They meet at a pond, naturally.

Neither of them are really supposed to be there, and yet as soon as he sees her he gets that feeling, the one that runs right from his hearts to the tips of his fingers, buzzes around his brain and tells him this is the one.

She's submerged in the water, painfully familiar red hair tumbling down around her face and pooling around her shoulders in a ring of titian, and as she stares at him he notes that her eyes are TARDIS blue and insatiably inquisitive. Her face is youthful, with full cheeks and a pointed chin, and her pink lips are parted in surprise.

For a long moment – one-hundred and sixty-two seconds, to be precise – the two of them are silent, stunned speechless by the sight before them.

He's the first to speak, tired of mournful silence. He coughs and gestures vaguely to the edge of the pond, saying, "Do you, uh – do you need help?"

When she eventually finds her voice her words are soft and lyrical, at an accented pitch that makes his hearts beat just that little bit faster. "You answered my call," she says, slowly breaking out into a smile.

He blinks at her, confused, because he didn't answer anyone's call – he was minding his own business, floating through the vortex and avoiding his own thoughts, when the TARDIS took it upon herself to fly them here.

Oh. A cry for help, from a ginger haired girl stuck in a pond; of course the TARDIS wouldn't let him ignore that.

"I suppose I have," he tells her, and it's not really a lie, because now that he's here he can't just leave her.

And so he finds himself stumbling back to the TARDIS with a mermaid in his arms, a job that wouldn't be nearly as difficult if she would stop plucking at his braces and pulling at his bowtie, introducing herself as Ariel and exclaiming in his ear about how she's never seen any human in clothes like his before and how her father told her that all men were bad, but she knew that he was wrong, she just knew it.

Nine-hundred years of travelling has made him prepared for almost anything, but he'd never imagined a mermaid would be so fascinated with everything outside the ocean, and as she talks he finds himself replying without thinking. He informs her that he is not, in fact, a human, but a Time Lord, and she exhales reverently before asking what that is. He tells her then, all about travelling through Time and Space and the wonders of the universe, and he watches her eyes grow wider and wider with each word that topples past his lips.

When they near the blue police call box he shifts her weight in his arms to lift one hand and click his fingers, and she mimics the sound by clicking her tongue before gasping as the door swings open. The TARDIS amazes her and as he carries her across the threshold and up the stairs she squirms in his arms, craning her neck to try and see right around the console room.

He drops her into the swimming pool in the library, more convenient than the bathtub, and she swims in a circle before blinking up at him innocently and asking the question he's been waiting for since the first moment she tugged on his bowtie.

"Can I come with you?"

He can't look at her in that moment, staring up at him with hopeful blue eyes and flaming red hair, putting her life in his hands. He looks down, shuffles his feet and scratches his cheek nervously. He mumbles something about legs being a necessity and runs from the room before he can see her cry.

He takes her back to the ocean, trying to ignore the nagging curiosity at the back of his mind asking how she ended up in that pond in the first place, and she's silent the entire time he carries her down to the shoreline. Her energy has subsided, and when he places her carefully in the shallows he can't help but notice just how sad she looks.

He apologises at the exact same moment that she thanks him, and to break the awkward pause that follows she laughs quietly and says, "If you ever figure out a way to give a mermaid legs, come find me." She tries to make it sound like she's joking, but they both know she's not.

He won't allow himself to do this again though, won't let anyone else come with him, because he's too dangerous and they all end up hurt, trapped where he can't save them.

So he waves goodbye and disappears back into the TARDIS, leaving her behind. She stares at the empty space on the beach where the blue box had been and a single tear escapes from the corner of her eye as she thinks about all the worlds she could have seen, if only he'd taken her with him.

She waits for him to return, hovering around the beach for three days and listening out for the sound of his ship, but by evening on the third day she thinks perhaps it's time to give up. She's about to dive under the waves to deeper water when suddenly the box reappears, hovering above the water right in front of her. He throws the door open and leans out, giving her a lopsided grin that she instinctively returns.

He starts to speak, a long string of words that she doesn't really understand, describing a machine he has on the TARDIS that just needs to be re-routed, something about regeneration energy and similarities between homo sapiens and homo sirenia, and she listens intently. He trails off after a moment, and stares down at her expectantly.

When she remains silent he says, "So, different worlds. Wanna see some?"

He watches her expression change in an instant, excitement and disbelief making her eyes glow and a wide smile lighting up her whole face. He's offered her all of Time and Space, and of course she accepts without hesitation. He lets out a whoop of excitement at that, because he certainly wasn't going to leave her waiting any longer.

this chapter was re-written on the 22.01.2013.
such a random au but we all knew it was going to happen sooner or later. yes, folks, here is an 'ariel, aka. the little mermaid, as a companion' story. i put it here because i'm a review whore and i know that this is the section in which it will get the most recognition. once it's done i'll probably move it.
this will be updated every four days - i know this for a fact because it's already completed and typed up and done.
the eleventh doctor has just lost the ponds. there will be a stack of references to our dear ponds, because drawing comparisons between ariel and amy is one of my favourite things to do.
ariel's story is obviously au, but it also ties in with the canon. you'll see.
cover art by khallion on deviantart; check out her profile for more amazing stuff.
please review and let me know what you think!