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Clara doesn’t really get it. How do you have a New Year’s party for two centuries? Initially, she thought that it was actually a series of New Year’s parties, each of them lasting so long that they carried into the next. But no. All the signage has the same year on it, and everyone keeps saying “welcome to the year twenty-four thousand,” and any time she points out that, technically, it’s the year twenty-four thousand two hundred and seventeen, they laugh and say something to the effect of “well, yes, of course it is, but that’s not what we’re celebrating. We’re celebrating the year twenty-four thousand. Happy new year, you odd little alien.”

Yes. They’re the ones with the foot-long necks, but she’s the one who’s odd.

Still, it’s a hell of a party. The shot glasses aren’t actually glasses, they’re squishy gelatin things that dissolve into a vaguely fruity cocktail when eaten. There’s a game with these huge inflatable balls you run around in like a hamster, ramming each other and bouncing around, and instead of lifts, they have antigravity beams you jump into and float around in until you get to your floor.

Night falls rather quickly. One moment, it’s sunny and warm, and ten minutes later the air has cooled by twenty degrees and the city’s keeping the blackness at bay with more neon than Vegas could ever dream of. The combination of alcohol and hamster dodgems has made Clara hot, and a little sweaty, and dizzy, and it’s very loud in here. Perhaps a break on the roof is in order. “Going to get some air,” Clara tells the Doctor. He nods, smiles, waves a bit, and resumes the very animated argument he’s been having concerning some technobabbly thing that some guy with spectacularly rainbow-dyed hair has apparently gotten quite wrong.

She rides the antigrav beam up to the roof, lands lightly. There’s a guard, which is new. “Party’s down there, miss,” he says, in a bored sort of voice. “No alcohol permitted here.”

“Oh, um, I was just taking a break,” Clara replies. “Bit busy down there. Is that all right?”

He looks at her like a third arm has just sprouted from her midriff. “A break?”

“Yeah. You know, from the noise and the heat and all the people. Just wanted to cool off.”

“Why would you want—actually, never mind. You’re not going to drink?”

“No. Just, you know, sit. And look around.”

“That’s all right, then. Don’t get too near the edge, the repulsor fields are very sensitive.” He cranes his head over to look down the antigrav shaft, wearing a wistful sort of expression.

She smiles at him, nods, says thanks, and walks around a bit. It’s totally deserted; she can hear the muffled hum of the party under her feet, and echoes of whooping and laughter from the street several stories below. There’s a nice breeze, cooling her fevered skin, clearing her head a bit. It’s easier to breathe up here. And the view is amazing—it was nice through the windows, too, but there’s something different about the view of a city when you’re part of the skyline.

A monotone, vaguely male voice comes through a speaker nearby, startling her. “Tonight’s firework show will start in sixty seconds.”

“Bloody hell,” she breathes. It’s one of the automated announcement screens they have in all the rooms, listing event schedules and so on. She supposes she couldn’t hear the voice before over all the noise downstairs. This one is on a little podium, hidden among the usual utility stuff they always keep on roofs—big boxy metal things can be found on roofs all over the universe. You’d think, as technology improved, there’d be less need for that kind of clutter.

“The firework show will start in thirty seconds,” says the digital voice.

Clara grins a bit and tells it, “You keep talking, mate, but I think I’m the only person on this planet that can hear you.”

“Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven…”

The fireworks start with a spread of crackling, wild sparks that must cover quite a distance. They’re happening over the ocean, a couple of miles away, but they fill her vision. They’re plenty loud, too, when the sound catches up to the light.

A series of bursting colors, streaking across the sky, then a simultaneously rising wave of hissing rockets that get brighter and brighter until they detonate in the clouds. Clara laughs, delighted, and takes a seat to watch, leaning back against the podium. Tremendously powerful bass is throbbing in the room below, and she realizes the fireworks are probably synchronized to its beat. It’s like the fireworks are dancing, twirling around one another, tying knots in the sky, bursting into lights when they’re finished. The show ends with a spectacular and apparently random assortment of flashes and streaks and sparkles, then the words “Welcome to 24,000!” written in light and smoke.

“Twenty-four thousand, two hundred and seventeen,” Clara corrects. “Or could you not write that?”

“They could,” a woman says, from some distance behind her, “but that’s not the year they’re celebrating.”

Clara knows that voice.

She’s on her feet before she decides to get up, whirling around, looking for its source. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Their whole civilization believed, for almost four thousand years, that the universe would exhaust its own energy and die in the year twenty-three thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine. Obviously, it didn’t. You could say they’re rather pleased.”

“Where are you?” Clara’s hand goes, automatically, for her phone, but her phone is in her jacket, which is in a locker about thirty-five stories below her feet, because they don’t let you play hamster dodgems wearing a jacket with zippers and metal bits all over it. And they certainly don’t let you keep your sunglasses on. Clara’s not sure where she put those down, actually.

“Oh, just lurking about a bit. Love a good lurk, don’t you?”

Clara remembers the guard, and hopes he’s still alive, and shouts, “Hey! Help! There’s a bloody psychopath over here, if you want to call the police or something!”

Missy chuckles from wherever it is she’s lurking. “I’m not actually a psychopath, you know. Common misconception.”

“Oi! Alcohol patrol! Get over here and help!”

“The roof guard is indisposed,” Missy says dryly. “Firework displays are so useful.” Clara bolts for the shed-looking thing that houses the antigrav beam, skidding to a halt when Missy peeks out around it. “Boo!”

“What do you want?”

“Oh, just checking in. How are we feeling? Traumatized at all?”

“Shut up.”

“I imagine you would be. Can’t have been fun, seeing the Doctor like that… or were you more worried about yourself?”

“What the hell do you want?”

“I want to know if you have nightmares,” Missy replies, casually, with a wicked little grin. “D’you dream about it, Clara? Do you wake up crying, begging the Doctor not to kill you?”

Shut up, Missy.”

“Oooh, does he wake up crying? I bet he does. Actually, I’m sure of it. Have you ever seen him sleeping? It’s the cutest thing, he makes all these little noises — “

“I’m going to kill you,” Clara says, and she means it, she means it, she’s going to kill Missy here and now.

“Exterminate,” Missy answers.

Yes. Exterminate. “I mean it.”

“Exterminate.” Her voice is monotone, half-playful and half-mocking.

“I will. I’m going to kill you, Missy.”

“Ex-ter-min-ate.”

“I’m going to kill you and I’m going to throw you off this roof and watch you splatter the pavement.”

“No you won’t, the repulsor fields stop anything going over the edge. Eggs-stir-min-ate!” she says, making robotic little motions with her arms.

Clara does not have a weapon, or a plan, or any form of defense. What she does have is fury, boiling in her heart like lava, driving her forward like a freight train. Clara’s fist does not connect with its intended target, and she feels herself go airborne, a sudden sharp pain in her right shoulder, and the wind leaving her as she hits the ground, heavily, on her back.

“There we go! Much better! I mean, you’re absolutely rubbish at this. But at least you’re trying. Not so dull now. Loving it.”

It’s harder than it should be to stand up, and it’s not so easy to breathe anymore. But her rage is still boiling, and she tries again, still no weapon or plan or defense. Doesn’t need the first, can’t think clearly enough to form the second, doesn’t care about the third. The freight train of fury is still on the track, only Missy is really good at this and she’s really bad at it, and she doesn’t feel like a train when she collides with Missy and ends up on the ground again. She feels like she’s back downstairs, playing dodgems in a hamster ball.

It only makes her angrier. She wants a trainwreck. She’s been looking to cause one for quite a while now.

“What do you want?” Clara demands, and it comes out a bit… scream-ier than she’d like.

“To mess with you,” Missy answers, still so casual, so relaxed. “I was going to mess with him, but here you were on the roof, he’s still arguing, I got bored.”

Clara charges her again, and this time, she doesn’t end up on the concrete. Missy’s pinned her bodily against the metal casing of something or other, giggling as Clara tries to kick her, giggling like she did when Clara couldn’t stop firing the Dalek gun, exterminate exterminate exterminate. This time, when Clara screams, it’s wordless and ragged and goes on and on, and Missy just laughs, keeps her pinned as she kicks and struggles.

When the scream is over, her rage is gone, like it poured out of her mouth and left exhaustion behind. Clara’s not fighting now. She’s tired, and empty, and cold.

Missy’s smile is gentler for a moment, not as mocking. “Feel better?”

“Fuck you.” There’s no malice in Clara’s voice. She doesn’t have the energy for it.

Missy chuckles and releases her, backs away. Clara should take the opportunity to attack again, but it’s pointless. She’s tired, and empty, and cold. She slides down the side of whatever machinery this is, hugs her knees.

Raucous laughter echoes up from far below them. Missy turns around, looks out across the city; the breeze kicks up again, and Clara shivers a bit.

“We saved his life,” Missy says, quietly. “Which is what we were there for.”

“That’s what I was there for. You were apparently there to try to get him to murder me. Why, exactly, would you do that?”

“So many reasons,” Missy answers.

“Which are?”

“Complicated. I told you, our friendship is rather… complex.”

“There is no possible meaning of the word ‘friendship’ that applies to what you two have.”

“You have no idea what we have and what we don’t. One of these days, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, but until then, keep your pretty little mouth shut about things you don’t understand.”

“I understand that he was vulnerable and terrified and you took advantage of him.”

Missy turns around. “Not at all. I just gave him a little perspective. I took advantage of you.” Her hair isn’t even ruffled. God, does Clara hate her.

“And what would have happened if he’d killed me?”

“I’d have told him what really happened, showed him your charred corpse, and watched his entire identity collapse under the weight of his self-loathing,” Missy says, as if she were reading a weather report.

Clara feels a bit sick. She realizes, out loud, what Missy would have done next. “And you’d be able to put the pieces back together however you liked.”

“It’s so important to be there for a friend in need.”

“You’re despicable.” Clara heaves herself to her feet. She aches all over from hamster dodgems and hitting the ground and shivering.

“I sure am. And you, my dear, are utterly predictable. Cute as a button, mind. But predictable.”

Clara bristles a bit. “Didn’t predict me getting a Dalek to ask for mercy, did you?”

“Well, that was more that the Doctor created yet another bootstrap paradox without me realizing he’d done it. And don’t even bother about the Cybermen, or attacking me just now. The first was also the Doctor, and the second was the whole reason I showed up. Preeeeeeeeeeeeee-dictable.”

“I’ll make you a deal,” Clara says. “If you can’t predict what’s going to happen next, you go away.”

“And if I can predict it?”

“We play whatever game it is you’re up to this time.”

Missy grins. “He probably won’t realize you’ve vanished for a few hours, and I’m not about to go and get him.”

“Fine.”

Missy quirks an eyebrow. “Deal. I’ll write down what I think you’re about to do, then, and set it aside, and you can do it, and then we’ll settle up.” Clara nods. “Goody! This will be so much fun. I can’t wait to see your face.” Missy chuckles warmly when Clara insists they use her notepad and pen. She doesn’t hesitate at all, writes her prediction as soon as Clara hands them over. Must be detailed, because she has to turn a page. She flips the notepad shut, tosses it aside. “Whenever you’re ready,” she says, arms wide. She stands there, unmoving, as Clara steps closer and closer.

“You don’t seem nervous.”

“As we’ve just seen, you couldn’t hurt me if you tried.”

Clara’s turn to laugh. Missy’s absurdly high heels give her a couple of inches on Clara, but it’s not significant enough to be a problem. Clara can still reach her head, palms over Missy’s temples as she yanks Missy down, crushes Missy’s lips with her own, holds her there for a few seconds, bites viciously, then shoves her away. Clara stomps over to the notepad, flips through it impatiently, and there’s Missy’s preposterously neat cursive handwriting on the page after Clara’s latest grocery list.

You’ll kiss me rather hard. You’ll bite, too.

Clara’s mouth falls open. She couldn’t possibly have known. “It’s a trick,” she says, disbelieving.

“Next page,” Missy says. She’s quite calm.

First words out of your mouth will be: it’s a trick!

“You can’t have known.”

Missy chuckles a bit. “You know I know how much you hate me. And you knew that a kiss would be the obvious last-thing-to-expect, and you knew I also knew that, but you assumed—wrongly—that I wouldn’t think you capable of going that far just to win. But of course you are. You got the chance to talk to your dead boyfriend, and you hung up on him just because you said you would if he kept saying he loved you. And my favorite part about that, by the way, was that he only said it to make you hang up, and you knew that’s why he said it, and you hung up anyway. You go, girl. Sticking to your guns like Americans to the Second Amendment. Consider Clara Oswald.”

She’s so calm, so matter-of-fact. She’s not even particularly smug.

“Now then, what kind of game will we play? I know! I can take you hostage, we’ll wait for the Doctor to notice you’re gone, I’ll threaten to do something dreadful to you unless he helps me conquer this planet, and we’ll wing it from there. Sound good?”

Clara runs for the antigrav beam again. Missy doesn’t even try to stop her; the archway’s been sealed by a metal security door. Clara’s busy throwing her weight into it, rather pointlessly, when Missy slams her into it from behind, clamps something around her wrist. A quiet whirring sound, and it yanks her arm forward, trapping it against the door. Magnetic.

“D’you like that little gadget? Got the idea from a film. Also got a thing somewhere, from one of the earlier ones, that cuts people’s eyes out in an unnecessarily complicated and gruesome fashion. Hey, maybe that’s what I should threaten to use on you! That’ll definitely freak him out.”

Why are you doing this?”

“Because it’s fun,” she says. “This is my version of running around time and space stopping monsters and snogging Jane Austen. Should have had her give you some pointers, by the way, you’re a bit rubbish.”

“If you’re going to lie to hurt my feelings, you could pick a more convincing topic. I could teach classes.”

Missy snorts derisively. “I’d stick to English. You actually know something about that.”

“And what would you know about kissing?”

“Considerably more than you.”

“Says the Time Lord. From what I’ve seen, the knowledge you lot have of sex could be summed up in a couple of highly inaccurate diagrams.”

“Ooooh, are you baiting me? That’s probably unwise.”

“Why? What are you gonna do? I’m only stuck listening to your bullshit because you’ll mistreat me unless the Doctor does what you say, which means you can’t mistreat me in the meantime or the threat’s not going to have any meaning.”

Missy’s head quirks to one side. “Well, this is interesting.”

“I know a thing or two about—“

This, I didn’t predict. Well, well, well. You’re much more like him than you realize. Would you like me to explain to you what you’re doing?”

“Being annoyed by a particularly bitchy sociopath?”

Missy grins at her. “You’re baiting me. When I rise to it and snog you, you’ll try to sneak my brooch with your free hand, just as a point of principle. You know I’ll catch you, and you know I’ll do something in retaliation. Something that will hurt. You want me to retaliate. You want someone to hurt you.”

Clara’s stomach has tied itself in knots. Consider Clara Oswald. Missy knows her. Really knows her, knows a part of her no one has ever seen. Something cold and bright flares up in her at the thought.

“Yes,” she hears herself say. She looks away from Missy, looks at her hand where it’s pinned to the door.

“The Doctor does the same, now and then. Although he stopped pretending it was anything else a long, long time ago.”

Clara doesn’t know what to say to that. The trainwreck is coming, she knows it is, she feels it. It’s gonna be a whopper.

The thing around her wrist whirrs again, releases itself from the door.

“You have three options,” Missy says, and her voice has gone… weird, it’s all soft and even and gentle. “One, you can take that cuff off, and I’ll leave, like nothing ever happened.  Two, you can try to run again, and we’ll play that little game I mentioned earlier—I can promise you, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to mistreat you. Three, you can get on your knees, and it’ll just be the two of us, no Doctor, no pretending. Whatever you choose, I won’t tell him.”

Clara freezes. This has to be a trick. She turns, slowly, on the spot. Missy looks back at her, a picture of serenity. “Why?”

“Why…?”

“Why do this for me?”

Missy smiles, but it’s not her usual predatory one. It’s barely detectable, vaguely amused, definitely… fond. “Because I like you.”

Clara’s hand goes to her wrist. Will Missy really leave? Is that really what Clara wants? She doesn’t want to run. If she runs, it won’t just be her getting hurt, it’ll be the Doctor, too.

She should take the cuff off. She should, she should, she doubts Missy would leave if she did, but that’s what she should do. She should want Missy to leave. But that cold, bright light is still shining inside, the one telling her that no one else could understand this, no one else could give her what she needs. Not knowingly, not like Missy can, like she just offered to.

Slowly, not sure if she’s shivering from the cold or shaking from nerves, Clara Oswald sinks to her knees.

This is not how Missy was planning to spend the evening, but, hey, should be fun. Though it’s only fair to warn her first.

“You may have underestimated how much I enjoy this sort of thing,” Missy tells her. It’s very odd, seeing Clara on her knees. Not a normal position for her. Looks good, though. “Since you’re not the Doctor, I won’t just know. I’ll need you to tell me if you want to slow down, and when it’s time to stop.”

“When?”

“Yes. When. I keep going until you do. ‘Exterminate’ slows things down, ‘mercy’ to stop.”

“You want me to beg for mercy?” A hint of defiance in those big, dark eyes.

“Begging won’t be necessary. This stops the moment you say it, and not a moment before.”

“What happens if I never say it?”

More than a hint of defiance, now. She really is out of her depth. Missy can’t help a derisive little chuckle from creeping into her voice when she says, “You will. But, hypothetically, the Doctor would realize you haven’t wandered back and go looking for you. If he finds us, I’ll have to tell him what’s going on.”

“You won’t just hide it, play the hostage game?”

“I couldn’t hide it from him if he found us together. He’s not totally clueless, Clara. If he thinks I’ve done anything I’m about to do without your consent, he really will kill me, and there won’t be a warning beforehand. Tell me what you say to stop it.”

“Mercy,” Clara says.

“What do you say to slow down?”

“Exterminate.”

“And you’re quite sure about this?”

After a moment, Clara sets her jaw, nods. “Yes. I’m sure.” Rebellious little lights dance behind her eyes. Oh, this is going to be fun.

Missy reaches out, brushing her hand over Clara’s windswept hair, traces the shell of her ear with the tip of her finger, and Clara shuts her eyes, taking deep breaths. Missy runs a fingernail down the side of Clara’s neck, barely touching her, and she shivers from the sensation, back stiffening. So responsive, so immediate. Missy wonders if she’s ever done this before. Stepping around to stand behind her, Missy gathers Clara’s hair in one hand, lifts it out of the way, caresses the back of her neck gently. She starts a bit, and Missy’s grip tightens instinctively. She pulls Clara’s head back, moves the hand on the back of her neck to cover her throat. She feels Clara’s nervous swallow against her palm, sees neon reflected in her uncertain eyes. The defiance is still there, but not so close to the surface.

“Where are we going?”

“At least to second base. With occasional detours.”

“No, I mean… where are you going to take me?”

“Down a few pegs, I should think.”

“I’m not being metaphorical, Missy, where are we going to do this?”

Missy snickers. “Haven’t decided yet.”

“Are we going to your TARDIS?”

“Why would I bring you there? Do you think I’m an idiot?”

“Okay, so you’ve got a hotel room or something?”

She’s still not getting it. “Why would I need a hotel room? I’ve got a TARDIS. Much nicer.”

“You just said—“

“I know what I said.” She threads her fingers more thoroughly in Clara’s hair, holds a little tighter. “Apparently, you don’t.”

Clara goes very still, eyes widening. “You don’t mean—“

“Yes.”

“But we can’t—“

“We can.”

“Someone’ll see!

“No, they won’t. It’s dark, the party’s inside, everyone’s drunk, and nobody goes up to the roofs, so it’s not as if anyone’s looking. Now hush. I’m trying to decide which metal surface to pin you to.”

Clara swallows again, licks her lips. “This is a… a bluff or something, isn’t it.”

She’s so unprepared. This is going to be exciting. “Stand up.”

Clara gets back to her feet, with some difficulty given that Missy’s still got her by the hair. Missy stands in front of her again, not letting go, backs her against the door and remagnetizes the cuff.

“Right here? It’s right on the edge, anyone could be looking.”

“You walked around completely naked in front of several hundred people in the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and now you’re shy?”

“That was just, you know, a cultural thing. This is different.”

“That’s true.” She pulls Clara’s head back again, kisses her, hard and quick. “But…” Another kiss. “…thing is…” Kiss, and a few little nibbles. She’s starting to feel it now, the itch in her hands, the flush to her skin. The hunger. Oh, yes. “…these people aren’t big on privacy. No door locks.” Missy reaches into her jacket, retrieves the second magnetic cuff. “We’d be far more likely to be seen inside. Yoink.” She grabs Clara’s uncuffed wrist, wraps the other cuff around it, and magnetizes it in one smooth motion. “God, I love your wrists. So easy to get things around them.”

“Missy?”

“Yeeees?”

“Why are you looking at me like that?” The defiance has started trickling away. It’s deeply pleasing to watch.

“Like what?”

“Like there’s nothing to hunt.”

Missy laughs, full and long. “I’m not seeing you as sandwiches, don’t worry.”

“And how are you seeing me?”

Spent and breathless, thoroughly fucked and strategically bruised. “Not going to spoil the surprise. Don’t worry. Give me time, and you’ll see it, too.”

“…See it where?”

“In the mirror.”

Clara actually gasps, barely loud enough to hear. Missy kisses her again, and oooh, the mouth is still open, it’s tongue time. She tastes like cold air and tipsiness, and Missy feels her arms pulling against the magnetic cuffs. Missy steps forward a bit at a time, gradually pushes her back against the door, and she grunts, trying to get her arms in a more comfortable position. Missy responds by putting one arm around Clara’s waist, the other hand grabbing her hair and pulling, pinning her more firmly. Good girl, Missy thinks, as Clara figures it out and goes still. She doesn’t break the kiss, not for ages, not until Clara’s little involuntary twitches of struggle mean she’s running out of air.

While she’s working on the breathing, Missy works on a slow, thorough grope. Up her arms, shoulders, neck, fingertip trailing down her chest so Missy’s palms can run up and down her thighs, starting on the outside, working their way in, pressing harder and harder as they go. Clara releases a breathy sound of arousal as Missy’s hands approach her groin. Missy chuckles a bit, moves up, over her abdomen, teases up and down her sides. Clara drops her head back, resting it resignedly against the door she’s pinned to, and that’s what Missy’s been waiting for.

Missy is very good with shirt buttons. The top three are open before Clara realizes what she’s doing, and she yelps, startled, as cold air reaches her chest. Then she yelps again, because Missy’s gotten the rest of them undone in the time it took her to process the chill. “Oh, shit,” Clara says, “oh my god, are you actually going to—“

“Yeppers,” Missy giggles, and with extreme deftness and rapidity, undoes Clara’s bra with one hand. “Oh. Black and lacy. Who’d have guessed? I mean, besides everyone...”

Missy!” Clara shrieks, and pulls against the cuffs again, instinctively trying to cover herself. “Someone’s going to see!”

Missy kisses her delicately on the newly-exposed skin just next to her collarbone, there. Clara really is lovely for a human. “I’m standing too close to you. They couldn’t see anything even if they were looking, which they won’t be.”

“What makes you so sure of that?”

“Did this before, on a previous visit. Different city, same people, same party, same total disinterest in anything happening outside. It’s been illegal to drink on the roof for about a hundred and seventy-five years; most people don’t even know you can come up here.”

“There. Are. Windows!”

“They’re rather heavily tinted, actually. And it’s dark up here. And they have no reason to look. I do, though. Like this!”

“Oh, god, Missy—“

Missy leans back a bit, looks down at her lovely slender neck, the shadow in the hollow of her throat. Missy licks there, kisses Clara’s neck on the way back up, looks down to her breasts. Oh, I’m having some of that. Clara’s nipple is stiff from the cold, and Missy can feel her single human heart pounding under that delicate skin. Gentle squeeze, firm rubs, feeling the weight of it idly as it fills her hand. “You are rather gorgeous, you know.”

Clara’s biting her lip, eyes squeezed shut, and doesn’t answer. Missy releases her breast, wraps both arms around Clara, holding her loosely. “Clara.”

“What?”

“Have you ever done this before?”

“Not like this.”

“Outside, you mean?”

“That too.”

“What do you mean, then?”

Clara waits for a moment, gnaws on her lip. “Never been… this side of it.”

Missy chuckles warmly. “You remember your words?”

Another pause, during which Clara opens her eyes, watching Missy’s face. “Exterminate,” she says, quietly. “I don’t like being so close to the edge. Feels like someone’s watching.”

“Okay then.” Missy demagnetizes her and pulls her closer to the center of the roof. There are four air exchangers for the building’s ventilation system, each one kept in a metal casing the size of a family van. Missy raises an eyebrow, and Clara nods, so Missy picks one at random and pins her to it, in a position quite as uncomfortable as the one before. “Where were we? I think I was objectifying you.”

And back to it, hand under the back of Clara’s shirt, fingertips running along her spine. She exhales sharply, her back arching as pure reflex; Missy dips her hand down, now, under Clara’s waistband. She shrieks, possibly cold, probably surprised. Missy finds a spot she can get a nice hold on and squeezes, rubs, runs a lascivious tongue up the side of Clara’s neck, counts the series of bated, gasping breaths rushing past her ear. (Seven, if you’re curious.)

“Fingernail,” Missy says.

“What do you mean, fing—“ Clara interrupts herself with a quick half-shriek of pain, because Missy has just dragged one short, sharp fingernail halfway up her back.

“Fffffffffffffffffffingernail.”

Clara’s breathing very hard now, harder when Missy does it again, but she doesn’t make a sound this time. Missy gets a rather brilliant idea.

“Tell you what. Want to have another little wager?”

“Wager?”

“Mmmm. When you figure out the pattern, I’ll stop with the fingernails. Yeah?”

It’s remarkable, really. Missy can watch her brain click into problem-solving mode, the relaxation of her brow, eyes coming into focus. She’s used to thinking in these kinds of high-stress situations. Though apparently not this exact kind. Frankly, Missy’s astonished her favorite human goes in for this sort of thing at all. On the receiving end, at least. She expects Clara’s more than capable with a flogger.

“Yeah, okay,” she says. “Did it already start?”

“Mmmhm. Off we go.” Two fingernails this time. Again, Clara makes no sound; three fingernails, a bit harder than before, and she cries out. Missy smiles, runs her hand along the tracks she’s left in a parody of comfort. “Everybody now!” Four fingers and a thumb rake up Clara’s back. She tries to stifle the noise this time, but she can’t.

Missy’s settling four fingers of each hand into position over Clara’s shoulder blades when Clara says, voice shaking along with her knees, “Fibonacci sequence.”

“Good girl.” Missy helps herself to a handful of Clara’s arse again, her other hand covering a breast, kisses Clara in vigorous fashion. The poor human needs to breathe again, all too soon, and while she’s gasping and whimpering and carrying on, Missy’s busy undoing Clara’s trousers, pushing them down around her knees and considering Clara’s legs from a half-crouch. Naturally, her panties match her bra. “Oh, of course they match. I’d have been shocked if they didn’t. Really, I was half expecting a monogram.”

“Why would I have monogrammed pants?” Clara’s doing her best to be brave and cheeky, despite the shaking in her voice. What a precious thing.

“Quote: ‘nothing is more important than your egomania.’ Un-quote.”

You’re just mad that the Doctor called you an egomaniac needy game player without even realizing it was you.”

“I am a bit miffed about that, yes. Surprised you’re not. Because honestly, it should have been egomaniacal, shouldn’t it? Right? You tell me, you’re the English teacher. Obviously, I shall defer to you as the highest authority on these matters.”

“Oh, yeah? I had the impression you wouldn’t defer to anyone on anything, since your control issues make mine look rather—“

Clara’s next word turns into a shriek. This is most likely because Missy just lunged forward, pressed her mouth against the damp spot in Clara’s panties, and bit her.

It’s rather good, that feeling. Missy does it again, and again, and she is not gentle; it’s absolutely lovely, Clara screaming and whimpering, knees buckling, soft flesh simultaneously firm and yielding, trapped under silky fabric.

Oh, but what is Missy doing? She’d almost forgotten about the strategically-placed bruises. Getting ahead of herself, there.

Clara’s legs are shaking under her. What a perfect opportunity! Missy stands up straight again, brushes a fingertip over the touch controls on each of the magnetic cuffs – the telepathic receivers can’t do adjustments. Both give way at once, not releasing Clara from the wall, just not holding to it tightly enough that she can rest her weight on them. Clara drops onto her knees, hard, wrists still pinned to the metal.

That’s one set of bruises accounted for. Actually, now she thinks of it, possibly two. Humans are ever-so-delicate, and Missy’s teeth definitely aren’t.

Clara isn’t saying anything now. Her breath is coming in unsteady little gasps, eyes squeezed shut. Beautiful. Missy plays with her hair some more, running her fingers over, through, twirling it into loose coils now and then. When Clara’s breath has evened out a bit, Missy says, voice soft as the wind (but considerably warmer), “Remember, you decide when it stops.”

Clara nods, silently. She’s trembling, just slightly, all tension and quick breaths. Best make certain she remembers how to talk. Missy puts a finger under Clara’s chin, tilting her head back for a kiss. “What do you say to slow down?”

“Exterminate,” Clara replies, sounding slightly faint,  “and mercy to stop.”

“Good. Clever clogs.” Missy kisses her again, surprised at her own gentleness. “I really do like you,” she murmurs, mostly to herself. Clara’s breath catches, starts to quicken again. Missy smirks. Never fails to amuse her, how easy it is to get most humans all worked up. “Now, we need to get you turned around. Arms over your head, there’s a dear.”

Missy feels Clara tensing up, muscle tightening under flushed skin. So beautiful, especially like this – the look on her face is an amalgam of anxiety and excitement, uncertainty and arousal, tension and relief, and always the struggle between control and surrender. “Aren’t you going to uncuff me?”

“The cuffs can slide. They stay on. Arms above your head, now.”

Clara does it, but the anxiety is now overwhelming the other emotions on her face. “What are you going to do?”

“Something rather exciting. Pick a direction and turn.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“Really, what will you do when I’ve turned around?”

“I don’t know why you bother asking, my dear, it’s not as if you could do anything to stop me. Turn. Around.

Clara whimpers, gnaws on her lip. She pulls her arms down, the cuffs rasping over the metal, and tries to cover herself, but can’t. She whimpers again.

Ah. Missy may have gone too far, there. “Clara?” she prompts, gently.

Clara squeezes her eyes shut, pulls on the cuffs some more, can’t escape them, and makes another sound. It’s a bit sad, really, and Missy feels the unfamiliar (and slightly uncomfortable) urge to comfort her.

“Clara, my dear, it’s all right. Was that too much?” Clara’s face crumples a little in response. “Oh, it was, wasn’t it? Poor thing. Just a reflex, I’m sorry. You say when, remember.”

“I don’t want to stop,” Clara says quietly, her voice shaking. “Or I do, but… I don’t. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want.”

“We don’t have to stop. You’ve got two words, haven’t you?”

“Exterminate,” Clara says, almost before Missy has finished speaking. “Exterminate. Exterminate.”

Missy sends a telepathic command to the cuffs. Release. Like saying a word in your head and throwing it out into the world. They whirr, demagnetize, releasing Clara’s arms. She draws a shuddering gasp of a breath, huddles into herself, wraps her arms around her knees and buries her face in them.

“Okay, is that better?” Missy asks.

Clara doesn’t reply.

“Clara?” Missy strokes her hair, lightly, just once. Clara’s head tilts to the side ever-so-slightly, responding to her touch. Missy keeps doing it, but decides it’s not enough, throws caution to the wind. She crouches down and embraces her.

“Missy,” she whimpers.

Missy keeps her touch chaste, not sure if Clara’s going to be too overwhelmed to continue. “I’m here.”

“That scared me.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“You said I couldn’t stop you.”

“Of course you can, love, I was just… caught up in the moment, I suppose. You can stop me, I promise. The moment you say the word. That very moment, Clara.”

“I don’t know why I need this so much.”

“I don’t think anyone knows,” Missy replies gently, “but I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t matter why. I need to do this to you, did you know that? And it doesn’t matter why I need that, either. But I do, and I need you to be okay with it. That’s what’s important. Not the why, the how. You need me to hurt you?”

Clara nods meekly.

“And you need to be able to stop me, when you’ve had enough?”

“Yes,” she whispers.

“And you can. You remember your words?”

“Exterminate to slow down. And to stop is… is mercy.” Clara swallows thickly, maybe tempted to repeat the word. To stop it. Oh, Clara, please don’t stop it.

“That’s right,” Missy says. “That’s all you need to say.”

A long moment passes, and Clara raises her head, looks Missy in the eyes, searching for something. Clara’s eyes are big, and dark, and wet, and Missy’s in danger of getting lost in them if this goes on too long.

“I’m not going to say it,” Clara says, finally.

Missy smiles. She smiles widely. “That’s good news. Do you want the cuffs off? Strictly speaking, I don’t need them for the next part.”

“Yeah, please.”

Clara offers up her wrists, and Missy takes the metal rings off them, tucks them back into her jacket pocket. She runs her hand through Clara’s hair again, kisses her delicately, then once more, then kisses her not-quite-so-delicately. Clara moans into her mouth, kisses back hard, and within a few seconds, she’s letting Missy fuck her mouth with her tongue, parting her legs so Missy can grope her breasts and the insides of her thighs.

When Clara seems warmed up again, Missy guides her to a kneeling position, where Missy kisses her more, reaches around Clara’s sides and helps herself to handfuls of Clara’s arse. Clara’s hands, free to move for the first time, settle tentatively on Missy’s chest, her shoulders. One slides up into Missy’s hair, and she tugs gently. Moves elsewhere, tugs some more.

Missy pulls back, nipping at Clara’s lower lip as she does. “What are you doing?”

“Your hair’s not messy enough,” Clara breathes against her neck, “and it’s driving me mental.”

Missy laughs. “Egomaniac.”

“Sadist.”

“Lucky for you.” Missy slides her hands up Clara’s back, feels the warm, ever-so-slightly raised lines she left with her fingernails earlier. That’s a good feeling. She rubs them, slowly, deliberately, and Clara makes a sweet, helpless little sound, rests her forehead on Missy’s shoulder.

This goes on for maybe a minute before Clara says Missy’s name softly, and Missy asks her if something’s wrong, and Clara says delicately, “It’s not enough.”

“No, of course not. Just warming you up. You feel ready?”

“Yes.”

“Come away from the wall, then, on your hands and knees.” Missy stands, stroking Clara’s hair once more as she does.

And Clara crawls until Missy tells her to stop, a few feet away from the metal she’d just been released from. Her trousers are tangled up around her ankles, but her panties are still on. That won’t do. Missy pulls them down, slow and teasing, making Clara twitch and gasp and shiver as her hands brush against Clara’s skin. Such a pretty thing, Clara is, smooth and curved and warm and firm. Thighs toned from all that running, but still soft, still so achingly touchable.

“Knees off the ground, if you please, these are going around your ankles.” One at a time, Clara lifts her knees an inch off the concrete, letting Missy pull the fabric down to join her trousers. “Oh, look at you. Lovely. Lovely, brave Clara. Look at you.”

“Is this how you want me?”

“Oh, I’d like you all sorts of ways. This will do for now, though, yes. Goodness. Are you ready?”

Clara nods. “I think so.”

“You remember your words?”

“Exterminate to slow down, mercy to stop.”

“Good girl.” Missy’s voice is warm, gentle, so gentle. Got to be, or Clara will run. “That’s it. God, I love the look of you.” Missy leans down, tucks Clara’s hair behind her ear. She’s terrified, gnawing on her lip, practically twitching with anticipation. “Are you wondering what I’m going to do?”

Clara nods, shivers violently, resettles her weight on her hands, trying to get comfortable. Trying to make it feel okay to be exposed like this. Bless.

“I’m going to hit you.” Clara gasps, fingers curling a little against concrete, weight rocking back just slightly. Missy splays her hands over the backs of Clara’s thighs. “Here, mostly, I think,” she says, smiling, running her hands up, squeezing, “and a bit here as well. Not right away, though. Something else I’d like to do first.” Missy kneels behind her. Hands between her legs, pushing, encouraging. Clara takes the hint and spreads them as much as she can with her trousers keeping her ankles together. “Good girl. D’you know, I might take up motivational speaking? Never give up on your dreams, Clara Oswald. This is one I’ve been having since I met you.”

And with that, Missy spreads Clara’s cunt open with her thumbs and licks, broad and firm, across the lips. Once more, again, and by the fifth repetition, Clara’s trying to hide her whimpers.

“Feel good?”

Clara nods.

“Words.” Missy licks again, slower.

“Feels… good.”

“Who are you talking to?” Once more, a very slight scrape of teeth that makes Clara’s next words rather more high-pitched than usual.

“You. Missy. It feels good, Missy.”

Tongue inside her now. Clara whimpers, shudders, Missy feels muscle twitching against her lips with every movement of her tongue, and god Clara is wet. Dripping, when Missy pulls away again. “I’m eating your pussy. Use my name.”

Clara tries, to her credit, but Missy sucks her clit just as she gets to the “t”, and Clara breaks off. “Mist – ohgod, oh god, oh my god –“

“I meant ‘Mistress,’ but that works too. People are always getting us mixed up.”

Missy keeps on, licks and sucks and thrusts and delicate little bites, until Clara’s right at the edge. Then she stops, eases back a bit, and her hand comes down on Clara’s thigh.

Clara screams, utter shock of sensation, and reflexively leans forward a bit, a bit too far away. Missy grabs the back of her shirt and pulls her back into position. “I did warn you.” And another, to her other thigh, off she goes again, jerks forward, harder when she feels herself being held back. How very Clara. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth are much the same, alternating targets. The ninth is a hard one, delivered to her backside, and Clara whimpers. She’s really struggling now, actually trying to shuffle away on her knees. “Stop that,” Missy warns, but Clara doesn’t, so between the tenth and eleventh strikes, Missy pushes her over and puts a knee in the small of her back, holding her down, legs kicking uselessly, still tangled at the ankles, fingernails scraping at Missy’s skirts as she tries to dislodge her knee. Twelve through sixteen, all to that gorgeous arse. Two more to her thighs, two to the arse, a nice even twenty.

Missy’s hand is hot and tingling. She loves that feeling. Also loves Clara, pinned, whimpering, probably about to cry. “Do you know why you’re letting me do this, Clara?”

She shakes her head, quivering.

“Words.” A warning.

“No, Mist-Mistress.”

Missy smiles. “You’re a remarkable woman, Clara. There are many reasons I chose you, and one of the biggest is, you have such control. Incredible. And you’re going to get so much better at it, you’ve already started. You’re going to be invincible. Achilles, that’s the one. Only, I’m the one who dunked you in the river. I know just where your heel is.”

Missy gives Clara a moment to absorb that, then eases the weight off her knee, releasing Clara. “On your back,” she murmurs, voice warm and calm and gentle, just what Clara needs after all that pain.

Clara hesitates for a moment, then, slowly, rolls onto her back. Instinctively, she’s holding her jacket closed to cover her breasts, her other hand cupped between her legs. Missy smiles sweetly at her, pulls her trousers and her pants off the rest of the way. One hand around her ankle, lifting it gently, her smile widening, more smug now than encouraging. A gentle kiss to her heel. Clara’s eyes are glassy, distant, riding the haze of endorphins.

“What do we say to slow down?”

“Exterminate.”

“And to stop?”

“Mercy.” The word catches in Clara’s throat, and she eases her head back until it’s resting on the ground. Or, well, the roof.

Missy waits for a moment. Clara might want to repeat that word, put a stop to this. Which would be a shame.

Clara’s legs part again, though, ever so slightly, and she lets out a soft breath. Off we go.

Missy kisses up Clara’s calf, switches to her other leg at the knee. Gentle, be gentle with her, moving her hand away, exposing her again. She’s still wet, but no longer swollen with arousal. There’s an easy fix for that. Missy lets a breath out, lets Clara feel it, and her hand twitches back to cover herself again. Gentle again, persuading her to show herself, but this time, Missy’s fingers wrap around Clara’s wrist, firm but gentle, holding it away.

Kisses, closer and closer, until Missy is luxuriating in velvet folds against her tongue, the taste of Clara, the sounds she makes. Poor Clara. She’s been through so much. She deserves a reward. Tongue inside her, thrust after thrust until Clara is keening and begging for nothing in particular. Missy would love to finger her, but there’s a bit too much grime on this roof for that.

“Next time, we’ll need to do this indoors. We can do it properly. All sorts of fun I’d like to have with you,” Missy says, imagining Clara with a plug in her, Clara’s hands twisting in sweat-damp sheets, Clara in proper restraints. Most of all, though, Missy is imagining her hands around Clara’s wrists, fucking her, pinning her down, fucking her, fucking her again and again. Missy could probably fuck her forever. If all goes well when the Doctor inevitably ends up on Gallifrey, she may get the opportunity to do just that.

For now, she’ll settle for this.

Missy’s all about Clara’s clit now, powerful sucks, the pointed pressure of her tongue. It has the desired result. Clara’s moans mount rapidly in volume until she’s nearly screaming out her pleasure, thighs tightening around Missy’s ears.

That could be a problem; she needs to hear if Clara says anything. So Missy pushes Clara’s legs up, until her bent knees are on her chest. “Spread,” Missy orders, and Clara lets them fall to the sides, exposing herself completely.

Missy returns to her feast. By the sounds Clara is making, she’s already a bit sensitive. This should be easy, then. Not too much longer, now. Clara’s legs twitch, trying to wrap themselves over Missy’s shoulders again; can’t have that. Missy plants her hands on Clara’s thighs, just behind her knees, and unceremoniously shoves her legs up and apart, pins her there with her legs parted, knees to either side of her chest. Back to it, a bit more teeth now, not too much. Drawing circles with her tongue, hard, and Clara’s much louder this time than before.

Clara starts swearing when she realizes Missy hasn’t stopped. “Fuck,” she says, and there’s something very nice about the desperation in her voice, and the way she pronounces the word, “fuck, oh, fuck, Missy, Christ. Oh. Missy. Fucking… Oh, Missy, what are… fuck, oh god, you’re… oh, that’s…”

Her hips are wiggling in a funny sort of way, unsure whether she wants to press harder into Missy’s touch or escape from it. Missy isn’t surprised. The longer this goes on, the more sensitive she’ll get.

Third orgasm, and Clara is screaming, and Missy’s face is dripping, and she’s not stopping. Clara is telling her to, using every word but the real one. Hands clawing at her hair, though, pulling her closer, not pushing away.

The fourth, and Clara starts to cry, hands swatting at her. It’s got to be painful by now, all this stimulation. Missy’s delighted.

Teeth on lips much too soft for them, unforgiving. Clara sobs, Missy soothes with her tongue, seals her lips around Clara’s clit and sucks so hard her cheeks hollow. Number five. Clara’s fingernails are leaving scratches on Missy’s neck, scrabbling over the fabric over Missy’s arms and shoulders. Missy doesn’t stop. Clara is still crying, begging, legs trying to kick but held fast. A scrape of teeth over Clara’s clit, and there it is, her voice ragged and fragile, breaking as she cries out:

Mercy!”

Missy stops instantly, pulls back, eases her grip on Clara’s legs. It takes Clara a moment to realize she’s done it, and she shudders with relief before curling onto her side, boneless with exhaustion. The sounds she’s making are some of the sweetest Missy has ever heard. Bruised knees, thighs, arse, and Clara’s making sounds that manage to embody relief and pain and pleasure, all at once. Missy’s knickers haven’t been this soaked since she regenerated.

Time for that later, though. Right now, she wipes her face with a handkerchief, taking in the scene. God, those sounds. Helpless, pained and pleasured, a raspy little choke at the end of each one, as if she wants to stop making them, but can’t. Missy almost feels bad; Clara was almost certainly not prepared for all that, nor for how she must feel right now. Never done this before, and look who she’s done it with. Hell of a first time.

Missy takes a knee behind her, grabs one ankle, and reaches for her panties.

With a start, Clara shrieks, kicking at her, “Miss—n-no, I said… I… mercy!”

“I heard you, love. Thought you might like these back on.”

Clara looks back at them, over her shoulder, and good god if she isn’t gorgeous. Huge dark eyes, more than a little teary, glazed over with endorphins and emotion. “Oh,” she says, her voice sounding oddly distant.

“Here. One foot. Two foot, there you are. Lift… do you know, this would probably be easier with you on your knees.”

“Don’t want to. They hurt.”

“Yes, they will. I suggest you just roll with it.”

Missy gets a hand under her, but Clara’s boneless and trembling and anyway she doesn’t really want to, so there’s nothing for it. Missy could make her, but that’s probably inadvisable given her present emotional state. So, with some wriggling and lots more helpless little sounds from Clara, they get her pants back on, and her trousers. Missy leans back against the same heat exchanger she’d had Clara pinned to earlier, pulling Clara into her lap as she does. Missy reaches up the back of her shirt, and once again –

Missy,” she whimpers, oh, bloody hell, that is nice. “Missy, please, don’t.”

“Hush now, it’s all right. You used the word, remember? Just wanted to get all this tidied up.” Bra first, gently, keeping her hands careful as she adjusts it into a more comfortable position. The buttons of her shirt, as Clara bites her lip, her arms trembling with the effort of holding herself up. When the buttons have been done back up, Missy reaches into her jacket and pulls out a bottle of water. Dimensionally transcendent pockets are so useful. She wonders how anyone else can cope.

With one hand, she cracks the water open, wrapping her other arm around Clara’s shoulders. “Relax,” she murmurs. “Here, this is for you.” Clara turns her head away, whimpers. “Hush, now, Clara, it’s all right. Just water. Here, lean against me. That’s it.” Clara’s probably just too exhausted to hold herself up anymore, but Missy tells her she’s a good girl nonetheless; after a little coaxing, she accepts the water, gulps it down gratefully. Missy, meanwhile, is cranking up her internal thermostat, keeping Clara warm. Humans are so fragile. It can be rather frustrating.

“You’re hot,” Clara says, sounding a little distant.

“Thanks.”

“I mean, you’re. You know, hot. S’weird.” Clara folds her hands over Missy’s stomach, turns her face into Missy’s neck. “Nice, but weird.”

“Nice and weird. Don’t think I’ve been called that before.”

“What do people usually call you?”

“An egomaniac needy game-player. If they’re being charitable.”

Clara chuckles a little. “You know, egomaniac is the noun form, not the adjective. Really should have been egomaniacal.”

“He’s an idiot at the best of times, but after regenerating he’s absolutely hopeless. I once convinced him I was a librarian.”

“I could see you as a librarian.”

“Yeah?”

“The mean kind, though.” Missy laughs at that, and Clara curls a little tighter,  presses a little closer to Missy’s chest. Missy tightens her arms around her in response. “University library, probably. And God help any student that giggled in your presence. One look from you and they’d be having panic attacks.”

“That’s fine, so long as they do it quietly.”

“Seriously, why are you so warm? I’m sure you weren’t this warm before.”

“You seemed cold. If I let you get hypothermia, you probably won’t let me eat you out again.”

“No, I wouldn’t. Only responsible, mature sadists get to taste that ambrosia.” Clara giggles hysterically at her own joke, and Missy smiles.

Clara. Her Clara. She did choose well.

 

Clara actually starts dozing off. Missy shakes her gently awake, kisses her a few times for good measure. Missy is a good kisser. Clara wonders if that’s down to the 3W Greetings Package, or if it’s a natural talent. Probably the latter. Clara’s not convinced anyone other than the Doctor ever got that package.

“No sleep yet, love. Hear that?”

Clara listens. There’s a muffled, metallic pounding coming from elsewhere on the roof. “What’s that?” she asks, nervously. “Is there an invasion? I’m too tired for an invasion, can we put it off?”

“I daresay the Doctor went looking for you and found the emergency door was shut. Will you be all right with him, or shall I stay?”

Clara thinks about it. She’d like Missy to stay, actually, which surprises her. “I’d like you to stay, but I don’t think he would be happy to find you here,” Clara says hesitantly. “He was, er. He was really angry.”

“Yes, I know.” She kisses Clara once again. “He loves you very much, Clara. Which, I must say, is very correct of him.”

The pounding increases markedly in volume. Probably using a foreign implement now, Clara thinks. It definitely sounds sharper. His shoe, maybe.

Did Missy just tell Clara she loves her?

“I should get on before he remembers he has a sonic screwdriver,” Missy says softly.

They stand, Clara unsteady on her feet, leaning against Missy for longer than is perhaps strictly necessary. She’s still so warm, though.

One last kiss. “See you later,” Missy says, winking.

“‘Sooner’ better than ‘later.’”

Missy beams at her. Happy to hear that, evidently. “Sooner,” she echoes, and steps back, does a little mock-pirouette, and disappears around the corner.

Something makes a loud buzzing noise, and there’s a sequence of metallic clanking sounds before the Doctor’s voice echoes out to her, “Clara? Clara!”

“Doctor?”

“CLARA!”

She grunts as he hugs her tightly. Bloody hell, she’s getting sore already. The Doctor is babbling at her, something about doors and air and unconscious guards and cold, and is she all right?

“I’m fine,” she says. He’s not as warm as Missy, but she hugs him anyway. Apparently, he does that now. She may as well take advantage.

“What happened to the door?”

For a split second, she considers telling him. Missy was here, she’d say, and we talked, and other things, and it was all right. Sorry for scaring you.

“Dunno,” she says instead. “I was just… relaxing, after the fireworks. I guess I fell asleep. It was closed when I woke up.”

“You’re a bit, er, unsteady.”

“I had a bit to drink,” she says, and smiles.

“Right, yes. Are you cold?”

“A bit,” she says. His temperature jumps with alarming rapidity. “Wow. You’re hot.”

“Thanks, I was wondering when you’d notice.”

Clara laughs aloud. Has he bought it? She feels odd, light and floaty and warm.

“You sure you’re all right?”

“I’m great, honestly. Got just what I needed.”

“Oh. Okay.” He holds her a little more tightly, and she feels his chin brush against her temple. “I was worried,” he says, and takes a deep breath.

“It’s okay.”

He takes another deep breath. Another, and several short, quick ones through his nose. He’s become very tense, suddenly.

Clara frowns. “Doctor, are you sniffing me?”

He doesn’t answer.

“Doctor? Is everything o—“

“Is she still here?”

Okay. He can smell Missy on her. That’s a little weird.

 

She has to explain to him, which is awful, but not nearly as awkward as she was expecting. Every time she uses a euphemism, she expects him to ask her what she means, make her say it bluntly. He doesn’t. He just nods a little, like he knows. Or maybe he doesn’t know exactly, but he gets the gist of it. The emotion. The need.

“And she just left you there?” he says tightly. “You used the word, and she left?”

“Not really. She was nice, actually, she helped get my clothes back on and she sat with me, kept me warm. Gave me that bottle of water. I wouldn’t think she’d be so… kind about it.”

“Kindness is the worst thing she does,” the Doctor says softly. Clara looks up at him, startled. He’s examining his mug with extreme focus.

“What do you mean?”

“Clara, she didn’t ask you beforehand. She just showed up, antagonized you, made you the offer on the spot. You’ve met her twice. You were terrified of her.”

“Are you judging me?”

“No, I’m not judging you, I just don’t want you to lose yourself to her the way I have,” he blurts out. “I can’t stop her, Clara, I can never stop her, she does all these things and she — that’s the worst of her, okay? Kindness. Her kindness, that’s the worst thing she does. Because you’ll start to need it. You’ll need her to hurt you, need her kindness afterward, and you’ll forgive her anything so long as she gives you that, and she’ll never stop giving it.”

“Doctor, it was consensual, okay? All I had to do was say the words, and —”

“Clara, please. Please, just listen. Think about what she did on Skaro.”

Clara freezes. Oh. Right.

“You forgot, didn’t you? You’ll always forget. She’ll do that, and she’ll turn up, and she’ll hurt you and be kind. And next time she hurts you, really hurts you, it will be worse, because she’s made you forget what she did last time.” He stands abruptly, steps around the kitchen table, takes her hands in his and kneels in front of her. Not like a proposal, he’s on both knees, looking up at her. Begging. “Until she does something else, and then you’ll remember. Then she’ll come back, and you won’t say no because you need it. She knows you need it, Clara. She’ll never stop hurting you, she’ll never stop being kind. She’s never really gone. Please, Clara. Please. Don’t let her in. Don’t let her own you the way she owns me.”

“Okay,” Clara lies. “Okay, Doctor. I won’t.”

“You mean it?”

“Yes.” No.

“You won’t let her do it again?”

“No, I won’t.” Lying through her teeth. It was just what she needed. She can’t give it up. Surely he understands that, even if he pretends not to. “I just… forgot. How did she do that, make me forget?”

He’s relieved. Good. “I don’t know, but she always does,” he says quietly. “And you, er, you know now, don’t you? Why I… er.”

“Why you let her live.”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, I understand.” She definitely does. She understands him in a way she thinks she never has before. Needing to be hurt, needing someone to do it for you. Needing them to make it better. Needing it so much it doesn’t matter if you’re terrified. She thinks the Doctor might need her that way, too.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and his hands are shaking as they squeeze hers. “I don’t know why —”

She smiles, leans forward, kisses his lips gently. “You don’t need to be sorry,” she says. “It doesn’t matter why. It’s about how.”