title i have lived
rating, wc PG, 1022
characters Eleventh Doctor, Clara Oswald
an, warning I said I was having feels for Eleven and Clara. Haven't quite worked out the pairing yet, but soon will. Spoilers for Series 7 finale
summary What once was broken has now become whole.
What once was broken has now become whole.
What may be lost eventually finds its way.
What ends, begins again.
These are the last thoughts running through her mind and she doesn't understand because she hasn't ever been particularly philosophical.
These questions become secondary as she lands hard in a desolate place, barren and darkness, fog and ambiguity closing in around her. She knows that there are tears on her face but she isn't quite sure why. She doesn't know where she is and there's nothing familiar to help orient her. She calls out the only coherent word that can form, "Doctor!"
And miraculously he answers.
Her heart lifts as she sees him, all forms of him. No one stops to check on her, too busy running to where they're needed. Always running, barely ever stopping. That's something she's come to learn,
she shakes her head, trying to get the thoughts into order, tense slipping, time becoming liquid and all-where instead of linear. Brown strands stick to her wet cheeks.
What is becoming of her?
Making it to her feet, she stumbles aimlessly. Not even knowing where she's going until he appears.
Is he real? Can he be trusted?
Yes. It's the only answer she's ever known.
This embrace feels so good, so safe. He's here. She can feel the rough tweed under her cheek, feel his slightly cold fingers burying themselves in her thick hair, his nose finding her ear. She wants to live in this moment only. (Or has she lived it already?)
His shoulders stiffen and he lifts his head. She relaxes her hold on him, turning to find out what has arrested his attention so. She hadn't noticed the dark figure at the edge of the plain, his back turned towards them. She hadn't seen him (will she see) when she was traveling with the Doctor in all his regenerations.
"He is me."
Confusion upon confusion.
Is? Was? Will be?
Why can't she get any of this straight? The stranger was the first. No, she hadn't seen him before. But she will (has never).
All this comes in and she feels like her head is about to explode and she can't—knees weak, she falls against the Doctor and into blackness, unable to remain conscious.
Faces, eras, places she's never seen yet has, pass through her.
Clara experiences momentous occasions and mundane incidents all at once, significance not lending weight to any of them.
Her name was Sarah Jane, and she'd been good to the Doctor. Clara didn't have the heart to leave her to find her way home and so gave her bus fare, under the guise of helping a fellow traveler.
There's something pulling her towards now, or at least what she used to (still does) consider now. She gradually becomes aware of the gentle caress of fingers running through her hair. It's soothing. Real. Her eyelids flutter and the hand stops, pulls away.
It was the only thing keeping her grounded and she finds herself slipping back into unreality.
"Doctor!" she half gasps, half screams as she sits up, muscles screeching in protest, hands blindly reaching around her. Her frantic movements still as much larger hands grasp hers, running up her arms and to her shoulders, bringing her forward and into a familiar embrace.
"Doctor," she whispers, burying her face at the base of his neck, breathing in his scent: a mixture of libraries crammed to the brim, sweets, the future and the past. His arms tighten around her and for some reason this makes her cry. She doesn't even know why the tears come now, but they do and it feels like she's pouring herself out on his shoulder, her body wracked with sobs.
He holds her, making nonsensical noises in attempts to comfort her, matching the non-sequiturness of her tears.
Eventually, she's able to get herself under control, but she doesn't move from her position, wrapped in his arms as she is. His hand is running up and down her back, reminiscent of times when she used to have a parent who would do that and she nearly starts crying again.
She pulls slightly away, reluctantly but necessarily, because if they're going to figure out what's happened, the Doctor is going to need her coherent. He lets her move away, his hands moving to her shoulders instead. His hazel eyes meet hers.
"Ah, Clara. My Clara," he says affectionately, giving her a wry smile. She answers with one of her own, wiping at her face. She notices that they're sitting on rough ground, much the same as where she'd landed after…
Pain causes white to flash across her eyes. She makes an inarticulate sound as she grabs her head. It feels like she's about to burst and she doesn't know what she can do to contain it. His hands cover hers and almost immediately the pain recedes. Slowly, afraid that any sudden movements will bring it back, she opens her eyes. "What's happening?"
"You need to sleep," is all he answers and her eyelids feel so heavy.
She's been there since the beginning.
The dying spark in an abandoned capsule hangs on long enough for her to fill the empty spaces that it's leaving behind. This first piece of her sent to find him sings along the veins of the one that will always be there, always lead him where he needs to be, because she knows, she's lived – will live – those steps with him. Her determination, her will attracts that bit of sentience that had been wilting and combines with her, forging an alliance, a oneness that will carry him all that he's supposed to.
Except he's walking right past her doors, as if one TT Type-40 was the same as the other. He should know better than that. But how to get his attention?
She sends herself out and calls him by a name he hasn't yet adopted. He still answers.
And they begin.
Clara's first aware of warmth licking against her face, the solid weight of a jacket upon her. She must've made a sound as she can hear the Doctor shifting closer, the dirt and gravel beneath his shoes giving way. She opens her eyes in time to see his hand reach out to brush back the hair that's fallen across her face, his gaze concerned, his mouth pursed in that worried frown he gets.
She gives him a tired yet affectionate smile, and whispers the thought that's coalesced as she's come to terms with how many lives she's lived and how many ways she's lived it. She watches his mouth go slack in wonder as she drifts off into healing sleep, reconciling the different times and places.
The words echo in the Doctor's mind, the implications astonishing.
"I stole you."
an 2: Inspired by the brilliant idea that Clara is the intelligence/sentience behind the TARDIS since she's been there since the beginning. Put forth by misteranderson.
(I'm also open to prompts.)