The Time of the Doctor and Professor
"Once there was a planet, much like any other...and unimportant. This planet sent the universe a message. A bell tolling among the stars, ringing out to all the dark corners of creation. And EVERYBODY came to see. Although no one understood the message, everyone who heard it found themselves afraid. Except for two."
A flash of light went off in the middle of a dark and dusty ship, well not quite dusty, but still rather dark. A figure appeared within the light, wearing a dark cloak that had a hood covering most of the face, save for a small area where the mouth was visible smirking. The figure held up a Dalek eyestalk, "Here is proof!" they called, their voice clearly that of a woman, "Of courage and conviction, of cunning and carnage," she threw back her hood to reveal the Professor, "What is this ship and why are you here? I request that you identify yourselves by species and planet of origin as designated by the universal ratification of the Shadow Proclamation!"
She tensed a moment later, hearing a faint whirring of a weapon powering up…and grinned, "Excellent," she smirked, her hand twitching by her leg.
She turned, seeing Daleks rolling out of the shadows, "Exterminate!" they cried, "Exterminate!"
She laughed, ducking down to her knees as they fired at her, grabbing her blaster off the holster on her leg, but before she could even fire…she disappeared in a flash of light.
"I was in the middle of a battle!" she grumbled as she found herself kneeling in the TARDIS console room once more.
"You can't keep doing this," the Doctor remarked, rushing around the console to try and pilot them away from the Dalek ship, "You can't keep just teleporting into random ships!" he rounded on her, rather very cross, "Every ship you set foot on they just shoot at you!"
"That would be why I have my lovely blaster ready," she held it up, wiggling it before him as she stood, "I don't understand why you're getting so worked up…"
"Kata," he walked over to her, taking her hands, "You're pregnant," he reminded her, "You CAN'T do things like that."
He didn't DARE ask her if she cared about their child growing inside her…he'd made that mistake in a fit of anger, when she'd done something similar once a short while ago and ended up in the middle of Sontaran crossfire (which he'd only later found out was something she instigated so she could get away). She had punched him in the nose for it and hadn't spoken to him for a week.
It had been hell.
Complete and utter hell.
But he hadn't been able to help it! He hadn't even known she'd teleported down there till the alarms were going off and the TARDIS was reacting and trying to rescue one of her Pilots and everything had just escalated from then. He regretted it, the moment he'd asked her that, of COURSE she cared about their baby. They had been trying for centuries to have one and now they were…she wouldn't ever risk the baby, not ever. He knew her, he saw how she was with children, she was just as bad when it came to them crying as he was. She loved them dearly and she loved their baby, even if it was only a tiny little thing at the moment. She loved it more than anything, because they'd wanted it so badly, they'd tried so hard, and it was just…the fruits of a very long labor of pure, unadulterated love. This was a baby they wanted and hoped for and had finally been given.
So he didn't understand why she kept popping up in the worst circumstances, in the middle of their enemy ships! Well, that was a lie, he DID know. She had made the argument…not that he could really remember said argument. He scratched his head, there had been quite a lot of kissing, she'd been very close…he was sure one of his bow ties had gone missing in the endeavor…but she'd managed to get him to agree to whatever it was they'd been arguing about. Oh! Yes, right, he remembered now, she had argued that SHE was the one most capable and able to handle the situation if it turned hostile. She was the better of the two of them at sneaking about and gathering information from the shadows and sabotaging when needed etc. He was rather loud and obvious and would probably stick out like a sore thumb if he tried.
She was supposed to be setting down in places that were safe, explore the ships and the occupants, and get out before anyone saw her. But for some reason their teleport control kept sending her right to the middle of the ships, right to where the occupants were gathered. Well, that was what they got for using a Cyberman's head as a control, even without its organic component it seemed it had a sort of designated 'kill Time Lords' patch to it.
So it really wasn't her fault she kept ending up in those situations, but he hated it every time it happened. Because she was always so calm about it, so ready to get into that battle and defend herself and her baby that it worried him. He knew that he'd been a bit…cautious lately, trying to keep the deadliness of the adventures to a minimum…but surely they couldn't be THAT boring that she'd rather teleport into the middle of a Dalek ship than go on another mystery tour…
Ok, it definitely WAS that bad, HE would have rather gone to a Dalek ship than their last mystery tour…to the largest ball of twine in the Universe…it was a planet actually, a planet of twine. And they'd been on a shuttle that flew around it in an orbit. 36 hours of looking at twine and HE was ready to find a Cyberman and beg for an upgrade.
"And besides," she continued, squeezing his hands, "It's not my fault...is it Handles?" she looked at the Cyberman head they had put on a bit of a pike and set into the console to act as extra data source, "I said 'Put me on a ship.' I never said for him to 'Put me on a Dalek ship' did I?"
He sighed and took the eyestalk from her, "Don't put my Bonded on a Dalek ship when she's got a broken bit of Dalek in her hand Handles!" he whacked the robot head with it, "Ow!"
The Professor laughed and reached out, taking his hand and kissing it, "Better?"
He smiled at her, tugging her closer by that hand, his anger forgotten at the gesture, winding his arm half-around her so his hand came to rest on her stomach, "You are going to make the most amazing mother!" he told her, love shining in his eyes as he gazed at her.
"Well that's only fair," she remarked, "I have to compete against the Universe's best father," she winked at him, making him laugh.
"You did not indicate a preference," Handles spoke up, his responses a bit slow from the whack, and the fact that his data banks were being downloaded into the TARDIS datacore as well. They were not overly fond of having a Cyberman around, even the head, and wanted to be rid of it as quickly as they could. So they thought downloading the data from it to a separate file on the TARDIS would help speed that process up. Unfortunately they'd both underestimated how much data a Cyber could collect over time.
"Oh use your head!" the Doctor shot a glare at it, "It's not like you've got a lot of alternatives."
The Professor reached out and put a hand on his cheek, turning his head to face her, "Calm down Doctor," she gave him a peck and tugged him over to the console, to the monitor where they were, well, monitoring the ships that had gathered just outside. They were all there, so many of their enemies, THEM as well, all hovering over a planet that had a protective shell around it that the TARDIS was having difficulty breaking through. All of them had gathered, all of them not even fighting amongst each other, because of a simple message that had been broadcast out from that very planet, "Why are they all here?" she frowned, looking at the numerous ships, identifying them as they drifted past the monitor, "Daleks, Sontarans, Terileptils, Slitheen…"
"It's a good thing the TARDIS is on invisible or we'd be blasted out of the sky," the Doctor remarked.
"I doubt it," she shook her head, "They're parked, they're not fighting. Even if they saw US, I don't think they'd attack."
She nodded, "They'd want us to translate the message first, hope they could kill us after, then take the credit for the translation," she looked up at him, nudging him, "Talk fast, hope for something good, and take the credit, sound familiar?"
He pointed at her like he was going to say something before just leaning in and kissing her, "YOU'RE my something good," he told her in a whisper.
"I better be," she grinned, giving him another peck.
"The message was received throughout the universe," Handles spoke again, still rather slow.
"Yes, yes the message, the message," the Doctor sighed, "Even WE can't translate it," he flicked a button on the monitor, 3 beats playing, 3 notes, "Which is really saying something…"
"It's not that I can't translate it," the Professor countered, "It's more…there are so many different languages that operate in notes, it would take me twice as long to translate than it would just tracing the origins…and I am getting so old!" she shouted the last part, making him laugh, "Handles," she turned to the head, typing in a sort of command on the console, "Analyze the message and tell us the planet of origin, tell us what that planet it…"
The shell around it was rather powerful, it was interfering with the TARDIS's own scans and they didn't want to risk pushing the old girl too much to scan. The interference, if pushed too much, might end up frying her scanners and then where would they be? But this was a Cyberman, a robot shell, all organic parts missing, so if it fried…well, it would be no big loss and the Doctor was quite sure the Professor would LOVE a go at getting another head. Pregnancy had done wonders for her eagerness. She was naturally quite eager, as eager and excited as he was…but ever since the pregnancy had sunk in…she'd been a bit more driven, if that was the right word. It was almost, he'd say, like she was trying to compensate, do as much as she could now because they both knew she'd be the size of a planet in only about a year. Time Lord pregnancies could be as normal as a human's in 9 months, or extend just a bit further but none ever lasted more than a year. And he knew that she'd have to take more care later, she knew it as well. She knew she'd be large and slow and unable to get into some situations and she was trying to live as much as she could now to get that out of her system for later.
"But why is everyone here if they don't understand it?" the Doctor had to ask.
"You are here," Handles countered as the Professor moved to say the same.
"Well, you know, I'm OCD and she's trigger happy," the Doctor countered, ignoring her laugh and playful 'Oi!' at the implication she was only there in case a fight broke out, "What's their excuse? What does this message mean?" they glanced over when the phone rang, not the console phone, no, the one that should have been broken behind the instruction panel that, oddly enough had started working when the Doctor broke the main phone, "Oh no."
"I've got it dear," the Professor patted his shoulder, heading for the doors, "Though that reminded me, we need to patch the telephone back through the console unit. This is getting a bit ridiculous."
"Attention!" Handles called, making them both pause, the Professor in heading to the doors, the Doctor in moving around the console, "Information available."
"Ok…" the Professor looked at him expectantly.
"You must patch the telephone device back through the console unit."
"No, no," the Doctor moved around before it, "No, no, no, no. No not now! Remind us later."
"I don't know just…later, just pick a time."
"I don't know, just any old time. When you think we've forgotten…"
"Et hem?" the Professor called and he glanced back at her to see her crossing her arms amused.
"Oh, alright, when you think I'VE forgotten," he corrected.
"When?" Handles inquired.
"Handles just pick a random number and express it as a quantity of minutes," the Professor called, heading for the phones, "When that time has elapsed, then you remind us to patch the telephone back through the console unit, ok?"
"Oi, how come he listens to YOU?" the Doctor turned to lean on the console beside Handles, looking at her as she reached the door.
"I don't know," she shrugged, opening the door and reaching out to the instruction panel, "Why do YOU listen to me?"
"Because you scare me when you're cross," he said promptly, "I mean because I love you!" he corrected, starting to stutter when she glanced at him, "Because I love you very, very much and I hate seeing you upset or cross, yes…" he nodded, "And because I value your opinion, treasure your knowledge, and appreciate your advice," she smiled at him as she leaned out the doors for the phone, "And because you're scary as all hell when you get angry," he murmured under his breath.
"Heard that!" she called, still leaning out the doors.
"And you are so lovely when you are!" he added.
"Affirmative," Handles agreed.
The Doctor started to smile, nodding, before he blinked realizing what the robot had said, "Oi!" he reached out and turned Handles' head the other way, "Eyes off my Bonded."
The Professor laughed as she straightened herself back into the TARDIS, "Hello," she answered the phone, "You've reached the TARDIS."
"Emergency!" Clara shouted, her voice so loud the Professor had to pull it away from her ears, so loud the Doctor could hear it across the room, "I'm getting a promotion!"
"Ok," the Doctor grinned, "That's brilliant. Congratulations Clara!"
"No, no, I'm not…I'm not really getting one."
"Bit confused," he looked at the Professor to see she was equally as lost.
"But I need a promotion really quickly."
"Well, hard work and perseverance tends to help," the Professor remarked, "How does one get a promotion in a school though? Are you going to be headmaster now?"
"I dunno!" she shouted, a frantic note to her voice, "Look, Christmas dinner...me cooking."
"So?" the Doctor shook his head, not having a clue at all what that had to do with anything, promotions and Christmas cooking? Was she cooking as a promotion for something.
"Clara, take a breath, and elaborate please," the Professor laughed.
Clara did just that, taking a deep breath, before beginning, "So my aunt is coming to dinner and I may have...accidentally told her I was getting a promotion."
"Yeah I did that once," the Doctor winked at the Professor, "Ended up as president," well, there was quite a bit more to it than that, but that was the only promotion he could think of at the moment.
"The only promotion I ever got was during the war," the Professor shrugged, speaking of it as though she were just talking about the weather, which made the Doctor smile at bit to see her healing.
Meeting the man he'd been during the war had seemed to help her truly find closure about it. Seeing that she wasn't the only one to change and become something she didn't want to be, to see the man he was now, to realize the woman she was. They had seen her, every bit that she'd done during the war, the soldier she'd been, and SHE had seen it too, to see her go from that, to the timid girl she'd been around Rose, to the woman she was now…it was like she was finally able to let go and move on. Not only had they seen her, but she had seen HIM as well. She'd gotten the chance to speak to the man he'd been, she'd been able to find out, from the man himself, what he'd done and why he'd chosen to fight. She knew that he had fought because he'd found out SHE was, but to hear it from the man himself…had been something else. To find out he'd taken the potion, he'd CHOSEN to be a Warrior when he'd learned she'd been forced to be a soldier…it meant so much to her. Even then, he had loved her.
'I always have,' she heard him speak in her mind, 'I always will.'
'Likewise," she smiled at him.
"No, not going to be president," Clara spoke, pulling them out of their thoughts, "I just…I said I'd gotten a promotion and my aunt Linda didn't believe me…so I might have said that the headmistress and deputy headmaster were coming over before Christmas dinner to give me some papers to sign."
The Doctor frowned, "Oi, hold on, headmistress and DEPUTY headmaster?"
"Well yeah," Clara argued, "The PROFESSOR is an actual teacher!"
"A Doctor can be too you know," he pouted at the phone, looking away only when he saw the Professor move to the monitor, seeing a flashing light, "What is it?"
"New ship," she remarked, smiling.
"Don't you dare…"
"WE," she cut in with a smile, "Can take the TARDIS this time if it makes you feel better."
He beamed, "Oh yes," and made his way over, only to feel the tug of the phone line and realized he'd missed what Clara had said.
"Oh, come on, like anyone would believe YOU are a teacher Doctor," the girl was laughing.
"I'll have you know I DID teach a physics class once," he countered.
"And how did that go?"
"The school was overrun by giant bats pretending to be teachers," he winced, glancing at the Professor, knowing that was likely the most traumatic experience since the war.
"And then he blew up the school," she added with a laugh, winking at him.
"See!" Clara called, "Look, I just need you two to stop by for Christmas dinner. You don't even have to stay, just do that for me Gramps, please? Just come to Christmas dinner and pretend you're my bosses. Shouldn't be too hard eh?"
"Sorry," the Doctor looked back at the phone, having become distracted again as the Professor worked at the console, piloting them down into the next ship and pulling Handles off the console, "Missed that last bit. Got to dash!" he hung up the phone and grinned, taking her hand as they stepped out into the hall outside the TARDIS, him taking Handles from her, not seeing her grab her blaster in the process, "Ok!" he called as they entered a room at the end of the corridor, "Don't be alarmed, we come in..."
He stopped, seeing Cybermen were standing before him, waking up…and realizing they were standing there with a 'broken bit of Cyberman…' though it was really one's head…in hand.
"Alert!" the Cybers began to stomp towards them, "Alert!"
"...peace!" he swallowed, "No!" he grabbed the Professor's arm and pulled her down as they fired at them.
"Intruders detected!" the cry went out, "The intruders will be upgraded."
The Professor fired a sting of shots, taking out the Cybers behind them before pulling the Doctor towards the TARDIS once more, the two of them ducking and avoiding the firings from the other halls that connected to theirs as backup arrived. They had just managed to dash into the TARDIS, shutting the doors behind them to lean on when a thought struck him.
"You recognized the ship!" he turned to the Professor, pointing at her accusingly, she HAD to have! She recognized every single ship out there, she would definitely know the Cybership!
"Yes," she nodded, a small smile on her face.
"And you decided we should bring a Cyberman's head with us into a Cybership?!"
She laughed, "Much more fun when we run," she shrugged, "As our daughter would say, 'love the running yeah?'"
He stared at her a moment before conceding defeat, "Yeah, love the running."
"See?" she nudged his hip with her own…only for the phone to ring once more.
"Hold on," he held up a finger, moving her back so that HE was the one to get the phone this time, quickly grabbing it to avoid the firing the Cybers were still doing, and ducked back in.
"I need you!" Clara cried on the other end, "I'm cooking Christmas dinner and I need my grandparents' help!"
"We're being shot at by Cybermen!" he countered.
"Well can't we do both?"
The Professor laughed and took the phone, "You can count on it," she hung up, pulling a lever and sending them off…
The Doctor and Professor were standing at the console only a short while later, when the doors opened and Clara rushed in, "Oh thank god," the girl breathed, running up the ramp towards them, "I so need your hel…" she stopped short, staring at them a moment, before spinning around, "Oh god…"
"Clara!" the Doctor greeted with a shout.
Clara glanced over her shoulder, seeing him standing with his arms up and heading right for her to hug her, "No!" she shouted, pointing back at him, her other hand over her eyes, "Stop, stop. Don't move, don't do anything!"
"Why?" he frowned, looking at the Professor, confused as to what might be wrong, "What is it? What's wrong?"
"You're naked," Clara told him, "The both of you."
The Doctor looked over at the Professor standing on the other side of the console, and grinned widely, "Yes we are," he gave her an appreciative look.
"Like what you see?" she smirked at him, winking, making him blush, "Enjoy it while it lasts."
"You mean enjoy it for the rest of my lives?" he smiled, moving to her, "Enjoy it for the rest of eternity?" he reached out and took her hands, lifting one to touch her cheek, "Enjoy watching you get bigger and knowing it's because of MY child?" he shook his head, "Exactly when would it ever end?"
She smiled, "Stop it."
"Never," he winked at her.
"Ok, that sounds remarkably sweet," Clara called, "And I would really love to enjoy watching it…but you're both NAKED! Why!?"
"Because we're going to church," the Professor laughed, before reaching out to pull a lever, "Is that better?"
Clara hesitated before looking over her shoulder again, dropping her hand when she saw them in their typical clothes, the Doctor in his purple outfit, while the Professor had her fitted jean jacket and white skirt, "Oh that was quick."
"Hologram clothes projected directly onto the visual cortex," the Professor explained.
Clara blinked, "Still naked underneath?"
"Everybody's naked underneath," the Doctor moved beside the Professor, winding an arm around her shoulders.
"Eugh," Clara grimaced, "Don't say things like that, it's Christmas. Come and meet my family," she smiled taking their hands and pulling them out of the TARDIS.
The Doctor paused though when they saw the complex of flats before them, the Powell Estates.
Clara beamed as she entered her flat once more, to see her father, aunt, and grandmother just how she'd left them, sitting around her small table, waiting for the turkey, "Hello!" she called, pulling the Time Lords after her, "So er, here they are," she gestured at them, "The Headmistress and deputy headmaster."
"Hello the Oswalds!" the Doctor cheered, moving to shake Linda's hand as the three humans gaped at him before averting their eyes, "Hello! Merry Christmas!" he shook Mr. Oswald's hand as well, "Hello, hello!" and kissed her grandmother's cheek, "Hello handsome."
"Hi," the Professor shook their hands as well, "I apologize for him," she nodded at the Doctor.
He just grinned, the room falling into an awkward silence made even more awkward when he asked, "Anyone for Twister?"
"So...um," Clara began, "These are my bosses, Professor and Doctor Smith, just…come round to hand off some paperwork for my promotion," she glanced at the Doctor and Professor, "Isn't that right?"
"Yes," the Doctor nodded.
"So…where is it?" Clara gave them a look, "That…little bit of paper," she emphasized, "That I have to sign?"
"Yes…sorry, it's in my other coat," the Doctor grinned.
Clara winced, realizing that if they were in holographic clothes then the Doctor wouldn't have the psychic paper on him, "Oh, well then…" she cleared her throat and looked at her family, "Isn't anyone going to say hello?"
Her Gran smiled at the Doctor flirtatiously, "Hello."
"Excuse us a moment," the Doctor turned Clara around, "Listen," he whispered to her, "I've got an idea to break the ice. Why don't I project my clothes hologram onto their visual cortexes too?"
Clara blinked, "So, to be clear, no one except me can see your clothes?"
"Well, I can't see his clothes either," the Professor smirked, "Which I am LOVING by the way…"
"Not more than me," he winked back at her.
"But they can only not see the Doctor," the Professor added.
"What?" the Doctor frowned, "I thought we were both…"
She laughed, "Tell me, dear, would you like Clara's father to see ME naked?"
He blinked, "Right, good job," he nodded, "Brilliant, wish I'd thought of that."
The Professor laughed, it was more that she knew, from how Clara described her aunt, that the woman would look away, and her Gran, well, she was a sweet old lady and if she could hadn't Minnie the Menace, Clara's grandmother wasn't anything to worry about. And she liked seeing how flustered he was bout it now. It was adorable.
"I'm starting to think it may be causing tension," the Doctor glanced at Clara.
"Are we playing Twister now?" Clara's grandmother called, making the Doctor wince more.
'Only if it's me and you,' the Professor joked, making him blush, 'Though I'd prefer a more private game without others involved…' and get redder, 'Preferably in a bedroom…' and redder, 'And with both our hologram clothes canceled out…'
'Kata!' he mock-scolded in her mind.
"She's teasing you telepathically again, isn't she?" Clara guessed, seeing him getting redder and redder for no reason, before sighing, "Get in the kitchen!" she shoved him off, him pulling the Professor with him as he went, "Eh, sorry," she apologized to her family, trying to follow them, "Sorry...he's Swedish…" before she half-ran into the kitchen to see them examining the turkey through the door of the oven, "Doctor please! Professor…"
"Oh that's never going to work, is it?" the Doctor remarked, looking at the turkey intently.
"Not at that temperature and for that size turkey," the Professor agreed.
"What?" Clara stared, "It's not done yet?! I put it in hours ago!"
"I think a decent vet would give it an even chance," the Doctor laughed.
"Ok. Well use an app."
"On your screwdriver. App it."
"Most certainly not!"
"It doesn't do turkey, Clara," the Professor explained, "Almost nothing does turkey actually."
"Yes, you'd need a time machine," he stated, turning to look back at the bird, only to feel the stares of the two girls on him and turned to them once more, "What?"
"You can't keep using the TARDIS like this!" the Doctor grumbled as he opened the doors to the TARDIS for Clara, letting her in as she carried the turkey.
"Like what?" Clara scoffed, she didn't use it for much, honest!
"Missed birthdays, restaurant bookings, and please," he paused on the steps to underneath the console, "Just learn how to use iPlayer."
"You just ignore him Clara," the Professor patted her on the shoulder before heading to the console to check on Handles' progress, "You use the TARDIS for anything you need."
"See, why can't you be more like her?" Clara looked at the Doctor as she passed him, heading down the stairs.
"The more she uses the TARDIS, the longer she'll stick around," the Professor called down to him, explaining her logic in that.
"Fine, fine," he sighed, leading her down to the panels around the base of a pole that ran from the floor to the console.
"Ooh Vortex cooking?" Clara laughed as he opened a panel and crouched down, taking the turkey from her to place it within the small compartment.
"Yep," he closed the panel and brushed his hands off, "Exposure to the time winds. It'll either come up a treat or just possibly lay some eggs."
"Mmm," they could hear the Professor hum as they headed back up to the console, "I could do with some eggs."
The Doctor laughed, "Oh, are the cravings setting in?" he moved to her, wrapping his arms around her as Clara cautiously approached the metal head on the console.
"No, I just want eggs, no odd foods, no real craving for it actually," she shrugged, "They just sound good."
"Well, once we get the turkey sorted, I'll cook you up some eggs, how about eggs and toast?"
"Eggs are fine," she said, shaking her head, "The last time you tried to make toast, you nearly set the kitchen on fire."
"That…was not my fault."
"How was it not your fault?" she scoffed, "You put the bread in, you pushed it down, and you set the temperature, and…"
"And YOU walked in," he tapped her nose, "With your hair all mussed, in the jammies that make my hearts stop, and looking all cute as you were yawning…how was I supposed to resist that?"
"I had bed head, morning breath, sleep in my eyes and, if I recall correctly, we'd just gotten back from the beach and I had sunburn…how was that at all appealing?"
He shrugged, "It was you," he told her simply.
She smiled at that.
"Sorry to interrupt again," Clara called, "But since you're still naked…what IS that?" she pointed at the Cyberman, "I mean, I get it's a Cyberman…but why have you got its head attached to the console?"
"Information available," Handles spoke suddenly, making Clara jump back, "I have developed a fault."
"The organics are all gone but there's still a full set of data banks," the Professor nodded, moving over to check what information it was.
"Found it at the Maldovar market," the Doctor grinned, "Along with a new set of bow ties," he tugged at his…and it lit up, small blinking lights on the end of it, but rather bright ones.
"Ok, turn that off?" Clara asked, squinting and holding up a hand to keep the glare from her eyes.
The Doctor pouted, but did as he was asked, just as the Professor called over, "He's identified the planet from the analysis of the message."
"Right, cool," he nodded as the Professor joined them back by Handles, "Go on then. Ok tell us what is the planet? Go on."
"Processing official designation," Handles reported, "Processing…"
They waited a moment, but Handles was silent, "Ok, in your own time dear," the Doctor rolled his eyes, taking the Professor's hand in his own and playing with it to distract himself, "Don't rush."
"So why haven't you just gone down there and had a look?" Clara shook her head, crossing her arms as she leaned on the console.
"It's shielded," the Professor sighed, "We've been trying to break through, but it's even more tricky than the Trickster's shields, not even the TARDIS can break through it."
"Gallifrey," Handles stated.
The Time Lords froze and looked at him with wide eyes, "What did you say?" the Doctor breathed.
"What are you talking about? Gallifrey? What do you mean?"
The Professor reached out and put a hand on his arm to calm him down.
"Confirmed," Handles stated, "Planet designation…Gallifrey."
"No," the Professor shook her head, picking Handles up and taking him to the monitor where they had an image of the planet up, "Do you see that planet?" she asked it, "Gallifrey is our home, and we know it when we see it. THAT…" she shook her head, "It's not Gallifrey."
"Are you ok?" Clara moved to the Professor's side as the Doctor headed for the doors, looking down at the planet himself.
"It's not Gallifrey," he confirmed, sighing as he walked back in, over to the console, "Gallifrey's gone."
"Unless..." Clara began, hesitant to say it incase she hurt them, "Unless you saved it. You thought you might have. And with the Professor helping with the plan…you must have done."
"Even if it survived," the Professor shook her head, "It had to be displaced, put somewhere else, it's not in this universe anymore."
"And that…" the Doctor joined the Professor at the monitor, "Is not our home. It can't be."
They looked up suddenly when a horn blasted.
"Is there another Titanic joining us?" the Professor joked, though she glanced at the monitor just to be safe…and it was NOT the Titanic that was approaching them.
The Time Lords headed for the doors, opening both and peering outside, Clara moving to stand between them as the largest ship yet appeared and drifted up to them, black with small white windows and lights blinking around it…
"The Papal Mainframe," the Professor assessed.
"It's like a great big flying church," the Doctor added.
"Must have been the first ship to arrive," the Professor guessed, "So they were the ones who shielded the planet."
The Doctor grinned, "Which means they can get us down there."
Clara blinked as a hologram, or what she was REALLY hoping was just a hologram, appeared, before the ship, a pale woman with dark hair, a black line across her eyes, smirking at them, "A friend of yours?"
"Tasha Lem," the Professor nodded, "The Mother Superious."
"Ooh look," the Doctor laughed as she beckoned at them with a finger, "She's inviting us aboard."
"Why?" Clara frowned, she'd found herself rather wary of new people around the Doctor and Professor lately, you never new when one was an enemy or friend…sometimes they were both.
"Because we asked her," the Doctor said, "To bad we can't go."
"Why can't we?" Clara glanced at them.
"Did you SEE how she invited us?" the Doctor scoffed, closing the doors, "I don't just jump at the crook of a finger unless…"
"Unless it's me?" the Professor smirked, "Well then," she grinned, crooking her finger as she backed away towards the console.
The Doctor shook his head and headed after her, managing to catch her just as she turned to put in a command to set the teleports, "You, my dear, are the worst tease in the Universe, with your come-hither gestures and your lack of decent apparel."
She smiled, turning her head to kiss his cheek, "And you, my love, offer me far too great a challenge to see just how far you'll go, what you'll do for me that you won't for others."
"Everything," he answered promptly in her ear, "I would do everything, every single thing, that I refused to do for others, for YOU."
"Still very sweet," Clara cut in, knowing that they'd end up flirting if no one stopped them, "But you're still VERY naked!" she reminded them, not wanting to imagine their current position without clothes.
The Professor laughed, "Here, take this," she handed Clara a pill from off the console.
Clara swallowed it, grimacing a bit at the taste, "What is it?"
"Your hologram projector," the Professor smirked.
"You can't go to church with your clothes on!" the Doctor laughed at how Clara's eyes widened in apprehension.
Clara shifted uncomfortably as she walked behind the two Time Lords down an aisle with men and women and aliens on either side of it forming a row, wishing she had as confident a stride as the Doctor and Professor had, "I don't feel like I'm wearing anything," she muttered.
"I know," the Professor smiled at her, "It's quite relaxing once you get used to it."
"I'm…honestly not quite sure about that just at the moment," the Doctor remarked, his hand holding the Professor's tightening, his gaze fixed before him and NOT on her, "I find it rather difficult to look away from you dear, and if I look at you…"
Clara laughed, seeing him blushing, knowing that his entire body was probably bright red at the moment.
"Ooh," the Professor smirked deviously, the Doctor swallowing hard as he caught sight of the look out of the corner of his eyes, "Well, then we shall have to see this situation taken care of quite quickly so I can help…relax you."
"Ok," Clara cut in, seeing the Doctor sputtering, working out exactly how the Professor intended to do that and needing to cut that conversation off rather quickly, "What is this place? The Purple Mindgame you said?"
"The Church of the Papal Mainframe," the Doctor corrected, "Security hub of the known universe."
"A security church?"
"Yep," he grinned, "Keeping you safe in this world and the next," before nudging the Professor forward.
"What?" she asked him quietly.
"YOU were the one in Intergalactic Relations," he reminded her, "Go greet the neighbors."
She rolled her eyes, "You just want a better view of my bum," she told him, seeing the blush on his cheeks again, "Almost there," she winked, referring to her favorite shade of red that he blushed so handsomely. But still, she turned to the woman, Tasha, standing at the end of the row with two men on either side of her, "I venerate the exaltation of the Mother Superious," the Professor stated regally, respectfully, bowing deeply before the woman, none of that curtseying nonsense.
And so Clara slapped the Doctor's arm when she caught his gaze wandering to the Professor before she stepped up and rejoined them at her side again..
"Welcome to the Church of the Papal Mainframe," one of Tasha's guards greeted, "Your nudity is appreciated."
"Hey babes," Tasha winked at the Time Lords.
"Loving the frock!" the Doctor laughed.
"I'm loving the new desktop," the Professor glanced around, "Have you changed it?"
Tasha nodded, "Yes, the medieval church was getting a bit old," she shrugged, "But what of you?" she looked at them, "Are those new bodies? Give us a twirl!"
The Doctor just moved to the Professor's side and draped an arm around her shoulders, "Tash these old things? Please, we've been rocking them for centuries."
"I also hear congratulations are in order," Tasha smiled at the Professor, "Professor, Doctor, should you ever wish to reconsider the traditions of others, the Church of the Papal Mainframe would like to offer itself as host for the Christening or any other religious observance you may need."
"Thank you," the Professor nodded, though tensing a bit at how the woman knew of her pregnancy, they hadn't exactly broadcast it out there, they hadn't even gotten a chance to tell Martha or Jack about it.
"And speaking of family," the Doctor tugged Clara forward, draping an arm around her shoulders, "Clara this is Tasha Lem, the Head of the Church of the Papal Mainframe. Tash this is our...granddaughter, Clara Oswald. Miss Clara Oswald."
Tasha nodded her welcome to Clara, "We'll go to my chapel," she told them, calling out to the gathering, "All honors in place, no sacrifices required."
"It was Tasha who shielded the planet," the Professor explained to Clara as they followed Tasha down the halls of the mainframe, heading for her 'chapel' when really it was just a word for bedroom, "But you could let us down there couldn't you Tash?"
"I would have conditions," she warned as they reached her room, "I have confidential matters to discuss with the Doctor and Professor," she glanced at Clara, "Would you...excuse us?"
"After living with men and Proffy here," the Doctor laughed, "Anything you have to say to us you can say in front of Clara," he nodded, though…he was starting to consider his words, "Well...quite a lot of it. Probably about half. Maybe a smidge...under."
The Professor shook her head, "Clara would you mind waiting out here?"
"No worries!" Clara waved them on amused, only able to imagine what Tasha must know or have experienced with the two if their normal topic of conversation wasn't near enough to get her access, "You two get yourselves a room, literally," she winked at the Time Lords, seeing a bed within as the doors opened.
"Oh we certainly will," the Professor tugged him in.
"Yes," he nodded, "Quite," before he realized what Clara was implying, "No, stop it!" the Professor just laughed as the doors shut behind them, and then the Doctor saw the bed as well, "That altar looks like a bed."
"That bed looks like an altar," the Professor countered.
He paused a moment to look at it, before grinning, running to it and pulling the Professor with him, jumping onto it, his arms around her waist as she landed on top of him with a laugh. He looked up at her softly, at her smile, so wide and bright, she really was just glowing (his own personal idea of how Tasha had known about her pregnancy), so he couldn't help himself from touching her cheek and leaning up to kiss her…
Only for the Professor to mover her hand to the side of his ribs and tickle him, sending him roaring with laughter as he tickled her back.
"If you two children are done?" Tasha cut in, her voice more amused than scolding as she pressed a button on the head of her bed, the three notes playing out, "That message…is transmitting through all of space and time. What did it make you feel?"
"Feel?" the Doctor shook his head as they sat up, his arm around the Professor's shoulders.
"Every sentient being in the universe who detected that signal felt something. Something overpowering."
"And what was that?" the Professor smiled, it was a rather nice sounding little tune.
"Fear," Tasha stated, their smile starting to fall, "Pure unadulterated dread."
"Right," the Doctor cleared his throat, "What's the signal, where's it coming from?"
"It's a settlement. Human colony level 2. A farm basically."
"Has anyone been for a look?" the Professor asked.
"Any one ship lands the rest will follow, there will be bloodshed. Fortunately we got here first, shielded the planet. We maintain the truce by blocking all of them."
"But the Daleks, the Cybermen, even Graske could make their way through your defenses," and it was true too, the shield wasn't all that powerful. They hadn't exactly been trying their hardest to get through earlier, mostly because if the TARDIS had a difficult (difficult, not impossible) time getting in it meant the shield was sturdy but also that the TARDIS herself didn't want to go. If they pushed her, they could get her through savely.
"Perhaps," Tasha agreed, "But they're afraid remember? Nobody wants to go first."
The Time Lords looked at each other before grinning, "We do," they said at once.
"I was counting on it," Tasha smirked…only for the doors to her rooms to fly open, Clara running in, panting, gasping, scared…
And blink, looking as though she wasn't sure why she was there. And they stiffened, they knew what that meant, WHO it had to mean was on the other side of Tasha's now closed doors.
"Are you ok?" the Doctor called to her.
"Fine," she nodded, "Yeah fine. Sorry."
"Right," the Professor stood, "We need to go, now," she turned to Tasha.
"This is my personal teleport," the woman led the trio to the back of the room where a control panel was set up, two sort of booths on either side of it with a single curtain in front of them for a door, "I can put you down just outside the town. Find the source of the message and report back to me in one hour. And on your life Doctor," she pointed at the man as he held the curtain to the side for the Professor to step in, "You and the Professor will cause no trouble down there."
"When do we?" he scoffed, getting in after the Professor, only to poke his head out once more, "Don't answer that."'
"What's with the hand?" the Professor peeked her head out under his arm to see Tasha holding out her hand to them.
"I'm not an idiot," the woman rolled her eyes, "Everyone in this church is trained to see straight through holograms."
"Ah great," Clara shifted behind Tasha.
"Give now. You are taking no technology of any kind down there."
"What can we do with a key?" the Doctor asked, "No, actually, what can I do with a key?"
The Professor shook her head at that, she knew he was referencing her knowledge of weapons, how she could make the most ordinary of objects into on, including a key. It was quite easy to, firmly grasp it between your two fingers, near your knuckles, and you could slash and cut and stab with the best of them. But, given that Tasha likely didn't know he'd meant that, the woman just gave him a look, holding out her hand more.
"You could summon your TARDIS," Tasha stated.
"The TARDIS doesn't work by remote," he grumbled, before sighing and pulling the key off of his neck and handing it to her, "Fine if it makes you feel any better, there we are."
She nodded and stepped back, "Miss Oswald," she gestured at the second booth.
"Oi, hang on!" the Doctor frowned, "What about her?" he nodded at the Professor, "You can see her blaster then, can't you?! Why aren't you asking HER to give up her tech?"
"Because she would fight me for it," Tasha stated, making him pout, "Now remember. I want you back in one hour," and with that, she hit a button on the teleport, sending them away.
"Oh cold!" Clara gasped as they landed in the snow, barely managing to keep their footing at the slippery snow. They were on a hill, as far as they could tell, it was night, and snow was falling around them. They were in the middle of a forest of sorts, trees all around them, "Very cold!"
"Ok, don't worry," the Doctor moved over to her, rubbing her arms with his hands, trying to warm her, him and the Professor better able to handle the cold temperatures around them.
"There's a heat loss filter in your hologram shell," the Professor called, looking around as she tried to get her bearings, "It'll kick in soon."
"Doctor…" Clara began, a shiver to her voice though she was feeling the shield kick in.
"Yes?" he glanced at her.
"You're still naked aren't you?"
"Well stop it then!" she stepped back from him, realizing SHE was naked too, but thankfully the Professor had programmed her hologram so that only the ones on the ship would be able to tell she wasn't wearing anything.
"Right, sorry," the Doctor grinned bashfully, before looking around, "What have we got?" he stepped to the Professor's side as she pointed out at the distance, to a small town, "Ok, sweet little town covered in snow, half the universe in terror. Why? Why?"
"Oh my God!" Clara gasped, seeing something sticking out of the snow.
"What?" the Professor looked back.
"There's something under the snow," Clara glanced at her, "I think it's…well…it's…"
The Professor headed over to her, "What?" but then she saw it too, it looked like an arm, it looked like a frozen arm just sticking out of the snow, "Hold on," she frowned, squinting against the snow as she made her way closer, looking down at the arm, she hesitated before reaching out to touch it, "…stone…" she breathed, before standing, "Clara run!" she pushed the girl on, turning to go after her, but the arm moved and caught her ankle.
"Professor!" the Doctor ran over to her, hearing her cry out, seeing her swinging her arms around for balance and caught her, holding her back to his front as they looked down at the statue, at the arm of the Weeping Angel, "Clara keep looking at it," he ordered Clara, knowing she'd have no idea what they were freaking out about, "Don't look away," he murmured in the Professor's ear, holding her tight, "Don't even...blink!"
"I'm aware," the Professor grumbled.
"What is it?" Clara frowned at the arm, doing as she was told and looking at it, but not having the faintest idea why.
"There is a Weeping Angel under the snow," the Professor told him.
"It's looks like a statue," the Doctor added quickly, "Isn't a statue. Can you get your foot out?"
The Professor nodded, knowing that the Angel was grabbing her ankle and not near her shoe, thankfully, "I think so."
"Right then," he moved closer, "One, two, three!" he pulled her back, the Professor straining as well, freeing her, but sending them both toppling down a snowy hill.
"Professor!" Clara gasped, rushing after them, as they rolled and rolled and rolled, "Doctor!"
They landed in a heap at the bottom of the hill, panting, the snow falling around them, more aware now that they were both, in fact, naked and lying in a pile of snow and dirt.
"Hate you," the Professor grumbled.
"No you don't," the Doctor laughed.
"Are you ok?!" Clara ran down to them, rushing over to the Professor to help her up, the Doctor getting up on his own, only for him to pull them both back.
"Watch out!" he shouted.
They gasped, looking around to see that they'd fallen not just to the bottom of the hill, but right in the middle of a swarm of Weeping Angels that were climbing out of the snow, each of them a little bit nearer to the top with each look.
"They're climbing out of the snow!" Clara stared, reaching back to grab the Professor's hand.
"Just keep looking at them Clara," the Professor said, her and the Doctor doing the best they could as he pulled out the sonic and she pulled out her blaster to try and find some way to stop them.
"Why?" Clara shook her head, trying to keep the statues in sight.
"Quantum-locked life-form," the Doctor explained quickly, "It can only move if it's unobserved."
"What are they doing here?"
"Same as everybody else, they must've got past Tasha's shield."
"Keep looking!" the Professor called.
"I can't," Clara squinted, trying to keep her eyes open but the snowflakes kept landing on them, "I can't see, the snow's in my eyes."
"I just need to bring the TARDIS down…" the Doctor began to pat himself down, looking for the key.
"You can't fly it remotely," Clara reminded him.
"No," the Professor agreed, "I REALLY should work on that though."
"An app for wood would be nice too," the Doctor grumbled.
"But it should still be able to home in on the key."
"But that Tasha woman took your key!" Clara added.
The Doctor's eyes widened and he began to feel the back of his head, "She took one of them!" he cheered, ripping his hair off and pulling out a key just as the girls turned to him at the sudden move…
The Doctor grinned as they appeared in the TARDIS once more, "The old key in the quiff routine. Classic! Ok," he moved to the console, the Professor and Clara still just staring at him, "Homing in on the mysterious message. Ooh yes I like that," he smiled at the Professor, "The mysterious message."
"You've shaved your head?" Clara blinked at him.
The Professor sighed and shook her head, he was completely bald, had been for a short while now…actually just after they'd taken a dreadfully boring trip to the largest ball of twine. She honestly had no idea what possessed him to do either, to go to the ball of twine or to shave his head, but…he'd done it. She'd made him get a wig though. It wasn't for vanity's sake, no, she didn't care what he looked like, bald or with hair down to his bum, it made no different to her. No…it was just his ears. She had a rather hard time looking at him without laughing when his ears were so prominent against his smooth head.
"Yep," the Doctor pointed at her, "Clever plan to get us past the shield."
"Which he had no knowledge of until hours ago," the Professor added, heading to the console to help him.
Clara nodded, working it out, "You got bored one night didn't you?"
"Yeah, tiny bit bored," he agreed.
The Professor scoffed, "A tiny bit?" she turned to him, leaning on the console, "If I hadn't stopped you you'd be completely hairless."
He rolled his eyes, "I don't see what all the fuss is about with you girls," he muttered, "The wax felt rather nice on my leg."
The Professor blinked, "Just be grateful that I wiped it off you in time and didn't let it set enough to rip it."
Clara shook her head, not wanting to know what the Doctor had gotten into or why he had decided to try and be 'hairless' but had to ask, "Is that what happened to your eyebrows?"
"No, they're just delicate," he reached up and touched them a moment, "Right," he spun to the console again, "Setting us down near the signal source."
"I'm going to turn the engines on silent," the Professor warned him, "We shouldn't let the others know that we're down there, especially not if any of them snuck past like the Angels did," she smiled, "Best to have the element of surprise."
Clara nodded and looked over, spotting the wig that the Doctor had left on Handles, "Put it back on," she grabbed it and tossed it to the Doctor.
"Why?" he frowned.
"Your ears stick out like rocket fins," she told him.
"I know!" he laughed.
"Why do you think I haven't looked at him fully just yet," the Professor remarked, "One look and I'm on the ground laughing at him."
Clara beamed as they all stepped out of the TARDIS, now parked in the middle of the quaint town that the Time Lords had spotted earlier, "Oh it's good to be wearing clothes again," she let out a happy breath, not even minding the chill and the snow now that she wasn't naked any longer, "That's so much better, don't you think?"
"Now what do we make of this place?" the Doctor asked instead, Handles under one arm.
"Well, it's two o'clock in the afternoon," the Professor began, her hands on her hips as she looked around.
"How do you know that?" Clara frowned. She'd seen them pinpoint the time before, it took just a bit more concentration, a sign she hadn't seen on their faces. The Professor just nodded to a clock tower a short distance away, the face reading 2 o'clock, "Oh."
"Use your eyes Clara," she winked at the girl.
"Notice everything," she mumbled, rolling her eyes playfully, "I know Granny."
"Oi!" the Professor laughed at that, though she was rather pleased to hear Clara call her that. It was odd, as you'd not think a woman would want to be reminded of how old she was, but she rather enjoyed it. Oh she joked with the Doctor at times, when he called her old, but she did love to be reminded that she WAS still alive, that she'd survived the war and the destruction, that she was still there with her Bonded, her Theta. She smiled and looked over as the Doctor linked his arm with her, "Which means that there must be very short days here," she continued.
"The message is coming from that tower," the Doctor nodded at the clock tower, only to see another couple walking past it, "Hello!" he waved at them, "Hello there!" he tugged the Professor on towards them, Clara following them, "Right, we're a couple from the next town," he whispered to them, "Visiting with our…" he looked at Clara.
"Cousin," the Professor supplied. They couldn't say granddaughter, but she knew that to call Clara his sister wasn't going to work as it would be too fresh a wound for the Doctor, as he had lost siblings in the war. Friend was too vague, assistant and neighbor were too, all of them too distance, but cousin seemed to work.
"Yes," the Doctor snapped his fingers and pointed at her for the idea, "My name's probably Hank or Rock, something like that..."
"Or Daisy?" Clara joked, cutting in slightly.
"Shut up," the Doctor pouted, before greeting the couple as they approached, "Hello! Good to meet you! Nice snow."
"Most pleasant to meet you too," the man greeted them eagerly, shaking their hands, not even blinking at the robotic head in the Doctor's hand.
"Most pleasant," the woman beside him smiled, doing the same, "Most pleasant!"
"I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. I stole a time machine and ran away from the only woman I ever loved after making the worst mistake of my life and marrying her cousin then separating from her and I've been flouting the principal law of my own people ever since and dragging my Bonded, the Professor, along with m…" he was cut off suddenly by the Professor putting a hand over his mouth, "That wasn't quite what I was meant to say," he mumbled against it as the couple laughed.
"I'm the Professor," she began, "I'm a Time Lady from the planet Gallifrey who was taken from my home and forced into an unorthodox training program that consisted of operations, mental scarring, and physical damage to turn me into a soldier for a war where I became a brutal, emotionless, killing machine till I found a Doctor who made me better again, married him, and now I'm preg…" she looked at the Doctor as he slapped a hand over her mouth as well.
Clara looked at them oddly, wondering if it was an alien thing, before she too opened her mouth and more than she intended fell out of it, "I'm an English teacher from planet Earth and I've run off with a couple from space because I've been adopted by them as their granddaughter and..." she put both her own hands over her own mouth at that.
"I think perhaps you should stop talking till you get used to it," the woman offered for advice.
"Used to what?" the Doctor pulled his hand off.
"What did you say your name was?"
"Bubbly personality masking bossy control freak!" Clara answered promptly at the same time the Professor said, "Emotionally and physically scarred scholar terrified of being a mother!"
"I'm wearing a wig!" the Doctor grinned, before blinking, "What?" he looked at the Professor, who could only shrug at what she'd said from behind her hands as she pressed them against her mouth to stop talking.
Her eyes widened, "We're standing in a truth field," she assessed, it was the only reason for them to blurt that out like they had. But, now that she was aware of it, she could already feel her mind trying to compensate, trying to give her time to formulate her answers before saying the first thing that popped into it."
"Oh, that is so quaint," the Doctor smiled, "I haven't seen a truth field in years!" before he pointed to his head again, "I'm wearing a wig!"
"No one can lie in this town," the man nodded, "Especially this close to the tower."
The Time Lords looked up at it, eyeing the ominous clock tower that everything seemed to be pointing to, "Doesn't that make life a bit difficult?" the Doctor called as the couple started to walk away.
"Not at all," the man paused to smile back at them, the same time the woman grinned with her own simple reply of, "Yes."
"This town, what's it called?"
"It's Christmas," the man told them.
"No," the Professor shook her head, "It's July. Or did you mean the town…"
"The town," the woman nodded, "The town is Christmas, that's what it's called."
"Be happy here," the man tipped his hat at them, "Be well," before he tucked the woman's hand into his arm and they walked off again.
"How can a town be called Christmas?" Clara wondered.
The Professor gave a small laugh, "Ever wonder how an island can be called Easter?" she nodded her head at the Doctor, making Clara shake her head, only the Doctor would name an island after a holiday.
"Maybe it's just nice here," the Doctor offered with a shrug, "I almost hate to find out what's wrong."
"I don't," the Professor smiled, "What's wrong is always what's the most interesting," she linked her arm with the Doctor's and they headed off towards the tower, managing to get in with a little sonic help from the Doctor…which made the Professor pout at that. The door was wooden, the lock wasn't, which meant it would have been easy for her to kick it down, but the Doctor had just shaken his head and given her a kiss before opening it himself.
They stepped in to the rather dark room and looked around. It was quite clear that not many people entered the old tower, not many at all as there was hardly any light to be seen till the Doctor and Professor took out their sonic and blaster to use as a torch. The Professor frowned when she noticed an actual light shining in a distant room and walked into it, stopping when she caught sight of the source, the crack that had been in Amy's wall, returned.
"There you are…" she murmured, before calling out, "Doctor!"
He came right over, staring at the crack as well, "Well, what took you so long?" he asked it, setting Handles down on a crate.
Clara glanced back, seeing that the Time Lords weren't following her any longer and moved back to them, "What's wrong?" she asked, turning to see the crack as well, "It's only a crack in the wall."
"We knew," the Doctor murmured, "We always knew it wasn't over."
Clara frowned at that, sensing something more to their words before she really gave the crack a look, seeing the faint glow from the other side of it, "What is it?"
"It's a split in the skin of reality," the Professor explained, "It's a tiny sliver of the 26th of June, 2010. The day the universe blew up."
"Missed that…" Clara murmured.
"We rebooted it," the Doctor waved her off, "Put it all back together."
"It was the TARDIS that blew it up in the first place. We felt a degree of responsibility."
"But the scar tissue," the Professor shook her head, stepping closer to it, reaching out to touch it, tracing it, getting the same scan she had ages ago when they'd first encountered it, "It's still here. Like a structural weakness in the whole universe."
"Whoa!" the Doctor breathed as he flashed the sonic on it, getting something more than that, "And someone's trying to get through it from outside our universe, from somewhere else. Of course, of course."
The Professor nodded, "It makes sense now…"
"It…does?" Clara shook her head, not quite following.
"Yes," the Professor turned to her, "Isn't it obvious?"
She blinked, "Should it be?"
The Doctor let out a small laugh, "If you tried to break through a wall…"
"You'd choose the weakest spot," the Professor continued, smiling as she saw Clara let out a mock-long-suffering sigh, sensing what was about to happen, "Naturally."
"So to break into this universe you'd choose this crack."
"No, if you were trying to break back into this universe."
"You're never gonna stop doing that are you?" Clara gave them a small smile for the dual speaking.
The Doctor's eyes widened, "You said Gallifrey," he looked at Clara, "Why did you say Gallifrey?"
"Analysis of message composition indicates Gallifreyan origin," Handles activated, getting a better reading off of the crack now that he was so near it, "According to TARDIS data banks."
"You said Gallifrey was gone," Clara pointed out."
"No," the Professor shook her head, "We said it was in another universe."
"The message is coming through here," the Doctor agreed, looking at the sonic.
"The truth field is too," the Professor nodded.
"If it's the Time Lords..." the Doctor murmured…before he snapped his fingers and patted himself down, finding something in a pocket, "Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey! Nicked it off the Master in the Death Zone," he tossed it to the Professor, "What do you think eh?"
"I think it's brilliant," she winked at him, heading over to Handles, "There's an algorithm imprinted in the atomic structure," and placed it on his head, using the butt of her blaster to tap it into place, "Use it to decode the message Handles."
"Message decoding," Handles called, "Message analysis proceeding. Information available. The message is a request for information."
"It's a question," the Doctor corrected, "Why can't you just say it's a question?!"
"It is being projected through all of time and space on a repeating cycle."
"Oh please don't tell me it's THAT question," the Professor grumbled.
The Doctor laughed and moved to wind his arm around her shoulders, "With our luck dear?"
"What question is that then?" Clara frowned, feeling more out of the loop than she ever had, even when she'd first met them.
"The oldest question in the universe apparently," the Professor sighed, "The first question, hidden in plain sight..."
"Warning!" Handles cried, "Translation will be available to all life-forms in range. Translation follows…Doctor who? Doctor who? Doctor who? Doctor who?"
"That's the general's voice," the Professor murmured, hearing the robotic quality of Handles' voice fading away to that of the man who had authorized them to save Gallifrey.
"A question only I could answer," the Doctor sighed, "A truth field to make sure I'm not lying. If I give my name, they'll know they've found the right place...and that it's safe to come through."
"But you can't," the Professor shook her head, "There's only one time you can tell it to someone outside the family and…unless you're planning to make all of Gallifrey part of our family…" she shook her head, "You couldn't say it."
"Are you talking about the Time Lords?" Clara blinked at them, "Ok so what then? If you WERE able to answer the question and they come back, what happens?"
The Doctor looked at the Professor, a long moment, Clara frowning as she saw the looks on their faces, knowing they were having some sort of silent conversation in their heads. Oh that was really annoying at times, very annoying actually, especially when it was something she had no hope of ever being able to understand. If they spoke in Gallifreyan, well, River, she knew, could read and write in it so she could probably speak it too, so it was possible to LEARN it…but when they were all silent, that was when she worried. They often told her exactly what was happening, believing that she needed to know to be able to make informed decisions, but when they kept things from her…when they were worried enough to be silent…that was when she worried.
The Professor sighed but nodded, "Clara will you come with me to the TARDIS?" she looked at the girl.
"Sure," she nodded, "But why?"
"You need to take this," the Doctor reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like the handle of the sonic but without the sonic part attached, "And put it in the charger slot."
"And that takes two people?"
"Yeah," the Professor nodded, taking it from the Doctor and heading to her side, "Someone half melted the charger slot," she sent the Doctor a look, "So someone has to be standing by it and holding this in the slot while another person activates the signal on the other side of the console. Will you help me?"
"Of course," Clara agreed, "But why are we charging the sonic?"
"Hell," the Doctor answered, "All hell, that's what happens if the Time Lords come back and…we'll need ever asset, every advantage we can find. A fully charged sonic would be the best of all."
"I need to charge my blaster too," the Professor agreed, "There's half a universe up there ready and waiting to open fire on us. We'll need every bit of fire too. Now come on," she linked her arm with Clara's and led her out of the room, the Doctor watching them go sadly, closing his eyes the moment the doors to the town closed and the Professor disappeared from view.
He bowed his head, his hearts breaking as he realized what this would mean for him and the Professor, for them and Clara. He could only hope the girl wouldn't be too cross with them when she realized what was happening.
"Doctor speak with me!" he looked up hearing Tasha's voice calling, her voice booming above the town, "Doctor! Professor! Face me now! Professor!"
He took a breath and headed out of the doors, looking into the distance where he could see that the Professor and Clara had reached the TARDIS, that they were just stepping into it, the doors closing, before he turned to climb the stairs to the tower. He looked out at the large holographic head of Tasha Lem as it floated in the sky, "Mother Superious!" he called in greeting, hoping she would accept just his presence there, "There is only one thing I need from you, this planet...what's it called?"
Tasha looked at him, solemn, "Trenzalore."
The Professor led Clara up to the console, shutting the doors to the TARDIS behind her so none of the children might wander in, "Right over here Clara," the Professor smiled, stationing her before the slot, "That one there."
Clara nodded and put the half of a sonic into the slot, "I just hold it here right?"
"Exactly like that," the Professor moved over across the console to turn it on, looking up at the rotor as it hummed, and taking a breath, praying that this would work and it wouldn't end up as another Rose incident.
The Doctor felt the breath leave him as he stood on the tower, looking down at the dark village around him, the village that looked nothing like the graveyard they had visited earlier.
"If you speak your name," Tasha began, "The Time Lords will return."
"If they return they will come in peace," the Doctor told her, "The Professor and I will ensure that!"
"It doesn't matter," the hologram of Tasha's head shook, "They will be met with a war that will never end. Not even the Professor would be able to end it. The Time War will begin anew! You know that Doctor! Do you truly wish your Bonded to endure that? She is with child Doctor! YOUR child!"
He swallowed hard and looked down at that…no, no he didn't want that…he looked over at the TARDIS, seeing it fading in and out as it silently disappeared, but what could he do?
Their plan had already been put in motion…
Clara looked up as the console beeped, and grinned at the Professor, the Time Lady puttering around the other side of the console, absently fiddling with some controls, or so it seemed, "Does that mean it's done?" she asked.
The Professor looked up, "Yup, should be just perfect," she offered Clara a smile go give it to the Doctor," she gestured at her blaster, still hooked to a slot, "Mine'll be a moment more."
Clara nodded and ran for the doors, rushing out them…not seeing the Professor pull a lever and shut them the moment she'd left, flicking a switch to lock them, before starting to send the TARDIS off once more…
Only for the box to jolt, sending her to the floor as sparks went off on the console, "No!" she got up and ran to the monitor, trying to see what was wrong, her eyes widening at what she saw on the monitor and what it would mean for the trip back…
"They're asking for my help!" the Doctor shouted up at Tasha, unaware of his Bonded's plight.
"And if you give it, war will be the consequence," she told him, "I will not that let that happen, at any cost. Speak your name and this world will burn!"
"No," he glared at her, taking her words more as a threat than a warning, "This planet is protected!" he snapped, turning and ringing the bells of the tower, calling all the villagers to it as he ran down the stairs and back out. He looked up at Tasha's hologram as she glared down at him, "So, you lot, a quick word thank you. Spot of news…Christmas has a new sheriff. Hello everyone, I'm the Doctor."
He looked up only once more, when Tasha's hologram disappeared, before his gaze drifted over to where the TARDIS had been…only to see it wasn't back yet…
He felt a sense of dread creep into him at that…it shouldn't have taken that long…
"In the time that followed the Papal Mainframe strove to maintain the peace between the Doctor and his enemies. As the days passed and the years, the Doctor stayed true to his word. On the fields of Trenzalore he stood as protector both of his own people and his new home, awaiting the day his Bonded would return to him. Over time the Doctor's enemies would find new stranger ways to enter the town called Christmas."
The Doctor stood in the snow, a short distance away from the clock tower, standing in the place that the TARDIS had first appeared in, just…waiting. He came there a few minutes every day, throughout the day, and just…waited. It had been…years, centuries really, of protecting the town, centuries without the Professor by his side. He had done it once, so long ago, been without her for centuries and he'd never ever wanted to do it again, yet here he was, alone once more.
He…he was scared, he could admit it, he had no idea what was going on or where the TARDIS was, if the box herself was keeping his Bonded from returning to him or if something far more sinister was at play. They had agreed, just before he'd sent Clara out of the clock tower, that she would go with the girl, that she'd get Clara back to her flat, drop the girl off, get her out of the TARDIS somehow, and return. She was merely meant to go as a means of insuring that the girl didn't do what Rose had done and find a way back. She was going to physically take Clara back home and get back to him. It had never been his plan or intention for the Professor to stay away for so long, nearly…300 years by now.
It hurt, every single day hurt to be without her, to wonder where she was, if she was ok. He had locked his thoughts about her pregnancy into the deepest pits of his mind, refusing to think on that, refusing to consider the possibility that she might be somewhere, might have given birth already and he'd missed it, refused to believe he might have a son or a daughter out there that he had missed them growing up. So he didn't think on it much. But it didn't matter as he kept worrying about her. What if something happened to her? What if she'd been captured by their enemies on a trip back? What if Tasha had managed to somehow strengthen the shields so much that the TARDIS couldn't return? What if she got caught by their enemies and had been destroyed? So many thoughts plagued him, day in and day out over the years, the decades, the centuries…
He wanted her back, he wanted her back so badly.
He glanced back, hearing children giggling to see them playing Blind Man's Bluff, a small boy, Barnable he recalled, was the Blind Man this time. He spun in a circle, holding out his arms, trying to find the other children…the children, oh the children. They were…the only ones he stayed for. He was a rather…grouchy old man, he'd heard some of the adults mutter about him. He'd started off happy, when he'd had hope that the TARDIS and Professor would return, but…when the minutes turned to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, and so on…he became less kind, less hopeful, less…warm.
Except to the children, they were and always would be his soft spot. The adults were all stuffy and prim and proper but the children, they were a joy. They were the thing that kept him going even…even as age set in. He'd grown older this run, his hair was graying, his face starting to line, his hands shake, and…his leg had given out a bit, started to hurt something fierce, so badly that he'd actually needed use of the cane in his hands. He was…growing old, and he wasn't growing old with the Professor.
"Are you there?" Barnable called, "Hello? Am I getting warm?"
The Doctor smiled to himself and turned back to look at the snow, sighing, recalling when he'd 'played' that game with Angie and Artie, when they'd tricked him and run off. He looked at the snow intently, waiting, as though he'd see the outline of a box appear…but there was nothing. He closed his eyes and rubbed his weary face…only to spin around when he heard Barnable screaming
"There's another one!" the boy was shouting as he ran into the town, moving to sound the bells and ring the alarms…or was it ring the bells and sound the alarms? He sighed, he couldn't quite remember, "There's another one! There's another one! There's another one! Doctor!" Barnable gasped as he saw the Doctor heading towards them, "Doctor! There's another one."
"Incinerate!" Cyberman, or what appeared to be a Cyberman stated, lifting its arm as flames shot out of it, "The Doctor is required."
"And the Doctor is here," the Doctor called, pulling the Cyberman's attention over to him, "Now then…what do we have today?" he eyed the robot, well…it wasn't quite a robot anymore, was it? No, instead of a metal man…it was made of wood. Well, crafty, crafty, crafty, to make a robot out of such low tech as wood, "Don't you move one step further," he held up his cane in warning as the Cyber tried to step towards him as the town gathered behind him, "Wooden Cyberman. Nice, like it. Low-tech doesn't set off the alarms upstairs," he tensed, seeing the Cyberman's arm twitch, knowing it was going to try and pull its weapon at any moment. But even in his old age, he was still faster than the Cyber in 'drawing,' pulling out his sonic and flashing it at the robot before it could fire. He looked at the sonic a moment, smiling fondly as he thought of the Professor, she'd have drawn and blasted the wooden man away before he'd even have been able to move, "Only bit of tech allowed in, got in before the truce," he wiggled the sonic, sighing, "Now, I just sent an instruction to your firearm to reverse the polarity and fire out the back end. As were standing in a truth field, you will understand I cannot be lying. If you like you can scan my screwdriver, verify that's the signal I sent," he held it up to the Cyber to scan, smirking as the robot's weapon reversed, turning at itself.
"Signal verified," the Cyber agreed, before a blast was sent out of its weapon, striking it in the chest, burning a perfect circle in the robots' body.
"Yes," he laughed, "I probably should have mentioned, this doesn't work on wood!" he put the sonic down, "You send your friends up there a message from the Doctor. You tell them the Doctor stays," he poked the Cyber in the chest with his cane, watching as it fell, "Next?" he looked up at the stars.
They could send all the enemies they wanted, and he'd face them down, one after the other. He'd faced Sontarans, he'd faced Weeping Angels, he'd faced so many others and they all failed to kill him, because they all seemed to think, when they attacked, that he'd given up, that he was too old, but one thing they always failed to guess…was how much and how long he would fight of the Professor. He would, he'd fight to his last day to see her again…and, with the way this regeneration was going, he just might.
"With every victory, the town celebrated. In time the Doctor seemed to forget he'd lived any other life, if it hadn't been for a memory of a woman, a woman with 12 different faces. The people of the town came to love the man who stayed for Christmas."
The Doctor smiled as he stood in the middle of the town, teaching the children one of his most favorite dances, the Drunk Giraffe as he loved to call it. Oh it had been a marvelous celebration for his victory over the wooden Cyberman, the people of Christmas were always so warm and proud of him. But he didn't do it for them, he did it for two other reasons really, because it was the right thing to do, in general so he supposed it was just a little bit for them too, and…it was to make her proud, make the Professor proud, to defend the town, to fight, to not give up no matter how weak he felt…that was her in a nutshell, the fighter.
The celebrations were always spectacular, the children drew picture for him of each enemy he faced, from the Cyberman to the Sontarans to the Draconians and more. There was food and festivities, a puppet show and fireworks, it was just…outstanding. And the music! He could really show them the drunk giraffe with music like that.
"You've got to BE the drunk giraffe," he told them, lifting his arms in the air and shaking them about over his head, "You've got to commit! Don't be cool guys. Cool is NOT cool."
"Cool is not cool!" the children giggled, repeating what he said as though learning a lesson.
"And what's the dance were doing?"
"The drunk giraffe!"
"The drunk giraffe!" he laughed as the song drew to a close, "Yeah it is! Merry Christmas. Give me a hug," he held his arms out at them, "Bring it in."
"Yeah!" the children cheered, rushing him, surrounded him and enveloping him in a rather large, rather warm group hug which he returned, making sure each child felt welcome, ignoring the looks their parents were sending him. He didn't often come to the celebrations, mostly because he knew it was a party that the town was safe once more, not really an actual celebration for HIM keeping it safe. All those adults had once been children as well, had been just like the ones before him, had adored him, but sometime in between then and being an adult, they all seemed to come to the realization that…the town would have always been safe if HE had not decided to stay. Or so they thought. He didn't have the heart to tell them that if he left, their town, their entire planet would be destroyed.
He nodded and winked at the children, sending them off to their parents once more, only one little boy lingering by him. He smiled at him, in every generation there was always a handful of children who retained their belief in him and were only too happy to let their children near him, this was one, Barnable was one, "How's your father's barn?"
"You've fixed the leak alright," Barnable nodded, "But he say it's bigger on the inside now!"
"Shh!" he winked at the boy, "They'll all want one!" he started to laugh…only for his laughter to die off as he heard something a noise he hadn't heard in 3 centuries, a noise that filled his hearts with hope…a funny wheezing noise. He straightened, staring across a small distance away at where a blue box was fading in and out, materializing before them.
"What is it?" Barnable frowned, seeing the Doctor slowly walking towards it, his eyes wide, his mouth open, "What's that noise?"
"Well!" the Doctor let out a breath, "Where have you been for years?! Huh!"
"What's that?" Barnable tilted his head at it.
"It's my ship."
"It's my TARDIS. Mine and the Professor's TARDIS, you remember her yes?" he looked at the boy who nodded, the Doctor had told them ALL about the woman, the Professor, his Bonded (whatever that was), his wife, "That's how I got here in the first place."
"Does…does this mean you're leaving?" Barnable looked at him, speaking quietly.
But the Doctor's focus was pulled back to the box when he spotted Clara clinging to the outside of it. Just as he was about to open his mouth, the doors to the TARDIS flew open, and…there was the Professor in all her youthful glory.
"Clara!" the woman gasped, reaching out to catch Clara as the girl stumbled, her knees seeming to give out as she toppled forward, catching herself at the last moment but shaking, pale, even her clothes appearing a bit frosty, "What were you thinking!?" the Professor demanded, putting her hands on Clara's shoulders to look at her.
"I...I was in space…" Clara trembled.
"Because you were clinging to the TARDIS as she flew through the Vortex!" the Professor shouted, "Have you any idea how dangerous that was!? If she hadn't extended the force field you'd be dead!"
"No wonder you're late," the Doctor called softly, his voice rasping just a bit with age.
The Professor froze and looked over, spotting the Doctor standing there, and let out a soft breath at seeing him, seeing the state of him, the age of him. She blinked, confused and shook her head, how…how as that possible?! Time Lords were immortal! They could live forever barring any accidents, after their first bodies reached the proper age, they STOPPED aging entirely, ever, for all bodies, so…why was HE aging? Why was he older? Oh she didn't care that he looked older, appearance meant nothing to her, but…WHY was he older? Because to look older meant he was growing older, and growing older could mean…many more complications.
"Doctor?" she breathed.
"Hello dear," he offered her a small smile, he wasn't angry with her, not at all, even if hit had taken her 3 centuries to get back to him, he wasn't cross. Because clearly she'd had no control over it, with Clara outside the TARDIS she could hardly control the woman's actions. He could see in the TARDIS as well, the console was sparking, there was smoke at the ceiling, and the lights were just lightening from red, clearly it had been a state of emergency within. And he knew she'd try her best to pilot them there, but…with time travel it was hard to get things that right when the box was preoccupied. The Professor had no idea time had changed, to her she'd just left and landed, Clara outside, her shock was genuine at Clara's actions and far too recent to be so extreme.
The Professor shook her head, stepping close to him and reaching out a hand to touch his cheek. He lifted his own hand to press her hand firmer, knowing she was scanning him, but not caring…because he'd gone FAR too long without her touch, "Oh my god…" the Professor breathed, staring at him in horror, scanning just how much he'd aged, before throwing herself into his arms, hugging him tightly.
"You tricked me," Clara murmured behind them, she was calm, quiet, likely the shock of the Professor's reaction to him and her own shock at his age blending, "You were going to leave me there, weren't you? Without even a goodbye?"
"We had to," the Professor whispered.
"To save you," the Doctor told her, looking at her over the Professor's shoulder, before hugging her tighter.
The Professor stood in the clock tower with Clara, the girl now with a thick blanket wrapped around her, as they stared at the pictures the children had drawn. The Professor smiled, it reminded her very much of when Amelia had drawn cartoons of her and the Doctor. She could see it though, in each picture, how the Doctor grew older, more aged, and it broke her hearts to see. It was because of her. She should have done something, knocked Clara out and dragged her out of the TARDIS before leaving, done SOMETHING to make sure that the girl wouldn't pull a Jack. And that was just it, she'd been so focused on trying to keep Clara from pulling a Rose that she hadn't considered the girl would cling to the outside of the box the way she had.
If she'd been more clever…she'd have been back in time and the Doctor wouldn't have gotten stuck and aged this way.
"The turkey isn't done yet," the Doctor called as he stepped back into the room from having checked on the TARDIS, having ordered the girls to the clock tower as he needed to say hello to their 'mother' quickly and also wanting to make a few 'repairs' since the console had been a wreck from Clara's trip.
The Professor was nearly 110 percent sure she'd have to repair his repairs the next time they were in the TARDIS.
"Is it still asking the question?" Clara glanced at the crack.
"Yeah," the Professor nodded, able to hear the soft 3 notes playing, too low for a human to hear.
"It never stops," the Doctor sighed, before reaching out a hand to the Professor, "Come upstairs, it's almost time. You as well Clara," he added as he turned to head for the doors.
"What for?" Clara asked.
"Dawn," he smiled, "The light here lasts only a few minutes, you don't want to miss it."
The small trio sat on top of the clock tower, a small fire between them, roasting marshmallows, with a bit of cloth, like a small nest, set up beside the Doctor on a stool as he and the Professor sat on the ground, the Doctor with his back to a wall, the Professor between his legs, his one arm around her, his other holding out the stick with the marshmallow on it over the fire.
"Sounds like you're at a standoff," the Professor sighed as he finished telling them about what the last 3 centuries had been like, "They can't attack in case you unleash the Time Lords. And you can't run away because they'll burn the planet to stop the Time Lords."
"Hey," he nudged her, "After all these years, I've finally found somewhere that needs me to stick around. A town called Christmas! Could've been worse."
"I need you to stick around," the Professor looked at him, giving him a meaningful look with her words.
He swallowed and nodded, not even needing to catch her thoughts to know what she meant. She had caught onto something that he had ages ago, in only a manner of seconds, "Right," he cleared his throat and turned to the nest that actually had Handles the Cyberman head resting on it, the poor old bot looking old and rusty with age, "There you go buddy," he shifted the head, "Comfy?"
"Comfort is irrelevant," the head stated.
"How's that is that better?" the Doctor patted the top of it as he shifted it once more.
He let out a chuckle at that, "You just take it easy buddy. He's getting old," he looked at the girls, "I do my best for him but...I just can't get the parts you know. Hey, I know the feeling."
The Professor shifted in his arms at that and he squeezed her tighter.
"Where do you get these?" Clara held up her stick with her own marshmallow on it.
"I have a supplier. The pink ones are best."
"I have developed a fault," the robot stated, his voice cracking.
"Hey, don't you worry Handles," the Doctor reached out to pat his head again, "You're just dreaming. The sun's coming up very soon, you just hang on in there."
"I have developed a...fault. I...I have developed a fault."
"Hey Handles. Come on. Come on. One more dawn you can do it," he lifted the Cyberhead up, looking at it, "You've got it in you. Come on, just hang on in there."
"Doctor," the Professor whispered, putting a hand on his and shaking her head, telling him silently that…that it was over.
"Attention!" Handles called, pulling his attention back, "Emergency! Atten..."
"Handles what is it, what's wrong?" he asked the bot.
"Urgent action required! You must patch the telephone device back through the...console...unit…"
The Professor reached out and took the Doctor's hand as the small robotic head slowly powered down, "Come back," the Doctor whispered, "Handles? Handles..."
"I'm so sorry," the Professor whispered, turning to rest her forehead to the side of his face, feeling him close his eyes and press his head to hers, seeking comfort in the fact that, while he'd lost Handles, truly the only thing he'd had from the time before Trenzalore with him since he'd landed, he had regained the Professor.
"Thank you Handles," he sighed, placing the head back down, patting it gently, "And well done. Well done mate."
"Look Theta," the Professor whispered in his ear, "A new day," she murmured as the sun began to rise. She stood and held out a hand to him, helping him stand as they all gathered at the ledge of the tower, looking out at the village that seemed to just come to life under the sunrise.
"What do you think of my new place?" he joked.
"Not quite as lovely as the TARDIS," the Professor nudged him good-naturedly, "But it is lovely."
He smiled at her, "Not as lovely as YOU," he winked at her, before turning to look out at the village, "I come up here once a day, for a few minutes...remind myself of what it is I'm protecting."
"It's beautiful," Clara offered, looking at the two Time Lords as they observed the town, both of them…like nothing had ever happened, like no time had passed at all. The Doctor had his arms around the Professor, she was leaning back against him, both just smiling softly, it was like the Doctor hadn't aged, like the Professor hadn't missed all those years with him. She supposed, to Time Lords, time must mean so many different things, 300 years was probably like the blink of an eye or something, but that wasn't how SHE saw it. They were really going to send her away, they were going to stay there and fight and do who knew what while she was on Earth. And mere minutes for her could have been centuries for them, and indeed it had for the Doctor, "Why did you send me away?"
"Because if I hadn't," the Doctor sighed, "I'd have buried you a long time ago."
"No, you wouldn't. If you hadn't sent me away, I wouldn't have been on the TARDIS," she pointed out, "And you would never have gotten stuck here."
"Ha!" he chuckled, "Everyone gets stuck somewhere eventually Clara. Everything ends."
"Not love," the Professor looked back at him, mimicking the words Emma and they themselves had said at the Caliburn house.
"No," he agreed. In those 300 years, he would admit that a few women had attempted to 'woo' him, or at least that's what he assumed they were trying to do. But none ever worked. He tried to let them down gently, not hurt them, some of them needed a bit more doing though, and those…all he had to do was invite them to tea, sit them down, and tell them about the most amazing woman he had ever known, the woman he was waiting to return to him…once he explained her to them, what she was to him, what she always would be to him…they would usually leave quietly, a tad embarrassed for their actions, but resolving to leave him be and only remain his friend.
"No you either," Clara reached out and poked him, smiling.
But the Time Lords fell quiet at that, solemn, "Have you been paying attention?" the Doctor looked at her, "300 years later and you still don't use your eyes?"
"Hasn't been 300 years for me," she reminded him, "It's barely been 3 minutes!"
He sighed and nodded, conceding that, "I'm an old man now," he said, as though it should be all the explanation she needed.
"But you don't die," Clara explained, "Either of you. You just change. You pop right back up with a new face."
"No," the Doctor swallowed, "Not forever."
"Clara we can only change 12 times," the Professor added, placing a hand on the Doctor's arms that were around her, running them lightly, "13 versions of us and that's all."
"13 silly Doctors," the man muttered.
"Ok," Clara shook her head, not seeing the problem, "So you're number 11, like the Professor..."
"Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy eh? I didn't call myself the Doctor during the Time War but it was still a regeneration."
"And I…" the Professor sighed, "I died once, on Gallifrey. Didn't know it at the time, that I'd regenerated, but…I did."
"Ok so you're both 12 number then," Clara blinked, feeling tears in her eyes as their regenerations just…ticked away.
"Number ten once regenerated and kept the same face," the Doctor gave a wry smile, recalling that, "I had vanity issues at the time."
"And you?" Clara looked at the Professor, feeling her heart drop just…knowing something was coming, something she wouldn't like.
"I died in the TARDIS once," the Professor murmured, feeling the Doctor squeeze her tightly. After they'd met the Doctor from the War, realized that they were both on number 12, they'd…put some thought into it, really tried to get it straight because, unlike their age, the number of regenerations they had really WAS important. And they'd found out those disturbing things, that the Doctor had used up all his regenerations and that she…she had as well.
"The TARDIS brought her back," the Doctor continued for her, knowing she didn't like to think on that life as much as he didn't like remembering how she'd died so many times on Gallifrey and he hadn't been there to help her, "We…we thought it was just the TARDIS but…it wasn't."
"The TARDIS only sparked it," the Professor rubbed her head, "But all she really did was trigger the regeneration within me, she triggered it and kept the change at bay. It brought me back and healed me, but…I stayed the same as well."
All that time, they'd thought the TARDIS had just…reversed time, or something, that it had brought her back, when really, it had just allowed her own regeneration energy to take care of that.
"So there we have it," she nodded, "12 regenerations," she looked at Clara, "Means neither of us can do it ever again."
"This is where I end up," the Doctor looked out at Trenzalore.
"Where WE end up," the Professor reminded him, "Remember the time tunnel?" she looked at him, "It was the TWO of us."
The Doctor swallowed hard at that, tugging her closer, his hand splayed across her stomach, not wanting to think of that, not wanting to imagine that might happen before the baby could…he closed his eyes, he didn't want to think about it, he didn't want to entertain the thought.
"These faces," he spoke quietly, using the plural if just to appease the Professor, though his mind was racing with other thoughts, "These versions of us. The Professor's right, we saw this planet in the future remember? All those graves...one of them ours."
"Change the future," Clara whispered.
"You've got your TARDIS back!"
"Ha!" the Doctor smiled sadly, "You think I'm just going to fly away and abandon everyone? You think the Professor's sense of honor would let her?"
"Of course not. But you've been protecting this town for over 300 years without her. Do you not think it's anybody else's go yet?"
"What?" he shook his head, "The Professor's turn?" he shook his head at the thought, no…he couldn't let that happen. This town…it wasn't safe, it was dangerous, more dangerous than her teleporting onto enemy ships, because there were other people there she'd worry about, HE was there for her to worry about, she'd be easily distracted, and their baby…could he really let it be born there? With them aging? He knew why he was, he knew that if the Professor stayed she'd start to age as well, and…that was not good, that was not what he wanted. He wanted to be there to see their child grow up, to see it born, healthy and safe…not here, not on some small planet under siege.
"Well it won't be you forever," Clara argued, the Professor oddly silent about it all, "It'll end the same way whatever you do."
"Every life I save is a victory. Every single one."
"What about your life though?" the Professor did look at him for that, "After all this time, don't you think you've earned the right to think about that?"
He smiled sadly at her, reaching up to touch her cheek, her smooth, unwrinkled cheek with his wrinkled hand, "I've been having that argument for the last 300 years all by myself."
"But you didn't have your TARDIS," Clara cut in, wanting so badly for him to just…fight again.
"Ah!" he laughed, nodding, "Yes well that made it easier to stay. True."
"Doctor!" Tasha's voice called.
The Professor grumbled under her breath at that, "Seriously? NOW?" she glanced at the Doctor.
He gave a small chuckle at that, seeing the hologram of Tasha appear in the sky, "Look who's woken up!"
"The Church of the Silence requests parlay," Tasha stated, "Your rights and safety are sanctified."
"We'll be right up."
"I'm sending a transporter."
"Nah don't bother. We've got our motor back."
Tasha's hologram nodded and blinked out, the light around the town seeming to do the same and just…go black, "It's gone dark," Clara frowned.
"Short days here, remember?" the Professor looked at her, "Didn't quite think it was THIS short though."
"Everything ends," the Doctor repeated, moving away from the Professor to take her hand, "And sooner than you think," he turned and led them down the tower, towards the TARDIS, sitting in the same spot it had been.
"It seems someone is guarding our TARDIS," the Professor remarked lightly as she saw someone's elbow sticking out from behind the TARDIS, "May I?" the Professor asked, looking at him.
"Go on," he nodded, opening the doors to let Clara in, heading in after her as the Professor moved around the box to see a small boy, the same small boy that had been standing with the Doctor earlier, crouched behind the box.
"You're doing a fantastic job," she spoke, leaning against the corner of the box, making the boy jump up and spin to face her.
"Doing what?" he frowned.
"Guarding the old girl," she nodded at the box, eyeing him, "You're Barnable, aren't you?"
"Yes ma'am," he nodded.
"Good to meet you," she held out her hand, "I'm the Professor…"
"Are you really!?" Barnable's eyes widened as he stared at her.
She smiled, pleased to know the Doctor had told people about her, "I am."
"You and the Doctor…" he began, "You're going to stop the bad men, aren't you? 'Cos that's what he said you do, together, that you stop the bad people hurting others."
"Yes," she nodded, "We are, we're going to try and stop them."
He nodded, hesitating before asking, "Are you going to let the Doctor come back?"
She smiled at that, crouching down to take his hands, "It's not up to me if he wants to stay or not," she told him, "I can't stop him, but…" she squeezed his hands, "If he decides to stay, I'll be staying too."
"You will!?" Barnable gasped, he'd heard SO many stories about the woman, probably more than the other children as he spent more time with the Doctor than others did, he knew about her, and he couldn't wait to 'see her in action,' as the Doctor often said.
"Oh yeah," she nodded, crossing her hearts, "Promise."
"Then, I'll wait," Barnable smiled, stepping back and giving her a small salute, knowing she was quite the soldier according to the Doctor.
She laughed, giving him one as well, turning to head into the TARDIS, unknowing that the Doctor had watched the entire encounter from the monitor, a solemn, sad look on his face as he heard her promises…
Clara frowned as they strode down the aisle of the Papal Mainframe, the row lined by people like before, but Tasha looked the same as always, unaged, youthful like the Professor was. They hadn't bothered with nakedness this time, if Tasha wanted parlay with them, then it would be on neutral terms, both sides being neutral to the traditions of the other.
"She hasn't aged much," she remarked, glancing at the Professor as she walked with her arm tucked into the Doctor's arm, helping him along as he used his cane to keep up.
"No," the Doctor sighed, "She's against it."
"Approach!" Tasha ordered, her face firm.
"Confess…" Clara looked to the side, hearing a rasping sort of noise, seeing a tall, thin alien with a large white head and no mouth standing there among the men and women.
"What are those things?" she asked them.
"Confessional priests," the Professor answered, "Genetically engineered so you forget everything you've told them."
Clara looked way from the Silent and towards the Professor, frowning, "Told who?"
"There you go!" the Doctor laughed, before they stepped past the end of the aisle, following Tasha as she merely turned and led them off once more.
Tasha watched as the Doctor lifted the lid of a box she had set down before him, peeking into it as she moved to sit on the opposite end of a long table in her quarters from him. The Professor was standing beside him, the Doctor having hooked his cane around her arm and tugged her back when she'd move to take a seat in the middle of the table, across from Clara.
"Satisfactory?" she asked.
"Where are the pink ones?" the Doctor looked up from the box of marshmallows.
"E-numbers. You're hyper enough as it is."
"Oi!" he pouted.
"She's right," the Professor nodded, glancing at Tasha and nodding her thanks to the woman for having looked after the Doctor in some small way over the centuries she'd been unable to.
She hated that though, she hated knowing that she'd lost 300 years with him, she'd lost centuries of being with him. She could have been on the planet with him, she could have had their child and raised it with him, they could have had a family, she could have helped him! And what had happened? She'd gotten stuck in the TARDIS, struggling to pilot it back to him, to the him she'd left, and made it there 300 years late.
She really was getting old wasn't she?
"So this is sweet," Clara said dryly, "Middle of a siege and you two have little chats?"
"She's right," Tasha sighed, "This situation cannot continue."
"It can't end either," the Doctor countered.
"Why did you ever come to Trenzalore?" Tasha looked at him, at him and the Professor, knowing that they had ever intention to BOTH stay there, but that the Doctor had been the only one to manage it.
"Well we did come to Trenzalore and nothing can change that now. Didn't stop you trying though did it?"
"Not me," she stated firmly, "The Kovarian Chapter broke away. They travelled back along your timeline and tried to prevent you both ever reaching Trenzalore."
"So that's what happened," the Professor murmured, "That's who blew up the TARDIS," she'd always had a suspicion, but she'd never been 100 percent certain, till now. She'd been right it seemed.
"They blew up your time capsule, created the very cracks in the universe through which the Time Lords are now calling."
"The Destiny Trap," she nodded, "One cannot change history if one is a part of it."
"They engineered a psychopath to kill you…"
"Totally adopted her," the Doctor smiled, "Madness runs in the family," he winked at the Professor.
"So does compassion," she nodded at Clara, who smiled at being included.
"I am not interested in changing history Doctor," Tasha cut in, "I want to change the future. The Daleks send for reinforcements daily, they are massing for war. Three days ago they attacked the Mainframe itself."
"They attacked here?!" the Professor frowned, it was…odd really, for a church that had a hand in the army, they were forbidden to war within the confines of the Papal Mainframe itself. But that wasn't the main issue, the main issue, was…she knew better than anyone, possibly even better than the Doctor, how the Daleks fought, how they planned, and how they attacked, and for Tasha to be alive…that wasn't right, "How did you stop them?"
"Stop them?" Tasha nearly laughed at the absurdity of it, making the Time Lords stiffen, "It was slaughter!"
"Why didn't you call me?" the Doctor frowned, "I may not be as battle-savvy as the Professor but I could have helped!"
"I tried. I died in this room, screaming your name."
"What?" the Professor looked at her sharply, tensing.
"No…" the Doctor started to stand.
"Clara…" the Professor called, "Back away from her."
"Oh..." Tasha blinked as Clara stood and moved back, back towards the Time Lords, "I died. It's funny the things that slip your mind…" she was cut off as she gasped and stiffened, falling forward onto the table, twitching, twisting, jerking…
"No!" the Doctor shook his head, "No, no, no, Tasha no, please not Tasha, no."
"Fight it!" the Professor called, "Tasha fight it! You can fight their programming!"
But Tasha just sat straight up, a Dalek eyestalk shooting out of her head.
"Step away from the Dalek unit!" a Dalek cry came as the doors were thrown open by the blast of Daleks as well, splintering the wood as a small number of Daleks rolled in, "Step away Doctor! Professor!"
"How do you know who we are!?" the Professor demanded, whipping out her blaster as the Doctor aimed the sonic at them.
"Information concerning the Doctor and Professor was harvested from the cadaver of Tasha Lem!"
"Bet she never told you how to break the Trenzalore force field though," the Doctor smirked, "She'd have died first."
"Several times," the Dalek agreed, the Professor glancing to the side to see Tasha stand and slowly make her way towards Clara.
"Well," the Doctor began, glancing at the Professor who nodded, subtly moving towards Clara as she readied her blaster, "You'd better kill me then," he turned to the Daleks, taking a few steps away from the Professor, drawing their attention to him instead, "Go on. But before you do..." he quickly flicked the sonic at the bed, broadcasting the question, STILL going on, out for them to hear.
"Doctor who?" the message continued, "Doctor who? Doctor who?"
"I'm a tough old bird," he grinned, "I'll be ages dying. Way enough time to answer a question. And, oh dear, what happens then boys?"
"You will die in silence Doctor or your associate will die!" the Daleks cheered.
"Think again!" the Professor turned and pulled Clara behind her, her blaster up and aimed right at Tasha's eyestalk before the woman could even raise her own Dalek laser-hand to threaten her, forcing the woman to remain stationary, "You so much as threaten Clara, the Doctor, or myself, and I will kill her," she glanced at the Daleks, "If you've seen her head, you know I will."
"See how the Time Lady betrays," one of the Daleks commented.
"Ooh, look at you Tasha," the Doctor ambled over to them, reaching out to squeeze Clara's hand as he passed, the girl still partially in shock from how close she'd come to being a hostage herself, "Standing there. That's what I'm talking about! You see the Professor? You see her standing UP. THAT is a WOMAN! I always knew you were a bit spineless, you and your pointless church! Why did we ever rely on you? Never trust a nun to do a soldier's work!"
The Professor turned, seeing something flash in Tasha's eyes, knowing the Doctor's plan to bait her had worked, that anger, while always the shortest distance to a mistake, could be quite the powerful motivator. She pulled the Doctor down just as Tasha turned, using the Daleks' own laser against them, destroying the lot of them.
"And she's back!" the Doctor cheered, holding up a hand to her, waiting for a high-five, but she just stared at him, "Right…sorry," he lowered his hand.
"Not the time dear," the Professor told the Doctor, turning to Tasha, "We need you to send us back to the TARDIS. Can you do that?"
"Yes," Tasha gestured them over to the teleports, "But quickly, the Dalek inside me is waking."
"Fight it," the Professor got into one booth, "Fight their programming."
"Oi!" she turned, narrowing her eyes, "If I can beat an entire system of Time Lords trying to turn ME into a Dalek," it was partially true, she wouldn't have been a creature made of hate, but…all else, emotions removed, war driven, remorseless, that was all a Dalek, "Then YOU can beat the actual Daleks."
"You have been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life," the Doctor agreed, getting in beside the Professor as Clara took the booth she'd taken last time, "Shut up and win. That is an order Tasha Lem."
"The force field will hold for a while but it will decay and there are breaches already," she warned them.
"So it's not a siege anymore," the Professor sighed, nodding, "It's a war."
"It's all up to you now," the Doctor told her, "Fight the Daleks, inside and out. You can do it, we know you can."
"Oh I see," Tasha remarked, a hint of bitterness in her voice, "You've got your TARDIS back haven't you? Time to fly away?"
"Tasha please..." the Doctor whispered, "Please," but she sighed and nodded, making him smile just a bit, "Thank you."
"None of this was for you, you fatuous egotist," Tasha rolled her eyes, moving to her teleport controls and setting them, "It was for the peace," she murmured, more to herself than them, before pulling the lever to send them off, "Fly away Doctor! Stay safe Professor!"
The trio appeared in the TARDIS only a moment before a 'ding' went off, "It's done," the Professor realized, smelling the turkey.
"What is?" Clara glanced around, still a bit jumbled from the transport.
"The turkey," the Professor smiled.
"Either or that or it's woken up," the Doctor joked.
"Do you want some?" Clara looked at them.
"Go on then."
"Got any plates?"
"Do you know we've even got Christmas crackers!"
"One thing," Clara moved over to them, "Look me in the eyes so I know you're not lying, and tell me you will never send me away ever again."
They looked at her, "Clara," the Professor smiled, "We will never send you away again."
Clara beamed at that, "Turkey smells good!" she turned to practically skip down the console.
"Do you need any help?" the Professor called, the turkey was rather large and Clara was very small. Even being pregnant she should still be able to help somewhat, between them the turkey might even be light.
"That'd be great thanks," Clara smiled as the Professor moved to join them.
The Doctor watched the m go, glancing sadly at the monitor as he saw Barnable there waiting, closing his eyes as he remembered the promise the Professor had made, that she'd stay with him. And…he couldn't let it happen. The siege was about to turn into a war…and she'd done enough fighting in one. He wasn't going to let her turn into the soldier again. He wasn't going to let her have their child and have THEM grow into a soldier either. He wasn't going to risk her getting hurt in the battles to come and losing their child.
He wasn't going to risk it.
Down below the underconsole, Clara beamed as she saw the turkey, perfectly cooked, "Perfect!" she cheered.
"That's Time Lord cooking for you," the Professor smiled, "We take the TIME to get it right," she winked.
"That is terrible," Clara laughed at the horrendous joke, before she took one handle of the tray, the Professor taking the other one as they headed up the stairs, "Merry Chri…" she began to shout…only to see that the Doctor was gone.
"Doctor?" the Professor frowned, feeling her hearts starting to race. She let go of the turkey, nearly making Clara drop it but the human caught it, as she ran to the doors, fearing the worst…and it was confirmed when she stepped outside to see the Powell Estates before her.
"Professor!" Clara ran out of the TARDIS, nearly stumbling and falling to the ground as the box had begun to dematerialize while she'd still been in it, disappearing completely the second she'd managed to make it past the threshold, "What's it doing!?" she gaped as the box disappeared.
But the Professor could only shake her head, it had been an accident last time, it had been an accident that she'd missed him by 300 years, that she'd been apart from him…and now…
Now it was on purpose.
The Doctor had sent her away…
The Doctor stood in the middle of Christmas, Barnable beside him, watching as the TARDIS appeared before him, "If you're not leaving," Barnable began, "Why did you bring it back?"
But the Doctor was silent, merely turning and storming off, his face set in a hard mask. Barnable frowned and watched him go…the man had never been so…cold to him, to any child before, and he knew…the Doctor wasn't and wouldn't be the same one that had been there before.
"And so to the fields of Trenzalore came all the Time Lord's enemies. For this was the winter of the Doctor and the Doctor alone. In time when all other races had retreated or burned only the Church of the Mainframe remained in the path of the Daleks. And so those ancient enemies, the Doctor and the Silence, stood back to back on the fields of Trenzalore."
The Professor sat across from Clara at the table in the woman's flat hours later, the meal having been eaten by all except her. Something Clara's aunt had not let her hear the end of, wasting food, till Clara had told her to stop, that the Professor was going through something…and then Linda had to comment about how the Doctor wasn't there and had to ask if they'd broken up or something. To which Clara had replied that they were married, not dating. And so her aunt had tactlessly asked if they were divorcing then.
If the woman didn't soon with her comments, she would blast a hole in her.
"Merry Christmas everyone," a toy went off, "Merry Christmas everyone."
"Other fish in the sea, that's what I'm saying," Linda remarked, making the Professor's jaw tense.
They weren't broken up! They weren't divorced! They weren't separating or anything and when she found her way back to the Doctor she was going to grab those handcuffs she'd found and handcuff him to her if it was the last thing she did. The idiot! Sending her away. War was her specialty! The Woman of War she was, she knew battles and tactics and planning. She had no doubt that the 'endless war' she knew the Doctor was worried about would have in fact ENDED if she'd been there. Because she would have been tempted to have it sorted before her child was born…
She swallowed at that and placed a hand on her still-flat stomach, thank god it was flat. If Linda caught sight of the even the barest hint of a swell…well…she was sure the woman would just have an entirely new set of stock to pick from for her comments.
"Linda," Mr. Oswald sighed, seeing the vaguest tears in the Professor's eyes, "I don't think Mrs. Smith wants to talk about it."
"I've got a suggestion that's all," the woman defended, "I've got a list of suggestions."
"You could make a boy band out of my list!"
"I hate boy bands," the Professor muttered, she was much more a fan of classical music.
"Of course you don't," the woman rolled her eyes, "Not at your age."
The Professor slammed her hands down on the table, making them all jump as she rounded on Linda, "Don't you DARE presume to know a thing about what I like or what my relationship with my HUSBAND is like," she warned the woman, "YOU don't know a thing about us so it would be nice, it would be very nice, if you would shut your painted hole and keep your narrow mind and pointy nose OUT of other people's business! Thank you!"
"Well!" Linda stood and stormed out of the flat.
"Linda," Mr. Oswald got up, "I'm sorry about her," he apologized to the Professor before dashing off after the woman.
The Professor let out a breath, "I'm sorry," she muttered, more to Clara than anyone else, fearing she'd just caused a tension in the family.
"It happens every year," Clara waved her off, it was one of the reasons she didn't like Christmas much, "She made it longer than I thought she would this year."
"Good thing she left," Clara's grandmother smiled, trying to lighten the mood, seeing that the Professor truly was upset, she didn't know what had happened, but it wasn't her business, and she just…wanted to try and cheer her up, "These crackers are rubbish!"
Clara smiled at that, "Why, what's wrong with them?"
"They don't have jokes! Just poems."
"Will you tell us a joke Gran?" Clara glanced from her Gran to the Professor and back, a pleading look in her eyes, hoping it would also help cheer the woman, "You know loads of jokes," she held up a cracker, "Or a story?"
But the Professor shook her head and stood, "I'm sorry Clara, but…I can't…" she turned and rushed out of the flat.
"Professor!" Clara ran after her, "Professor wait!" but the woman was wicked fast for being pregnant and was already at the stairs running down them. But she managed to catch up to her just in the courtyard, grabbing her arm, "What's wrong?"
"I can't do it Clara," she shook her head, "I can't just sit there while the Doctor's on Trenzalore!" she looked at her, "You asked him to change the future and he is…he sent ME away, he's trying to protect me. As long as it's one of our tombs the timelines should hold but…I CAN'T let him do this, not again…"
"What do you mean again?"
"That man we met, the Doctor from the war…he became what he was, because of me. He went off to fight in a war, because I was fighting in the war. And I can't not do the same! The Doctor's fighting in this war alone, and he needs me, I…I need him…"
Clara reached out and grabbed her, hugging her tightly as the woman started to cry…only for a faint wheezing noise to make them both freeze and look over as the TARDIS appeared right beside them.
They looked at each other only a moment, before dashing in…to see Tasha at the controls, rushing around as the TARDIS hummed, "You can fly the TARDIS?" Clara blinked at her, stunned.
"We taught her," the Professor said quickly, before running over to her, "Thank you," she hugged the woman quickly.
"I came as soon as I found out what the Doctor had done," she said, "He'd frozen the TARDIS, I only just managed to extract her and thaw her."
"Thank you," the Professor repeated, "Now let's go!"
And with that, she turned to the console, the two women getting to work, calling out an instruction or two for Clara to help them fly the box back to Trenzalore.
The Professor hardly waited till the box had fully materialized, before she ran out of it and through the town, deftly avoiding the bombs and explosions and firing going on as the Daleks, the last of the Doctor's enemies it seemed, attacked the town, Clara rushing to keep up with her. She bolted into the clock tower, throwing the doors open…
To see the Doctor, now an impossibly old man, his hair white, his face entirely wrinkled, hunched over, sitting before the crack, silent and solemn and grim.
"I told you to go away Barnable," he called, his voice hoarse, as though he hadn't spoken in a while, and indeed he hadn't. When he'd returned, he'd shut himself away, coming out of the clock tower only to stop a battle or an attack, to destroy a Dalek or a Sontaran or a Cyberman, before retreating once more. The children who had once brought him so much joy were now just a reminder that he'd sent his Bonded, his pregnant Bonded away, for the sake of their child, a child he was sure he'd never get to meet now. A child he'd been certain had already been born.
"Guess again," the Professor said, moving her hands onto her hips as she stood before him.
The Doctor froze and looked back over his shoulder, "Proffy?" he breathed, standing, pushing himself to stand without his cane, stumbling towards her to look at her.
"Hate you," she mumbled, her voice cracking when he touched her cheek.
He smiled though, tears in his eyes, the first smile in…so long, "No you don't," he whispered, before pulling her into a tight hug, holding her as she cried.
"You sent ME away this time," she pulled away, pointing at him, "Do it again and I will never speak to you again, and no kisses either."
"You still want to kiss this old face?" he asked, though they could hear the despair in his voice, well aware he'd grown old.
"I will always want to kiss you," she told him gently, "No matter how young or old."
"It…" he swallowed, "It doesn't bother you? That I've grown so old?"
"To quote a very, VERY wise man," she smiled, "I don't care that you got old, I care that we didn't grow old together."
He nodded, remembering Rory for one brief moment, "Good," he let out a breath, "And I won't," he crossed his hearts, "My hearts wouldn't be able to take sending you away again," he looked past her to see Clara standing there, quietly, "Hello Clara."
"Hello Doctor," she offered him a smile, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," he nodded back.
"Here," Clara handed over the cracker that was still in her hands, "One last hurrah eh?"
The Doctor reached out a shaky hand and took it, the Professor taking the other end, but he struggled to pull it.
"Hey it's ok," Clara moved to his side, seeing the heartsbreak in the Professor's face to see the man who had been so strong, now so weak, so old, "It's fine," she took his hand, helping him pull, "Don't worry."
He cheered as the cracker popped, a card with in it that Clara picked out, "Is there a joke? Huh?"
"Extract from 'Thoughts On A Clock' by Eric Ritchie Junior," Clara read.
"I love that poem," the Professor remarked softly, smiling when the Doctor moved to put his arms around her, holding her close, as he always had done, even though he wasn't quite as firm as he used to be.
"Is it a knock-knock one?" the Doctor asked, making them realize his hearing had gone a bit as well if he missed the 'poem' part of that, "Those are best."
"I don't think so," Clara shook her head.
"Well read it. Go on."
Clara glanced at the Professor, who nodded, letting her read it, "'And now it's time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven's hour is over now, the clock is striking twelve's.'"
"'And so the day, it shall now end, like every one must do. The golden dawn and shadows blend, and life begins anew,'" the Professor finished the rest of it, smiling softly at the Doctor.
"I don't get it," he frowned.
The Professor swallowed hard at that, "I'll explain it to you later," she nudged him playfully, "After the old man's had his nap eh?"
"Doctor!" they looked at the doors as they burst open, hearing Daleks shout outside as a boy ran in, "The Doctor will be brought! The Daleks demand the Doctor!"
"They're here," the boy gasped, "The Daleks, we can't stop them. They want you."
"Yes, yes, fine Barnable," the Doctor nodded, the Professor closing her eyes, even though she'd met the boy once, even though years had passed, she knew the young man before her was NOT Barnable, "Are you Barnable?"
"No Doctor," the boy said solemnly, clearly the entire town knew of his aging.
"Well don't worry Barnable," he continued, not hearing the boy, "I have a plan," but the boy hesitated, "Go!" he nearly snapped.
"Doctor!" Clara frowned at him, this was not the same man who had often dealt with children with kindness and affection, this was…a bitter man, and she assumed he would be. To have sent the Professor off…it was different than to wait and hope, the second time…it had been done KNOWING she was likely not ever coming back, with the intent for her not to return.
"I haven't got a plan," he told them after the boy left, ignoring Clara's cry, "People love it when I say that."
"Well then," the Professor smiled, "It's a good thing I'm here then eh?"
"Ah yes, the plan-maker," he smiled at her, tapping her nose.
"Give me a mo and I'll think of something."
"Well until then," he sighed, "I'd best go distract them, give you some more time eh?"
"How?" Clara shook her head.
"Oh I don't know," he smiled, "Talk very fast, hope something good happens, take the credit. That's generally how it works isn't it?" he winked at the Professor, letting her know his mind and thoughts and memories of HER hadn't disappeared, "At least until Proffy comes up with an exceptional plan."
"Doctor..." Clara frowned.
"Though…I rather think this is it," he sighed, "We saw the future," he looked at the girls, now so sad because…the Professor was there, all his effort…wasted, she was going to die with him again, he knew it, he could feel it, she was part of the events again, "This is how it ends."
"Change it! Huh!" Clara shouted, seeing the Professor look away, towards the crack that was still in the wall, "Like Tasha said change the future!"
"I could have once. When there were more Time Lords. Not anymore."
"Locate the Doctor!" a Dalek yelled, closer now.
The Doctor smiled sadly at the doors, before looking at Clara, knowing there was no point in asking her to stay there, "Thank you," he whispered to her, "And goodbye," he looked at the Professor.
"I'm mid-plan at the moment," she remarked, glancing at him, "I'll be WITH YOU soon," she promised him.
He smiled, a bit…relieved, despite it all, that he wasn't going to die alone, "The trouble with Daleks is," he turned to head out, "They take so long to say anything. Probably die of boredom before they shoot me."
"The Doctor is required!" they heard, clear as a bell, as the doors opened and he made his way out.
"What's the plan?" Clara turned to the Professor.
But she just strode right to the crack, that bloody, blasted crack. It was all its fault! The Doctor aging, all of it. The crack was still bleeding energy, time energy, but a different sort than before. It was interfering with the Doctor's natural biology, like radiation, it was poisoning him, allowing him to age, suspending their natural immoral qualities. And because of it, she was losing time with her husband, because of it, he was about to die.
And so…IT and the ones inside it had better do something to fix it.
"You listen to me!" she ground out, her voice firm and demanding and clearly upset as she shouted into the crack, "All of you, all you Time Lords, you listen to me. The Doctor has spent centuries protecting you because NO, it is NOT safe to come through and yet you don't seem to get that. He's dying now, of old age, because of your bloody time energy. So you help him. You help him change the future or so help me god I will bring you back into this universe just so I can hunt every single one of you down. Do you want that? Is that what you want? Do YOU want the Professor after you? Because that is what will happen if you don't help him. Now!"
She watched as the crack snapped shut.
"That was the plan?" Clara asked, not sure if it worked.
"Come on," was all the Professor said, rushing out of the room and out into the courtyard of the town to see the Doctor reaching the top of the tower.
"Sorry I'm a bit slow!" he called to the Daleks, "I may not be at my best right now."
"You are dying Doctor!" one assessed.
"Yes...I'm dying," he sighed, looking down at the Professor to see her looking up at him from the crowd, before he looked up at them again, "You've been trying to kill me for centuries and here I am dying of old age. If you want something done, do it yourself."
"You will die and the Time Lords will never return!"
"You still can't work up the courage to shoot me can you? You're still worried I've got something up my sleeve. Well you knock yourselves out boys," he held his arms open, "I've got nothing this time."
"No!" the Professor shouted as she heard the Daleks' weapons starting up, saw the energy gathering…and then one fired, just missing him…and so she fired at it. She whipped out her blaster and ran forward, firing as precise blasts as she could, taking out two before…before one sent a bolt at her.
"NO!" the Doctor screamed as he saw her thrown back by the Dalek blast to her shoulder, "PROFESSOR!"
Clara ran to her side, grabbing her hand, to hold it as the woman tensed and shook.
"No…" he breathed…when suddenly a golden crack opened in the sky. He looked up to see it, "Help her!" he shouted at it, "Please! Save her! She's…she's my Bonded and she's pregnant! Please!"
He watched, unsure, as two small wisps of golden-orange energy drifted down, one to him, and one to her, entering them through their mouths as they gasped, their eyes wide, locking on each other as they realized what had happened, what had just been given to them. They looked at their hands, letting out a breath to see…they were glowing…
"You will die now Doctor!" a Dalek cried, "You and your Bonded! This is the end of you. The rules of regeneration are known. You have both expended all your lives."
The Doctor looked down at the Professor seeing Clara helping her up, seeing her pushing Clara towards the others, all of them running for cover…before he saw her wink at him, tears in her eyes, "Sorry what did you say?" he smirked at the Daleks, "Did you mention the rules? Now listen! Bit of advice. Tell us the truth if you think you know it. Lay down the law if you're feeling brave but Daleks never, ever tell us the rules!"
"Emergency!" the Daleks started to report as they scanned both him and the Professor, "Emergency! The Doctor and Professor are regenerating! The Doctor and Professor are regenerating!"
"Well what do you know!" the Professor laughed, "Regeneration number 13!"
"We're breaking some serious science here boys," the Doctor grinned, "I tell you what, it's going to be a whopper!"
"Exterminate!" the Daleks fired at them, "Exterminate the Doctor and Professor!"
"You really think you can stop us now Daleks?" the Professor shook her head, seeing the glow surrounding her.
"If you want our lives," the Doctor smirked, "Come...and get them!" he threw out his arm, one after the other at the sky, the Professor more directing hers her…till she couldn't contain it anymore and threw her head back, the regeneration taking over.
"Love from Gallifrey boys!" was the last thing the Doctor called, before he too threw his head back, the regeneration pouring violently out of them, taking the Daleks and their ships with it, destroying them all…
The Doctor and Professor paused as they stepped onto the console floor to see Clara standing there a short while later, examining the clothes the Doctor had replaced just after they'd 'regenerated,' the fish fingers and custard and other bits of food on the console, smiling when they saw her spin and gasp, seeing them there, the Doctor young again, "Hello," the Doctor whispered.
"You're young again," Clara breathed, "And you're ok?" she looked at the Professor, both of them still looking like themselves.
The Professor nodded, "We…had to check something," she smiled, a hand on her stomach, "The baby's ok," she breathed, so…relieved. She'd been terrified, when the Dalek hit her, even if it wasn't her stomach it was enough of a blast to kill her and...the baby survived through her. Luckily, the regeneration had kicked in, but...it was violent, far FAR more violent than normal and she'd been utterly frantic that the energy had harmed the baby, killed it even. The Doctor had rushed her back to the TARDIS, right to the med-bay to check...and there scans and results came back with the best news they'd ever heard...the baby was still there, still alive, with no odd affects from the regeneration that they could see.
Oh, their child had to be a strong one if it could survive that sort of turbulent regeneration.
"You didn't even change your faces," she offered.
"Ha!" the Doctor shook his head, taking the Professor's hand, "It's started."
The Professor nodded, "We can't stop it now."
"This is just the reset."
"They gave us a whole new regeneration cycle."
"It's just...taking a bit longer to break in," the Doctor shifted.
Clara let out a small laugh, "You're not going to do that anymore, are you?" she asked them quietly, knowing they'd change who they were entirely.
"Maybe," the Professor shrugged, "Maybe not, we don't know."
"It all just…disappears doesn't it?" the Doctor smiled, "Everything you are gone in a moment like breath on a mirror. Any moment now they're a-coming."
"The Doctor and Professor," the Professor smiled, feeling…serene. The baby was ok, that was her main concern, the baby was ok, it has survived the main regeneration, all the internal changes, the only thing left was their appearance.
"You," Clara whispered, "YOU are the Doctor and Professor."
"Yep," the Doctor nodded, looking at the Professor with a smile, "And we always will be."
She smiled, "But times change..." she squeezed his hand, taking a breath, "And so must we."
The Doctor looked over hearing a sound like a child's laughter and turned, swearing he saw the ghost of Amelia Pond running past him, "Amelia," he smiled softly, thinking about her.
"Who's Amelia?" Clara blinked, the name was familiar…
"The first face these faces saw," the Doctor remarked, turning to the Professor and taking her other hand, just…holding her close, "We all change...when you think about it," he whispered to her, "We're all different people all through our lives. And that's ok. That's good."
She nodded, "You've got to keep moving," she agreed, knowing all too well that it was necessary, especially with their lives, "Just as long as you remember all the people that you used to be."
He smiled at her, touching her face, "I will not forget one line of this," he promised her, reaching out to touch her shoulder with his right hand, her doing the same, moving to clasp hands between them, their promise hold, "Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me."
"And I will always remember when the Professor was me," she agreed.
They looked to the side, breathing out when they saw Amy and Rory Pond standing at the top of the stairs, all too aware it was just their memory playing tricks on them, but that…it was special. There now, with them, were the three companions that they'd experienced in their 11th bodies, Amy and Rory and Clara.
"Raggedy Man," Amy greeted, "Tattery Girl…"
"Goodbye Doctor," Rory nodded at them, his arm around his wife, "Goodbye Professor."
"And goodnight," Amy whispered.
The Doctor smiled and looked at the Professor as she reached out and tugged at his tie, taking it off, him stepping closer to take her blaster off her leg…
"No," Clara sniffled, seeing them removing the things they loved most from each other, knowing it was symbolic for removing themselves from these last lives, "No…"
"It'll be alright Clara," the Professor smiled at her.
"Please don't change, grandmother, grandfather," she pleaded in a whisper.
"Hey," the Doctor grinned, setting the Professor's blaster down, her putting his bow tie beside it, "Gotcha," he winked at her…
Before he half fell back against the console in pain, the Professor falling to her knees, a hand to her chest, though neither let go of each other's one hand.
The Doctor gasped as he fell forward, panting and looking down at himself a moment, before spotting the Professor kneeling. He crouched down and moved his hands to her shoulders, making her look up at him as they stared at each other, taking the other in. He was taller, slimmer, grayer and a tad more wrinkled than before, his eyebrows were less delicate and his eyes were lighter. He reminded the Professor, at first glance, very much of an owl.
The Doctor though, felt the breath leave him as he blinked at the Professor, she was older as well, but seemed to possess a more…timeless beauty to her. Her hair was by no means gray, but a rich black, though he did spot the tiniest of wisps of gray scattered throughout her hair, more like…natural highlights than anything, very faint. Her eyes were green, but more like a forest green, she was fair and slim, but toned, seeming just a tiny bit taller than she had been.
He opened his mouth to say something…when he winced, gripping the side of his stomach.
"Kidneys?" the Professor guessed, her voice with a hint of a slightly deep rasp to it.
He nodded, letting out a breath, "I've got new kidneys…I don't like the color."
"Of your kidneys?" Clara asked, if just for something to let them know she was still there.
He winced, "And that was not…what I wanted my first words to you to be," he looked at the Professor.
She smiled, mirth in her eyes, "And what would that be?" she smirked.
He opened his mouth to speak again…when the TARDIS jolted, nearly sending them crashing into the console.
"On second thought…hold that thought," she pulled herself up as he did him, the two of them rushing about the console.
"What's happening?" Clara cried as the box shook again, clinging to the railings.
"We're probably crashing!" the Doctor called.
"Definitely crashing," the Professor remarked, "Is it always going to be like that?" she had to ask.
"Into what?" Clara shook her head.
"Stay calm," the Professor ordered her.
"Just…one question," the Doctor pushed some buttons and looked up at the Professor, "Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?"
"Yes," she nodded, moving to his side, "Because I actually passed my exams!"
"Must you bring THAT up?!" he rolled his eyes.
Clara just shook her head slowly, watching them bicker a bit as the Professor tried to get the TARDIS safely away from whatever it was they were about to probably crash into.
To be continued…in…Relict!
A/N: I want to start by saying I'm sorry the chapter was late, a combination of things held off the posting. The Lunar Cycle edits, New Years, traffic, my father's birthday, and well, New Years lol. But I got it up as soon as I could :) Literally, I just finished everything (editing/notes) and I've posted it so the time is all weird lol :)
As for the actual episode, I hope you liked the little twists. I really wanted Proffy to be pregnant for an entire series, after thinking about it for a long while, I wanted to see the Doctor being the protective one, being the one that has to step up and take care of her, because when she's fully pregnant, she won't be able to do much that she used to and she'll need to be the one taken care of. There's a lot in Proffy's past that needs to be resolved, especially with pregnancy and being a parent that I think we'd need an entire series to do justice to :)
I hope the reason the Doctor aged here made sense. It didn't make much sense to me in the show so I wanted to try three different theories as to why he aged, in each series. Here it was the exposure to the crack that made him age :) And since Proffy kept being sent away, she wasn't exposed to it and didn't age :)
I picture the next story to be up the day after the last episode of Series 8 airs. As for the title of the next series, according to my dictionary, Relict is essentially the surviving members of a once large species, or near enough :) It's like a remnant of a now extinct species, which, to me, since the Doctor and Professor are still trying to bring Gallifrey back/find it, they are technically the last of their species surviving in the TARDIS :)
For reference, I picture the new Proffy to look something like Demi Moore, but with green eyes, and her new theme to be Fortitude by Audiomachine ;)
I want to end by saying thank you all so much :) I'm really glad and touched that you've enjoyed the story so far and I really just want to say thanks to anyone who's ever read/reviewed/favorited/followed/anything this story. I hope that I can keep it up for Series 8 and give you all something you'll love :)
Happy New Year!
Some notes on reviews (from the end of Revelations)...
Thanks for pointing that out! I went back and fixed the 9th Doctor thing :)
I can't say why the 12th Proffy didn't say anything with the 12th Doctor, we'll have to wait and see if they put that moment into 12's timeline in the show to find out ;) I like to think that the Curator was the real 4th Doctor who, between adventures was working in the museum and (like when 10 met 5) the time differential shorted out, making him appear older. But that's just one theory until they clear it up in the show or interviews ;) And thanks so much! -hugs back!-
I know the scarf was knit by someone else lol :) But in this story, the Doctor tries to not think of the Professor so much that he hardly mentions her on adventures before her. When asked who gave him a scarf from her, he would lie to not have to say it was her and then explain who she is :)
I will be picking up Sherlock (hopefully) on January 19th, a week after the last episode airs :)
I liked the Moment too, but since I was planning to include Rose, I didn't want the Moment to be her as well. And since it was Proffy's creation, I couldn't see her just letting the hologram be anything but herself :)
If the Professor miscarries in the future, I'm not sure if I'd write an AU birth, mostly because Recollections was meant to be mostly the off-screen/mentioned moments from the Academic Series, the only AU in there is the AU 9th Professor, so I'd have to think on that :)