Finally, the last one of my drabbles. Dedicated to elisi from LiveJournal, whose wonderful post-finale meta, evoking widower!Doctor, inspired this—or rather, set the atmosphere. The very much depressing atmosphere, I'm afraid. My Doctor, I like him broken quite a bit. *hearts*
Also, TARDIS' POV. I do believe that's a first for me.
The title comes from a line from the gorgeous song No Light, No Light by Florence and the Machine ("You are the hole in my head / You are the space in my bed / You are the silence in between / What I thought and what I said.") Quite fitting of those two and that stage of their relationship.
When he returns, wordless, from Darillium and the bitter end of a story long begun, the TARDIS in homage flashes quiet lights and turns to robes of dismal blue, cool and frigid as a hollow core.
He rests his weary angles in the ones she unfolds around him. A shell she becomes, the emptiness heavier than anything full and blooming—reach to knock, and the echo will ring, loud and harsh and deep, crying out with the life of what once was, and never more. Never is not a concept her wide consciousness easily provides, for what existed always will, always would have. She always has a child, the idea of her folded away, safe. Never is a word that covers nothing, a mere shadow, the cloak pain dons: time travel is the wound of the ever-present, each action leaving its scar through hearts and through the universe. He would know. Still he breathes never like it shapes him, like one of the big, complicated words, and she humours him.
When has she not?
(Always. Guiding him, pulling him, stealing him—just this once, she lets him rest, in mourning.)
Grief settles over him, feasts and festers, turning him into a cold, aching surface, with a core of shadows. Echoes answer echoes into songs that end in screams, and he doesn't cry out with them, doesn't rebel, attempt to smash or fix. He sits for hours, quiet on the floor, tasting what it's like to feel life trickling away, to turn dry and empty and hollow, transparent. Anything left is a shadow. He hosts a city of shadows, that whisper, places and faces flashing beneath his eyelids whenever those dare to drift shut and hope—profanely—for rest.
He doesn't cry. He, occasionally, says her parents' name, leaving hers always unsaid, the void private.
The universe doesn't see. The universe hardly cares.
Love is always lost in the end, he knew, and still reached out and got burnt.
It doesn't burn now, not quite and he wishes it would—she knows. The Doctor learns winter, standing thin, blackened and bare. He calls it the dark days, never mentions the nights. The nights are worst. She leaves the lights on, breaking the easy cycle she'd always set for the convenience of humanity. Still he feels them pass, each one of them a promise he kept and keeps.
His nights are between him and her.
Echoes are everywhere. He holds onto them like splinters of glass planted in his fingers, throwing flashes of reflections, digging mercilessly into the flesh. Echoes are what make him—he thinks he has become a box of his own, bigger on an inside that is an ever-expanding land, acres of new, vacant space growing for the memories.
The living attempt to pull him out into their world. He stubbornly refuses.
One day, another echo steps in, a clear ringing that holds a promise of the yet unknown.
Despite himself, he looks up.