The Doctor was jogging through the rain to his TARDIS when he noticed a young girl in a wheelchair rubbing her arms under a dripping awning nearby.
"Hello." He walked over to the girl. "What're you doing around here on your own?"
"Hello. I got lost on a school trip and I've been waiting to ask what's a police public call box?" She pointed.
"It's a police box, you go inside and ring the police and they come help. But you shouldn't be able to focus on it, it's got a perception filter." He frowned and crouched down to her level. "You got lost on a school trip?"
"Are you going to ring the police? Do you need help?"
"Uh, I don't think so, I was just looking for a dry spot. Now what's this about a school trip?"
"We were exploring the museum." She pointed. "I guess everyone finished before me because now I can't find any of them and the bus isn't here and my mom's gonna be so worried-" She took a deep breath and pressed her hands to her eyes.
"Do you want a hug?" He asked. She nodded and held her arms out, he gently leaned forward, holding her to him. She had a shaky smile when he let go. "What's your name?"
"Are you cold, Sasha?" She nodded and he swiftly pulled off his pinstripe jacket, wrapping it around her shoulders.
"Thanks." She smiled.
"Would you like to know a secret, Sasha?"
"Okay." She was slightly suspicious.
"That isn't a police box. It's my home. Would you like to see?" He grinned goofily. Kids loved the goofy grin.
"I guess..." She frowned at the blue box.
"Since it's raining buckets, would it be ok if I push you? Just so we get there faster."
"Okay. I just have to release the brakes." She reached down and did something with the large wheels on the wheelchair, then tightened a seatbelt across her lap he hadn't noticed. He'd have to ask if he could look at her chair later. "Okay, you can push me."
She was holding his jacket closed with both hands. He stood and stepped behind her wheelchair, easily and smoothly moving up to a light run towards his TARDIS, his trainers splashing through puddles, the wheels of Sasha's chair making little waves, laughing in the rain. When they were close, he let go of the wheelchair with one hand for a second to snap his fingers, the doors flying open for them. He slowed to a walk just outside the TARDIS, wary of the stairs directly inside, but his old girl had kindly changed her stairs to a gentle ramp.
Sasha was still laughing hard, the rain in her hair, his coat dwarfing her, simple childish joy lighting up her face; he wished he had a holo-cam, or even a late 20th century film camera. He could feel her smile beginning to make its way into his hearts. He grabbed a towel off the console where the TARDIS had moved some and rubbed his head, not wanting to drip into her console as he steered to wherever Sasha's school was.
"Sasha." He tossed her the second towel.
"Thanks. Woah." She looked around for the first time, in awe, then confusion. "But how did-" She set the towel on the floor beside her and spun her chair in a neat 180, heading back outside. Oh, how he loved this part. She frowned at the TARDIS exterior, slack-jawed. She wheeled back inside. "But-" She repeated, then returned outside and inside a few more times. "How did you DO that?" She asked.
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid you won't understand. Even adults have loads of trouble understanding."
"Try me." She crossed her arms.
"It's a different universe." He smiled, hopeful she might get it, she had managed to notice the TARDIS despite the perception filter; but how long had it been since someone understood?
"Like a parallel world, where only some stuff is different?" She frowned.
"Kind of. Except this world is just my home."
"You have a door to your home world?"
"No, this is my home. It's not a parallel world, I was just using your example. And it's not a door to it, all of this-" He threw his arms out, gesturing to the entire TARDIS "fits inside that police box."
"But how?"
"Sorry, Sasha, explaining that part would take more time than we've got. Now, I'm going to go change real quick, you try to dry off, I'll bring you a blanket, don't touch the center- er, pole-thing." He didn't quite know how to describe the console to someone who wasn't staying. He wished he could have more time to talk to her, she was clearly very bright and inquisitive, but he didn't want to go into the whole time-travel thing.
"Sure." She nodded, picking up the towel she'd dropped earlier. He jogged off to his room and quickly donned a new suit and trainers, grabbed a blanket from a handy linen closet -he'd whispered a thank you to his TARDIS, faithful old girl- returning to the console room to find Sasha pushing herself up in her chair to better see the console.
"Got you a blanket!" He called, even though they were only maybe 7 metres apart.
"Thank you. Um, what's your name?"
"The Doctor." He grinned, opening the blanket and draping it around her.
"Doctor what?"
"Just 'The Doctor'. Now, where's your school?" He checked the TARDIS display for the current location as Sasha told him the name of her school.
"Right, do you remember how long the bus trip here took?" He started programming the coordinates.
"Um, about ten songs, so maybe half an hour?"
"The return trip won't take that long." He grinned at her. "Not only is my house bigger on the inside, it can teleport."
"How?" Sasha asked in amazement.
"Another question I don't have the time to answer, sorry. Now, the ride might be bumpy, so let's put you in the Captain's Chair just to be on the safe side, alright?"
"Where's the captain's chair?"
"Here it is!" He gestured grandly at his chair, but Sasha folded her arms and frowned.
"It doesn't look very safe. It doesn't have a back, or arms, not to mention a seatbelt. It's more of a stool than a chair, I think my wheelchair's safer."
"How old are you?" He asked. She looked about 8, but talked like she was years older.
"A mature 9. If you want me to be safe, you can tie the back of my wheels to one of the bars."
"Or..." His brain sped looking for a way to keep her safe. Tying her wheels to the bars might not keep her safe from tipping over, or smacking her head on the bar. Having her sit on the floor and hold on to a bar? Possibly, but there had to be a better way. Tying all four wheels to the holes in the console floo- THAT WAS IT!
"Or what?" Sasha was asking.
"Just a second!" He grinned, lifting up a section of the floor on its hinges and peering down into the array of wires. He jumped down and pulled his hammock seat over to the opening, reaching into his pocket to find his sonic screwdriver wasn't there.
"Sasha, can you bring me my jacket, please?"
"Sure. Here you go." She dropped it down into the hole in the floor, where it landed on his head.
"Thank you!" His voice was a little muffled, but he thought he heard her giggling. He put the hammock seat in place, sonicing it to stay put. "You can sit in my hammock!" He cried, hefting himself out. Sasha rolled closer to look at it.
"Are you sure it's safe?"
"Oh, yeah, perfectly fine. I can probably add a few ropes if you want it to have a back and seatbelt."
"Um, yes please."
"Right." He nodded, taking off down a corridor to find some rope or cloth or something. He silently asked his TARDIS for help and she steered him toward a craft room of some sort. He grabbed some heavy-duty cloth and a pair of scissors, running back to the console room. Sasha was spinning in slow circles and looked up at the sound of his footsteps. "Back in a sec!" He hopped under the floor, cutting out a section of cloth to make a back for the hammock seat. He affixed it with the sonic, also cutting out two strips to be used as a seatbelt.
"All right, it's ready!" He called.
"... Um, The Doctor, you're gonna have to help me." Sasha sounded a little frustrated and a little afraid.
"Right." He hoisted himself out and sat on the edge of the hole, his feet dangling in. "What do you need me to do?"
"Um, like, everything?"
"Okay. Are you unbuckled?"
"Yeah, of course."
"Alright, no need to be snippy." He grinned to show he was only joking, easily lifting behind her knees and back. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "You can sit alright?"
"Yeah." She nodded. He sat on the edge of the hole and situated her beside him. He hopped down and showed her the hammock seat.
"Look alright?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Right, this part's going to be a little scary." He held his arms up to her. She reached for him, leaning forward a little, but whimpered and leaned back. "You can do it, Sasha. I'll catch you. You're almost there, it's hardly 10 centimetres." He coaxed. She used her arms to scoot forward a little more and reached out for him, falling into his arms. He hugged the girl to him and laughed, sitting her in the hammock seat. "You alright?"
"Yeah. It wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be." She was grinning. "Where's the seatbelt?"
"Right here." He pulled the strips of cloth out of his pocket. "And with my, er, multitool I can fit them to you no problem." He had Sasha hold the strips across her chest diagonally as he soniced them in place. "All good?"
"All good."
"Right, I'm gonna go back up, tie your chair to a pole, and teleport us to your school." He cut another section of cloth, pushed up another section of floor, and hoisted himself through, gently closing it. He pulled her chair to the side and secured it against a bar. He soniced the floor hatch to stay open and popped his head through the hole where Sasha was sitting. "Tell me your school again, just so I can be sure I've got it right?" He checked the information on the display as she told him, twisting a few knobs and flicking a switch. "You ready?" He called.
"I guess."
"Allons-y!" He pulled a lever and they were off. It was a rather short and easy jaunt, not very tipsy, but tipsy enough, combined with the shaking, he was glad Sasha was safe. She was laughing, though he couldn't tell if it was from actually having fun, or being nervous and full of adrenaline. They landed and he opened the floor again, hopping down.
"What do you think?" He grinned.
"Wow." Sasha grinned back at him. "So, we moved? We're at my school?"
"Should be, yeah!" He soniced her 'seatbelts' off and paused. Getting her up would be harder than getting her down. He pulled himself back up through the second opening in the floor and reached through the first opening for Sasha. They couldn't reach. He grabbed his sonic and pointed it at the right hammock ceiling attachment, causing it to retract and raise the seat a little.
"Does your multitool do everything?" She asked, watching him.
"Can't do wood." He soniced the left side, then the right, repeating this process as, little by little, Sasha rose up until he could comfortably grab her and put her back in her wheelchair. He untied it from the pole as she buckled herself back in, and beckoned her over to the display monitor, pulling it around so she could see it better.
"This is my- er, security camera. Is that your school outside?"
"It's close. Not even 5 kilometres away. I could go there myself."
"No, no, best if I take you. And when people start asking questions, you let me answer, okay?"
"Okay. Are we going to teleport there?"
"No, I figure it'll be easier and more fun to run through the rain again." He grinned.
"You think you can run that far?"
"Yeah, I'm in good shape."
"You're really skinny."
"I'll be fine. You'll just have to point when I have to turn. Ready?"
"Okay." Sasha rolled out the TARDIS door onto the sidewalk, into the rain, the Doctor following. He dropped his jacket on her head, grinning as she pulled it off and put it on correctly, sticking her tongue out at him.
"Which way?" He asked, taking hold of the handles.
"Right." She pointed. He took off easily, not minding the rain, only focused on keeping an eye out for obstacles ahead, and Sasha pointing the way. Luckily, when they had to cross a street there wasn't a car in sight. Sasha's laughter was infectious, he was grinning ear to ear; but knew he mustn't laugh, he had to save his energy for running. Though he spent a lot of time running, it was tougher to keep going when there wasn't an angry alien chasing him.
They made it to the school without him having to take a break, but he was out of breath and his hearts were beating hard.
"Remember." He told Sasha as he held the door open for her. "Let me answer the questions."
"Okay, The Doctor."
"And you can just call me 'Doctor'."
"Well, you said your name was THE Doctor." She huffed, leading the way to the school office.
"Hello." The Doctor grinned at the receptionist, her nameplate read 'Mrs. Capra'. "I believe I've found one of your students." Sasha waved.
"Hi, Mrs. C."
"Sasha Dervin, what in the world happened?"
"Well, it appears Sasha got separated from the rest of her class at the museum. We happened to take shelter from the rain under the same awning and got to talking, and then a very nice cab driver heard Sasha and offered to drive the both of us here to school for free, out of the kindness of his heart. Unfortunately he got a call he had to respond to, but he dropped us off rather close and I ran Sasha the rest of the way." He grinned at Mrs. Capra.
"Sasha, is this true?" Mrs. Capra asked.
"Yeah." Sasha nodded. "He even helped me er, get into the taxi. Because it wasn't wheelchair accessible. Oh, I'm still wearing your jacket. Sorry." She took it off and passed it to him, smiling.
"Quite alright." He grinned and surreptitiously patted the pocket he kept his screwdriver in, checking if it was still there and hadn't fallen out at some point while he was running. It was still there.
"Well, thank you, Mr..." Mrs. Capra trailed off.
"Doctor, if you don't mind. Now, I must be off." He knelt down and hugged Sasha, smiling at her and winking. He shook Mrs. Capra's hand- "Pleasure meeting you." and walked out the front door, shrugging his jacket back on.
"Well, that was fun." He announced to the TARDIS, entering dripping wet for the second time that day. The towels from earlier were still laying about and he grabbed one, rubbing his head and heading for his room again. He tossed his wet jacket onto his bed and stopped. Sitting on his bed was a framed holo-picture of Sasha in her wheelchair, his coat too big on her, hair wet with rain and face lit up with a genuine laugh.
"You old softie, you." He chuckled, putting a hand to the wall and looking to the ceiling. "Thank you." He moved the picture to one of the shelves along the wall, to a shelf filled with other pictures, all devoid of dust despite their age.
A/N: I realize I used a few things from 11's TARDIS, but please bear with me for the sake of the story. Also, thank you to my beta, Jason!