Set post-series 2, pre-series 4, before RTD went and destroyed a beautifully crafted tragic ending.
Rose Tyler used to think she knew a lot about love. She'd read piles of Mills & Boone paperbacks that belonged to her mother that glossed over the deeper feelings and focussed in on longing-from-afar and sexual attraction. Her and her friends used to read them aloud when they were younger, laughing at the rude bits and teasing each other over whichever boy had taken their fancy of late. Rose had felt like that about Jimmy. She'd loved him like that, but never more.
She'd watched all the epic romance films as well, fantasising about what she'd be like were she part of one of those iconic couples. Scarlett and Rhett, Yuri Zhivago and Lara, Jack and Rose … the names of the latter couple made her laugh when she was older. They'd appealed to her more because of the tragic endings that made her feel so wistful and full. And because they glorified love; it was all hearts and roses, dancing and glittering palaces, drama and fights and passionate kisses.
But Rose soon realised love wasn't anything like that.
Love wasn't always something sexual. It was platonic – the love for a father, a brother, a friend. She loved Pete and she didn't have a proper conversation with him until she was nineteen years old. She'd idealised him which had been a mistake, but he was still her father and she loved him unconditionally against all of the monsters and demons that were prepared to stand in that sort of love's way.
She loved Jackie and Tony like that too. And Mickey, who was a whole other matter altogether. Jackie, the constant force in her life, who loved Rose in the same way Rose loved Tony. Tony, a tiny baby barely seconds old and Rose already felt prepared to kill anyone willing to harm him. She gave him the motherly hugs and wise words that Jackie had given her, vying to make the world a safer place just for that small person who needed her.
Love was needing someone so much you would give up anything for them. Like your own mother or your newfound father. This was where love confused Rose – because platonic love and love of another nature started to bleed into one another until she couldn't tell the difference. Until that one person whom this whole mess surrounded became more than just a friend or a boyfriend or a lover. Until the frivolities and niceties that everyone associated with love didn't even exist in her mind.
Because that's what love wasn't to Rose – it wasn't pink flowers or empty promises. It had nothing to do with looking beautiful or kissing or spending a whole day curled up on the sofa with only each other's eyes to gaze adoringly into. Those sorts of things meant nothing to her.
Love was leaning upon a whitewashed wall, banging your fists against it until they were bleeding and bruised, hovering as though you could feel that person doing the same thing somewhere miles away. It was messy and it hurt and you never knew if it worked out all right in the end. It didn't demand closure or words, even if they were the one thing you needed most in the world.
It was having to be sedated before she would leave him alone on a burning planet, being prepared to put up with a French mistress in order for him to be just that little bit less lonely, because you couldn't give him whatever it was that she could. It was loving someone no matter what they looked like and because of it. It was realising that some things are worth getting your heart broken for, worth the monsters.
Her mother, Mickey … they'd all told her how it would end. A list of dead followed him around and she knew it was only so long until she ended up there. She was lost with him, then found. But she was alive and now she'd drowned.
For her it was standing on a beach in a foreign country, crying into the wind until she was red in the face and snotty and her hair resembled an explosion. It wasn't pretty or devastatingly beautiful like the heroines of those films, but it was real and that was all she could be thankful for.
At least love was.