Hi ! This is a first dive into writing for Doctor Who. I hope you'll like it. Please leave a review, whatever you may think of the story. xx Callie.
I own nothing, the DW characters belong to the BBC.
Closed doors and open curtains
She opens the door and steps inside the room, unsure of what to do and what to say. She shouldn't be here, staring at the darkness, breathing in and out her fear of the unknown.
Clara is a waitress in a London night-club. She works late, listening to rock and techno resonating from the dance-floor, while mixing fluorescent liquids containing more alcohol than she's allowed to say, and serving them to a youthful crowd gleefully decadent. She appreciates the show in front of her. Young and healthy bodies, half naked and half drunk, swaying hips and crushing lips.
Wandering hands lose themselves under tight top tanks and tighter skirts. Warmth and sweat are emanating these moving bodies, gravity pulling. It's a trance, addictive and contagious, with no cure but the sunlight. Night is a catalyst.
Clara has never been more aroused in her whole life. She sees, feels this sexual energy without having to be part of it. Behind the bar, she knows herself protected by a physical and metaphorical barrier. She's part of the décor, a well-oiled gear of a much bigger and darker mechanism, ever growing and ever improving. An order, a fiver, a glass filled and sometimes, a suggestive look, a wink, a thank you, a brush of the hand and the next customer is already talking to her. She is the face they recognize then forget as soon as she's served them. Clara feels privileged.
Even though the night club is not the best you can find in Central London (and expensive as s***).
She knows she's under paid, exploited by her boss who probably doesn't know her last name and ignored by her colleagues who do not care to bound with virtual strangers. Clara couldn't have found a better place to work at, the environment is perfect for her: the safety of the bar, the job's anonymity and a prime spot to observe London's decadence.
She works six hours per day, four nights a week from 10pm to 4am. She exits the night-club completely knackered every night, her mind in a secondary state, too full of deafening sounds and flashing lights.
The tube's not yet operating at this early hour so her boss, who is not a heartless bastard, pays for her cab. 10 minutes later, she is in front of her door, hands fumbling in her bag in search of her keys. The same bag gets thrown away as soon as she's inside, so are her shoes, before collapsing on her bed, clothes and make-up still on, and crashing into sleep, numb and delighted.
Later in the day, her alarm clock goes off. It's 10 AM, and Clara starts a new day.
Clara lives in a nice flat in South Kensington thanks to her friend Nina who let her rent it from her for a ridiculously low price while she's away saving the world in Africa. It's a one bedroom/one bathroom (a shower AND a bath, please) on the last floor of a newly renovated Georgian building with access to a private terrace on the roof.
Clara prefers to live alone for the very good reason that she is unable to share her intimacy with another person. Clara is not afraid of other people (and the taekwondo class she's taking is not proof of the contrary. She is only 5'2 and working night shifts). She takes the tube every day, goes to the public library to work on her thesis, goes to work in an over-crowded night-club four times a week and goes home, in the silence and the solitude of her flat.
But Clara is afraid that other people might ask too much of her. Never in 24 years has she found herself naked with another person in the same room. She's far too clever to let that happen. She feels powerless so close to a naked body (the few times it happened, she was fully-clothed and decidedly not in her natural element) and she runs each time a relationship becomes too serious.
She could live a perfectly healthy life (sex toys are a wonderful invention) if she hadn't accidentally discovered, because of badly drawn curtains and a very prying neighbour of hers, that she enjoys to expose her naked self to the scrutiny of strangers. And that she wasn't completely against some reciprocity. In the end, she understood that it was all about control.
She is 24 and she swears that never again will she let Jeremiah Perowne come next to her again unless he wants all the bones in his hand (and his nose) to be broken one by one. She agrees that going out for a drink with him wasn't her best idea. But he had been nice to her when she had needed help for her History exam and he'd never attempted anything like the stunt he pulled on her just an hour ago.
They were sitting at the bar, sipping colourful cocktails to celebrate the end of their exam period when she felt his hand on her knee, slowly making its way up her thigh and his nose breathing down her neck.
"You turn me on, Oswald. Let's get out of here."
She spills her drink on him, grabs her bag and slaps him hard across the face. He is so stunned that he forgets how to speak for a few seconds and she doesn't want to stick around for an insult or an apology. So she leaves the establishment and hails a cab. She can't stop shaking.
In retrospective, she knows she was probably too harsh on Jeremiah but her body simply took over her mind, like an over-zealous defence mechanism with no turn-off button. Jeremiah will text her eight times that night. The first seven are all apologies and begs of second chances. She feels positively awful. The eighth one is an insult. She blocks him and directly heads for the shower, too eager to wash off his scent that seems to be sticking to her like a disease. She scrubs herself five times over, using all of her scented soaps and shampoos. She exits the bathroom exhausted, her towel wrapped tightly over her dripping body. She sits in her favourite armchair, facing the window. She falls asleep a few minutes later, forgetting that her curtains are only half-drawn and that the light is still on. The towel falls off from her chest soon afterwards.
At first, she just notices that the lamp still on and the odd sensation of freshness on her chest. Once her eyes are accustomed to the vivid light and her mind registered where she is, she finally notices the curtains. Or rather, the space between them. And also her neighbour, from the house in front of hers, looking intently in her direction, while sitting cross-legged in his armchair, smirking – and completely naked.
The thing about her street is that it's not really a street. It's an alleyway too narrow to allow any large vehicle to circulate in it. So the privacy of one's home is really all about curtains and lighting. Like her lamp still on and her curtains half-open permitting her next door neighbour to enjoy an incredible view on her uncovered breasts.
Suddenly, she can't move a muscle. Aware that she is sitting so awkwardly in her chair that any attempt of covering more of her body with the towel will probably have the opposite effect. Her neighbour (she doesn't know his name, has never met him before, which is not really surprising considering the hours she works) is a relatively young man with a bit of a chin and a big flop of dark hair. He is rather handsome, if you give it some time. In any other situation, she'd understand his assurance concerning his nakedness. But right now, Clara is not in the mood to philosopher and Chinboy doesn't seem to be very concerned by her predicament or even his voyeurism being discovered. If anything, she'd swear his grin has widened (it's really early, the clock on the wall indicates a quarter to six, so she can't be sure.)
A rush of anger overtakes her and the desire of teaching him a lesson becomes stronger by the minute. Which is when she discovers that she feels no shame or no horror at her situation. The realisation dawns on her. For the first time since puberty, her being naked in front of somebody, a stranger even, does not alarm her in the slightest.
She is in complete control of her emotions and the urge to flee she felt last night or so many times before has completely vanished. Actually, it's not true. It hasn't just vanished. It's just not been there to begin with.
So she does the most amazing thing.
She gets up, the towel falling at her feet, gloriously naked and smiles right back at him.
He seems to falter a bit and she guesses it's probably a good thing he is sitting. She waits five seconds, making sure he takes her all in and then reaches for the curtains, drawing them to a close.
Aloud she says "I'm the boss".
She heads for the bedroom and doesn't bother to put something on before slipping into the sheets.
She didn't really mean for "the incident", as she called it, to be part of a string of others "incidents". She swears the following morning that whatever happened with ChinBoy, it would not have an impact on her life. That she would continue to go on with her life as if nothing had changed. Well, they always told her she was a bad liar.
To be fair, it's not all her fault. Her days had become longer while waiting for her exam results and she was idly looking at the university website, browsing for some information on a future doctorate's degree she wanted to take. She already had a good idea on what she wanted to work on. If she could get her Master's degree in Children's Psychology, the next step would be an in-depth analysis of the evaluation of school's environment on the child's development. In a few words, she had the will to go further but not yet the means for it.
Which is why she was bored out of her mind and therefore, willing to do almost anything to kill the time. And working part-time in a nightclub wasn't cutting it.
At first, she thought she could use the opportunity of all this free time to catch up on some reading, see some friends, go to the movies, anything studies usually got in the way of. After a week, she couldn't see a book without wanting to throw it out of the window. Her friends were still telling the same old stories and the movies were more than disappointing. She then tried to remember the last time she hadn't been bored, just to see if it would spring up some new ideas and her mind mechanically turned to the window. And this is when things went from odd to completely bonkers.
She was shopping with her friend Donna who was actively talking of her last boyfriend's ( Donald or Damian ) blunder at her parent's house when she spotted him in the children's department, wearing the store uniform and amusing some kids with a remote-controlled helicopter. Big floppy hair, unmistakable chin and a seriously outdated bowtie.
Her initial reaction was to hide and carefully make her way out of the mall, hoping that Donna would follow without too many questions. An idea that would have worked perfectly well if said friend hadn't been looking in the same direction, and forcibly dragged Clara by the arm past Chinboy and the giggling children:
"Oh Clara, come! I need your help to choose a present for my niece that doesn't scream "future beauty queen" or "Brat-to-be""
You had to give to Donna, she knew how to make an entrance, even in the kid's department.
Clara's luck being what it was, he recognized her instantly, blushing furiously and crashing he helicopter into one of the book shelves. That was it, he was going to come and talk to her and she would have to move out from Nina's wonderful apartment.
However, no such thing happened.
Instead of shaming her in front of an unsuspicious Donna, he turned from her and went the other way, hastily informing his manager that he was taking his 10 minutes break, before disappearing behind the doors of the elevator, never glancing at her.
She was dumbfounded at his flight for a few seconds before understanding that he probably didn't want to make a scene at his job. After all, she was a stranger to him and even he was the one that instigated the "incident", he had the right to his privacy. And there was also the possibility that he just didn't want to talk to her. Which she could also understand, if she were to compare her own behaviour from a few minutes ago.
Not really pleased by that last hypothesis, she tried to forget what just transpired and hurried Donna to choose something before taking the elevator towards women's wear.
After ten minutes spent in women's wear, Clara finally caught up with her breathing and the blissfully ignorant Donna had provided the distraction she sorely needed: gossip at the office. And because Donna could do three things at the same time, she continued to talk while changing herself in one of the cabin rooms (she spotted a red dress she simply had to try on) and allowed Clara some time to think for herself.
She had been stupid not to consider that an encounter might have happened. And even more so since he was her neighbour. She had been bound to run into him and she was now certain it would not be the last time it would occur.
She had to devise a plan of action, some kind of strategy to avoid further accidental meetings.
She could not move and she would not move. That was definitely not on the table.
He probably wouldn't either. As embarrassed as he was a few minutes ago, he had also been very assured that early morning in front of the window. He was a bit of a pervert (ok, a lot) but Clara still couldn't shake that intoxicating feeling of power and overcoming sensuality she had experienced that day. She still shivered at the thought of it and she had come several time, her fingers frantically working down her body and deep inside her, the image of his face, surprised but aroused, when she had got up like Venus born from the sea foam, gloriously naked and unashamed.
She could hardly imagine what he must have thought of her in that instant, revealing herself as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
She still questioned his motives. Was he trying to frighten her? If his earlier reaction was any indication, she'd say no. He seemed shier in real life, far more than in the safety of his apartment. But then, wasn't it the description of most unadapted people (she refused to re-use the P-word. It seemed inappropriate and conceited) when it came to society?
No, she shook her head. She couldn't see him like that. The furious blushing had touched her, somehow. She decided that he was probably looking for someone to understand him rather than to judge him. So how was she going to remedy to the situation? She could not just wait around for another disastrous encounter to happen. And the thought of just knocking on his door frightened her. Not that she was afraid of him. But she feared that it would ruin the memory of whatever transpired between them, break the spell if she were to talk to him face to face. And she did not want to let it go without a fight.
That's when it caught her eye.
Just on the floor, discarded by a former customer, was a rather interesting set of undergarments. She picked it up to take a closer look. It was black and unassuming and also far more attractive than anything she'd ever possessed. She had never been one for beautiful lingerie. She never saw the necessity of owning something that would never be glanced upon by someone else than her and the cashier. Also, she was against torturing her body into complicated, unpractical underwear. However, looking at the garments in her hands, feeling the soft fabric under her fingertips, an idea sprang in her mind.
Quickly, she told Donna she was going to be in the next cabin, trying on a dress she'd just seen. Donna, unaffected by her friend's words, went on with her one-sided discussion.
Clara disrobed completely and tried the underwear on. A perfect match. She looked amazing. Breath-taking even, all modesty forgotten.
(She really was not. Modest.)
Suddenly, a familiar heat rose in her low belly and her reflection began to look flushed. It was too good an opportunity to let go and-
The curtain behind her opened in one sharp movement, letting a smirking Donna appear while Clara quickly grabbed her dress to hide behind.
"A dress you said? Well, that's not exactly what I'd wear to go to work but then I suppose I haven't been in a nightclub in ages. "
"Yes, well, it's not what you think. I was just curious to see how it'd look. It's not like I'm going to buy it or to wear it. I mean, it's not my style at all and-"
"Stop right there, young lady. I'm not judging you or anything. I'm just amused and frankly appalled you'd think you could fool me. I knew something was up as soon as I heard your "unassuming voice" (She mimed the brackets). Darling, you really need to work on your lying, it's far too obvious for your own good. "
"Tut tut! Look at you, you're gorgeous and there's no reason to be ashamed. Why shouldn't you feel good in your own body? Buy it! Treat yourself to something nice. You deserve it. You've been working your ass off on this master's degree and I know you're going to pass it with flying colours. The Clara Oswald I know wouldn't let it happen any other way."
Clara was looking at herself, her reflection telling her a new story about her body. She had known that she was pretty, charming even. But what she was seeing in the mirror was far more than that. She found herself smiling.
"Thanks Donna. I'll take it. Now, get out of my cabin before anyone accuses us of stealing or something."
Donna winked and drew the curtain.
She glanced one last time at the flattering image in front of her and laughed. Clara Oswald was on the war path.
Once she got back home, she had a fully formed plan ready to be put in action. Quickly, she went to her room and searched through her belongings. Two minutes later, she finally found what she was looking for: a Polaroid.
An hour after that, she sealed an envelope, full of photographs and an invitation to look at the window around midnight. It was her way to say sorry. He could either accept the apology and show up or remain silent and keep the pictures. She had made sure her face was cut out of the frame so that he wouldn't have anything incriminating on her if he chose to publish them but somehow, she knew he wouldn't. Now, all she had to do, was wait and hope.