Wants to go back.
She's in Pete's world six months before he finds her.
She's in Pete's world six months, two days before he leaves her, fading away into nothingness as if he'd never existed at all. She's left alone on a beach in Norway, crying her heart out.
She's in Pete's world six months, five days before she stops.
Rose goes from a state of shock and grief to one of determination. The Doctor had told her she could never see him again. She is not standing for that.
"He's the Doctor," Mickey says when she tells him this. "He'd know if there was a way here, Rose."
"We did it before," Rose says stubbornly. "We did it before and it can happen again."
"Yeah, but it was an accident. You think he's gonna come looking for you? 'Cos I don't." Mickey's voice changes, becomes quiet and serious. "You know how can't, Rose." He doesn't want to hurt her. He knows how much she's been hurt already, but he can't let her keep hoping for something that won't happen.
Rose rounds on him. "Don't you say that! He'd be here if he could. He'd never do something that would harm the universe."
Mickey doesn't state the obvious. That if the Doctor really cared about her he would do whatever he had to in order to get her back. "He won't hurt the universe. Time paradox and all that stuff. So you're gonna do it, instead? You. By yourself. Without him."
"It'll never work, Rose." Mickey shakes his head, trying to help her, trying to make her see the futility of it.
Rose stares at him for a long moment, breath heaving in her chest. "You just watch me," she says finally, and walks away.
But as the days and weeks turn to months, she starts to feel real fear. Time moves differently on this world. Mickey has told her that less than a year on her real world equals nearly three years on this one. With every breath she takes, every night that she tries to go to sleep, time is passing by, and it won't touch the Doctor. Not for a long while yet. She is getting older and older while time at home is standing still.
She tries to work out how much time is passing for him, writing down how long she's been here and how long that worked out to be there. She gives up - it's too complicated for her to handle right now - the Doctor would know. He always knows.
She has to get back. She will get back.
It is what she says to herself over and over and over again.
Maybe someday she'll believe it.
Torchwood hires her on. She'd played a part in the defeat
of the Cybermen - they have her picture up from the security tapes that survived. She's there, with Pete and the Doctor and the Cyber Controller, right before the Doctor plugged in her mobile phone and let Mickey begin the sequence that disrupted all the Cybermen circuits. Standing there in her maid's uniform and silly white apron, standing between the two men she loved.
She has Pete now, and he is and isn't her dad. The loss of the Doctor is too great for her to think about that too much. Her first Doctor died for her, died for Pete, and now she's lost him again. Pete is kind to her, and is trying to be a father to her.
Once she wanted this chance so much. A mother and a father, together as a family. Jackie is happier than Rose has ever seen her. They don't want for anything. Pete is a happy man and dotes on them both. She would give all of this up, the money and the mansion and her mother and Pete, for the chance to go back.
"It's not so bad here, you know," Jackie says encouragingly. They're having breakfast together in the kitchen, just Rose and Jackie.
Rose nods, not really hearing her. Easy enough for Jackie, with a dead husband come back to her and a baby on the way. Easy enough for Mickey, with his gran restored to him.
She's the only left all alone, and she can't breathe.
"He said you can't see him again," Jackie continues, and Rose wants to scream out in rage. "Please, sweetheart, can't you accept what's done?"
Rose turns to look at Jackie, her eyes wide and fierce. "No. I won't."
Torchwood seems harmless enough. There are those who are suspicious of her. Rose doesn't blame them much. Pete's grown daughter, back from nowhere, along with the wife who should have died years back. No reason for gossip, there. They know who she really is. Torchwood is full of gossip. Its employees, field agents and office workers alike, recognize her. Whispers follow her where she goes. Sometimes she hears the Doctor's name spoken.
She doesn't know these people very well. She gets the distinct impression that they don't think much of her. She doesn't care. Pete brought her here, and she's only here until the Doctor finds her. Or she finds him.
"You've been talking about the Doctor again," Pete says quietly. He's come down to Rose's desk, speaking softly to keep anyone nearby from overhearing.
Rose looks up at him and slowly nods.
"I know that you learned everything from him," Pete begins. "But you can't keep looking at him like a savior, Rose."
"He stopped the Cybermen," she reminds him.
"I know. I'm not saying that he's not fantastic," Pete adds hastily, and Rose flinches involuntarily, "because he is. But he's not here anymore and it's up to us now to defend the Earth."
It's the Wrong Earth, Rose wants to exclaim. She's on the wrong Earth, she's in the wrong place. With Pete watching her anxiously, she holds her tongue.
"You need to accept what happened, Rose. Your mother is worried about you. And with the baby-"
"Tell Mum not to worry," Rose interrupts him. "I'm okay."
There is more Pete wants to say, but a call has come through, and Rose ducks out on a mission, relieved not to have to continue that conversation.
"Seriously, Rose," Mickey says as he drives the van to the alien abduction spot, "You need to get over him."
"I don't need to get over anyone," Rose says calmly.
Jake sighs, the familiar argument starting up again.
"He's not coming for you," Mickey persists, barreling down the street and hitting every pothole there is. "Odds are he's already bumped into some sweet young thing and convinced her to come aboard-"
Jake coughs something that sounds like, "Shut up, Mickey."
Rose grows very still. Mickey is reminded that she is carrying a weapon, but damn it all, he's not the sap she left behind on the estate. Not anymore.
"I'm not your lapdog, Rose, and I'm not gonna spend my life listening to how great the Doctor was."
"We're here," Jake says.
"He is great," Rose says to Mickey. "And I'm not staying here."
Mickey tosses her a weapon from the storage container in the back of the van. "You're here now. Let's do our job."
Jake's look of sympathy is more than Rose can bear. She glares at him, ferociously, and stalks off.
The aliens don't stand a chance against her. They're rounded up almost before Mickey and Jake catch up with her.
"You're not gonna live long enough to find the Doctor, the way you're going," Mickey says bluntly.
Rose ignores him.
Her knowledge of alien things is valuable, and she slowly wins over the trust of some of the Torchwood personnel.
She's usually paired with Jake and Mickey out in the field, and she's amused and secretly proud of Mickey to see how well he does his job.
"Learned a thing or two from ol' big ears," he admits. "And from pretty boy."
Rose tries not to wince and doesn't remind Mickey that they were both the Doctor. "Yeah. Yeah, we both did."
After a few months Rose's abilities are noticed by some of the higher-ups. Pete asks her to train a new field agent. Rose agrees, though not without some hesitation. Just because she knows a few things about aliens doesn't mean she knows everything about Torchwood.
The new agent is called Riley, and she is a nice girl who doesn't say much but is good at her job. At the end of the training period Riley is passed and approved, and Rose is commended for her part in it.
"I didn't think I'd make it this far," Riley admits to Rose. "Thanks."
Rose smiles. "You did it yourself."
Riley is teamed up with two other agents, both more experienced than she is. Riley's partners are two men, and while Rose finds one of them harmless enough, the other one puts her instantly on her guard. He is too tall, too good-looking, and she wants nothing to do with men who want to meet her because of who they think she is.
This one ignores her, though, not bothering to talk more than necessary when they're working together. She has to deal with him, though, because she and Mickey and Jake often team up with Riley and her team. The first time he bothers to address Rose directly is during a field mission near Leeds. They're the only two left to break down a power generator modified by a group of Thenoplots and left in the middle of a field. Jake and Mickey are rounding up the aliens, and Riley and her other teammate, Ian, are making sure the locals haven't seen too much.
The power generator is harmless enough to Thenoplots, but it would destroy most of Leeds if left alone. The aliens were using it to warm the den they'd built in the field. It's so powerful that the ground around it is hot to the touch.
"Hand me that clamp," Simon tells her, holding out his hand without looking.
"What, this one?" Rose asks. The clamps all look a bit alike, even though she knows each one has a specific purpose.
"The clamp!" he says impatiently, and yelps when Rose pushes it, sharp ends down, into his hand.
"Right one, then?" she asks calmly.
He stares at her over the blood on his palm. "That's the one," he says slowly, and turns to finish what he was doing.
A few weeks later she's in the field with him again, called there because of her previous alien knowledge. Simon is waiting for her and is ready to lash out before she can even ask what the situation is.
"Are you done begging for help to get back to where you came from?" he asks in exaggerated surprise. "So nice that you could join us."
Rose stiffens, but she is aware of Jake and Mickey, just meters away, trying to keep tabs on an alien creature that landed in a small silver pod. She's been talking about the Doctor, asking Pete that they start working on something that would get her back home. She's been aware, in a vague sort of way, that not everyone at Torchwood seems to appreciate the way she's trying to leave their world. Apparently Simon is one of them.
"I was called down here," Rose says carefully. "Something about an alien device. Seeing as how I'm the only one who knows anything about aliens. If you'd rather try and do this on your own, I'll leave you to it. Maybe you'll figure it out before it's too late."
"You're a right bitch, aren't you?" he says conversationally. "You show up out of nowhere, acting high and mighty, like we're all too good for you. Why are you here? You could go give charity balls or something."
Rose ignores him for a minute, kneeling down on the floor, trying desperately to make sense out of the alien machine that looks so familiar but that she just can't identify. Mickey and Jake are just out of earshot, waiting for her to figure things out so they can be finished. She glances up at Mickey and he makes waving motions with his hands.
Hurry up, he seems to be motioning to her. Let's go, already.
"I'm here because I know more about aliens than the lot of you put together," she says calmly.
Simon rolls his eyes. "Here we go. I've heard about you, you know. How you came from a parallel world with a doctor? Does that make you Torchwood's savior? Are we supposed to all be impressed by you, Rose?"
Rose slowly gets to her feet. "I've seen more worlds than you can ever hope to see. I've seen the end of the world and the start of other ones. I've been to the year 5 billion. I was born on a planet that isn't this one, in a universe that isn't this one. I fell through the Void, and you know that happened."
"You fell through somewhere," he says, but he is testing her, she knows that, and she doesn't understand why. The anger rises inside her and she snarls at him.
"I don't belong here!" she shouts. "I don't belong here, mucking around with your stupid aliens. I don't belong here!"
He watches her temper tantrum dispassionately, arms folded across his chest.
"Not bad," he says finally. "Suck it up. You think we want to be here? I'd be teaching at university if not for the Cybermen. Our job is to defend the Earth, Agent Tyler. Get to work."
The device is a small homing beacon. She's seen one before, a long time ago in the future. The Doctor had used one like it to find Jack, who'd gotten lost and captured on a planet of women looking to repopulate their species. Jack hadn't been pleased to be rescued so soon. Rose smiles faintly at the memory and switches it off. They take it back to Torchwood for further study.
Anthony Peter Tyler is born at four in the morning. Pete calls Rose from the hospital, elated and exhausted. Rose dresses and rushes to the hospital immediately.
"Mum!" She finds Jackie in her hospital bed and leans over to hug her mother tightly.
"How are you?"
Jackie looks tired but she is smiling. "I'm just lovely," Jackie says. "It's a boy. Come meet your brother."
Rose accepts the bundle that Jackie hands her. "He's so small," she marvels, peeking inside the blue blanket. A red, wrinkled face peers back at her. A light dusting of brown fuzz covers his hair. His eyes are a dark blue.
"Oh, he's gorgeous," Rose says in a hushed voice. "Hello there."
"You're a big sister now," Pete says. "How does it feel?"
Rose smiles down at the baby, tears forming in her eyes. "It's brilliant," she whispers.
Something in her heart finally begins to heal.
"Do you need to speak to someone?" Jackie asks tentatively.
Rose rolls her eyes. "Of course not, Mum," she says automatically. She's been denying that she needs help for so long she's starting to believe it herself. After a moment she adds, "What would I say, anyway?"
Jackie sighs. "Rose."
"Please don't," Rose says quietly. "I'm okay."
And she's not, but she's starting to be. Her pain is slowly receding. She's not given up on the Doctor, she won't ever do that, but she's accepted the fact that he will not risk the universes for her. He would never take such a risk. That is not who he is, and she knows it.
She will do it, instead.
Rose walks along the streets of London at night. It's winter and it's cold outside. Her second winter here. A fountain has frozen over in the square, the water stuck in an arc. Looking at it, Rose can almost picture an immense frozen ocean, waves curving high over her head. She sees a dark head leaning in close to her, slowly blocking out the light. If she closes her eyes she can almost feel lips brushing against hers.
Tears rush to her eyes. Rose brushes them away. She searches the sky, waiting. Always waiting, always hoping.
"Come back," she whispers for the tenth, hundredth, thousandth time since she's found herself here. "Find me."
The skies are empty of flying blue boxes. The key is cold in her hand.
Eventually, she forgets the exact feel of her hand in his, forgets the clean scent of his hair. But she doesn't forget what matters, and she keeps trying. Even after working at Torchwood, long hours of training and special ops and all kinds of ridiculous adventures, she never gives up on the Doctor.
"Mickey's very good at this," Jake says, ducking his head to avoid a massive ball of flames. "You guys have practice at this sort of thing?"
Rose is flat on her stomach, arms covering her head.
"No, not like this," she says. "Shame, too."
Jake takes a deep breath and heaves a grenade, covering Mickey long enough to let him get clear of the aliens who have set themselves on fire for the express purpose of killing the Torchwood agents who've come to arrest them.
The grenade explodes, sending sparks and bits of alien all over the place. Jake yells and falls down beside Rose, trying to keep the debris out of his hair.
"Oh, that smells disgusting," Rose gasps.
Mickey collapses in a heap beside them. "How bout that, eh? Just another day on the job." He's grinning like a maniac.
Rose looks at him, covered in blood and horrible, awful green alien flesh, and starts to laugh. It's almost painful, and feels so foreign, but it is a laugh.
"Yeah," Mickey says in satisfaction. "I'm that good."
Simon is nicer to her. She tries to be nicer to him. Eventually Rose finds herself in a friendship she never expected. It's a bit of a surprise, but it's nice. Riley makes her go out for drinks once in a while. Mickey's manner towards her changes. He still loves her but he knows that she will never love him back the way he wants. He tries to be her friend. Rose tries to be normal.
She insists on moving out of the mansion. The baby is getting bigger, and she thinks that Pete and Jackie deserve some time to be a family.
"But you're part of this family," Jackie protests. "You belong here."
"What, with Tony here, too?" Rose asks in amusement. She pats the baby, sleeping in Jackie's arms. "You don't need me."
"Since Mickey and his gran moved out, it's been too quiet," Pete says. "Even with the baby. This is your home, Rose.""
"It's time I lived on my own for a while." Rose looks at her parents, wanting them to understand.
"But where will you go?" Jackie asks.
"There's a flat for sale, not too far from the Tower."
"Where?" Jackie presses. "Is it safe?"
"I think Rose can handle herself, Jacks," Pete says.
Rose is shocked beyond words when they present her with the paperwork for her own flat the next week. Pete has bought the flat outright for her.
"It's yours," he says. "We'll always be here if you need us."
Rose hugs him tightly. They mistake the reason for the tears in her eyes. They think she is happy and grateful. And she is. But she's crying because she loves these two so much, and she's plotting to leave them with every breath she takes.
"You seeing anybody?" Riley asks Rose one day as they're shopping during lunch.
"For what?" Rose isn't much for shopping, not anymore, but she'd agreed to go along with Riley. Once they were standing in the middle of a shoe department, Rose founds herself picking up shoes.
"For...dating and stuff."
Rose picks up a hot pink shoe. "No. There's no one I care about."
"Cute shoes," Riley says approvingly. "You going to try them on?"
Rose looks at the shoes for a long time. "No," she says finally. "I used to have a pair like this, that's all."
"They'd look cute with a black dress," Riley says decisively.
"Or a pink one," Rose says softly.
She wonders if it's time to give up, if it's time to let go of blue boxes and pink dresses and accept her fate in this world. Maybe the universe is trying to tell her something.
"These are nice, aren't they?" Riley is holding up another shoe.
Rose turns around, the pink show in her hand. Riley is holding up a pair of trainers, white plimsolls that are so familiar that Rose's breath stops.
"Rose? You okay?"
She sets the pink shoe down carefully. The universe is telling her something, and she's going to listen.
Simon lives a few streets over from her new flat. They've reached a point of easy friendship, though he is liable to roll his eyes if she mentions the Doctor too often. He is an easy alternative to Mickey and Jake, and to her parents. Someone to talk to, who understands and usually keeps his opinions to himself.
"This Doctor would be here if he could," Simon says one evening. "But he's not. You can't wish your life away, Rose."
"I'm not wishing it away," she corrects him. "I'm waiting."
"For what?" he demands.
They're in her flat, eating Chinese takeaway and watching a movie on tv.
He sighs and gives up. "Sure."
"It's going to happen," Rose says.
He shakes his head, wearily. It's an old conversation, one that he's grown tired of.
"This movie's a bit rubbish," Rose says finally.
"It's all right."
"What's it even about?"
"It's called Attack of the Venusian Spiders. You figure it out."
"Seriously?" She is surprised into laughter.
Simon clicks the button on the remote that brings the movie information up on the screen. Sure enough, the movie is set in fifty-first century Venus, where native spiders are attacking.
"Seems a bit make-believe," Rose says critically.
He rolls his eyes. "You been to Venus, then?" Like the others at Torchwood, he's heard the stories. He just doesn't believe all of them.
"Not in the fifty-first century. Had a friend, once, who was. From the fifty-first century, I mean," she clarifies. "Not from Venus. He was human."
"No wonder they all think you're crazy."
"I'm not crazy." Rose says it quietly and calmly, her eyes still on the screen. "I've told you, over and over. I traveled with a man called the Doctor. He stopped the Cybermen invasion a few years ago here. We'd come from a different universe. And now I'm trapped here until he comes for me."
"Oh, Tyler, that has got to be the oldest story in the world." Simon's voice is a combination of pity and scorn. "He's not coming back. You're trapped here, yeah? What's to make him come for you?"
Rose's face sets in that determined pose he knows so well already. "I will get back to him. I don't belong here. I belong with him."
"You're here for a reason. Mickey doesn't seem to be missing your Doctor so much. He's adjusted."
"He's coping and he's doing well."
"Mickey didn't lose anyone. I did." Rose hears her voice break a bit and hates herself for it.
"You're not the only one who lost someone you loved," he says quietly. "The Cybermen-"
Rose stills for a moment, then looks over at him. "Who did you lose?"
He glances away. "My wife."
They do not speak of it again.
The third winter in Pete's world is a rough one. Jackie and Pete are excited about celebrating the holiday with Tony. People are with family and friends, and the ache of missing the Doctor is so strong that she can't stand it. She worries that he's alone, that he's lonely and hurt.
She worries that he might not be alone.
"There has to be a way," Rose pleads in Pete's office. "You've made those hoppers before, and it got you across to the parallel world! If we did that again-"
"There was a rift between the worlds," Pete says. "You know that. "That let us get through. You know how dangerous it was, Rose. I'm not willing to risk that again."
"I want to go back, Pete."
"I know you do, Rose." Pete's voice breaks a bit. "I know what it means to you, sweetheart. But I can't risk lives to get you back." Pete's voice changes from kind to businesslike again. "And with no rift on this side it's impossible."
"There is always a way," Rose says. "The Doctor taught me that. We just need to find it."
"We're not going to look for that way," Pete says firmly. "My decision is final, Rose. We're not going to mess with the universe. The risk is too high. I'm sorry."
Scientists at Torchwood don't always follow direct orders. Rose knows that something is going on in the labs, at night when the building is usually empty.
She makes friends with some of the scientists and they admit their secret to her readily enough, once she makes it clear she's not there spying for anyone else.
"A means of crossing across dimensions," one of them tells her. Her name is Margaret Adams, and she is in charge of this particular project.
Rose stares, her gaze intense. "It could get someone back across?"
"Back to another world, yes. Or a different dimension."
Rose swallows hard. "Is it finished?"
"Oh, no. Not yet. And it's not something we can discuss."
A thought occurs to Rose. "Does my - does Mr. Tyler know about this?"
"He wasn't going to tell me," Rose murmurs.
"That I can't speak to, of course."
Rose takes a deep breath. She will deal with Pete on her own time. She feels a deep sense of betrayal that he would authorize something like this without telling her, but she knows why, of course. He's not willing to risk her life, her safety. He's not willing to say goodbye.
And then the stars begin to go out, one by one by one. Planets that once hung in the skies wink out without a sign. The issue of whether Pete should have told Rose about the dimension cannon is no longer important.
That day Torchwood's scientists begin to work in earnest.
The dimension cannon is finished, and even though Pete is against Rose's trying it, she goes. She is flung into a brand new world, and the shock nearly kills her. Managing to get home, she goes over what went wrong and what went right, and tries again.
She never counts how often she moves, going from world to world. She sees almost immediately how the Doctor was needed. His touch is everywhere. In some worlds he travelled alone, in others she was with him. The variations of what happened to her, and to him, on those worlds almost brings her to her knees.
Sometimes she dies, of age or by accident, leaving him alone. Once or twice he was forced to regenerate. She left him, once, to live out a normal life, the one thing he couldn't give her. He lived on, alone and sad and dark.
The day she saw him on Earth on Christmas Eve, destroying the empress of the Racnoss and her offspring, was the day Rose realized the Doctor was a force she had never really understand.
Alien and mysterious, dark and dangerous.
She doesn't care. She loves him.
Finally, finally, Rose does it. Makes it to almost the right world at almost the right time. Only to find the Doctor dead. Dead, not regenerated. It almost breaks her, but she goes back home. She starts over, armed only with the name of a red-haired woman. She finds a way to make it work again. To change the outcome of his fate and alter time. She calls on the power of Bad Wolf. Bad Wolf is still there, within her, small and tiny and waiting. She only dimly understands how she harnesses that power, but she does. To send him a message that he can't possibly misinterpret.
To get what she wants.
She moves again, using the dimension cannon to shift her across the worlds to the correct one. She lands in the midst of battle, the sights and sounds of it so familiar by now that explosions don't make her blink. She moves through the dark carrying a weapon guaranteed to kill a Dalek.
She finds the Doctor, finally finds him, finally gets to touch him again. She has no plans to leave him. She'd said her goodbyes and made her plans, and her focus was always on the Doctor. She will stay with him forever, travel through time and space with him on the TARDIS - live happily ever after. They have saved the universe together, and the very least she deserves is a forever with him.
The Doctor has other plans in store, other goodbyes for her. Once again, he makes a choice for her without asking what it is she wants.
This time, Rose lets him. She's seen too much to risk his life again. She lets him manipulate her into something she doesn't want, and truthfully, she doesn't realize it's been done until she turns around on that beach in Norway and sees the TARDIS disappear.
Her Doctor. Dark and mysterious. Rose could never see how alien he was, how the core of him was simply not a man.
"All in all," the other Doctor says to her, running his hand through his hair in a gesture so familiar that Rose wants to cry, right there on the spot, "I'm the same man you met in that department store basement. I told you to run and I took you to Cardiff and Woman Wept. I'm the same man who regenerated and fought the Sycorax and burned up a sun to say goodbye to you. I'm the man who ran to you before the Dalek shot me."
Rose isn't sure if it hurts more to believe it or more not to.
She has lost one Doctor but gained something more. A human man who loves her, who would do anything for her.
"Did he plan this, all along?" she asks one morning. "You and me?"
They're in bed, lying together under the tangle of blankets. Her heart is still racing, and the question is asked before she is really aware of asking it.
"I think he knew the outcomes, once he realized what had happened to me and to Donna." Her Doctor's voice barely catches on Donna's name. A good sign.
"He knew I didn't really need fixing. But he did know that I needed you."
Rose sighs. Decisions made for her, not with her.
"We can't change it, Rose," he says quietly. "I know you would like to, but as for me, I would stay here with you."
Rose leans up on one elbow, tracing the planes of his face. "Oh, love," she says softly. "I wouldn't change it, either. I made my choice. I'm never leaving you."
Rose Tyler is home.