He doesn’t usually do this sort of thing. In all of his randomness, one thing usually stays the same: he goes where the TARDIS takes him. Even when that’s not where he means to go. He goes where she takes him and the adventures, more often than not, find him. Every now and then, he’ll come when he’s called. But it has to be major. As in the-world-is-going-to-end-if-you-don’t-get-here-right-now-Doctor types of events.
This is most definitely not one of those events. Yet here he is, poking around a closed-for-Easter shop with Donna just because Wilfred is convinced that the shopgirl is an alien.
He’s right, of course. Wilfred Mott has a uncanny knack for stumbling into trouble. But that’s beside the point.
The point is that with all of that universe out there, all of the exploding stars and crumbling planets, an old human man called and the Last of the Time Lords came running. It’s almost embarrassing.
There’s a 42nd century communication device sitting beside a fashion magazine with Angelina Jolie on the cover when he checks behind the register. Again, almost embarrassing.
He’s sonicing the communicator and about to follow Donna into the back room when the bell above the door jingles, announcing a would-be customer. “Sorry, we’re closed. Easter and all that. Go hunt some eggs and come back later. I promise all the merchandise will still be here tomorrow. Unless we get robbed. Or the shop blows up- which is actually more common than you’d think.”
He’s almost surprised. It’s a good day for almosts. He’s almost embarassed at becoming humanity’s lap dog, and he’s almost surprised that the woman from his future that he keeps running into too early shows up in a London shop that he didn’t even want to come to.
For a moment, he wonders if she’s stalking him. He wonders if it’s even possible to stalk him.
Amy twidles her thumbs. And that’s it. No smile, no laugh, no flirtatious comment. She just stands there, staring at him with this look in her eyes.
The Doctor’s seen that look before, many times, just never on her. The look of disappointment. The look of hope crumbling around you.
“Sorry.” She says suddenly, while he’s still trying to figure out if he’s supposed to know what’s wrong yet or not. “I don’t mean to bother you. I know you’re probably busy saving the world and all…in a baubles shop…but I just- I, uh, I saw the TARDIS outside and I thought-“
“That I was your Doctor.” Please don’t let this be my fault, he thinks, watching her eyes shift around the room, her mind clearly trying to come up with the quickest way to get out of his company without being downright rude. Please don’t let this be me.
But it always is. Everyone he’s ever known, everyone he’s ever traveled with, they change because of him, and hardly ever for the better. He finds these bright, brilliant people and he ruins them. He twists and bends them until they look the way Amy looks before him- tortured, tired, and lost.
If he was a good man, he would have stopped centuries ago.
The Doctor is not a good man.
“You’re not with him anymore?” He can’t tell whether he’s hoping or dreading that she’ll say no.
Amy hesitates. “Not at the moment. He’s…he’s looking for something for me. I can’t say what. But as soon as he finds it, I’ll go back. I think. I don’t know. It’s all very…complicated.”
“It usually is with me.” He grins, a bit wider than called for. He’s been told how infectious his smile is, and he hopes it’ll rub off on Amy. He’d like to see the light come back in her eyes, if only for a moment.
She does smile, but it’s too bitter for his liking. He wants to say something, anything, to help, but he knows this isn’t his problem- not yet.
“Oi, Space Man! I’ve found something you might wanna sonic. It’s definitely alien…or American.”
Amy laughs, actually laughs, and points to the back room where they can hear Donna knock something over and let out a guilty sounding I didn’t do that. “Donna Noble?” When he nods, she starts edging back towards the door. “I’ll go then before she sees me. We never meet, I’m told. Shame. I think I’d really like her.”
The Doctor tries to imagine the two gingers with him in the TARDIS. He shudders. “I don’t know if I could handle both of you at once.”
Amy backs into the door, the bell above it jingling again as it opens, letting in the chill and sounds of London. She’s still smiling at him; it still doesn’t reach her eyes. “So. I’ll, uh, I’ll see you around then. Soon, yeah?” She says it to him, but they both know it’s not acutally meant for him.
He nods anyway, filing it away in the back of his mind under Things To Remember Post-Regeneration. “I hope you see me soon, too.”
She barks a laugh, and, in a flash of ginger, she’s gone.
When he sticks his head out the door to watch her leave, she’s got a death grip on the cellphone pressed against her ear and purpose in her stride as she walks away. Her words fade as she goes, but he can still hear her say his name right before she ducks into an alley to speak.
“Doctor? Doctor can you hear me? Are you ever gonna hear this?…”