A/N I've been wondering about Clara and the TARDIS. Wondering why the TARDIS was so mean to her and why they seem in a much better place by the Day of the Doctor. And naturally, the answer I came up with is a fluffy bit of fun. Guess that's just how my brain works. Enjoy.
Chapter 1 - Stupid Snog Box
Nights were always quiet on the TARDIS. Well, when the Doctor said 'night' he really just meant 'when Clara was sleeping', time of day having little relevance in the time vortex. And by 'always' what he really meant was, 'when he traveled with Clara'. When he'd traveled with the Ponds it seemed easy enough to run off with River while they were sleeping. She was, after all, a Pond, and as her parents they surely wouldn't have objected to her having time away from that cell. But since saying goodbye to her on Trenzalore, the Doctor hadn't sought out River, partially because the wound was too raw and partially because of the timeline. The Doctor was fairly certain he had experienced all of their later time together. What was left were the younger days, just after her regeneration. A River Song who barely knew him. He didn't know if he could bare it (he wondered how she ever managed to).
If the Doctor was being honest with himself (which he tried his best not to be) he had to admit there was another reason he stayed in at night: Clara. She already split her time between him and teaching. If she were to wake up and find he was out on some adventure... well, what if she decided to spend even less time with him? Besides, he didn't think he could take the look of disappointment on her face. So each night he stayed in and waited for morning.
Fortunately, the advantage of having a bigger-on-the-inside ship was that there was plenty for him to do while he waited. Virtually an infinite world to explore. He kept telling himself that this way he would have time to read through the library or tend to the garden (maybe 'forest' was a more apt name for it, he hadn't looked after it in centuries, for all he knew there was a whole ecosystem down there). He reminded himself that there was plenty to do, and yet he always seemed to opt for fiddling with the TARDIS: fixing, upgrading, breaking things so he could fix it again. As a result he spent most nights (including this one) in the console room.
The Doctor's usual routine was interrupted by the sound of the door. Clara marched into the console room in her pajamas and a large, grey jumper, with some kind of fabric slung over her shoulder. She walked right past the Doctor without saying a word and knelt down by the edge of the landing. She set down the yards of fabric, which the Doctor could now see was a hammock, and began tying it to the railing.
"Um, Clara... What are you doing?"
"Installing a hammock," she said in a casual way.
"Because your stupid snog box move my room. Again."
"Oh..." The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck, "You know, she—"
"Stop," Clara looked up at him for the first time and her glare silenced him completely, "don't defend her. Not tonight."
He nodded slowly, looking rather timid. He intended to let her get back to her task, but he couldn't help but ask, "Where'd you get the hammock?"
"The market on Omicron 7. It folds down small enough to fit in your hand, so I've been bringing it with me when I go to wash up at night, just in case... well this happens." With a final look of annoyance Clara secured the knot, tossed the other end of the hammock over the edge, and walked down to the lower level without another word to the Doctor.
His first instinct was to follow her (well, first, second, and third), but he knew by her demeanor that she really just wanted to get some sleep. She got rather grumpy without it. "You could be nicer to her, you know," the Doctor whispered, rubbing the time rotor, "I know she's impossible, but she's not a fixed point or anything. I don't see why it's so hard for you to like her." The TARDIS didn't respond. "Well, you better sort it out, because she's not going anywhere."
The Doctor did his best to work quietly, aware of Clara's proximity (and not wanting to incur her wrath). He could hear her stringing up her hammock and it swinging as she got into it and tried to find a comfortable position. It wasn't long before all the Doctor heard from the lower level was her slow and even breathing.
Lost to his work the hours ticked by. By the time the Doctor finally raised his head he was almost surprised to realize he had removed his jacket and waist coat. That's when he first noticed it consciously, how incredibly warm the room was. Not just warm, it was hot. Something must be wrong with the TARDIS's environmental system. The Doctor rolled up his sleeves and stared nervously at the stairs. He would need to access the system from below the console. He would just have to work quietly. Who knew how much more the temperature would rise, and Clara would definitely be more angry at him if they melted than if he woke her up.
The Doctor kept his eyes fixed on the central compartment. Clara's pajamas were in no way revealing (Amy's night gown had shown off most of her legs and it hadn't phased the Doctor a bit to go exploring with her like that), but the Doctor still thought it would be indecent to look at Clara while she was asleep. As a result, it was his tunnel vision (and not his clumsiness, surely) that nearly sent him flying across the room. The Doctor looked down at the obstacle that had very nearly tripped him and found Clara's plaid pajama bottoms tangled between his legs. Like a fearful animal he froze and listened carefully. There was no sound in the room apart from Clara's slow and steady breathing. She wasn't awake. She must have tossed them aside in her sleep, her body trying to save her from the oppressive heat. The Doctor move forward, but this time directed his gaze downwards to be sure he stayed upright. Nearing the compartments the Doctor found Clara's jumper. He walked in a wide circle around it, as if afraid to touch it. He was pretty sure she had been wearing a shirt underneath. 'Had been' turned out to be a surprisingly accurate description: the next item in front of him was her red tank top. The Doctor wanted nothing more than to fix the environmental system and flee. He was growing more uncomfortable with each article of clothing he found. The Doctor was trying to work out the fastest way to assess and then repair the malfunction (while simultaneously trying not to think about how much Clara had left on) when he came across her knickers hanging from a latches to one of the compartments.
All the colour drained from the Doctor's face. His conscious mind quickly calculated their chances of survival if he ran out of the room at that moment without fixing the environmental system (his subconscious unhelpfully wondered if Clara often slept in the nude). The Doctor's thought process was interrupted by a sigh and what sounded like a stretch. He spun around, staring in the direction of the noise. The Doctor looked like a man caught in a very compromising position, ready to give a full account of his presence in her space. The explanation, however, was put on hold. Clara was still very much asleep.
The Doctor couldn't help but take in her appearance. Her arms were raised above her head, one of her legs hung off the hammock, while the other was bent. She was covered in a light sheet that fell between her legs, up her torso, and just covered her breasts, otherwise she was bare (and judging by the position of the sheet, she was a few breaths away from being far more exposed). Her skin was glorious: smooth and inviting. The Doctor made a face. Inviting?! This was Clara, his Clara. He wasn't suppose to think of her as inviting (in moments like this he probably also shouldn't think of her as "his Clara" either). The Doctor begged himself to turn around, but he couldn't seem to take his eyes off of her. He was mesmerized. Her glowing skin, chocolate hair, cute, little nose, and big, brown eyes. Eyes?! Clara had opened her eyes and was staring at him.
The Doctor was petrified, too shocked and afraid to do anything useful like: move, or speak, or simply look away. So he held her gaze for a long moment, with no idea at all what might be running through Clara's head. Suddenly, Clara swung both legs around to the front of the hammock and stood up. The Doctor watched the light blanket fall to the floor.
"Don't worry about the sheet, it's too hot for it anyway." Even so, the Doctor continued to stare at it, not daring to look anywhere else. "Doctor?" her sweet voice beckoned. He did his best to look her in the eye without getting a glimpse of any other part of her body. "Aren't you dying in all of those layers?" Still the Doctor was lost for words. It was too hot to think. He knew he had to get out of there, but his feet felt rooted in the floor. "You can just take them off, you know." The Doctor's index and middle finger tapped lightly against his leg, but both arms remained at his side. "Don't worry Chin Boy, I can help." She was walking over to him. Run, the Doctor told himself, flee, leave. Get out before you do... Clara stopped mere inches from him. Her hands reached up slowly and unfastened his bow tie. It fell gently to the ground. She paused a moment, as if allowing him the opportunity to stop her, to object, but despite the warring factions inside his mind, the Doctor did no such thing.
A/N I know, I'm a terrible tease. Tune in next time to find out what happens.