Starting to go a little AU here. From this point on, I will no longer be following The Wedding of River Song so closely.
Thanks to Vilinye and AvatarRikki for the continued support. AR: good call about the Daleks. This is what happens when you watch Wedding of River Song AND Genesis of the Daleks more or less simultaneously... And thanks also to Spydurwebb! Good to see you here!
'Boy - oh boy - oh boy,' Clyde muttered softly. 'This is not good. This is very definitely not good.'
Beside him, crouched down under the blanket in the well between the car's front and back seats, Al whimpered in agreement. Sky was also under the blanket, arranged prone across the seat.
They were under siege, or so it felt. Daleks trundled past the car, sending vibrations up into the car itself. Medieval warriors screamed and fought and died only metres away, and Clyde was certain he'd just spotted some guy who looked identical to the images of Roman soldiers he remembered from his primary school days. Overhead, prehistoric bird-like creatures swooped and dived, sqawking their exhilaration at the battle going on below. He had to swallow a tide of revulsion when he realised that the dives were synchronised with the deaths of the human warriors.
This is not the time to panic, he told himself firmly. You're the grown-up here, with these kids. Sarah Jane said that as long as we're in the car and those pepperpots don't notice us, we're safe...
Even in his own mind, the reassurance rang hollow, and Clyde was glad he hadn't uttered it aloud. He could feel Al trembling next to him and Sky... Sky had opened her eyes just as he'd covered her with a blanket, but he'd hissed at her to be quiet and she'd obeyed instantly.
She's a Smith, he thought proudly.
He was trying not to worry about his mum and Sarah Jane and Rani and Luke. Trying not to let his artist's imagination run wild, showing him images of what could have befallen those he loved with hi-def clarity.
'How long do we have to stay here?' Al murmured, and Clyde felt that rush of pride again. Al was barely twelve, younger than Clyde himself had been when he hooked up with Sarah Jane Smith, and the boy had faced the day's events with admirable calm.
'Until Sarah Jane tells us we can move,' he responded. 'She knows what she's doing, Al. She'll get us out of this, I'm sure of it.' Now he was proud of himself and the certainty he'd managed to infuse into his voice.
'Why can't you phone her?' Al whispered, reminding Clyde that the younger boy wasn't present during their discussion of the non-functioning mobile phones.
'We can't,' he began patiently, pulling his own mobile out of his pocket, and attempting to turn it on in order to demonstrate. 'See, even then weird help message is gone. It's like the dodo, a goner, it's not – whoa! Did you see that?'
Al leaned over. 'What? It looks dead, like you said.'
'Something flickered,' Clyde told him. 'Just for a second, if you'd blinked, you'd've missed it.'
There was a pause.
'I must've blinked,' Al said solemnly, ''cos I never saw a thing.'
'Wait...' Clyde breathed. 'Look! There it goes again!'
'I saw it!'
Al bent over to peer at the phone's screen, bumping Clyde's chin in the process and wringing a muted 'Oi, watchit, brat!' from him.
'I think it was a lady,' Al said dubiously after studying the screen for a time.
'That's what I thought too,' Clyde agreed uneasily. 'But... who is she? And how's she hacking into dead phones?'
'Does it happen on mine?' Sky asked, sounding more like herself than she had done throughout the whole experience.
'Yours is dead too,' Clyde confirmed. 'Dunno about the flashing lady though. Never mind that, how're you doin', my mini-padowan?' He reached out to give Sky's arm a 'welcome back to the land of the living' style-pat, only to recoil violently at once, defensively nursing his hand.
'What happened?' Al hissed.
Clyde sat thinking, a slow grin spreading across his face as he took in the implications of what had just happened. 'Oh, nothin' much,' he began nonchalantly. 'We've only just got our ticket out of here. Sparky's got her spark back!'
Rani winced reflexively as Sarah Jane fell hard onto her utility room floor, and rushed over to help the older woman to her feet.
'This is ridiculous,' Sarah Jane said peevishly. 'I'm getting my bus pass in a couple of months. Why am I still climbing through insanely tiny windows?' She ended with a glare, and Rani had to smother a grin as she extended a hand.
''Cos you're Sarah Jane Smith and climbing through windows is what you do,' Luke said, reaching out his own hand. 'C'm'on, Mum, up you get. Things to do!'
Together, the two teenagers pulled Sarah Jane to her feet, and Rani watched as the faint annoyance vanished from Sarah Jane's face as she took in the sight of her son, safe, sound, and here.
'Thank goodness you're all right, Luke!' Sarah Jane looked as if she was restraining herself from giving her son one of her trademark hugs. 'And Jo and Santiago… how on earth did you past the Daleks?'
Luke folded his arms and grinned down at her, looking like a very earnest stork. 'I've told you before, you've got gifted kids. And gifted mates,' he continued, transferring his grin from his mother to Jo Jones and her grandson. 'We set K9 up to send out a signal; it worked like the sonic and disrupted their circuits just long enough to let us get past.'
'Neat,' Rani approved. 'Very neat. One-nil to Lukey-boy, I like it.'
Luke's eyes widened and he gave her a quizzical glance. 'Now I know you've been spending too much time with Clyde. You're even starting to sound like him.'
Rani felt her cheeks warm, and was silently grateful when Sarah Jane distracted them all by holding up a hand, an inward look crossing her face.
'Quiet, everyone,' she ordered softly. 'I think I hear something… ah!' And she fled from the utility room, her companions at her heels.
Rani remembered why this was a bad idea when Sarah Jane stopped suddenly in her front hall, nearly causing a mass collision. After a momentary exchange of flurried 'sorries' and 'you OKs' she took off again, this time headed for the living room.
'It's just the radio,' Luke observed as they gathered around his mother where she stood frowning at her bookcase. 'What's so special about the radio?'
…solar flares, the little radio said authoritatively from where it sat in between two relatively bland alien artefacts.
'It's working,' Rani breathed. 'This is the first time it's been working since Sky came, isn't it?'
Sarah Jane nodded, one finger raised in a warning to be quiet as she listened.
…Crowds lined the Mall today as Holy Roman Emperor, Winston Churchill, returned to the Buckingham Senate...
'Buckingham Senate?' Sarah Jane and Jo echoed incredulously, just as Rani and Luke exclaimed, 'Winston Churchill?'
Santiago simply stood and gawped. 'Now I know we're not in Kansas anymore.'
Luke's expression was troubled. 'Yeah, I've a feeling 'Kansas' is a long way away this time. Several realities away, in fact.'
'Oh, Doctor,' Sarah Jane murmured. 'What have you got yourself into now?'
The front door blew open, and everyone wheeled around, Sarah Jane's hands automatically holding everyone back, behind her, in an attempt to protect them from whatever was coming.
Then Clyde's head popped round the door, and Rani's knees momentarily weakened. It was so … amazing to see him, that cheesy grin in place.
'Hi, everyone.' He waggled his phone at them. The screen was flashing between dead and a disjointed video of a woman talking. 'I think we need Mr Smith.'
'Hi Mum.' Sky's head floated above Clyde's for a second. 'Go on,' they heard her continue as she vanished from sight. 'Don't just stand there, get in!'
Apparently, she added a not-so-gentle shove for emphasis, and Clyde stumbled rather inelegantly into Sarah Jane's front hall. Fortunately for his dignity, Luke and Rani were there to steady him, and the three friends beamed at each other, their arms intertwined.
Sarah Jane was hugging Sky, while Al was submitting to being patted and cooed over by Jo.
'Confession time, Clyde,' Sarah Jane began sternly. 'How did you get here, especially after you'd been told to stay there?'
Clyde grinned. 'Since when has that worked?' No,' he went on more seriously. 'I'd every intention of staying in the car, just like you said. Between killer pepperpots, dinosaurs, and living history, I was perfectly happy where I was. And then…. We got sparks!'
'Sparks… You mean Sky?' Sarah Jane pressed. She looked at her adopted daughter. 'Sky?'
For answer, the small girl held out her hands, closed her eyes, and took in a tiny breath. They could see the fierce concentration in her face. Her eyes popped open, and muted sparks literally shot from her fingertips. 'I got it back,' she said simply, raising her eyes to meet her adopted mother's. 'But now I seem to be able to control it.'
'Dad'll be pleased to hear that,' Rani muttered as she remembered her father's bitter complaints about the electricity board on the morning of Sky's advent.
'So… you blasted – er, sparked – your way from Mum's car to here?' Luke asked his sister. 'How many Daleks did you blow up?'
Sky's face creased in a monkey grin. 'A lot! They just went… boom! And then all the people in the funny suits ran off screaming,' she ended cheerfully.
Rani glanced out of the window, trying to see through the gates to the street beyond. It took a couple of minutes of peering, but eventually she was able to tell the others that Sky seemed correct: there was less movement than there had been.
'It's still not safe,' Sarah Jane reminded them when Rani and Clyde both dived for the front door. 'I'm sorry, you two, but you're going to have to wait this out here. Luke and Sky may have cleared Bannerman Road between them, but there's still the sky – and who knows what you'd find as soon as you turned out of the street?'
'Mum's right,' Luke consoled. 'Besides, we've work to do here. Who's that woman on your phone, Clyde? What was the radio on about? Buckingham Senate? Winston Churchill?'
'Buckingham Senate's where the Emperor lives,' Al piped up. 'Don't you know that? Everybody knows that!'
Everyone else exchanged glances.
'No, Al,' Rani told him. 'I think you'll find that everyone doesn't know that. Not everyone here, at any rate.' Her eyes went to Sarah Jane's, silently demanding an explanation.
Sarah Jane was chewing her lip, seeming more worried by the second. 'Actually, Rani, if you think about it, you'll find we do know that.' Everyone stared. 'No, just – think about it. Don't worry about it, just… think.'
There was a silence as everyone obeyed. Finally, Santiago spoke.
'I see what you mean. I remember now… but I remember the other one, too. The one where Churchill's dead and it's Buckingham Palace and Britain hasn't had an empire in forever… What's going on? Gran?' His voice went up at the end as he turned to his grandmother.
'It's fine, sweetheart,' Jo assured him. 'It's just time gone wrong. It happens.' She sounded almost as shaky as her grandson.
Rani turned to Sarah Jane. 'This doesn't make sense. Why do we all have these … dual memories, but Al doesn't?'
'Because we've all been through the vortex,' Luke answered for his mother. 'One way or another. Sky was brought here by the Fleshkind, and the rest of us have been in the TARDIS.'
Rani was disturbed to notice that Al, who'd been so comically emphatic about Sky's 'weirdness' earlier in the day, took this confirmation of it without turning a hair. It was further evidence of Luke's words.
At that point, Sky, Luke and Clyde all began to pat themselves with the characteristic motions of a person trying to find an insistent gadget. Sky got there first, pulling her phone out of the pocket of her school skirt.
'It's that woman again,' she said to Clyde.
'This one?' Luke asked, flipping his phone around so that everyone could see the screen. It showed a woman wearing a black eye patch. She was talking, but they couldn't hear what she was saying.
'That's her,' Clyde agreed. 'Anyone any good at lipreading?'
Santiago held out his hand for the mobile. 'I'll have a shot. Lipreading's a useful thing to know when you're demonstrating near police.' He frowned in concentration as he watched.
'Well?' Rani prompted when it seemed he'd had forever to study the thing. 'Any joy?'
Santiago's frown remained in place as he returned the phone to its owner. 'I think it's just one clip looping. Something about the Doctor dying, and please, please help.'
Apologies is this is a bit slow. Truth is, my SJA-love focuses around SJS/kid interaction, with lots of teasing and fluff and humour and 'aww'. So... that tends to creep in, possibly at the expense of the plot! However, more plot-focus coming up... And don't forget to tell me what you think! I'm loving this, and it's always lovely when people say they're enjoying it too, although concrit is very welcome also.