When he looked back many factors had exasperated his current condition. There was Marian kissing him on cheek, the events in St. Paul's Cathedral where Missy full on snogged him and then Clara kissing him on the cheek at Christmas. They had a few adventures together after that.
Then the events on Skaro happened, he did what always did. He ran, ran away from her and from what he did on Skaro. He needed first to drop of something to an old friend. He found himself at alarm when he got the message, Davros remembered. He dropped the confession dial off with Ohila but Colony Sarrf had caught up with him. Luckily Ohila covered for him, in return he told her what had happened. Mercifully he got away with just a scolding from Ohila and having him promise to fix what he had done somehow. He found himself in 1138AD. He started to meditate, however this proved to be difficult. Originally he had hoped to be left alone, but he befriended a local called Bors. Well befriended was being a bit generous, he had in fact just got rid of a splinter. Since then the kind hearted pudding brain had insisted that he had saved him and was determined to stay by his side. Unlike other times, the Doctor didn't protest at this new found companionship, he was a little lonely. He would have loved if Clara could join him, but he couldn't chance it. Whatever about getting captured himself, he could not lose her again. There was no point in denying it any longer, he was quite besotted with her. His stubborn side warned against him getting in too deep, but he decided that she was worth getting his hearts broken over. If he survived his encounter with Davros he would let her know that somehow. It was becoming increasingly obvious to him as time went on that meditation was going to be impossible for him. Every time he closed his eyes he replayed that moment that she kissed him on the cheek at Christmas. He took a drink of water, that was it, there was something wrong with the water. It had to be the water...not him.
He was fine.
He got the villagers to help him to dig a well,and went about finding the right spot for it. On the twelfth day they finally constructed it, only to be told by him that what was needed was a visitor centre. Maybe he was procrastinating, he must have always been that way, he would be late for his own funeral if he could. This was increasingly the case after Trenzalore.
Seventeen days in as he was practicing some magic tricks, Bors told him that they had finally reached an agreement on the visitor centre.
"What is it you dread?" Bors asked him.
"Why would I dread anything?" he replied lightly.
"You're always making jokes, you're never sitting still.You're like a man in fear of days to come" Bors told him.
That hit him like a lead balloon.
"I thought you were an idiot" he retorted.
"I know, I thought that too" Bors replied.
"Good. I was worried that I would have to break it to you" he replied.
A little later he settled and informed Bors that it would be his last night before he left. Bors was a bit taken aback by this. After days of following him on his fool errands, the man was actually going to meditate. Though not in a way that Bors could recognised.
Sometimes in the last few days in the early light, he would visit the Doctor who would be sleeping.
He was sure that the man was, even though when he was awake he would vehemently deny that he was. The proof came one of the mornings after the Doctor first saved his life. He came in to check on him and see how he was. He was sitting in the middle of the circle he had created, Bors finally thought that The Doctor had done it and that he was actually meditating.
Until he heard the snores.
Bors looked bemused at The Doctor for a moment before quietly going to the fire to light it.
The Doctor started, but didn't wake up. Instead he started to whispered a bit.
Bors couldn't make out what he had been saying so he moved a bit closer.
Then the Doctor spoke again.One word.
"Clara" he whispered.
He started to stir, his face grimaced.
"Clara" he mumbled again more audible than before.
"CLARA!!!" he shouted as he woke on the spot with a start.
This caught Bors by surprise and he jumped banging his head on the lentil.
"Ow!" Bors exclaimed before giving The Doctor a withering look.
The Doctor looked around disoriented before he realised where he was.
He noticed Bors looking at him cautiously.
"How long have you been here?" the Doctor asked angrily.
"Long enough" Bors replied brazenly standing his ground.
The Doctor's stare hardened before he sighed out exasperated. He looked up defeated at him.
"Who is she?" Bors asked him.
"My friend, my best friend actually. There since before I got this face" the Doctor told him.
Bors looked at him confused.
"Oh right, yes. Well let me rephrase that, she was there since the beginning" he replied wistfully.
"She means alot to you" Bors observed.
"More than I am willing to admit to her" the Doctor replied adding "But enough about that, how goes plans for the visitor centre..."
"Are you sure?" Bors asked him now.
"I've been avoiding it. One last night and then I have to go" he told his friend.
"You wish to be alone?" Bors asked him.
"I have to prepare myself" he replied. Starting to arrange his room to start his meditation.
"But why, you never explained" Bors asked him.
"I did something wrong, I let somebody down when I should have been brave enough and strong enough to do better. Tomorrow I pay the price, tonight I make myself ready." he told Bors before starting into his calculations.
Bors held out his hand, the Doctor's attention shifted from the floor where he had started writing his calculations to the man in front of him.
"Goodbye magician, you have widened my mind." Bors told him.
He stood up and regarded Bors.
"You do realise you're still an idiot." he told him. If Clara was with him now, she would tell him he was rude.
"Yeah" Bors replied simply.
"Good. I have to be quiet now. Quiet as the grave." he told his friend.
"I do not believe you are capable of silence." Bors whispered to him.
"Oh, oh well we'll see about that won't we." he replied going back to his work.
"We shall Sir Doctor" Bor replied,bowing before taking his leave.
He was alone again. He hated being alone. As if on cue his mind betrayed him and there she was again.
His Clara, sitting on the ledge of the window in front of him.
"Y'know if you really want to see me again one last time, I'm only a TARDIS ride away" the spectre of Clara told him swinging her legs back and forth at the window she sat at.
"No more distractions, focus. No more distractions..." he told himself clamping his eyes shut. Ignoring what his imagination had conjured up for him in that moment.
"You never know, I might welcome you with open arms. Even kiss you, maybe more" the spectre teased.
"Bors!" he shouted out.
Bors came running up to him. The spectre disappeared.
"Are you any good with a broadsword?" he asked Bors.
"Yes" Bors replied.
"Fancy a friendly." he asked his friend.
"Enough magician! I do not believe that you will meditate, it's not in your nature. If this is to be your last night here then we shall celebrate. There shall be revels. But first..." Bors told him.
"First?" he replied puzzledly.
"Tell me your story. Tell me how you came to this place and why now you feel compelled to leave it." Bor told him adding "I will not depart this room until you do so."
"I suppose I do owe you." he told his friend.
"You do. You also know that you owe me too." the spectre of Clara was back.
"I served you loyally Sir Doctor." Bors replied confidently.
"Yes. Yes you have." he replied, ignoring the spectre.
"Then begin your tale" Bors told him.
"I won't like it y'know if you don't tell me. Just trust me, I might surprise you" the spectre told him before disappearing.
He sighed and smiled wistfully for a moment.
"Ah well, a little while ago. A very long way from here, I was looking for a bookshop. Instead I found a battlefield.The story of my life." he told Bors.
He walked towards the window, remembering.
"I've seen many battlefields. This one would be different. This one would be my last." he told his friend.
He continued to tell his tale to Bors and afterwards the man utterly convinced him to have a party. He relented. He even slept a bit. Clara was there, but he was also joined by his other selves. Well he was never one for convention, perhaps this way he wouldn't feel so alone in his final hours. He feasted and partied, time stood still. At times when he was taking one of his cat naps, he would meet with some of previous selves in his mind. She would be there laughing and joking with all of them.He had to admit that he felt a bit out of place and a little bit jealous of them all. They all seemed to grab her attention, whether it be with playing a recorder, doing karate moves, the sword play or playing the spoons, he couldn't get his Clara's attention. So he would sit in the corner and mope until he was brought back to reality.
The last straw came one of the times he was taking a cat nap, he had just finished making his sonic sunglasses. When in the dream, he pointed hopefully at his sonic glasses. She started to move towards him when to his abject horror a hand grabbed her and pulled her in the opposite direction straight into the arms of the floppy haired bow tied fez wearing idiot he had been in his last life. The two started dancing as he watched jealously. She reached out and put her hand to his cheek and placed a kiss there before his bow tied self pulled her into a hug. He just stormed off.
He woke up.
"Right, that's it" he found himself saying before trudging towards his wardrobe. On the way, the music room caught his eye. It had disappeared in his last two regenerations when the TARDIS had changed. Yet now it stood right next to the wardrobe. He went inside and immediately his eye was drawn to something in the room. He picked it up and played it. Yes, that would do nicely. He walked back to the console room and relaxed enough in his chair until he fell asleep.
He dreamt that she was hanging around that idiot with the fez and the bow tie again. He stared at her at the end of the room until her gaze slipped from his eleventh self to him. He stood up from where he was sitting and strummed the first chords of 'Pretty Woman'. Her attention shifted to him, she looked over at him and regarded him curiously before she smiled. All of his other selves melted into the background.
She was with him totally now. All his. None of his other selves got in the way. He would just strum his guitar and she would stay with him. Some of the times he even relented and wore a scarf and sometimes he even wore a bow tie for her, she always stayed. He wondered whether the real Cara would ever do the same, but he quickly dismissed that thought.
Then one day time he was playing and she didn't appear to him. He searched all over for her.
Bors joined him in the middle of his searching.
"Ah, Sir Doctor. What have you planned for the crowd today?" Bors asked him.
"Today! Bors it's only been a few hours, try to keep up" he told his friend.
"It's not...oh never mind. So what have you planned" Bors sighed exasperatedly.
"I was thinking of an axe fight" he told his friend.
"Excellent, I shall get the audience ready for tonight." Bors told him.
"There you go with the night thing again Bors. What did I tell you" he told his friend who just shook his head and left him.
"Ah, an axe fight" he said to himself picking up his guitar and regarding it with a small smile before adding "That should bring her back to me"
He didn't remember how he had managed to acquire the tank he was standing on. He didn't really care anymore. He felt more like himself than he had done in the last full year that he had regenerated. Maybe even one day he could remember where he got his face from. Now, he just wanted to see his Clara again, just maybe for one last time. She may be only a spectre and the real Clara was out there somewhere. But at least that spectre was his and his alone. He started to play and look around the arena amongst the crowds to spot her, see her smile at him but nothing. After playing for a bit and playing for the crowd. By the end, he was a bit exasperated with the fact that no one got his joke. Although this did give him the time that he needed to scan the crowd for Clara but no luck.
"What's the matter with him? He's never like this" he heard the voice of Clara speak.
Wait a minute, she hadn't spoken since that night he tried to meditate. He looked up and pushed his glasses low so he could see. It was Clara, the real Clara with Missy.
"Oh, you really are new aren't you." he heard Missy say.
Everything and everyone melted away, all he saw was her. It was his Clara, his real Clara. Not some spectre that his mind had conjured up. His gaze never left her.
"Hang on did he just hear that? He doesn't know we're here does he?" he heard her say as she turned to Missy.
Should he play his guitar. Would it even work on her like it did with her spectre. Now is your chance do it, play for her. You will always regret not doing it if you don't. What would he play for her? He thought of what he would play, could he play it. He had to chance it, if she kills him later about it, so be it.
He starts to play the chords of pretty woman, still keeping his gaze on his Clara. She looked at him puzzledly for a moment. Ok, maybe he made a mistake.
Then she smiled a small smile at him which got wider as he continued to play on.
Bors told him he had been there for three weeks. He couldn't believe it.
He spotted his Clara in the wings.
After motioning for Missy to join him, he looked over softly at Clara before grinning and pushing up his sunglasses. He watched as she joined him in the middle of the floor.
"How did you know it was me? Did you see me?" She asked him.
"When do I not see you" he replied
"What? One face in all of that crowd" she replied.
"There was a crowd too?" he said genuinely puzzled.
"Wow, we're doing charm as well are we. Which one of us is dying?" she asked with a chuckle.
He stopped and looked at her, she knew. Perhaps told by Missy. A sadness he hadn’t felt in a long time started to build, he didn’t want her to know. It must have started to register on his face as her expression changed to one of worry. Without thinking, he pulled her into a hug, latching onto her protectively.
She tensed up for a moment before relaxing into the hug.
“Ok, and we’re doing the hugging now, too. I can’t keep up” he heard her say.
Oh yes he forgot, he didn’t do that now. He cursed inwardly at how he had allowed his previous selves to influence him over the last three weeks. He had to find some sort of excuse.
“Well y’know what they say. Hugging is a great way to hide your face” he lied.
He felt her shake her head before pulling back and looking at him.
“Ok, look I guessed a party, but not like this. What is this?” she asked him pushing up his sunglasses. ”This isn’t you.”
“I spent all day yesterday in a bow tie. The day before in a long scarf” he told her pulling down his sunglasses.
“It’s my party and all of me is invited” he told her.
“And all of you, if you want” he thought silently.