Author's Note: I have no idea what is coming in Hell Bent…and while I am sure that this ISN'T going to happen, it is all that I hope will come to pass.
An Echo In A Lonely Diner At The Edge of Silence
"You owe me," the Doctor growled as he faced the Council. He had saved them once again from the rouge president and the people of Gallifrey promised that they would emerge into the universe as a different sort of people. They would go back to their observer ways and not take matters into their own hands. The Doctor had ensured their survival, and now he wanted something from it.
"You owe me," he said again. "And more than that, you owe her. She saved you, all of you. If it hadn't been for her I wouldn't have made the decision to rewrite my own timeline. Without her, I never would have gotten the new regeneration cycle needed to come save you."
The Doctor paused, and saw that the remaining council members were not convinced. "Please," he begged, his voice breaking. "You never should have taken her away from me. I would have come if you had just asked…" he shook his head. "…I've lost so much. I can't lose her too."
"Go to the still moment in time," came a voice from the back of the council chamber. "There you will find her."
The Doctor looked up and saw that the Council were looking at one another, trying to figure out who had given away the truth. No one wanted to admit to it, and the Doctor didn't care.
He ran from the council chamber and stole a Tardis to get him back to his own blue box.
When it landed in twenty-first century London, the Doctor set the controls to go back to where it came from and he stepped out of the doors just as it vanished into thin air.
He then walked around the corner and was struck by the vision of his own Tardis. He hadn't expected that Local Knowledge would have turned it into a shrine for Clara.
He walked up to his precious blue box, and let his hands trace over the flowers.
It was beautiful work.
Clara would have approved.
The Doctor stepped inside his ship and piloted it to the still moment in time that the rogue Time Lord had said. There was only one such place in the entire universe, a small diner at the edge of Lake Silenco, in Utah, America. The Doctor parked his Tardis out back and walked into the spot that had caused him so much trouble the first two times that he had been there.
He looked around at the familiar designs and wondered whether or not he should sit down, and then it happened. He saw her. She was wearing a blue uniform dress with a white apron. She was wearing white converse sneakers and her hair was pulled back with a pencil stuck through it. She was taking an order from a customer, and was laughing at something that had been said.
The Doctor found his legs giving out beneath him and he stumbled to the diner bar. The clatter caused her to look his way, and he saw the confusion and concern in her eyes. She excused herself from her customers and came over to him.
"Are you okay?" she asked. "Sir?"
"Sir," the Doctor replied. "Is that all I am to you?"
Clara looked at him with her wide brown eyes. But was it really his Clara? Was Oswin his Clara? Was the governess? They were echoes of the person he had cared for, and this woman before him… she was no doubt an echo too; an echo in a lonely diner at the edge of silence.
"Can I get you anything?" she asked. "A drink? Something to eat?"
"I'm looking for a friend," the Doctor responded. "Maybe you've seen her."
"Maybe," she answered. "What does she look like?"
"What any human looks like I suppose," the Doctor answered. "But she has a smile that can light up a room, a laugh that makes you feel lighter then air. Her mind is quick as a fox and agile too. She doesn't take no for an answer and her run… oh how she can run."
The Doctor paused, and could see a glimmer of understanding in her eyes. "She always knows which way to go even without a compass or a map. She's strong and unrelenting, with a fire within her that can make whole armies turn away from her."
"Sir…" she began warily. "I think you should sit down."
"No," the Doctor argued. "No. I need to find her. Please," he reached out and grabbed the echo by the arms. "Please. She is all that I have left in the world and I can't leave this place without knowing that she is safe…"
She smiled at him sympathetically. "You sound like a man in love."
"Maybe I am," he said in a low whisper. "Maybe I should have said it when I had the chance. But I that's me all over isn't it. I let the moments where I have a chance to pass me by. I always thought that there would be another moment, another opportunity to be honest. I've never been one to be honest, and when I finally am… well…she told me not to because we had enough of bad timing. I thought that she had died after that but…" the Doctor paused and looked at her eyes. "You're not really dead… are you?"
"Sir?" she asked.
"Please Clara," He begged. "Don't be dead."
She looked at him with wide eyes. Tears were brimming and when she blinked, a single tear ran down her face. She brought her hand up and wiped it away. She looked at her hand in surprise and the Doctor knew that she was trying to figure out why she was crying.
"Please Clara," he begged as he wrapped her in a hug. "Remember."
The woman just stood there, unsure of what was going on, but then the Doctor felt as a tremor ran through her, and she was suddenly holding onto him with all her might.
"Oh Doctor," she whispered as she held onto him. "You saved me."
"No dear Clara," he said, mumbling into her shoulder. "You saved me."
She pulled back and looked at his face. She could see that whatever had happened since the Raven had 'claimed her life' had altered him profoundly. He looked like a man who knew what he wanted and in that moment, Clara knew what it was that she wanted.
"I think I understand you now," she said as she broke the embrace and took the Doctor's hands. "And I'm sorry for ruining our second, second chance."
"I'm sorry for so many things Clara," the Doctor echoed. "But not for this."
Clara was about to ask what the Doctor meant, but he took off, still holding onto her hand. They raced out of the diner and around back where the Tardis was waiting. The Doctor raced inside and Clara paused in the doorway. Inside the Tardis was the life that she loved, the life that had got her killed. She hesitated because she wasn't sure whether or not she was strong enough to continue travelling with the Doctor for a third time.
"Clara?" the Doctor asked from inside. "Are you coming?"
Let me be brave, a voice in her head said. Clara smiled, and stepped inside.