Chapter 1: What's In a Name?

A/N I've been desperately trying to figure out the mystery of Clara and some of my musings turned themselves into a story of sorts. I've tried to incorporate as many of the clues and hints from this season as I can, while still making it remotely sensible. Enjoy.

"So that's just it, you're giving yourself to then?"

Clara knew the Doctor had heard her, but he made no reply, simply continued to punch buttons and fiddle with knobs.

"Doctor?"

"You heard what they said." He met her eyes as he said this and then quickly turned back to the console.

"So that's it then, you for the world?"

"Seems like a fair trade to me."

"There must be a another way." He shrugged. She hated it when he moped. "You're just giving up?"

"What else is there to do?"

"This is a time machine, isn't it? Couldn't we just go back a few billion years and prevent the Whisper Men from ever evolving in the first place?" He tried to give her a stern look, but she could see the ghost of smile at the side of his lips. "Or you could just give them what they want. Just tell them your name."

In an instant the smile was gone. "Can't do that."

"Why not? What's in a name?"

"Power. There's always power in names."

The pain in his face broke her heart and reminded her of everything he was about to face. "They will expect an answer."

"Well they're not getting one."

"They'll kill you for it if they have to."

"Not to worry," the Doctor said, turning back to the console, "I'll think of something."

"I'm coming with you."

At this his head shot up, "No. You're staying here."

"Ah, no I'm not."

"Wait, that's not what you say. You listen. You're one of the few that do."

"Not this time. Not if it means you have to face this alone."

He ran his hand through his hair in frustration and then looked up at her, at the determined, dogged look on her face. "I need you here. Someone has to make sure that they don't get the TARDIS."

"Because it's the most powerful ship in the universe and you don't want it falling into the wrong hands?"

"Yes," he said with a slight glimmer in his eye, "and because it's made of wood." She smiled at the memory, but her smile fell as his face grew serious. "And because it knows my name."

"Then send it away without us. Doctor, I'm not leaving you to face this on your own."

"You have to. I can't let you die. Not for me. Not again." He looked away, momentarily lost of the past, and when he came back to himself a moment later, he realized she'd taken his hand. "You know," he said, looking into those big, brown eyes of hers, "A millennium of traveling, you know what I regret? Never solving the mystery of Clara Oswald."

"Well we've got a time machine, we could solve that and a hundred other mysteries and still meet the Whisper Men in time for tea," but as she watched him return to the task at hand she knew she would have to try something else, "What were they like? The other me's?" The Doctor had mentioned the other incarnations of Clara to her before, but had been less than forth coming with the details, especially since this most recent threat of global destruction.

"Well Oswin, she was-"

"Oswin?"

"The you from the future, the one I ran into in the Dalek's asylum. Oswin Oswald, junior entertainment manager, starship Alaska."

"Oswin's the user name I made up to hack into the Shard. What was the Victorian one's name?"

"Clara Oswin Oswald. It was um... written on her tombstone..."

"Doesn't that seem strange to you?"

"Strange? Of course it's strange. Meeting you all over time and space. It should be impossible."

"Well yeah, but the same name and everything? Or mostly the same name in any case. What else was different? Or were we the same people... the same person?"

Taking the bait the Doctor turned his attention to his young companion, "Well Oswin was a computer genius-"

"I'm a computer genius."

"Yeah but you weren't always. You're probably the only twenty first century person who could 'lose' the internet."

"But I found it again, with a little help. What about Victorian me? Any noticeable differences?" A far away look passed over the Doctor's face. "Doctor?"

"Yeah?"

"You're blushing."

"I... I mean... shut up," he said, as he involuntarily fixed his bow tie. "She... well they both... trusted me. Wholly and completely. Right from the start."

"I trust you."

"But you didn't. Not completely. Not at first."

"I trust you now."

He smiled at her. The saddest smile she had ever seen. In the same moment the TARDIS hit solid ground with a thud. "Then trust me now. Take the TARDIS away from here. Get both of you somewhere safe." His old eyes pleaded with her to comply. How could she refuse what might be his last request?

"What do I have to do?"

"It's all worked out. Just wait until I'm out the door, then press this button."

"Big friendly button."

"Yes, exactly."

"Doctor-" but before she could launch into another objection he pulled her into a hug. He held her to him as close as he dared. She pressed her face into his chest. He turned to go, but she pulled him back, and standing on her toe, pressed her lips against his. Even though her other incarnation had already done this, the Doctor was not at all prepared for the kiss. He stood there a moment shell shocked, his hands and arms flailing, not sure where they were allowed to go. But his time with Clara was short. He had lost enough people by this point to finally understand what that expression meant. So he gave in. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her back. When at last they came up for air they stayed close for a moment, eyes closed, heads resting together. "Doctor."

"Yes."

"I'll stay on the TARDIS."

"Thank you," he said as he kissed her forehead.

"But just so you know, I'm coming back to save you."

He was smiling again. A real, genuine smile. "Wonderful, impossible Clara Oswald. The only mystery worth solving. You'd find a way, too." He took both her hands in his, kissed them, and then placed her hands on the large flashing button. "The moment I'm gone. You can't let anyone through that door. Promise me that."

She nodded. The Doctor straightened his bow tie and left without another word. As the wooden door closed behind him, she shut her eyes, and pressed down.

Next time: The TARDIS, RYCBAR, and an old friend. Don't miss it.