[There is a goodbye between the one he thought would be the last, and the one which she knows is last.]
It is as though, now he has learned the habit, he can't stop. Sarah Jane watched the TARDIS dematerialise only hours ago. Now Clyde and Rani have left, Luke has finally gone to bed, and she is alone downstairs. The so-familiar noise creeps down to her just as she is getting ready to crawl onto the sofa and be quiet for a little while. Some part of her is always listening for that sound; she makes it to the attic door before he steps outside.
"Doctor. What are you…?"
"There was a- I felt bad," he says quickly. "I… Not bad bad. Because it really wasn't my-. There was nothing I could do, you know that. And I'm so sorry. But I still felt like, just a little bit-."
"Doctor," she interrupts.
"Like I stole your wedding day."
"Well, no, but…"
"No." She wants to hit him. "This was nothing to do with you, except that travelling with you made me someone the Trickster would chase, and you weren't able to stop what happened. It was- Peter was a good man, and he loved me. And he made a choice he didn't have to, because of those things. If too many people around you end up making that choice, then maybe you should look at that, but this time wasn't your decision. Don't you dare pity me." She exhales.
"Sarah Jane. Years you left me all alone. And now you're here for a second goodbye because you feel bad. I'm not her anymore. When I- that first time, I had been waiting for you. For a very long time."
"But I'm not anymore. I'm not her. I have a son, and I have Clyde and Rani and Maria and a life that isn't tied up in the space where you used to be. I'm not waiting, I'm just-."
"Living," he says. His voice is soft. "I know." He coughs. "Still," he says brightly. "Fancy a trip? Old times sake, I'll have you back before midnight, I promise."
She raises an eyebrow. "I've heard that before."
"Sarah Jane," she corrects again, but can't quite bring herself to mean it. She nods. "But if I'm not here tomorrow morning, my son will come looking for me. And he's quite dedicated enough and quite clever enough to find you and make you very sorry for yourself."
"I know." He opens the TARDIS door. "Where do you want to go?"
"Just space," she says, "I want to see." She closes the door behind them.
It is only moments before she is opening it again, marvelling in the technology that lets her peer out of an open door into a view of a dying star.
"Beautiful," she says. She sits on the floor, just looking at the sight.
After a moment he sits beside her. It's strange, this quiet moment, and she turns to look at him. He is close enough that she can put her hand on his arm. It's hard to hold onto those last flames of her anger. "What is it?" she asks.
"Do you want to hear something funny?"
"I was only gone five minutes."
"From you. Five minutes. That was as long as I could…" He sighs and there's a shake in it. "I didn't want that to be your last memory of me. The time I ruined your wedding day."
She touches his cheek with her hand. The expression in his eyes is lost and somehow very young. It takes a certain kind of confident immortality to be so shocked by the idea of death. She sees it in the children even as she tries to shield them, and now she sees it in his face. What it is, finally, to see our mortal flaws looking back at us from the schism.
Sarah Jane leans forward and kisses him. He yelps surprise, even as she pushes him back against the floor of the TARDIS. "Sarah," he says, "what are you…?"
"Taking my wedding night, at least. Making another memory. What would you like?"
"What?" She pushes herself up from his body, from where it is sprawled so beautifully on the floor.
His breathing is a little heavy and that is young too: the way he flushes and pushes back towards her without quite meaning to. Then she feels quite as desperate, quite as frantic to begin feeling new. "Nothing," he says. "Nothing." Then, all of a sudden: "Yes. All right, yes."
He laughs then, not at her, and unties the cardigan she had thrown over her blue pyjamas.
She undoes the knot of his tie slowly, remembering how that goes. Slides off his jacket and unbuttons his shirt.
He is hasty where she is measured, pushing cotton up her arms and down her legs, kicking off his trousers.
The floor of the TARDIS is warm and outside the open door the star still burns.
She sits astride him where he lies, inching up and down as he strains. Ready, oh so ready, because today she has been cracked open and she is not mended yet. He looks young, and beautiful, and he thinks that he is dying.
This should have been her wedding night. She never thought- Well, she never thought of it at all, really, but if she had, she would never have thought to be with him and think of something else. Someone else. Not just Peter, but her son, and her neighbours, and everyone that he still needs to think of. She has always been practical but once upon a time she thought perhaps he could have fucked that out of her. But, no, it is still her, and still him. In love with the universe more than any one part of it. Peter died because she asked him to, the same as anyone who ever followed the Doctor down that path.
She bears down, hard enough that it aches inside and then abruptly doesn't. He whispers, "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah," in that way she only ever forgave in him.
Outside the star is burning, dying, and she dies with it for just a moment. Just one. She allows herself that.
He is lying beside her and she says, "Home."
"I have a son, remember?" There are stars still burning, and stars forming. Life in every way and her children waiting for her. She is not quite finished yet.
"I can have you back before he even notices you're-"
"You said that before. Now, please." She wraps her cardigan tightly around herself – it is cold now, with the door closed.
When they land, she doesn't let him leave until she has checked: time, date, universe. Then she pulls him near. "No matter what. You are always, always, welcome here. This doesn't have to be the last memory either. You do know that, don't you?"
He doesn't say anything, just hugs her close so she settles under his chin, her bare feet on top of his shoes. Then: "Goodbye," before the door quite closes behind him.
Luke finds her in the kitchen, making tea. "Mum?" he says, "I heard noises. Are you…?"
He's checking her eyes for tears, her clever, wonderful boy. "I just popped upstairs for a bit," she says. "You don't need to worry. Everything's going to be okay."
[He raises one hand and she feels the goodbye. It's only after Luke's rushed explanation that she understands what he had been doing, how he had reassured himself that she would be okay. She has her son, and he can go.]