He’d allowed…whatever that was to take over his mind. He’d allowed the darkest parts of his hearts and mind to speak and say those terrible things. He’d laid his hands on and threatened the life of the girl he’d fallen in love with. The Doctor sat on his bed, staring at the wall, hands autonomously tying bowties oddly in his hands, already tied bows to his left and not-yet tied ones to his right. He needed something to occupy his mind. And she thought they were cool. He’d always thought they’d look pretty in her hair.
The moment he’d come to his senses, he’d run here and locked himself in. If something were to go wrong, he didn’t want to be anywhere near Clara. Where he could hurt her. She was supposed to be under his protection.
It wasn’t that the Doctor had been doing his normal distance type thing after what had happened between he and Clara. It wasn’t that he was trying to avoid her or anything of the like. Nor were things even…awkward. It was odd for the man, a feeling he hadn’t had in a long time, the admittance of that kind of a feeling, the consummation of a relationship like that. At once, he’d never felt freer and felt more afraid than ever.
In the moment, the time lord hadn’t cared for the consequences or really thought very much about the whole process. Well, not to say he hadn’t thought of it. Being with Clara that way. But there was always that nagging in the back of his head, telling him that he couldn’t, shouldn’t. And now that it’d passed, he didn’t regret a thing–no, to say he regretted what he’d done with her would be one of the greatest lies the man whose first rule was that he lied had ever told.
But now, every single day, the threat of losing her loomed more than ever. And he couldn’t bear to show her that, show her how worried it made him when she’d show up in the middle of the night after nightmares, crawling into his bed, seeming more fragile than ever before. She was able to read him like a book. So he kept it cool. Casual. As well as he could, making repairs on the TARDIS when not completely necessary, taking time in the library…just to prevent the oncoming worry.
Fall For You || John Smith and Clara (Post "Mr. Brightside")
He was numb.
Absolutely, perfectly numb. He could hardly explain it. John couldn’t even remember the last time he’d felt this way; didn’t know whether to be happy or sad or relieved or afraid or all of the above, so he felt…nothing. Blankly, his eyes found an absent point of focus outside the window, somewhere in the sky as his hands fidgeted in his lap, holding and squeezing each other but terrible at trying to stay still. For a man sitting on the couch, he was terribly active, his mind never at rest.
He was the Doctor? That’s what the Doctor had said. That it was different faces, that man, that alien's future. That John wasn’t real, that he was just fabricated out of the Doctor’s subconscious. He couldn’t even turn as he heard the door open with the jingle of familiar keys. His voice came out perfectly monotone, his focus not breaking. He knew who was there.
Everything had been completely normal. Well, as normal as it could be in the life of the Doctor. Normal as they could be after Trenzalore. No more secrets between he and Clara, now. No more secrets for the man who always ran. And he was oddly…content with it. Something so terrifying to him, something he’d always tried to avoid. And now, it was out in the open. And he was content.
But nothing could stay well for long, that was one thing that the Doctor knew, possibly better than anyone. A creeping suspicion that his secret would come back to destroy him, just as the Great Intelligence almost had. To die, at every point in his life, terrified the Doctor. Everything he’d ever done, taken back, history imploding on itself, and Clara, his impossible, perfect, normal Clara saved him. But now, it was his turn.
It was too dangerous to just be wandering about now, just staying in one place for so long. But he couldn’t just run, couldn’t just leave behind all the mysteries and people he’d met and found again in New York. And when the Doctor couldn’t run or hide, the Doctor had to cease to exist. Not forever, no, but until things calmed down. Until he was certain Clara and everyone else he cared for was safe. It wasn’t as if there’d be no Doctor; but there was no Doctor they had trace of. His younger self would be safe.
Quickly running and pulling the familiar machine from the console, hooking it up, the Doctor pulled a paper and pen, waiting for it to warm up as he sketched out words on the paper to leave behind.
That’s really how it’s got to begin because I know you’ll immediately be mentally reprimanding me for not giving you more warning, or not telling you this could happen. Really because it shouldn’t happen, shouldn’t be happening, but…it has to. And I’m so, so sorry. I’ll be okay. Really, I will. Probably while you’re reading this, I’m out in that machine there. Somewhere between slightly conscious and totally out of my mind. More than likely the latter, but I don’t want to scare you.
When I wake up, I’m going to be…different. Very different, still me, still yours, I promise, but…I won’t remember being the Doctor. A time lord. I’m going to be perfectly, biologically human. You know that locket I keep on the console? Take it. It’s going to have all those memories, all that time lord in it. Everything that you know, everything that I am. Keep it safe. I know you will. That’s me in there. I’ll come back when I’ve got to, but for now, I’ve got to be someone else.
My name’ll be John Smith, born in Northampton. I’ve set this to plant certain memories in my head, so that I don’t risk myself or do anything absolutely stupid. And I need me to trust you, and need you to know I’m still there for you. We’ve been dating for five years, met when I was going to University College London–I was 24 (can’t remember when I was really 24) and you were 19. I was having tea and jammie dodgers at a shop and you popped in, and…took over my world. I was studying computer science and international relations, and you told me about how much you wanted to travel. Inseparable since. I…I need you to be the person I trust the most on these things, and I am now, just…had to be sure that human me remembers that, too.
Now, why are we in New York? Well, we had a flat in London but, remember, we want to travel. Oh, how you and I travel, Clara. But human me hasn’t got a TARDIS to take you traveling, so we’ve saved up all our money to come here and move to the States, start from here. And when I’ve got a steady job, I’ll take you everywhere else all over the earth. Who knows, might be a Doctor someday. You’d hit me for that one. I’ve got us a flat, the address should be on the psychic paper in the left pocket of my vest. I’m sorry in advance if I turn out annoying or something like that. Please don’t kick me out.
Now, you’re probably thinking, this is all well and good, thanks for telling me Doctor, but why the hell are you doing this? It’s…complicated. It’s got everything to do with Trenzalore, and me, and…him, but don’t worry, it’s keeping us safe. I’m doing it to keep us both safe, and long as I’m clueless, nothing can happen. I don’t have very much more time, so I’m sending a psychic message to that man…the man I called John Smith when I first picked you up from your hotel room here in New York. He’ll explain everything, and he’ll be sure that if anything goes a bit…off, you’ll be safe. He’s a good man.You know who he is, now, and know that he’ll take care of you just as I would.
I’m so sorry that we’ve only just been able to be honest with one another, and now… Now, we’re back to square one. But it’s got to be done. You have to know, to understand that I’m saving you, this time. Be brave, Clara. I know you will. You always have been. It always is you, saving me time after time, isn’t it? I should be used to this damsel in distress bit by now. But there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be fine, impossible girl. And I’ll talk to you, soon, love.
Pressing his lips to the paper ever-so gently, the Doctor folded it up, sliding it into an envelope from his pocket. In quick writing, circles and lines, he wrote out Clara’s name, placing it on the console and going to set himself into the machine. Last, but not least, he sent out two things through his psychic paper; the first, sent to the phone of Amelia Pond.
“Trust me. Please. Go along with it, Pond.”
And the second, an address, to his younger self’s psychic paper, leaving it there as he promised Clara it would be. So when she’d found him, they’d have a chance to start over, at least for a while. A life of normalcy. To start a new life. A safer life, for now, for his friends, his Clara, in the name of the Doctor.