My Sarah Jane
In which the Eleventh Doctor finds out Sarah Jane Smith passed away.
16 December 2011
The Doctor threw the lever back and landed the TARDIS in the grass on the opposite side of the street. He picked up the flowers he had gotten on a market on a tiny planet called Moktano. They looked like little dragons and were the same color as the TARDIS. The Doctor smiled and tried to make his hair a bit neater (a difficult task). He sauntered out the front door of the TARDIS.
Making sure the door was shut and locked behind him, the Doctor crossed the street and pranced up the front stairs of her house. He smiled his biggest smile and rang the doorbell. He adjusted his navy blue bow tie one last time as the door opened. Luke, now a handsome young man, was in the door frame. He was looking surprised and for some reason... glum. K-9 barked mechanically, but then reverted quickly to saying, "MASTER! MASTER!"
"Hey K-9!" The Doctor greeted the metal dog with a smile. Then from his pocket, he withdrew a ball of aluminum foil. "What's this K-9? Huh? What's this, boy?"
"A BALL, MASTER! A BALL!"
"That's right buddy!" The Doctor then chucked it down the hallway. "Go get it!" K-9 happily chased after it. "Hey there Luke!" The Doctor smiled. "I was just looking for Sarah Jane; is she here?"
Luke hesitated for a minute. "I figured you'd come back eventually, Doctor." He said with almost no expression in his voice. "I just didn't think you'd be so late."
The Doctor's smile faltered slightly. "Late? Late for what? What are you talking about?" Luke said nothing; he just led the Doctor inside. He put the kettle on the stove and left it to boil. K-9 happily played with his foil ball on the floor. Luke got a vase down from the cupboard and put the flowers the Doctor brought in them. The Doctor noted many other vases of flowers and cards around the kitchen. But the flowers in these other vases were withered and long dead. The cards were in a stack where a fine layer of dust rested on top of them.
"Have a seat, Doctor." Luke said, pointing to the kitchen stool. The Doctor did so, looking around in confusion. The dishes were piling up in the sink, there were clothes strewn on the couch, boxes of old trinkets were stacked around the kitchen and living room. It was so very unlike Sarah Jane to be untidy.
"So..." The Doctor said with an awkward smile, "Where's Sarah Jane? Working still?" He glanced at his watch. "I thought she'd be off by now? She's probably on her way home, right?" Luke said nothing. The Doctor laughed a little to clear the heavy air. "Right? Luke?"
"Mum retired a while ago. I thought you knew that."
"Oh right! Of course..." The Doctor cleared his throat awkwardly. "So then when—?"
"Mum's not coming home. Ever." Luke's voice cracked.
The Doctor's smile drooped. "What d'you mean?"
"I suppose you always were too busy doing God knows what in your box to notice anything." Luke said icily. He dug into his pocket and withdrew his wallet. From there, he took out a crumpled article from the local paper. Luke shoved it into the Doctor's hands. The Doctor unfolded the paper and began to read. As soon as he did, his hearts seem to skip a few beats and then resume at a breakneck pace. Tears prickled on the edges of his hazel eyes as he read each word. It was from the obituary section.
Sarah Jane Smith
Smith was born on 16 May 1951 into a small family living in Foxgrove. At a young age, her parents were killed in an accident and Smith was left to be raised by her aunt, Lavinia Smith (deceased). She joined the journalism game at the age of 19 and rose to become a revered and dedicated journalist. Smith retired eight and a half years ago to live a quiet life at her home with her adopted son Luke and her dog. She never married. Over the course of her entire life, Smith was known for being an avid traveler. She had stated on many occasions that she had been all over the world with an old friend of hers, Dr. Jonathon T. Smith (pictured at right, no relation). She died at her home on 11 April 2011 after a short fight with cancer lasting only a few months. Sarah Jane was 60 years old.
The kettle whistled. "I thought I shouldn't just call you 'The Doctor,'" Luke remarked as he got up to pour them both a cup of tea. "So I just put you as Dr. Jonathon T. Smith. The 'T' stands for TARDIS." He laughed slightly. "I thought Mum would find that funny." The Doctor felt his tears well up as he looked at the picture in the article.
It was of him and Sarah Jane. They were both much younger; he was in his fourth face at the time. He towered over her as they stood arm-in-arm, grinning at the camera. The Doctor in the picture was leaning slightly on the door of the TARDIS, which could be seen in the left side of the frame. His impossibly long scarf was wrapped around both their necks and Sarah Jane was wearing his brown hat as she laughed happily.
The Doctor remembered that day. He had promised her a day to themselves. No monsters, no aliens, no U.N.I.T., no interruptions of any kind. Just the two of them enjoying each other's company by the seashore. The caption under the picture read: "Sarah Jane Smith and Dr. Jonathon T. Smith on one of their many travels."
"Mum talked about you," Luke said. The Doctor's head snapped up and he looked at him with wet eyes. "A lot. Especially before she..." Luke cleared the catch in his throat.
"Why didn't you call the TARDIS?" The Doctor half growled as his eyes pierced through Luke. "She had the number! Why didn't you phone me?!"
"We tried!" Luke fired back, getting angry. "She tried! She tried to phone you as soon as she found out, but the number wouldn't go through!"
The Doctor was quiet at that.
"Was she in pain?" He whispered, trying to change the subject.
Luke was quiet for a beat. "I dunno. Perhaps a bit, but she never complained about it if she was. You know how Mum was." The Doctor gave a tiny laugh. Yes, he did know. Sarah Jane never liked to worry anyone. "But she's better, where ever she is now. She's safe." The Doctor nodded.
Luke was quiet, then handed him a tissue. The Doctor thanked him glumly and blew his nose. "I think... I think she tried to wait for you." Luke said quietly. The Doctor had to hold his breath to keep from sobbing right there. "She kept looking out the window about a week before..."
The Doctor gave a great sniff and then blew his nose again.
"She didn't say much when she did that. I think she kept hoping that blue box would appear and you'd jump up the front stairs, saunter through the front door and-"
The Doctor just couldn't bear to hear anymore. "Just... stop. Please." He murmured as tears streamed down his face. He couldn't bear even more shame on top of his already massively guilt-ridden conscience. "I... I can't..." The Doctor placed the picture on the table and buried his face in his hands. He wept for a few minutes before Luke put his hand on the Doctor's shoulder in an awkward, yet comforting way.
After a drawn out silence broken only by the Doctor's heavy breathing, Luke said, "I can take you to her."
The TARDIS was parked a few feet behind him as he stood on the hill that overlooked the broad countryside. A chilly wind whipped across the openness. Luke had left the Doctor to be alone once they got there. The boy had driven home to feed K-9. Plus, the moments between him and the Doctor were growing more and more awkward.
The Doctor kneeled down and looked at the headstone, which was a lighter gray than the sky. The ground beneath him was cold, rough, and gravely; it cut through his trousers and froze his knees to the bone. But he really didn't care at this point. The gravesite had been placed far from the city noise; there wasn't anything around for miles. The Doctor wondered briefly how Luke had afforded that.
The raw wind snapped at his neck and face and he shivered, his teeth clattering together. He absentmindedly began pulling away the shoots of brown grass that had grown around the head stone. He brushed away the dirt and gave it a final wipe with his sleeve. At last, he could clearly read what it said:
In Loving Memory of
Sarah Jane Smith
16 May 1951 - 11 April 2011
"You're never alone."
With a choked cry, the Doctor began to sob again. His tears froze into little droplets of ice on his face as he did. In his mind, he put another tally into the ever growing list of friends that had gone. He was so old now, reaching the age where you begin to lose more friends than you make. Flashes of his former companions blazed before his eyes, the ones he knew he would never see again. The pain of seeing all those wonderful faces and thinking of all the beautiful times they had each had was excruciating.
The Doctor curled up in a tight ball and lay on the ground. He didn't care that he looked pitiful and ridiculous; this was his time to grieve and he was damn well going to use it. He hadn't genuinely cried in a long time. It was a very odd feeling to recall all those glowing memories and happy times, but still be crying. His tears flowed down his cheeks and froze into little capsules of time before they fell to the ground and shattered.
"Oh Sarah J-Jane, I'm s-so so sorry..." The Doctor cried. "I should... I sh-should've..." He couldn't even finish. His sobs racked his entire body and punched holes straight to the cores of his now broken hearts.
After a fair amount of crying, the Doctor sat up on his knees and looked again at the headstone. Tears threatened his vision as they welled up in his eyes again. He gave a great sniff and stood. The blue flowers sat at the foot of the headstone as the only speck of color on that barren hill. The Doctor looked up at the sky and gave a shaky sigh.
"You know something, Sarah Jane?" He said as he looked back down at the patch of land beneath which she rested. "I really am a daft, tired old man. And I know exactly what you'd say if you could see me now... 'Oh do try and cheer up, Doctor! You can't dwell on the past! You have to keep moving forward.'" The Doctor smiled sadly. "And you'd be 100% right, Sarah Jane, if I didn't have a time machine standing behind me. But all the same... You're right." He took his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and began fiddling with the settings. "I know you had a wonderful life because you told me yourself. You told me you wouldn't have missed traveling with me for the world." He smiled and got down on his knees again. "And we had the best of times, didn't we?" The Doctor chuckled slightly. "You were always my very best friend..."
A lump was beginning to form in the back of his throat again. He found the right setting on his sonic and held it up to the headstone. The sonic activated; a green laser shot out of it and began etching into the stone just below the quoted phrase. "The Doctor and Sarah Jane..." He said as he pulled away. Under the phrase was a small engraving of the TARDIS. "...Off to see the universe!"
Stowing the sonic in his pocket, he stood up once more before-with great difficulty-turning and walking back to the TARDIS. With a snap of his fingers, the doors flew open and he went inside. Even within the warmth of the TARDIS interior, the Doctor felt chilled to the bone. He walked up the stairs and to the TARDIS's wardrobe; which was more like an enormous shop than anything else. After carefully browsing through each item of clothing, he found what he was looking for.
The Doctor undid his bowtie and left it hanging. He then took the multi-colored scarf off the hanger and wrapped it around his neck. It warmed him up a bit more, feeling much like a hug. It was strange to have it on after so many years.
The Doctor walked back to the front of the TARDIS and opened the door. The headstone was still there to his disappointment. Even though he knew it would be, the Doctor still wished with both his hearts that it had really just been a dream. He gave a low chuckle and shook his head. "'You silly old man,' she'd say." He whispered as he closed the door.
As the Doctor walked back up the stairs to the main console, he set the temporal gauge for 'Anytime' and the special displacer for 'Anywhere.' He hesitated right before he pulled the lever to set the TARDIS in motion. He pulled down the screen and activated the exterior camera. He smiled mournfully as he looked at that gray headstone. Snowflakes were beginning to fall; a thin dusting was already building up on the ground. Taking a corner of the scarf in hand, the Doctor dabbed his teary eyes. Then he threw the lever and the TARDIS began dematerializing with a sigh of time and space.
"Goodbye... my Sarah Jane."
In memory of Elisabeth Sladen
1946 – 2011