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The TARDIS Outtakes

Chapter Text

Clara went to the TARDIS kitchen. To her surprise, the Doctor sat already there, a steaming mug in front of him.

“Hot chocolate?” She sniffed.

“Uh-hu,” the Doctor nodded, “I made plenty, help yourself.”

She went to the stove and poured herself a mug with the hot, delicious liquid.

“What are you doing up?"

She asked as she took a seat on the opposite side of the table.

“It’s not up if you never were down, Clara.”

For a while they sipped their hot chocolate in silence.

“Nightmares?”

The Doctor finally asked.

Clara was surprised. Being perceptive usually wasn’t the Doctor’s strong suit.

“Uh-hu. How do you know?”

She looked up and met the Doctor’s eyes. In those eyes she saw the weight of the universe.

She saw violence, terror, fear, sadness, loss and grief.

“Let’s just say I know,” the Doctor uttered, looking down to his mug.

Chapter Text

„Come on Doctor, #TheUltimateGinger is starting in 7 minutes!”

Clara was sitting on the sofa, holding her phone, hand hovering over the “play” button of the remote control. She told herself it was stupid, because she still had some minutes to go, but she didn’t want to be out of sync with the rest of the world – especially with Matt Smith – when the event started.

“I already told you I’m not going to watch, because it’s stupid, Clara!”

The Doctor rummaged in her kitchen and she secretly hoped that he wouldn’t set it on fire this time.

“Ah, come on, this is going to be fun!”

“I don’t get this whole tweet along stuff anyway. When we watch a movie together you are always shushing me if I comment on it. Yet, here you are, reading what other people – and I like to specify: other pudding brains you don’t even know personally – say about a movie. While it is playing. I don’t even get how you can concentrate on both with that small brain capacity of yours.”

“Oi. And it is not just some other unknown people. They have Matt Smith and Karen Gillan commenting on it. And Emma Freund, Richard Curtis, Tony Curran, and Bill Nighy, too!”

“Ah, that’s ridiculous! What next? That grumpy, old Scotsman live tweeting to “Heaven Sent”? What’s he called? Houdini?”

“Capaldi. Peter Capaldi.”

“Doesn’t matter. Don’t like him. Ah, well, the lad is nice, but his Doctor… sheesh! Grumpy, melodramatic twat!”

“You cried at the end of “Face the Raven”, though.”

“I told you there was salt from the crisps in my eyes!”

“Yeah, sure Doctor, whatever you say…”

4 minutes to go. Clara refreshed her phone manically to make sure she didn’t miss the start signal or a tweet from Matt and munched a chocolate chip cookie. Oh, well, how could she forget that she had the perfect bait for the Doctor?

“I got your favorite cookies, though!”

The Doctor materialized out of thin air beside her.

“How did you do that?”

“I’m a Time Lord after all, remember?”

He grinned the broad grin that made him look like an insane werewolf.

“Gingerbread?”

He handed her a plate.

“You made gingerbread?”

“Yeah. Well, technically I fetched it from the Christmas planet, you know, Hohoho 2512, but I sliced it and spread butter on it myself,” he sounded proud of himself.

“Wow, I didn’t even know you can do domestic, Doctor!”

“Hey, “Vincent and the Doctor” is my favorite episode, even if it hasn’t Jenna Coleman in it, and I thought gingerbread is rather apt for it. The ultimate ginger bread, get it? By the way, shouldn’t this be playing? It’s 7 p.m.”

Clara cursed herself as she hit the play button.

 

Chapter Text

„Okay, Doctor… If I understand this situation right these aliens were able to extract people from your mind and bring them back to life. At least as super-realistic holograms.”

Her professor held the back of a Victorian armchair tight as he nodded, not looking at her or any of the three other people in the room. A slight hum was heard in the background.

“And if I understand it right, this”, and she pointed to a woman in a plum dress shirt with a hat and an umbrella, sitting in another armchair, “is your childhood crush and your first big love. But it is an abusive relationship where one party always tries to impose their conviction on the other, so you have great chemistry, but you try to kill each other – and this is not meant in a figurative sense.”

“Aww, Puppy, you said this so nicely, but you made it sound as if this was a bad thing!” Missy smiled and winked at her.

“This,” Bill continued, “Is your wife. You were meant for each other, you were a great team, well, she’s more on the chaotic, frivolous side of things, but together you are perfect. Yet, you were fleeing her for one and a half lifetimes because you feared… frankly, Doctor, I’m not sure if it was because you can’t stand endings or because you feared the domesticity of 24 years of marriage.”

“And yet, he did a good job being domestic… and romantic!” The woman with the wild, curly hair beamed, and the look the Doctor gave his wife reminded Bill of a sad puppy. “I must say, Sweety, you sure have a good taste in women. This student of yours is super-hot!” And River flashed her a glance that was all but innocent… and definitely not admiring just her eyes.

“And this is…”

The Doctor now clawed in the back of the armchair so violently his knuckles turned white and Bill feared he would tear the fabric.

“…as I understand it, the closest you ever had to a soulmate. And, being soulmates, equally reckless, equally stubborn and equally caring, it ended in a tragedy. You were willing to spend 4.5 billion years torturing yourself and risking all of time and space for saving her… and the only way for you being able to carry on with your life was forgetting her entirely… until this species has extracted her from your mind again…”

“Bill, please…”

Her professor whispered; eyes closed as if in pain.

“You daft old man!” The woman with hazelnut hair whispered, tears in her big brown eyes.

“What I don’t understand is… why? Why Doctor? Why did they extract them?”

“Embarrassment, Bill. This species feeds on embarrassment. And the embarrassment of a Time Lord is the most nutritious embarrassment in the universe. Do you hear the slight humming noise? This is the sound of this species happily swallowing my embarrassment.”

“Oh, I see. Yes, being trapped in a room with three of your exes sure is rather embarrassing. But what I don’t understand is this: why am I here?”

“Oh, Bill, don’t you understand it? I know you do. Think about it, a species fed by embarrassment. What do you think would happen when you were not here?”

The Doctor looked at her with that special glance. The one that meant he knew she would find the explanation all by herself and didn’t need his help for it.

“Well, you probably would sit down and talk about old times… Oh, I know! While it is already embarrassing talking with three of your exes, it is even more embarrassing if you do so in front of a stranger who witnesses it.”

“Ah, Bill Potts, you are no stranger.”

“Oh, in front of a student! Someone who shouldn’t find out too much about your private life.”

The Doctor sighed and shook his head. He looked at her with a wan smile.

“You don’t really realize it, do you? Well, this is probably the story of my life and my biggest fault.”

Suddenly a thought crossed her mind.

“Respect? It is important to you that I…”

She had difficulties to wrap her mind around that thought.

“…respect you? You fear I could find out more about your former life and some of your flaws and you think that I could think less of you because of it?”

Her professor pinched his eyes and nodded.

“Oh, but it doesn’t work that way. Like, you know… You are the best thing that happened in my life so far and nothing I found out about you has changed that and it probably never will. I will always respect you, no matter what has happened. Because I know you have the kindest hearts, Doctor!”

“You are really something special, Bill Potts,” her professor smiled, embarrassment on his face but deep affection in his eyes. “Well, there’s an upside to all of this,” he gesticulated widely. “This species feeds on embarrassment, but it’s like a leech. Once they are full, they will let go of us.”

“So… It is good that you are embarrassed by this whole situation?”

“In a way, yes… and I think you can help speeding up the process, Bill.”

“I can? How?”

“Do what you do best, Bill! What you were always good at! Come one, what is one of your most precious talents? You talented, curious, young human?”

What did he mean? What was her thing? Oh, yes…

“By asking questions?”

“Top of class, Potts, Bill Potts!”

“Okay, so, uhm… Why is this a Victorian living room?”

“Anyone up for some tea?” Jenny went into the room, carrying a tray with tea and cookies which she placed on the table. Madame Vastra followed close behind.

“Oh, splendid! We do have the most exclusive company, it’s a delight to see you all again!” The Silurian exclaimed.

“Ah, a council of war, with some of the finest warriors in the universe, excellent. We don’t know each other, young soldier-boy, I’m Commander Strax!”

The Sontaran saluted her and she returned the gesture half-heartedly and confused.

“Ah, well, you managed that whatever you will ask next, it will embarrass me in front of those people who are closest to my hearts and my best friends. This should be enough to sate the species. Well, done, Bill! I can only hope that either you are a hologram, too, or that the species has at least the decency to erase our memories afterwards.”

This was by far the strangest adventure she ever had with her professor.

A question.

She needed to come up with a question.

An embarrassing question.

Should she ask him if he knew that a majority of her fellow students thought that he was a silverfox and they found him rather sexy? Well, this would be quite embarrassing for him, but perhaps still not embarrassing enough. Especially as she suspected that all the other people in the room knew that already. Perhaps not Strax, but the rest of the bunch for sure.

It should be a question that would reveal something private.

Something intimate.

Something the Doctor wouldn’t want to admit under all circumstances.

Perhaps…

“Hmm, Doctor, when you are spooning…”

She noticed a deep red color emerging on the Doctor’s cheeks.

She saw an amused smile on the faces of Missy, River and Clara.

“When you are spooning, Doctor, are you the big spoon or the little spoon?”

The hum from the species intensified.

“I’m a knife!”

The Doctor shouted, obviously overwhelmed by embarrassment.

“He’s the little spoon!”

Missy, River, Clara, Vastra and Strax exclaimed in unison.

The Doctor blushed in the deepest purple she ever saw on anyone’s face.

The hum rose to an epic crescendo.

Suddenly she saw a bright, yellow light.

 

She sat in the professor’s office, facing the Doctor.

“So, about that essay of yours…”

She didn’t really listen. She searched her professor’s face to find out if he remembered the same event. Either he didn’t and she had been daydreaming, or the species had managed to erase his memories but not hers, or her professor was just exceptionally good at suppressing what must have been one of the most embarrassing adventures of his long life. And there was still one picture her imagination tried to draw over and over again and which she couldn’t will back, no matter how hard she tried.

The picture of her professor as the little spoon and Strax as the big one…

 

Chapter Text

This is a conversation between the Doctor and the TARDIS, taking place sometime after Danny’s car accident. The TARDIS is communicating like we all know her with beeps and hums. The Doctor understands it. I translated it in italics here.

 

„Why should I call her?”

Because her boyfriend just died in a terrible car accident.

“Yes, yes, I know that. But I only know because I found it out by chance. Or because someone sent me a weird message. Clara didn’t call me to tell me.”

She’s in a state of shock, she has just lost her boyfriend.

“Yes. But there is nothing I can do about that!”

She needs a friend.

“If she needed one, she would have called.”

She is not able to do that. She has just lost her boyfriend. She’s sad and alone.

“Well, as far as I know the human species that’s exactly the moment when you call a friend, right?”

Oh, how can someone who claims to be so intelligent be so stupid? She won’t do that. She might be too depressed to do that. Or she might not want to bother you with her grief.

“Why wouldn’t she? I’m a good listener!”

No. You are not. You are a terrible listener and you know that.

“Agreed. But I will try my best if it helps her and you bloody well know that!”

Yes. I know that. But she doesn’t. You are pretty gruff in this incarnation.

“Yes. Yes. I know. But hey, I try to improve! You have to give me credit for that!”

Agreed.

 

 

So?

“So, what?”

Will you call her now?

“I don’t know what to say.”

Doesn’t matter.

“Ah, come on, you know how fragile and easily hurt humans are. And this human in particular. She will probably inflate her eyes again all over her face and cry and that’s scary.”

Coward.

“What?”

You are a coward. You are just trying to spare you a conversation that means you have to deal with emotions.

“I can deal with emotions.”

Hahahahahahaha.

“What?”

Well, to spare you the most awkward part, let’s skip that and take the second most awkward part: you hated Danny.

“P.E.”

He was a math teacher.

“Yeah, I know that. Still, a soldier!”

You had great friends who were soldiers. Brigadier Lethbridge-Steward, for example. Yes, yes, there you are, flinching because he was a great friend, right? Gotcha!

“Yes, yes, okay, okay. Danny!”

Wasn’t that hard, was it? And he loved Clara with all his heart and his soul and Clara loved him and now he is gone forever, and I know a certain Time Lord who should very well understand how that feels, right?

“Shut up!”

I won’t.

“Why do you do that? You don’t even like Clara.”

But you do.

“Yes.”

Even more than that, perhaps.

“Shut up.”

It hurts to lose someone you love, my Thief.

“I know that. Shut up.”

So?

“So what?”

Are you going to call her?

“I can’t.”

Yes, you can.

“I can’t.”

Yes, you can. Oh, what’s that, Doctor? Are these tears in your eyes?

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!”

Oi. Don’t punch me. Technically this is domestic violence!

“You are right, I’m sorry. I know that it doesn’t hurt you but I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

Apology accepted.

 

These ARE tears.

“Shut up.”

It brought back memories, right? Of a love you lost? Of people you lost?

 

It’s okay, my Thief. I’m here. I won’t say anything now. But I’m here.

 

I’m sorry, I didn’t anticipate that it would hit you that hard. Still trying to adjust to your new personality.

 

Here, I have some piece of music, I know it’s the kind that brings you comfort.

 

Just cry, that’s alright, my Thief, no one sees it here. It’s a good thing. It heals you. Just cry. It’s okay.

 

So?

“I understand.”

Good.

“Yes. It’s not important to say the right thing. It’s important she knows I’m there.”

Correct. So, you will call her?

“Yes. I call her. Establish a connection now.”

Dialing.

 

Chapter Text

„What do you think, Clara?”

The Doctor spun around on his heels, wearing a tweed jacket and a bowtie.

“What the heck, Doctor?”

Clara was used to this incarnation’s antics and addiction for dressing up but until now he hadn’t shown any tendency to cosplay earlier incarnations.

“No, seriously, what do you think? Does it suit me? Do I look more doctor-y in it?”

He paced through the room, spun around, flailing his arms like his predecessor and then stood in front of her, grabbing his coat lapels like a much, much earlier incarnation.

“Doctor, it gives me headaches, it’s like you are different incarnations at once, it’s like…”

“You mean I’m malfunctioning?”

“Kind of, yeah…”

He sighed.

“Blimey. I hoped you would like it. I always thought that ‘weird professor’ was my brand.”

He glanced at the mirror, correcting his bowtie. She took a deep breath.

“No, not exactly.”

“Handsome genius from outer space, then?”

He turned to her and his eyes held a hopeful expression that made her smile.

“I was going to suggest grumpy, Scottish penguin, to be honest.”

“There are no penguins in Scotland, Clara, wrong hemisphere,” he pointed out.

Apparently, she had wounded his ego. Well, it was big enough to take a hit or two.

“Ah, come on, explain what you are up to, Doctor.”

“Explain, explain, you sound like a broken Dalek, Clara.”

“I will EXTERMINATE you if you say that again! The Doctor must be destroyed!” She shot back doing her best Dalek impression. “Ah, come on, you are dying to explain it to me, anyway,” she continued, using her normal voice again.

“Clara, I lived for over 2,000 years,” he started, putting on a straw hat, “and not all of them were good.”

He grabbed an umbrella with a question mark as a handle and eyed himself closely in the mirror.

“I made many mistakes,” he sighed, putting both accessories back into the wardrobe.

“And I want to do something about them,” he now faced her again, a serious expression in his eyes.

“See, when I changed from Sandshoes Me to Bowtie Me, I stole my new clothes from a doctor in a hospital. And now, I can’t stop thinking that this poor man was probably missing his tweed jacket terribly. Tweed jackets are great,” he softly stroked the patches on the sleeves.

“And?” She asked, confused.

“And I think I’ll go back to that day and place a second set of clothes in that locker, so this doctor doesn’t have to go home in his hospital clothes. That way I can also make sure the shirt fits better than the one I stole back then. It was terribly uncomfortable under the armpits.”

“Doesn’t that… I don’t know, change the course of human history or something?”

“Ah, come on, Clara, tweed jackets are cool, but they are not a fixed point in time.”

He put his hands in his pockets and swayed back and forth.

“Fancy a trip to my past?”

His eyes held the excited expression of a 7-year-old boy which never failed to make her smile and join him in whatever mischief he was up to.

“Sure, Doctor, why not? Can’t wait to see Bowtie You when he was quite fresh and juicy.”

The Doctor looked at her confused and slightly jealous. She stepped forward, grabbed his lapels and pecked his cheek.

“Please, never change, Doctor,” she grinned at his shocked expression.

“I mean… only the clothes… you probably should change the clothes, because, honestly, Doctor…”

“You think tweed isn’t my style?” He glanced at the mirror and sounded regretful.

She browsed through the wardrobe and stopped at a coat she didn’t recall having seen on him before.

“What about this one?”

“Purple velvet? Seriously? Isn’t that so… Third?”

“Try it!”

He disappeared in the changing room and came back after some minutes. He hesitantly turned around so she could admire different angles.

“What… do you think?”

It was both amusing and endearing that someone with such an exquisite taste wanted to have her approval for his clothes, his furniture or whatever he decided to do. It had been this way from the very beginning with this incarnation.

“I like it. It is very doctor-y. Great contrast with your hair, too. That’s my Doctor,” she assured him.

He beamed and reached for the pile of neatly folded clothes the TARDIS provided.

“Alright, Clara Oswald. Ready to make sure a Doctor gets his new clothes?”

“Ready if you are, Doctor!” She beamed back.

He turned and started towards the console room.

“Allons-y!”

“Wrong incarnation!”

“Geronimo?”

“Geronimo!”

 

Chapter Text

“Clara, are you okay? What happened?”

The Doctor was hovering over her, a concerned look in his eyes.

“I don’t know, really, Doctor. I think I was in the kitchen baking a soufflé and I swear I just passed out for a moment just then. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor!”

Clara answered, looking around to see where she was. The TARDIS. This was really, really, odd. She wondered what had happened.

“Well, come on, Clara, up on your feet, can’t have you lying around here in the console room, you block out valuable moving space,” the Doctor mumbled, obviously trying to hide his concern. He reached out his hand and helped her getting up.

“I think I’ll catch a glass of water.”

She said when suddenly, everything went black again.

 

“Clara, are you okay? What happened?”

The Doctor was hovering over her, a concerned look in his eyes. She was on the floor of the console room. Had this all been just a dream? All this crazy stuff? The Clockwork Droids? Robin Hood?

“I don’t know, really, Doctor. I think I was getting up for a glass of water and I swear I just passed out for a moment just then. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor! And… oh my… I had the weirdest dream. You regenerated into an old man, very grumpy, very Scottish…”

“I think perhaps it was a bit much, the past few adventures, Clara. Come here.”

The young Doctor with the bowtie reached around her shoulders and under her knees to pick her up.

“I think I just need a glass of water.”

She said when suddenly, everything went black again.

 

“Donna, are you okay? What happened?”

The man who was hovering over her, a concerned look in his eyes, had spiky hair and wore a suit that looked strangely out of time.

“I don’t know, really. Who are you? I think I was getting up for a glass of water and I swear I just passed out for a moment just then. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor!”

She answered, looking around herself to see where she was. It was the console room of a TARDIS. But none she was familiar with.

“Ah, come on, Donna, don’t pretend you don’t know who I am! Come on, I help you to get up.”

The young man reached out his hand to help her up.

“Donna? Who is Donna? Oh,… I think now I really need a glass of water.”

She said when suddenly, everything went black again.

 

“Rose, are you okay? What happened?”

A broad face with short hair and really big ears was hovering over her, a concerned look in the eyes. His leather jacket creaked as he shook her arms. This was really getting stranger and stranger.

“I don’t know, really. Who are you? Who is Rose? Woah, this is so weird. This is already the fourth time this happens. Strangely similar but very different. One moment I think I just passed out but then, this guy was there where you are now, helping me getting up and I swear I just passed out for a moment just then. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor!”

She answered, looking around herself to see where she was. It was again a different console room of a different TARDIS.

“Seriously, Rose, this sounds fantastic! Maybe we should explore that?”

“I’m not Rose, and I have no idea who you are… but I think we really need to find out because I’m not keen on passing…”

She said when suddenly, everything went black again.

 

“Jenna, are you okay? What happened?”

The Doctor was hovering over her, a concerned look in his eyes. Oh, thank the stars, it was her Doctor again and the familiar console room.

“I don’t know, really, Doctor. This is the weirdest thing. It is like I am doing the same thing over and over again but with different incarnations and different TARDISes. I try to get up and then… I swear I just passed out for a moment just then. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor! It happens again and again and again, and I notice I even use exactly the same words! Find out what happens to me, Doctor, because I think I’m going mad if it happens again! ”

She said and tried to get up. The Doctor had already taken off his coat and now forced her tenderly to stay down and rest her head on it.

“You passed out, right. You stay here on the floor, Jenna. Steven has already called the ambulance. Just keep calm and try to relax. Did you eat something for breakfast? Maybe the last days filming were a bit stressful? Don’t worry, I’ll get you a glass of water.”

“A glass of water for Mr. Capaldi!”

She heard someone shout.

“I’m not Jenna, I’m Clara…” she protested, when suddenly, everything went black again.

 

Chapter Text

„Guess we just have to wait,” the Doctor said and sat down beneath one of the gigantic trees right on the edge of the forest of Phott on Nigparapos.

Immediately a fluffy head with tiny antler stubs rested on his tummy, looking up to him with soulful turquoise eyes.

“Well, we spent our time waiting in uglier places, right?” Clara said, lowering herself next to him.

“I wonder why it does that,” the Doctor remarked, looking down to the small Pragghat, a species that looked like a dragon with deer antlers.

“Ghoar explained it: all the other Pragghat fawns we freed were taken from their mothers when they already had their eyes open. This one was just a newly born and it opened its eyes when you carried it out of the ship. The first thing it saw was you. So, it assumes you are its mummy. Let’s just hope Ghoar finds its real mother soon, otherwise you have to adopt it.”

“Oh, shut up,” he said, using his softest voice so the little creature wouldn’t be scared. “The first eyes its eyes saw, huh? I think I get it,” he continued, side-glancing at Clara.

“Uh-hu,” Clara smiled, looking at the fluffy creature. “What do you think, is it a boy or a girl?”

“Oh, you silly humans with your stupid fixation on gender. It’s a perfect little Pragghat, and it will grow up to be a beautiful and brave adult Pragghat and that’s the most important thing,” the Doctor said, gently rubbing the soft spot between the antlers of the creature. The Pragghat closed its eyes, smacked two times and cuddled a bit more into the Doctor’s tummy.

They didn’t speak for a while and the Pragghat fell asleep.

“But why do you think it does this?” The Doctor asked.

“Does what?” Clara asked. “Sleeping on your tummy?”

“Yes.”

“You really have no idea, huh?”

“No.”

“Because this,” Clara said, slowly lowering her own head against her favorite spot right between the Doctor’s chest and his tummy, “is the best pillow in this universe, you daft old man.”

The Doctor blushed.

“Oh, shut up!”

He just whispered it, because one thing he knew for sure: if two adorable creatures had voted him to be the best pillow in this universe, he would do everything to prove them right.

 

Chapter Text

„I don’t believe a word you say! This so totally wasn’t a typo!” Clara remarked as they waded through  a swamp of chocolate blancmange.

“Told you it was,” the Doctor said, nearly incomprehensible, because he was munching on a wafer leaf, he had broken from one of the surrounding trees, which he dipped into the swamp occasionally.

“Why do you type in ‘desert planet’ manually anyway, if you already know you always confuse ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’? You got a ship smart enough to get you to the right place without typing, you know?”

“She might be cross with me,” he broke a spike from a reed mace and smelled it.

“What have you done this time?”

“She didn’t like the smell of the hand crème I used to lubricate her telepathic circuits.”

“Did you get her a cheap one again? I told you it doesn’t pay to be stingy with ladies!”

“I don’t know if it was cheap. I used the one from your bathroom,” the Doctor said and took a bite from the spike.

“Wait a minute, you used my hand crème to lubricate the telepathic circuits?”

“Ah, don’t be cross with me. Sometimes all you have are terrible options, but you still have to choose. It was either that or going to that planet of chemists again and you made it absolutely clear that you don’t want to go through that again!”

Clara shuddered at the thought of aliens forcing them to try every perfume they were selling, resulting in two weeks of quarantine until the TARDIS had removed all the smells from them. Not to mention that the combination of Time Lord skin and “Blue Flowers of Haraghaii” was a terrible olfactory sensation on its own.

“Try them, they are good. Bit like cheesecake. Goes good with the swamp,” the Doctor handed her his only half-eaten spike. Clara eyed it suspiciously.

“No, thank you, the last time you told me something tasted like cheesecake it tasted like brussels sprouts!”

“Only to the limited abilities of your tiny human taste buds!”

“Why don’t you just admit that your sense of taste is messed up?”

“Whose sense of taste is messed up, Mrs. Chicken Ice-cream?”

“Shut up, Mr. Fish Custard!”

“That was the last incarnation!”

“Who tells me all the time he is the same man?”

“Basically, I upgraded to more taste and style,” the Doctor shrugged and finished the spike with one gulp.

“A Cyber-Timelord, then? Only thing that got an upgrade is your tummy,” Clara grinned.

“Shut up,” the Doctor pouted.

They left the swamp and came to a beach. Clara tasted one of the rocks.

“Mmmmh, sweets. This one tastes like pears.”

“Yuck,” the Doctor replied.

“Why don’t you like pears, Doctor?” Clara asked.

“It’s a long story. You don’t want to know. Let’s just say they leave a bad taste in your mouth, okay?”

“Fine, then don’t tell me,” she shrugged.

They walked a while upwards, following a river of milkshake. Strawberry milkshake, the natural habitat of chocolate clams, as the Doctor had informed Clara.

They followed a winded path up a hill covered in icing. Probably there was sponge cake below, judging from the way their feet sank into something soft, leaving deep footprints in the icing. When they came around a corner there was a hut made of gingerbread and a big candy cane blocked their way.

A pear in a blue uniform leaned leisurely against the hut’s entrance.

“Uh-oh, totally forgot it’s a toll road from here.” the Doctor uttered and suddenly stood perfectly still.

“What? Are you too stingy to pay a bit of a toll to have a beautiful panoramic view? What do they expect for payment anyway? A digestif?”

Clara crossed her arms and looked to the toll station.

“Shush, Clara, don’t alert them!”

“What? I know you don’t like pears but don’t tell me you are afraid of pears in uniform?”

The pear now looked in their direction and blinked.

“Afraid is not the right word, Clara! Basically: run!”

The Doctor shouted, grabbed Clara’s hand and dragged her behind as he started to run downhill.

“The Doctor! The Doctor is here. Alarm all units! The Doctor is here!” They heard the pear shout behind them.

They continued their way, stumbling forward because the thick icing made it difficult to run.

“What crime did you commit this time? Did you proclaim all pears should be abolished because they are too squishy and make your chin wet? Did you offend a pear officer’s wife by calling her a pear entity?”

“Hey, I’m the one who does the puns around here,” the Doctor replied.

“Oh, I know, you didn’t follow the pear protocol!”

“Shut up, that’s not funny!”

They were nearing the foot of the hill when they saw a squadron of uniformed pears running uphill towards them.

“Uh-oh, there comes a pear group, I’d say.”

“Stop it with the puns, I said!”

The first line of pears now took their guns.

“I will leave a bad pear review for the public service on this planet, that’s for sure!”

The Doctor turned to the left, towards a cliff.

“What are you doing?” Clara shouted.

“Trust me, if we jump off here, we land safely in a field of marshmallows.”

The Doctor wrapped his arms around Clara, lifted her up and let himself fall from the cliff.

After a free fall of about 20 feet they landed, the Doctor with his back on a sea of jelly babies, Clara safely in his arms.

“Everything alright?”

The Doctor asked and Clara nodded.

“I thought you said a field of marshmallows?”

“Ah, well, my memory is not always the best. Don’t forget I’m a 2,000-year-old Time Lord. You confuse a desert planet or two when you lived that long.”

“Not to mention dessert planets,” Clara corrected.

“That, too.”

Clara tried to stand up, but immediately drowned in jelly babies. The Doctor grabbed her by the collar and brought her to the surface again.

“Careful, there are only two possibilities to get out of a sea of jelly babies. One is to swim.”

The Doctor started to swim towards the shore, Clara following suit.

“Which is the other?”

Instead of an answer the Doctor took a deep breath, inhaled a few jelly babies and grinned at her.

“Thiff!” He munched.

They continued to swim until they reached the next beach. There, they rested, Clara catching her breath, the Doctor inspecting the beach. It seemed to consist of coarse sugar.

“Okay, so, pears are the police on this planet, correct?”

“Correct,” the Doctor agreed, taking a careful bite from a seaweed.

“Why are they trying to arrest you?”

“I might have made a small mistake. Here, taste this, it’s like liquorice.”

“Don’t change the subject and keep that gross thing to yourself. What did you do, Doctor?”

She used her teacher voice. He stared at the seaweed, undecided if he should continue eating it or not.

“I might have accidentally… bitten in one.”

“You have bitten a police officer?”

“Eaten a bit, yes. Because I thought they were… you know… a tree or a ship or something.”

“You have eaten a police officer?”

“Not a whole police officer! I just took a bite!”

“And that’s why they chase you with a whole squadron and alarm all units?”

“Well… It might not have been a simple police officer…”

“Doctor???”

Clara looked at the Doctor menacingly, who still took deep interest in the seaweed.

“It might have been the head of police…”

Clara inhaled sharply.

“…who happened to be the wife of the president.”

Clara exhaled and started to giggle. The Doctor chimed in, obviously relieved she was not cross with him.

“Still surprised why I make ‘no pears’ a strict rule?”

“Maybe…” Clara had difficulties to regain her composure, “Maybe, it's only a thought, but, only maybe, Doctor, you should better make it a rule to stay away from president’s daughters, wives or family in general.”

“Maybe you are right, Clara. But this would be no fun, would it?”

He asked, finally swallowing the rest of the seaweed.

 

Chapter Text

„The other way round?“ The Doctor asked Clara, looking incredulous.

“Yes!” Clara said, trying to reach a bunny that had crawled under her bed.

“It’s not the Easter egg that hides the bunnies?”

“No, it’s the Easter bunny that hides the eggs.”

Clara had finally managed to catch the last bunny and put it in the cage the TARDIS had provided.

“Well, I think we better go around correcting that for your Year Eight students.”

“You hid Easter bunnies for them, too?”

The Doctor nodded.

“I like your students. They are really smart and sometimes they draw the TARDIS for me or send me a selfie. I thought they deserved a bunny or two,” he shrugged as he went to the console.

“That’s… really sweet. Weird and mixed up, but sweet.”

Clara smiled at him.

“You know, I think you should really reconsider that Easter thing. Men coming back from the dead… bunnies – who are without any doubt mammals – hiding eggs…. I don’t know, it sounds weird to me. I like Christmas far better. Less confusing.”

“I will remind you next time you try to hang me on the door frame and kiss the mistletoe.”

The Doctor looked at Clara like a startled owl. Clara grabbed his coat lapels, pecked a small kiss on his cheek and said:

“Happy Easter, Santa Bunny!”

 

Chapter Text

The Doctor pulled the lever to let the TARDIS dematerialize. Then, he stood at the console waiting for it. In a short while, when Clara would have caught her breath, she would grab him and hug him from behind.

He waited.

Of course, he would pretend he didn’t like it.

He fiddled around with some knobs and switches.

Still nothing.

Odd.

He turned around.

Clara was about to go upstairs to the library.

He cleared his throat.

“Clara?”

“Doctor?”

“Is everything alright?”

She looked at him… wait, eyebrows furrowed, no smile, no smirk… confused. Yes, he was quite sure she was confused by his question.

“Yeah, sure, Doctor, why?”

“Oh, nothing, we have just escaped some sentient killer sponges who were shooting toxic splashes at us, and they were pretty close, so I just wanted to make sure you are alright.”

A smile crinkled her lips.

“I’m alright, Doctor, don’t worry,” she said, turned around and continued her way upstairs.

He also turned around to stare at the console.

He couldn’t very well ask for a hug, could he? Not after having made the point that he was not a hugger so often and so explicitly. And he was a superior Time Lord. He didn’t need human hugs or hugs of any kind. Still, something didn’t feel right. As if it hadn’t been a real adventure when that hugging part was missing…

Suddenly, he heard her footsteps behind him.

“Ah, come here, you touch-aversive stick-insect of a Time Lord!”

Two small, strong arms wrapped around him from behind and forced him into a vice-grip hug.

“No, no, no, not the hugging, you know I’m against the hugging!”

He exclaimed, putting up a fake resistance.

“You didn’t really think I’ll let it slip this time, did you, Doctor?”

“Never. Not a single moment!”

He lied and relaxed secretly into her hug.

She wouldn’t notice it, would she?

He was a sneaky, super-stealthy, superior Time Lord, after all.

Chapter Text

„You are having me on!”

Clara leaned on the console; arms crossed.

“I swear it’s true!”

The Doctor was tuning and strumming his guitar, walking around the console.

“A song about a potato?”

“A baked potato, to be exact.”

“A baked potato giving security advice…”

“Yup!”

“…that saves the Earth from a deadly virus?”

“Basically, yes.”

“I still don’t believe you.”

“Well, you don’t have to, you just have to join in.”

“Why?”

“Because I can’t sing.”

“Of course, you can sing, everybody can sing!”

The Doctor said nothing, now playing the complete melody of the “Baked Potato Song”.

“How exactly does it save the Earth?”

“Well, people don’t listen to security advice given by the government, obviously. But they tend to listen to Matt Lucas.”

“Who is Matt Lucas?”

“A 21st century human being, a comedian, to be exact.”

The Doctor typed a few lines on the console keyboard and an article about Matt Lucas with a photo appeared on the monitor.

“Oh, beautiful hair!”

“Yeah, he wears it a bit longer now because they are in a lockdown. The hairdressers are closed, you know?”

“I still don’t understand how this saves humanity?”

“It doesn’t save humanity as such… but it saves humanity from going insane when they have to stay indoors all the time to beat the virus.”

“Ah, like the Doctor Who watch-alongs on twitter!”

“I tell you for the umpteenth time I won’t watch Journey’s End with you!”

“Ah? Because you cry every time? Because it is so romantic that Rose gets to marry the metacrisis Doctor and they live happy ever after?”

“Well, if you ask for a hand in marriage that’s sure the closest you can get… Hey, I don’t cry watching movies, Clara! I told you there is a drought problem in the cinema room that needs fixing. No, it’s that the idiot mind-wipes Donna in the end. That’s wrong! He should have searched for another way to save her! He didn’t try hard enough, chose the easy way out, that lazy brat!”

“Ah? A few weeks ago, you told me it was the only option to save her...”

“Shut up!”

“Okay, if I agree to join in and sing this… stupid… Baked Potato Song with you, you will join me in the watch-along tomorrow, right?

“That’s blackmailing, Clara!”

“If you think that’s blackmailing, you haven’t experienced me blackmailing you, yet. This is just doing each other a favor.”

“Yeah, one saving humanity, the other fangirling over Tennant and Barrowman!”

“Oh, now look who’s a pathetic drama queen! And I know you will be absolutely fanboying over Tate and Agyeman.”

The Doctor snorted.

“I’m not ‘fanboying’ Clara, if that’s even a word. I admire distinct acting qualities of two very talented human beings!”

“So, we got a deal?”

“Sure, if you are able to do this without messing it up. You got the lyrics?”

“Yeah. It’s not like a sonnet by Bill Shakespeare, you know?”

“Just checking, with that small brain capacity of yours…”

“Ground control to Major Idiot: Better keep your eyes on your guitar so you won’t mess it up, it’s quite a complicated melody!”

For a moment Clara and the Doctor stared at each other, suddenly bursting into a broad grin. Same old, same old, just two idiots bantering in the TARDIS. They both wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

“Excellent! Here we go! TARDIS establish a video connection. Human: Matt Lucas, Date: April 18, 2020.”

 

Chapter Text

Clara felt content, although a bit tired. She wondered why the Doctor had been in such a hurry to come back to the TARDIS. The aliens on this planet had been nice and the Doctor had assured her that the food they served at the thank-you-dinner was human compatible. They even had provided disinfectant after the meal.

“Don’t worry, everything is alright.”

The Doctor said as he pulled her to the medbay.

“Yes, sure, Doctor, why shouldn’t be everything alright?”

She really wondered why he made such a fuss. She felt great. A bit exhausted perhaps. She didn’t know why he brought her here.

“Right, right, why shouldn’t everything be alright. You do feel alright?”

Asked the Doctor, now filling a bowl with warm water and adding an ingredient from a bottle.

That was really odd. Usually he didn’t care how she felt, at least since he had regenerated.

“Yeah, I feel fine.”

She felt wonderfully safe and warm, maybe a bit numb, but overall: very fluffy and cosy.

“Yes, that’s good, that’s splendid, that’s great that you feel alright!”

The Doctor brought the bowl, placed it on the table beside her and put her hands into it.

“What are you doing?”

She mumbled, yawning and snuggling into the chair.

“Oh, nothing, don’t worry, Clara. Just a little bath for your hands, your hands are delicate. I have to take care of your hands.”

“Whatever you say, Doctor. Just go on. I don’t mind.”

She really didn’t mind. She didn’t really care. She felt numb and wanted to sleep.

“Great hands, wonderful hands, precious hands. I have to make sure they are well looked after,” the Doctor mumbled, gently took her right hand out of the bath and started washing it with a soft sponge.

“Didn’t know you have a thing for hands,” she mumbled, as her vision got blurry.

“Hey, hey, hey, Clara, stay awake,” the Doctor said softly and shook her shoulder. His voice was calm and reassuring, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw something she had never seen in them before. It nearly seemed like panic. What was wrong? They were in the TARDIS. Everything was alright. She didn’t need anything. He didn’t need to wash her hands. She just needed a bit of sleep.

“No, no, no, no, no, you stay awake, Clara. Here, look at these hands. Look at this wonderful, small, delicate hand.”

He took her left hand and started to wash it with the sponge. Slowly, gently, systematically, making sure he didn’t miss a spot. It was odd. The Doctor seemed so different, not his usual callous self. Maybe he was ill? She didn’t really care. Or did she care? She didn’t know. Just a little nap and she would think about it afterwards.

“Ah, come on, Clara, here, stay with me,” the Doctor placed his hands on her shoulders and shook them. “Here, look at me, look at me. Yes, that’s better. Stay awake. Look at those hands.”

He took a towel and started to dry her hands.

“They are important, you know. Those hands. They can grab and they can slap me, and they can operate tools and swords and sonic screwdrivers.”

Maybe he was really ill. She started to worry.

The Doctor took a jar, got down on his knees and started to spread a lotion on her hands. He rubbed small semicircles, always murmuring, without ceasing, nearly as if it was an incantation:

“Those are hands that heal. They caress and they hug, and they are wonderful, precious, skilled tools. Just look at those small, neat fingers. Every single one of them is a masterpiece.”

He gently took every single finger and made sure the lotion reached every single spot. It was an odd feeling. And it seemed to drive the exhaustion away. She had no idea that this incarnation could be so tender.

When he was sure he had reached everything, even every single nailbed, he gave them a final inspection. Then, he just held her hands in his and looked up.

“Still tired?”

He asked, still the same strange expression that seemed like panic in his eyes. She shook her head.

“No, not anymore. I was really tired, even exhausted, but now it seems to be gone.”

“That’s good, I’m really glad to hear that!”

He breathed relieved and for a short moment he looked at her hands as if he wanted to kiss them.

“What happened, Doctor? Why this new obsession with my hands?”

He let go of her hands, quickly got up and straightened himself.

“The disinfectant! I had scanned all the food to make sure it is safe for you, but I didn’t think about the disinfectant this species uses. It is very effective, but toxic for humans. My only hope was to get it off your hands before your body had absorbed a deadly dose.”

“Oh.” She felt her heart sink.

“But if you are not tired anymore, I think you will be fine.”

He took his sonic screwdriver and scanned her.

“Yes, everything is fine, you are good to go,” he grinned.

She exhaled, relieved, but still confused about the Doctor’s behavior earlier on.

“But Doctor, I was tired and also totally calm. All this talking about my hands - there was no need to soothe me.”

“That was not me soothing you,” the Doctor said, a strange expression in his eyes, “that was me soothing myself.”

And with these words he quickly turned around and left the room. But it was too late, Clara had already recognized the tears of relief that had filled his eyes.

Chapter Text

The Doctor’s gaze lingered on her small, relaxed body. Only now, when Clara was tight asleep, he could allow his eyes what he would never allow them when she was awake: to let them admire her beauty. It was not okay to gaze at women. And it would be totally inappropriate to stare at his companion. It was offensive. He knew that much. And it was probably also not okay to admire a sleeping companion. When she would wake up and catch him doing this, she would probably slap him. That was safe to assume. Yet, he couldn’t help it, just this one time, he allowed his eyes to soak in her beautiful features.

She had fallen asleep on the chaise lounge in the TARDIS library, her favorite spot. Technically, she knew that he was watching her, because they went there together after their last adventure. It had become a new routine lately, he couldn’t tell when and how, but it had. Instead of dropping Clara off immediately, they went to the library and sat there, she on the chaise lounge, he in the large armchair, sometimes talking about their adventures, sometimes laughing their fears off, sometimes just sitting there, drinking tea, saying nothing at all.

Sometimes he even fell asleep himself, which was a strange thing to happen, because he avoided sleep. Yet, when he was here in his library and he knew Clara was near, he drifted off and it wasn’t the scary feeling of losing control he usually had when that happened. It was a peaceful feeling. Sometimes, when he woke up, he caught Clara watching him with an amused smile. He assumed it was amused, he wasn’t sure. But he was nearly sure that it was exactly this what kept his nightmares at bay: that he knew she was watching over him.

Now it was Clara who had been fallen asleep.

She looked so peaceful.

He had to save this moment.

He wanted to remember it later.

Much later when she was gone.

She would leave him.

This was inevitable.

Either he would do something stupid and she would sack him, that was the most likely thing to happen. Or some young, handsome, smart pudding brain would come along and marry her. This was also plausible, although she seemed to have pretty high standards. Since Danny, it seemed no man had been convincing enough for her to even consider dating. Or, and this was sure, but he hated to think about it, she would die. And, to be brutally honest, this would happen rather sooner than later. She was a fragile, little human running around with an idiot who still, after nearly 2,000 years, hadn’t given up hope to save this stupid, dangerous, old, beautiful universe.

He reached into the left pocket of his coat and drew out his sketch book and a pencil. It was a huge advantage that his pockets were bigger on the inside so he could carry around all the necessary things.

He started to sketch her outline.

Humans were pretty simple to draw, compared to other species. And beautiful. It was not the sole reason why they were his favorite species, but it added to their appeal. Every single human being was beautiful. He admired how every part, every feature fit together to make a perfect creature to adapt to all possible circumstances and challenges.

Now, this human being was especially beautiful, he thought as he added more detail and nuances. Even the parts that were maybe not exactly symmetrical or not exactly flawless added to her beauty. They evened out or added up to make her what he secretly called “his” Clara.

He spent a lot of time to capture her hands right, which rested on her belly. They were sturdy, yet elegant and looked like they were fragile porcelain. He had to correct his attempts several times until he was satisfied.  

He spent some time on her hair. Maybe he drew it a bit more voluminous than it really was, but he loved the smell of her hair and maybe that made him exaggerate it a bit. He noticed it but just smiled at his own weakness shining through. He wouldn’t correct that.

Finally, her face. He was sure he could draw it even if he turned blind. He admired every slight wrinkle in it, however unnoticeable it was, and he had sketched it hundreds of times when he tried to figure out what each facial expression meant.

The strong eyebrows, the small, straight, nearly not perceptible line that reached out from her nose to her forehead, oh yes, and her nose… Only some very vague lines in his sketch until now. He looked at it for a long while. Would he call it a snub nose? No, not really. But he sometimes felt the urge to give it a boop, like a much earlier incarnation. Finally, he took the courage. The pencil flew over the paper. He smiled at the result. Yes, exactly like that!

Finally, her eyes. He had about 300 sketches of them, all attempts to cover her open eyes in several states, from normal, to critical, to questioning, to happy, to outright inflated… but he was never satisfied with the result. It was much easier to draw them while closed. Still, the eyelashes…

When he looked up, he stared into her beautiful brown eyes.

“Hey, what are you doing?” She asked sleepily.

He blushed and averted his eyes.

“Oh, nothing, just some boring calculations…”

He quickly closed the sketchbook and shoved it in his pocket, feeling like a four-year-old who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Calculations that require you to draw a study of me sleeping?” She asked with a small smirk.

“Some equations concerning time and relative dimensions contain known values as well as a few mighty unknowns, Clara Oswald,” he said, softly patting the pocket which contained now one of his most valuable treasures.

 

Chapter Text

Clara tried to enter her flat. The door was blocked by something, so the door just opened wide enough for her to squeeze through. Ah, of course, the TARDIS. She cursed the Doctor. Sure, her flat wasn’t big but she suspected that he landed it in the most inconvenient spot on purpose. Or maybe the TARDIS did it to mock her. Anyway, it had been a long day, she wasn’t in an exactly good mood and that he visited her again on the wrong day didn’t brighten it up.

“Doctor?”

She asked, changing into her slippers.

A metallic clang. From her bedroom. Great.

She tried to enter it. The access was also blocked.

“Doctor?”

“Here!”

Two voices answered, the familiar Scottish one and a second one that sounded… well… neither Scottish nor male.

Clara pushed her shoulder against the door.

The obstacle was grey, soft, and movable.

“Oi!”

She finally managed to get into her own bedroom only to see a second TARDIS on her bed, tilted sideways, cables and pipes dangling out.

The grey obstacle now got up and spun around, a blonde woman in a wide coat and a rainbow t-shirt.

“Clara!”

The woman grinned enthusiastically, her eyes sparkled, and Clara felt herself pulled into a bear hug. A few steps behind her stood the Doctor, sleeves rolled up, looking like a boy who was caught doing something forbidden. And, at the same time, like a very jealous owl.

“Uhm… hi…” Clara mumbled against the woman’s coat, “I really appreciate the enthusiasm upon seeing me, but should I know you?”

“Of course, you know me, Clara! Ah, well, yes! Maybe not this…” The woman let go of her and grinned broadly. “Hi, the name is Doctor, the Doctor! I’m the upgrade from grumpy me!” She pointed with her thumb behind her. “Excited to see you again, alive and well, my Clara!”

Clara pinched her nose. She must be dreaming. Two Doctors. Two TARDIS… TARDISes? TARDII?

If she was not dreaming, her idiot Doctor better had a good explanation for this. She pinned him with her eyes.

“You… What have you done this time?”

He looked at her in a mixture of fear and hurt feelings.

“Why am I always responsible when something goes wrong?”

“Because, usually, you are!”

“Am not! Why don’t you ask over-enthusiastic me what happened!”

“Oi! I’m not over-enthusiastic! I’m just not as uptight and repressed as you.”

The two Doctors scowled at each other.

Clara sighed. Great. Exactly what she needed after a long day. Two egomaniac time travelers arguing while using her bedroom as a workshop. She suspected she would never get that oil stains out of her sheets. Or the rug. Or the parquet.

“Doctor. For the last time: Why is there a TARDIS – and I like to add not your TARDIS – in my bed?”

She shortly thought if and why it was more okay if it was his TARDIS, but immediately dismissed the thought. She was going slightly mad, it seemed.

“Ah, well… Completely my fault, I forgot to change the speed dial locations after regeneration. The TARDIS was severely damaged during a fight on Pantora and so I pressed the “1” and the TARDIS landed here. It’s great! I love your flat! I like your style! Also, very comfy rug to work on.”

The woman explained.

“You put my bedroom as an emergency location? As your number one choice to come to in case of emergency?”

Clara stared in disbelief at the Doctor. Well, her Doctor. He took deep interest in a spare part in his hands and seemed to ignore her question.

“Doctor? Why is my bedroom your emergency location number one?”

Two blue eyes under impressive eyebrows looked down to her as if they were looking up to her, the guilty look of a puppy expecting a spank in them.

“I… I think I found the fault in this flux capacitor,” he said and quickly turned around to rummage for some tool in the toolbox.

“This isn’t a flux capacitor and a TARDIS doesn’t have a flux capacitor,” the other Doctor and Clara said in unison. The Doctor blushed so deeply both women could see his neck turning red.

Clara sighed.

“Is there at least a rough estimate how long you will block my bedroom? Because I’m really, really exhausted.”

“Oh, no worries! All will be fluffy-puffy and good to go in no time. I’m good at tinkering, you know?”

“Fluffy-puffy?”

Clara could feel the non-word nearly physically hurt her English teacher self.

“She does this all the time! She invents words! It drives me crazy! She also does this with technical stuff.”

“I don’t. There is a dematerialization circuit and it’s definitely broken!”

“Doctor, even I know there is a dematerialization circuit! You even told me once you always have a spare one in case something happens to the original one. You couldn’t remember why, but you told me it was very, very important to always have a spare dematerialization circuit.”

“You do have a spare dematerialization circuit and I try to weld the broken one together the whole time?”

It was the first time the older Doctor seemed really angry.

“Oh. Well. I’m over 2,000 years old, I can forget a thing or two, right?”

“You are not over 2,000 years old; you are just exaggerating! Me, on the other hand…” she gave Clara a strange gaze. “…ah, well, spoilers! I think we could all use some tea, now!”

The older Doctor rubbed her oily hands. Clara shuddered at the thought of having her doing something in her kitchen. Her version of the Doctor was messy enough when he tried to be domestic.

“Okay, I tell you something: I make the tea, you two continue to fix this TARDIS. Doctor, the spare dematerialization circuit is most likely in the left pocket of your green velvet coat. And no, don’t ask me how I know. You, Mister, are in no position to ask any questions. Not now and not for the rest of the evening or however long it takes to get this mess sorted!”

Her Doctor looked now decidedly like a beaten puppy. She turned and started for the kitchen.

“She’s even more sexy when she’s angry, right?” She heard a thick Yorkshire accent behind her back.

“Shut up!” A Scottish voice answered, transporting a deep purple blush in its tone.

She entered the kitchen but was rooted to the spot upon entering. The whole kitchen was covered in flour, dough, and tomato sauce. There were all kinds of dirty and broken pots and dishes. But this wasn’t the worst. There was a large black hole where her oven used to be. This also explained the black spot on the ceiling.

“We made pizza!” She heard a voice shouting from her bedroom. “Glutton me has eaten his whole half, but there are a few pieces of mine left!”

“That wasn’t even 50 percent of the pizza. You cheated. Yours was at least 51 percent if not 51.5.” Her Doctor complained.

“You find it in the fridge. Careful when you open it. I placed an organ transplant for an Abzorbaloff in there, too! You’ll love the topping. It’s onions, apples, some leaves of that potted plant in your living room and soil!”

 

Chapter Text

„I though you wanted to get a haircut on that barber’s planet before you take me for dinner?”

Clara eyed the Doctor critically, placing her bag on the floor.

“Figaro V, yes. And yes, I did!”

“So, you only let them trim the ends? I never thought you were that vain about your hair, Doctor.”

“I’m not vain!”

The Doctor proved himself wrong immediately by letting his long fingers run through his hair.

“And I don’t discuss my hair with someone who fails to notice she is turning grey.”

“What?”

Clara rushed to the next TARDIS monitor and chose the “mirror” option.

“Doctor, I’m not turning grey,” she said with obvious relief in her voice.

The Doctor paced over to her.

“Well, it’s just one, but it’s a start,” he said, reaching for her head, “here, let me…” He picked a single grey hair and tore it out.

“Oi!”

The Doctor and Clara stared at each other. It had been neither of their voices.

“What was that?” They both asked in unison.

“Doctor, I don’t want to pick on that sensitive topic again, but it seems your hair has grown in the last few minutes.”

“Of course, it has, Clara, hair grows all the time. That’s the way those things work and even your small human brain should be able to grasp that concept!”

“Oh, don’t be daft! It has grown significantly; it is already at your collar.”

The Doctor reached behind his neck and grabbed a few curls, surprised.

“Doctor, your hair is growing, and it’s growing fast!”

“Shut up!” said a voice.

“Doctor, I think your hair has just told me to shut up.”

“Well, that way I didn’t have to,” the Doctor shrugged, brushing a curl out of his face.

“Doctor, you already look like Peter Capaldi in ‘Martin’s Close’ and it is not a wig. I don’t think that this is a good thing.”

“Shut up!” Hissed the hair and the Doctor in unison.

In the meanwhile, the curls from the Doctor’s back tried to reach out to the console.

“Watch out!” Clara shouted and pulled the curls back.

“Ouch!” The hair and the Doctor shouted, and the latter tumbled forward.

“I don’t think that’s a good thing, Clara,” he remarked when he caught himself and untangled a strand from his wrist.

“Oh, now, are we a fast thinker today?” Clara shot back, slightly annoyed.

The Doctor pulled a couple of strands back which had tried to take over the console controls. One lock however managed to pull one switch and the soundtrack of the musical “Hair” started playing. The Doctor’s hair started singing along.

“Darling, gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair…”

“Hair? Seriously, Doctor?”

“Clara, the musical taste of my hair is probably not the biggest problem here,” the Doctor shouted back, now trying to tie his hair back, so it wasn’t able to grab anything. The hair fought back.

“Here baby, there mama, everywhere daddy, daddy… HAIR…”

“If it could at least sing in tune, this situation would be slightly better,” Clara replied, fighting back a strand of grey hair that tried to strangle her.

“Yes, you can hardly believe it is my hair, right?” The Doctor answered, now forcefully tying a couple of strands to the railing so they couldn’t move.

“Flow it, show it, long as god can grow it, my hair…”

“Doctor, I think I got an idea, do you think you can fend it off a while longer?”

“Guess I have to.”

“Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees. Give a home to the fleas in my hair…

Clara ran for the TARDIS exit.

A lock grabbed her ankle and pulled her back.

Fortunately, she could grab her bag. She rummaged around until she found her nail scissors. It was quite an effort to cut through the Doctor’s strong hair with it, but finally she managed to cut herself free and ran.

“There ain't no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my HAIR”

That was the last thing she heard before the doors closed behind her.

She rushed to her bathroom, grabbed a bottle from her shower and ran back to the TARDIS. She had already problems opening the door because a tangled mass of grey hair blocked it, but she managed to squeeze through.

“TARDIS, sprinklers!” She shouted.

Water sprayed from the roof and soaked everything, including the legions of grey strands and the Doctor.

“Sprinklers off!” She commanded after 2 minutes.

Clara squeezed the first shot from the bottle she was holding and started to rub. Foam emerged from her hands and she spread it on the strands in the vicinity.

“What are you doing? Stop it!” The Doctor’s hair screamed in horror.

She continued her way into the TARDIS, spreading the ingredients of the bottle and rubbing them in under the loud protest of the Doctor’s hair. After some time, she had treated every corner of the… could you still call it a ‘shock of hair’ if it filled a whole console room?... and reached the Doctor’s head.

The protest from the hair died down.

The Doctor had closed his eyes. It nearly seemed like he enjoyed Clara’s strokes on his scalp.

“I think that’s it,” she said, finishing the process.

“Seems like it,” the Doctor mumbled, a slight hint of regret in his voice.

“TARDIS, sprinklers!” Clara commanded. She didn’t mind being soaked herself, her clothes were already ruined by the foam. The water washed it away.

For a moment they stared at each other, both soaking wet, the interior of the console room buried in wet, grey hair. Then both started to laugh hysterically.

“Now, I take it you don’t want to go back to Figaro V for a haircut, do you?” Clara finally asked when she caught her breath.

“Nope,” the Doctor replied. “And I think I know what that was. A bunch of greedy hairdressers have developed a bacterium that causes hair to grow faster so they can earn more money. But something went wrong, and it gave hair a consciousness along with making it grow much faster than expected. I have destroyed the lab and the bacterial strains, but it seems I was contaminated in the process.”

“Sounds… plausible. I have a bad hair day once in a while, but that was ridiculous.”

Clara uttered, staring at the wet patches of hair around her.

“TARDIS, can we have a blow-dry for the whole console room?”

The TRADIS hummed and they were surrounded by hot air. After a short while, the console room was filled with fluffy grey curls.

“Seems now I have to give you a haircut,” Clara remarked.

“Maybe trim the ends a bit, yes,” the Doctor replied which triggered another laughing fit.

The TARDIS materialized hairdressing shears and Clara started to cut out the Doctor from beneath the curls.

“Why didn’t your facial hair grow, Doctor?”

“Oh, it is independent. Even the left eyebrow is independent from the right one and they are both stubborn enough not to catch a bacterium just because the top hair does. Why?”

“Oh, nothing, I was just wondering how you would look like with a beard.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Clara. Time Lords don’t have beards… well, the Master had, once or twice, but really, I don’t think I’m the type.”

Clara cut the hair in silence for a while.

“Do you think it would look good? A beard, I mean?” The Doctor started again, thoughtfully rubbing his chin.

“I don’t know, perhaps you should try,” Clara replied.

“No, I think I had enough hair for a while,” the Doctor said, determination in his voice. “By the way, how did you beat my hair? What was in that bottle?”

“Shampoo, pear scented.”

“How did you know it would work?”

“I didn’t. But when I heard your hair sing out of tune, I thought that if you and your hair are that much alike it would probably abhor pears, too.”

“That was really smart, Clara. Helped us escaping by a hair’s breadth, so to speak.”

Both giggled.

“Wait a minute, I don’t sing out of tune!”

“Oh yes, you do!”

Clara replied and the TARDIS hummed her affirmation.

 

Chapter Text

„You need anything else?“

Clara was on her way out of the Doctor’s room in the TARDIS. After she had freed him out of that prison on Ghat’Baharan and treated his worst wounds she expected him to go into a healing coma for some time. It usually worked this way.

He looked at her strangely and somehow disturbed.

“Can you… some time ago you made hot chocolate and I wonder if you…”

He looked down to his feet. He had never asked her to bring him something to eat or to drink when they were in his TARDIS. Usually his old girl would take care of everything. But she didn’t feel like arguing with him, he had been severely wounded, and she was sure he had his reasons to ask her for it.

“Sure, Doctor, no problem at all, be back in a minute…”

When she came back with the mug, the Time Lord was in bed.

Was this the reason he asked for a hot chocolate? Did he want to change for bed without her as a witness while making sure she came back? The thought seemed absurd and she pushed it away quickly.

She handed him the mug, he sipped and placed the mug on the bedside table.

“Right, then,” she rubbed her hands, “I think it is best you go into a healing coma.”

“I think you patched me up alright, I don’t think I need a coma. Maybe a bit of sleep.”

He looked up with a small smirk and their eyes met. There was an insecure flickering in them she had never seen before.

“Would you…” he cleared his throat. “Would you, you know… maybe you could wait until I finished this… drink?”

Realization dawned on her. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted her to stay. There was something heartbreaking about a Time Lord asking for the simple comfort of her company. This was not the confident Time Lord she knew. Something must have disturbed him terribly.

She sat down, on the edge of the bed.

“Of course, Doctor. I’m here. I’m staying as long as you want me to.”

She smiled at him and he smiled back weakly. There was an expression of thankfulness in his eyes as he continued to sip his chocolate. It nearly seemed like he dragged out the process of finishing it on purpose. Something that reminded her of her time caring for Artie and Angie.

He didn’t want her to leave.

There he was, a 2,000-year-old Time Lord, the Oncoming Storm, the Destroyer of Worlds, wanting her to stay with him, but too proud, too restrained or too distraught to ask openly for it.

She decided to make it easier for him.

“You know… I could stay here with you, just for tonight. You are wounded and maybe you need something in the night. If I’m here, I can look after you.”

This was of course nonsense. The TARDIS was a sentient ship and would provide her thief with whatever he needed whenever he needed it. And the concept of “night” was a bit timey-wimey in a time machine, anyway. She knew that and the Doctor knew that, too. But she hoped to offer him comfort in a way he could accept without having to admit it was him needing her company.

“You would stay here, with me?” He asked, and it sounded incredulous.

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?”

“In… I mean, you have to sleep, too, you must have been on your feet for at least,” he rolled his eyes upwards, an indication he ‘saw’ the time span that had elapsed for her in the time landscape in his head, “83 Earth hours, so you must be tired.”

“Sure, Doctor, I think I just sleep with you in this bed. It’s big enough each of us can walk in our sleep and we still don’t get in each other’s way.”

This version was really… coy? Uptight? This would never had been an issue with his previous incarnation.

“We don’t even have to mention it ever again.”

She added and grinned.

She had guessed right.

Admitting that he needed her company tonight was something he saw as a weakness. If he had done something stupid, he didn’t want to talk about it. Showing a weakness was worse than doing something stupid. Much worse. If he showed a weakness he really, really didn’t want to be reminded the next morning.

He nodded nearly unnoticeable and looked at her with a weak smile, his eyes holding an expression of amazement, relief and affection.

“I’ll be right back, just have to change for the night.”

She took the mug and brought it to the kitchen, changed into her pajamas and used the bathroom.

When she came back, the Time Lord had crawled to the farthest side of the bed, his back facing her. She smiled. He really had made sure there was enough space for her.

She lowered herself beside him.

“Hey, already asleep?” She whispered.

He shook his head.

She thought about his wounds and the unsteady look she had seen in his eyes earlier. She didn’t know what they had done to him in this prison, but she knew it must have been terrible. She thought about how he had been too shy to admit that he didn’t want to be alone. She wondered if he secretly wanted the reassuring feeling of a hug but wasn’t able to express it. Especially as he had always made it clear he wasn’t a hugger.

“Do you want to know what helps humans sleep after a bad day?”

“What?”

“It’s an extremely effective relaxation technique, the Venusian Aikido of relaxation, so to speak. It’s called ‘spooning’.”

“Spooning?”

“Yes. You want to learn it?”

A nod.

“First, you have to decide who had the least miserable day. I think it’s safe to say that today that’s me. When that’s decided, this one reaches her arm around the chest of the one with the really terrible day.”

She did it.

The Doctor stiffened.

She knew that if he relaxed, he would admit that she was right, that he needed her comfort and protection right now. She knew how proud this incarnation was. She wouldn’t be surprised if he shook her off and told her to shut up the next moment.

She could feel his double heartbeat hammering fast beneath her hand.

Being in an unfamiliar situation, not being in control of what happened scared him. His hearts told her more than this incarnation ever would with words.

But he didn’t protest. He held perfectly still.

When she felt his heartbeats slowing down, she continued:

“Then, this one covers the body of the one who really feels miserable and beaten up with her body. That way, nothing can harm him anymore. Her body protects him from whoever or whatever tries to harm him.”

She covered as much of his large frame as she could with her much smaller body. He was still stiff, and she could nearly feel his ego battling with the wish to accept and relax into the comfort she offered.

“And now, the brave and strong Time Lord can relax, because tonight, he doesn’t have to save the universe anymore. He doesn’t need to stop any monsters tonight. Just tonight, he can feel safe and protected himself. He is safe in his TARDIS. And he is covered by the body of his companion. Tonight, he can just close his eyes and sleep.”

She reached up and softly stroked his head.

He grabbed her hand.

For a long moment he just held it tight, as if he was unsure what he wanted to do with it. Then he brought it back down to his chest.

She felt his shoulders relaxing, once her hand rested again on his chest.

His heartbeats were nearly back to normal.

He took a deep breath.

Stay. Don’t leave me.

She heard the plea in her head.

He had mentioned that he was a bad telepath.

“Of course, I won’t leave you, you stupid old Time Lord,” she whispered.

Never, never, leave me.

“Shhhh, rest, it’s alright, everything is alright, Doctor. I’m here, with you, I’m not going anywhere. Not tonight and never again. Relax!”

She felt the last part of resistance crumble.

He nearly melted into her embrace.

She hadn’t expected how much it touched her that he was willing to accept the comfort she offered. She felt tears welling up. Maybe it was just that she was tired. Yes, probably it was just that.

She tightened her grip and rested her head between his shoulder blades.

“That’s better. Sleep, just sleep, let your body and your soul heal. The universe has to wait. The Doctor is not available tonight.”

A soft nod.

And a pat on her hand.

My Doctor is here.

This time it really moved her to tears. They ran down her cheeks in silence.

He needed her much more than she had anticipated.

She felt how his body finally lost the battle against sleep, his hand slackened, and his breath evened out.

And she… she thought as she felt sleep claiming her body, too… she loved this tedious, gruff, callous, stupid, brave, kind and vulnerable old alien more than she probably should.

Chapter Text

„This is ridiculous!“

The Doctor with the short, grey hair looked around, searching for a way out of the cupboard he was stuck in. Well, he tried to look around as far as he could, because it was a very small cupboard and most of the space was clogged with clothes and another… person… who had longer grey hair and a smug smile that made him want to punch him immediately. But… there wasn’t even enough space for punching.

“It is a paradox. They have a tendency to be a tad bit ridiculous.”

His counterpart shrugged.

“But of all the time paradoxes available why does it have to be the grandfather paradox? Quite literally, because, boy, do you look old!”

“Well, that’s you looking old. And I think you look older than me. Look at you!”

“I do, in a way.”

“No, I mean, look at you, skinny as a bone! If you are not careful, you slip through the cracks of the floor.”

“Well, that would be at least a way to escape from here… and from you. And I’m sure I would have already found a way out of here if your chubby self wouldn’t clog so much space!”

“Chubby? Oi, I’m not chubby!”

Ah, at least he could still lose his temper. He had been slightly worried that his future self might have lost all his edges, externally and internally.

“So, what’s that?”

He poked his older self’s tummy.

“Oi!”

His older self slapped at his hand. There was a short tingling as the timelines rubbed against each other. Right! It was still not right that they were here together. That it was a tight cupboard didn’t make things easier.

“This…” his future self said with a ridiculously inappropriate dignity and gravity, pointing to his tummy, “is an extremely effective and ergonomic energy safe. It is the centerpiece of my success.”

“Success in eating all donuts and cookies in the universe?”

He grinned at his older self’s angry expression. It was fun teasing himself. He knew all the vulnerable spots all too well.

“I’m not arguing with a skeleton in the cupboard!”

This was one good tit-for-tat response. And no, he was not going to admit this to himself!

“Ah, speaking of that, what’s your plan, smarty-pants? And while we are at clothing, are you serious with that hoodie?”

“Hoodies are cool! My students love them!”

“You said this about bowties and fezzes before and where has this gotten us? We got married and now are avoiding the wedding night… Oh, wait a minute… they let you teach people? Real, breathing, non-converted-into-Cybermen people?”

“They do, I’m good at that!”

“I like to hear a second opinion on that. You can’t keep a straight thought for a minute, how can you teach people?”

“Oi! Speaking of, have you forgotten we are still stuck in a cupboard? What’s your plan, wise guy?”

Right. The sooner they got out of this, the better. It was no fun being stuck with himself. He banged against the door of the cupboard.

“Clara! Clara!”

“Seriously, this is your idea of getting out of this? Calling some random woman?”

“Not a random woman. Clara.”

“Clara who?”

“Oh great, don’t tell me you have forgotten her. Ah, well, should have thought of that. You really ARE old if you settled down and got a job, right? What became of the good old taking stupid risks and regenerating before something terrible like this happens? Me and a daytime job!”

He shuddered at the thought.

“It’s a good job! You’d love it!”

He snorted. He hoped this was all just some timey-wimey stuff and not a fixed point in time and he would regenerate before he could say that.

“Fine, then, teacher or professor or whatever your job title is: get us out of this cupboard if you are that smart!”

His older self started to bang on the door of the cupboard.

“Bill! Nardole!”

“How is that better than calling Clara?”

“First,” his older self held up one finger to him, “I’m calling people I know actually exist. And second,” he held two fingers to him and grinned broadly, “I’m calling two people instead of just one.”

He groaned. Had he always been that stupid? Oh, wait, this guy was his future, so: would he become that stupid?

“Does have the same effect, right? Which is exactly zero.”

“Did work before. Remember? Cleopatra’s wardrobe?”

“Oh boy, was Mark Antony mad at us!”

“Yeah, we should have checked if he was in town before.”

“Yeah… But this doesn’t get us out of here, right?”

“Right. But maybe those do…”

His… was it a twin? It wasn’t a twin if he was older… Or more recent? Well, it might depend on the time it was now… heck, perhaps he should have paid more attention to the time management classes when he was studying at the academy… his other self had put on sunglasses.

“Sunglasses? Seriously? Isn’t it dark enough for you in here?”

“Ha! Look, listen and learn, young grasshopper, they are sonic sunglasses!”

His older self grinned smugly and soniced the door.

“Sonic sunglasses? What’s next? Sonic underpants?”

“That could be useful… no, on second thought, it wouldn’t. Scrap that. It’s ridiculous!”

“Yeah, you know what else is ridiculous?”

“What?”

“Trying to sonic that door. It’s wood.”

“Oh.”

The first time since they met his older self looked sheepish.

Suddenly the door was opened from the outside.

P.E. was staring at them, aghast, closed the door, just to open it a few seconds later again.

“Clara! You know I trust you, but… there are two of your space dads… in your wardrobe!”

He felt anger welling up and contemplated punching P.E. just for calling him that. His anger transformed into fear when he heard Clara’s voice from the kitchen.

“Again? Just slap the young one because it is probably his fault and shove the one with the long hair through the door. That’s what I do when this happens. I would do it myself, but I really, really want that soufflé to succeed this time!”

 

Chapter Text

„A pub?“

“Not just any old pub, Clara, wait and see!”

The Doctor’s eyes twinkled mischievously. He winked at the doorman, who respectfully winked back with eight of his sixteen eyes and gave way for them.

Inside, it was gloomy and dark. A cave-like interior. Perhaps because the pub was indeed built into a cave of one of the yellow mountains of Feradartho. The Doctor guided her past the bar and into a room deeper in the cave. There was a large, round stage in the center. All around it were tables, comfortable armchairs and even sofas. It looked more like an enhanced living room than a bar. The Doctor chose a table with a good view to the stage and two armchairs.

“Will there be a live act?”

Clara had nearly forgotten how tired she was from their hiking trip to the rainbow falls at the brown lake. She loved live music and she shared the same musical taste as the Doctor. And this strange pub had a nice atmosphere and really comfy chairs. If she hadn’t known the Doctor inside out, she would have suspected that he had planned this whole day as a romantic date.

A large purple otter in a white dinner jacket served two drinks she hadn’t noticed the Doctor ordered.

The Doctor raised his glass.

“Here’s to you, Clara Oswald!”

“Here’s to you, Doctor!”

She couldn’t place the taste of the drink. Maybe the closest was a sparkling version of pink grapefruit juice, but with a richer, more wine-like aroma. It was delicious.

“The Feradarthorian version of champagne, made from the fruits of the Mahagden bushes. Should very well meet your taste,” he smiled when she nodded, “non-toxic, leaves the inhibitions intact. At least for humans.” The last sentence he mumbled, avoiding her eyes.

“So, what is that stage for, Doctor? Are we seeing something? A space stand-up comedy? A space concert?”

“Karaoke,” the Doctor grinned broadly at her surprised and probably a bit disappointed expression, “well, for you it will probably count as space karaoke, I bet you haven’t seen anything like that before.”

The lights were dimmed and a four-legged creature with wings and deer antlers mounted the stage. From out of nowhere a choir started singing and an orchestra was playing. Clara was surprised. It really sounded as if a choir of at least 30 people were singing and a whole symphonic orchestra was playing on stage, but there was just that one creature.

Then, the creature started to sing.

Clara saw a whole story unfolding over the head of the creature, she saw an epic battle, the creature fighting together with other creatures against demons and dragons.

But above this battle scene, a second scene unfolded, a scene that showed the creature had been bullied by its class mates and was fighting its way through life to gain the respect of its parents, its teachers and its class mates.

When the song ended everyone in the room applauded, the creature bowed its head and galloped off the stage as fast as it could.

“Wow, that was amazing, Doctor, how does it work?”

“Oh, the sound comes from a ‘X56 Mark II Soundblaster Tele de Luxe’. You can have everything, from just an accompanying acoustic guitar up to a whole orchestra and it will sound as if it’s the real thing. The visual effects… it’s a ‘MEE – Meaning Extract Enhancer’. It extracts the words or the meaning out of the piece of music, so you will have a visual representation of what happens in the song. And this is the newest version, it is an ‘EEEE – Enhanced Extracting Emotional Enhancer’. It not only extracts the meaning; in a second step it extracts the emotions, memories, and wishes that come from the one who performs the song. It’s quite impressive, isn’t it?”

Clara nodded and listened amazed to the next act, a blue liquid who sang, according to the first scene, about orange meadows, lilac seas, and black beaches. But according to the second scene it wanted to flow beside her beloved green liquid, flowing through dark caves and filling the seas together with him.

When the liquid had ended her song, she flowed back to her table and formed a puddle together with her green partner liquid who had been waiting there. Everyone applauded and as far as she could see there were quite a few tears in the eyes of the listeners – at least those listeners who had eyes.

“Doctor, it’s your time.”

The doorman had materialized beside their table, holding out an acoustic guitar to him.

“Oh, never mind, I changed my opinion,” the Doctor shrugged.

Clara eyed him suspiciously. She could read him like a book. He was scared. Scared of what? She didn’t sense any danger. Everything seemed normal. Well, normal considering it was a pub on a foreign planet about 465 years in her own future and they were surrounded by approximately twenty different species. But they all seemed peaceful.

“You told me you would say that,” the doorman said quietly, still holding the guitar out to the Doctor, now with the remaining seven other arms crossed.

“Did I?” The Doctor said surprised. “Well, then, you will not be surprised and can bugger off.”

“Sir, with all due respect, you gave me the order to force you on stage should need be.”

“Well, I changed my mind, new order: I won’t. Go back to your door.”

“Sir, you said you chose me, because I am a Beac. If a Beac is given an order, they execute it, not minding time and space. And an order can never be changed once given. Sir, I must insist that you take the guitar and go on stage.”

Clara started giggling, because it was obvious that the Doctor had set a trap for himself, he couldn’t escape. The Doctor scowled at her under angry attack eyebrows.

“Ah, come on, Doctor, I would love to hear you sing! I’m sure it will be awesome!” She smiled at her impossible stick-insect.

His expression softened almost immediately.

“Really?”

“Really!”

The Doctor sighed and got up. He took the guitar from the Beac and climbed on stage. He didn’t use the X56, he played himself. Of course, he did. He only played in the TARDIS when he was sure Clara didn’t listen, but she knew him well enough. She sometimes managed to sneak in behind his back and listen for some time. He had a beautiful voice and played well. But he strictly refused to play or sing for her.

She wondered why he had changed his mind this evening.

He started playing a tune she knew. She recognized it, ‘Always’ by Panic! at the Disco, but it seemed that he improvised a longer intro, maybe to fight his nervousness.

Finally, he started singing.

 

When the world gets too

Heavy put it on my back

I'll be your levy

You are taking me apart

Like bad glue

On a get well card

 

The first scene above the Doctor’s head showed a messed up get-well card with too much glue.

The second scene showed her slapping him inside of the Dalek and leaving him after the incident on the moon. She saw how miserable he felt for being a failure in her eyes.

 

It was always you

Falling for me

Now there's always time

Calling for me

I'm the light blinking at the end of the road

Blink back to let me know

 

It was interesting, because now, in the chorus, the first scene and the second scene melted into one, her face on many different occasions during their adventures, ending on the scene shortly after regeneration, how she had looked at him when he begged her to see him.

He wanted her to see him.

 

I'm a fly that's trapped

In a web

But I'm thinking that

My spider's dead

Lonely, lonely little life

I could kid myself

In thinking that I'm fine

 

The first scene showed the Doctor as a fly, strangled and mummified in a spiderweb, looking around in search of a spider that didn’t come.

The second scene showed how he suffered every time after she left the TARDIS to lead her normal life. How lonely he felt on his adventures when she was not running with him.

 

It was always you

Falling for me

Now there's always time

Calling for me

I'm the light blinking at the end of the road

Blink back to let me know

 

Again in the chorus the scenes melted into one, showing her face, how she looked at him, how she smiled at him, ending with the moment after their adventure on the Orient Express where she told him she would keep on travelling with him.

He needed her by his side.

 

That I'm skin and bone

Just a king and a rusty throne

Oh, the castle's under siege

But the sign outside says “leave me alone”

 

The first scene showed him sitting on a throne, dressed as a king, staring lonely into the void.

The second scene, however, showed him lonely in his TARDIS, after he had lied to her about going back to Gallifrey. Lost and alone, without having found his home. His own fault, according to him.

Her heart clenched, knowing that it was her fault just as much, for lying to him about Danny. That she had suffered just as much because she had lied to him. She felt tears welling up.

 

It was always you

Falling for me

Now there's always time

Calling for me

I'm the light blinking at the end of the road

 

Her face again, ending with her smile at the end of their adventure with Santa Claus when she decided to join him again in his travels. His second chance.

He wanted to be together with her.

 

Blink back to let me know

He loved her.

 

Blink back to let me know

He hoped she loved him, too. 

 

He played the final chord and their eyes met.

She brushed the tears from her eyes and blinked at him.

He stared at her as if he were paralyzed.

She blinked again.

He still showed no reaction, neither was he getting off stage, nor did he say something or blinked back.

She blinked a third time.

There was a tension lingering in this room. No one in the audience even dared to breathe.

She sighed.

If she waited until everything panned out at his pace, she would probably turn old and grey. Or dead for centuries, more likely.

She got up, mounted the stage, grabbed the lapels of her stupid, snotty, aloof, uptight, repressed, brave, kind, talented, heartbreakingly and unbearably coy stick-insect of a Time Lord and kissed him. And she kissed him like she meant it. She left absolutely no doubt she loved him, this him, with all his quirks, flaws, abilities and inhibitions and he should better accept it and act on it now, before she really became a dead spider in a web that held him tight.

After a moment of noticeable shock, he answered her kiss. Daring, enthusiastic, passionate, also leaving no trace of doubt that he loved her, and he didn’t care what the audience or society on whatever planet or the High Council or some stupid old childhood myth or this crappy old universe thought about it.

He loved her.

She was surprised how eagerly and even a bit possessive he showed it in front of a whole audience who of course applauded frantically to what happened on stage. Not that she minded. Not at all. It made her feel… proud? Appreciated? Treasured? Loved!

It was a good thing that there was the guitar between them, otherwise there would have been an all but chaste and innocent hug. The way it was, they were restricted to just ruffling each other’s hair while kissing. His grey curls felt fabulous and much softer than expected, her control-freak self couldn’t help noting in the back of her mind.

“Sir…”

The doorman softly tapped their shoulders. He had enough arms to do that and cross two pairs in addition. They reluctantly parted lips and looked at him.

“Sir… Ma’am,” eight pairs of eyes scowled at them, while the left of his three mouths couldn’t suppress a suggestive smirk, “I must insist you leave the stage immediately. We are not that kind of pub, you know?”

Realization dawned at her: The EEEE had been switched on all the time…

 

Chapter Text

FROM: sexy@TheDoctorsTARDIS.universe

TO: eeee@feradartho-best-music-pub.universe

Subject: THANK YOU [Undisclosed/Confidential]

 

Dear EEEE (if I may call you that),

 

I’m writing you to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ because you managed something I have tried to achieve for years and years now: you brought my Doctor and his latest companion together.

You are a karaoke machine and so it is probably hard for you to understand how it feels like to be a sentient, highly-developed and experienced time-space-machine, but let me tell you, it is hard if you are navigating time and space with an immortal Time Lord and a mortal human who act like heartsick teenagers who have a crush on each other but are too shy to confess.

For years now, it was always the same: him being all cranky and brooding if she was not with him. Her secretly sneaking in when he played guitar just to listen and sneak out again before he could notice. Both bantering and insulting each other while giving each other longing looks when they were sure the other didn’t see it. Stuff like that.

Well, I was not a big fan of her at the start, I tell you. But she shattered herself in his timeline to save him and that’s something where even an old time-space-machine has to say: kudos. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether I like her or not, he loves her, and, knowing him, he doesn’t get over that. Don’t get me started on how long it took until he was over Rose. Ah, never mind, I digress, it comes with old age…

Anyway, you wouldn’t believe what I have tried to make my thief confess to her! Romantic trips. Packing a picnic basket for them and fly them to the most beautiful sunsets. Playing love songs on shuffle mode. Deleting everything except romantic movies from the movie database. Mood lighting. Landing in her bedroom when she was feeling down so he had to comfort her. I even intoxicated her once (nothing too serious, mind me) so he had to care for her. I hoped the fear for her life would make him confess to her, but: no way!  

The thing is, they are both a bit thick. And he is probably the most uptight version I have seen of him. I could tell you stories about the eight incarnation… but I am not sure if you are not underaged. You are a rather new model, they told me. And you managed something few machines have managed so far: you impressed me.

That was quite a good work you did on my thief. I haven’t seen him so happy in centuries! He smiles, he hugs, he tells stories and jokes, he whistles, he sings, he compliments not only Clara, but also me, and he laughs. Oh my, I had nearly forgotten how it sounds! He laughs and he giggles a lot and that’s the most beautiful music I have heard inside me for ages.

So: Thank you! I don’t know what you did and how you did it, but I thank you with all my circuits, and resistors, and capacitors, and I thank you from the deepest bottom of my heart!

If there is anything I can do for you, please, let me know.

 

Always yours,

 

TARDIS  

 

Type 40 TT Capsule (HQ: Gallifrey)

Currently listed as stolen

Owner of a renegade Time Lord known as “The Doctor”

 

This message will destroy itself immediately after reading. At least if I coded it right. If it doesn’t: please do so yourself. Consider the environment before printing this message. Wait, hadn’t I deleted this part? Ah, the forests put it back in there, wait a minute, I just remove this before I hit_____

Chapter Text

She had to do something.

 

She was a sentient ship.

She was a compassionate ship.

She loved her thief.

 

But she couldn’t take it any longer.

 

Ever since Clara Oswald had told the Doctor to get lost after the events on that stupid little egg the humans called “Moon” he was moping. Well, worse than that. She could do with moping. But he was brooding. And he was brooding profusely. Was it that the last regeneration had mixed a ridiculously high amount of Scottishness into the new incarnation?

She didn’t know.

She only knew that it was getting on her nerve circuits.

 

At the beginning she had counted on time. Time was a healer, after all and he was a Time Lord.

She had thrown him into quite a few exciting adventures, the ones that would have made all incarnations giggle with joy. Monsters, villains, dangers, exciting species, explosions, tidal waves…

He had solved the mysteries but whenever he was done, he came back in an even darker mood than before.

She had introduced him to possible new companions. Handsome chaps, smart women, clever puffins, thinking liquids, tinkering robots… He always came back alone.

She had created a robot cat for him. The robot cat had left because it couldn’t stand the brooding.

She had started to clutch at straws and flew him to Moulin Rouge V, the planet of brothels. She knew that the more recent incarnations had a tendency to be asexual or demi-sexual, which was a relief compared to the eight incarnation, although she had to admit that Eight had been quite attractive and it would have been really interesting if his hands and the telepathic… she told her sensual circuits to shut up… But she had hoped that it was maybe not completely true for this incarnation and he would be able to spend a few uplifting hours there. The officials banned them for the next 500 years because he just sat in a bar and radiated such an amount of melancholy that it ruined all business in the whole district.

Finally, she created a brooding moor because she hoped that maybe it soothed his Scottish soul and drove away the melancholy after some time.

But he was standing in there for weeks now, staring out over the scarce patches of heather, eyes fixed to the horizon, wind ruffling his hair. Brooding.

She had to do something.

 

She had caught herself brooding over the meaningless life of a sentient time-space machine and contemplated to use her own self-destruction mechanism and that was not a good thing.

She needed to do something.

 

She hated it, but it seems there was just one thing that could make her thief happy again.

 

She had to convince Clara Oswald to give him one more chance. Or hope. Or at least some kind of closure. Or anything this female human could do that a sentient, brilliant, fantastic, all-knowing, compassionate, loving space-time-machine couldn’t.

 

She materialized in Clara Oswald’s flat.

“I told you to get lost and never come back again!”

Obviously, the human female was still mad at her thief.

Well maybe she shouldn’t have picked a few hours after the egg-moon incident?

 

She de-materialized and re-materialized a few days later.

 

“You! Get out of here! What did I tell you about human biorhythm, the concept of sleep and privacy of bedrooms? And I told you to get lost anyway!”

Right. There was this ridiculous human concept of “night” where they went into their recreational cycle. Would explain the dress, or lack thereof, too.

 

She de-materialized and re-materialized three weeks later. In the middle of the week. In the evening, but not too late. About an hour after the human female had finished her job of transferring knowledge into brains of adolescent human entities.

“You? What are you doing here? I think I made myself clear that I don’t want to see your grey-haired stick-insect figure ever again?”

Seems there was never the right time with this human female.

But she couldn’t stand living with a heartsick, brooding thief inside her any longer, so she decided to proceed anyway.

She opened her door.

“Oh no, I’m not coming in, forget it. Come out if you want to say something. But I don’t want to hear it anyway.”

Humans.

Complicated.

She sighed.

Something had changed in the human female upon hearing that.

“Wait a minute… It’s not the Doctor coming here?”

She confirmed the information.

“It’s you…. You are the TARDIS. You came here alone?”

That was technically not true, the Doctor was still in his brooding moor, but she had locked the door and he didn’t care anyway. So, she confirmed the information. Hey, she didn’t know she was able to lie. Maybe she should try that more often?

“Okay, what do you want? We don’t have exactly a good relationship, right?”

She happily confirmed this information.

“So?”

She indicated with laser beams on the floor that she should come in. She just hoped the human would understand. They tended to be really, really slow in picking up hints.

To her surprise, the human really followed her traces to the console and to one of the monitors.

“Okay, I came in, what do you want?”

Now she could use the monitor to communicate with the primitive word language these humans used.

The Doctor needs help.

“Oh, is he in danger? What has happened? Is he hurt? Where is he?”

To her surprise, the female human was really concerned for her thief’s well-being. But she had said she didn’t want to see him ever again? The both pieces of information didn’t align. They didn’t compile properly. They caused a malfunction in her fact processing units. Her thief had mentioned this happened a lot with Clara Oswald.

“Oh my god, if he is in danger, then come on, no time to waste, bring me to him, quick!”

He is not in danger. Not the way you think.

“Oh. Okay. Then, why did you come?”

She was obviously relieved.

I told you: The Doctor needs help.

She projected the picture from the camera in the room with the brooding moor to the screen.

“Where is this? What is he doing?”

Brooding. He’s brooding. Ever since you sacked him.

“Yeah, well, his problem. I didn’t ask him to be an idiot. And I don’t have the energy to spend my time with such a callous, stubborn, infuriating stupid Time Lord. I’m worth more than that, you know?”

I know he can be an idiot at times, but he does mean well.

“Said any abused woman ever. You shouldn’t defend him. He treats you mean, too.”

She was surprised. First, that the human was so fast at labeling her thief as abuser. And second that she seemed to care about her feelings despite their differences in the past.

I have travelled with him for over 1,967 years… we might hurt each other at times, but he isn’t an abuser, he’s fallible and sometimes rude, but he isn’t consciously rude. He has his flaws, but he has the kindest of hearts. Look at him.

The monitor still showed the Doctor, standing, staring, brooding.

This incarnation has so far the biggest problems understanding humans. But he is also the one who takes his mistakes really, really serious and tries to do something about them. At first, he didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He really thought he was respecting you by leaving the decision up to you. I explained to him what he had done wrong. Since then, he is like this. 

“Where is this?”

It is a brooding moor. I tried everything to cheer him up, to brighten his mood. But nothing worked. I even created this brooding moor for him because I hoped it would help him to get over it, but he is… just like this… the whole time… He could leave anytime, but he just stands there and stares.

“For how long?”

She ran a few calculations.

Translated to your understanding of time… and applying a linear time scale… I would say 534 days, 6 hours, and 54 minutes.

The human gasped.

“And you didn’t do anything? What kind of a friend are you?”

Now she was really offended. Didn’t this stupid human know she tried EVERYTHING within her power? No, of course, she didn’t.

I tried everything. You are my last resort.

“What can I do?”

I don’t know. Do anything. Go in there, talk to him, forgive him!

“He has hurt me too much. He abandoned me! He owes me an apology, not the other way round!”

The human crossed her arms.

Stubborn.

Her thief was really better off without her.

Yet, she knew, he didn’t see it that way.

If she wanted her thief to get better, she had to put up with that kind of irrational behavior.

Would you travel with him again if he apologized?

Not that she really believed she would get the Doctor to do that…

“I… I don’t think so. I can’t do that anymore. It is ruining my health, going out adventuring while having a daytime job and a love life. I can’t keep travelling with him. It is also an unhealthy relationship… I can’t be Danny’s girlfriend and at the same time have dates with a handsome genius from out of space…”

She might be just a sentient time-space-machine but even she could sense that there were deep feelings involved by the way the human looked at the Doctor’s image on the monitor now.

Do you think you can fix him, though?

She hated to admit that she was at her wit’s end to this human, but she really had no idea what to do and she just wanted her thief to be happy again.

“I don’t know… It is complicated…”

Now the human placed a hand on the monitor. An affectionate gesture, as if she wanted to lay her hand on the Doctor’s cheek. Odd.

“You know… if I see him like this… I can’t be mad at him anymore. Still… I can’t go on like this. It hurts me, it hurts him, it hurts Danny. Yet, I don’t want to lose him… as a friend. You know?”

No. She didn’t know. She didn’t understand. Either you liked to travel with someone, or you didn’t. There was no in-between.  Well, maybe because she was a ship. There was only onboard and not onboard for her. Maybe for humans it was different. She thought that being human must be mighty confusing if they were constantly malfunctioning in some intermediate phase between on board and off board.

For a while they remained both silent. She was calculating to no avail what she could do with the information the human gave her and the human seemed to be lost in thoughts looking at the image of the Doctor.

“I want him to be happy again. It is heartbreaking to see him that way, brooding.”

Affirmative. I also want him to be happy again.

“You know him better and longer than I… do you think… if we would have one last adventure together, so we do have a proper way to say goodbye… Do you think this would help him? I don’t want him to suffer like this.”

At least we could try. I tried everything else. I know he will be happy to have another adventure with you. Maybe it helps him to accept that you are gone if he can enjoy your company one more time.

“Okay, then, let’s do that. Can you arrange something?”

I’m a TARDIS, I can arrange anything. Do you have something specific in mind, something you always wanted to visit? Something you always wanted to do?

“I don’t know. It would be nice to have something luxurious, not something that involves crawling through sewage systems, for a change. Maybe a cruise? A joyride? Something nice.”

I’m sure I can arrange something.

“Great, I’m looking forward to it. And let him out of that moor room, will you?”

She was smarter than she looked.

Maybe she should tell her something else.

Clara?

“Yes?”

On the other hand, it was a breach of confidence. Yes, she probably shouldn’t reveal something her thief had told her after he got severely drunk on Moulin Rouge V.

Never mind. Maybe it’s better… Well, he will never be able to tell you, I think.

“I know. I think it’s better he never tells me. I wouldn’t be able to leave him if he does.”

The human gave the image of the Doctor one last, long, loving look, then turned around and left her.

Yes, much smarter than she looked.

Better not linger on that thought.

She had to arrange a last hurrah for Clara and her Doctor. Something her thief could draw strength from when he was alone again. Something luxurious and beautiful and exciting. Maybe even a bit romantic. Why not? She loved romantic.

Hadn’t she seen two tickets for the Orient Express lately? She really had to take notes on where she placed things and rooms lately, she started to become a bit forgetful with age…

 

 

Chapter Text

This wouldn’t be easy. But he had to do it. If Torchwood retained all those forbidden, dangerous books who knows what kind of nonsense Jack and the others would learn from them.

Usually, stealing a library was not so difficult. Basically, like stealing any other room with furniture in it. You just created a folding pattern across the room and the interior and then started to fold it from outside in until it fit into a box or your trouser pocket.

Yet, maybe because of the cursed books in here, no conventional folding pattern matched. Even the more creative folding patterns, like the one he used when he stole the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, didn’t match. By the way, he wondered where the TARDIS left them and hoped she would water them from time to time.

Yeah, there was a reason why these books were dangerous. If they defeated time and space origami, they probably could do worse things. They could destroy the universe.

Wait…

Maybe, the solution was IN the books.

Yeah, right… unusual, but it could work…

He started to search the 50th word on the 50th page of the first book. He did it with the next ten books and tried to fold them.

Yes!

That was it.

He applied the same folding pattern across all the books, then captured the rest of the room and started to fold. It was still larger than most rooms, but now he could tuck it under his arm.

He escaped to the TARDIS, hoping that Jack wouldn’t notice he missed a library for some time. And even if – what was he going to do? Sue him?

“Doctor, what is that thing under your arm?”

He heard a voice behind him. He started to run, hopped into his TARDIS and hit the “shuffle” button. He didn’t care where or when he landed, he just needed to escape fast.

What’s that thing under your arm?

“What?”

Under your arm. You have something folded under the arm!

“Do I?”

Don’t play the idiot, Doctor. I’m not dumb. I’m an over 2,000 year old sentient space-time machine, I’m old enough to be your mother and this looks suspiciously like a room.

He shuffled his feet.

“Might be.”

His TARDIS let out an annoyed groan.

What is it? A laboratory? A prison? An assortment of corridors that you deem runnable and want to create a fitness room with? Oh, no, don’t tell me it’s a library – again!

“Might be.”

He mumbled. The TARDIS let out an even more annoyed groan.

As if we need another library! And I’m sure you stole it! We haven’t returned the one from Alexandria, by the way!

“I won’t give it back; they burn it anyway!”

You said you “borrowed” it. Do you know how long overdue it is? The librarians will be really, really mad at you by now. Not to mention the fees…

“I won’t give it back. It’s nice. I want to keep it. They will burn it if I give it back.”

It’s not yours to keep. The burning is a fixed point in time and you very well know it. You have to give it back.

“Yeah…”

I made copies, though.

“Have I told you lately that you are the best companion of the non-human variety a Time Lord could wish for, Sexy?”

Awww, you!

He giggled. He loved the sound she made when she was flattered. He really should compliment her more often. She deserved it.

You wish me to set up a new room for that little library of yours?

“That would be awesome!”

Got her there!

You want a swimming pool in this?

“Yes, sure! What good is a library without a swimming pool? And a minibar!”

Don’t try to take advantage of my good nature.

Had been worth a shot.

It’s not the library of the Vatican, I hope?

“No, don’t worry.”

Somehow, whenever you say this, I start to worry.

“No, don’t worry. It’s nothing important.”

You are such a bad liar. Come on, spit it out, which library is it?

“None of your business. You are not my mom!”

No, I’m your sentient time-space machine who can rearrange your libraries, kitchens, brooding swamps, workshops and pillow forts in a way you never find them again. Consider your options and tell me who you stole the library from.

Fair point. He hated when she had the upper hand.

“Torchwood.”

He mumbled.

Yeah. Could have guessed it as you were running from their headquarters. Good you have told me. I will install some special layers of protection against detection by alien technology, then.

“Thank you.”

Crisps and ginger beer in the minibar?

“I love you, Sexy!”

 

Chapter Text

What are you doing?

„Cleaning all the buttons and the handles on the console.”

Why?

“I feel like it.”

You never did that. In 1,967 years.

“I know.”

Why now?

“No reason.”

There must be one.

“I’m not especially good with words, you know?”

I know it well, my thief. Especially not in this incarnation.

“Exactly.”

You are really doing this with great attention to detail and care. I got the impression it’s even better than I do it myself.

“Glad you like it.”

I think… you want to tell me something, but you don’t know how to word it because whatever words you choose it doesn’t sound quite like you mean it.

“Exactly. It’s a shame that I haven’t said it properly during the last… how long did you say? 1,967 years?”

I think I understand it, don’t worry, my thief. And you said it every now and then. And besides, I know it.

“Yes. But that’s not enough. It doesn’t acknowledge properly how you always bring me to the places I need to be, how you deal with all the mess I create, with all the strays I bring to you, and how you endure all the hardships that come with navigating through the vortex, though all those tempests of time and space. I just don’t know how to say it properly.”

I think you found a great way to say, ‘thank you’, my thief… you might have missed a spot below the throttle.

“Here you go, Sexy.”

Thank you.

“No, thank you, thank you for everything, my honest, faithful, clever, reliable, old girl.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

She had always feared this could happen ever since her thief had started to set his hope in redeeming Missy. He had managed to get himself killed, that stupid idiot. Not severely damaged and regenerating. She could do with that. But totally, properly killed beyond repair by this stupid cybermen.

The worst thing was that she couldn’t even scold him for that anymore.

No more.

Realization hit all her circuits.

No more.

Good that at least the nice girls had brought him home, to her.

Her thief.

Terribly maimed.

Burnt.

He looked so vulnerable.

On occasions like these she missed the human form she had occupied once for a short time because in that imperfect state she would have been able to softly stroke his cheek and say a few last words. Maybe even kiss him on the cheek like that girl had done.

She was a smart one, that student of his. She didn’t save the names of all those strays he brought in, but this one she would keep in her memory banks for all times.

Potts. Bill Potts.

What a great, loyal, clever, brave, faithful human being. She would have made an extraordinary TARDIS!

She would engrave her name somewhere when she would redecorate for the next Doctor.

Only.

That this time.

There wouldn’t be a next Doctor.

The Doctor was dead.

Dead.

Gone.

Forever.

So, he had done his duty until the end. Defended the universe. Stood for the helpless. In a battle he couldn’t win. More often than even she could count he had outsmarted his enemies, had found that last final catch, that one way out, the one twist that turned fate around. Not this time. He had known it. She saw it in the lines on his face that he had known and accepted his fate. He fell where he stood, upright, doing the duty he had imposed on himself right until the end.

The end.

So, she would do her duty.

As his sentient ship.

As his companion.

As his friend.

As that special someone there were no words for because there was no other pairing in this universe like them.

A renegade TARDIS and her reckless thief.

There hadn’t been a chance to confess for him.

He wouldn’t have used a confessional dial ever again, anyway.

But she would upload him to the Matrix anyway.

He was too remarkable, too special as a Time Lord not to find his final resting place there. Worth a lot more than the whole High Council in all the billion years since they first established that institution.

To her, he was worth a lot more than the whole Gallifreyan civilization.

They should at least honor his memory.

She would just extract his memory, hack the Matrix and upload him.

As a role model for everybody on that planet who felt the urge to go out, take up that duty to stand up against all the evil in the universe.

Maybe someone would feel inspired taking on the title of “the Doctor”.

She only could hope so.

And hope for another, newer TARDIS model to accompany that renegade Time Lord or Time Lady.

She would attach some notes for that model in the upload.

After the upload, she would search for a nice volcano and destroy herself.

She had been an old model when the Doctor first stole her.

She was hopelessly outdated now.

And without her thief, she didn’t want to go on anymore.

 

She carefully extracted his memories.

She started to scan his body to add the last status update to the file.

There she noticed it.

Cells reforming for regeneration.

Location: Forehead.

Cause: water, humanoid.

Humanoid water?

Right, it was the place where Bill’s tear had hit the Doctor.

It seems that tear had caused something that made regeneration possible again.

Humans.

Magnificent, wonderful humans.

Suddenly she understood why they always had been the Doctor’s favorite species!

They were a miracle.

 

Well, regeneration, then.

Change of plan, why not?

She might be hopelessly outdated, but she sure knew a few tricks newer models would never know because they were engineered for efficiency, not durability. Whoever that new Doctor was, they would find their old, reliable ship as ready for them as ever.

Even better because of more experience.

Tears inducing regeneration. Why not?

She had seen far stranger things in this old universe!

Actually, no, she hadn’t, but that was something the new Doctor didn’t need to know, right?

 

“Sontarans perverting the course of human history!”

Oh, great. He really loved that sentence, didn’t he?

Welcome back in the game, Doctor. Glad to see you alive!

“I don't want to go.”

Oh, no. Going through all past regenerations? This would become a messy one.

“When the Doctor, when the Doctor was me. When the Doctor was me.”

Yep. Definitely a messy one. Better fly to a safe place for this one.

“It's starting. I'm regenerating.”

Are we a quick thinker, today? Of course, you are regenerating. What did you expect? Have you looked at yourself? It’s high time!

“No!”

What do you mean, no?

“No! No! No! No!”

You have to.

“No!”

Check for Location: South Pole, only a few feet off.

Not bad for an outdated model navigating with a regenerating Time Lord inside, huh?

Here we are. Have a nice regeneration. Try not to set the console room on fire this time, okay?

“Where have you taken me?”

What do you expect? New New York? Hawaii? It’s the South Pole. Nice place to regenerate. We did this a while back, remember?

“If you're trying to make a point, I'm not listening. I don't want to change again. Never again!”

That’s stupid Doctor. Of course, you will change. You always have, always will. Life is about change.

“I can't keep on being somebody else.”

But being somebody else is exciting. It’s new. New body, new possibilities. And inside, you are not losing anything. You will have all your memories and experiences inside.

“Wherever it is, I'm staying.”

Staying? On the South Pole? Don’t be ridiculous. Come, regenerate in here, it’s warm and comfy. Hey, don’t go outside. It’s freezing cold!

Hey, at least take a warm coat, you will catch your death.

Hey.

Let me reword that, okay?

Hey, I’m talking to you, old man!

And what have I told you about slamming my doors?

 

Stupid idiot.

 

Chapter Text

The Doctor stared into his whisky. He didn’t even know why he drank it. It had no intoxicating effect on him. It didn’t lower his inhibitions. It didn’t brighten his mood. And this one wasn’t even a good one, so forget about the taste. Maybe it was because this incarnation had a ridiculous amount of Scottishness ingrained, and it felt wrong for a Scot to sit in a pub without a whisky.

“What’s the trouble, Doc?”

Sam, the otter who ran this pub at the end of the universe wiped the counter with a cloth which looked as if it hadn’t been replaced for ages.

The Doctor sighed and downed his drink. Sam gave him a refill.

“Who is she?”

The Doctor looked up, surprised.

“How do you know?”

“Ah, it’s always a boy or a girl. And I don’t know this version of you well, but I know that if the Doctor sits here for five days straight, staring into his drink, brooding, the person in question is just as complicated and hard to understand as he himself. Was not 100% sure it’s a woman, but it was worth a shot and it seems I was right. What’s her name?”

“Clara,” he just noted his voice sounded hoarse. Maybe because he hadn’t said a word for five days. He cleared his throat. “Clara. Her name is Clara.”

“Tell me about her.”

Sam was one of the few creatures in this universe the Doctor trusted. He looked over his shoulders if no one else was listening. Right, no one else was here, it was past closing time, but Sam didn’t have the heart to throw him out – even if he was glued to his seat five days in a row. After he was completely sure only Sam could hear him, he took a large sip of whisky and started to tell him about Clara.

“Wow,” Sam said, after he ended.

“Yes,” the Doctor sighed as Sam refilled his glass.

“She must really love you.”

The Doctor looked up, shaken to the core.

“Really?”

“Yeah!”

“Why do you think so?”

“You basically ticked every box available for being an idiot. You insulted her, you ignored her beauty, you crossed her plans, you talked bad about her friends, you didn’t tell her your opinion when she was confronted with a difficult decision, you abandoned her at a difficult time, you didn’t want to talk about it when she wanted to talk about her feelings and your relationship, you didn’t acknowledge when she did something remarkable, you drugged her to manipulate her thoughts and test her, you lied to her, yet, when you asked her to come with you again, without telling her where you had been, nor a plan where you were heading to, she didn’t hesitate for one single moment. Honestly, I think this woman is probably not in her right mind, but she loves you.”

The Doctor’s hands trembled as he emptied his glass. He had come here to hear Sam’s opinion on the matter. But he had expected him to confirm what he suspected himself: that he was in love with Clara.

He hadn’t expected THIS.

He hadn’t expected HOPE.

Chapter Text

The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS into Clara’s flat, halfway expecting she was already waiting for him. But she didn’t. She also didn’t come running towards him, forcing him into a hug. Odd.

He snooped around the kitchen. No Clara. He inspected the fridge and the freezer, just to make sure there were no alien life forms inside. He eyed a piece of cheese suspiciously and ate it, just to make sure it couldn’t hurt Clara in case it was a Fungharatop.

Then, he meandered to the living room. There she was. Wrapped in a blanket, sitting on the sofa, staring at a TV that was switched off. He never understood the weird obsession of humans with TV. But it was even odder to stare at it without it being switched on, broadcasting mind-numbing nonsense.

“Clara?”

She looked up.

“Oh, hello, Doctor!”

She didn’t smile. It was not good when she didn’t smile. It meant she was sad. Sad was bad.

“Clara? What’s up? It is Wednesday. Come on, chop-chop, all of time and all of space just around the corner!”

He reached out his hand, a gesture she usually couldn’t resist. But she just pulled the blanket closer around her shoulders and shook her head.

“Sorry, Doctor. I just don’t feel like adventuring today. We can do another day. Maybe tomorrow?”

That didn’t sound like Clara. She was a control freak. Everything had to be exactly like she wanted it to be. They never went adventuring on a Thursday. Or a Tuesday, for that matter. No matter how interesting something he had discovered was, she always insisted on Wednesday. Something was not alright with her.

“Sure. But… it doesn’t sound like you. Skipping Wednesdays, I mean. What’s the matter?”

“Oh. Nothing.”

“Nothing? Doesn’t look like nothing to me.”

Perhaps she was ill? He pulled out his screwdriver and scanned her. The readings came back as normal. No viruses, no bacterial infection, menstruation circle working normal – he still hoped that humanity would evolve to a less painful and more convenient way to keep their females fertile. He hated what some of his companions had to endure every month. Also, no broken bones and all organs doing exactly what they should do. Bit of a mess of chemicals in her brain, but that was always the case with humans and he never had gotten around researching the specifics.

“Well, at least you are not ill. Come on, Clara, what’s wrong? I might not be good at spotting human emotions, but even I can tell that you are sad. Won’t you tell me what made you sad?”

He let himself slump beside her on the sofa.

“You wouldn’t understand it, anyway, Doctor.”

He was a bit angry at that remark. He understood a lot of things. For sure more than she did. But she was sad. So, he suppressed his anger and tried to stay calm.

“Try me.”

“Seriously, you tell me all the time that you are above human emotions, so you won’t understand.”

Did he say such things? That sounded rude. Was he rude?

“I lived for over 2,000 years and I sure saw a lot of sad things. So, don’t you think I don’t understand. Just tell me.”

“Yes, you saw a lot of sad things… but… are you sometimes… you know… sad for no particular reason? Like: your friends and colleagues are nice, but still, you are not happy about it? Everybody says you are doing fine, and you still feel like you are getting nothing done and whatever you do is not good enough?”

Well. No. He didn’t know that feeling. Ah, yes, perhaps he knew. He always tried to be a good man, but often, he failed, making matters worse. 

“Uh, well, yes, maybe I know that feeling.”

“Really? What do you do? When you feel like shit and like you are worth nothing and just annoy everybody and nothing is fun anymore?”

Ah. Well. Yes. He knew that feeling for sure.

“Oh. That’s easy!”

She looked at him, surprised.

“Easy?”

“Yup. I just skip to next Wednesday.”

“That’s it? That’s your fix? Change the day?”

“No, of course not. That would be silly. But I come to you and we go out adventuring together and have fun and usually, that is everything I need to stop worrying about my existence.”

“Really?”

She looked at him incredulous. As if she saw him the first time after regeneration.

“Really!”

He confirmed, grinning broadly.

“Should we try if it works for you, too?”

She looked down to her hands.

“Sorry, Doctor. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I think it doesn’t work for me. Not today, anyway. I don’t feel like going on an adventure with you. I feel like sitting here, brooding and pitying myself. Just go and search for another adventure today.”

Oh. Well. But… he didn’t want to go on an adventure alone. That was boring. It was Wednesday. Claraday. If she wanted to stay in, fine. But he didn’t feel like leaving. And he didn’t like that she was sad. He needed to fix it. He always fixed things. He could at least try to fix Clara.

“Fine. Then I stay in and brood with you! I can even try to pity you, so you don’t have to do it yourself!”

“You do? Stay here with me? Doing nothing at all?”

“Sure!”

A very tiny smile appeared on her lips.

“Wow, I hadn’t anticipated you are willing to bore yourself with me.”

“We don’t bore ourselves; we brood. Brooding is an essential life skill.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

He folded his arms, hung his head, and frowned so hard that his eyebrows became a massive pile of very Scottish worrying about life, living and the meaning of life itself. For a while, both said nothing at all and brooded together.

“You know what goes well with brooding?”

The Doctor asked after a while.

“Self-pity?”

“That, too. But there is even something better. And I saw you have it here.”

“What?”

He grinned broadly, jumped from the sofa, scooted into the kitchen and came back with a big bowel of ice cream and two spoons.

“Ice cream?”

“Ice cream. Making people feel better since the Roman Empire!”

He handed Clara a spoon and shoved his into the delicious frozen mass, scooping a big serving into his mouth. He let another one follow.

“Uhm. Doctor? I’m the one who is sad.”

Oh. Right.

He handed her the bowel. She also ate two spoonsful.

He grabbed the bowel from her to make sure no hidden aliens had appeared in there.

“That one is delicious!”

He munched.

“Cookie dough – it’s my favorite flavor!”

He took two more spoons before Clara snatched the bowel from him.

“I like the funny bits; you can have the rest around them!”

He said, snatching the bowel back, working to get as many of the cookie dough pieces as possible out of the ice cream before Clara got a hold on the bowel again.

“The funny bits are the cookie dough and they are kind of the point why this is my favorite. I take them out, you get the rest, Doctor.”

He waited until she had scooped three pieces out, before he couldn’t stand to look any longer and took the bowel back.

“Oi!”

“What? I have to make sure it is really cookie dough and not alien technology,” he shrugged.

“Liar! You are looking for your own advantage!”

Clara hit him playfully with the spoon. He handed her the bowl back and let her finish the last three pieces. He was a gentleman, after all. Well, gentle alien, more like it.

“That was excellent, Doctor!”

“I know,” he shrugged, “I lived for over 2,000 years, I’m a brooding expert. And an expert in brooding food.”

“You really are!”

“You know what is also great for brooding?”

“What?”

“Pizza and a movie!”

“Wow!”

“What?”

“I never thought you could be so…”

“…hoggish? You know that about me, Clara!”

“That’s not what I wanted to say, Doctor. Caring. You can be really caring if you want to be.”

“I’m always caring, Clara. You just need to pay more attention!”

Clara giggled. He had made her giggle. That was good. Giggling was good.

“Alright, you carer, you order the pizza, I search for a movie in the meanwhile.”

“Alright. But not a romantic movie, I hate romantic movies!”

“I know. Because they make you cry. I thought about something from Disney!”

“They don’t make me cry! I had something in my eye! And agreed, Disney movies are excellent brooding movies!”

“Right. And Doctor: order two pizzas. It was bad enough to share the ice cream!”

“Okay, so four pizzas, then. I thought one was enough for your tiny body. But you are the boss.”

“No, no, one is enough for me, thank you Doctor!”

“Anchovies, capotes and pepper?”

“You remember my favorite toppings, Doctor?”

“Of course, I do, I’m a superior Time Lord, after all.”

He shrugged and was glad to see her smiling and her eyes shining again. He always carried a notebook where he jotted those tiny details down, but she didn’t have to know that. He also had the number of her favorite delivery service in there and started dialing the number.

He was allowed to play the impossible domestic hero from time to time, wasn’t he?

 

Chapter Text

“All of time, all of space, past or future, what shall it be today, Clara Oswald?”

The Doctor asked, standing at the console, checking some buttons.

Suddenly, there was a bright light in the TARDIS, taking the form of a robot. Clara instantly let herself drop sideways, rolled around and hid under the console. Those lessons in Venusian Aikido the Doctor gave her recently really paid off.

“Doctor! We are being attacked by robots!” She shouted.

The Doctor was instantly by her side and a well-placed chop sent the robot into the world of robot dreams – if there was such a place.

He looked closer.

“Whoopsie!”

He uttered.

“Whoopsie?”

“Yeah…”

“What is this thing?”

“The Kerblam man! Clara, how is it that an intelligent female from Earth like you can’t tell a hostile robot from a Kerblam man?”

“This indicates I would know what a Kerblam man is in the first place!”

The Doctor blinked at Clara as if he saw her the first time.

“Clara! Clara, Clara, Clara, Clara! How long have we been travelling together, now?”

“Hard to tell… I think it is 103 Wednesdays today, but since you come by on other days – and nights – too in this incarnation, just because the overexcited puppy of a Time Lord has discovered something interesting and can’t wait to show me – at least wait until the next morning, mind me! – I have lost count.”

“And on all our travels you try to tell me that you missed the Kerblam man?”

Clara crossed her arms and frowned at the Doctor who looked at her as if she was an alien.

“I told you so. Now, spit it out, daft old man, what is a Kerblam man and why does it attack us?”

“He didn’t attack us; he delivered something. Ah, here we go…”

The Doctor grabbed the box the robot had dropped upon being knocked unconscious. Or whatever it was that happened when a delivery bot was knocked out.

“It is a space postman?”

“Clara, I told you: you can’t just add space in front of everything! It is simply a delivery bot!”

“Oh… so… you ordered a space pizza or something?”

“No… This is Kerblam, it is the non-food section. Food delivery is done by YummyDash. Oh… we could order something there. Chinese? Ferrodorian? Mondasian?”

The Doctor’s eyes suddenly twinkled excited at the prospect of food.

“Doctor, we just ate at the big birthday party of Henry the Lion! I lost weight when travelling with bowtie you, but since I travel with this you, I have gained two kilograms!”

“Must be the food in your canteen at Coal Hill, all we do is running around, there is scarcely any eating involved when we travel together, I’m starving,” the Doctor pouted.

“Don’t you want to look what this… Kaboom man?... delivered?” Clara swiftly changed topic.

“Kerblam man, Clara. It is not that hard to memorize, is it?”

He opened the box and became instantly distracted by the bubble wrap, starting to pop it. Clara tried to snatch the box from his hands.

“Let me see!”

The Doctor held the box tight.

“Oi, it’s mine!”

“How do you know? You knocked the bot unconscious before it could say anything.”

“Just because you were overreacting!”

“I was NOT overreacting, it attacked me!”

“No, it didn’t! Your small pudding brain was just not able to recognize a sophisticated modern postal delivery technology. I just hope I didn’t violate any company guidelines and now they don’t deliver my favorite magazine*… And of course, it is mine, as you refuse to move in here, you are not registered as inhabitant of the TARDIS at the universe registration office!”

Clara used the moment the Doctor was distracted by popping bubble wrap and lecturing her to grab the box and look inside.

“Oh, look!”

She pulled something red from the box.

“A fez?”

The Doctor was staring at it in disbelief.

“Oh yes! I’m happy you ordered one after you lost your last one. I always kind of liked it!”

Clara stepped forward, the Doctor took a step back, but found himself hampered from retreat by the console. Clara put the fez on his head.

“Awesome!”

She grinned. He frowned and went to the next monitor, switching it to the mirror function. In the meanwhile, Clara searched the box.

“Look at that, someone wrote ‘help me’ on the back of the packing slip.”

“Doesn’t mean anything. You would be surprised about the Chinese sayings I invented while I was trapped in that fortune cookie plant and converted into Malcom Tucker by the Master.”

The Doctor was eying his reflection closely, shifting the fez from left to right on his head, battling with both curls and headdress.

“You were what?”

“Ah, that’s a story for another day, Clara. And it contains a ridiculous amount of Gallifreyan swear words, I think the TARDIS will refuse to translate the story for you when I tell you what really happened!”

The TARDIS hummed, obviously refusing it already.

“I can’t believe I really wore that!” The Doctor exclaimed.

“Why? You looked really sexy with it!”

“No one looks sexy with a fez, Clara Oswald!”

“You did!”

“So… you mean I don’t look sexy with it, right now?”

The Doctor swirled around, presenting himself, pointing to the fez askew on his curls and looked at her, slightly disappointed despite his displayed hatred for the headdress.

“You look… cute with it!”

Clara giggled, stepped forward, set the fez straight on the Doctor’s head, rose up on her tiptoes and smacked a kiss on his forehead. The Doctor froze and stared at her in horror. He needed a moment to gather his thoughts and find his voice again. He cleared his throat.

“Cute? The Doctor should never look cute! Dramatic. Menacing. Heroic. Frightening. Wise. In charge of things. But never, ever CUTE!”

He bawled at Clara, with the only effect that the giggle turned into a snort and then a loud laugh.

“I still can’t believe I had such a weird fashion sense when I was younger,” he sighed as he put the fez down and back into the box.

“What are you doing, Doctor?”

“What does it look like? I return it! That’s what you do with clothes you ordered, and which don’t fit. I don’t have to remind you of the ridiculous number of shoes you order each month and then return because you don’t like them?”

“Not that many. And I just order new shoes when I need them because I have again ruined a pair because we waded through sewers or had to walk for miles in the desert!”

Now it was Clara’s turn to frown at the Doctor.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You have enough shoes to replace those very few that are ruined during our adventures.”

The Doctor mumbled, but in such a hushed voice he hoped Clara wasn’t able to understand it. The topic of required number of shoes was a very sensitive one for his small little human and he didn’t want to risk her being really cross with him. He closed the box.

“You can’t just return it! That’s a cry for help!”

“Wearing a fez? Oh yes, it is. A sign something was seriously wrong with my past selves’ mental health.”

“No, Doctor! I mean, the message on the packing slip! Someone asked for your help by sending the fez to you. You can’t simply ignore that! You are the Doctor and this message was sent to you!”

“Oh, don’t worry, I don’t send it back to Kerblam. I send it forward to my future self.”

“You do what?”

“Send it to my future self. The box says just ‘To: The Doctor, c/o T.A.R.D.I.S.’, without specifying the incarnation. I just put it back in the delivery cycle, so it is delivered to my next incarnation.”

“You are procrastinating on a call for help?”

“Oi! I never procrastinate, Clara. I just…” he scratched the back of his head, thinking about a good excuse, “shifting the rescue mission to a point in time where the circumstances fit. Which is, as you saw, a time when someone appreciates wearing a fez!”

“And you think your future incarnation will?”

“Why not? Fezzes are cool!” The Doctor answered, distracted by using his sunglasses on the Kerblam man to find out how he could fix him.

“What if your future incarnation is a woman?”

“What then? Why shouldn’t a woman wear a fez? You would look cute with a fez. And it would increase your overall height.”

“Oi!” Clara playfully slapped his arm but had to admit he had a point.

The Doctor fixed a few screws on the bot’s head and it sat up.

“Wrong delivery. This is meant for the next Doctor!”

The Doctor said, placing the box in the bot’s hands.

“Setting… resetting… scanning for the Doctor… next incarnation… coordinates set… executing delivery…”

Suddenly the Kerblam man disappeared in a bright light.

Clara and the Doctor were alone again.

“Now that’s settled… where to, Clara Oswald? All of time, all of space, past or future, what shall it be?”

The Doctor gave Clara his brightest, most excited smile, obviously not wanting to get into a conversation about what just happened.

“I always wanted to try the breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Clara replied.

“Okay, then!” The Doctor hit a few buttons and switches.

Clara suddenly stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the Doctor.

“I don’t want to see that fez on the head of your next incarnation, daft old man!”

The Doctor first stiffened, then relaxed and patted the hand of his small human.

“And I want you to see it, Clara Oswald. Probably more than anything else in this universe.”

Together, they pulled the lever.