Sarah Jane’s Boys
Much love and thanks to my lovely Eagle, without whom this story would not exist. Also for helping me get past a few little disconnects between British and Australian culture that were affecting the story.
Like all eventful days in the life of one Sarah Jane Smith, it seemed like just a normal Friday. Which should have been the first warning bell, all things considered.
There had been no crashing ships, no alien energy fields, no alerts from Mister Smith, not even one of the neighbourhood dogs barking. After all the chaos of the Earth moving and the Daleks just the week before, it was a downright relief to have a few days where there had been nothing stranger than people actually managing to get along for a while.
“Sarah Jane.” Luke looked up from his breakfast, and she shrugged. It was inevitable that sooner or later things would pick up again, and there was still time to check in with Mister Smith before sending him off to school.
“Come on, then.”
Mister Smith was out and active, K9 interfaced with him and lights flashing along his sides in rapid patterns. Mister Smith’s screen was displaying human anatomy, or at least something that looked close to it. Something seemed slightly off, something about the proportions of the organs that wasn’t right.
“What species is that?” Luke asked curiously, taking in the details with his usual efficient speed. “That organ there is something new. It’s almost like a second adrenal gland, but the composition is all wrong.”
“Alzarian life form adapted to inhabit Terradonian starliner,” K9 reported almost cheerfully. “Subject lifesigns holding stable.”
“Subject?! K9, what are you talking about?” There was never, ever anything good about the word subject, with the possible exception of school. And even that was debatable some days.
“The TARDIS made a request of us before departing,” Mister Smith said, data scrolling past the anatomy readouts on his screens at increasing speed. “It has taken us until now to perform the service asked of us. Please open the dimensional safe, Sarah Jane. The atmosphere will not hold for much longer.”
“Luke, quickly!” Working together they pulled open the concealing shutters and grabbed the heavy handle and pulled the door open, the familiar non-sound of the interior replaced with a low hum and the sound of ragged, frightened breathing.
“Atmospheric pocket failing in ten seconds.” K9’s voice was like a sharp bark, and Luke lunged at the safe, reaching in and grabbing onto something – someone – who cried out in shock. He pulled sharply and fell backwards as a person all but flew out, all yellow and olive and midnight dark hair, skidding across the floor until they both hit the wall.
It was a boy, about Maria and Clyde’s age, with pale skin and very dark hair, a snub nose in a wide-eyed face. A twisted rope was clutched tight in his hands, so tight it was obviously digging into his fingers, his yellow tunic singed and torn to reveal deep red scratches all up his side. He was still breathing fast and jerky, his chest heaving.
“Where am I?” he asked, panic tinging his already unusual accent to make him almost indecipherable. He pushed himself up against the wall, the rope still wrapped immovably around his hand as he looked around wildly, his hair flaring up around him. He looked so fragile and scared, and Sarah Jane couldn’t help but compare it to her first meeting with Luke and the terror that had been writ in every line of his body.
“You’re in my attic,” she told him with a gentle smile, gesturing Luke over to give the boy some space. After so many years doing what she did, she was more than able to recognise the signs of an impending panic attack. “You’re safe here.”
“I shouldn’t be here...” the boy gasped, scrambling even further back until his back was pressed against the door. “I was on the freighter... The Cybermen... The Earth! What happened to the Earth?!”
“This is the Earth,” Luke said, his tone suggesting that he thought the boy rather silly for not knowing where he was.
“It can’t be...” The boy started trembling, eyes darting around until they focussed on K9 and his face positively lit up with recognition. “K9!”
“Affirmative!” If K9 could have radiated smugness, surely he would have been doing so in that moment.
“But... if you’re here...” He pointed at K9 with a shaking hand, then pointed at Sarah Jane. “Then you must be Romana... I... But...”
The boy’s eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed like a puppet with its strings cut.
Even unconscious, they couldn’t pry the rope from his hand.
The boy looked very small and vulnerable, laid out on the sofa in the living room with a blanket tucked gently around him. K9 had returned to the black hole without explaining anything and Mister Smith had merely said that it was an important request from the TARDIS. Not the Doctor, but the actual TARDIS!
She’d always known there was more going on with the TARDIS than the Doctor had told her.
The boy twitched and shuddered in his sleep, his breathing starting to go ragged and short again as his hands and fingers twitched rapidly. Suddenly he jerked awake with a wild cry, going straight and tense for several long moments before slumping with a tired, drained sound.
“Hello again,” Sarah Jane said with a smile, wincing a little when the boy flailed in shock and tumbled right off the sofa, still tangled in the blanket. Luke rushed over and helped him up with gentle hands, which seemed to go no small way to calming his nerves. “I’m Sarah Jane Smith, and this is my son, Luke.”
“You’re Sarah Jane?!” The boy sat on the sofa carefully, giving her a surprisingly sharp look over. “The Doctor used to talk about you, especially when he regenerated. He kept mistaking Tegan and Nyssa for you.”
“Oh, Tegan must have hated that!” She couldn’t help but imagine the expression on the energetic Australian’s face; she must have been utterly irate. She’d only met Tegan Jovanka a few times, but they exchanged emails fairly regularly to swap useful information. “If you know Tegan, then you must be... Turlough?”
“Who’s Turlough? I’m Adric! Didn’t Tegan ever mention me?” He outright wilted, looking like he was seriously considering curling up in a hurt ball. “I know we didn’t always get along, but...”
“Mum, why are you staring?” Luke sounded about as confused as she felt. Adric was dead, Tegan had been quite clear on that point, and she’d sounded like the telling was dragging knives through her.
“You’re... Adric?” She moved forward, carefully, tilting the boy’s head up and examining him closely. He did look pretty much exactly like the picture Tegan had shown her, the one in the book of 1920’s pictures that she’d tracked down the last time she was in London. A smidgen older, and so very tired, but it was definitely the same boy. “But you can’t be!”
“I assure you that I am!” His attempt to look indignant only managed to emphasise how small he looked, as did the little rasp of exhaustion in his voice and the fact that he was starting to shake just enough to make the blanket shift. “Will someone please just tell me what’s going on? How did I get here and why do you have K9?”
“The Doctor gave him to me.” She smiled warmly, briefly considering calling K9 out again before deciding once was probably enough for the day. Besides, he was supposed to be moving to a more distant location soon enough. “And apparently the TARDIS asked Mister Smith to bring you here, although how is completely beyond me.”
“They probably created a brief ripple in the time-space continuum that connected to the atmospheric pocket Mister Smith was generating in the safe using the base code of the TARDIS and the background radiation created by the black hole,” Luke piped up, and Adric went completely white. “...Was I not supposed to say that?”
“I should be dead,” Adric managed, pulling the blanket tightly around himself and shivering violently. “I felt the ship burning up around me! The Earth – Tegan’s home – was at stake and I... I failed...”
Luke sat down on the sofa next to Adric and pulled him into a gentle hug, which the boy promptly buried himself into as he shook. As unusual as it was for Luke to initiate contact with a complete stranger, she couldn't help but be both proud and thankful for his boldness.
“I’ll get some tea on.”
As she left for the kitchen, she heard Luke speaking in his most reassuring tone. “Don’t worry, Mum will look after you.”
Sarah Jane left Adric and Luke with sweet tea and biscuits and set to making several phone calls, starting with the school. A family emergency had come up and Luke wouldn’t be making it today, she’d told them. And it was completely true, in a way; most of the Doctor’s Companions who ended up on Earth had formed their own little family, keeping in contact when they could and dealing with the problems that cropped up when the Doctor wasn’t around.
It was late at night in Australia, but as it happened Sarah Jane knew that the meteor shower putting on a show over the country that night was actually part of an interplanetary race and that Tegan would be up keeping an eye on the racers and sending sharp warnings at any pilot who thought it would be clever or amusing to buzz the natives. She doubted that this was the kind of distraction she’d mind.
“G’day, Sarah Jane,” Tegan said when she answered. It sounded like there was a bit of gale on where she was, but the former air hostess sounded downright cheerful. “You were right, that new Atraxi pilot is good. You’re in with a good chance of winning the pot this year.”
“Oh good!” That would shut Ace up a bit anyway. “But that’s not why I called. Tegan, I have news and you really need to be sitting down.”
“Oh rabbits.” There was rustling and a thump from the end of the line. “It’s not about the Doctor, is it?”
“Not directly.” She took a deep breath to centre herself. “Tegan, that mess with the Daleks and everything... Mister Smith and K9 interfaced with the TARDIS during the end of it, they’ve done something incredible!”
“Incredible-good or incredible-end of the world?” Tegan asked with a dry laugh; not entirely unwarranted, considering what had happened the last time Mister Smith took it upon himself to act independently.
“Incredible very good,” she said, grinning despite herself. “Tegan... Tegan, they saved Adric.”
There was a long silence, long enough to be worrying, before Tegan’s voice came back, soft and vulnerable. “He’s alive?” There was a sound that very much resembled a choked little sob. “It’s really him?”
“He looks just like the boy from the photos, and his story matches up with what you told me. He’s been putting a brave face on it, but I think seeing someone he knows would do wonders.”
“I’d have been on the first flight over anyway, and you know it.” Even ‘retired’, Tegan had a few contacts about the place who could make it easier for her to get onto a flight than most. “Still on Bannerman Road?”
“Of course. Call me when you get to Heathrow and I’ll come pick you up.”
“You’d better! ...Oh damn, one of the pilots is trying to buzz the Harbour Bridge, I’d better go.”
“See you soon.”
She left Tegan to get on with her plans – and her no doubt impressive tirade at the hapless pilot – and went to look in on the boys before making her next call. Somehow Luke had managed to actually get Adric smiling, albeit shyly and nervously, and while they weren’t hugging any more, Luke was sitting protectively close to the... Alzarian, K9 had said. He looked so terribly human, and terribly small.
She’d have to ask him how old he was, once he was calmer. He looked far too young to have been travelling with the Doctor, even considering his occasionally quite interesting track record. He was like Luke, like Maria and Clyde, too young to be out amongst the stars just yet.
Probably too young to be here, too, but you didn’t end up in the TARDIS if you had a comfortable family life. At least she could offer him somewhere at least marginally stable for a while, if he wanted it.
“Mister Smith, I need you!” The wall folded outwards and the supercomputer emerged with his traditional fanfare. “I need to call the Doctor.”
“Calling the Doctor.” At least this time there was no need for hijacking every network in the UK; sending the signal out on the right wavelengths would be more than enough. The TARDIS had a strange affection for the Earth and this general time period, so sooner or later he’d answer.
As it happened, someone answered quite quickly, a slightly nervous male voice echoing down the line. “Ah, hello?”
“Hello. This is Sarah Jane Smith; are you the Doctor or a companion?” There really was no point beating around the bush with the question.
“A companion,” the voice said, sounding a bit relieved. “Rory Pond. I’m afraid the Doctor is buried inside the console right now.”
“Typical. Rory, could you tell the Doctor it’s Sarah Jane calling about Adric?”
She could hear, distantly, Rory relaying the message. A girl asked “Who’s Sarah Jane?” in a sharp voice, but it was mostly drowned out by a surprised shout and an extremely painful-sounding clang sharply followed by several thumps and a startled squawk.
“Sarah Jane?” This voice was new, too, but there was that familiar old affection in it that told her instantly that this was the Doctor. “Sarah Jane, who told you about Adric?”
“He did. Doctor, he’s here. Mister Smith and K9 did something and they are insisting that the TARDIS asked them to.”
There was a brief silence, and then the Doctor’s voice came very bright and happy down the line. “Oh, you wonderful girl, you wonderful magnificent heroine you! I knew you wouldn’t forget!”
“...Doctor, you’re hugging the TARDIS right now, aren’t you?”
As could be fully expected, Clyde and Maria turned up just a little bit too early to have stayed all the way through school, although Maria had brought notes from the classes Luke had missed as justification for coming straight over. Clyde just wanted to know where the aliens were.
Luke was strangely loathe to leave Adric for any amount of time, so Sarah Jane found herself letting them in. Clyde looked rather disappointed at how utterly normal the newcomer was, but Maria had to clap a hand over her mouth to muffle a little noise of delight at the sight of the pair sitting so close, Luke’s hand resting reassuringly on Adric’s shoulder.
“Where’d he come from?” Clyde asked, looking Adric up and down and raising an eyebrow. “And what is he wearing? He looks like he escaped from one of those groups that goes around pretending it’s still the middle ages.”
“You can’t even tie a tie properly, you can talk!” Maria smacked Clyde sharply on the arm before putting the notes on the table. “These are from classes today, Luke. Well, everything but French.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that last part.” Sarah Jane smoothed Luke’s hair with a gentle hand as she passed by with another pot of tea. “As for where he came from... What was it K9 said?”
“Alzarian life form adapted to inhabit a Terradonian starliner,” Luke instantly rattled off, smiling in the way he often did when recalling something interesting. “He’s physically very close to human, but he has a secondary adrenal gland that doesn’t match anything I’ve seen before.”
“You sound like the Doctor when you do that,” Adric said, smiling just a little wider. It was sad too, a sadness all too familiar to Sarah Jane. One that was old and almost healed in her, but so fresh and vivid in him.
“You’ve met the Doctor?” Maria asked, practically pouncing on the subject as she plonked herself down on the sofa next to Adric.
Clyde tossed his bag aside and grabbed a handful of sweet biscuits from the plate that had come with the tea, sitting himself on the carpet and grinning. “That is cool.”
“Not now, you two! Doctor stories can keep.” Sarah Jane said, clapping her hands despite her own burning curiosity. “Adric has just had a very stressful day, and I just remembered where I left the first aid kit. How’s your side feeling?”
“Oh, it’s fine. I’ve healed by now.” Adric pushed the blanket aside to reveal the torn side of his tunic, but the skin beneath was smooth and flawless, like he’d never been hurt. “Alzarians heal much faster than you humans.” He smiled as he said it, but there was something about the way he tugged his ragged clothes around him that bothered her.
“You have got to get rid of those clothes, man,” Clyde told him. “Luke, get him something. If he goes out in that we will never be cool again.”
“See, Clyde, this is why you don’t have a girlfriend,” Maria said. “You need to think sometimes! I’m sorry about him, he hasn’t grown out of being an idiot yet.”
Sarah Jane sighed massively. “Why don’t you two show Luke what he missed, and I’ll get Adric settled down. You look exhausted, poor thing.”
Adric followed her with tired steps, and didn’t even protest being called a poor thing.
By the time Adric emerged from the shower, hair damp and wearing a t-shirt and tracksuit pants that Luke had almost grown out of over the green shirt he’d arrived in, there was food cooking slowly in the oven and yet another pot of tea come just off the boil. The notes from school were spread across the table, and Clyde and Maria were relaying a silly story about the prank one of their classmates had pulled on their new biology teacher.
“Well that’s better,” Clyde said, grinning. “You still need to lose that shirt if you’re gonna fit in here, but it’s a start.”
“Oh my god, let it go!” Maria rolled up one of the ruffled notes and smacked him across the back of the head with it. “I’m sorry, someone called him tragic today and his ego’s in traction.”
“Um, alright then.” Adric sat next to Luke on the couch, managing a shaky smile to return Luke’s own brilliant beaming grin. Maria covered her mouth again, but it was pretty obvious that she was smiling fit to burst.
“So... are we allowed to at least ask about the Doctor now?” Clyde asked, giving Sarah Jane an utterly embarrassing little puppy face.
“Only if you promise never to make that face again.”
“You lot are mean.”
“Which Doctor did you meet?” Luke asked, cutting through the impending snark with his characteristic bluntness. “Mum’s told me about three that she’s known pretty well.”
“I know... knew... two.” Sarah Jane knew that face all too well – it was a face she’d seen on several former companion’s faces, the moments when they remembered that they’d been left behind. And he’d been left in such danger... No wonder he couldn’t bring himself to look up from his hands twisting in his lap. “The first one was tall, curly hair and a long scarf and... manic. He was my Doctor.”
“Oh, he was fun!” She couldn’t help beaming bright enough to make Maria and Clyde stare at her in surprise. It wasn’t such a shock to Luke, who had heard almost all the stories she had. All but the very worst stories, the ones that still had her waking in the depths of the night gasping. “Did he still smile like an entire piano keyboard?”
“All the time.” He looked up at her, just a little, smiling shyly. “It was him and me and Romana and K9 at first, and then just the two of us... It was the best six months of my life. Then he changed and everything got complicated. I was thinking about leaving, but the Cybermen made the decision for me.”
And instead of whatever fate he’d been facing, he’d wound up in their dimensional safe. She was almost scared to ask more about what had happened between that last moment with the Doctor and his landing terrified and breathless in their attic.
“You called me Romana at first. Did the Doctor give her a K9 too?” If she kept asking questions, maybe she could direct the conversation away from darker thoughts until Clyde and Maria left.
“More like K9 chose her. It’s complicated.” Adric grabbed one of the cups of tea, sipped cautiously, looked at curiously and then proceeded to drain it in several quick gulps. Within moments there was more colour in his cheeks; the Doctor always did say a cup of good tea could do wonders to the right biology. Obviously Alzarian was on that list.
Luke noticed it too, she could see him tilting his head just a little like he sometimes did when working out a particularly interesting problem. Maybe it would do him some good, to have someone different around.
At least until Tegan arrived and they decided where to go next, anyway.
Sometime in the middle of the first night, Adric woke the house screaming.
Sarah Jane pulled on a dressing gown, grabbed her sonic lipstick and was most of the way down to Luke’s room before she’d even really registered being awake.
The door to Luke’s room was half-open, and thanks to the moonlight she could see Luke sitting on the end of his bed, his hands wrapped around one of Adric’s. She could hear their voices, but not the words, only the tones.
Whatever Luke was saying, it seemed to be calming Adric down, and she crept silently back up the stairs, torn between worry for the alien boy and pride in her son.
Tegan arrived three days after Luke pulled Adric from the safe, shadows under her eyes and clothes rumpled from the flights she’d taken to get there. She’d called from Heathrow, but hadn’t allowed Sarah Jane to come and get her; a rental car would be quicker, she’d said.
“Sarah Jane,” she said, smiling brilliantly despite her obvious exhaustion as she pulled her into a hug. “I don’t know what to say. I never imagined...”
“Neither did I!” K9 was working on the black hole in a distant area, too distant to be reached again for weeks, and Mister Smith was still keeping mum on the subject. The supercomputer had let slip that it had been something the TARDIS herself could not do, though. Something about a time lock, and it being impossible for Time Lord technology to breach it. “He’s in the garden with Luke and Maria.”
“Since when did you start recruiting?” Tegan’s smile belied the sharpness of the comment. Tegan worked with UNIT’s Australian posting, sometimes, and her daughter had helped out about the place for a few years before encountering yet another Doctor and vanishing into time with him, but for the most part her fellow companion was just as solitary as she had been not so long ago.
“Luke’s my son, actually. It’s a long story that can wait, I think.” Although from the look on Tegan’s face, not too long! “Maria lives across the street, but I couldn’t keep her away. She’s very perceptive for her age.”
“For her... Is this going to turn into one of those situations where I have to get stroppy? Because I have enough of those with Jack Bloody Harkness calling me every two days demanding that I send him every last useful scrap of tech I have.”
“It was entirely her choice, trust me. I tried.” And wasn’t that an interesting comment? “I didn’t know Jack knew how to get hold of you. He’s been trying to contact me since the Dalek incident too, but I’ve been having Mister Smith block him.”
“I don’t suppose he could help me with that? I’m getting sick of that cheeky... little...” Tegan’s voice trailed off when she entered the kitchen, and she went very pale indeed as she looked out the window into the garden. Luke and Maria were still in their school uniforms, and were taking great pleasure in acting out something ridiculous that must have happened during class. Adric was smiling, the corners of his lips twitching in the closest he’d gotten to a laugh since he’d arrived.
Tegan’s bag hit the floor with a thump and she nearly joined it, her hand painfully tight on Sarah Jane’s arm.
“I was so sure you were wrong,” she said, voice rasping like she was trying to hold back a sob. “But it’s really him... He hasn’t aged a day...”
Sarah Jane managed to get Tegan into a chair and pressed a glass of water into her hands, which the Australian drank in several almost convulsive gulps.
“Oh rabbits,” she said after a while, shaking her head violently. “What if he still hates me?”
“I think you owe it to the both of you to go and find out, don’t you?” She smiled reassuringly, patting Tegan on the shoulder. “I’ll get Luke and Maria inside, if you’d prefer not to have an audience.”
“Thanks, that helps.” Tegan stood and straightened, visibly steeling herself for the reunion. “I feel so old right now.”
“Welcome to my world.” She opened the door into the garden and smiled at the way the three teenagers were so obviously just having fun. It was almost a pity to disturb them, but... “Luke, Maria, I need to talk to you for a moment!”
Luke came trotting over obediently, and she pulled him into a tight hug while Maria strolled over more casually, raising her eyebrows when she saw Tegan but tactfully not saying anything. It was strange to see, but the former air hostess looked terrified.
“Alright, here goes nothing.”
Tegan squared her shoulders and walked into the garden with confidence that utterly faded the instant she got within arm’s length of Adric. The three of them watched curiously while pretending they weren’t as they stared at each other for a few moments before Tegan burst into tears and pulled Adric into a hug.
“That is adorable!” Maria whisper-squealed happily, trying to keep her voice down but bouncing on her feet in enthusiasm.
But all Sarah Jane could see was the strangely jealous look on Luke’s face.
Tegan stayed for two days before the subject of Adric’s future came up. For most of that first day she’d been too busy giving him hugs until he was practically flailing in embarrassment, and the second had involved a swarm of mutated locusts that had rather taken everyone’s attention, not to mention Clyde’s favourite hoodie and Maria’s shoes.
They were all sitting around the near ruin that the locusts had made of Sarah Jane’s garden, Clyde getting increasingly annoyed as Adric hung upside down from a bare branch and carried on reciting the digits of pi. He was starting to regret betting that the Alzarian wasn’t as clever as he claimed – if Adric made it to two hundred decimal places, he had to hand over his skateboard for a week. On the other hand, if he got it wrong, Clyde was allowed to choose what he wore for the same week. For some reason, Clyde had really fixated himself on Adric’s long sleeves.
“Adric, I want you to come back to Australia with me.”
Luke suddenly sat up very straight, scowling at Tegan, and Adric fell right out of the tree with a choked noise of shock. Luckily he landed in a bush instead of falling on his head, and within moments he was on his feet and staring.
“You want me to what?!” He was going pale again, the same way he did when pressed about how he’d ended up in Sarah Jane’s attic.
“Come home with me. I can convert my daughter’s old room, my friends at UNIT can fudge a little paperwork for us... The Doctor will bring Nyssa back soon enough, and I’ve always wished I could introduce you to her. What do you think?”
“I... you... I don’t...” Adric started shaking, just like he had on that first day, and Luke started forwards with the obvious intent to hug him, as he had been doing with increasing regularity.
“Wait, wait, wait.” Clyde bounced forward and slung a friendly arm over Adric’s shoulder. “Before anyone decides anything, I think there’s the small matter of a bet to be settled?”
“This really isn’t the time, Clyde!” Maria snapped, trying to drag him off.
“Hey, just trust me, okay? Luke, how many digits did he get to?”
“One hundred and ninety-seven. Clyde, I really don’t think this is a good time for-“
“I knew it!” Clyde spun Adric around and grinned. “You can keep that t-shirt, it’s not bad, but that shirt is coming off! Now hold still a minute!”
“Wait, no!” They struggled for several moments, until Clyde managed to get his hands on the hem of the battered shirt and yanked upwards hard.
The shirt caught across his shoulders, one arm tangled in the sleeves and one pushing angrily at Clyde’s hands. His voice was muffled and the words he was using were foreign, but it was obvious that he was swearing up a storm. A series of penny-sized, perfectly circular scars ran all the way down his spine and along the outside of his arm, little craters of pale pink flesh exactly two inches apart.
Adric pulled the shirt back down, opened and closed his mouth twice, and bolted.
“Adric!” Luke was after him in a flash, the gate slamming shut behind him as his footsteps rapidly faded into the distance.
“Damn it, Clyde!” Maria grabbed a fallen branch and whacked him several times, with a fair amount of force behind the blows at that. “Why couldn’t you just leave it, just once? Idiot!”
“I was trying to lighten the mood! I didn’t know!”
Tegan was so white she was almost green, her hands shaking so much that little drops of tea were falling from the sides. “Oh my god. That’s what the Master did to him... I never knew, we suspected but we never managed to ask him...”
“Okay, this is not a story for you two,” Sarah Jane said, ushering Maria and Clyde towards the gate. “I’m sorry, but you don’t need to hear about this. You can’t. Go home, I’ll call you when Luke and Adric get back.”
Then Tegan told her about Castrovalva.
It was dark by the time Luke and Adric came back, leaves tangled in their hair and clothes and a few smudged tearstains on Adric’s cheeks. Luke was guiding him with a hand on the small of his back, and she blinked a couple of times. Adric was being far more receptive to Luke’s frequent touches and holds than most, although considering his circumstances it maybe wasn’t as surprising as it seemed.
Sarah Jane pulled them both into a hug, and was surprised when she found four arms clinging to her instead of two. She pulled them closer and closed her eyes for a few long moments, just basking in the warmth of it.
“You don’t have to talk about it,” she told Adric, ruffling his hair a little and smiling at his pout. “Not everything about travelling with the Doctor is good.”
“Yes, well... It wasn’t all bad, either.” He flushed, just a little, and rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “I’m sorry I ran off like that.”
“That’s alright. I’ve talked Tegan into giving you some time to think it over, so you two should eat and go get some rest. It can wait until the morning, right?”
“You’re the best, Mum.”
Luke pretty much pulled Adric into the kitchen, and she blinked slowly, tilting her head a little. That was funny, she could almost think...
Nah. It couldn’t be.
It had been a week since Luke had last tried to sneak into her room in the middle of the night, and she only realised because she woke just after two without any apparent reason.
Sarah Jane smiled and turned over. She was pretty certain she already knew what Adric was going to say when called upon to make his decision, and she knew what her response was going to be.
Clyde turned up before school the next morning, looking like he hadn’t slept a wink. “I’m sorry I was such a wanker.”
“Don’t swear when you apologise to Adric,” she told him, ushering him in. “And don’t be late to school.”
“I’ll be good.” She followed Clyde into the kitchen, leaning against the doorframe to watch what happened. Even though Adric wasn’t going to school – yet – he’d already adopted the same hours as Luke, although for the time being he was spending most of his days sitting in her garden reading pretty much everything he could get his hands on.
“I’m sorry,” Clyde blurted out before either of them could speak, fiddling unconsciously with one of the straps on his backpack. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I just wanted to make things better, not worse. Are we cool?”
“Cool is good, right?” Adric asked Luke, a curious little expression on his face.
“Cool is good.” Just a year ago, Clyde had been struggling to teach Luke that very fact.
“Then we’re cool.” Clyde and Adric shook hands, and that seemed to be the end of it.
The next day was the day with the exploding pollen pods full of spores that made people very, very high. By general agreement, the ‘we will never speak of this again’ clause came into effect.
Well, almost never. She’d managed to catch Tegan singing show tunes with Maria’s phone.
Sarah Jane and Tegan took Adric up to the attic the day before Tegan was due to leave for Australia, and from the look on his face he knew exactly what the subject of discussion was going to be. They’d deliberately waited until Luke, Clyde and Maria were at school so they could talk without being interrupted.
“Do you want to come with me?” Tegan asked, holding out her hand with a gentle smile. Adric stared at the hand, and slowly her smile faded as she realised he wasn’t going to take it. “Why?”
“How long has it been for you?” he countered, his expression sharp and just a little pained. “Since you last saw me?”
Tegan paused and counted under her breath, fingers flickering as she went. “Twenty-four years, give or take a couple of weeks. You know what it’s like, travelling with the Doctor.”
“And for me it’s been two weeks!” The outburst made Sarah Jane jerk back a little, but Tegan just rolled her eyes a little, her expression saying quite clearly that she’d expected something like this to happen eventually. “I just can’t, it’s too much. I can’t.”
“Well I don’t know where else you could go, I won’t let you go to that prat Harkness at Torchwood and UNIT is not entirely alien-friendly after last month.” What little remained of UNIT, anyway, although word on the grapevine was that the Brigadier’s daughter was likely to step into the scientific advisor role soon and free up Martha Smith-nee-Jones to go kick some arse in the US. With a Lethbridge-Stewart back in charge, the situation was likely to improve significantly.
Torchwood, though... From the reports Mister Smith had been able to sneak out of their systems over the last two years, Sarah Jane wouldn’t even send a Dalek to them if there was any other option open to her.
“Um, I was hoping...” Adric blushed rather red, looking down at his hands and fiddling with the frayed edges of the woven belt that he had started wearing again after Clyde’s little joke. “And only if everyone agrees to it, of course... Could I stay here with you and Luke, Sarah Jane?”
Before Luke, she would have made him go with Tegan anyway. Before Luke, she wouldn’t even have considered it. But that was before her wonderful, brilliant, vulnerable son had run head-first into her world and changed her entire life.
On the day Adric officially became Sarah Jane’s son – thanks, naturally, to Mister Smith and some collaborative background creation – Maria also decided it was high time that Adric met her dad.
“Dad, come over to Sarah Jane’s for a minute!” She dragged him across the road with a bounce in her step that had him smiling despite himself. He still couldn’t quite get over how much happier she was than she had been a year ago.
“Slow down a bit!” he said with a grin, rubbing at his shoulder playfully. “You’ve not got a boyfriend stashed over here, do you?”
“I’m not a complete idiot you know, I’ve seen that new boy running around with you lot the last couple of weeks. He does look your type.” Alan grinned and took the slap to the arm as his due punishment for being a tease. “Seriously, though, is this going to turn into one of those Weird Alien Things?”
“Sarah Jane will explain, she’s being annoying about some of it and keeps saying it’s ‘adult stuff’.” Maria was halfway to the door before she spotted something and diverted them into the garden again. Luke and the strange boy he’d been catching glimpses of for the last fortnight were sitting under a tree and talking about something maybe maths-related that went sailing right over his head.
The boy looked about Maria’s age, but when he looked up to say hello, their eyes met. They were the eyes of someone who’d seen far too much, far too fast. The same eyes as Sarah Jane’s, only darker.
“Oh, right. Dad, this is Adric Jovanka.” Maria pulled the boy to his feet, apparently completely innocent of the brief protective flash on Luke’s face as she dragged him over. “He used to travel with the Doctor!”
“Alan Jackson.” He shook the boy’s hand firmly, managing to coax out a small smile. “Don’t worry, I know about all this. So, what planet are you from?”
“...I think I need a cup of tea.”
And that was how Adric of Alzarius, refugee from E-Space and formerly lost companion of the Doctor, came to live at Number 13, Bannerman Road.