The solid metal/stone fusion of a door slammed behind Clara with a clang that made her teeth click and her eyes shut and a whoosh of air that sent her hair whipping round her face – and through that noise cut the unmistakable sound of the Doctor's relieved belly laugh/babbling and his jumping and flapping...
and then the laugh turned into keening and him breathing the sweet residue of the gobstopper she'd tried to shut him up with – hours ago – on her face. "Claraclaraclara are you all right? Thought I'd lost you, but you're alive, you are. Come on, come on, look at me! Punch me if you want, just... let me know you're all right. Open your eyes."
Her desire to pinch the muscly part just above his elbow died right then, of course. Instead, she counted to ten, while he stroked her arms and sniffed the top of her head and lifted her hair and prodded the back of her neck and turned her hand around and slapped his palm against hers. And then she looked at him and said, "Do you have some dirty secret dream about being king or what?"
The Doctor stumbled backwards, wringing his hands. He was shoeless, just like her, but they'd let him keep the rest of his outfit. "Oh, Clara. I just wanted to know what that throne felt like. It was so big and colourful... it massaged, Clara."
"You tricked me into talking to the Queen so you could sit on her throne!"
"You got along so well, I thought –"
"End result, we're in prison!" In a cell that was all stone and shadows, and no bigger than her loo. One tiny barred window offered glimpses of the sunny day outside. One narrow bunk, complete with a lumpy mattress...
"On the bright side, we're in the same cell. I negotiated," he said, proudly, while the top of his hair stuck to a damp patch in the ceiling. "Momentous occassion, really."
"What? Clara's first prison?"
"Yes! Did they let you keep your camera phone?"
"Not my phone, not my bag, keys, hairband, or tampons," she said, folding her arms. "Thanks again for landing us here. Much appreciated."
Yeah, no, this wasn't the best outing she'd had. It had started off so well with yet another planet and meeting a queen. Unfortunately, it had then quickly turned into walking single file with a sharp, laser-y thing poking her back... while she bumped her nose against the Doctor's ridiculous purple coat because he had to go first. And then (drumroll) she had been interrogated.
The Doctor threw himself onto the bunk, his limbs going every which way. He set his jaw and raised his chin and squinted at the window. "Let's escape, then."
"Got to keep the sonic, did you, master negotiator?"
"Er, no. And the door sealed behind you and I can't fit between the bars in the window. I was rather counting on you."
"To do what?"
"Angie's hamster couldn't fit through there."
"Oh. Let's wait, then."
"Night and, eventually, morning. That's usually how it goes."
"We're getting out tomorrow?"
"Yes, yes! What did you think they we're gonna do? Kill us? Meanwhile, this concrete slab is comfortable enough," he said, sitting up straighter. "Actually, that's not bad."
She avoided the puddle of water in the middle of the floor, smoothed her dress, and sat down. "So, lumpier than it looks, you mean. And it smells."
"It's just mildew. Not just on Earth, you know. That reminds me of a story..." He placed his hand, palm up, between them on the mattress.
Hours later, the Doctor had finally shut up about mildew and Clara was shivering; her fingers had formed some sort of claw around his, and her calves, pulled up to the chest, were all but cramping. The tights and the dress and the jacket that had been enough for five planets suddenly weren't enough.
Small yellow lights had come on along the floor and the ceiling and now everything really was made of darkness and shadows. She couldn't be sure, but she thought the Doctor was looking at her from the corner of an eye. "Are you just not bothered by cold? Is that it?" she asked, hoping he couldn't hear the strain in her voice. "So jealous."
Of course he understood anyway, because he wriggled out of his coat and swung it around in a great circle, somehow managing to not slap the walls or either of them in the face with it. It settled around her like a well-cut blanket. "All I had to do to get you to pop your clothes off was almost freeze to death? Must remember that."
Still later, when she was warm enough to move comfortably, Clara straddled the Doctor's knees wearing his coat like a cloak.
"What are you doing?" he asked, looking confusedly from the lights reflected in the puddle on the floor to her face. "Where are you going?"
She curled her fingers around the edges of his waistcoat, feeling the slightly different motions of his hearts against her fingers.
"This feels... like an good use of space."
"And if someone comes in right now we look like a giant two-headed purple tortoise, but we'll deal with that if it happens."
"Hey, a giant two-headed purple tortoise saved my life once."
"Who hasn't saved your life once?" she asked, clamping her hands firmly onto his shoulders.
"What are you doing?"
"Asking you if you feel like snogging?"
His expression crumbled into what was probably surprise. "But we're not in the TARDIS."
"I know." She shrugged, digging her fingers into the slippery material of his waistcoat. "It's a Mills and Boon thing?"
"It's either that or that long, boring talk about yourself that you never seem to get round to. Where do you see yourself in five –" She trailed off because he was staring at her. And leaning closer. And starting to go crosseyed. She would have laughed and patted him on the head if it weren't for the fire in the back of those eyes.
He reached up and touched her lips with two or three fingers; then he stiffened and the hand... sort of fell between them. He didn't look at all so confident anymore, not like when he'd dressed down the Queen's guards for daring to interrupt the party they... hadn't been invited to. Not like he'd been in the TARDIS.
So she slipped her hands to the back of his neck, said "Close your eyes", and pressed her lips to his. This time she got to do all the work, which was just as well, honestly. She molded her lips to his, and paused when he opened his mouth too quickly, and messed up his hair, and decided when it was time to go deeper –
only, something didn't feel right. He was even more enthusiastic than before, if possible, but it wasn't the same. Maybe is was a mismatch in rhythm, or the fact that every muscle in his body felt wholly stiff... maybe it was because the hands that had travelled down her back were clutching her jacket like both their lives depended on it.
She drew back, freed a hand to wipe her mouth. "Don't take this the wrong way, Doctor, but are you all right?"
"That wasn't very good, was it? I don't know why – Can I have another go?"
"Later? This was... kind of not the best place to breathe deeply through your nose in."
"I rather like this place," he said, the corners of his reddened mouth turning downwards.
"Just a matter of time before we're lost in a rainstorm or have to pretend to be married," she said, patting his chest.
"Ah, there's that. Clara... did you make up with your girlfriend?"
"Did I tell you I was planning to? Because I'm not."
"Why are you asking? Why are you asking now?"
"I was just making conversation. It's the prison." He smacked the nearest wall; it made a wet sort of sound. "Stupid prison, I thought it would be alright cos it didn't rain, but... actually I didn't think that through at all. The weather's not important." Sudden, deep grooves cut into the skin between his thin eyebrows, and he looked enormously old.
"Sorry, prison reminds you of..."
"My wife. And Rory and Amy, but mostly the wife. I'm sure I've mentioned her."
"Can't say you have, no." Clara pulled back until she felt the coat starting to slip from her shoulders. This was just the kind of thing people always said she should be angry about, but she was just... sad. Because he was sad.
"She's dead. And alive. But mostly dead now."
"Is that a time traveller thing? I-"
"You're not a stand-in, Clara." He looked at her, but without focus. Looking as if he already knew what she thought and how she felt. "She wouldn't mind. Do you mind?"
As soundlessly as when he'd wrapped her in his coat, he bent his legs; forced her to move. "We really should rest. It'll be morning soon." He sat up, pressed himself against the damp wall, and pretended to sleep. Or faint. Shut off, in any case.
She was barely even surprised he had an almost-dead wife, which probably meant she was getting too used to... him. It didn't seem like a lie; it didn't feel like a lie. And unless he was secretly Bluebeard, all she could do was try to get him to talk about it. She... didn't mind.
Clara woke up to bright sunshine and something hard poking the top of her head – stupid bowtie knot. She'd fallen asleep in the opposite corner, and yet somehow still ended up pressed to the Doctor. She ached and was cotton-mouthed, but at least she was warm.
She pressed the coat into his lap and pushed at his side until he woke up; dazzling grin first, bright eyes second. "It's morning," she said, standing on one foot and tugging at the tighs under the other with both hands. "Really hoping we can get out of here, right now."
"Let's see what you come up with," he said, jumping out of the bunk and straightening his bowtie at the same time.
"You do know that you say really scary things sometimes? I mean, you are aware that those words are leaving your mouth?"
"I was talking to myself."
"Oh, didn't think you were talking to me. Until now. Doesn't make it any better."
"I thought you were a morning person, Clara Os-win-wald? Eh?" He shrugged on his rumpled coat and shot his cuffs. He was back to his normal self. Back to her confident, thousand year old snog buddy.
"Why are you acting so happy? It's creepy."
"I like to look my best for these occasions, that's all."
"Well, the Queen still wants me to die, sort of. Okay, scratch that sort of. You as well, originally, but like I said, I negotiated. Better me than you. Never you, not again." He touched the tip of her nose. "You are now an unwitting accomplice. Which is good, because you have a plan to rescue me."
"Course you do." He skipped over the puddle and knocked on the door. It caused a terrifying, low noise. "We're ready to come out now!"
"Doctor, I really don't! You had all night to ask me if I had a plan! We had all night to make a plan and if you're telling me you lied about not being executed I am going to kick your kneecap!"
"You'll come up with one!" he cried, giving her the most cheerful thumbs up she'd ever seen. "Something clever, save me, you can do it!"