A/N Finally done. Thanks for reading!
"Suppose we should take you all home," Clara gingerly stood up and walked towards the console with the Doctor's assistance. "It is Christmas after all." Obediently the Doctor set the course, too pleased to be concerned that he was doing what he was told.
"What should we do with him?" John asked, pointing at the unconscious gunman still tied to the chair. Mycroft had requested he be 'managed' before the group left to confront Moriarty.
"Is there an airlock we can toss him out?" Sherlock inquired, only half joking.
"The door would work for that," the Doctor responded with the same ambiguous tone.
"We'll give him to the authorities," Clara said decidedly. "Can't exactly charge him with murder anymore, but he did shoot me." It suddenly occurred to Clara that she didn't feel any pain. She looked at her shoulder. The fabric was torn, but her skin was pink and new. "Why aren't I shot?"
"The Doctor patched you up," John replied. "That device is marvellous, it would do a world of good at the clinic."
"No," the Doctor stated unequivocally before any request had actually been made. "Now, back to your parents', is it?" Sherlock nodded.
"Will your ship still be invisible when we land?" Mycroft inquired.
"It can be, why?"
"A spaceship in the living room will be a hard thing to explain."
"They'd never know it was a spaceship. The TARDIS looks like a police telephone box.
"Which isn't exactly easy to explain either," Clara gave him a significant look.
The Doctor and Clara each pulled a lever. With the sound of the TARDIS muted, it was the shake of the floor that told them they were now on solid ground.
"Are we back then? To the Holmes'?"
The Doctor glanced at the screen in front of him. "Yes. It's 4:36 pm, December 26, 2014."
"26?!" John protested. The Doctor looked at him blankly.
"That's Boxing Day," Clara clarified.
"Close enough," the Doctor said dismissively. "Besides, I thought you wanted to skip Christmas."
Sherlock looked rather pleased at the idea, but John wasn't ready to let it go, "We missed Martha's first Christmas."
"She doesn't care what the actual date is. We'll celebrate with her today," Mary said reassuringly. John nodded, though he was still disappointed.
The group said their farewells. With the help of the TARDIS's screens they insured that the living room was empty, and then exited the ship. Not a moment after they had closed the TARDIS door behind them, Mrs. Holmes ran into the room.
"Where have you all been? The police were here—" She gasped when she saw the gunman ties to the chair, "Oh god that's him. He's the one... Where's the girl? Where's Clara?" Mrs. Holmes anxiety made her speak very quickly; the group couldn't keep up with her meaning.
"Is she really dead?"
"She looked dead... and he said she was."
"Who said?" Mary asked.
"The young man, Dan something. He said this man shot and killed Clara. He had pictures of both of them. We heard the shots of course. We didn't think we should come down, so we called the police. They came with the young man, showed us the pictures, but you were all gone and we didn't know what happened. There was so much blood. Where were you?"
"He escaped with the body... with Clara," Mycroft's tone was honest and reassuring. It would have been impossible for Mycroft to reach his position without being a flawless liar. "We've been tracking him and we're finally able to apprehend him today."
"And Clara?" Mrs. Holmes asked with trepidation.
Mycroft looked grave, "We haven't been able to locate her." Mrs. Holmes held her hand up to her face. "Mother, why don't you go ring the police. They will want to speak to us and... deal with him."
Mrs. Holmes nodded, but looked too upset to respond. She simply left the room. Once she was gone Mycroft locked the living room door behind her. Sherlock called out, "I suppose you heard all of that." In response a door opened out of nothingness and Clara and the Doctor emerged from the TARDIS. "What should we tell the police?"
"What Mycroft said makes about as much sense as we'll be able to, given the circumstances. Go with that."
"But you're not dead."
"I was for a bit," Clara said with a laugh. She added more seriously, "I don't want Danny to get in any trouble for filing a false report. And since there are pictures, if we tell them I'm fine there will be a lot of questions we can't answer without the words 'time machine' or 'alien from the future'. Stick to Mycroft's story, we'll sort out the rest." Each of them nodded and without further discussion the Doctor and Clara returned to the TARDIS.
"It would take about 3 months for that wound to heal as much as it has naturally." The Doctor was already setting a course. "Suppose that's when you should go to the police."
"No." Both Clara's tone and expression were unreadable.
The Doctor was puzzled. He thought he'd understood her intentions perfectly. After a moment it became clear, "Danny. You want to go to see Danny first. He should probably know you're alive—"
The Doctor glance over at Clara and then back to the control panel. He gripped the console with a mixture of concern and frustration. He was finally understanding her thoughts and he prayed he was wrong. "Your father—" he began again, chancing a look at Clara. She simply shook her head. He smacked the console in anger, but did his best to keep his voice even when he spoke, "Moriarty's gone, Clara."
"It's not," she said sadly. "He's still in here somewhere, at the back of my mind. What if, somehow, he got out?"
"Win control from a control freak? I don't think so."
"Is it possible?"
Clara laughed, "I know you well enough to know when you're lying."
"Anything's possible, doesn't mean it will happen."
Clara was shaking her head, "If he gained control..." Imagine all of the wonderful things I could do... "Can't be around the kids anymore. Or Danny. Or my dad... I couldn't put them at risk like that."
"You could stay here," there was a vulnerability to the Doctor's request that broke Clara's heart.
"He'd love that. Full access to the TARDIS."
"We'll go somewhere, then," the Doctor began punching data into the key pad. "A human life is rather short, and there are a number of places that will keep us entertained for the mere 60 years you've got left."
"Doctor." He looked at her imploringly, but she was stubborn and had already made up her mind. "I can't stay with you. You know he would hurt you if he could."
"You don't have to protect me."
"Yes I do. It's sort of my job."
"I thought I was your hobby."
"You're my best friend. I'm not going to endanger you."
The Doctor wanted to object, but he knew her well enough to know she wasn't going to budge, egomaniac, control freak. "Where would you like me to take you?"
"I don't know. I'm not safe to be around anymore..."
"Then what was the point, Clara?"
"Why did we work so hard to save you, to get you back to your body if you just want to..." He couldn't say it.
"I don't want to die."
"What do you want?"
"I just don't want to let him hurt anyone. If there was somewhere I could go, I'd want it to be somewhere where they would know if he surfaced. Somewhere where he couldn't pretend to be me; couldn't lie." And there it was, an epiphany. Clara knew exactly where she should go. She caught the Doctor's eye and saw that he was thinking exactly the same thing.
The Doctor stared at the square imprint in the snow where the TARDIS had been. He knew the moment he heard Gallifrey's message that he couldn't leave the town of Christmas, but that didn't mean Clara had to get stuck here too. He had made the right choice. He knew that, but that knowledge didn't stop him from staring at the spot where the TARDIS used to sit; it didn't stop him from missing her.
"That blue box that disappeared, that was your space ship, wasn't it?" a little boy asked him.
"Don't you need it?"
The Doctor chuckled, "Oh probably."
"Then why did it leave?"
"It didn't. I sent it away." The boy raised an inquisitive eyebrow, so the Doctor continued, "It has something on board that was too precious to lose."
"What's that?" the boy asked.
The boy remembered seeing a woman rush into the ship. She had had so much purpose, it didn't look like a goodbye. "She didn't know she was leaving though, did she?"
"No, but I couldn't let her stay here. I couldn't let her die for me. Not again."
The boy looked suddenly anxious, "Are we going to die?"
"Of course, everyone will." The statement terrified the boy. He was on the verge of tears until the the Doctor clarified, "Everyone dies eventually. Even those of us who live a long, long time. No one's dying today." At last he turned away from where the TARDIS had been and faced the boy directly, "Don't worry, I'm here to keep you safe. I'm the new sheriff, remember?"
The Doctor took the boy's hand and they began to walk back towards the centre of town, but stopped at the sound of the TARDIS. "Back already, dear," the Doctor said to it. "Thought you'd sulk for months. I know you don't approve of what I did to Clara—"
The Doctor stopped abruptly and gaped open mouthed. Clara had just stepped out of the TARDIS and closed the door behind her. For a long time neither of them spoke, they simply stared. Finally the Doctor said dumbly, "I sent you away."
He was about to ask 'how', but stop at a realization: she'd changed her clothing. Gone were the red skirt and bow tie cardigan and in their place a purple, cotton dress the Doctor had never seen before. And it wasn't just her clothing, "You've changed; you're older."
"Yes." Clara said for the third time, offering no explanation.
"Don't ask me any questions."
The Doctor looked indignant, "Why not?"
The Doctor wanted to object, but he knew by the look on Clara's face that it was pointless to argue with her. Perhaps the TARDIS could offer him some answers. He tried to push past Clara, but she blocked his path. "Can't I at least have access to my ship?"
"It's not your ship," Clara responded before she could stop herself. The Doctor took a step back in confusion. "At least... not right now," and as if to illustrate her point the TARDIS departed.
The Doctor glanced between Clara and the space the TARDIS had been.
"You're really here," he sounded as though he couldn't quite believe it.
Clara chuckled, "Yes, I am."
"I was trying to save you from..."
"What, being stuck with you? There are worse things, you know."
"But your family—"
"Will get on just fine without me. Let's face it, you're the one I really look after."
He smiled at that, "Yes, you do." The Doctor reached out and enveloped Clara in a hug. "I missed you."
Clara pulled away enough to give him a look, "I've only been gone half an hour."
"18.3 minutes, actually. Still missed you."
"I missed you, too," Clara tightened her grip on him and rested her head against the Doctor's chest. A cry sounded from the other side of town. "More Weeping Angels?"
"Or Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans... Who knows what else got in before Tasha sealed off the planet." He reached out to Clara, "What do you say, wanna save the world?"
Clara took his hand and held on tight, "Geronimo!"