Before going into this, the final chapter, I just wanted to send out a thank you to EVERYONE who has read this story, and a special thank you to those who have left reviews, those who have been 'following', and those who have 'favorited' this. You can't understand how much all of that means to me. Again, thank you so much and I hope you enjoy the conclusion. :D
The man, Captain Jack, tilted his head forward slightly to add, "Here from Torchwood."
Clara nodded slowly and stared. Simply waiting.
"Wow," Jack breathed, "When he said you wouldn't even… I didn't…" his words trailed because she was staring at him incredulously.
Olive rushed to her side and asked quickly, "Is he the pizza man?"
Henry came to her other side and made a sour face, "He's too pretty to be the pizza man."
"Do you have our pizza?" Olive asked.
"Wow," Jack repeated, "Those are the Doctor's…" he trailed and glanced up at Clara.
"You know the Doctor?" Clara asked.
"He told me," Jack started, glancing down at Olive, then at Henry, "He gave me a message for you."
Clara stared at him, feeling as though her heart were on hold as she waited before shouting, "What's the message?" Startling all three around her.
Jack pulled a thickly padded envelope out of his coat pocket and he handed it to her. "How about I take the little Time Lords out into the yard for a game of Catch Captain Jack?"
Nodding slowly, Clara held the package with her name written on it in the Doctor's handwriting and looked down at the children. She gestured to the side door, telling them quietly, "Go on, go play."
Henry and Olive considered the strange man a moment, but followed him as he walked towards the side door, keeping an eye on Clara as she stared at the package and closed the front door. She tore at the top and peered inside before tipping the contents over into her hand. A hand-written letter and an old pocket watch she stared at because it jogged something in her memory as she stared at the spirals and dots etched into it.
Clara held it tightly in confusion as she unfolded the letter and smiled.
It's been quite a bit of time since I left, but for you I imagine it's been hours, a day maybe – I didn't want you to have to wait again for my return, but I also knew you might not be too keen on seeing me too soon, so I sent Jack. He's a friend, an old friend. A very old friend. You couldn't imagine how old. And I hope he's had no effect on you because he expects he will and I've made a wager with Martha that he won't because I believe, selfishly, I suppose, that the only man who could have an effect on you is me.
But I also know that effect isn't always pleasant. I saw that when I last spoke with you and I thought this the best way to approach you again because with this letter, you could put it down, you could tear it up, but hopefully you would restrain from tossing it in the fireplace because I hope you could piece it back together when you're ready, and read it. I hope you read it the same day it's delivered because I doubt I could take waiting much longer for an answer. I know it's not fair, me expecting an answer so soon after you've had to wait so many years for me and I'll be patient and understanding if you choose to set this letter aside for a time, until you're ready.
But know I'm waiting.
I'm waiting for you this time and I'll wait as long as I have to.
It should be the Wednesday after I left. It should be Wednesday. And I've always meant to ask, why Wednesday, but it never seemed to matter. You don't realize this, but, with the Tardis, every day was a Wednesday for a time. I would drop you off and climb into that box and race to find you the next Wednesday just knowing you'd be there waiting for me. And now, I hope, neither of us have to wait much longer because I've made a decision and I'm handing it off to you for approval, because, Clara, it's only fair that this be in your hands.
What you're holding is called a Fob watch. I might have mentioned it before in passing, stories of my times with Martha Jones, and of the Master. Along with the Chameleon Arch in the Tardis, it allows me to alter myself – my entire self – and I've chosen to use it to give us a chance at a lifetime together. I could become anything and anyone, create a backstory and a life, and I could integrate into any society, but what I've decided is to be myself.
All of my memories and all of my knowledge – well, most of my memories and most of my knowledge – and every frustrating quirk and annoying habit… but human. One heart; one lifetime. For us to share. I would grow old with you, Clara. With our children. And I would live to see every moment of our life unfold before me, day by day, without a time machine or the grandiose of the universe because I don't need those things – I need my family.
I've lived a long and lonely life.
I had a family once, back on Gallifrey, but they're long gone and in that time between so many hundreds of years ago and now, I've adopted companions, and sometimes their families, as my own, but they're not, not truly. And it wasn't until I stepped into your life – even before, into the echoes of your life that preceded you in mine – that I realized just what I'd been missing, and that was you. Just you, Clara.
And seeing Henry and Olive, yes Clara, even before I knew they were mine, I saw the entirety of hundreds of years slip by meaninglessly because you hadn't been there. And I looked forward to a millennia of a lifetime that seemed empty because I knew I had a family and it had rejected me out of a justified fear that I wouldn't think they weren't enough to sustain me.
Clara, you were always enough.
You were what sustained me; it's why I returned. It's why I parked outside of your house and chose to stand still because the promise of those small adventures inside of that small house with you and the children, they were more enticing than any galaxy I could float above or wander through. Imagine that? The eager smiles on those excited faces, waiting for the end of a tale, or a game of hide-n-seek, or just a simple smile in return meant more to me than anything has in a very long time.
And they're my children.
My Olive and My Henry.
I couldn't think of a life without them, and I know that this life isn't safe for them and it isn't what you'd choose for them, so I decided that I would give them what they deserve – what you deserve – and that's all of me. All of me that's important and necessary and right. Without the dangers of the unknowns of the universe, without the uncertainty of my fate, without the fear of not knowing the day-to-day. All of a very human me that can age and live and experience everything with you, and them.
At least, I'd like to try. I'd like to return home – not to the Tardis, but to that quaint little home on the corner of that quiet little street – and give a life with you a try. A life with you and our children.
I know you have hesitations. I know you feel that I'm not able to settle down, to live that life, so I'm sending my Fob watch ahead of me with Jack. It's my Time Lord parts, in a sense, locked away in a watch and I'd like to give it a chance, but if you don't want to, if you don't want to give us that chance, you need only open it when I arrive at your doorstep and I'll leave. But I hope you won't. I'm counting on you, actually, to know somewhere deep down that I can try – that maybe I can succeed – and you'll hold onto to it for me.
Keep it safe; keep it hidden away, because I'll know what it is when I see it. I won't hide that choice from myself this time because I know I won't want to open it, Clara. It'll be there, in your possession, your choice, and as long as it remains closed, I'll be confident knowing your choice was a life with me. A very long life, Clara.
And, in the end – when it's coming to an end, for you or for me – one of us could open that watch and my body would regain its Time Lord coding and I would regenerate in that death. The way it should be, after I've cared for you and our children, and helped raise our grandchildren, and, if we're incredibly lucky, get a chance to know our great grandchildren, I'll return to the stars and life will move on having had us in it for a time.
The Doctor and Clara Oswald and all the days of our life together.
My greatest adventure – a lifetime.
Clara read the letter four times before drifting to the mantel place and looking over the photos of their children, imagining a new set of photos, ones that included their father. For a moment she smirked through her tears imagining a new set of small hands and feet that might be the perfect combination of mother and father and would give their older siblings hell. Oh, they would, she knew. She turned when she heard the knock on the door, dazed before realizing it was the pizza and she set the Fob watch down next to the photo of herself holding the newborn twins and moved to her purse in the hall.
Letter still clutched in her hand, she opened the door and rummaged for her wallet, glancing up with a quick apology for her reddened face and froze, staring into the Doctor's insecure expression. Her purse fell to the ground in a mess of clacks and jingles and she inhaled deeply as he remained, hands clasped behind his back.
"Hello, Ms. Oswald," he allowed.
"Hey," she breathed.
He smiled politely and tilted his head, "Obviously, it couldn't be the Doctor, no one runs around with a rubbish name like that, so the Unit folks and the Torchwood team had to do a little brainstorming about a few things, and it's taken them some time. Like a job. I couldn't hold just any job, it had to be something to entertain while keeping me out of trouble and I believe they decided keeping it with Unit – a consultant of sorts for all kinds of experiments and the building of gadgets and such – worked best for all involved. Steady pay, which is a good thing on Earth, I've been told. And they know I have a penchant for using John Smith anyways, but I told them," he wagged a finger in the air, "I told them I know how it works with women – I'd rather be John Oswald before I get into any bit of trouble with the wife – and they tried to convince me that that's not how it works, but Amelia made it fairly clear…"
"Shut up," she whispered.
Mouth closing slowly, the Doctor frowned and looked at her.
"Just," she sighed, "Shut up," she repeated.
"Not exactly the welcome I'd envisioned," he muttered.
Clara reached forward, grabbing his open collar at both sides and she pulled him down into her to kiss him, laughing against his lips as she cried. His hands inched around her waist and he lifted her up slightly, sighing against her just as she inched away to look at him.
"Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?" Clara questioned, searching his eyes.
With a nod, the Doctor settled her down and smiled, hands comfortable at her waist as she let hers slide to his chest, feeling for the singular beat of his human heart. "Clara," he laughed, looking to the ceiling and then back at her. He stared into her, raising his thumbs to wipe away her tears as she waited, smile tugging at her lips before he told her quietly, "My Clara… always."
And she let out a laugh that he mimicked before she lead him towards the kitchen, to the window where they could see Henry and Olive had hog-tied Jack with a jump rope and Clara backhanded him playfully, whispering, "That's you, you know – they've always been exactly your children."
With a small chuckle, the Doctor watched them interrogate Jack, using toy rakes and shovels as guns and he shook his head, raising a hand to drop on Clara's shoulder and reveling in the feel of her leaning back against him comfortably. The way it should be. And the Fob watch sat, untouched on the mantel through the years – a silent observer to their impossible lifetime – between new photos of new small faces, of graduations and marriages, and grandchildren, and, very luckily, great grandchildren. Until a day, a very, very, very long time in the future, it was picked up by an old set of hands, who looked at it with an old set of eyes and a full heart, and he undid the lock with a whispered, "Geronimo."