So we sat at a picnic table and Lis asked me how I would end The Sarah Jane Adventures and I said that she couldn't just retire, could she? I said, "She'd do something magnificent, and then she'd make sure the kids were fine, and then she'd go...up!" "What d'you mean, up?" asked Lis, and she was laughing. "You mean, into the sky?" "Yes!" I said. "She'd go up. Onwards. Outwards. Into the stars. Just...up! D'you fancy that?" "Oh yes," said Lis. "That sounds nice." - Russell T. Davies
They are all here at the end.
Martha Jones, tall and smiling beside Mickey Smith (he's come so far from the boy he’d been, once). Jack Harkness, unchanging, the darkness in his eyes a little less noticeable behind the beaming smile on his face. A fierce young woman with fiery red hair, still not entirely sure of her place in the group, but determined to preserve a legacy her mother no longer can. The Brig is long gone, and Liz, but Jo Jones stands slightly apart from Benton and Yates (looking uncomfortable in their uniforms after so long) as if to leave a space for them.
Gita and Haresh Chandra, smaller with age but no less forceful, are holding hands. By the window is Alan Jackson, standing there between his wife and – will wonders never cease – Chrissie Jackson, wearing a familiar pair of ridiculous pink heels and a decidedly unfamiliar grin.
Near Mr. Smith, Sky holds her daughter, reaching down occasionally to gently nudge the girl’s thumb from her mouth. She'd opened her home when she turned thirty, welcoming children from all parts of Earth and sometimes beyond, giving them what they needed to make their own way in the universe. “I had a good role model,” she’d said once, eyes sparkling.
Clyde and Rani are quiet for once, sitting with their own children and K-9 in their usual spot by the steps. As teenagers the two had bickered constantly, and that hasn’t changed in the years since, but they’ve long stopped fighting the affection that fuels it. Clyde’s face is wet, but he doesn’t try to hide it, as he once would have done. Instead, he pulls Rani (still taller than him, after all these years, and doesn’t she love that) closer to him and smiles.
And here, at the front – the first two. Maria returned from America all those years ago with a slimmer face and curls that had thickened into deep waves, but her eyes are still bright as ever, and glittering. When she first moved to Bannerman Road, she’d discovered a world far bigger than anything she’d ever dreamed. The woman who had shown it to her had discovered something else entirely, and will always love her for it.
Luke has changed the most, but when he wraps his arms around her Sarah Jane finds herself lost in a moment thirty years past, right here in the attic. They had been so new at this, then, and when he’d reached for her she’d wondered what to do with her arms and where to put her chin. She’s grown old in the time since, and he’s grown up, this boy who taught her how to fit; he’s been here every step of the way, him and the rest of her children and friends, the family that had formed around her when she wasn’t paying attention and somehow became her entire life.
They're clinging to each other now, but at this same moment, all through time and space, things are happening. Women are told for the first time that they are more than ‘only’ girls; a sentient robot is shown compassion; a mad scientist holds an equally mad trio hostage. On Earth, a man called Harry drives 400 miles to pick up his sulking friend; a camera at Planet Three is turned on, and Rose Tyler bursts out laughing. Not far from here, Sarah Jane Smith sits under the stars, drinking lemonade with her new son and their new friend, pondering the future.
All of this is happening right now. And somewhere, so many years ago, a young girl is stepping into a blue police box for the very first time.
“Are you ready?” the Doctor asks. Sarah Jane releases Luke, nodding, not quite crying. The Doctor holds out the hand that has guided her for so long and she finds that now, bent with age and with silver hair, she doesn’t need it. She takes it anyway.
She thinks back sixty years – a part of her envies the girl whose adventures are yet to come. She’d do it all again, she thinks, if only to relive this moment.
“Where will you go?” demands Clyde for the hundredth time this week, clearly unable to stop himself; Rani nudges him sharply. He grimaces at her, but looks sheepish while Luke and Maria exchange grins.
Sarah Jane steps into the TARDIS for the last time and leans against the door frame. “You know, I’m not sure,” she replies, wonder in her voice. The Doctor’s hand is steady on her shoulder; looking up at his dear, familiar face, she asks, “What do you think, Doctor?”
He grins, that silly grin that never changes. “Oh, Sarah,” he whispers, “we can go anywhere. Where do you want to go?”
She’s not leaving anything behind, she knows. She’ll carry this with her forever, however long her forever may be. She will tell the story of a lonely woman who met a man, and who one day met a son and a daughter, a woman who saved the world with her friends and was saved herself in doing so.
She can’t bring the universe to them, so instead she’ll take them to the universe.
“I want to go up,” she says. “Take me to the stars.”