Mothers and daughters
They had been back from Norway for two weeks, and yet Rose showed no sign of cheering up. She had been quiet for the whole journey home, despite the best efforts of the rest of them to chatter, point out interesting scenery, and tell bad jokes. In the days following she had spent most of her time slumped in the library, a book unopened on her lap, staring into space.
It worried Jackie. Rose had never been one for moping, not even after Jimmy Stone, and the extent of the moping now had her properly concerned. She talked to Pete about it and he suggested a therapist, but Jackie scorned that idea. What therapist would believe her daughter when she talked about missing an alien from another universe?
She talked to Mickey about it, but he just said, "Give her time". Somehow Jackie didn't think time would cure the problem either.
There wasn't anyone she could discuss the problem with, not anymore, but after a night in front of the telly Jackie decided there was only one solution; a time-honoured solution. She borrowed Pete's credit stick, found her coat and bag, and marched into the library.
"Come on," she said, picking Rose's book off her lap and throwing a jacket on to it instead. "Out."
"Don't want to," Rose murmured.
"I'm not having that," Jackie said, firmly, arms folded. "You, me, lunch. And shopping. And talking. We haven't had a proper chat for months, seems like. We used to talk all the time."
Rose looked up, old mascara smudged around her eyes. "What's there to talk about?"
"Anything!" said Jackie. "I'm your mum, sweetheart; we shouldn't need a reason to talk." Reluctantly, Rose stood up and put on her jacket. Jackie felt triumphant. "C'mon, then. Lunch is on Vitex. I think. Might be on Torchwood. Either way, we're not paying, so let's go somewhere nice."
They ended up in the restaurant on the top floor of London's flashiest department store, served by waiters who could have been models. Jackie unfolded her napkin with a satisfied sigh.
"There, isn't this nice?"
"I s'pose." Rose glanced at the menu, and closed it.
"Rose, you haven't eaten properly for days," Jackie protested, thinking of the various uneaten dishes she'd tipped into the bin and the empty crisp packets on the library floor.
"I'll have the lamb chops," Rose said, to the waiter. Jackie added salmon to the order and he went away silently.
"Who'd've thought we'd be sitting here," Jackie said. She hesitated, but decided Rose was probably already in a huff with her and she might as well seize the moment. "Did the Doctor ever take you anywhere fancy like this?"
Rose, fiddling with her fork, laughed shortly. "Not like this."
"He he's not into eating much."
"I always said he needed feeding up," Jackie said.
"He never was," Rose returned, looking up. "Even before. I don't think he needs food like we do. But yeah, sometimes we went to restaurants and that. Sometimes we just got chips and ate them somewhere with a view."
"That sounds nice," Jackie said.
"Yeah. It was."
The waiter came with bread, warm from the oven. Absently, Rose split her roll and put butter on it; Jackie followed suit. "So it wasn't all running away from aliens and saving the world?" she asked.
Rose swallowed a mouthful of bread. "Nah. We went places. He showed me so much. Gardens, with weird flowers. Museums on planets light-years away. Cities with skyscrapers so high we couldn't see the top. Stars forming." Her gaze was distant. "Just because we could, and because he wanted me to see it all."
"Oh, Rose," said Jackie, putting her hand over her daughter's. She realised she had never really asked Rose about travelling with the Doctor - she had merely been grateful for visits and phone calls, and never quite trusting of him and his motives. "I s'pose, compared to that, posh restaurants are a bit of a let-down."
"No." Rose suddenly turned their hands over and gripped Jackie's firmly. "Don't think that, Mum. This is nice - I'm sorry, I've been "
"Wrapped up in yourself," Jackie said. "It's all right. You should've seen me after your dad got himself killed. I was useless for weeks. Didn't realise how much I loved him till I lost him."
"I knew how much I loved him," said Rose. "I didn't think I'd ever lose him. 'Cos no matter what the danger was, we always came through. It was me and him against the universe, and we always won." She turned tear-filled eyes on Jackie. "I loved him, and I thought he loved me, but he never said."
Jackie felt in her handbag and pulled out a packet of tissues. "Here. Course he loved you, Rose, any fool could see that. He loved you to bits, and why wouldn't he? He was a lot of things, but he wasn't stupid."
"Isn't," Rose put in. "He's not dead."
Their food came, served on white plates and looking delicious. Jackie dug in and, after a moment, Rose did too. "This is really good," she said, sounding surprised.
"Bloody well ought to be, for the price," Jackie agreed.
"It's nice, though, not worrying about money, isn't it?" Rose said.
Jackie chewed salmon. "I thought you weren't into the whole rich thing."
"I'm not," Rose said, wiping gravy from the corner of her mouth, "but I got used to it, with the Doctor. He just zaps the machine, and out comes the cash. I don't think he knows about the value of it, and anyway he'd rather not bother, but he doesn't worry."
"Endless cash, and you left me on an estate?"
"Paradox?" said Rose, apologetically. Giving her a pointed look, Jackie speared beans with her fork. Rose gave in. "All right, so I could've helped, or something. Sorry?"
"I'll forgive you," Jackie replied, "if you start talking to me again. You know you're not the first Tyler woman to have lost the bloke she loved." She thought of Pete - both Petes, the useless fiddler and the millionaire inventor - and smiled to herself. "And if I found my bloke again, so can you."
Rose put down her cutlery and picked up her water. "He said it was impossible," she said, staring at the glass.
"Then he's an idiot," said Jackie. "C'mon, Rose, he's not always right. I reckon with all that stuff you've got to play with, you can find a way to see him again. And you can talk to me about him while you look. I want to hear about all those mad places he took you."
Slowly, Rose's lips curled upwards. "He did take me to some crazy spots." She sipped water, and finally started talking.
Jackie, her heart joyous, listened, and laughed, and asked questions, and watched the sparkle begin to return to her daughter's eyes and the colour to her cheeks. Rose kept talking between mouthfuls of lamb, and then as she dug into lemon tart. Afterwards they strolled down through the department store, and bought clothes and a handbag for Jackie that she didn't need, but could at least afford.
It was late by the time they collapsed into the car and told Pete's driver to take them home. Rose pushed bags aside and leaned her head on Jackie's shoulder; Jackie, as she used to, found herself gently stroking her daughter's hair.
"Thanks," said Rose.
"Thanks for what, sweetheart?"
"For making me talk. And eat. I'm sorry. I just miss him."
Jackie nodded. "Course you do. That's all right, you know. You can always talk to me. I'm your mum, that's what I'm for."
Rose reached up and held her hand. "Yeah. Love you."
"Love you too," Jackie said, and they fell silent as the car took them home.