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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Twelve

Title: Heritage, Chapter Twelve
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: Half Time Lord, all human. 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.

John’s grandmother presumably wanted him to be happy, but she might have her own ideas on who was allowed to help. She wasn’t completely sure if this visit was meant to introduce her as a fact of John’s life, or to submit her for final approval.

Previous chapters



On Saturday, she woke, and her first thought was: it’s today. I have to meet John’s grandmother today.

It had been weighing on her all week. John’s grandmother presumably wanted him to be happy, but she might have her own ideas on who was allowed to help. She wasn’t completely sure if this visit was meant to introduce her as a fact of John’s life, or to submit her for final approval.

John was not very helpful on this point. When told she was nervous, all he would say was, “You’ll be fine.” At one point, he said, “She’s no one to be afraid of,” but she didn’t think he convinced even himself with that statement.

So she did what she had always done before a moment of truth: she prepared.

Her research on the net had turned up equal amounts of old event coverage and conspiracy theory. In the forty-some years between the emergence of Vitex and the death of Pete Tyler, Jacqueline Tyler had been a regular fixture at society events and an indefatigable hostess. At the time of the Cyber attacks, she had disappeared and been assumed cyberized, but then had reappeared a few years later, somewhat heavier and rather more haggard.

Since Pete had been a national hero by that time, much notice had been taken. Stories had been current that she was in fact a Cyberman made to look human, that she had been reassembled in bits from her cyber form and somehow reanimated, or that she was a wholly unrelated woman, transformed by plastic surgery into a near-duplicate of Pete Tyler’s original wife. And even this was nothing to touch the barrage of theories to explain how Pete and Jackie Tyler could have a daughter that no one had ever heard of.

Digging into all this antique gossip had been a bit nauseating. She identified enough with John and his family to find the speculation – and some of it was extremely lurid – distasteful and disturbing. John’s paternity was an area where much theorizing had been done. Before John had told her more than that he hadn’t known his father, she had wondered whether he might have been one of the commandos who had fought the Cybermen – some heroic individual, perhaps never very well-known, who had had a brief idyll with Pete Tyler’s daughter. Someone dashing, brave, and very thoroughly dead. This theory had been advanced by others, she found. But there were plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Some of the conjectures were absurd, even by the standards of a half-alien’s girlfriend. Some of them were downright scurrilous. John’s turning out a distinctly different physical type than any of his known relatives had been fruitful ground for speculation. There were those who claimed that John Lumic and he could pass for father and son.

She was left with the thought that John’s own story explained the attested facts and dates about his family as well as anything else did, and was considerably more wholesome than some of the other alternatives. One could specify a mother and grandmother popping in from another universe without throwing in an alien sorcerer father, of course, but exposure to alien life prior to her appearance in the public eye would partially explain how Rose Tyler could have had such remarkable success with interstellar diplomacy with so little in her background to explain it. Perhaps the Tylers, in whatever universe they originated, were an outstandingly talented family.

None of this made her any more relaxed about meeting Jackie Tyler. She had two degrees, a few old piano-competition ribbons, and a history of positive performance reviews. This hardly seemed to make her distinguished enough for Pete Tyler’s grandson. Perhaps – and here we were back at the original point – perhaps, hopefully, Jackie Tyler wanted most that her grandson be happy.

The morning stretched towards eleven, when John was supposed to pick her up. She ran through her plan of action, her prepared conversational points, again, smoothed her hands over her skirt, and looked about for something constructive to do. John had given her an alien plant, which lived in a plastic box on her windowsill, and she glanced over at it to see how it was doing.

John had instructed her on its care. It needed sunlight during the day plus a low-wattage ultraviolet light at night: it was used to more continuous radiation than Earth’s sun provided. She was to mist it sparingly in the morning, and, every three days, feed it a teaspoon of an expeller-pressed vegetable oil high in monounsaturated fats. It was less stationary than an Earth plant, moving its main stem and leaves very slowly around the perimeter of its box in a clockwise motion, churning up its sand, but John assured her it was part of the vegetable kingdom and would never try to escape.

She had not requested an alien plant, nor thought of desiring one, but it was hers to take care of, now, and she took her responsibilities seriously. Sometimes, if she sat next to it and was very still, she could hear the small susurrations as individual grains of sand were pushed out of its way by its very slow and gradual movement. It was from Flelb, and she wondered if she should pop some bubble wrap next to it, some quiet evening, in case it missed home.

After she met Jackie Tyler, she should take John to visit her parents, perhaps over a summer weekend. This was a comforting idea. There would be nothing for him to fear there: his seriousness and even his slight awkwardness would go down well with her family. John would find her parents’ house soothing, she thought, appreciate her mother’s graciousness, her father’s gentle interest and kindness. He would like the house with its green back garden, the trees lush, the grass green, the hay in the nearby fields sweet, the summer sound of insects buzzing, the sweet clean morning smell. The way nothing inside was new, but everything had been well-loved and well-tended.

She was sitting with her computer, browsing through photos of Parisian hotels, when she heard a noise outside as a vehicle thumped heavily over a speed hump and pulled up. Her first thought was that it was John, but the pattern of the noise and vibration, together with the muted roar of the engine, told her it was too large to be a private car. She heard a vehicle door open and shut and waited for the sound of van doors opening, boxes being unloaded, but instead heard footsteps on the stairs and then a knock on her door.

It was John, dressed in a suit, shirt collar crisp, hair orderly and subdued. This last served to make her even more nervous than she was already.

“You look frightened,” he observed, after they had greeted each other with a kiss.

“I am,” she said.

“There’s nothing to be frightened about,” he said. “She’s my gran. She’ll – you’ll be fine.”

“Do I look all right?” She wore a lamb’s-wool twin set and a wool skirt with court shoes, suitable, she hoped, for meeting a dowager. Her meager string of pearls was around her neck.

“You’ll be fine,” he said again. “Are you taking a coat? Then let’s go.”

John had called during the week, promised a surprise, and asked her to pack an overnight bag, so she picked it up as they left the flat. They descended the stairs, and John pushed open the door.

There they found quite the most enormous car she had ever seen. It was black, and massive, with shining chrome trim and three rows of seats. On the far side stood a large man with very short hair, wearing black, eyes distant as he scanned up and down the street. As they emerged, he very deliberately donned a chauffeur’s hat, and she realized that in addition to being a driver, he was also a bodyguard.

He waited on the far side, ready for action, as John opened the near rear door and helped her into its white leather depths; he opened the far door for John as John walked around the back of the car and joined her inside. Then he shut the door, sealing them in. There were a few moments of silence, as he moved to the front and climbed in, shutting his own door. The car purred as it started, the driver turned the wheel to maneuver it, and, like that, they were on their way.

John smiled at her, reassuringly, as he reached for her hand. She held on to it, for familiarity, and managed a smile back. “You look beautiful,” he said.

“Thank you,” she said. She struggled for something to say about the car, the driver, the way everything in their hermetically sealed compartment was covered in white leather, but managed only, “You look nice.”

“Thanks.” He looked pleased with himself and her.

She took note of his suit, which was a fine one. In the way of girlfriends, she was familiar with his usual wardrobe, and she didn’t recall having seen it before. “Is that a new suit?”

“No,” he said. “I just don’t often wear it.” It was of a fine, lightweight wool, very supple, and fit him perfectly. If this was what a well-fitting suit looked like, she thought, then she had never seen one fit properly before. She glanced down at his feet, and he appeared to be wearing shoes of a considerably higher quality than her own.

“Are you sure I look all right?” she couldn’t help asking. She felt very middle-class and chain-store-ish all of a sudden.

“You look perfect,” said John, and squeezed her hand.

The car was powerful and the ride smooth, and it seemed to take very little time until they were off the motorway and cruising down country lanes. They passed through two villages and then finally to a large, closed gate. Their driver pressed a button and the gate began to open.

The country house at the far end of the drive looked familiar, and it took her a minute to recognize it. “That’s the house in that painting – the one on your wall.”

“Yes,” said John, leaning over towards her. “They bought it when I was about two. We lived in town before then.”

It was a handsome house, made of pale stone, with a Greek-influenced portico and tall windows. It was framed by well-trimmed shrubbery in neat lines, and, farther away, carefully positioned trees in rows.

“So this is where you grew up?” she asked, meaning where he spent his childhood.

“This is the place,” said John, with a smile in his voice. She tried to imagine a little brown-haired boy running through the hedges, climbing the trees, digging holes in the gardens. She found herself wishing she could have seen him.

“You must have been a terror to the gardeners,” she commented.

“It’s less formal behind the house,” he said. “That’s where I mostly played.”

The driver took them around behind the house, where garages and outbuildings were located. Then he exited, walked around the car, and opened the door on her side.

“Thanks,” she mumbled, as she scooted forward. He had a gloved hand extended to help her, and with a slight hesitation she took hold of it, stepping out.

“Thank you,” said John, exiting behind her.

“You’re welcome, sir,” said the driver with a certain gusto, standing very straight and without any visible emotion.

“Come on,” said John, offering her his arm. “Let’s go meet Gran.”

~oOo~


John’s grandmother was very well-dressed and entirely what her own grandmother, thinking herself a marvel of tactful specificity, would have called “ordinaire”, after the French term for table wine. She had a feeling she was going to like Jackie Tyler much more than she’d ever liked her own grandmother.

“Oh, there you are, you big handsome boy!” Jackie Tyler said from her seat on the sofa, reaching up for John. “Give us a kiss! Yes, you’re my little boy, aren’t you? Yes you are!”

John chuckled as he was being kissed. “Gran,” he said, “There’s someone here – Gran, I’d like you to meet my—Penny Lakenham.”

“Ooh,” said Jackie Tyler, beckoning her forward. “Well, come on, let me have a look at you! Ooh, doesn’t she look nice! And look at you, all dressed up!” This was directed at John. “All dressed up to see your old gran! Oh, look at you, so handsome! Isn’t he?” This was, abruptly, directed at her.

“Um--,” she said, intelligently. John was leading them to seats opposite Jackie. “Ah,” she started to reply.

“’Bout time you brought somebody ‘round for tea,” Jackie continued, to John again. “I keep telling you, you’re a good-looking man! ‘Find a nice girl,’” she said, apparently mimicking herself. “’Can’t be that hard, good-looking fella like you!’ But what does he do?” Jackie’s attention had switched back to her, and she leaned forward, confidingly. “Stays locked up in that lab of his! What kind of life is that for a man?”

“Penny works at the Institute,” said John, getting a word in through the pause for breath.

“Good for you,” said Jackie, bright eyes fixed on hers again. “So you’re clever, then?”

“Penny and I have been working on an article,” said John, saving her from having to reply. “Crystallization and how it differs on different planets. We’re focusing on Yipensenthrip, on the snow there.”

“It’s different from here, then?” said Jackie, apparently willing to be educated.

“I’ll let Penny tell it,” said John, not earning himself any gratitude from that lady. She fumbled for words.

“They’re triangular,” she said. “Not hexagons.”

“The snowflakes don’t have six sides, like the classic snowflake,” said John, interposing with ease. “If they form flakes, they form as triangles.”

“And they often form as other shapes. Sometimes quite large,” she added, getting her words together. “Hollow columns, like a glass without a bottom. Or needles. Or columns with a plate at each end, like a spool of thread. But the classic flake, when you see actual flakes, is a triangle.”

“Well, fancy that,” said Jackie. “So do they make snow triangles, then, on – wherever it is, instead of snowballs?”

“I don’t think—” she said, looking at John.

“They make snowballs,” said John. “It clumps just like Earth snow. They make snowballs.”

“Well, think of that. Just like here,” said Jackie.

“Penny’s coming with me to the Vitex Awards,” said John, and she glanced over at him. They had discussed the award ceremony, and of course picked out and purchased her dress, but only talked of it in the context of both being there, rather than actually attending as a couple. This needed a little more discussion, perhaps.

“They asked me to come,” said Jackie Tyler. “Always do, but I don’t go anymore. It’s so long! And you can’t get up for the ladies’ or someone’s taking a picture. Can’t even yawn, someone takes notice. I’d rather read about it next day.”

“Nobody you want to see up close?” asked John, naming some nominees. There were always an abundance of entertainment stars among them. “Nobody you fancy?”

“Not enough to listen to speeches for four hours,” Jackie said. “I can see them just fine on telly. Anyway, they’re all the same nowadays, can’t tell one from another anymore. Honestly, I can’t.”

“You probably do better than I can,” said John. “Right, Penny?” He glanced over at her.

She fumbled for words. “You—you don’t follow the media. That’s very true.”

“Oh, listen to you!” said Jackie to John. “What was that band – you wanted to go to their concert for your birthday, more than anything! What was their name?”

“I was fifteen,” John protested.

“Oh! I’ve been meaning to talk to you!” said Jackie, and deluged John with a tale of “the big car” and conflicting reports about its health. Jackie didn’t believe anything she’d been told about it, whether it was fine, needed repairs, or had to be replaced: only John, it seemed, could sort it out.

“I’ll call you about it on Monday,” he suggested. But Jackie was adamant: everybody he needed to speak to was on hand in the building right this minute: now was the time to investigate. Now!

So off John went, charged with his quest. Jackie beamed at her.

“That’s sorted him,” she said. “Now we can have a natter.”


For more on what John and Penny were talking about: Snowflake shapes

Next Chapter

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
drho
Dec. 1st, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Oh lovely! I love this series.
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
leighleighla
Dec. 1st, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oooh I love Jackie. Poor Penny. *giggle* I bet she wasn't expecting the flurry that is Jackie Tyler. hee!
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Nope; she was expecting a very different type of grandmother! I love Jackie, too.

Thanks for commenting, and for reading!
crimsonkitty88
Dec. 1st, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Hee hee. Oh I love your Jackie. And I can see so very much of the Doctor in John. The family dynamics are adorable.
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
John's no match for his gran. Runs in the family, I guess!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
earlgreytea68
Dec. 1st, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay! I've been waiting for this!

"It was from Flelb, and she wondered if she should pop some bubble wrap next to it, some quiet evening, in case it missed home."

This was just the most beautiful image. I want this plant!

And I loved that his perfectly combed hair makes Penny even more nervous.

Your Jackie just superb, and I snorted with laughter at her getting John out of the room. Can't wait for the next chapter.
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
I'm fond of the rambling Flelban plant, myself. John says it's definitely a plant and won't try to escape, but it's probably a good idea to make sure its box has high walls. And who knows, maybe conversation or Flelban music would be good for it.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
jlrpuck
Dec. 1st, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
What a delight to find a new chapter up today! I've missed the lyricism of your storytelling, the completeness of Penny and John and the world they inhabit.

This was wonderful, and incredibly evocative--I could practically smell the leather, and see the weave of John's suit (and what a delicious image you gave us, of John in a perfectly-tailored suit!). Penny's insecurity was deftly conveyed, and I found myself as nervous for her as I would be for a friend. Jackie is still so very, very Jackie, and she's made even more fascinating by your sharing the gossip from her arrival in Peter's world.

I'm quite looking forward to Jackie's talk with Penny.
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I appreciate your comments very much!

Jackie is still a force of nature, that's for sure. Mere grandsons are no match for her.

Thanks for the lovely comments. I struggled a lot with this chapter, so it's fantastic to hear that I did a good job with it.
starxd_sparrow
Dec. 1st, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
I love it! I was even feeling nervous Penny, even given how wonderful and accepting Jackie is - you just built it up so nicely from Penny's point of view.

And.. It was from Flelb, and she wondered if she should pop some bubble wrap next to it, some quiet evening, in case it missed home
That is beautiful - it could have been such a throwaway line, but it speaks volumes about Miss Penny. Well done, you!
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's a scary thing, meeting someone's relatives for the first time. And as Penny reflects, she isn't completely sure whether she's being presented as a fait accompli, or being submitted for approval.

Penny didn't ask for an alien plant, but now that she has one, she wants to take care of it properly.

Thanks for the lovely comments, and for continuing to read!
liber_noctuae
Dec. 1st, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
oooh, fantastic! very Jackie. I was just thinking about this fic yesterday and hoping for an update, and here it is! thank you for writing and posting, I love this story.
np_complete
Dec. 1st, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading, and for commenting! I'm very glad you're enjoying it!
dettiot
Dec. 1st, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
Hee! I love the way you wrote Jackie in this chapter--all the fussing over John to get him off balance, then shooing him out so she can talk to Penny alone. Penny's nervousness about meeting Jackie was spot-on, too. Just lovely. [sigh] I'm already twitching for the next chapter of this!
np_complete
Dec. 2nd, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't know if she was trying to knock him off balance -- that's just what a high-energy dose of Jackie tends to do to you.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting! I'm so glad you're enjoying it!
kalleah
Dec. 1st, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
John is right -- Penny had nothing to worry about with Jackie. However, all her uncertainty and nerves (as others have noted) make her very human. Who wouldn't be nervous?

And I still love the plant from Flelb.
np_complete
Dec. 2nd, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Jackie's been very welcoming, not at all the gorgon Penny was afraid of. She's probably still a bit nervous, though, particularly now that she's suddenly on the spot. Jackie doesn't give you much chance to catch your breath!

So glad you like the Flelban plant. It seemed like just the sort of thing John would find fascinating and want to share with Penny.

spastasmagoria
Dec. 2nd, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
LOL a natter! LOL Penny may regret this ;)
np_complete
Dec. 3rd, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
LOL a natter! LOL Penny may regret this ;)

Oh, I'd say John has more to be worried about!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
brilliantomega
Dec. 2nd, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
Absolutely fantastic. You have such a fabulous story going that its such a treat to see when you update.

The images are beautiful, the characters have a depth and fullness, and the whole piece has a texture that many writers never achieve.

I love that she gets to meet Jackie and that Jackie plots along as always. I love the plant and the snowflake talk. Look forward to Penny discussing being John dates to the awards and Jackie hunkering down for this conversation (and hopefully childhood stories of John) with Penny.
np_complete
Dec. 3rd, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
Look forward to Penny discussing being John dates to the awards and Jackie hunkering down for this conversation (and hopefully childhood stories of John) with Penny.

There'll be conversation in the next chapter, definitely. Both Penny and Jackie have things they want to find out.

Thanks for the lovely compliments, and thanks for continuing to read! I appreciate both very much.
earenwe
Dec. 3rd, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
I'm not generally one for OCs or "child of" stories, but this one has me hooked. Your writing, characterization and plot flow are just wonderful to follow and I can so perfectly see the Doctor in John.

I can't wait to see how Penny will handle Jackie's personality. :D
np_complete
Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for giving my story a try! I'm so glad you've enjoyed it. And thanks for the lovely comments!

Jackie's not what Penny was expecting, thank goodness, but she's still a force to be reckoned with. John's no match for her. :)
starlightmoonla
Dec. 3rd, 2007 06:15 am (UTC)
I'm very happy to have seen an update to this story. Penny and John are as always fabulous characters and you write them so realistically that one can't wait but to learn more about them.

Let me add also add my praise of Jackie in this story! I thoroughly enjoyed her section and will be very happy to read about what Jackie and Penny talked about. :D

Brilliant chapter once again! Until the next one. :)
np_complete
Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad to see people are still reading, after over four weeks between chapters! I'm hoping this next one will come a lot faster. I've got 500 words done already.

Thanks for the lovely comments, and for continuing to read!
nostariel
Dec. 3rd, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Ahhahahahaha! The awesomeness of Jackie Tyler never gets old. Poor Penny, I'd be freaking out too!
np_complete
Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
Jackie = Awesome. Always.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
irishaithne
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
Oh, I am so thrilled you updated! I'd been waiting on pins and needles for Jackie's arrival - and I wasn't disappointed! Excellent job :)

“Oh, there you are, you big handsome boy!” Jackie Tyler said from her seat on the sofa, reaching up for John. “Give us a kiss! Yes, you’re my little boy, aren’t you? Yes you are!”
*snicker* I can only imagine the look on The Doctor's face if he was there to witness Jackie's ...erm, greeting... ;)
np_complete
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! It was intimidating to try to write, because so many people said they were looking forward to seeing Jackie again. It was a lot to live up to! But in the end, it started to flow, and since I posted I've put down 500 words of chapter 13.

*snicker* I can only imagine the look on The Doctor's face if he was there to witness Jackie's ...erm, greeting... ;)

Oh, the Doctor'd be hiding behind the furniture! He'd know he was next!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
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