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Authors: Gary Russell

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BOOK: Death of the Doctor

Chapter Three

Bang on time

Clyde and Rani were outside Rani’s house, waiting for the UNIT car to come and collect them. Gita was brushing down Rani’s blouse when Haresh emerged from their home with Rani’s overnight bag. ‘Don’t know what you’ve got in here,’ he muttered. ‘Feels like you’re going for a month, not a night.’

Clyde was explaining his concerns to Gita. ‘Luke says Sarah Jane’s gone mad.’

‘Oh, don’t be rude, my darling,’ Gita said. ‘Luke would never say “mad” about his own mother.’

Clyde nodded. ‘He also said “nutty, fruity, loop the loop, tonto-barmy-bonkers”.’

‘I’m sure he didn’t,’ Haresh said. ‘Rani, have you got everything now?’

Rani nodded. ‘It’s true though, Luke’s dead worried.’

‘Sadness affects people in different ways,’ Haresh said. ‘Remember your Grandmother when Granddad Ram died?’

Rani nodded. ‘Yeah, she washed everything. Curtains. Furniture. She even washed the walls.’

‘I remember,’ Gita added. ‘I mean, who washes walls?’

‘It went on for days,’ Rani remembered. ‘And then…then she just started crying.’

‘It takes time,’ Haresh explained to the two teenagers. ‘Because when someone dies, it’s so massive, it’s like you can’t fit it all inside your head.’ He stroked Rani’s hair. ‘And that’s what Sarah Jane’s doing now. She’s denying it.’

‘So what can we do to help her?’ asked Clyde.

‘Wait,’ Gita said. ‘That’s all you can do. Friends just wait.’

And there was the sound of a car turning into Bannerman Road and they watched as the big black car pulled up opposite, its UNIT emblem small but prominent on the driver’s door.

Sarah Jane came out of her house, wearing a smart jacket and jeans, nothing black or dreary in sight. ‘Bang on time,’ she said to the driver as he got out and took her bag and walked around to put it in the boot. He then crossed the road and hefted up Clyde and Rani’s bags.

The teenagers followed him to the car and Sarah Jane called over to the parents. ‘Don’t worry, you two, I’ll look after them.’

‘Sorry to hear your bad news,’ Haresh said.

‘No need,’ Sarah Jane said back. ‘I’m fine.’

Clyde grinned back at Haresh. ‘Keep the school running without me, sir. While I head off in my big posh car –’ Clyde touched the rear passenger door but whipped his fingers away as a crackle of bright blue electricity arced around the palm of his hand. ‘Blimey,’ he muttered. ‘What was that?’

‘Static electricity,’ Haresh called over. ‘Course, if you paid more attention in class…’ But Gita grabbed his arm. ‘Not now, my darling.’

Haresh smiled weakly at Sarah Jane as she got into the car, followed by Clyde and Rani.

And they watched as it drove off, waving at Rani who waved back.

They were ignored by Clyde, who was still staring at the palm of his hand, frowning.

Chapter Four

The smell of time

Four hours later, the UNIT staff car drove into an area of North Wales dominated by the edifice that was Mount Snowdon, part of the famous Snowdonia National Park. But as the car drove through the country lanes, Clyde noticed more and more red-rimmed road signs that reminded the unwary that these were Restricted Areas and Not Public Highways.

Eventually the car came to a stop by a huge tunnel built into the side of a mountain. A red and white barrier blocked their view and for a moment Clyde assumed they’d gone the wrong way. After all, there was no one to greet them. Or raise the barrier. Or anything.

Then he spotted two UNIT soldiers stand up – they had been lying flat on the ground, their clothing perfectly camouflaged so that no matter how hard anyone would have looked, the soldiers had been effectively invisible.

One of the soldiers was checking the driver’s ID, the other stared at him, Sarah Jane and Rani.

Remembering that Sarah Jane, despite her many years working alongside the Doctor with UNIT, was always nervous of their motives, he automatically sat on his hands, even though the blue crackling he’d seen earlier was long since gone.

The last time he’d seen that energy…well, he preferred not to think about that. And he certainly didn’t want UNIT knowing it had returned.

After a moment that seemed to last an hour, the soldiers waved the car though and the barrier was raised.

Clyde stared out of the back of the car – but the soldiers were gone, back to their hidden guard duty, and no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t see where they were lying now.

After a minute in the darkness of the tunnel, the world around them burst into light and size – the car had arrived in a massive underground car park, alongside a variety of other vehicles, both military and civilian. And a couple Clyde thought looked more like space shuttles!

The door was opened and as the driver escorted Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani exited the other door and found themselves facing Colonel Karim, all smiles and courtesy. But Clyde was uneasy. The smile didn’t reach her eyes – either she was putting an enormous effort into being civil to her visitors, or she was hiding something.

Then again, maybe he was being paranoid. The blue crackling energy on his hands had worried him and if he wasn’t careful, he’d be jumping at his own shadow next.

He looked around the car park as the driver opened the car’s boot and passed him his overnight bag.

‘Now this,’ he murmured to Rani, ‘this is what I call a base.’

‘Yeah,’ Rani said back. ‘If you like guns and stuff.’

And Clyde realised that apart from the three of them, everyone carried a gun of some sort. Even Karim had a revolver holstered at her side.

‘This way, please,’ the Colonel said, leading them to a huge metal door, like the ones Clyde had seen on films about submarines.

But instead of turning a wheel to open it, Karim tapped a code into a panel by the door and with a hiss, it swung inwards.

Clyde noted the number. 231163. Never knew when that might be handy, if he ever came back to a UNIT base and wanted to show he knew his way around.

As he stepped through the door, he was immediately surprised by how sterile and plain the corridor was. Indeed, it even smelled of ammonia or something, like Miss Jerome’s science lab at school.

It was in every possible way unfriendly.

And Colonel Karim seemed to realise this as she gave them a guided tour – well, at least she pointed out labs, offices, toilets. She didn’t actually open any doors and show them anything, or introduce them to any of the staff she mentioned.

‘We’ve allocated bedrooms to you all,’ she said. ‘The funeral’s tomorrow at nine hundred hours, so that gives you time enough to acclimatise.’

Clyde wasn’t sure what they needed to acclimatise to, bar the smell and the various featureless corridors they had walked down, guaranteed to ensure he had no idea of the way back to the car because everything looked the same.

They went through another keyboard-activated door and as it shut with a clang behind them, Karim explained this was the Funeral Wing and that they were under a curfew. But she said it with a smile. ‘The doors to the Funeral Wing will be sealed at twenty-one hundred hours tonight –’ she glanced at Clyde. ‘That’s 9pm.’

‘I know,’ Clyde replied. ‘I’m not stupid.’

Karim looked at him with an expression that either meant she didn’t believe him, or that she was disappointed to learn he knew such things. Either way, it annoyed him.

‘This is still a working military base,’ she continued. ‘So you’ll only have access to the specified areas.’

‘That’s nice,’ Sarah Jane said tartly. ‘Bring us all this way just to tell us we’re not trusted.’

There was a moment, just a look, between Sarah Jane and Karim, and Clyde reckoned the temperature in the corridor actually dropped a few degrees.

Rani must have felt it too, because she broke the tension by asking Karim who else was coming to the Doctor’s funeral.

‘It’s been a bit of rush,’ Karim said. ‘Sir Alistair’s stranded in Peru due to volcanic ash restricting long-haul flights that even we can’t overrule. And Miss Shaw can’t make it back from the Moonbase until Sunday.’

‘Whoa! You’ve got a Moonbase?’ Clyde just stared at her. That was so cool. ‘I wanna go to that!’

‘Maybe one day,’ Karim said. ‘When you’re a grown-up.’

As Karim turned away, Rani threw Clyde an “ooh, get her” look and Clyde grinned at her.

She turned a corner and they followed.

And stopped.

Ahead of them were ladders and boxes of tools and equipment. A couple of UNIT soldiers were attaching a sign to the wall that read FUNERAL CHAMBER in ornate lettering.

But what was amazing was the three small blue-skinned figures scurrying around, helping the soldiers: one on top of a ladder, one coming out of a large ventilation duct in the ceiling and another coming out of a similar vent at the foot of the wall where it met the floor.

‘You’ve got Graske!’ Rani gasped. ‘What are you doing with Graske?’

Clyde was alarmed too – they’d met the Graske a few times, most often alongside their old enemy the Trickster. They were a race of people who, although not necessarily evil, were fairly untrustworthy and really shouldn’t be in a place as supposedly secure and top-secret as a UNIT base.

Sarah Jane clearly agreed. ‘I knew it,’ she said to Karim. ‘I knew there was something going on.’

Karim seemed genuinely puzzled by their reaction. ‘I don’t understand the problem,’ she said.

‘Graske are trouble,’ Clyde said simply.

Karim seemed to understand. ‘Ah, I see. But these aren’t Graske,’ she said.

The one that had come out of the lower ventilation duct wandered over. These Graske-sized ducts were everywhere they’d passed, Clyde noticed.

‘Not Graske,’ the alien said in that same staccato voice the Graske always had. ‘We
. Blue face. Very different. Hate Graske. Graske make Groske stamp feet.’

And to demonstrate, the Groske stamped his foot dramatically.

Clyde could see that he did indeed have bluer skin, rather than the Graske’s brown leathery skin, but otherwise, they were identical. About three feet tall, with a tri-spiked head, razor-sharp teeth, piercing yellow eyes and that slight smell of sulphur that followed them around.

‘The Groske were stranded on Earth four years ago,’ Karim said. ‘We took them in and they offered to work in exchange for board and lodging. They are brilliant and invaluable. We wouldn’t have had the rocket ready if not for them.’

‘Rocket?’ queried Sarah Jane.

The Groske grabbed Sarah Jane’s hand and began leading her further into the corridor. ‘Come see rocket,’ he insisted. ‘We honour Doctor with our work.’

Clyde, Rani and Karim followed them through a side door along a metallic corridor, and into a vast open space, where they realised they were standing on a gantry in a silo that stretched as far below as it did above.

And in front of them was a massive rocket.

‘The X-15,’ Karim said proudly. ‘This will take the Doctor’s body into space, sealed inside a lead-lined coffin. And then…he will be set free. The casket will sail through the stars forever. In death, as in life.’

They paused to stare for a second, Clyde seeing in his mind’s eye the coffin floating out in deep space.

‘Very poetic,’ snapped Sarah Jane.

Again, Rani was the one to break the tension. ‘I think it’s beautiful. Just what he deserves.’

Sarah Jane shrugged. She was clearly still not buying any of this, still not accepting that the Doctor was dead.

Poor Sarah Jane, Clyde thought.

‘Where’s the TARDIS?’ she said to Karim.

And for the first time, Clyde thought he saw Karim flustered. Just for a second. As if not quite sure what to say. But she covered it quickly. ‘There was no sign of it. His body was found. Alone.’

Sarah gave her a look that said…Clyde wasn’t sure what it said. But Sarah Jane was not happy about any of this – and Clyde knew her well enough to know this was more than just restrained grief. She was smelling a rat.

And although he hated to admit it, Clyde wondered if she was going too far. If Haresh’s thing about denial was correct – that Sarah Jane just couldn’t accept her oldest friend was gone and was lashing out at everything and everyone to hide her inability to deal with all this.

‘Still,’ he said. ‘Not a bad way to go. A real, proper rocket.’

‘Boy smells,’ hissed the Groske beside him.

‘Oi,’ Clyde hissed back. ‘Thanks a bunch.’

Rani was the only one who noticed this exchange as Karim had led Sarah Jane out of the silo. ‘Leave it, Clyde,’ she smiled and went after the others.

Clyde was going to follow when the little Groske impatiently grabbed his leg. ‘Smell of time,’ it said urgently. ‘You see?’

Now it pointed at his hand.

And Clyde stared at the blue electricity arcing around his palm and wrist again in utter shock. ‘I don’t understand,’ he stammered.

‘So bright,’ was all the Groske said.

‘What d’you mean?’

And the Groske glanced at the rocket, then at the silo entrance, as if making sure they couldn’t be overheard. ‘
is coming,’ it said and darted out of the silo.

Clyde followed, but the Groske was already gone somewhere and all he could see were Karim and Sarah Jane further down the corridor and Rani waiting for him a bit closer.

‘Finished upsetting the Groske?’ she laughed, but Clyde didn’t reply. He was too busy wondering who exactly “was coming”.

Chapter Five

Sorry for your loss

The next morning was a solemn occasion. Clyde was wearing a suit (the same one he’d worn to Sarah Jane’s wedding, where he’d met the Doctor) and Rani was in a smart dress.

Sarah Jane, however, was dressed, well, just like Sarah Jane. Not scruffy or casual as such, but nothing black, like Clyde had expected. She looked like she was going out to a nice restaurant rather than a funeral for her best mate.

‘She still doesn’t believe it,’ Rani said. ‘So she’s hardly going to wear a long black dress or veil or anything, is she?’ said Rani.

Clyde could see Sarah Jane’s logic and felt a bit daft now in his suit. So he quickly took off the tie he was wearing and swapped the dark shoes his mum had made him take for his trainers.

‘You look great,’ Rani assured him with a smile.

‘Thanks,’ he said. ‘You look cool, too.’

And together they walked to the Funeral Chamber, a few steps behind Sarah Jane.

It was an impressive room, that much had to be said for it. A lot of work had gone into transforming what was normally, Clyde reckoned, a large UNIT storage area into something with a bit of atmosphere and reverence. Dark purple drapes adorned the walls and separated the back of the room, too. Presumably this was to create a small antechamber behind the drapes, where the Shansheeth could prepare things. Long plush pews ranged across the room, again in soft purples and gold trimming. Unless hidden by the drapes, which seemed unlikely, Clyde noticed it was the only place they’d seen so far not to have a large grille in the wall leading to a Groske-sized ventilation duct. Instead, there was just a tiny normal air vent, only big enough for a mouse – really small.

At the far end, in front of the sectioned-off area, and surrounded by a host of tall candles, was a large lead-lined coffin on a raised dais. It was a simple box, but strangely attractive too – not too fussy, but not bland either, with a few indented geometric shapes in the corners. As they approached, Clyde noticed there was a small circle on the top with some inscriptions on it in a language that wasn’t human. After a minute he remembered seeing similar things inside the Doctor’s TARDIS when he and Rani and Luke had had a guided tour after the wedding.

‘Must be Gallifreyan,’ Rani said.

Sarah Jane just nodded and Clyde realised this had to be awful for her. As if it was finally sinking in that the body of the man she cared so deeply for was inches away, inside a metallic coffin.

And she couldn’t fight it any longer.

She bowed very slightly, then turned to Colonel Karim who was standing a little to the side, reverently.

And from behind the drapes stepped the Shansheeth.

If they had looked alarming on the hologram, Clyde thought they were equally daunting in the flesh.

Each one had different coloured jewels embedded in its vulture-like head. There was one with yellow jewels, one with red jewels and another with blue who was clearly in charge – his purple robes had more gold trim than the other two and he looked…older and a bit wiser. This was the one from the hologram.

The blue-jewelled Shansheeth waved demonstrably with his short arms, and his wings unfurled.

‘Wow,’ Rani breathed.

‘I am Azure of the Claw Shansheeth. I’m so sorry for your loss,’ he said.

‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ repeated the yellow-jewelled one. ‘I am Aureolin of the Claw Shansheeth.’

‘I am Amaranth of the Claw Shansheeth. I’m so sorry for your loss,’ said the red-jewelled one.

The leader one, Azure, flexed his mighty wings again. ‘The Claw Shansheeth invite you to reflect on the memories of a loved one lost.’

With a nod, Clyde led Rani and Sarah Jane to the front row of the pews and sat down.

‘Who are all these people?’ he asked.

Sarah Jane looked around. ‘I don’t know any of them.’

‘A few old soldiers,’ Colonel Karim whispered. ‘It’s not easy to find any friends of the Doctor. He tended to come and go without a trace.’

‘Think of all the lives he touched. The whole planet should be in mourning,’ Rani said. ‘But no one knows.’

‘You couldn’t even find old UNIT people?’ asked Sarah Jane, sounding like she was going to pick a fight with Karim. ‘I mean, I can think of a dozen people off the top of my head. Mike, John, Winifred, Martha…’

Karim held up her hand, irritably. ‘Our people tried, that’s all I can say. I’m sorry you are so disappointed in us. In me,’ she added a little waspishly.

Sarah Jane looked like she was about to reply, but then her shoulders drooped. It was as though her last bit of defiance had gone and she had to face the inevitable.

‘Can I see him?’

Karim shook her head. ‘I don’t think you’d want to…’

And Sarah Jane leapt at this. One last beat of hope! ‘Sounds like you’ve got something to hide.’

The Colonel just sighed and said gently ‘Miss Smith, he was…hurt.’

The two women faced one another, almost challenging the other to say something again.

Sarah Jane finally turned away. ‘I don’t even know what he looks like,’ she said quietly.

‘I’m sorry?’ said Karim.

‘I think he regenerated. The last time I saw him,’ Sarah Jane’s voice cracked slightly. ‘He didn’t say a word. Just looked at me as though…’ She took a deep breath. ‘That body could have a different face and I wouldn’t know if it was him.’

And a tear ran down her cheek and Rani took her hand. ‘I’m sorry.’

Sarah Jane looked at the two of them. ‘If you don’t mind, I just need to gather my thoughts.’

Clyde wasn’t sure what that meant, but Rani evidently did because she stood up. ‘Course,’ she said and yanked Clyde up and led him to a pew on the far side of the room.

‘Honoured guests, steeped in grief and misery,’ said Azure, folding his wings back beneath his robes. ‘This is the Cradle of the Lost Chords; its bittersweet melody will unite you in sorrow.’

To the right of the dais, in front of where Clyde and Rani now sat, was a peculiar object on a plinth that Clyde thought looked like a cross between a harp and bagpipes. The red-jewelled Shansheeth, Amaranth, stood beside it and began plucking at the strings that ranged across it and surprisingly beautiful music came from it.

Clyde felt a lump in his throat, as if he was about to cry. He took a deep breath. ‘That’s powerful music,’ he muttered to Rani, whose cheeks were already glistening as she was affected by the sounds.

Azure was speaking again. ‘Close your eyes. Remember.’

Clyde saw Rani close her eyes. And Sarah Jane. And all the other people in the room. Apart from Colonel Karim, who had crossed reverently to the doors and with a quick look at the yellow-jewelled Shansheeth, Aureolin, standing there, she backed out of the room and closed the doors, shutting the UNIT world out completely.

Clyde listened to the music and felt his eyes close; with a swell he remembered the Doctor.

At the wedding.

Facing the Trickster.

Sarah Jane’s husband fading away.

The exploration of the TARDIS.

And then he saw himself touching the TARDIS door. And the blue electrical energy crackling around his palm for the first time.

And his eyes popped open.

Unseen by anyone else, that energy was there again.

He shoved his hands into his pockets and glanced across the room to Sarah Jane, whose eyes were tightly shut. He couldn’t begin to imagine what she was remembering. Her time with the Doctor went back so far, long before Clyde was even born. The things she must have seen, the planets and races she must have visited.

He was slightly jealous, but in a good way.

The music was still strumming away. The candles were giving off a strange incense-like smell.

And it briefly crossed his mind that everyone seemed to be almost entranced.

And he was aware that all three Shansheeth were staring at him. Straight at him. As if angry that he wasn’t joining in. Remembering.

But then the atmosphere was broken as behind Clyde, by the doorway, there was a crash as something hit the floor and broke.

The music stopped suddenly and everyone opened their eyes and looked across.

Two people stood in the doorway.

One was a tall teenage boy, dressed in cool casual clothes – and as unfunereal as you could get – tanned and clearly athletic, with bright intelligent blue eyes and wavy blond hair.

And the other was a much shorter, older woman, so slight she might have been invisible in the wrong light. She was wearing simple denim jeans and shirt and a pair of sneakers, but with high heels. And she was covered with a wrap that on her looked more like a blanket, decorated in what Clyde thought looked like it had come from Native American Indians or something. Her hair was snow white, which was a stark contrast to her well-tanned face.

The two of them had obviously spent a lot of time in warmer parts of the world than London!

‘Oh, so sorry,’ she said in a loud voice. ‘Sorry, don’t mind me. I brought flowers, which is silly, there’s no need is there?’

And on the floor, Clyde realised, was a smashed vase of long white lilies.

‘But I saw these lilies and the vase was so lovely – it was hand-blown by some Asian-Argentines, although I don’t suppose you’d actually use your hands, would you? Cos glass must get awfully hot –’

Perhaps in an attempt to quieten her gabbling, the yellow-jewelled Shansheeth by the door bowed its head. ‘I am Aureolin of the Claw Shansheeth. I’m so sorry for your loss.’

‘Oh, thank you,’ she replied and without taking a breath added, ‘aren’t you gorgeous?’

The other two Shansheeth repeated the mantra and she nodded to them both.

‘I know,’ she said. ‘Isn’t it terrible?’ She reached out to touch Aureolin’s robes. ‘Oh, you are gorgeous – I wish I had my glasses, you’re like vultures. Lovely, big alien vultures.’ She grabbed the boy’s arm, as if trying to make him touch the robes too. ‘Look, babe, aren’t they wonderful? And nothing to be scared of. Just like I taught you.’ And she sighed loudly and a little sadly. ‘Oh, I’ve missed all this.’

She bent down and scooped up the dropped flowers, passing them to the boy. ‘Get rid of these, sweetheart, there’s a good boy.’

With a smile, he carried them to a small table near the door, throwing Clyde and Rani a look that said how pleased he was to see someone of his own age in the room.

Rani motioned for him to join them, as the woman looked around at all the people sat there, nodding at some, touching shoulders or arms as she started to apologise. ‘Sorry, sorry, oh, hullo I like your hat and sorry. I’m making an awful noise, aren’t I? Although –’ and she was facing Sarah Jane now, who had stood up, unlike the rest of the astonished guests. ‘Although there’s a tribe called the Nambikwara on the Mato Grosso – I lived there, back in ’83 – and anyway, they sing all night when there’s a funeral. They sing like birds, I swear, it’s the most astonishing sound.’

And Sarah Jane smiled at her.

‘I’m sorry, do I know you?’ the woman asked Sarah Jane.

‘We’ve never actually met, but it’s Jo Grant, isn’t it?’

The woman smiled a huge grin. ‘Long time since I’ve heard that name. It’s Jo Jones since I got married.’

‘I met the Doctor just after you left,’ Sarah Jane said. ‘You’d gone to live in the Amazon.’

The woman, Jo, clicked her fingers. ‘Of course, they told me about you when I tried to call the Brigadier one day. He’s in Peru a lot, you know.’

‘I know,’ Sarah Jane smiled and held out her hand. ‘I’m –’

‘Sarah Jane Smith,’ Jo grinned back. ‘After all this time. And you are so beautiful!’

The two instant new friends gripped one another’s hands. ‘They used to tell me so many stories about you, at UNIT,’ Sarah Jane said.

Jo looked slightly wistful at the memories. ‘Those soldier boys. Happy days.’

Sarah Jane noticed the yellow-jewelled Shansheeth by the door staring at them, perhaps wanting them to stop talking, so the service could carry on – and she ignored it.

‘You still married then?’

‘Clifford,’ Jo said. ‘About thirty years now! We left him picketing an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico to come here. We’ve got seven children.’

Sarah Jane stared agog. ‘Seven?’

‘And that gorgeous boy over there,’ she pointed at the young man who had arrived with her, ‘he’s one of twelve grandchildren. Number thirteen on its way, too!’

Sarah Jane just hugged Jo again. ‘I’ve got one son, Luke. He’s just gone to university, in Oxford. I miss him.’ And perhaps anticipating Jo’s next question, she shook her head slowly. ‘No – no father in the picture.’

Jo grinned broadly. ‘Playing the field? Good on you, girl.’

‘It’s not quite like that,’ Sarah Jane said, looking a little embarrassed. ‘It’s complicated.’ Then she changed tack and led Jo to the pews and they finally sat down and lowered their voices. ‘It’s funny, all of this today,’ she waved her hand towards the Shansheeth, who all seemed to be staring at them now. ‘Got me thinking. Because the Doctor showed me such a remarkable life, and once he’d gone…well, it took me a long while to get over it.’

‘Me too,’ said Jo.

‘Then he came back.’ Sarah Jane paused, remembering the times the Doctor had briefly touched her life again. And as one the Shansheeth seemed to take a step closer, and the music from the Cradle got fractionally louder, as Sarah Jane’s mind brought more memories back. Deffry Vale School, where she and the Doctor stopped the Krillitane…fighting Brother Lassar…the Skasas Paradigm…and him upgrading K-9…giving her the sonic lipstick…

‘Who came back?’ Jo asked slowly, her voice a bit slow, as if she didn’t quite get what Sarah Jane was saying. ‘The Doctor?’

Sarah Jane nodded happily. ‘Yeah.’

‘Do you mean…recently?’

And Sarah Jane realised Jo was upset. And she hadn’t meant to upset her, but she couldn’t lie now. ‘About…about four years ago.’

‘I never saw him again.’

And Jo was thinking about the night Cliff Jones proposed to her. In that homely little cottage in Llanfairfach, Wales. And the big party with all their friends laughing and cheering. And the Doctor. Suddenly so lonely. Slipping quietly away from the party, hoping no one had noticed his sadness amidst all the happiness. But Jo had noticed and although she couldn’t, and wouldn’t, change her and Cliff for anything in the world, she always felt a pang of guilt that wanting to be married had stopped her and the Doctor staying together.

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