“No hormones?” Sarah repeated, just to make sure. They were sitting on her bed, after all. He had his arm around her shoulders.
He wasn’t her Doctor, but she’d thought that maybe in time…he could be.
Maybe in time, this would feel right.
“A purely temporary situation, I assure you,” the Doctor said. “Sensible evolutionary precaution. Not a good idea to sow wild oats while still disoriented from massive genetic shift–if Time Lords could breed right after, we’d overrun ourselves completely. Like rabbits, or cockroaches, or humans.”
It was like being slapped in the face.
Her Doctor had always teased her for being human, but the way he’d done it it’d always been clear that when he said ‘human’ he really meant young or naïve or silly or provincial (for a relative value of provincial, given that the Doctor considered anyone lived time linearly and hadn’t been to more than one galaxy to be dreadfully backward and unsophisticated).
She’d never heard him say ‘human’ before in a way that meant ‘animal.’
“Well.” She unwrapped his arm from around her shoulders. Stood. She felt like crying, so she made her voice go rigid and icy cold. “We certainly wouldn’t want that.”
“Sarah?” He sounded bewildered, and also condescending. Like she was refusing to make the coffee for him all over again. “You know I didn’t–well, there’s no need to take every little thing so personally–”
“Of course not.” She stood. “I’m probably just being a silly little human, with silly little human concerns about whether or not her lover thinks she’s a person.”
“Exactly!” he said, looking relieved. “I’m pleased to see you take such a mature attitude about it.”
She wanted to counter with something biting about how if the Time Lords overpopulated then the rest of the universe would probably suffer a drastic smugness shortage or an obliviousness famine, but she could feel her throat working as she swallowed, and a burning behind her eyes, and she knew if she opened her mouth it would all come out soppy and wavering and all he would hear would be how human she was being, not the actual words. “Goodbye, Doctor.”
She stalked out of the room, ignoring his cries of “Sarah? Sarah!” Her feet sped up of their own volition, faster and faster. She turned left, and then right, and then left again, trying to lose herself in the twisting white hallways. Don’t let him find me, she thought at the TARDIS. Please, I can’t deal with this right now, don’t let him find me.
It wasn’t until the corridor ended in an empty white room that she’d never seen before that she allowed herself to start to cry. She sank to the floor, curling into the corner, and sobbed her heart out.
The circuitry behind the TARDIS walls thrummed soothingly, a steady sshh sshh now lullaby in counterpoint to the mental humming uncurling in her brain, the TARDIS laying out a question without words. Sarah Jane took a gulping breath and tried to answer.
“I could get used to the nose,” she said. “And the eyes aren’t really that different. The smile is…well, it’s not right to have that many teeth all out at once!” She gave a hiccuppy laugh. “But I could get used to it, I could, it’s just…he’s gone.” She could feel a wail rising in her, she couldn’t hold it back. “He died, and he came back but he didn’t, and he’s gone!”
The TARDIS hummed a little louder, a pitch of sympathy and concern. Sarah Jane sniffed, and ran an affectionate hand over the deck plating. “At least you haven’t changed, old girl.”
A shift in pitch that meant agreement, and then back to the lullaby. Exhausted from the unbottling of all the emotional upheaval she’d been storing up since Metebilis Three, Sarah Jane curled up tighter, and closed her eyes.
She was sound asleep an hour later when the Doctor poked his curly head around the doorway. He took stock of her tear-stained face, the defensiveness of her position, the way she slept with her hands tucked under her head. She looked so young when she slept.
“I’m sorry, Sarah Jane,” he said, because she couldn’t hear him.
He considered putting his coat over her, but she didn’t appear cold, and it might wake her up. Instead, he crouched down next to her and patted the TARDIS wall near Sarah’s head.
“Give her a nice dream, will you, old girl?” he said. “Something with that grey-haired old fool. He was much better at not hurting her than this incarnation is shaping up to be.”
The Doctor turned to go, and then stopped. Turned back, considered. Reached into his pocket and pulled out his bag of jellybabies.
He placed them carefully next to her sleeping form, and then turned and left.