A/N: Here we are, on the last page. The full note is at the bottom, because I don't want to spoil anything. The song I had in mind while writing was You Me At Six's new one (technically it's not released until Monday, but it got leaked) called Wild Ones, if you want to give it a listen. A massive last thank you to all my wonderful reviewers: daddyslittleabomination, Raedmeout, LoserAlert, NoLongerAGuest, Guest, Me, DesiringMagic, doctor who, AnimeWhoLock, OhMyStarsShiz, Guest, xandrota, XxSnowyDreamsxX, NeverMessWithTeddyBears, ImpossibleClara9, Guest, ThePotterDoctor and Whouffle to the max. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter Twenty Five: And Whispers of Forever
It might take time, it might take faith
The things we build, they'll never break
There's some nights we're worlds apart
Not this time, no goodbyes
The Doctor rearranged the flowers on the kitchen counter for a third time. One of the furry green stalks had a crease in its skin, and kept flopping over the side of the vase, which was starting to greatly irritate him. He didn't know whether to keep it hidden in the centre of the bunch or throw it out of the window in his utter frustration, since it was disrupting his perfect setting.
It wasn't the poor flower's fault, after all. He was taking out his nervous anxiety on a bunch of flowers, in an attempt to do anything but focus on the obvious. He was striving for perfection because any moment now, perfection might be lost forever. As that thought crossed his mind, he rapped the white kitchen counter with his fingers, matching the rhythm of his hearts, before he stood up straight, took a deep breath and walked out of the small kitchen and back into the bedroom.
Clara was lying, spread out, on the double bed under a heap of red duvets. The Doctor tiptoed over the claret carpet and gently sat on the edge of the bed. She had been unconscious for a while now; too long for the Doctor to feel relaxed. He waited, quite patiently, caught in a constant in between state of worry and hope. There was nothing else he could do now, especially since everything was so perfect – apart from that one flower in the kitchen.
He stayed there, exactly where he was, staring out of the small bedroom window, lost in a daydream. Around half an hour later, when the Doctor was about to rearrange the flowers again, he heard a tiny squeak from underneath he covers.
For a moment he thought he simply imagined it. Some things were just too good to be true.
Clara was moving. She was waking up!
The Doctor's hands flew into the air, unsure what to do, how to present himself, if he should leave or if he should stay put. Without even thinking, he quickly shuffled further up the bed to peek over the blankets.
He could practically feel his future hanging in the balance and it was making him sick with worry.
Clara pushed herself higher onto the pillow while leaning on her forearms. She squinted, eyes blinking rapidly against the bright daylight, and her hand immediately flew up to rest on her forehead. Then, as the world came into focus, her gaze landed on the Doctor.
For a brief moment, Clara's eyes were completely blank as she looked at him. The Doctor's heart dropped to his feet and landed with a harsh thud on the floor.
But, as quick as it came, it vanished. A sparkle appeared in its place, and accompanied with it, a small mischievous grin.
"Were you watching me sleep?"
It took a second or two for both of the Doctor's hearts to start beating again. He suppressed a sob. His hands grabbed her face as his stomach somersaulted with pure relieved joy. Clara stiffened as he pressed rough, hard kisses over her entire face and everywhere else he could reach. She patted his floppy hair, completely confused, and found herself laughing at his sudden flout of affection.
"What – who died?" she teased, slowly pushing him away so she could look at him.
His smile faltered as her words pierced his hearts. "You – you almost died." He breathed out a huge sigh, one which he had been holding in all this time without knowing, and as another wave of relief and appreciation flooded over him, he lunged forward, his arms out stretched and wrapped Clara in an enormous hug. He could feel her steady heartbeat against his own and, in that moment, he'd never felt anything better in his entire life.
Clara was more than a little amused. She hugged the Doctor back, resting her chin on his shoulder. It was only then did she realise she didn't have a clue where she was. This wasn't her bedroom at the Maitland's – she'd never been here before.
Yet, her stuff was here. Her furniture, her curtains. Everything.
What the hell happened?
"Doctor," Clara prompted. Her chest was feeling heavy. When he didn't budge a single inch, she said again, "Doctor, you need to let go."
"Why?" he moaned into the skin on her neck.
"I can't breathe."
As if he was breaking himself in two, he slowly pulled away but continued to hold onto her hands. She was blushing under his persistent stare, quite embarrassed and a tiny bit confused as to what happened to make him like this – what happened that made her end up in a bed in a strange room she'd never seen before.
So many questions.
"How do you feel?" he asked, his voice still shaking with suppressed emotions. He felt as if he could run a marathon or climb the walls. "Do you feel okay?"
"I feel fine, I feel –" Clara's eyebrows pulled together as she considered the word she was about to use. Why hadn't she felt like this before? "Happy," she concluded. "I feel happy."
The Doctor laughed and lowered his head. Clara watched him, curiously. She frowned as she saw a small teardrop drip from his eye and land on the red duvet. She shuffled towards him, stroking his arm. "Doctor, what's wrong?" She was starting to worry now. "Doctor?"
He glanced up at her, shaking his head, his eyes still crying as they met her gaze. "That's so human," he claimed, wiping his wet face. "Happy sad. Happy sad tears."
Clara blinked for clarity. "Why are you happy sad?"
The Doctor licked his lips. He held Clara's face, thumb gently stroking the delicate skin underneath her eye. He could stare at her all day – marvel in the fact that she was Clara, his impossible girl, resilient to almost anything, and once again she had survived. Surely that was one of the greatest marvels of the universe? He'd found someone a little less breakable that what he was used to. Someone who might be small, but she most definitely wasn't fragile. She was a fighter, a lover, the most caring being he had ever come across. His hearts were too full of emotion to even begin to explain himself properly. He was worried he would burst.
"What do you remember, Clara? Hm?" he asked. "Do you remember what happened?"
When he'd asked her the same question before, he could see the literal confusion and disorientation in her eyes. It showed on her face like an aged pressure, one someone only had if they'd led a life they shouldn't. But now, her face was young and carefree – clear and fresh. She wasn't broken anymore, she was back to being normal Clara. Utterly and completely.
He'd finally fixed her for a change.
"It's there, all of it," she told him, only a hint of sadness in her eyes. "But I can't quite reach it now. Like a dream. It keeps escaping me. Although, I can't – I don't know how I ended up in this bed with you staring at me. Care to enlighten me on that little detail?"
He smiled as he watched the humorous glitter twinkle in her eyes. Oh, how he'd missed that look.
"Of course, immediate events would be forgotten almost instantly. You mightn't ever remember what happened on Asterix XII." He paused, his brow furrowing. Should he tell her? Should he burden the load onto her shoulders of the terrible events of their most recent adventure? How would she take it – how do you even begin to explain all of that? It didn't make a pleasant story to tell. Between Clara being mercilessly interrogated by the tyrannical Great Intelligence and losing Joshua in amongst the fear and confusion, the Doctor wished that he could forget.
Some things were better left unsaid. That's what Clara had told him, and that's what he was going to stick by.
"Can I give you the short version?" he asked, now a tiny bit awkward.
Clara wasn't stupid. She was very intelligent. He could tell, with how her gaze narrowed ever so slightly, and how her eyes flicked to stare all over his face, to judge his entire expression, that Clara was aware he wasn't going to tell her the complete truth. She could tell that something had happened, something terrible, from how he'd reacted to her waking up, to how he was acting now, talking about the events.
All she knew was that her mind had been tearing into a thousand shreds, and he had managed to fix her. All of the other details were fading.
Clara nodded. "Short version will do."
She trusted him. He would only tell her what was important. Maybe she could squeeze out the whole story another day.
"We ran into trouble. We got into trouble. We both got each other out of trouble. Then I healed your mind. For good."
Clara smirked. "I have another question."
"Anything," he answered quickly, taking her hands in his own once again. "Anything you'd like."
She gestured to the room around them. "Where are we?"
If she thought his handsome face was happy before, well, it was definitely ecstatic now. He made a noise of triumph, of delight and his eyes crinkled in the corners. "I'm glad you asked, Clara Oswald!"
He jumped to his feet and offered his hand to help her out of bed. Her legs were a bit shaky, but it only lasted for a few minutes. He waited until she was absolutely ready to move before slowly leading her by the hand out of the bedroom door and into the rest of the flat.
"This is the living room!" he announced, pointing out individual characteristics. "Nice little fireplace I put in myself, hope you like the colour of the sofa – I thought you would! That's a clock over there; everyone needs a clock, don't they? Um, bookshelf, television – oh, about the television; I accidentally tuned in some channels which shouldn't really belong to twenty-first century programming. But shush, it'll be out little secret."
Clara glanced around, with wide eyes, trying to keep up with everything he was saying. Yes, this was quite clearly a living room. A nice living room, at that. But he wasn't making any sense. As she opened her mouth to ask what he was on about, he silenced her by dragging her across the hall and into the next room.
"This is the dining room!" he proclaimed, pulling her around the table in the centre. "I didn't really know what to do with this room – dining rooms are a bit bland, in my opinion, all you can do is eat in them, but I tried my best and used my initiative. That there, on the wall, is a painting by Georgia O'Keefe. Yes, the original, before you ask. Lovely woman, only too keen to help. Mind, I think it was because she fancied me. Now, moving on!"
Once more, he dragged an astonished and confused Clara by the hand into the next room.
"And this is the kitchen! Bit small, but it should do. I know you needed a kitchen because you like cooking – well, everyone needs a kitchen, I suppose. Top of the range cooker, whatever that means. The guy in the shop seemed to think it was a big deal. He was very passionate about cookers. Washing machine, kettle, teacups – oh, look at this one, Clara! It has bowties all over it! And yes, I did that on purpose. Um, what else? Toaster over there by the sink. Microwave. Little spice rack thingy."
His eyes landed on the flowers in the vase on the opposite side of the room and he smiled. They looked beautiful now, for some reason. He redirected his gaze expectedly at Clara, who was still staring around the place as if it couldn't be trusted.
"Ah!" he exclaimed. "You're wondering where the bathroom is! Don't worry; it's attached to your bedroom."
Clara shook her head. "Doctor, what is this?"
He frowned. "Well, it's a flat."
"Yeah, got that, but whose flat?"
Oh. He'd been too busy showing off his work that he'd actually forgotten to explain the most important thing of all. His face lit up into an enigmatic grin, as he explained, "It's your flat."
Clara was gaping. "But I don't have a flat!"
"You do now!"
She still didn't understand. The Doctor raised his eyebrows and stood closer to her, so that their bodies were brushing against each other. He was looking down at her with a soft, sad smile on his lips. His hazel green eyes lifted, and in that low, passionate tone of his, he elaborated.
"You won't remember this, but, you said you felt like you didn't belong anywhere. And I know, from personal experience, as much as you feel at home with someone else, sometimes a physical place to call home can't compare. I want you to feel like you belong, Clara. So I bought this place. For you. So you had somewhere you could call home – and it's all yours. All of it."
Clara's eyes felt wet as they glazed over. Her heart was beating rapidly against her chest, almost making it hard for her to breathe. "You… bought me this flat?"
The Doctor shrugged nonchalantly, brushing off the suggestion. "It was no biggie. Money isn't hard to come by when you have a sonic screwdriver, and I know the Land Lord quite well since I knew someone else, a long time ago, who used to live here. I gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. And you were unconscious for quite some time – so I was bored for a few days. Thought I'd decorate the place for when you woke up."
He brushed a hand over her head, his voice suddenly very timid. "It was the least I could do for you. After everything you've done for me. It's about time someone cared for you for a change."
His words were like a physical punch to her stomach. Blinking away the happy sad tears that had clouded her eyes, Clara flung her arms around the Doctor's neck and locked her lips onto his mouth. He reacted almost instantly; scooping her up in his arms as he absorbed himself in the feeling of her lips against his. Her heart swelled as she registered his enthusiastic reaction. She opened her mouth and traced her tongue over the outline of his lips. One of his hands nestled into her soft hair while the other gripped her back. He moaned in protest as Clara broke off their contact; she was staring at him, their faces level as he held her up, with an amused grin.
"Have we done this before?" she asked as the thought occurred to her. "Have we done this before and I can't remember?"
The Doctor blushed. "Yes. Quite a few times, actually." He paused, reading her reaction, before adding, "Can we do it again?"
Clara laughed, her hand reaching up to caress the Doctor's cheek. "No complaints from me!"
He squeezed her tighter and pressed a delicate kiss on her forehead. Then he lowered her back to the ground, earning a small look of disappointment from Clara, and said, "Clara, we need to talk."
She grimaced, her nose scrunching up. "I guessed as much. What's it about?"
"You," he said, simply. "Saving me. Time and time again."
Clara raised an eyebrow. "Are you expecting an apology?"
He should've expected such an answer. But he was being serious, and he meant what he was about to say with all of his soul. "No. I want you to say you won't do it." His tone was intentionally flat now to show how serious he was. "You can promise never to save me again."
"And you can promise never to save my life again," she retorted. His eyes fell to the floor, and so, she tilted her head backwards to get a better look at him. "Exactly. Not an easy promise to keep." Sighing, she crossed her arms under her chest. "Is this the only way?"
The Doctor's shoulders slumped. He reached out to touch her again, his fingers gently dancing along her jaw before resting on her collarbone. He couldn't meet her gaze. "We both want each other to make a promise we know we won't keep."
Can't keep, Clara corrected to herself. Clara could never imagine a situation where she would ever save herself over the Doctor, or at least try to help him. No matter what the risk, she would always be there. Neither one of them could predict the future, neither one could see what was coming next. Despite the uncertainty that toned everyday life, especially in peace and love, they were asking one another to commit to a statement which could be irrelevant, or on the other hand, completely relevant, to what lay ahead for them. They should be dreaming of their future, not dreading it. Dreaming had no consequences; life had many, which they both had experienced recently. But now – now was the time to say irreplaceable words, guarantees without any guarantee.
"Or, we can flip it," suggested Clara, retaking the Doctor's hand. "Instead of saying things we don't mean, why don't we say things we do?" She met his smile and said, "I can promise to always be there for you when you need me, no matter what. How does that sound?"
The Doctor blinked. He knew her words translated into the opposite of what he wanted: what she really meant was that she would continue to risk everything for him. But, even with this in mind, he couldn't deny how amazingly perfect it was for her to say that she would be there for him. Someone he could lean on, unconditionally. They both knew, they were both intelligent enough, to understand that what they were saying right now meant nothing, in the long run. The Doctor had experienced loss time and time again, and the more that Clara pulled at his heartstrings, the more he knew it was going to hurt later. Why be happy now, when he knew he was going to lose her later? The answer: because he was going to lose her later. Right now, she was here. Right now, she was his everything.
"It sounds like a promise I can also keep," he said, this time meeting her eyes. His heart wanted to whisper forever, but in his case, forever couldn't last too long. Their eyes were betraying their true emotions, their true understanding. It was like an electric bond that ran between the hazel green and warm brown, but it lit the dark, unknown corners of their hearts.
"I will follow you anywhere, and I will keep you safe. For as long as I live," the Doctor vowed. Clara's heart fluttered as he pulled her into a tight hug, and she was glad he did, so he couldn't see the tears ready to fall from her eyelashes. He closed his eyes for a moment, to let the meaning behind his words find their full voice. "I would promise forever, if I could give it to you, Clara Oswald. With all that I am."
But she didn't need it – they didn't need it. It seemed that with each time they went on an adventure, the danger was getting stronger. This, in turn, made their passion and adoration live and grow. They were clinging on to this life together, knowing all too well what the consequences could hold. Right in this moment, they were living in the now. Saying words which would one day they could remember and regret, and saying them anyway, because even though some things didn't need to be said, other things did if they were to continue to be how they were before.
Clara pulled away to initiate a kiss. The Doctor met her halfway, lost in their own piece of paradise. It was a true kiss, a deep kiss, one which whispered their unnameable feelings and irretrievable desires. But it was pure and real and perfectly impossible, shining with hope and glittering with feelings they knew they could never share, as they braced themselves for the future and dreamt of what could be. This is what the Doctor and Clara were made of – this was their very essence; complete dedication and adoration, hope and tragedy, dreams and consequences, unintentionally layered with fragile promises.
You and I will go so far
You and I will light the dark
You're the better half of me
You're the only half I need
And are we gonna live forever?
Are we gonna live forever – no
When you're gone, there's no one to lean on
It's just me, myself and I
So are we gonna live forever?
(You Me At Six/Wild Ones/Cavalier Youth)
Note: I was never going to kill Clara – not when this story is set between Name and Day! I just wanted to convince some of you that I might. If anyone is interested, I will be writing again. I'm going to explain this more on my Tumblr account, but my next story will either be a Political AU (a lot more exciting than it sounds; where the Doctor and Clara are politicians, slowly fall in love while investigating the wrongdoings of their opposition, a political party led by a man conveniently named Simeon, might be called 'Politics of the Heart') or an AU Time of the Doctor, which is probably the weaker idea at the moment. I should upload the first chapter within the next few days! Anyway, this has been an absolute pleasure to write and I've loved and appreciated every single review. Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you again soon!