A/N I started this story at the beginning of series 8 (proving what an appallingly slow writer I am) and I was so sure Danny Pink would survive. Alas, I guess it's okay if it's a little bit AU. Imagine this takes place sometime before Dark Water, and I'll endeavour to finish before the Christmas special.
I had so much fun writing my last Wholock that I've been meaning to do another. This idea came to me while rewatching "His Last Vow", the same night I learned that Jenna-Louise Coleman was leaving Doctor Who at Christmas. Hope you enjoy.
Nothing unites teachers and students in a common purpose quite like the final bell before Christmas break. The mundane ringing sounds almost magical as it signals the end of school and the start of the holidays. This joyous sound is soon followed by a chorus of cheers, 'Happy Christmas's, and the rhythmic beating of sneakers and dress shoes against linoleum. And every year, within fifteen minutes the halls are all but deserted.
This December was no different. By 3:16 Clara walked past dark classrooms, shooed the last of the students, and made her way to the empty staffroom. Empty that is, except for Danny Pink, who was sitting in the corner at his usual table, enjoying the paper and a strong cup of coffee. Clara liked the idea that even the holidays couldn't shake his routine. As Clara walked over to him she noticed his mug said 'Number 20 ÷ 4 x 2 - 9 Teacher'. "Did one of the kids give you that?"
"No, embarrassingly, my mother did. But they're a bit old, aren't they, to give gifts to teachers?" Clara set serval bags and parcels on the table as she sat down across from him. "Maybe it's just a maths thing," he said in a mock glum voice. "Didn't expect you to be here. You're always rushing off at the best of times. Or am I being graced with a goodbye?"
"The Doctor's picking me up later." Clara said with a shrug.
"Oh, are you spending Christmas with him this year?" There was that slightly worried, trying not to be jealous tone Danny always seemed to get when talking about the Doctor. Despite the amount of time that Clara spent with Danny, Christmas plans had never been discussed. Clara was never keen to address the topic and she was all too good at distracting Danny for him to get a real answer out of her up until now.
"No. We're not spending it at all. Going off on some adventure of his choosing and coming back for New Years with you."
Danny looked a little appalled, "So you're just sort of skipping it?"
"That's the plan," Clara said, cheerfully. "The whole Christmas thing, not really a fan. What about you? Seeing your family?"
"Not this year. My parents are visiting my sister in Calgary."
"What, like Canada?"
"Yeah, and I can't afford to go."
"I'm sorry," Clara said, sympathetically.
"It's alright. I'll celebrate with BBC Christmas specials in my dressing gown. It'll be more relaxing at any rate. It's a shame you won't be around," he added with as close to a wicked grin as his sweet face could manage.
Clara took his hand in hers and then suddenly smiled, as if she had just had a brilliant idea, "But you'd rather be home, if you could?"
"We could drop you off."
Danny looked uncertain, "What, you and the Doctor? I wouldn't want to be any trouble." Both of them knew that 'trouble' in this case really meant 'conflict'. The Doctor and Danny had met on a number of occasions, even helped save the world together, but usually when they were in the same space they couldn't help but argue.
"It's a space ship, it'll only add a few seconds to our journey." When he still looked hesitant she added, "The two of you can get along for a few seconds."
"'Course we can. At least I can." Clara gave him a look. "Sorry. But okay… yes. That'd be great!"
"We'll come get you around 8:00, well if the Doctor's on time." Clara rose, grabbed her parcels, and headed for the door. Just before leaving she changed her mind and ran back over to the table.
"Yeah," Clara kissed him—a long, deep kiss.
Danny looked pleased, if a little taken aback. "What about the rule?"
"No one around to see us, is there? See you tonight."
Clara's evening was uneventful. She washed the few breakfast dishes in her sink, cleaned out her fridge, and threw the rubbish and recycling in the bins outside. She had come home to rotting groceries too many times not to take a few preemptive measures. Especially since this time the Doctor intended to return her two weeks later.
Clara was sitting on the couch, enjoying a cup of tea, when the TARDIS materialized in her living room. She glanced at the clock: 7:59. Well, stranger things had happened, she thought with a laugh, and, still carrying her mug, she walked on board. The Doctor barely acknowledged her. Instead he glanced between the screens in front of him, his brow knit in tight concentration. He didn't so much as look up at her greeting. Clara rolled her eyes and walked over to him. Staring at the same screens she asked, "What is it, then?"
"Something strange," he did a quick whirl around the console, flipping levers and checking dials. "Omega radiation!" He said at last, as if that was some kind of answer. Clara just stared at him blankly. "Oh come on, you know it. It's part of the whatsit, your electromagnetic spectrum."
Clara raised an eyebrow, "It's really not."
"Oh, well, it will be." He turned back to his screens and took another reading.
"Is it harmful?" He kept typing. "Doctor?"
"What? Oh harmful. No, not really."
"Why do you care, then?"
Something on the Doctor's screen made him smile. "Because it's behaving rather oddly."
"Behaving? I thought we were talking about some kind of light."
"We are. One, I might add, that is only found in very low levels on this planet."
"But not lately?"
"I've detected isolated areas that have a concentration more than ten times greater than the planet's total. But that in itself isn't the strange part."
"The strange part is where I'm finding it."
"And let me guess, you want to follow it?" The Doctor was about to agree, but Clara cut him off, "Which we can do in a minute. First we're going to pick up Danny."
The Doctor got huffy (which somehow made him extra Scottish), "You never said your boyfriend was joining us."
"He's not, we're dropping him off at his family's"
"This is perhaps the most advance ship in the universe. It's not a chauffeur service for some PE teacher." The Doctor said with distaste.
Clara tried to ignore his remark and answered lightly, "Don't see why it can't be both. Besides, seeing as how it's so advanced, it should only take us a minute."
"But the omega radiation—"
"Will still be there when we're done."
Danny Pink had been standing in the middle of his living room with a duffle bag over one shoulder for the last five minutes. He wanted to be completely ready to insure he didn't delay the Doctor and Clara. He knew Clara wouldn't care a lick if he needed an extra minute to put on his shoes, but he knew from experience that the Doctor would make a jab at him for just about anything, and since Danny didn't trust himself not to respond back in kind, he was not going to give the Doctor any invitation. He was determined to 'play nice' and it was this intention that led him to be already in his trainers, even though he had a strict 'no shoe' policy in his flat.
Fortunately for Danny, the TARDIS soon materialized. Clara called out to him from the doorway, "Fancy a ride?"
"Always," Danny replied, relieved she was the one greeting him.
Danny blushed and hurried aboard. "Hello Doctor. Thank you for the lift. I… I really appreciate it."
The Doctor didn't look up from the console, "Yes, yes, fine."
Danny walked over to Clara, never once setting his bag down. He smiled at her, and then awkwardly turned back to the Doctor, "Sorry, I should probably tell you where—"
"Already have it," the Doctor said flatly.
"I'm a Time Lord, do you really think I couldn't figure out where your foster family lives? Even Clara can do that and she can barely find the Internet."
Danny looked a little puzzled and said to Clara, "Aren't you like a computer genius."
"Well, she is now."
"Not exactly the point, is it?" Clara said, trying to steer the conversation back on course.
"No. What is the point?"
Clara sighed and tried not to let her annoyance show, "That you have Danny's sister's—"
"His foster sister's address and you're taking him there. Now."
The Doctor stared at her for a moment without any real comprehension, before whirling around and setting a new course, "Right, Calgary. Fine place. More fun when there were dinosaurs. We'll have you—" Something on a screen caught the Doctor's eye. He froze in place, his eyes moving back and forth reading the data. "That's weird."
"The radiation is somewhere new." He took another reading and glanced back at the screen. "What would you be doing there?"
"Doctor. You were dropping Danny off."
"Yes. No. In a minutes."
"Doctor," Clara repeated sternly.
"We'll just take a wee look. Won't be a second."
"No, Doctor, we'll drop Danny off and then we'll go after your radiation."
"It's really not a problem," Danny called over unhelpfully.
He had to pick now to try and get along with the Doctor, Clara thought with irritation.
"Good lad. See Clara, will just pop there—"
"No you won't. You know full well that if we land we'll start investigating and we'll be there for ages." Clara tried to affect her infinite teacher patience, "Let's just take Danny home, then we can come right back."
"It may have moved by then."
"You have a time machine!" Clara said, in exasperation.
"Right, so really I can drop Danny off whenever." The Doctor walked around the console, and changed the course. "I'm setting the TARDIS to follow the radiation. That way if it moves as we're landing we will still be in its path."
Before Clara could object again Danny said to her, "I don't mind Clara. You two are doing me a favour. I can wait while you sort this out."
Clara took his hand and shook her head, "You really have no idea what you're getting yourself into."
The wheezing sound of the TARDIS echoed throughout the room. "Just a quick peek." The Doctor paused before opening the door. He turned back to Clara, who was only a step behind. "The PE teacher should stay here."
"He's not exactly helpless. He's helped before."
Clara looked apologetically at Danny, "He's right, you should wait for us here."
"Is it dangerous? Because I think I've proven myself when it comes to dangerous."
"Right. Dan the Soldier Man. Still not coming," the Doctor said, in a sort of sing song way before leaving the TARDIS.
"It's just that the Doctor's world is… well it's a different kind of dangerous."
"But it's okay for you?"
"Guess it's sort of my world to." Clara stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek. "We'll be right back."
Upon leaving the TARDIS Clara was immediately taken aback by the scene in front of her.
"Not exactly what you were expecting?"
Clara stared at the simple, red, rural home and small garden, surrounded by a squat stone fence, "Nope. What's emitting the radiation?"
"Don't know," the Doctor did a quick scan with his sonic screwdriver. "Maybe nothing, maybe it came here on its own."
"But how could—" Clara's question was interrupted by the sound of the TARDIS departing. They turned around just in time to watch it dematerialize.
"Where do you think you're going?" the Doctor shouted at the last pale image of the TARDIS before it faded away completely.
"Doctor," Clara gave him a stern look, "Where'd it go?"
"How should I know. You're boyfriend probably pressed something. This is why we shouldn't let just anyone on board."
"He wouldn't press something! Your stupid snog box just ran off with him."
"Maybe she's taking him home."
Clara looked relieved, "Really?"
"No, probably not." The Doctor appeared to have lost interest in the situation and was wondering around the front garden, taking readings. "It's gone. The omega radiation's nowhere…" He paused and looked back at where the TARDIS had been, "Stupid, stupid Doctor. Forget any of that last part. I know where she is."
"Wherever the radiation has gone."
"Okay, where's that?"
"Haven't a clue."
"Of course you don't." Clara shook her head, and began walking up the garden path to the front door.
"What are you doing?"
"Well, we're stranded here, I've left my phone in the TARDIS, and we could probably stand to call a cab, at least to get us back into London… or the nearest train station. Besides, we can always ask these people if they've noticed anything strange lately. Anything, say, to do with this radiation of yours."
"How is it that I don't pay you?"
"Because, Doctor, I'm the boss."
"Does that mean you're going to pay me?"
"It's a mentorship program. You earn the benefit of my wisdom."
As they approached the house they began to hear muffled voices inside. At least someone is home, Clara thought. In the doorway the voices became clearer and they were able to make out, "Just put it on."
"I don't see why I have to wear a paper hat."
"What's the point of the hat?"
"Oh boys, don't fight. Don't worry John, Sherlock never liked those hats."
Clara turned back to the Doctor, "This could be pretty domestic."
The Doctor rolled his eyes at the thought and knocked on the door.