“Still not sure why we had to do this,” the Doctor said. “I could have put on a school uniform.”
“Trust me. You would not have looked like a student even in a uniform.”
He shook his head at her-- his brown-haired shaggy head-- and turned back to her kitchen cupboards.
“How long are you going to be like this?” Clara said.
“A few more hours. It was set to do the transformation for a full Earth day.” The Doctor said this with his head inside her cupboards. He had begun methodically rummaging through her kitchen almost the moment they’d returned from the alien-infested boarding school. “Haven’t you got any Jammie Dodgers?”
“Second drawer on the left.”
He ripped open the package and shoved three at once into his mouth. It was an absurd sight. It was still obviously him, still obviously the man she ran hand-in-hand with every day. She could still see him in the bone structure of his face, in the way he smiled, in the way those eyebrows moved so expressively. But his hair was brown, and there was so much of it springing up from his head, wild and wayward as the man himself was. And that face, unlined, unbearded, unfinished, so sweet and mischievous at once. A boy’s face, no longer merely boyish. And at this moment, it was a boy’s face stuffed with another handful of biscuits.
The Doctor really was a teenaged boy. At heart and now in body.
Her doorbell rang. Clara went over and pressed the button. “Hello!”
“Clara, dear, we were in the neighborhood and thought we’d stop by and say hello.”
It was her father. Clara buzzed them up reflexively, then realized what she’d done.
Clara stared at the Doctor. He stared at her and wedged the last of the biscuits into his mouth. “They’re on their way up!” she said.
“They’re my family! Hide!”
“Why?” He looked genuinely puzzled. “You’ve had me pose as your boyfriend before. Why not just do that again?”
“Because! Because you’re sixteen!”
“I’m two thousand and five!”
“Yes, but you don’t look it.”
“There you go again, on and on! As if changing my gray hair to brown would fool anybody.”
Clara opened her mouth to argue, but it was too late: her door was opening, her family was coming into her flat. Father, grandmother, step-mother: all of them clutching bags from a day of London shopping, trooping right inside her flat as if they belonged there, as if they visited frequently.
Which they did.
And there her father was, shaking the Doctor’s hand, introducing himself.
“John Smith,” said the Doctor. “But we’ve met.”
“Is this one of your students?” her father said.
“Yes, yes it is.” at the very same moment that the Doctor burst out with an irritated “No! how could you think that? How could you think you’d get away with suggesting it?”
“You look like one of my students!”
“I look like who I am! I’m wearing the exact same clothes! I’ve met them before! Why can’t they tell I’m the same person? Are they defective?”
“You were wearing a tweed thing and a bowtie that time.”
“Oh! Right. Of course. Sorry.” He looked at her to verify that he had indeed apologized at one of the times he was supposed to apologize, and Clara nodded reassuringly. Then he turned to her father’s wife and said, most clearly, “I’m the same one who was Clara’s boyfriend that time she didn’t cook the turkey. I was naked because I was going to church.”
They turned as one to look at Clara, who shrugged helplessly. Either explain everything or explain nothing.
Just then her grandmother came into the kitchen. “Dear, why do you have a police box in your bedroom? It’s a lovely antique, but a bit large, don’t you think?”
“She isn’t an antique!” the Doctor said. His face was flushed.
“Yes, she is. Outmoded the day you stole her.”
“She stole me.”
“She always said so.”
Her father said, with an air of infinite patience with a very simple child, “Why is there an antique police box in your bedroom, Clara?”
The Doctor said, quite casually, “Because I parked it there.”
“'Course it’s in her bedroom. I’m the only one who ever goes in there after all.”
“You’re, you’re sleeping with a student?” her father said, faintly. Linda looked like she was about to explode.
“Doctor–” Clara said. “This one’s out of control.”
The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scowled at it ferociously. “Mind wipe?”
The screwdriver whirred.