When Parliament died, Harriet Jones was safely at home. She had not been part of Saxon's followers, and she was persona non grata to most of her party. Everyone seemed to have fallen under his spell, and while she found him somewhat charismatic, she'd also seen 'Triumph of the Will.' Charisma was so far from being sufficient for a man to deserve such power that it made her slightly ill to watch her colleagues fawning on Saxon.
As his power increased, she clung all the harder to that faint nausea, trusting that it led her in the right direction: away from Harold Saxon.
She had considered asking to attend the first contact event, but the thought that the Doctor might also be there dissuaded her. After the President of the United States died, she decided she had made the right choice.
Her not terribly secret hideout had been designed by Torchwood when Torchwood was a large and powerful organization. When her tenure as Prime Minister imploded, followed all too soon by Torchwood itself, she had checked on the location and its security. When the Toclafane came, Harriet was safe underground in more senses than one, her appearance altered as much as a carefully created set of costume props and makeup could make her. She had enough food to last several months, though it was bland and unhealthy.
She knew she couldn't serve her people from a slave camp, and so she hid, and kept on hiding.
She'd completed the third notebook worth of her autobiography when the knock came on the door.
Harriet froze, trying to work out who might be on the other side. She supposed it wasn't likely that Saxon would've sent a standard-issue human to deal with her, however. Whatever he had done to the world since it first caught fire, whatever he had done to the Doctor, he commanded sufficient power that he wouldn't need to send a potentially weak-minded, subornable human to arrest her.
More to the point, the Toclafane didn't knock.
She closed her notebook and put it in the fireproof safe, spun the dial, and unbolted her door.
There was a woman outside, thin, perhaps fifty, perhaps sixty, auburn-haired and decently dressed. "Harriet Jones?" she asked, unnecessarily. "My name is Sarah Jane Smith. May I come in?" Her voice was oddly formal considering that they were twenty stories below London's streets, and that only a handful of people could have told the location at any point.
"Are you a friend of the Master's?" Harriet asked.
Sarah Jane Smith scowled. "Not in the slightest."
"Then please do." There was only the one chair in the kitchen, and only a bed in the sleeping area. Harriet frowned at her meager surroundings. She had paced them daily, following the recommendations she had been given for maintaining health in the case of long-term emergencies, but the addition of another person made them feel oddly malformed. "I'm sorry, I haven't anything to offer you by way of amenities."
"That's quite all right." Sarah Jane's scowl had gone, replaced by a tight but sincere-looking smile. "I suspected you might be running low on a few things by now, so I brought tea."
It was all Harriet could do not to fall at her feet, even with the possibility -- still unfortunately present -- that she could be one of Saxon's operatives. "Thank you, I'm dreadfully -- I'll put the kettle on, shall I?" Its only purpose for weeks had been sanitizing her drinking water and reconstituting freeze-dried food.
"If you like." Sarah Jane opened her purse.
Harriet tensed, though the nausea that had preserved her in the mesmerizing of the world was entirely absent. When Sarah Jane drew forth three boxes that appeared to contain tea, she relaxed slightly. "What brings you here? Surely you haven't come all this way just to deliver tea. How on earth did you find some in the first place?"
"One can still find the odd luxury, here and there. There are fewer people to -- well. I wanted --" Sarah Jane frowned and studied Harriet's face. "I wanted you to know that there are many people out there who believe that this is not the end of the world, and that resistance is possible."
"I haven't lost that much hope," Harriet said, though there had been occasions since that fateful Christmas on which she might have been lying if she had said that. "What forms has the resistance taken?"
Sarah Jane took out a notebook. "Many. Most of them have met -- uncomfortable ends."
There was no mercy to be had in Saxon's world, whether he called himself that or styled himself "The Master." Harriet nodded and stepped into the kitchen area long enough to start the kettle on its journey to boiling.
The contents of Sarah Jane's notebook were sufficient to start her on a very similar path, though the fury she felt was less effective than the bubbling that heralded tea. She managed to read and contain her ire until she had poured the tea, and even while she drank it, but when the possibility of wasting it had gone, so had the last of her patience. "Why anyone would do such things --" Harriet shuddered in suppressed rage. "What can he want with the earth?"
Sarah Jane pressed her lips together. "It may be that he came here because he thought we were easily led, or because he envied the Doctor."
Harriet raised her eyebrows. "What do you know of the Doctor, beyond the nonsense Saxon has put forth about him?"
For a moment, Sarah Jane's smile made her look older than her years -- an odd trick, but one that had to do with a nostalgic expression heavily laced with bitterness. "You've met him."
"Yes." Harriet pushed aside the surge of resentment and anger she felt at him; if he were as powerless as the Master said, it was far too late now to vent her fury at him. Better to gather what data she might. "And you?"
"I travelled with him for quite a while. And then we met again, but -- he was a different man then." Sarah Jane shook her head. "Not a better man. But a different one."
Harriet nodded, recalling her shock at meeting him for the second time. "I take it that it's something of a habit with him. Worse, I suppose that if we were to kill the Master, he might merely undergo the same style of transformation and stay to plague us."
Sarah Jane shivered. "It's entirely possible. But -- so are many other things." She took the notebook, flipped ahead in her notes, and handed it back to Harriet. "There are people fighting against him, as I told you."
Something of a patriotic thrill went down Harriet's spine, for all she did not know the nationality of the resisters. It hardly mattered; under the Master, everyone was ein Berliner, without the ability to airlift in chocolate. "What do you need me to do?"
"I met a woman who had a tale to tell me last night," Sarah Jane said, and reached over to turn another page for Harriet. "When the Master's fleet is ready to launch, we must all unite, or so goes the tale."
Harriet skimmed the page. "The fate of humanity rests in our trust in the Doctor." She could not stop her mouth from twisting, though she doubted such a friend to the Doctor would appreciate her wry expression. "I shall have to make sure to be asleep at that hour."
To her utter surprise, Sarah Jane laughed. "I've suspected the same about myself."
The sound of someone else's laughter, tinged though it was with doubt, made Harriet smile. "You did say you knew him quite well." She touched Sarah Jane's shoulder, meaning it to be light.
She had not calculated the pure, terrible loneliness into her predictions. It had been a certain tally of days, carefully kept in spite of the lack of day and night, since she had seen another person, and a longer number still since she had touched one, even so lightly as this.
It was all she could do not to fall into the woman's arms and weep.
"Are you quite all right?" Sarah Jane asked, and then she laughed at herself again, a soft sound. "No, of course you're not."
She might, even at that point, have been Saxon's operative, but she was acting on her own initiative even if he had sent her.
At the point where she embraced Harriet, Harriet ceased to care about such things.
"I'm sorry," she said, after ten long breaths, and made to let go. She couldn't cling to a person she had hardly met, months of seclusion or not.
"It's all right," Sarah Jane said, and her smile was warmer near to.
Harriet was certain she had meant only the embrace, that even that had been a terrible invasion of privacy.
Had she been of a more suspicious mindset, she would have suspected some sort of mesmerism even on the spot, but at that point she was far too engaged in the process of studying Sarah Jane's face, so human and so close, and then leaning in and kissing her.
The possibility that it had not been entirely of her own volition did not occur to her for some hours, and when it did, she only considered it for a few minutes before discarding it.
The fact that shortly after she kissed Sarah Jane, she also touched her breast through her blouse was entirely personally fascinating and had no coercive power whatsoever for Saxon or anyone else. Sarah Jane's gasp was equally powerless in the grand scheme of the universe, but the soft pressure of her lips was enough to weaken Harriet's knees. It was strange enough to talk to someone else, but the curious flicker of her tongue teasing against Harriet's was a marvel in and of itself. It made her think all too vividly -- and not quite vividly enough -- of tongues touching other places, searching and brushing and reacting as only another person's body might.
She had not felt quite so liquid about the middle since -- far too long -- but the faint scent of Sarah Jane's perfume brought back a memory of Barbara, whom Harriet had quite adored all through sixth form.
It had been rather a shock when Barbara kissed her outside of the games the girls played, but not an unpleasant one.
One rather like the feeling of Sarah Jane's lips, if one were seeking a comparison: soft, dry, and sweeter than anything else could be.
"I see," Sarah Jane said, and she kissed Harriet again, openmouthed and eager as if she had been locked underground for months as well. The wetness of her mouth made Harriet shiver. "I didn't think --"
"Neither did I." Harriet laughed. "Clearly."
"I quite admired your work," Sarah Jane said softly. "Though I suppose it's a bit late to tell you that."
"Not at all." Harriet kissed her again, then realized how self-aggrandizing she must sound. "I'm not familiar with your name. Should I be?"
Sarah Jane untucked Harriet's blouse. "I've written a few articles you might have seen."
Sarah Jane Smith. Harriet tried to combine the eminently simple and lovely kissing with a rather more complicated jaunt into her own memory. "I'm sorry," she said. "Perhaps you'd bring me some copies the next time you come."
"The next time!" Sarah Jane said, and slipped her fingers under the hem of Harriet's blouse, cupping her hip. The warmth of her hand made Harriet feel as though she should lean into the touch. She barely restrained herself. "It was difficult enough getting here once. The contortions I went to, staying away from the Toclafane --" she kissed Harriet's cheek. "I shan't make a promise I can't keep."
Harriet ran her thumb over Sarah Jane's nipple through her brassière. The fabric was silky, her bosom soft, and the light sigh she made at the touch made Harriet smile. It was such a comfort to be able to give something to someone else, even so small a pleasure. Given a choice between staying in this hole until the end of the world -- "Will you try to come back, at least?"
Sarah Jane shivered. "Yes. That, I promise --" She kissed Harriet. "But only if you'll promise not to give up."
"Never." Another kiss, to seal the bargain, and with a bit of fiddling she got Sarah Jane's undergarments unfastened. It was more than slightly mad, this fumbling about, but there was more pure joy in it than Harriet had felt since she was elected MP for Flyedale North. "Don't go yet."
"No." Sarah Jane's fingers were warm on her thigh from the tea she'd finished earlier. "Not just yet." She smiled. "Though your bed's rather small for two."
Harriet cupped her breast gently and hoped that her hands were not too cold. "We'll manage."
It was three weeks before they could manage again, and all the articles waited until Sarah Jane's blouse was somewhere off the bottom of the bed, and Harriet's knickers had gone off somewhere else. "Perhaps we ought to wash our hands," she said.
Sarah Jane laughed and opened her folder of articles. "I've got copies."
"Oh," Harriet said, when she'd seen the familiar headlines -- the ones that had haunted her most, down here. The ones that, had the public only remembered seeing them, would have changed the planet in ways that might have made Harold Saxon less poisonously charming. "That Sarah Jane Smith."
Sarah Jane pursed her lips and studied Harriet's face. "Should I be going, then?"
"No." Harriet took her hand and squeezed it, taking solace in her presence. The world before Harold Saxon had been a different place indeed. "It's all right."
"Wherever did you find it?" Harriet asked, touching the chocolate bar with one fingertip. The purple wrapper brought back a world Harriet had thought as burned and gone as her own political career.
"There are still stores available for a price." Sarah Jane shrugged. "Save it."
"Share it with me." Harriet smiled at her. "I never found that chocolate took away my amorous urges."
Quite the opposite, really. She set the chocolate aside and moved down the narrow bed, running her hand over Sarah Jane's bare hip as she went. "Did you want the chocolate now?" Harriet asked, and kissed her thigh.
"Not -- ah -- not just now, thanks." Sarah Jane shivered and spread her legs.
"It's the day, isn't it? Shouldn't you be --" Harriet waved her hand at the ceiling.
"I doubt it matters just where I am." Sarah Jane kissed her cheek. "And perhaps if all the naysayers are far enough underground, we won't affect anything."
Harriet embraced her. "You've given me more faith than he ever did, these last months."
Sarah Jane shivered. "Whatever happens, it has been my honor to know you."
Harriet felt herself blush. "I feel the same. I --" She took Sarah Jane's hand. "I only pray that your legendary girl is right."
"As do I."
And then the world ceased to end.
"Excuse me, Ms. Jones, but do you have a moment?" the reporter asked.
Harriet put on her press-addressing smile. "One, perhaps. What can I do for you --" she leaned forward just enough to read the woman's badge, not that she needed to check it "-- Miss Smith?"
"I know you're busy, but I was wondering if I could schedule an interview with you regarding the first contact myth your predecessor put about just before his -- disappearance."
It had been some time since anyone had addressed Harriet Jones on the matter of extraterrestrial life. She looked at the woman again, trying to remember if she'd ever seen the face or the name. Sarah Jane Smith.
She'd have to check her diary when she had a moment in private. "I'm free Tuesday evening at five-thirty," she offered.
Sarah Jane Smith, whomever she was, had an arresting smile. "I'll call you then, shall I?"
Harriet shook her head. "I'd prefer an interview in person, in my office -- if you're available."
Sarah Jane made a note of it. "Five-thirty Tuesday, then. Thank you."
"My pleasure, Miss Smith."