It began quite simply with Sarah announcing over tea that she was getting married. Luke was not amused.
"But you never even date. Who could you possibly get married to?" That was Clyde. The soul of tact as ever. Maria suspected that he'd been spending too much time with her mother.
"Is he nice? When do we get to meet him? Or her?" Maria felt the best thing to do was be supportive and hope there weren't aliens involved. Though if Sarah wanted to marry an alien, that was fine too.
Sarah just shook her head said, "That would be telling," and changed the subject.
Sarah had given them no clue as to what was going on and when pressed she evaded the subject, so they speculated and they worried. They wanted to believe she was joking, but she never admitted it. Instead over the next few weeks, they found her wandering into a bridal shop and trying on gowns when she should have been hunting alien invaders and ordering a wedding cake instead of purchasing buns for tea.
The others worried, though. They had noticed her erratic behaviour and vague explanations and they still hadn't met the groom.
"Aliens," said Maria.
"Mind control," said Clyde.
"It does seem strange," said Alan.
"Whatever it is, it's evil and we've got to stop it," said Luke. He liked having Sarah all to himself when the others had gone home for the night, and he didn't want an intruder coming in and wrecking things. "Mum has me. Isn't that enough?" Luke didn't need a Dad. Things were fine, just the two of them.
"If she has to get married, why can't she marry Dad?" Maria knew that the age difference made this unlikely, but it had been a secret hope of hers since she had met Sarah Jane. Realising her father was in the room, made her blush, though.
Alan looked thoughtful at this, but not particularly horrified. The idea had crossed his mind once or twice, but besides the age difference, Sarah had too many walls around her that had kept it to an idle thought.
"It's an April Fool's joke," Luke said desperately.
"It's June," Clyde replied dryly. Clyde, who didn't really have an opinion on the subject...except that the whole thing was odd, but then when weren't things involving Sarah Jane...let them both rant at him, but he had no answers.
"We're just going to have to watch her every minute of the day," Maria said firmly
This plan cheered Clyde up, at least, as he pictured himself in a trenchcoat and sunglasses, shadowing Sarah. "We'll have to have a timetable."
"What will we do during school hours? We can't skip lessons."
This got a glare from Clyde and Maria and combined cries of "Of course we can" and "Why not?"
"Because I say so." Alan looked seriously at both of them. "No chance. We don't even know if this is a crisis yet."
"No." Alan lightly tapped her with a rolled up newspaper.
"Oh, all right."
Sarah didn't seem to notice that she was being shadowed. She was too busy deciding what flowers she wanted. Primroses, maybe. Not orchids. And apple and orange blossoms were just trite. Eventually, she settled on violets. By the time she had made a decision, Clyde was ready to chuck the whole thing, but he dutifully reported back to the others.
The kitchen calendar now had a date circled in red. "My wedding." And each day was carefully crossed off. Luke thought once or twice about destroying it in some way, but he couldn't bring himself to do that to his mother.
To the others she didn't seem nervous or exciting or anything except calm. With each day that passed she slipped a little further away and Luke and the others kept a closer watch on her. Thankfully the wedding day circled was a Saturday and they resolved to keep a twenty-four hour watch on her.
It didn't work, however. Luke, tired out after a fortnight of worry that had kept him from sleeping, fell into a deep sleep just before dawn. Maria dozed at her perch in her window. And nobody saw Sarah Jane slip from the house and collect the car which she had parked around the corner.
What they did hear was the vworp vworp vworp of the TARDIS as it materialised in Sarah's driveway not fifteen minutes later.
Luke and Maria both woke in a panic. Luke checked in Sarah's room and found it empty before bolting down the stairs and out the door. Maria just ran out into the street, glad she had taken up her post fully dressed. They met in front of the blue box just as the door opened and a tall man with unruly brown hair popped out.
"Hullo." He studied them as if he had never seen children before.
"Who are you and what have you done with my mum?" Luke demanded. "Have you got her stashed away in that box?"
"Your mum?" The man studied him. "I came round to visit an old friend. No women in my box at the moment, unless they snuck in while I wasn't looking. I'm the Doctor, by the way." He was unprepared for the teens' looks of shock and awe.
"You're never Sarah Jane's Doctor? You can't be. You're too young," Maria babbled.
"Older than I look. You know Sarah?"
"She's my mum and she's gone missing." Luke said. "She's been acting odd for the past fortnight."
"Ah, I suspected as much. Or rather, I knew the Vworti were in the area and were apt to home in on Artron energy. If you'll fetch K-9, he should be able to track her." The Doctor started striding towards the house before they could say anything.
"But K-9's gone. He's fixing a black hole in the attic and only mum has the combination." Luke wasn't certain that was coherent, but the Doctor seemed to accept it.
He stopped and turned towards them. "Well, then, we'll just have to use other methods. What has she been up to?" He started to say something else, but was interrupted by Alan appearing in Sarah's driveway in his dressing gown and slippers.
"Sarah's disappeared, and this is the Doctor, an old friend of hers and he's going to help us find her," Maria gabbled, bringing him up to speed.
"But we know where Sarah is. She rented a room in the community centre for her wedding. Maria, call Clyde, he lives right near there, and maybe he's spotted her car. Luke, get dressed and I'll do the same and we'll meet back here in ten minutes." Alan looked awkwardly at the Doctor, as though he thought he should be suggesting the other man do something too.
"I'm just going to take a few readings in the house." The Doctor grinned and disappeared inside before anyone had a chance to object.
"Do we trust him?" Maria asked. "We're assuming he's Sarah's Doctor because he said so. He might be lying."
"Better to keep an eye on him then. Call Clyde. We need to put on proper clothing." Alan gestured to Luke to go back in the house and do so, and he headed back across the street.
Maria pulled out her mobile and had a quick conversation with Clyde as she followed Luke into the house. While her friend disappeared upstairs, Maria looked for the Doctor...not that he was hard to find. He was waving something up and down in the kitchen.
"Is that a sonic pen?"
"Sonic screwdriver." The Doctor looked insulted for some reason.
"Did you find anything?" Maria was determined to keep him talking (and keep an eye on him) until it was time to leave.
"What I expected. So you're Maria Jackson. I've heard about you."
"Is that a good thing?"
"Mostly. Sarah thinks very highly of you."
When the four of them arrived at the hall, they found Clyde outside, riding his skateboard and trying to act normal despite the suit he was wearing.
"So, are we ready for a wedding?" He asked.
"Did you see anyone else go in?" Luke asked, his eyes darting back and forth as he tried to spot the bridegroom.
"Just a ginger chap. Nothing strange about him. Though he did look a little shifty about the eyes." Clyde flipped his skateboard into his hands and the five of them entered the building.
Alan had a quick word with the guy at the desk who agreed to stash Clyde's skateboard and directed them to the right room.
Maria paused in the doorway. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"And if anyone has a reason why this marriage cannot be consummated by the laws of Trion, speak now..."
"I do. Well, I don't. Not in the traditional wedding sense, but I do have a reason why you can't marry her. She's already married to me." He stared at the redhead as if he was going to say something else, but stopped himself.
"Huh." "What?" Everyone stared at the Doctor in open-mouthed shock. Except for Sarah who had put her hands on her hips.
"We're what?" She didn't look pleased at all.
"Irrelevant. Human marriage customs are not recognised under Trion law. That would not render the ceremony invalid," the priest declared in his most pompous manner.
The Doctor pulled a sheaf of papers from one of his pockets. "D'you accept the handfasting of Peladon?"
"The Ameianse binding? What about Gallifreyan rites?" The Doctor hit a triumphant note as he waved a piece of parchment at them.
Sarah Jane was frowning at him, but that was of no importance. The ginger man looked like he was looking for something convenient to bash the Doctor over the head with, but settled for glaring at him.
The Trion priest frowned. "Gallifreyan rites? But there are no Time Lords left. They have gone to the East and faded into myth. And she is human."
The half a dozen guests began to talk amongst themselves, causing Turlough to look worried (even though he continued to glare), but before he could speak, the Doctor replied,"But I am not. Only one of the partners must be Gallifreyan. And she is by all law and custom, my wife."
Finally, Sarah pulled the Doctor and Turlough off to one side. Luke followed, figuring that he had a perfect right to know which of these men would end up as his stepfather, as did Maria out of sheer curiosity, but before Clyde and Alan could join them, the priest gently, but firmly indicated that they should sit down.
"As I recall, neither Trion nor Gallifrey have any laws prohibiting polygamy, so it's hardly a valid argument," Turlough said in a low voice. "And besides, didn't you end up married to me at one point? Now, if you'll stop objecting and let us get on with the ceremony."
"Turlough, this is absurd. Why would you possibly want to marry Sarah Jane? You don't even know her." The Doctor had gone from furious to bewildered. "You've never met before."
"You've been gone thirty years," Sarah explained patiently, "and I've made a number of contacts with my stranded alien rescue service."
"She's in the guide, you know," Turlough added. "And she's been helping me clean up some loose ends from Trion's program of sending political exiles to Earth. So when I needed a wife for political reasons, she agreed to help me out. We had almost made it look real...or at least what Trions would take for a real Earth wedding, when you showed up and nearly ruined the whole thing."
"Mum, you can't possibly be serious about all of this." Luke looked horrified. "Aren't you supposed to only have one husband? And why must you have any at all?"
Maria just stared. "You said you weren't married."
"Not by any custom recognised on Earth. But the Doctor is an old fashioned sort of Time Lord. He likes to marry his companions occasionally. So how many is it up to, now?"
"Five." He frowned. "Though Romana's death brings it back down to four. You, Jamie, Turlough, Ace."
"So why are you objecting to us marrying each other?" Turlough asked dryly. "It isn't as though I'll be around any more than you are."
Sarah and Turlough looked at each other.
"I think we broke him, Turlough," Sarah managed before they both dissolved into hysterical laughter.
Finally she caught her breath and turned to her erstwhile rescuers. "It's a political thing, or I would have invited you. Very boring. And the preparations." She grimaced. "But as Turlough said, it had to look real."
"Tiresome. You really didn't want to be here. And I won't be around much. I just need a wife so I don't get married off in the name of political expediency, and Sarah graciously agreed to help." Turlough grinned at them all.
That didn't stop Luke from being suspicious of the whole thing.
But before he could speak, Maria asked, "So do you often marry aliens?"
"Nope. Just these two. And as I said earlier, neither is binding by the laws of England." Sarah reached over and hugged Luke. "Think of it this way. You've now got not one, but two deadbeat dads."
"Oi." The Doctor seemed to have recovered somewhat. "I didn't even know you had a child. I'll be perfectly happy to take him and his friends for the occasional weekend."
Sarah thwaped him. "And lose them halfway across the galaxy, two thousand years ago. Not on your life. But why don't you all come back to the house? I've got cake and tarts to celebrate."
The Doctor looked insulted until she mentioned the cake and tarts, at which point he was all too eager to get going until Turlough reminded him gently that the service wasn't over.
The service was deadly dull, but it only took another hour, with interruptions to make the Doctor stop playing with his yoyo, experimenting with a set of spoons he found in his suit pocket, and making paper aeroplanes, by which time, Luke had decided he might not be a bad sort of Dad.
Once they had woken Clyde, the group packed themselves back into Sarah's and Alan's cars and headed for Sarah's house, except for the priest, who apologised but said that he needed to return to Trion to make sure the paperwork was filed properly. By the time they got there, Luke and the Doctor had bonded over scientific discussion to the amusement of Sarah and Turlough, and the group in Alan's car had contented themselves with snide comments about Luke having two Dads and Sarah's taste in men.
The spread was everything they could have wished for, though. Champagne for the grown-ups. Lemonade for the kids and the Doctor, and a lovely assortment of cakes and buns. And Turlough and Sarah telling stories of their adventures that seemed designed to embarrass the Doctor.
But all good things must come to an end, and after they washed down the sweets with curries that Sarah ordered in, both the Doctor and Turlough took their leaves.
"Are you sure I can't borrow him?" The Doctor asked as he opened the door to his Police Box. "I'd take good care of him."
"Right," muttered Sarah with more than a little sarcasm.
He picked her up in a big hug, shook everyone else's hand and disappeared into his craft.
Turlough's ship was parked closer to the hall, so he and Sarah drove off, causing Clyde to regret not thinking to attach cans and balloons to Sarah's car.
Maria turned to Luke and said cautiously, "I suppose as fathers go, they aren't bad."
"Not at all. The Doctor's brilliant."
Neither Clyde or Maria was surprised at that declaration. The Doctor and Luke had spent a good portion of the party geeking out together, to the point where, when Turlough told the story of nearly bashing the Doctor's head in with a rock, he'd made a few snide comments about regretting not doing it.
"But it won't be too bad. I don't think either of them will be around much," Luke said, with a surprising amount of regret.
"So now things can get back to normal," Maria said with a sigh of relief.
"As normal as they ever get around Sarah Jane," Clyde replied with a smirk. "At least this time the aliens weren't trying to kill us."