Photos and Memories
Rory wandered into the console room, his newly-discovered piece of his-time technology (thank goodness; he could never get to grips with some of the more futuristic stuff on board) in his hand, ready for the next adventure.
The Doctor barely glanced his way, but then did a double take.
"What's that?" he asked, in a low voice.
Rory frowned at him. "It's a camera," he said slowly. "A digital camera."
"Yes, I know that. Where did you get it?"
"I found it," Rory shrugged. "It was on a shelf in the library."
The Doctor swallowed thickly. "You...you didn't delete any photos from it, did you?" he asked quietly.
Rory shook his head. "No, why?"
"Don't delete any," the Doctor told him seriously. He paused, then walked over to Rory. "In fact..." he said, plucking the camera from his hands.
"Hey!" Rory exclaimed. "Where's the harm in me using it?"
"It's not yours."
"I know, but - "
"It belongs to a...a friend."
Rory sighed. "Okay. Sorry."
"No worries," the Doctor grinned, and then he span away from the console room with a flourish.
Rory just stood there, scratching his head in confusion at the Doctor's stark attachment to a camera and his sudden change of mood.
The Doctor sat down on her bed, back settling against the headboard and crossing his legs at his ankles, inhaling the air of her room as if he'd been starved of oxygen for a long while. He treasured the fact it still smelt of her.
He stared down at the camera in his hands, full of photos they'd taken but had not got around to printing. He glanced across her room, smiling when he saw all their other photos pinned up on the wall, covering the pale pink surface with fantastic, luminescent memories.
Turning the camera over in his hands, he turned it on, and began to scroll through the pictures.
It wasn't as often, any more, that he allowed himself to become distracted by thoughts of Rose, forgetting time and such things even existed, but –
(Well, okay, that was what he told himself, so he wouldn't feel so guilty for how his thoughts actually often wound up linking back to her in some way.)
- this evening he let himself indulge, and all he could think of was her.
The first photo on there was of her, predictably. He'd frequently snatch the camera playfully from her hands, to capture the way she looked at any given moment. Now, he was so grateful to himself for doing it, and to her for not deleting the ones she had thought weren't nice,
(they were all more than nice, very much so. But for some reason, Rose didn't appreciate the ones he took of her first thing in the morning, all bed-head and no make-up. He couldn't understand why, as he thought she looked remarkably beautiful.)
because now he had an ample supply of images of her to look through. Each one tugging at his hearts and prompting a lump to emerge in his throat; but he wouldn't have it any other way.
He still loved her, you see; if that wasn't obvious for you to ascertain. He'd probably never stop. Just because she was in another universe with another him; just because he'd regenerated without her being there to hold his hand, after; it didn't mean he could switch all those feelings off.
Sometimes, Amy and Rory were enough fun to keep his thoughts occupied and his adventuresome hearts sufficiently beating.
But sometimes - just like he always had, since he lost her the first time – he couldn't help but wish she could be here. Instead or as well as his current friends; it wouldn't matter. Because if she were here, now, laying on her bed next to him, she could look at the photos with him, laugh at her bed-head and no make-up where he'd stare in awe, giggle at the sight of the Doctor falling over
(and he still maintained that that was not his fault; it was a very slippery hill.)
and smile – shyly or teasingly, well, she'd probably alternate – at the photos of the two of them standing or sitting close, arms around each other, big, contented grins on their faces.
And if she were here now, he'd have even more photos of her to look at. Well, he'd have her to look at. He'd spend all day just looking at her in real life, if he could. Lie here and stare into her beautiful brown eyes; watch the way the light of the bedside lamp shone against her hair, illuminating gold; see the gentle way her chest would rise and fall with each breath she took. Notice the way it would speed up under his intense gaze. Watch as she self-consciously stroked her hair behind her ear. See how her eyes darkened.
He was losing focus. Photos! He decided to look back at the photographs, instead of imagining her lying beside him.
He pressed the 'next' button, and was baffled to find it was a video. He clicked 'play.'
"Don't – no, wait, careful! Careful!" she laughed warmly from behind the camera, as she filmed the Doctor trying to cook.
"What?" he exclaimed indignantly. "I'll have you know, I'm very, very good at this."
"Oh, really?" she asked dubiously. "Cos from where I'm standing, it don't look like it."
He glanced over his shoulder at her. "Oh no, no, no. No photos!" he pleaded, eyes big and beseeching.
Rose zoomed in on his bum when he turned back around to face the cooker. "Nope, no photos." There was a smile in her voice. It was a teasing smile. With tongue poking between teeth, no doubt.
She zoomed back out and watched him crack an egg on the side of the frying pan. "Um...Doctor?"
"You've got shell in the pan," she said carefully.
"No I – oh. Bugger," he agreed, staring at it in frustration. He looked at her, his puppy-dog eyes still firmly in place. "You like a bit of shell, right? Doesn't do you any harm. Probably won't even taste it..."
Rose giggled. "Yeah, it's fine, don't worry."
He looked relieved. "Brilliant! Right, what's next? Aha!"
"Doctor," Rose murmured.
He paused, tilted his head to face her again. "Yes, Rose?"
"How come you're doing this?"
"Cooking. For us," she clarified.
He shrugged. "I wanted to do something nice for you."
"You're always doing nice things for me. Wonderful things. This morning you took me to a Broadway show, followed by a quick jaunt to the Creanora Nebula, remember? Yesterday we went skiing on the Great Mountain Range of Bubarti, the day before that we went to Paris, the day before that you took me to an anti-gravity ball, the day before that - "
" – something normal," he interrupted, averting his eyes back to his task, giving the frying pan an experimental shake. "I've decided that at my age, I should've learned how to cook properly by now. I bought a cookbook - see! I'm going to attempt an omelette one day. I bet I'd make a good omelette."
She was raising her eyebrow now. He could tell.
"Normal?" she repeated, pronouncing the word in a strange, disbelieving sort of way.
He ran a hand through his hair, a little nervous. "Yes. Normal. But really, for us, it isn't normal, actually. Which makes it extraordinary, yes? Yes, good. Glad we cleared that up," he babbled.
"Doctor," she said again.
"What now?" he sighed, looking at her pointedly. "I am, perhaps, slightly, possibly, maybe, in actual fact, trying to cook you a romantic meal, here - "
The camera's lens got a close-up look of the Doctor's shirt, then, because Rose pressed up against him to give him a slow, appreciative kiss on the lips.
When she pulled back, there was a shot of the Doctor's half-lidded eyes and gaping mouth, before he lunged forward, grabbing her around the waist, the camera consequently sort of just falling to the floor, forgotten.
The picture fizzled out. The Doctor blinked, willing it to come back on with the force of his stare. He knew what happened next, of course. Remembered every last detail. From the taste of her mouth to the oven catching fire, he remembered all that happened in the kitchen that evening. But he wanted to see it, on camera. He'd never seen the way he looked at her captured in motion before, but now he had, and he realised: one, he was so obvious, and two, he'd never look like that again. Of course, he'd never have that face again, but that's not what he meant; he'd never wear that expression again. He looked so young, so happy, so incredibly and completely and besottedly in love.
She'd made him like that. She'd also made him need her. Then she'd made him need other people around him when he couldn't have her back. And then he'd lost so much, and died alone.
He quickly clicked 'next' again, yearning to see her face once more, to stop his sombre thoughts. He wasn't disappointed, smiling in relief at the sight of her familiar grin staring up at him.
A thought then cut through him like a stab to the hearts.
She was making new memories, now. Taking new photos; ones he'd never get to see. Of course, that was what he had wanted for her – to have the life he couldn't, with a man exactly like him but who could grow old with her. But right now, he felt horribly, horribly jealous, and for a minute, he couldn't rationalise his own selflessness, letting her go, letting him have her.
He rolled over onto his front, face pressed into her pillow, still clutching the camera protectively in his hands, and stayed there for a very long time, eventually falling asleep so that he could dream of her.
She's here, holding his hand, and they are running into the unknown and loving it. She stumbles, and he catches her, arms wrapped firmly around her waist and staying there. Looking at her, smiling, caught up in the moment and he can tilt his head just so and press their lips together, because that's who they are and what they do, the stuff of legend, pausing in the midst of a revolution for a quick snog, because who's to stop them, who's to say they can't, when they still end up saving the day? And then they are running again, and -
He abruptly woke up from Rose Dream # 2,309 at the sound of Amy calling him from somewhere down the corridor.
Heaving a sigh, he sat up, gently placed the camera on the bedside table, turned off the lamp, smoothed down his tweed jacket, and stood.
He opened the door slowly, swallowing thickly at the thought of leaving his favourite room, and peered out, not wanting Amy to see where he was coming from.
But of course, she did.
"Doctor!" she called, walking towards him. "I was wondering where you were! Rory's cooking, did you want something to eat?"
He shook his head, forcing out a smile. "No, no. I'm fine."
She took in his tired eyes and raised an eyebrow. "Were you asleep? Is that your bedroom?" she asked, craning her neck to see around him.
He shut the door firmly behind him before she could catch a glimpse of pink and get the wrong idea. "Yes," he answered. He surreptitiously raised his eyes to the TARDIS ceiling and silently asked her to lock the door.
He started to walk down the corridor, but Amy's voice stopped him.
"Why's there a rose engraved on your bedroom door?" she asked curiously. "It's a bit girly, isn't it?" She laughed gently, and he turned to face her.
"What, a man can't love a nice rose?" he countered, folding his arms defensively.
"Sure," she said. "But he doesn't often broadcast it."
He snorted, considering all of Rose's admirers over the years, all the pretty boys he'd been inexplicably jealous of. "Oh, you'd be surprised how many men love Rose and broadcast it annoyingly loudly."
Amy frowned, puzzled, and the Doctor cleared his throat quickly, before moving away from her.
"Anyway, you've got a romantic meal for two being cooked for you, so off you go! I'm going to make a quick stop in 2006 to see an old friend."
"Ooh, can we meet them?"
"Best not," he said apologetically, glancing back over his shoulder at Amy. He didn't want to share Rose anymore than he already had to. "I'll be back in a few hours," he concluded, and went to the console room to set the co-ordinates for his destination.