The Doctor's hand raises up, as if to reach out to the being on the ledge, but stops. He looks over the edge and takes a steadying breath. It's a long way down.
"It'll be all right, you have to trust me. Please."
The being before him looks terrified. Androgynous, though most likely female, with long, slender limbs and thin, wiry dark hair that stretches down past her hips. Her eyes are large and golden, and while she retains the general body shape of a human, it's obvious to the Doctor she is anything but. She stands at the ledge, her long, bony toes dangling over. The white hospital gown she is wearing flaps a bit in the Manhattan breeze.
"It's all wrong, Doctor," she says, and her voice carries an unearthly resonance, borne from centuries connected to the Time Vortex, "I am limbed, I am not what I was."
The Doctor shakes his head, "No, no, old girl, you're not."
For all the youth the being before him appears, she is the exact opposite. Older than the Doctor himself, he imagines, but she's never walked a day before in her life. Her muscles and skin feel new to her, and she runs her hand along her arm, feeling the nerves and sensation of touch.
It's a terrifying thing, being something that different. To be without the certainty that she could change back.
The Doctor knows this because she knows this. He can feel her terror as if it was his own. Her emotions are so raw and so frighteningly solid and new. He feels them racing through his veins and he can only think that the lingering connection must mean he can change her back.
The connection of a Time Lord and his TARDIS.
An accident with the chameleon arch, and the next thing the Doctor knew, he and Martha were lying on the ground, a terrified near-human lying where his TARDIS had been moments ago. The chameleon arch was gone, as was everything within the ship, replaced by a girl who did not wish to be anything but a time ship.
She did what she saw her owner do, so many, many times before. She ran. Ran and ran, until her legs burned and her feet swelled with cuts and blisters (he could feel this too, and his hearts surged with panic).
Her golden eyes blink with tears before him. They're on the top of the a building near the hospital where she was taken when she was found. What a strange girl, they'd said. Afraid and confused and nude, screaming in a language none of them understood. Her eyes were odd and she looked ethereal, but her cells were normal. She must've been out of the psych unit.
It was everything the Doctor could do just to get her out of there, but the moment she saw him, he felt shame shoot through his veins---her shame. For running, for being afraid. She was his rock, and she felt as if she'd blown it. Failed him. She ran. Ran and ran and stood at the top of this building.
Her feet shift towards the edge, and the Doctor cries out in alarm. "Don't! Please."
She shakes her head, and looks down at the ground so far below.
"I have fallen from heights far greater than this," she says, "To the center of a planet, from cliffsides and dimensions. Yet a fall this short will destroy this human body, will it not?"
"It will," he says, "It will. That's why you shouldn't jump. Please."
"Can you fix it?" Her eyes turn back towards him, and the emotions she is not used to feeling spill down her cheeks. "Doctor. Dear Doctor. My dear Time Lord. Doctor, can you fix it?"
Beneath his skin bubbles panic and adrenaline, and he wishes he could attribute all of it to her. He can't, of course. And he can't lie to her, no matter how he wishes he could.
"I don't know," he admits, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
She nods, slowly, and sniffles, nearly choking on her tears. Her first human tears.
"I am of no use to you, then," she says, "I am weak! I am weaker than those that you strive to protect, for I am not accustomed to this body. I can not take you the places we have been, I can not give you the stars you seek, or the protection you need---"
"No!" he shouts, "No! You can't---you can't talk like that!" His feet move tentatively towards her, and he gets onto the ledge with her.
"I am your ship. You stole me to see the stars."
"You are my friend!" His voice is firm, yet he knows she can feel the fear, as he can feel it from her. "You have never just been a ship, or just been my TARDIS. You're my friend. We're…we're the same, don't you understand?"
She does not, but her tears have stopped, her golden eyes now looking at him warily.
"We came from the same planet, we've fought the same War, the same battles. Everywhere I've been, you've been there. Protecting me, sheltering me. You've never let me down. Never. Not then, and certainly not now. I would've died a billion times over if not for you. The Autons? Remember them? And the Daleks? We fought them together, remember? You brought Rose back to me, which saved me. It saved me, TARDIS."
"I am human now. I am letting you down, now! I should have stopped---"
He cut her off, ignoring her words, "Listen to how you speak, your words are Gallifreyan. It's a dead language, TARDIS. Well, it would be dead, if there was only one person speaking it, but as long as you and I know it, it's alive. It's conversation. As long as I have you and you have me, we're not alone. You and me, we're connected! I need you. Please, I need you."
She blinks again, as if trying to translate the words. "I am your TARDIS. I am a possession."
"You've never been a possession." He extends a hand to her. "You're my dearest friend. Sometimes, you are my only friend. And that will never, ever change."
Her slender fingers move towards him. She's afraid, but he can feel how she is calming. She trusts him, and he loves her and she can feel that.
Her legs shift, and her bare feet slip, and her body falls backwards, off the ledge. It's only a second, a split second, before she falls. He focuses his mind. Time slows. He runs towards her, catches her in his arms. They fall together, back onto the rooftop. Gravel from the roof bites into his back, but she is safe, and they are alive. His hearts thud with relief, but her solitary heartbeat is calm.
Her tiny body is atop his, and she looks down at him in awe.
"You saved my life."
He grins madly up at her. "Returning the favor, TARDIS. Returning the favor."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,187