A/N: I own nothing recognizable.
From One Life, to the Next
No companions. That was the arrangement. Not a single one was allowed to attend, with the stubborn exception of Susan.
Thank all things merciful in this universe.
The tenth generation of the Doctor sat slumped in silence in the middle of a pew halfway back in the solemn sanctuary. He didn't move, barely even breathed, as he stared ahead, gazing into nothing but his thoughts. His dark-rimmed eyes were drooped halfway down, and they looked like they could have cried, if they had any tears left to produce. He hated funerals. And yet he wondered what it would be like to have one himself.
After all, he was only waiting for the four knocks.
The Doctor quickly shook his head of that nonsense, then straightened up and looked around. Time Lords only considered themselves dead at the end of their thirteenth life. There was no reason for him to drudge up thoughts like that. Especially here. This funeral that he found himself needing to attend above any other for, oh, such a long time. For her.
Sarah Jane Smith.
She'd been the best of the best. Oh, she may not have absorbed the pure energy of the time vortex, or become a temporary amalgamation of Time Lord and human, but Sarah Jane continued his legacy more than any other could. Already, her children, an adopted boy and his schoolmates, were blossoming into fulfilling her role. They would begin a chain of investigators specializing in keeping the peace between human and alien affairs. Throughout the generations to come, they would grow into the guardians that help bring about the first great and bountiful human empire. An empire built on trust and understanding.
And banana pudding, but that's hardly relevant at the moment.
Heaving a sigh, the Doctor took another look at the familiar faces. Luke, Clyde, Rani, and even their friend Maria were sitting up in the front pew of the church. Their respective parents were sitting a few pews back, at the request of the children. Some old colleagues and friends of Sarah Jane were scattered in the seats in between, but they were scarce. The middle and back of the sanctuary had the more colorful guests, of whom garnered the strange looks from those unfamiliar with Sarah Jane's... specialties. Admittedly, they received strange looks from others as well, but it was understandable.
An old man and his granddaughter sat together dispassionately, showing their respects to a woman they'd only met briefly in a waiting room once. A slightly younger fellow, with a bowl cut and bow tie, seemed to know her even less, but obviously still thought enough of the woman to make an appearance. And then there was the third, another older gentleman who stared silently and unmovingly as he gazed upon the casket at the front. He was the first of them all to have known her. A sniffle was heard, coming from the pew behind that one, revealing its curly-haired owner to be using his scarf to dab at his eyes. His shoulder was patted by the white-suited younger gentleman next to him, wearing a celery stick on his lapel.
None of them outright cried, with the exception of four's occasional dab and sniffle, but you could feel the pain of loss if you watched them for any measure of time. Even six, in his multicolored clown suit, had a difficult time looking at the casket in the front. Seven and eight sat in front of him, looking calm as they stared at the flowers arranged decoratively around the wooden box, but their own turmoil was still evident if one looked close enough. And then there was nine, looking for all the world like this was the last place he wanted to be, but just couldn't force himself to leave Sarah without his personal goodbye. It wouldn't be the same if he just waited until his next life, and he would have regretted it for some time to come.
The Doctor, tenth in the lineup, leaned forward and sighed, resting his chin on his hands. That just left number eleven. Eleven, who would probably be replacing him shortly. It likely wouldn't be long until...
No. Best not to think about it.
Taking another look at his upcoming eleventh form, the Doctor observed that he was the most affected of them all. It made sense, of course, this was in his lifetime, after all. He was the last of them to have known her. Everyone else may be saying their goodbyes, but always in the knowledge that they'd see her again. Sometime.
But not eleven. This was a true goodbye.
The Doctor leaned back in the pew and closed his eyes, sighing. Why did they come here? Why had he come? It's not as if he hadn't suffered enough deaths, in his lifetime alone, even. Combining the ten lifetimes he had... there were just too many to count. He didn't go to their funerals. Well, not most of them. Why her? Why now, when all he could think about was his own impending end? But most importantly...
Why did she have to die?
She was still young, comparatively. Looked even younger, truth be told. There should have been more time for her. She should have watched her son graduate college, at the very least. Should have been there for Luke's wedding, even. His friends sure knew how to throw a party for the reception...
The Doctor groaned as he realized he still needed to return the capuchin. The blasted monkey had made a home for itself in one of the back rooms of the TARDIS. It was... reluctant to leave.
Sighing, the tenth Doctor looked around for twelve and thirteen, wondering for the tenth time in his life where they were. He already knows they won't show up. No one ever sees thirteen, and there's never another one after twelve to explain his own disappearance. The Doctor huffed a bit and sat back up, having had enough of leaning back against the seat. It was almost time, anyways.
A few moments later, the eleventh Doctor rose from his seat. He scooted past one or two others into the aisle, then quietly walked to the pulpit at the front, which had been just waiting for someone to gather the words and the courage to come up and say something. Eleven turned around and faced the crowd, putting his hands on the wooden pedestal in front of him. He began to say something, then faltered. He reached forward and turned a flower to face in the left direction, from a small bouquet hanging off the front of the pulpit. The Doctor began to say something again, before faltering once more. He reached forward and turned the flower to the right. After pulling back for a moment, he again reached forward and twisted the floral decoration to the left, before pulling it out of its spot entirely. Turning around, he gently set it on top of Sarah Jane's closed coffin, quietly saying, "You always did know how to take in the strays. Like me."
Whether he meant the action was like him or that he himself was a stray, not even the tenth Doctor knew. Yet.
Eleven turned around and coughed out a smile, using his hands to straighten out his sleeves before setting them firmly on the pedestal in front of him. Now, he was ready. "Hello, my friends, my fellow friends of the late, great, and everyone's best mate, Sarah Jane Smith. Some of you, those who know me, may wonder why I have come forward to talk on behalf of our near and dear friend, the wonderful woman who didn't know the meaning of the word 'quit.' Nor 'valetudinarian' or 'triskaidekaphobia,' though that hardly matters at the moment." Perhaps feeling that he was starting to push it just a bit, the eleventh Doctor paused and seemed to consider his words.
"I was the last to know her, as most of you are aware. Funny thing was, it was in a setting similar to this one that she met me. I had supposedly died... had a funeral... but somehow, she knew with that special, special gift of a heart she had, that there was more to the story." He cleared his throat, giving a look to the people in the room that had no clue what types of stories Sarah Jane typically followed. In everything he said, it was made all the more painful that he had to blot so much of it out for the sake of so few. "Her journalistic instinct was second to none, and she broke a story that would fascinate the few she let read it."
The Doctor paused once more, before saying, "And saved my life in the process. Alongside her young recruits, of course. Her amazing, fabulous young friends." His voice hesitated for only a moment. "Her family." He looked carefully in each of the children's eyes, conveying messages that he couldn't say aloud. They all understood, if the slight tilt at the edge of his mouth was anything to go by. Not that there was any doubt that they would. Among so very many other things, Sarah Jane Smith was a marvelous teacher. And student.
Giving a fake cough, the eleventh Doctor turned and looked down, his hand waving any concerns away. "My, these lights sure are bright in here. My eyes are feeling all watery and blinky. Is that a word? I hope it is." As he spoke, he gave a wipe to each eye, before coming back to look over those gathered in the somber room. "Anyways... I feel I have something to say to Sarah Jane. Something I need to say. Something she deserves to hear."
The Doctor stopped, took a breath, and spoke loudly, hoping by some chance of fate or time or anything that he mightn't yet understand, that Sarah Jane could hear him. "Sarah, you wonderful, fabulous person, you! You've left behind a legacy the likes of which no human could have imagined. In your wake, you leave the beginnings of a brand new era!" His voice grew louder as he continued, "Your family will rise into the highest heights available, and then push beyond them! You are the inspiration for a peaceful initiative that will span across millennia!"
The Doctor settled down a bit, having gotten his arms involved by pointing in an upward direction. He rested his hands on the edges of the pulpit, as he now calmly stated. "But if you think you're done, just because your body gave up on your endless spirit, then you've got another think coming to you."
He looked around for a moment, before proclaiming, "Because you've still got another adventure ahead of you, Sarah Jane Smith!" The Doctor tilted his chin up, smiling despite watery eyes. "And, oh, what a glorious, fantastic adventure it will be! The sort of adventure that you will write an eternity of stories for, and still wish you had more time. The greatest unknown there ever was has claimed you, and now it is up to you to claim it."
The Doctor paused, looking over the entranced crowd. "Oh... the stories you'll have. Stories you'll share with Luke, once he joins you. Stories you'll share with his children, your grandchildren, when they arrive." He paused, looking like he was having some difficulty with his next words.
"Stories which I look forward to hearing all about, once I find myself there, eventually." In the silence of the room, a gentle smile curved across the Doctor's face. "And then... we'll all make new ones."
Stepping back and taking a deep breath, the Doctor pulled up to the finish. "So, there's really only one thing left for me to say to you, Sarah Jane Smith. Only one thing left for you to hear." No one noticed that they had just about stopped breathing. A pin hitting the floor could be heard throughout the room, if everyone weren't so riveted on the sad figure up front and his final words to a dear friend.
The tenth Doctor sat mesmerized by the speech he would give. He doubted eleven had to think hard about what he was saying, because ten knew he'd never forget it. Just as he never had. Suddenly, the Doctor felt something wet fall off his face. He moved a hand to his cheek in surprise, wiping a salty wet trail off his face he hadn't realized existed.
Maybe he really did have a few tears left inside, after all.
Rest in peace, Elisabeth Sladen.
And if anyone is curious why, when the Doctor says "then you've got another think coming to you," he says "think" instead of "thing," it is the actual, original phrase and not a typo.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed!