Getting On With Life
Rose Tyler let out a long-suffering sigh as she laid her head back on the top of her executive office chair. Another day over and another puzzle successfully solved. She let herself smile a little she closed her eyes to reflect on the past week.
A temporal disturbance in central London had caused several unexplained disappearances. After discovering temporary time residue (for lack of a better description) left at the site of each disappearance, Rose and her team had been able to track the anomaly back to its source. It turns out a couple of ten-year-old boys had found part of a time machine in their back yard and decided to play with it. How it got there in the first place was currently unknown, but being investigated by the alien tech department. Regardless of the machine's intended use, it was fully capable of trapping unsuspecting victims in little time bubbles, perfectly preserved and unaware of how much time had passed.
Rose and her team had had a hell of time explaining to twenty-five confused people how they'd not only ended up in a science lab, but had also missed the better part of a week. Torchwood's HR department had come up with some rubbish story about a violent flu strain causing hallucinations, but people believe what they are led to believe and those who don't aren't taken seriously anyway. Skepticism had become Torchwood's greatest ally.
"Hey, Lazy-bones!" Rose snapped out of her musings and looked over at the office door. A genuine grin stretched across her face when she saw her best friend, Mickey Smith, at the entrance. "It's almost one o'clock," he complained, tapping at his wristwatch. "I thought we were going to lunch."
"Um, yeah," she agreed sitting up and rustling through the papers on her desk. "My team just got through debriefing the victims of that new 'violent flu'. I just got back to my office a second ago." She stood up and grabbed her handbag, before aimlessly looking around the room for her jacket. "The families had to be notified and the kids who took the thing had to be reprimanded without letting them know what really happened and…"
"You're doing a great job Rose," Mickey smiled affectionately as he picked her suede coat off the filing cabinet. He gently reached a hand to her face and caressed the dark circles there with his thumb, "but I think maybe you work too hard." He scowled and dropped his hand as Rose flinched a little at the contact. "It's been over a year. You need to start living again."
Is that all it had been, a year? Rose shook her head: a whole year of secrets and sadness. Sometimes it felt like so much longer. It was all she could do just to keep waking up every morning. The job was everything. It kept her sane. Sure, she loved her mum and dad. She doted on her baby brother and she didn't know what she'd do without Mickey, but the job kept Him alive. It kept her making the kinds of differences that He would want her to make. Rose fingered the little brass plaque that her mum had bought for her. It read, "Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth." That was who she'd become. It was who she had to be, for Him.
"I know Mickey," she told him, looking up from the name plate. "I'm trying. There's just so much to do."
Her voice grew rough at the last few words and Mickey instantly regretted bringing up the subject. "There's lots of people to help you do it. You don't have to save the Earth all by yourself." Mickey took both of Rose's small hands in his and looked into her hazel eyes. "How many friends have you made since you got here, huh?" Rose opened her mouth to protest but Mickey interrupted her. "And I don't mean coworkers, they don't count. When's the last time you went to a party that your Mum didn't throw or went shopping for a pretty dress just because you wanted it. When's the last time you sang a stupid song just to feel good, Rose? When's the last time you danced?"
Rose knew the answers to all of Mickey's questions. The last time she wore a pretty dress, the last time she sang, the last time she danced, were all with the Doctor, all with Him. She just didn't feel like having fun. There was a hole inside her that couldn't be filled and part of her didn't want to fill it. That would mean he was really gone for good and she just wasn't ready to accept that yet.
Letting go of Rose's hands, Mickey took a step back and inhaled deeply. "Look, let's just forget I said anything, okay? There's a great chippy around the corner, my treat."
Rose couldn't help but return his infectious grin. "You know all the ways to my heart, don't ya?"
Mickey took her hand in his and led her towards the door. "Only in my dreams Babe."
"Let me go at once!" Demanded a loud, rather young voice emanating from the front lobby as Rose and Mickey made their way to the exit. "You have to let me through!"
Rose rolled her eyes before looking up at Mickey who was grinning from ear to ear. "Probably another kid wanting to see the space ships, yeah?" His dark eyes shone with nostalgia. "Reminds me of me when I was young."
"Yeah," Rose chided him. "You were always getting me into trouble. It got worse once you discovered the internet."
"You got into enough trouble on your own without anyone to help," he countered as they turned the corner, their shoes clicking on the tile floors in perfect rhythm. "In fact, I'd say you got ime/i into more trouble than I got you into. I can't remember how many times I had to bail you out."
"Yeah," Rose laughed and gently punched him in the arm, "idiot." Her smile faded when she remembered the last time she'd heard him called that. Would the memories never stop hurting?
As they approached the front door Rose could see a dark-haired young man struggling against two guards. Joe, head of security was trying to reason with him.
"Look kid, there's nothing to see here. We've got no space ships, no time machines, and definitely no aliens. This is just a research facility. We create pharmaceuticals, you know, medicine? So why don't you just let me call your parents and we can get everything straitened out." Joe's speech sounded as tired as he undoubtedly was. Usually the 'we're boring here, please leave' speech put people off, but this kid wasn't buying it.
"I know exactly what this facility is for and I don't think you want me broadcasting it to everyone in the room. I know things about this place I'm sure you couldn't even begin to imagine." The kid certainly had guts. Rose had to give him that; no brains, but guts. "I told you I have a message for someone. This could cost you your job do you know that? My cousin is most influential." Rose had to laugh at that comment.
This kid couldn't be more than twelve years old and he was using words like influential. If this boy really did have a cousin in Torchwood they'd be in a mess of trouble. Rose was glad it wasn't her.
"Come on Rose," Mickey gently took her arm. "Let's go. We've seen this all before."
Rose ignored Mickey for a second to hear Joe's response. "Okay, Kid, I'll bite. What's your cousin's name?"
A cold chill ran through Rose's body and she froze in her tracks when she heard the child's reply.
"Rose Tyler," the boy clearly stated. "I need to see Rose Tyler."