A/N LAST CHAPTER EVERYONE. :(
I really wanted to list all of my followers, favouriters, and reviewers here but there are so many of you, it would be twice the length of the chapter itself. So just know that you, yes you, right there, are amazing. That's right. You've read this fic, you've followed it, hopefully you've reviewed it and I. Love. You. *hugs you*
I am planning on writing some more things, but more kind of oneshotty stuff. I'm not really prepared or have enough ideas for another chapter story with a convoluted plot line. I may in future, though. But I have something starting that I will post the first part of in the next few days, so watch this space!
I am so happy so many people have been reading this, and liking it. It really brightens my sometimes quite dreary days! I hope you can leave me one final review, tell me what you thought of the ending, have a chat etc. Goodbye, every one of you lovely people, goodbye, but not for ever!
And now, without further ado, here is the last chapter.
Artie was beating him at chess.
Artie was beating him at chess.
Artie Maitland was beating the Doctor at chess.
He could barely believe it. The young boy already taken six of his pawns, a rook, a bishop, both knights, and his queen was currently in a very compromising position.
There may possibly have been a reason for the Doctor's sudden ineptitude, which may possibly have been the young woman sitting beside him on the piano stool, who may possibly have been Clara Oswald.
She had her little hooked nose in a book- To Kill a Mockingbird, it seemed that she loved the old classics- and was looking up from it every few minutes to see the progress of the game. Complete with amused smirks whenever Artie took a piece.
"Another one! I'm gonna win!" Artie announced, knocking his last bishop off the board.
"Losing your touch, Doctor?" Clara commented teasingly.
"No, of course not. I am the best chess player this side of the universe! Well, on Tuesdays. And every second Friday. Funny story behind that, actually-"
"Your turn," Artie reminded him. The Doctor studied the board, and he was indeed in some deep trouble. How had he made such horrible moves?
Clara started humming something under her breath, and shifted on the stool (which was really big enough to fit both of them without touching at all) so that she was leaning back against his shoulder.
She was sitting right here next to him. Alive. Safe.
She had jumped off that cliff to save him, when they both should have died.
And that tune she was humming was intolerably distracting.
Artie was giving him a funny look, so he quickly moved his single remaining rook forward a few spaces. His opponent broke out in a wide grin.
"That's your queen, I'm definitely gonna win the next chess tournament now if I can beat you!"
The Doctor somehow doubted that 'definitely'. So did Clara, apparently, from her following little laugh.
Two pawns, a rook, and the king. It was possible to turn the game around from here, as the Doctor certainly was an accomplished chess player.
But there was the tiny little problem of Clara Oswald dying, not dying, getting irritated at his feigned ignorance...kissing him (alright, maybe he kissed her. How did this sort of thing work anyway?).
He quickly moved the rook up a couple of spaces, hoping he wasn't blushing.
Clara's raised eyebrows suggested that he was.
"Check!" Artie said joyfully, making a final move.
He looked back at the board. Brilliant.
"Actually, Artie...that's checkmate," he corrected.
"Checkmate!" the boy yelled, jumping up from his chair. "I beat him! I beat him!" He ran out of the room, the Doctor's king in hand.
"You know you wouldn't have won, Artie, if the Doctor hadn't been staring at Clara for the entirety of the game," Angie Maitland commented.
Don't blush you idiot.
He hadn't been staring at her, had he? At least, not for the entire game? But Artie looked skeptical of his own win, now.
Apparently, he had.
"Where's George?" he changed the subject.
"Work. Another 'crisis'." Angie made quotation marks with her fingers. "Which reminds me, where did you go last night, Clara? Spend it on the TARDIS, did you?"
"Angie!" Clara glared.
"Hey, he's not my boyfriend."
The room went uncharacteristically quiet, where Angie was smirking, Clara was giving her a withering look, and the Doctor just didn't know what to say.
What did normal earth boyfriends do? Made their significant other happy, he supposed. Talked with them, knew all about them. Thought they were kind and funny and pretty. Spent time with them. Couldn't bear the thought of losing them. Took them to nice places just to see them smile. Kissed them, and...other things...
He tugged at his bow tie, felt his blush deepen.
"Wonder what he's thinking about that's made him go all red." Angie commented to Clara.
He tapped Beethoven's 9th distractedly out on the table, trying to occupy his mind on something other the smile Clara was shooting him, obviously trying to hold back laughs.
THE NEXT DAY (actually like an hour later for the Doctor but the next day for Clara... wibbly wobbly timey wimey)
The Doctor found himself spinning, darting his feet across the cracks in the path as he approached the door, glowing white with a window of frosted glass.
He hopped onto the doormat, and noticed something he hadn't before. Tied above the doorframe, a little sprig of mistletoe. Someone must have hung it up for Christmas, and hasn't taken it down.
He smiled, and decided that, however awkward, that had been a very good Christmas. One of the best. And that was not solely due to the uncharacteristic lack of deadly aliens.
He buzzed the doorbell, once, twice, thrice, then knocked on the glass. Artie appeared within just a minute or two, and opened the door to admit him.
"Gooood morning Artie! I mean," he checked his watch. 12:36, Sunday. "Good afternoon! But it doesn't feel like afternoon, how about good little-bit-after-morning-but-not-quite-afternoon-a nd-definitely-not-evening-just-yet?"
"Um, sure. Clara's upstairs."
"Ah, but how do you know that I'm here to see Clara?"
Angie, coming down the stairs, replied, "Because you're stupidly happy and smiling like an idiot."
He opened his mouth to protest, but then realised that it was probably, regrettably, quite true. "Where's your dad, then?"
Artie looked at the floor. "At work again. I wish he would stay home for once. He's been going out all the time since...since..."
He patted the boy on the shoulder. "Well, I bet you'll win that next chess tournament."
He smiled, "If I can beat you, I can beat anyone!" and skipped off, presumably to coerce his sister into a game.
He took the stairs three at a time, swinging around on the banisters. He knocked on Clara's door ten times in quick succession.
She opened the door with a smile. "Hey there, chin boy."
"Oi, enough with the chin! I don't go on about your nose!"
"That's only 'cause you don't want another punch in the arm."
She stood and looked at him for a few seconds, before asking, "You gonna get out of my doorway?"
"Why, you going somewhere?"
"No, I'm going to mope around my bedroom all day."
"Oh, oh. Do you want me to leave then?"
"Sarcasm, Doctor. Let's go."
"Who says we're going somewhere?"
"We're always going somewhere."
"What if I don't want to?"
"Of course you do."
"What if I said I just want to stand here in your doorway?" There. He could do sarcasm.
"In my bedroom doorway?"
Her little smile coaxed a mirroring one on his own lips. "Yes...?"
Clara rolled her eyes. "Fine." And then stepped right up to him, within millimetres of his chest. Stood on her tiptoes. Put her hands behind his neck. Kissed him. A lot. Was that a fitting adverb for kissing?
When she pulled away, he had to blink and work his jaw several times for loss of definite thought.
Clara slipped past him, grabbing his hand and leading him down the stairs. He had to admit, he stumbled a bit along the way.
"Oh, damn, George's not home yet," she muttered, peering out the window at the driveway.
"He's at work," the Doctor told her.
She gave him a slightly puzzled look. "I know. I live here, Doctor."
"Yes, yes, of course."
"Oh, you know what, it's a time machine anyway. Angie!" the last bit was directed down the hall. "I'll be back in ten! Look after Artie!"
And she pushed him out the door, shutting it behind them.
He recovered himself, hop-stepping down the path, as Clara laughed beside him, to where the TARDIS was parked. He clicked his fingers and flourished his hands as the doors opened.
"Show off," she muttered teasingly, stepping in.
He leaped around the console, swirling his coat behind him. "So, where d'you wanna go? England, 1349? Nice year, that one. Sunny for once. Some nice people too. Except for...oh, you know," he coughed.
"The bubonic plague?"
"Yes. Yes, that. Alright, not 13th century England then. You ruin all my fun. How about...space Vegas! I said I'd take you there! Or Sisthwa, the city made of song! We could go meet Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Elizabeth the First!"
"You know Elizabeth the First?"
"In fact I do...on second thoughts, let's just go to Space Vegas. Yes. I'm pretty sure old Liz won't be happy with me. I accidentally married her."
Clara laughed, her eyes twinkling at him across the controls.
"You are staying, aren't you?" he asked softly.
"You're not getting rid of me anytime soon."
Not on purpose, anyway. You'll go someday. Someday there'll be a goodbye.
But not today.
What was that he'd said, years and years ago, to a grieving mother on Christmas Eve?
What's the point in being happy now if you're going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because you're going to be sad later.
"Good," he grinned. "Brilliant! Fantastic!"
He crossed the room, took her face in his hands, planted a kiss on her forehead. But then he looked at her shining eyes, and reconsidered. Wasn't a coward for once.
He kissed her. Properly. Actually. Just little, just soft, just short. It made something rise in his chest, something warm and sunny and...and free. Free of uncertainty, mystery, doubt, fear. Was that how people described kisses?
He kissed her again. Stopped himself before a third time.
"So where are we going?"
"Where are we going?" he took her hand, running around to the other side of the console. "Clara Oswald, we are going..."
He smiled again, some kind of irrepressible happiness surfacing in the curl of his lips, and in his tight grip on Clara's hand.