AN: It's slightly late, but I've only just been able to get it up. I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Courtney and read some amazing tribute fics, so I decided to throw my own attempt onto the pile. Here's to a wonderful character, a wonderful actor, and a wonderful man.
It was raining. The very sky was in mourning, and rightly so. One of Earth's greatest unsung heroes was gone and the little planet suddenly felt a whole lot emptier.
The Doctor strode through the downpour, every footstep accompanied by a splash and a memory. How many times had they saved each other's lives? Not too many to count, perhaps, but enough to be taken for granted. That was just what they did, they looked out for each other. They battled and won, and then they might not meet again for a few years but it wouldn't matter, because the Brigadier was always there, if he wanted him.
Not any more.
The service had been packed, of course. So many people there, desperately trying to do the great man justice with a few words but none of them quite able to. Two hundred, three perhaps. By rights, the whole human race should have gathered there in that little church, thanking him for saving him time and time again. But how could they? So few of them even knew.
How did they do this? How did they cope? The Doctor was good at turning his back, granting his friends immortality inside his head once he'd left them behind. He couldn't bear to watch as they...
The Brigadier was different, of course, in that he had stayed put while the Doctor instead had aged, or rather, changed. Alistair - his friend, Alistair - had been something of an anchor, a point of origin. One look at him and the Doctor could remember being a much younger man with a much older face. Now, though... the anchor was gone, and the Doctor, along with the others who'd known and loved Sir Alistair, were cast adrift.
Humans. They were like time bombs. Every last one of them was living on borrowed time, and he could hear the ticking of the clock, eating away the seconds one by one by one by one... Until, one day, zero. Another friend lost. And usually, he wouldn't even be able to tell, or he'd pretend he couldn't. But this time...
The Doctor came to a halt in front of a modest, grey slab. His eyes shied away from reading the inscription, not needing the cold stone to tell him he had come to the right place.
He knelt, knowing it made no difference but wanting to be that tiny bit closer. The rain continued to fall, dripping in tiny rivulets down the Doctor's face and landing on the ground, soaking in, each one vanishing from sight almost as quickly as it came.
From sight, yes. But that was all. Never forgotten...
Finally he raised his eyes to read the last line of the epitaph: "Remembered forever in the hearts and minds of many, a true hero."
Earth's hero, the Doctor mused as he rose from the grave.