“Clarrrrra,” The Doctor whined while looking at the ceiling of the train car the two were currently trapped in. “Can’t we do something else?” He started rummaging through his bigger-on-the-inside pockets looking for something to keep him occupied. He pulled out an assortment of random objects and added them to a growing pile on the bench opposite the one he and Clara were currently seated upon. He tossed a regular old screwdriver onto the pile. “Gag gift,” he explained to Clara as she raised her eyebrows in amusement. “Useless of course,” he added while he fiddled with a broken iPod-looking-thing before tossing it aside too.
“Nope. I get to pick what we do since you were supposed to take me on a nice, relaxing trip. Beautiful sunsets and mountains, and instead you’ve managed to lock us in this tiny compartment!” Clara exclaimed, exasperated.
When the train conductor announced that somethingorother with the tracks had malfunctioned, The Doctor was all too eager to get straight to the action and solve the problem. “Probably some silly misalignment — quick sonicking here and there should put us right!” But as the Doctor opened the car’s window to scan the tracks from inside their car, the sudden influx of slightly toxic atmosphere set off the train’s emergency sensors causing all windows and doors to lock and shut — the alarms startled The Doctor, who managed to dodge the rapidly closing window, but not before he dropped his sonic screwdriver outside. “Blast! We must be stopped near a gas hotspot. There are areas on this planet that have geyser-like structures that release tons of the nasty stuff,” he huffed as he sat back grumpily on the bench.
The Doctor delighted when he retrieved a pack of jelly babies from the depths of his pockets and began to devour the sweets. Clara rolled her eyes. That man and his sweet tooth, she thought.
“But Clara, I lost my sonic — I need to be consoled, not badgered with relentless questions. Besides, why do you need to know if I’d rather perform in a burlesque show or sing in a German opera group?” The Doctor raised his eyebrows in sincere confusion.
“It’s just the way the game is, Doctor. You come up with two scenarios you think the other person would find uncomfortable or amusing, and then they have to pick which they’d rather do,” Clara explained patiently.
“But I don’t want to do either of those. I look silly in fishnets and I much prefer Italian opera.” Clara raised her eyebrows in response.
“You’ve worn fishnets?” Clara asked barely able to contain a giggle at the thought.
“Yes, when I first regenerated into this body. I was trying to pin down my style. Bowties were out, pinstripes didn’t do it for me anymore. The fishnets were a nightmare to get on and off though. Too impractical and totally not me,” The Doctor added thoughtfully.
“And you decided that your style is ragged jumpers and velvet coats?” Clara asked, and The Doctor nodded.
“I see.” Clara missed the bowtied Doctor, he was her best friend after all. But after he regenerated into this grumpy but lovable stick insect, she found that her feelings regarding The Doctor had begun to change. When The Doctor was his bowtied self, the pair had flirted relentlessly, and Clara enjoyed it immensely, but she never really went for pretty boys. When she was younger, it was difficult for her to admit that she wasn’t enamored with the boyband members that her friends adored — she had posters of Marcus Aurelius for crying out loud! No, Clara found herself attracted to more distinguished, sometimes older, men. She wasn’t sure if she could ever admit it, but every time she looked at The Doctor now, she couldn’t help but to imagine what it’d be like to run her fingers through his fluffy salt-and-pepper hair.
“What is it?” The Doctor demanded, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Clara started. She had been staring without realizing it. She shook her head to clear her thoughts.
“Nothing. Uh, I was just spacing out. Why don’t you give it a go, Doctor. Ask me what I’d rather do given two options.”
The Doctor put a finger to his lips and seemed to give the game a fair amount of thought. His eyes went wide with excitement. “Got it!” Clara smiled, amused at his enthusiasm.
“Clara, would you rather solve a grisly murder mystery on Terrablok 12 or help free enslaved whales on Atlanakarus?” The Doctor put his hands on his now bouncing knees and leaned over slightly toward Clara, awaiting her response. Clara sighed.
“Doctor, you basically asked me this exact same question last week when we were trying to decide what our adventure should be. We went with the whales! We actually did that. The point of this game is to pose ridiculous scenarios, not things we’ve already done,” Clara said shifting her gaze from his now frowning face to outside through the window. The sun was beginning to set, and the apparently toxic chemicals in the planet’s atmosphere caused extraordinary colors to paint the sky during sunsets.
“Whales enslaved by little elves! Clara, how do you get much more ridiculous than that?” The Doctor asked, apparently still not quite understanding the point of the game.
“Ok,” Clara relented. “I’ll go again, and maybe then you will get the hang of it.” She paused, thinking of a good “would you rather” to pose to The Doctor. “Would you rather...” Clara began still thinking of how to word her question. The Doctor nodded his encouragement. “Would you rather have an infinite supply of jelly babies knowing that you have to hug me each time you want to eat them, or would you rather have exactly twenty jelly babies a day — and never anymore — and you have to eat all of them each day, so you can’t save them up?” A scowl formed on The Doctor’s face.
“Clara, have you ever known me to be satisfied eating so few jelly babies? What’s the point of eating them at all if you can eat hundreds of them at a time? It’s torture,” he said, seemingly disgusted. He looked down at his now empty bag of jelly babies and really seemed to struggle with the question.
“Well you do have another option that would take care of that problem for you,” Clara reminded him in a near singsong voice. The Doctor looked at her reproachfully.
“Clara, you know I’m not a hugger,” he said defensively, crossing his arms with a little huff.
Mirth danced in Clara’s eyes as she turned to face The Doctor, bringing her legs up under her so she sat cross-legged on the bench. “Don’t think I don’t notice that that little flappy thing you do with your arms sometimes. I know you do it when you want to hug me but then, for some reason, decide against it.
“I do no such thing!” The Doctor exclaimed curtly. Clara nudged him in the ribs with her elbow.
“You do so! You did it on our last adventure twice! The first time was when I gave that little speech that got the renegade elves to agree to help us free the whales, and the second was when I escaped back to the cave after swimming for my life after being thrown overboard from our ship! And then when you didn’t hug me, and I hugged you instead, you hugged me back,” Clara said matter-of-factly.
“Well, I was relieved that you were alright,” The Doctor said smiling just a little, proud of her bravery. Clara smiled widely.
“Yes, exactly you daft old man, that’s definitely a reason people hug one another — to show they care.”
“You know that I care. I have a duty of care,” The Doctor reminded her. Clara leaned over and rested her head on The Doctor’s shoulder.
“So do I,” she admitted. Perhaps this was as close as they’d get to admitting their true feelings, Clara thought. The Doctor moved his arm slightly, and it seemed like he was going to pat her head, but thought better of it. “You did the thing again, Doctor,” Clara teased. The Doctor must have heard the challenge in her voice because he raised his hand again, and rested it on her cheek, pulling her into him.
The two were silent for a little while as they looked out the window appreciating the spectacular sunset.
“This is beautiful, Doctor. Thank you,” Clara said smiling up at him. The Doctor couldn’t help but to smile back down at her. Her proximity and the way her hair smelled like apples had his hearts racing, and he wondered if she could feel them beat. The Doctor sighed as Clara nuzzled into his chest. She didn’t know it, but he adored hugging her, and relished each time she insisted on throwing her arms around him. The problem was that he wanted more. Always more from his Clara. If they started doing hugging, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do much else. It would be hard to save planets if both his arms were perpetually wrapped around this impossible, tiny inflate-y eyed woman. He let out a slow breath as he gathered up the courage to pose his own question to Clara. He had faced armies of Daleks and Cybermen with less anxiety than he had now. “Clara....” he began, but then stopped.
“Hmm?” she prompted while burying her nose further into his holey jumper. His scent comforted her and she loved the way it enveloped her senses when they were close.
“Clara, would you rather have a daft old man for a boyfriend knowing that you could hug him any time you like, or just be best friends with a grumpy old man who insists he isn’t a hugger?” He braved looking down at her face for the briefest of seconds before averting his gaze to the sunset. Clara’s heart leapt and she knew that this wasn’t just some hypothetical question — The Doctor breezed through thought experiments, but he was on-edge nervous right now, which meant that he meant this. She looked up at his face, and noticed that his jaw was taut and his ears were red. She sat up so that her face was level with his. She said his name so that he would look at her. He looked into her eyes, which were inflated beyond his comprehension. He was about to comment on them but his words came out as a slightly strangled cry when Clara lunged and pulled him into the tightest bear hug. She pulled back to look him square in the eye. “Does that answer your question, Doctor?” His hearts leapt. His mind immediately turned in on itself, screaming words of self-doubt. She must have misunderstood the question. Thinks it’s all hypothetical. Doesn’t realize I’m talking about myself.
Clara became confused at his hesitation and his silence. “Doctor, were you asking if I’d like you to be my boyfriend just then?” She nudged him when he didn’t respond. He nodded ever so slightly, not quite meeting her eyes.
“Yes,” she answered. “I’d rather date the daft old man.” She hugged him again and buried her face into his neck. Her breath was hot against his skin and it electrified him, overwhelming his senses. All he could think about was the way her words caressed his ear. Yes, she was saying over and over again. Her hand found his and she intertwined their fingers. He swore he felt her placing the tiniest of kisses just below his ear. The Doctor nearly jumped in his seat.
“How could you want that?” he sputtered flapping his arms around, his face beet red. Clara chuckled into the crook of his shoulder.
“Oh, you silly old man. Doctor, I’ve been waiting for you to ask me to be yours for ages,” she informed him with a smile.
“But Clara, I’m — I’m too.... Clara, I don’t wear my bowties anymore,” The Doctor admitted, looking at his hands which were now in his lap. Clara let out a sharp breath and understood.
“Doctor,” she began slowly, considering her words carefully. “Bowtie-you was great, really great. Did I fancy him? A bit, yeah. Did I miss that version of you when you became this version of you? Of course, I did! He was my best friend. But I do believe that that was all the bowtied you and me could have been. Anything more than friendship wouldn’t have worked for me then. But with this you... I think there is something more to us now...” Clara trailed off.
“I thought you didn’t like this version of me. Too grumpy. Too old,” he said with a sad smile.
“Doctor, we’ve been over this, a bit, before.... Regeneration obviously changes your body, but this you came with a whole new personality, and I didn’t expect that. It took some getting used to. It’s not that I didn’t like you, it was just that I didn’t know how to feel or think about the fact that you’re the same old Doctor, but different too, all at the same time. The important parts are all still here,” she said placing his hand and hers over one of his hearts. “And your grumpiness has really grown on me. Our banter is much more satisfying now,” she added with a sweet smile and beaming eyes.
“Why don’t you think the old me and you would’ve had a shot?” he asked in an almost offended tone, his brows furrowing.
Clara laughed and The Doctor gave her a defensive look. “Doctor, oh God, this is a little embarrassing....” he raised his eyebrows even further, if that was possible. “Uh, Doctor, I’ve never really been attracted to pretty young men... In fact, you could say that this you,” she said gesturing up and down the length of his body, “is exactly my type.” The Doctor raised his eyebrows in delight. They are just so darn expressive, Clara thought, wanting to brush her thumb over them. The Doctor smiled wolfishly.
“Is that so, Clara Oswald?” he asked, his voice dropping an octave and his Scottish accent coating each word twice over. He smiled even wider as he noticed her shiver. Heavens, she loved the way he said her name. He inched closer to her until his arms surrounded her small frame. Clara swallowed.
“It is,” she choked out.
“Oh, Clara,” he said, drawing out the “R” in her name and loving how her pupils dilated. He pulled her into him, and she rested her hands on the lapels of his velvet coat. His eyes darkened as she began to pet his chest. How he loved her hands on him. He would love to get used to this. He cupped her cheeks and pushed the hair from her face to behind her ears.
Clara’s heart was beating out of her chest. She felt like a mess, and while she was enjoying the near predatory look The Doctor had bestowed upon her, she decided that she needed him to be as unhinged as she was at the moment. Suddenly, she shifted so that she was straddling his lap, and reveled in the sudden gasp of surprise The Doctor let out. As much as she wanted to grind down on him, she didn’t want to press her luck, so she kept a bit of distance. The Doctor’s eyes went wide as Clara’s hands flew to his hair, carding through his gray curls. The Doctor discovered that his head was a particularly sensitive place for this body, and felt his body begin to react to her ministrations. He moaned when her nails scraped along his scalp. Clara’s eyes lit up deliciously when she registered his reaction and the growing hardness beneath her certainly didn’t escape her notice. She repeated the action, and The Doctor whimpered into her shoulder.
“Do you like that, Doctor?” she asked scratching him lightly once more, tugging gently at his hair.
“Yes,” he growled as his hands tightly gripped at her waist.
“Good, because dear God, I’ve been fantasizing about running my hands through your hair for so long,” she whispered into his ear before lightly nipping at his ear lobe. Another sensitive place. Hell, his whole body was sensitive when it came to her. He was acutely aware of her arse just grazing his growing erection. The way her thighs felt pressed up against the sides of his. How soft her breasts felt against his chest as they heaved with each of her breaths. He was surrounded by her scent, and he was having a difficult time thinking of anything that wasn’t her. Neither of them noticed when the train started moving.
“Doctor, I need you to kiss me,” she said in a low, desperate voice. The sound went straight through him.
He grabbed her face again, trying his best to be gentle as his hands shook from excitement. His thumbs brushed over her cheekbones before he grabbed the back of her head, burying his fingers in her long tresses. She looked at him with her inflated eyes, and he could never resist her when her eyes got so impossibly large. His lips came crashing down upon her and he felt like the Universe exploded around him. He sighed against her lips, and she responded by kissing him harder. Their kiss quickly turned heated and desperate. Clara ran her tongue along his lips, tasting him and entreating him to open his mouth for her. He complied, of course. She moaned when their tongues met, and his hips lurched up into her on their own accord. Clara keened, and just as he was about to break away to apologize, she grabbed his head and deepened their kiss even further as she ground down upon him. She broke away gasping for breath, and The Doctor turned his attentions to her delicate neck, biting and sucking every inch of skin she revealed to him as she threw her head back. He pulled her closer to his body, and kept a strong grip on her hips, encouraging her to keep up that delicious friction on his erection. She was so warm and so soft, he thought he was going to regeneration just from the growing tension he felt.
The sudden noise of the compartment door sliding open caught The Doctor’s attention. When he looked up and stopped his attentions to Clara’s throat, Clara took the opportunity to return the favor and ravenously lathed The Doctor’s neck with kisses and love bites, oblivious to the intrusion.
The steward who opened the door went red in the face, mumbling apologies before he muttered something about the train had been repaired and they’d arrive at their destination in a few hours. The Doctor waved his hand as a signal to the poor steward to close the door and be gone.
The Doctor threw his head back. “Clara, if my calculations are correct, the train will arrive at our stop in exactly two hours and forty-seven minutes,” he choked out thickly.
Clara chuckled against his neck. “Excellent, I don’t think I’m quite finished with you yet. Don’t expect I’ll ever be, though.”