Even with River around, flirting with the Doctor and him flirting back, Amy had never really thought of him as the sort of person that fell in love. Oh, he loved, deeply. And he could feel just fine. Plus, she had sort of thought that he was maybe, sort of asexual. But one night, as she helped herself to some tea from the kitchen and made her way to the library—which no longer contained a pool, thank God, because it would be very difficult to relax with a book in there if there were people splashing around in an Olympic sized swimming pool, complete with diving board.
She picked a book, something interesting looking from the Doctor's multitudes of fictions, and curled up in her favourite chair in the corner with her tea and a blanket, and settled down to read for a few hours.
Rory eventually joined her with a book of his own on a couch on the other side of the room. It was implicit agreement that they didn't talk to each other during quiet time, that they just sat with their respective books and focussed on the quiet.
It was about an hour later that the Doctor came in. It wasn't that unusual to see him in here—it was his library, after all, and he quite enjoyed reading, but it wasn't that he came in so much as the way he came in.
He hit the doorframe hard, nearly glancing off of it entirely, and failed to take notice of his near collision. Then he stumbled to another couch, muttering to himself and frantically wiping away the streams of tears that ran down his cheeks.
Amy stared. In all the time that she knew him, she had never seen him cry. He acted as if they weren't even there, reaching under the table in that corner and produced a photo album, and frantically flipped through the pages until he reached near the end, tracing over the images there with a tenderness that Amy had never seen in his eyes before.
"Pond," he said quietly. Amy started. She had been honestly convinced that he was so out of it that he hadn't even realized that she was there. "Would you like to see some of the people that travelled with me before?"
The answer? Yes. She was obsessed with it. With discovering the person that he used to be, and the people that he had used to pick up. Were they like her? Like Rory? Something else entirely? Amy and Rory took the invitation to join him on the couch, to lean over his shoulder.
Some of the photos that he showed were unbelievably, indescribably old. He seemed to be going in some sort of order, listing names—Barbara, Ian, Susan, Jamie, Jo. He reached the name Sarah Jane, and this one seemed to be particularly special to him. He traced her image with a sad smile on his face, a pretty brunette that had probably been plucked from the early seventies, based on her clothing. Then a distinguished looking man that was clearly military, to whom he referred to simply as The Brigadier, only elaborating to Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart when Rory asked. Then Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan, who all seemed to appear in most of the same photos. Peri, Melanie, Ace and Grace.
Then he seemed to clam up. Amy gently took the photo album from him and turned the page. Or, pages. There were pages upon pages of photos that featured a blonde girl, probably a couple of years younger than Amy herself.
That was when she learned that the Doctor could, indeed, fall in love. She was pretty but not stunning, attractive but not particularly remarkable. She had long, obviously bleached peroxide blonde hair and wore too much eyeliner and silver hoops, and seemed to tend towards jeans and hoodies in her dress.
The Doctor that accompanied her was a brusque, rough looking man, far less capable of gentleness and mercy than her Doctor was. He had close-cropped dark hair, and unbelievably blue eyes and big ears and a big nose—not conventionally attractive, not like some of the Doctors featured in the photos, but compelling all the same.
"The Oncoming Storm in his purest form," the Doctor said sadly, tracing his finger over the image. Amy thought that if she had met that version of the Doctor at age seven, she probably would have been more scared of him, and less trusting. "That was right after the Time War. I regenerated after I felt my entire race dying in my mind. The TARDIS crash landed on some moon, trying to prevent me from roasting myself in the Time Lock. I got out of the TARDIS, felt indescribable, unbearable agony, and turned and walked off a cliff. Regenerated into him—born of blood and war, anger and rage and fire and pain, all churning together to make overpowering guilt."
"So what happened?"
"I met her," he said. And it was true. This angry Doctor, in the beginning photos Amy could see the underlying tension, the danger. But even in the earliest photos, he looked at the blonde girl like he couldn't quite believe that she was standing beside him.
"What was her name?" Rory asked gently.
"Rose. Rose Tyler. She was nineteen years old, a shop girl at Henrik's Department Store. I was looking for the Nestene, trying to take down the Autons. She saved my life. More times than even she was aware."
"What do you mean?"
"I found the Autons in the basement of the department store where she worked, saved her and tried to send her on her way, but just the memory of her eyes was enough to make me get out before I blew the building."
He traced the images fondly.
The photos eventually included a dashing, dark haired man that stood with his easy arm around Rose's waist. He didn't look at her like he loved her, and the Doctor—both Amy's Doctor, and the version in the pictures seemed to realize that, and didn't appear jealous. "Jack Harkness. Hey, I should take you to meet Jack!" He enthused. "Or—maybe not, the world might implode."
"Jack Harkness is an incorrigible flirt," the Doctor said fondly. "He hits on anything that moves."
Amy looked closer at the photos, and abruptly realized that it wasn't just Rose's personal space that Jack seemed to enjoy invading—in every single picture, Jack was dangling off either the Doctor or Rose, or possibly both, just a little bit closer than friendly affection would allow.
"No." The Doctor said firmly. "Though, not for lack of trying on his part. Moving on," he added loudly. "I regenerated after that, got separated from Jack. Terrified the life out of Rose, I hadn't even bothered to warn her that it was possible, and then, suddenly, whoosh! Gold light, and a completely different person was standing there."
"She freaked out and demanded that I take her home," he said fondly. He flipped the page, revealing a photo of the newest incarnation of the Doctor. He was tall and skinny, pale-skinned and hair in a carefully dishevelled disarray, dressed in a brown pinstripe suit and tie, with a long brown overcoat. "There was a big alien invasion, I saved the day in my jim jams and may or may not have quoted the Lion King at the Sycorax."
"That was that time that there was a massive space ship parked right over London, and all of the people in the world with AB positive type blood were all standing on the roof, wasn't it?" Rory asked.
This version of the Doctor seemed to have healed somewhat from the events of the Time War. He seemed more tactile—he and Rose clinging to each other, pictures of hugs, and skipping, and linked hands and giggling dominating the pages. Rose seemed to have grown up herself, in the time that she had travelled with him. Her hair was a less-unnatural shade of blonde, more blended, and her sense of fashion seemed just a bit more put together, and less dominated by hot pink. She had lightened her makeup by just the amount needed to look more classy, and her hair was shorter and more styled.
Then, rather abruptly, Rose was gone from the photos, and the Doctor featured in them seemed much more somber. He was accompanied by a pretty black girl, that Amy's Doctor referred to as Martha, and then in further photos, with a red-head that he called Donna, nearly as much sadness in him as when he had looked at the pictures with Rose.
Then the photos came to an end, running in with current ones of the current Doctor with Amy and Rory, and the Doctor clicked the photo album shut and tried to feign cheeriness as he said that he was going to tinker with the TARDIS, leaving Amy and Rory behind in the library. Amy opened the album again, flipped to the many pictures of Rose Tyler—there were more of her than of every other companion, and Amy found herself very curious about her.
Who was this girl, this pretty but unremarkable girl that had managed to capture a nine-hundred year old Time Lord, a lonely God? Who was Rose Tyler, that even now, years later, the Doctor still looked at a still-frame photograph of her as if she had hung the moon in the sky, pasted the stars and had heaven in her eyes?
And what had happened to her?