Disclaimer: It all belongs to the Beeb.
This was meant to be a cute little Father's Day fic. Then Sarah Jane wanted plot. Then Oliver opined it should be a holiday special. I told him that Father's Day wasn't the traditional time of year for a Doctor Who holiday special, but Luke pointed out that this wasn't Doctor Who - more like Sarah Jane Adventures. Now I know how it feels when your characters gang up on you.
Needless to say this time line/universe wise, occurs in the Taking in Strays/Life As It Happens universe, and occurs after chapter five of Life and the bonus Easter Egg adult chapter.
My unending thanks to Stella and Sue for being my beta readers and fixing all those niggling grammar errors as well as helping me fill the plot holes.
Hope you all enjoy
The house was completely silent as Luke let himself in and headed towards the kitchen, hauling the bags of extra groceries he needed to make the breakfast he had planned for Oliver and trying to be as silent as possible with K-9 tagging along behind him.
"Master Luke," the tin dog spoke from behind him.
"Shhh, K-9, I don't want to wake Dad. This is a surprise for him." Luke admonished his metal friend.
K-9 modulated his voice to be lower in volume. "A surprise for what?"
"Father's day." Luke said simply.
"You are alternatively 112 days too late or 254 days too early for that celebration, Master Luke." K-9 advised.
Luke grinned slightly. "So it should really be a surprise then shouldn't it?" He set the groceries on the counter and then knelt beside the dog. "Oliver wasn't here for Father's Day this year, K-9 and with everything that happened at Moreton Harwood I don't think I want to wait until next year to celebrate." He patted the robot's head. "Besides, I don't think I could wait that long."
He was cut off by his mum's voice from the doorway. Looking back he saw her leaning against the doorframe with her dressing gown wrapped tight around her, her feet bare. "Wait that long for what?" She asked, her curiosity coming to the forefront.
"It's a surprise, mum." Luke chided as he grinned back at her, "You'll get to see too."
"Special trip home to cook Oliver breakfast in bed," Sarah Jane grumped, "Just watch, you're going to give me a complex. You prefer him." She sniffed dramatically.
"If you'd have stayed in bed, you'd have gotten breakfast there too." Luke rolled his eyes at her. "Instead you got up to try to wheedle the surprise out of me."
"I was going to help too," Sarah swatted his arm playfully.
"You can make the tea then." Luke said, giving her the safest job he could think of while he started to make the batter for pancakes. "Then you can cut up the strawberries."
"I'd better be getting pancakes out of this as well, young man." Sarah teased her son then moved to fill the kettle. As it was, she ended up watching her son with a certain amount of pride while she sipped a cup of tea, as he expertly made a platter full of pancakes, then took the strawberries she'd cut up and turned them into a fresh sauce. Then he rooted around in the cupboards for pancake syrup, preserves and marmalade since with Oliver's sweet tooth he couldn't be certain what the man would want with them.
Once Luke had the tray ready to take upstairs, he looked hopefully at Sarah Jane. "Could you bring up the tea, mum?"
"You've certainly gotten your breakfast making skills from Oliver." Sarah observed as she loaded a second tray with the pot of tea and everything else they'd need then followed him up the stairs to their room. The thought of that made her smile and blush slightly. Even having found a family she'd never expected to have, after the disaster with Peter and the Trickster she'd written off ever having a partner. "Come on sleepy head, our son has decided to surprise you with breakfast in bed."
Oliver grumbled, then opened one eye and his brow arched accordingly as he stretched. "What's this all about then?"
"Apparently Luke likes you better than me," Sarah mock pouted again.
"Mum, put your tray down and get back in bed." Luke shook his head as he set up the stand for the tray so she could do as he asked.
"You've got another surprise for me and she was snooping, wasn't she?" Oliver knew Sarah Jane just as well as her son did and he watched with a grin while she complied with Luke's request.
Sarah couldn't resist sticking out her tongue at them both as she moved to her side of the bed and climbed back onto it. "Look at the pair of you doubting my motives."
"On the contrary, we know you." Oliver leaned in and claimed her lips then drew away as the scent of breakfast distracted him. "Pancakes," he rubbed his hands together. "So what is the occasion?"
"Late Father's day," Luke answered as he set up another stand then started fixing a plate. Knowing how Oliver was, he fixed it to his mother's taste then handed it to Oliver who promptly handed it on to Sarah Jane.
"Ah," Oliver cocked his head curiously then shook his head and settled back, taking the next plate that Luke handed him. "Well I'm hardly one to say no to breakfast in bed." He passed the first cup of tea onto Sarah then took the second. "Come on, sit down, and make yourself comfortable." He nodded to the end of the bed. "I won't ask you to give away where you're taking us, but you can tell us what to wear."
"Uhm, nothing special. You might want to wear something comfortable for walking." Luke answered after some consideration.
"Not running?" Sarah asked in amusement, "My boots for me then."
"When do you not wear boots, Sarah?" Oliver quipped with a grin. "Trainers for me."
"When do you not wear trainers, Oliver?" Sarah retorted with a chuckle.
Luke fixed Oliver a second plate, knowing that his mother would refuse a second helping then gathered up the leftovers. "I'm going to take this stuff downstairs. You and mum take your time."
As they watched him disappear out the door, Sarah sipped her tea and smiled. "We're very lucky to have a son like Luke."
"That's hardly my doing, Sarah Jane." Oliver smiled at her.
Sarah chuckled, "Sometimes I think it's hardly mine either. He seems to have gotten the best of humanity."
"Always did like you lot. Us lot," Oliver shook his head, "Just doesn't have the same ring to it."
"Well, it's us lot for the duration isn't it?" Sarah Jane looked at Oliver as she got up from the bed intending to dress, the tiniest spark of concern showing in her eyes.
Oliver set aside his plate and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, then took Sarah's hand and drew her to him. He looked up at her, meeting her gaze. "I can't say it's been easy, Sarah — you know that. Some days this single heartbeat of mine still seems so very foreign but you and Luke make all of that worth it."
Sarah smiled down at him, running her fingers along his cheek. "I'm glad. I just worry."
"Don't," Oliver reassured her, laying his hand on hers. "The last thing I want is for you to worry, Sarah. I've gained more than I've lost. Truly."
Sarah gripped his hand, then backed up and pulled. "Then on your feet, our son is waiting downstairs to whisk us off on some sort of adventure. He was putting on a good show of being patient but…"
"He can hardly wait," Oliver finished her sentence with a chuckle. "So I gathered." He allowed Sarah to pull him up and made his way to their shared closet, picking out a pair of jeans and tossing them on the bed. "Jeans that make you watch my arse."
"Hey," Sarah said with mock annoyance then smiled mischievously. "I watch your arse anyway."
"That's right, you do." Oliver grinned and picked out a tight fitting turtle neck and tossed it on the bed as well. He grinned as Sarah blushed slightly then reached into her side of the closet and pulled out a specific pair of jeans and boots. "It's my day, you wear these." He bobbed his brows. "Your arse is amazing in them."
"You still need your eyes checked and I can choose my own clothing." Sarah commented, but she still took the proffered items and laid them on the bed before she went to pick out a shirt, waistcoat and jacket to go with them.
It took a fair amount of effort on their part to be quick joining Luke downstairs. Sarah Jane reminded herself how grateful she was, while she loved Clyde almost as a son, that Luke didn't bare any resemblance to his best friend in personality. Instead of being met with smart remarks and pleas not to kiss in front of him, Luke busily finished packing a rucksack. "I think I've got everything we'll need." He swung the bag over his shoulder.
"More food?" Sarah eyed Luke as she moved to the door. "The two of you and your bottomless stomachs."
Luke didn't rise to her bait but grinned instead, "Which car do you want to take?"
"Bessie," Oliver answered with a grin as he pulled his leather motorcycle racing jacket from the hall closet. "Come on, it'll be fun. Family outing."
"Luke driving?" Sarah couldn't help but feel some trepidation at the thought of her son driving Bessie.
Oliver jammed his hands into his pockets and sniffed. "Don't see why not. Been teaching Clyde in her."
"You've been what?" Sarah's brows disappeared under her bangs.
"Well, that's why he's been giving Luke a hard time about his driving." Oliver shrugged, revealing once more how much he (and subsequently the Doctor) understood about human psychology and motivations. "Not like Carla can afford to get him lessons or the test, and with all the running around he does with us, not like he can get a part time job, so I've been teaching him."
Sarah's expression softened. "You're right. You're almost as annoying as the Doctor can be with how right he is all the time," she teased.
"Not that right," Oliver took her hand in his. "Take me to my surprise, Lukey-boy." He tossed Luke the keys. "I'm going to make out with your mother in the back seat."
"Okay," Luke said agreeably as he caught the keys.
"You know I do more blushing with you around," Sarah glared at Oliver but let him lead her out to Bessie and help her into the back seat. "I am not making out with you while Luke is driving."
"It wouldn't bother me," Luke said conversationally as he set the rucksack in the passenger side of the front seat. "Sanjay is always making out with his boyfriend in the back seat of my car whenever we go anywhere back at Uni."
Both Sarah and Oliver's shocked expressions slowly changed to one of pride. "I'm still not making out with him, Luke."
"Okay." Luke slid into the front seat and started the car, before he looked back. "Ready?"
"Ready," Oliver nodded as he slid his arm around Sarah's shoulders.
"Right then," Luke grinned as he shifted the car into gear. "Allons-y."
Oliver laughed out loud and reached forward to slap Luke's shoulder with his free hand. "Exactly right. Exactly right, indeed."
Sarah smiled and shook her head, then burrowed close into Oliver's side, absorbing his warmth as the car whisked through Ealing, then headed off towards a more industrial area of London. "Oh yes, I can see how this is a surprise for Oliver. The men in my life take me to all the best places — Antarctica, pits that smell like lion musk on alien planets, alien insect infested space stations and now a scrap yard. I suppose I should just be glad it's not a rubbish tip," she looked at the yard that Luke had pulled up to dubiously. "Maybe I should just stay with Bessie."
"Trust me, mum. You'll see. You'll like it." Luke said with a confident smile and offered her his hand to help her out of the backseat.
Oliver jumped out the opposite side of the vehicle and picked up Luke's rucksack. "I'm certain there's something brilliant. Downed spaceship, wreck of an alien computer, or maybe a rescue pod," he came around to Sarah Jane's side and slid his hand into hers.
"Better than that," Luke said as he led them to the gate and pulled out a card, handing it to the greasy, unkempt man in overalls who came to meet them. Oliver scowled at the dodgy looking gatekeeper as his beady eyes raked down Sarah's body in a way that raised the former Time Lord's ire. Even once they were past the chain link fence, Oliver moved to keep himself between Sarah and the watcher at all times.
"Sorry mum," Luke looked back over his shoulder, keeping an eye on him too.
"It's alright. He isn't any worse than a Sontaran." Sarah reassured both her men. "Let's just get to wherever you're taking us."
Luke led them through a maze of scrapped cars and buses, then to the very back of the yard where a very faded police box sat. It was more dilapidated than the TARDIS had ever looked, its paint looking almost white now and the wood grain rough from weathering. "Oh it's brilliant," Oliver grinned as he walked up to it, "It's a real one though." He touched the sides and circled around it.
"I suppose we could put it in the back of the garden, if you two clean it up and fix it." Sarah gave into this willingly.
"That's not the surprise," Luke pushed open the door. "Go on in."
"It's not a TARDIS, Lukey-boy. It'll be a tight squeeze." Oliver looked warily at the doorway.
"Just trust me and go in," Luke insisted.
"Alright," Oliver stepped through the doorway and in a flash of light was gone.
"Where?" Sarah's expression became one of alarm.
"Do I have to say it again, mum?" Luke looked bemused.
"No," Sarah shook her head, taking his arm, "but you're holding my hand." She stepped forward, Luke following her closely and her eyes widened as the light faded and she took in the sight in front of her.
"A bazaar! An alien bazaar," Oliver nearly jumped up and down in excitement, and he could barely be heard above the cacophony of sounds and languages as vendors at a multitude of different brightly coloured, canopied stalls cried out their wears.
Sarah's eyes were wide as she turned in a wide circle, unable to believe her eyes. "This is incredible."
"It is isn't it?" Luke grinned ear to ear. "There are small pockets of alien communities all over the Earth. All they care about is living. They're just normal people who can't or don't want to go home. They know about UNIT and Torchwood and a little about you, mum. Of the three, you're considered the least of all evils. Especially because you were one of the Doctor's companions."
"The police box to hide their transmat?" Sarah looked at Luke curiously.
"A lot of these people have been helped or their ancestors were helped by the Doctor," Luke shrugged. "I think that's why. It's a signal for a place to go that's safe. This place is completely neutral. It even has its own police force."
"What about money?" Oliver asked, eager to go exploring.
"And how did you find it?" Sarah crossed her arms over her chest, fighting back her urge to run off after Oliver and go exploring with her very real duties as Luke's mum and a defender of Earth.
"I've got a friend at school," Luke licked his lips. "He's an alien — very nearly human."
"How can he be very nearly human and an alien?" Oliver's attention was drawn back to Sarah and Luke's conversation.
"Well they're not really," Luke shrugged. "It's a way of describing aliens in a short hand. Almost human would be like the Doctor. He looks like us, all the differences are internal. Or I guess because his race has been around longer it's more correct to say we look like him. It's a sort of an Earth-centric construct that we always see ourselves as the standard..." His monologue slowed as he noticed Sarah and Oliver looking at each other in amusement.
"You're quicker than I ever was," Oliver winked at the boy. "Keep going, we're with you so far."
"Okay, then there's very nearly human. Like my friend, he just has odd ears he hides under his hair. Or some have odd eyes that they wear contacts to hide." Luke gestured at an alien who would have fit that description. "Then there's not very near human. That would be like Androvax or say, an Ood. So no way of hiding as a human close up, but bipedal and if they wore a hooded jacket or something they might be able to get away with it. Lastly there's a real weirdee. I didn't come up with that, but that would be like the Bane. Basically they have to use a perception filter to pass."
Sarah gaped for a moment, considering the secrets Luke had been keeping then took a deep breath before she spoke, "You haven't said a word."
"I wanted to," Luke looked at her with a guilty expression, "but I made a promise. It took me this long to convince him it'd be okay."
Given all the secrets the children had kept for her, Sarah couldn't be too upset that Luke had kept this one for his friend. "Oh Luke," she wrapped her arm around his shoulder, "It's alright. Now I think Oliver asked about money?" She let her expression slide to one of excitement. The excitement she'd been holding back, which now spilled out.
"No money," Luke shook his head. "Just trade." He opened the rucksack and let them see the contents. Bags of jelly babies, bottles of ginger pop, packages of biscuits filled the pack to overflowing. "This stuff is hard to get here. There aren't as many almost human and very nearly human aliens to bring it in. You should be able to get whatever you want with this."
Oliver grinned as he shouldered the rucksack and took Sarah's hand, leading her into the bazaar. "Do you think they have those things? Those little fruits that fizz and pop when you bite into them?" Sarah licked her lips in anticipation of the long missed treat.
"The ones you ate so many of you made yourself sick on?" Oliver arched his brow at Sarah Jane, as if he didn't quite believe she wanted them after that.
"You could have warned me about that," Sarah pouted at him. "They were just so good."
"Too good to stop, eh?" Oliver smiled suddenly. "I'd bet we could find you some." He began to weave his way through the crowds. "This is brilliant." He pointed to one being. "That's a Hath."
"I do know more about aliens now than I did, you know Oliver." Sarah reprimanded him, but then grinned and turned to walk backwards still holding his hand. "But I've never heard of them. They're based on fish aren't they?"
"Oh yes," Oliver began then was distracted by a fruit stand. "Here we go," he led them over to the stall and picked up a little carton of the fruit, popping one in his mouth to try. "These are them. The only things I've ever seen make Sarah Jane Smith sick to her stomach and still she wants them."
"Hopefully I've got a little more impulse control than back then," she jumped up and snatched the carton from his hand, while he chose some other pieces of fruit.
Oliver shook his head at her. "Not as far as I've seen," he quipped then turned his attention to haggling with the stall owner.
Luke couldn't stop smiling at seeing his mum so animated and young looking as she stayed close to Oliver's side. He couldn't help feeling like he could now see her as she'd been back when she travelled with the Doctor. Her eyes sparkled as she tried to see everything at once, popping a piece of the treat Oliver had bought her into her mouth. She turned and caught sight of him, then waved him to her. "Luke, come here, you have to try these."
"Okay mum," Luke agreed amiably and made his way to her side, dipping his hand in the carton of fruit and popping it into his mouth, his eyes widening as it popped. "Wow like fizzy candy."
Sarah nodded enthusiastically. "Ooh, that must be an Ood," she said as her eyes took in the strange alien, with the glowing light in its hand.
"Yep, it is." Oliver meandered up to them, picking something that looked like a hairy date out of a white paper bag.
"Ooh, you're not eating those again are you?" Sarah's nose wrinkled. "They taste like gym socks."
"You think ginger beer tastes like turpentine, so I can't trust your taste buds now can I?" Oliver popped the fruit into his mouth, "And you shouldn't knock ginger beer, I got all of this with one bottle of that turpentine."
"That's a better use for it, I say." Sarah Jane popped another of her fruit into her mouth. "So what next?"
"I bet we can find spare parts for Mr. Smith and K-9," Oliver looked around at the various stalls.
Sarah popped another piece of fruit into her mouth, "It's your day, Oliver. Lead the way."
"Now, don't wander off," Oliver turned to face Sarah Jane.
"Oh the cheek," Sarah scoffed at him and turned to Luke, "These days it's him we have to worry about wandering off."
"Do not," Oliver retorted and popped another one of the figs into his mouth. They moved through the crowds of aliens, the sights, sounds and scents bringing back a sense of excitement for the two veteran travellers that they hadn't felt in a while.
It didn't surprise Sarah when Oliver and Luke found a booth full of alien parts and circuits and other bits and bobs that they started to dig through, looking for pieces that they could use for whatever projects and repairs they had in mind. She even joined in at first, her interest in such things having grown from her days on the TARDIS. She still didn't have the stamina that the boys did and drifted away from them, not even thinking about Oliver's admonishment to not wander off.
It was like a slice of the life she'd lived with the Doctor right here on Earth that she was able to share it with Luke. Well in actuality, she reminded herself, Luke had found it. Meandering along the aisle, a display full of crystals caught her attention. A deep blue crystal shimmered in front of her and she popped another piece of fruit in her mouth. "Metabilis Three, right?" She said to the vendor.
"You are a female of discerning taste," the vendor nodded to her.
"A friend went there more than once," Sarah continued to browse and saw a pair of bracelets with familiar sigils on them. "Oh, Voga right?"
"Actually no, they are supposed to have come from a race of legend," the vendor stopped speaking, his attention drawn away from Sarah Jane. "Yes, Constable."
"This female is pure human," a gruff voice came from behind Sarah Jane and she turned, subconsciously expecting to find a Judoon standing there. Instead a mostly human looking being aside from its midnight black skin and faintly glowing yellow eyes stood before her. "You will come with us for processing."
Sarah held up her hands, "I haven't done anything wrong." She protested.
"Humans are restricted," the constable said shortly. "You will be released after processing."
"Oh perfect," Sarah groused. "My son and …" She sighed, uncertain what to settle on for Oliver's designation once again. "… My life partner are both here. They'll wonder where I am."
"Sensors only detected one pure human with large amounts of residual artron energy coming through the portal on the far north quadrant," the constable consulted the readings on his device. "No other pure humans. One clone grown from Bane technology. One…" He scowled and banged his device, which made a sound of protest. His scowl grew. "…Faulty equipment. One hybrid also entered in the same time frame."
"They would get a pass now wouldn't they," Sarah scowled at him as he pushed her towards a back entrance. "Hey, gently. I'm not as young as I used to be you know."
"Things will go easier for you if you cooperate," the security constable said in an even tone of voice.
"The same song every police constabulary uses in every quadrant of the galaxy," Sarah murmured under her breath but didn't try to stop moving.
At first she considered triggering the distress signal that Oliver had installed in her sonic, even though it galled her that she would be the first in their family to use it, but reconsidered it as she realized it would likely draw the constable's attention to it, when at the moment he didn't seem to interested in frisking her or emptying her pockets. Instead she settled for memorizing the path to where they took her, but swore under her breath when they stepped through a doorway and were transmatted to another location entirely.
It was another maze of corridors before she was shoved unceremoniously into a small white room. "In here, inspector will join you shortly," the constable informed her briskly and stepped back, letting the door slide shut.
"A cuppa wouldn't go amiss you know," Sarah Jane snapped at the closed door then pulled out a chair and settled into it, observing her surroundings. "Mrs. Wormwood and the Bane had more manners."
"My apologies," the hissing elongated pronunciation went hand in hand with the almost snake like appearance of the being whom she assumed was the inspector that settled into a chair across from her. "We don't often offer amenities to those we apprehend. Is it customary amongst humans?" It asked curiously.
"Normally, if the inspector is hoping to get them to give up more information," Sarah Jane arched her brow, "but since I wasn't doing anything wrong, I don't have anything to hide."
"Indeed," the alien inclined its head slightly, its tongue slipping from between its lips to taste the air. "You do indeed believe that."
"I do indeed," Sarah agreed, "Built in lie detector, you can detect the changes in hormone levels that go along with lying. You'd have to be very skilled in order to read so many different species and know how to read them all, much like learning a different language."
"Very knowledgeable for a human," the inspector didn't blink, though Sarah admitted it might have been because he wasn't capable of blinking. "We have not yet introduced ourselves. That I do know is customary. I am Inspector Fthnarm."
"Sarah Jane Smith," Sarah said with her normal aplomb, holding out her hand, "and in the spirit of openness, I'll tell you exactly why I'm here. My son Luke, the clone you were talking about earlier, found out about this place from an alien friend of his and decided to bring his father, the hybrid who is in fact one tenth or however much he registers as Gallifreyan, here for father's day. A very late father's day — but then we're not really a conventional family."
The inspector slid back in his chair, without taking Sarah's hand. "We will have to confirm your story."
"I expected as much," Sarah withdrew her hand. "Do I stay here?"
"You will be escorted to a holding cell," Fthnarm stood and made a gesture that opened the door. Once more the midnight skinned constable stepped in and took her arm.
"Only the best accommodations," Sarah muttered, mostly to herself. They led her through another rat's maze of corridors and to a traditional looking if empty cell.
"In here," her handler growled as he pushed her inside.
"Lovely hospitality," Sarah shot back in a mock polite tone then moved to sit on the bunk. "Why is it always me?"
Balancing the box of components they'd picked out, Oliver moved up to the being behind the counter and started negotiating in its native tongue. Several moments later he pulled out the last four of the ginger pop; having drank one of the bottles; and two bags of jelly babies. "There we go, a bit dearer than I'd have liked," he winked at Luke as he shifted things around in the rucksack, putting the acquired box in the bottom of the bag, then setting what was left of their trade items on top of it.
"Where's mum?" Luke's brow furrowed as he started looking around.
Oliver's head came up and he turned slowly, "Did I or did I not tell her about the wandering off? Honestly, your mum is almost worse with the wandering off than she is with the mind control. At least with the mind control, it's not in her power to stop it." He looked at Luke who already seemed near to panicking. "She's probably fine, Luke. Shopping. You know women; she's off picking out what to spend the last of our trade goods on." He kept his voice light hearted, but his heart hammered in his chest, worrying about what sort of trouble Sarah might have found herself in.
"We'd better look for her," Luke started walking along the aisle, "It shouldn't be that hard to find her."
Oliver decided that sticking with his son made a better plan than splitting up, especially if there was trouble. "Can't be that bad," he pointed out as he pulled his sonic from his pocket. "See? No distress beacon."
"Or it's been taken away from her," Luke pointed out and continued to look. "Or she's being stubborn."
"Yeah, well you did have to point that out didn't you?" Oliver sighed and continued to peer through the crowds. "You know this might have been easier if your mum wasn't quite so," he held his hand up at her approximate height.
There was a whistle from a dark space between booths that drew both the men's attention. "Over here," an accented voice called to them.
"Rafe?" Luke moved towards the voice, recognizing it as the friend who had told him about the place. "What are you doing here?"
"I'd hoped you would come," Rafe moved forward slightly, his batwing ears unfolding from beneath his hair. "Things here are not as they should be."
"Now this isn't making me very happy," Oliver glared at the young alien. "You let him bring us here and you didn't warn him."
"His mother is Sarah Jane Smith," the alien boy looked at Oliver oddly. "No one has heard from the Doctor in sometime, but everyone knows she is his chosen successor here on Earth."
"How do you know?" Oliver scowled. "I mean it's not like Sarah takes out billboard ads about saving the world."
"No, dad, but she doesn't hide it." Luke pointed out. "Not from them. The aliens all know she defends the Earth. They also know she doesn't automatically assume an alien is bad in spite of what she's seen. So they," he gestured at the milling crowd out beyond them, "all know. That's what I was saying before. She might not be as well known as the Doctor, but they do know who she is and what she stands for."
There was a tiny spark of pride that flared in Oliver, along with no small amount of fear. "We really do have to curb her habit of introducing herself to genocidal, sociopathic alien dictators," he shook his head slightly then focused back of Rafe, "So what exactly is going on around here?"
"People are disappearing," Rafe said earnestly.
"Oh so now he tells us," Oliver groaned loudly enough to draw more than a few disapproving looks.
"By now, Oliver and Luke should have realized that I'm gone," Sarah said to no one in particular as she sat on the bunk and kicked her feet. "Oliver is no doubt grumbling about me wandering off and Luke is ready to tear the place apart." A small pure white face peaking around a corner caught her attention and proved that someone was listening to her. "Oh, hello."
The little alien peeped suddenly and went back to hiding behind the bar of her cell. "Come on, I'm not at all frightening or a danger to you. Come out," she enticed the little thing as she got down on her hands and knees, hoping that it wasn't in anyway vicious and knowing it's harmless appearance was no guarantee.
Once again the little face peered around the corner and Sarah Jane held her hand out towards it. "Please, I'm a bit bored and lonely and my family hasn't come to get me yet."
A little trilling whistle answered her and an adorable, white roughly man-shaped creature waddled out, its head bowed sadly, a little tool belt fastened around its waist and held up by straps over its shoulders. "Oh… You poor little thing," she remembered the incidents that happened not long before the Crucible; the diet pills, people disappearing and the reports of these little white creatures. "Adipose!" Sarah called out remembering the few remarks that Oliver had made. "That's right isn't it? You're a baby Adipose."
Its head came up and it bounced a little before scrambling as fast as its short little legs could carry it to her. Sarah lifted the little thing in her hand, carefully cradling it, while it contented itself with rubbing its face against her thumb. "Oh, look at you," her brow furrowed as she held it closer to her and she took in the being's general condition. There were smudges of grey on its little face, and the baby's hands were almost pure black with soot. "Who puts a baby to work?"
The more she observed, the more she trusted her instinct. The tool belt was functional, carrying on it a small array of tiny files and brushes. The sorts of things she would use to clean the mechanical bits of the various alien technologies she'd acquired over time. "Someone has you cleaning up things that they'd have to disassemble to clean normally don't they?"
The baby looked up at her and nodded sadly, its beady little black eyes meeting hers solemnly.
"First things first then," Sarah began to examine the tool belt finding a tiny clasp on it that was locked shut. "Alright, unless it's deadlocked I can deal with this," she smiled at the little creature who gave her a single toothed smile back. Fishing her sonic lipstick from her pocket, she focused it on the clasp and chuckled when the little creature wiggled and giggled at the vibrations from it. "Yes, I suppose that would feel funny." The belt made a popping sound as the clasp released and she pulled it away from his body. "There you are."
Peeps of excitement came from the little creature that stretched out its stubby arms towards her. Pocketing her sonic again, she offered it her hand which it wrapped itself around, nuzzling and trilling softly. She looked critically at the grubby little creature, "You need a wash." Lifting him up gently, she carried him to the sink, adjusting the water temperature, then setting the little one in and squirting some of the liquid soap from the container beside the sink into her hand. "I really have become a mum haven't I?" She quickly scrubbed him off, causing him to giggle and wiggle in the water then put him under the dryer where he squirmed and purred under the warm air blasting down. "There you go, all better — when I get out you're coming too, we'll find your family and get you home alright?"
"So working stock," a voice filtered through the cells as Sarah put her other hand over the little being's mouth to cover his trill of agreement and stood stock still. "What do you have for me today? Those little white things are good for getting in small spaces but they're not very resilient. They make for good lubricant though," the voice continued only to be followed by course laughter.
Sarah was glad that her hand covered the little creature's ears too as she stiffened and grimaced in disgust. She didn't need her instincts to tell her what was going on was wrong but it was the next words that came that made a shiver go up her spine. "What about the female in that far cage. Looks a bit long in the tooth, but she's very nearly human. Know what race she is? She's still pretty enough to be of better use than working stock."
"Don't know about her, don't have any intake records. Must be new in the pens. Let's go look," another voice answered.
Her hand must have clenched hard enough to cause the Adipose some discomfort because he squirmed in protest. "Oh I'm sorry little one," she whispered as she loosened her grip, "but we have to get out of here now." It was very obvious by the fact that they let her hear their plans that they didn't expect her to be leaving as a free woman. Her hand slid into her pocket once more and she carefully triggered the distress beacon, "Time to call in the cavalry."
Scouring the market with the help of Luke's friend hadn't turned Sarah Jane up any quicker than searching alone would have. "So explain to me about how the transmits work here." Oliver had noticed that people didn't seem concerned about going back to the same transmat site that they'd come in on.
"When you transmat in it," the boy paused, obviously considering how to explain the concept, "stamps you. So it doesn't matter what transmat site you use, you'll end up where you tranmatted in from."
"So it's encoding a set of coordinates, for the transmat device you entered on, in some sort of biotrace that's only readable by their system," Oliver surmised.
Rafe's eyes widened and Luke couldn't stop a grin in spite of the situation. "He's my dad."
"Yeah, if I didn't see it before, I definitely do now," Rafe agreed.
"So are there any transmats that aren't hooked up to that system?" Oliver began to formulate a plan.
Rafe considered it, "The one that goes to the security office."
"You can show us the way?" Oliver looked at Rafe questioningly who nodded in answer. He gestured for Rafe to lead the way, "Excellent, allons-y!"
Luke's expression changed when he felt a vibration from his pocket and fished the mini-lightsaber from within. "Oh no," he turned a terrified gaze towards Oliver. "Is yours?"
There was an odd hum from Oliver's pocket and he lifted his sonic out, displaying it's flashing blue light at its tip. "She's activated her distress beacon." He started moving faster and didn't bother to put away his sonic. When they reached the alcove, Oliver focused the sonic on the control panel. "Let's see if they took her through here. You two keep watch."
"Right," Luke nodded and drew Rafe out with him, watching for any security officers or too curious bystanders.
Luke's attention was drawn back to the alcove with every flash and spark of electricity, there was an impressive number of them, each one evoking a curse from Oliver. "This used to be easier somehow," Oliver muttered, "Luke come here."
"What are you trying to do?" Luke was at his side in an instant.
"First I want to see if your mum was drawn through here by isolating her biotrace," Oliver explained.
"Wouldn't you need a base sample?" Luke had already drawn out his sonic and helped to make the necessary adjustments.
"Got one," Oliver smirked. "Don't tell her but I make a habit of occasionally scanning her with the screwdriver for just such an occasion as this. Oh, ho! Keep doing that Lukey boy," he exclaimed as he made some adjustments to his sonic. "Yes, this is definitely where they took her through. I've got the co-ordinates. Now, let's see about hot wiring this thing, shall we?"
While she may have called for the cavalry, Sarah Jane Smith had never been one to wait for a rescue. Scooping up the discarded tool belt from her little friend and shoving it into her pocket, she set the little being on her shoulder. "You hang on tight, because I'm probably going to need both hands." The little Adipose seemed to get her meaning or just liked the feel of her hair as it burrowed in close to her and peeped once more. "Alright, just don't pull too hard little one."
She pulled her sonic out and focused it on the door, activating it's more traditional setting. There was a click and Sarah pushed open the cell door cautiously. "Playing by the rules went out the window when someone implied they'd like to sell me to somewhere unsavoury."
They slipped out of the cell and began to move quickly down the corridor, Sarah backtracking by memory towards the interrogation room and the transmat site she'd been brought in through. Sounds of feet running down the corridor had Sarah diving for a small alcove and standing stock still. "She's human. More than that, she's Sarah Jane Smith." The courser voice had returned apparently. "We need to deal with her before she manages to let the inspector know about our arrangement."
Sarah tried not to even breath on hearing those words, her hand coming up to cover the little being on her shoulder's mouth. Especially given the footsteps had stopped.
"I told you blabbing in their language wasn't a good idea, but oh no — humans don't end up in the cells, we don't let purebreds know about the Market," the other voice snapped at the courser one, "Now look what's happened and how are we going to explain the disappearance of Sarah Jane Smith."
"Well, when the inspector finds out he won't be surprised that she escaped, not THE Sarah Jane Smith," suddenly a midnight black arm shot into the alcove, grabbing hold of her jacket and hauling her out into the corridor. "Will he now, Ms. Smith?"
Sarah held back her desire to scream and looked defiantly in the guard's face. "Your plan would be excellent if I had come alone. Don't the stories you people tell about me, let you know that I've taken up the Doctor's habit of having companions with me?" She raised her chin and looked into the yellow eyes of her captor. "In this case my son and my mate are here, and they're not going to buy your little story about me escaping and not coming back to them."
The growl of frustration from the alien brought a smile to Sarah Jane's face.
A whoop of excitement drew unwanted attention to the alcove from the corridor outside. "Yes!" Oliver grinned widely as he managed to bring the transmat to life under his control. "Rafe, you stay here. Sarah doesn't like us involving civilians. Keep an eye, but if there's trouble get to safety. Luke and I will manage on our own."
The alien boy nodded, "Good luck." Then he disappeared into the milling crowds.
"Right then," Oliver looked at Luke. "Have your sonic ready just in case and here we…" There was a flash as the pair of them transmatted away and reappeared in what they assumed was the security office. "… Go."
"Hold it right there you two," a hissing voice demanded, "No civilians are allowed in the security office unescorted."
"Well then it's a good thing you're here isn't it," Oliver strode up and offered the snake like alien his hand. "Oliver Smith and my son, Luke. Inspector…"
"Fthnarm," the alien began to speak only to be cut off by Oliver's rapid chatter.
"Oh, see Luke," he pointed to the folder in the officer's hand. "One of Sarah's old UNIT pictures, quite a dossier there, eh Inspector? That's my mate though, always finding her way into trouble, which is why we're here. Looking for her, of course."
"She was picked up for processing. Pure humans are generally not allowed in the Market — though if it had gone through the proper channels, an exception would have been made," the inspector provided, nonplussed by Oliver's prattle. "Unfortunately when I went to speak to her after acquiring her dossier, it seems that she's escaped her containment."
"She hasn't escaped." Oliver pointed out as he lifted his sonic. "She activated her distress beacon. Sarah would have tried to abide by the rules as long as she didn't feel threatened or in danger, so if she's gone..."
Luke glared at the alien, "Mum's in danger. Serious danger. Otherwise she would have never activated her signal."
"She's a bit stubborn like that," Oliver admitted with a grin.
The alien's tongue tasted the air and his head inclined. "You believe you are telling the truth."
"No reason to lie," Oliver said, growing serious. "Though I'm really not going to be pleased if anything happens to her now. We've taken a good deal of time to get where we are now." He didn't hesitate to put a slight emphasis on the word time, even if it gave the officer the wrong impression.
Fthnarm stepped back, his pupils narrowing in shock as he could almost feel the electricity of this being's anger radiating off of him. Then the boy moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with his father. The same posture, the same glare and most of all, the same intensity. Perhaps the readings and claims that Ms. Smith had made were not so fantastical after all.
"I had the computer scanning for transmat activity, she is still within the security office," he stopped speaking as a sudden scream from the depths of the cells drew their attention away.
"The games a foot, Lukey boy." Oliver called out as he dashed off in the direction of the commotion, Luke following close behind.
"You let him think you were the Doctor," Luke pointed out as he ran along side Oliver, seeing that they'd left the inspector far behind.
"And you stepped right up to play along," Oliver winked at Luke then continued, "but somehow I don't think the Doctor would mind in this case." As they rounded the corner, Oliver couldn't help but grin, "Doesn't look like she needed rescuing anyway."
In fact, Sarah had the smaller of her captors unconscious on the ground while the larger, courser of the two shook his arm wildly, a small Adipose having sunk his single tooth deep into the midnight coloured flesh and refused to let go. "Try to smash him into something again and I'll do to you what I did to your friend."
"Scream was him, eh?" Oliver leaned on the wall. "Oooh… It's a baby Adipose. Cute little buggers aren't they."
"Apparently not so cute when they decide you're threatening their friend." Sarah chuckled. "Would you mind?"
"Oh I thought you were doing pretty well on your own there," Oliver grinned and walked up. "Haven't done this in a while," he reached out and hit the nerve point that dropped the other guard to the ground.
The little Adipose dropped loose and skittered to hide behind Sarah's leg, peeking out at Oliver curiously. "Hallo," he addressed the little creature as he crouched down to better address it on its level. "I thought all of you were picked up."
"Mum!" Luke threw himself at Sarah Jane and enveloped her in a tight hug.
Sarah Jane slid her arms around Luke as well and breathed a sigh of relief, before turning to see the inspector making his way towards them. "You had a very serious problem, Inspector Fthnarm. These two and I'm not certain how many of your other guards have been taking your prisoners and selling them as slaves." She gestured to the Adipose that Oliver had lured out from behind her and currently cradled in his hands. "Him for example," she fished in her pocket for the tool belt and held it out to the inspector. "I don't know about your laws, but England has some very specific child labour laws."
The Adipose chirped and tweeted at Oliver, rapid fire, while Oliver nodded his head. "Do you actually understand him?" Luke let his mother go to come over and inspect the little alien.
"Only bits and pieces now," Oliver admitted. "He's very impressed with Sarah Jane," he leaned in conspiratorially towards Luke, "I think he's got a bit of a crush actually."
Sarah Jane's cheeks grew slightly pink even as she rolled her eyes at Oliver, "I somehow doubt that." She turned her attention back to the inspector. "Are his parents going to be reachable?"
"We returned their nursery planet, Sarah. The whole Crucible incident," Oliver held the little one out to her. The little Adipose proceeded to bounce until she took him back. "We should probably take him home and have Mr. Smith contact them to pull him back there."
Sarah scooped the baby away from Oliver and tickled his belly absently, making him giggle madly. "I suppose that would be for the best. At least then I know he's safe and sound." She looked at the inspector. "I'll want to know if you locate any more of them. I'll arrange for their transport home."
"Of course, Ms. Smith." Fthnarm looked down at the unconscious bodies of the two guards. "I will see that you receive a full report."
"Good," Sarah nodded approvingly, "I shouldn't want to have to report all this to Torchwood or UNIT. I can see it's a very necessary part of the alien community here on Earth, but I won't allow something to continue that allows these sorts of injustices to happen, Inspector Fthnarm."
Luke settled the rucksack's straps over his shoulders, sensing their visit coming to an end as the inspector nodded his agreement. "I'm ready when you are, mum and dad."
"Let's get going then," Oliver slid his arm around Sarah's waist.
Sarah leaned into Oliver, as relieved to be back in his arms as he was to have her in his arms. "It's going to be hard saying goodbye to him," she murmured to Oliver as they stepped into the transmat together and appeared back in the market place.
"He certainly has taken a shine to you," Oliver said softly as he looked at the little Adipose who snuggled Sarah's fingers. "I think he's going to miss you."
"Another friend on another world," Sarah said philosophically, "if only we had more friends than enemies."
Luke came up behind the pair of them, "Actually mum, I think you do." He kissed her cheek then headed towards the nearest public transmat site after waving to Rafe.