Clara awoke with a start, fingers of her left hand spreading evenly over the thin layer of cotton that stood between her flesh and the Doctor's and she took a long breath, listening to the silence of night while feeling for the beating of his heart. His one heart. The thought both calmed and terrified her because he'd given up everything he'd been for over a thousand years for her, and she couldn't understand how he could be so complacent about that fact.
Lifting herself up to rest her chin in her other palm, she stared down at his sleeping face, grinning over the fact that humanity made him so tired. He'd been human already for a week, he'd told her. He'd gone back just long enough to give him time to establish this life for himself. He'd become John Smith, with three doctorates, a list of accolades, a nomination for a Nobel Peace prize, and a blog about the extraordinary in the mundane; John Smith, who worked with UNIT, who saved the world regularly, and hoped for impossible things.
John Smith, the father of Henry Evan and Olivia Oswin.
Clara Oswald's John Smith.
With a sigh, she laid her cheek down upon his breast, snuggling closer to him and reaching around him to hold him tightly because she still couldn't believe he was there. She'd woken expecting to find the empty bed and the aching heart, but she found him. Comfortably sleeping, lost in some dream of an old life, and Clara entertained the notion that he'd be dreaming about her, but she knew it was probably some far off world and some indigenous population, inviting him to a feast for stopping the annihilation of their species.
She felt the tug on the sheets behind her and turned towards the small voice to see sleepy eyes peering up at her from the side of the bed, long hair hanging haphazardly over the girl's face. Clara smiled at Olive and shifted away from the Doctor, his audible moan of protest unexpectedly lifting her heart as she pulled their daughter up into the bed between them.
Olive's eyes closed as Clara pressed a kiss into her forehead and asked, "What's the matter, sweetheart?"
She didn't answer, only sighed and flattened herself against Clara, breathing slowing as she returned to slumber and Clara brushed the hair away from her face, finger touching the small nose that wiggled slightly in response. Watching the girl sleeping, she glanced from her up to her father and found herself wiping at tears because this was a moment she never thought she'd have.
They'd taken it incredibly well.
Enthusiastically, in fact.
"The Doctor will be staying with us," she'd told them as the three sat around the dining room table – the Doctor having gone outside to untie Jack to allow Clara the time to explain to the children.
"For… how long?" Olive had asked, lips pressing together, and she stole several glances towards the small window that looked out into the yard, as if waiting for him to burst in with the answer.
"Will he be the Doctor, or will he be our father?" Henry's words had been hesitant as he fidgeted with his hands on the table, fingers twisting around each other, boring holes into Clara with expectant eyes.
Clara had smiled then, telling them through held back tears, "Forever, as your father."
The two had stared at her a moment, faces wrought with questions they were too young to ask before they broke into tentative grins that dissolved into a shared giggle. And when the Doctor opened the door to ask her if it was alright to enter, the duo pushed out of their chairs to hug at his legs, each receiving a palm to their head in response as the Doctor beamed at her.
Now she looked to the man still sleeping beside her, only a few hours later she could tell by the clock on the nightstand, and she let the tears roll over her cheeks simply because he was there. She rested her head against the pillow and held Olive close to her, feeling the small hands that fumbled at the edge of her nightgown until they had a grip on the material. Clara closed her eyes, pushing away the anxiety she'd woke with, and she relaxed in the assurance that this was going to become normal.
This would become her life.
The Doctor could feel an odd jerking of the fingers of his right hand and he frowned in his sleep, shifting slightly in the warm bed trying to hold onto the dream he'd been invested in. Some sort of planet. Clara had been telling him that she'd always wanted to see… something awesome – something original. Something she had never seen before, and he'd taken her to a place where the grass grew in blue and the sky burned a brilliant orange, and the mountains in the distance were covered in a frost of silver. He smiled involuntarily, seeing her smiling face turn to look at him as she frolicked in the long blades that filled the field, hair whipping about her face before she reached out to him, beckoning him to experience it with her.
"Come along, Doctor!"
"Daddy," he heard.
It came as a pleaded whisper that snapped him straight out of the fantasy as he turned slightly with a muffled gasp at the worried face that peered up at him from beside the bed. Henry stood there, apprehensively looking up at him as though he might have made a mistake, but he remained, firmly, waiting before inching up.
"Daddy, can I sleep with you?" Henry asked, voice cracking.
The Doctor smiled automatically, the question giving his whole body a jolt of something he hadn't felt in a very long time as he reached down to give Henry an arm to pull himself up – belonging. The boy immediately climbed atop him, legs kicking away sheets and inadvertently pressing a rough heel into his crotch that made him swallow a gasp of pain before he smiled at the likeliness of it – his son would be just as uncoordinated as him, limbs flailing about unnecessarily.
Shifting the covers over the small body that now laid over his chest, short hair tickling his chin, the Doctor pressed a hand to his back securely, feeling the sigh that warmed his collar. He brushed his other hand over the child's head and asked quietly, "Henry, are you alright?"
His only answer was another long sigh and the Doctor glanced down at the boy who had easily fallen back asleep, smiling at the pouted lips and the fist curled just beside them. Dropping his head to his left, he smiled lazily at the woman who was sleeping with their daughter flush against her. He couldn't imagine that just a day before, in her time, they'd stood outside in the midst of a heated argument, both feeling so empty and angry. The Doctor frowned, understanding that despite his affections, she might take some time to warm to the notion that he was earnest in his intent – and he intended to stay with her this time.
Not for a Wednesday, or for a week, but for a lifetime.
The thought smoothed the worry lines from his face and soothed the aches from his body – he could have Clara for a lifetime. They were the words that kept him afloat for so much longer than she'd ever realize; so much longer than even he realized, and he exhaled with relief. Lifting a hand, he slipped a knuckle along her cheek and watched her smirk in response, and then her eyes came open slowly, looking up at him holding Henry with an appreciation that melted his heart as he shifted closer to her, sandwiching Olive between their bodies.
Clara raised her head slightly when he dropped his arm to slide it under her and he curled it around her, rubbing lightly against her back while she checked on Olive and then glanced up at Henry. "Nightmares?" he questioned, eyebrows rising slightly with alarm.
But she only grinned, giving him a small shake of her head, eyelids drooping sleepily. "Not nightmares."
"They often come to sleep with you?" He asked, voice thick.
With a sad nod, she allowed, "Yeah, I think, sometimes, they get lonely."
The Doctor waited while she considered her words.
"They were together, first four years of their lives – most of it spent in the same bed," she smiled, "Dad and I didn't really have the space or the money really... We wanted to get them separate cribs, but… it never happened, and then they outgrew the crib and slept with me," she shook her head, "When I got the house, when they finally got their own rooms… I think sometimes they get lonely."
With a nod, he rubbed absently at Henry's back and watched Olive shift, turning over and clutching at his side with a mumbled sigh. "Maybe they just like slumber parties," he offered jokingly, watching her laugh to herself, picking Olive's long hair out of her face so the Doctor could see the pale cheeks and puckered lips that shifted with unspoken words.
Clara inched up in the bed, careful about their daughter as she pressed a kiss to the Doctor's lips, and he held her there, letting it deepen for a moment before she slipped back and grinned, cheeks flushed. "Might be hard," she started, dropping her gaze to the children, "To get intimate for a while."
With a laugh as he turned to the ceiling, he nodded, "I'm ok with that."
"Are you?" Clara teased.
He glanced back at her and looked to Henry, hand coming up to brush over the boy's head before settling it upon the boy's back, he nodded, "I'm ok with just this, Clara"
Clara looked away a moment, shy embarrassment as she uttered, "Cramped up in bed…"
"Our family," he interrupted. "Quite alright, isn't it?"
"Yeah," she agreed, voice cracking with the want to cry, "Yeah, it's quite alright just like this."
"Just like this," he repeated, eyes shifting from Henry to Olive and then back to her. Clara smiled and laid her head against his arm, reaching out to give Henry's back a small rub, then Olive's left arm as the girl inched up to use the Doctor's arm as a pillow as well.
"We're all going to be exhausted in the morning," Clara allowed.
With a nod, he sighed and kissed the top of Henry's head, then told her happily, "With good reason."
His head shifted, and his eyes closed and Clara called quietly, "Doctor?"
His smirk was evident before he turned and told her, "John," then nodded, "It's John now."
"John?" Clara asked, testing the name on her tongue with a smile.
"Yes, Clara?" He replied with a hint of a laugh on his voice.
She held her words a moment, feeling herself inhaling almost painfully as he watched her, waiting, and she finally allowed softly, on an exhale, "I love you." Clara smiled at the warmth just being able to finally those words to him brought her as she closed her eyes and relaxed knowing she would fall asleep soon and it would be morning before she knew it. Thursday – her first Thursday with him in her life – and the kids would have to go to school and they would have to go to work and it would start.
Their life would truly start.
"Clara?" He whispered, watching the grin that involuntarily tugged at her lips as she settled herself and he inched closer, saying her name again lightly, but she was already drifting to a dreamland filled with possibilities, and he sighed, telling her quietly, "I love you," before letting himself relax, ready to chase his own dream, one that wouldn't begin until morning.