Maybe one day she’ll find him again. Maybe one day she won’t but she’ll keep trying and she’ll never give up hope. When it’s the only thing you have left in the world, your fingers grasp it tighter than life itself. Maybe he’s dead already and this is all in vain. She wants to know and she keeps trying. She hasn’t given up looking for the other man, either. It’s just that right now, she needs him more than ever. Not for herself, she’s not that selfish: although she thinks she might be allowed to be selfish once in a while. No. It’s not really her that needs him right now. It’s everything else, everyone else who needs him. Except that Rose Tyler needs Jack Harkness, too. More than she’d care to admit.
Three years, she thinks it’s been. Three very long years on her own; because she is on her own. Yes, she’s got her mum and her not-dad and her sort-of-brother. But Rose feels alone. She found out a while ago that she couldn’t die. One very dangerous mission later and Rose was lying in a pool of her own blood, head smashed on concrete. Mickey died on that mission and sometimes she wishes she had, too. It’s a curse, she realises and hopes with everything she has that Jack’s normal. Not like her; this vampiric, undying freak.
Consequences follow Rose Tyler around like a bad smell. She wishes she could get away, find them both and be happy again but she can’t. Three years she’s been working on how to send a message across the universes and she’s so close. She can feel it in her fingers, that tingling of being so near and yet so far away from what she’s needed to hear for a long time.
Truth be told, Rose doesn’t know whether Jack’s still alive or not. She remembers everything she’s done on that station. She knows she killed the Doctor with that power and hates herself a little bit more every time she thought of it. How stupid she was for even attempting it and not regretting one little bit.
With no-one to talk to, she’s getting slowly more isolated every waking hour. Rose doesn’t sleep and wonders whether it’s because she can’t die or because she doesn’t want the nightmares again. Oh, she’ll doze off for the odd half hour nap every few days but it’s not real sleep in her mind. She aches too much for that so she doesn’t even bother trying anymore.
All Rose is now is one great big ball of hurt and mascara. She really should try the waterproof stuff, her tears keep streaking down her face and she can’t even think about the Doctor without some kind of knot forming in her stomach. She hates him and loves him and wants him and needs him. It’s too much sometimes and she won’t let herself want him back too much. She’ll live on alone and never see him again. But Rose would give anything up for another few minutes. Even her own life. That thought annoys her as she looks over papers in her office, because it’s impossible. It’s getting late but there’s no-one to miss her back at that empty flat of hers. She won’t be able to track down the Doctor, but she’s so close to finding Jack that she won’t stop until she does it.
Her fingertips twitch and glow for a second but it’s nothing new. Every once in a while, that golden stuff will come to the surface. She was freaked out by it at first but it’s nothing to her now, so she shrugs it off and goes back to working. Not one person knows about this, she masks herself from everyone. She wears those masks all the time. Those fake grins, the happy eyes, the confident body language. It’s all fake. Outside she’s living and undying but inside she’s already dead. She won’t stop until she finds Jack. Merely because, if she finds Jack, she’ll have at least an outside chance of finding the Doctor. It’ll be worth it in the end, to know they’re both happy and healthy even if she’s not.
It’s worth the risk to die. A tiny little blackened part of her brain somewhere near the back hopes for death to come and take her away, but knows her curse is to live while all the others die. She smiles ruefully and reaches for her keyboard, doing calculations she wouldn’t dream of being able to do before she met him. Changed in so many ways, both bad and good. She remembers what her mother said, three years ago, “In forty years time, fifty, there’ll be this girl walking through some alien marketplace. But she’s not Rose Tyler; not anymore. She’s not even human.” Her mother doesn’t know how right she is. No-one knows.
She spots it then. And the spark of hope becomes a flame.
Loneliness is a killer, he realises now. Jack’s never really had to think about it before but… he’s alone and abandoned and it kills him to simply know about it, let alone re-live it. Jack Harkness is patient still and he hopes it won’t last forever.
He needs the Doctor more than ever right now. Jack needs to know he can die. He needs his humanity back. He thinks it’s a curse and knows why the Doctor distanced himself from Rose. She’d die and leave him alone again and it would hurt so badly. This is why Jack Harkness can’t love anyone anymore. He wouldn’t be able to cope. He won’t let himself fall in love again.
He’s died once or twice before but this never happened afterwards. It’s new. He wants to know. Can’t sleep, so he sits at his desk and reads the rift activity sheet that Tosh gave him. Nothing abnormal. Not a Doctor or a TARDIS in sight. They left him alone on that evil place with the stink of death and decay. He hates him for that and can’t seem to understand why he left him.
Now Jack’s here. Now Jack’s changed again. Become something darker, more willing to kill to protect. Jack sees something in Gwen that maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to look upon. He sees the spark of life in her. He sees how she views him, much like Rose did and realises how much alike they are. So very human. Compassionate. Amazing. Intelligent… Beautiful. Jack’s eyes droop but he can’t bow to sleep’s presence now. It’s too much for the nightmares of everything he’s seen. Jack thinks the Doctor’s made him into someone different and he’s not sure whether he wants to be this or not.
He can’t love Gwen, dismisses the lurching in his stomach as hunger or aches or sickness but nothing helps those lurches. He knows about Owen and can’t stop that little voice inside him that says that Gwen deserves more, deserves better. Doesn’t want him. He can’t stop that little green eyed monster from bubbling up inside of him anymore. Jealousy. A new feeling for him and he knows about the irony of it. He’d been the cause of so much jealousy before, been a pawn and an active player but never experienced it himself like this. Between the life he used to have and the un-life he has now, he doesn’t know what to feel. Do living-dead people feel at all? He doesn’t want to know.
He’s got Ianto but knows it’s just physical; for now at least. He doesn’t know whether he’ll fall for Ianto too. A part of him hopes he does; that selfish part he tries to keep suppressed when it came to love. He has loved, despite what the others think. Estelle was just one, both the Doctor and Rose. He thinks of Gwen and Ianto and isn’t sure about anything anymore. That’s just how he likes it. The unknown. Loves loses, in the end. They die or abandon you or fall for someone else and leave.
He knows that Rose is dead.
It was the first thing he did. As soon as it was safe enough, he went to look for her. The Doctor and Rose would be right in the thick of the battle, so he tracked down her estate she’d told him about long before this moment. All he found were white lilies and red roses and cards littering her front door. His eye caught a single black rose, the card black and gold, too. It simply reeked of the Doctor. The writing inside saying, ‘I miss you’ and nothing more. She’d died and that was it. No reason to stay in London, now. He headed to Cardiff and Torchwood. He wanted to pound the Doctor into a bloody mess for killing Rose. She was nothing now, except a name on the list of the dead and a blurred memory of Glenn Miller and dancing.
She didn’t even have a grave.