21-year-old Clara Oswald was not the type to give up on a challenge. She was tackling uni with all the gusto that she could and would persevere. However, she did come up with some challenges. One of them was tagging along with the girls when they went shopping. One of them, a tall, pale, freckled blonde woman with green eyes squealed, "Oh my god, Clara, this is so cute!"
Clara looked at the crop top, then at the blonde. Finally, Clara said, "Sorry, Genevive. I don't think your boobs will fit in that."
Another woman, an olive-skinned woman with dyed blue hair, nodded and said, "I agree with Clara. Sorry, Genevive."
Genevive huffed and said, "It's hard to find cute tops that fit."
The olive-skinned woman held up another cute top and asked, "How about this yellow one?"
"Ew!" Genevive huffed. "Tasoula, you know that I look terrible in chartreuse!"
Clara eyeballed the ruffled top and said, "It looks yellow to me."
Tasoula turned to searching for an outfit of her own. Suddenly, her phone rang. "Clara, could you get that?" she asked.
Clara nodded and answered the phone. "Tasoula's phone."
When she heard the familiar voice, the young woman said, "Hello, Mrs. Crespo. Yes, this is Tasoula's friend, Clara Oswald." Clara frowned at the shouted rant and said, "Mrs. Crespo, I don't speak Greek."
There was some more yelling in Greek as Clara held the phone away from her ear. Finally, in a thick Greek accent, a the woman on the other end of the phone said, "Put Tasoula on."
Clara held the phone out for her friend. "It's for you."
Tasoula swallowed audibly and took the phone. In a falsely chipper voice, she said, "Hey, Mum! No, I'm out with Clara and Genevive." Tasoula frowned. "Mum. Mum! It's just hair dye! Yia Yia won't care! MUM! She dyed her hair purple. No, I'm not lying. Mum, your mother is- MUM! Ask her to email you the photos! Yes, she does have a mobile. Mum, stop shouting! I don't care! Ben is my boyfriend! It was Yia Yia's idea to go!"
The olive-skinned woman noticed all the people looking at her and let out a sigh. She spoke into the phone and said, "I'll call you later, Mum. Love you. Bye!"
With that said, Tasoula hung up. She looked at her friends and said, "We should probably finish shopping before my mum calls the police on my boyfriend again. She's convinced that Ben abducted my grandmother and forced her to go to a horror film with him at the cinema. Mum is trying to convince me to break up with him and Yia Yia is trying to convince me to marry him."
"Ben?" Clara questioned. "He's the goth one, isn't he?"
"Yeah." Tasoula replied. "He's a nice, respectful bloke."
"He's cute, too!" Genevive said with a grin. "You could just drown in those gorgeous blue eyes of his!"
"My family is crazy." Tasoula sighed as she and Genevive headed to pay for their items. "The Greek side is full of nutters. The Italian side? Also crazy. My maternal grandmother is one of the few ones who is the fun kind of crazy. My mum is super critical and never shuts up and my five sisters aren't much better. I'm pretty sure that at least one of them is evil. Probably Aleka."
Genevive nodded and said, "I know the feels, Tasoula. I have an older sister and three younger brothers. They're triplets and I'm pretty sure that Damian- he's the blonde one- is the Antichrist."
Tasoula looked directly at Clara and said, "Clara Oswald, you should consider yourself extremely lucky that you are an only child."
"I wouldn't know." Clara said with a shrug. "Though I've met both of your grandmothers, Tasoula. Every time they see me, they turn it into a competition about who feeds me the most, generally feeding me until I become ill. I would like to see pictures of Yia Yia Eleni with purple hair, though."
"Here." Tasoula showed Clara the pictures. "What do you think?"
"Where was this picture taken?" Clara asked.
"At some metal festival that my cousin took her to." Tasoula replied. "She told me that back when her first grandchild was born, she decided that she wanted to be the 'fun grandmother'. It took Nik almost a half an hour to convince Yia Yia not to get her tongue pierced."
"Clara, can you hold by bags?" Genevive asked.
Before Clara could respond, she was overloaded with a massive pile of bags. She managed to keep ahold of them, but she couldn't see over them. "Thanks, Clara!" Genevive said. "Follow me!"
Clara tried to follow Tasoula and Genevive, but she got lost behind them. She almost dropped the bags several times before she heard a masculine voice ask, "Do you need any help?"
Clara turned to see a very attractive man smiling at her. "Oh, I couldn't possibly." the petite brunette said, blushing slightly. He was very handsome.
"I insist." the man said politely.
The man then took about half the bags that Clara was carrying, significantly lightening her load. He followed Clara to the parking area, then over to Genevive's car. After they both packed them into the car, Clara smiled at him and said, "Thanks for your help. By the way, I'm Clara Oswald."
"Danny Pink." the man said, returning her smile.
Clara thought about it for a bit before saying, "Say, would you like to get something to eat some time? As my thanks for helping me, I mean."
"Sure." Danny said. "Let's exchange numbers- if I'm not being too forward, that is."
"Well, we'd have to if I wanted to get into contact with you, right?" Clara said.
The two then exchanged numbers. Danny waved goodbye before heading over to two young women. Judging from the way they reacted to Danny, he was not romantically involved with either of them. Clara got into the car. As she was buckling her seatbelt, she heard a cheeky Genevive ask, "If you want, I can give you some recommendations for where you can have your date."
Clara turned red and said, "Genevive, it's not a date. I'm just thanking him for helping."
"Whatever you say, Clara." Tasoula smirked. "You have to admit that he is a cute one."
"Yeah." Clara said with a smile. "He kind of is."
It was their one month anniversary dinner and he dreaded that he might end up being late. Damn it, why didn't he remember how to put on a tie? He had dressed up nicely and he wanted to impress Clara. She was someone worth impressing. They had some stuff in common. She was studying to be a teacher and so was he. She planned on teaching English and he wanted to teach maths. They also enjoyed similar music, they both like the same television programmes, they both loved romantic comedies, and they both had a passion for Indian food. They even had some of the same dislikes. They both disliked cabbage, sour foods, glitter, horror films, and people who chew too loudly. Tonight was an important night and he absolutely did not want to be late! After finally managing to properly fasten his tie, Danny hurried out the door.
When Danny arrived at the restaurant, he saw that Clara was already waiting for him. She smiled at him. When they confirmed their reservation, they were shown to their tables. As they were walking through the restaurant, the young man heard two people bantering. Both sounded extremely Scottish. He glanced over to see that one of them was a man, perhaps in his forties. He was rather pale and his thick, curly hair had already started greying. The other was a young woman, perhaps in her early to mid twenties. Her skin was a few shades darker than Danny's and her thick, natural hair went halfway down her neck and the same distance out in all directions. It was such a dark shade of brown that it was almost black. Mid-banter, the woman adjusted her black-framed glasses as she let out a laugh. When Danny and Clara arrived at the table, he pulled out the chair so she could sit down. "Such a gentleman!" she chuckled.
Danny sat down on the other side of the two-person table and smiled. "Well, I do my best."
As they were handed their menus, Clara said, "This is an amazing place for a one month anniversary date. It's really expensive, too. How did you manage?"
"I have a friend who owes me a favor for something I did." Danny replied. "He really, really owes me."
"What did you do for him?" Clara asked.
"I, uh..." Danny leaned in so only Clara could hear him. "I pretended to be a particularly flamboyant gay man and hit on his step-daughter's boyfriend to scare him away."
Clara tried not to laugh, but a small titter escaped. She blushed slightly and said, "Sorry."
"It was embarrassing." Danny said awkwardly. "I mean, I know that it's 2003 and not the Middle Ages, but that's not something I'll be doing again."
"Well, you might have to do it again if we have a daughter." Clara joked.
Danny looked away with a frown. Clara frowned and asked, "What's wrong?"
Danny rubbed the back of his neck and confessed, "I, ah, can't have kids."
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry." Clara gasped quietly. "Was that insensitive?"
"No, don't be sorry." Danny said reassuringly. "You deserve to know."
Clara gazed down at her menu. She thought about asking if something had happened. As if he had read her mind, Danny elaborated, "Testicular cancer, four years ago. I found out the day after my eighteenth birthday."
"I'm sorry, Danny." Clara said quietly.
"Well, I've been cancer-free for a while now." Danny said. "Anyway, let's enjoy our date. What are you going to order?"
The curly-haired man watched as the couple entered. He couldn't help but notice how lovely she was, how animated her face was when she laughed. She had that funny but cute nose, those dimples, and those brown doe eyes that would cause any man to melt. She happened to glance at him. He smiled at her and, in a friendly manner, she smiled back. Suddenly, a hand waved in front of his face. "Hello? Earth to Basil!"
He looked around the hand and saw that her attention had returned with the man with her. "Basil, you know that I'm talking to you." the voice of his table-mate said with a slight bit of irritation.
Basil turned his attention back to the woman he was sitting with. "Sorry, Mae." he said with an awkward grin. "You were saying something about a car?"
"His Corvette." Mae replied. "You know that I only let you call me Mae because you can't pronounce 'Amelie', right?"
"The Corvette." Basil said. "You were telling me about the Corvette."
"Right. William loved that Corvette more than me. After he started cheating on me, that Corvette mysteriously caught fire." Mae grinned wickedly.
Basil groaned and said, "Mae, you didn't..."
Mae took a sip of her water and said, "Don't be ridiculous. His other girlfriend did it."
"What does this story have to do with your stay in California as an exchange student?" Basil asked.
"This was in California while I was there." Mae replied.
"Wait." Basil raised a brow. "I thought you said that he was twenty-two."
"He was." Mae replied. "That's how I learned my lesson that older men aren't always worth it. I still like older men, but I'm a bit more judicious with my choices now."
"Is that why you're here with me right now?" Basil asked teasingly.
"Hell no." Mae said. "I don't date fellow medical students. I still can't believe that you decided to start studying to become a doctor at your age."
"It took me a while to decide that being a somewhat overqualified secondary school history teacher wasn't the career for me." Basil said defensively.
"You have a PhD." Mae pointed out. "You're already Doctor Basil Foreman. You could have taught at uni. You quit your job and now you want to become a different type of doctor." The young woman glanced at Basil over her drink. She added, "That's kind of strange."
"Teenagers and young adults are two completely different things." Basil argued. "Teenagers have a feeling that they know everything. Young adults are convinced that they know everything. Teenagers are a little less likely to show up to class hung over."
"Clearly you've never met some of the people I went to school with." Mae deadpanned. "I didn't start drinking until after I was out of school. Never touched a drop."
"You're forgetting the time your grandmother dumped you at my house when you were eight." Basil pointed out. "You got into River's alcoholic ice cream, with predictable results."
"I got completely pissed," Amelia laughed. "and my granny never let you babysit again."
"It's just as well." Basil said with a shrug. "Neither River nor I were the parenting types."
"Oh, please!" Mae scoffed. "Everybody knows that you wanted kids. Now that you're divorced, you won't even think about having kids unless you're married."
"If you can think of a no-strings-attached way of spreading your genes, let me know." Basil snarked.
"You could donate sperm." Mae suggested. "You wouldn't even have to raise the kid. Wanking into a cup is the most commitment you'll have to make."
Basil frowned and said, "Please do not refer to sperm collection as 'Wanking into a cup'."
"Well, that's what you'll be doing." Mae said with a shrug. "Draining your danglers if that's what you want to call it."
"Amelie Dupont, I'm only going to say it once. Don't refer to my testicles as my 'danglers'." He paused and continued, "In fact, I'd rather you not talk about my testicles at all. You're not my doctor. You're not even a doctor at all. Not yet."
"We'll both be doctors." Mae said with a great deal of determination. "Two slightly socially inept Scottish doctors."
"You're Haitian." Basil pointed out.
"I may have been born in Haiti, but I grew up in Glasgow. I'm Haitian by birth, but I'm Scottish at heart." Mae said airily. "Besides, my maternal grandmother was 100% Scottish. Lived with her from age 2 to 17. When my granny's heritage is combined with my upbringing, I'm at least semi-Scottish."
"Semi-Scottish." Basil said, raising his brow. "I've never heard that one before. By the way, how did you manage to get a reservation here?"
"My step-dad owns the place." Mae said with a shrug. "He lets me eat here cheap and bring a friend here for free as an apology for having a very flamboyant gay man chase away my last boyfriend."
Basil tried not to laugh but a snort escaped. Mae rolled her eyes and said, "Sure, laugh it up. You know you'd do the same thing for your baby nephew."
"John isn't a baby anymore." Basil said. "He's eleven years old."
"Technically, John isn't actually related to you." Mae pointed out.
Basil frowned. He did view John as his nephew, even though they weren't related by blood. Hell, he wasn't even related to River by blood. He was River's half-sister's step-son. The boy was sweet and energetic, but that chin of his was rather prominent for an eleven-year-old. Basil loved the boy like family, though. He'd baby-sat him a few times. Really and truly, John was the closest thing Basil had to a son. "No need to glare, Basil." Mae said, rolling her eyes once more. "I know that you love the kid."
"As you know, I don't have any children of my own." Basil said. "That's unlikely to change in the future. There's no child out there with any sort of resemblance to me."
"You could still wank into a cup." Mae suggested.
"Mae!" Basil groaned.
Clara was running late. She had been with Danny for a year and they were supposed to go to the restaurant where they'd had their one-month anniversary. She had managed to get her makeup on, but there was no time to put her dress on. So, she put a charcoal button-down shirt on, a black and grey plaid miniskirt, and black leggings. She put on a pair of boots and her jacket. She hurried out to her motorcycle and put her helmet on before mounting the thing and shooting off to her date.
To her relief, the traffic wasn't as awful as usual. She managed to make it to the restaurant just in time. She found a place to park her motorcycle and took her helmet off before heading into the building. When she arrived, she saw Danny waiting for her. He quickly hugged her and gave her a peck on the lips. Clara looked past her boyfriend and saw in one of the reflective surfaces that she had a severe case of helmet hair. She stepped back from Danny and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry. I look kind of a mess."
"You're beautiful, Clara." Danny said before teasing her. "Though helmet hair is a new look for you."
Clara rolled her eyes and gently pretended to punch her boyfriend in the arm. Danny laughed and used his index finger to boop her in the forehead. The petite brunette pouted at her taller boyfriend, pretending to be upset. The hostess rolled her eyes before directing them to their table. Clara hung her jacket up on the coat rack before following Danny to the table. The two sat down and the young woman noticed that her boyfriend seemed kind of nervous. "Are you okay, Danny?" she asked.
"I'm fine." Danny said with a smile as they were handed their menus.
"What do you want to order?" Clara asked.
"The herb roasted chicken sounds good." Danny said, pointing at the item in the menu.
"I think I'd like the pork milanese." Clara said.
The server arrived and asked them what drinks they wanted. Both requested water, as they would both be driving. "I'll have the pork milanese and he'll have the herb roasted chicken." Clara said to the server.
The server nodded and said, "Your food will be ready in a few minutes."
About fifteen minutes later, the server returned with the food. Clara could feel her mouth water. Both entrees smelled absolutely scrumptious. The petite brunette took a bite of the pork and let out a happy groan. "The food is even better than I remember."
"Good food makes for good dates." Danny said with a grin.
"You really know your way to a girl's heart, Pink." Clara said, returning the grin.
"I'd certainly hope so." Danny replied. "Tonight is going to be a night to remember."
The two continued to banter, periodically laughing at each other's sometimes-dumb jokes. They ate their meals happily, punctuating each bite with continued banter. After a while, when the food was finally finished, Danny got that nervous look on his face again. "Danny?" Clara questioned as the man got up.
Instead of answering, Danny got down on one knee and pulled something out of his pocket. It was a little black box. He opened it, revealing a beautiful but simple ring. "Clara Oswald," Danny said, "Will you marry me?"
Clara stared in silent shock at the turn of events. Danny seemed to get nervous again. "Clara?"
Clara took a deep breath before exclaiming, "Yes! Yes, I'll marry you!"
Danny stood up and pulled Clara to her feet. He removed the ring from the box and slid it onto her finger before leaning in to give her a passionate kiss. In the background, she could hear the rest of the patrons clapping and cheering.
Danny was running late. He couldn't believe it. Six months ago, he had proposed to Clara and now there was the very real possibility that he would be late to his own wedding. His old junker of a car had broken down and he'd had to take the Tube. He'd had to run quite a bit before arriving at the venue where the wedding would take place. He pulled the door open, stepped in, and bent over, panting loudly. He then power-walked down the aisle. He looked at his best man- or rather best woman- and asked, "Am I late?"
"A little." The pleasantly plump brunette said. "You're not too late, though. Clara's still waiting."
He looked at the vicar, who nodded at him. Music then began to play. Danny turned to see Clara, who was being led down the aisle by her father. She was wearing a beautiful, lacy white dress with a small train. Her veil was pinned to her hair, which was up in a chignon. The bouquet of white roses in her hands completed the look. She grinned broadly at Danny before stepping up to the alter next to him. They then turned to the vicar, who began to speak. "Dearly beloved, we are here today to join Daniel Pink and Clara Oswald in the bonds of matrimony." He looked at Danny, then at Clara. "The two of you have written your own vows."
Danny smiled at Clara, cleared his throat, and began to speak. "Clara, when we met eighteen months ago, I was taken by your beauty. I was barely able to talk without sounding like an idiot when I asked you for your number."
There were titters in the crowd. Danny continued, "We'd only known each other for a few minutes, but right away I somehow knew that you were the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Then came the process of trying to convince you."
There were more chuckles. Danny once again spoke. "A year may have been a short time, but I knew that we were meant to be. I knew that I wanted you to be my wife and that I wanted to be your husband, if you'll have me."
Clara smiled at her fiancé before speaking her own vows. "When I met you, I thought, 'this was a nice person'. I also thought, 'he's cute, too.' When you asked me out on our first date, I never hesitated to say yes. The rest, of course, is history."
Clara watched Danny smiled tenderly at her and continued. "Over the year before you proposed, you've gotten to know me better than almost anyone else. You love me despite my faults, including the one where a big, neon arrow with 'control freak' written on it and pointed at me would be appropriate."
There were more soft chuckles before Clara spoke up again. "I love you more and more every day. Thank you for being my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, and my best friend. I've been waiting for this day for six long months and today I'm so happy to become your wife."
The vicar nodded and spoke up again. "Do you, Daniel Pink, take Clara Oswald to be your wife?"
Danny smiled at Clara and said, "I do."
The vicar then asked, "Do you, Clara Oswald, take Daniel Pink to be your husband?"
Clara smiled back at Danny and said, "I do."
The vicar then said, "By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Clara then flung her arms around Danny's neck, pulling him down to kiss him passionately as the others clapped. Lips still locked with her husband's, the happy wife threw the bouquet. There was a quick scramble before it landed in someone's hands. Clara looked to see that the bouquet was being held by her ten-year-old cousin, Oswin. Oswin's mother smiled at her and said, "You'd better wait until you're a little older to get married, young lady!"
Everybody laughed at the situation as Oswin sheepishly said, "I don't even have a boyfriend."
"Not until you're older!" Oswin's mother exclaimed.
There were scattered chuckles. The group headed out of the venue, followed by Clara and Danny, who were holding hands. They walked past their cheering friends and family and into a limousine. Clara smiled and asked, "So, where do you want to go for our honeymoon?"
Danny laughed and said, "Planning our honeymoon already, Mrs. Pink?"
"Control freak." Clara said with a shrug, as if explaining everything.
"Call me stereotypical, but I'm thinking someplace warm rum cocktails." Danny said with a smile.
"What about Bermuda?" Clara asked.
"Bermuda it is." Danny replied.
It was the day before Danny and Clara's first wedding anniversary and they were spending a comfortable day at a nice park. The husband had his arm around his wife, who was smiling happily at him. "I can't believe we've been married for almost a year." Danny said.
"Well, believe it." Clara replied. "You're not getting rid of me any time soon."
"Curses!" Danny said teasingly. "Now I'll never be a bachelor ever again!"
"I'll get you back with my feminine wiles." Clara said, teasing her husband back.
"I'll never be able to resist." Danny said before kissing Clara's forehead.
"You'd better not." Clara snuggled into her husband's side.
"Never." Danny said, his voice saturated with happiness.
"Clara and Danny Pink, together forever." Clara said with a content sigh.
Danny noticed the far-off look on his wife's face as she watched something off in the distance. He looked to see what his wife was looking at and saw a group of children laughing and playing. There was a look of sadness in her eyes. Danny took a deep breath before saying, "You want children, don't you?"
"I'm fine with not having children." Clara replied. "I mean, I know that we can't have any because of, well..."
"The cancer." Danny finished.
"I'm sorry." Clara said softly.
Danny looked at his wife directly in the eye and asked, "Do you want to have children, Clara?"
The petite brunette exhaled audibly before admitting, "Yes. I know that you can't give me any. I'll get over it."
Danny gave his wife a one-armed hug and said, "If it means that much to you, let's have a child."
"I can't," Danny said with a smile, "But that doesn't mean that we can't get a little help."
Clara and Danny found themselves in the doctor's office. The man was pacing around nervously. "Well, what is it?" Clara asked. "Is there something wrong with the baby?"
Clara was sixteen weeks pregnant, having conceived with the help of donated sperm. She and Danny had been careful to try to pick sperm from a donor that would produce a child that would look at least somewhat like him. They had already picked names: Rupert if it was a boy, Isabel if it was a girl. The doctor finally admitted, "Mrs. Pink, Mr. Pink, I'm sorry but there was a mix-up in the files."
"What do you mean?" Danny asked.
"I'm sorry, but we've used the wrong sperm." the doctor said.
"What?" Clara and Danny gasped simultaneously.
"How can you use the wrong sperm?" Danny asked angrily.
"There was a mix-up in the files." the doctor said defensively. "The entire facility is deeply regretful."
"At least tell me what the donor is like." Danny said tersely. "Will the baby look like either of us?"
"It might look like Mrs. Pink." the doctor admitted. "It won't look like you, though."
"Tell us about the donor." Clara said harshly.
"Donor 386. He's Scottish." the doctor said. "Curly hair, blue eyes. I can't tell you a lot of details, but he has one sister."
Clara looked at Danny, unsure what to do. "What happens next?" she asked.
Danny thought about it for a moment. For weeks, he had been so happy about the prospect of being a father. Now he knew that the baby wouldn't look anything like him. He looked at his wife and thought about it some more. The baby could end up looking just like her. That wouldn't be so bad. Even if the baby didn't look like him, he had already bonded. When they decided to use donor sperm, he came into the situation knowing that the child wouldn't be genetically related to him. The young husband took a deep breath before finally saying, "We keep it."
"Danny?" Clara said, somewhat puzzled.
"I already knew that any child we had wouldn't be mine by blood." Danny said. He turned to his wife and smiled. "Besides, if there's any chance that the baby looks like you, I'd say that we go for it. Mere genes won't make it any less my child."
Clara hugged her husband and said, "Everything will be okay, then?"
"Yes." Danny said. He then gave his wife a kiss on the forehead. "Everything will be okay."
Clara was late. She had made it almost a week past her due date before finally going into labor. They both had known that it would be difficult for her, but neither of them were prepared for just how difficult it would be. "Sixteen hours." Clara panted. "Sixteen hours! Please, just get this thing out of me!"
"That 'thing' is our baby, Clara." Danny said gently. "You wanted to have a baby."
Clara grabbed Danny by the front of his shirt and, with surprising strength, pulled him down so they were face to face. "You agreed to this!" She snapped.
"Clara, it's going to be okay." Danny said, trying to pull himself out of his wife's grasp. "Just a little longer and we'll be welcoming our baby."
"That's what you said two hours ago!" Clara barked.
"All right, Mrs. Pink, it's time to push." the obstetrician instructed.
"Fuck!" Clara swore.
"You can do it, honey." Danny said, taking her hand in his.
Clara's screaming began in earnest as, for what seemed like forever, she struggled to squeeze a human being out of her vagina. Danny looked at Clara's sweaty, straining face before suddenly there was the sound of a cry. The couple looked to see the doctor holding a newborn baby. "It's a girl!" one of the nurses exclaimed.
The baby was quickly cleaned off before being placed on Clara's chest. She appeared completely exhausted, but nonetheless was smiling. Danny could see the child and knew that she looked nothing like him and never would. However, the feeling that suffused him was not disapointment but a love like no other. He was finally a dad. Clara cradled the babe and, in a voice saturated with exhaustion, she said, "Welcome to planet Earth, Isabel Pink."
Danny stroked his wife's hair and said, "Our little Izzy."