“I didn't mean it literally,” said Clara.
“Yes, you did,” said the Doctor.
“I would know if I'd meant it literally, and I didn't.”
“You said — and I quote — 'If you like Silurians so much why don't you marry one, and I mean that literally, Doctor',” he said, complete with air-quotes and a squeaky voice that was probably supposed to approximate Clara's.
She punched his arm lightly. “I didn't say that last bit and I do not sound like a mouse.”
“Well, perhaps you misremember the conversation.”
The were standing on a doorstep in Victorian London. It was raining enough to be annoying but not enough to be worth carrying an umbrella. The Doctor rang the doorbell again, impatient as ever.
There was a muffled complaint from behind the door. “All right, keep your fur on, Earth-Being.” The door opened slowly. “Ah!” cried Strax, “It's you!”
“Yes, yes, we know,” said the Doctor. “We've come to speak to Madame Vastra, if she's available.”
Strax nodded and waved them into the house. “Follow me,” he said.
Clara always felt she should be on her best behaviour in Victorian times, in case she did something improper and caused a scandal. She was sure she wouldn't mind, but it might put the Doctor into one of his moods.
Madame Vastra met them in sitting-room, ushered them to take a seat and smiled. “How may I help you this time?”
“Well,” said Clara, “it's a bit...” She tailed off, uncertain how to proceed.
“I want to marry you,” said the Doctor, who had no such problem.
Madame Vastra didn't even blink. “I am already married. To Jenny. You remember?”
“You're allowed one spouse of each sex,” the Doctor persevered.
Clara and Vastra looked at each other for a moment. “I think,” said Madame Vastra, “that you're mistaken about that. Besides, I have no interest in the taller albeit weaker sex.”
The Doctor frowned. “Aren't you allowed one of each? I'm sure you're allowed one of each. It doesn't make sense that you wouldn't be.”
Clara cut in. “We had an argument about, umm, your species and how peaceful they are as a whole compared to mine.”
The Doctor nodded. “At the end of which, Clara dared me to marry a Silurian.”
“It wasn't a dare!”
“I should hope not,” said Vastra, lightly.
“There's a point to be proved here,” said the Doctor, “and it's that... that... there's a point.”
“Why don't you marry Clara?” suggested Madame Vastra.
The Doctor looked at Clara and then leaned towards Vastra. “She's a mammal,” he said, almost apologetically.
“We do share a common ancestor.”
“A very long time ago!” he protested.
“Is that why you like humans so much?” she went on.
“I met them first,” he said, “but maybe... no, I don't think it's that.”
“Hmm,” said Vastra non-committally.
Clara felt the need to speak up for herself. “I don't want to marry him.”
“Neither do I.”
The Doctor looked hurt. “Thanks, both of you.”
“Sorry,” said Clara, “it's just... I'm a bit scared I'd end up in someone else's head after I'm dead.”
“That was one wife!” the Doctor protested. “They didn't all end up like that!”
“How many wives have you had?” asked Clara, a little shocked.
The Doctor waved a hand. “It's not like I keep count. Honestly, what sort of a person keeps count?”
“Maybe you keep count...”
“I've never been married!” she cried, exasperated.
“See? I knew you were keeping count!”
Madame Vastra cleared her throat. “Perhaps,” she said, “neither of you should marry anyone.”
The Doctor stood. “I think that's the best idea I've heard all day.”
Clara stared at him. “You're the one who wanted to marry a Silurian!”
“I've changed my mind. I'm not marrying anyone and that's final.”
Madame Vastra shot Clara a sympathetic look and sighed to herself. “So... hot-blooded.”
The Doctor grabbed Clara's hand and pulled her to her feet. “Stop sitting about when we have work to do.”
“Somewhere there's injustice, that's sort of thing.”
“Are you just embarrassed because we both turned you down?”
“Ha! As if! Come on, back to the TARDIS before the tea gets cold. Bye, Madame Vastra, give our love to Jenny!”
Strax showed them to the door and slammed it shut after them.
“I think that went well,” said the Doctor, obliviously.