Summary: What it says on the tin.
Fandom: Doctor Who/Sarah Jane Adventures
Characters: Sarah Jane Smith, Martha Jones, the Doctor, cameos by other companions and Martha's family
Original story: Four Times Martha Met Sarah Jane and One Time She Didn't Quite by wojelah
Notes: Takes place post Journey's End and pre Torchwood: Children of Earth, no spoilers for the latter.
The first time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones it's 1969 and she's getting ready to leave for Uni. She hadn't been able to find the record she wanted, but she hadn't wanted to ask the other girl, as they'd never got on well at school. But before she can ask, another couple walks in. Hidden by the rack of magazines, she can't help staring. He is curly haired and wearing an absurd scarf and she...looks like an older version of the girl Sarah saw in the mirror each day. Instinctively, she stands very still and listens as the man gives the woman a very long, strange speech about the hazards of interfering in history. It doesn't make much sense to Sarah, except...there had been that strange girl, just before Andrea died, who claimed to know the future. The whole idea was absurd, but when he calls the woman Sarah, she is careful to stay out of sight, just in case.
Thankfully, they don't stay long, and she only has to spend a little while pretending to browse before the other shop assistant calls Martha back in to cover while she goes to lunch. This is odd too - why would a shop assistant be avoiding customers? As she leaves the shop with the desired album, she files the events of the day away in her head for later contemplation. Someday she might puzzle out what had just happened.
The second time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones it's 1969, and she's travelling with the Doctor. He's nattering in her ear about causality and not interfering in the past and she doesn't have the heart to tell him that her younger self is hiding behind the magazine rack soaking this all in. It wasn't as though she'd planned this. When she'd met him, he had looked nothing like the man she'd seen in the shop. So she just grinned and said, "Yes, Doctor," and looked at him adoringly, knowing he'd lap it up and her other self would have the sense to stay hidden.
Even knowing what would happen, she's disappointed when the shop assistant disappears into the back to take inventory. She'd only ever seen her here twice before she'd left for uni, and never learnt anything about her besides her name, but she'd sensed a kindred spirit and she still wondered why Martha Jones was avoiding her.
It isn't a question she will answer now, as the Doctor finds the record he was searching for, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band of all things, and they leave before the shop assistant returns.
The third time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, she doesn't, not really. It's 1986 and she's helping the Doctor and Turlough track down a confused alien with a disrupter gun, which could destroy half of London. A very heavily pregnant Francine Jones helps them locate the alien, and thankful that she doesn't find herself having to deliver a baby in the midst of an alien invasion, she gives Francine a lift to the nearest hospital, before giving in to the Doctor's entreaties for "just one more trip for old time's sake".
Somehow she does manage to limit it to just few more adventures with the Doctor and Turlough, and when an adventure brings them to London just a fortnight after she'd left, she chooses to stay behind. One of the first things she does when she gets back to her flat, is to send congratulations to Francine on the birth of her baby girl.
The fourth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, she's been pressed into service by the Celestial Intervention Agency and she's not sure why. But there's a Time War on and there isn't time to ask questions. She's teamed up with Turlough, Ace, Harry and the Doctor, tracking down time distortions on Earth.
They find themselves in the early years of the 21st century. The Time Lords have been tracking changes in Dalek history, and discovered that the invasion of Earth that originally happened in 2158 has slowly shifted until it started more than one hundred years earlier. Sarah's not sure if this is an official assignment, or just the Doctor trying to locate his granddaughter, who he left behind when they defeated the Daleks in the original time line - a time line that no longer exists, but neither she nor the others feel inclined to quibble. Sarah supposes that if the war has shifted in time, the Doctor has to have left her somewhere and this was as good a time as any to look.
They've stumbled on to a video feed, but they don't have the TARDIS on this trip, just Time Rings, and the Doctor is struggling to enable two way transmission on the laptop they're using. Sarah recognises Captain Jack Harkness from her research into Torchwood, but when Harriet Jones says, "Sarah Jane Smith," she sits up with a jolt, only to go limp again when the other woman adds "of 13 Bannerman Road" and an older self appears. She quickly elbows Turlough and Harry simultaneously, to prevent the comments she knows are coming and is forced to do it again when it's revealed that the other Sarah has a son.
The last person to join the conversation is Martha Jones, looking the same as she had in 1969 and when the former Prime Minister (and only person Sarah doesn't recognise), describes her as a former companion of the Doctor, Sarah starts to wonder.
They're trying to reach the Doctor, and her current Doctor (curly-haired like her second, velvet-clad like her first) is trying to answer, but freezes when a new face shows up on the screen, and stops with a muttered comment about the Blinovitch Limitation Effect. But he doesn't turn the computer off and they sit and watch the future unfold before their eyes. Harry's hand finds her own, and for once she doesn't pull away.
The five of them stick around for a little while, helping people and trying to find Susan. Sarah finds herself paired with Harry as they split up and comb the city. She doesn't expect to have any luck, so when she spots a familiar looking white haired gentleman chatting with a dark haired younger version of the woman she'd met in the Death Zone, she's almost surprised. She makes a split second decision, and "accidentally" gets separated from Harry in the crowd so that he doesn't see when she presses a business card with her current address and phone number crossed out and "13 Bannerman Road" scribbled above them into the girl's hand. She doesn't know if she's making the right choice, but she thinks Susan will have a better chance of survival on Earth than on Gallifrey.
When the other Doctor's team succeeds in returning the Earth to its proper place and ending the war almost before it begins, the Doctor seems to fade visibly. The four of them crowd around him trying to reassure him that if the Daleks had never occupied Earth for any length of time, then Susan must never have stayed behind. Sarah knows the logic is thin, but she's hoping to convince him that Susan will be better off out of the war. He counters with a complex explanation of temporal physics that none of the others understand.
Later, she tells the other companions what she has done and is relieved to find that they think she's made the right choice.
They watch as the future Doctor's team part ways, and Sarah hopes that Martha has more sense than to get involved with Jack Harkness, but that remains to be seen. Sarah resolves to keep a closer eye on the good Captain, just in case.
The fifth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, she's rather surprised to see her in a doctor's coat. Watching her being crowded by reporters, she starts to edge closer, a half-formed theory tickling around the back of her mind.
Martha is distracted enough by the argument she's having with another woman who Sarah suspects is her sister, to notice when Sarah walks up behind her.
"That way," Sarah murmurs, pointing to the far corner. "Past the bins, then cut left round the buildings and go in the second red door on the right."
Martha looks somewhat suspicious, especially when she spots Sarah's pencil and notebook, so she does her best to look sympathetic.
"I'm still not giving you a quote," Martha says, crossing her arms. "Even if you do know how to get out of here."
Oh, yes, she has to be one of his. "Good for you." Sarah can't help laughing. "I wouldn't dream of asking."
"And we're just supposed to believe you?" the other woman demands, lifting her chin. "You could have someone waiting back there to, to - I don't know, stuff us in the back of a van or something."
"Tish," Martha glares at her, "It isn't like she knew Royal Hope was going to disappear today, now is it?"
"Actually." Sarah tries to keep the amusement out of her face, but she's never been very good at that. "I did have an idea - not that it was going to the moon, mind." Sarah saw them gaping and caught herself. "But there's been something odd going on around here for several days."
"But - " Martha manages after a moment. "But you -"
"But I believe you?" Sarah wonders sometimes why people find it so hard to believe that she believes them when aliens are involved. "Of course. After all, I've met him too." A token bit of information - or perhaps a test.
"Met who?" Tish asks, impatient. "Martha?"
Martha seems taken aback, but she doesn't look away, and Sarah's lips twitch into a wry smile.
"Martha?" Tish asks again.
"I met - " Martha says slowly.
" - the Doctor," Sarah finishes for her, then nods briskly. "Yes. I rather thought you had. Something about the eyes, you know." She'd learnt that technique from the man himself. Never expose your sources, it gives you a mysterious air. "He does have that effect."
Martha looked taken aback. "I -"
"You'd better get going," The reporters have spotted them, and Sarah has no more desire to be caught up in that frenzy than Martha. "The TV crews are heading this way," Sarah adds, hoping that Martha will trust her. "Second red door," she repeats. A favoured safe place of hers. "It opens into a bakery," she adds, willing them to get moving. "Try the fairy cakes. Now go." Finally, they head off.
Sarah watches them for a minute, then slips away in the other direction. The reporters aren't interested in her these days, and she has work to do back at the hospital.
The sixth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, the other woman is herding people out of the building after Professor Lazarus' disastrous experiment, and Sarah knows the Doctor is around somewhere. Still, she's done some research, and manages to persuade Martha's brother Leo to accept a business card. Martha might find it useful someday.
The seventh time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, she's in hiding, having faked her own death. She watches from her cover as Luke explains to Martha that she died fighting. Sooner or later that will get back to the Master and leave her free to start mobilising the Doctor's other former companions. She is not about to give up the Earth without a fight.
The eighth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, she gets an official introduction. The other woman seems to preen a little when she's introduced as Doctor Jones, but Sarah supposes that's only natural given the multitude of interruptions and diversions along the way.
But of course there is a crisis, an alien technological malfunction that threatens to take out most of Wales and an annoying UNIT bureaucrat determined to blow things up. Sarah didn't remember UNIT being quite so frustrating in the 70s and 80s, but she had to admit that even the Brigadier had had his moments. But Martha puts her in mind of another UNIT doctor she knew, though she doesn't say this out loud.
So she catches Martha's eye and nods toward the door. Once they've reached the science lab, she sets to work, trusting Martha to keep up with her and glad that she had paid attention when the Doctor talked alien technology, no matter how far above her head it had been at the time.
Forty three and a half minutes later they've finally got it sorted, beating the clock by a good ten minutes, for once. Sarah's not quite sure how she managed that. She watches as Martha collapses into the nearest chair.
"Good thing," Martha says, "I'd miss Jack."
Sarah leans against the wall and finds that she's tired enough to be sarcastic. "My dear, the entirety of the human race, male or female, would miss Captain Jack Harkness."
"Score one for us, then," Martha retorts. "Saving humanity twice over."
Martha sounds bitter, but Sarah is too tired to follow up on that one. Sometimes you just have to let a lead go. She might not know the other woman well, but she knows her well enough not to pry, not now.
Six hours later, Sarah's at home contemplating dinner and feeling too drained to cook. Luke is spending the night with Clyde and she's almost tempted to just skip dinner and go to bed, but her mobile rings, forestalling her. Desperately hoping nothing else has gone wrong, she answers.
It's Martha and she sounds more exhausted than Sarah feels. So she puts on her best mumsy voice and listens to what Martha has to say, all the while gathering up whatever alcohol and chocolate she can find. Soon after, she's parking in front of Martha's flat and ringing the doorbell.
Martha makes jokes about Bridget Jones and the wine (a gift from the Brigadier) and Dairy Milk (on sale at Tescos this week), and Sarah laughs along with her, even though she hasn't read the books. She's always been more of a science fiction fan. And then she starts plying the other woman with wine. Martha clearly needs to talk, and being a reporter has given Sarah some practice in getting people to open up to her.
They're almost through the first bottle before Martha says anything, and then the words just pour out of her. Rose Tyler and Joan Redfern and Tom, and everything that had happened while she travelled with the Doctor. Sarah recognises some of the places and people but the situations are very familiar. She remembers a time when she was the one making those hard choices, and what it had cost her. In the end, Martha's voice is hoarse, but she doesn't shed a tear. Pride - Sarah had had that once, and had thrown it away in Deffrey Vale to snipe at a girl young enough to be her grand-daughter, for some of the same reasons that Martha is falling apart now.
Sarah watches as Martha falls silent, and her careful movements as she finishes her wine and puts down her glass. Finally she takes Martha's hand in hers. "The thing about getting your heart broken, is that it still hurts, even if it was worth it."
Martha looks her in the eyes, and Sarah wonders what she sees there and hopes that it isn't just the loss and pain.
"Yeah," Martha says and finally breaks. She closes her eyes to hold back the tears, but Sarah knows that there is no stopping them. She was in Martha's place once. It's not just about the Doctor; it's about everything she lost along the way.
Sarah reaches up gently to brush the drops away, and then just holds her until she stops crying. If tears fall from her own eyes, for loss and the memories of loss, she doesn't notice.
When the other woman speaks again, she sounds hesitant, "The thing is, it really was worth it." Exhaustion mingles with wonder in her voice. "It really was."
Sarah Jane smiles wistfully "It was. And it took me far longer to realize it."
"Be fair," Martha answers. "I had a good teacher."
Sarah Jane gave her a light punch on the arm. "If you start calling me Yoda," she can't help retorting, "I won't be held responsible for my actions."
Martha laughs, or starts to, but it's swallowed up by a yawn. "Don't tempt me."
"Go to sleep," Sarah slips an arm around Martha's shoulders, and holds the other woman until she falls asleep.
Carefully detaching herself from the other woman, she slips into the kitchen to wash their glasses. No point in leaving Martha with the mess. She wonders idly when she became the mother-figure in the Doctor's harem, but she doesn't mind too much.
Locating a piece of paper, she writes a quick note, so Martha won't worry.
"Have to beat Luke home.
You can still call anytime,
But not because you need to
- you won't. See you around."
She carefully tucks it under the second wine bottle and lets herself out of the flat. The air is slightly chilly and it's started to drizzle, but it seems almost appropriate.
The ninth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, it's over the subwave network. She'd almost hoped this day would never come, that this timeline would have been overwritten, as others had been. It's weird standing here now, face to face with Martha and Jack and Harriet Jones, but she doesn't let herself think about what she saw, focusing on the present and letting the timeline take care of itself. Standing on the Dalek ship, she's almost glad to be past the bits she knows.
She doesn't have a chance to say much to Martha. There are too many people around and it's too chaotic. She does manage to say good-bye to the Doctor with a smile on her face and let him swing her around in a hug. Her younger self had treasured that sight and this Doctor is very good at hugs, whatever other flaws he might have. Her excuse about getting home to her son sounds lame, even to her, but she knows that Susan might turn up at her door at any time. And indeed, she isn't halfway home when Luke calls to tell her that Susan is waiting for her at home.
She calls Martha that night, though neither of them say much. It helps to know that the other woman is there. And as Harry's gone undercover again, Sarah's not above using her other UNIT connection to acquire appropriate paperwork for Susan.
The tenth time Sarah Jane Smith crosses paths with Martha Jones, there's no crisis involved, just a wedding. Sarah's relieved when the Doctor shows up, as she wasn't sure he would, and surreptitiously drags him away to the room where Susan is waiting. She leaves them to their reunion, and satisfied that the Doctor will be too distracted to cause his usual chaos, returns to help Martha dress.
She supposes that deep down she regrets not having this sort of relationship in her life, but she also admits to herself that even without the Doctor, she likes her freedom. Still, Tom is a great guy and Martha is lucky to have him and Sarah wishes her all the best.
There are a surprising number of familiar faces at the reception, Turlough, of course, since she'd brought him as her "plus one", and Harry and his wife, and Jack and the rest of Torchwood: Cardiff. But Sarah didn't expect to run into Liz or Jo, or Tegan. Ace, when cornered, introduces her to Hex, who worked with Tom. The others too have unexpected connections to the bride or groom, and Sarah finds herself wondering if it's something about being a companion of the Doctor that has lead all of these paths to cross or just some strange coincidence.
In the end, she decides these thoughts are too heavy for the celebration at hand and tucks them into the back of her mind, preferring to devote herself to dancing and drinking and having fun.
But when she manages to persuade the Doctor to dance with her, she can't resist gesturing at the crowd of former companions and repeating "biggest family in the world" with an impish grin. He doesn't respond, just swings her around vigorously for about half the song, before noticing the structure that Luke, Ian, Susan and Cliff are building out of centrepieces, stray forks and place cards and wandering over to join in. Sarah just laughs and follows.
The centrepiece structure slowly draws a crowd and before long even the bride is adding to it. Sarah digs out her camera and starts snapping pictures and collecting email addresses and mobile numbers, not just of the building project but of people she never expected to see together, and might never again. She's gratified to find that she's not the only one with that thought, and suddenly there is talk of sharing pictures and other ways of keeping in touch.
While she's helping Martha get out of the wedding dress, the other woman gives her a slightly sad grin, "I wish Donna could be here."
"We're working on it," Sarah reassures her. "Someday she will. We will find a way."
"Did you plan this?" Martha asks.
"When would I have made guest list suggestions? I brought Turlough. That was it. I've seen this happen before, but in smaller groups. Never this many at once. There were even people here that I've never met. The Doctor told me once, at Tegan's wedding, that it's something to do with the web of time, but the sums were beyond me." Sarah grins at the other woman and whispers a suggestion in her ear.
Martha agrees and later, with perfect aim, she throws the bridal bouquet directly into the Doctor's hands and Sarah is able to record it for posterity and future blackmail purposes.