It was easy to blame the first of them. It was his fault, giving out a piece of technology that could span timelines so that every incarnation would get the same message at the same time, causing this issue in the first place.
"And what?" the first demanded, "Let that young fellow go all by himself simply because he is the latest? Hmph!"
"What do you mean hmph!?" the latest demanded, his eyes bulging with irritation at himself. "I have every right to go as you do!"
The separate timelines blending would cause irreparable damage, but there was no way they could pick just one of them to attend. They had even tried, at one point, to pick only one by drawing straws. But, the Edwardian chap in the velvet frock coat kept slight-of-handing the right straw, and the little one in the fur coat kept challenging the Bond-esque fellow with the mop of white hair, and the bloke in the leather jacket said he was going, and no stupid drawing was going to stop him.
In the end, they all just went. They promised to take the memory of the event with the regeneration, so that there weren't memory loops causing even more damage.
Where they sat depended entirely on who they were. The old man with the cane, he sat near the front of the row of metal chairs, his granddaughter leaning against his shoulder. The short one in the fur coat sat in the second row, fussing terribly with the ruffle-and-velvet clad tall one who sat next to him. The scarf-draped bohemian stood just a distance from the chairs, a confused-looking blonde woman at his arm.
"This can't be proper in any form, Doctor," she said. "All of you together at once? That's horrific!"
"You see, this is why I'm standing over here, Romana. You have no tact in a situation like this, none!"
"I sympathize in your emotion, Doctor, I just don't think grief is an excuse for blatantly disrupting the laws of time!"
Back at the chairs, the blond haired one in the cricketer's outfit sat in the back row, quieter and stiller than the rest. The rainbow-coated one fidgeted with his tie---blue, the official colour of morning in sixteen galaxies---as he sat in the front row. The brown-coated Scot sat in the back, passing the handle of his question-mark umbrella back and forth, focusing on the feel of that to cover up any emotions those around him expressed willingly. The Edwardian stood by the chairs, looking every bit a lost little boy. The leather jacket-clad one stood far off from the group, leaning against a tree.
The eldest, dressed in a blue suit with red trainers, arrived five minutes late, sliding into a chair in the front row as he brushed debris off his shoulder.
"It's your own funeral you're supposed to be late for," the one in the fur coat chastised. "Isn't this all important to you?"
"Of course it's important to me, don't you think that it would be---"
"Stop it," the one with the question mark umbrella said, pointing an accusatory finger at the one in the fur coat.
"Just making light of a situation! Why do you all have to be so defensive?!"
"Shhh!" the Edwardian one snapped.
The rainbow-clad one made a noise that was probably meant to show how unimpressed he was with the entire situation. "Can't wait to get older," he grumbled, "I'll lose the ability to take light of serious situations."
"Some situations are meant to be taken seriously," the one with the question mark umbrella said.
"Like when you went all stupidly human and fell in love with women named Joan?"
"Oi!" the one with the question mark umbrella and the one in the red trainers said simultaneously.
"Oh, don't worry about him old chap," the ruffled one said. "He's a bit tetchy because the lunch is after the funeral and I'm fairly certain he was prepared for it to be before."
"It's called a Dredgy," the cricketer whispered.
"Really? Whatever for?" the one in the fur coat asked. "He was far from Scottish."
"Yes, but he was a Stewart," the one with the question-mark umbrella noted, "Of the clan Stewart."
"Will you shush up?" the old man snorted at them. "You're upsetting Susan."
"If you all let me go alone, this wouldn't have happened," the rainbow-coated one grumbled irritably.
"I think that would've been the most foolish thing we could've done." The one in the Edwardian frock said, crossing his arms.
"I wonder where the other three of us are," the cricketer said.
The bohemian stepped towards him. "Probably figured they could skip this bit and move on to the wake afterwards. Sorry, Dredgy. I hope he knows he's not fooling anyone."
The eldest man placed a hand on the widow's arm. She was quiet and patient with the many noisy men standing around her husband's casket, but she had always been patient with them.
"How are you, Doris?" he asked. He hoped he wasn't too terribly off-putting, what with the dirt on his face and his eternally gravity-defying hair.
She offered him a smile. "I don't think we've met yet, have we?" she asked.
"First time for everything," he replied, with a nod, and took her hand.
Doris looked from the eldest man to the casket. She didn't cry, but he never truly expected her to. That wasn't the sort of woman she was.
"He was always very fond of you," she said. She glanced behind herself at the arguing men. "All of you."
The eldest Doctor nodded, and as the casket lowered into the ground, the freshly-laid tombstone silenced all of them. A sobering sight to see, the grave of a companion and friend.
Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
16 December, 1929 – 08 May 2008
Beloved Husband and Companion
"It is written here that Alistair wanted 'the Doctor' to speak his eulogy." The priest looked up from his book, expecting one man to step forward, rather than ten.
They argued for a few moments over who would go first, and eventually came to the decision that chronological order had to be the easiest. It made the eldest roll his eyes and sigh loudly, but he moved to the back of the line.
"Wonderful boy," the old man said, nodding. "He did quite well, quite well. Not often you find someone as utterly devoted to good."
The one in the fur coat was next. "Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart---"
"Brigadier!" the one with the ruffles corrected.
"I know that! I knew that!" He huffed and straightened his coat. "Good man. Not quite possible to replace a man of that caliber, is it?"
"No, I don't imagine it is." The ruffled one hopped up next. His eyes went down to the casket, then back to the people who were there. "Not a lot of men like Lethbridge-Stewart. Good man. Great friend. You'll be missed, Brigadier."
He stepped away from the group, and the fur coated man patted his shoulder sympathetically. For all that they argued, it was still a moment of grief shared.
"The Brigadier…well, good man, isn't he? We all say that." The bohemian tried on a bright, toothy smile, but all of his counterparts knew the lack of sincerity in it. "I know I, well, we…owe our lives to the man lying here." He opened his mouth as if to say more, but changed his mind and closed it. There were too many of them to say too much.
The cricketer stepped up next and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Fine man. I'm quite certain the universe wouldn't be the universe without him."
"I knew the Brigadier…a good number of years by my point," the rainbow-coated one said. "And I can say, without a doubt, he was one of the best men I knew. Almost as good as me, in fact---"
The other men shooed him away.
The man with the question-mark umbrella stepped up next. "There is a saying about time and tide. They never truly applied to the Brigadier, I think. Step out of time he was. Good man."
The Edwardian spoke, his voice subdued. "I imagine that one of the reasons why I love this planet so much is for men like the one here. Excellent fellow, he was." The rest of the mourners who did not know the Doctor probably did not understand his comment about loving the planet, but they probably also didn't understand why ten men said the eulogy of one.
"He was a good soldier," the man in the leather jacket spoke with a strong Northern accent. "More than that, he was a fantastic person." Simple and concise. He stepped aside.
The eldest spoke next. "I think we've all said what I would say. He was a good man. Brilliant, in fact. Brave and loyal. We only travel with the best, and Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was one of them."
Doris gave them all a small smile, but she still did not cry. The Brigadier would never marry a sobbing wife. She stood, and crumpled a handful of dirt onto her husband's casket. UNIT prepared several guns for a salute of some sort, and the Doctors prepared to leave. They knew the soldier, but it was the man they cared for.
"So." The one in the leather jacket clapped his hands together. "Drop off your companions, then head over to the wake to get properly pissed?"
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,588