For reasons not made known to Clara they had spent the past few hours adrift in an empty area of space. As part of her ongoing efforts to become more comfortable with the TARDIS controls and to keep herself occupied she observed the screen in front of her. This gradually turned into observing how the upper left corner of the screen was very slowly changing. As she debated if this was something the Doctor should know about he settled himself on his amp and started to carefully tune and then play his guitar. This musical interlude was a new twist to their downtime routine and the guitar was an item of great curiosity and wonder to her as she tried to figure out its new prominent role in the Doctor's life. There were days it seemed like a tool he used to help him focus enough to solve a problem and days when it seemed like simply an intense new hobby. Clara understood intense new hobbies more than most and this one meant she was serenaded almost daily so she never complained. In fact she'd grown very used to it. In the rare moments when her classroom was quiet because the students were actually concentrating on their test her mind would sometimes wander to thoughts of him playing to an empty control room. It was a powerful image but tinged with enough melancholy to make it sting if her thoughts lingered on it too long. Lately it grew increasingly harder to think of him doing anything without her but that was something else she couldn't linger on for more than a moment or two. Those were the kind of thoughts that welcomed a disruption even if that disruption ended with someone being sent to the head teacher's office.
He was seated on his amp and fully engrossed in what sounded to her like something Fleetwood Mac-esque. Of late her musical knowledge was constantly expanding which was never something she would have expected as a result of traveling with him. As the scene on her screen radically changed he switched to Norwegian Wood, a song he knew to be her favorite. It was an unfortunate coincidence of timing as it was his signal that he needed or wanted her to pay attention to him and what she needed at that moment was for him to pay attention to her.
The guitar sounded louder as he moved into the "She asked me to stay" verse but Clara persisted.
"DOCTOR." This was accompanied by a turn of the screen towards his direction.
He looked up for a moment and continued to play. "That's nothing."
"That's nothing? When has a large dot that keeps getting larger and faster and closer to us been nothing?"
"When I assure you it is like I am now. It's nothing."
Clara shook her head and moved around the console to the navigation panel. It was only recently that she felt confident enough in her knowledge of the various buttons and levers to maneuver them with no hesitation. Her hands were in place before she engaged the Doctor in her plan of action.
"Keep playing if you want but I'm going to move us out of the way."
He was beside her almost immediately with his hands over hers. They remained locked in that stance until the TARDIS was rocked by a large object crashing into it and they were knocked off their feet. Seconds or minutes or hours later two warm, gentle hands cradled her face and a voice tried to break through the ringing in her ears.
She took a deep breath and slowly sat up. "Still going to say that was nothing?"
The Doctor leaned back and studied her.
"It wasn't supposed to hit us that hard."
Her eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open.
"You knew we were going to get hit?"
"Know is a very strong word. Thought is better. Reasonably assumed, maybe."
He half nodded to which she could only shake her head. They reached to help the other up and with team work were able to get back on their feet and mostly steady.
The Doctor moved to study one of the console panels. The lights on it seemed slightly dimmer to Clara but there was a hazy quality to the air that made everything dimmer.
"You could have said 'Clara, I'm reasonably assuming we're going to get hit by a large something so step away from the controls'."
The Doctor waved his hand towards where the guitar usually sat, "I was saying that."
"Oh so every time you play something you know I love I'm just supposed to swoon and stop..."
Her voice trailed off when she focused on the Doctor's face and the very devastated look in his eyes. Clara turned her head and saw his beloved guitar half buried in the amp with two popped strings.
She rested her hand on the crook of his arm, "I'm sure it's not that bad. We can get it fixed as soon as we're back on Earth."
He brushed off her touch and moved towards the broken equipment. He pulled the guitar out the amp as gently as if it was made of glass and cradled it against his body. "I've tried so hard not to damage it."
With full knowledge that his back was turned Clara rolled her eyes and swept her hands up and down in front of her body. "But I can get banged up in here all the time?"
The Doctor rested the guitar against the broken amp and turned back towards her. With a guarded look he studied her face. "Are you okay?"
"Yes and I'll be even more so when you tell me where we are, if it's safe, and how easy it will be to leave if we need to in a hurry."
He placed himself in front of the screen that had caused all of her worry. "We're not that far from where we were, as safe as we ever are, and...well this is interesting. I'm detecting several hundred life forms on that large meteor."
Clara moved next to him and studied the screen. "I really wish one of these was designed to let us know how friendly the life forms are."
"Where's the fun in that?"
She raised her eyebrows and nodded towards the door. "Shall we just find out the old fashioned way?"
His hands were already moving towards the levers. "The TARDIS has just enough to land us there and then we'll need to occupy ourselves while she recharges. Some of her internal controls didn't like our little trip."
Clara started to say something but thought better of it and moved to grip the railing in case the landing was bumpy.
The landing was very bumpy as was their immediate encounter with the local law enforcement upon stepping outside and their subsequent attempt to explain their friendly intentions. Said explanation involved a little too much shouting from the Doctor and a little too much concern from Clara over quieting the Doctor instead of using her calm voice on the aliens trying to arrest them. When they ended up in a jail cell with electronic cuffs around their hands and feet they sat in heavy silence for a long time, both knowing they shared the blame but neither feeling polite or humble enough to admit it. It was the Doctor who finally broke the silence.
"They can't keep us in here forever."
"Of course not. They'll probably just keep here until the festival ends and the rock the TARDIS landed next to is done being prayed to. How long did they say it lasted? 50 years?"
"Oh no, not even close. It was 500."
"And they took your glasses."
"And they took my glasses."
There was nothing but silence as an answer and when Clara glanced over at the Doctor she saw him staring down at his bound hands like if he willed his eyes to be sonic hard enough they would be. Without any better ideas Clara raised her arms as high as she could and bent down to study the cuffs closely. At first glance it was the usual mix of buttons with alien characters on them these devices usually had but when she tilted them towards the small sliver of light in the room she saw something much more promising. It was an effort to scoot herself across the floor until she was within arms length of the Doctor but she achieved it with some not inconsiderable pain to her backside and a Doctor who greeted her with a look of bemused confusion.
"Come to huddle for warmth? What have I told you about always wearing a coat?"
"Shut up and put your hand in my pocket."
That changed his look to total bemusement and Clara wished she had enough freedom of movement to slap him across the face.
"Do I get to ask why?"
"Let's see if you can figure it out once you do."
It took some twisting around on both their parts and Clara ended up on her side but eventually she felt the Doctor's hand pull the content of her pocket out.
"Why do you have one of my guitar strings?"
"I thought we might find a marketplace here and there'd be some sort of shop that maybe sold space guitars and could fix yours. I didn't have time to grab the whole thing so I cut off one of the broken strings when you weren't looking. Thought I'd see if they had anything similar and then surprise you with a fixed instrument if I could."
It frustrated her that she couldn't see his face and know if he was giving her a grateful or scornful look. When he cleared his throat in that way of his that indicated he was struggling to find words Clara knew he appreciated her aborted plan.
"And what do you intend to do with them now?"
"Wellll, this part is a guess but I noticed the cuffs have a small hole in them. It looks just like the one on my mobile that you stick something in when you need to reset it. I'm hoping the string is the right size and strength to fit in and it will reset the cuffs."
"You really think they would just make it that easy to turn them off?"
"Spoken like someone who has clearly never tried to a collection of different sized tacks to reset their frozen mobile-"
"Clara, when your mobile freezes you can just bring it to me."
"You sound just like the man at the mobile shop. Maybe I just want to unfreeze my own phone sometimes."
"I'm going to try your plan but I can't reach your arms so I need you to roll over."
Clara did as she was instructed and the painful effort to do so was worth it when after some fumbling and muttered swearing from the Doctor she felt the cuffs unlock and her hands slip free. It wasn't until their hands and feet were uncuffed that she allowed herself a triumphant look in his direction.
"You don't get to make that face until we figure out how to get out of this room."
At that Clara's smile only grew wider.
"Already have and it's a brilliant plan. It basically involves having paid attention to how our captors were so eager to get back to the ceremony they didn't lock the door."
He flashed her a grin that eased all of the tension of their time spent in the cell and she lifted her arm towards his.
"We still need to get to the TARDIS which is most likely still parked next to the ceremony."
"Best start running."
They locked hands and in a blur of motion raced towards the TARDIS. They were almost to the door before they were spotted but were inside and safe before anyone could reach them. Their hands moved in unison over all the controls needed to get them safely off the meteor. They moved to opposite screens in order to thoroughly ensure they were alone and not in harms way. When everything looked clear Clara nodded towards the broken guitar and amp.
"Should we get that fixed?"
"We could or we could sit here for awhile."
"Another reasonable assumption?"
"If it works the way I think it will we'll be perfectly safe."
That was her sign to find somewhere safe to sit but Clara stayed where she was, prepared and eager to play a role in what was to come.