Disclaimer: It all belongs to the BBC. I am only borrowing the characters for a while and I will put them back where I found them.
Author's Note: This is placed for Sarah Jane sometime after the Five Doctors and K9 and Company but well before the Big Finish audio novels. She is still living in Croydon at this point. I am assuming the Brigadier was knighted sometime before he retired. He's almost ready to do so now - so he's already been knighted. I don't know that they ever specify when it happens in canon. For the Brigadier this happens before Battlefield. As well, in this universe the Brig didn't marry Doris - you'll see who he's with - so yes, it's AU.
A ringing phone drew Sarah's attention away from the article she was trying to write. "Sarah Jane Smith," she answered distractedly.
"Ms. Smith, I think you should get to the old UNIT headquarters immediately. I'll meet you there." The Brigadier's voice filtered through the phone. "Please come quickly." The click of the phone hanging up was the next sound she heard.
"Wait, Brigadier!" Sarah's attention was immediately drawn to the receiver. He'd said so little and yet it was what he hadn't said that told her more than what he had said. It had to be something to do with the Doctor. "K-9," she started to call out. "Oh, I can't take you with me, can I? What if they decided to appropriate you?"
"Mistress?" The little mechanical dog rolled up, his ears twitching.
"I have to go to UNIT. I'm certain that it has something to do with the Doctor, if the Brig's mysterious phone call was any indication." Sarah reached for her jacket immediately. "If I can, I'll convince him to visit, alright?"
"Affirmative, Mistress," K-9 responded cheerfully.
"There's a good dog," Sarah said, casting a bright smile at her friend. "Who knows, maybe we'll have three for tea tonight instead of just the two of us."
"Affection noted, Mistress. Take my greetings to the Doctor Master." K-9's tale wagged happily.
"I will, K-9." She was already half out the door. "Keep watch on the place for me."
As Sarah prepared to go to UNIT, the Brigadier faced disapproval from his better half. "You know she's already running out the door." Liz glared at Alistair from where she sat on the edge of the bed, watching him dress.
"Of course," the Brigadier answered evenly.
"That wasn't very fair." Liz's scowl grew. "Do you really think it's a good idea? I know Dr. Sullivan says that this fellow who's turned up is human, but she's just going to get stuck in again."
"You're right, Liz. I'm not being fair. In fact, I'm being damned unfair." He sighed, as unhappy with himself as she was with him.
"Then why are you doing it?" Liz stood and turned him to face her, reaching up and straightening his tie for him. "I know you, Alistair. You wouldn't hurt Sarah for the world. You may be stuffy, hide bound, overly disciplined and dully military."
"It's so nice to know how highly you think of me." Alistair looked amused.
"I do, that's precisely the point. While you may be all of those things, you aren't unkind. I don't understand what you're hoping to accomplish." Liz looked up at him in exasperation.
"How many young men have we introduced Sarah Jane to since we started seeing each other?" Alistair asked.
"Enough that I'm beginning to wonder if she doesn't like girls," Liz quipped and grinned at the slight blush that brought to the Brigadier's cheeks.
A gruff clearing of his throat, and Alistair continued, "As it were, I would too, but we both know who she's pining for."
"But he looks nothing like the last Doctor she knew, that you knew." Liz sighed. "He looks like the one we all knew — and if he's from that time, then he'll have to go back and if he isn't, well, she's bound to be hurt one way or another."
"I'm doing this to try to give her some closure, Lizzie," Alistair said softly. "If he is the Doctor, then I'll see to it that he talks to her — sets her straight in a way that only he can do. If he isn't the Doctor, then perhaps..." He let his words trail off.
"Oh, Alistair," Liz laughed out loud, "You old romantic you." She brushed off some imaginary lint with her hands, running them down his chest.
"I'd thank you to keep that to yourself." The Brigadier smiled, then leaned down and claimed her lips. "I'll see you for dinner, Lizzie."
"You might have to bring take away to the lab. I have a long day ahead of me," Liz said after they finished the kiss.
While the Brigadier made his way to the old UNIT Headquarters, he hadn't taken into account that Sarah Jane had a head start and was far more likely than he was to disobey the speed limit in her little yellow Beetle.
"Benton. Regimental Sergeant Major Benton." Sarah Jane smiled as she approached her old UNIT compatriot.
"It's Lieutenant Benton, now Miss." Benton smiled. "I take it you're here to see our unexpected guest."
"Oh, congratulations, John." Sarah beamed at him and then swept him into a hug. "And yes, of course, I am. Can I go right now?"
"I think it might be better if you waited for the Brigadier, Miss." Benton looked down at her sympathetically.
Her expression fell. "Oh, now you're worrying me, Benton. Please, if it's the Doctor, I need to see him now."
Benton sighed, not being able to say no in the face of Sarah's distress. "Alright, Miss. I'll take you to Major Sullivan. He can tell you what's going on at least."
"Harry's here." Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Not only because the Doctor was in good hands, but because she knew she could bully Harry into letting her see the Doctor. "Alright, Lieutenant, take me to the Major."
Even with the increase in his rank, Benton didn't fool himself to think he could possibly stop Sarah Jane Smith from doing anything she had set her mind to. It was something of a relief to know he could hand her off to Sullivan and he'd take the Brigadier's ire at the young woman getting to the man without him speaking to her first. He led her through the halls to the medical wing. "Dr. Sullivan, Ms. Smith is here."
"I should have known." Harry sighed as he saw Sarah Jane slip past Benton and made a b-line to the bed.
"Harry, what's happen," Her words stopped flowing as she took in the appearance of the man on the bed. This wasn't her second doctor — all teeth and curls, but her first. Silver hair, hawkish nose, distinguished features. "Doctor," She almost stumbled, then moved to his side and took his hand, deciding for the moment to ignore the reversion in his appearance. "Harry, he's far too warm."
"No, he's fine, Sarah." Harry moved behind her, trying to draw her away.
"No, he's not," Sarah insisted. "He's much too warm for a Gallifreyan. Oh, what happened to him, Harry?"
"Doctor Sullivan doesn't know, Ms. Smith." The Brigadier sighed. "You can go, Sullivan."
For a moment Harry thought to protest, that he should be the one to explain this to Sarah. Still he could tell by the Brigadier's expression that that wasn't a suggestion but an order. "Yes sir." He squeezed Sarah's shoulder then retreated the way the Brigadier had come in.
"What is the matter with him, Sir Alistair?" Sarah looked at the other man pleadingly.
"It's not so much a matter of what's wrong with him, Sarah Jane." The Brigadier took her hands and turned her to face him. "We're not sure this is the Doctor."
"Don't be silly, Brigadier." Her eyes showed her hurt that they could suggest it. "I know it's the one from before, but it's him."
The Brigadier nearly smiled. This was the reason for the Doctor's sake — if it was the Doctor — that he wanted Sarah here. Her unwavering belief in him. He had a feeling the man would need it, if it was him and if it wasn't, Sarah would be the first to see it. He trusted that she wouldn't blind herself to the differences. "Sarah Jane, he's human."
"Human?" Sarah's eyes widened as she looked down at the man on the bed, clearly processing that. "Is the TARDIS anywhere to be found?"
"No, not that we've found," the Brigadier admitted. "However he simply appeared in his old laboratory, completely unconscious."
Sarah reached out and touched the curls, the line of his jaw. "I don't know what's happened to him, Brigadier, but I'm certain this is the Doctor. Human or not." The softness in her gaze reassured the Brigadier that he'd been right to call her there. "May I stay with him?"
The Brigadier nodded. "I'll let Harry know you're staying. He and Benton will be glad of the relief. I'll have them set you up with a cot." He could tell, just by the way she wasn't paying him any mind, that she hadn't heard a word he'd said. She was far too focused on the man in front of her.