You stand on the doorstep of 13 Bannerman Road, hands jammed in your trouser pockets, rocking on the balls of your feet and staring at your trainers. It would be so simple, just ring the doorbell, but that is truly the hardest part. The last time you saw Sarah Jane was just after her non-wedding to Peter Dalton. Unfortunately, you know her well enough to know what heartbreak looks like. You've seen it in her eyes before, and hated it just as much then as you do now.
You should just ring the doorbell. Sarah or Luke will answer, usher you in, probably offer you tea and somehow, you'll find a way to talk to Sarah apart from Luke. She'll understand, certainly. She'll be sympathetic, caring and kind as always. She won't judge you. She's your best friend, after all.
Standing by your side, you've seen death and destruction, faced it together, even mourned when there was no other way. However, this is different. This time, you crossed the line and you know it. You took matters into your own hands and tried to change time, with disastrous consequences. Is this a line your best friend can't cross? Will she understand why you've done what you've done?
You need her reassurances, need her…absolution? Why are her thoughts and feelings so important to you, after all this time? You've spent more years apart than together, but she is so important to you. Yet not just to you, but to the universe as a whole. You pause, this time your finger is hovering over the doorbell. You want to think you know what her reaction will be, but only time will tell you the true answer.
You ring the doorbell and wait. Thirty-six point four seconds, to be exact before the door opens. You watch the look of surprise cross Sarah's features just before being replaced by a large smile. Wordlessly, she ushers you in. She barely has time to shut the door before you catch her up in a large hug, lifting her off the ground and holding her tightly.
She prompts you with questions, forcing you to speak of the things you never would have before. She challenges you to confront what happened and continuously asks you 'why' and 'what happened next' to dig past the walls you've evicted to try to keep everyone out. She always did have the ability to force you to deal with things you never wanted to. However, she never judges, simply listens to all you have to say.
This was exactly what you needed. She allows you to be yourself, and if you really admit it, she allows you to forgive yourself. Just the tone of her voice as she speaks is enough to soothe you, and now you know why the TARDIS brought you here. Sometimes the TARDIS knows best.
You watch as her eyes get heavier and heavier as your conversation lasts into the wee hours of the morning. Her yawns get closer together. Finally, you smile and encourage her to get some sleep. Her eyes study yours, but you assure her that you'll still be here in the morning. You're not ready to say goodbye just yet. She stands, reaches out and squeezes your hand reassuringly before heading upstairs.
You poke around her living room and kitchen, making slight adjustments to all of her electronics and kitchen appliances before deciding everything is in perfect working condition. You head upstairs, fully intent on going to the attic to give both Mr. Smith and K9 an upgrade, but you pause on the landing. Your feet carry you automatically to Sarah's bedroom. You silently open the door and smile at Sarah's sleeping form.
You ponder less than a second before crossing the room. You slip off your shoes and jacket and ease into bed behind her. She doesn't act surprised as you slip your arms around her and hold her close, spooning your body to hers. She reaches up covers your hands with hers, but says nothing. You lean in close and breathe in the scent of her hair, committing it to memory.
You feel her breathing even back out and not for the first time, you regret not returning for her after your forced separation. Your stature is smaller now, but she still feels so tiny in your arms. You want to stay and protect her, as though it were yesterday you last held her and not hundreds of years ago. You allow your eyes to close as your memories drift back to a time when holding her was normal. The memories finally chase you into slumber.
You rouse as she turns in your arms. She faces you now, but she's still asleep. The desire to kiss her is strong, but you know she wouldn't appreciate that. Your relationship progressed past that long ago, and you lost the right when you left her. The fact that she didn't throw you out of her bed instantly is more a testament to her forgiveness and caring than anything you deserve.
Her eyes open and immediately lock with yours. She gives you an easy smile and reaches up to smooth down your shirt. Her touch is feather light, as if discovering whether you are real or not. You wish you'd taken off your shirt as well, just to have that touch against your skin. Another memory you could take with you when you leave.
And leave you must. You've never been able to allow yourself to stay. Not with any of your companions, but especially not with Sarah. She got close, perhaps too close. And if you look at the way her life is now, you're proud, because she's got youngsters that look up to her. She saves the universe from her attic in Ealing. She's committed to one place and one time. Something you could never do. That makes her better than you in so many respects.
You reach up and ghost the back of your fingers along her face. She faces danger on an almost daily basis. Something you taught her. And now she teaches others. You wish you could spend more time with her, that you could spirit her back into time and space with you. That she could stay with you forever. Your best friend, standing beside you yet again. You know that even if you offer, she'll turn you down. She has responsibilities here.
She offers you breakfast and something seems so domestic about it. Wrong, yet right in the same moment. As she starts to pull away, you take her hands in yours and bring them up to your lips. A silent thank you to her for continuing to be your Sarah Jane.
Luke joins you for breakfast and asks lots of questions. His scientific mind is astonishing and with Sarah's encouragement will only continue to flourish. Luke provides someone for Sarah to care and fuss over. Sarah gives Luke insight into what it means to be human. Luke quickly gulps down some juice and toast before heading off to school. You see a side of Sarah that you've never seen before. It suits her.
A plan formulates in your mind. You will find a way to be with her again. Not now, and maybe not even in the near future, but you're a Time Lord. The urges of Time Lord Victorious come up again, but you quickly banish them. That's what got you here in the first place. She looks over at you and tilts her head. She's studying you again. Her eyes make you want to confess to all of the things that have crashed through your mind in the hours since you arrived on her doorstep.
You finally decide to tell her about the Ood prophecy. Her eyes glisten with tears that don't fall, but you reach out to hold her face and caress her cheek with your thumbs. You stand and pull her to stand in front of you. Giving in, you finally lean down to kiss her, and in that instant, time is erased and you're the curly-haired scarf wearing bohemian and she's the inquisitive journalist just beginning your time together.
You know you have to leave, but you can't pull yourself away. After so long of not having her in your life, this feels like a gift. A gift you will cherish through all your remaining regenerations. She understands that you need to leave, but the look in her eyes roots you to the spot. You wrap your arms around her again, holding her close and memorising everything about her.
Everything you need, she's given you. And all without you outwardly asking for anything. She just knew. She always knows. That's what makes her so special to you. And if you have your way, she will never lose sight of just how special she is.