The sky was orange, the grass was green.
The people and the places. It's why he travels. The why, and how, and when and where, and sometimes even the 'what on Earth?' It's why he's found himself in front of this same sunset once again, and even though his rationality is ranting at him about the dangers of being in the same place more than once, he finds that he doesn't care to listen. He's mellowed in his old age. Why can't he enjoy this sunset one more time? It's the only one he's ever wanted and been able to have.
His legs aren't crossed, his mood isn't playful. If it were, the corners of a grin would be touching each of his ears like the cheshire cat, and he'd look up at the sun knowing that he loves these moments, when he stops and sees the world that is his to behold, but his mood is far too melancholy for that. He's been through so much, and now it's like he's holding it all up before him. Like he's put it all in the air above his head, and he's wondering if all that sunshine can't make it through the dark grey clouds that just can't seem to leave him be.
He smiles sadly.
He's lost so much that he thinks not for the first time that longevity isn't a blessing but a curse.
He thinks that if his lifespan weren't centuries, but a day, a solitary day, and his hours were numbered and it was his last and only sunset, he'd want this green, green grass and that firey orange sky.
'O that our dreamings all, of sleep or wake,
Would all their colours from the sunset take'
He knows that if on his deathbed he could ask for one thing, it would be sunset hair and timeless green eyes.
He couldn't bear to look at her when she woke up. She was wrong, all wrong. Unnatural, unreal. It was Jack all over again, and he couldn't help but shudder at the very thought of what she was.
She shouldn't be possible.
It'll go, he thinks. The revulsion. It did with Jack, it has to with Amy, but with Jack he couldn't stop it and with Amy he could have just let her die, so it's his fault and he resents that he wants to be as far away from her as possible. His skin crawls at being in the same room with her.
Oh God, what has he done?
And how on Earth is he going to tell her?
It started with a gun. A gunshot. If the Doctor thinks hard enough, he can remember all the details, but if he's learnt anything it's that if you want to go on, if you want to stop hurting, you have to stop thinking so hard. You can't change the past, you have to look to the future, but he'll never forget that gunshot. So distinct, so different to the millions of others he's heard. It's like the one he heard when his daughter was murdered before his eyes, the same pain, the same agony, even though it was a different time and place.
How strange it seems to remember. The bullet with the intent to kill seems to sound different in his memory to the one which found its target.
He remembers how stunned he was, at how familar it felt. Like being outside his own body and watching himself get shot instead. It felt the same, but when he brushed his arm upwards, there was no blood on his chest, not real blood. And if he could have moved he'd have been at her side, but Rory was there, and it seemed all he could do to freeze in horror before suddenly he was at the gunwielder's hands, ripping the metallic monstrosity out of his hands like clawing through ripped cloth.
Not her. Not her. But it was too late.
When the creature with the gun was taken away, and it was just him, Rory, Amy, and the TARDIS, he felt numb.
Please don't go, please don't go...
Rory seemed to be repeating that over and over, and the Doctor wanted to push him aside and take Amy in his arms himself.
She was so pale. Like death. She was death. It felt like she was life, and now that she was gone there was nothing. That's what death is, the Doctor wanted to believe, still wants to believe; it's nothing, a void, an empty, bottomless void...
But he knows it's not. Death is in the ghosts that never leave you. In the memories that haunt your days and nights, and in the end it all presses down on you like it's crushing your lungs, and finally when you can breath again, all it takes is a flash of blonde, of red, of orange, and it all comes rushing back. He's had enough death to last a lifetime, and standing there with Amy's blood on his hands was the point where he realised something he'd never allowed himself to think since Rose Tyler.
That he loves her. He loves Amelia.
And he's let love go so often he just couldn't bear to let it go this one time.
He opened the TARDIS door, ran to the console, opened it's heart and suddenly he was aglow.
He brought back Amy Pond from the dead.
He was terrified in the days that followed that she'd find out. That she'd realise he loves her.
'I'm a Time lord in love with her who has brought her back forever.' He thinks. 'I've made her immortal, and she's going to think I did it on purpose.'
Why wouldn't she? It's what people in love do isn't it? Do selfish things, make selfish choices. Want people to be theirs and theirs alone, and god damn the consequences.
He wants to tell her he didn't do it on purpose, that he only wanted to bring her back this once. To let her live her life out the way it's supposed to be, ending in a nice warm bed at Rory's side, with love all around her and happy memories, but that he just couldn't control it.
He can't. He can't even bring himself to explain that the fact she's even breathing is a mistake. Before she was sunny and alive and human. Now she's a fact because he's taken away her humanity.
And he just can't bear to tell her that for immortals like them, life really is a kind of death.
There's a sudden noise, a flash from behind him, and suddenly he's not alone out on the grassy hills under the setting sun.
"I thought I'd find you here."
She sounds a mixture of awkward and relieved. He hasn't heard her voice in centuries and the Doctor smiles, and looks around. He knew she'd catch up with him eventually.
"You remembered then?"
"I remembered. You looked so sad." Amy reminises, looking back. "In a minute I think I... Yes, I'm waving."
A tiny figure far in the distance, next to another tiny figure and a blue box, begins to wave haphazardly. Their past selves.
The older Amy raises a hand in response, smiling a little.
"God I look so young."
She looks a little older now, but not much. It's more the eyes than anything else.
"You could tell I was sad from all the way over there?" The Doctor said disbelieving.
She looks at him.
"I can always tell when you're sad."
He told her she was immortal eventually. Sat her down, explained what happened, and when he finished talking they sat in silence.
"So I can't... die?"
"In a way. You die but you come back." The Doctor says. "I'm so sorry, I should have realised it would happen again." And he told her about Rose bringing back Jack.
"What does it mean that I can't die Doctor?" She asks. She's not stupid, and now she's looking worried. "Doctor?"
He didn't have the words.
The day she left must've been the day she realised.
That he's in love with her, and that it's inevitable that one day they will be together. She loves him too in her own way, but before it was so easily brushed aside, for Rory, and for the fact that he was a Time Lord and she was a human. Now she is faced with eternity, and of course it's going to be them in the end. How could it not be?
She knew that, and that's why she had to go. It won't take Rory too long to realise, and knowing him like she does, his heart will break and he'll do what the good man always does, because he is so good. He'll let her go, so she won't watch him die, and she doesn't want to be let go of. She wants their years together. She wants his arms wrapped around her and his heart beating against hers, and to pretend that she will age. That the years will change her like they'll change him, and they can stand together in the river of Time, straining against the current, and hold strong, together.
The Doctor wanted to tell her it was hopeless. That she could hope until she couldn't breath with the sheer intensity of it, but nothing would ever change.
Rory was going to grow old and die and Amy was going to live on.
When he told Rose it was the Curse of the Time Lords he really had meant it.
Rory died and Amy was left heartbroken. Their marriage was long, but she felt cheated. She left Earth with River Song's vortex manipulator, and the Doctor never seemed to catch up with her. Everywhere he went, she was always two steps ahead. She was running from him. It seemed to her that if she kept going, maybe she could escape confronting the man who had brought her back forever.
But then she remembered the sunset. It had been back in the early days, when his world was still so new and exciting, when Rory was still back in Leadworth on the night before their wedding and her and her raggedy Doctor were looking out at the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Then the other TARDIS had materialised, and out stepped the future Doctor. She remembers how the version stood beside her had started rambling about timelines and whatnot, but she hadn't been listening. All she could think of was how his future looked so sad.
She waves to her future self frantically when she appears, hoping that she'll see and remember.
'Help him' she thinks, willing herself to remember. 'Make him smile again.'
She does remember.
'However hard you try, Amy,' she tells herself, 'you can't run forever.'
And suddenly, in the middle of all his nostalgia, thinking back on the last few centuries without her, it is her face in front of his, blocking out the sun, that brings him back to the present.
"I'm tired of running." She says honestly, and perhaps a little bit hopefully.
"Tired of running, or tired of running away?"
"Oh, running away. I'll never tire of running." She promises with a wink, and the Doctor laughs. It's like she never left.
He leans forward, reaching out to tug lightly at a strand of hair that has looped itself over her cheek, and pulls back, admiring the way she looks in the sunlight. Amelia Pond, like a name in a fairytale.
"I hope all my sunsets are like this." He says, half-joking half-serious, and when Amy smiles it's like the Sun has back out again. The air changes, her hair floats up around her like a forest on fire, and her eyes are as green as the light passing through the leaves of the topmost trees. First there's fire, then there's life he remembers, and when she reaches out her hand to him his is already out there, grasping for everything he's always wanted to hold onto in his long, long life and never could.
Rose's bright brown eyes, and Donna's quick laugh. Jack's sly wink, and Martha's sad smile.
The look on Sarah-Jane's face when he came back, the awe in Jenny's eyes...
And of course, that hope, that hope in the little girl on the night he regenerated, waiting for her raggedy Doctor to come back.
He takes her hand.
Amelia Pond. His sunrise and sunset. The one thing he can keep forever.
'O that our dreamings all, of sleep or wake,
Would all their colours from the sunset take'