A THOUSAND YEARS AND COUNTING | ONESHOT

She wakes up to complete silence. Her head pains as if literally splitting in half and her limbs feel like lead, unwilling to cooperate with her and move already. It's like this that her hand half-heartedly flops in front of her eyes as she tries to blink away the fogginess from her vision, struggling to prop herself up using her elbow.

"Doctor?" Clara calls out, voice hoarse. Frowning, she clears her throat and tries again. "Doctor?" Her hand moves out of her vision as she looks around, wondering where she even is. Familiar four walls greet her before her panic can settle in properly; she's in her room, in the Maitland house. Completely, perfectly safe.

"Doctor!" she says once more, unable to force her voice heighten in volume. It takes effort that she can't seem to muster up at the moment. She continues to glance around the room, taking in the dresser where the letter Vastra sent her still lay before looking anxiously over at the wide open door.

Were, exactly, is the Doctor? Is he all right? Is something wrong? It could even be that he simply left her there and went off somewhere in that snog box of his. However, the moment that thought comes to mind, Clara dispels it. The Doctor would never leave her, alone and confused, after all that has happened to them.

Although, before she can properly think back to everything she has now learnt of the Doctor, a head pops out from the side of the door frame. Clara nearly falls off of the bed at the surprising sight.

It's none other than, of course, the Doctor.

"Clara! You're awake!" he says, beaming as he straightens up, disappearing for a second before entering the room with a tray in hand. "I was making you something to eat before you woke up! Figured you must be tired and all that after…"—his smile melts into a pensive frown—"what happened." But then he shakes his head lightly, going back to smiling enthusiastically. "Anyway, here we are!"

He walks with quick strides to her bedside and places the tray down on her nightstand. Carefully, he sits on the bed, legs firmly placed on the floor. He turns his torso to look fully at her.

"I tried to make a soufflé at first but it kind of…" he falters, looking a bit embarrassed now. "It, uhm..."

"Was too beautiful to live?" Clara finishes for him with a small smirk.

"Yes, exactly!" the Doctor replies, nodding his head while attempting a morose expression. "Poor thing, that. But, either way, I made you something else and got some apple juice—only drink left in the fridge. I hope you like apple juice? I don't. Hate apples, personally."

Clara crinkles her nose. "Never really liked apple juice, to be honest." She grabs a sandwich from the tray and takes a tentative bite of it. It's not terrible, surprisingly. "Huh. Not bad."

"That's good! I don't understand how some people can even like—wait, why do you sound so surprised?" The Doctor narrows his eyes at her, offended. "I'll have you know that I was once part of an intergalactic cooking competition in which I won second place." He looks smug for about a second before pouting. "Of course, I thought I deserved first, but an Aznac won. You know, since they have six arms." As if to visually enlighten her, he raises his arms and wriggles them around. "I would have won if that Aznac hadn't been competing. Or, well, if I had two extra pairs of arms. Either or."

Clara blinks, trying to process the Time Lord's rambling. "...right," she finally says, and just leaves it at that.

"Yes, well, enough talking! Eat up, eat up, Clara! You must be very hungry."

"I mostly have a headache," Clara informs him after having swallowed another bite of the sandwich.

The Doctor nods his head. "Oh, yes, of course. After having gone into my timestream—" he immediately cuts himself off, catching up with his words. His neutral expression is lost and his eyes darken, mouth tightening and shoulders smoothing out. He turns his torso around so he's sitting with his face directed towards the wall instead of at her. "It must've been...overwhelming. The headache probably sprouted from the fact that you were bombarded with memories of your other selves when they were...scattered in my timeline."

"Doctor," Clara begins, quietly placing the sandwich in her hand onto the tray, "I know what you're thinking right now, and let me just tell you that you shouldn't feel guilty at all. Going into your timestream was my decision and my decision alone."

"Yes, I know, but I...I should have done something. You should have never had to risk yourself for me."

"Doctor, you are not a superhero who will always be able to save the day. Yes, you aren't human, but being a Time Lord does not make you invincible."

He shakes his head, his back bending as he balances his elbows on his knees. "That's not it, Clara: it's that you were close to dying again. On my watch. I...I don't want to lose anyone close to me. Not so soon. Not ever, if things would go my way for a change."

"Doctor, I have always been there for you. I may not have been exactly the same person but I always knew you, I always was by your side even without you realising it. And...if it's possible...I'm not planning on leaving any time soon," Clara whispers, trying her hardest to get her thoughts across. To get the stupid, completely oblivious Time Lord to understand the complexity of her emotions. "I have seen you at your worst and at your best. I have seen you through it all. Why place the blame on yourself when your friends only wish to help you?"

"Because I'm the Doctor. I'm this old, old man who is supposed to always have a solution, always know the answers. Maybe not immediately, but at the end of the day, I pull through. Yet, when it matters the most, I can never save my friends. Whether it be from—from Weeping Angels or—or from themselves, I always fail. They always leave me. Why is that?" He turns his eyes back to her then and Clara can see. She can see the pain, the guilt, the years of anguish. And she can remember those years too.

"I don't know," she murmurs. "But maybe it's because you can't always save everyone, Doctor. Because some time, some day, everyone will leave. No one likes thinking about the end but it's a known fact that it will happen. But why think too much about that? Why think about and obsess over the inevitable when you can just enjoy the memories being made, can save the planet, the world?

"Your companions...they have all seen such amazing sights and realised their true worth to the universe, to themselves, thanks to you. They owe it to you as you owe it to them to continue your life with the TARDIS and with friends by your side to keep you in check when need be. You can't give up because of all the bad that has happened when so much good has yet to take its place."

The Doctor stares at her, the emotion in his eyes indiscernible, before he laughs softly. "You are wise for your age, Clara Oswald."

"Think again. I'm almost as old as you are, in a way," teases Clara, smirking. "Though I don't look my age."

"Well I—wait, are you saying I look old?" The Doctor's mouth opens slightly as he self-consciously pats down his hair and tugs at his bow-tie. "I do not look old!"

"Whatever helps you sleep at night."

"I don't!"

"Uh-huh. Of course."

The Time Lord huffs in indignation. "I don't," he mumbles under his breath, leaning over and taking a sandwich. He takes a bite and chews half-heartedly, making it difficult for Clara to not giggle.

A pleasant silence befalls them as they begin to eat. Clara hadn't realised until then how hungry she is so the food is fulfilling and the silence makes it easier for her to properly gather all of her newly-acquired memories of her time with the past incarnations of the Doctor.

"Doctor?" Clara speaks up suddenly.

"Yes?" he inquires while chewing. She gives him a disgusted look in return which he seems to not notice. Nevertheless, she continues with what she had wanted to tell him since the moment he first saved her.

"Thank you."

The heartfelt gratitude finally causes the Time Lord to finally pay her proper attention. Having long-since swallowed, he simply stares at her in mild shock. "Thank me? For what? You had to throw yourself into my timestream and get torn apart into a million pieces! I—I should probably be thanking you." He turns himself completely around to look at her better. "Clara Oswald, my Impossible Girl, thank you."

She shakes her head at the words. "No, Doctor, thank you. You've...changed me for the better. I was happy to help you because I care for you, because it's what we do. We save each other. And when I first met you, I was much more guarded than I had been before my mother's death. It was difficult for me to trust others completely with myself, with all of me, but you helped me realise that it was okay to open myself up to those I know would never hurt me. You helped me realise that you would never hurt me, Doctor." Clara chuckles at this, staring down at her lap. "Not even if you tried to."

The Doctor smiles widely at her, eyes strangely shiny, and reaches out to place a cool hand on her cheek. She closes her eyes, leaning into the touch, and lets out a slow breath.

"I will never hurt you, Clara," he whispers, moving forward and delivering a kiss to her temple. His lips burn hotly there, even after he moves back. "Not after I finally know how important you are to me, not after all that you have done for me."

"Not anymore, though," she says, trying to play it off but attempting to laugh light-heartedly. "Not the Impossible Girl now, am I? You know the truth about me. I'm not hiding some great agenda or secretly from another race. I'm just Clara Oswald. Human."

"And the most important girl to the Doctor. You are my saviour," he says strongly. "Without you, I wouldn't be here. And I still want you by my side. You aren't a puzzle for me to solve; maybe in the very beginning you had, but not anymore. Not after realising that you are so much more than just something to be figured out. You're a dear...a dear..." he hesitates, eyes roving nervously around the room, before he sighs and leans towards her once more. His lips brush, gently, against the corner of her own. Clara suddenly finds it difficult to breathe.

"You're very dear to me, and I'll always want to find out more about you." The Doctor seems to turn awkward, then, under Clara's surprised stare, her mind still reeling from the almost-kiss. "You know, like, for instance, your favourite colour, favourite book, favourite season...uhm, yeah." He nods, cheeks pink, and ducks his head shyly. Silence drapes over them once more.

"Doctor?" she finally asks.

"Yes?" He cringes, as if ready for a slap.

"Don't ever forget me, all right? Remember me always. It's a selfish thing to ask, but...I want to be on your mind like you will be on mine, like you have always been on mine."

The Time Lord looks taken aback by such a request, freezing entirely, but then a large, crooked smile takes over his face and his thumb is running circles over her cheekbone.

"I always want to be the one on your mind so we can be selfish together," he says brightly, eyes twinkling. "I'll never forget you, Clara Oswald. You will always be my Impossible Girl."

"And Soufflé Girl."

"And Soufflé Girl," he adds, chuckling. "Even though you haven't been able to make a proper one from the first moment I met you."

Clara's small grin vanishes, being replaced by a playful frown and the narrowing of her eyes. "Careful, Chin Boy," she warns him.

He smiles warmly down at her, moving so that he's sitting right next to her. "I'll be careful," he says, surprising her by pressing a gentle kiss on her temple for a second time. "That's a promise."

"I'll hold you to it then," she mumbles, sleepiness suddenly hitting her hard. She gives in to the demand, leaning her head against the Doctor's chest. His arm cradles her shoulder blades rather naturally, his fingers curving around her upper arm. The Doctor's cheek presses on the crown of her head, and in this exact position, they fall asleep.

Before sleep completely overtakes her, Clara swears that she hears a quiet, "Sleep well, my Clara."

But maybe it had just been a dream.


folornwriter: It should be obvious that I don't own anything. Not the Doctor, Clara, or the show itself.

Took this from my Tumblr and decided to put it on here as well! But really what even is this. Whatever, though; I actually wrote something for this fandom even though I had been convinced I never would, so yay for personal achievements!

Anywhom, hope you all liked~ do comment and/or favourite if you so wish.