Chapter 42 / Epilogue
Clara looked at the clock when she heard a key being turned inside the lock and she immediately rose to her feet. She hadn't John expected to come back, not when it was almost midnight already and she would look utterly ridiculous if he saw her like this. There was an empty bowl of chocolate ice cream on the coffee table among countless used tissues. Clara was in her pyjamas, her eyes red from crying and she only just managed to wipe the remainders of the ice cream from the corners of her mouth when he stepped inside the house.
"John," she blurted out as she approached him, "What are you doing here?"
In response he dropped his suitcase on the floor.
Clara looked up at him and only now that he had stepped into the light she could see that his hand was bandaged and that there was a plaster taped over his forehead. His nose looked like it had been bleeding as well.
"Oh my God, what happened to you?" Clara asked instantly, the worry for him stronger than anything else right now as she reached out to inspect the cut on his forehead.
"I had an accident on the way, but it doesn't matter," he replied, "I'm back."
"I can see that, but-"
"No, Clara, I'm back," he breathed, staring right at her, "And I'm not going to leave. Ever."
Clara only stared at him in disbelief, but she couldn't help but smile at his words. Yes, he was back and he looked terrible and she didn't understand what on earth was going on. Back for how long? Back why? But John already continued.
"I don't remember it all and I don't care if the rest of my memories will ever come back or not because it really doesn't matter," he smiled at her, "I love you, Clara. I love you with all my heart and nothing is going to change that. It's true, I took a while, a long while. I needed to get to know you and when I did I wanted to take it slow because I wanted to enjoy every single moment of falling in love with you. That's over. I am in love, have been for a while and I was stupid and selfish because I wanted to wait. I wanted to make it special for you, for us. And then-"
John broke off and pointed at her stomach, smiling broadly.
"We're gonna be a family," he chuckled, "A real family. You know, when I saw the photo of us in my office for the first time I knew there was something missing. A child, Clara. I wanted a child and even though I couldn't remember wanting it I still did. And I still love you."
A load seemed to drop off her shoulders when Clara saw John smile. It wasn't fake, he wasn't doing it because he felt he needed to. He was happy, actually happy.
"So, you're on board with this?" she asked just to be entirely sure she wasn't imagining things. She just needed to be certain.
Instead of replying John stepped forward and kissed her swiftly before he lifted her up, but he only managed to spin her around once before Clara was lowered to the floor once again. John winced in pain and reached for his wrist.
"Okay, time to tell me what happened," Clara said strictly, "Why are you bandaged?"
The bandage around his wrist was just a loose one, but still someone seemed to have felt the need to apply it to his hand.
"Like I said, I've been in an accident. I'm sorry about the car," John gave her an apologetic look, "I'm afraid that is beyond repair."
"I don't care about the car," Clara gawked at him and before he could doge her, Clara gave him a soft punch in the ribs.
"Stop getting into accidents!"
"I said I was sorry," John said defensively, "I'm okay. Just a small cut on the forehead and my wrist is sprained. It'll be fine."
Clara threw her arms around his chest before she could think better of it and hugged him as tightly as humanly possible. He was back. John was finally back and this time he wouldn't leave. It was fine, it was finally okay after months of waiting and hoping. In her relief she couldn't help but cry.
"I love you," she whispered against his chest, "I love you and I'm never going to let you go."
"I love you, too," John sighed and placed a kiss on her head as he wrapped his arms around her back as well. "And I promise I'll try to stop being an idiot now."
Clara chuckled. "I'd like to see that," she replied, but suddenly she thought of something and raised her head to look at him. "Hang on, if you wrecked our car, how did you get here?"
John frowned. "I walked," he said, deadpan.
Clara shook her head and buried her face in his shirt once more. It didn't matter. John was here now.
"Darling," he said after a moment, "You know, I'd love to discuss decorating the nursery and baby names and all of that, but I'm really, really tired. Can we please just go to bed?"
Clara smiled to herself and she tightened her grip around him. "In a moment," she replied, "Let me just enjoy this for one more minute."
But instead of letting her John cupped her face in both his hands and bent down for a long, sweet kiss. Clara realized that he was right in everything he had said. It didn't matter if he never regained his full memory. They had each other, they had a baby on the way. They would make tons of new memories and it was going to be better than it had been ever before because finally all of their dreams were coming true.
Thank you all so, so, so much for reading and commenting on this story! You are the best readers one could ask for and I'm giving you all a big cyber-hug! Really, I can't express how happy every single one of your comments makes me!
Now, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is: I'm going to take a tiny, little break from romantic Whouffaldi AUs for a bit. It's not like I'm out of ideas, I certainly have some in store, both Whouffaldi and Colepaldi and I have plans to write them, just not right away. And the reason for that is the good news *grins like an idiot while writing this*.
Two years ago a friend and I started planning and writing our own (sort of) Doctor Who season with a companion of our own. It started as a joke long before Pearl was announced or before S9 even aired when he talked about what we wanted for the new companion and we ended up liking her so much that we started to put her into stories. I am going to write the first few "episodes" whereas my friend will cover the others, so the first "episode" is the story I am going to start publishing tomorrow and I really, really hope to see you all again for that one because I am extremely excited to finally write the story properly after two years. But do not worry: the story begins straight after "Hell Bent" and there is going to be Whouffaldi in there (because I just can't help myself) and it might just bring a little tear to your eye - but enough about that. You will see/read what I'm talking about.