A MINUTE PASSES
Author’s Note: Blimey, what an episode “Can You Hear Me?” was…character development across the board. I’ve noticed some have vented online about how The Doctor reacted to Graham’s concerns regarding his cancer towards the end, so here’s what I took from that scene.
It’s a fact of life. We’re going to die.
Be of brave heart, cry the distant flight attendants out of the living past.
All our songs, fluent as a River, will fall silent.
But what of it?
Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.
Maybe the universe prefers one singular moment.
That moment was the twilight of life. The instant it ceases and slips into the either, and at last the universe is left alone.
For those who walk through eternity, the twilight of others is all that is constant, as is the loneliness.
They are a fact of the universe, they are the testimony of ages, they are the harshest lesson it could ever teach.
That’s how she would approach anyone who sought her expert opinion on mortality. So she takes great pains to conceal it.
Graham O’Brien had confided in her, telling her of his fears that the cancer he had fought so bravely against might one day return, how he had listened to the Doctors, and now turned his attention to the one he knew best.
She observes him as he airs his grievances, her arms folded, her eyes sharply focused, she stays attentive. Part of her is just lost in how dishy he was, the other half knows what is about to be asked of her, and she is not quite prepared to supply it.
She’s been so used to exploring and adventuring in recent months that she’s somewhat blindsided when someone she cares deeply for asks for her opinion as a healer, and to say the right thing. It had been a long time since she had performed duty of care, but she calmly reckoned something along similar lines was bound to come up. It is something requests in a family, usually with a relative or with a partner. It’s a level of trust that is far deeper and meaningful than just a mate you ride along with.
This is putting life and death in your hands, and asking her to be as brave as he is, she doesn’t know how to quite deal with it just yet, how to let him know how touched she was that he would let her into his life like this, but she lets him know she’s working on how she can best go about it.
All it would take was a minute.
In the most unsubtle way, she relayed her intentions. She would walk up to the console, look at something, and in the span of sixty seconds, work out what she could have said there and then, and that it would be helpful.
In reality, what she was looking for on the console was the TARDIS databank, specifically a document archiving all of the meaningful words she had written on the back of cue cards many years and one incarnation ago.
She had been honest enough to remind Graham how socially awkward she was, how the sort of responses he craved from her could not be fully expressed without sufficient preparation.
That was but a half-truth of course. The second side of the coin was that the twilight hours of all those who dwell within the universe weighed once more on her conscience, and she again took to concealing her frustrations with it whenever someone expressed fear their doomsday clock was ticking.
Graham took her response in stride, permitting himself a hearty chuckle, and letting The Doctor know it had been a worthy bit of chatter even if he had done most of the talking, he understood how deliberate she was being with her distractions. He took her at her word that she would find the right words.
She could take a minute to think it, she could take forever to say it, but he knew just what to make of what she was meaning to say regardless of how long the process would take.
He loved her too.
He was driven to live his best life aboard this ship, and beside her, regardless of how she chooses to deal with potentially losing him.
If his song is to end, he will go on singing
She suggests a trip across time to the others, a fact finding mission to discover the roots of the modern Prometheus. Of Frankenstein.
The family gather at the controls, all of them together, with their own distractions, doubts, anxieties, concerns, all of that took a backseat to discovery and adventure as always.
Fifty nine seconds tick by, a minute passes.
And the determined look the Doctor and Graham give each other is all that needs to be said.