Come along

by Kass

The teaser for next week's episode showed Danny along for the ride. I wondered how they got from the end of this ep to the start of the next. Here's my theory. Thanks to Sanj for reading!

"...and then I came home," Clara finished. Danny hadn't spoken a word during the entire saga of shrinking TARDIS and two-dimensional aliens; just looked at his folded hands, or at his feet, or anywhere except at Clara herself.

Clara's storytelling had become increasingly animated, as though she could draw forth a response by sheer force of will, but so far he hadn't said anything.

Until he looked up and said, "I can't compete with that." There was resignation in his face and in the slope of his shoulders, and she hated that she was the one who had put it there.

"It's not a competition," Clara tried.

"Feels like one to me."

There wasn't much she could say to that, was there?

"He takes you all over the universe. He shows you wonders, you said. And I've got --" he gestured around them. "A high school teaching job and a nice enough flat. It's not enough, is it."

"It is," she insisted.

"It's not," he countered, "or you wouldn't still be traveling with him."

"It's not like that," she said, desperately. "It's not." She tried another tack. "Comparing you and the Doctor, it's like --"

"Comparing a man and a god," Danny said, and this time there was a hint of bitterness in his tone.

"No! God, no, and don't ever let him hear you say that, he's got a big enough ego as it is."

"I doubt he's going to hear me saying much of anything," Danny said. "We're not exactly pals."

"It's like comparing one best friend and another," she said, and she fancied she could feel the moment when her words reached him. She pressed on. "It's not a zero-sum game, Danny, I promise."

"How do I know I can believe you?" His words were quiet but they still made her flinch.

"I'm sorry, I should have told you the truth from the get-go, that's my mistake." Might as well own up to it. "I didn't want to make you worry. Look, I love traveling with the Doctor. But you're the one I want to come home to."

"I want to believe that," Danny said. The unspoken rest of the sentence hung in the air.

"He's mad at me too," Clara said, sighing as she flopped down on the couch. She was careful to keep distance between herself and Danny; she didn't want to feel him pulling away. "If that helps any."

"Why is that?"

"I told him you were okay with me still -- you know." She flapped a hand. "Traveling."

"So he didn't know he was taking you away from me." For some reason that seemed to make Danny feel better.

"He's not taking me away from you," Clara argued.

"He kind of is."

"He brings me back before I even left!"

"Sometimes," Danny said tartly. "And sometimes not. And the point still stands -- you're off having adventures with him while I'm marking papers."

Clara let her head fall backward, resting on the back of the couch, looking up at the ceiling. "I know. And you'd think with a time machine, I'd manage to get all of my own marking done, and yet I'm weeks behind."

"I've no sympathy at all," Danny told her, though his voice had lost its rancour.

She turned her head to look at him. There was a hint of a smile on his face. "None?"

"It's not my fault you're leading a ridiculous double life."

"You could try it too," Clara said, impulsively.

Danny looked startled. "What?"

Okay, she probably should have run this by the Doctor before offering it, but there was nothing she could do about that now. "Come with us. On the TARDIS. You'll see what it's like."

"And he's approved this invitation," Danny said dubiously.

She was about to say yes, as brightly as she knew how -- it was what he wanted to hear; people ran faster when they had hope, didn't they? -- but she stopped herself. Telling people what they wanted to hear was what had gotten her into this mess in the first place. "Not exactly," she admitted, and hastily added, "but he will."

"You're sure of that?"

"Come on, you did save the world that time."

"And you really want me along." It was a statement, but Clara could hear the question behind the words.

"I really do," she promised. She could see him considering it. "Next time he shows up, I'll tell him you're coming too."

"He doesn't care for soldiers," Danny reminded her.

"That's because he was one," she said. There was a pause. "He kind of still is," she mused.

"I don't see a chain of command anywhere," Danny said dubiously.

"Yeah, but he has to make terrible decisions every day. To save people."

"There's more to being a soldier than that," Danny objected.

"I know, but --" Clara couldn't help remembering how it had felt to be the one making those decisions. There were deaths on her conscience. She couldn't accept that lightly. But she couldn't deny that figuring it out -- saving the day -- had felt amazing. Had felt like the kind of thing she wasn't sure she could give up.

She shook that off. "Honestly, his feelings about soldiers are his problem, not ours."

"Ours," Danny repeated, and a small smile broke through his wariness.

"Ours," Clara confirmed, and reached over and took his hand. He didn't pull away.

The Doctor leaned back in his library chair and took a meditative sip of scotch. On the screen in front of him were Danny and Clara's clasped hands -- obviously the focus of her attention. Wasn't that sweet.

Of course he'd turned off his microphone; she couldn't hear him. But she hadn't taken the earpiece out. Possibly she'd forgotten it. Or maybe she wanted him to listen in. Either way, he'd taken advantage of its presence, and now he had new information to mull.

When her gaze moved to Danny's mouth and lingered there, he switched the screen off. There were some things he didn't need to see.

"'Comparing a man and a god,'" the Doctor repeated aloud, swirling the words on his tongue as had savored the sip of whisky. "Not a bad assessment." He might have to mention that when Danny came aboard. Thank him for being man enough to admit the Doctor's obvious superiority. He could just picture the expression of apoplexy! But that wouldn't make Clara happy with him, would it. He sighed.

So Clara wanted to bring her boyfriend on the TARDIS. The Doctor felt a sudden pang of missing Amy and Rory. He hadn't felt that in a while, but he was aching with it now. It had been so good, with them. So easy. He and Amy'd had a comfortable dynamic before Rory joined them; she and Rory'd had a comfortable dynamic into which he'd fit neatly -- or maybe they'd made a effort at letting him in, but the effort had been invisible. The dovetailing had felt easy and sweet. This one was unyielding and prickly.

Or perhaps it was that he himself was unyielding and prickly this time around. He did have to acknowledge that as a possibility. Either way, he wasn't certain he was looking forward to this. Though it might be interesting to see how Clara would respond to having them both there. Like a magnet drawn toward two poles at once. She behaved differently with Danny than she did with him, that much was obvious. Which Clara would she be, with both of them on board?

"Fine," he said aloud. "You want to bring your pudding-brain along, by all means. Let's see how he does. It's not easy doing what I do, you know."

She did know. She'd done a better job of being him than he would have imagined. Did the lying, the risk calculations, the unthinkable decisions come naturally to her -- or was that a side effect of having wandered through all of his lives? He pushed that thought aside. Of course he'd had an impact on her; how could it be otherwise? And if her boyfriend didn't like it, he could lump it, because Clara obviously wasn't ready to stop saving the world.

The Doctor took another sip of whisky, savoring its peaty bite, and set about deciding where-and-when they might go.

The End