A/N I am in a state of constant tears/screaming/jumping up and down right now. I don't want to spoil the 50th for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but let me tell you that Moffat bloody well NAILED IT. Also you will die. Due to some people probably not having seen Day, this is set before the special, but after TNOTD still. Another reason for this is because the Doctor and Clara were so perfectly comfortable and canon with eachother and this oneshot probably doesn't fit in after what happened in those 75 golden minutes of television.

Today's song is Boats and Birds by Gregory and the Hawk, which was recommended by daisy-chains-and-bow-ties. Thank you! Also, a lot of this oneshot is based the feel of the song, which you can only get by actually listening to it, so please do because it is awesome.

Feel free to PM me as I unashamedly fangirl about the Day of the Doctor because it was beautiful. Also I'm sorry about the late update, I worked especially hard on this one for an anniversary present, also exams etc. etc.

Happy 50th Birthday, Doctor, and here's to another 50 to come!

•••

If you'll be my star
I'll be your sky
You can hide underneath me and come out at night

When I turn jet black
And you show off your light
I live to let you shine
I live to let you shine

But you can skyrocket away from me
And never come back if you find another galaxy
Far from here with more room to fly
Just leave me your stardust to remember you by

If you'll be my boat
I'll be your sea
A depth of pure blue just to probe curiosity

Ebbing and flowing
And pushed by a breeze
I live to make you free
I live to make you free

But you can set sail to the west if you want to
And pass the horizon, 'til I can't even see you
Far from here
Where the beaches are wide
Just leave me your wake to remember you by

If you'll be my star
I'll be your sky
You can hide underneath me and come out at night

When I turn jet black
And you show off your light
I live to let you shine
I live to let you shine

But you can skyrocket away from me
And never come back if you find another galaxy
Far from here with more room to fly
Just leave me your stardust to remember you by

Stardust to remember you by

•••

THE DOCTOR

If there was one thing in the entire complicated universe that the Doctor could never truly understand, it was dates.

Why where they even called that? An enjoyable outing with someone close to you, or a rather disgusting wrinkly fruit. The English language was a strange one. But the two possible interpretations of the word weren't nearly the root of the problem.

In fact, he wasn't quite sure what a date was at all. Had all their adventures on the TARDIS been dates? Or did that only start later, when you got to know the person better? Was there some sort of sign, a point which, when passed, officially classified their trips as 'dates'?

And then there was the event itself.

The hand-holding thing he was sure of, at least, from disjointed experiences with human dates. He did that anyway, so that was an easy thing to check off the list.

An interesting/romantic/non-life-threatening destination. That one was considerably harder to fulfil. All the best places were potentially life-threatening. And romantic? Did that mean dinner and candles? Not exactly his kind of thing. A movie and popcorn? Definitely not the Doctor's scene.

And of course there was also the added trouble of running around everywhere, helping people, fixing things and generally being a good universe-saving Time Lord. He was fairly sure that most humans didn't do that on supposed dates.

And finally there was the problem of what 'dates' actually meant, for humans anyway. Kissing and all that. Boyfriends and girlfriends and allkindsofotherfriends. Dating stuff.

It was confusing to say the least.

The problem had started at the end of their last trip, which was a rather enjoyable one to early 19th century Paris. Minus the rogue cyberman in the catacombs. Actually, the problem had probably started at the beginning, when they'd had lunch at the street side cafe.

The Doctor's escargot had been rather less tasteful than he remembered, and there was the especially awkward moment with the old lady at the neighbouring table. Who'd assumed they were married. Which shouldn't really have been a problem, given that they had pretended to be so in Sweetville, but the Doctor had still corrected her quickly. Which had led to her commenting that they were "rather touchy-feely not to be wed".

He hadn't known what to say to that, and the lady had left, shooting them an appalled glare. Pfft. 19th century marriage views.

And then there was the bit where he'd dropped her off home. Complete with hug and Clara's awkward kiss on his cheek. And, don't forget, her teasing remark about walking your date to the door instead of leaving her on the footpath.

He'd thought for a while about that, and come to the conclusion that he wanted to take her somewhere special this time. Maybe not a 'date' exactly, no, he couldn't afford to be involved in that kind of thing. But somewhere more quiet, more still, more subtly beautiful. Somewhere he could simply be in her presence without the threat of aliens or nosy old ladies.

And so now he was searching high and low through the TARDIS, looking for some map or record or note that might point him to such a place. There was a pamphlet for Wibley's World of Wonders–he wasn't going back there anytime soon, a scrawled set of coordinates for an emerald planet–too green for his taste, the name of an old friend in early 20th century Russia–Stalin already despised him...and there! A scrawled sticky note, a place and time. Probably written back in an early regeneration.

Just the place.

•••

CLARA

Clara had made a decision. A very important decision. One that had taken weeks of deliberation, several cups of strong tea and a half-hour of retreading through all her mother's little notes in 101 Places to See to be made.

The decision was, in infuriatingly short form, whether she was falling in love the Doctor. She didn't particularly like the prospect of thinking about it like that, so the long version was much better, however complex.

The long version involved many factors. The least of which being Clara's trick (which was drastically failing); the not-so-subtle yet quite inexplicable hand-holding, lingering hugs etc.; the fact that it would be so simple and not very unbelievable if one the Doctor decided one day to never turn up again; the feeling that she had begun to rely on their adventures as a sort of beautiful escape, a chance to visit more than those 101 places; the creeping, vicelike sense that she couldn't say goodbye to him if she tried...

Suffice it to say, it was a very complicated problem, requiring all the tea bags left in her cupboard.

But she had reached a decision. It wasn't particularly good, nor strong, nor even intelligent. The conclusion was this: that she should continue travelling with the Doctor and simply see where it took her.

Which was, as aforementioned, not a great one.

But it was one of the easiest. And she'd also come to the realisation, when leading through her mother's book, that this was a chance in a trillion. This kept her options open. She wouldn't have to give up the gift of travelling the universe. She wouldn't have to rule out any chance of...a relationship. Or whatever. Not that that was actually going to happen. Or that she wanted it to. Or that the Doctor looked seriously cute with his hair all wet and blown about from the sprinklers on the front lawn...

The doorbell rang.

•••

"Clara! Ah! You should probably be aware that there is a malfunctioning temperature-normaliser on your lawn. May want to fix that before it..." the Doctor broke off to adjust the coif of his damp hair. "...saturates your well-meaning cup-of-sugar-oriented neighbours."

"Sprinklers, Doctor. Fairly sure we don't have 'temperature normalisers' in this decade."

"Well, invent them please. Getting a little tired of this dreary English weather."

Clara barely suppressed an eye-roll, hopping past him and shutting the front door behind her. "You got somewhere good planned?"

"You tell me!" he skipped over to the TARDIS, parked right under the range of the sprinkler, and flung open the doors.

She followed him inside, and, seeing the splatters of water near the door, instantly knew she was in for some trouble.

At which the TARDIS jolted extra-hard, flinging her against the railing, and proving her assumption that the machine wasn't inclined to having a sprinkler rain on its insides.

A second tremor sent her careening over to the console to avoid falling flat on her face, a third bracing herself against the console, and a fourth colliding with the Doctor against the now closed doors. He caught her elbow to stop her from flying off again, and the violent landing finally stabilised.

He seemed to glimpse the drips of water on the floor, and Clara made sure to halt any further comments with a fitting glare.

The Doctor straightened up, batting away her narrowed eyes, and pulled open the doors, stepping out.

For a moment, Clara just stood on the threshold, staring.

There wasn't much else fit to do in the presence of such a sight.

It was barely describable. Any adjective seemed inadequate, as if the English language was not constructed to sufficiently praise the exact wonder of what she was seeing. Above labels. Too beautiful for words. Every little light and patch of darkness hungering for her sight, and who was she to deny it?

But it must come to be that we accept some things as being beyond the human range of thought, and Clara never wanted to forget this scene, so describe it she did.

They were standing on glass, she thought, or some other transparent material that she very much hoped would not break. For the glass stretched all around them, and above their heads, and beyond it was the void.

The blackness sank in every direction, reaching as far as the eye could see, and beyond, to infinity, or whatever else it took. Ever-yearning black, dark, black.

But, in between the black. Colours. Lights. Racing and blending and exploding. Bleeding across the black, tears in the fabric of oblivion. Shouting, singing at her, look! look! here I am! ! look!

She knew that the black was space, was emptiness and vacuum and the bits in between. And she knew that the colours and lights were stars, nebulae, galaxies and gas clouds. But it was so much more beautiful to think that the black was a canvas, an absolute nothing, that the universe had seen and thought well, that's boring. How about something pretty? And then these splashes of pink and red and purple and orange and blue and green and every other colour that existed were born, splattered across the void in orchestrated patterns, and delicate little paintbrushes shaped that little glow there, that deep shading there.

An artwork just for her, to wonder at, to revel in, specially made by the universe for this one day in which she would see it.

When she could finally bring herself to tear her eyes away, she saw the Doctor smiling at her, with a sort of faraway look in his eyes. He quickly pretended to be gazing up at the ceiling.

"So what godforsaken alien war galaxy have we landed in this time?" she asked snidely. It was true that, typically, the best places were the most dangerous and crazy-homicidal-alien-ridden.

"No, no! No godforsaken-ness. Nuh-uh. I made extra special care. Absolutely no hostile aliens. Or humans, for that matter. No hostile anything. No even-remotely-rude anything. Languid Starship Cruises. The Spectrum Pathway. See the stars, behind unbreakable glass! Rubbish tagline."

Clara found her eyes darting back towards the glass, or not the glass, what was behind it. It was hard to keep from looking at it for too long.

"Knew you'd like it," the Doctor announced proudly.

She hummed uncertainly. "I was thinking the movies and some Chinese take-away, actually, but I s'pose this'll have to do."

•••

THE DOCTOR

As it turned out, his earlier comment about the lack of even-remotely-rude people on the ship wasn't exactly true. Which Clara hadn't failed to point out to him, especially after several of the crew members threatened them both with throwing them out into empty space. Alright, he hadn't brought tickets, or money, and he'd parked a giant box in the middle of an observation deck, but that was no need to play the 'floating around the void without air and having your eyeballs explode from pressure' card.

Luckily, all of the crew easily fell for the fake credentials on the psychic paper and they were able to settle in with the other cruise-goers. There were fifty or so of them, in all, including a group of five Akhatenian backpackers who kept on loudly blowing gum, a young man and a woman who kept on making kissy faces at one another, and a rowdy family of six. Unfortunately, the main cabin definitely wasn't nearly roomy enough for all of them.

Suddenly the peaceful moment outside the TARDIS was whisked away and replaced with noise and contrasting movement. Usually he would love to see all these different species and types of people, linked in a shared wonder. But today he, inexplicably, just craved an hour or two alone with the stars. Somehow that 'alone' also included Clara.

"... a bit like a glass bottomed boat," he was telling her. "except all of it is glass. And it's not actually glass. It's transparent, extra-strength, reimbursed cosperene. And instead of coral it's all nebulae. And instead of sharks you get the maddening pull of the void between the stars. Come to think of it, the first and only time I was here before..." But it was startlingly obvious that she wasn't really paying much attention to him. More focused on the cloud of supernova debris they were passing.

Fine. He'd talk to some who actually appreciated his knowledge, then.

He tapped the shoulder of the elderly lady sat in front of them, flashing his best likeable grin. "You two been on this cruise before?" he nodded at the man beside her.

"Three times. It's always just as amazing," she smiled back in that crooked old-lady way. "Is this your first?"

"Second, actually. First was with, ah, Sarah Jane, I think. Long while back."

The frizzy white-haired man (husband?) whispered something into the woman's ear. She giggled at him, and said, "Ben wants me to tell you that he thinks you and your girlfriend look very nice together." She then proceeded to give Ben a light slap on the shoulder.

Well, he wouldn't be having much more of a conversation with them then. He wasn't in the mood for being teased by a pair of lovesick children in adult bodies today.

He chuckled at himself. Like he could talk.

Clara was still intent on staring out the window, reading the guide booklets, listening to the captain's commentary. She wouldn't offer much in the way of conversation, either. There were also definitely no hostile aliens on board–he'd checked–so the Doctor was resigned to sitting still.

Boring.

And loud.

And crowded.

The old couple was still casting furtive glances at them and laughing. A couple of children were clinging and excitedly babbling to their parents. The current crew member was eyeing him suspiciously and muttering into her radio. Bubblegum debris was sticking in the hair of several of the backpackers, much to their immense and rather raucous discomfort. The young man to his right was dangerously infringing on his personal space as he unashamedly snogged his fiancé. A couple of older women were shooting them dirty looks and muttering judgements to each other. A small girl had dropped a bag of chips all over the floor and wasn't hesitating to whine about it.

It was times like this that he resented his Time Lord physiology, all senses superior to a human's, where he could smell every person and taste every emotion, hear every murmur and see every movement.

Words were being thrown carelessly through the air, shouted and cried and whispered and muttered and breathed in fifty different voices with fifty different meanings. There was "mummy mummy I've lost my bracelet!" and "who spilled coke on the seat?" and "always running late for everything" and "since when do you talk to her" and "why on earth would you" and "I am so sick of that" and "which one can I" and "left the kettle on" and "never eating that again" and "they weren't here at boarding" and "can you please" and "what the hell" and "look at this" and "you're an arsehole" and "shut up" and "stop" and "crying" and "sandwich" and "weirdo" and "give" and "hate" and "why" and "no" and...

And then he looked to his left, and there was Clara. Sitting so still beside him, her face the shadow of a trillion stars. A spiral galaxy on the port side was reflecting a magenta glow in her eyes. Her hand rested against the glass, as if she wanted nothing but to reach out and touch it, dance her fingers along the strings of light and play them like a violin made of stars.

It was too loud, too bright, too chaotic around him. And Clara was this picture of stillness, of peace, of rest, of silent awe.

He really didn't want to shatter that, but he really couldn't stay here, not now, not with all this sound and light and unnamable emotion. Not with Clara so close yet so untouchable by his side.

He waited one minute, and then took her hand, tugging her along past the irritated crew member and over the puddle of coke and between all the shuffling feet as the noise slowly dimmed and crept away.

Once finally enveloped by merciful stillness, the Doctor leaned back against the TARDIS doors and looked out the same window he had first showed Clara, though the view was thousands of kilometres of difference.

"Dragged me away for a secret snog, I shouldn't hope?"

"No. No. It was..." he wrung his hands, searching for a way to avoid Clara's innocent grin. "Loud! Too loud!"

She laughed that teasing laugh, trickling through the tranquil silence. But the uncertain way that it faded off into nothing struck a trembling note in his chest.

"Are you leaving?" he asked, immediately scolding himself afterwards.

She flinched, and the Doctor didn't miss the slight frown in her brow and dip in her mouth. "Leaving?"

"Back off to earth. The Maitland's. Normal life. All that human stuff."

"Maybe."

"Oh." He couldn't think of what else to say, and whether he should tell her how much that answer saddened him. It shouldn't have, but it did.

"What about you, then, Time Lord? Ready to pop off into the stars, find some galaxy or planet or person to run away with?"

He probably deserved that, and answered in kind. "Maybe."

Such was it that he was no longer holding her hand, and they were both looking through the glass instead of each other. But the Doctor found his eyes flicking back to Clara again and again, her slightly melancholy expression that she was obviously attempting to hide.

It was like he could not force himself to look away, as if to do such a thing would be to miss something important. Every wash of colour that warmed her face made her eyes shine, every light softened the curves of her cheeks, every crinkle of her skin was reminiscent of past laughs and tears and mutterings, and...and...

It wasn't intentional, really, sort of subconscious, like his mind was in a haze, but clear and bright as glass at the same time.

One hand was resting behind her neck, the other had somehow found its way into the curve beneath her chin. There was almost no distance between them, and he wasn't exactly sure how that had happened at all. Oh, yes, and he was sort of...slowly, kissing her. Or the other way around. Something. Both. Neither.

There was something about the moment, something so still and silent and peaceful, an untouched pond mirroring an autumn sky, not a ripple distorting its perfect image.

The biggest thing, the best thing, was that it was there. There was no need to grasp for it, to fumble at it for fear of it slipping between his fingers. There was no need, either, to nudge it awkwardly away, or thrust it into some deep corner where it could be ignored, grudgingly forgotten.

It was there, and it was happening, and it just was.

He felt a strange sense of relief, then, as if he had been struggling with a colossal weight, participating in an emotional tug-of-war, and had only just been set free. Or, if not that, perhaps it was just this stillness, this equilibrium, where everything was slow and soft and quiet, and Clara's lips moved just so against his.

He didn't really want to pull away, partly because he knew it would be awkward afterwards and definitely wasn't equipped to deal with that level of social uncertainty. Clara did first, which was better, sort of.

He let his hands fall back to his sides, before finding that his bowtie was a little askew and spending probably a bit too long on an attempt to straighten it.

Clara was leaning her side against the glass when he looked up, a haze of green illuminating the slight frown of her lips, a hand dancing across the window before her eyes. Playing a violin of stars.

She stopped drumming her fingers and instead pressed them flat, as if to break the glass and immerse them into the painting of a hundred thousand galaxies, leap into that passing nebula and not mind where it took her.

He took her hand again, because somehow the stillness had not yet been broken, and watched her thin fingers tapping against the back of his palm. Ready to pluck out a symphony on his skin, while her left hand still yearned out towards the stars.

It was like he could hear music, when he kissed her for the second time, although he knew that was impossible. But both her hands were dancing daintily along his neck, and he could have sworn that each tap of a finger sounded a separate note, as if she were composing a piece. A melody that grew and swelled in tone and volume until all the stillness was gone, and there was only this music,
rising,
falling,
floating,
calling,
before it began to decrescendo, sinking back into pure,
perfect

silence.