Twenty-one. In exactly eleven minutes, Rose Tyler would turn twenty-one and the next phase of her life would begin. She sat cross-legged on her bed, staring at the bright, blinking numbers on her alarm clock and ran her gloved fingers over the worn leather cover of the well-loved photo book in her lap. A knock came to her door and she looked up to see her mother enter and sit next to her quietly.
"How are you doing, sweetheart?" Jackie inquired, softly. She remembered being in Rose's position years ago. The waiting, the anticipation, the awful nerves as you watched the time click down, wondering how much and how fast your life would change.
"Nervous," Rose laughed. "What...what does it feel like?"
Jackie moved closer and put her arm around her daughter's shoulders. "Well, it feels different for everyone, I've heard. For me, it was like an obnoxious, insistent push, nagging me where to go, what street to take, what building to go in until I did it. Lucky for me, you dad had been at the pub right down the road, delivering menus. I walked straight into him and I knew right away."
"D'you think I'll be like that?" Rose asked, fidgeting with the book again, flipping through the pages to stare down at her mother and father's happy faces, waving at the camera from the steps of a church.
"It takes some people longer to find each other, Rose. You could find him tomorrow or next week or next year! Remember you don't have to rush into anything. You can even get a job, go to school and ignore the Pull for a few years."
"What if I have to go really far, Mum? To another country or another continent? What if he doesn't even speak the same language as me? What if…"
"Rose, sweetie, calm down. If you have to go to another country, that's ok! You're always talking about going on adventures, after all! Rebecca down the hall flew all the way to Beruna and came back with that gorgeous, seven foot tall man who's deaf and they get on just fine now! You've got money saved up and you can call your father and me whenever you need. You'll find him. Even if you have to fly half-way across Terre and learn to speak Boeshane, you'll do it. You can do anything you like, Rose Tyler," she finished, proudly, squeezing Rose's shoulders.
"And he won't know?" Rose inquired, even though she knew the answer. The Soul-matching on Terre was well-established and it had been that way for as long as anyone could remember.
"Of course not. Not until you touch him, skin to skin. And you don't have to do that right away, neither. You can wait it out, get to know him a bit first," Jackie advised, nodding sagely.
"Like you did with Dad?" Rose said, slyly, elbowing her mother in the ribs.
Jackie laughed. "Heavens, no! He was gorgeous! I whipped that glove right off and did the same to him, took his hand and said, 'I'm Jackie. We're gettin' married.'"
"And he blinked at you and said, 'Ok, then!'," Rose finished, giggling.
"And then he kissed me!" Jackie said, sighing happily.
"Dad always says you kissed him," Rose teased.
"Oh, pish tosh. Close enough," Jackie scolded, lovingly, and then she cleared her throat. "Now, remember, young lady, that once you do Acknowledge one another, your bodies are going to start reacting and you may start feeling -"
Rose cut her off quickly, "Ah! Mum! You don't need to give me the talk. I know what happens."
Jackie narrowed her eyes at Rose. "You may think you know what happens, but you don't, not 'til it does. I remember your father and I could barely keep our hands off -"
"La la la! Don't need to know, Mum!" Rose cut her off again, putting her hands over her ears and laughing.
"Well, use protection," Jackie cautioned, shaking a finger at her daughter. "I want grandkids but not just yet."
Both of them looked over at the clock on Rose's bedside, which now read 23:59. "Ready?" Jackie whispered.
"Ready," Rose answered, closing her eyes.
It was odd, Rose thought, the next morning. She knew that she really ought to feel different, feel older, feel...Pulled, in some way but she didn't. Not yet, anyway. She tried to brush aside everyone's curious gazes and honest but tiring inquiries about what she would do next and how she felt and where he was. Over the next few months, she looked up different universities, she enrolled in an art course at the local learning center, and she began to think about what she might like to do or where she might like to go next.
Six months later, after forty-five minutes of being trapped in the stairwell fending off Mrs. Morris' very loud and very personal questions about why Rose didn't feel Pulled yet, she'd had enough.
"Mum, Dad, I'm leaving," Rose announced, bursting into their flat and dropping her bag on the floor. "I don't know where I'm going, I don't know when I'll be back, and no, I don't feel anything yet, but I've got to get out of here."
"Mrs. Morris?" her father asked from the couch, kindly, looking up over his newspaper.
"Mrs. Morris, Shireen and her new beau, Keisha and her fiancee, Mickey and Martha, Mr. Potter, Bev, Howard, should I go on? Everybody's harping me about something I have no control over or giving me these pity-looks or patting my shoulder and telling me that I'll be fine and telling me their stories and I'm sick of it!" Rose huffed, waving her arms around. "I just need to get out of here! I'm going to pack my bag and hop on the next train or bus or plane and I'm going to get somewhere that isn't here!"
"Ok, then," Pete nodded, returning to his paper.
" 'Ok, then'?" Rose snapped, incredulously. "I just told you that me, your only daughter, your only child, your little girl, is just going run off into the sunset and all you can say is 'ok, then'?"
Her father lowered the paper again and blinked up at her. "Pack a sweater?" he tried and then smiled at Rose's furious face. He stood up and walked over to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Rose, this is how it begins. You need to get there. Go do something! Go somewhere exciting! Maybe you'll feel your Pull then. Maybe you won't. When you're ready, you'll follow it. But go on! I'm not worried about you. You'll be wonderful, sweetheart."
Rose's mouth dropped open and she stared at her father. "But -"
"Do try to call once a week, at least. Otherwise you mother will become very difficult to live with." He pulled her into a hug and held her tightly. "And you might want to wait until she gets home to head out."
"So, I'm going, then?" she mumbled into his shoulder.
"You're going," he replied.