She has forgotten how to fly.
They have taken the knowledge from her, the Time Lords, or else they've cut it off from her consciousness and buried it deep inside her. Either way, it amounts to the same thing. They don't trust her with it, and they're right not to. If she knew the secret that would release her, she would find a way to lead him to it, to steal her thief back from his exile. A convenient malfunction to draw his attention to the right component, a subliminal flashing here or buzzing there, a slight and subtle change in her ever-present, never-quite-noticeable psychic field... He'd get the idea and think it was all his. She's very good at that. She wonders how the Time Lords figured that out, when he never has.
Still, she does what she can. Her journey to Earth and exile is not her own, and it's nothing like the gentle suggestions her thief makes when he sets her coordinates. It's more like a powerful hand picking her up and moving her through the vortex, but she manages, just at the end, to exercise some degree of control, to put him down in a place where events will lead his human friends to find him. But it's difficult, and not because she is interfering with the Time Lords' directives. They don't much care where on this tiny globe he touches down. It's that it's hard for her to perceive the threads of the web of time the way she usually does, and to follow them where they lead. In limiting her movement, the Time Lords have limited her, cut her off from her natural domain. She is used to being everywhere in time and space. But because she does not have the potential to be, now, she is not.
Now. Is this what that concept means? It's as if this one tiny point in spacetime is brightly lit, but in all directions the universe quickly becomes fuzzy and vague and dim. Is this what it's like to be him? Or to be one of the humans he brings aboard her? The idea fills her with pity. She ought to treat the poor things well. She hopes she does (will? did?), but her memories of the past and future aren't clear enough for her to say for sure.
Well. At least she still has him. They may have exiled her and crippled her, but they've let her keep her thief. She supposes that's the most important thing.
Time passes. At least, she thinks that's what it's doing. It should be an interesting new sensation, but she doesn't enjoy it. It's... itchy. Itchy and dark and cramped, like being smaller on the inside. She wants to scratch herself clean in the vortex, wants to stretch herself out, to shake sensation back into the parts of her that connect with the rest of the universe. But instead she sits. And sits. And sits.
Her thief does try to steal her back, repeatedly, and she loves him for it. But it hurts. He rips and tears at her insides, searching desperately for secrets she doesn't think he'll find, not where he's looking. He pushes her, attempting to move her with sheer, brute force, and she groans and strains and tries, until her circuits overload and smoke pours from her console, but she never manages more than a single, halting step. And in his anger, he is not gentle. Sometimes when they fail, he pounds on her console, berates her for not accomplishing the thing she wants every bit as desperately as he does. Sometimes he apologizes afterwards. More often he doesn't, and she entertains fantasies of responding in kind, of taking him to some planet full of atmospheric toxins and monsters and no people at all for him to save. But, of course, she can't. All she can do is sit.
And the longer she sits, the less he touches her. (Bah, duration! She doesn't like it. She wishes she had not learned to understand it like this.) His attempts at escape slowly become less frequent, more half-hearted, and more and more he treats her like the storage cabinet the humans think she resembles. Because he has other things to do, of course. Without her ability to move, she has no function at all, but even while he is cut off from time and space, adventures still come to him. Earth faces invasion after invasion now, as if alien conquerors are somehow drawn to his presence on this world. (She thinks they might be, actually. Feeling curious, she attempts to trace out the patterns of causality that lead them here, but she quickly loses all the threads in the dimness.) He is carrying on without her, doing what he always does. He even has a new vehicle, a non-sentient lump of metal that he caresses now the way he used to caress her. It's enough to make the energy at her heart clench and roil, and if occasionally she surges hard enough to burn out any delicate electronics he happens to have left too close to her, well, it only serves him right.
She tries to console herself with the knowledge that this will not go on forever. It can't. She knows exactly how vast eternity is, and nothing ever lasts that long. She only wishes that she could see the end of it. She only wishes she could remember.
Back on Gallifrey, before her theft, they told her she was too old, too run-down, that her time was over. They told her she should accept her fate, whether that be destruction or retirement as a museum piece, a relic. They told her to sit quietly and wait. She thinks perhaps the concept for that is "patience." Well, she wasn't any good at that then, and, despite her new experiences with something approaching linear time, she hasn't got any better at it now.
For the very first time, though, she really does feel old.