A/N: Here is a oneshot for the lovely Jazz (aka TheEnergizerBunny), who I asked for a prompt. She's a fantastic writer, and ships Clara/Doctor, so you should go check her out!
Hope you enjoy this, Jazz :)
He's got everything ready.
The TARDIS is parked underwater, on a planet comprised entirely of a massive ocean and breathtaking underwater colonies. He has the air bubble around the TARDIS adjusted so that he and Clara will be able to walk outside and see the sparkling colonies of algae, glowing in all sorts of luminescent colors in the moonlit ocean.
As birthday presents go, it's a bit extravagant, but the Doctor thinks that Clara deserves nothing less.
He found out her birthday by accident. One day, while they were taking a little time off after an incident with a submarine and an Ice Warrior, he found her curled up on her bed with 101 Places to See. Gently prying the book from her fingers, he had flipped through the pages with her and told her about similar places on other planets. On the very last page, he saw her birthday written in squiggly ink letters. Of course, he knows there aren't technically days on the TARDIS, with time going all wibbly-wobbly, but if she were on Earth, it would be her birthday by now.
He nearly skips to her room, excited with the prospect of showing her the sights and wishing her a happy birthday. He loves seeing her smile, and never objects to a good hug. His mind wanders to her nickname for the TARDIS, and how he wishes it were true – but no, he shakes his head and tries to not think about it. That's not his place to feel that way about Clara, about a fragile human.
The Doctor bursts into her room unceremoniously, shouting, "Happy birthday, Clara Oswin Oswald!" as loudly as he can. Then he trips over something, because it's oddly dark. When he regains his bearing and his eyes adjust, he realizes that she's flung her alarm clock halfway across the room.
"Sleepy today, eh?" He asks, picking himself and his dignity off the floor and going to the side of her bed. "Well, time to get up, because today we have plans." When she still doesn't respond, he draws closer and tentatively pokes her sleeping form. "Clara?"
"Don't wanna." She mumbles. "Busy, go 'way."
"Come on, Clara, it's your birthday." He urges, shoving her gently onto her back. "I've got something to show you."
Her head lolls to the side, and she shoots him a withering look. "I'm tired, go away."
At her tone, the Doctor's concern starts to grow. Tired or not, usually Clara would jump at any opportunity to see something new. But now… she sounds like she never wants to leave her bed, and her voice is thick, like she's congested.
"You alright?" He asks, laying a hand on her forehead. She's not just human-hot against him, she's burning.
Clara subconsciously nudges his hand with her head, soothed by his lower body temperature. "I'll be fine, 'm just a little sick." He words keep slurring, as though she's drunk.
He worries that it's something alien, something that will go downhill very fast. The TARDIS normally protects against all viruses with special anti-toxins in the air, so how could Clara have gotten sick? Is it a new virus? Is it human? He absently strokes her hair, lost in thought.
He glances back at Clara when he hears a little noise of confusion. He still hasn't answered her, and he realizes by her expression that she's starting to panic too. "Yeah, you'll be okay." He says. She will, too. He won't let anything hurt her, not ever. "I need to take you to the medical bay, alright? Can you walk?"
Clara sighs heavily, hoisting herself up on unsteady arms until she's sitting. "You, of course I can. Daft Timelord." And then, when she tries to stand, her legs crumple underneath her. "Oh." She says to the carpet, turning an unattractive shade of red. "Not a word from you, chin boy. Not. One. Word."
His momentary alarm turns to a small grin as she jokes with him. Carefully, he scoops her up into his arms and carries her down to the TARDIS medical bay. Her head sags, bumping into his chest, and he can feel the heat of her fever in her hands as she holds onto him.
She lets him do a cursory check, and then sits patiently through multiple scans. When he waves a thermometer in front of her face she just glares. "Oh no, you've got more than enough information. I hate those things, the nurses in doctor's office used to jam them under my tongue, and it hurt."
The Doctor frowns. "You've got a temperature."
"Yes, great, so go check your machines to see what it is."
"But Clara, I need to double-check!"
She sticks her tongue out at him, and when she opens her mouth to say something the Doctor manages to get the thermometer into her mouth. Clara's less than pleased, her muffled "OI!" making the Doctor flinch.
"Leave it." He orders, watching her nervously as though she's going to spit it out at him. She considers it, for a moment, but decides that if it makes him happy than he can double-check all he likes.
"So?" She asks, when the offending item has been removed and she can talk again.
He spins around so rapidly that it makes her dizzy. "Common cold. A bad case of it, but it's just a cold."
She's taken back by the immense relief in his voice. Was he really that worried about her being sick? Of course, it could've been smallpox, or some alien virus, but it's not and yet concern still shows in the crease of his forehead.
"Right," She begins, taking her time in pulling her legs up on the sub-par cot in the medical bay, "I think I'll just rest for a while, then." She lowers herself onto the cot, sighing in relief when the room stops spinning as fast.
"I can take you back to your room, if you want." The Doctor offers, eyebrows going up quizzically as she curls up on the uncomfortable cot.
"Lumpy mattress." Clara complains, eyes already drooping. For all her bravado, she's exhausted, dizzy, and disoriented. "TARDIS doesn't like me."
The Doctor sighs. He'd thought Clara was making up the TARDIS-doesn't-like-me story until she'd started playing tricks on Clara; moving her bedroom so it was impossible to find, making clothes magically disappear, and giving her the lumpiest mattress possible. He hoped that with a little persuasion the TARDIS would change her mind, but he doubted her could get that to happen in the next few minutes.
"You're not going to sleep there, it's far too uncomfortable." He decides, picking her up again and startling her awake.
She fusses at him when he starts walking, but by time he reaches his room she's in a state of dazed half-consciousness. He lowers her gingerly onto the bed, which is always wonderfully soft, thanks to the TARDIS. He mentally asks her if she can leave the room nice for Clara, since it is his room, after all. The TARDIS complies, albeit a bit reluctantly.
"Where are we?"Clara asks, taking in the strange decor of the room; it appears to be a storage closet for all the useless things anyone could ever want, and the walls are covered in circular writing that somehow doesn't translate for her.
He settles on the edge of the bed, pulling up a cover around her. "It's my room. I figured you could use it, as I don't sleep much…" He looks down to find that he's instinctively reached out for her, and now his hand is clasped by her two tiny hands. They're still hot, despite the fact that she's shivering.
"Thank you." She says, and it's the last word that comes out of her mouth for a while. She's asleep before he can say anything to her, so he just sits there and watches her until her grip relaxes.
He stays anyway, waiting patiently as she comes in and out of consciousness. Jumbled words escape her feverish lips, and somehow he can't help but think this is a terrible way to spend her birthday.
Every half an hour or so she'll start crying out in her sleep, talking nonsense about being lost somewhere. Each time he takes her hand and soothes her, telling her that he's right there. She never wakes, just quiets until she's sleeping peacefully again.
Nearly ten hours later, her fever breaks.
He sits up straighter when her eyelids flutter open, still drenched with sweat. "Did I get hit by a bus?"
"No." he laughs. "Bad fever, is all, but it's broken now."
"Rubbish way to spend the day." She mutters, sinking back into the pillow. At his look of surprise, she adds, "Yeah, I know that it's my birthday. You were a bit loud about that part."
He leans over, kissing her damp forehead. "Well, the day's not over yet."
He goes into his closet and rummages through the mess until he finds a pile of extra blankets. He bundles Clara up in the fluffiest one he can find and carries her out to the console room.
"What on Earth are you doing?" She asks, both confused and pleased by his odd behavior.
"Not Earth." He corrects. "We're on an entirely different planet."
"What, the planet of chicken noodle soup?" She mocks, although it does sound nice just about now.
He ignores her, pulling a picnic blanket from somewhere under the console. "Just give me a minute, got to find something…" there's an unintelligible grunt, and then he emerges with the blanket and two pillows. "Ready to be amazed?"
He makes a show of slipping out the door to set up the blanket and pillows, and then comes back for her since her legs are too shaky to get far. She obligingly covers her eyes until the very last minute, like he says.
The view that greets her is astonishing. Above them is a dome of glassy black water, but it's shallow enough that she can see the surface of the water about twenty feet up. The moon wavers as the water ripples, but it's not what's illuminating their faces with green and blue; it's the algae. Millions upon billions of little glowing specks are swirling with the currents like constellations, making the alien fish leave glowing trails in their wake. She feels like she's seeing a galaxy be reborn.
He sets her gently on the picnic blanket while she's still gaping, open-mouthed, at the spectacle before her. He watches her with an equal measure of awe, waiting until her huge eyes fix on him. "Happy birthday," He says for what seems like the hundredth time, except this time it's hushed and reverent. He knows that she's delicate, with a life that could be blown out easily as a flame, but he still feels something for her. It's been a long time, but he wants it. He wants her.
She grins, squealing and flinging herself into his lap, her clumsy embrace nearly knocking him over. He holds her close, savoring the feel of her against him, her chilly nose pressing into his neck and her hands tightly clenched in his jacket. He never wants to let go, so he doesn't.
The two lie at the bottom of the ocean until Clara falls asleep against his chest, her hand resting between his two hearts.