She woke up with a start. Disoriented she looked around the room. Where was she? Why couldn’t she hear the soft, reassuring sounds of the TARDIS? Panic started to rise in her. This wasn’t her room on the TARDIS. Her heart felt like it was breaking. Where was he? Where was the Doctor? It felt like she had lost him. Only a dream, only a bad dream.
Slowly rational thought returned. And she remembered. Two years. Two years ago she had lost him. Two years since she had seen him. An eternity since she had felt whole.
She sank back into her bed. How could it have been such a long time ago? And still she hadn’t come any closer to finding a way back. Sure, it was impossible, but she had never liked to be told what she could or could not do. The only thing she was really afraid of, that one day she would just give up.
Rose had tried to live a normal life. She really had. She had her family, some casual friends, this great flat and an important job she was really good at. But even working at Torchwood, seeing all those incredible, scary and beautiful things, making first contact with new species and trying to lead this planet into a better future did not fill the hole that loosing him had left in her.
Even her family had finally lost patience and understanding for her, especially since the baby had arrived. So she tried to move on and now, almost two years after their last meeting on the beach, there were hours when she didn’t have think of him, days when the longing for him did not drive her insane.
But even now thinking of that meeting on the beach her heart felt like it was being clenched by an iron grip and tears came to her eyes. Oh, what she wouldn’t have given to touch him one last time, to bury her hands in his hair, to see his smile, to feel his arms around her, in that hug where she felt happy and safe and at home. One last chance to tell him how she felt, and to finally hear him say the words, that she had almost heard him say.
In the first months after she had arrived here this had happened to her all the time. Waking up, not knowing where she was, the dreams of the Doctor more real than her life. And after the goodbye on the beach, her family had hoped that she could finally move on. So she had perfected the hiding of her emotions, trying to bury them deep inside, presenting the world a mask of happiness and contentment. Sometimes she wondered that nobody could see the real Rose Tyler, just barely under the surface of this fake smile, screaming in agony.
Especially in the fall and winter nights, when it got dark early, despair would sometimes wrap itself around her, like a thick blanket, trying to suffocate her. He had probably already moved on, had forgotten about her. He had never loved her. She had just imagined it, seen love in his words and looks, when it was only friendship. On the beach he hadn’t meant to say he loved her. Maybe he was even glad to be rid of her. He had found love and was happy with another woman.
Thoughts like that kept circling in her mind when she was lying in her dark flat. Thoughts that trapped her in her sadness with no chance of escaping. Her family, Mickey or her friends did not notice it. Every morning her mask would be up again, perfect without cracks, hiding her true feelings.
She didn’t blame them for not noticing. Mickey had a new girlfriend that finally could provide him with the attention he needed, her mum and Pete were busy with the baby and she had not let any of her friends close enough to even suspect that under the surface of her smile there was a world of sadness, longing and despair. She was even glad that she had succeeded in making them believe she had moved on. They had never truly understood the bond between her and the Doctor. When they mentioned him, she would brush it away, change the topic, jealous of their memories of him and pretended that they had never met him, that she was the only person on this planet, in this universe that knew him.
Then sometimes on a sunny day she would suddenly remember a place they had visited, or a smell or word would take her back His dark eyes finding hers across the room or in a crowd. His hand in hers, his arms keeping her safe. And all the joy and love came rolling over her filling her heart so that she thought it might burst and she would laugh and cry at the same time.
Slowly she got out of her bed and walked to the big cupboard. She opened it’s doors, knelt down and out of the depths she pulled a plain carton box. She sat on her bed and put it next to her, her hands resting on the lid. She closed her eyes tilted her head down and remained like this for a short while. Then she took a deep breath, as if bracing herself, and opened the box. In it was a blue woollen jacket. Slowly she put her hands in the box, feeling the fabric. She closed her eyes again. Pictures flashed through her mind: the Doctor disappearing; finding herself in this world; returning to him, telling him that she had chosen long ago, that he was her choice, forever; the Doctor, his face distorted from a scream, the scream that still rang in her ears….
Carefully, as if it were the most precious, most fragile thing she lifted the jacket out of it’s container, lifted it to her face and smelled it. There was nothing left of his smell. With a small cry of anguish she tried another spot and another, finally burying her whole face in it. Her shoulders started to shake.