Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They belong to the BBC and Steven Moffat. No infringement intended.
Author's Note: This is a sequel (in a series to come, once I figure out how to do that on ff) to a previous story I wrote called The Other Has My Heart. If you haven't read it, you may be okay for the first chapters but be slightly confused later (which will have references to events that occurred in the previous story.) Oh, and the rating will change, so be prepared. :-p
"More Than You Know" was a song re-released by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1948 (originally sung by Billie Holliday).
More than you know
More than you know
Girl of my heart, I love you so
Lately I've found you on my mind
More than you know
You On My Mind
"How are they now?"
"Right, but…you'll let me know if...if it gets worse?"
"I thought humans weren't supposed to be susceptible to it..."
He gripped her hand a bit more tightly, tugging it further down his arm as he pushed the TARDIS doors open. There was a moment of awkward maneouvring as he first tried to pull her behind him, then side-step them inside. She did her best to hobble with him over to the console (she'd refused the offer of a chair, as if to prove to him she was still okay), whilst he fiddled with the switches and hunted for something-or-other underneath. The sensation in her legs was starting to fade, like someone had pulled a plug at her ankle and all feeling was leaking out in a slow but steady trickle. She leaned on the console, careful not to mess with the settings. "What are you looking for?"
There was a general clattering and banging as she heard him throw things this way and that: not an unusual cacophony but for his frenetic pace. He mumbled a reply, then let out a muted exclamation, bounding back up to join her. "Found it!" he cried, holding up what looked like a clear, plastic circle rimmed in black rubber.
"It's a mass spectrometer…sort of." He waved it over her skin, rubbing it on her hand, then flipping it and studying the strange green writing that started streaming across the back of it. "More science-y and spacey than that, of course, and obviously smaller, but…basically…" He trailed off as he stared, slack-jawed at the tiny lines of text on the screen.
She leaned towards him, folding her arms to brace herself against the console as her legs grew progressively number. "What?"
His shoulders tugged downwards as his visage became more and more crestfallen. "Oh no..."
He regarded her glumly. "It's a new species," he informed her, returning his attention to the screen. "Apparently they've…evolved."
"So what does that mean? Does it tell you which –"
All of a sudden her legs buckled, sending her sliding off the console and toppling to the floor in an ungraceful heap.
The Doctor was by her side immediately, hooking his arms under hers to raise her to a seated position. "You okay?" His hands roamed over her restlessly. "Are you hurt?"
"No, I'm all right." She leaned on him, trying to untangle her left leg from where it was folded beneath her, but nothing happened. "I just…" She tried again, to no avail. It was like her legs had disconnected from her brain, refusing to obey her signals. She moved back so she could use her hands to unfold her leg, shaking her head. "Um, my legs aren't…" She began, staring at him helplessly. "I can't feel them, they're just…it's like they're not there anymore."
The Doctor met her wide-eyed stare with one of his own. "It's okay." He shifted her arms so they clasped around his neck. "It's okay," he assured her again, carefully positioning one hand beneath her knees. "Do you think you can hold on?"
Clara squeezed her arms tight behind his neck, balling her fists so they didn't touch his jacket or skin. "Yeah, my arms are okay."
"Okay." He moved to a different position so he was ready to stand. "One…two…three." He lifted her up with a grunt, taking a moment to adjust his grip on her so he was holding her more tightly and carried her down the stairs into the corridor.
"Where are we going? The medical bay?"
"No. We're going to try to wash it off first."
"Oh, thank God – this feels so disgusting." She looked longingly at the spot her head usually went on his shoulder, but she didn't want to mess up his jacket. "Okay –then…if we wash it off, it'll go away? I mean – I'll return to normal, right?"
She felt him stiffen, even as he adjusted his hold on her so that he was holding her closer to him.
She stopped when she saw he'd paused just outside her door.
"How is my bedroom so close?" They usually spent most of their nights in his bedroom, as it was always the most convenient location. If she wished to retrieve any of her clothes or possessions, she still had to walk down at least three corridors. The Doctor had tried to explain away the TARDIS' childish behaviour as concern for her health: apparently she only wanted to make Clara exercise more.
"She's helping us – I asked her for the room with the bigger shower."
"She's helping? Didn't realise it was that bad…" She tried for a laugh, but it died somewhere in her throat.
The muscles of his face worked like he was fighting against something sneaking in and taking residence there, but he didn't reply as he carried her into her spacious loo.
His eyes snapped to hers at the term of endearment she used so sparingly. He looked like he was just noticing her there, a sure sign that his brain was flying at a million miles a minute.
"Tell me what's going to happen to me."
He let her see the emotions on his face for a brief, staggering second: sorrow, confusion, helplessness. "I don't know," he admitted before replacing that thin veneer that shielded him in his most dire straits, displaying only steely determination. "We'll start by washing it off." He laid her gently on the shower stall floor, starting immediately on her boots which he tugged off without even unbuttoning them.
Clara followed suit, spurned by the Doctor's urgent movements and unzipped her jacket, shrugging out of it before balling and throwing it over the Doctor's shoulder onto the floor. "Hopefully alien plant spray comes out in the wash - I only got this jacket last month." Her attempt at levity fell flat in the absence of any of his usual comments about how she fussed too much over her clothes or even his blank stares that were half-man and half-alien at how she could think of things like that at a time like this.
He'd moved to her dress now, leaning her against him and pulling the zipper down without the least bit of fumbling. He hiked it to her waist, stopping at the tops of her thighs. "Um…can you…?"
"Oh – yeah." She huffed nervously again, placing her palms on the tiled floor and raising herself enough so he could lift her dress past her waist. She set herself down, raising her arms over her head so he could slide it up more easily, throwing it behind him.
"Guess I found the secret to get you to take my clothes off," she quipped, unable to prevent calling his attention to the bitter irony of the situation. "Honestly - if all I'd needed to do was get sprayed by a giant carnivorous plant, I would've done a long time ago."
He froze, arms around her back, hands poised over the clasp of her bra. "I've taken your clothes off plenty of times," he muttered defensively, undoing the hooks and slipping it off her arms before tossing it in the direction of the pile of clothes.
"Yeah, but…not like this."
He leaned her back against the wall and then stood up, stepping out of the shower so he could get to work on his own clothing. He shrugged out of his jacket, then made quick work of his waistcoat before stooping to fling off his boots and socks. He hesitated, hands back at his throat, then undid his bowtie and unbuttoned his shirt just enough to tug it over his head. "Not like what?"
"Like you can't wait to get me naked." She couldn't help the slight accusatory tone that crept into her voice. "And you can't wait to get naked with me," she finished quietly, casting her gaze down at the floor, the sound of his trousers hitting the ground like a mocking reply.
He moved back into the shower, stepping gingerly around her as he turned on the water, spraying them both. "Now? We have to do this now?"
Clara winced at the echo from not thirty minutes earlier, her jaw tightening.
It had been such a lovely start to the day, too…