"The Last Dance for Sarah Jane"
by Jason Andrew
The pain is gone now. The memory of the agony and the suffering surprisingly fades. The hushed whispers of the doctors and nurses have died to a calming silence. It's a bit like I imagined childbirth. I never had the chance for that experience. How silly am I that it bothers me now? I only wish that I could see Luke one more time.
There is nothing but relief and bliss and the slowing beeps of the machines counting down the last few minutes of my life. "Sarah Jane. Dear mad, impossible Sarah Jane."
I open my eyes slowly to see that impossible immortal face that is at once young and ancient at the same time. The Doctor brushes his youthful hair out of his eyes. Each new face seems younger and yet ever sadder than the one before. "Doctor?"
"I'm so sorry. Terribly sorry. Brave heart, Sarah Jane. Don't try to talk. Not yet. There will be time for words." The Doctor turns to a young man I've never met with blue eyes and a large nose. This must be his new companion back from the honeymoon. "Rory, this is very important. Make sure she's comfortable. Don't let any of the staff here change anything."
"You said it yourself there isn't a cure to the sycorax radiation poisoning. We shouldn't let her suffer." I can't help but smile just a little. The Doctor needs companions that challenge him. "What are you going to do?"
"She lived a good life and it's not going to end like this." Not here." He turns to a tiny slip of a girl with ginger hair. I can see it in her eyes that she's ready to jump into the fray and put it all on the line. The Doctor inspires that in his companions. "Come along, Pond. We don't want to be late."
"Late for what?" Amy Pond looks back at me shyly. I must seem like the grim ghost of Christmas Future to her. She must wonder what will happen to her in time. "Shouldn't we help her? Can't we go back in time? You said time could be rewritten."
"She saved us all, Amy. You, Rory, me. The entire planet. Maybe the universe from the birth of the Nightmare's Child. I can't cross my own timeline. The entire planet could implode or worse." He shook his head. How is it that he feels more like an old man than ever before? "But there is one thing I can do. An impossible, brilliant thing."
Amy sniffs, trying not to cry. "What's that?"
"I can say thank you."
The doors on the TARDIS slam shut and the comforting whirl of the engines soothe me back to sleep. Rory waits next to the hospital bed and holds my hand and during fits of lucidity he tells me stories about his other life as a Roman. I once spent weeks trying to track him down as a reporter; the undying centurion walking the earth. It figures; most of the best stories somehow always seem to involve the Doctor.
How long time passes is hard to guess. It stretches and constricts, but Rory is always there telling another story until the soft noise of the TARDIS returns. Luke bursts through the doors. His face red from tears, he pushes past Rory and his arms wrap around me. "Mum! I didn't know."
My son holds me tight and nothing else matters in the world. It's still hard to talk. Part of my face is frozen. "It's OK."
"I'm not ready to lose you. I shouldn't have gone away to school and left you."
The pain is returning. Just a little and it hurts to laugh. "Children grow up, Luke. I wouldn't give away the time we had together for the world"
Luke turns to the Doctor accusingly. "Isn't there anything we can do? This is my fault, isn't it? You changed things to save me. Altered the timeline. Can't we use the Trickster? Or the TARDIS"
"Time isn't something that just stays the same, Luke. I think you know that. Your mother did a brave thing." He smiles just a bit and I feel proud to have known him. "And there is something we can do. Amongst my people, there is a very old tradition. It dates back to before we could regenerate when we first were learning the art of time and mastering the vortex. That's why I brought you here. We need a living relative."
Luke sighs, crestfallen. "But she's not my real Mum. The Bane made me from hundreds of samples."
"A Family is just the people that love you, Luke. Besides, how do you know that the Bane didn't use some of Sarah Jane to make you? She's a remarkable woman and if I were going to make an Archetype, I'd certain take a look at her DNA." The Doctor fishes around in his pockets for a moment until he produced a sparkling blue globe. "This little piece of magic is the last one of its kind in the entire universe. The Omega Perfectus"
"What is it?" Luke asks.
"A last pure day captured in glass and crystal. When shattered, it quantum locks a dying person for exactly twenty-four hours." The Doctor presents the Omega Perfectus to me. "It comes at a cost. The quantum lock burns through your cells. A last bright flame before the darkness."
A perfect day in the sun or weeks of agony? I squeeze my hands and the fragile globe shatters. The sparkling bits of energy tingle all over my body and I felt young as the morning sun. The Doctor snaps his fingers and the doors of the TARDIS fly open upon his command. "Sarah Jane Smith, for the next twenty-four hours, please consider the TARDIS at your service. Anywhere. Anyplace."
One by one I pull off the taped electrodes and monitoring devices that had kept my body alive. After a quick visit with Amy in the TARDIS wardrobe, I'm ready to go.
We eat breakfast in Paris in 1889 at the base of the Eiffel Tower; champagne and croissants with Nellie Bly. When I was a little girl, she inspired me to be a reporter and travel the world and to see her in the flesh is a dream come true.
During a live show of Abbot and Costello in the 30s, we run into Captain Jack before I met him the first time. I have a quiet drink with that devilish rogue. It must have killed him to not say anything during our fight against Devros. We barely escaped without crossing our own timelines.
Luke and I spend a quiet hour together walking the golden beaches of Barcelona; not the city, but the beautiful planet. There are things that a parent must tell a child to prepare them for adulthood. How to fall in love? How to comfort a dying friend? How to be a man? How to dance with a girl? At the edge of a shimmering silver sea, I do my best and realize maybe I've been a mother after all.
We filled the day with the adventures of a lifetime and at the start of the last voyage, near the end of my time, the Doctor insists that Luke remain inside of the TARDIS. "Why? It isn't fair," Luke complains. "I want to be with her."
"You will be. Promise."
The Doctor shakes his head. "Spoilers." He leans close and whispers something in Luke's ear that mollifies him just a little. "I promise you."
Amy and Rory nodded slyly. "We'll keep an eye on the genius."
"Always trust in the Doctor, Luke." I take his hand and together we leave the TARDIS to discover a magnificent wedding in a posh ballroom decorated to the nines. "Doctor, I'm not dressed for this. I feel rubbish."
"Sarah Jane, look around you."
There are familiar faces all about me, but I can't quite place them. Who are these people? One by one I start to recognize them. It's my family all grown-up to say good-bye. Beautiful dark-haired Maria Jackson now works with UNIT and has a child of her own. A daughter named Sarah. Rani Chandra Langer is there with her husband Clyde. The Doctor tells me that they travel the world investigating strange occurrences. Rani became a reporter just like me. "I wanted to be like you."
"Thank you." I hugged each of them. "Where is Luke?"
I try to find him and then laugh when I realize that he is the strong handsome man grinning in front of me. "I've waited a long time for this day, Mum. The Doctor made me a promise. And I believed."
"I don't understand."
"He said that you would dance with me on my wedding day."
The Doctor grins a bit, suddenly shy about his brilliance. "Every mother should be allowed to dance with her son on the day of his wedding."
The music starts and then suddenly I think of Barcelona; five hours ago or ten years depending on how you look at time. I take my grown son by the hand and we step out onto the dance floor. The pain has already started to return, but I don't care. Each step brings a little bit of numbness, but surrounded by love I let it overwhelm me until I fade to stardust.