Rose had built up her full speed by the time she dashed into the tiny, narrow police box, brushing past the man in the black leather jacket holding the door open for her. Still, she skidded to a halt within a few feet, stunned by the impossibly cavernous chamber she had entered. Her face glowed with awe as she stared at the tree-like columns that reached to the golden dome above her and the central console panel which dominated the space like an altar. "I don't think I can get used to this," she breathed, her chest heaving, either from her exertion or from awe.
"You never will," replied the Doctor as he closed the door. "Seven hundred years I been travelling now, and look at me, giddy as a schoolgirl." Striding up the ramp to the console, he patted one of the struts as he passed.
"It's gorgeous, and it's all stuffed into this little box." She whirled in place, her wide smile shining. "And it's a time machine, you said. It takes you to whenever you want?"'
"Whenever you want, Rose Tyler." Flipping a toggle on the control panel, he turned to her with his arms wide. "Anywhere, anywhen. What's your choice?"
Giggling, Rose clapped her hands to her mouth as she thought, staring back at the Time Lord. Something caught her eye and she pointed behind him. "Wait. What's that?"
Puzzled by her distraction, he spun to see what had interested her so much, then turned back to her. "That's called a door. You've got quite a lot of them at the Powell Estate."
She shot him a sarcastic sneer. "I mean, what's behind it?"
"The rest of the TARDIS."
Rose's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You mean, there's more in here?"
"Of course there is. D'you think I sleep on the floor under the console?" He bent to peer under the hexagonal control panel beneath the time rotor. "Not much space, and the grating's not half bumpy to lie on. Would be better if I put in a fridge there. Some place to keep my cheese."
The girl stepped back, regarding him with a suspicion that he was deliberately trying to set her off-balance. "You eat cheese."
"Why wouldn't I eat cheese? Tasty and filling. There's a fantastic shop on Mesalumica, carries cheese from across three galaxies. Mind you, with travelling times, you gotta double-check the use bys."
Barely listening to the Doctor wax poetic about dairy products, Rose danced over to the door and surveyed it before turning back to him. "So, your bedroom is behind this, then?"
"Far more than that. My room is quite a ways from here, actually. Close by are the kitchen and library. Moved the wardrobe and swimming pool a bit further out. Don't use them much."
"A swimming pool?" Rose's eyes lit up and she bounced on her toes.
The Doctor threw up his hands in exasperation. "All of time and space we could see, and everyone always gets excited about the swimming pool."
Rose shook her head. "But why would a time machine have a swimming pool?"
"Why not?" He shrugged. "Why would it have a casino?"
She gaped for a moment before she could reply. "There's a casino in here, too?"
"Yup." He nodded as if it was the most reasonable thing in the world. "And so much more."
"Can I see them?"
"Of course." The Doctor strode forward and pushed the door open. Rose peered out into a corridor that looked like it was constructed of brushed steel, plain except for a honeycomb of indented circles larger than her head covering the walls. "Go on, then," he urged her, jerking his head toward the hallway. Taking a tentative step across the threshold, she paused for a moment, then strolled slowly ahead of her companion, gazing around herself. The first door was only ten feet down the corridor. "Kitchen," he noted without opening the door. "You hungry?"
"No, thanks." She grinned up at him, too excited to care about food.
"Suit yourself. Have anything you want in there." A little further down, he tapped on the next door. "Library. You won't care about that, though."
Offended, she halted and spun around to face him, her fists on her hips. "Are you saying you don't think I read books?"
"Not at all. But do you want to read, or would you rather be out there seeing it instead?"
She smiled. "Out there."
"Thought so." They continued walking down the corridor, the Doctor naming each door they passed and letting her peek behind them. Sometimes they walked in and the girl wandered through the room (or part of the room; many were too large for her to explore thoroughly). After about fifteen or so, Rose whirled and held out her hand, bringing the Doctor to a stop.
"Just how big is this place? How many doors are there?"
He shrugged. "Never counted."
Cocking her fists on her hips, she bounced in a huff. "And you keep making more?"
"I never said anything about making any of this."
Rose spun, full circle, gazing at the corridor in confusion."Where'd it all come from?"
"Don't know. Most of this was here when I got here."
She turned back to the Doctor. "Then there's no purpose for all of this?"
"Why does there need to be a purpose?" Turning on his heel, he resumed his walk, his long legs quickly expanding the distance between him and Rose, and the girl sprinted to catch up with him.
"I'd like to know why you have all this unnecessary stuff." She waved a hand at the three doors she could see at the moment.
Frowning, the Doctor crossed his arms, a hint of offense on his face. "Who says it's unnecessary?"
"Well, if you don't use it..."
"Just because I don't use it doesn't mean it's unnecessary." He came to an abrupt halt in front of a door and threw it open, revealing a room filled with what seemed to be blocks of all kinds. Ranging in size from a couple of centimetres long to nearly half a metre, the rectangular objects of metal, wood, plastic, glass, and other materials Rose couldn't identify were stacked on shelves and piled on each other in mounds on the floor. The Doctor picked one up and threw it to Rose. Catching it, she inspected it as he asked, "What's that for?"
The clear prism, which fit comfortably in her hand, seemed to be made of blue and green plastic, swirled together before it had hardened. She turned it over a couple of times and ran a finger down its smooth surface before answering. "I don't know. Paperweight?" Grinning, he shook his head at that guess, and after a few seconds of silence told her he was waiting for her to inquire, she asked with an impatient sigh, "What's it for?"
"No idea!" he announced, beaming like a child speaking a secret he'd carefully guarded. "But that doesn't make it unnecessary. Every object here has a story. Even the plainest pebble on the ground has a story. It's up to you to find out what it is, to hear it and appreciate it, and then, if you dare, share it."
Rose stared at the block in her hand for another moment before looking back at the Doctor. “Is that what we're doing, then? Looking for the stories?”
“Yup!” He snatched the block out of her hand placed it back where he got it. “There’s a whole universe of tales out there, great and small, and we’re going to find them! And maybe write a few of our own.” He cocked his head at her. “How does that strike you?”
An enchanted smile stretched across her face, from ear to ear, and her eyes gleamed with all of her hopes and dreams. "It sounds like the greatest adventure ever."
He held out his hand to her and jerked his head in the direction of the corridor. As soon as she grasped it, he turned and ran out of the room, towing her behind him back to the console chamber. As Rose stopped to catch her breath, the Doctor dashed up to the time rotor and spun back to her, flinging an arm in the direction of the police box door.
"Beyond that door, all of time and space awaits." He flashed her an eager grin as she came up beside him. "Right then, Rose Tyler, you tell me. Where do you want to go?"