A/N: This was based on the first scene of World Enough and Time, where we see Twelve potentially about to regenerate. This was written out of fear that the writers might not bring Clara back for his regeneration. This is dedicated to everybody who fears it as much as I do.
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me.
The Doctor stumbled out of his big blue phone box before he landed on his knees. Being welcomed by the falling snow and yet feeling like the most unwelcomed being in the entire universe. He was short of breath; his hearts were thudding so rapidly inside of him he feared they would escape his own body; he was fading away.
He looked at himself and he could already see the yellow spark coming out of him. No, it was too soon. He couldn't die just yet, not when he wasn't done living. Not when he wasn't done reminiscing. He still had so many things to make right for his mistakes; so many people to honor after his failure to saving them. But life was being sucked out of him.
Dying, dying. Dead.
Every time he changed his face, it didn't feel like a new phase of his life. It felt like a new life of its own. He would meet new faces, see new places, defeat new monsters; never again the same Doctor he had once been. He hated changing – irony for being a Time Lord – and yet change was printed into his essence.
Change towards a man he would have never seen himself become.
He fell with his hands to the floor. His own mind filled with self-pity and self-disdain. He absolutely hated himself for all the things he was leaving behind, all the people he would probably never see again. The emptiness inside of him he had never gotten around to fulfill and was most likely being left behind, forgotten.
Like everything else he had ever known.
The Doctor felt guilty. He knew somewhere in some galaxy was someone just expecting for him to remember them. Somewhere in the universe was a girl waiting for him. And she would wait forever as he would turn into a new man. One whose face she hadn't gotten around to see, were it due to his careless or hers. Or theirs.
She would die waiting for him. He would die without remembering her.
He closed his eyes. Whoever said that people saw the light before they died was full of crap; he had died so many times, and none of them had been any enlightened. Dying was painful; dark; lonely. It resembled meeting his worst fears all together and losing the battle. Always being defeated by them. Always letting them define whoever he was bound to become.
Always dying to be a man he despised even further.
He tried to keep the regeneration energy inside of him, even if just for one minute longer. He didn't know where the TARDIS had brought him, he could only assume it was a place of importance. He could only guess he had only last purpose before his time was up. He could only pray he would be granted at least one victory in the midst of all his failures.
Victory was borderline impossible when the clock was ticking just behind his ear.
When the Doctor dared to open his lids, everything was blurry. He was slowing and gradually turning out of synch. A different phase than the rest of the world. He was losing all the links he still held with the universe and he knew; his life was slipping through his fingers and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
He was in the edge of giving up when he felt something grab him by the hand.
He wanted to shout at them, demand for them to go away. To leave him alone before his body started to modify itself. If his companions already struggled to come to terms with his regenerations, he could only imagine what it would cause to the foreign eyes. But he remained silent; for the first time in forever, he didn't feel as lonely. He wouldn't mind a company for the final moments of his infinitive short life.
"You're not alone."
Their words punched him. Was him such an open book? Were they telepathic? Were they empathetic? Whoever they were, the Doctor appreciated their courage to make contact; he just wished he could properly see one last face before he regenerated. He squeezed his eyes, clinging onto them for dear life. His body froze down as his vision grew adjusted for the woman standing just next to him.
He was home, at last.
The short brunette woman gave him the purest of smiles as she ran her fingers through the curls of his hair. She was close, so close he feared his regeneration flow would get to her as well. But she wouldn't back away; not out of fear, not out of his request. In that moment, they were almost one body and one soul only. "Don't be scared."
And he wasn't. Not anymore.
The Doctor needed to last just another moment. He wasn't ready to let go of her, whoever she was. He felt her presence to his bones, for that wasn't the first time he had seen her. He knew it wasn't; couldn't be. Inside the deep paths of his brains she was somewhere, it was just a matter of finding her.
He tried to say something, but for the first time in his long life, he was out of words. He had become empty, just as she had appeared to fulfill his being. Her warm smile let him know that everything was bound to be okay; her strong embrace brought him back everything that had been taken away from him, not much to his knowledge, even less to his consent.
He was complete again.
Softly, deftly, he raised his hand towards her. Cupping her jawline, letting his energy flow to her body; feeling her energy flow to his body. One first time, one last time. As their physical contact sharpened, his senses silently abandoned their defenses and heightened each sensation. He didn't have to adventure the hidden places of his memory any further, he didn't have to live his finals moments in agony of forgetfulness.
"Clara," he cried her name, trying to pull her closer, longing to feel her against him, but he was weak. He was no longer the alien man she had gotten to know, he was dying. Any second now, he would vanish forever and leave her behind. The memory of him would haunt his next incarnations just like the memory of him would eventually fade away from her.
No more than words and stories.
"Shh," she melodically told him, just as bossy as she had always been, "Save your energy. You're going to need it," she demanded and he agreed. He guessed she knew him enough as she was quick to wrap his head around her arms and bring him near to her heart. Her unbeating heart.
He wished he could grant her his spare heartbeat and bring her back to life.
"You came back," he whined, sadly, although he wasn't sad to see her. He could never be, not when she was the one to save him so many times. He owed her everything that he once was and eventually would be.
He surrendered himself to her.
She rubbed her fingertips against his face. Her hands were cold, were it to the weather or her body inability to produce any heat; he didn't mind it. The coldness of her limbs matched the coldness of his soul. "Of course I did. I've a duty of care."
Just like he once had had.
The Doctor smiled for her. Clutching hard his fists in vain attempts of holding the regeneration energy inside of him, he tried to reminisce every one of her traits. Not that he needed, not anymore, not when then she was imprinted into his essence. He just didn't want to miss a thing. "I remember you, Clara."
And he would never let go of her again.
Clara rested her head against his. So close to one another they were on the edge of becoming one only. He knew her to be savoring the moment just as much as him, before they both lost everything. "I never thought you wouldn't."
They were both willing to let the universe crumble underneath them.
"Clara," he sang her name once again; it seemed to be the only word his brain still knew how to say. Perhaps as a compensation for all the years passed by having it hidden in the trails of his mind. "I'm dying, Clara."
It was already beginning to tremble beneath them.
"You're not," she was quick to clarify. "This universe relies on you for its survival, you can't die just yet. Ever. You just have to be strong, because things are going to change now, and I know how much you're terrible at changing. But you have to do it anyway. If not for yourself, then do it for me."
She knew him better than he knew himself.
"But you won't be there," he whispered, trying to turn his thoughts away from the cold unfeeling reality, but the reality itself staring him right in the face. He dreaded the idea of finding her again only to lose her in the end.
His spirit was already starting to soar.
Unsurprisingly, her tears met his. "I won't. And that's okay, it's time to give someone else the chance to travel the universe with you," her voice was a mixture of tenderness and tremulousness, "Maybe my time has run out, just like yours. Maybe it's time we both stop lying to ourselves and come to terms with our ravens."
The birds of death were just waiting for them.
The truth they were both keen on denying; if he died, she would die as well. When he died, she would go back to Gallifrey and die as well. Two bodies too much in synch, too much alike. "It's funny you and I, isn't it? That, right now, we're here. And we're happy. That after everything, we made it."
Their love was no more than a cold and broken hallelujah.
She agreed with a nod. "I guess the universe has been kind enough to grant us at least this," she concluded, never once letting go of the smile that fed his soul. She wasn't happy to see him go, no, she just knew she had to be strong for him. It would hurt so much more if they both gave in to their fears and to the darkness they knew they couldn't fight.
They had no more than the memories of the life they knew before.
"Teach me how to be brave, Clara," he begged, because he knew no one else would. No one else could. He had to learn it before the yellow glowing light swallowed him in and he succumbed to a new world of fright and darkness. Dying felt like nothing else for him, especially when he had lost her, the only constant in his life.
Waking up in a new life alone was terrifying.
"How can I teach you how to be brave," she started, holding him so tight she knew she would collapse when she let go of him. And she couldn't hold him forever, "When you were the one to teach me it in the first place?"
He had taught her everything she knew.
He had learned everything he knew from her.
"I'm scared, Clara," he confessed. He didn't have much time left, he was already starting to give in to all the energy floating inside of him. The postponed couldn't be postponed for much longer. Their time was running out.
The stars had already signed their deaths.
"Scared is good," she wanted to reach and hold his hand, but the yellow spark leaking out of his limbs terrified her. "Scared means you've still got something to lose."
He was always doomed to lose everything.
"Clara," he called her out again. He knew it would be the last, "Thank you for making me brave. Thank you for bringing me back to life when I was already so lost inside of me."
She had saved him from himself.
Clara Oswald offered him the strongest smile she could before finally backing away. Watching him go would be too painful; she had already done everything she could. She had already been there for him on his last moments, just like he would be there for her in her lasts. "And thank you for being a Doctor."
They exchanged one last glance.
She took three steps back.
He felt the regenerating fire take over him.
He had died in front of her.
Just like she had died in front of him.
A/N: I sincerely had tears in my eyes when I finished writing this, and I hope this makes right for the unfairness of Twelve and Clara's relationship. Let me know what you think :)