Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 528
Summary: Post-Trenzalore drabble inspired by this quote from Sherlock - "Falling is just like flying, except there's a more permanent destination."
He's often wondered if falling truly is the opposite of flying. His many experiences of both have given him enough reason to consider it. Too many times he's watched people he cares about fall to their deaths, and twice he's experienced it for himself.
The Doctor knows the feeling of helplessness as gravity takes hold and pulls a person down towards an inevitable and inescapable end, but he also knows the sense of powerful elation that comes with overcoming its forces and taking flight. Fundamentally, flying goes up, falling comes down. One is exhilarating, the other terrifying, although which is which he isn't always sure.
In many ways they're a perfect inverse of each other, yet he can see a definite asymmetry to the pair. An old friend once quoted something to him, "Falling is just like flying, except there's a more permanent destination," which he thinks he agrees with, except the reverse isn't quite true. Falling always has both a beginning and an end: a terminus that is all too often terminal to the life of the faller as well as the fall. Flying only needs the beginning.
Gravity is the force needed to maintain the symmetry. Its appetite is insatiable. Feed one piece of empty space with matter, and it becomes hungry for more. More mass is sucked into the pit of warped spacetime and warps it further, fuelling the self-perpetuating cycle until the mass reaches stability or collapse. It's a strange and possessive force of nature. At the surface of a planet it's kind: keeping everything ordered and attached to the floor without crushing the life that has grown there. But the further one ventures from its centre the crueller it becomes; dragging everything back down with a devastating acceleration, the inevitable final impact a punishment for all those who dared stray.
Clara Oswald, Amy and Rory Pond, Astrid Peth...he's watched them all become its victims. He has himself felt its iron grasp dragging him down from the top of a radio tower or through a glass ceiling, and death was the final outcome for him as well. Gravity is the one force that's always needed to create a fall.
Flying, however, is something different. Within the confines of a gravity well, it's the perfect opposite of falling. But unlike falling, it isn't limited by the reach of gravity. A flight can at begin at the dip in the curvature of space, crawling towards the brink, but once it reaches it, it doesn't end where falling begins. A person could fly out past the limits of gravity and continue on forever, if they lived long enough, never again having to come down to reach a solid and definite end. A fall will always have a finite beginning and conclusion, but out in open space, flying can be for infinity. That's the fundamental difference.
All these years the Doctor has thought he's been flying the TARDIS through time and space, but ever since Trenzalore, he's begun to wonder if maybe he's just falling after all.