Their Forever (Part 3): Typical Times
She was sure she wasn't going mad… yet the evidence in front of her made it clear. The room before her was not the one she had expected to find upon walking through that door.
In her mind, she replayed the sequence of events which had led her to her current position. She had exited the control room, walked past two doors on her right before turning down the corridor on her left. Then she went to the fourth and furthest door on that corridor and turned to go inside, expecting to be at the Nursery, but that wasn't where she was… It was the correct path, she had walked it many times before, but the room was definitely not the Nursery.
Backtracking slowly, Clara peered into the room next door, believing for a moment that it was possible that she was just confused and sleep-deprived. Maybe the Nursery was in that room instead. However, upon peeking into that one, her already pounding head just began to hurt more. That room, the one she was presently peeking into, was usually the bathroom used by her eldest daughter Belle, the one which lay opposite her bedroom, but it wasn't what she saw. Instead, it was the Library, quite clearly the Library which was usually located in the opposite direction of the control room, nowhere near where it was at that moment.
"I must be goin' mad…" she whispered to herself, easily capturing the attention of Belle who was curled up in the armchair within the Library with her nose in a book.
"Mum?" she asked, "What's wrong?"
Leaning back to look at the corridor and then the room next door before returning to look back at Belle, Clara simply shook her head.
"I've really gotta start gettin' some more sleep…" she stated, concerning Belle momentarily before she laughed it off.
"Well, you won't be doing that for the next eight years or so." she pointed out, "Mattie and Gracie won't let you get away with that that easily… They're making up for all the years Dad lost with me when I was little."
Clara sighed, her attention still on the corridor. She just couldn't understand why the rooms weren't in the correct place. She supposed it could have been the TARDIS but they had always got on… She'd never do anything to annoy her such as rearranging the layout of the ship, especially when it was concerning her six month old twins.
"Mum, are you sure you're okay?" Belle asked, recapturing Clara's attention.
"Yeah…" she whispered, slowing taking a step away from the door, "Yeah, I'm fine."
Hoping not to concern her daughter too much, Clara began to wander the corridor, looking into every door she came across. It was strange. The layout of the corridors was normal; it was just that the rooms seemed to all be jumbled up. So far she'd looked into the kitchen and found the swimming pool, looked into her bedroom and found the home cinema room and the gym, and looked into what was usually just a storage cupboard, no bigger than a square metre, and found the wardrobe. Needless to say, something wasn't right…
It had felt like hours yet it had probably only been minutes of searching for the twins nursery. She could hear them both happily gurgling away; quite content in their own little world, but the further she walked, the further the knot in her stomach grew. In a ship of infinite size where all the rooms seemed to be wrong, they could have been anywhere.
Belle was rather glad that her Mum had left her be. When she was reading, she preferred the silence and lack of interruptions. However, her mind couldn't ignore a cold feeling growing in her mind since her mother had gone. Something just felt wrong, she didn't know what, but it did…
Sighing as she slammed the book shut and dropped it onto the floor, she pushed herself up and out of the Library. The first thing she noticed was the chilling temperature of the metal ship. Granted it had never been the warmest of places, but the coolness in the corridor sent shivers down her spine, both physical and mental. It was only after she processed that that she noticed something, the corridor was wrong. In fact, she would have sworn that she'd just come out of the bathroom and not the Library, and she even had to double check that she had.
Something was really wrong…
It didn't take her long to realise that the ship was oddly different, whether that was down to the TARDIS or something else… Sighing deeply, Belle continued on her way before turning a corner she had absolutely no idea where it would lead to. Usually it would have been the gym and swimming pool but as she had already found those two locations in other positions, she knew they weren't going to be the case.
Walking into a thick grey smoke which instantly tickled the back of her throat, Belle began coughing immediately. Pointlessly wafting away the smoke, she had no luck in seeing where she was going. The gas was that thick. It was only when she felt something grab her from behind that she managed to stop her coughing in exchange for a close to deafening scream.
"Hey, hey, hey!" the figure shouted over her scream as her heart slowly began to stop the pounding in her already painful head, "Extractor fans on!"
The smoke dissipated instantly, leaving a very relieved young teenager face-to-face with her lanky father, the one she could easily have killed at that moment.
"Oh, you bloody idiot!" she cried, "You scared the life outta me, you moron!"
"Oi!" he warned before looking sheepishly down at her, "Sorry."
"Dad, what are you doing?!" she cried, spotting the contraption of wires around his neck, the missing wall panel at his feet and ridiculous goggled strapped across his forehead.
"Trying to fix the telepathic circuit." he responded, returning to fit two pieces of the contraption behind the open panel that even she could see didn't fit together.
"The telepathic circuit wasn't broken…" Belle pointed out before her father slowly turned to look over at her, "But I'm guessing it probably is now…"
Meanwhile, in unfamiliar territory of the ship she called her home, Clara had continued to walk and search for the Nursery, advancing deeper and deeper into the TARDIS by the second. She was rather grateful when she came across what appeared to be the control room but that minute proportion of hope was crushed when she saw that the doorway actually led to nothing more than a storage cupboard. The gurgled of the twins were still dominant in her mind but she really wondered whether that was just the TARDIS doing that to keep her from worrying anymore than she already way. Maybe she really was going mad…
Upon turning the next corner, she almost cried out in delight when she suddenly spotted her husband, albeit covered in wired and wearing those stupid goggled of his, but her husband nonetheless.
"Doctor!" she cried, "Oh, thank God!"
Before the Doctor had any hope to understand what was happening, he found his wife buried in his arms, grasping tightly around him to the point where he was struggling to breathe.
"Whoa…" he realised, slowly breaking the gap between them, "I… I thought you were gonna go check on the twins. What are you doing here?"
Clara gulped, quickly looking around at the corridor around her before looking at her husband.
"Just answer this, Chin Boy." she requested, "Where is here?"
"What?!" the Doctor cried, his frown deepening.
"I… I don't know…" she confessed, "Where am I?"
"You're… you're on the TARDIS…" he answered uncertainly, "Are you feeling alright?"
Clara breathed out deeply. "I have been wandering in circles for ages tryin' to find the Nursery… I can't find it!"
"What do you mean you can't find it?" he questioned.
"Everything's wrong… I must sound crazy but I know I'm not." she stated. "Rooms are in the wrong place and I can't find the twins…"
It was only then that her frustration and anxiety seemed to ignite forcefully within her head.
"Where are my babies?!" she cried, "Doctor, what's goin' on?!"
The Doctor, properly concerned, looked briefly over at his daughter who seemed to be looking at him as if it were his fault…
"What?!" he demanded not too forcefully, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Belle rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on Dad, its obvious!" she pointed out.
"What is?" queried Clara.
Belle looked directly at the Doctor, signalling towards the missing panel.
"You're tinkering with the telepathic circuit!" she pointed out, "Of course, it's gonna affect Mum's mind, she's human! I mean, I can see some of the rooms are in the wrong place being part human but Mum… I'm betting she's got a massive headache at the moment and everything's jumbled up…"
Clara looked at the Doctor. "Doctor?" she whispered.
"Sorry…" he apologised, "I'll fix it as quick as possible."
"So, I'm not goin' crazy…?" she asked hopefully.
The Doctor shook his head with a weak smile before gripping the back of her neck and kissing her forehead. "No." he confirmed, "I'm just becoming reckless…"
Belle raised her eyebrow playfully as Clara began to smile.
"Only becoming?" she teased.
Laughing at her husband's slight embarrassment, Clara fell against the wall behind her. She was sure she wasn't going mad… and the evidence in front of her made it clear…
Later that night, the five of them, the whole family were in the cinema room some musical from Earth's 37th Century. Clara and the Doctor sat curled up next to each other, each with a baby in their laps, while Belle sat in front of them on the floor leaning against the seat. The Doctor had the youngest of his twins, Gracie, in his lap while Clara had Mattie.
The Doctor deeply loved the way his life had changed in the space of three-and-a-bit years. In that time he'd gone from a lonely old Timelord, one who'd given up on the universe completely, to the husband of a human with an extra long lifespan and father of three… and grandfather of two – not that he'd actually let his fifteen year old know that. So much for a man who doesn't do families…
As the musical continued to play out, even entertaining the younger two enough to keep them occupied, the Doctor leant over to Clara and kissed the side of her face.
Keeping her tone hushed, Clara smirked.
"What… what was that for?" she asked.
"Just because I can." he smiled, "I love you, more than you'll ever know."
"I love you too… even if you do make me feel like I'm goin' crazy, literally."
"Oh, what would our lives be like if they were typical and predictable and normal?" he smirked.
"Oi, crazy times are normal when it comes to us." she pointed out.
"Very true." he concurred, "And they probably always will be."
Clara nodded. "Forever." she agreed, "And I wouldn't have it any other way."
I want to say a big thank you to you all. You're patience and support has been the best and the very thing which has fuelled this story for so long. I cannot thank you all enough and I sincerely hope you've all enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it.