The TARDIS shook violently.
"Hold on to something!" the Doctor yelled, clutching the edge of the console himself, "this is going to be a bumpy ride."
Rose let go of the console long enough to push a wavering Jonathan into the captain's seat. He gripped the arm of the chair hard, his knuckles turning white with the effort of not sliding out of the seat, but he did not seem afraid. His wide eyes were catching everything that was going on, and filing them away for analysis later.
The TARDIS swung sharply, and Rose lost her balance, hurtling into the Doctor's side. He braced himself just in time that they both did not topple over on the floor. For an instant, Rose felt the racing of his two hearts, as he steadied her and set her back on her feet. She couldn't help inwardly smiling at the knowledge that he was enjoying the exhilarating rush of TARDIS travel.
Rose nodded her thanks at his assistance, and carefully made her way back to her position on the opposite side of the consol.
"Hold that button down!" The Doctor yelled across the console.
"Which one?" Rose asked, looking down at the bank of buttons in front of her.
"The green one!"
Rose looked down at the bank of buttons again. They were all green. Rather than asking for further clarification, which she knew would be similarly unhelpful, Rose chose one at random, hoping that it was the one he meant. Another swift movement from the TARDIS shook Rose, but thanks to her firm stance she was not knocked to the ground.
"What's wrong?" she yelled at the Doctor over the noise, "Why is it shakier than usual?"
"The hole in the universe. It may be cauterized, but it's not exactly stable. The TARDIS isn't as young as she used to be, and this hole is pushing her to the limits." The Doctor reached over and pulled another lever, which was almost out of his reach.
"Does it always do this?" Jonathan asked.
"No!" the Doctor said indignantly.
"Yes!" Rose replied at the same time,
"Does not," the Doctor objected, using his foot to press another button.
"Does too and you know it. I can't even remember how many times we've gotten knocked over by the wild ride in this thing," Rose said back, lurching to the other side of the consol to check the screen.
The Gallifreyan words flashing over the screen were translated instantly for her, so that although she saw the twisting, spiral letters, she could read them like perfect English. She had never been able to before, but now the TARDIS seemed to pick up on the shift between the Doctor and her. They had no secrets from each other now.
The TARDIS gave a rattling shudder, and the text on the screen changed suddenly, marching fast and angry across the screen. A mauve light had begun to flash.
Jonathan leapt up from his chair suddenly, and whipping his screwdriver out of his pocket hit the console with the metal end of it. A sharp, clear note rang out above the rattling, and everything grinded to a halt. For a moment, everything was silent. And then:
"What did you do?" Rose asked cautiously.
"I hit it," Jonathan asked, looking shocked that it had worked, "I just thought if I hit it in the right place, the sound would shake things back into place so we could get through."
"Of course… harmonic resonance. Why didn't I think of that?" the Doctor asked, grinning at Jonathan.
"So are we out?" Rose asked.
The Doctor checked the screens, pressing a few more buttons in an arbitrary fashion.
"Looks like it. We're free of the hole and floating in the Vortex right now." He turned to Rose, "We made it!"
He seized her hands and waltzed her around the control platform, until she was out of breath and laughing. A sudden harsh metal grating made him stop.
"That reentry probably damaged a few of the TARDIS' internal systems. I'll have to check them before we can go anywhere," The Doctor said, moving towards the center of the control room again.
Rose gave a little internal sigh. She had forgotten how quickly he switched from one topic to another. One minute he was tender and loving, the next serious and professional. It would take some getting used to again.
The Doctor had taken off a tile of the grating on the floor of the control platform, and was preparing to jump down. Jonathan was watching with fascination.
"Can I help?" he asked.
The Doctor considered his request for a moment, then nodded.
"You have to promise you won't touch anything I tell you not to. The TARDIS is a very old and very delicate time ship, and if you break something I might not know how to fix it. No touching. Deal?"
"Deal." Agreed Jonathan eagerly, his eyes already on the rows of switches and wires below the grating.
Rose had her doubts.
"Doctor, you'll need to keep a close eye on him. The last time he touched something electronic it blew up," she reminded him.
The Doctor just gave her one of his maddening grins.
"That's because I wasn't there," he said confidently, "Besides, he's got to learn the family business some time. Better to start young."
Rose gave a huff of mock annoyance.
"I'll be in my room if you need me," she said, but the Doctor had already disappeared down the hole in the floor.
Rose made her way to her room, now placed back where it belonged beside the Doctor's. She shook her head as she opened the door. She had been so messy back then! With instinct born of eight years of motherhood, Rose began to methodically clean the room, picking up clothes that she had left on the floor years ago, and making the bed.
She wiped the dust off the pictures on the dresser with tenderness, examining each one and recalling fond memories that went with them. There was one of her and Jackie their arms around each other; one of the previous incarnation of the Doctor, leaning with his arms crossed against the TARDIS' blue doors; one of the old Doctor and Jack, with her in between the two of them, which was taken by Mickey in Cardiff; and there was one of the new Doctor and her holding hands as they posed on a beach. Reaching into her pocket, Rose took out a picture she had taken from her room at the Tyler Mansion. It had been taken last Christmas, of Jackie, Pete, Mickey, Katherine, Jake, Luke, Jonathan, and herself around the decorated tree. She gently propped it up with the rest of the photos.
Turning to the closet, she noticed a door that she had not remembered being there. It was exactly like most of the doors in the TARDIS- dark wood with carved Gallifreyan letters up the lintel and doorposts. She stood in front of it for a few moments, before reaching out and trying the handle. It was not locked.
Rose opened the door to find herself in what she knew at once to be the Doctor's bedroom. Bookshelves lined the walls, and books stood stacked in corners, as did bits of wires and metal junk. In front of an ornate fireplace was a high-winged armchair, on which was draped several items of clothing. In the middle of the room was a very large canopied bed, neatly made, with a large patchwork quilt on it, and what appeared to be burnt orange sheets. Rose had only been in the Doctor's bedroom a few times, but it had not changed from what she remembered it. She took a few steps inside.
So engrossed was she in taking in the scene that she did not hear the Doctor's footsteps until he was right behind her.
"It's bigger than your room," he said.
Rose jumped in surprise.
"Don't go sneaking up on me like that! You nearly scared me to death!" she scolded.
He smiled, leaning against the doorframe and surveying the room before him.
"I put this door here," he said, running his hands down the carvings on the side "this one that connects our rooms. It wasn't here before."
"I know," Rose replied, "Why did you?"
"So I could go into your room whenever I missed you too much. I didn't want Martha finding it, so I asked the TARDIS to hide it away, but I couldn't bear being away from things that reminded me of you for very long. So I built the connecting doorway."
He turned to look at her now, his eyes glassy with unshed tears.
"Oh, Doctor," Rose said, taking him into her arms and holding him tightly. It took a moment for him to regain his control. He pulled away from her so that she could see his face once more.
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"The room. Do you like it?"
Rose nodded, puzzled as to where he was going with this.
"Good. It's a nice size. Of course, you'll have to spruce it up, but there's plenty of closet space, even for all your clothes. I will move all the books back to the library if you want, and I can get another chair for the fireplace…" The Doctor was talking very fast again.
Rose stared at him in amazement, her thoughts churning at a thousand miles an hour. Was he asking her what she thought he was asking her?
"Are you asking me…?"
"To marry me, yes." The Doctor said. He was looking straight at her, and his eyes were blazing.
"Oh," Rose replied. All the thoughts that had been spinning in her head had immediately vanished, replaced by the all-encompassing truth: the Doctor was proposing.
"I just… I thought you were just asking me to… to move in with you or something," she whispered.
"I want you to be my wife," he said, his tone soft and caressing.
"What about all that stuff about you not being able to spend the rest of your life with me?" Rose asked, breaking his gaze and looking down at his shoulder.
The Doctor took a hand off her waist and pushed her chin back up so that she was looking at him once more.
"I don't care," he said, "I lost you once, and it almost destroyed me. I'm not wasting another minute. I know I will outlive you, but it will be worth it for the time we have together. Marry me?"
Everything in Rose's mind was gone. She could not have formed a sentence if she had wanted to. But she didn't need a whole sentence, just one word.
"Yes!" Rose cried, hugging him fiercely, "yes, yes, a thousand times, yes."
She would have kept repeating it, but the Doctor effectively silenced her.
Rose had thought that the previous kisses she had received from the Doctor were passionate and wonderful, but this one surpassed them all.
When they broke apart, the Doctor was laughing.
"Rose Tyler, my wife!" he cried, picking Rose up and spinning her around until she was dizzy.
A loud cry broke them out of their merriment.
"Did you leave Jonathan alone with the TARDIS?" Rose asked suddenly, her world no longer spinning.
"I thought he would be alright, I gave him some nuts and bolts to unscrew," the Doctor replied, but the merriment was gone from his face.
The both shared a worried glance. Snatching each other's hands, they rushed down the corridor to the control room. Jonathan was sitting on the floor of the control platform, grease on his face, surrounded by wires, holding a nut of triumphantly.
"I got it out!" he said, "It was pretty stuck, but I got it out just like you said, Dad,"
Rose laughed in relief, bending to kiss her dirty son.
"I thought something had happened to you when you yelled," she said, "I was scared for you. Don't do that again, yeah?"
The Doctor, who was checking the screens, spoke before Jonathan could answer.
"All systems appear to be back online. But we're pretty low on fuel. I guess that trip through the universe-hole took more out of the TARDIS than she is willing to admit. I think we have fuel enough for one more trip."
The Doctor turned to face Rose, a manic smile spread all over his face.
"Rose, fancy a trip to Cardiff?"
A/N Fade to black and cue theme music.
Thank you so much to everyone who was read and enjoyed this story! It was a real experience to write it, and I truly enjoyed every moment of it… even the occasional writer's block was a nice change from essays. The reviews have been truly encouraging, and I would like to thank you all for taking the time to review. Also, again, a million thanks to Gray Lady of Gallifrey, without whom this story would just be a mess of typos and spelling mistakes. Stay tuned for a (eventual) sequel.