Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they're here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
The days after the battle seemed to last forever.
Across the world millions had suffered, but the majority of the fatalities were in London.
The news was a constant stream, a slowly growing list of the dead. Names appeared, slowly followed by photos. Brief stories of their lives, who they were, what they had done, who they would have been. Men and women who had committed the simple crime of looking a monster in the face and being something different.
It was hard to identify the bodies. The ones who had defied were easiest; they were whole, found in their homes or in the streets. The “upgraded” were harder. The Cybermen had left little of the human behind, and some were identified only by bloodied ID cards. Friends and family sought each other out, mobile phones ringing desperately across the city as mothers, sons, wives prayed to hear the voices of their loved ones.
Torchwood Tower echoed with calls that would never be answered.
It was a week before a list was released. There were more, everyone knew, who laid in hospital beds fighting for survival, but for now they knew the dead.
Not since the Blitz had the city seen destruction like this. It was pointless, it was cruel, and it resonated deep in the heart of London.
Across the city there were small vigils, groups gathering and growing together. Communities formed across all boundaries. Sex, race, class and creed became irrelevant as they stood shoulder to shoulder. Flames passed from person to person, candles lighting upon tear-stained faces, flowers surrounding photos of friends, family, neighbours who had been lost in the battle. At Canary Wharf the crowds slowly merged, thousands converging into one.
The night was quiet in a way that was alien to a city as vibrant and alive as London. Its visitors had taken to their rooms or joined the vigils, reaching out to those who had lost and those who grieved. There had never been a night like this before, and they all prayed desperately that this would never come again.
There were no strangers. Schoolteachers stood beside shop workers, butchers comforted politicians. Almost half a million people took to the streets to mourn.
Together the city cried.
Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be.
There's a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
Mickey stared at the small altar. Two bronze urns sat atop it. There was no body, of course, for Rose. Like most of the men and women who hadn’t been found, they had filled her urn with dust from Canary Wharf.
The Doctor hadn’t even bothered to tell them. A number of people had been located simply by CCTV records: they went into Torchwood Tower and didn’t come out. He didn’t know what exactly had happened to Rose, but when he saw the Doctor leave without her he knew enough.
There were pictures beside each of the urns. A tossed off grin from Jackie at a party a few weeks back, and one of the pair when Rose was small, bundled up in winter wear and holding her mother’s hand as she learned to skate. The last was Rose on her own, head tilted to the side and a brilliant smile on her face. It had been taken on a planet with purple winged humanoids, she’d told them. Apparently they hadn’t ever seen blonde hair before, and they had insisted on making her up and taking a portrait. Rose had forwarded the photos home as proof that they didn’t always end up getting in trouble.
He should have been going around, talking to people, acting as host. He’d arranged it, after all. But somehow all he could do was stand here and look at those pictures.
He felt someone approach, and when he glanced over he saw an unfamiliar old gentleman. The man stood with authority, though he was a bit worn by the years. He was silent at first, and when he spoke it was quiet, respectful. “You knew them well?” he asked.
Mickey nodded slowly. “Well as anyone, I guess. Jackie took care of me. Me an’ Rose were together for a long time.”
There was silence. “I never met them,” he said. “But we...had a friend in common. I heard of her passing, it seemed only right to pay my respects.”
Mickey gave him a sharp look. He knew the answer before he spoke, but he had to ask. “The Doctor?”
“Yes.” He turned and held out his hand. “General Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.”
“Mickey Smith.” They shook, and Mickey stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I hate him, you know.”
“Yes, I imagine so.” The General stared at the urns. “Though not as much as he hates himself at times.”
Mickey swallowed hard. “He really loved her.”
“And that is why I’m here,” the General said.
“I told him about her.” They both turned. Sarah Jane Smith stood behind them in a plain black suit. She continued. “She may not be receiving a soldier’s funeral, but she has put herself in danger for our country many times. She deserves this.”
Mickey did nothing more than nod. Sarah Jane took Sir Alistair’s arm and they left the young man alone, taking seats among the crowd of mourners.
The attendance was low, but fair. So many had lost family, it was hard to bring people out for friends. Still, Jackie had been an institution on the Powell Estate, and Rose had always been popular. Even Jackie’s hateful old mother couldn’t stop crying.
In the back stood those whose lives she had saved. Elton Pope, who had nearly been digested by an Abzorbaloff, a frail, elderly woman helped to her seat by a younger man -- Nancy Jenson, she had introduced herself as, with her son James. Rose had saved them, she said. She had helped her believe there could be a future. Stuart and Sarah Hoskins with their daughter, not much younger than Rose. They couldn’t say why they came, exactly, but somehow they felt that they owed it to her, to her mother, and to her father. For just a moment Mickey thought he saw Jack Harkness, but when he looked back the man was gone.
Mickey cleared his throat as he turned to face the mourners. “I’ve known Rose and Jackie Tyler long as I can remember,” he started. “When I was little an’ my mum was dyin’, it was Jackie that watched me. She kept me distracted, held me when I needed it, an’ about drove my gran spare by shaving all different things into my hair whenever I wanted.” He grinned and there were a few small chuckles. “Point is, she was there for me. That didn’t change, well, ‘cept for that year or so when she thought I’d murdered Rose -” more laughs. “She was almost my own mum. She wasn’t the person you went to if you needed a conversation ‘bout philosophy, and you sure as hell never told her a secret, but she loved with her whole heart.” He swallowed thickly. “She was loyal, she was fun, and she was always up for a laugh. She’d stand up to the whole world if they was threatenin’ her own, an’ I know when she went she went brave. ‘Cause that’s who Jackie Tyler was.”
It was starting to get hard to talk, but he plowed on. “Rose was my first love. I don’t remember the time before I loved her, honestly. We grew up together. She was a force from the beginning. She’d look at somethin’ that was wrong an’ she’d fix it. Didn’t matter what it was, she’d stare it down an’ tell it off. There was this time when she was ‘bout ten, this older kid was bullyin’ one of the girls in her year. She walked right up and punched him in the nose. An’ when he was starin’ at her, just shocked, she says to him ‘anyone who’d pick on someone small is small inside. Don’t matter how old you are an’ how big you get, you’ll still be small inside’. Rose was always big -- bigger on the inside.” About half the crowd smiled. “Even when we broke up, when she left to go travel, she was still there. I lived my life better, I was better, because she taught me how to be.” He knew he was crying, and his voice was shaking as he struggled to get the words out. “Rose an’ Jackie were the best people I ever knew. The world was better because of ‘em, an’ I’m better for havin’ known ‘em.” At that he gave up, his head bowed and he allowed Brigitta to pull him back to his seat, his shoulders shaking with tears.
Keisha and Shareen stood, holding hands as they approached. “Mickey stole mine,” Keisha said with a little bit of a hiccuping laugh. “It was me Rose stood up for. She was like that. Didn’t even know her yet, I was new in class, but we was friends from then on. We’d go back over to her mum’s an’ Jackie’d do up our hair.”
“She was always fun, always laughing,” Shareen said. “It didn’t matter if it was gettin’ in trouble or just goin’ down to the shops she’d have this smile on her face big as life. She treated every day like it was an adventure. Guess that’s why she went travellin’, she was always bigger than what she started off with.”
“Mickey said it right.” Keisha gripped Shareen’s hand tightly. “She really was bigger on the inside.”
They spoke for another moment, and a tearful Bev told of the hours she had spent with Jackie. Tea and biscuits or drinks at parties, Jackie was always the life of a group, she said. Moe couldn’t make it through her speech, and she had to be helped back to her seat.
At the last a woman in a simple black dress stood then and approached the altar. She stopped at the front and lifted the veil over her face. Several people gasped, and Prime Minister Harriet Jones offered a small, weak smile. “Forgive me for intruding,” she said. “I thought at first that I would keep to myself, I didn’t want to take any focus from them, but I find that I have to say a few words of my own. I’ve only met the Tylers twice, and in that time they both saved my life. When 10 Downing Street was destroyed by terrorists, it was Rose Tyler that pulled me into a cupboard and held my hand as the missiles hit. It is only because of her, because she was so very brave and smart, that I am alive today. Mrs. Tyler, through an unusual turn of events, was at my side when another invading force threatened England, and she showed no fear. They were good, brave women, and without them England, indeed the entire world, would be a very different place. I hope that we can all take lessons they have left behind and be people that they always believed we were.” She cleared her throat. “Thank you for allowing me to speak.” She bowed her head and returned to her seat.
Jackie’s mother was the first to step forward. She held two flowers in her hand -- a purple orchid for her daughter, and a pink one for her granddaughter. She set them in front of the portraits, and others followed. A variety of flowers were placed, in every colour. Rose and Jackie had been bright -- sombor white lilies would never fit them.
Eventually the procession ended, the mourners left, and the lights dimmed. The funeral was over.
Rose Tyler was over.
Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.
Rebuilding was slow; at first they were paralysed by grief and then it seemed somehow disrespectful to move on. Eventually the business of life took hold and the world began to move again.
There were buildings across the globe that had been damaged or destroyed by Daleks and Cybermen, or even by their own soldiers as the humans fought against invaders. Despite what the Cyberleader had expected, there was no corner of the Earth where humans had not stood firm.
Still, the world continued to spin, and as every new day dawned the pain dimmed ever so slightly. Slowly the wound began to close; Canary Wharf would leave a scar that never faded, but they would move on.
They would heal.
Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
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