Shanag was another dromaeosaurid who recently was tentatively placed in the microraptor group. Since it showed a mixture of traits from dromaeosaurids, troodontids, and avialaens, it is still relatively uncertain where this dinosaur should fall. It was about 1.5 meters long and would have weighed about 5 kg. It was found in the Öösh Formation in Mongolia, and probably lived from the Berriasian to Barremian ages of the Early Cretaceous, some 130 million years ago. It was very similar to Microraptor and Sinornithosaurus, indicating that it was a member of their family group. It is only known from partial remains.
“Ashil – Me?” Clara winces internally. She’s still not quite sure how long she and Me have been traveling together, not exactly, but they’ve spent maybe a dozen nights – days – stretches of time – on the TARDIS and about a dozen more on various planets.
So, it’s at least a month and a half since she and Me reunited and promptly ran away together.
But this – the night after Brooklyn, after go kart racing and Clara’s non-existent pulse slamming at the wonder Me took in the boardwalk, the way their fingers laced together when they dashed back to the TARDIS (who, it turns out, needed fuel) – is only the second night that Me has has let Clara into the library, her library, while she meticulously records the events of however long has passed since last time she sat down to write.
She wonders what Me is writing about Coney Island, if she’s found it worthy of remembering at all.
She wonders, but even the wondering feels invasive; she’s only just been allowed to bear witness to Me’s intimate ritual, her intimate burden, and she doesn’t want to muck it up by getting her name wrong.
The Lady Me gives no indication that she’s heard a thing, though, her small hands still diligently looping a ball point pen across the innards of yet another innately-bound diary.
Clara clears her throat, unaccustomed to feeling so tiny, enveloped inside a magnificent, Beauty-and-the-Beast-style library; each volume full of Me’s slanted scrawl. Each volume full of… her.
“Me?” She tries again, louder this time.
“Mm,” Me hums without looking up, and Clara smiles in recognition of the complex sentence the sound contains:
I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be rude, I just need to finish this thought or I’ll lose it and be exceedingly irritated with you, just hold on a tick and you’ll have my attention, but for the sake of all that is good, be patient and don’t assume I’ve forgotten you; this is quite an important thought and it’ll take time to get down, but as I said, I heard you and I’ll be with you shortly.
She knows all the details of that one little sound because she used to make it herself almost daily when she was commenting on student papers. She sighs noiselessly as her heart twists in her chest and she wonders, not for the first time, if they’re alright. Courtney in particular. She’d taken Danny’s death harder than the rest, and…
“Clara, you’re crying!”
She jumps at the alarm in Me’s voice and swipes and her traitorous eyes roughly.
“What, sorry, no, I’m not,” she stumbles quickly, looking up at Me – who’s rapidly shifted from her table in front of the fire to Clara’s deep-seated armchair – with a practiced mask of mild innocence.
Me gives her a look somewhere between extreme consternation and affection, but she doesn’t press the matter. She never does.
“What did you want, Clara?” Me asks gently, but not gently enough to make Clara bristle defensively. Clara licks her lips at the sound of her name on Me’s tongue, at the way the fireplace brings out the rich depths in her eyes.
“You said my name while I was writing.”
“Mm.” Clara slams the brakes on her brain and looks back up at the older woman.
“I was just… how can you tell when you’re… when you’re home?”
She’d expected Me to get quiet, thoughtful. Maybe even to refuse to answer the question, maybe give her a TARDIS-load of snark.
She hadn’t expected her to collapse into the chair next to her, curl her knees up to her chest, and answer without hesitation.
“I’m home right now.”
Clara blinks and Me licks her bottom lip while glancing at Clara.
“Wherever my books are.”
Clara fights the surge of disappointment that floods through her at that clarification, because she refuses to be jealous of books.
Me arches an eyebrow and explains on. “You know the story. Infinite life, limited memory. These books… these books are like an extension of my body.” She cocks her head thoughtfully, her eyes far away and yet so, so focused on Clara’s face.
“I know they have all varieties of augmentation, of chips to extend what your brain can retain; some even have the option to turn off certain knowledge when you’re not using it. But I…” She shrugs, and the fire pops. “I’d been writing for so many hundreds of years by the time…”
She pauses and squints at the girl beside her.
“Home is my body, and my immortal extensions of it. Not the answer you were looking for, was it?”
Clara is reminded, unbidden, of Madame Vastra’s one word test – which Jenny tells her she’s passed in more than one lifetime – and considers, harshly, what it would be like to only remember that because it’s written somewhere in her handwriting.
Me nods, taking a long, slow breath, her eyes never leaving Clara’s.
“I watched every place I’ve lived, every place I’ve ever seen, burn at the ends of the universe.” She pauses and considers Clara carefully before proceeding.
“Then, I suppose, I did feel I needed a home. But when… when I was brought back…”
She chooses the passive voice carefully to avoid mentioning the Doctor, and when Clara’s eyes flash but she otherwise doesn’t react, Me proceeds.
“… It feels different now. Like… Well, more like what I imagine you might be feeling right now. Like I need to plant my proverbial flag somewhere, call something…”
She raises her eyes carefully.
“…Someone… home, now, while I can, or else I’ll never have it again…”
“So you think you can do that then?” Clara asks clearly, in what Me is slowly coming to recognize as her teacher voice. Her coping voice. Her safety voice. “That you can just call something, someone, home, and then it is? They are?”
“Don’t you?” Me asks mildly, and Clara is forcibly reminded of Danny’s arms, of Jane’s kiss, of his kisses to her forehead and his gruff voice and intense eyes.
Of a Viking village where she said she’d fight for her and a console room resonating with the hum of the time vortex and the tuning of an electric guitar.
Of a leaf and a picture book and a promise.
“Yeah,” she says slowly, not sure when her fingertips started tracing the tender inside of Me’s forearm. “I suppose I do.”