SUMMARY: After Pyramids of Mars, Sutekh's words about Sarah make the Doctor do some thinking.
SHE TRAVELS WITH YOU
The Doctor practically pushed Sarah into the TARDIS to escape the fire in the priory. He went straight to the console and put them in the vortex. 'It's going to take me some time to get the time control reattached,' the Doctor mumbled.
Sarah looked at him and noticed the intense concentration on his face. 'Well, have fun. I'm going to go get the smoke smell out of my hair, unless you have any objections?'
The Doctor just glanced up, but didn't say anything. Sarah wasn't surprised, but decided to leave him to it, making her way through the interior door and back to her room.
To his own ears, the excuse sounded flimsy, but given that Sarah headed out of the console room, he figured it was enough to distract her for now. He bowed his head, the day's events weighing heavily on him. He'd stood in Suteth's tomb and watched as the servicers threatened his best friend. She hung on the arm of a mummy, unconscious and closer to death than she ever realised.
He reached up and ran a hand through his hair. He took the time control and slid underneath the console to reattach it. Sutekh's words had echoed in his mind, his threats to Sarah weighing heavily on him. "The human girl, she travels with you." Even in the dripping malevolence, there was a smugness in that one word, a knowledge of something more, something deeper that the Doctor had buried so far down in his own mind.
Except Sutekh dove in and pulled it out, flaunting it in front of him. "All sapien life is our kith," the Doctor had argued, but deep down he knew. Despite many differences, there were many similarities between humans and Time Lords, most of which the Doctor tried to ignore. Now there were feelings that he knew he couldn't ignore. Not any longer.
On the pyramid on Mars, when Sutekh relaxed his mental grip, the Doctor had awoken to find Sarah crying over him. The relief on her face when she realised he was alive was enough to stop his hearts in their tracks. How many times was he going to see her cry over him? Was it worth it to her to break her heart only to jump up declaring, "I'm fine", and then go on running, never looking back or acknowledging what happened?
He turned around and sat in the floor, leaning back against the console, his mind continuing to wander. He'd been forcibly reminding Sarah how he was a Time Lord and she was human. In some ways perhaps trying to push her away or keep her from becoming too attached. Or was he trying to put the distance there for himself?
With a deep breath, the Doctor stood and looked at the inner door. He thought it best to head to the library and have a quiet few moments to collect his thoughts. He knew that Sarah would soon be out and looking around for him.
Sarah, to her credit, had already made her way to the library. Not because she expected the Doctor to follow her there, but because she sought out her own peace and quiet. After taking her shower and blow drying her hair, she put on some comfortable lounge clothes and headed to the library. After turning on some soft Earth classical music, she pulled a copy of Walter Cronkite's autobiography off the shelf. Flipping open the cover, she smiled at the publication date before making herself comfortable on the sofa. Despite the engrossing nature of the book, it wasn't long before Sarah nodded off to sleep.
The Doctor walked into the library and stopped just after crossing the threshold at the sound of soft music playing. With a smile, he walked around saw Sarah propped up asleep. He noted the book lying haphazardly on the floor by her. He picked it up and glanced at it, shaking his head and smiling. 'Well after your time, Sarah,' he whispered, knowing she wouldn't hear him. He unwrapped the scarf from around his neck before sitting down on the opposite end of the sofa from Sarah, picking up her legs and putting them down in his lap.
She roused and glanced over at him. He toed off his shoes and propped his feet up on the small coffee table in front of the sofa, all while giving Sarah an easy smile and waiting while she drifted back to sleep. The Doctor started reading through the same book Sarah started, and while he got several chapters in, after a while, the words started swimming around as his mind wandered. He flipped the page back and then forward, trying to find his train of thought. Finally, he gave up and put the book down, both of his hands coming to rest along Sarah's ankles.
He looked over at her sleeping form. Despite the peaceful expression on her face, he could still see the tears from earlier. Not physically of course, but they were burned into his brain. The look of despair that switched to absolute joy in a moment. Yet he couldn't respond. Not then.
Putting on arm under Sarah's knees, the Doctor moved and put his other arm around her back, shifting her forward on the sofa so he could slide in behind her. 'Wha?' Sarah mumbled as she woke up and looked over her shoulder.
'Shhh, go back to sleep,' he said as he once more adjusted his arms, one hand settling over her stomach and the other arm curling around her shoulders as they settled back down.
'Are you comfortable now?' Sarah asked as she covered his hand with hers.
'Not as much as we could be.' He nuzzled into the back of her hair before lifting his head and looking at the end of the sofa where his stocking feet hung off the end.
Sarah looked down and watched as he wiggled his toes at her. She sat up and scooted to the edge of the sofa, then turned back to him with a smile. 'All right, get yourself situated.'
With a wink and a smile, he shifted up so he wasn't hanging off the end of the sofa. Once he settled down, she turned back and slid down next to him, this time facing him. She tucked her head against his chest, resting her ear over one of his hearts, her hand covering the other.
'Better?' he asked.
Sarah just nodded, the hint of a smile on her face. 'I should be asking you that question.'
The Doctor tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. 'Just rest now, Sarah.'
Sarah closed her eyes and focused on the sounds of the Doctor's hearts beating.
With one hand, the Doctor traced up and down her back and could tell by her uneven breathing that she wasn't asleep, even though she was quiet. 'What are you thinking?' he asked softly.
She waited a minute before whispering, 'I hear them, your hearts, in moments like this. I feel their rhythm beneath my fingers, beating out across the expanse of the universe. And I know, in that moment, no matter where or when we are, that I'm safe. With you.'
The Doctor sighed and tightened his arms around her. 'I'm so sorry for what happened earlier.'
She snuggled in closer to him and moved her arm from his heart to wrap around him. 'It's not your fault. Like you said, Sutekh was strong and you had to do what you needed to do. But I didn't hear your hearts beating. It felt as if there wasn't anything for me to hold on to.'
He kissed the top of her head. 'In that moment when I woke up, I felt your heart breaking, Sarah. Those tears you cried for me were not the first. When I regenerated, it was the same.'
She looked up at him. 'Well, part of you died that day, Doctor, right in front of me. It felt as if a part of me did too, but then you became you, and things changed.'
He gave her a silly grin. 'For the better I hope?'
She propped herself up to look into his eyes as she returned his smile. 'Of course. But I won't lie, it scares me to think that some time it might be real. That you won't just jump up, grab my hand and keep running.'
'Oh Sarah,' he reached up and cupped her cheek. 'I'll always jump up, even if it’s with a new face. You only have this one life and one body, I don’t think I could live with myself if something happened to you.’ He pulled her back down, guiding her head to rest under his chin. ‘I worry about you.’
She sighed. ‘I worry about you too. Too much for my own good I think.’
‘I’ll try to be careful.’
She tilted her head up towards him and smiled again. ‘We’ll both be careful.’
When she closed her eyes, he tightened his arms around her, holding her close. She felt so small in his arms, but he knew that underneath that tiny frame was an incredibly large heart and spirit. Enough that she easily looked past the differences between them and accepted him for who and what he was, never asking him to change. He wished he felt worthy of the affection she freely gave him and promised himself that he would spend all the time they’d been given to try.
He pondered the fleeting nature of human lives, brief flashes of beautiful lightning that end far too quickly. However, he supposed that's what made them embrace life and live it to the fullest. He knew deep down that at most, they could possibly share decades together, but that ultimately, he would live centuries without her. It made him want to work even harder to make sure she was happy. Those would be the memories he would hold forever in his hearts once they were forced to part for good.
He pressed a feather light kiss to her hair. When that time finally came, he knew his universe would never be the same.