Rose's eyes snapped open. She sighed as she reached over and shut off the alarm. Day had dawned and with it another mind-numbing workday at Torchwood. She hated her job with a passion. After traveling through time and space with the Doctor, it was hard for her to settle into the normal routine of going to work, coming home, eating, and sleeping that other working adults did on a daily basis. After being stranded in the alternate universe and having to live her life like everyone else; she finally understood the Doctor's aversion to domesticity. She would trade anything now for one more journey with the Doctor. One more chance to travel in time. One more planet to visit and one more monster to run from. But, sadly, she knew that would never happen. The Doctor was gone forever and she was left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life as best she could and move on, like the Doctor wanted her to.
But, that doesn't mean I can't make a fuss about my situation. She thought to herself while she headed downstairs to the kitchen.
"Mornin' love," Jackie said, as she entered the kitchen.
Rose smiled at her and her "dad." Pete looked up from his newspaper and gave her a polite smile. Rose returned it. Even though Pete looked like her father, she knew he would never truly accept her as his daughter. She was a stranger to him and that's all she ever would be. No matter how loving she was towards him, he would never fully accept her as his own and the thought of that made Rose's heart ache. She didn't belong here. She had no place here with her mother and Mickey and this man who had reluctantly took her in. The only place she belonged was with the Doctor in his TARDIS. That was her true home and knowing that he might never come back made her even more depressed. Her life had gone from being an adventure to something she had to trudge through until the day she closed her eyes and mercifully left this plane of existence. Sighing, she sat down and accepted the plate of food from her mother. She ate quietly; painfully aware that all eyes were on her now; studying her, evaluating her, making sure she was all right. It irritated her to no end. She knew they were wondering if she was thinking of committing suicide and to be honest, she had entertained the thought many times. But, she knew that the Doctor wouldn't want her to do that. He would want her to be strong, face life head on, and find some happiness out of it. Although, right now that seemed like a pretty tall order.
"Have a good day, love," Jackie said, kissing her cheek while Rose tried to slip past her out the door, "don't work too late. I don't get to see you that often anymore, you know."
"I know." Rose replied, "but, since I'm the so-called alien expert, I get stuck with a lot of the work."
"Well, that ain't right," Jackie said angrily, "I don't care how much of an expert they think you are. They need to give you a break. You ain't gonna be good to anyone when you drop dead of exhaustion."
"I'll talk to Ianto and see if I can get my work load eased a bit," She said, "I don't know how much good it'll do though since Ianto depends on me and my knowledge of aliens. We have a delegation coming from Phraxia 10 and he wants me to go with him and welcome them to Earth. Plus, there are a few other alien sightings we have to catalog and also, a lady supposedly saw this demon hound somewhere near Nottingham, and I have to travel there to check it out, and…"
"No! You do not have to travel anywhere!" Jackie said angrily, "you tell Ianto or whoever is in charge that they need to lay off ya and give you a break! I don't see you enough as it is and I don't want you droppin' dead of a heart attack from overwork! You tell them enough's enough. You hear me, young lady?"
Rose nodded, wanting to get the conversation over with. She was tired of hearing her mother going on about the amount of work they gave her. In truth, she always had the option of declining any assignment she was given; but the more she worked, the less time she had to think about the Doctor. She knew her mother worried about her being a workaholic and what it was doing to her health, but she really didn't care anymore. This was her life and she was old enough to live it the way she wanted to.
"I gotta go, mum. I'll be late," Rose said.
Jackie nodded. She embraced her daughter and held her tight.
"Just remember what I said," she said, in her ear.
"I will, mum," she replied.
Jackie released her from her embrace and smiled at her. She sighed and leaned against the doorframe while Rose silently turned and walked down the sidewalk towards the car.
"Oh Rose. I hope someday you do get over the Doctor," she said, softly, "otherwise, I'm afraid you're gonna end up dying of heartbreak.
Rose stood up, stretched her back, and headed towards the cafeteria to eat her lunch. She smiled at her coworkers, as they waved and called out to her. She paused a moment and waited when she saw her friend Randy hurry towards her.
"Hey, it's the alien expert," he said.
He laughed when Rose rolled her eyes.
"So, you help ET phone home today?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Nah, I just beamed up Scotty and went through the Stargate. The usual stuff, you know."
They nudged each other and giggled while they headed towards the cafeteria.
"Wonder what they're having for lunch today?" She asked Randy.
"Eh, probably dog food."
He laughed when Rose made a face.
"Nah, probably not dog food. That'd be too good for us," Randy said with a mischievous grin, "probably chopped up a diseased horse, and made it into meatloaf or something."
"You are disgusting, you know that?" Rose said, as Randy snorted out laughter, "honestly, I don't know why I put up with you."
"Because I make you smile?" Randy said.
Rose thought for a moment and then nodded.
"Yeah, you do," she said.
"Good, since there isn't much to smile about around here. Especially with Dictator Ianto running the show."
"I heard that."
Rose and Randy stopped short. They slowly turned and saw Ianto standing behind them.
"Oh, hi boss!" Randy said nervously, "I didn't realize you were back there!"
"No, obviously not, Henderson, judging from that last comment you made," Ianto said, eyeing him.
Randy swallowed hard. He glanced over at Rose.
"Meet you in the cafeteria," he said.
Rose's mouth dropped open, as she watched him quickly run away. She looked back and saw Ianto was staring at her intently.
"Hi…Mister Jones, sir," she said hesitantly.
"Ms. Tyler," Ianto said, nodding at her, "I'm so glad I happened to catch you. I have another assignment for you."
"Look, Mister Jones, I really can't, okay. My mum isn't too happy with my workload as it is, and I…"
"I understand your mother's concerns, Ms. Tyler. However, you have proven yourself time and again and there is no one else I can trust to handle this."
Rose sighed. Her mum was not going to like this.
"What is it, sir?" she asked, resigned to her fate.
"I need you to welcome another delegation this afternoon and to sit in on a meeting with them."
"It's not the Phraxians?" she asked.
"No, this delegation has come to Earth on the spur of the moment," Ianto replied, "they are looking for a criminal that has fled here and need our help to catch him."
"Oh yeah? Where are they from and who is this criminal they're after?" Rose asked.
Rose's heart almost stopped beating when she heard Ianto say...
"The delegation is from Gallifrey and they said the criminal was someone called the Doctor."