Some days, she wonders why she feels so terribly, terribly overprotective of Luke. Sure, it's not like he's daft enough to walk straight into trouble. No, he's a bright boy, and Sarah Jane knows that he'd keep himself safe in any instance. Yes, the Bane had come back once or twice, but that matter had been settled long ago. There's no trouble on that end, at least.
Sometimes, though, she feels a sickening surge of fear and emotional agony somewhere deep in the corners of her mind, just out of reach, but so strong. She doesn't know where it comes from.
Sarah Jane passes it off as just quick cases of anxiety–she never knew how to raise a child before, and she's still a bit worried that she'll do something wrong, that's all. It's been a few years, though. She's had Luke for quite some time, and yet she still feels this sharp sense of danger. That he might be hurt, in trouble. Sometimes, this fear warrants phone calls if he's out, or “conveniently” stopping by his room on her way up to the attic. If he notices her panic, he doesn't say anything.
So she lives with it. She lives with the little moments of fear, because really, they're not that big of a deal. She doesn't know the extent to which this fear sinks in.
She doesn't know that the reason she can feel the pain so strongly is because in a completely different universe, years ago, she is crying and sobbing, because she knows such pain. Across the boundary of dimensions, she can feel everything she did then, because it's still so powerful.
If she only knew how it had been.
- - - - -
“Go ahead, Chris, it's a Saturday, after all,” she tells her fifteen-year-old son as she tries hard not to burn breakfast. “Be careful. I love you.”
“Mum,” he sighs, as she kisses his cheek. His friends are right there–rather embarrassing. However, Andy and Joe pretend not to notice, and linger in the front hall of the house.
“There's still some stuff from yesterday leftover in the fridge, so if you boys want to come back for lunch, don't hesitate,” Sarah Jane tells them, before scooting all three out the door. “Now go on, have fun. And if you decide not to come back for lunch, then at least be back by five, Chris.”
“I will, Mum,” he says with another sigh. “Is that all?”
She smiles. “That's it. Now go.”
She closes the door behind them, and the boys get their bikes from the yard and ride off. Another weekend, Sarah Jane thinks, and another day to shoo those boys off of her porch and out into the sun. But they're nice boys, really, and she likes Christopher's friends well enough. Smart kids, who don't get into too much trouble. She doesn't think she could ask for much more than that.
Standing and gazing across the living room, she thinks she might get some cleaning done today, or at least manage something worthwhile. Then again, she thinks, she could also take her aunt up on her offer to go out for lunch, do a bit of shopping while she's out...
She sits back on the armchair with a sigh, sprawling herself across the chair in an ungraceful manner. So many things she could do, because it's a completely average Saturday. It's nice out, too, for eleven in the morning, and she's thrown all of the house's windows open to the cool breezes that pass through every now and again.
Sarah Jane doesn't remember hearing her husband walk into the room, or for that matter, how long he's seen her eyes dart across the invisible patterns on the ceiling as she runs through her thoughts. Either way, Harry's voice breaks the silence.
“I thought I'd get something productive done today,” she tells him confidently, not moving as he brushes a hand through her hair, plants a kiss on her forehead, and goes to the kitchen.
“And are you?” he asks, pouring himself some coffee for the morning.
“Probably not,” she sighs, getting up. “Chris just went out with his friends. I'm just...feeling a little lost, I suppose.”
“You seem to be doing that a lot, lately,” he notes. When she gives him a weak smile, he grins against the rim of his mug.
“I can't help it,” she sighs, sitting down in one of the chairs at the kitchen table. “I just...I think I'm starting to realize how old he is. Our boy's growing up.”
“So I've noticed.”
“I'm not joking!” she cries out suddenly, punching the table a bit harder than intended.
“I'm sorry,” she says stiffly, closing her eyes. She makes fists to hide the fact that she's shaking. “He's growing up, Harry, and he's going to be gone soon, and I....I...”
Her voice cracks and she finds herself crying, trembling, and Harry abandons his coffee to edge around the table and take her into his arms. When she's finally calmed down enough to speak, she's still shaking, a bit.
“He's fifteen, Harry. I swear it was just yesterday when I could still hold him in my arms. Three years and he'll be out of the house. Three years seems like such a short time, now. It's going to be so empty, here.” Even now, when she knows she's just told her son goodbye for the morning, the home is too quiet. Missing the squeals and excited cries of his childhood, and the shrieking of a baby who wants to be fed. Fifteen years that she's seen slip through her fingers all too fast.
“It'll be so empty,” she repeats, taking a deep breath.
“Do you wish we'd had other kids, Sarah?” he asks, still holding her close.
She laughs. “I don't think I'd have known how to handle it! We're lucky that everything went like it did–even with just Chris, I didn't know what I was doing half of the time!”
Harry can't help but grin. “You did just fine.”
They stand still in the middle of the kitchen, quietly, and Sarah Jane closes her eyes again. “I'm going to miss him, Harry.”
“He's not gone yet. And even when he's away, Sarah, he's not gone forever. You've got three years to have him, and we can make the most of it, yeah?”
She nods, and can feel herself calm down a little. “Alright.”
“Good.” A quick kiss is exchanged, and even while he goes back to his coffee, he doesn't let go of her hand across the table. She doesn't move, and sits and holds onto him.
Harry Sullivan has kept her back on Earth, even when her mind is galaxies away. Some days, she wonders what she'd do without him.
The rapid series of knocks on the front door snaps her back to attention. It's nearly noon by now, and Sarah Jane goes to get the door.
“Back already?” she asks, amused. However, Joe is the only one standing on her porch, and he looks positively terrified. Already, she can feel that something's wrong. “What happened?”
Joe can't manage a smile. “Mrs. Sullivan, there's been an accident.”
- - - - -
There's so much denial running through her head right now, that she almost wants to laugh. It's a joke. Oh, it's some sick, sick, joke. It has to be.
“It happened too fast, really, it's just...Chris was hit, he hit his head, and....”
She nods slowly as she begins to register the words, and her hand trembles on the doorknob. The strangled cry she makes sends Harry running to the door–“What happened? Sarah, what's wrong?”–and by her side, but she steps out onto the porch anyways, because maybe it's not true. Just maybe....
Joe points towards the end of the street, right on the corner, and already she can see some of the neighbors fussing and gathering in the middle of the road.
Even as Harry grabs her hand and squeezes it hard, she finds herself slipping from his grasp and running down the pavement as fast as she can. Despite what he said, Harry comes rushing after her. Before she even gets close, she can hear the mumblings among the crowd.
“That's the Sullivan boy, isn't it?”
“That's a right mess.”
“Did anyone get the license plate?”
“Happened too fast, I think.”
“He would've been brilliant.”
“All gone now.”
“Excuse me,” she demands, pushing through the neighbors. Several of them try to hold her back, shaking their heads–“Sarah Jane, you don't want to see that...”–and giving murmured apologies.
“Please, let me through,” she says forcefully, shoving her way through the last of them, Harry close behind.
She is in no way prepared for what she sees.
He'd hit his head on the curb, and there's so much blood that she has to look away as she fully gains comprehension of the situation.
She screams. She screams, crying out, and her hands fly to cover her mouth as she shakes her head, closes her eyes, and sobs.
“That's my son!”
Harry holds her as she fights his tight grip, thrashing and crying.
“That's my son!”
“Sarah, we–” His voice hitches. “–there's nothing we can do.”
“He's dead,” she spits, crying. “He can't be dead. Harry, I just....he just...no...no, no, no...”
She sobs and sobs, even when it's been hours after the entire mess has been settled. She sits in bed, wishing for sleep, and when she can't, Sarah Jane takes to walking around the house. She finds herself drawn to what was her son's bedroom, and she sits down at his desk and loses herself in sorrow.
- - - - -
Sarah Jane Smith looks at Luke with a smile, and wonders, some some days, why she feels so terribly, terribly overprotective of him.
Maybe, she tells herself with a soft smile, she'll never know.
If only she did.