The Doctor missed them, his old friends. Some more than others. And now he stood in the rain at the funeral for the most beloved of them all. That was the worst of it, he looked so young, but he was old. So old. And when they got old, his old friends, they got ill and infirm and died. Oh, Sarah Jane...

The old young man dropped his face into his hands.

River longed to comfort him, but he didn't really know her yet, not well enough to trust her, and he would almost certainly reject her help when it was something so personal and intimate as this grief. She couldn't bear that. So she just waited by the TARDIS and watched him. She watched as he raised his dry but haggard face from his hands, as he spoke with a dark haired young man who had his arm protectively around a teenage girl, as he turned and began to trudge back toward the TARDIS, showing every minute of his nine hundred plus years on that face that looked about twenty-five.

The Doctor sighed. Of course River would come, he thought with a weary bemusement, and now she'll expect witty banter and flirting and I just don't have it in me today. He ran a hand tiredly over his face and opened the TARDIS the old-fashioned way, with the key, it just didn't feel like a finger-snapping sort of day. He nodded curtly at River as he passed her, but couldn't work up the energy even for a snide remark about her timing. She followed him into the TARDIS, but she didn't say anything, just closed the door quietly behind them as he slumped into a chair near the console. She walked to him, patted his knee once in a wordless gesture of support, and then sat in the chair next to him.

He didn't realise he was crying until she put her arms around him, stroking his back and murmuring into his ear. He clutched at her desperately, sobbing, and she kissed him gently on the cheek, and then went back to holding him as tightly as she could until he calmed.

"I loved her," he whispered into her hair.

"I know." (Oh my poor sweet love...)

"I let her believe I was dead, but she forgave me."

"Of course. She loved you."

"They're so fragile, River," he said, his voice hoarse with weeping. "So easy to break, and so short a time in the universe. My old friends - so many are gone. And I don't have many new ones... I'm afraid of... of breaking them." He shifted, pulling away just enough to look into her face. "River... will you stay? Just for tonight... I... I need a friend... " He trailed off, looking at her pleadingly. As though she would refuse him, she thought, as though she even could. She smiled at him and kissed him, a chaste kiss, but one full of promise.

"Of course I'll stay," she said quietly. "You had only to ask."