If Only

This is a short story imagining what might have been if only Elisabeth Sladen had still been alive when Day of the Doctor was filmed…

Sarah Jane Smith hurried along the hallway.  She thought the room with the Gallifrey painting was this way, but she couldn’t remember for sure.  She had to find the Doctor before he left again.  That was the trouble with the Doctor: he could never be relied on to stick around.  He’d changed yet again.  He was certainly a different man from the Doctor she had travelled with. 
            Voices came to her through a doorway ahead.  She recognized the Doctor’s voice. She hurried forward, her footsteps clacking on the stone floor.  A second voice spoke, deeper in timbre.  There was something disturbingly familiar about that voice.  He sounded like….
            No!  It couldn’t be.  Could it?   She remembered something from her past.  A time when she had been around several versions of the same man.  The two she had travelled with and three others that she hadn’t known.  He seemed to bend all the rules of time as though they didn’t apply to him at all.  The one thing she had learned about the Doctor was anything was possible. 
            Hesitantly, she stepped through the doorway.  The huge painting drew the eye immediately.  She had heard it was called Gallifrey Falls.  “Doctor, I don’t mean to interrupt..” her voice tailed off.  The two men turned to look at her.  The current Doctor, the tall gangly one, favoured her with a big smile.  “Ohh, hello Sarah.  I’d like you to meet my friend, the Curator.”
            The other man looked much older.  He smiled at her..  “Ahh, Sarah Jane, how nice to see you again after all these years.”
            Sarah stopped, staring at the man.  Although his face was old, his eyes were bright and disturbingly compelling.  “Do I know you?  Only…there’s something so familiar about you.”
            The man’s face creased in a wide toothy smile.  “Oh, I know all about you, Sarah jane Smith.  The curiousity of a monkey.  And the heart of a lion.”
            Sarah stood, flustered, unable to think of anything to say.  “umm, how do you know me?”
            The man’s laugh was hearty.  “I’m the curator.  It’s my job to know things.”  he tapped the side of his nose.
            Sarah moved to stand by the Doctor.  “Doctor, how old were you when you stopped being the Doctor I travelled with and changed?”
            “Oh, I don’t remember really.  Not much older than I was when you left, I think.”
            “I didn’t leave.  You dumped me.”  She regretted the reprimand in her voice as soon as the words were spoken.  It showed she still felt hurt that he could just up and leave her so abruptly after showing her so much of the universe.  “Anyway, so you didn’t have white hair or anything?”
            “Oh God, no!  I’ve never had white hair.  Well, once maybe.  Okay, twice.  But that’s it.”
            Sarah turned her attention to the Curator.  Well, it’s nice to meet you Doc…er….Curator.”
            The Curator’s smile became even wider, although that shouldn’t have been possible.  He held out his hand.
            Sarah put her hand in his.  His grip was firm and strong, belying his apparent age.  She looked into his eyes.  Warmth and humour shone in them.  And intelligence.  And something else.  Something she couldn’t define.  “Well, maybe we’ll meet again one day.”
            The Curator looked delighted at her suggestion.  “Yes, perhaps we shall.  In fact, I know we will.”  He released her hand.  “There’s one thing left to say.  Goodbye, Sarah Jane.”
            His words seemed to release a dam inside her.  All the years of resentment evaporated.  As impossible as it seemed, she felt the Curator had uttered words she’d longed to hear all those years ago from another man.  A man who could well have grown to be the older man before her if he hadn’t regenerated.  She blinked back tears.  “Goodbye, Doctor.” 
            The Curator winked at her.  Then with a glance at the Doctor, he turned and, leaning on his cane, he walked out of the room.
            Sarah watched him.  The cane barely seemed to touch the floor.  Did he even need it or was it just for show.
            The Doctor looked at her, a thoughtful frown on his face.  “Well, it’s time I was off.  Again.  Have you come to say goodbye?”
            Sarah Jane smiled at him.  “Yes, but…perhaps I already have.”


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