"There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights." -Bram Stoker, Dracula
"You don't talk about her much." Clara's chirpy voice reverberates throughout the console room. It sounds too warm and sweet to be bouncing off such cool metals walls. He deliberately ignores the question not so subtly hidden in her statement. Clara senses this, of course, and at his lack of answer, she prods him again. "Why?"
"What would be the point?" He shrugs coolly, adjusting one of the dials with one spindly, elegant finger. "You can't talk someone back into existence."
Clara fights the urge to flinch at his facts, but it's hardly his fault she doesn't like the truth. Rather than letting his brashness get the best of her, she combats his rough edges with her own more subtle barbs, squaring her petite shoulders and looking him straight in the eye. "And not talking about her doesn't negate the fact that she existed. It won't make the feelings go away."
The Doctor looks away, mostly out of annoyance. He really doesn't want to think about it, much less talk about it. He was doing a fine job repressing and not caring, detachment his newest defense mechanism. He thinks it might actually be his new 'thing', that he'll wear indifference the way his former selves wore scarves and sand shoes and bow ties. "At least my way doesn't end in you giving me that face."
"What face?" Clara looks affronted, folding her arms across her chest.
"You know." He bats a dismissive hand in her direction. "The big, watery puppy eyes."
"I do not do that." Clara scoffs defensively.
The Doctor merely snorts, a derisive, knowing sound that prompts Clara into standing to her full height, a whole five feet and one inch of defiance.
"See, totally normal." She says playfully, trying her best to look stoic. "I'm a brick wall, no emotional animal eyes of any kind."
He can tell she's put great deal of effort into schooling her features into something flat and passive. She failed miserably. "Whatever you say, Clara." He says, smooth, casual, and completely unmoved by her attempt at humor.
The young girl deflates, rounding the console to stand by his side. "Doctor, please. I want to know what she was like. Why won't you-"
"Why do you care?" The Doctor snaps, temper flaring and fading like a firecracker, bright and hot but gone just as quickly. "Why does it even matter to you?"
Clara doesn't flinch against the current of his harsh words; she just looks hurt, those chocolate, doe eyes of hers widening in that pitying expression she so often gives him now a days. He wonders if it's directed at him or if it's internal, a small sentiment of mourning for the Doctor he used to be. "Because you're my friend." She says, voice soft but firm. "And she clearly meant something to you, so that... That means something to me."
He resists the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. He knows she's not intentionally trying to irritate him. It's hardly her fault his people skills are painfully lacking this go around. "Clara," he begins, voice deliberately softer than before as he says, "I don't really-"
"Just one thing." She cuts him off. "One little thing. Please. I think it would be good for you."
His eyes narrow at her, their closed off, predatory nature proving a harsh contrast to her innocent, open ones. They stay locked in their silent, stubborn battle for a long moment, neither one willing to back down. But he must be getting tired in his old age because he relents first, giving a decidedly Scottish huff before making his way to the stairs. The Doctor makes no graceful attempts at sitting down; instead, he plops down like its the console's fault his companions are so bloody nosey.
Dutifully, Clara comes to sit by his side, wordlessly waiting for him to speak. He's tempted to say nothing out of pure spite. To wait her out until she gets sick of his childishness and stalks out of the room or until she annoys him into a fit of regeneration and this whole ordeal will be his next self's problem. And while it's all a very amusing thought, even he knows he's not capable of that. His little control freak always gets her way.
But that truth does nothing to change the real reason of why he hardly speaks about her. His head is tumbling with sums and facts and scattered information, most of it useless. He could recite books and speeches and every moon orbiting every planet and every star and galaxy and so on and so forth. But he never knows what to say about Ri- her. He knows her every bit as well as he knows the constellations. He knows her likes and dislikes, moments she cherishes and days she'd rather forget, all her fears and secrets and regrets. He knows everything, and therefore knows not where to begin. Their story wasn't a straight line from start to finish. It was a complex web, a multitude of puzzles all scrambled together. They were a deck of cards being flipped at random and never showing up in the same order twice. There was no beginning or end. So in that sense, it was lucky Clara hadn't asked for the whole story. She had, however, unknowingly asked an infinitely harder question. How does one tell just one thing, read one line in a book, or see just one color? By reducing and simplifying it, it loses it's magic, it's beauty, it's spirit.
But, he supposes, if he was to say one thing about her, just one thing to describe everything she was and is, everything she means and represents, there is only one thing that comes to mind, one basic truth.
"There are two types of good people in the world." The Doctor begins without any ado whatsoever, his quiet voice disturbing the silence around them, a pebble making ripples in placid water. "There are suns, who shine bright and clear and absolute. They are warm and their beauty is pure and plain to see. They chase away darkness, reducing it to shadows. Then there are moons, who light up the darkness, shinning in spite of it. Their true glory is only revealed by the contrast of night. When times are the hardest, they shine the brightest. They don't blind with their light; they glow, subtle and silver and comforting. But they also have a dark side most of the world will never see. They are streaked with scars, blemishes, and craters, humbled by imperfection."
He pauses a moment, eyes fixed on his hands, their weathered appearance finally giving a glimpse of the raging storms he's lived through and the ones that still swell inside.
"My companions, those I choose to surround myself with, they are suns. They come and go. They light up the world around them and then disappear, fade away and plunge everything into night. But moons are constant, always there, always watching, waiting, never changing. And River," he nearly chokes on her name, not because he finds it hard to say, but because it's much too easy. Like if he says it once he may never stop saying it. "River was a moon. She wasn't afraid of the dark. She tamed it, brought out the best in it."
Clara sits patient, still. He doesn't look up to see if her eyes glisten with unshed tears or if her chest swells as she breathes in the thick air around them. The Doctor has a different face in mind, one with sharp features and a knowing voice. He pictures eyes that blaze with stories and years, with green and gold and love and sadness.
When his young companion finally breaks the silence, she sees fit to change the subject, seemingly satisfied with his confession. "And which type are you?"
The Doctor's lips curl into a subtle smile that isn't a smile at all. "Sweet Clara." He exhales her name in a long, tired sigh because Clara doesn't understand. No one ever does. "I am the darkness."