"What do you make of that?" Clara Oswald asked, pointing at the rather dilapidated trailer type vehicle sitting rather forlornly at the back of the carnival. In faded letters the sign above proclaimed, Doctor Vortex's Traveling Weather Carnival.

The Doctor barely glanced that way. "Not much."

Clara frowned. "Aren't you a bit curious?"

Huffing a bit, the Doctor replied, "Clara, we are five hundred years in your future in a part of the galaxy that has controlled its own climate for some time. As you would say, 'no big deal.' Come on, let's go look at the newest neutron generators. Now that's progress for you," he said excitedly.

Clara huffed a little herself. "Doctor, that is the equivalent of going to the hardware store and watching you geek out over tools. I want to see that weather carnival. Besides I feel a bit sorry for them; very few are going in." She crossed her arms and gave her companion The Look.

Defeated, at least momentarily, the Doctor gave in with ill grace. "I would love to see the carnival," he muttered.


Only a few people sat on the hard plastic benches, most them as bored as the Doctor, who kept fidgeting throughout the rain, snow, wind and sun programs. Clara had to admit it was more than a bit cheesy, especially by future standards. What's more, they didn't even rate a live host; a hologram of Doctor Vortex, a rather short humanoid with greased down black hair, a red cape and a huge moustache, made sweeping gestures and 'created' new weather conditions. However, every so often the illusion faltered and one could see the battered roof of what the Doctor assured her was an elderly spaceship, not a carnival trailer. Wasn't surprising though, considering they were on an asteroid with an oxygen shell.

Clara was disappointed in the show although she was not going to admit it to the Doctor, who was doing all sorts of things to bug her, the latest playing with the sonic screwdriver. He stopped however when he saw the tall, statuesque blonde standing off to the side, whose name badge said, Tonii. Then, suddenly the bored Time Lord became Mr. Friendly with her, even giving her a quick wave. Clara was not impressed; in fact, she had come close to hating Tonii on sight. She was as tall as the Doctor, with golden blonde hair, blue eyes and she filled out her spangled jumpsuit extremely well. Not that Clara would ever stoop to jealousy, mind you.


She was glad when Tonii disappeared.

The Doctor subsided with visible disappointment. He thought he was being remarkably tolerant given the fact he was wasting time in an utterly dated special effects show. Tonii was the only thing that had interested him. He vaguely wondered if the volume of time spent (wasted) here would earn him bonus points with Clara. He would love to do a detailed, in depth analysis of those new generators next door; this time period had some remarkable technical advances.

Clara gave him a sharp poke in the ribs.

"Ow!" he said, making a couple of heads turn their way, some in anger, some in curiosity seeking relief from the boredom. "What did you do that for?" He hissed.

"We are here for the carnival; not to ogle Wonder woman," Clara said crisply.

Confusion reigned on the Doctor's face. "Ogling? Who's ogling?"

Clara gave him an exasperated look. "You. Her. That's ogling."

The Doctor gave her a smug look. "Um, Clara?"


"She's an android. Merely admiring the workmanship."

Clara deflated. "Oh." Rallying fast, she added, "Ogling the workmanship still counts as ogling."

The Doctor rolled his eyes; really, sometimes Clara was so narrow minded.


"Well?" Doctor Vortex, in person, a decidedly less glamorous figure in his undershirt and wrinkled trousers, asked.

Tonii closed the door carefully. Her face expressionless, she said flatly, "He appears to be healthy and my scan confirms your earlier findings. He could be the perfect interface; his brain should handle the demands of the computers, if you can discover a way to 'wire him in' as you term it."

Doctor Vortex jumped up from the ragged easy chair where he had lounged the day away. "This is wonderful news. Tonii, this is a great day! I will find a way, I assure you and then our time of eking out a living in this pathetic galactic carnival will be over."

"Too much anticipation; the problems are significant in compatibility," Tonii replied in a matter of fact voice. Her only voice, as it were.

"I can overcome them" Vortex said confidently. Creating real weather; now that was a challenge worthy of Doctor Vortex. Or perhaps un-creating real weather, depending on the circumstances. He rubbed his hands together as he watched the program wind down. "Almost time. You know what to do."

Tonii went out, saying nothing.


Mercifully the program finally ended, not a moment too soon for the Doctor.

Clara was still miffed over the android revelation and more than ready to leave by now, judging by the way she jumped to her feet. The others shuffled out, as unimpressed as they were.

The Doctor however, had mischief glinting in his eyes. Always fun to tease Clara. "Shall we linger on? Their main computer has some degradation in its programing; I could probably help with that."

"No, that's all right," Clara said briskly, knowing he was just looking to get a rise out of her. "We'll go to the intergalactic hardware store instead."

The Doctor smiled, as innocently as he could manage, despite his inner mirth. "Well, if you're sure."

"Yes. Sure. Now. Let's go," Clara moved toward the exit, following the few who had stayed throughout the entire show. She caught a glimpse of Tonii loitering around the door and decided to move the Doctor along quickly, although she was still not jealous, just for the record.

Then, the world exploded and went dark.


"You are awake."

Clara shifted her aching head on the pillow, trying to locate the sound of that voice. To her dismay, Tonii sat beside her, neither comforting nor hindering, just observing.

"Where am I?" she croaked, her eyes roaming to see a rather dilapidated ceiling above her and some cots occupied by various races around her. She felt a bit off and disoriented, but mercifully, nothing seemed to be screaming extreme pain.

"You are in the medical quarters of the carnival. The owners keep facilities handy for those who are overcome on various rides or experiences."

Clara waited for more, but Tonii was not forthcoming. "What happened?" She felt frustrated that her mind was a bit fuzzy.

Maybe it was an overwrought imagination or a pounding head, but for the first time Tonii seemed a bit tentative. "There was an explosion. Pre-eliminary findings indicate one of our guests brought in some sort of explosive device. It went off."

Stretching, Clara cautiously took stock while replying, "Why would anyone would to blow up your show? I mean, sorry, but it wasn't exactly edge of the seat experience." Her eyes scanned the small room; there were about four others in cots around her, two of whom walked out ahead of her and the –

"Doctor!" Clara sat straight up, ignoring the pain. "Where is he?"

"Who?" Tonii asked flatly.

Suddenly wide awake, Clara speared her with a glare. "The man who came in with me; the one you were making eyes at all the time we were there. Now, where is he?"

Tonii's expression remained impassive. In a voice that seemed more mechanical than ever, she said, "I am sorry. Your companion is dead. The authorities determined he is the one responsible for the explosion."

"You'd better stop right there," Clara snapped angrily.

Tonii went right on. "If you are family or are bonded to him, you will be held responsible for the damages. It is Doctor Vortex's right to sue for funds to repair his machines."

Clara was too angry to feel any grief; something was going on here and she didn't believe for on moment the Doctor was dead. "I just wake up, you tell me my best friend is dead and then you are going to sue me? I don't think so, Ms. Android!"

"Your behavior puzzles me. I was led to believe you would be emotional with grief and loss."

Clara started looking for her shoes; thank goodness everything else she was still wearing. "I want to see his body." She located the shoes and slipped them on quickly.

"The male was obliterated; there is no body. Will you be contacting your legal counsel soon?"

"No; I'll just be contacting you," Clara vowed. She gave Tonii a cold glance and, rising, made her way unsteadily to the door. Tonii made no move to stop her. Feeling a bit shaky, Clara paused for a moment outside the ragged tent for some fresh air, or as fresh as it got. Think. She needed a plan. She needed information. She needed the Doctor back – and fast. They had been through far too much to succumb to a second rate carnival act.


When the Doctor awoke, he discovered several unpleasant things at once. First, he could not move. He was strapped down on an angled steel table. Someone had taken his shoes and socks, which did not please him at all. He was wearing his white tee shirt; his red lined coat, hoodie and black jumper were gone. Very irritating; what pudding brain was taking his clothes? He supposed he was lucky they left his trousers alone. He could still move his head and when he glanced down, he noticed there were smears of blood – his blood – all over his shirt. Also, his arms looked like a battlefield; there seemed to be small bloody holes everywhere and they hurt like the devil, now that he was awake enough to notice.

Worst of all though; there was no sign of Clara anywhere.

Before he could start yelling, the door opened and a rather faded live version of Doctor Vortex marched in, carrying a silver tray full of depressingly sharp looking instruments on it. "Oh. You're awake already? I had hoped you would remain unconscious for a while longer."

Glancing at his arms, the Doctor replied, "I'm afraid of what I may wake up to." He glared at Vortex. "Your picture makes you look a lot younger."

Doctor Vortex actually looked a bit apologetic, if only for a moment. "Well, the years have taken somewhat of a toll on me, it's true. But what I lack in physical vigor, I more than make up for in my intellectual prowess."

Looking bored, the Doctor said, "Yeah, yeah. Is this the result of all of your prowess?" He asked, indicating his bleeding arms.

"Actually, it is. I have designed some new programs for my weather machine but I'm afraid you won't enjoy it too much; not at first at least. I observed you during the presentation, you already know that my controller interface is breaking down and soon it will fail completely. Leaving me without a livelihood."

"There is always a government funded retraining program somewhere," the Doctor said irritably. "Look, I don't mean to butt in, well, actually I do because I am getting really tired of this. Where is Clara, the young woman I came in with?"

"She is at the aid station," Tonii stated, moving into the room at a brisk pace. "She has been informed of your death."

The Doctor felt a sharp hurt, not from his arms or himself but the fact that Clara was probably grieving again, so soon after PE. Or maybe not. His impossible girl was a very intelligent impossible woman now. "Why was she told that, if I might inquire? I'm not dead."

Doctor Vortex came closer and, to his horror, the Doctor noticed the very sharp scalpel in his hand. "You will soon wish you were."


Closing the Tardis door behind her, Clara gave a deep sigh of relief. It proved to be fairly easy to slip away from the med facility, after a couple of close calls initially with Tonii still hovering. The android finally left and Clara took her chance. She'd made it back to the Tardis undetected and now….

And now what?

Irrationally, she'd hoped the Doctor would already be here, having returned the same circuitous route she had been forced into. But the Tardis was silent, empty – and huge. Clara figured they both missed the Doctor's presence; his vitality, his impatience, his insatiable curiosity, his zeal for life. Clara longed to hear his voice with an almost physical ache. Didn't matter what sort of nonsense he said, just that he was here.

She gave herself a mental shake and went to quickly change her clothes, figuring if somebody was looking for her, she would be less apt to be spotted than wearing the exact same thing as before. She also needed some pain relief from various aches and bruises.

And then she was going to find the Doctor. She knew he wasn't dead; she would have felt it. Their bond was so strong, there was no way something like that could happen without her knowing it. It may sound like New Age rubbish but Clara knew this was a fact when it pertained to the Doctor and her.

The Impossible Girl would find him. No matter what.


"Come on, concentrate!" Doctor Vortex roared, watching his program for meteor showers waver dangerously close to his structure. "You aren't even trying!"

Vortex moved closer to his subject. The Doctor, who was still strapped to his board, only this time a metal band was around his forehead and various kinds of cables and wires were attached to it. He was drenched in sweat and his face was twisted with agony. Sparks leapt out from both the head band and the various leads attached to his forearms. Leaning over, Vortex snarled, "I know you can easily control these machines in real time as well as projections. You could be the sentient part of the program; I wouldn't even need to monitor you after a while. I will go to the planets with controlled climates, you will disrupt their own climate programs and after a spell of disastrous weather, these planets will be more than willing to meet our price to repair their climate problems."

The Doctor turned his head slightly toward Vortex. "Our price? And what will I do with my share?" he said in a hoarse voice.

Vortex smiled. "You won't need to worry; I'll take care of that for you. Your mental faculties will be stretched enough as it is. After a bit, you will become part of the system I should imagine. Such material needs will be far from your mind."

"You really don't know me at all if you think I'll ever be part of a 'system'," the Doctor grated out.

Vortex was annoyed and touched his electrical pulse wand to the bottom of the Doctor's feet. "Don't worry; I will motivate you, Doctor."

The Doctor nearly shot off the board; only the restraints jerked him back. He nearly bit through his lip trying to control the hurting.

Vortex turned back to his machines and restarted the program. The Doctor jackknifed in agony; trying to escape the shocks and random electrical pulses. This time there was a very strong wind outside; Vortex could hear the beginnings of his tornado program hitting the side of his mobile building. He gnashed his teeth in frustration. "The storm is supposed to be over on the other side of the planet! Why can't you get that straight?"

With another strong shock administered to his feet, the Doctor spasmed and fell back, head lolling to one side.

From the darkened control booth, Tonii spoke coolly. "The pain is still too great for him to handle. Even his brain is having difficulty managing the immense data input. He is unconscious now. You will have to let him rest a few minutes."

Vortex's eyes flashed at the android's words; they sounded too much like an order. But, as he regarded his limp, tortured victim, he grudgingly decided she could be right. Pity Tonii wasn't more advanced; she would do well with being the interface. Suited her personality. "Okay, okay. How is he doing, physically?"

Tonii read the readings quickly. "He is dehydrated, exhausted and running a low grade fever, presumably from the wounds in his arms. Pain tolerance is gradually going down with each test."

Waving all of that away, Vortex asked, "Is he fit? What about that fever?"

"It is not dangerous but could be a sign of an early infection."

"Ha!" Vortex was pleased. This he could handle. "I shall give him a large dose of VL380413. It is an all-purpose vaccine safe for nearly every species in the galaxy." Preparing an old fashioned hypodermic, he added, "Even the humans can tolerate this."

As Vortex roughly slammed home the vaccine in the Doctor's battered arm, Tonii said, "Wait," and walked over quickly, hand raised in the air.

"What?" Vortex demanded, flourishing his syringe. It always pleased him to take decisive action.

Tonii was expressionless as ever. "My last scan indicated he is not human. If these readings are to be believed, this Doctor may be a Time Lord, in which case your vaccine could be toxic or extremely close to it, depending on the size of the dose."

Vortex crumbled; all dreams of bravado and wealth already beginning to dim. Reaching over the prone Doctor, he slapped Tonii extremely hard, which of course did nothing but hurt his own hand. "You are supposed to tell me these things beforehand!" He yelled, immediately trying to rationalize the blame, clutching his stinging hand.

Tonii did not even blink. "I did. You would not wait."

Vortex thought fast. "We will keep running the simulations, then start live trials. Even if he expires, we might obtain a template we can use and place in an artificial construct. Like you, perhaps." He brightened; really sometimes Tonii was so simplistic. "Besides, the Time Lords of Gallifrey are all dead and have been gone for some time. You have made an error."

Tonii said nothing. In his mind, however, Vortex could hear her dry voice, saying 'you should have waited on the vaccine.' It made him angry although he was always angry when a second hand android he'd modified from a barely functionary primary droid knew more than he did.


The weather at the carnival was rapidly turning ever more erratic and it seemed to be emanating from Doctor Vortex's structure. When Clara first left the Tardis, it was nothing more than weird light patterns on the starry sky. But now, real weather had moved in (odd for an asteroid), starting with a very strong, cold wind. Clouds blocked the stars, which was fine with her. A dark night suited her plans perfectly.

For reasons not clear to her, the entire carnival was in chaos but some of the throng evacuated to their space craft and had already left. This complicated her mission, costing her valuable time as Clara stayed in the darker places to avoid detection.

At long last though, she slipped into the rear entrance of Doctor Vortex's ship.

It was very dark but Clara's eyes adjusted and she made out the vague outlines of a desk, a chair and small basket filled with snacks. There were some electronics around as well; maybe it was this era's version of the home computer. Clara pulled out the small but powerful torch she carried and carefully swept the office.

She nearly gasped aloud when she saw the sonic screwdriver lying on the counter, all by itself.

Hurrying forward to snatch it, Clara put it in her pocket and looked some more but saw nothing else. Fine. She was going forward, no matter what.

Then she heard a scream and it sounded like the Doctor.

Icy fear and instant rage battled in her soul and she quickly moved toward the sound.


Through a small observation window, Clara beheld a scene that struck her dumb with horror.

Doctor Vortex kept yelling as he continued to zap some sort of electrical wand at the figure lying fastened to an angle board. The Doctor, looking like he was ensnared in a large electrical spider web, kept jerking at the touch of the wand, but the screaming had ceased. Vortex hurried over to the large, rather old fashioned looking computer console nearby, furiously entering more data and yelling at somebody behind the computer in a darkened booth. A flash of golden hair told Clara it was Tonii behind the glass, watching monitors and entering data of her own.

"Try for the typhoon!" Vortex yelled. "He has already handled the tornado program. Let us go all out! Make it real!"

The Doctor, head lolling off to the side, tried to speak but his voice was in shreds. Clara strained to hear him. "I can't control the overload. Not only are you burning my brain out, you run the risk of injury yourself. Turn it off!"

"He is correct," Tonii's emotionless voice confirmed. "A dangerous amount of electrical feedback, combined with maximum data usage, is reaching critical levels. We may be injured. The subject's death is a certainty; if the vaccine you injected him does not cause him to expire first."

"He can get through this last test, and then we'll disconnect and get out of here. We'll test in peace someplace deserted place in the galaxy. But for now, only a few minutes more. I must know how he controls the program and then write my own. I cannot lose this data!" Vortex gave a nearby dial a savage spin.

Clara had only started to move forward when, for the second time that day, an explosion knocked her off her feet. Suddenly, smoke filled the room and the gusty wind which had continued to shake the thin walls, abruptly ceased. The smell of burning circuitry filled the air.

Batting a hand in front of her face, Clara got to her feet, her head back to aching badly. She dusted herself off and pushed open the door, plunging into the fray. Her feet kicked something solid in front of her and kneeling down, she saw it was Doctor Vortex. He was unconscious or dead, Clara didn't know and didn't care.

The exhaust fans turned on and the smoke began to clear somewhat as Clara stepped over Vortex and moved next to the Doctor.

Oh God, he was a mess.

His face was swollen; his eyes were actually swollen shut, as best she could tell. His skin around the band on his forehead was blackened and bleeding. His arms were swollen and they had been bleeding for some time it seemed, from numerous wounds where cables were attached to him. The Doctor lay on the board, motionless and barely breathing.

Before she could act, Tonii roughly shoved her aside and gave the Doctor an injection.

"Hey!" Clara spluttered in anger.

"It is a neutralizer to the pain blocker and vaccine Doctor Vortex administered earlier."

"You want him to feel even more pain?" Clara hissed.

"The drug has caused this adverse reaction. This will help. However, it may already be too late. I am uncertain about the outcome." Tonii's voice remained completely emotionless.

Clara grew increasing angry about everything, not the least was Tonii's matter of fact tone. "You told me he was dead!"

Tonii looked at her with blank blue eyes. "That may yet become a statement of fact." Using a handheld scanner, she noted, "His system is beginning to shut down."

"No." Clara's rejection was automatic. She grabbed the Doctor's hand and stroked his hair. "No, that can't be." Her eyes went wide when she really saw all the damage inflicted on him.

Tonii came very close to an android version of a shrug. Her eyes moved over to Doctor Vortex, who was still out cold. Training the scanner on him, she observed, "He is not dead."

Clara, trying to unhook the Doctor from the electrical snare, didn't bother to look at her. "Too bad." When Tonii didn't respond, she glanced over her shoulder. "Help me get him free of this."


Clara glared. "Why the hell not?"

In a tone of slight surprise, the android replied, "I do not wish to."

Vortex stirred ever so slightly at their feet. Clara redoubled her efforts but, to her shock and horror, some of the cable attachments went under the Doctor's skin. One was at his temple, pretty much where the dream crab had attached itself. It made her stomach lurch. Pulling as gently as she could, Clara finally got the electrical headband off of him and threw it down in disgust. She also ground her heel into it, just to make sure it would never function again.

Tonii continued to study Doctor Vortex, who, though still groggy, had observed what Clara was doing. "Stop! Stop her, Tonii! She'll ruin everything."

Full of rage, Clara turned to the man on the floor. "Yes, I really, really will!" She dug out the sonic screwdriver and, aiming it at the computer console, activated it. Soon the console burst into flame and smoke. "Now you're ruined!" she said angrily.

"You, you idiot! You just destroyed my programs! Why do you destroy such scientific knowledge? For a boyfriend?"

Clara gave him a quick, icy glance before she returned to the Doctor. "He is so much more than my boyfriend. He is my soulmate, not that you could ever understand that." She returned to detaching cables with alacrity.

"Tonii! Stop her!" Vortex roared.

Instead of obeying, the android stepped around the man. She picked up the discarded electric wand and shoved into Doctor Vortex's chest, holding it there while the man wailed in pain, until Clara finally stepped over and knocked her hand away. Vortex collapsed back on the floor, unconscious.

"Why?" Tonii asked flatly. "He has killed your 'soulmate'."

"No, he hasn't, not yet. And I don't have time for life or death philosophy debates with you. If you aren't going to help me, then get out of the way."

Tonii considered. "I am not helping you and I am not helping him," she said, indicating Vortex. You all…. bore me." She said in a tone of near wonderment. "I will do what I want to."

Clara supposed she was witnessing a miracle, an android deciding to control its own fate. However, with her fingers slick with the Doctor's blood as she continued to detach electrical cables and such from him, she found she didn't really care about the moment of self-discovery. "Whatever. But don't try to stop me."

Tonii took no notice. "I am leaving now." She announced formally.

"Good. And if you see a medic out there, can you be bothered to send them in here?" Clara snapped.

Tonii cocked her head, much like a dog hearing a new sound. "Perhaps. Good bye."

Clara looked up in time to see the android leave the tent. Where she was going, who knew but it was obvious Tonii had had enough of Doctor Vortex and everybody else it seemed.

Clara was frantic with frustration; she finally freed one of the Doctor's arms and started on the other when she heard Vortex behind her.

"You will stop that, right now." Climbing back to his feet, he held his electrical wand up, having picked it up from where Clara had flung it to the floor. "I need your boyfriend; he can make me rich."

"Yeah, well, I need him too and I'm not sharin'," Clara retorted. She aimed the sonic screwdriver at Vortex's wand and activated it. The little wand shorted out in sparks.

"You destroyed my wand!" Vortex howled.

Clara gave him a cheeky, if somewhat bitter, smile. "I most certainly did."

Suddenly there were two massive figures at the door. "You will cease and desist from all activity."

Clara had only seen pictures of the Judoon but Vortex obviously knew them.

"I've done nothing wrong. All my licenses are up to date, I swear." He waved his hands in the air nervously. "It is these two; they are the cause of the disruption."

The Judoon held up a scanner and pointed it at them. "You are of no interest," he said, referring to Clara, who wisely decided she was not offended. Studying the Doctor's scan, he added, "This male does not fit the profile either. But you are Doctor Vortex, a known extortionist and criminal. You are also wanted for the theft of the K14 model android from the Golden Hive industries complex. You are under arrest."

Ignoring Vortex's shrill protests, the second Judoon placed restraints on him and marched him out. The first Judoon studied Clara. "Where is the K14 android?"

Clara got the feeling if she lied, it would not help her or the Doctor and besides, Tonii did her no favors. "She, the android I mean, was here but left earlier. I think she wants to be free."

"Not in her contract," the Judoon dismissed briskly. "You must vacate this asteroid at once. It is being closed from all shipping and commerce, due to expired contracts and harboring known criminals. "Return to your craft and leave." The Judoon barely glanced at the silent Doctor.

"Wait," Clara shouted, "please, we need help here. Doctor Vortex has severely injured my friend; I need assistance to get him back to our ship."

The Judoon looked like he was going to move on but surprisingly, agreed. "All primary duties have been completed; I will transport your companion to your ship and, if this will hasten your departure, it is to be desired."

"Uh, right, yes, we will," Clara promised shakily, wondering if the Tardis would allow her to telepathically guide them away from here. She was also panicked about having a critically injured Doctor aboard with no medical help but then the chances of somebody knowing Time Lord physiology were poor anyway.

As the Judoon roughly pulled the Doctor upright, he groaned. With his face such a mess it was hard to be sure but Clara thought she saw a look of panic when he brought up his hands, weakly trying to fight off whoever was causing him pain.

In a strained voice, the Doctor said something like, "Clara?" He sounded lost and so weak.

Clara caught his hand with both of hers. "I'm here. This Judoon is going to carry you back to the Tardis and then we are leaving," she said confidently, the latter part for the benefit of the huge being now hoisting the Doctor over his shoulder. She caught his face briefly and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead. "Hang in there; we're going home."

"Don't want to be carried," the Doctor mumbled.

"Just cope; it isn't very far," Clara reassured him, hoping he could really could manage the distance and all the other problems he had right now.

The Judoon did not pause for anything, let alone conversation from the Doctor, who looked to be in excruciating pain.

On the way out, Clara spied the Doctor's clothes off to the side and scooped them up, hurrying after the lumbering Judoon.


The Judoon roughly pitched the Doctor just inside the door of the Tardis and quickly moved off, with another stern warning about leaving immediately, as the oxygen shell was due to be turned off in three quothos, however long that was.

Clara had nodded, knelt down on the floor to straighten the Doctor's legs and place his rolled up jumper under his head, then spreading his coat over his shoulders and chest.

There was a loud, sudden knock at the door and Clara, startled, dropped the sonic screwdriver, where it rolled to a rest next to the Doctor.

Give us a moment, she muttered angrily and carefully cracked open the door, fully expecting to find the Judoon there.

Instead, Tonii stood there, her hair mussed and jumpsuit with smudges of dirt but her expression blank as always. "You must let me in."

"No. No way," Clara snapped, quickly pushing the door shut and locking it before Tonii could insert her foot.

"I have medicine," the android called.

Clara stood, undecided. "How did you get that?" She yelled back.

"If you want your soulmate to live, you must let me in." Tonii sounded perfectly reasonable.

"You said you wouldn't help me. Why the change of heart?" Clara asked.

"I am not helping. I am bargaining," Tonii replied.

Clara glanced at the Doctor, who was moved slightly, but it was impossible to tell if he was truly conscious or not. "Put the medicine down and step back from the door. I'll take it and see if it will truly work or not." Moving back to the viewing screen, Clara watched as Tonii placed a small bottle on the ground in front of the Tardis door and then moved back several steps.

Waiting a moment to see if Tonii would stay back, Clara changed the angle and was unsurprised when the android crept up and moved to the side of the door, in order to push her way in. "I knew I couldn't trust you," she said sadly.

Two of the Judoon appeared behind Tonii, aimed their guns at her and fired. She suddenly dropped, like a puppet whose strings have been cut. Clara sprinted to the door and opening it, yelled at the departing Judoon carrying the android, whose face still wore the same blank expression as before.

Clara was desperate enough to be bold. "Hey, she left a bottle here. Can I have it?"

"It is evidence. It is also empty. Why have you not departed yet? Further delay will result in your arrest." The Judoon informed her.

Clara scooted back inside. "Goin' now." Good old Tonii; she certainly discovered self-interest.


When she returned inside the Doctor was trying to climb to his feet using the railing as support. His face reflected the strain of his endeavors and Clara slipped under his arm, placing her other arm around his waist.

The Doctor started. "Clara?"

"Yes, it's me. We're back on the Tardis.

He tried to scoff. "Know that already."

Helping toward the center console, Clara studied him and did not like what she saw. She doubted he could see anything and his breathing extremely labored. "We have to leave immediately. Can you show me how or do I use the telepathic controls?"

Reaching the console, the Doctor put a hand down on it to steady himself. "I can do it." He tried to sound indignant but a lack of oxygen made him sound desperate.

Clara placed his hands on the controls, told him where he was and watched as he entered numbers. It was a difficult task for swollen fingers and Clara ended up doing most of it herself at his direction. By the time he was finished the Doctor was sprawled over his console and he weakly nodded sightlessly in Clara's direction. "Do it."

She pulled the levers and the Tardis center column moved up and down, with the sweetest noise in the universe.

Clara turned to celebrate with the Doctor but his knees buckled and all she could do was cushion his head from the fall.


"Okay, I think I've got everything," Clara announced to herself as she breathlessly rushed back to where the motionless Doctor lay on the floor, cocooned in every blanket she could find, with pillows to lift his head and hopefully, aid his breathing.

She had scanned him, entered the data to the Tardis, who had in turn, guided her to the same place where the infamous dream patches were kept. There was a small bottle containing red liquid marked, 'Elixir' but nothing else on it, of course. But if this is what the Tardis said the Doctor needed, this was what he got.

When Clara touched his skin, she was shocked to find it icy, in direct contrast to earlier. But the worst was yet to come; the Doctor wasn't breathing.

Stunned, Clara had no idea what to do next.

He couldn't be dead, although it would be just like him, the idiot. Guilt assailed her; if she had let him go to his hardware store, this would never have happened.

But no. Have to keep control. In her time in the Tardis library, she vaguely recalled something about a respiratory bypass something something that Time Lords were supposed to have. She prayed to God this was what it was now. However, it made getting the medicine down his throat a real challenge though. His throat was so swollen, Clara wasn't sure if any of it would get through but she continued to pour small amounts and massage his throat as best she could, hoping to hell she wasn't going to drown him. Finally, there was a reflexive swallowing action and she nearly collapsed in relief.

Clara tried to get the prescribed amount down him but had to settle for what he could tolerate. She then sat down to hope for the best, a powerless position she hated. She put cold compresses on his eyes, and tried to clean up the blood. As best she could tell, there was nothing that could be done now except wait. Her nerves were raw as, in the back of her mind, she wondered if she was sitting with a dead man, waiting for a miracle.

After nearly fifteen minutes, she realized the Doctor was shallowly breathing again. Oh thank God. She nearly cried in relief.


After more than an hour of intently watching the Doctor, who had still not awakened nor looked any better, Clara restlessly wandered around the console. Illogically, she hoped maybe if she walked away for a bit, she'd be rewarded with his eyes open upon her return. But she couldn't make herself leave him for very long. Exhausted, she was also hurting herself; her head felt weird and something sticky was on the side of her face. But she couldn't leave the Doctor so it would just have to wait. Finally, Clara located a needle and some thread nearby and started to mend his torn coat. She was a rubbish seamstress but it gave her something to do.

Time crept on. The Tardis was hovering near the time/space continuum, content to keep waiting for the Doctor, it seemed. Everything was quiet, almost on hold, waiting for life to return.

Engrossed in her project, Clara dropped the thimble. It rolled next to the Doctor and when she reached for it, she realized the swelling in his hands had gone down somewhat.

Eyes moving to his face, she tenderly turned him toward her and yes, his eyes were still swollen of course, but much better than before. His skin, although still cooler than normal, was no longer icy. Some color was coming back in his face.

He was going to be all right.

Weak with relief, Clara got under the blankets next to him, placed her arm across his chest and instantly went to sleep.


When Clara next awoke, she felt gritty and tired. The Doctor slept on but, checking his arms, they were nearly healed. His hands were back to their long, slender selves. There was still some marking and swelling on his face but nothing like before. She was pleased and relieved. He would surely be waking up soon, so Clara laboriously returned to her sewing project, just to pass the time.

A while later, she was startled by a weak, indignant voice intruding into her thoughts. "That pudding brain tore my coat?"

Clara glanced up, nearly stabbing herself in the finger. "You're awake!"

The Doctor gave her a rather irritated glance. "He tore my coat," he said in a raspy voice.

"Idiot. That carnival sideshow nearly kills you and you stress out about your coat," she admonished.

Straining to open his eyes completely, the Doctor suddenly shot upright, so fast he nearly knocked her over. "Clara! What is wrong with you? Are you injured?" He looked frantic.

"What? No, I'm fine. Well, I think I'm fine anyway," Clara replied, confused. Truth was she didn't feel great but not horrible.

The Doctor snatched the sonic screwdriver from where Clara had left it and with a concerned look at the readings, he reached over and examined her hairline. His fingers gently probed until he found something painful. She squawked a bit and the Doctor finally pulled away, a small bit of metal in his fingers, coated with Clara's blood. "You have shrapnel, Ms. Oswald," he said softly.

"Oh." Clara lifted a hand and finally realized what the gritty, sticky feeling was; dried blood on the side of her face. "I must look a fright," she admitted.

"It gave me a fright," the Doctor replied, his tired face still worried looking, "but not the way you mean it." In truth, his hearts had nearly stopped at the sight of a blood smeared Clara sitting next to him. Humans were so fragile and their lives so short already.

Clara started to get to her feet. "I guess I'll have a wash, as someone puts it." When she realized the Doctor was struggling to get off the floor, she said, "Hey! Don't undo all my good work."

"Clara, you are an excellent nurse but my back is sick of this floor. Help me up."

She gave him a smile and pulled him to his feet. He moved to the chair beside the console. "Now, you will stay there, right?" Clara stopped just short of pointing her finger.

"Yes, I'm good here. The Doctor looked very benign, which immediately made her fear he was up to something until she searched his face and saw only exhaustion and residual pain.

When Clara returned, the Doctor was standing by the console, but he was leaning over it, the way he did when he was completely drained. Turning, he observed, "You look much better."

"Thank you." She noticed he had put his coat back on. "Hey, this doesn't look too bad."

"It's all right. An amateur repaired it but she tried very hard." The Doctor replied, with a hint of that odd humor he so enjoyed with Clara.

Meanwhile, Clara had been thinking and it wasn't all good. "Doctor."

He was absorbed in readings from the Tardis, so she waited until he finally turned to her. "What?"

"I'm really, really sorry I didn't let you go to the hardware store. This is kind of, you know, my fault."

This time she had his full attention. The Doctor smiled, just a little and tenderly touched her face. "Clara, when we go to all the places we want in the universe, we will sometimes run into trouble. There is no fault."

She sighed. "I have been quick enough to put the blame on you before."

The Doctor looked a tad impatient. "I have a headache; do we have to do these true confessions right now?"

Clara gave a rather unladylike snort of impatience. "No, I guess not. I know of your legendary patience in these matters of feelings and emotions. Are you hungry?"

"Starved," the Doctor admitted. "We could go to the Café-"

"Nope, not tonight. We're staying in. I'll cook."

Giving her a wary look, the Doctor said, "Oh." Catching her sharp glance, he added hastily, "Wonderful."

"That's better. Come on," Clara ordered, slipping her arm around him. She also took the opportunity to roll up a coat sleeve; his arm looked completely normal.

"I'm fine," the Doctor reassured her in a gentle voice, the one he reserved for her and her alone.

"I am so relieved." Clara said with heartfelt sincerity.

"I would like to ask one question though, but I don't want to get slapped for it," the Doctor asked cautiously.

Inwardly, Clara winced. Maybe I should stop doing that. "Okay, what is it?"

"What happened to Tonii? In a purely scientific sense of curiosity, that is," the Doctor added hastily.

Clara thought for a second. "Oh, her? The Judoon took her back, I guess to some place called the Golden Hive Industry. She didn't want to go."

"You mean she wanted to make her own decisions?" The Doctor asked, his face thoughtful. "That's remarkable; a lower level android with its own likes and dislikes. It's too bad the Judoon took her away. Maybe Vortex wasn't a complete idiot. I'm sure there were some remarkable modifications involved in her programming."

Clara felt her ire rising. "Yes, maybe we could bring her along as a third for cards," she grumbled.

The Doctor's lips brushed her forehead. She looked up to see his blue eyes sparkling once again with amusement. "Can we eat now?" He asked impishly; sometimes it was just so much fun to tease his Clara.

For her part, Clara felt a warm glow of happiness and thankfulness. Even though they were a thing now, the Doctor would never be overly kissy/huggy like he was before. But even the smallest kiss, she treasured. They had survived another adventure and they were together. Life was so sweet. "Yes, we can eat now. And then we need to clean up and get some rest," she said, deliberately ambiguous.

The Doctor yawned. "I hate to say it but I could use some sleep."

Clara gave him a fond look and kissed his cheek. "We'll get to that, sooner or later."