Pairing: Luke/Clyde (pre-slash)
Word Count: 1,031
Notes: Written as a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen, with deepest respect.
Summary: After the passing of Sarah Jane Smith, Clyde helps Luke to understand.
“Come on, mate,” said Clyde, “It’s not that bad.”
Luke looked at him in disbelief. He knew that sometimes he didn’t react as a normal human being might, and that his emotional responses could be considered skewed to the more extreme end of the spectrum, but he was still pretty sure that in this instance it was Clyde’s reactions that were anomalous.
“But how can you say that when Mum...”
He couldn’t even say the words. When Mum is never coming back. That Sarah Jane Smith had given up this mortal realm, and... died. Saying it would only make it all the more real. He couldn’t bear to even think about it, not for a moment, but the problem with having a giant brain, as Clyde described it, was that he couldn’t stop thinking about things. He couldn’t switch off for even a second, even when he desperately wanted to.
Sometimes, not for the first time and almost certainly not for the last, Luke wished that the Bane had never made him. If he had never been created then he wouldn’t be feeling like this now. He wouldn’t know what it was like to have a Mum like Sarah Jane, who was brave and smart and funny and sharp, and all those things that made him love her. He wouldn’t be feeling like he was being ripped in two.
Clyde sat down next him, and nudged him with his shoulder. “But it could be worse, right? You’re at university now, and so’s Rani, and I’m working. Sarah Jane was all on her own - except for Mr Smith, I suppose. She wasn’t used to it any more. She was lonely, mate.”
“I don’t understand how you can be so calm about this!” Luke turned to Clyde and found his hands balling up into fists without him being aware of it. Damn his endocrine system anyway, he couldn’t even stop stupid tears welling up in his eyes, despite knowing it would be the last thing that Sarah Jane would want. He scrubbed them away with the back of one fist, because he didn’t want to hit Clyde, whatever his emotions were prompting on his body.
“Yeah, I know,” said Clyde, with a hint of a sigh, “Come here.” He dragged Luke’s stiff unmoving form into his arms and pulled his head down until Luke had no choice but lay his forehead against Clyde’s shoulder. He was wearing a hoodie over his t-shirt, and the fabric felt warm and pleasant against Luke’s cold cheeks, and smelt like Clyde too which was always nice. Luke’s breath hitched once, and then he was still.
Clyde hugged him harder. “Look. Think about it, what would you have rather had her do? Waited around until something else happened? Something worse? Like a stupid car accident, or a... a disease? What if she’d been forced to retire? She’d have hated that. Or if she’d just been too slow one day, like Ruby White tried to make her out to be, remember? This is better in the long run. You know it is.”
“Logically,” said Luke, then turned his head so his words weren’t completely muffled. “Logic says that... I am not logical today, Clyde. Of all days.”
Clyde closed his arms impossibly tighter. “Fair enough, you don’t have to be - no-one expects it, ok?”
Luke was quiet while he thought about that. Mum would want him to be strong, and to go on with his life, however hard it would be. Because it wasn’t like she hadn’t made provision for every eventuality. Even this one. There’d be no student debt for Luke Smith, for example, however long he studied. Luke shifted to a more comfortable position and just let himself... be. Just for a little while. His racing thoughts became a kind of white noise, and Clyde was warm and solid beside him, offering wordless support. It occurred to Luke that Clyde was a surprisingly peaceful person to be around at times, which would have astonished anyone who didn’t know him well.
Then Luke realised that he was also leaning on the lumpy object in his pocket, and while common sense dictated that it must be tough enough to stand a little brusque treatment he couldn’t bear to test the theory out. He moved just enough to draw it out of his pocket and clutch it in his hand. Having its rounded triangular shape in his palm was more comforting than he expected, and the jewelled red glow shining through his fingers made him smile. They were all of them made up of the empty spaces between the stars. When you got right down to it.
“Shall I call her?” Luke asked suddenly, as he smoothed his thumb along the rounded edge of the communicator.
Clyde shifted but he didn’t let go. “Nah mate, give her some space. They’ve only just left. It’ll take time and stuff, won’t it? Mr Smith will know when it’s ok.”
“Ok,” said Luke, agreeably, knowing he was right.
“After all,” Clyde continued, in an overly bright tone, “It’s not every day your Mum gets invited to travel the universe with a Star Poet. She’ll get a new body eventually and everything. And she’ll speak about us, about the Earth, and humans, and all the horror and terror of it all. And all the wonder too. It may not be poetry but she’ll knock their socks off. If they have socks.”
“Yeah, she will.” And Luke knew that Clyde was right, and that it was a brilliant opportunity for interstellar journalism, and that she’d see even more wonders of the universe, and live forever if she wanted to. He felt churlish for ever doubting her decision. Although to be honest he didn’t doubt it, not really. With a little sigh, Luke shifted back into the solid curves of Clyde’s body, grateful for the comfort, and for all of his friends, who were his family too. He was a selfish little kid, that was all. It was the chance of a lifetime, and he really was glad they had eventually persuaded her to go.
But he would miss her terribly. That was all.