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25 March 2009 @ 08:19 pm
Fic: Picking up the Pieces  
Hello, me again, with another fic. This one's more angsty.

Title: Picking up the Pieces
Rating: G
Summary: Harry tries to help Sarah adjust to being back on Earth. Contains references to The Android Invasion, Terror of the Zygons and The Hand of Fear




“This entire thing is ridiculous!”

Harry refrained from sighing with great difficulty. Corporal Faraday was nowhere near as open-minded as the Brigadier, and was convinced the entire attempted takeover of UNIT was an elaborate hoax. “Yes, sir,” he replied obediently.

“Bad business, Sullivan. Crayford dead, Benton injured…”

“Yes, sir.” His mind wasn’t on Faraday. Sarah had run off with the Doctor without really explaining anything. She’d said something about android duplicates, and a mind-wipe so he’d forget, and an invasion, but no details. He was a bit hurt that she’d gone again without so much as an explanation, but not really surprised. It had been three months since he’d last seen her, and he had no idea when, or even if he’d see her again, and from what she’d told him, his duplicate had hurt her.

It’s ridiculous to feel guilty about that, it wasn’t his fault, but the thought that something wearing his image had hurt Sarah was unbearable.

He shook himself out of his thoughts and began to help with the cleanup.

###


It’s been nearly a year since he’s seen either Sarah or the Doctor, and he’s beginning to think that he’ll never see either of them again, when his phone rings.

“Yes?”

“Harry Sullivan?”

He doesn't recognize the voice. “Yes?”

“Are you willing to accept the charges for a collect call from a Sarah Jane Smith?”

Sarah Jane is calling him? And collect? What? “Yes, yes of course.”

“One moment.”

“Harry?”

It’s Sarah Jane all right, but she sounds like she’s about to cry, which is impossible. “Sarah? Where are you? Is the Doctor with you?”

“I…no…Harry, what year is it?”

“1976. October,” he replies, knowing with the Doctor this isn’t a stupid question.

“Well he got that right at least.” She sounds bitter.

“Sarah? What happened? Where are you?”

“Aberdeen,” she says shortly.

“What are you doing in Aberdeen?”

She gives a humourless laugh. “Oh, you know the Doctor. He was supposed to drop me off in South Croyden, but there you are.”

“Drop you off?”

“Oh, Harry, he left me, and I have no money and no way back and I didn’t know who else to call…”

“Steady on, old thing. I’ll wire you some money. Is there a hotel nearby?”

“Yes.” She gave him the address.

“Well, check in there and wait till I get there.”

“All right. And Harry?”

“Hm?”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, old girl.”

###


He wires her the money, then tells the Brigadier what happened, and asks if he can take the rest of the week off.

It’s nearly five o’clock, so he’s only able to drive for a few hours. He checks into a motel in Birmingham, and the next day he gets up early and drives the rest of the way to Aberdeen.

He finds the hotel after nine o’clock at night, and checks in. He’s brought a change of clothes for himself, and one for Sarah that he got from her flat before coming up, as well as some other things he might need.

“Is there a Sarah Jane Smith registered here?”

“Room 240,” the receptionist tells him after a moment.

He looks at his key. Room 246. Fairly close to her room.

He stumbles up the two flights of stairs, and finds room 240. He knocks on the door, wanting nothing more than to fall into bed.

After a moment, Sarah opens the door. “Harry? God, you’re a mess!”

He smiles in spite of his exhaustion. “Hallo, old thing. I’ve got a room; 246. We can head back to London tomorrow, but right now I’m going to sleep.”

As he closes the door, he could swear he hears “Sweet dreams, Harry.”

###


Before falling asleep he goes into the bathroom. He’s too tired to do more than let the water run over him, and a few minutes under the hot water has him so relaxed he’s in danger of falling over.

He turns off the tap, makes an attempt to dry himself off, and collapses into bed without bothering with pyjamas.

###


He’s disorientated when he wakes up, and can’t remember where he is for a moment. Then it comes back to him. He’s in Aberdeen. Sarah had called and asked him to pick her up.

He looks at the clock. 11:03 AM. So much for military training. On the other hand, he had driven more than seven hours last night, so he supposes he deserves the sleep. He has a proper shower and gets dressed.

Feeling slightly more human, he goes down to Sarah’s room.

“Did you sleep well?” she asks, when she opens the door.

“Like a rock,” he replies. “Sarah it’s…it’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too, Harry.”

The silence stretches uncomfortably. “Look, I haven’t eaten for more than twelve hours. Do you want to get some lunch?”

She grins at him. “All right.”

###


They eat lunch in the hotel restaurant. Once Harry’s taken the edge off his hunger, he asks her what happened.

“He had to leave.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know! All he told me was that he had to go to Gallifrey, and I couldn’t come with him!” She looks at him, distraught. “Oh, Harry what if I never see him again?!”

He sighs, and lays his hand on hers, briefly. “I’m sure you will. He wouldn’t just leave you. But it might be a while.”

“But what do I do now?”

“Let’s get back to London, for a start.”

###


Two days later, they’re back in London. Harry hadn’t driven for seven hours this time; they drove for four hours at a time, stopping more frequently. Still, he’s tired, and not looking forward to work in the morning.

He’d dropped Sarah at her flat, whose rent he’s been paying from money she gave him after the Zygon episode, when he decided to stay on Earth, and now he’s lying in bed wondering about what’s going to happen next. He has a feeling Sarah will have trouble going back to journalism after travelling with the Doctor. He’d had no trouble adjusting, but then he’d never had wanderlust the way she did. He’d been sure the Doctor was mad, and once he found out he wasn’t he only went with him because he was fairly sure he’d never see Sarah Jane again otherwise.

He sighs and rolls over, hoping it will work out.

###


Sarah walks into her flat, and looks around. She knows she should feel like she’s come home, but the familiar surroundings just look so ordinary. Four walls, a ceiling, a floor various doors and windows, all fitting neatly in the outside. Nothing like the TARDIS. Her plants, she notices, are healthier than when she left. She smiles. She’d asked Harry to water her plants, but had never expected that he would actually do it. But that was Harry, ever the gentleman, always keeping his word. Who else would have driven nearly six hundred miles to come get her?

She lies down in bed, and stares out her bedroom window at the light-polluted sky of London, before finally falling asleep.

###


Harry takes to calling Sarah once a week, “just to talk.” In reality, he’s checking up on her. He knows she knows it, and he knows it irritates her, but at least she’s talking to him.

He tells her what’s happening at UNIT, and she tells him about the difficulty she’s having in getting anything published after being gone three years. Both of them assiduously avoid any mention of the Doctor.

He’s worried about her. She’s not adjusting well, and three months after she returned, she doesn’t answer her phone. He figures she’s out, although she knew he’d be calling, and tries again later. Again, no answer.

He decides to try again tomorrow. After calling three times, at half-hour intervals, he finally goes over to her flat to check on her.

He knocks on the door. “Sarah? Sarah, are you in there?”

After waiting for a reasonable time with no answer, he takes out the key she’d given him so he could get in to water her plants. She’s never asked for it back, and he assumes she’s forgotten she gave it to him.

He lets himself in. Despite the fact that it’s the middle of the day, the lights are all out. There are takeaway containers littering the living room, and a layer of dust over everything. There’s no sign of Sarah.

“Sarah?” he calls softly, beginning to be seriously worried now. What if something happened to her? He checks through the flat. She’s not in the kitchen or living room, or on the small balcony. The bathroom door is open, and it’s empty. He finally peers into her bedroom, feeling like a voyeur.

Sarah is lying in bed, fully dressed, her hair mussed, the bedclothes in disarray. She’s asleep, and in the light from the hall he can see the tearstains on her face, and the puffiness of her eyes.

He realizes things must be worse than he thought, for Sarah to be crying herself to sleep in the middle of the day. Or did she fall asleep last night? He thought she was doing all right, but evidently she was just putting up a brave front.

He approaches the bed. “Sarah?”

She wakes up with a start. “Harry? What are you doing here?”

“You didn’t answer your phone.”

“God, I’m sorry, I’ve been working on this story and I didn’t want to be disturbed, so I unplugged it. I was up late last night working.”

It’s a lie. He knows it’s a lie, and she knows he knows. She’s never lied to him before, and it hurts. “Are you hungry?”

“Not really.”

“When did you last eat?”

When she has to think about it, he says, “That’s it, we’re going out.”

She looks up at him, confused. “What?”

“Get changed, we’re going out.”

###


He takes her to a casual restaurant, wanting to avoid any romantic connotations. She had said she wasn’t hungry, but finished her meal fairly quickly. He’s not surprised, if she’s been living on takeaway for God knows how long.

When they’ve finished, he looks at her seriously. “Sarah.”

“What?”

He sighs, trying to think how to start. “There isn’t a story, is there?” His voice is gentle, but she flinches anyway.

“No.”

He nods. “When was the last time you wrote anything?”

“Three weeks ago.”

There’s silence for a long moment, then, “Oh, Harry, how do you do it?”

He’s confused. “Do what?”

“How do you turn your back on the universe and go back to living in a poky little flat?”

He’s not sure what to say. “You just…do. You have to pick up where you left off.”

“But I can’t.” Her voice breaks. “He left me, Harry, and he’s not coming back!”

It’s the first time either of them have spoken of the Doctor since returning to London. “Sarah, there’s things here to appreciate. There are people who care about you here, amazing things right in front of you, if you just open your eyes.” She won’t, he knows. Even if she wasn’t focussed on the Doctor, she would never give him a second thought. She thinks of him as a sort of stodgy piece of furniture, occasionally useful. It would never work out anyway. He’s traditional, wants the 2.5 kids, the white picket fence, the wife waiting for him at home. She wants a career, wants to make a difference, wants a life of her own, not as part of a man’s identity. She’s a free spirit, and would hate anything that tied her down, and he wouldn’t want that for her anyway. “Just…try to keep going? For me?”

She smiles at him sadly. “I’ll try.”
 
 
 
The Evil Oppressor Persiflage: SJS Specs Sexinesspersiflage_1 on March 27th, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
Aw sadly angsty... Poor Sarah. Harry's SUCH a sweetheart...





Hope you don't mind me mentioning that you've got a typo - "the" for "them" in this line: Both of the assiduously avoid any mention of the Doctor.

{ embracing the storm }mithrel on March 27th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he is! And of course I don't mind! *runs off to fix it*
The Evil Oppressor Persiflage: Harry/Martha 2 Time After Timepersiflage_1 on March 27th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
I ♥ Harry!