AN: Written for the "Vacancy" one-shot challenge for who-contest. Written for the "quietly" prompt for the Summer Mini Challenge 2016 as well.
Dark and Silent
The familiar presence of the TARDIS hummed behind her as Clara set foot into her empty flat. She just had to retrieve a couple of essential things, and she could go back to her adventures with the Doctor.
The Doctor had brought her home within the hour of the last time she was here. The darkness and silence that swept out before her immediately gave her pause. Time was playing tricks on her as usual. The Doctor may have brought her close to the last time she was here, but after all the adventures she'd taken with him, it'd felt like she hadn't been home for months, so much that her flat rarely even felt like a home when she'd been gone this long.
She idly noticed how vacant it was with that thought, if it was really even worth having a flat anymore, when every time she came back, human anxieties and restless thoughts plagued her mind as if someone had pushed the pause to play button on her brain.
Shouldn't her place be dusty? Are her bills overdue? Do her students miss her?
Of course, it was all silly to think so. She hasn't been gone that long, just an hour or so. Nobody missed her, her apartment was clean, and her bills were all up to date. Her anxieties seemed trivial - laughable even, but they were normal. Traveling through time with an alien - well, now that wasn't normal.
And she loved every moment of it - so much that she didn't care if her apartment stood vacant, if her bills went overdue, and if her students missed her and had to get used to a sub.
This empty, lonely place wasn't really her home anymore. She turned around, bag in hand of the essentials that she'd come for, and she stared back at the TARDIS, knowing what was inside.
The Doctor. He was her home now. Traveling with him was her life, and she'd never leave it to go back to bills, boring flats, and a job that really didn't satisfy her (and only made her think of a morose past).
Before heading back to the TARDIS, Clara went back to her room and picked up another bag. She started stuffing it with other items, precious things that she would want to keep if this place was truly vacant and not her own anymore. Her intention, of course, was to make the TARDIS her home, so maybe the Doctor didn't even have to bring her back.
"Clara!" She heard her name and almost jumped with a start. She paused, and she shifted to meet the clear eyes of the Doctor. He was leaning against the doorframe of her bedroom, arms crossed with a look of impatience and restlessness in his face - the same look that mirrored her own wanderlust.
"Ready yet?" he asked quietly, but even his voice seemed loud in her vacant flat.
She smiled. "Almost. Just a couple more things." She moved to her nightstand and picked up the scrapbook of all her travels. She grinned. She never knew why she hadn't kept it with her on the TARDIS before. Now, she would never release it from her possession.
After grabbing a few more outfits from her closet, she headed back to the Doctor and stopped at the doorway. "Okay. Ready." The Doctor took the scrapbook from her hands and a bag to lighten her load.
"Where to next?" she asked.
"Oh, anywhere. I was thinking somewhere in the future. Maybe an underwater city!"
"Sounds good to me!" Clara said, feeling excitement already bubbling in her stomach. The emptiness of her flat was out of her thoughts now, and any reservations she had to coming back here - to her old life - were beginning to fade.
The Doctor stopped at the opened TARDIS doors, politely letting Clara cross the threshold before following her inside himself.
"Okay, let's get going," he said, and Clara beamed, her gaze sweeping around the familiar setting of the console room, her lively vibrant home.
Her true home, she thought resolutely, for now and beyond.