Author's Note: I just wanted to let all of you, my dear readers, know that I have absolutely loved writing this story. When I started it at the end of May, I never imagined that it would turn into what it did. I was in love with the concept and what I was creating, but I never knew that I could grow to love it even more by hearing about what emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc. it inspired in all of you. And honestly, it changed because of that. Even though I kept up a pretty regular rate of posting a chapter once I was 3 chapters ahead, I would add lines here and there to already-written chapters because of what I heard from you guys. So I just wanted to thank you for going on this journey with me – for putting up with my ridiculous cliffhangers and Moffat-like methods – and for making it this far. When I started this story, this final chapter didn't exist. But because of you – because of what I heard and saw along the way – this chapter came into being. So basically – this chapter is because of all of you. And I thank you for it. Because without you, I would never have known how this story was supposed to end.
Ruby, rose and mauve swirled around gold, amber and clementine, which in turn circled and faded into evergreen, emerald and even azure, cerulean, and lapis. It was like someone had taken a handful of the most precious jewels, smashed them, and smeared their dust across the sky. She walked up a step further, seeing yet more lilac, lavender and magenta, and colours she didn't have a name for, that maybe hadn't been invented yet – all sparkling and shimmering, shining and winking. There was nothing but colour as far as the eye could see – no ground; no up; no down – just endless jewel-toned luminescence against a pitch black sky.
Tears sprang up to her eyes as she grappled with words adequate to describe what she was seeing. Leaning her head against the wall, she breathed out a sigh of wonder. "It's…what is it?"
"The Luminescence of Urdcutl – well…technically, anyway." He walked forward a step, then cautiously stuck his toe outside the TARDIS into space.
"Doctor -!" She instinctually reached a hand out to pull him back in.
"No need to worry," he replied, his toe feeling about as though testing for something. A grin broke onto his face. "Ah yes. Perfect!" And he walked out the door completely, Clara calling out in alarm.
He turned where he was, hanging there. Or…not. It was as though he stood on an invisible floor, albeit one that kept rocking him slightly, like there were the gentlest waves underneath his feet. He bounced on his toes a bit, which seemed to have the effect of turning the waves spongy, making him rise a few inches into the air. "Haha!" He rubbed his hands together. He came back down slowly, landing softly on wherever the...invisible water-like floor was. He beckoned her with a wave of his hand. "Well, come on, then!" His tone was coaxing rather than demanding.
He didn't seem to be floating away or fighting for air, so Clara stuck out one toe gingerly, feeling definite resistance, as though there really were a floor there. She tapped it, and like it had appeared with the Doctor, the waves became spongy, sending her foot higher. Bracing herself against the door, she extended her other foot, letting go with a tiny squeak at…standing in space.
Blimey, had it really been that long?
She bounced on her toes as the Doctor had done, letting out a giggle as she floated into the air. Looking around her the view was even more breathtaking than from inside the TARDIS - a panorama of someone's decision to splash every known colour across the sky, and then sprinkle it with glitter. She held a hand out, expecting to meet with clouds or gas or something, wanting to feel it sift through her fingers, but it was only air.
"We're inside the box, so we can't feel them. Actually – we couldn't feel them even if we weren't inside the box because they're only gasses. Also if we weren't inside the box we wouldn't be breathing –"
"So it's a box, then? That's why we can – stand?"
"Well – I say a box, but it's not really a box. But if you like – think of a box."
"And what's in the air – why does it…?" She bounced again, unable to prevent her lips from curling into a smile when it sent her into the air.
"Ah! That's half-gravity. Well…not really half – more like a third and –"
"And what about the floor?" She walked a bit, letting herself feel the slight rocking, then spun on her toes and was surprised to discover the "floor" became solid and slippery, making her flail her arms out to keep from falling. "What happens if I fall?" She called out, her voice high-pitched and breathless.
"Nothing!" He walked over towards her. "You land on the floor. So, maybe not nothing – whatever happens if you fall and land on a floor. A bump? Bruise? Actually, no – it would probably just bounce you right back up again."
Regaining her balance, she couldn't seem to stop smiling. "So – the – floor – becomes slippery if you try to spin or slide on it, then?"
"Yes. Sort of like a mini wave pool, ice skating rink, bouncy castle and half-grav all in one, depending on your state of motion. That's why this is a popular destination for kids – mainly birthday parties." He beamed at her, watching her spring up into the air, giggling as she floated down again. "But after being in that house for so long, I thought you might enjoy a bit of – freedom. And fun."
Her smile became softer as she regarded him. "It's perfect."
"Ah! Not yet." He withdrew his sonic, aiming it back at the TARDIS and all of a sudden, "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" sounded forth tinnily from inside.
She laughed, clapping her hands, which she continued as she started to sway to the beat, then sliding, jumping, bouncing, floating - taking advantage of all of the various aspects that their kids'-box-in-space provided them.
The Doctor was dancing as well, seeming to enjoy the sliding the most, taking every opportunity to let his coat tails flare out. Otherwise, his "dancing" was more akin to a spooked baby giraffe, his limbs never staying in the correct places or keeping much of a rhythm. He flapped his way over to her, though, taking her hand and spinning her about, sending her sliding back, then sashaying up to her again and attempting a proper swing dance grip, grasping both her hands and basically throwing her so that she sailed through space, then bounced off the floor. He met her in mid-air, continuing to twist and spin her as they landed gently back down again, close enough so that she could see the way his eyes sparkled with the coloured lights swirling silently around them.
The song came to an end, and she stood there, wondering if she should say something or – do something. They were both breathing fast, and she wiped at a faint sheen of sweat on her forehead, suddenly self-conscious at being so close to him.
He seemed at a loss for words as well as he gazed at her, one hand still holding hers, before dropping it and wiping his hands on his trousers. "Oh dear. We haven't done enough running lately, have we?"
She let out a small laugh, conceding his point. "No." She shook her head, wondering if he was waiting for something with the way he was looking at her.
Suddenly, another familiar tune started up, and Clara's eyes met his as the strains of "Sunrise Serenade" streamed into space. Her mouth dropped open. "This is…"
"One of my favourites," he finished, taking a step back from her, one hand going behind his back and the other extending to her, palm up, in wordless invitation.
Her breath caught at the familiar memory, and she grasped his hand, letting herself be pulled into a proper dance position, nothing to separate them now. He immediately placed their clasped hands over one of his hearts, and she let her head fall onto his chest, letting the double-thumping fill her ears. She felt them breathe together, a small sound of contentment escaping from her throat. "I missed this," she murmured.
She felt his thumb stroke her fingers and squeeze. "Missed what?"
"You. Knowing it's you." She sighed into his jacket. "I never knew what you wanted cause what you'd said and how you were as John were just – so different. I knew what John wanted, but…not you. So I never knew where you stood. Like – the last time we danced to this and you talked about wanting me to dance with you across the stars. It sounded like you, but…" She raised her head, looking around her as realisation dawned on her. "Wait – were you talking about this?"
He smiled knowingly at her, glancing about as though admiring his handiwork. "Or something like it." His smile grew. "There are lots of places to go dancing, of course, but this…I thought you'd enjoy it the most out of all of them."
Her smile matched his, and she was sure her eyes reflected the multitudes of coloured lights as well. "It's perfect," she said earnestly. "Thank you."
He gasped, shoulders rising as he smacked himself on the forehead. "Ahh! Not yet! I almost forgot the best part!" Digging in his pocket again, he aimed the sonic back inside the TARDIS, and soon, the music filled the air, like the circling stars or gasses had picked up the music so that if flowed between them, surrounding them with sound. The Doctor clicked the screwdriver again, adjusting the volume so it wasn't overwhelming, and slid it back into his pocket.
She thought her cheeks might break, her smile was so wide, and she shook her head incredulously at him. "Any more tricks up your sleeve?"
He smirked, pulling her in again. "Just one – though it needs another thirty seconds to take effect, so in the meantime…" He swept her across the floor as the music crescendoed, sending her spinning and then tugging her back, so her back was to him, his hands holding hers at her waist, and they swayed together. She could feel his breath on her neck, and she leaned back into him, eliciting what sounded like a whimper from him. Then he spun her out again before bringing her back towards him, raising her hands above her head and twirling her where she stood, again and again.
She wasn't sure she'd ever been happier. So she said so, letting him see everything she felt for him in her eyes.
His features softened, and there was a twinkle in his eye. "One more thing, remember? One more thing, and then it'll be perfect." He turned his wrist inward, glancing at his watch. "Four…three…two…one. Look up."
As she did, the skies seemed to open above her, sending down a cascade of glittering, glimmering objects, like bits of stars raining down from the heavens. Lips in a wide grin from her gobsmacked ogling, she caught some of them on her tongue, dissolving and tasting like…like sunlight, if that was possible. What made contact with her skin seemed to harden for a moment, shaping into something jewel-like, before turning back into liquid again, slipping off and leaving a trail of sparkle on her arms and hands. She stepped back, head tilted up, arms spread to welcome it, certain she'd never experience anything like this again. "It looks like…" She began, watching the last of them trickle down from above before looking at the Doctor again –
Who was now knelt at her feet.
"Diamonds," she finished, breathless.
"Oh look…" His hands were cupped around something, and when he withdrew one, a single glittery, solid object shown in the centre of his palm. "I caught one." He raised it to her.
You said it looked like diamonds falling from the heavens, and I offered to catch one for you.
All of a sudden, John's words came back to her from that morning…
I took you dancing…
She inhaled shakily -
All those brightly coloured lights that lit up the sky…
- she looked at the object in his hand -
And then when you looked up to watch them, I knelt down…
- and tears sprang to her eyes as she stared at him open-mouthed, unable to speak.
He grasped her fingers. "Clara…I know that I can't give you everything I would've been able to give you when I was a human – when I was John." He smiled sadly. "I can't offer you the rest of my life – and I'm not even asking for the rest of yours. But…I can give you everything I know – and everything I am. I offer you all that's in my hearts – though you have both of them already."
She took another shaky breath, still speechless.
His thumb stroked her fingers. "You wanted to know where I stand. Well…it's here. At your feet. Asking you to pass through however much of your life you choose – at my side."
For the first time in two months – for the first time in a long time – the tears that fell down her face were of joy. She struggled to find her voice. "How's forever?" She whispered. "Does forever work for you?"
He smiled softly at her and pressed a kiss to her hand.
She laughed through her tears, holding up her other hand to remind him of the band of gold still encircling her finger. "I'm already wearing a ring."
He rose slowly, reaching into his jacket pocket for his screwdriver. "This isn't for your finger." Then he placed his hands behind her neck, undoing the clasp on her necklace and sliding off her TARDIS key. Balancing the key on his palm, he placed the diamond-like object in the centre of its top, aiming the sonic so it regained its liquid form and melted into it. Then he pocketed his sonic, closing his hands around the key, so that it solidified once more. When he opened his hands, the diamond-like substance had fused into it, sparkling and shimmering. Grasping it between thumb and forefinger, he presented it to her. "Will you be my wife…" He paused, his lips forming something akin to a self-deprecating smirk. "…again?"
Despite her wet tittering sounds, she nodded, her smile radiant. "Yes."
He pressed the key to his lips before threading it back through the chain and replacing it round her neck, his smile brighter than all of the jewel-toned lights combined.
Then his stands stole up to her cheeks, and he leaned in, kissing her softly and soundly. It was different than kissing John; there was no immediate fire, nothing raw about it. Yet instead, it was somehow more intimate: he teased at her lips, pressing in and then pulling back, like he was talking to her, an endless stream of soundless words. IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.
When they finally broke apart for air, they leaned into each other, arms going round the other, no longer needing the excuse of a dance to simply hold one another. She laid her head on his chest, smile feeling like it would never leave her face, and breathed him in.
"You were wrong, you know," she murmured.
He hummed into her hair. "Hrm. What? No, I wasn't!" She felt him raise his head to look down at her. She waited, biting down on a snicker. "Okay – what was I wrong about?" He asked in mock resignation.
She rubbed her hands over his back. "You said you couldn't have both, remember?"
"Oh. Right…when did I say that?"
"When we went to Central Park. You said you had to choose – that you could only have one. The name – or the heart."
"Hrm." She could feel him smile against her head. "Ah! You were wrong, too, though."
"What?" She pulled back, affronted. "What was I wrong about?"
He cupped her face affectionately. "You said this wasn't a love story."
Clara smirked, then placed a hand near her heart where her new TARDIS key lay, squeezing it meaningfully whilst holding his gaze. Her eyes shined up at him. "I was wrong."
He trailed a hand tenderly down the side of her face. "My…darling Clara," he murmured, his eyes shining at her now, too. "So was I."