Her heart, his hearts

Written by Loverly Souris

o0o o0o o0o

II. Clara

Days passed. Silent, motionless days.

After a night of restless sleep, she told him that she wanted to go home.

"Okay," he said and with a painfully false smile – similar to the one she was wearing –, he flew the ship back to her house. Before she could leave though, he stopped her at the door. "Can I come back for you next Wednesday?"

She looked at him, forcing her smile to go wider and nodded. "Sure."

Of course, she already knew that she wouldn't be there the following week. She stepped out of the blue box without the intention of ever returning.

Isolation from everything – that was her new goal. To avoid getting hurt.

She has always planned to try travelling alone, so she opened her book of "101 Places to See" and she let her fate guide her to a random page. A random place. Despite of thinking that the concept of "destiny" was rubbish, for once, she was willing to give in. She didn't have the determination to lead herself – invisible powers could come really handy in times like this.

After that, she packed her few belongings and practically ran away.

She didn't tell anyone where she was going. There was no need for them to know. When she bid goodbye to the family, they reassured her that she could come back whenever she wanted, the job would be waiting for her. She smiled at that as well. "Thank you. I'll think about it."

Her father only said, "Take care of yourself." She promised she would.

The plane took her to a distant country. She could immediately smell the scent of the cherry blossoms, although it was autumn. It must have seeped so deeply into the soil that it would probably linger even long after the islands sank into the sea. She was sure she'd love being here.

The air is heavy with rain. She is sitting on a bench with her favourite red umbrella over her head and watches the temple nestled between the hills.

She has seen so many wondrous things, but nothing can be compared to the subtle beauty of her own planet. Sights like that remarkable building half hidden by the clouds make her feel safe, even if this is an entirely foreign land. She suspects that maybe those who have touched the stars, whose line of vision has been stretched by alien civilisations, new universes, gradually grow to regard the whole globe as their home.

Minutes drift by, and she keeps counting the raindrops falling onto her umbrella. She feels hollow, an abandoned shell, but it's not the same, painful emptiness she felt for days after that evening. It's a harmonious, reconciling void and she smiles.

Sixty-five drops later, she stands up and walks towards the flight of stairs leading to the temple. She places her palm on the traditional wooden gate and drinks in the energy it is emitting. It's red, her favourite colour. There is a similar monument on the top of the stairs as well – she touches that one, too.

On the path towards the small shrine, she sees more people, mostly tourists and a few locals. Slender maples are watching her with their fiery crimson leaves, swaying under the weight of the raindrops.

A group of young girls passes by her, giggling and heading towards a booth. She can't see what they are doing, but she can hear squeals of excitement and groans of disappointment before they walk away, each carrying a strip of paper in their hands and step to a pine tree. Some of them tie the paper to the branches already adorned with whiteness, while others fold it and put it away.

It all seems very interesting, so she decides to take a look and hurries to the stand, but she doesn't understand anything of the foreign characters. She briefly thinks that it would be nice to know every language in the world, when a heavily accented voice addresses her. "Hi, do you want to know your fortune? It's free, just today. We accept offerings though."

She looks up. The girl sitting in the booth, clad in traditional clothes is distinctly not local, but she is not a tourist either. She is smiling at her patiently with a strange box in her hand.

Fortune? Well… why not? "Sure, how does it go?"

"First of all, shake this until a bamboo stick falls out. It has a number on it." And she pushes the box into her hand. She rattles it sheepishly, until a piece indeed appears and she gives it back to the girl. "Okay, then…" She inspects the number on the stick and turns away for a few seconds to retrieve another wooden case with several slips of paper. "Now, draw one of these."

Her hand ghosts over the box for a long moment, but then she reminds herself that she doesn't even believe in stuff like this and her heart is very silly for beating so fast. Finally, she chooses one and unfolds the paper. Of course, she can't read it.

"I'll translate it for you," the girl offers and she hands it to her. She starts reading aloud, partially showing it to her, her index finger following the characters. "Let's see… oh! It says "blessing". That's not bad. I had "small curse" on mine today and I forgot my phone at home." She continues, pointing at the second half of the paper. It's printed heavily. "These are the more specific and interesting stuff, an aspect of your life and the fortune. Desire – calm the storm in your heart to see clearly. A person you are waiting for – don't hesitate to forgive. Travel – you will find yourself, if you go to new places. Business – starting something new might be risky. Studies – even monkeys fall from trees. That's a traditional proverb, it means that everybody makes mistakes. So… disputes – you won't always win, so don't be overconfident. Love – you are in love with an impossible person, stay strong for both of your sakes. Childbirth – the parent in you will rejoice. Illness – be careful, stress can weaken your body. Marriage – don't think there's only one type of marriage, each snowflake is unique. Oh, that's so sweet, the last one!"

For a brief moment, she thinks that it's some kind of cruel joke. Sure, probably these fortunes are written in a way so that the reader could easily relate to them – but it's still too perfect.

"Are you okay?" the girl asks concernedly, and she nods.

"Yeah, it's just… well, it's a surprisingly accurate description."

"Really?" Her face lights up excitedly. "That's so nice, glad to hear that. When I drew my first fortune, it said the opposite of everything that happened. I was here as an exchange student at that time, and it said I'd be kicked out of university and once I go home, I'd never return. Surprise, I finished school and I've lived here for two years." She grins. "A lot of people say it's bullshit, but I think these fortunes do their job, in one way or another. If you think yours is fitting, then you should listen to it, you know." She gives it back to her and points at the pine tree. "You can tie it on one of the branches. Or you can keep it."

She reaches into her purse and fishes out a few coins. "Thank you," she says and turns away from the booth. She attaches the strip to the tree and runs her fingers across it for a last time, hope and bitterness blooming in her heart.

A part of her accuses herself of being an idiot for getting so sentimental again, probably for nothing, while another part of her watches her walls shake and slowly crumble, welcoming the feeling of having her emotions back to fill the void. Her stomach flutters in a familiar way, when she recalls the fortune about her desire and her love, but the others were somehow pointing towards him as well.

While she is walking down the stairs, she is deep in thought.

It's about time, she sighs – she's never actually thought it over.

She loves him, that much is crystal clear – she was falling in love with him long before he took her on the floor of the console room. Even though she had to keep reminding herself to avoid getting too attached to him, she ended up giving in and placing her heart at his feet.

She loves him, and hearing that said out loud only nourished this feeling. A longing washes over her body, a sweet, gentle need, but at the same time it's so powerful that she has to sit down. As soon as she lowers herself onto the stairs, her mind automatically recalls that evening and her legs twitch.

It definitely wasn't how she imagined their first time would be. In the beginning, she thought it might turn out even better – he was so tender, so loving, almost bringing her to the edge by simple strokes, caresses. She wanted to kiss him so much at that moment, it would have been so perfect, his lips on hers, while the rest of the universe melted around them.

She has always been a hopeless romantic secretly and she often curses herself for that, because real life is nothing like the love stories and fairy tales – she experienced it herself when his touches turned rough and violent, when he left her halfway and soared without her, when the name he uttered at the peak wasn't hers but his late wife's…

However, she can't blame him.

She should, but she can't

She should be angry at him. She should hate him, but she just can't.

That's how foolishly she loves him.

If she told anyone about this, they would say that he robbed her. He stole her body, her heart and her love, using her to satisfy his own selfish want. But it doesn't matter, she doesn't care he practically forced himself on her and he wasn't even thinking about her. All this couldn't make her love him less.

It is so like her, harbouring such a deep attachment to a person who doesn't reciprocate her feelings.

Because she is sure he doesn't love her, despite of getting so close to each other after he discovered her true identity. However, she can't blame him for that either. She understands that he loves his wife.

It's okay.

But then why does her heart still hurt so much?

She remembers the time when they were together. Side by side. Running from some horde of alien mutants, holding hands, saving galaxies, rewriting history, past and future. The corners of her mouth tug up slightly. She used to be so happy – the day when they first met was the best day of her life. She loved him, yes, but she felt it was alright if he didn't love her back, since being with him was so precious to her, she wouldn't have traded it for anything.

The penny drops.

She is not with him, and that is the problem. That's where the sorrow comes from.

Suddenly, the whole idea of running away to avoid heartbreak seems infinitely stupid. She buries her face into her hands and shakes her head. I'm such an idiot. Now I'll probably never see him again.

She shouldn't have left him– she should have stayed with him.

Being with him, it's worth everything, even the constant trap of unrequited love.

"I want to see you…" she whispers, her voice muffled by her palm. Please, come back for me.

It takes her a long time to recollect herself. She would rather stay on the stairs and wait for him, but she reminds herself that she has a train to catch in twenty minutes and there is no chance he'd show up anyway. So she stands up, clutching her umbrella in one hand and deftly adjusting her bag to cover the wet stain on her dress with the other.

She walks by her bench and looks up at the temple to admire the sight once again. She doesn't watch her step as she turns onto a narrow street, so she carelessly runs into a…

A small blue box.

Suddenly, the predictable plot twists of romance stories and fairy tales doesn't seem to be that farfetched.

"Oh my stars!" she exclaims and can't help but throw her arms around the ship as she drops her umbrella. Her arms are too short to take it into a proper hug though, and she gets pressed up against the door. However, she couldn't care less. "Never thought I'd say it, ever, but I missed you so much, you old cow!"

The wood under her touch vibrates with energy and she is so happy. She knows she'll have the power to face whatever is waiting for her inside, and no matter what the outcome will be, everything is going to be fine. She has the box and she has him, after all.

She braces herself to break away from this rather one-sided hug, when the door opens and its hard surface turns into something warm and soft.

And utterly surprised. "What?! Clara…? Is that really you?"

Before she can fully comprehend the situation, he locks her into his embrace and immediately buries his face into her hair. Her own arms drop to her side – she is unable to move, it all feels like a dream and she is too scared to even breathe so that she wouldn't shatter this illusion.

She closes her eyes, tears of joy gathering on her eyelashes and his shirt drinks them in. "You're here," she whispers after an eternity of silent weeping. All of her confidence is gone and she wants so hard to come up with some flirty remark or something, but that's all she can manage – he has reduced her to a clingy, love-sick schoolgirl.

"Clara… oh, Clara, I'm so sorry." His hands are running up and down on her back soothingly, with a hint of uncertainty as if he still can't believe she is there. She feels the same, digging her nails into the fabric of his purple coat on his shoulders. She'd never let him go.

"It's alright," she says and they both shudder a little at the memory, the echo of her words from that evening. Only this time, she means it.

"No, it shouldn't be," he says pitifully. "There's no excuse for what I did to you. I hurt you. You saved my life, many, many times, and I… raped you in return."

"You didn't hurt me, Doctor, and it wasn't rape."

"As far as I know, forcing yourself onto someone without their consent is rape, Clara. And because you are the cleverest girl I've ever met, you should now turn around and run away from me so that I could never hurt you again."

She knows clearly these are just words – even if he doesn't love her, he doesn't want her to go, just like she doesn't want to leave. They'd both be devastated, if she walked away.

"Clever girls often do silly stuff. Also, you say that, but you're still hugging me, I couldn't run if I tried," she says, smiling into his chest. She expects him to release her immediately as she pointed it out, but instead, his embrace tightens around her.

"Because I…" The sentence trails off, he's unable to finish and it piques her curiosity.

"You what?" She tilts her head and he looks down at her. An adoring glint in his eyes, a sweet, timid half-smile on his lips, and her knees go weak. She is so glad he is holding her.

"You know, I have two hearts," he says while he reaches and strokes her face. "One is, well, occupied and it'll probably always be, but... oh dear, I know I have no right to say this to you. After what I did. But, Clara, I reserved the other just for you, my other heart. It has always been yours, I was just too daft to acknowledge that. Would you like to take it? After everything?"

She can't believe her own ears. What was that…? Confession? Proposal? Either way, her eyes are filled immediately with tears again, and they flow down on her cheek, on his hand, one by one. Her own soul has grown wings and flying towards their favourite galaxies. She doesn't question whose the other heart is – it's obviously his wife's, and she is perfectly alright with that. It is how it should be. She'll be ready to share – having half of him is far better than having none after all.

"I'd understand if you said no, I'd deserve it actually, because-"

"Which one is that?" she cuts in with a watery grin, and he points at the right side of his chest. She leans closer to where the heart designated to her is beating and cuddles into him, then she kisses the spot. "I'll take it… of course, I'll take it, Doctor."

So when she looks back at him, he doesn't hesitate any more – he closes the short distance between them and captures her mouth with his.

She touches his hand still resting on her face, her index finger running across his knuckles in a feathery dance. Behind her eyelids, she sees an explosion of colours and she briefly wonders when she closed her eyes at all. Tiny raindrops are falling from the sky, she can feel them on her head. His smell is divine, how is it possible that she's never noticed it before? It's some alien flower, musk and time itself. Time and space – both of them has ceased to exist as long as he is kissing her.

She breaks away for a moment to take a shaky breath, then returns to his waiting lips. Tentatively trying her boundaries, she caresses his mouth with her tongue, but he pulls away. "Wait, I have one more thing to say to you," he says a bit throatily, and she nods.

"Alright, what is it?"

However, he doesn't answer, not immediately. His thumb slips out from under her palm and wanders on her face, brushing her chin, her nose, everywhere it can reach. She smiles.

And then, he leans to her ear so that only she could hear him, his breath tickling her skin as he whispers three words.

She knows very well how fiercely he is always fighting to avoid this feeling, how precious these words are from his lips. She can't believe this is all happening to her and she had no idea there are still heights of happiness to climb after he kissed him – but there are.

"I love you, too…" she breathes onto his mouth as he withdraws a little to gaze at her. "My stars, Doctor, I love you… I love you so much." And she kisses him with renewed passion, deeply and devotedly, already addicted to him more than ever.

Neither of them notices that meanwhile, the rain stops and the sky clears, just like in a real fairy tale.

She quickly runs out of air and breaks the contact, placing her head on his shoulder. He cups the back of her neck with his hand, playing with her hair. She sighs delightedly. It feels wonderful.

"When I couldn't find you at the Maitlands' the next Wednesday, I panicked," he says after a few seconds of silence. "I roamed around the globe, got lost at least a dozen times looking for you, and when I finally did, I… I had to wait."

She lifts her head a bit and watches him questioningly. "For how long?"

"… Four days."

"And why?"

He glances away from her and she notices a faint blush tinting his cheekbones. "The TARDIS knew where you were all along, but she decided not to inform me, and after she did, she didn't let me land her here. She said we weren't ready," he mutters towards the blue box like an offended child, and he is so adorable at that moment. She chuckles, reaching up to pat his face – a little bit of her old self comes back.

"Oh really? The little mummy's boy was not allowed to come and see her girlfriend?" she coos and the redness on his cheeks turns into a deeper, funnier shade.

"Just… shut up. Can't you be a little more serious here? You're far too cocky."

"That's why you love me, don't you?"

She grins at his flustered expression, but after a moment her lips ease into a soft smile, because she has never been happier in her whole life. Not even when they first met – it was, at least from her perspective at that time, pure coincidence. But then, he came back to her, he is ready to take her away again and she is more than willing to join him – it is a miracle.

A blessing indeed.

So she takes his hand, lacing her fingers through his and leads him into the ship.

The End

Thank you for reading! :)

Also, thank you very-very much, everyone, for the insaaane amount of reviews, favourites, alerts of all kinds on the first chapter. I love you all. Really. You are awesome. :)

However, I have one little request: please, don't hate me. Some of you might not have expected an outcome like this – I'm sorry, but I put both of my hearts into this story for you, dear Readers, and I sincerely hope you liked it in the end. :)

Don't hesitate to share your thoughts, and if you liked the whoufflé I baked, stay tuned for some more. :D