Tyger Tyger: Burning Bright

The Doctor sees the future and makes plans.


The Doctor knew it immediately, not because of anything he observed in the world around him, but because he felt time and the universe and the order of things shift around him and resettle. He lay with Clara on that sofa in the library, sheltering her while she cried, and knew what had happened, would happen, was happening even then in her body. Knew it was a girl. Saw her for a moment, grown to adulthood, standing tall and strong and proud with her siblings. No more was granted him in that moment, and he stopped looking out of respect for the universe, and its wish to determine itself, to rearrange itself.

Knowing it would happen and knowing what Clara would make of it in the moment were two different things. So he said nothing. Held her, stroked her hair, kissed her forehead, wiped tears from her face with his thumb.

He would be a father again. The first time, he’d been proud and fearful and nervous and anxious for the health of his wife, that brilliant woman. This time: an equally clever woman in his arms, but raw, grief-stricken. This time he felt fear, but not for himself or his ability to raise their children with love. Fear for Clara, for what this loss would do to her, what the pregnancy would do to her. Would it be balm or burden? He didn’t know. He only knew that it was, that it would be, that their child would be. Conceived and gestated on the TARDIS. Part Gallifreyan, part human. She would be a Time Lord even without an Academy education.

Eventually Clara cried herself out. The Doctor pushed her sweaty hair back from her face and pressed another kiss to her forehead.

“Clara,” he said, softly. “I’m going to get you some water.”

He untangled himself from her and settled the blanket over her again. Then he stood only to find that the TARDIS had already provided: robes for both of them, a pitcher of water and a glass, a washcloth. He dampened the cloth and cooled her face. She was quiet now, exhausted. She put on the robe without demur, watched him gather up their scattered clothes, and let him lead her by the hand to his bedroom, his secret place. The place where he hoped to mend her heart as much as it could be mended.

One wall of it was a glass wall behind which was a two-story kelp forest lit by sunlight from above during ship’s day; moonlight at night. Or rather, a multi-dimensional recording of a kelp forest made with such detail that he could only spot the flaws when he looked carefully. The recording changed every so often, at the TARDIS’s whim. Before the kelp forest and the rockfish, it had been a bamboo forest. And before that, an alpine meadow. Always something green, something living. The TARDIS had messages to send him through some medium other than words.

Clara gave it the barest glance, and that frightened him more than the hour of crying had. She turned her back on it and settled herself on the edge of his bed. A huge bed, wide and flat in the Time Lord style, with pillows in the center. Pajamas for both of them were laid out on it.

“You’re going to eat something,” he told her, “then we’re both going to sleep.”

A little smile from her at that. “I thought you didn’t sleep.”

“I need it to recover as much as you do.”

“I’m not tired.”

“Stay with me while I rest, then?”

Clara shrugged. He wouldn’t push. Pushing would make it worse, if he knew his Clara.

“Let me get us something to eat.”

Clara shrugged again and picked up her pajamas. The Doctor got up and went over to a cupboard in the corner. He opened it to find what his ship had for them to eat. The TARDIS chose to send them bowls of miso in lovely red and black porcelain with matching spoons. Hot, salty, and laced with something that would put Clara to sleep and make even him drowsy. He raised his eyebrow when he detected it, but said nothing. Meddling, meddling, his ship was meddling with them both. She remembered, perhaps, the state he’d been in when he’d regenerated into the face with the ears, when he had believed that he’d destroyed his own people to stop the Time War. When the shock of being alone had first rocked him. And now his adopted species-- the world he’d taken it upon himself to protect-- was gone, because he’d failed. Yes, she would want to meddle.

He watched Clara drink enough soup that she’d be sleeping soon, and drank his bowl down. The TARDIS would know what she was about. She’d seen him after he’d gone through this, after all.

He took Clara’s bowl from her. Her eyes were heavy already. He helped her arrange the pillows to her liking and pulled a blanket over her. He could feel the desire to sleep on him as well, but he had more to do. He changed into pajamas, lowered the lights. Before he went back to the bed he laid a hand on the wall of his ship and sent his thanks to her.

Then he was curled around Clara once more, sheltering her, under the moonlight filtering through gently-waving kelp fronds. Deep silence in the room, save for the hum of his ship. Safe here, safe from everything, in his quiet place, where he did all his deepest thinking. Clara was with him now, wouldn’t again be leaving the TARDIS for her work week. No more Wednesdays, being dropped off on the dot. No more travels without her. She would be in this bed with him as often as she wanted. He hadn’t had a lover who’d lived with him like this since Rose. It had been a long time alone. He liked the company, he liked this, holding her. He’d never have held her without the solar flare. She’d have had a long and happy life with Danny Pink. He’d have lost her to Pink eventually, to motherhood, to her longing for a settled life. Guilt stung him, then was gone. He would have done whatever she needed, in that future that wasn’t to be.

He could only worry about this future that now was. Could he give her what she needed? Could he keep her interested in life without PE? Without her job?

He drifted off to sleep, to unsettled dreams of the solar flare licking out, burning everything, burning the TARDIS, burning their infant daughter while Clara screamed, burning Clara, stranding him alone again. He woke, found Clara in his arms. He let himself reach out and touch her with his mind briefly, to remind himself that she was alive, that she was already pregnant with his child, that their future would happen. He slid back down into an easier sleep.

The Doctor woke to find Clara awake already, sitting in bed with a cup of tea. Her pajama top was open just enough for him to see the curve of her breast. He looked, blinked, looked up to meet her eyes and see the hint of a smile in them. Swollen eyes, a puffy face, hair everywhere, no makeup, behind it the glow of a thousand other versions of Clara, from child to old woman to every echo that had ever haunted his own lifeline and saved him, hundreds of times over. The purest essence of Clara, always before him, always beautiful to him.

“Your eyes. They did that thing again just now.”

“What thing?”

“They looked like they were seeing a million years away.”

“Ah.” He made no further reply, but sat up. He scrubbed a hand over his face. He’d slept for hours, which for him was like sleeping for days. He was parched. “Any more of that tea?”


Clara swiveled her feet onto the floor. There was a tea cozy on the nightstand, he saw, and a second mug. Clara poured for him, dropped sugar cubes in, stirred. He tasted cautiously: yes, she’d put in enough sugar for him. Tea, fragrant tea, sweet and milky. The human race had been entirely sensible about tea.

Clara said, “I was going to be angry with you for drugging me, then I realized that you sleeping more than me meant the TARDIS drugged us both.”

“I knew she was doing it, so you can still be angry if you want.”

“No point. I feel better. Very slightly better. Just enough better to know that I’m going to live through this.”

He reached out and took her hand. She squeezed back. “I’m glad,” he said. “I’m here. Always.”

He felt better too, whether it was the sleep, the tea, or the drugs. He drank more tea. It was tea and nothing more than that. Love-making, sleep, tea, and a child to come. Should he tell her? Or let her find out naturally? He was a little afraid of what she would think.

Clara said, “Are we together now or was that a one-time deal?”

“I think, I believe-- I believe we’re together.” Their daughter would not be an only child, that he’d seen.

“You believe?” Clara shook her head. The ghost of a smile was there again, shining through the grief. “No, don’t explain. Tell me. What happened last night? When your eyes went all strange.”

He looked down at their joined hands. “I saw the future. The future that now is, for us, after the solar flare.”

“And what did you see?”

He sighed, untangled his fingers from hers, laid his hand over her belly. A flat belly. Muscular. A young woman at her peak now; so many shifting images in his sight when he looked. He could see her belly rounded, flat again, round again. “Our child.”

“That’s a thing? I thought maybe you were–”

“Telling you something just to make you feel better? No. It has always been possible, and after last night, it is inevitable. It will be. Is already happening.”

Clara folded her arms and looked down at his hand. He removed it and distracted himself by resettling himself on the bed facing her, sitting tailor-fashion with his hands on his knees.

“You’re saying I’m pregnant.” Her voice was flat.


“One time and–”


“Oh God, I thought I would never–I thought it was–” Tears in her voice. She turned her face away from him. He touched her arm, let her know he was there.

“We’ll be mother and father to our races,” he said, whispering, almost more to himself than to her. “Humans, Gallifreyans-- we’ll exist again. Our races will live. Somewhere, I’m not sure where. We’ll find a place.”

She sniffled and wiped her nose. “Can just two people do it? Repopulate your race and mine?”

He passed his hand over his face and bit at his thumb. “Yes and no. Our species will live on, sort of. As a hybrid. Human and Gallifreyan. Our cultures-- they’re lost.”

“We’ll have to build something new, then.”

“I’m not much of a builder,” he said. “I tinker. I meddle. I fix little things.”

“I think I can build. If I decide I want to.”

He smiled at her, delighted by the idea. Clara Oswald, the leader of their new race. The first. The progenitor.

It wouldn’t be that easy. There were tears on her face yet, and on his, and they had yet to mourn properly. But there it was, the future, before them, and one vision of Clara Oswald glowing before him. Burning bright, tiger-fierce, her hand in his.

Tyger Tyger: Burning Bright

Twelve/Clara mature

1952 words; reading time 7 min.

first posted here

on 2015/10/12

tags: p:twelve/clara, f:doctor-who, c:clara-oswald, c:twelfth-doctor, genre:angst, genre:hurt/comfort, pregnancy, grief, mourning, s:tyger