Originally published in the 101 Claras To See anthology. It's out of print now, so I think I can post this here without getting in trouble from the publishers! ^-^
"I should probably be mad at you, you know," Clara yawned, leaning back against the tree and closing her eyes.
The Doctor strummed a few chords on his guitar, and adjusted the tuning pegs minutely, frowning a bit. A small wireless amplifier was resting on the ground next to them, with his sonic sunglasses resting on top. "And why, exactly, should you be?"
"You promised me Peru," she said without opening her eyes. "In fact, you've been promising me Peru for the last couple of days straight, and we haven't got there yet. The closest we've managed to get was a store in Australia selling Ecuadorian merchandise."
"It was run by a Peruvian," he pointed out.
"Who was only Peruvian because his mother was, and he had never gone to Peru in his life."
"Close enough," he said, and picked out the opening riff to Johnny B. Goode, making it sound slow, mournful, and closer to a waltz than the rock and roll song it actually was. "Why aren't you mad at me, then?"
Clara smiled. "Because this place is beautiful, and you're having fun, and- well, today's special."
"Today's not special," the Doctor scoffed, and hesitated just above the strings of the guitar before turning the riff into a simple tune that was upbeat and enthusiastic. His fingers danced across the strings, strumming and plucking and coaxing an echoing, melodic noise from the depths of the guitar and through the amplifier to drift through the air.
"Maybe it is, and you just don't know it," Clara said, opening her eyes to look along at him sideways. "You don't know everything."
He gave her a curious sort of smile, and began to play Summertime, tapping his nails against the side of the instrument in between the beats.
The day was beautiful- not too sunny, not too windy- the perfect day for a music festival. Crowds of people milled around, singing, dancing, and creating music that soared up into the sky to mingle with the other tunes and melodies. The air was almost alive with excitement and cheerfulness, and the smells of cooking food and the sweet scent of the various flowers growing in the park that they were in made the day seem brighter, somehow- everything was technicolour and vivid. The grass on this particular planet was green and springy and soft to the touch and there were no ants hiding in the ground, preparing to creep up your leg when you least expected it, which made it perfect to lie on with a friend, just talking about whatever caught your fancy.
"The twenty-third of November," said the Doctor suddenly, causing Clara to jump. He cast his gaze upwards. "The day Miley Cyrus was born, the start of the Mexican Revolution, the day Judee Sill died-"
"American guitarist," he said absently, plucking at the D string a couple of times.
"Of course," Clara said sardonically. "And you're saying that none of these things are interesting in any way?"
"They are, probably." He picked out a G, and then a B, and then strummed fully across the strings, turning the notes into a chord. "Just not to me at the moment."
"And there's nothing special to you about today in any way?"
"Not that I know of," he said, and turned G major into A minor and then back again with a few simple flicks of his wrist.
Clara sighed, and sat up straighter on the tree so she could properly see what was going on all around the park.
There were three identical boys in matching back suits, close to where they were sitting, playing a trio on their harps- the melody overlapping and dying down and rising up slowly again. It sounded like wind chimes in a breeze- gentle and delicate.
A green-blue alien woman toting a large set of bagpipes marched by them, blaring out 'Scotland the Brave' loudly and obnoxiously. Clara winced, instinctively covering her ears, and laughed when she saw the Doctor doing the same. She stuck her tongue out at him playfully. "Not into your national anthem, are you?"
"I'm sorry," he said loudly and perfectly seriously. "I can't hear a word you're saying."
Clara laughed again, and jabbed him with her elbow as the bagpiper moved away from them and the both removed their hands from their ears. "I said, you're not much into your national anthem. You know," she clarified as the Doctor shot her a puzzled look, "since you're Scottish this time."
"I'm not Scottish," he said. "I'm Gallifreyan. I sound Scottish. I just object to the cruel and unlawful slaughter of innocent tunes."
"Okay, then," she said, leaning against him so their shoulders bumped. "Play me something."
"Play you something?" he repeated, sounding almost adorably confused.
"Something nice," she said, and yawned again because the bright sun and the scent of the flowers were making her feel sleepy and content.
He paused, shifted against her so he could reach the strings of his guitar better, and strummed out the sequence he had been playing at before, then added to them, building up a melody on top of the chords. Clara smiled and closed her eyes.
"I know!" he exclaimed, bringing the song to an abrupt, squealing halt, and clicking his fingers in triumph. "The twenty-third of November, 2015- the world didn't end!"
"What?" Clara said, sitting up. "You mean, it was supposed to and it didn't?"
"Not really, no," the Doctor said. "Well, maybe just a bit."
"The world ended 'just a bit'?"
"It didn't," he assured her.
"But it was supposed to," she said, and rolled her eyes. "You really should tell me about these things. What was it this time? Daleks? Cybermen? Monoids?"
"A top-hat wearing lunatic and an army of telepathic demon shrimp," he said, picking up the song where he had left off. The amplifier crackled loudly for a moment, but then died down. "It was your day off, so I decided not to bother you. An online discussion forum helped me in your place."
"I can't believe you replaced me that quickly," she grumbled lightly, not quite sure if he was being serious or not. "Have you no shame?"
With one hand, he snatched up the sunglasses and slipped them on, grinning brightly at her as he continued to play. "Not really, no. Did I get it right?"
"The end of the world thing?" Clara said. "No, that's not it."
"I'm missing something," the Doctor complained, missing a note and nearly growling in frustration. "You think today's special for some reason."
"It is." Clara sighed, and shifted to tug her skirt down from where the breeze had ruffled it up. "Never mind."
"Okay," he said cheerfully, and kept on playing, occasionally tilting his sunglasses towards the amplifier to turn the sound up louder.
Clara was quiet for a moment before coming up with another appropriate topic to breach. "How did you learn to play guitar? Did you just pick up a book when I wasn't around, or did you, you know, get someone to teach you?"
"I studied under Jimi Hendrix," he informed her proudly.
"Really?" Clara asked, impressed.
"Well, not really," he admitted, and fiddled around with the tuning pegs again. "But I once had a friend who claimed he did, and that's more or less the same thing, right?"
"Maybe," he said, and kept playing the tune, which was slow and sad and just a bit wistful. "At any rate, I'm not bad at it, eh?"
"Yeah," she said, and she meant it. "What's it called?"
"No idea," the Doctor said, causing Clara to look up at him again. "You can name it if you want."
"You wrote that?" she said with an arched eyebrow, gesturing to his guitar.
"Don't sound so surprised."
"You. Writing songs?" she said. "I didn't think you had a long enough attention span for that."
He smiled, and launched into the second refrain of the main melody, mixing it up a bit and adding in parts that spiralled upwards and downwards. "So, what do you think?"
"About the song?"
Clara sat up a bit straighter, but kept leaning on him. "I think it's brilliant."
"That's good," he said thoughtfully.
"Because it's for you." He turned and grinned at her. "Happy birthday, Clara Oswald. I was going to get you a galaxy, but it wouldn't fit into the box I picked out."
She stared at him for a moment, before breaking into a grin as well. "You remembered."
"Of course I did." He strummed a few dramatic chords. "November twenty-third. Nothing interesting happens, except for the fact that my best friend was born. Did you really think my memory was that bad?"
"Just a bit," she admitted, tucking her legs up to her chin. "So, you wrote me a song, but you couldn't get me to Peru on time?"
"Stop nitpicking," the Doctor grumbled, and cleared his throat loudly, hand hovering over the strings. "Ahem. I'm assured that this is an Earth tradition, although I honestly can't see the point of it…" He paused briefly to roll his eyes, and launched into a simple tune. "Happy birthday to you… happy birthday to you…"
"You're singing," said Clara in disbelief, cutting him off. "Shouldn't that be illegal?"
"Shut up, let me finish. Happy birthday, dear, bossy teacher figure with control issues and too much makeup on-"
"I do not have control issues!"
"Keep telling yourself that," retorted the Doctor. "Happy birthday to you. There. Are you appeased about Peru yet?"
"I'll be appeased when we actually get there," she said lightly, and beamed at him. "Thank you."
"For what?" he said, playing the opening bars of her song again.
"Everything. The song. The planet. Being my friend." She bit her lip, and remembered something. "Oh, and you can call it whatever you like."
"The song?" He looked down at his guitar. "In that case, I think I'll call it… Clara."
"You're going to name a song after me?" She laughed. "Flatterer."
"Just a bit," he agreed.
"Clara's an excellent name for a song, though," Clara said. "You can play it whenever you think of me."
"You know," said the Doctor thoughtfully. "I think I will."
And even as he raised his guitar up again and began to play American Pie while Clara laughed and sang along, the sounds and smells and tastes of the festival continued to mingle, and the sun shone down on them.
And time ticked on.