. He'd already faced that when he'd gone to his parents' and his sister's houses after their deaths. But this... somehow hit harder.
Jack stepped out behind him, clutching a large, lidded tub that the Doctor had unearthed from somewhere. He wasn't quite sure what it was made of – it didn't seem like any Earth material that Jack had come across, but Jack hadn't seen it before in any of his travels either. Not that it really mattered, but it was rather lighter than it should have been for a box of its size. However, he was more worried about the young man in front of him, who was liable to collapse any second.
The Doctor followed them, slightly hesitant to set foot in yet another domestic environment. Of course, he should have been used to it by this point, but even now, the loss of his own home was still too raw. He was gradually getting used to it: he had just about accustomed himself to Jackie's flat, and he'd only seen Sarah Jane's attic, which had been alien enough to distract him. And while Rose was starting to teach him to enjoy some of the aspects of a domestic life, it was still far too... alien... for him.
"So then, I'd advise not taking too much - might be suspicious - but if you ever want to see something again, take it. Who knows what UNIT might do to it..." Jack said, dumping the box on the floor next to the sofa and sitting down with a lazy grin. Ianto, broken out of his thoughts, looked at him.
"We'll get this done quicker if you help me," he said, half-glaring at Jack. In the short space of time since he'd met the Captain, Ianto had soon realised that the man wasn't about to pull rank on him – that he'd rather see him as an equal, just another survivor from the battle. From what Captain Jack said, it sounded like he'd had never wanted to be involved with Torchwood in the first place. So Ianto didn't bother giving him the respect and courtesy he would have done had he met him yesterday.
Jack half scowled, half pouted. The Doctor gave him a stern look, and then, with a cheeky grin, vanished into the TARDIS. Jack stood to follow him indignantly, but Ianto glared at him properly, so, sighing heavily, Jack turned to him.
"Okay then. You put stuff in piles, I'll pack them in the box," he told him, quite satisfied with the division of labour. Ianto sighed a long-suffering sigh and turned towards the bathroom.
Ianto completed the bathroom and kitchen quickly, the living room taking a bit longer, but fifteen minutes after Ianto disappeared into the bedroom, the piles of stuff stopped coming.
Jack hadn't really noticed initially, too busy figuring out how to fit everything into the box; as soon as he did realise, however, he stood to go and investigate. They didn't really have time for this... the lunchtime ghost shift was when it all started, and if they weren't back in the TARDIS by then, they were in big trouble.
He pushed open the bedroom door and stepped forward, stopping short as soon as he got through the door.
Ianto was curled up on the floor at the foot of the bed, clutching something to his chest, sobbing.
Jack sighed and stepped over to Ianto, placing a hand on his shoulder. Ianto tensed, but didn't move, too overcome to properly acknowledge the Captain. Encouraged by the fact that Ianto hadn't flinched away, Jack gently put an arm around the younger man, and carefully raised him until he was sitting up, crying onto Jack's shoulder. As he did so, Jack caught a glimpse of what was in his hands: a small, dark blue velvet box.
A ring box.
Jack resisted the urge to curse and merely tightened his hold on the distraught man. He'd realised that Ianto and Lisa were deeply in love, but he hadn't realised quite how far along their relationship was. Judging by Ianto's distress, and the obvious presence of the ring box, he'd been planning on proposing in the near future.
To come home from that battle, from Lisa's death, and find that... even Jack who had lost so many loved ones during his life couldn't imagine what Ianto was feeling.
He could feel Ianto calming down slowly; he was shaking less, sobs less frequent, his breathing becoming more even. Jack sat with his arm around Ianto's shoulders, giving him silent support and waiting for the young man to speak.
"Why?" Ianto's voice was rough and unsteady, but he'd lifted his head and was now leaning back against the bed, gazing at Jack. "Why did the invasion happen? Why didn't anyone realise about the ghosts? Why didn't somebody stop it before it was too late?" He was angry now, and Jack took a deep breath, thinking best how to answer that.
"I...we... we did all we could. Nobody could have guessed that the ghosts were gonna turn into Cybermen; heck, Torchwood didn't even know they existed. I tried to stop the ghost shifts before, I really did, but Yvonne wouldn't listen to me; she wouldn't listen to anyone. By the time the Cybermen manifested themselves, it was too late. It wasn't an invasion, there was no way to stop it. They had control of everything."
"And they destroyed everything," Ianto finished bitterly. "It was Torchwood's fault. If they hadn't been messing around with the ghosts and the breach, none of this would ever have happened..." He paused, looking down at the floor. "When I joined Torchwood, I thought I would be protecting people. I thought that Torchwood could save people. But all they did was destroy."
Jack sighed. "Ianto..."
"Don't, Captain. Don't tell me that the world is better off because Torchwood exists. They might have saved a few people here and there, but they destroy more life than they save. My sister's family was killed because Torchwood didn't manage to save the day in time, Lisa died because of Torchwood... Torchwood's destroyed my life!"
"Because without them, life's no longer worth living." Ianto and Jack both looked up at the new voice. The Doctor was standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe. "You want to hate Torchwood, but you can't bring yourself to because you know that however bad they've been, they have saved lives. You want to hate all the aliens out there because they're the reason people have died, but you can't, because you know that out there somewhere, there must be good aliens." The Doctor stepped into the room and crouched in front of Jack and Ianto. "You want to die, because you haven't got anyone else to live for, but you want to live to stop anyone else feeling the way you do now."
Ianto looked at the Time Lord in amazement, because the alien had just summed up exactly how Ianto was feeling.
The Doctor smiled humourlessly at that, and decided to explain. "I lost my planet. It burned, the people and the civilisation with it. I'm the only one left now. The only reason I keep going is the hope that I might save other planets, other people from the same fate. Just by living, you might, one day, have the chance to make sure that just once, everybody will live." He glanced at Jack, who had smiled at the memory of those words, and stood up, holding out a hand for Ianto. Ianto nodded, a determined glint coming to his eye as he took the Doctor's hand and stood up. Beside him, Jack pulled himself to his feet.
For a moment, none of them spoke. Then Ianto broke the silence, pointing to a large carry-all on the floor.
"That's all I need from in here. I think we're done." He disappeared out of the room and into the bathroom, slipping the small velvet box into his pocket.
An hour or so after they left, the churning of the TARDIS engines heralded the men's arrival back at the attic. Sarah Jane watched as the Doctor and Captain Jack stepped out, followed by a young man. They all seemed rather solemn, but then again, they had been in a battle to the death mere hours ago.
Jack was carrying the large tub and Ianto had a black carry-all in his hand. The Doctor grinned at Rose. "So, how long was I?"
Rose glanced at her watch. "One hour, twenty-three minutes and fourteen seconds, give or take," she replied with a cheeky smile.
"Not bad, given his track record," Sarah Jane said.
Jack coughed lightly, and Sarah Jane looked over at him apologetically. "Oh, sorry. You can put that in the first bedroom on the left, just down the stairs," she told him, pointing at the doorway.
Jack nodded silently and headed out of the door, the occupants of the attic wincing as something thudded into the wall.
Ianto glanced at Sarah Jane awkwardly. "Thanks for letting me stay. I..."
"It's no problem at all. This house is far too big for me, anyway. It'll be good to have some company," Sarah Jane interrupted firmly. Ianto smiled gratefully.
Jack reappeared in the doorway, slightly out of breath, and The Doctor stood up from where he'd been perched on the arm of the sofa.
"Right then, we'd best be off." He paused, looking at Ianto, and changed tack. "Actually, Mr. Jones, could I see your mobile for a minute?"
Ianto looked slightly confused, but pulled the device out of his pocket. The Doctor took it from him, removing the back and tinkering with it for a second before sonic-ing it a few times. He then replaced the back, and entered a couple of numbers.
"That's the TARDIS phone number and Rose's. Call us if you need anything, I'll make sure the TARDIS tells me if you've left any messages." He grinned widely, hugged Sarah Jane, and, with a parting wave, retreated into the TARDIS. Rose also hugged Sarah Jane, whispered something to her before following the Time Lord into the TARDIS.
"Well then, I'll be seeing you sometime." Jack saluted lazily at them, and finally the TARDIS door shut for the last time.
A second later, winds swirled around the attic as the Doctor, Rose, and Jack departed for the Vortex.
As the TARDIS settled herself in the vortex, the Doctor joined Jack and Rose where they were sitting on the Captain's chair. Rose sighed happily.
"This is how it should be. The three of us, together, savin' the world."
The Doctor smiled, remembering his words to Ida after their adventure on Krop Tor.
"The stuff of legend."
A/N – Hope you enjoyed The Stuff of Legend. I will update this chapter with a note to tell you when I post the sequel.
I've created a logo picture thing for this story, there's a link on my profile page. Please check it out.
And thanks for all the reviews, story favs and alerts! Much appreciated.
Oh, and here's a sneak preview of the next story that I typed up quickly:
Laughing together, Jack looked up from the other two absently.
And blinked determinedly.
Nothing happened. The redhead in the wedding dress was still there.
"Err, guys, think we got a problem," he said, standing up. The other two, confused, looked in the direction he was looking, and stared.
"What?" That was the Doctor.
The redhead, looking slightly dazed, had turned at Jack's words, eyes widening as she took in the three of them.
"What!" The Doctor again.
"Who are you?" the woman demanded.
"Captain Jack Harkness" Jack started to say, flashing a grin, but the redhead interrupted.
"Where am I?"
"What!" The Doctor and Rose this time, in unison. Jack rolled his eyes.
"What the hell is this place?" the woman demanded, angrily.
Jack shoved his hands over his friends' mouths.