Once upon a time there was a little girl. She was born in Maudley Hospital, London SE5, and grew up on an estate. She was small, blonde and tough. Her family weren't rich so she was usually dressed in second-hand jeans and a grubby jumper. She sometimes wished for nicer clothes and more money in the bank, but most other families on the estate and at school were in the same boat. It was a fun place to grow up because there were lots of other children to play with, plenty of hiding places, and no shortage of mates' houses to go for dinner if her Mum was busy. The little blonde girl and her friends liked running around on the estate, tearing up and down the stairs and rattling on people's doors then running away. She didn't half have a gob on her and liked to think she could talk her away into or out of anything. She was bright, but not interested in school. There was much more to life than being stuck in a classroom learning about geometry.
The little girl grew into a bigger girl, and eventually into a woman. She left school, got a job, went to the pub with her mates. She was curvy and buxom, she had an eye for the boys and they had an eye for her. There were plenty of boyfriends. And then there was him. It started out like an ordinary day, and then he appeared and turned her world upside-down. He wasn't like anybody she'd ever met. He was fast and funny and he said the maddest of things. He made her see her whole universe differently. He made her roll her eyes. He made her choke with laughter. He made her angry. He made her happy. She wasn't the type of woman who simpered over men; she gave as good as she got back to him and she didn't let on how much he dazzled her. Over time, he changed and she fell for him harder. She'd never felt anything this powerful before. She wanted to be with him forever, to have him with her always to laugh with, run with, to protect and to know that he'd protect her. They were a team.
But suddenly, when everything was almost perfect, he was torn away from her. It was an accident, a split-second mistake, and then he was gone.
She cried. Sad tears at first, but quickly tears of anger. Why? Why her, why him? Why should they be ripped apart now? Why why why why why why why. She'd shout and kick the walls and collapse, sobbing, onto the floor. She wasn't the sort of person to struggle to get out of bed and hole herself up at home; she still got dressed in the morning and went out and spoke to people, got on with things. But often she'd feel empty inside, as if she was existing on autopilot. She missed him so much; his voice and his chuckle, his crazy ideas and his funny turns of phrase. Time passed. London changed. She learnt to live without him. Became harder- bitter even. She threw her energy into other things. Worked hard. Made new friends. Looked after her family. Other men caught her eye, but none compared to him. For far too long after, she'd think she'd pass him on the street and whip around only to see a different man in a scruffy suit. Don't be stupid, she'd tell herself angrily, he's gone. You're not going to see him again, and if you are in bloody well won't be in this life.
She was wrong. Because, eventually, in the oddest and most bizarre of circumstances,
she got him back.
There was fighting and Daleks and explosions and death and another universe, and at the end of it all there they were, a boy and a girl, standing together, in love. It was just what she'd wanted, wasn't it? That's how she was supposed to feel. Surely it was ungrateful to have doubts and confusion. Surely it was ungrateful to cry as much as she cried, those first few months. This wasn't what she'd always wanted- what she'd wanted was never to lose him in the first place, to have lived their lives together as they should have done. This man literally, physically, wasn't her version. He was the man she'd fallen in love with, yet he wasn't. Sometimes she'd watch him sleep and think sadly, you're not him. She always hated herself then, because she should be thrilled to have him back in any way. Who else got a second chance like this?
He tried to be the daft, madcap man he'd always been, but he'd changed too. He'd lost her, grieved and mourned for her. He wasn't used to this hardened version of her. Once they'd been so in-sync but now they'd been dancing alone for so long that they'd forgotten how to keep time with one another. The first months were hard. Between laughter and kisses there were arguments, tensions and tears. She'd forgotten how stubborn he could be when he was angry. (she suspected that he thought the same about her). "I love you," she'd tell him, hoping that it was enough. She told herself that if it was true, if she did love him (of course it was true, of course she did), she shouldn't care about "versions" or if he'd changed. Love meant protecting and laughing and caring and living. Despite everything. She knew that, she believed it, and through blood, sweat, tears and many years they worked it out. It was gradual and painful, but also inevitable. How could it not be- he was hers, her beautiful, impossible, frustrating, mad, sweet, steely bloke. They were together, they were in love. They learnt to dance in sync again. Settled in to their new life together. Their house filled up with furniture, books, posters, silly things they'd bought for one another. They travelled. Bickered. He'd talk too much and too loud when she was hungover so she'd invent a fool's errand to get rid of him for a couple of hours. She tried to make pizza from scratch and he was reminded what a terrible cook she was. They'd invite friends over for drinks, have Sunday dinners with the family, late nights with just the two of them talking until the sun rose. They made their own adventures. They were happy.
Rose and Jackie Tyler were always alike.