Clara tried her best to support the tray full of champagne with her wobbling fingers as she meandered through the glamorous crowd of planet Greyon's annual Seven Moons Ball. Initially, she had berated the Doctor for assigning her the role of waitress, but she understood the necessity for having eyes and ears on the inside.
"Why am I always the bloody staff in these situations whilst you get to galavant around enjoying the posh parties like it's 1999 and you've got nowhere to be?" She had hissed, tying the knot of her apron with anger-fuelled vigour.
"Honestly, Clara, you would never be able to get away with posing as a member of the gentry. You're far too normal looking," he had returned, deep brogue rolling the 'r' in 'normal' in a condescending way that earned him a sharp thwack to the back of his head. "Hey! That was a compliment!"
Speaking of, she was yet to see her friend since they had parted ways at the entrance to the kitchens. Clara had been scanning the gigantic ballroom, on the lookout for the party's host, the Duchess of Greyon. After arriving on the planet with intention of seeing the Seven Moons, Clara and the Doctor had discovered from a local who worked for her that the Duchess was planning on using a Greyonite crystal to power up an ancient robot army laying dormant beneath the planet's surface. The Doctor had informed Clara that the crystal was the last of its kind, stolen from Greyon's secret archives, and had to be used on the night of the alignment of the Seven Moons to be effective. All they had to do was find the crystal and the plan would be foiled.
Nothing they couldn't normally handle.
Clara gazed out of the ballroom's domed glass ceiling at the twinkling stars in the vast, nearly-black sky. It was a stunning sight, the Seven Moons, all in a diagonal row like a supreme Orion's Belt. She began to wonder if the people of Greyon observed constellations like people from Earth did when she felt a hand touch her arm.
"Excuse me, I'm—"
Clara's eyes widened, the champagne glasses on her tray rattling as she took a step back.
The Doctor raised one unruly brow but his eyes remained tender. "Only me. Didn't mean to scare you," he chuckled, and the rumbling baritone of the sound went straight to the pit of Clara's stomach.
He had changed into a sharp, tailored suit, the colour not dissimilar to Greyon's night sky, matched with a burgundy shirt with the first two buttons undone. No tie. Clara had never seen him in something so fitted and she felt her cheeks grow hot. His normally untamed curls had been slicked back and the silvery strands glinted in the light when he turned his head.
"Are you alright?" The Doctor asked, concern evident in his voice. His eyes scanned hers. "You're inflating again," he remarked, pointing to her face.
"Me? Yeah. Fine."
"Are you sure? Because you're bright red—"
"Honestly, a-okay, nothing wrong whatsoever."
"If you're feeling sick I can get you back to the TARDIS and finish this alone—"
"Doctor!" Clara insisted, plastering on a tight smile. "I'm good, seriously. Now, update me," she breathed, desperate for a change of topic. The Doctor eyed her warily before looking back out to the crowd.
"Well, we know she keeps the crystal on her person at all times so I assume she will have it in a handbag of sorts. The best chance we have is if I engage her in conversation and distract her long enough for you to somehow open the bag and retrieve the crystal."
"Right, sounds easy."
"Yes, quite easy, if you ignore the Greyon people's tradition of cutting the hands off their thieves," the Doctor mused.
"You can't be serious?" said Clara, but broke into an exasperated grin when she caught the Doctor's teasing gaze, lips quirked into a taunting smile. She felt her breath catch and had to look away. What was wrong with her tonight? She could usually refute the butterflies that stirred within when the Doctor exchanged certain looks with her, but she had been distracted by his formalwear and the way he was bent down to whisper his plan in her ear, his voice gravelly and hot...
"No of course not. But I can't actually guarantee what she would try to do were we to be caught. Which is why I will have to be thoroughly convincing."
...and his accent strangely more pronounced.
Clara came to a realisation. "Are you pissed?"
The Doctor avoided her gaze, but his twinkling eyes belied his impassive face. "Just a bit of Dutch courage. No need to worry. Time Lords metabolise alcohol in a different way to humans; the effects shouldn't last longer than half an hour."
"Tell me how much you've had to drink."
"Clara, you're not my teacher."
"I'm not compromising this entire thing because you can't keep your hands off the booze! God, you're more Scottish than I originally thought."
"That really is a horrific stereotype, and you should be ashamed of yourself."
"Clara, trust me."
Clara huffed, unable to contend with that argument, and her gaze flitted over the various resplendently dressed aliens before her eyebrows drew into a frown. "Hang on, you're going to distract her? How on Earth are you going to do that? Please don't do anything embarrassing," she shot him a glare.
"I'm embarrassing?" the Doctor gasped, fingers splayed across his chest in indignation. "Aren't you forgetting that little moment two weeks ago on Delta Nine Six?"
"It was a dance to save the Queen's life, and it wasn't that bad. It worked, didn't it?"
"Only because that Ho'otath didn't have any legs."
"You weren't much help."
"I had to get the sonic screwdriver back off that civilian, remember? Little pink fellow with forty eyes. Speaking of, here you go," he withdrew the instrument from his pocket and slipped it into Clara's free hand. His fingers were warm as they brushed her own. The heat was back on her face. "In case her bag has a lock or something."
"A handbag with a lock?" Clara smirked.
"Details. Ah! There she is," Clara followed the Doctor's line of sight to a mass of curly red hair cascading over a shimmering gold sequinned dress. The Duchess was facing away from them both, deep in conversation with a blue man, and despite knowing she was planning on leading a terrifying robot army, Clara couldn't help but admire her figure. "You ready?"
"Doctor, whatever you do, please for the love of God, act normal. For once in your life."
The corners of his eyes crinkled as he gave her a mischievous grin before he swiped two champagne glasses from her tray. "Clara Oswald, didn't I tell you to trust me?"
With a wink he had disappeared, threading through the throng of attendees towards the bespangled Duchess.
As she monitored the Doctor's retreating back, Clara made her way around the ballroom as casually as she could, dimpling at guests, proffering champagne and, when necessary, avoiding wandering hands — which could be quite difficult when certain species had more than four arms. She reached a spot by a doorway where she was far enough away from the Duchess so as not to arouse suspicion, but still maintained a clear view of her through the crowd. The Duchess had turned now, and Clara could glimpse her profile in the low light of the ballroom. Her scarlet tresses contrasted with deep bronze skin and vivid brown eyes shaped like a cat's. Her lips were painted a luxurious rouge and framed a set of gleaming white teeth; all sharp and pointed, the defining feature of the Greyon people, who were descendants of humans. She was, indeed, beautiful. Her gold dress hugged her like a second skin, the plunging neckline accentuating her assets; the sequins glimmered like the sun reflecting on gentle waves. And over her shoulder was a violet handbag, almost certainly containing the crystal. A small clasp, no zip or lock, Clara observed triumphantly. The Duchess turned abruptly and Clara was pulled out of her reverie.
There was the Doctor, smiling and offering the Duchess a glass of champagne.
And then he winked.
Clara felt her insides knot as she realised what he was trying to do. There was no way the Duchess would buy it, he was too awkward, too blunt, too insulting to even attempt to flirt...
Laughter rang out above the hustle and bustle of the ballroom. The Duchess was holding her champagne aloft, and she was gazing into the Doctor's eyes in a way the Clara could only describe as coy.
Clara looked on with her mouth agape.
The Doctor was leaning over the Duchess ever so slightly, and smoothed a hand over his slicked curls as he talked; a seemingly nonchalant gesture but something that Clara read as deliberate. There was a fire to his eyes Clara had never seen before — at least, not to this degree. There had been moments between them, of course. Moments that had sometimes kept her awake at night, caused her hands to wander between her thighs when she was alone, curious or wanting or bored or all three. But this was different. This was an amorously charged look, the Doctor's eyes hooded and his teeth worrying his bottom lip in a way that begged for his mouth to be kissed.
This was a seduction.
And it seemed to be working.
The Duchess drew in towards the Doctor, like a moth to a flame, flashing the expanse of her décolletage, her fingers trailing along the neckline in a move Clara recognised from nights out with her friends. She watched as the Doctor's eyes glanced to where the Duchess was leading him, only for a second, then back up to her face. He smiled slowly, luxuriously. The crinkles returned to the skin beside his eyes, and one of his hands came up to twirl a lock of the Duchess' hair between two fingers.
A burning, coiling sensation arose within Clara as she watched the exchange. She fought hard to avert her gaze but something stopped her. A multitude of emotions washed over her and she was riveted on the spot as she let them take their course.
Shock and disbelief were first. If you had asked Clara before the ball if she had thought the Doctor capable of shamelessly charming the pants off a woman, let alone effectively, she would have laughed until her sides were sore. This was the Doctor, her Doctor, who had once called her "short and roundish" and frequently misjudged her age.
The secondary emotions, however, were ones that Clara was less inclined to address. The white-hot pang that reverberated through her, made her clench her fingernails into her palm, was ugly and rotten. It spiked every time she saw the Duchess sway closer towards her seducer. It flared boiling when Clara noticed the Doctor's hand come to rest upon the Duchess' hip, his fingers carefully stroking the sequins of her dress.
Deeper, in the darkest parts of her stomach, was the flicker of something else. Through the disbelief, through the jealousy, came another feeling entirely. It clenched her abdomen tight and caused her breathing to become shallow.
Clara unwillingly confirmed then what she had been trying to deny to herself for months. At least with her bumbling, awkward Doctor, she had been able to stamp down on the stoking fire inside, telling herself he wasn't a sexual being. That nothing could happen between them, because the most he was capable of was telling her she had hips "built like a man."
So where had this come from? Clara was having trouble associating the Doctor she knew with the one in front of her, who was currently swaying with the Duchess to the music, hands now dangerously low on her back. The way he grinned down at her was almost predatory. Yes, Clara decided. The Duchess was his prey and she was willingly caught in his trap, utterly helpless. Clara tried to bat away a wandering thought. I wish he would look at me like that.
It was right then that the Doctor pulled the Duchess close to him, and looked over her shoulder, eyes locking directly with Clara's.
For a moment, all the air in the room seemed to vanish, and Clara felt the fire in her belly spark anew. She blinked slowly as she watched the Doctor glance sideways at the Duchess then back to her, and Clara realised he was signalling for her to approach.
Her heart spiked with the thrill of potentially pulling off the plan, but it was a feeling that she was able to harness, unlike the desire that had reared its head before. As Clara was nearly finished edging towards them, the Doctor pulled back and grabbed the Duchess by the face, dragging her in for a scorching kiss. Clara filed that away under things to be addressed later as she slipped her hand into the Duchess' bag, using the champagne tray on her other hand to disguise the steal. As soon as she had retrieved the crystal, Clara turned on her heel and made her way to the door.
Her uniform allowed her to make it through the kitchens unnoticed, and she came to where the TARDIS was tucked away in a disused pantry. Clara slammed the door behind her and heaved her chest, the rush of panic setting in. The crystal sparkled in her hand, reflecting the myriad of lights from the console and a hundred tiny Claras blinking back at her. She almost dropped the stone when the door to the TARDIS opened with a bang and the Doctor rushed in and headed immediately to the console, flicking switches, pressing buttons, pulling levers. His lips were tinged pink. He turned to Clara with a smile.
"I think it's time we left, don't you?"
The President of Greyon had been shocked by the news of the Duchess' plot, but eternally grateful to Clara and the Doctor for their hard work. The pair had watched as the Duchess was locked into maximum-strength handcuffs and frogmarched out of the ball. She was furious, wrestling listlessly with the armed guards who held her, yelling about being framed! and utterly innocent!
When she caught eyes with the Doctor, her eyes turned wild.
"You!" she shrieked, and the Doctor gave a sidelong glance at Clara next to him. The Duchess followed his gaze. "Well I hope allowing your boyfriend to snog me was worth it, honey," she spat at Clara, "you wouldn't believe the things he did with his hands!"
Clara felt her face flame, but she kept her head up while she avoided the Doctor's eyes. The Duchess' cries were muted as she was bundled into the back of a peculiar looking metallic vehicle which proceeded to dematerialise.
Despite the ruckus, the President insisted that the ball continue, as the alignment of the Seven Moons was too special an event to miss. The Doctor and Clara were invited back in as guests of honour, Clara pleased to be drinking champagne rather than serving it. She shucked her apron and begged the TARDIS for a dress, emerging not long after in an ultramarine halter-neck number that skimmed her thighs, for which the Doctor paid her a cursory passing compliment.
The night crawled on, and when the Seven Moons were fully aligned, everyone marvelled at the heavens through the glass dome, and the band started up a lively tune that had everyone on their feet. The Doctor grinned at Clara and pulled her by the hand toward the dance floor.
"I'm only dancing with you if we have no repeat of Delta Nine Six, promise?" he teased.
"Promise," she laughed.
Whilst he danced with something akin to flair, gone was the slow and practised ease of his earlier seduction. It was like night and day, Clara remarked, but not without a twinge of disappointment. She longed for his hands to brush her hips, for him to guide her across the floor with that calculated eroticism he had displayed with the Duchess. Now he was swishing her at pace around the ballroom, and it was fun, and friendly, and a laugh. But Clara wished for more.
Later, as she was about to pick up her third glass of champagne, Clara noticed the Doctor slip away towards the TARDIS. Concerned, she made her way across the ballroom to follow.
She found him, back toward her, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his trousers and humming as he scanned the bookshelves of the console room. Clara padded over to the foot of the stairs. She gazed up and cocked her head to the side. God, that suit really was form-fitting.
"Doctor, are you alright?"
He spun around quickly. "Ah, there you are. Clara, Clara, Clara. I was just thinking of where to take us next. I've had enough of fancy balls for a while now, haven't you?" he began to descend the stairs, "There's this brilliant—"
Later, Clara wouldn't be able to pinpoint exactly what it was that made her interrupt. Probably the champagne.
"How did you do that?" She interjected.
The Doctor halted on the second to last step and stared down at her. "Do what?"
"That. Back there. With the Duchess."
"Clara, you may only be, what, forty?" — she glowered at him and he averted her gaze — "but I'm sure you know what a kiss is."
"No," Clara said firmly, "not that. That wasn't just a kiss. That was a...a...that was seducing."
The raised brow made another appearance. "Yes?"
"And that's not you!" Clara had to force herself not to stamp her foot like a petulant child. "You don't do that!"
"Well I think you'll find," he scoffed, "I did."
"But how? You're so..." she winced but soldiered on, "not that. Stick-insect. Alien. Rude."
He blinked at her, astonished. "And you call me rude?" his vowels came through brusque and thick. The Doctor took a final step down and crossed his arms, levelling Clara with a glare, daring her to continue.
"I didn't think you could do that."
"Do what?" he repeated.
"Turn on the charm."
He unfolded and refolded his arms, then shoved them deep into his pockets again. He opened his mouth as if to say something, only to close it before anything came out. A frustrated staccato was tapped out by one of his shiny black winkle-pickers as he mulled a response around in his head. Finally, his foot came to a halt and he looked straight into her eyes.
"Clara. I am thousands of years old. I have been to far-flung planets, crossed countless galaxies, mingled with more species than any other person in the entire universe. Probably. Do you honestly think, in all that time, that I wouldn't have picked up a few things along the way? Learnt about the ways of the heart — and body — of humans and aliens alike?" The Doctor gingerly took a step closer. "Understood what makes them tick?"
His eyes searched hers, and they had grown round in such an earnest way and Clara felt guilt slither down her throat, straight to her stomach. She couldn't hold his gaze and so observed the shine of his shoes. They were treading towards her until he was half a step away. She looked up and he wore an unreadable smile.
"That truly is a beautiful dress," he said.
"Pardon?" His change of topic took her by surprise. Clara looked down at her outfit and back up into his inscrutable stare.
"The TARDIS knows what suits you."
"Well, I think she's warming up to me."
"There is one thing, though."
"It is rather short."
"I guess. But I don't care what you think."
"I know. It wasn't an insult."
Clara felt her back come into contact with something and realised she had hit the central console unit. She hadn't even noticed she'd been retreating, and the Doctor was now inches from her. He reached out to fiddle with a switch on the console just past her elbow and she felt his hand ghost her skin there ever so slightly. She tried to a contain a shudder. His hand remained on the switch.
"You may call me rude, Clara, but Time Lords are extremely sensitive," said the Doctor, and he looked down at her. She thought he seemed to be sizing her up. Estimating.
"I know, I'm sorry for what I said, I didn't—" she was cut off by a soft laugh.
"I don't mean emotionally."
"Oh. Okay." When had her heart started beating so rapidly?
The Doctor ceased his fiddling of the switch and placed his palm flat on the console so as to bring himself even closer to her, his face almost level with Clara's.
"Especially with you. As a Time Lord, I am attuned to even the slightest changes in human physiology."
"Really?" She was trying hard to keep her voice from wobbling. He hummed in agreement.
As soon as the words left her mouth, Clara knew it was a challenge. Aside from the occasional whirr from the TARDIS, it was quiet. Their bodies nearly touching, Clara was mindful of the air between them, warm with the mingling of their breath. Champagne, not unpleasant, but stifling. The swirling grey of the Doctor's eyes held her transfixed. She realised she had seen this look before, earlier, but not directed at her.
"Well, there's the pace of your breathing," he began, lowering his eyes to study her lips, then back up. He then brought a hand up to push a stray lock of hair from her face and looked from one eye to the other. "Your pupils are quite dilated." His hand by her face then curled inwards, and two fingers extended to caress her cheek. "You are incredibly warm," the fingers continued to trail over and down her face in a tantalising drag, finally coming to rest at the juncture between her neck and ear. His thumb ran back and forth along her jawbone. "And I've been able to hear your pounding heartbeat ever since you came in here."
Clara noticed that her hands were now gripping the edge of the console to support her, legs weakened. She cursed herself, buckling over like a Victorian maid, but she adored the blossoming heat that radiated between them and felt drunk on the electricity that coursed through her. Not usually one to give up control, Clara relished the hold the Doctor held over her. It was dizzying.
"The biggest tell, however," and with this, he closed the gap between them to brush his lips over the shell of her ear, "is your scent. I can smell your pheromones, Clara, and they're rolling off you in waves." She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end as his teeth gave the barest scrape of her lobe. "It's delicious."
Clara let the smallest of moans escape her lips and her eyes fell shut of their own accord. She hadn't felt such a fervent ache between her thighs in forever. Her core was burning up with every syllable the Doctor uttered, that damned accent driving her wild, the arrogant tone even more so. His touch was all at once maddening yet not enough, and whenever his lips met her skin Clara shuddered.
The Doctor's voice came thick and rough, but still with that sensual tone of authority. "So Clara, tell me," he paused, and one of his hands came to rest on her thigh, pausing at the bottom of her dress, "do you think you've learned your lesson?"
His fingers toyed with the hem. "Do you believe now that I can — how did you put it? — ‘turn on the charm’?"
Clara laughed but it was more of a breathless huff. "Yes, yes you daft old man."
At her admission, the Doctor's hand slid fully under her dress. He stroked two fingers over the damp cotton of her underwear, eliciting another deeper moan from Clara. She ground her hips against his fingers and he used his free arm to heave her further onto the console. "You are absolutely sodden," he said with a devilish Cheshire Cat grin.
"You're not going to make me beg," Clara rasped. As she protested, The Doctor slowed down his caresses to a pace that was murderous.
"I think I am."
Her eyes met his firmly but she knew if she let her inner control freak win then he would cease. She reached up her skirt to pull aside her underwear.
"Please, touch me."
The Doctor's eyes darkened and as he plunged a long finger through her wet folds Clara's head lolled to the side. His other hand squeezed the flesh of her hip, holding her steady. When her panting increased, he slipped yet another finger in and crooked them both just so, causing her to whimper with pleasure. He relished the glowing flush that adorned her cheeks, how soft and wet she felt to his hand. His fingers sunk in and out of her, and she emitted the most delectable gasps, the sound obscene in the quiet of the TARDIS.
"Fuck, yes, please, just like that—"
He began to circle his thumb across her clit and from inside her he felt her clench tighter. His touch was one of expertise, every rhythmic thrust hitting her exactly where she needed it most. Her eyes squeezed shut when he increased the pressure, and she could feel the euphoria building within her.
"Look at me."
She opened her eyes and felt him see right into her. All the feelings she had tried to suppress, every look they shared that she had told herself was her imagination, all of it, was confirmed right then in that look.
"Clara, my Clara, come for me."
The Doctor sped his ministrations and her breath hitched, higher and higher, until she let out a long, loud cry of ecstasy and shook around his fingers. Clara's hands now grasped the lapels of his suit and she rested her head on his shoulder, chest heaving. Slowly he withdrew his fingers from within her and lapped at them salaciously. He looked down to see her gazing at him with a mixture of awe and desire. He let out a huff of laughter.
"What is it?" she asked, curious as always, even if it came out as more of a breath.
"Well, I never thought I'd have to tell an English teacher not to judge a book by its cover," he said to the floor, before looking at her again and grinning foolishly.
Clara returned his smile. "And I never thought I'd be saying this, but I can't wait for you to prove me wrong again."