“What does this flashing green light mean?” asked Clara.
“I don't know,” said the Doctor without looking at it. “Ignore it and it might go away.”
Clara wasn't convinced that this was the best course of action. “Aren't flashing lights usually bad?” she insisted.
Finally he looked up at her, leaning on the edge of the console. “Clara, are you implying that I don't know how the TARDIS works?”
“No, of course not. I just thought it might be important.”
He rounded the control column and looked at it over her shoulder. “That's just the... thing light.”
“If you don't know what it is -”
“Of course I know what it is!” he interrupted, obviously deeply insulted.
“What does it do then?” she asked, hands on hips.
“It... it's very complicated, you wouldn't understand. It's all higher maths and quantum physics, stuff like that. You're an English teacher, you don't need to know facts.”
“Excuse me,” she said, understandably annoyed, “I don't just make it all up.”
“Never said you did,” said the Doctor easily.
“You don't know what the green light means,” she said, and she poked his chest to punctuate the sentence.
It was just about possible that he had a satisfactory answer, but she didn't find out because the TARDIS started rocking from side to side quite violently and Clara only just managed to keep herself upright.
“What's wrong with the TARDIS?” she asked, holding on to the console as the room spun.
The Doctor ran round the console, flicking switches, pulling levers, and — finally — kicking it. “Everything!” He grabbed hold of a railing as the room made an especially violent lurch to one side. “Nothing's working properly. The entire system is shutting down.” He looked at Clara. “We're going to crash.”
“Isn't there something you can do?” she demanded, quite set on not dying.
“We'll be fine,” he said. Then he added “It's been nice knowing you.”
“You just said we'll be fine!”
“That was a lie. I didn't want you to spend your last moments panicking.”
“Think of something!” she insisted. She closed her eyes to stop her head spinning with the room. “Switch it off and on again!”
“For a last idea that was really stupid,” he replied. “I should probably say, you've been wonderful and I -”
Everything stopped. The noises, the chaotic movements, the bell that was tolling from somewhere in the depths of the TARDIS. Clara opened her eyes. “Are we dead?”
“I don't think so,” said the Doctor. “I think we might have landed.” He walked to the exterior doors and pressed a hand against them. “Whatever lies outside — whatever horrors and perils exist beyond these doors — we have to keep calm. We need our wits about us if we want to survive.”
Clara nodded and walked over to join him at the doors. “I'm ready if you are.”
Together they pulled the outer doors open and stepped out into Clara's living-room.
“This is worse than I expected,” said the Doctor.
“Shut up, it's not that untidy,” said Clara, discreetly kicking an old pizza box under the coffee table. “I don't understand, did we crash into my house?” She looked up to see if there was a hole in the ceiling. There wasn't.
“She brought us somewhere safe.” He looked back at the TARDIS. “Just a moment,” he said, and vanished into the box with a wide grin.
Clara followed him. “What is it?”
“She's not dead!” He was opening a panel in the wall. “She brought us somewhere we can stay while we fix her. Oh, she's a clever one!” He pulled out one end of a cable and carried it to the console where he attached it to one of the control panels.
“What are you doing?” asked Clara, always a bit disconcerted when the Doctor talked about the TARDIS as though it were a person.
“Well, I lost the old fault locator centuries back when I had to leave the universe for a bit — long story — so I'm going to power up a section at a time to see where the problem is.”
Clara stood back to let him work. “How long will it take to fix it?”
“I won't know that until I find the fault, will I?” he said, just witheringly enough to make Clara feel stupid. “I'll do the technical bit, you can make the tea.”
“I'm not making you tea,” said Clara, because there were limits.
“Okay then, you just stand there like a spare lemon feeling useless.” He shrugged. “It doesn't make much difference to me.”
Clara made a face and turned to leave.
“Two sugars!” he called after her.
She emerged into her living-room once more. She retrieved the pizza-box from under the coffee table and put it in the bin in the kitchen. She glanced at the kettle before reminding herself that she was not prepared to make tea for the Doctor, and left the kitchen pleased with her own strength of will.
She re-entered the TARDIS to see if anything interesting had happened in the interim. The Doctor was busy at the controls and didn't look up when she walked in.
“That can't be right,” he said. “I'm sure that's not right.”
“What's not right?”
The Doctor didn't answer, so she glared at his back and thought unkind things. She stretched and yawned, suddenly aware that it had been some time since she slept.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “if there's nothing wrong why won't you move?”
Clara sat on the crash-seat and waited for the Doctor to realise that she was in the room. She rubbed her eyes and yawned again.
Clara sat up with a start. “Sorry, I must have nodded off. Did you work out what's wrong with the TARDIS yet?”
“There's nothing...” He yawned. Then he frowned and checked something on the scanner.
She woke up again. “Did I just fall asleep?”
“Of course you did,” said the Doctor, “there's a sedative in the air supply.”
Clara stood up quickly. “There's what?”
The Doctor took her arm and pulled her towards the outer doors. “It's not my fault. Or it is. But mostly it's not.” He pushed her out into her living-room and then stepped out behind her.
“Are you going to explain or -”
“The TARDIS is tired.”
“How can a machine get tired?” asked Clara.
“She's not a bloody vacuum cleaner,” he snapped. “She's a product of the highest civilisation the universe has ever seen.” He paused. “Second-highest. Maybe third.” He lapsed into silent thought.
“The TARDIS is tired?” she prompted.
“The non-essential systems shut down when there's nobody around, but every now and then she needs a proper rest. I've sort of neglected that,” he added, staring down at his shoes with obvious guilt. He looked up at Clara. “It's fine, we can just leave her here overnight and everything will be fine in the morning.”
“Are you sure?”
He nodded. “Ninety-nine percent.”
“So... are you going to stay here overnight? In my flat?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Why not? It could be like a slumber-party, we can watch DVDs and paint each other's nails.”
“Maybe not that last bit,” said Clara, who knew she was a bit conventional about some things. “Right, you pick a DVD and I'll call out for a pizza.” She could do this. She could keep an attention-deficit alien amused for an evening.
“This film is terrible,” the Doctor complained.
Clara discreetly dried her eyes on the back of her hand. “Shush, it's romantic.”
“Clara, he's stalking her. That's not romantic, it's a restraining order waiting to happen.”
“You're the one who wanted to watch it,” she pointed out.
The Doctor slumped back on the sofa. “Well, I didn't know it was going to be like this. I thought it would be a thoughtful exploration of love across the species barrier.”
“I thought you'd be more into science-fiction.”
“This is science-fiction, it doesn't have any spaceships in it. Not even a robot dog.”
“I think your definition may be slightly skewed.” Clara wasn't that into the film either, but that was mostly because she was busy resisting the urge to lean against the Doctor like she used to with... other people.
That started a series of depressing thoughts, but luckily the Doctor was there to distract her with his cynicism and bizarre ideas about cinematic genres.
“I think you'll find that my definition is perfectly acceptable, to normal people at least.”
“Are you calling me strange?”
He looked at her for a moment. “Only a bit. Is there any pizza left?”
“No.” She yawned and stretched. “Do you mind if I go to bed? I haven't slept for two days.”
“Good idea,” he agreed. “I could do with my eight hours a week too.”
Clara nodded. “Okay, there's some spare blankets in the airing cupboard. Do you want a pillow or will these cushions do?”
The Doctor looked offended. “I can't sleep on the sofa, I'm a Time Lord.”
“It's my flat!” she protested, not giving up her bed that easily.
“And I'm a guest,” he said, quite reasonably.
“Well there's only one bed so someone has to sleep on the sofa and it's not going to be me.”
He didn't seem bothered by this. “I think we've been through enough that we can share a bed.”
Clara opened her mouth to argue, then thought better of it. Wasn't this exactly the sort of thing she'd been hoping might happen at some point? Yes, she'd assumed it would happen on some alien planet, and that it might involve some sort of pollen that meant people had to have sex or they'd die, but... “Okay,” she said, before she could convince herself to be sensible about things.
Clara opened her wardrobe and paused to consider what to wear to bed. Pyjamas? Too plain. Something short and silky? No, too obvious. She wanted to appear seductive but not desperate. She glanced round to see if the Doctor was looking at her, but he was bending to unlacing his boots instead. It was quite a warm night, she might be able to get away with the short cotton pyjamas that tended to slip a bit while she slept. She picked them out and headed to the bathroom to change, because changing in front of him was probably a bit much too soon and in any case she was a bit nervous despite her lust.
She went to the loo, changed quickly, brushed her teeth, checked her hair in the mirror, and emerged to find the Doctor lying on top of the covers with his boots off but everything else still on.
“Are you going to sleep in your clothes?” she asked, disappointed.
“Why, do you have pyjamas that would fit me?”
“No, but...” She felt suddenly under-dressed, and folded her arms across her chest. She crossed the room quickly and pulled the covers back on her side of the bed. She slipped between the sheets and settled on her back. “Aren't you getting under the covers?” she asked.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. “People might talk.”
“What people?” She gestured at the empty room. “There's nobody here but us.”
“I suppose,” he said doubtfully, but he rose and got into bed properly.
Clara lay still, aware of his proximity, his heat, and that faint sawdust scent that always followed him about and which she assumed was what his sort of alien smelled of. (It was that or he was keeping a hamster in his pockets, which didn't seem at all likely.) She reached for the lamp on the bedside table. “Do you want the light off?”
“I don't mind.”
She switched it off and lay back in the faint illumination from the street-lights outside. Maybe nothing would happen. Maybe they'd just lie in bed next to each other and nobody would try anything.
She was considering making a move of some sort when the Doctor spoke. “Clara...”
She waited, but he didn't go on. Maybe he was trying to broach the subject of their relationship. Maybe he wanted to tell her how he felt about her.
“Clara, do you know that noise the TARDIS makes?”
What? “What noise?”
“That sort of... background hum?”
What did this have to do with the nature of their relationship and the extent of their feelings for each other? “I... yes?”
“Could you make that noise?”
Clara looked sideways at her very best friend. She really, really hoped he didn't have some weird kink for women who could simulate ambient sound.
“It's just,” he went on, “I can't sleep without it.”
“Have you tried?”
“I don't need to try, I know I won't be able to sleep without the TARDIS noise.”
Clara lapsed into silence and tried to think of a good reply. She was not, under any circumstances, going to make the noise. There were limits and pretending to be a time-machine was one of those limits.
“Are you asleep?” he asked when she'd been silent for several confused minutes.
She stared up at the darkened ceiling. “Did River Song make the noise?” she asked, because she couldn't not wonder about a thing like that.
“Will my answer affect whether or not you make the noise?” he asked after a pause.
“I don't think anything could affect that,” she said, honestly.
“She had... other ways of making me sleep.”
Clara could almost hear the blush. “What other ways?” she asked, not remotely innocently.
“I don't want to talk about it. Never mind, I'll try to sleep without the noise. Night, Clara.”
“Doctor...” She wanted to tell him that she was prepared — indeed, eager — to try other ways of making him sleep. She tried to work out how she could suggest this without making it seem like she was gagging for it.
“Have you tried counting sheep?” she asked, unable to think of a good way to ask about the other thing.
“Counting sheep?” She felt the bed move as he looked around the room. “Do you have sheep in your bedroom?”
“Imaginary sheep,” she clarified. “People say if you count sheep that helps you fall asleep.”
“Oh.” Another pause. “One... two... three...”
“Silently,” she added. “You're supposed to count them silently.”
He stopped talking and Clara closed her eyes, tired from all the sexual tension in the room. She was just drifting off when he spoke again.
“I don't think this is going to work.”
“I'm not going to make the noise,” she said without opening her eyes.
It wasn't quite light when she woke up, but the first birds were singing outside anyway. Clara sat up when she realised she was alone in the bed.
Surely he wouldn't have left without her? Maybe he'd woken early and thoughtfully let her sleep on while he made her some breakfast? No, that didn't seem likely either. She got out of bed and went to look for him. Perhaps he was on the sofa, having realised that sleeping next to Clara was an impossible temptation. Probably he didn't want to risk losing their friendship by making the first move. Yes, that seemed quite plausible to her.
The TARDIS was still parked in the middle of her sitting-room. Slumped against the ship, wrapped in a blanket, was the Doctor, apparently fast asleep.
Clara stared at this sight for some time. She'd never been ditched for a spaceship before. She was soft and warm and she'd been abandoned for a big blue box that made a soothing noise. She shook her head. “Men,” she said, bitterly.
The Doctor shifted in his sleep and the TARDIS seemed to hum louder and in a way that somehow suggested smug satisfaction.
Clara admitted defeat and went to put the kettle on.