Author's Note: Aloha! This is an update that is long overdue (two months! I honestly don't know how you put up with me) and while I intended for it to be longer, I thought this was the best way to finish the chapter. I hope 1,410 words will suffice!
Also a quick a/n, this multi-chaptered fan fic only has seven chapters (prologue, chapters one through five, epilogue), just so that I don't mislead anybody. Following my initial plans, this fan fic was supposed to be sort of episodic. Kind of like, how a Doctor Who head-writer would write an episode (only less painful and more terribly-written lol). I started this story before the second half of series 7 aired and this was how I pictured the Doctor to find Clara again, so it's basically AU-ish with hints at canon.
Oh, and another thing: if you haven't re-read the previous chapters yet (I re-wrote every single one in a fit of inspiration), you can go on ahead and do so. I did a bit of re-wording, also adding a few tiny details here and there that may or may not prove essential in the following chapters. Your pick. ;-)
Lastly, another drabble for Timey, Spacey is in the works! If you've got a drabble prompt for me, PM me here or message me on my Tumblr (URL change! I am now blogging at claraoswals dot tumblr dot com). My muse hasn't disappeared yet and I would like to take advantage of its presence. :-P
Anywhoozles, I hope you like this chapter!
Away: Chapter 3
Me, You, Watson, Holmes
"What, you mean like in a film?"
"Yes! No. Well, kind of, I think. I don't really know, I can't be sure," she offers unhelpfully, her brows furrowed. "They just sort of stopped, you know? Frozen in place in the middle of whatever they were doing."
"And everyone's like this? 'Paused', as you say?" The Doctor asks again, pacing around restlessly. He didn't expect to jump into something this soon (his jaw is still a bit numb from where Doctor Simeon had touched it), but of course, he never denied a good mystery. (And there's one standing right in front of him.)
"Uh-huh," Clara affirms before adding, "Everyone but me. And you. Plus a dog, with booties. Pink, if you were wondering about the colour."
He turns around to meet her face, comically making his jacket fly about after him. "Why?"
"I don't know! Animals should never wear human clothing, I'm pretty sure that's criminal–."
"No, no," he intrudes, waving his hand at her, albeit a bit entertained. "What I meant to ask was, why aren't you affected? Me, I can understand, but you…"
She shrugs, pursing her lips, arms over her chest as she resolves to sit on the edge of the platform. "I was hoping you'd be the one to answer that, actually."
"Me?" He asks to clarify, joining her on the platform and swinging his legs in the empty space below them.
"You," she repeats, nodding before facing him. "Strange things have been happening around here, and who better to make of it than an equally as strange man?"
The Doctor smiles. This Clara was no different than the other two Clara's he'd met, and yet, they weren't exactly alike either. (He still hasn't figured out how her whole existence is even possible though, but he'll come to find her out. Eventually. Maybe.)
"Quick question, slightly personal, but are you an alien? I mean, if you don't mind me asking."
"Do I look alien?" He queries, somewhat absentmindedly, this shift in the conversation allowing him to remember the mysterious piece of metal he'd come across earlier. Glancing to where he had left it, he finds the cog gone, and he wonders if that had anything to do with the 'pause' pandemic that somehow struck all of modern-day London.
"No, but there's something about you that gives off that ET vibe."
"I'll take that as a compliment, so," he booms determinedly, standing from his seat all of a sudden and offering a hand to help Clara up. "How about we crack this case wide open, eh, Clara Oswald? Are you ready to be my Watson?"
"Oh, no no no no, Doctor. If anyone," she begins, taking his hand and pulling him towards her face. "I'm Sherlock Holmes."
"So this is a time machine?" She asks, still slightly panting from their tedious trek up the tower, but excitement very evident in her tone. "An actual, proper time machine?"
"Yep!" He replies, animatedly pressing buttons and flicking switches as he watches her take the TARDIS in from the corner of his eye. "And a spaceship! A time machine and a spaceship. The best spaceship in the Universe!"
She rushes to the doors, securing her safety by holding onto the door frame and carefully observing the ship's exterior, straining to see most of what she can without falling to her death. "It's smaller," she calls out, "on the outside!"
A sad smile graces his face, his head going back to a time when a very similar woman had said the exact same words. "I had a hunch you were going to say that."
She runs back in and circles the room, giggling as she runs down the stairs and into the corridors. "My stars, there's a swimming pool back here! Were you aware of that?"
"I've manned this ship for over nine hundred years now. I think I should be aware, yes," he quips, light sarcasm dripping from his statement.
Popping her head out from the doorway, she raises an eyebrow at him. (She does that a lot, doesn't she?) "Oy, don't play clever with me," Clara tells him, walking idly to his spot in the control room.
"I wasn't," he defends, looking down at her as she leans on the panel beside him. "But you might find my being clever handy at times, you know."
"Not if my being clever has anything to do with it," she retorts, shamelessly leveling his gaze before skipping to the other side of the console. He frowns.
"Questioning my brilliance, are you?"
"I'm in a police box that's bigger on the inside with a mad man who claims to be a time traveler. All that, and the city of London is scarily still, minus a poodle and a couple of rustling leaves," Clara remarks, sliding her hand through the railing. "I'm questioning everything right now. My sanity included."
The Doctor smirks. "Oh, but this, love… this is just the beginning."
It's rather difficult, Clara thinks, trying to comprehend the world, figuring out how and why it worked that way. Sure, she's had her education, but there were certain things she still cannot come to terms with.
Like, for example, why her brother decided marrying a blonde bimbo nearly twice his age would do him any good and not be utter stupidity for his part (it is pitiful, watching him being ordered around like a lap dog), and, another example, how misleading it is for butterflies to be called the way they are when they aren't exactly butter-coated flies (although the image would ruin dairy for all of humanity).
Those are a just couple off of Clara's list that she cannot, simply would not accept.
But time-traveling? Totally legitimate.
"We're here!" The Doctor exclaims, pulling down a lever as she feels the TARDIS ('short for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, you take note of that') poise itself on much more solid ground.
"At Nina's! I think. I hope," he adds anxiously, checking the monitor to confirm his location. "Not quite. Sort of. About a few streets away, but eh, look! The same day. That's an achievement."
"You don't seem to be very skilled in this field of work, Doctor," Clara comments, challenging him before hopping to the exit and pulling the doors open. "I'm worried."
"Hey!" He lets out in offense, pointing an accusing finger at her. "This is my ship, and you, I'm afraid, are just tagging along for the ride. A little respect would be much appreciated!"
She flashes him an amused grin in reply, chuckling before rushing off into the cold evening air. He gapes after her from the console, knitting his brows together in annoyance. She appears to enjoy throwing him off quite a lot, but he, on the other hand, doesn't welcome it as much. (That's a lie.)
"Come on, you slowpoke! Come and see!" She yells from outside, clutching onto her jacket as the wind began to get stronger and stronger with every blow.
Walking outside, he looks at the view before him, resembling a diorama of the city as shops and lamp posts lit up the road, cars parked at the center, and everyone silent in their places – others in the middle of jogging, some sitting in cafes, cups halfway to their lips – in picture perfect stillness.
"This is peculiar," the Doctor breathes, running up to random people, trying to get their attention in the silliest possible way before taking his Sonic out and getting their readings.
"Is that a screwdriver you're holding?" Clara asks when she catches up to him, studying the tool in his hands with great intent.
He nods. "A sonic screwdriver. There's a difference."
"What does it do?"
"Everything," he replies, flicking the device with his wrist to read the findings. "These people are alive. Regular heart rates, normal biological processes, but brain activity is dead. Almost paralyzed. Stuck in a state of motion as if that part of their neurological systems has been shut down for the moment."
"What? Why's that even happening?" She inquires, standing on her tip toes to look over his shoulder and read the findings for herself. "I mean, shutting down their brains… what for?"
He pauses, his eyes widening at a revelation he hasn't completely made out yet. Alarmed, he tucks his Sonic back in his jacket and turns to Clara, meeting her questioning stare with an unreadable expression. "To make room for something else."
/to be continued