She has always been his constant companion.
Eleventh Doctor/TARDIS, Spoilers for The Eleventh Hour

A/N: What gripped me the most about The Eleventh Hour was the Doctor's attitude towards the Tardis. While other Doctors have said she's grown, she's symbiotic, she's alive, that connection has always felt a little flat. Not here, not this Doctor. He called her DEAR for Rassilon's sake. 8D

The key burns in his hand, warm like tea on a cold morning: the first touch just barely scalding, then soothing, flowing into his body, this new Self, like a balm, easing away the last aches and pains of regeneration. He has his coat, he has his tie and braces. He is the Doctor, he knows this now. But that key, aglow with the raw power of time, it calls to him now.

Calls him Home.

Slip past Amy-not-Amelia, past nurse-boy Rory still gawking in amazement at the sky. Through the door, down the stairs, out of the hospital. He starts at a trot, turns into a run, long legs stretching new muscles, eating ground at an impressive pace. The run becomes a race against his own shadow, and he laughs lightly. He's never been this young. He's so old, and yet this new body is Young, full of possibilities.

Down the path, down the road, follow the call. The ridges of the Key press into his palm, the skin there unmarred as yet by the signs of work to be done. Into the garden, dodging obstacles. 12 years ago linearly, less than 24 hours chronologically, he crashed here, burnt in the fires of rebirth, destroyed a shed belonging to a little girl. Grown up now, but still a little girl inside.

Into the backyard, beneath the trellis arch, and he slows to a halt, breathless. Excitement and anticipation make his new limbs tremble as he gazes at Her. The damage of war and destruction and his own rebirth are wiped clean. She has never looked as beautiful.

"Okay," he breathes, vibrating with the need to move, to touch her, ensure she isn't a vision of regeneration madness. "What have you got for me this time?"

The key is still warm in his fingers as it slides into the lock, turns, and as he pushes open the door at last, She hums in his mind, a warble of Welcome Back, Welcome Home. He stares in awe at what she's become with a wonderment he hasn't felt in...such a long time.

"Look at you..." he says quietly, as if speaking aloud would shatter the illusion. And then he smiles, slowly, pride and love for this, his wonderful, beautiful ship beaming out in such radiance. "Oh, you sexy thing, look at you!"

She thrums at him in a sense of shy gratitude, drawing him in. Grinning, he steps inside, letting the door shut behind him. He's never felt her more alive.

"Thanks dear," he whispers later, as he pockets his new Sonic Screwdriver, and grins affectionately as he runs his fingers along her panels. In his head, she wraps herself around his hearts and sings.

The Doctor in the TARDIS. Next stop, everywhere.

Notes: Liberty taken with the Tardis key - he fishes it out of his pocket onscreen to unlock the door. Also, kesomon are supposed an empathic species, but I'm rubbish at describing feeling things. Finally, dear GOD it's been a long spacking time since I've posted anything. For that, fans, I am deeply sorry.