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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Nine

Title: Heritage, Chapter Nine
Author: NP-Complete
Rating: R for adult-ish content
Characters: OCs; historical Rose/Ten
Spoilers: Doomsday
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not even close. No money being made.

Summary: In the future, one extraordinary man lives an almost entirely unremarkable life. Almost.

Author's Note: Thanks to everybody who commented on my previous chapters. Thanks especially to kalleah for most excellent betaing and to starxd_sparrow for the new story summary.

Previous Chapters

They were going to be discreet at work, they agreed. Their relationship was no business of anyone at the Tyler Institute. She didn’t care to be talked of and he, already the subject of rumor and discussion, responded to the reminder with an almost physical revulsion. Thus: no conspicuous loitering. No visible flirtation. No obvious arrivals or departures in each other’s company. There were to be no changes in routine, nothing to give it away.

At work, they continued their pattern of stealing the occasional discreet lunch, and endeavoured to appear indifferent to each other. This was mostly successful, she thought. It was hard not to keep looking at each other, but they managed – or, at least, when she found herself unable to resist a glance at John, most of the time he wasn’t looking back at her.

There was also one other matter. It hadn’t occurred to either of them, but it constituted a major change of behavior for John to go around looking happy.

Indeed, John’s most notable characteristic, all of a sudden, was his smile. He sat in meetings, still playing with his pencils, but with a grin always in danger of splitting out on his face. He was discreet enough not to look overly frequently at her, but even when he was looking down or into space, that smile lurked.

Within a few days of their first day of work as a couple, after an evening spent murmuring endearments back and forth over the telephone, John had come in in the morning with an energetic step, flashed her a grin, and then stridden off into the labs. She heard from someone else that he had spent the morning disassembling the apparatus that had taken up the back lab table for so long, returning the meters to the supply closets and piling the glassware up to be washed. Since nobody could remember what he had originally intended to do, if it had even been divulged, nobody knew what it signified that he had finally finished with it. She heard someone making a joke that he had been measuring the effects of dust on glassware.

He saved her a place at a meeting, too, one of Geraint’s long, detailed, master-plan-revealing briefings. She’d arrived a minute behind the others, and seen John’s notebook and coffee mug set in front of an empty seat beside him, which he moved as he saw her entering the door. She’d made her way to it and sank into it gratefully.

Geraint was describing plans for the Vitex Award ceremony, a few months from then, when she felt a tickle on her knee. She reached her hand down to brush it away, and felt her hand gently taken by John’s. While Geraint described the preparations – the fame of the nominees, the glamour of the presenters, the likely perfection of the dinner – she squeezed his hand, and then brought her hands back up to the surface of the table.

But there had been more announced at that meeting than advance publicity for the Vitex Awards. Some of it was pertinent to her daily life. It was well-known in the department that Geraint sought to raise its profile, establish an image for it with the public. It was as part of this plan that he announced, in the meeting, a project for John to write articles on alien science for a general audience.

Clearly the plan was to capitalize on John’s quasi-fame, on the circumstance of his being Rose Tyler’s son. She glanced at John, who she knew had no desire to become any better-known than he already was. Strangely, he looked moderately serene. This was not news, then.

Geraint turned to her. “Penny,” he said firmly, “you’ll be working with John on the articles.”

“I will?” she found herself asking, before she could think.

“Part time, of course,” said Geraint. “Ten hours a week, I was thinking,” he said, looking at John.

John made a series of “mm”s and coughs that registered as “Yes”, and Geraint moved on to the next topic, leaving her to wonder. She could easily imagine John wanting to spend time at work with her, but why would he participate in something that would give him more publicity?

“But they’d be under your name,” he explained, when she asked him as they queued for sandwiches, having snuck out for lunch. “I’d be attached to them, too, but they’d really be by you. I thought you’d like it – a bit of recognition for your work, something you can point to when your relations ask you what you do for a living.”

Put that way, it did sound rather appealing. “Was this your idea?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” he said. “It’s just another of Geraint’s schemes to get some use out of me. Find some benefit to having a Tyler in his department.”

There was a bitterness in there that she would have to come to grips with, some time. Not right now, though. “But involving me – that was your idea?”

“No, actually Geraint suggested it,” he said. “I was busy protesting the whole idea. He’s right, of course – I couldn’t write an article for a general audience. His idea was that you’d ghostwrite them. But I wouldn’t have it. Use my name in there if you must: John Tyler presents Penelope Lakenham on enantioselective synthesis. But give credit where credit was earned.”

Credit for herself. It was actually quite a generous gesture, considering the original plan. “Thank you,” she said. “I appreciate it.”

“I tried to get him to make it all yours,” he confessed, “but he wouldn’t have it.”

And thus was his participation explained. Still: a byline, her own name in the public eye, even in conjunction with someone else’s. Something she could point to, as he had said. And might it not lead in time to something more? Perhaps a collection of articles? Perhaps – after much study of alien science – a book?

“First you’ll have to teach me about enantioselective synthesis,” she commented, proud that she could repeat it back pretty much syllable for syllable.

“That’s the fun part,” said John with a grin, and looked amazed when she burst out laughing.


What would go on outside the Tyler Institute was still in the process of being negotiated. John initially suggested concerts, plays, cinema visits, dinners out. She accepted, but worried, for his sake. Sooner or later they were bound to run into someone who knew one or both of them. John wasn’t famous to the extent that his face would be recognized by the general public, but anybody who worked at the Institute would know who he was.

Some of this must have communicated itself, for gradually the traditional suggestions for evenings out gave way to more individual, and to her, more interesting invitations. He picked her up in a car – rented, she assumed – one Saturday, and swept her off for a tour of a historic house, followed by dinner and a night in an inn well-known for its kitchen. When their breakfast tray was delivered the next morning, she had the pleasure of sipping tea in bed and watching him sleep, his mug steaming on the bedside table. He had the loveliest, dearest face, with its freckles and pale skin and the dark fall of his lashes on his cheeks.

They sat out on a bench in the garden later that morning, putting off the moment that they had to start back to their regular lives. The air had the sweetness of spring, with the scent of dampened earth and fresh green leaves and the stonework of the wall behind them drying in the sun.

“Mum’s coming back,” he observed. “Just a few months now.”

A few months from now. She wondered what difference Rose Tyler’s presence would make, whether their relationship would still have flourished had Rose Tyler been resident. She couldn’t imagine it making much difference.

“Is that for the Vitex Awards?” she asked, remembering the impending event.

“No, she’ll miss them,” he said, “and don’t think that wasn’t deliberate. On her part, I mean. I’ll get roped in, as usual.”

“Doing what?”

“Oh, presenting something, giving some little speech about the importance of alien contact. I did it last year. I can probably use the same speech – or, no, somebody from Public Relations always writes those. Best to leave them to it.”

He made it sound rather tiresome. “Any fun in it – the ceremony, I mean?”

“Not a lot,” he said. “Still, that might have been the company,” he added, smiling at her. “I’ll probably like it better this year.”

She made a mental note to see how she could contrive to be seated next to John without it looking too deliberate. “Glamourous event, then? Like Geraint said?”

John made a face, but at the mention of Geraint’s name, she knew. “Fairly,” he said. “Black tie. Of course people wear whatever they think will look good in the photographs.” He looked at her. “Wear something inconspicuous,” he said. “With luck, we won’t get photographed — or they’ll just see you as someone in the background.”

She did a rapid review of her wardrobe and concluded that nothing she owned was good enough for an event where there would be publicity photographs. Shopping would have to be done. She thought of the charity executive John had been photographed with some years previously – perhaps she could take a hint from her clothes in the pictures.

John slid down in his seat, flexing his legs and arms in one big catlike stretch, closing his eyes against the sun. “This is the life,” he said. “I’d live in the country, if I could.”

She would, too, she thought. “More trees. Grass. Fields.”

“Birds,” he said. “The occasional rabbit. We had a lawn for a while – a proper lawn, all close-trimmed grass and flat ground. There was one fellow we hired whose job was to catch rabbits. They used to kill them at first, but Mum and Gran got upset about it, and made them switch to trap-and-release. They’d drive twenty miles to someone else’s land and let the rabbits loose.”

She had to smile at the image of secretive rabbit-dumping expeditions. “Do rabbits have a homing instinct?”

“I don’t know,” John said, sitting back up. “We didn’t tag them. I suppose we could have been repeatedly trapping the same determined rabbits.”

She imagined rabbity frustration at traveling twenty miles back home and then being caught again. “Well, then either rabbits don’t learn from experience, or it was a new set of rabbits every time, if they kept getting caught.”

“I suppose we were helping the evolution of the species, in a way,” said John. “Rabbits dim enough to get trapped were removed from the environment, so the more sensible rabbits got to breed. And breed they did. We were never short of rabbits.”

“The Tyler Rabbit,” she said. “Extra clever. Able to spot a trap at twenty meters.”

“Well, there were plenty who couldn’t meet that standard,” he said. “We trapped a lot of them. I think some of them wound up as rabbit stew – in the gardeners’ houses, I mean. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”

Such is the fate of a game animal, she supposed. “I haven’t eaten rabbit since I was in France.”

“You lived in France?”

“No, it was a school trip. At one point we were taken to a restaurant. I ordered rabbit. I didn’t intend to, mind.”

“I haven’t been to France in – I don’t remember, really. Always wanted to spend more time there — it’s so close, it’s a shame not to go. Do you know, I’ve never been to the Louvre?”

“I haven’t, either,” she said. She supposed it was less remarkable in her, being ten or twelve years younger than him. “Lots of things I haven’t done,” she added, considering. A zeppelin, coming into view behind a stand of trees, caught her eye. “I’ve never been on a zeppelin.”

“Really?” he said

“Have you?”

“Yes, a number of times. Granddad had a share in one for a bit, when I was young.” He stood up, stretched again, and said, “Well, back to reality, I suppose.”

She let him pull her up. “This was fun. We should take more trips.”

“Yes, let’s do that,” he agreed, and squeezed her hand.


Living out in the suburbs, she couldn’t offer him anything like the variety of entertainment that he, a Londoner, could offer her. There were one or two decent restaurants in her dormitory town: they visited them. She bravely cooked dinner for him at her flat, which he ate with enthusiasm, and then shooed her out of the kitchen to do her washing-up. She played sonatas and etudes on her little keyboard, afterwards, to which he listened with his eyes shut and a quiet, peaceful smile.

He ended by pulling her in front of him on the sofa and massaging her neck and shoulders, insisting that after doing all that cooking she must be tired. She wasn’t tired, particularly, but he knew just where to rub.

Washing up, liking her playing, now giving her a massage. “Are you the perfect man?” she asked, head tilted forward, eyes closed. Really, she could almost purr.

“If I were the perfect man, I’d have better upper body strength,” he replied, thumbs beginning to slide out to her shoulder joints and (she hoped) farther south. “Isn’t that what you women admire?” he added. “Muscle definition?”

I admire this so much more, she thought. “Don’t confuse me with cultural expectations,” she said. “I think you’re splendid.”

His thumbs paused, and then he resumed. “Well,” he said, voice light. “I can’t really complain about that, can I?” He lowered his face to nuzzle her neck. “I think you’re splendid, too,” he murmured. Then his hands attacked her sides, tickling. “And cuddly,” he said, more loudly. Then he stopped and wrapped his arms around her middle. “And gorgeous,” he murmured, squeezing.

They sat there, her hands squeezing his forearms as he held on to her, for several minutes.

“Good word, splendid,” he mused, as she climbed into his lap for some mutual adoration. “Let’s always be splendid.”

“Sounds good to me,” she said, kissing his jaw.

“Then it’s settled.”

Next Chapter


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
Squee! I am behind in commenting on this, because I want to take time and read it properly first and life's been a bit sucky, but I just wanted to tell you how happy I am to see a new chapter :).
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
Yes, it took me a month this time between chapters. But Chapter 10 is half-written already.
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh, the happiest of happy sighs. I'm sure you know how much I adore this fic, and my adoration only keeps growing. I just love the way you portray the relationship between John and Penny, and how they're so determined to keep things secret, yet there's things they don't consider, like John being happy (and how perfect is that, how happy Penny makes him?).

I have a feeling that the Vitex Awards and/or Rose will pose a challenge to them, but I have so much faith in them, almost as much as I have in the Doctor and Rose, that I just know they'll come out stronger on the other side. Thank you for another fantastic, splendid chapter!
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
What she said... I love this story. I like that it has its own cannon and you have such wonderful asperations...
So thrilled to see more of this I did a little dance (like snoopy) before I sat down to read this. (I danced a little after too.. O.o )
(no subject) - np_complete - Sep. 5th, 2007 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - brilliantomega - Sep. 5th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - np_complete - Sep. 5th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
haven't read it yet, but I needed to convey my excitement (this is actually the first time I have ever squeaked out loud when I saw an update).
Sep. 5th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
uuugggghhh, I want to be penny. why can't I find my own real-life version of john? the world is a cruel, unfair place.
anyway, absolutely splendid as usual!
(no subject) - np_complete - Sep. 5th, 2007 11:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2007 04:17 am (UTC)
Is it strange to l love that character?

Oh http://users.livejournal.com/_girlnotgrey/ I love your avatar or pic.... it matches perfectly with what you are trying to say!
Sep. 5th, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
I'm awfully fond of him myself.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
Sep. 5th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
I love this!!!!!!!!
Sep. 6th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 5th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
Wow. The entire series is amazing. I usually don't like original characters. However, John and Penny are so fully-realized and I can't wait to read more.
Sep. 6th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
Thanks very much. I don't often like original characters either, so I was worried whether I'd be able to sustain people's interest in a story primarily about two OCs. So far, though, it looks like it's been working.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
Sep. 5th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
oh, Yay!! I was actually just about to start backtracking to make sure I hadn't missed a chapter and then, poof! Here you were, with another chapter of this lovely story. I'd just like to say that if RTD had any sense, he'd make *this* story into its own spin-off. The characters and the writing are just (looks both ways) splendid. =) If you don't already, you could have a brilliant career as a novelist. Especially if it was for this show.
Sep. 6th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Wow! What a compliment!

Alas, I am not a novelist. I am a computer programmer with a lot of story fragments on her computer. This is the longest thing I've written in many years, and I don't know when I would have tried a multi-part story had it not been for kalleah's advice, encouragement, and betaing. (There's a writer who knows what she's doing. If you're not reading her Hidden Well, you should be.)

It took me four weeks to write this chapter, during which time about half of it moved into the next chapter, which I think may be a long one (or perhaps two separate chapters). Real life's been a bit more demanding lately, with overtime, car trouble, family issues, and more. I'd like to think I'll get the next one out within the next week and a half, but we'll see.

Thanks so much for the lovely compliments, and for staying with the story through the delay!
Sep. 5th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
I read this this morning, when I was not feeling very well, and now I can't remembered if I commented then or not. If I didn't, here's my comment: another lovely chapter, with a continued lovely atmosphere. I adore your characters, and I'm interested to see what you do with Rose.
Sep. 6th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
So sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Hope you feel better soon.

Thank you for saying such lovely things about my story! I appreciate your reading it, and always enjoy your comments. Thanks again.
Sep. 5th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)

Just found this, and read all nine chapters in one sitting. Sigh. So lovely!
Sep. 6th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Why, thank you! That's a lovely thing to say!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
Sep. 6th, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
w0ot :) always glad to see more of this. can't wait till mum shows up for dinner ;)
Sep. 8th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
Sep. 7th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
I'd completely lost track of this story but I'm glad I found it again because I really do like it. I really like John and I like seeing him...bloom. He's so much happier than he was at the beginning of the story.
Sep. 8th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, John is a lot happier -- and it shows. He was in quite a rut, and is just starting to get out of it.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
Sep. 8th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovely! I'm always so happy to see more of this, and this chapter was wonderful as usual.
Sep. 16th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
Just realized I never responded!

Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm hoping to get back onto a schedule of every two weeks, but we'll see.
Sep. 9th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Augh! How did I miss this updating?

Another lovely, lyrical chapter. I love the pacing, the rhythm and flow, of the world you've created. And although this is such a relaxed chapter, I still found myself tense at the end. What will Rose think? What's Geraint's game? I'm deeply invested in John, Penny, and John&Penny, and I remain curious as to how things will play out.
Sep. 16th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
Just realized I never responded!

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, Penny and John are having a good time, enjoying early Spring and each other. I'm delighted that you're so invested in the two of them, separately and together, and hope you keep reading.
Sep. 26th, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
Just when I think I can't love this story more, you go and write another chapter - heaping splendidness upon brilliance. Truly, I yearn for the next chapter of this fic the second I finish reading the current chapter.

Sep. 27th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
Thank you Those are very kind words, and I appreciate them.

Truly, I yearn for the next chapter of this fic the second I finish reading the current chapter.

Well, then, I'm very pleased to be able to announce that chapter 10 is in beta, and chapter 11 is coming along nicely. You should see something more in a few days.

Thanks, again, for the comments -- truly, they do me good.
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
I've finally reached the chapter I where I originally came into the story - and I still love it just as much.

John's uncontainable happiness is endearing and cute! His covert touch of Penny's knee at the meeting is a moment of quiet bravado that really shows off his character. I wonder, though, if anyone at the Institute was gossiping about his sudden change in demeanor? I imagine they'd never connect him and Penny, though, so the guessing would be quite funny.

And I quite agree about they're being splendid :)
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )


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