“Why do you English call it under the weather anyway? You’re always under the weather. Surrounded by the weather. Embedded in the middle of the weather.”
You English. Clara managed a wan smile at the Gallifreyan man rampaging around her flat, allegedly making tea. Something clanked in the kitchen and he clucked. Clara considered getting up to prevent him from doing whatever it was he was doing, but it would take too much energy. Her throat felt as if it were coated with that nano-spike barbed wire she’d shredded her favorite raincoat on last week on that obsidian planet. And her entire body ached.
Another clank from her kitchen, then the Doctor’s voice floating out to her: “Your kettle’s broken.”
“What? it wasn’t this morning.” That would have sounded much more imposing if her throat were working properly. Clara tried to clear it, then winced.
He flung himself into her living room, all elbows and jacket tails, kettle in hand. He held it up to her. Something had melted the bottom of the kettle, the part where it rested on the base. Nothing in her kitchen had done that.
“See? Totally broken.” He said this triumphantly, as if it were proof of his cleverness somehow.
Clara felt outrage, dimly, behind the haze of flu. “You broke it. You did it. Just now.”
“Nonsense. Probably been non-functional for weeks, but you just never noticed because you take your tea with me now.”
“TARDIS. Now. Come on. Tea on the TARDIS.” He beckoned her again, and when she groaned instead of moving, he dropped the kettle where he stood and scooped her up.
Clara squeaked-- or rather, croaked-- but he had firm hold of her and his arms around her felt far stronger than his spindly build implied. The TARDIS door swung open for them, and he carried her inside and around. He set her down on his armchair, whisked a footstool under her feet, tucked a tartan wool blanket over her, and handed her a box of the softest tissues Clara had ever held to her nose.
This… wasn’t as bad as she’d feared. The blanket was rather warm.
The time rotors spun, and she felt that shift in her inner ear, or inner something, that told her they were uncoupled from the normal flow of time. In the Vortex, in motion relative to some fixed point in the Doctor’s head. He came around the console and up to the spot on the catwalk that was normally his, the spot where she now lay under a blanket. He loomed over her and raised his eyebrows at her. His hair made him look inches taller than he normally did, she thought, all that gray curling mass standing up. Like a fluffy cloud.
Did she have a fever? Oh crud.
“Tea?” she said, feeling ridiculous, because he’d just given her everything but.
“Half a mo’.” He scurried off into one of the corridors disappearing into the TARDIS depths. Clara prepared herself to wait either six minutes, six hours, or six days. She never knew with him. At least she had books here, at her elbow, books worth reading, and she felt warm at last. Not that she felt energetic enough to read. She’d been looking forward to watching whatever comforting idiotic costume drama the Beeb had on in the early evenings.
Clara let herself drift.
It was probably closer to sixteen minutes than six minutes later when the Doctor reappeared, boots thudding on the catwalk, in full cry about something outrageous he felt she ought to remedy immediately. He had a tray in his hand, with cozy-covered teapot, two cups, an enormous sugar bowl, a plate of sliced lemon, and a glass jar with a hand-written label that said “hunny” in smudged green marker. Clara eyed the jar suspiciously.
“How do you want it? Never mind. I’ll give it to you the way you ought to be drinking it. Did you know, you’re meant to drink it from the saucer? To cool it. Horribly gauche to drink straight from the cup.”
He handed her a cup, not on its saucer.
“Lemon?” Clara said.
“And honey. From the bees on 47 Ursae Majoris III. Genetically engineered to provide anti-viral drugs to twenty-three species. I think that includes humans. Probably it does. Probably it won’t kill you if it doesn’t cure you. Come on. Drink up, then.”
Clara sipped cautiously while the Doctor hovered. It might have been genetically engineered honey, but it tasted like honey. Good honey. Clover honey. Her throat melted into happy numbness as it flowed past. And the tea part wasn’t bad either. This Doctor liked his drink of all kind to be just so: his single malt, his coffee, his tea. His bromides.
“Good?” he said, and Clara thought she could hear a little anxiety in his voice.
“Good,” she said, and it came out considerably closer to her normal voice.
The Doctor produced the screwdriver from his pocket and cocked it at her. It warbled and he frowned. “Still sick,” he said, accusingly. “I’m going to have to fetch you some orange juice.”
“No, really, it’s okay–”
But he was already dancing around the console, making music with the TARDIS controls. Clara felt the vortex shift, stream around them. They had a destination now.
“The best oranges come from the planet of New Florida Three, which, funny story, is in a terrible war with New Florida Two about which one of them owns the name.”
“Hot at the moment we’re about to land in. Might get shot at.” He grinned as if this were the most delightful thing that could happen to a person with the flu.
Clara sighed. Somewhere along the way she’d lost control of this conversation. Assuming she’d ever had control of it. But come to think of it: to hell with it. Relax. Drink the tea. There was enough for a second cup in the pot, and the honey was good.
“Wake me up when you’re back,” she said, and pulled the blanket up to her chin. She never had managed to find the time to read The Time-Traveler’s Wife. Might as well do it while warring orange lords were shooting at the madman with the hair.