A/N Most of my stories stem from "what if" questions, and this one is no different. "What if Rose and Clara got together?" a question soon followed by, "How?!" How would that even work within the timelines and how would that work with the characters and relationships? It seemed like too temping a challenge to pass up. So here's my take. The pairing is Rose/Clara, but there is implied Rose/Doctor and Clara/Doctor. The rating will changed to M in later chapters.
Chapter 1 - A Safe Place
"He's late again, isn't he," Angie asked, although the look on her face said that Clara still sitting on the steps at half seven was answer enough. "He's got a time machine, how is he always late?"
"Maybe he's got the wrong Wednesday," Artie said, trying to be encouraging. Clara couldn't decide what was worse: Angie's taunting, Artie's comforting, or the Doctor's inability to be on time. Fortunately the children were interrupted by the familiar sound of the TARDIS landing outside.
"There he is, see you lot in a few hours,"
"Or weeks. Who knows how long it will be for you and your boyfriend." Clara decided to ignore Angie's comment and instead made her way out the door towards the TARDIS.
As she made her way into the strange blue box she found the Doctor exactly where she expected too, flittering around the controls occasionally flipping knobs or pressing buttons. "Well hurry inside. We're off to the twelve moons of Pacify and we don't want to be late."
"Late?" she asked, indignantly.
"Once in a life time, well that depends on your life time. And you're ability to move in time... but anyway, it's rare. So I don't want to miss it."
"But aren't we in a time machine, Doctor?"
"What I mean is, how can we be late if we're in a time machine?"
"Well it's very finicky work. The twelve moons of Pacify only line up once every hundred thousand years and once every hundred million years they line up at exactly the moment of a lunar eclipse. That means that if I catch the right fifteen seconds we will see completely black sky and then ever so slowly twelve moons will emerge and fill the whole sky with light. It will be like daylight. But at night. So let's go!"
"Wait," Clara said, giving him a sideways look. "You're telling me you can land in exactly the right fifteen seconds once every hundred million years, but you still can't figure out 7:00 pm?
His whole face dropped, "I was late again, wasn't I?"
"Well um... but you know... time's a funny thing"
"I gathered that, Doctor"
He made an apologetic face, but wasn't exactly sure what to say so he went back to pushing buttons.
Clara just laughed, finding it impossible to stay mad at that goofy alien. She was watching him work, when suddenly her whole face changed, "You've been to one of these before, haven't you?"
"Yes," he said absentmindedly, "I was at the last one. Or the next one... hard to say really." He looked over at her, "Why? Were you there too?"
Clara's brow was knit in concentration. "I don't know. Maybe. It sounds almost familiar," she made a face and then looked back at him, "It's gone now." Clara looked disappointed, "All those lives... those people... When you first pulled me out of your timeline it was like I could remember them all, like I was all of them, but since then it's all starting to fade."
"To be expected. I mean a thousand lives in one head, that's more than anyone can take."
"I know, it's just a shame. I kind of liked all that knowledge. I still remember you, all eleven of your faces. Twelve if you count... well you know... and still remember some of the times I helped you, some of the times we met. Victorian London stands out in my head. The Dalek Asylum, too. But the rest of it, the other me's and people you travelled with, all gone."
The Doctor took a step towards her. He wasn't sure if he was suppose to comfort her or not, but he felt proximity was probably the best approach. His moment was interrupted by a crash. Both Clara and the Doctor were thrown across the control room. Lights flickered on and off, and smoke and fire appeared from different terminals.
"What's going on?"
"We... we hit something," the Doctor said, trying to assess the damage.
"How could we hit something? We're in the time vortex."
"I don't know. Just let me see how she's doing," despite the way the ship was pitching side to side, the Doctor worked his way to the control panel. "Okay, looks like the main damage is to the primary temporal flux converter."
"It's just a piece of the TARDIS. It broke off..."
"Things can break off?"
The Doctor looked from screen to screen, "I think that's what we hit."
"What do you mean?" Clara asked.
"I think that's what we collided with, I think that's why we crashed."
"So you're telling me we collided with something that broke off in the crash. That's impossible."
"The time vortex gets a little wonky. These kinds of accidents can hurl things moments into the future."
"But it's a closed loop. How did we crash originally?"
"I don't know...there's a..." The TARDIS lurched forward.
"What's happening?" Clara asked, hanging on to the railing for dear life.
"I think we're falling."
"Where are we falling too?"
"Well," the Doctor was gripping onto the control panel as best as he could. "No, don't worry. Good news. The TARDIS is going to take us somewhere safe."
"I haven't the faintest idea, but you know, we can trust her."
"Trust your stupid blue box?"
"Name calling really isn't helping right now. And hold on. It's not going to be the most graceful landing."
They hit the ground with a large thud. Clara had been holding on tight to the railing but still managed to fly across the room. She picked herself up and went back to the Doctor who was studying the screens (either he had done a better job of holding onto the console or the TARDIS didn't appreciate Clara calling her stupid).
"Well alright then. Where are we?"
"She's just figuring that out now."
"What about that piece, Doctor? The temporal what's it?"
"The primary temporal flux converter?"
"Yeah that one, don't we need that?"
"Well yes, certainly. Without that she's just space. That's kind of the timey wimey part.
"Isn't that a problem then, you know, that we lost it?"
"Oh, yes, a big problem I should guess, but we'll sort that out. It'll have fallen somewhere around here," his eyes were still focused on the screen, "Ah ha, she's scanning our surroundings. We're in London, that's good. October 24, 2004. Not so bad at all, is it? She once left me stranded in the middle of the Crusades." Clara rolled her eyes at both his ridiculous blue box and his unwavering trust in it. "Exact location: Peckham, the Powell Estates," the Doctor's whole face fell.
"Nothing... it's just..." he was still facing the screen, but his eyes looked far away.
"Is there a problem, Doctor?"
"I don't know yet," he turned back to the controls, seeming to take a few more readings, all the while holding himself very stiffly.
"Okay, so what's the plan? We go out there and find your missing flux converter piece and come back here and fix the ship?" The Doctor was distracted. His eyes moving between the controls and the screens. "Doctor?"
"Yes, I mean no. I... I can't..."
"I can't go out there. My timeline it's... connected to this place. Very connected to this place and the people in it. I'll get here in about 6 months and if i go out there now I could... I could ruin everything."
"But if we don't get the converter we're stuck here. Stuck in one time." It worried Clara that the Doctor seemed so distracted the thought of living the slow path wasn't motivating him to action. "Then I guess I'll have to get it." For the first time in a long while the Doctor looked up at her, visibly confused, "You can't go out there, but I can. I lived in Lancaster then. I won't know a soul. I can grab the missing piece and bring it back here."
"You're brilliant!" the Doctor beamed.
"Of course I am. Alright then, what does it look like?"
"It's a sort of grey metallic cylinder. No bigger than a pop can."
"Shouldn't be too hard."
"Well it mostly looks like that."
Clara made a face, "What, does it have a chameleon circuit too?"
"No, no that would be silly. But I mean the TARDIS doesn't have a fixed size. That bigger on the inside thing, that's relative. There's different amounts of bigger and if you're a piece of the TARDIS you have to accommodate that so your size can change... slightly."
"It will mostly look like a metallic cylinder."
Clara shook her head, "Okay and it's around here you say?"
"Yup," he said, turning back to the screen, "in about a 5 km radius"
"So I should just look for any metal cylinders in a 5 km radius of here? Don't suppose there's an app for that."
The Doctor thought about it for a moment and then began to grin, "Perfect!"
"Hey" Clara yelled, as he reached into her front pocket to grab her phone. He immediately went to work sonicking it. "You're not really creating me an app for this, are you?"
"Think of it like blind man's bluff, except, you know, with arrows, which isn't very much like blind man's bluff..." He put away his sonic screwdriver and handed the phone back to Clara. She could see it contained a new app. The icon was a simple square of blue wood paneling. The Doctor looked at her like a puppy, eager to please. She pushed the button. The app was very simple in design. It looked like a compass, but she knew the arrow didn't point north, it pointed at her teasure.
"So how is this like blind man's bluff?"
"Oh it will get brighter the closer you are to the flux converter."
Clara glanced back down at it, but the arrow faded away, "I don't think it's working very well, Doctor."
"Oh that's not the app, that's the temporal flux converter."
"What do you mean?"
"Well like I said it's time, and being time, it doesn't always exist in our time."
"It's just a little out of phase. That's all. And sometimes and the app can't track it if it's not in phase with our time."
"Brilliant. Any other good news?
"It um..." he looked sheepish now, he rubbed his neck as he informed her of the next bit of bad news. "It moves."
"It can move?"
"Just... just to somewhere safe."
"It's a hunk of metal. How could any place be more safe then others?"
It was the Doctor's turn to looked indignant, "It's not just any hunk of metal, it's a part of the TARDIS. It has a soul, or at least she does. It feels that, you know, that it's been torn from her. It's out there all alone. Of course it's going to go somewhere safe."
"So if we leave it long enough will it just come back to us?"
"No, probably not."
"Didn't think so. Okay, that's it then, all the bad news? Should I head out on my quest?"
He smiled at her adoringly, but the smile fell and was replaced by a look of concern, "If you find it, I'll need to make sure you've found the right thing."
"You mean your app might lead me to other silver cylinders just slightly out of phase with time?"
"Well you never know what kind of space junk has ended up on this planet."
"I'll tell you what, Doctor. I'll send you a picture."
"A picture?!" the Doctor looked disgusted with the idea. "Two dimensions and only a visual. No, no, that's far too limiting. The TARDIS isn't just about what it looks like. It's what it sounds like, and feels like, and tastes like."
"Tastes?" Clara looked at him with a smirk. "You would say that, wouldn't you? You and your oral fixation."
"Well.. I..." he spluttered, not sure what she was implying, "Shut up."
"So, what's to be done?"
He looked perplexed for a minute and then his whole face lit up. "I have just the thing," he ran down the stairs and opened up the compartment below the console. He began to rummage through it, tossing out any items in his way: a tan coloured tweed jacket, a red fez, a Barbie doll, a bunch of bananas, a green jumper, and finally pulled out a black tube about the size of a container of lip stick, "Give me your arm."
"Okay," Clara said, eyeing the item carefully, "just don't tell me it's not going to- Ow! That hurt." she said with a glare, rubbing the spot on her arm that he had just injected.
The Doctor did the same thing to himself and Clara was pleased to see that even he winced a little. Clara waited for something to happen, but nothing did. "Doctor, what's it suppose to do?"
"Watch," and he slapped her arm right where he had injected her.
"Ouch. What'd you do that for?"
"I'll show you, just close your eyes."
"Just close them."
Begrudgingly she did as she was told, but instead of seeing darkness, or that is to say the inside of her eyelids, she saw herself with her eyes closed. "Doctor, what's going on?"
"It's good, isn't it?"
"What am I seeing?"
"You. Through my eyes. But it gets better than that, watch," just then everything went dark. Suddenly Clara started to giggle. "Doctor. Doctor stop it, you're tickling me."
"No I'm not," he said. Clara noticed their voices seemed to have gained a bit of an echoey quality.
"Yes you are."
"Open your eyes."
She did as he asked and was surprised to see the Doctor was a few steps away from her, almost on the other side of the room. Definitely not within reach to tickle her. He was running his fingers very gently up and down his forearm.
"I can feel that."
"Yeah, isn't it great?"
Clara stared down at her small puncture mark on her arm, "Is it a microchip? One that lets us share senses and feelings?"
"Microchip? Microchips are boring. It's much better than that. It's a slug!"
"You injected me with a slug?" Clara did not look amused.
"The Draconian empath slugs. Fascinating creatures. They mate for life and communicate purely through emotions, even though they don't possess any themselves. Fortunately they're empathic."
"Doctor am I sharing a slug's emotions?"
"No, no, no. The slug is sharing your emotions. Which, thanks to its empathic field, it kindly shares with its mate who's in me."
"So, you and I, we're feeling each other's feelings?"
"And all five senses. Cool, isn't it? So when you find the flux converterI can see it, feel it, smell it-"
"Yes taste it.
"Okay, fine. But does it have to be on all of the time? I don't think I want you eavesdropping, or whatever you call it with your senses."
"Oh... no, here," he took his own arm and gave it a whack, "They react to direct contact. A quick rush of pain in their area turns the field on and off. A whack, pinch, bite, anything like that should do. So if you find something I should take a look at or get a whiff of ring me up."
Clara smiled at him, feeling a little sad that she would be going alone, but determined to accomplish the task at hand. "Then I think I'm ready to go." Clara headed for the door, but turned back as a thought occurred to her, "As soon as I leave you're going to fly away, aren't you?" The Doctor rubbed his neck and wasn't making eye contact. Clara laughed, she knew him too well, "just don't go too far".
"I can only travel in space anyways. I've got plenty to repair before we can even install the flux converter. I'll be on the Thames, where we parked her the last time."
Clara smiled at the memory of their very first adventure. How long ago that seemed now. Almost a different life. Clara turned to leave and was at the door when another thing occurred to her, "Doctor, if you don't get here for six months, you won't run into yourself. What affect can you have on your timeline?"
"There is... there are people here. People who are... or will be very important to me. If I meet them too soon who knows what kind of consequences it could have," the Doctor looked far away as he said it, a sadness darkening his features.
"This is about a girl, isn't it?"
"Huh?" the insinuation called him back to himself and made him blush, "Why would you say... shut up," his hands darted to his bow tie without meaning too.
Clara laughed to herself, "Hundreds of year spent traveling the stars and saving the universe, and it still comes down to a girl." Deciding to spare the Doctor any more embarrassment, Clara chose that moment to leave. As soon as she stepped out of the door the TARDIS disappeared. Clara took a quick look around her at the grey cement buildings. She had never been to a council housing complex before, and it was hard to believe it was in the same city as the warm community the Maitlands lived in.
October 2004. Of all the places Clara had traveled with the Doctor, the recent past was probably the hardest to adjust too. Everything looked virtually the same, and yet there were subtle differences she had to be aware of. Not least of all: herself. Not that she was in any danger of crossing her own timeline. In 2004 her 16 year old self lived 400 km away with her father AND mother. Clara's mum wouldn't die for another 6 months. Somewhere out there she was alive and happy. They were all happy. This line of thought was interrupted by a sharp pain in Clara's arm.
The Doctor's voice was in her ears, "Remember you're not to cross your own timeline either."
"Is this slug transmitting thoughts to you as well?"
"Nah, it's not telepathic, just empathic. But I don't need it to know what you're thinking. Remember if you interrupt your timeline we may never meet. And if we don't meet you won't be there to save me at every point in history. It's my life in your hands, Clara Oswald."
"Isn't it always?" she said as she tapped her arm to end the conversation. She took another step and pulled out her phone, before she could even open the app the pain was back.
"One more thing."
"Doctor, are you going to be doing this the whole time?"
"No, I swear this is the last time. There might be other things looking for the primary temporal flux converter."
"What do you mean other things?"
"Nothing to worry about really. Probably just Trevokes."
"Oh they're just a lower life form type species. Pack animals with limited high brain functions. Kind of like dogs. If dogs looked like giraffes walking upright."
"Are they harmful?"
"No, not at all. They exist out of phase with your time and are attracted to objects that seem to phase in and out. Like birds going after something shiny. Won't be an issue. They're completely harmless, I swear. Unless they feel threatened. Or you get between them and what they want."
"Doctor, isn't that what I'm trying to do?"
"Right... Well, you know, just get there first."
"Ever encouraging," Clara said with a smirk. "Doctor?"
"If they're here as well, won't that mess up the timeline? I mean don't you think it will cause a scene, a bunch of alien giraffes walking around London?"
"No one will see them."
"There just slightly out of phase with time. So no one out there can see them."
"Then why did you tell me what they looked like?"
"Oh, you can see them. Anyone who travels through time can see a bit more than most. Right, so off you go, best of luck. See you in a few days."
"Hours, I meant to say hours. Shouldn't take too long. Minutes even. Good luck," and with that he was gone.
Clara rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her phone. The arrow was dim and pointed forward. She should have asked for the app to include a map. When Clara looked up again she saw a pretty, young, blond woman staring at her, "You look lost. Need some help?"