A/N: And here we are, gentle reader, at the end of our tale (or is it the beginning? ;) )
Thank you so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, faved and followed this fic. I've had a ball writing it and reading all of your comments, so thank you very much for that. :D
This last little bit is a tidy up of sorts, nothing to write home about especially but it does tie the fic up nicely (IMO anyway LOL). One of my reviewers suggested Totter's Lane as the place the Doctor wanted to take Clara. That would have been an awesome idea... wish I'd thought of it. . Unfortunately I didn't, so this is a lot lamer. LOL Sorry about that.
Anyways, thank you all once again for the support of this fic. I don't know who the next Doctor is going to be (like everyone else), so it's hard to know what the future holds for writing more DW fics as we go forward. They've been very clever with their last 3 choices, is it asking too much they manage a 4th top choice? Let's hope not.
So, for the last time in this story, hope you all enjoy...
Clara lifted a hand and rapped smartly on the familiar, yet not, door.
It was opened fairly quickly by a blonde haired woman around Clara's age, who eyed her curiously. "Yeah?"
"Hello," said Clara brightly, "are you Hattie?"
Hattie frowned a little. "Yeah. Who's askin'?"
"I'm Clara." She reached into the bag which was slung over her shoulder and drew out a silver hairbrush. "And I believe this belongs to you."
Hattie took the offered hairbrush and looked at Clara in confusion. "How did you-?" She stopped abruptly and looked past Clara. "Oh, you're with 'im!"
Clara twisted around to see the Doctor's head sticking out from the other side of the TARDIS, which was parked across the road. He abruptly pulled his head back in but it was too late. The man really was rubbish at going about unnoticed. Clara turned back to Hattie and smiled. "Yes, I am."
"So, there really is a Clara." Hattie still sounded sceptical, despite the fact Clara was standing right there.
Clara nodded. "There really is."
"He said he'd come to take you away on an adventure," noted Hattie.
Clara smiled. "That's the plan."
Hattie's nose wrinkled. "But, he's a complete nutter, anyone can see that."
Clara looked around again to see the Doctor was now feigning great interest in a lamp post as he kept shooting furtive glances their way, trying to work out what they were talking about. "He's a one of a kind, I'll give you that," said Clara indulgently.
"I wouldn't cross the road with that guy," announced Hattie firmly. "Why would you want to do anythin' with 'im? He's not right in the head."
"Being right in the head is kind of overrated," observed Clara. "I'd rather take my chances with crazy any day."
Hattie shook her head at her. "Then you two are a perfect match."
Clara half-smiled, having known perfection and found it wanting. "No, neither one of us is perfect, that's what makes it so much fun."
"I still think you're mad thinkin' about goin' anywhere with him. You'd be safer sat at home, watchin' the telly."
Clara supposed there was a truth to that but she knew that kind of life would never be enough for her, not now. "Maybe, but to me, this world is like a book and if I stay home, in the same place, I'll only ever read get to read one page of that book." Clara looked back over her shoulder at the Doctor who was now trying to decide how to sit casually on a bus bench. His long legs were being crossed one way and then the other as he fidgeted around, trying to look like he was uncaring of the conversation going on across the street. It wasn't exactly working. Clara knew the Doctor was still worried about her after all she'd been through but she knew what she wanted now and nothing was going to stop her from turning the next page of that book. She looked back at Hattie and smiled knowingly. "Besides, I want to know how the story ends."
"If I had to guess, it'd be badly," said Hattie dryly.
Clara shrugged. "Only one way to find out."
"I guess." Hattie looked down at the hairbrush in her hand. "Well, thanks for this and good luck."
"You're going to need it."
Clara gave a little laugh. "Probably." Hattie closed the door and Clara headed off back across the street.
The Doctor leapt to his feet when he saw her coming. He rubbed his hands together nervously. "How did it all go?"
"Fine," said Clara easily. "Hattie said thanks for returning her hairbrush."
"Is that all she said? You were talking for a long time."
"It was only a couple of minutes."
"It seemed longer."
Clara tilted her head and regarded the Doctor steadily. "She was trying to talk me out of going travelling with you."
"Oh," said the Doctor and then looked worried. "Did she?"
The Doctor looked relieved. "Good."
Clara headed towards the TARDIS. "Alright then, let's get this show on the road."
The Doctor followed Clara into the TARDIS and scampered to the console. "So, where to first then? Seeing as this is your first official trip as an official resident of the TARDIS, you get to choose."
Clara pursed her lips, thinking. There were a million possibilities, billions in fact. That was a lot of choice. The sound of a telephone ringing interrupted her musing.
The Doctor held up one finger. "Just one moment, I'd better take this, it's my private line." He reached for the old-fashioned receiver and held it to his ear. "Ah, Vastra, how lovely to hear... what... he did what... when... ah yes, I see... no, no, I understand your predicament." The Doctor's head bobbed up and down. "We'll be there presently, not to worry." He hung and smiled apologetically at Clara. "Sorry, change of plans. We have to make a quick stop."
"Is there a problem?" asked Clara in concern.
"So it would seem." The Doctor arched an eyebrow at her. "Interested in saving two damsels in distress?"
Clara grinned. "Always."
The Doctor threw a few switches and pulled on a lever. "Excellent! Then away we go!"
Clara hung onto the side rail as the TARDIS gave a lurch into life. She didn't know what lay around the corner for them but that was half the fun. Adventures weren't meant to be planned and plotted out, they were just meant to happen. Clara smiled as she watched the Doctor dance around the console, adjusting this and that with childish enthusiasm. She was leaving her old life behind and leaping into a new, unknown one with a strange, alien, madman in a blue box. The smile on her lip widened, finding herself ridiculously happy about that thought. "Doctor?"
The Doctor looked up from the console, an expectant expression on his face. "Yes?"
"Thank you," she said softly. "Thank you for taking me with you."
A big grin split the Doctor's face. "You're very welcome, Clara Oswald. You and me, we're going to have a ball, you just wait and see."
She laughed, not doubting the Doctor for a minute as they landed in Victorian London, all ready for their next adventure together.
And Clara couldn't wait...
"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A/N: And yes, that was a shameless cross-promotion of my other fic 'Strax's Big Day Out' – a series of Clara/11/Strax mini-adventures – of which I've just completed the first adventure and am now going to continue on with some more fun. It'll be light, fluffy and hopefully a lot of fun. I decided to make WC kind of a prequel to those adventures. My fingers are crossed I'll see you there. ;)