“You bloody stood me up and I bought the tickets ahead of time! You knew that! No, Shireen, just forget it. Not the money, you’re not forgettin’ that! ‘Bye!” Rose disconnected the call with a frustrated growl. Should’ve known better. She’s all we don’t get together enough and I never see you anymore but as soon as that wanker ex of hers crooks his finger at her she forgets everybody else.
“Rose? Excuse me? Are you okay? You looked upset.”
Rose startled, whirling around to see a man standing behind her in the cinema lobby. It took her brain a couple of seconds to catch up.
John Smith. The bloke who stopped into Bad Wolf Brew to grab a latte at least a four times a week, much to her delight. The same John Smith that she had teased about the name on his credit card when she’d rung up his coffee. That John Smith was standing there, looking concerned, (looking fit ) in his Spider-Man t-shirt and jeans. And specs. ( Blimey. )
It was the first time she’d ever seen him in something other than his pinstriped suit. She’d allowed herself, every so often, to fantasize about him in that suit, but now she had some new fantasy fodder. She also realized that she’d been silent long enough for it to be awkward. “Erm...hi!” she blurted, internally wincing at her eloquence.
“Hello,” he said, “I just saw you pacing back and forth in front of the snack stand and looking upset at whomever was on the phone. And I wondered what could cause you to be so distressed. So...unless you’re, you know, uncomfortable with saying so…”
Rose eyed his shirt. She interrupted, “I take it you’re seein’ Endgame ?”
She pointed to her Captain Marvel t-shirt. “Same. Got your ticket yet?”
“No, I was distracted by you pacing and… frowning,” he stammered. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen you frown before, at the coffee shop. You’re always so cheery and smiling. And it’s a shame to see you so very...erm... not-cheery.”
She interrupted his babble by thrusting her extra ticket at him. “Here ya go. Wanna see it with me?”
John’s eyebrows raised, and he grinned. “Yeah…sure...that would be brilliant!”
“Wonderful!” Rose smiled, her mind spinning with her sudden good luck. She’d hoped, maybe, one day she’d get the courage up to take things past the barista - customer relationship they had. John reached around to withdraw his wallet from his pocket. She shook her head. “I got the tickets. You’re gettin’ the popcorn,” she told him.
“Are you sure?”
John nodded enthusiastically, then reached into his pocket. His brow furrowed. “Blimey! I am so thick. Mr. Thickety-thickface from Thinkania…” He ran his fingers through his hair, making it poke up even more. John explained to a baffled Rose, “I ran out of my flat without my wallet. I was running late and changed out of my suit…”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Then it’s a good thing I was here with an extra ticket.”
“Luck definitely smiled on me this evening,” he grinned, and Rose felt a billion butterflies taking flight in her stomach. “Fair Fortuna, you are.”
“You can buy the tickets for the next Spider-Man movie,” she suggested, quite before her brain could consider the full implications of making such a decision.
John’s eyebrow arched. Rose had a nanosecond to regret being so forward. “That’s a date, Rose Tyler!” he declared, taking her hand and giving it a squeeze. Fingers entwined, they maneuvered their way through the crowd, queuing up for popcorn. “Can I ask who you were so upset with?”
Rose sighed. “Oh, my friend Shireen. I bought the Endgame tickets early, and we’d planned to go together. I was just looking forward to seeing the movie and didn’t want to go alone. Shireen hooked up with her wanker ex instead. I’m the Marvel fan, have been ever since I was little, with my dad. Shireen didn’t really care about the movie anyway, she just wanted to lust over Chris Hemsworth.”
“Same here,” he confided. Rose watched his eyes get huge as he realized what he’d just implied. “I mean, about being a lifelong Marvel fan, that is… although, I’m sure Chris Hemsworth is lovely.”
Rose snickered. Remembering he'd mentioned he was a physics teacher over an early morning cup of coffee at the Bad Wolf, she decided to take a risk. “I’m more of an Bruce Banner girl, myself. Love those nerdy scientists.” She grinned, her tongue poking out. Rarely did she ever flirt well, so she was a bit proud to see his ears go pink.
“There’s... something to be said for science,” he stammered. She noticed his eyes shifting down to her mouth.
Rose had no idea if this whole thing would lead anywhere, but since fortune seemed to be smiling on both of them, she decided she’d go all in. “Oh, there definitely is.” She winked. He puffed up a bit.
Eventually, she bought their popcorn and they settled into their seats, discussing Infinty War. “So, were you a mess when Spider-Man got...dusted?” she asked, glancing at his shirt.
“Just a bit. His last words... I don’t wanna go …” John shuddered at the memory.
Rose nodded in agreement. “I lost it over...well, everybody. Couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Wished my dad could’ve seen it. His mind would have been blown. He passed away five years ago.” She hadn’t really meant to bring that up, and she regretted it a bit when she saw the sadness in his eyes. “But… I’m happy to be enjoying this with a fan. ‘S nice.” She squeezed his hand.
“I can relate,” he murmured, “My dad would’ve loved this too. Right, then, we’ll geek out for our dads tonight.”
They smiled at each other, and Rose didn’t let go of John’s hand. Those butterflies kept on flying. The mood was broken somewhat when the previews started, but even then, she made the happy discovery that he was a Star Wars fan as well when he happily bounced in his seat watching that new trailer.
For nearly three hours, Rose and John were lost in the Avengers’ world, watching their favorite heroes fighting, and sometimes failing, and then rising up for another battle. She cried near the end, hiding her face against John’s shoulder. Rose was fairly certain she felt a light kiss to the top of her head as his arm went around her shoulder. They joined in the cheers at the end. She caught him wiping his eyes.
Finally, the lights came up after the last of the credits rolled. John was the first to speak. “Wow... I mean, just...mind blown. Wow.”
Rose was similarly gobsmacked. “I can’t believe they…”
“I know! And when Tony and Thor did the…”
“And Steve! Can’t believe it. I just…. M’ so glad you were here tonight.”
“Oh, Rose Tyler, I’m glad you were here! With a ticket! I mean I could’ve gone back gotten my wallet and caught a later showing, but this was so much better.”
Rose felt the mood shift a bit, now that the theater lights were brightening. What was expected? Would they continue the impromptu date or would they part ways outside the cinema? She knew she wasn’t quite ready to let go of him, not yet.
They stood up. John tugged his ear. “Weeelll…”
Rose thought, In for a penny… and blurted, “I want chips. Do you want some?”
“That would be lovely. But...empty pockets. I don’t want you to have to pay. Unless… Rose, will you come with me to my place? It’s about three blocks that way.” He pointed vaguely over his shoulder. Rose felt her eyebrow raise at his suggestion. Before she could process his words, he continued. “I could get my wallet and then we go for chips. My treat. I insist on paying.” His hand grasped hers. “M’not really ready for the evening to end. I’ve… been wanting to ask you out for a while.”
Her butterflies were whirling about in formation now. “Let’s get chips.”
He bounced a bit. “Brilliant! Allons-y!” They burst into giddy laughter.
John and Rose went to the chip shop (after a brief stop to get his wallet). They spent two more hours in the chip shop, discussing what they’d just watched. Rose had to shush him, laughing, as he nearly broadcast spoilers to the entire restaurant in his exuberance.
When the night ended, with a kiss, Rose felt that even though they’d watched the Avengers play out their endgame, something beautiful was just beginning.