Rose hadn’t felt this peaceful in years. Sleep still clouded her mind, but she already knew she was in her bed on the Tardis. She could tell because the mattress fit her better than other mattresses she’d slept on and because the sheets smelled that same perpetually clean scent she’d fallen asleep to for two years, like a Tardis brand detergent if such a thing existed.
The sheets also smelled faintly like the Doctor. Rose slowly opened her eyes. She was alone now, but that wasn’t surprising. As long as she’d been asleep -- and it had to have been a while for how clear-headed she now felt -- it only made sense that the Doctor would’ve needed to move and do something else. Even on the heels of an interdimensional reunion, watching her sleep for eight hours would’ve bored him to tears.
She still had the Tardis in her head, though: that omnipresent humming in the back of her mind like a lullaby. At the moment, it was even faintly melodic like lullabies. While it wasn’t strong or continuous enough to invoke a proper song, the humming still gave Rose the impression of singing.
As she fully roused herself, the melody faded until it was just the normal Tardis hums. Rose rubbed the crust from her eyes and took in her bedroom. Half of it was as put together as it ever was -- not crisp and neat like those staged rooms on home improvement shows, but tidy enough. The other half, though -- particularly by her closet -- was in shambles. She’d left quite a mess when she’d thrown half her clothes onto the floor. At some point today she’d have to pick all of that back up, but….
Rose worried her lip. She didn’t want to pick her clothes up and hang them away again. Not out of laziness, but because she’d had a reason for tossing them to the floor in the first place and that reason hadn’t disappeared overnight (or while she’d slept? Rose realized she had no idea what time it was on the Tardis).
If she picked up her clothes, then her bedroom would be exactly the same as it had been three years ago when they’d started the day with a visit to her mum and ended it trapped in separate universes. Oh, her sock drawer would be closed properly this time, and she could leave the bed unmade or change the pillows around. But otherwise, it would still be identical and that’s exactly what Rose feared.
She needed this time to be different. She needed proof that she was here to stay for good, and her bedroom was as good as a place to start with that as any. Clothes on the floor wouldn’t cut it, of course, but at least it was a signal that something was different. She just... needed it to be different.
One last look at the pile of clothing and then Rose mentally shoved it aside. She took a page out of the Doctor’s book and decided she would deal with her bedroom when she had some idea of how to approach it. Right now, though, she wanted to find the Doctor, himself.
She used the bathroom, and then carefully picked her way to her closet. The sweatshirts had been spared from her purge and still hung neatly on the rack. Rose selected one of her older, loose fitting ones and then found her old pair of house shoes. They’d be useless if she had to run from any trouble outside the Tardis, but inside they were perfect for sparing her feet from walking bare on the metal grating. She couldn’t be fussed to get properly dressed yet, but at least if she ran into Donna, she wasn’t solely wearing pajamas.
The hall was quiet outside her room. She hadn’t a clue where the Doctor had gone off to, so she figured she’d start with the console room and work her way down her old mental checklist. Two steps down the hall, though, something gave her pause and she looked back behind her. Her eyes immediately landed on a door some ways to the left of her bedroom. There had never been a door there before. Not in the old days, not on that Tardis two thousand years into the future, and not on this Tardis when she’d fallen asleep, however many hours earlier.
This door was new.
Rose padded over to it. It looked like any other door here. The Tardis had never been keen on leaving signs or other identifying markings on the doors which is how Rose had discovered three different spare bedrooms and a room seemingly dedicated to personal computers from every era while looking for the kitchen her first week on board. Unlike those explorations, though, Rose didn’t feel like she should open this door without permission. She couldn’t give a reason for her hesitation; it was just a feeling. But living on a psychic ship had taught Rose not to ignore those feelings.
She knocked. And waited. When the Doctor answered the door, Rose smiled.
“Well, that was easier than I’d expected,” she said.
“Rose, hey.” The Doctor immediately wrapped her into a hug. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were awake yet. I was planning on coming back.”
Warm flutters filled her stomach at his concern. “It’s alright. I knew you’d get restless at some point.” She kissed his cheek and pulled back. “How long was I asleep for?”
“About,” the Doctor tilted his head to think, “oh, twelve and a half hours?”
“Thirteen and you would’ve hit a new record.”
“Ah well, maybe next time,” Rose said. Her hand found the Doctor’s, and she intertwined their fingers. “So, what time does that make it here on the Tardis?”
Rose laughed and leaned her head against the Doctor. “Great,” she said into his chest. “Waking up at midnight is just great. I’m going to be so jet lagged this week, aren’t I?”
“Probably,” the Doctor said with a smile in his voice.
His fingers ran strokes through her hair. Rose snuggled closer to him and luxuriated in all these new freedoms and gestures of intimacy. True, many of these gestures had always existed in their relationship, but after living through a three year forced separation, even simple gestures like hugs felt new and precious again.
Eventually, Rose thought to ask, “What’s with the new door?”
The Doctor stilled. “What door?”
Rose pulled back, curious about his sudden unease. “The door we’re still standing in.”
“Oh, right, that door.” The Doctor nodded and glanced around at the door frame they stood beneath. His tension relaxed just a hair, but his nervousness increased by a good twenty-five percent which was even more curious.
“Yes, that door,” Rose said. “There didn’t use to be a room next to mine.”
“So there wasn’t, no,” the Doctor said, still not meeting her eye. “This one’s new -- well, not new in existence. Just new in location.”
He stepped back in the room as he answered. Rose cautiously followed him inside, still trying to gauge how concerned she should be by his nervousness. It turned out, not at all. She’d only seen this room a handful of times before, but it was instantly recognizable. The dark wood furniture, the black and blue color scheme -- they were in the Doctor’s bedroom.
A smile began to grow on her face. “You moved your bedroom next to mine?”
“Yeah, I did,” the Doctor said. “Or the Tardis did, technically. But this is nice. I like it like this.”
No eye contact while tugging on his ear -- the Doctor’s nervousness continued to increase, and Rose still couldn’t see why.
“Did you think I’d be annoyed that you moved your bedroom?” Rose asked.
The Doctor shook his head. “No, no I didn’t think you’d be annoyed. I just thought… you were maybe talking about a different door.”
“What other door would I be talking about?”
“Nothing,” the Doctor said. “And there actually isn’t a door yet. I’m supposed to ask you about it -- well, the Tardis wants me to ask. She’s really quite pushy when it comes down to it, but you can say no. I can’t say no; she won’t listen to me. But you can, so don’t worry about it.”
Rose tried, really tried, to parse his rambling, but she was fairly certain by stringing those words all together like that, he’d managed to strip away all meaning from them.
“Doctor, I may have slept for twelve hours, but I’m still jet lagged. What are you talking about?”
“Um.” The Doctor tugged on his ear again, caught himself this time, and then shoved his hands into his pockets. “A new door?”
Rose took a calming breath. Baby-steps. Okay, then, they could do baby-steps.
“What new door?”
“That the Tardis wants to add. Like that one.”
The Doctor pointed now to the left wall of his bedroom where the headboard of his bed rested. Rose turned and spotted a door on the other side of his bed. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary. She had an ensuite and a closet attached to her bedroom. The Doctor had to have at least that much in his room, too. Although….
Rose began slowly walking towards the door.
“Not exactly like that one,” the Doctor rambled behind her. “That one just leads to a wall right now, but it could be a door, a fully functional door, if you want.”
“If I want?” Rose paused.
“That’s what I’m supposed to ask you, because the Tardis wants to ask you, but she can’t. Cause it’s a Tardis and she doesn’t have a mouth -- although, one time--”
Rose tuned out the Doctor’s nonsensical babbling and refocused on the door. With the Doctor’s bedroom now next to hers, their rooms shared a wall. This door was placed on that shared wall. That meant there was only one place it could possibly lead to.
“Doctor,” Rose said, effectively cutting off his had-to-be-made-up story about a turtle-hound creature from Box that had temporarily gotten itself fused to the Tardis. “What do you want to ask me?”
“Um.” The Doctor rocked between his heels and his toes. “If you’d like a door?”
There were times in his last regeneration when the Doctor had refused to say something and Rose had had to push and prod against his silence to learn what he was thinking. This regeneration seemed to hate silence. If he was avoiding something, he would talk around the point and say anything and everything other than what he meant, and it had taken Rose too long to realize pushing him about it didn’t work anymore. Instead of getting him to open up, it shut him down.
So Rose stayed silent this time. And waited.
The Doctor spoke again, “It wouldn’t be a door by itself, of course, cause what’s a door if it doesn’t lead anywhere? Utterly useless that’s what. Um, it would lead to that one.”
Rose looked again at the door in their shared wall. Hiding the giddiness that was beginning to fill her chest, she asked, “This one?”
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “It’d be like a hotel room -- except the Tardis isn’t a hotel. So really it would be nothing like a hotel room. It’d be just… adjoining rooms.”
It had clearly taken him great effort to get the words out, but he’d done it. Rose had to bite the inside of her lip to keep her grin from breaking free.
“You’re asking if I want us to have adjoining rooms?”
“Yes, yes I am.” The Doctor tugged on his ear again. “So, do you… want that?”
Rose stared at the would-be-adjoining door. She tried to find the right words to convey ‘with every fiber of my being’ before deciding there was a better way to share her answer.
“How quickly can the Tardis change things around?”
She looked to the Doctor who stared blankly back at this change in topic.
“I’ve found rooms moved around before,” Rose continued, “and now your room is over here, but I’ve never actually seen anything move. So does it happen instantaneously?”
The Doctor answered, “Technically speaking, nothing happens instantaneously. Now a lot happens faster than the human eye can detect which can make it seem instantaneous.”
“How much faster than the human eye is the Tardis?”
The Doctor frowned. “I don’t know. I’ve never timed it.”
“Well, get out your stopwatch and let’s find out.” Rose walked up next to the adjoining door.
“I don’t… have a stopwatch.”
“Then, use your Time Lord senses. Ready?” Rose gripped the door handle.
“They don’t work like a stopwatch,” the Doctor protested.
“What are you doing?”
Rose pulled open the door in the Doctor’s room. Instead of a wall, she was greeted by an open doorway. Beyond the doorway, was a magnificent view of the mess of clothes she’d left by her closet.
She stepped across the threshold. It was surreal entering her bedroom from this direction. She’d never had reason to stand in this corner before, so this wasn’t a perspective she was used to seeing. It made her bedroom look new. Different.
The Doctor had followed her. When she turned around, he hovered in the doorway. His expression had shifted from nervous to cautious optimism.
“What do you think?” he asked.
Rose swept her eyes over the Doctor standing with one foot in her bedroom and one foot in his and then over the door -- the brand new door that had never existed before but very much existed now -- and grinned.
“I think it’s perfect.”
Yes. Adjoining rooms was the perfect visual confirmation that she would be staying this time for good.