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Duty of Care

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Glasgow. How long had she been here again? Two, three days, perhaps? That long, she estimated. How or why was she here? Something about her best friend telling her to travel all the way to Scotland and spend some girl time. Something like that. It was all a bit fuzzy since all she had done since arriving at her best friend's home is mope around.

Clara Oswald stared at the garden from her bedroom window. It was slowly getting dark and today was her final night in Glasgow. Come tomorrow, she would take a train back to London for an interview at a school. How on earth she was going to cope with leading a normal life again is beyond her. She had left her teaching position four months ago to take some time off and reassess her life. Time just seemed to fly by just like that.

The door creaked open slowly and Amy Pond stuck her head inside. "Alright, I'm doing something about you," she stated determinedly, striding to her best friend.

"What?" Clara asked in confusion.

"Clara," Amy said gently, placing both hands on her shoulders. "You can't keep… acting like this forever… it's been more than a year now."

She merely looked away.

"Danny wouldn't want you to be like this."

Amy is right. Her dead fiancée wouldn't want her to mourn him forever, but she could never bring herself to truly admit it. Everything still felt strange. She had been on a couple of dates since his death, but it felt strange. It didn't feel right. She didn't feel comfortable.

"So I am taking you out tonight before you leave."

"You don't have to, I mean, we could just put our pj's on, watch a movie and eat ice-cream."

Amy shot her a look which told her she wasn't having any of it.

Clara sighed in defeat. "Fine."

Finally, her best friend smiled. "Brilliant- I have a feeling we are going to have a fun night out!" she exclaimed, leaving to get dressed.

"Somehow, I doubt that," Clara muttered to herself.

--

"Why are you doing this?" John Smith whined to his childhood friend of 42 years. "I thought you said we were just going to have a nice quiet dinner and catch up."

"I lied," Missy Delgado confessed casually, dragging the Scotsman by his arm to a pub nearby. "Now stop whining like a child before I drag you inside by the ear."

"I have no intention of-"

Missy stopped dead in her tracks and whirled around to face him. "When was the last time you went on a date or met a woman other than me and your colleagues?" she inquired.

He growled. "I am more than capable of being alone."

"You're crap when you're lonely, you bloody bastard," she grumbled as she continued to drag her best friend into the pub.

It was a bit more crowded than Missy had expected, not that she minded. It meant that her idiot bestie had a higher chance of meeting someone he likes.

"This is stupid," John growled, crossing his arms.

"You sulking for 12 years since your ex-wife left you is stupid."

He opened his mouth to argue, but Missy beat him to it.

"For the record, I hated her and was tempted to push her down a flight of stairs," she admitted. "Now I despise her and want to send her to a gulag."

"Now, why don't you stop acting like an idiot and start looking for potential happiness," she continued before pushing him into the crowd and walking away immediately.

"Sorry," he apologised when he bumped into a woman. She would have spilt her drink completely had he not reached for a chair for support.

John felt time slowing down when he made eye contact with the tiny woman. There was just something about her that piqued his curiosity. Maybe it was the eyes.

"It's alright," she replied, flashing him a kind smile.

John wanted to say something, anything, but his brain just didn't seem to function properly at the moment, so he thought it was best to move.

Suddenly, a red-haired woman joined in. "She does this sort of thing to get people's attention and buy her a drink."

"Amy!"

"You're welcome," she said, grinning before leaving the two alone.

Clara laughed nervously. "I'm so sorry," she explained. "My best friend just has a habit of doing that."

"I know exactly how you feel," he muttered, looking around the room for Missy.

"Did your best friend force you here too?"

"Yes."

They then smiled at each other. John had thought he might leave in a few minutes just a moment ago, but now, the idea of staying in the pub didn't seem to bother him all that much.

He swallowed the lump in his throat and worked up the courage to offer her another drink. "Would you like another one of those?" he asked, pointing at her glass. "Half of it is already on the floor."

John saw the hesitation in her eyes for a brief second and thought he was about to be rejected, but to his surprise, she smiled and nodded over to the empty stools by the bar.

They didn't say much at first when they got their drinks until Clara decided to break the silence. "Do you go here often?" she inquired, taking a sip of her drink.

He shook his head. "No… I've only been here three times, I believe, and it was all thanks to Missy."

"Missy?"

"My best friend," he explained, twirling the glass of scotch in his hands. "If I wanted to have a good time, I could easily do that at home or go out and eat the most delicious chips in the universe or anything that doesn't involve being dragged to a pub."

She chuckled in response.

"What brings you here?" he asked carefully. "It's quite obvious you're not local."

Clara suddenly fell silent, eyes now filled with the same look John had seen earlier and he immediately panicked. "I'm sorry if I asked something personal – I'm bad at socialising and meeting new peo-"

"I just wanted to be away from all of it for a while," she murmured staring at the wall behind him.

John wasn't sure what to say so he remained silent, finishing his scotch and ordering another one.

"You mentioned something eating chips," Clara said, immediately catching his attention, setting aside her empty glass. She had only known the stranger for half an hour and yet, it surprised her how well they were getting on. Even her dates didn't do this well.

It took him a while to process her words.

"Chips?" he repeated, furrowing his thick eyebrows.

"Eating the most delicious chips in the universe sounds like fun over being stuck in this crowded bar, don't you think?" she asked. It was getting a bit too noisy and cramped for her liking as patrons walked pass them.

John blinked several times. "What about your friend?"

Clara glanced at a table in one corner of the pub and smiled when she saw Amy giggling and smiling. "She'll be fine."

It may be a bit too soon, but John Smith was sure he had found his soul mate. He had come here thinking it was a waste of his time, but Missy had proved him wrong. "Um… ok."

She got to her feet and he mimicked her. "Where is this chip shop?"

"Not far from here – just a five-minute walk," he replied, placing several bank notes on the counter.

"Sounds like you're going to take me somewhere quiet and murder me," she joked.

John's eyes widened. "I've never even punched another person before."

"I was bantering."

He pouted. "I am against bantering," he stated as they made their way to the exit.

Clara flashed him a grin. "You sound like someone who secretly loves bantering."

"I don't," he growled, earning a giggle. "The chip shop is just up ahead," he stated, nodding at a small shop tucked in one corner of the street.

"I can smell the chips from here," she said, her mouth watering.

"Just wait until you taste them."

Surely enough, they reached their destination. The shop was empty, aside from a customer standing in front of the till as she waited for her order.

"What sort of dipping would you recommend?" Clara inquired, looking at the menu of various other fast foods.

"I'd usually eat the chips by themselves, but ketchup is good."

John placed an order and just as he took out his wallet, Clara interrupted him. "I don't mind paying."

"But-"

"You paid for the drinks."

"But-"

"I insist," she stated sternly, summoning her inner teacher.

"Fine," he grumbled in defeat.

They chose to sit by the window as soon as they had gotten the box of chips. At least John would have somewhere to stare instead of giving the impression of a creep.

As soon as her eyes lit up when she took a bite of the chip, he beamed.

"You weren't joking."

"No," John replied, grabbing a handful from the box.

"Hey!"

He couldn't help but laugh. "Well, I did offer to pay."

"Don't talk with your mouth full."

He arched a brow. "I'm not a child."

"Yes, but I used to be a schoolteacher, so I win."

"Whatever you say, boss," he muttered, earning a chuckle.

Clara felt her cheeks reddening and she leaned closer to whisper to him. "Would you look at that, someone's actually bantering!"

"This does not count," he said quietly, their faces inches apart.

She wasn't quite sure what possessed her. Maybe she had too many drinks, maybe she felt alive for the first time since Danny died, or maybe the Scotsman in front of her knew just what to say. It could have been a combination of all three. Clara pressed her lips against John, closing her eyes as she did so.

Her action took him by surprise as his eyes widened and he dropped the handful of fries in his hand. At first, he was hesitant, unsure of what to do. He hadn't kissed a woman in a long time and could only hope the woman kissing him wouldn't notice how much of a terrible kisser he is.

Their snogging session didn't go unnoticed as the employee behind the counter, a teenager no older than fifteen, pursed her lips. "Da!" she called. "There's another drunk couple snogging inside the shop again!"

John and Clara immediately pulled away, flustered and surprised.

She bit her bottom lip. "Maybe we should leave."

"Yes, good idea," he answered quietly as they rose to their feet. "Would you like to… um… my flat… it's… coffee... or tea..."

Clara's amused smile was all he needed as confirmation.

The moment John unlocked the door, Clara pushed him against it and snogged his brains out. There wasn't much on his thoughts aside from attempting to get her to bed. How could anyone blame him? Here he is, a man in his late forties and a woman in her twenties who wants him.

He felt her fiddle with his belt, and he moaned in approval. He couldn't care less if he was acting like a teenage boy as he discarded her dress. It pooled on the wooden floor and John led her to the bedroom, mouths unseparated and he narrowly missed hitting the whiteboard in the tiny living room.

Clara felt her legs hitting the mattress and she tumbled down, bringing the Scotsman with her. She was tired of moping around, of feeling miserable and pitiful. Tonight, she was going to have a memorable night. The universe owed her that much for all the pain and sufferings.

They giggled as John landed on top of her, his arms supporting him. He captured her lips as she wrapped her arms around his neck and brought him closer.

--

Clara Oswald stirred in her sleep, eyes squinted shut before she raised her hand and weakly massaged her forehead. She opened her eyes, adjusting to the darkness before lifting her head slightly, wondering where she was. The room seemed unfamiliar until her memories came back a second later. She had gone out with Amy to the pub the previous night and had met a Scotsman there. A Scotsman she ate chips and slept with.

She glanced at the sleeping man next to her, memories of the previous night flooding her mind. It makes sense why she felt so sated and a bit sore.

It was strange how she so easily got along with him. He wasn't like other men she had met. No, he had a certain innocence to him that just made him seem attractive.

Clara then decided to check the time. She wouldn't want to miss her train and to her shock, there were twelve missed calls from Amy, one being just five minutes ago and to her horror, it was a little over an hour before her train journey. Naturally, she cussed.

John roused from his sleep, blinking several times and staring at the woman who jumped out of bed and began searching for her clothes. "What…"

"I'm going to be late for my train," Clara said in a panicked tone.

He immediately sat up. "I can take you there if you'd like," he offered.

"No, no," she muttered. "I need to get my belongings at Amy's and then there's-"

"I have a car-"

He was interrupted by the loud ringing coming from Clara's phone. "Yeah, sorry," Clara said in a rush as she put on her blouse. "I overslept- no I'm not being held hostage, for God's sake Amy."

John threw away the covers and got dressed as quickly as possible.

"You really don't have to go through the trouble," Clara insisted after hanging up. "I'll find my way around and… thank you for last night," she said sincerely. "It's been a while since I've felt like myself."

He paused brows furrowed. "I never got your name."

"Clara."

"John."

"Thank you, John," she repeated, flashing him a smile before rushing off.

He would have tried chasing after if he was able to find his missing trousers. He would have also asked for her number if he had felt a bit brave. "Wait!" he called out, but she had run out the door.

John Smith could only sigh in disappointment before returning to the bedroom. A shiny object on the bedside table caught his attention. He grabbed the jewellery to examine it.

It was a necklace. A small raven necklace.

He silently hoped that he would get another chance to meet Clara again. Perhaps this was a sign.