Um…so I'm really super sorry for not updating anything in forever. But my laptop is dead and being fixed, and has a couple chapters for my other stories trapped on it. So my muse kind of cried, curled up, and died as well. But now I feel at least a little inspiration and an even smaller bit of time to type! I'll try and make it up to you all by writing "The Name of the Doctor" themed oneshots in the near-future, but for now this chapter takes place shortly after "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS". Thanks for being so patient, and enjoy!

Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock

Chapter Three

She thinks she might be winning; it's been weeks and the TARDIS doesn't do anything out of the ordinary, which isn't necessarily great, but it's still something. And she thinks, too, that she might be making progress with him. The Doctor.

Sure, he's always liked her, but more in an I'm intrigued by you, Clara Oswald way rather than my friend, Clara. She doesn't know why. He's a thousand year-old alien with two hearts and a spaceship—what's even remotely interesting about her?

But when he asked if she felt safe she saw, more than ever before, the absolute concern in his eyes. So she decides she can safely tell herself he cares about her, for whatever reason. It's a comforting thought, one she can use as a talisman against the old cow, especially when she's wandering the maze of it by herself.

"I do feel quite comfortable here, if you were wondering," Clara says aloud to the ship, doing her best to ignore the fact that she's talking to thin air. "Even if you hate me."

The TARDIS doesn't bother to respond and she feels a little awkward standing in this empty, silent hall, so she tries the nearest door. It's locked.

"Of course," she grumbles under her breath, raising her voice to call, "Doctor?"

He's with her in moments, and she wonders for the umpteenth time just how he manages to dash about and slide on his heels to whatever destination. "Something the matter?" He questions, eyes darting about already to locate the problem.

"Yes. Your ship is now locking all it's doors on me," she accuses, hands planted on her hips.

He looks perplexed and shakes his head. "Nah, she wouldn't do that."

"Well she locked this one," she counters, nodding to the door in question.

It's very brief, but a look of recognition and just the slightest hint of guilt pass over his face. "Oh, well, ehm, I asked her to lock this one."

Clara feels her eyebrows raise of their own accord. "Oh? Why? What's behind there?"

"Nothing, just the library," the Time Lord dismisses a little too quickly. "It's big, easy to get lost in, thought it'd be best if you didn't—I don't even know why I have a library, I hate libraries!"

"Really?" She asks, feeling a bit lost with this sudden tirade. He's always been big on acquiring knowledge, and she can just picture him ensconced in an armchair reading by the fire. Then again, appearances can be deceiving, his monk attire when they first met being a prime example.

"Yes," he decides vehemently, spinning away from the door to march back up the corridor. "Anyway, we've landed."

"We have? I didn't even feel it shake."

"She's had a rough day; I used the boringers," he replies, not even casting a glance back at her over his shoulder, as if that explains everything.

"The what?" She watches as he freezes literally in mid-step, and she has a feeling whatever expression is on the Doctor's face isn't a good one.

"Sorry," he mutters after a moment, "stabilizers, the blue stabilizers. They make it…not-shakey." And just like that he takes up his brisk pace again down the corridor.

Her eyes widen and she hurries to catch up with him. "Are you telling me the only reason we're bounced around like rag dolls inside your ship is because flying normally would be too boring for you?"

"Yes," he answers simply before his eyes flicker down to her face warily. "Is that a problem?"

She shakes her head, laughing a little. "Not really. I'm just happy it wasn't me making it do that. Now I know it's your fault."

"Hey, no fault," he retorts, nudging her as they enter the console room. "My TARDIS, I can fly her how I like."

"How about how I like?" She inquires, and that brings him to a stop once again. He's on the bottom stair and turns back to look at her inquisitively. "You were going on about lessons earlier."

The Doctor blanches. "Oh, er, maybe not just yet, Clara. After all, flying a TARDIS requires a certain level of trust, respect."

"I guess that rules me out," she remarks with just a touch of bitterness, walking past him to the door. If this ship really doesn't hate humans as the Time Lord claims, why has it chosen to single her out?

"There's no need to be upset," he rushes to her side, desperate not to let her leave in this unhappy state. "It's also very complicated; few can ever learn to really fly one anymore."

"So just you, then?" Clara jokes, managing a smile. As usual, the ego-boost does not go missed by him, and the Doctor straightens his bowtie, standing at his full height.

"Well, I wouldn't say," is his meager attempt at modesty. "I mean, Professor Song could—" his eyes go almost comically wide, but his expression of near-horror stops any of her laughter from bubbling to the surface.

"Doctor?" She asks softly, growing more worried as he does not immediately respond, but then he blinks, locks eyes with her before glancing away just as quickly, and then gives a tiny shake of his head as if to clear it.

"Nothing, nothing, it's—nothing." She prepares to voice her doubt in that, but he points a warning finger at her. "Mind you, I never said that. If anyone asks—oh, I'll never hear the end of this one." He seems to have recovered slightly from whatever dark place his mind had gone, for it's more of a whine than a cry. So she feels safe pressing him just a little.

"Professor Song a friend of yours? It's funny, cause I think that's the first name you've mentioned that isn't a famous person from history or some space emperor or something."

He barks out a laugh, sounding grateful for the teasing tone she's taken. "Professor Song should be a famous person. Quite well known in several galaxies, actually."

"Several galaxies?" She echoes in some surprise, wondering just who this professor friend of his is.

"Yes, but enough about that Clara." The alien waves off her protests and she soon realizes that this bit of conversation is over—at least for now. "The TARDIS has been sitting around the corner from your house for some time, and I think your neighbors might be starting to notice."

"What?" She runs to the door and pokes her head out. Sure enough, a couple people are peeking from behind curtains at the strange blue box. "You couldn't have landed somewhere less open?" Clara's not sure if she's groaning at him or the ship.

"Well, Angie and Artie are waiting," he deflects with a nervous smile, gesturing to the door.

"Thanks," she replies with a wry smirk. "Wednesday?"

"Wednesday," he confirms, so she turns away and exits, making her way as calmly and quietly as possible to the house, aware of the neighbors' eyes on her. It's when she's just turned the corner that she hears him. "Clara!"

He's running right after her and draws up when he's reached her, seeming almost breathless despite the short distance.

"Well?" She prompts, uncertain as to what's caused him to chase her.

"You know that everything I do—all the locked doors, the conversations never finished, the secrets—it's to keep you safe. It's not because I don't trust you, or- or—"

"Doctor," she interrupts, "I get it. You don't have to tell me everything." He tries to speak again, so she just puts a finger to his lips. "And I feel safe."

When she pulls her hand away, he's smiling warmly. "Clara Oswald," is all he says, one hand coming to the back of her head as he leans down and just brushes her forehead with his lips. Such a strange gesture that might have received a slap from her in any other situation. But somehow, that's just ok, it's him, and she's not sure when the last time was that she felt this valued and cared for.

He's smiling at her again and she can't seem to get the little grin off her own face. So she takes a step back. "Ok. Wednesday."

"Wednesday."

Clara walks away then, because it's either that or jumping back in the box for more adventures with this wonderful friend. It's more than a little tempting.

But there's also her real life responsibilities, which come crashing back onto her in the form of Artie and Angie bursting out on to the front lawn.

"Artie says he saw you with your boyfriend," Angie informs her haughtily.

"I don't have a boyfriend," is he puzzled response.

"But he kissed you!" The boy argues, and she flushes with the realization that her charges must have seen her with the Doctor, and just how that could have looked to anyone that was not them.

"So he is your boyfriend," Angie decides with smirk.

Distantly, she hears the wheezing of the TARDIS leaving accompanied by a low, warning rumble.

It's all in good fun, isn't it?

"Well…" she hedges in just that way that will make Angie and Artie—and the cow—assume all sorts of things.

The retribution, whatever it is, will so be worth it.

Alright, so I hope that that was a good mix of amusing and even just a hint of sad for you all. I plan to have more updates, and not just for this story, up in the near future. The season finale has me itching to write again, it was so good! Let me know what your favorite part was, and what you thought of this chapter! Thanks for reading, and please review!