Can be read as a stand-alone
Pairings: Jack/Eleven, Jack/Clara, Jack/Eleven/Clara, plenty of Eleven & Clara feelings (or Eleven/Clara if you squint your eyes). All of that in the background though.
Summary: 101 places to see wasn't only a dream to pursue. It often felt like the book was the thread of her life, a gift from Clara's mom to encourage her to go further in life.
Author’s notes: Not a prompt fic for once. I haven't written anything for months now and it was time to do something about it. Since I wasn't really motivated at writing a new text, I took a draft that needed heavy editing and rewrote it. For once, the focus is Clara. Also, it's entirely full character study. And yes, Star Wars references!
It’s 2009, Clara has finished university and can finally take some time off to travel to the 101 places to see that made her mom dream, the legacy she left her on that day she disappeared from Clara’s life. Full of expectations, she stops at the Maitland’s nannying the children while the parents are away, on holidays. It’s okay actually, she’s got plenty of time ahead of her, she certainly won’t say no to the money and it lets her plan for her grand world tour. Plus, the Maitlands are family. They saw her grow the same way she saw Angie and Artie go from dirty diapers to sassy replies. They are amongst the best people she’s ever met, she can’t say no. Anyway, it’s not even a chore. On the contrary, it makes her happy.
The universe though, it has always seemed to have a grudge against her, taking pleasure in making her lose precious things. Small at first, like her best pen or her schoolbag, then people like her gran and her mom. Mrs. Maitland never came back from her holidays and Clara never made it to the booked flight to New York.
When 2010 hit the clock, she decided not to add 23 in 101 places to see, none of which she’s seen because time has frozen for her. Somehow, her dreams have been lost in her guilt at the thought of leaving the Maitlands. Day after day, she can see the time she allowed herself to travel go away. She never can master the courage to quit. After her mom's death, Mrs. Maitland took take care of her when her dad couldn’t. She’s every bit of a second mom and Clara feels responsible for this family, these kids. They still need her so she will take care of them as long as necessary. She tells herself it’s a bit of a training for when she will be a teacher. It doesn’t erase the bitterness of her dreams fading away. Still, it helps: after her mother death, she found that taking care of other people made the hole her mother’s passing left smaller.
When her birthday comes, she adds a resigned 24 in the 101 places she will never see. During the past year, Mr. Maitland has congratulated her a couple of times for her excellent job with the kids. Clara slowly realised that, somewhere along the way, she has given up on the life she wanted to have, the one her mother would’ve want her to pursue. She doesn’t know when her services won’t required anymore so she resigned herself. It’s okay though, Angie and Artie need her, she can’t fail them.
2013 is beginning when she meets him for the first time—or so, she will think until much later—with his insufferable impulsivity and short attention span. She finds herself taking care of another child. One with old eyes full of stars, who makes her look forward to the future again with his promises of anytime, anywhere and anywhen, without having to toss her responsibilities out.
She’s been travelling with the Doctor for a few months when she meets Jack. It’s not long after the little trip in the Russian submarine and instantly likes him. Of course, there’s the fact he just saved them and he’s a bit of an eye candy; she loves his cheeky smile and charming manners, much easier to deal with than the Doctor’s silly antics, though she’s getting the hang of it.
In multiple aspects, it’s easier to be with Jack than the Doctor. The most important being that Jack see her and appreciate her for herself. Because she caught it, how, when he thinks she isn’t paying attention—she always is—he looks, no, stares insistently at her. Sometimes, she can see that same awe that fill his eyes when they’ve just stumbled on a new planet. Others, it’s the look he’s got whenever his thoughts are dark (his jaws do that thing when he grits his teeth). The worse, though, is when he look through her, without really seeing her. As if she was a ghost. These moments always ends up with an impromptu hug, followed by him swinging her around then putting his forehead on hers, as if he doesn’t quite believe she’s still there and need to make sure.
“It’s a Gallifreyan kiss!” Jack tells her with a knowing smile and, flustered, she answers by playfully hitting his shoulder. Clara has seen the Doctor and Jack kiss plenty of times, and it has never involved forehead bumps.
“It’s more like a child giving a spontaneous bout of affections to his parents,” she adds after a time, making Jack burst out laughing just when the Doctor enters—more like bounces in—the console room, all happy-go-round and excited, just reinforcing the child-like image. Their laughter make him frown when he realises they are laughing at him without knowing why, the following pout only amusing them further.
All the time they spend on Space Vegas, the Doctor has a hard time not touching her. She almost died freezing to death on their last trip and she knows the Doctor is still worried. Still, she has noticed how possessive of her he can be, the tiniest frown when people flirt and how he never seems happy to have to let her go whenever they hug and hold hands. Which is a lot. No matters how much the Doctor denies it—Clara is clever and observant, she knows—he seeks physical contacts with her. In a way he does not with Jack even though he love him (she often wonders if it's as much as Jack loves him), as if he needs to reassure himself she’s still by his side. Clara doesn’t know what happened for him to be like that, but she hopes he’ll be able to get over his zealous and useless overbearing act; she’s tired of reminding him she’s not a glass doll or a child to be coveted.
That’s what makes her like Jack even more. He’s a very good friend, who is not obsessed with her like she knows the Doctor to be. And he succeeds in taking the Doctor’s attention away from her. Also, she can’t deny it, the sex is great.
She eventually leaves the Maitlands not long after Trenzalore. It’s her birthday, but she doesn’t add 27 to the page, for November is still very far in her original time period, when they’ve known each other for a little over three months. However, in reality, she’s been travelling with the Doctor for a whole year when they arrived on Tatuin, the 23rd of November during the 32nd century. Jack has been with them on and off for months. And she keeps impressing both of them with how neatly she’s keeping track of time when she’s only writing in a journal everything happening to her, never to forget. Also it makes her feel like she’s putting order to the chaos her life became since she met the Doctor. She’s not complaining though.
On Tatuin, the three of them take part in the BEC race, an annual podrace. The ‘finest’ one in the Milky Way, they say, making Clara snorts; she wouldn’t call 'fine' a sport that allows people to charge and blast their opponents as if they were in a real-life Mario Kart game. And Angie and Artie never were as vicious as the contestants are. In the end, although they pass the finish line first, they don’t win: the Doctor has tinkered a bit too much with their podracer’s engines, ending with them destroying big chunks of the circuit because of the modified turbo. When the judges disqualify them for cheating, though everyone acknowlegdes Jack’s exceptional piloting skills is the reason nobody got killed, and charge them for damaging ‘protected word heritage’, Clara can only retort they shouldn’t have organised podraces in it to begin with. It finishes pissing the jury off and sends them—laughing and running—to the TARDIS.
That night, they spend it together, the three of them huddled in a mass of limbs under the blankets. The Doctor hugging her to death as both are pretending to sleep while Jack is drapped all over them, snoring lightly. She refuses to say it aloud but it helps when they do that; although she keeps quiet about it—she doesn’t need the Doctor fussier than usual—she’s still recovering from Trenzalore. She’s slowly learning to deal with the flashing memories and vivid dreams of countless deaths and call-outs to Doctors that would never see her… Or remember her.
It’s what eventually made her move out of the Maitlands’ home. She was in dire need of some space and time for herself, a place of her own. Jack and the Doctor’s visits also helped. Sometimes individual, others both at once. It’s not unusual for her to see an older Jack and younger Doctor, or the contrary, younger Jack and older Doctor. She’s keeping track of them all and is proud to say she’s learnt to distinguish the different versions of both, not that she would ever tell them any of that. That’s a secret she’d rather keep to herself; she loves letting them think she’s oblivious to the anachronistic and incoherences they let slip—to Jack’s credit, the Doctor is so much worse than him—about events that already happened long ago, or are yet to happen. These oblivious and distracted blokes. All these visits, obviously, were unexpected and there were only so much excuses for explaining why there was someone looking for her at ungodly hours. Surprisingly enough, the usual wednesday’s visit was always her Doctor.
Lastly, a more practical matter, the time she's allowed herself before looking for a job has run to an end. She has gotten one at Coal Hill School—the Doctor’s reaction had been hilarious to that one—and it was time for her to let go and begin a new life. She still goes to the Maitlands’ house every other week, because Mr. Maitland insists in them keeping in touch over sunday lunch. An invitation extended to her ‘dear Doctor and Jack’ as he often put it. She doubts Angie will ever let her live that down.
“Didn’t you use to write your age in that book of yours?” the Doctor asks as she stumbles into the console room, a pile of papers she needs to correct in her arms. He’s sitting in his big chair, 101 places to see in one hand, pointing the round 24 she never crossed.
She has stopped counting a bit before she intended too: she should’ve keep marking until seeing the 101 places but stopped when she has given up on her dreams, before he knocked his way into her life. She doesn’t want to tell the Doctor that though.
“With all the time I’ve been travelling with you, I wouldn’t even know what to write in it.”
The last part is a lie, of course. She knows exactly how much older she is—answer is: years older—than the 27 years she has celebrated with her friends, yesterday in her original time period. Not the Doctor and Jack though, they never asked so she never told them. Not that’s surprising for people as old as them. She even suspects they forgot when theirs are.
“You can keep it if you want,” she adds with a smile as she sits down next to the alien. “I’ve seen them all already, and countless more. I don’t need it anymore.”