Author note: Entirely inspired by Jackie Tyler's little speech to Rose in Army of Ghosts.
What Happens Then?
The phone rang. John Smith startled awake, arms clutching randomly at the bed sheets – at the empty bed sheets.
Ring, ring, ring.
There was a long silence on the other end before a woman's voice said, "Hi."
The breath whooshed out of John's lungs. "Hello," he said.
"Didn't wake you up, did I?"
"No," said John. "No, it doesn't matter."
"Yeah, thought so. Sorry, I'll call back later."
"Positive. It's fine."
John listened to the sound of her breathing on the other end.
"It's been a while," said Rose.
"Yeah," said John.
"Can we meet up?"
John's grip on the handset threatened to break it. "Sure," he said, voice rasping a little. "Where?" He laughed darkly before saying, "When?"
Rose's reply was wistful. "What's the furthest place you can think of?" As an afterthought, she added, "On Earth."
John gave another dark laugh. "Barcelona, actually."
This time Rose laughed too. So good to hear that sound again, John thought.
"You couldn't resist," she was saying.
"That's me," said John. "Never could and never will."
"Where in Barcelona did you have in mind?" she asked him.
"Not entirely sure. I was sort of going for spontaneity here."
John eased himself up off the bed, balancing the phone in the crook of his neck. He leaned across his desk to turn on his computer.
"What are you doing?" Rose asked after a moment. "Are you typing?"
"I'm looking at Barcelona."
John paused. "It might be," he said.
Rose hooted. "Now he really has gone domestic! Google maps, oh dear, no going back now."
Before he could stop himself John said, "It wasn't me who couldn't handle being domestic."
"Yeah, I know," Rose said, her voice soft. "I'm sorry about that, Doctor."
John hiccoughed. "Say it again?" he whispered. He could hear the smile in her voice as she said, "Doctor, my Doctor."
"Where are you?" He had to ask. He hadn't seen her in so long.
"Right now? I'm on a barrage heading out from Morocco."
"But phones can't—"
John smiled. "I remember."
"We never could quite bring ourselves to do the ear pods thing, could we?"
Rose laughed. John committed the sound to memory, wishing he'd done so years earlier. "No," she said, "we couldn't."
"Your mum wasn't half eager though, once Pete took over Cybus."
"Still wouldn't have felt right," said Rose.
"No, it wouldn't."
"Good old mum..." Rose trailed off and the two of them seemed, just for that particular moment in time, to be content in silence.
John yawned. He couldn't help it and he didn't mean to, but Rose took it as a sign anyway. "I'll let you get back to sleep now," she said.
"No!" John protested. "Please, no. Don't?"
"I just... Rose, it's good to hear you. Really good to hear you."
"What, Torchwood and UNIT not keeping you occupied enough?"
John coughed – a wry sound. "They try," he said. "Oh, they try." He concentrated on the screen in front of him. It didn't twist as much as he'd like, nor have as many useful applications (e.g. time travel) but he'd gotten used to being grounded a long time ago. At the time, he'd thought it was worth it.
Rose hadn't adjusted so well.
"There's a row of cafes opposite Casa Amatller and Casa Batlló. Know where those are?"
"I'll get directions, don't you worry."
"I do, though."
"I know," Rose said, her voice turning soft again; loving. John Smith closed his eyes, trying to imagine her there, then he yawned. Rose laughed. "Sleep. We'll see each other soon."
"I didn't used to be this tired," mumbled John.
"You didn't used to be human."
She hung up.
"—Rose." Though it was a cliché, and he'd sworn he'd never sink that low, John found himself staring at the receiver.
Seconds past before he was typing into the computer, trying to find the first tickets to Barcelona available. God help him, he'd become a frequenter of public transport.
"How the mighty do fall," John mumbled, voice thick with oncoming sleep. Ha. That was a laugh. John closed his eyes, head slumping forward, and he leaned over the desk, letting dreams and slumber take him.
Hidden behind her stolen newspaper, Rose Tyler watched the man stalk along the street, dark eyes darting around, searching, looking for her. His hair was longer, but only slightly, and a few greys had crept in. Rose sighed; the bags under his eyes were darker than went she'd left. He still bounced though. There was that unmistakable spring in his step that was so very him.
And he was wearing the blue suit. Rose smiled into her coffee.
He caught sight of her and suddenly he was running. Rose stood, her newspaper disregarded, coffee forgotten and her breath coming in uneven gasps. He slowed down before he got too close, walking the last few steps while wearing a cautious frown. When they were both under the large parasol Rose had been lurking by, when they were both so close that the distance that had separated them meant nothing anymore... that was when Rose smiled, and John smiled, and it was just them; just like old times.
"Hi," she said.
"Hello," he said back.
Rose decided 'ish' was good enough for her.