Doctor Who: Firework (Part 1)
by: domina tempore (formerly "jewel of athos")
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and all of its characters and locations etc. belong to their respective owners; they just LIVE in my heart. But no copyright infringement intended!
Summary: Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it…and he won't for Sarah Jane. A tribute to Elisabeth Sladen.
Author's Note: I was shocked and devastated to hear that Elisabeth Sladen had died. She's one of those people that I always took for granted would be there; "I'd love to meet her one day". I never considered that maybe she *wouldn't* be there before I got the chance. I've been working on this fic since the day that it happened; it's not done yet, but I didn't want it to be simply a funeral story or something that is completely sad. I know that it doesn't do her any sort of justice; but I want to honor her, and this is the only way that I really know how. I wanted to show her in the way that I think she should be remembered; shining.
This song was playing when I found out http : / / www . youtube . com / watch?v=ykzJYF0Q_U , and listening to the lyrics I've realized how perfect a song for Sarah Jane it is. This is what inspired me to write the fic the way that I am, and where the title came from.
Elisabeth Sladen, rest in peace. You will be missed; but you will NEVER be forgotten.
'Cause baby you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe
- "Firework", Katy Perry
The Doctor had watched the service from the back of the church. No one had seen him, and that was just fine in his mind. Today wasn't about being seen; it was about honoring her. He was not going to take away from that.
He'd followed the procession at a distance when they took her to the graveyard, and prepared to see her face for the very last time before the casket was closed and that glorious woman was buried beneath the dirt forever. The crowd of people who had come was huge; an amazing testament to the lives that she'd touched with her own. The Doctor noticed with some surprise that even Donna was there, though she couldn't remember why it was so important that she come and honor this woman. Everyone was crying.
He sought out Luke with his eyes, standing a little part from everyone else, waiting for the chance for his last goodbye with his mother. The Doctor could remember when the boy had called him, his voice sad but even; so mature. He'd told him in clear details what had happened, answering all of his questions with only an occasional quiver in his voice to tell of how much he was hurting. He hadn't had the chance to say a proper goodbye to his mother before she'd passed; she had asked him to do something, and he hadn't gotten back to her until just a minute before the end. He'd admitted how guilty he felt for being away, for missing that chance with her. The Doctor didn't blame him. Luke had only been gone for five minutes; but he had abandoned her for practically a lifetime.
Finally, he couldn't stand to watch anymore. With a purposeful stalk, he returned to the TARDIS and worked at the controls, glad that he'd left Amy and Rory behind in Leadworth to visit their families so they wouldn't ask stupid questions. He didn't have the time to waste for that. Sarah Jane did not deserve to die the way that she had! The Doctor ran through all of the curses in his head, but there wasn't even one dark enough to describe how angry he was about her death. She had been a star; beautiful and pure and shining so bright, and it wasn't fair! She'd still been young, far too young to die, and it wasn't fair.
It wasn't fair.
But there was still one last gift that he could give to her.
The TARDIS materialized in a closet – which took quite a bit of doing – and the Doctor heard Sarah Jane's voice asking Luke to run down to the garden for something. He waited until he heard the bedroom door close before he entered the room himself.
And there was Sarah Jane, lying in bed and smiling at him, looking so very worn but beautiful still. Age and illness had been kind to her features, at least, if not her body. He managed a smile for her as well. She was waiting for him, unsurprised; she must have heard the TARDIS.
Good old Sarah Jane.
It was a moment before he could speak.
"Sarah Jane Smith," he said finally, fondly. He made his way over to the bed and took her hand. "As lovely as the shining sun. I've missed you."
"I've missed you too, my dear Doctor," she said, gentle laughter in her voice as it always had been. "It's been a long time; I still hardly recognize this new face." She reached up with a gentle hand to stroke his cheek, and he fought back tears. It was so hard to see her like this.
"Too long," he agreed, squeezing her hand. "But you know that I can't stay away from you forever. And I've got a present for you this time; what do you say?"
"And to what to I owe this pleasure?" she asked, watching him carefully. "There is something dark in your eyes, Doctor; something so very sad. I'm going to die, aren't I?"
The Doctor opened his mouth out of habit to lie to her, but then he stopped. Lie to her? No, these were her last hours; she deserved better than that. He owed Sarah Jane the truth.
He sighed. "I've just come from your funeral," he admitted. "But you know the rules about telling. Never worry about tomorrow, that's what I say. I didn't come to visit you to talk about death; I want to give you the chance of a lifetime. One last trip in the TARDIS with me, what do you say? I know it doesn't make up for the years and years that I left you behind, but I want to give you something… I mean, I'd love if you would… Please?" He looked at her and felt tears in his eyes. "Oh, please say yes, Sarah Jane. Come with me."
With a heartbreakingly sad smile, Sarah Jane nodded her consent. "The last adventure of Sarah Jane Smith," she declared as he helped her out of bed. "But what a trip it will be."
The Doctor shook his head. "Not the last," he corrected firmly. "The first of a new kind. This is not going to be your last adventure; don't ever say the last."
"Alright, then," she whispered. "The first. So, where are you taking me, Doctor?"
"Oh, it's someplace beautiful, Sarah Jane. Someplace so stunningly beautiful…" He guided her inside the TARDIS.
Sarah Jane caught her breath as they entered, and he steadied her with his arm. He knew that it was never quite the same for her, coming back to the TARDIS. The outside always was, but the inside was constantly changing; just a bit different every time you stepped inside. A little bit older and more worn, just like he himself was. But he knew that she thought it was beautiful.
He tried to help her sit down, but she refused with a shake of her head.
"No, Doctor," she whispered firmly. "If this is to be our final journey together, then I'm going to stand and face it for as long as possible."
"Doctor, please. Let me have this."
For a long moment, they stared into each other's eyes; and in hers, the Doctor could see years of determination and power of will still hidden away behind her failing body. Finally he smiled at her. "Oh, Sarah Jane Smith. I never could say no to you, could I? You always got what you wanted."
"Not all the time."
"Well, this time you will." He released her, and she stood straight and tall in the middle of the TARDIS; a graceful queen in flannel pajamas. It was a sight that made his smile wide and genuine. "Shall we go?"
"Where to?" she asked again. Her eyes took on the light of adventure that inevitably came along with being on the TARDIS with the Doctor. He caught the light, and reflected it back at her. As he'd said, don't think about tomorrow; live for the here and now.
"I already told you, Sarah Jane. I'm going to take you someplace beautiful!" He threw a lever, and sent the TARDIS spinning into the universe.
A few minutes later, they had arrived at their destination, and the Doctor had ushered her over to the TARDIS doors. There was mischief in his eyes, and he wore a crooked smile, looking forward to surprising her. He grasped the door handles and met her eyes.
"Sarah Jane Smith," he whispered, "Welcome to the birth of a legacy." He had the satisfaction of seeing her face light up with awe as he threw open the doors.
"What is this?" she asked him, her voice hushed as she stared out into the bit of space that lay just outside the TARDIS. Lights and colors swirled together, playing gentle lights across their faces. The Doctor thought that they brought back the young woman that he had met so many years ago to the forefront, exchanging wisdom for the pure, childlike wonder that she'd held the universe with.
"That," he gestured out to the colorful display, "is the creation of a star. We've gone back about a thousand years before your time." He leaned forward a little and grinned. "Well? Do you like it?"
"It's incredible," she breathed.
"Isn't it? One day, that very star is going to shine for Earth; you'll be able to see it from your windows. But right now, it's just gas. Gas and rocks and dust all swirling around together until they form a star. And even once it's complete, it'll be years before it's bright enough for its light to reach Earth. But it all starts here, right now, with rainbows and dust. What do you think of that?"
"Mmm. Nothing quite like it in the universe. And I've seen it all."
"I know." For a long time they stood together in silence, drinking in the wonder of it all. At one point, Sarah Jane reached out and grasped his hand. The Doctor turned to her. He was surprised to find that she was not looking back at him; she was still staring out into space, breathing in stardust. She didn't seem to even realize what she'd done. He squeezed her hand.
Eventually, it was Sarah Jane herself who broke the spell.
"Thank you, Doctor," she said, looking up at him. "This is so, so amazing… Thank you for giving this to me, Doctor."
"Oh, I'm not done with you yet," he assured her. "Are you ready for the next bit?"
"There's more?" she asked with wide eyes.
He grinned at her. "Oh, just you wait, Sarah Jane."
"But how can there be anything more spectacular than this? And I say that having traveled with you and having seen all the impossible things."
"Why, Sarah Jane, this is only the past. We're in a time machine; there's so much more to be seen yet! Would you like to watch for a few more minutes here first, or are you ready to see the next bit?"
"I can't possibly imagine what else you've got to show me," she laughed. "I don't know, take me wherever you want! Just give me one more minute here. Please."
The Doctor nodded, and stepped back a bit. He knew how aware she was of her mortality, and he sensed that she was saying goodbye to the universe. He studied her as she gazed into the new heart of the star, reaching out a hand like she wanted to touch it. He waited until she turned and nodded at him.
"I'm ready," she said softly.
He closed the doors swiftly, and guided her back to the console. "You still remember how to do this, don't you? Care to help me take her out?"
"Whatever you want, Doctor. Just tell me what to do."
"Put your hands here, and here," he instructed, placing them on the correct controls and laying his hands over them. "Ready?"
She looked up and met his eyes. "Always."
A/N: Originally I had planned this to be just a oneshot; but then it grew. The second part will be up as soon as I can finish it.