Clara stood on the edge of the roof, looking out over the city. She’d had to break the lock on the door at the top of the staircase to get out here, but that was the least of her worries. She responded to the latest puzzled text from Malcolm and sat down on the parapet to wait for him.
“Hey, darling. Why the roof?”
At last. Malcolm, advancing toward her from the door. Clara gave him a strained smile and a kiss. He took her arm and tried to ease her away from the edge. He wasn’t saying anything, but Clara knew he had to be thinking suicide. Her first text had not been at all coherent, and neither had her second. She could not keep her smile on straight right now, either.
Clara came away from the edge of the roof, because it was obviously bothering him too much. And she needed his full attention.
“Want to show you something,” she said.
“On the roof?”
“Yeah. Trust me. It’s important. Step back.”
Malcolm looked uneasy, but he did as she asked.
Clara closed her eyes and found the trigger in herself, the trigger the aliens had implanted when they’d done those things. The things the Doctor had promised to undo. Maybe. Someday. If he could figure it out.
Trigger. And there they came, out from the dimension where they hid, a great soft shudder and air moving around her. Her wings.
“Fucking fuck me.”
She cautiously spread them out. Her control was not yet very good. She hoped it never would be very good, but the look on the Doctor’s face had not been promising.
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck.” Malcolm was still swearing, with none of the creativity he usually showed. His voice was like nothing she’d heard from him. Even in an explosion of rage, he had control of himself and his voice. He knew what he was doing. This, however, was beyond him.
Clara couldn’t blame him.
“How the fuck did this happen?” he said. “That mangy git?” Love was not precisely lost between the two of them; usually they treated each other with grudging respect. But Malcolm had sworn to make the Doctor regenerate if he allowed anything bad to happen to Clara, and she was afraid he would think this qualified. Maybe it did qualify.
“Not exactly. Not his fault.”
“The latest planet he took me to. There was a thing. A gadget. The race we visited were really into body modifications and dimensional tricks. They asked me what kind of animal I would be if I could be one. I said a hawk. This happened.”
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck.”
“He says he’ll probably be able to sort it out. Probably.”
Silence. Malcolm was walking around her in slow circles.
Clara shook them out to their full extent, spread them out wide, and beat once, twice. Malcolm’s tie flew back, but there wasn’t anything like lift.
“Purely for show. As far as we could tell.”
“Darling, it is some fucking show.”
Clara shrugged, and her wings shivered. She still hadn’t sorted out how to keep them completely still when she moved her arms.
“Can you feel it? When I touch them?”
Malcolm was stroking her back, the places where the wings emerged, cautiously. He ran his hands out further, along the bony ridge, out to the tips. Clara shivered. Yes, she could feel it. Oh, yes. The Doctor had prodded her, but hadn’t stroked. Not the way Malcolm was stroking now.
“So fuckin’ gorgeous. You have no idea. Brown, like your hair. Same color.”
“You-- you like them?”
“Fuck. Yeah. They feel like fucking nothing I’ve ever touched.” Now his voice was coming from just behind her, and Clara could feel his breath on the back of her neck. It always made her shiver and whimper when he kissed her there, and he was kissing her now. Kissing her and stroking along her flight feathers. Or what would be her flight feathers, if she could fly. Why was this erotic? How? What was going on? Was this the whole purpose of the modification? They had been an advanced race, and they had seemed to think they were doing her a favor.
Oh my god, the way this felt. She was whimpering. In another minute she’d be shuddering. Malcolm was in front of her now, a firm arm around her waist, holding her up, thank God, because her knees were weak.
“Sweetheart, darling, Clara, you okay? Tell me. Tell me straight, now, love.”
Clara laughed, weakly, but she felt for the first time that it might be okay. “Told you things would get weird if you stayed with me.”
“Not half, darling, not half.”