So Season 8 has made this story completely irrelevant. But let's just say that this is an alternate universe explanation to how Clara got the Doctor's number. :)

"Good morning, miss, how can I help you?"

Clara dropped a couple blouses by the register. "Just want to get these today, thanks."

As the checkout lady rang up her purchases, Clara leaned against the counter. "I was wondering – do you know of any places around here I could get my computer fixed? I've been having trouble with the wi-fi."

The lady looked up from the register and hesitated. "Well, there's Davison's, but they're pretty expensive… I could ask Mark, though, he might know."

"Could you?"

"Let me ring these up first, then I'll go find him."

After Clara had paid she waited by the counter while the woman disappeared into the maze of racks that filled the store. The girl's brown eyes slid lazily across the rows of dresses and scarves and blouses and skirts, enjoying the colors and fantasizing about lavish gowns. She liked dressing nicely but it had been a long time since she'd worn formal attire for anything but a funeral, and black really wasn't her color. She liked red, though, and blue, and some purples, and green. She grinned as the picture of a floor-length green gown appeared in her mind's eye, complete with a diamond necklace and a scoop neck and-

"Oi, where's the clerk?"

Clara jerked out of her reverie. A tall woman with red hair and an irritated expression was heading straight toward her. She stood a little straighter and hastily pushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. "She'll be back in a minute – just went to the back room to ask someone a question."

"Hm." The woman was clearly not pleased about the delay, but she resigned herself and dropped her load of clothes on the counter with a huff. Two small children, a boy and a girl, followed at her heels. The girl, who looked about two, held up a necklace she had apparently pilfered from one of the displays. "Pretty!"

"Yes, Jenny, it's pretty, now go put it back, that's a good girl. Wilfred, make sure she doesn't get lost, will you?"

The boy grabbed his little sister's hand. "Sure, Mum. Back in a minute."

Clara smiled as she watched them go. "They both yours?"

"Yeah, quite the pair, they are." The woman's features softened. "Wilfred takes good care of his sister. She's always wandering off." She happened to spy Clara's full shopping bag. "Hey, you still got something to get?"

"Oh, no, I just asked the lady about good computer repair shops and she went to check with one of the other clerks."

"Oh." The woman seemed mollified by this and started what was apparently intended to be a conversational tirade. "Computers, always breaking down, supposed to make our lives easier and look how much hassle they get us into."

"Do you do much with them?"

"Not as much anymore." A mischievous sparkle stole into the woman's eyes. "Someone gave us a lottery ticket as a wedding present. Turned out to be a big winner – I was able to quit my job. I was just a temp, see, wasn't getting much anyway."

"What do you do now?"

"Oh, I work for an insurance company," she replied loftily. "Own it, in fact. Shaun worked in insurance before we got that ticket and he was able to start his own business with the money. Temple-Noble Insurance Incorporated. Got a ring, doesn't it?"

Clara nodded politely. The woman took advantage of the pause to fix her hair in the mirror of a small cosmetics case she drew from her purse. It was a voluminous purse of a rather intense shade of blue that contrasted a bit jarringly with the rest of the woman's outfit. Clara eyed it. "Ah… nice purse."

"Oh, thanks." The woman grinned. "Shaun got it for me for a birthday present. He knows that's my favorite color, don't know where he found it."

"It's… very striking."

"Miss?" The checkout lady was back, looking a bit harried when she saw the mound of goods the red-headed woman had deposited by the register. "I talked to Mark and he gave me an address and number for the repair shop he uses." She shoved a post-it at Clara. "Thanks for shopping at Lacey's Boutique, have a nice day."

"Um – thanks." Clara stuffed the note into her bag. "Same to you."

"Mum!" Wilfred appeared beside his mother, dragging a whimpering Jenny by the hand. "She's whining that she still wants that necklace!"

The woman scooped up her daughter and waved a severe finger. "Jenny, you have plenty of toys already, you don't need that necklace. Now don't cry."

"I promised her she could have a look in my telescope when we get home and she still won't stop," Wilfred complained.

"Jenny, no, we're in public!"

But a thwarted two-year-old is a distraught two-year-old, and Jenny told the world with loud wails of the injustice being inflicted upon her. Her mother tried to shush her, but she was now torn between calming her daughter and signing the receipt the woman at the register impatiently dropped in front of her. Clara stepped in. "Here, I'll hold her while you pay."

The woman raised her eyebrows. "You sure?"

"'Course I'm sure, I work as a nanny."

"Oh, all right."

As she felt strange arms lift her away from her mother Jenny paused amid her sobs and looked curiously upward. Clara smiled down at the girl, her curtain of brown hair bobbing around her face. "Hi there, Jenny. Look at this!" She fished her keys out of her purse and showed them to Jenny. Her keychain bauble had three tiny forget-me-nots sealed in clear plastic. The strange phenomenon of hard flowers seemed enough to stem Jenny's tears, and by the time her mother finished paying and collecting her bags the girl had forgotten the necklace for the bauble. The red-haired woman grinned at Clara.

"Oh, thank you. You seem to have the touch."

Clara grinned back and followed the woman out to her car with Jenny still in her arms. "Don't know about that – I just like kids."

"You'd make a good teacher then, I bet."

"I've thought about it, but not just yet. I want to travel, see the world. Got a whole book of places I want to – are you okay?"

The woman blinked and the strangely vacant look disappeared. "Me? Oh, yes, fine."

"You sure? You looked – I don't know, dizzy or something."

"No, no, just – trying to remember something, you know, how you know something's there and you can't quite find it? Something about traveling. Happens to me a lot, really." She sounded sad, and looked it too. Clara hastened to reassure her.

"Oh, it happens to everyone, I did it just this morning. Walked over to the fridge and stood there wondering what I'd gone there for." They'd reached the car and Clara gently lowered Jenny to the ground. The girl seemed reluctant to give up the keychain bauble, and after a moment's hesitation Clara slipped it off the key ring. The woman watched with a slight frown.

"There's no need to give her that."

"It's no big deal." Clara shrugged. "Angie – that's one of the kids I look after – she won it in some school competition and didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't care less, really."

"If you're sure."

"'Course I'm sure."

"Well, thank you very much for the help – that was very kind." The woman held out her hand. "My name's – oh."


"Help – you wanted help with your computer?"

"Yeah, why?"

The woman dove into her purse and, after a bit of rummaging, surfaced with a piece of paper and a pen. She hastily scribbled something down and shoved it toward Clara. "Here – best help line in the world, promise."

Puzzled, Clara took the bit of paper and looked down to see a phone number. There was no name or address. "Ah – thanks. Who is it, so I can ask for a name?"

That oddly vacant look stole over the woman's face again. "I – I can't remember. It's been a while… but it's the best help line out there, I guarantee that." She scowled at the bit of paper with a ferocity that made Clara a bit uneasy.

"Are you sure you're all right?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." The scowl faded a bit but the odd look remained. "I just – it's funny, I can't remember the number now. I just sort of… wrote it." She gave a forced laugh. "Sorry, my memory's a bit patchy. Comes and goes, you know…"

Clara tucked the paper into her purse. "Well, thanks for the number, I'll be sure to give them a call. Take care!"

"You too!" the woman replied with a wave. She stepped into her car, barking something at her children about seat belts. Clara heard the car start and suddenly turned.

"I'm Clara Oswald, by the way – I didn't catch your-"

But Donna was already driving away.