At some point she forgot how to be Rose Tyler without him, and now there are all these bits and pieces of her scattered across time and space—old skins she’d shed as he’d helped her grow—and suddenly she needs those back. 1,143
The thing she didn’t anticipate—the part that stings, under the dull, constant ache of his absence (her absence, really; he’s not the one who fell)—is that she loses so much more than just him.
She’s lost her whole universe. She’s lost herself. At some point she forgot how to be Rose Tyler without him, and now there are all these bits and pieces of her scattered across time and space—old skins she’d shed as he’d helped her grow—and suddenly she needs those back. (And her mum had warned her, and she hadn’t listened.)
And it’s not as if she hadn’t liked herself, before. She had. Things had been different, but she had. Now all she has to do is… learn to be that person again. The girl who watches other people having adventures on the telly, rather than having them herself; who reads books and keeps her head in the clouds, rather than flying through them.
This parallel world isn’t so different. There’s no Powell Estate to move back into, but that’s not all she’d had. There are other old definitions she can seek out.
But the words all mean something different now.
She loses The Little Prince. She makes it to the third paragraph without crying, but “I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle” feels like a stab in the heart. But it had been her favorite book as a little girl, so she reads every single painful word of the story about the boy from the stars who constantly asked questions and never answered them—the lost prince who loved an ephemeral rose. (“You can spend the rest of your life with me…”)
She clings to these painful words, because the truth in them resonates with a part of her soul that’s trapped on the other side of the Void. She reads them to Tony, though he’s too young to understand, because it’s a relief to hear it out loud: “If some one loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself: ‘Somewhere, my flower is there…’ But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened… And you think that is not important!”
(Later, the stars going out will feel so poetically poignant that for a single, rather stupid second, it won’t even occur to her to look for a scientific explanation.)
At Torchwood, they call her a workaholic. They say she doesn’t know how to have fun, that she’s incapable of taking a break to just enjoy herself. It’s not that she doesn’t want to—it’s just that she’s lost all capacity to deal with things that remind her of him, and that’s kind of… everything.
So yes, she misses out on Movie Nights with the ladies. But red wine, estrogen and gossip aren’t exactly going to cure her of her relationship problems, so it’s not like they’d really be much help. In fact, she rather suspects that watching The Princess Bride (“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while”) or Moulin Rouge (“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return”) in front of a group of people is exactly the wrong thing to do to make friends—she knows a lot of things have changed since she was a kid, but being the overly-emotional crying girl who’s still hung up on her ex and never wants to talk about anything else will never be the way to popularity.
“Knock knock, Tyler,” someone says, rapping lightly on the doorframe to her office with two knuckles. Lucy Waters, her brain helpfully informs her. Third desk to the left in Public Relations. “Bunch of us are going out for drinks later, and Evie’s rented Titanic. What do you say?”
There had been a time, during their first year at secondary school, when she and Shireen couldn’t go a single week without having a sleepover and popping in Titanic—letting it play in the background as they painted each other’s nails and compared all the boys in their year to Leonardo DiCaprio, while Rose complained at the way people would shout her name in the hallways and ask if she was flying. (Secretly, she hadn’t half minded the attention.)
“You know what?” Rose says, biting at her lip, “Sure. Why not?” She tries out a smile, and finds it weak, but still there. Good, then.
“Oh, lovely! ”
She never even makes it as far as “I’ll never let go,” which is probably all for the best. She sniffles her way through “Where to, Miss?” “To the stars,” and her nails are digging painfully into her palms but she’s doing it, she’s surviving this, but then—
“Rose! You’re so stupid. Why did you do that, huh? You’re so stupid, Rose. Why did you do that? Why?”
“You jump, I jump, right?
“Oh God! I couldn’t go. I couldn’t go, Jack.”
“It’s all right. We'll think of something.”
“At least I’m with you.”
“We’ll think of something.”
I made my choice a long time ago, and I’m never gonna leave you.
“I have to go,” she says abruptly, standing up and spilling the popcorn bowl which had been perched on her lap.
“Rose, you okay?” Lucy asks, reaching for the remote to pause the movie.
“No, I—it’s fine. Just. I just have to go,” she stutters, scrambling for her jacket and keys. She runs three red lights in her manic drive back to the Tower, but she can’t bring herself to care; her mind is on fire with possibilities.
The buttons. They still have the buttons. Ripping a hole through the fabric of reality, just for a moment, just to let something through—
Will I ever see you again?
You jump, I jump, right?
Once the breach collapses, that’s it. You will never see her again. Your own mother!
To the stars.
And I suppose… if it’s my last chance to say it… Rose Tyler—
You’re so stupid, Rose!
Just another stupid ape, selfishly using everything he stands for to get one last day, one more chance…
“Rose?” Pete asks curiously as she passes him in the hallway, practically at a sprint. “I was about to lock up and leave. What are you doing here so late?”
She’s staring at her father. She’s staring at her father, and she can’t, she can’t—
“I’m going back,” she says breathlessly.
“Home? D’you need a ride?” he asks blankly, not understanding her meaning.
For the first time in months, she breaks out into a wide, Rose Tyler grin. “Something like that. Wanna help?”