The doorbell rang at 13 Bannerman Road, breaking into Sarah's quiet time. She sighed and closed the book she'd been reading and made her way to the door. She opened the door to see Jack Harkness standing there, and slightly behind him, another man with his back to the door. Sarah raised an eyebrow as Jack saluted. 'Good morning, Ma'am.'
'What can I do for you, Captain?'
'Unfortunately, it's not a social call, Miss Smith.' He reached out and grabbed the arm of the man standing next to him, making him turn around. 'Be polite,' he hissed.
The young man turned around and when he saw Sarah, he smiled broadly. 'Oh, hello!'
Sarah looked into the piercing blue eyes of the young man, then took in the rest of his appearance. Tall, and lanky with dark brown curly hair. There was something about him that smacked of familiarity. 'Hello,' she said softly before turning to Jack. 'Would one of you care to explain?'
'It's not something we should discuss where there could be ears, if you know what I mean, Ma'am.'
She ushered them both inside and towards the living room. 'Call me Sarah Jane,' she said finally to Jack.
Jack sat down in the closest chair and watched as Sarah couldn't take her eyes off the young man. 'He's not human,' Jack said finally.
Sarah looked the young man up and down. Other than the obvious similarity to the Doctor she did most of her travelling with, there was nothing especially remarkable about him. 'What do you mean, not human?'
The young man finally spoke. 'I was born on Sontar. A genetic experiment by the Sontarans.'
She looked from the young man to Jack. 'So why are you involving me?'
The young man grinned from ear to ear. 'You're my mum.'
Sarah's eyes positively leaped from their sockets. Her head whipped around to Jack for confirmation. 'His story checks out, Sarah Jane. Genetically speaking, he's correct.'
'That's not possible,' Sarah shook her head in disbelief.
'Actually it is,' the young man said quickly. 'My name's John, by the way.' He reached out to shake Sarah's hand. 'Somehow the Sontarans got your genetic material, and well, here I am.' He smiled again, 'And I bet you can guess where the other half of my genetic material comes from.'
'Fairly safely, yes.' Sarah sank down on the sofa and gestured for John to sit in the chair opposite Jack. She turned towards Jack, a myriad of unanswered questions playing themselves out across her expressions.
Jack read them all in an instant. 'He was in the Torchwood vaults. There had been no record of him ever being put there.'
'Twenty-five years,' John said softly, his gaze fixing on the floor.
Sarah's eyebrows raised. 'You mean you had him there in suspended animation all this time?' She turned to John. 'How old are you?'
'Well, let's just say Torchwood's suspended animation isn't as fully suspended as they would like you to think. Anyone with much higher functioning and cognitive abilities never completely rests.' He took a deep breath. 'Not counting the years I was in suspension, I'm fifteen.'
Jack jumped back in. 'I had no idea he was there. Once I realised who he was, I knew we needed to bring him here. He can't be out there all alone, he knows nothing about the universe and as you know, Torchwood is a bit dangerous.'
Sarah gave a small laugh. 'That's an understatement, Captain.'
John turned to Jack, his expression heartless. 'I know a lot more about the universe than you would like to admit, Captain. The Sontarans gave me a full set of memories.'
'Whose memories?' Sarah asked. Before he could answer, she held her hand up. 'No, I don't want to know.' She stood up and held her hand out to John. 'Come on, John. We need to run a few scans of our own.'
Jack stood up as well. 'Is there anything I can assist with?'
'No, leave this to me, but thank you for bringing him here, I'll make sure he's taken care of.' Sarah's tone was polite but not overly inviting.
As Sarah and John walked towards the stairs, Jack followed them to the front door. 'I'll be going, but Sarah Jane, please contact me if there's anything we can do.'
She nodded, but without a word saw Jack out. She turned back to John. 'All right, let's introduce you to Mr. Smith. He'll have some scans to run, and I'll have him try to contact the Doctor as well.'
'Should I call you "Mum"?' John asked innocently.
'Ah, let's hold off on that, shall we? At least until I've checked your story out for myself.'
John nodded and silently followed Sarah up the stairs to the attic.
The TARDIS landed in the attic with its usual grinding, wheezing noise. The Doctor popped his head out quickly, looking around and frowning when he didn't see Sarah Jane. He ran a hand through his spiky hair before turning to Sarah's supercomputer, who for once was not tucked up into his cabinet in the wall. 'Where's Sarah?' he asked.
'I am not at liberty to say, Doctor,' Mr. Smith responded, his voice neutral.
'Eh? What does that mean?'
'Sarah Jane is in a location of which she has forbidden me to discuss.'
The Doctor nodded as he realised what the computer was referring to. He smiled as he saw a small model of the TARDIS sitting on the floor near Sarah's safe. 'Thank you, Mr. Smith. I know exactly where she is.' He walked over and put his hand on the side of the model, watching as it grew tall enough for him to open the door and step inside. Once he was inside, it shrunk down to its normal size.
The Doctor looked around the room appreciatively, whistling at how she'd decorated it. 'Very nice, Sarah.' He took in the white walls with all the roundels, reminiscent of the former interior of the TARDIS.
She turned to him and smiled, 'If this is my space away from everyone, it needed to look like something out of this world.'
The Doctor walked over and opened his arms to her, grabbing her up in an enormous hug, spinning her around. 'So you've taken your transcendental box and made it look like the TARDIS. Colour me impressed.'
'I must admit, K9 helped with the programming before I sent him off with Luke.'
'Still, very nice.' He took a step back from her. 'What's wrong? I didn't expect to get a communication from Mr. Smith saying that he thought it important to come, and then arrive to see you hiding and pacing inside your box.'
Sarah sighed and closed her eyes. After a moment, she opened them to look up at the Doctor's waiting expression. 'We have a problem, Doctor.'
'Problem? What sort of problem?' The Doctor asked, concern etching his features. It wasn't like Sarah to reach out to him. Something must be dire indeed.
Sarah gestured toward the small sofa in the corner of the room. The Doctor finally noticed that they weren't alone. He watched as the young man with curly brown hair and piercing blue eyes stood up and walked towards them. 'I'm the problem,' he said with conviction. 'I'm John,' he said, holding out his hand to the Time Lord.
The Doctor's eyes widened as he took in the young man. He ignored John's outstretched hand and walked around him cautiously, every sense on high alert. 'Oh this is different.' He came around to stand in front of John, finally taking John's hand and shaking it enthusiastically. 'Strange, but different.'
Sarah crossed her arms and watched them for a moment. The Doctor turned to her, 'How did this happen, Sarah?'
'If I knew, Doctor, I wouldn't have asked Mr. Smith to contact you.'
'Sontarans,' John offered. 'I was created and brought here by the Sontarans.'
'To what end?' the Doctor asked.
Sarah shrugged, 'That's the bit we're vague on.' Sarah looked up at the Doctor. 'What I'd like to know is how they got a copy of my genetic makeup in the first place.'
'Earth of the far future,' both John and the Doctor said in unison. At the Doctor's raised eyebrow, John continued, 'The memories the Sontarans gave me include your visit to Earth and the experimentation done to the humans of the Galsec freighter.'
'And then of course we got involved in the middle of it,' Sarah mumbled. 'Figures.'
The Doctor walked around John again. 'The genetic markers are quite strong, I must admit.' He turned to Sarah, a wide grin on his face. 'We're parents, Sarah Jane!'
Sarah rolled her eyes. 'I already have a son. Luke, remember? Just sent him off to Oxford.'
The Doctor reached out and took Sarah's hand. 'Walk with me, Sarah.' He turned back to John as they headed for the door. 'Stay here, John. I need to have a talk with your mother.' The Doctor laughed, 'Oh that's funny.'
Sarah smacked him on the arm. 'No, it is.'
'Oh yes it is.' The Doctor led Sarah from the room in her box out to the attic and then into the TARDIS. Once they were in the TARDIS, the Doctor slipped an arm around Sarah's waist as he led her through the console room and into the interior of the ship.
'Where are we going?' she finally asked.
He squeezed her gently, holding her to him. 'It's a surprise,' he said, whispering in her ear. 'I want to show you something.'
The Doctor guided her into a room she recognised as soon as she saw it. It was the boot cupboard. He led her to sit down on the sofa. 'Sit back and relax, Sarah.'
'What are you up to, Doctor?'
The Doctor walked over to a small cabinet, slid open the drawer and pulled out a file folder. He walked over to her and sat down next to her, draping on arm around her shoulders. He held the folder out to her with his other hand. She took it from him silently and opened it, flipping through the contents.
He watched as her expression changed as she looked through the papers and photos in the folder. 'You knew he was out there?'
'No, not really. I heard a rumour coming out of Sontar about their genetic experimentation. We saw first-hand how they conducted their experiments on humans when we were on Earth. You experienced it.'
'I'd rather not remember it,' Sarah admitted.
'I went there, Sarah. I thought I'd destroyed all the genetic material they'd taken. I was apparently wrong.'
Sarah sighed. 'Apparently not.' She stood up and began to pace the room.
'He'll have to stay here with you,' the Doctor said quietly. When she didn't respond, he stood up and jammed his hands into his trouser pockets, quietly watching her. Finally, he stepped forward and reached out to take Sarah by the upper arms. 'Sarah, it's not that difficult, is it?'
She looked up at him, 'This is weird, Doctor.'
He smiled, 'Is it? Come on, Sarah, he's got nowhere else to go.' He stepped back , regarding her for a few moments. 'After all, he is your son. Sort of.'
Sarah tilted her head. 'An artificially created lifeform from stolen genetic material.'
'From our genetic material, Sarah. Yours and mine.' The Doctor looked at Sarah and smiled. 'You have to admit, he does look a bit like my fourth self would have if he'd been a young man.'
'Of all the races we encountered, why would the Sontarans have done this? More to the point, why would they have sent him to Earth with no explanation?'
'I don't know.' The Doctor himself began to pace. 'He's young and inexperienced. He needs to stay with one of us, but as you well know, my life is too dangerous, especially for someone like him. He's safer here with you.'
'I don't know how to do this, Doctor,' Sarah admitted.
'Oh nonsense. You've done a great job with Luke.'
'Luke is more than human.' The Doctor gestured towards the door. 'Look at all you've done, Sarah, you're fantastic and there's no one I would trust more implicitly to take care of our son.'
Sarah sighed, 'That sounds way too domestic coming from you.'
'I can do domestic, I've done it before.'
Sarah sat down on the sofa and looked up at him. 'That was when you were on Gallifrey, and you told me your children had been loomed.'
The Doctor sat down beside her and reached out to take her hand in hers. 'Yes, well, that was different.'
'Is it?' she looked up at him.
He turned to her, reaching out and cupping her cheek with one hand. 'This is something we never could've had before.'
Sarah closed her eyes and relished his touch. She inhaled deeply. 'But this isn't anything more than what we've ever had, is it?'
He tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear. 'Oh, I don't know. It may be very selfish of me, but it would give me a reason to pop back in frequently.'
She shook her head slightly, a smile finally forming. 'Well, I wouldn't turn that down.'
He leaned in and kissed her gently before pulling back to look in her eyes. 'You told me once that I had the biggest family on Earth. It isn't a matter of biggest, but Sarah, you've given me the best family.' At her smile, he leaned in and kissed her again.
She finally pulled back for the sheer need for oxygen. 'I guess we should be getting back. We left John alone back there.'
The Doctor laughed. 'Ah yes, hiding in your transcendental box.' He reached down and squeezed her hand. 'I'm glad you're getting some good use out of it.'
'I'm using it just the way you wanted me to, as an escape.' Sarah sighed, 'And the way things are going, I'm going to need one!'
The Doctor laughed as he reached out and pulled Sarah to him in a warm embrace.