So, my lovelies. This is the third and last chapter of "Softly, Quietly, Desperately". A huge thank you to DragonRose4, ImTiredRightNow, MrsWhovian, SammehMai, SarBrook, SunnySmile1324, TGalloway, Whouffle, WiseGirl-AC, coconut0111, emflawlesswatson, esthealice17, galapagos tortoise, gingerbluez, swimwiththestars, teruel-a-witch, thecenterofthetardis and zoeinthetardis for following this story. An equally huge thank you to DWF, EdernaW, Midnight in the Morning, emflawlesswatson, maelmorth, , Rose van Alen, SammehMai, sc0ut-finch, SunnySmile1324, swiftryanc, thecenterofthetardis, Whouffle, WinchesterSmile, Winnipup28 and WiseGirl-AC for putting the story on their favorites list. And a third, just as big thank you goes to SunnySmile1324, Midnight in the Morning, WinchesterSmile and zoeinthetardis for writing reviews. Thank you all so much! I'm really glad that you all liked the story.

And now, without further ado, the last chapter.
Love, ClaireFolie.

Desperately

She desperately cries out for him as they drag him away from her and feels the tears run down her cheeks as she struggles against their arms, not looking away from his eyes that are transfixed on her. He doesn't struggle against them as they drag him down the out of the room, not like she does, but his eyes are kind of wide with fear and she screams for him another time. Then the door closes in front of her.

~

"Can we go to the future? I mean, to the future on Earth." She leans against the kitchen table and they've just had breakfast, he's putting away the now clean stuff they used and they've just discussed what they should do today. He doesn't answer at first so she keeps talking. "You know, I have been to other planets and to the past, but I'd love to see the future. Not my future, of course, that would probably create a paradox, just the future."

"Of course we can." He says and then turns around, giving her her favorite smile of his. "Any year in particular?"

She shakes her head and he offers her hand that she takes without hesitation. They walk to the control room hand in hand, her shoulder brushing against his arm, finger intertwined, just like they did yesterday and the day before and the day before that.

~

"Wow." She whispers, crooning her head as she stares upwards. "So... this is the future then? The future of the Earth?"

The TARDIS has materialised on a sort of street, except it's only for pedestrians and far above the ground, between various sky scrapers but still not up far enough to really see the sky. The road is made of glass, as are most of the buildings, but it seems like you can't really see what is on the other side of the glass.

"Yes."

"Where are we?"

"Cardiff." He answers and when he sees her frown, he starts to explain something about a rift and refueling the TARDIS but he is talking too fast for her to really keep up so she just nods along. "It'll take a while, so how about we go and see what kind of food this century has to offer?"

She agrees and they walk down the street, arms linked together until they find a skyscraper that seems to have a restaurant on a roof terrace. They just exchange a grin and head in and up, talking about everything and nothing while they find a table and order and wait and eat.

She watches the people around them and notices that there are aliens as well as humans and quite a lot of lizard – like ones. Almost as many of those as humans.

The Doctor notices her glances and smiles. "They are called Silurians. They've lived here long before you evolved, but stayed hidden for centuries. Apparently you finally managed to find a way of living alongside each other." He explains and there's almost something like pride in his features. "And not just Silurians. You've managed to establish good relationships with so many species."

She smiles at him. "It's kind of weird, you know? All those aliens everywhere and no one is bothered. At all. I can't imagine a scene like this in... you know, my time."

~

She's wandering the TARDIS at night, sleep being the last thing that seems will come near her after their recent adventure. They had been to a jungle planet with wild, carnivorous beasts and a barely developed civilaziton of humanoid aliens and had stayed in one of their villages for a while until it had been attacked by the beast. She had never before seen anything like them. They reminded her faintly of lions, but had been almost twice as big as her with sharp claws, a sort of spiky tail and a deadly venom in their teeth. With the Doctors help they had managed to chase the beasts away, but not without loosing a few of the villagers to them, one of those being a young girl that had beared a striking resemblance to Angie that died in her arms.

When they had gotten back to the TARDIS after the funerals, she had made a beeline for her room and cried, not wanting anyone, especially not the Doctor, to see her and now she couldn't sleep, scared of the nightmares that she was sure would haunt her if she closed her eyes. She had had quite a few of them by now, but the very idea of the nightmare she might have today made her sick beyond imagionation and so she rather spend the night walking around the Doctors – their? – ship, cradling a mug of steaming hot tea.

She turns a corner and find herself in a long hallway she has never been in before. It is empty except for a wodden door at the very end of it and she turns around and is about to walk away when she hears it. A guttural, heart wrenching scream that has her running down the corridor within seconds. She flings the door open and finds herself in a luxurious bedroom with clothes strewn all over the place and an enourmous four poster bed slap bang in the middle of the room.

And tangled in the red covers of the bed is the Doctor, screaming and tossing in his sleep.

She's beside him within seconds, gripping his shoulders and shaking him, saying his name over and over again, but she doubts that he can hear her over his own screams. Her voice grows louder, her shaking more forceful with her growing worry. "DOCTOR!" she finally yells, her voice breaking on the last syllable and suddenly his eyes fly open and he blinks at her, disorientatad and sleepy. Without thinking about the fact that he is probably shirtless and possibly scared, she pulls him up into a hug, burying his head against the crook of his neck and her hands in his hair. It takes him a moment, but he hugs her back tightly, too tightly actually and she can hardly breathe and then she realizes that he is shaking – crying – and doesn't protest.

She just holds him instead until he has calmed down.

It feels longer, but it doesn't take more than a few minutes until he lets her go – if she's honest, she wouldn't have minded if he hadn't – and looks at her questioningly. She suddenly feels embarrassed and awkward, sitting next to a shirtless and kind of disoriented Doctor, so she just stares at her hands and waits for either one of them to speak. Neither of them does, he just stares at her, she just stares at her hands and it's all so very uncomfortable that she just gets up, brushes her hand through her hair and mumbles something.

She's only three steps away from the bed when he speaks.

"Clara. Please stay tonight."

She does.

~

It becomes a common occurence after that. Whenever he goes to sleep – which isn't every night, he is a Time Lord after all – he wordlessly holds out his hand and she takes it without second thought.

His bed is big, too big for one person and big enough for them to sleep in it without ever touching, but that's not what they do. Instead they always sleep huddled together as if they were trying to fit into a small cot intended for one small person.

But nothing ever happens during those nights, no flirting, no kissing, no making out. They only sleep together, in the most innocent way, because it keeps his nightmares at bay. Oh, she doubts that they're gone, but they seem less terrible and that is at least something. And he even wears a shirt and even though they are cheeky and flirtatious and ambiguous as always, when he takes her hand to lead her to his bedroom, they become somber and serious.

During breakfast after the second night, he once asks her how she found his bedroom and she tells him that she turned a corner and it was just there, behind a wooden door at the end of a corridor. When she asks why this is so special, he stares at her for a long moment before he answers: "No one else has ever been in my room before. The TARDIS normally keeps it hidden from people who aren't me."

"So you normally sleep alone? With your nightmares?"

He stares straight ahead when he answers and she is pretty sure that he is not seeing the TARDIS interior right now. "There was a girl, once. After an incident in Utah she started to have nightmares... horrible ones. I started sleeping in her room."

She nods and takes a bite of her toast. The fact that she is the first one to have found his room makes her feel strangely special and a bit happy.

A blonde girl throws herself in front of him and gets shot. She dies in his arms. His face afterwards is the most terrifying thing she has ever seen and by now, she has seen quite a few things.

They walk away from her funeral – they don't bury their death on this planet, though, they burn them and she isn't a hundred percent sure, but she thinks she saw a lone tear on his face reflecting the glow of the dying fire – and just on and on and on until they reach the shore. He stares at the water and she carefully slips her hands into his.

"She was far too young." He whispers, not looking at her. "They always are."

"I'm so sorry."

He turns his head towards hear. "Don't ever do that."

"You know I can't promise you that." She replies somberly.

He turns around to her fully and grabs her shoulders, squeezing them tightly and while he speaks, his hands wander upwards, one cupping her face softly and the other tangling itself in her hair. "It's unnecessary. Do you hear me? You sacrificing yourself for me is the most unnecessary thing in all of this universe because I'm a Time Lord. I have a way of cheating death. So don't you dare... don't you ever dare try something stupid like this."

She doesn't nod but rather keeps her eyes fixed on his. They're green, so green, but they seem to be a burning flame more than anything and they're so, so old. Something tells her that if it ever comes down to it, it won't be her sacrificing herself for his safety – it will be him protecting her.

He takes her to 1879 and they're about to exit the TARDIS doors when she suddenly stops dead in her tracks. "I can't go out like this." She suddenly states. The Doctor whirls around in surprise, making a small "Uh?" sound and gives her a brief once over before raising an eyebrow. "Well, I don't quite look as if I'm from around here, do I?"

He claps shortly and smiles at her brightly. "Oh, we can change that!" He exclaims and, putting a hand on the small of her back, leads her away from the console room and down some corridors before he stops in front of a dark, wooden door she has never seen before. "Welcome to my wardrobe!"

With that, he pushes the doors open and she is in the biggest and fullest wardrobe she has ever seen in all of her lifetime. There are racks and racks of clothing and it takes her a moment to get used to this. Then she laughes, just a bit, a tiny little laugh about the incredibleness of it all. Even though she has been traveling with him for quite some time now, he never does fail to surprise her, even if it's only by taking her to his wardrobe, filled with probably every bit of clothing in the whole of the universe. "Aren't only girls supposed to have this much clothing?" She teases.

"Oi! Shut up, you!" He exclaims and points a finger at her. This only makes her smile and naturally, he smiles back. "So. Go pick a dress you think will fit with this time. I'll wait." She smiles and rushes by him, already fascinated by the idea of getting to wear one of those dresses, but he calls after her and she turns. "Don't take too long! I really don't like waiting."

"So where are we?" She says, smiling ever so slightly as she leans against the TARDIS console.

"I'm not sure." He answers and grins at her, a bit like a madman.

"And when are we?"

"Not sure about that one, either."

She grins and walks up to his side, holding out her hand to him. "Let's go, then."

He takes it with a big smile and as they walk to the door, she feels a slight sense of something being not quite right creeping up at the back of her mind, but banishes as he pulls open the door and they walk out, facing a metal wall and pipes and stuff. He turns and looks to both their right and their left before deciding to walk into one of the directions, dragging her with him.

It doesn't take too long – she can still see the TARDIS if she turns her head – until they pass through a doorway and cause an alarm to go of. Within less then a minute, they're surrounded by people in some sort of leather armory aiming guns at them. They surrender and go quietly, holding hands on the way to wherever they're taking them. His grip on her is so tight she almost fears her fingers will break, but she does nothing against it.

'Wherever they're taking them' turns out to be an office a few stories up in what seems to be a huge spaceship where a blonde woman awaits them. She wears a black, sharp tailored suit and a hard expression on her face that only hardens more when they're marched into their office. "Where did you find them?" She questions. One of the soldiers gives the name of something, probably the corridor they were found in, consisting of letters and numbers and then says that they were on the way to even more letters and numbers. If possible, the woman's expression hardens even more as she gives them a critical once over. Then, after a few seconds, she turns away. "Take the girl to the interrogation room. Don't be too harsh on her, the medics are all in the field, but don't be too gentle either. Get all the information we need. And don't harm her face, it's quite pretty."

It takes a little – a few seconds only, probably – until what she just said properly registered in Clara's mind and she feels panic constric her throat and tears threaten to fall. But the soldiers never get to do the dragging away they've been ordered to do because he has stepped in and started talking and once the fear stops making her ears ring, she can actually hear him say that they won't take her and that they should take him instead because she knows nothing of value, she's nobody, just a girl with no understanding of the things going on around them and if she wasn't so scared, she'd be insulted. And then she understands what he's saying.

"NO! Doctor, no, don't, please, no, no, no, no!" She screams, frantic, but he turns to face her and cups her face in this familiar, comforting way he always does, a deep and profound sadness in his eyes. She doesn't notice the tears until he wipes them away and then the first sob breaks out of her. "Please, Doctor, don't."

He wipes more tears from her face. "Oh, Clara. Don't you worry. Just keep yourself safe, alright? I'll get us out of her sooner than you can imagine." She can almost taste the lie in his words, especially in the last eleven.

He presses his lips to her forehead and then steps away, guards grabbing his arms from behind. But she isn't done yet, she is not ready to let him go to this 'interrogation' in her place, she is not ready for this and doubts she will ever be, not ready at all to see him go without knowing when she'll see him again, if ever, so she frees her arm from the guard's grip, grabs his bow tie and yanks him down to her.

Their lips meet. His are chapped and dry and there's the salty taste of tears mixed in, but oh, it feels so good, even though it is all desperation and fear and only a tiny hint of the love she feels, but that doesn't change how good his lips feel on hers and that she would very much to stay like this forever, thank you very much.

It doesn't last long enough before the guards drag them away from each other, his eyes wide and fixed on her and she isn't sure, but there might be tears on his face, too. She would like to call his name again, but her throat is so tight she can barely breathe, let alone speak. He blinks at her once and it feels like a promise.

She desperately cries out for him as they drag him away from her and feels the tears run down her cheeks as she struggles against their arms, not looking away from his eyes that are transfixed on her. He doesn't struggle against them as they drag him down the out of the room, not like she does, but his eyes are kind of wide with fear and she screams for him another time. Then the door closes in front of her.

She would like to dramatically turn around to face the blonde woman, but being held by the guards she can only turn her head. "We will get out of here." She says, trying to sound more sure than she feels. "We'll save each other like we always do. And then I'll blast this damned space ship out of the sky."

The woman just laughs at that and waves with her hand, gesturing them to take her away. They do, but not into the direction they seemed to have taken the Doctor.

~

She isn't quite sure how long she has been sitting in this damp little cell on this stupid ship, but estimates that it is maybe about an hour or two. Her cell is apparently quite close to the interrogation room because she can hear screams – his screams, but she pretends that they aren't his, that is clearly someone else – or maybe they have some sick way of making her hear them. She does neither know nor care, all she cares for is a way out.

With a sigh, she stops pacing and slumps down on the floor. There must be a way, she is just too stupid to find it, but there must be one, think, she tells herself, just think and you'll find it.

Fiddling with the key chain around her neck, it suddenly hits her. The TARDIS. If she finds her, she can just go and get the Doctor out of this stupid interrogation room and then off this stupid ship.

Well, she has a plan. Kind of. Now she only needs to get out of the cell and to the TARDIS.

Suddenly the key burns against her hand and she hears a familiar noise before the walls around her start to change from damp, dark, disgusting cell walls into the familiar walls of the TARDIS console room. She lets out an overjoyed cry and hugs whatever part of the ship she can get her hands on first, almost sobbing with relief. "Oh thank you! I'll never insult you again!" She swears and then runs to the console, faltering suddenly. She has absolutely no idea how to fly the ship.

That isn't necessary, she notices, because the time rotor starts moving of it's own accord and the TARDIS dematerializes before materializing again somewhere else, the Doctor materializing right behind the doors.

She lets out a cry of joy and runs to him before noticing his situation properly. He seems to be barely conscious and tied to a chair and bloody, he barely reacts at all to her sudden presence except mumbling words that sound like "Infirmary" and "Healing Coma". She nods, starts loosening the ties and once he's done, he pushes himself to his feet. She slips an arm around him instinctively, one of his arms around her shoulder and he lets himself fall into her supporting hold. It almost knocks her breath out of her lungs, but she knows he's hanging on only by a thread so she pretends to be strong and half carries, half drags him across the room, into the first corridor and through the first door on her right that has a sign saying "Infirmary" on it.

She has never been this grateful for the TARDIS' sentient nature before.

Having put him onto the first bed she could reach, she struggles to figure out what to do next. Her knowledge of anatomy and medicine was pretty much non – existant when it came to humans, but him being an alien has her at a complete loss.

Thankfully, he is conscious enough to grab her hand and drag her ear down to his mouth. The words are barely there, nothing but a faint whisper but she understands what she has to do and starts searching the equipement for what she needs. Having found it all, she places the needle where he has told her too, but hesitates.

"You sure?" She allows herself to ask, just one tiny moment of doubt because she needs to hear that he is sure of what she is about to do when she really isn't.

He nods, she rams the needle into his vein, pushes the plunger down and places the mask over his mouth. His eyes are already fluttering close but she leans down and presses her lips to his forehead. Once his eyes are closed and his ragged breathing evens out, she whispers the three words that have been on her lips for quite a while now.

~

When he wakes up, things are inevitably changed. She is by his side then, as she was the last two days since the incident. He opens his eyes blearily and squeezes her hand slightly which results in her promptly bursting into tears. It makes him smile a bit even though she feels immensely silly to cry because he is safe and awake again.

They talk about it a bit, just enough to make sense of it all. He has invited her into the hospital bed, she has curled up beside him like a cat and he's making little circular patterns on her back with his thumb while he talks. Apparently they landed on one of Earth's war ships during their first interstellar war and the many years it had been raging on had made humans suspicious of everything and everyone. Thus their reaction when two strangers showed up on their main ship, just two doors away from the weapon's chamber and with clear intent to enter exactly this room.

She's horrified by this, by the fact that the worst thing that happened to her had been something humans had done and horrified by what this war has done to her people. He tries to comfort her, but it's hard. She keeps crying and apologizing even though he keeps telling her that none of it is her fault. He misses the point completely, she wants to apologize not only for her part in it – for the fact that he had been tortured so that she wouldn't be – but also mostly for what her species has done to him.

Later on they also figure out what saved them. It was the TARDIS, this much she had understood already, but the how only becomes clear with help of the Doctor. The sentient ship had picked up her thoughts and her desperation over what was happening to the Doctor and had flown itself to her, then to him and finally to safety, saving them both. Why it had brought them there in the first place was still a mystery, though.

But those are not the things that have changed, those are just the things that are explained. Changed have other things.

They always sleep in his room now or rather, she sleeps most nights while he holds her. After he has found her crying and screaming the first night that she has not set in the Infirmary by his side, he insists on it. She is grateful because it comforts her to hear his breathing and feel his warmth when she falls asleep and wakes up again.

They hold hands almost constantly as well and even if he isn't holding her hand, a part of him is always touching a part of her, his hand on her back, her arm looped around his, their legs and shoulders brushing against each other. Personal space has always been a thing that they ignored, but their constant contact has a different meaning now. It assures them that the other one is still there, still safe at their side.

They kiss now, small and innocent, but they kiss now. Nothing more has happened and she isn't sure if she wants it to – no, that's stupid, she's sure that she wants there to be more, she wants to know his body in every way, him in every way – just yet, but the kissing is nice.

She says the three words one more time, when she's right on the blink of sleep and absolutely sure that she won't hear his answer. It's just a mumbled whisper into his shirt before her eyes close and she never knows how he reacts, but she finds that she doesn't need to because the things they do, the things he does, speak loud and clear to her.

And because Clara Oswald has always fallen in love too hard and too fast but never minded until now. The intensity of her feelings sometimes scares her, as do the intensity of his and the things he is ready to sacrifice for her. She knows that rescuing civilizations and bringing down demagogues and saving worlds is what he does, but she worries that maybe he won't save a world to save her instead. She hopes he won't and at the same time hopes he will because it would proove once and for all how much she means to him. She isn't sure how she'd handle that proof. She knows how he feels about her anyway. And she knows how she feels about him – her soft, quiet, desperate, devoted and intense love – and if what he shows of his feelings scare her, what she feels does as well.

But this love is everything, every possible facet of emotion she could imagine and she would never trade it for anything.