Gallifreyans were rarely taken sick, he’d told her once. Time Lords almost never. The genetic manipulation that had made them super-intelligent, that had tinkered with their biology until portions of it were unrecognizable, had also given them immune systems of great resilience.
So when it collapsed, it collapsed. And when it collapsed, the great Doctor, Prydonian Time Lord of Gallifrey from the constellation Kasterborous, felt himself a failure and a discredit to his long-vanished species. He felt less than perfect as a Gallifreyan. He was embarrassed.
Or so Clara theorized. It was the only rational explanation for why he was sick but hiding it. The irrational explanations all required him to be a stubborn idiot.
He wasn’t moving properly. That’s what she noticed first of all. He was stiff, careful, almost timid, and his normal casual indifference about where his elbows went had vanished. Then Clara looked more carefully and saw that he was wearing even more layers than usual: t-shirt, jumper, hoodie, jacket. He kept his hands pulled up into his sleeves.
“Oh, the usual. Somewhere in the universe, the sky is burning. The tea is growing cold. Injustice everywhere. Why do you ask?”
As she had thought. No wild gestures, no planet that immediately needed their attention, no hand in hers. One more question to confirm.
She said, “Speaking of tea. Would you like some?”
He blinked and then shrugged.
“Right. Something’s wrong. Out with it.”
“Nothing is wrong. Nothing. You are, as usual, letting your human imagination run away with itself.”
That was, of course, when his knees gave out and he collapsed across the TARDIS console. The TARDIS squawked, blinked furiously, then shut its console down. Clara noted this with part of her attention while she ran around toward him. She caught him–nothing to him, such a wisp of a man-- and got his arm around her shoulder.
“I’m perfectly fine,” he said, even as he failed to get his feet under himself. “Go make some tea.”
“Shut up. Just shut up.”
She staggered along with the Doctor leaning on her, complaining the whole way that he was fine. He was, in her opinion, the most annoying being in the universe, and she didn’t mind telling him so the whole way across the console room to the corridor leading deeper into the ship.
“Give me some help here, would you?” she said, to the TARDIS. “I need to get him to a bed.”
The ship responded by moving her bedroom door along the corridor so it was the first thing she encountered. Thank goodness. She half-carried him across the room and dumped him unceremoniously on her bed. He blinked up at the ceiling and seemed disinclined to get up and bolt out of her room, as he would normally have done. She fished around in his jacket pocket and found the screwdriver. Setting fifty-six, scan. She scanned, listened to the warble, brought up a readout on the wall nearest her.
“You’re running a raging fever. For you, anyway. If it were me I’d be dead. Or a zombie. Or something. Also you’ve got an inflamed throat. In other words, you’ve got a plain boring viral infection. Nothing spacey. Nothing important.”
“Oh.” He seemed to have given up on pretense, which was a relief.
“I’m going to make you some tea with honey. And maybe some dry toast. You can try the toast.”
“Okay,” he said.
When she got back to her room, with tea tray in hand, the Doctor was exactly where she’d left him. He had not made any moves to take off his boots or get under the blankets on her bed. He was, however, huddled up on himself. Clara sighed, set the tray down, and pulled all the blankets out from under him. Piled them over him, tucked them under. Then she burrowed in at the bottom long enough to get at his boots. Unlaced, off, revealing socks with glow-in-the-dark spiral galaxies scattered all over them. Clara smiled, then, because the socks were adorable and that reminded her that she liked this bizarre, absurd, annoying man. Loved him, even, although he tried her patience now and then.
Feet in their socks wrapped up again. Now for the head area. His eyes were open and he was shivering less. She ran her fingers through his hair, pushing it back from his forehead. Scratched his scalp a little, rubbed circles over his temples. He almost never allowed this kind of touch, but he responded to it now as he did every time: with his eyes half-closed and an expression of utter bliss. How hungry for touch was he? The more he protested against it, the more he craved it. Or so her theory was. Sick Time Lord. Idiot.
“You want your tea now or later?”
Clara touched her lips to his forehead. “Don’t you worry.”