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Twist the sinews of thy heart

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The Doctor got them out of there, as fast as he could, given that she had a death-grip on his arm and appeared to be unaware of it. He parked them in geostationary orbit over a planet with a lot of obvious bustling life and spaceport traffic, cloaked the TARDIS, and led her down out of the console room. It was, apparently, pointless to try to pry her hand off his arm, so he didn't try. He knew what this shock felt like. He knew.

He led her down to the library, to the quiet corner she loved best, the one he'd found her in when she wanted to do a bit of reading, or rest after a particularly wild day with him. There was a shaded lamp, a comfortable old couch, and a teapot that the TARDIS kept hot for them. He sat her down on the couch and she let go of his arm at last. She looked at him.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Not your fault," she said.

He knelt before her and laid his head on her knees. There was no consolation for this, not really. He knew that. It was some slight help to have learned, as he had, that his people were merely locked away in another dimension, not wiped out as he'd thought them. He couldn't offer Clara that. They'd watched it. They'd watched the solar flare overwhelm the trees. They'd watched her planet burn, superheated until the oceans boiled.

It was a fixed point now.

She wasn't weeping, but he was. Another failure. This one hurt more than most. His adopted home. His second family. He'd failed them. He'd failed her.

"Hey," she said, faintly. He felt her hand move in his hair. "I think I'm supposed to be the one crying."

He sat up and wiped haplessly at his face. "No reason we can't both."

"I suppose." She sighed.

Time for him to stop being a self-indulgent maudlin mess. Time to take care of her. He sat on the couch next to her and slipped an arm around her shoulders. She was rigid and still against him for a moment, then she leaned her head against his shoulder. The tightness in his chest eased a little; if she was accepting this comfort, she might pull through.

"What's it like?" she said.

"What's what like?"

"Being alone."

"I'm not alone."

"You're the last of the Time Lords. Your people are gone."

"That's not the same as alone. I'm not alone. I have you." Unstated: you have me. If she wanted him. She might hate him forever for having been wrong.

"Nobody else. Nobody to hold me. Nobody to have babies with. I was going to, I think. Maybe. With him. Or somebody."

"You can still have all that."

"But I'm the last."

"From your planet. There are others who can be those things for you. Trust me. It doesn't help now, but some day."

"I don't believe you."

"You and I-- we could do it. Together. If we wanted. A child of both Gallifrey and Earth. Or we can at least hold each other."

"We could?"

"Yes."

"Prove it?"

It might have happened between them even without this, he knew, it had been close to happening several times before, but he'd known how she felt about Danny Pink and had pulled away. He hadn't wanted to be the cause of that guilt for her; hadn't wanted to be an accident she flinched away from. He'd wanted this to happen because she'd chosen him, clearly and joyfully. She needed him now, in desperation, and he'd give her anything she needed. So he would give her this.

He stood up and spread his arms out. "Look at me. Clara. Watch."

He undressed himself slowly while she watched. Jacket, boots, shirt, trousers, socks, until at last he was nude before her. Nude and aroused. It was so easy to let himself be aroused with her. All he had to do was relax the ferocious controls he'd had to set up for himself when he was near her, let himself be as he wanted to be. Let himself look at her, truly look, see her lovely face, her beautiful eyes. Allow himself to be aware of how much he wanted her.

He stood before her and spread his arms out again. "Do you see me?"

"Yeah." She was looking at him, everywhere. Every bit of his scrawny body, gray hair, knobby knees, everything. He knew what he looked like, how unexceptionally human he looked in this incarnation.

"Now you know what I am. Your turn."

He tugged at her hand and pulled her up from the couch. He undressed her carefully, gently. She cooperated with him but made no move to help. Sweet Clara, five foot one and refusing to cry, at last nude before him. He'd seen her before-- of course he'd seen her before-- but never like this, never with this intent. She was aroused. He could see it in her eyes. He kissed her breasts and was rewarded with a gasp of pleasure from her, knelt before her and kissed her belly, coaxed her into sitting on the edge of the couch for him.

"Clara."

"Doctor."

"We are the same. We can be together."

She parted her thighs for him. There she was, wet already, moaning at the first flicker of his tongue against her. Did he even remember what Gallifreyan women tasted like? He'd loved too many Earth women, for too many years. He'd forgotten. He didn't care. So long as Clara was with him, so long as she allowed him to do this, he was at peace. If he could give her that same peace, then he would.

He brought her up with lips and tongue and fingers, up and up until he could hear the pleading in her voice. He laid her down on the couch, pressed her against the back, sheltering her from everything with his body. He'd have sheltered the Earth with his body this way if he'd been able, if only he'd been able. Protect her from everything and anything. His Clara. She wrapped her leg over his hip and he found his way inside her. That was what she sounded like when she felt real pleasure. That moan. He moved his hips and she moaned again.

He stopped moving and she whimpered in protest. He tipped her chin up and kissed her.

"Clara, look at me. Look at me. I'm here. You're not alone." She opened her eyes at last. He kissed her. "Yes, like that. Don't look away. Move with me. Like that. Yes. Feel me?"

"Yeah."

"I'm with you. You're not alone."

He kissed her again, then slipped his hand down between them, set two fingers against her. So aroused, so open to him, so responsive. Her breathing was ragged already. He would make her come, again if she needed it again, and hold off. He didn't need to come. This was for Clara, he told himself, not for him. She felt so good in his arms. It felt so good to be inside someone again, after so long alone. So good to make somebody else gasp like that, moan like that. She was going to come. He wanted her to come, so much.

"That's right, darling. Let it happen. Let it come to you."

She whimpered. "I can't."

"Yes, you can. For me. I'm here. Do it. Clara, darling, close your eyes and come for me."

She obeyed him, for once in her life. She closed her eyes and he felt the change, felt her hips thrust against him harder. She was on the edge, she was there. She came, cried out, shuddered around him, and it tipped him over. She was too much for him, had always been too much for him, would always be. He adored her and he would never leave her. Not now. He came, came inside her, gave her what he had, the possibility of new life, the possibility of renewal for them both. He saw it now, the future, saw it all in that moment of climax, and knew. It would happen.

The universe and time coalesced again around him, crystallized into its new patterns. He was still beside her, her legs wrapped around him, his body inside hers, and the sweat was still wet on his neck.

She was weeping at last.

"I'm here. Clara. Cry all you need to." She clutched at him and he held her tight.

"Don't let go of me, don't you dare."

"I won't."

The TARDIS had thoughtfully provided a folded blanket on the back of the sofa. He pulled it down over them. He held her close against his chest and murmured into her hair, pointless words of pointless comfort that were the best he could do for them both for now. Later-- later she would know.