"Please... I don't want you to. Please." — "I love you."
She is returned to normal, the universe is the same as it has ever been, and the Doctor is lonely. There is prescience in the words of Idris, despair in his hearts for the false hope that had risen within, and a need to let his Companions have space to heal from the trauma of House's games. In all of it, the Doctor forces his mind to not wander to the false promise of stronger connections with the one being to hold him closest through all his lives.
The air stirs, and it smells of all time, of mystery, of strength as it caresses his skin.
He may feel lonely, but she is never far, so how can he be alone? She is there, and he smiles, as memory comes, teased forth by her breath swirling through his hair.
He has a bed. It's not too close to the console room. That would be ridiculous. But it's near enough. Perfectly equidistant to two of them, in fact, on the off chance something should happen. The mere thought makes his hearts lose syncopation for a moment.
In response, the currents within the room seem to stir and ghost along his skin, a small reminder that the home he has made is aware of him. She's never let him down, and she always takes him to the most interesting places. He's got the family he needs: one young girl, and his beloved TARDIS.
He always knew he was running away. She took him as far as she could, letting him see the wonders that he had only read of in such stilted precision as a young man. Now, she's as violated as he is, caught in their web. He defies his fate, rages at what is done to his dear friends, but he finds the strength to hope they will treat her with respect. She might not be the freshest model, but she's better than ten of their non-personable ships.
The sentence is carried out, and the ghostly connection holds tight to him, even through the changing that promises to rip apart all he has become.
He curses and rails and rants, staring at her insides, pulling at them, demanding that they work. She cries, for his anger at what's been done hurts her, even as he adds to the abuse with his ever-constant attempts to 'repair' her. Despite himself, he is healing from his indignation here, soothed by the friends he finds, and baited into rising above his existential angst by one that is too familiar to her. That is the one she did not tempt inside, and watching the drama upon Earth play out, she is certain she chose correctly. He will care for her thief.
The worst and best thing is going home, because they have done so much, and now they are needed. She had held him close in his bed, air touching and soothing after he chose his path with their greatest enemies, but he doesn't know all of that and she suspects the ones who asked him to meddle did. That will be dealt with in Time, but for now, they go back to the planet they were conceived on.
By the time they leave, he knows it is not home. He knew all along, on some levels, and he fondly caresses a panel as she whisks him off to the next adventure.
Sometimes, he feels like this change took him back to the very beginning. He had begun so weak, needing her to stabilize him, and she was still so injured herself. And then, as he grew stronger, so did she, wrapped in the small family they had made.
She is the one who sees his tears, hears his rage, after they lose their 'son', for such is how they viewed the boy-genius. From that point, she watches him rewalk more of the path of the one she stole first.
Eventually, he remembers; family is eternal, even if members of it leave forever.
He's brash and confident, knowing just what he intends to do as he goes about his day… and she sees the spark of the past hurts resolutely buried under all of that. He doesn't pet her console as much as others have, but he leans on her door, or perches so defiantly on whatever bit suits him, and she watched his hearts wrap around his Companions a little more securely.
He is strong, and she looks forward to their new places to be.
None have grown so old in their lives since the first, yet he is. He is tired, worn down by one of those lives fraught with adventure, past secrets, companionship, and enmity.
He holds the remains of one who was a classmate once, turned bitter enemy, and she whispers songs of comfort through the halls. Soon, they will see the end of this, and life will continue. Perhaps the coming storm will abate, perhaps it will not. For now, she will cozen her stolen thief as the end threatens to come peacefully.
He's the eye of the storm, and she provides what shelter she can. Past, now, future, all tear at her, trying to reach him, but she will not give up. He won't, can't, no matter the path he has set them both upon.
Too much weight on his shoulders, and she knows he may break this time. How can he not, as the worlds, the universes, all hinge on this single point?
His hand splays on the side of the control console, from where he's fallen, as if to reach for her strength.
She gives it, as can never withhold herself from him.
He makes his choice, following it swiftly with action.
Neither one is all that steady in the aftermath of the War. There is one place, one that has been haven before. She thinks to take them to old friends, to safe healing for her thief, yet sometimes she cannot help but find more adventure even when they are not ready for it.
It's not so different from other trips, with a few explosions and her being held hostage. Just maybe, it's for the best, as he tempts a new one into their home, and she can heal while the new one takes care of him for a time.
He slumps down along the wall, safe in his room, and the tears come. She knows the pain is too strong, despite the fact it had been that one to survive. He is not alone, and then he is, and all she can do is ache for him.
She waits, air breezing through his hair and along his cheeks, trying to dry the tears.
Eventually he lays across the cool floor, his cheek above where she pools her presence to be close to him.
It is a family again. She is strong and so is he and the universe sits slightly differently. There will be time to explore that soon, but for now, she watches him croon to himself over her circuits. There is a mystery around one of their family, but she approves of the mystery. It intrigues her thief, even as their other family puzzle at it too.
Love grows, adventure binds, and they all grow stronger, saner, healthier. She whispers softly across them all with her breath, and watches always.
Far away and long ago, or maybe it was just yesterday, a madman slipped into a box, and the box stole away with him. Adventures awaited, and so many loves to be met, for the box was restless and the madman had a soul made for more than his people.
"It's not the shell, and it is," the Doctor murmurs softly, hands both spread lovingly against the console panel down where he works, tinkering as ever on coaxing her physical form to smoother working. The press of thought close to her madman is a soft answer, the telepathic connection strong like it always has been. Now, however, he has more of a face for it, and it suits for she is as mad as he and perfect.
Sexy certainly suits her in both shells.
He smiles, because she is happy with that assessment. "You save me now, then, always," he murmurs to her, and he knows that it works for them both, no matter who saves whom. They are forever, no matter how long or short it may be, while they learn the new universe they live in. It may not have others like him, or others like her, but… he knows now that it never really did.
That, more than anything, is why they stole each other away.
"What say I go find my bedroom again?" he asks, closing her panels with a loving pat after.
She likes the idea, and already has one ready for him, where she can watch over him.