Titel: Softly, Quietly, Desperately
Disclaimer: Doctor Who does not belong to me.
Synopsis: Clara Oswald has always fallen in love too hard and too fast but she never minded. She had always liked love. But not when she falls in love with a guy that shows up on her doorstep dressed like a monk and whisks her away in his blue snog box. Because with him, falling in love is not hard and fast. It is quiet and soft and yes, it is desperate.
Author's note: I started writing this after seeing the trailer for "Rings of Akhaten", but before the episode had actually aired and only finished the second chapter now. Since I never upload before I have at least two chapters, I'm only posting this now and it only fits if you ignore big parts of what happened during ROA and everything that happens afterwards. Sorry for the mess but I'm too lazy (and too busy with school stuff) to rewrite it. Please tell me what you think, I would love to hear your opinion.
"This is actually what you do? Do you just crook your finger and people just jump into your snog box and fly away?" She looks at the ceiling and at him and smiles. It is a beautiful snog box and snogging in the snog box with the guy the snog box belongs to might be good and she really hopes her brain stops throwing thoughts like that at her because as the Doctor has just exclaimed this is not a snog box. "I'll be the judge of that." She replies and arches an eyebrow and smiles.
His reply is instantaneous and a question: "Starting when?" as he steps closer to her and crosses his arms and uncrosses them and just generally awkwardly hovers in front of her and no, she is not going to grab his shirt collar to bring his lips down on her own, she is not doing that, that would be so clichéd, no way, nope, not now, not ever.
She hesitates. Internally she is long since screaming "Yes I will come with you and I will never ever leave you again because this great, this is fantastic and I already love this way too much to walk away from any of this" but she still hesitates. There are things she needs to organize before she can leave with him, she isn't the kind to just walk away from everything she ever knew without preparation and good byes so she finally opens her mouth and says: "Come back tomorrow. Ask me again." And she is not playing hard to get, she really isn't, but it all still seems like a dream to her and she wants, no, needs to know that this is real, actually properly real, so she asks him to ask her again tomorrow. He frowns and looks disappointed and asks why and again her resolve almost falters because she really really wants to go with him but she still tells him that she might say yes tomorrow even though internally she has already said yes a thousand times.
When she gets back into her room, she does a quick once over and smiles to herself. The flowers are still on her bedside table even though they're already dead because they look so pretty and because he put them there. The book about the 101 places is the second thing she sees and she grabs it and runs her hand down the small spine. This is one of the few things she will take with her.
She spends her day the way she always spends it, with Angie and Artie – who she has to comfort after he has read chapter eleven of Summer Falls – in the garden and helping them with their homework before she prepares dinner, trying to not drop anything because she is nervous about the announcement she has to make.
They notice that she barely eats anything and George finally asks her what is going on. She fidgets a bit, drumming her fingers against her upper arm before she puts down her fork and smiles at them. "I... I'm sorry that I'm only anouncing this now, but... I've been given an unexpected opportunity to travel and I would like to take it. I know this is quite sudden and I understand if you feel... let down, but I've only heard about it yesterday..." Her voice falters when she notices that she is probably rambling a bit too much by now.
"When are you leaving?" asks George finally after what feels like a small eternity of silence.
She bites on her lower lip. "Tomorrow. Some time after seven." She swallows, another half formed apology on her lip waiting to be spoken, but when she catches Georges eyes, she swallows that, too.
"Good. I thought you'd never leave."
He sighs and looks at her. "Clara, you've been with us for a year now. And though we all enjoyed your company and are very grateful for your help, you have been talking about traveling ever since you were a little girl. It is time you finally do it."
She feels a tidal wave of happiness crashing down on her and tries very, very heard not to cry when she hears a tiny sob from beside her. It's Angie who's crying beside her and she stands up and walks over and pulls the girl into a tight hug.
"I'm so, so sorry, Angie. I'm sorry to leave you like this, but I promise I'll be back. And soon."
Angie, who has her head burried into the crook of her neck shakes it. "Don't... don't you dare come back early for us, Clara." She just nods.
They watch a movie together after dinner, curled up on the couch with Angie and Artie firmly nestled against her. They both seem saddened by the fact that she's leaving, but George looks at her with something akin to maybe possibly pride - or something – when she catches him and they exchange small smiles.
After the movie the kids go bed - she tucks them in for the last time and they all try very hard to not cry but fail spectacularly – and on her way back upstairs where she still has some packing left to do she meets George.
"Angie was right, you know. Don't come back too soon. Stay away for a year, better two, maybe three." She nods. "And Clara, we are very grateful for all you did for us. You will be missed. By everyone."
"It's been great, George. And I'm glad you're not... angry or anything."
They exchange smiles again and he opens his arms and invites her for a hug. "Come here, you."
When she feels like the hug lasts a little too long and is a little too tight to still be appropiate, she frees herself and apologizes because she still has to pack. And she really has to, even though it is a bit problematic because what does one pack when one goes on a journey through all of time and space?
She decides to pack clothes for all kinds of weather and personal stuff. She can't pack clothes for all times, through, because she doesn't own clothing that she could wear in the 16th or the 52nd century or whenever he takes her. She hopes he has that kind of stuff because she isn't sure what would happen if she ran around medival London in one of her modern day dresses. Her eyes fall on her 101 places book and she throws it into her bag, knowing full well that the Doctor won't take her to see them, but she can't remember not having this book. Then she picks up a little book with her favorite photographes and places that in her bag as well. After all she wants to remember the faces of her friends and her family where – and whenever she goes.
It was a present by her dad, made years ago and given to her directly after she had graduated, because everyone had thought that she would leave pretty soon and he wanted her to have something to remember home by. Holding it now, knowing that she will leave the next morning, she feels tears dwelling up in her eyes again, but rubs over them with her shirt sleeve and then grabs the telephone. Time to call her dad.
It is one minute after seven when she hears that odd, but somehow familiar sound again and rushes out into the garden. The snog box is back and so is the Doctor, leaning against the door frame and smiling at her widely.
"So, Clara Oswald, are you going to come away with me?"
"Well..." she answers, drawing out the e and grinning widely. "Yes. Let me just get my stuff."
"You have stuff."
"I have stuff. And I'll be back in a second so don't you go wandering off!" She exclaims and without waiting to hear his answer she whirls around, runs up the stairs, grabs her suitcase – a rather small one with a rose pattern on it – and runs back downstairs and out. He hasn't moved a bit. "Good boy."
"You packed that yesterday, didn't you?" He says and eyes her suitcase almost suspicously.
He shakes his head and holds the door open for her, walking in behind her and closing it. He seems ridiculously happy to have her around, beaming like Father Christmas and jumping like a little kid on a sugar rush around what seems to be the console where he starts pulling on levers and pushing buttons and just generally doing stuff that sets the snog box into motion. It shakes and vibrates and she clutches the rail of the stairs while her suitcase flew through the room and almost hit the Doctor's head.
"Oh God, I'm sorry! Are you alright?" she exclaims.
He turns around and grins. "I'm fine. Have survived worse. But it would be great if you could put it away, I'd rather not be killed by suitcase, thank you very much."
"You were the one to get the snogbox moving, chin boy!" But the ride is becoming quieter so she lets go off the rail and skips up the last few stairs until she's next to her suitcase. "Is it always like this bumpy? Can't you fly it properly?"
"Oi! I'll have you know I'm an excellent pilot, than you very much!" His reply is filled with mock outrage and there's twinkle in his eyes that makes her want to hug him. "If you're looking for your bedroom, just go down that corridor, take a turn left and open the first door on your right." She nods and picks up her suitcase. "And do hurry up, there is a planet waiting to be explored."
She does hurry to find her bedroom, but when she's there she slows down quite a bit, mostly because she's taken aback by the room so much. It is a beautiful one and quite similiar to her room back at home, except that everything is a bit bigger. She especially loves the bed, a king sized one with red sheets and she sinks onto them for a moment. It's extremely soft, like what she imagines sleeping on a cloud would feel like. But as she feels herself getting drowsy, she jumps up again, opens her suitcase, takes out a light black jacket and heads back to the control room.
"Took you long enough." He greets her. "Ready to see the universe?"
She grins. There are so many feelings bubbling up inside of her – excitement, joy, happiness, but also a bit of fear and nervousness – and she isn't sure if her voice will be okay or all croaky, so she just nods.
He makes his way towards the door, she trailing him, but when he's about to push it open, he falters and whirls around. "Wait a moment." He digs around in one of his jacket's pockets until he found something and exclaimed "Aha!" Then he hands it to her, closing her hand around it and then kissing it before pressing a kiss onto her forehead.
She feels the shape and material and knows he has just handed her a key before even looking at it. However, she still opens her fist and stares at the key, feeling an unidentifiable mixture of emotions rising up in her. It takes a physical form when she feels her eyes misting over. "What... what is this?"
"A TARDIS key." He explains, a hand still resting on her cheek. "Your TARDIS key, to be precise."
She swallows and blinks rapidly to clear her sight again. "I... I don't know why I'm crying."
He looks at her with something she can't identify, a mixture that seems to consist of joy and grief and worry and a deep and profound happiness before he kisses her forehead yet again and then clasps both her hands in his own. "Clara Oswald, remember this. Remember today. Remember this precise moment now because this is when everything changes."
She nods, still not trusting her voice.
He lets her go and she places the key in her pocket, one hand still clasped around it. "Alright then! Let us go then, you and I!" With those words, he throws open the doors and she follows him outside.
When she leans against the TARDIS console after a nice hot shower after her first proper outer space adventure with the foolish alien that picked her of all people, she still can't really believe it. But there are burning questions on her tongue, things she wants and needs to ask but doesn't quite know how to put into words. So she rubs the towel against her still damp hair and watches the Doctor jump around her, steering the TARDIS and absentmindedly humming to himself.
But the words that alien man said when he heard that the Doctor was a Time Lord wouldn't leave her mind so when the ride has stabilized, she clears her throat and watches him swifel around to face her. "Doctor... that man... what did he mean when he said he thought Time Lords were extinct? And why did you say they were except for you?"
He leans against the console next to hear and looks at her for a second before ruffling through his hair and staring at his hands. He sighs and when he finally starts talking, his voice is so low she almost has to lean in to hear him. "Because I am. Everyone else is... gone. Long since dead."
She doesn't know how to react. There are no words or gestures of comfort she can over, none of them feel appropriate. She feels the grief oozing through every single pore of his skin and she doesn't know how to deal with it, she doesn't know how to help him because she has never met someone like him before. And she feels immobilized.
Then, what feels like minutes or hours or a small eternity, she unfreezes and grabs his hand, squeezing it ever so slightly. There is another question burning in her mind and she asks it, she asks how, even though it will cause him even more grief.
He stares at the ceiling of the TARDIS and closes and opens his eyes before replying, but he doesn't let go of her hand, instead he grabs it tighter as he talks about a war called the Time War that was fought between his people and a race called the Daleks and that no one won. He almost breaks her fingers when he tells her that his home is gone now and that there was only on survivor.
His voice is so very quiet and broken that she reads the word from his lip rather than actually hears it. But she throws her arms around him nonetheless, hoping to comfort him at least a tiny bit even if this is a stupid, meaningless gesture.
"I'm all alone." He whispers into her hair.
"I'm so, so sorry." She whispers into his hair. "I'm so sorry for everything."
He lets her go and smiles at her. "No need to worry, Clara."
She detects the lie so very easily and leans her head against his shoulder. "Is that why you took me with you? So you don't have to be alone anymore?"
"Yeah. I should never be alone. I'm rubbish on my own."
It's later that same day when she sits in her room, on her own, about to go to sleep, that she allows herself to think about the things they haven't talked about. She thinks about the grand daughter he mentioned and about the fact that he said that everyone except him is that, meaning that he must have lost her as well. And what about his children and their mother? His parents? His siblings? He has lost everyone and she can't even begin to fathom what he must feel like.
And then there's the other thing they didn't talk about, the words that the strange man replied with when the Doctor said that he was the exception and that made him so angry that she was scared of him for a split second.
"I heard rumours about a man that survived... more like a devil than a man, a creature drenched in the blood of everyone he ever loved, of his entire race. I heard his survival was his punishment for he was the one that killed everyone and now you are standing in front of me... the last of the Time Lords. Seems like the rumours are true."
She didn't dare ask him if that was true or what had happened, but his pain was so obvious to her that she thinks it is possibly the truth.
And that scares her because what kind of man is she traveling with?
She has seen his kindness and his care not only today, but also when he was in London with her, but she also feels like there is something dark and almost sinister about him. She trusts him and she knows he would never hurt her, but at the same time, she is almost scared of him. There is something about him that sets her on edge but at the same time comforts her endlessly.
She falls back onto her pillow and curls up under her blankets, her mind wandering back to the feel of his hand in hers, his nails digging into her skin while he talks ever so quietly and she doesn't know why, but she feels herself crying.
It is the first time she cries herself to sleep in a long time.
Clara has always fallen in love just that little bit too hard and that little bit too fast. It happens during a few moments and she never knows why, but suddenly someone infiltrates her mind and her heart and sometimes she can't think of anyone or anything else for bloody days.
But this time, when Clara sleepily leaves her room and stumbles to the kitchen, still in her pijama and barefoot, her hair probably looking like a bird's nest, only to find him there, sitting at the table poking a fork at a self made souffle and he turns around and smiles and says "Hello, gorgeous" with a wink and a huge grin, she feels like the floor slips from under her feet for a few seconds.
When Clara falls in love, it always happens with a bang and rather hardly, but this time, when she is looking at the a thousand year old, foolish alien with two hearts that can't fly a plane but still did, it happens softly, quite like the feeling of slipping from reality into sleep.