"I'm running out to the store to pick up a few things," said Sarah Jane as she finished taping a box. With a little bit of effort, she lifted it and put it outside the door of what was going to become Sky's room. "If you find something while I'm gone that you can't decide if it is something to keep or not, just set it to the side and I'll go through it later."
"I think we can handle it, Sarah Jane," said Clyde. He glanced in Rani's direction and shrugged. "Well, Sky, Luke, and I can. Rani keeps finding your old journals."
"They're interesting and educational." She didn't even look up from the journal in her hands.
"If you want them, they're yours." Sarah Jane smiled at the young aspiring journalist. "I won't be out long and I'll probably pick up something for dinner."
"Bye, Mum," came a muffled sound from the corner as Luke was trying to move a rather large box. Shaking, her head, Sarah Jane took her leave, shouting at K9 to keep an eye on everything while she was out.
Sky was sitting silently in a corner staring into a box. She tilted her head to the side, as if trying to work out a puzzle. "Luke? Sarah Jane's never been married, right?"
"Because there is a box of men's clothing."
"Well you know Sarah Jane. It was probably an old disguise," joked Clyde as he and Luke went over to investigate the young girl's curious find. Rani had even set down her newfound reading material.
"But it looks like a military uniform." Sky removed a hat with a Navy emblem on it.
"There may be a name on the label," suggest Rani. The older girl reached into the box to remove a jacket. It was a large dark blue double breasted coat. "Whoever this belonged to, they were in the Navy."
Sky finally found a label in the cap and read out loud, "Doctor H. Sullivan."
Clyde's eyes lit up. "Do you think this is the Doctor's old stuff?"
"No, he went by the name John Smith, remember? Plus, he would have never been in the military. Too many guns." Rani rolled her eyes at Clyde's gaffe. Sky had busied herself by putting the Navy cap on her head.
"This box belongs to him too, I think." Luke had opened the box next to the one Sky had discovered. "Look, pictures. Most of them have Mum in them. She looks young."
He showed them a picture of a young woman who was wearing a long green gown. There was no mistaking her identity. However, none of them recognized the dark haired man whose arm she was on. Rani took the picture from Luke and flipped it over.
Harry and Sarah
UNIT Christmas Party 1980
"Hey, I think this one has the Brigadier in it. See?" The photograph he held had two couples standing in front of a fireplace. Sarah Jane and the dark haired man from the previous picture were on the left, both of their faces lighting up with whatever was being said. The man, Harry, had his arm around her waist and she looked comfortable in the embrace. The other couple was older and when Clyde squinted, he could have sworn the man looked like Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. Sure enough, the handwriting on the back said:
Sarah Jane and Harry
Alistair and Doris
"Some of these date into the nineties." Rani started pulling some of the pictures out of the cardboard box, but stopped when she noticed a rectangular wooden box on the bottom. It was simple. There was nothing spectacular about the box, but when she opened it, she gasped. "I think these are love letters from Sarah Jane to this Harry guy."
"Love letters? Like handwritten 'I'm so smitten with you' letters?"
"Yes, Clyde. Believe it or not people actually expressed their feelings on paper." Clyde rolled his eyes and reached out for the box, but Luke grabbed his arm.
"I don't think we should read those. They're private."
"They're old," said Clyde as if that was some kind of excuse. Seeing Rani and Luke's doubtful looks he added, "Anyway, this bloke isn't around anymore. So why does it matter?"
"I think I found something," said Sky quietly. She was holding two envelopes in her hands. Both were addressed to Sarah Jane Smith. The first had a return address for Harry Sullivan, but the other was from UNIT.
Rani took the letters from Sky and opened the UNIT envelope. She raised a hand to her mouth as she read it silently to herself. Hand shaking, she handed it to Luke who read, "Ms. Smith, UNIT regrets to inform you that Doctor H. Sullivan is missing in action and has been declared dead. It was in his wishes to have some of his possessions delivered to you upon his death..."
"He's dead? When?" Clyde grabbed the letter from Luke. "The eleventh of April, 2006."
"What does the other one say?"
Rani opened the other letter and began,
"Sarah, if you're reading this, I'm probably dead and UNIT has delivered the things I wanted you to have. I know this will be hard to believe and in light of our lack of communication in the past few years, I know you will take my death hard. Sarah, everything has its time and everything must end. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love, my dear. And you and I know that better than anyone.
"I regret sometimes that we couldn't work it out. But then I imagine that you are happy somewhere and I can live with the decision I made walking away. I'm asking you to live with it too. There was nothing we could do, Sarah. And I wouldn't change a day I had with you and if you want to dwell on any thoughts of me, think of those times, not the time we spent apart.
"Some of the junk in these boxes are things that belonged to you in the first place. Others are just things I wanted you to have. The coat and hat were a last minute thought. I found an old picture of you with them on and thought maybe, if it's cold outside and you need a memory, you can wrap up in that coat like you used to. Sarah, please remember me fondly. I know I cherished every memory of you all these years since I left.
"I have always loved you and always will. I wish you all the happiness in the universe. One more thing, old girl. Don't let what happened to us harden your heart. I got along just fine without you. I believe there are some things in life worth getting your heart broken for. And you, my dear, were one of them.
There was silence in the room as Rani finished reading. She was blinking back tears and Luke was studying the floor intently. Clyde just stood there with the letter from UNIT in his hand. Sky stuck her hand back into the box and pulled out something small and black. It seemed to be some sort of container. Along the black velvet she could see a dividing indention and a hinge. When Sky opened the small black box, Rani let out a noise that was a cross between a sob and a gasp.
"It's a ring," murmured Sky, mesmerized by the set of three petite diamonds on a silver band.
"That's no ordinary ring," said Clyde. "That's an engagement ring. Do you think that Sarah Jane was engaged to this Harry guy?"
"From the letter it seems they hadn't spoken in years." Luke reached out to take the ring from his sister.
"Should we ask her?" asked Sky. "And what is engaged?"
"It means you are promised to a person; that you're getting married to someone," came Sarah Jane's voice from the door. Clyde, Rani, and Luke jumped in surprise. Luke hastily snapped the ring box closed as the three tried to come up with words.
Sky didn't seem fazed by the appearance of her adoptive mother and cocked her head to the side in curiosity. "Were you 'engaged' then?"
A flicker of pain echoed across Sarah Jane's eyes as she glanced at the box in Luke's hand. "No. I was never engaged to Harry. He proposed twice and I told him no both times."
"Is that why he-oof-" Rani elbowed Clyde hard in the ribs.
"Left?" Finished Sarah Jane with a raised eyebrow. "Perhaps. We fought like cats and dogs though."
"Cats and dogs?" asked Sky.
"She means they argued a lot. It's an expression," whispered Luke.
Sarah Jane nodded at her children. "Harry and I had a patent on 'complicated'. He travelled with me and the Doctor for a while. We both fell in love, only with different people."
"You don't have to explain," said Rani gently, sensing the sensitivity of the topic. "We shouldn't have gone through your stuff like this."
The older woman just laughed. "I wouldn't have asked you to help clean out this room if I didn't want you going through my things. And I do have to explain, because knowing you four, you won't stop looking for information until you know everything. It's best you hear it from me. When the Doctor and I parted ways, Harry was there to help me adjust to being stuck back on Earth. We dated off and on for a while."
"What happened?" asked Luke.
"I couldn't..." Sarah Jane stopped suddenly and swallowed. "I was bound and determined to do everything on my own. I would tell him I didn't need him and he would be better off with someone else. Next thing I knew, he would be there to pick up the pieces when life would fall apart again. And for a while, his love was all we needed. But I couldn't love him back. Not in the way he loved me. In the end, he finally took my words to heart and left. All I was doing was hurting him and he did what he had to do."
She stopped with a far off look on her face. Rani stepped forward and gave her a small hug. This seemed to bring Sarah Jane back to reality. With a forced smile, she returned the embrace. "Well, I know you lot have to be hungry. Dinner is downstairs."
The boys jumped for the door. Sarah Jane held out her hand for the ring box which Luke passed to her with a timid expression on her face. Rani gave her mentor a meaningful glance before following her friends. Sky bounded by her mother, but not before Sarah Jane managed to pluck the Navy cap from the young girl's head.
Placing the cap on her own head, she looked fondly at the ring in the box. With a resigned sigh, she walked over to its proper home. Rani had returned the box of letters into the box, but some of the pictures remained out. Slowly, Sarah Jane stacked them back into the box. Next came the old coat. She brought it up to her face, feeling the comfort of the material against her cheek and the scent of times gone by in her nose. She folded it and removed the cap from her head to place them both back into the box. Finally, she put the ring in there as well.
"Oh, Harry. I am happy now. The only thing that could make me happier in life is if you were here to share this with me. Isn't it like me to realize how much I loved you after you were gone?" She laughed bitterly to herself. "I miss you. And I love you."
A/N: When I was watching some Classic Who episodes, I couldn't help but fall in love with Harry Sullivan. He and Sarah would have made such a good couple. But I can see Sarah not even noticing him, being so in love with the Doctor and all. I may have a second chapter to this. There is one in my head and hopefully it makes it to you. However, this can stand alone, so don't hold your breath for a sequel.