Oh. My god. I don't even know where to start with that episode, I loved it! And needless to say it has sparked a heap of inspiration which (unlike with Have We Done Manhattan yet, which unfortunately has lost its momentum at least for now) I will have time to pursue while the iron is hot. This one gets a bit darker than I originally intended but I am interested to see how the writers face up to this issue.

Anyway, more NOTD-inspired fics on the way as well as the final chap or two of Once, Twice, Three Times and hopefully some more oneshots for the Woman who Didn't Kill the Doctor. If you have any requests for anything I'm feeling the muse right now so fire away.

To Save the Doctor

As the others sullenly filed past him, into the Tardis, the Doctor took one last look up at the charcoal, dying Tardis on the hill. He was inside there. All of him. All of time and space. Everything that ever was or ever will be. Trapped. Lost. Bleeding out into the bleak grey landscape of the battlefield where he would one day meet his end.

The man who lies will lie no more

When he lies at Trenzalore.

A chill ran through his veins as the Whispermen's taunt echoed in his memory. When no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer. No more lying. The truth would have to come out. And all those tombstones that surrounded his grand monument – they were the cost of that truth.

In the language of the Gamma Forests, the word Doctor means 'mighty warrior.'

He hugged Clara a little tighter, hoping that her name was not on one of those stones. But it had to be. Because that's who she was – the girl who always saved him. There was always going to be someone in this universe dying for him.

"Doctor," Madam Vastra beckoned softly. "We must go."

The Tardis creaked in burdened agreement. The Doctor forced his eyes away from the battlefield and down to Clara's sleeping face. A tear slipped down his cheek and splashed against her skin, and he hurriedly looked away again, wishing that he had a hand free to wipe away his tears before he had to cross the console room.

Vastra, Jenny and Strax watched his coattails fly past as he disappeared down one of the corridors to put Clara to bed.

"That was the Professor, wasn't it Ma'am?" Jenny asked softly once he had left, sliding closer to Madam Vastra, trembling. "Who he kissed. She stayed with us. I don't...I don't think she's still here."

"No, my love," Vastra agreed with a sympathetic sigh as she put an arm around Jenny's shoulders. "I don't believe she is."

Strax opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment, the Doctor appeared in the doorway from the corridor, shoulders hunched, jaw tight. Vastra's arm dropped and the three on the console floor watched the Doctor, and he watched them, unsure of how dark they felt the need to be. In the silence, the moment soured. Strax cleared his throat loudly.

"Brief surveillance of the outer halls sir! I shan't be long!"

The Doctor shot him a mock salute and found the energy to swing himself onto the console floor. Strax headed purposefully for the nearest doorway (though to be honest he had no idea where it lead) and Vastra and Jenny turned their full attention once more to the Doctor as he began tinkering beside them.

"I'll drop him off at Hastings if you like," the Doctor offered. "He'll leave you alone for a bit."

"Thank you," they both said at once. They shared a glance, and Vastra ventured on. "Did you sort some things out with Professor Song?"

The Doctor looked sideways at her, and then back down at the controls. "I did. Yes."

"And Clara?"

"Her too. She's the real Clara. She survived." For a moment his voice sounded hopeful, but then his eyes darkened and his tone filled with spite. "Lived to die another day."

Vastra and Jenny jumped back as he jerked one of the levers down bitterly. He paused a moment, glaring at them with an almost indecipherable expression, and dragged himself to the next panel away where he braced his arms against the console and hung his head.

"And now she can't walk away." The words flooded off her tongue before her shaken mind could stop them, and Jenny's eyes grew wide with terror. She studied the Doctor, steaming with guilt and sorrow and loathing, and then glanced up over her shoulder at Vastra, who was frowning at the Doctor too.

"What-what-what I meant was-"

"I know. What you meant."

The Doctor turned to them and his eyes were darker than pitch. Jenny gasped and pressed herself back against Vastra, who put a protective arm around her waist.

"There will always be more of her, always running, always dying," the Doctor spat, pointing a finger behind him at the door leading to Clara's room. "Forever and ever. They have no choice. They can never leave me, they can never fall in love, they can never take themselves out of my path – none of them, none of the millions of Claras. Not even the real one." He lowered his finger and strode towards them. Vastra backed off, but after a few steps, Jenny stood her ground

"She has to stay with me until I need saving -" the Doctor went on, "- and then if she needs to die, so be it, there'll be another Clara two steps away to take her place. Not the real Clara, but real enough. And the same thing will happen to her, and the next Clara, and the next Clara." With each in the list he took a step towards her, until he loomed over her, staring straight into her terrified eyes. "She cannot escape me. That's what you meant."

Vastra hissed and stepped up to defend Jenny, but any ensuing fight was interrupted when the Tardis breaks vworped – harshly, as if they too were scolding him -and the Doctor's anger seemed to fragment.

"I-I'm sorry," he stammered, backing away and quickly turning back to the console to try to hide his face. He gestured vaguely but insistently at the door. "Go, go! I've got to- I have to-"

Taking a deep breath, he pulled himself together. When he turned back around, they were gone.