And in the Beginning
"Clara. Honey bear. Love."
"I will tear your tongue from your mouth."
They weren't getting along very well, the Doctor and Clara, not after she discovered that he'd left her to waste away in Azkaban prison when he could have gotten to her sooner if he'd only tried.
Well. It wasn't exactly true, but it certainly felt that way. She knew, rationally that he really did do his best, and she did know also that he wouldn't have left her there a minute longer than he had to.
Turning to face the Doctor properly, Clara said "I'm going to give you the run-down, yeah?"
The Doctor relaxed visibly, and wisely kept his mouth shut quite firmly, waiting for Clara to begin.
Sirius and the boys had gone off to the kitchen, with guidance from the TARDIS. They'd asked if they could help, but Clara said they could fill in on the gritty details of magic later, and she would step through the warped time with the Doctor first. He always got a better grasp on things if he could feel the time-slip properly, and she wasn't about to deny him that.
"Alright. I landed in that muck-up of a prison a few months back, just after I slipped from the doors of the TARDIS when we were going 'round that star, remember? I caught sight of the years ticking backward on the console, and the last number I saw was '93, so I figured I'd land near enough."
The Doctor was looking through Clara now, knowing how she must have felt, crashing into nineteen-ninety-three like that. '93 had not been a good year for Clara, not at all.
"I meant to ask if it was really '93 when I got down there, but I landed in Azkaban, not on some bloody street corner like I always seem to do. Like we always seem to do."
Clara shook her head, and held back the anger bubbling breath the surface. She never did like to talk of her mother's death, but some things just can't be helped. She had only wanted to land in another year, any other one. Please, she had hoped- just not her dying year. She knew the temptation to see her mother would be overwhelming, and that it would only hurt worse when she had to leave her again, but just as lucky as she always was, Clara hadn't had to worry about that. There hadn't ben any room for mother under the cold, dark, pressing, walls, choking, drowning, ending- there hadn't been any room for mother there.
"As soon as I touched down I knew something was horribly wrong. I could feel the life being drawn straight out of me, like iron filings to a magnet. It was unstoppable. I nearly went mad in that place, and I would have without Sirius. I think I would have anyway, if we'd stayed there any longer. It's guarded, you see. By these- things. Dementors."
Shaking off the memory, Clara continued. "I can't really tell you what happened during those months in Azkaban because I can't really remember them. It isn't important, anyway.
Once we got out, Sirius took us home. To his old house, out in the city. He's got a massive manor house sat straight in the middle of this row of flats, and his family's lived there for ages and ages. He figured we were safe there, away from anyone who could find out where we were, and he was right. We had been safe so far, from outsiders anyway. That is, until you came barging through with your fuzzy walls and complete lack of respect for other people's perfectly good cedar paneling."
"Hey! I'll have you know that I've got just exactly the amount of respect for cedar as one should, and I'd also like to remind you that your life was at stake!" said the Doctor, flailing slightly. He did tend to do that, after all.
Amused, Clara kept on. "Of course, Sirius told me all he could of this world." Losing her smile now, Clara said "Doctor, this place is in danger. This timeline is fraught with disaster and war. It never ends. Here, war is a priceless heirloom passed from mother to daughter, father to son until somebody wins. People here are different; they don't give up. They don't run out of missiles. It never ends."
The Doctor was looking at Clara with something old in his eyes, the way he did when she told him the truth. Clara was looking back with a kind of desperation, begging him to stay, please this time stay, don't say it's fixed, don't say you have to leave them to fend for themselves because they can't, they just can't.
Clara figured she must have said that last part out loud, because the Doctor said "I won't leave them, Clara. I promise I won't."
Shaking slightly, Clara took the Doctor's hand. "I can tell you of the legends. I can tell you of the Boy who lived and of the mad king Voldemort, and I can tell you of James and Lily Potter, and it will sound like a gruesome fairytale. The people here are-" she paused, looking for the word- "more. The people here burn brighter, and when their children speak, the whole world listens. What do you do with people like that, people who are awake?"
"Clara," said the Doctor, "we live with them. We let their fire burn in us, and we ride the wave of war until all the enemy flames are all put out. Haven't you learned anything from the disaster we've seen?" he asked, a distant, lonely look on his face. "We travel the stars to rescue burning monuments, to save dying children, and to watch constellations go supernova over the oceans on Persephone Four. This is what life if for us. This ending of reigns, and this burning of the earth. This is what we're here for."
Clara's eyes changed then, from water to steel. "The queen of the Pleiades Circle told me that she'd never seen stars burn so brightly for so long. I did suspect that she hadn't been talking about her blue stars." And then, with a small smile, "I suppose we have to stay. I suppose that we have to fight, and I'll do it, just the same as we always do, but remember, Doctor- It's different this time. I lived here, in this world. Please take care not to destroy it."