A couple of days later, back in their bedroom in the house, the Doctor and Sarah sat down on opposite edges of the bed. Sarah brought her hands up and buried her face in her hands. The Doctor watched her for a moment before standing up and crossing to sit next to her. He reached up and pushed her hair to one side before gently squeezing her shoulders. 'Sarah?'
She turned her back towards him to give him better access as he began to knead her shoulder muscles, but said nothing.
He leaned forward and kissed the back of her neck. 'You're incredibly tense, what's wrong?'
He felt her shoulders sag underneath his hands. When she spoke the words she'd heard his other self say, there was no emotion behind them. They came out muted and hollow. 'The slow path is not something most Time Lords allow themselves the luxury of. You let your hearts control your life in a way Time Lords shouldn't.' She turned towards him. 'That's what your other self said. He also said that he knew you had regrets.'
The Doctor sighed. 'You used to always ask me if I regretted giving up my travels. It wouldn't truly matter how I answered, you would always assume that I ached to be amongst the stars again.' He noticed that she couldn't look him in the eyes. 'You know my feelings for you, for our family. Time Lords are not supposed to get involved, but I did and am proud of it.' He reached out and took Sarah's hand in his, their fingers lacing together instinctively. 'My other self thinks I was a coward, unwilling to face the universe after Adric's death, but the truth of the matter is that staying here with you took more courage that he was capable of. Yes, Adric's death may have been the catalyst that brought me back, but you're the reason I stayed.'
Sarah concentrated on their entwined fingers. 'We have fewer days in front of us than are behind.'
'You don't know that!' He stood up abruptly, dropping her hand. His voice softened. 'No one does.' He began to pace back and forth before finally coming to a stop and kneeling in front of her. 'Even if I regenerated tomorrow, we don't know what would happen next. However, I can promise you this, my feelings for you will never change.' His small smile grew. 'My other self is on his eleventh body, and as transparent as a schoolboy. His feelings for you are just as strong as they ever were.' He leaned in and kissed her. 'Except he doesn't get to call you his wife. I do. That's why he was so jealous.'
Sarah playfully swatted him on the arm. 'You just loved rubbing it in, didn't you.'
He stood up and crossed to his side of the bed. 'He's an idiot.'
'And he probably said the same about you.'
'Probably.' He fluffed the pillows before settling down and changing topics. 'You know, I don't like any of this.'
Sarah climbed into bed beside him. 'What do you mean?'
'That rift. After all this time, it's only now that I've started pulling energy from it every couple of weeks that the fluctuations are spiking enough to cause damage to this time stream.'
'You think the energy you're pulling from it caused Andy's slide?'
'I don't have a better answer at the moment. And we can't risk it happening again.' He reached out and pulled Sarah towards him before continuing, his voice soft. 'Until there's a safer solution, I'm not going to use it.'
'That means,' Sarah started, 'you just said,' but she couldn't put words to the rest of the thought. Instead, she just put her head down on the Doctor's chest and wrapped her arms around him.
He kissed the top of her head. 'I can't put Andrea in any more danger. She lives and works in Cardiff. She's the first in line when something like this happens. I won't risk her.'
'No, of course not,' Sarah admitted softly. 'Neither of us want to put her in harm's way.'
'We'll find another way for me to get the energy. I have Luke helping me work up the schematics for something new now, and once Andrea's fully recovered, I'll set her on it too. Don't worry, Sarah, I'm not going to give up.' He tightened his arms around her. 'I want to make sure my other self stays jealous for as long as possible.'
Sarah shifted when she felt eyes watching them. She lifted her head up and saw Andy standing in the doorway. 'What's wrong?' she asked.
Andy shrugged. 'Nothing, I guess.' She sighed. 'I dunno. It's weird, but maybe I'm just reassuring myself that you're here. That I'm here. Home.'
Sarah and the Doctor both sat up. Sarah reached out and patted a spot on the edge of the bed next to her. 'Come sit down.' When Andy sat down, Sarah put her arm around her daughter's shoulder.
The Doctor reached out and squeezed Andy's hand, holding it tightly in his. 'This is always home, Andrea, no matter how old you get or where you decide to fly off to in the future. We'll always be here for you.'
Andy reached out and wrapped her arms around both her parents, relishing their embrace in a quiet family moment. Sarah gently reached up and stroked Andy's hair, knowing these moments were too few and too far between as time passed. Finally after quite some time, Andy sat up. 'I guess I should try to get some sleep, huh?'
The Doctor nodded. 'I'm sure it won't be long before your UNIT superiors are demanding a full report on what happened.'
Andy frowned. 'Great,' she said sarcastically. 'Way to be a downer, Dad.' The Doctor just smiled in response. Andy stood up. 'About the rift, I've been thinking,' she started.
'Scoot,' Sarah stopped her, patting her backside then making shooing motions towards the door. 'We'll discuss it in the morning. It's been a very long couple of weeks and we can all use a good night's sleep.'
Andy leaned in and gave each of her parents a kiss on the cheek before heading out. She stopped in the door. 'Good night. Love you.'
'Love you too, sweetheart,' Sarah smiled.
With a nod, the Doctor added, 'Sleep well, Andrea.'
Once Andy left, Sarah relaxed back into the Doctor's embrace. After several quiet minutes, Sarah whispered. 'Something feels different, doesn't it?'
'I thought it was just me,' the Doctor admitted. 'It's probably nothing.' He lifted Sarah's chin up for a quick kiss. 'We're both probably still out of sorts with all that quantum energy flying about. I'm sure we'll feel better in the morning as things continue to settle down.'
'I'm sure you're right,' Sarah said softly, even as sleep began to overtake her. The Doctor felt her breathing even out, and with a small smile, soon followed her to sleep.
An hour later, neither one of them awoke or stirred from their embrace as a golden glow began to emanate from the Doctor's hands. It worked its way across his features, then wrapped around not just him, but Sarah as well. The glow warmed them, working its energy through the very fabric of both of them, weaving its magic, with results neither one of them could possibly expect.
Author's Note: A huge thank you goes out to everyone who read and especially to those lovely people who took time out of their hectic schedules to leave reviews, not just on this story, but on all the others I've written. They are precious like gold - I keep and treasure every single one of them, no matter how small. I've looked at them often, especially when I've needed inspiration.
However, it's time for me to take a bit of a break. I'm sure that now that I've officially said it, ideas will start pounding my brain and I won't be able to stop until I put them down on paper. Normally, even if you don't see me posting, I'm writing something that pops up from time to time. Why, even now, there are unfinished ideas that literally have thousands of words already written. Will those make it to your eyes? I can't promise. The only thing I can promise is that I'll be around. I'd start the whole "One day I shall come back" speech, but that's a bit much, don't you think?
Words can't adequately describe it, so the only thing I can say is again, from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU! :-)