URGENT NOTE: As you may know, the BBC starts shooting the 50th anniversary special this week. If you'd like to see a proper tribute to Sarah Jane in the special, please consider signing the petition at www dot ipetitions dot com / petition/sarah-jane-smith-dr-who-tribute (automatic link removed because we don't want to break any rules) and passing it on to any groups you belong to. If we all pass it on, we can make a difference! Time (ironically) is of the essence! Thanks!
Author's Note: This story is a sequel to "The Long Road Home." Here's what we told you at the top of that story, in case you missed it:
["The Long Road Home" is] actually the first in a series of interconnected stories. We promise that each will have a well-defined beginning and end, but they'll all fit into an arc that starts when a man shows up on Sarah Jane Smith's doorstep with no memory and ends when … well, you'll just have to find out.
As far as canon, all of these stories mesh with what we've actually seen onscreen in Doctor Who itself, but not necessarily Sarah Jane Adventures.
(OK, everything onscreen in Doctor Who except the Brigadier's history in "Mawdryn Undead", and that's because THOSE writers were fudging dates and hoping nobody would notice.)
Also, if you've come here because we've listed "Tenth Doctor" in the second character pulldown, we should tell you now that he doesn't appear until much later in the series … or does he?
If you haven't read "The Long Road Home," one day Sarah, newly returned from traveling with the Doctor, finds a man, unconscious and bleeding, on her doorstep. She thinks he may be the Doctor, but he's only got one heart. Eventually she takes this "John Doe" into her home, and … well, we won't spoil it for you, but at the top of this next story, they've both decided to try and put the past behind them and move on with their lives. (You can read this story without reading "The Long Road Home", but you'll probably enjoy it more if you do. :))
We were so grateful for all of your comments and reviews the first time around; it was a lot of work to make sure that everything fits together and stays within on-screen continuity, so we really appreciate your support!
South Croydon: June, 1977
Sarah sat by her kitchen window, drinking a cup of tea and watching several neighborhood children using the swing set. She smiled as she heard the children laughing. It was that swing set that had caused the local mums to bring their children with them when they needed to have their small appliances repaired.
She was so proud of John. As shaken as he'd been at being kidnapped as part of an alien invasion, he had been brave, and he had still managed to help save the day. Afterwards, when things had settled down, John had painted the old shed in the back of the house and she had planted some flowers around the front of it.
From that day on, he was in the fix-it business.
Now the shop was a success, and she had to admit, the sound of children playing wasn't the tremendous distraction from her writing she'd thought it would be.
More than that, her life didn't feel quite so empty any more.
She looked over at the swing set she'd played on as a child. This house meant a lot to her, but she'd lost track of that long before the Doctor dumped her back on Earth. She had been caught in a downward spiral and her life was beginning to seem hopeless until John stumbled across her doorstep that rainy night almost two months ago. Funny, she mused, who would have thought that someone who had no memory could bring out so many memories in anyone else?
She startled as she was brought out of her musing by the sound of children squealing loudly. She looked to see what was going on and there was John, one child on his shoulders and another one hanging on his leg as he walked towards the house. He stopped for a moment and pulled something out of his pocket as he set the smallest child back down.
She shook her head at them. It was butterscotch candy, his favorite. He always carried a handful of it in his pocket. The children were coming to expect it now whenever they saw him. He handed a piece to each of them and then popped one into his mouth. Then he sent them back home next door and after he watched them go, he started once more for the back door.
"Ready for lunch, John," she called out to him as he walked in.
"Always," he called back to her. He stopped at the kitchen sink to wash his hands. "Has the post come?"
"Yes, and I'm sorry, but nothing yet, John. Maybe tomorrow we'll hear something." She watched his head drop down in disappointment and her heart went out to him. "I made one of your favorites today John, a roast beef sandwich with gravy and a salad on the side. I even have bread pudding for afters," she cajoled, smiling.
He looked up at her, head still down, and smiled. "You always know how to make things better," he said. They'd promised each other that they'd leave the past in the past, and though he tried, there was still part of him that felt a need to know who he really was. "Thank you," he said, trying not to look as disappointed as he felt.
He started setting the table. "Interpol did say we'd hear from them this week, didn't they? I suppose I shouldn't expect much though. After all, I'm just a simple missing person to them, right?"
Sarah shot him a satisfied grin. "Well maybe you would have been if I hadn't of pressed the Brigadier into leaning on them just a bit. It is only Wednesday afternoon though, John, they still have two and a half days to get back to us on it."
He smiled at her. "You did that for me?"
She put her hand on his shoulder. "That's what friends do, John. They see a friend in need and they try to help in any way that they can."
"I suppose," he said, thinking about what she'd said. He set the silverware out on the napkins, debating. "I finished fixing Mrs. Sanderson's vacuum cleaner," he finally said. "Apparently this time she'd hoovered up about half a skein of yarn, two gloves and a cat toy. Not sure what that was all about, but it's fixed now."
"Hmmph," said Sarah Jane suddenly with disgust, practically slamming the food on the table. "If you ask me Mrs. Sanderson did it on purpose, because she thinks you, as she told me last week, 'are as dishy as they come.' I think she should be ashamed of herself. I saw the way she was flirting with you when she dropped it off. I can't believe you just stood there and let her do it."
John felt almost physically knocked backwards by the sudden change of mood, but he recovered quickly; this was becoming routine. "I don't think she was actually flirting," he said. "At least, I didn't notice anything."
Sarah went into an imitation of her neighbor. "Oh Mister Doe! My heavens aren't you the clever one? How talented you are! So young and attractive and so gifted too," she said in a simpering voice. "Miss Smith certainly is lucky to have such a handsome house guest. I certainly do hope you'll be staying for a long time. By the way, I'd love to have you over for dinner one day this week if you can find the time. My husband is out of town a lot on business, so I'd really welcome the company. I simply hate cooking for just myself."
Sarah Jane scowled. "And she has the nerve to spread gossip about you and Harry staying here. In fact, she's gotten worse since Harry moved out. Jealous old harridan."
John might have smiled at the ridiculousness of her impression if she hadn't been so upset. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.
"Oh no, it's not your fault John, it's just..." She waved her arms around at the kitchen. "It's just everything lately. People judging me, giving me their opinion of what I should or shouldn't do, well meaning advice that just makes things worse, it's all too much," she said as she plopped down on a chair and started to cry.
John pulled his chair next to hers and put an arm around her shoulder, gently pulling her to him. "It's going to be all right," he said. He realized he couldn't put this off any longer. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Sarah looked over at him and said nothing for a moment. Then she reached for a napkin and started to dry her eyes. "I'm sorry I burst out like that. I'm still adjusting to a lot of things since I got back here."
She shook her head as if to clear it. "I simply have to grow up and accept the fact that not all stories can have happy endings." Sarah shrugged and rubbed her shoulders, as if she suddenly felt a draft. "There comes a time when you have to stop waiting for life to correct itself and start taking charge of it. I just don't know what to do or where to start."
"Maybe I can help," John said.
"John, if even I don't know what to do, how can you help me?"
"Maybe I have a suggestion," he said. "About how to fix things."
She stared at him intently for a moment. "Like what? I'm not a toaster you know."
He took a deep breath. "Well, like maybe if there's something bothering you that I don't know about, you could tell me," he said, trying to draw her out. "I mean, I know there's the gossip and such, but I get the feeling it's more than that."
"You're right John, the gossip is the least of my problems. I've had that and much worse said about me before," she shrugged again. "I guess I didn't tell you that the neighbors think I take after my Aunt Lavinia and that they think she's a complete loony. To my face they just refer to her as eccentric, but I can tell what they're really thinking. Heaven spare me from mundane people," she laughed.
John didn't laugh with her. Instead, he waited.
Sarah looked at him and bit her lip. "You're not going to let go of this are you?"
He shook his head. "Sarah, you took me in when I was completely helpless, and you gave me a life. I owe you everything. Even if we hadn't been kidnapped by aliens and almost killed and had to save the world, I'd still feel like I do right now. I'd want to try to do anything I can to help you." He took another deep breath. "You and anybody else you were worried about."
Sarah stiffened. "Just what do you mean by that?"
He tried to be as gentle as possible, "Sarah, when you live with someone, you notice things about them. Things that other people might not notice."
Sarah just kept looking at him and said nothing.
He continued. "Like when you say you love a particular food and then you make it and you go running out of the room. Or the fact that you're in the loo every forty-two seconds." He squeezed her shoulder. "Or the fact that you sometimes get weepy for no apparent reason."
"You have a memory for the oddest things John. Have I mentioned that lately?"
"Maybe once or twice." He smiled softly at her. "So it's true, then. You're having a baby."