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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Thirteen

Title: Heritage, Chapter Thirteen
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 story summary.

Jackie’s eyes were on her, assessing her. “Be sure,” said Jackie. “Because it matters to John. A lot. If you can’t accept that it really happened, you shouldn’t be with him.”

Previous chapters



“Is he eating right?” was Jackie’s first question. “Go on, be honest.”

That wasn’t quite what she’d been expecting. “He eats,” she said. “He has lunch – a sandwich. And he eats supper.”

“Does he eat breakfast?” Jackie wanted to know. “’s important, breakfast is. He works such long hours! -- or at least he used to do. Doesn’t want anyone saying he’s not pulling his weight.”

They say that anyway, she thought. “He has toast,” she said, not bothering to deny that she knew John’s breakfast habits. “Jam. Sometimes a little peanut butter instead. Nothing heavy.”

“Don’t let him go too long without protein,” Jackie warned her. “There was one time he was staying in the London house without us for a few days, and he didn’t eat anything but crisps and Vitex the whole time. Keeled right over in the hallway at school. Didn’t half scare us. Had him in hospital for a day, but they said it was just low blood sugar.”

“He eats protein,” she said. “Protein and veg, fruit. And wholemeal bread. It’s healthy. He’s eating properly, I would say.”

“We’ve got a chocolate sponge for lunch,” Jackie confided. “It’s his favorite. You want to give him a cheer-up? Make him a chocolate sponge.”

“I’ll remember that,” she promised.

“Come over here,” Jackie said, patting the sofa. She then spread her hands over a heavy volume on the table in front of her. “I’ve got baby pictures!”

~oOo~


The book was the old-fashioned kind, with pictures printed on paper and then pasted on pages in an album. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble, trimming and arranging the photos and writing neat captions under each one.

The first photos were of Rose visibly pregnant, young, a bit worried-looking, a bit sad.

“Didn’t know how long she’d be,” Jackie said. “Nobody we could ask, either. Didn’t ever come up with them, ‘Oh, Doctor, how long do your people go with babies?’”

She supposed it wouldn’t. Jackie continued. “Rose said she just assumed he couldn’t get her pregnant, not being from this planet. Goes to show, I guess.”

What did it show? That pregnancy was always a risk? She hummed a bit in non-specific agreement, but Jackie raised her eyes from the page. “John says you know, about … about his Dad,” she said.

A cautious agreement seemed indicated. “I’ve heard the story,” she said.

“It’s true, you know,” said Jackie, matter-of-factly, but with sharp eyes fixed on her face.

There was a choice in front of her, but there seemed only one decision she could make. “I—I know,” she said.

Jackie’s eyes were on her, assessing her. “Be sure,” said Jackie. “Because it matters to John. A lot. If you can’t accept that it really happened, you shouldn’t be with him.”

Taken aback, she said, “I do accept it! I do! Did John say I didn’t?”

“No, he said you did,” said Jackie. “But a lot of people would say anything to get near him. He says you’re not that sort.”

Now that was something she was sure of. “I’m not.”

“You didn’t look it,” said Jackie. “Good student, hard worker, nothing tarty about you. A nice girl. Things in common with John, from what he says.”

Somebody had been looking into her background, she realized. “Yes,” she said, and then hastened to explain. “History. Science. The countryside.”

“Music,” said Jackie. “You play the piano. John talks about that a lot.”

“Oh,” she said, and then, “Really?”

“He wishes he’d learnt,” said Jackie. “Didn’t occur to us, to get him music lessons. Rose was so convinced he’d be a scientist.”

“And you … didn’t think so?”

“I thought he’d be a teacher, if he were going to be anything, or maybe write books. Take photographs, maybe. But Rose would have it he was a scientist.”

~oOo~


The next page had pictures of the newborn John, with his relations and by himself. “She was nine months with him, far as we could tell,” Jackie resumed. “He looked human – just the one heart – and he passed all the tests. He was a good baby, didn’t cry but when he was wet or hungry. Loved company. You could leave him alone with a mirror, and he’d be happy, chatting away with himself. Look at that.” The next page was turned to a full page baby portrait, a beautiful baby smile. “Isn’t that gorgeous?”

“Gorgeous!” she agreed.

“Wish his Dad could have seen him,” said Jackie, with real regret. “I kept thinking, ‘He’s bound to come back. He has to come back for the baby being born. ‘S not fair otherwise.’ But he didn’t.”

“I’m sure he would have, if he could,” she said, thinking it a safe statement.

“She had the chance to tell him, you know,” said Jackie. “The last time, when he appeared on the beach. She almost told him. But he’d just told her he couldn’t ever see her again, and she thought it would be too cruel.”

She wasn’t going to criticize Rose, who was Jackie’s daughter and John’s mother, but that sounded like a mistake. Who knew what extra mountains John’s father might have moved, to get to his child? What extra ingenuity he might have been driven to?

“Does John know this?” she asked, wondering what difference it might make to him, to know his mother had chosen not to let his father know of his existence.

“He knows,” said Jackie. “He thinks she should have told him. But he’d said if he tried to get to her, in the flesh, both universes would collapse. She said – I remember she said, she couldn’t ask him to put her and the baby first, before the rest of the universe. Because he would have,” she said, and this was Jackie speaking in her own voice, with no doubt at all. “He’d have done it for her if she’d asked him. That’s why she couldn’t ask him.”

She had an image in her head: this most powerful of beings, capable of collapsing universes, and the Earth girl he’d loved, and made a child with, and been parted from. She suddenly wanted John back in the room again, to be with them, to hold her in his arms.

“His father …” she asked. “What was he like?”

“Nice bloke. Well, the second time,” said Jackie. “Couldn’t stick him at first. And he could wind you up worse than anyone I ever met. But he grew on you. Weren’t nothing he wouldn’t have done for Rose.”

They started looking at photos again. The Tylers were a family unit, clearly: Pete and Jackie, Rose and John, a handsome man identified as Mickey, a few other people.

“Mickey was brilliant, the way he played with John,” said Jackie. “Taught him football, took him to matches, all those things they say a boy needs a man for. They used to play with those little cars, that run on a track – John loved those, and Mickey was the same way. You’d think he was just a big kid himself.”

She imagined that John, only grandson of a multi-millionaire, had probably had an impressive toy collection – one an adult could delight in, too. “It’s good that there was someone to fill that role,” she suggested.

“He was from our old universe, was Mick. Got here about three years before we did. And I was glad we had him, new universe and all. Gave Rose a friend to talk to.”

“That must have been very helpful,” she commented.

“Mind, they used to argue. He thought she should stay home more.”

“Instead of … of diplomacy?”

“He thought she should spend more time with John. And I agreed with him. Pete was more on Rose’s side, said it was like being in the police, you had demands on you. What I said was, let other people do it, it’s not like you have to work. Stay home with your son! But she kept saying, nobody but me can do this, I’ve met these aliens before, the planet needs me. And I guess it did. John didn’t want for nothing, we made sure of that. And he had us, of course, me and Pete. But still. When you have a baby, you have to think of the baby first, not yourself and not the rest of the planet.”

“His father,” she asked. “How would he have reacted to a baby?”

Jackie had to think about that for a minute, staring into middle distance.

“Don’t know if he would have settled down, exactly, bought a house and a mortgage,” she said. “He was the traveling type, didn’t like to stay still. I guess with the whole universe to travel in, no reason you would, really, if you didn’t want to. Couldn’t have kept on like he was doing, though, getting into danger, and that. Not with a baby.” Jackie looked at her. “Don’t know what he would have done, what they would have worked out. Wouldn’t have dropped her off with nothing, though. Wasn’t that kind of bloke.”

She felt slightly rebuked, as if she had accused John’s father of being a deadbeat dad. But Jackie was soon on to the happier subject of John, who, as she ought to have predicted, had been an adorable child. There were photos of John with his mother and Mickey, with his grandparents, with other children not identified – infant-school friends, perhaps, or children of family friends.

“Always doing something, he was,” said Jackie, looking fondly at a picture of John peeking out from between the branches of a tree, looking very proud of himself. “Couldn’t tell you what, half the time. Watching ants. Out in the rain with an umbrella, playing with the puddles. Reading books. Rose said she always knew he’d be a scientist.”

“Did she?” A vision of John as she’d first known him flashed through her head, coaxing an alien plant to flower.

“Oh, he was clever – no mistaking that. Clever little lad. They did a lot of research, Pete and Rose and Pete’s people, looking for the best schools. We wanted a day school – I wasn’t having him be sent away. We moved to the London house full-time when he was little, to make it easier. And of course it had to be a safe school, one that had security, one that would work with our security.”

She thought of the driver-cum-bodyguard, from earlier. “John doesn’t have security now,” she said, though it was more of a question.

“That’s his decision,” said Jackie. “Likes to keep things low-key. Doesn’t like looking different from everybody else. But he had his flat done up, bio-recognition systems and soundproofing and bulletproof glass. No one can get in he doesn’t want in.”

She’d noticed the bio-recognition systems, how John needed a handprint and a PIN number to open his front door, but it hadn’t occurred to her that he’d been the one to have all that installed. And the bulletproof glass seemed wasted if he opened the windows, as he often did.

“Is he … at risk?” she asked, slowly. “The way he lives now?”

Jackie sighed. “I don’t like to think about it,” she said. “He says not. Nobody’s stalking him, not a lot of kidnapping going on now, nobody going on about us betraying humanity or anything like that. Rose gets the really weird ones, but John’d be easier to get at. I wish he’d at least use a driver, I really wish he would. I don’t like him being out there where anybody could brush up against him, do something. I really don’t.”

She tried to imagine John’s life, if he were driven everywhere, guarded by bodyguards. The anonymous mingling he did with strangers at lectures would be gone, for one thing, unless his bodyguard could convincingly fake interest in Etruscan pottery shards while keeping his eyes fixed on all entrances and exits. And what of his time with her? Would there be a third party present, whenever they were somewhere other than the flat?

“I don’t often think of it,” she confessed, “John being so … so important.” It wasn’t the right word, but what one was?

“That’s how he likes it,” said Jackie. “Doesn’t want to be different. Just wants to be an ordinary bloke.”

She struggled for a next sentence, trying to compress a disorderly mass of feelings into some innocuous remark. Jackie watched her, calmly, finally speaking.

“He can’t do it, not really,” she said. “But he likes to try.”

~oOo~


The bell sounded, as they were looking at snaps of John in his teens, hair defiantly ragged, face a bit spotty, body impossibly thin.

“Lunch time,” said Jackie. “Give me a hand, if you would – thank you. I’m all right, I just need a boost sometimes. Hope you eat beef. John said you did, but men don’t always notice, do they?”

“I eat beef,” she said, though she couldn’t afford it often.

“If you don’t like it, just say,” said Jackie as they progressed down a hallway to a small, informal dining-room. “I’ll order whatever you like.”

“I’m sure what you’re serving will be lovely,” she said.

“You’re a good girl,” said Jackie. “The last one – she was a right cow. Lovely manners, perfect lady, but she thought the Doctor was all rubbish.” At her look, she continued, “The Doctor. That was John’s Dad.”

“Ah,” she said, filing that away.

“Didn’t say it to my face, but she thought Rose had turned John’s head, filling him up with rubbish. Patronizing cow.” Her head lifted in indignation. “She was kind to me.”

Somehow everything that occurred to her to say in reassurance sounded absurd. “Goodness,” she offered.

Food had already been laid out in an attractive arrangement on the table, and John stood at the sideboard on the far side of the room, filling water-glasses from a pitcher. He glanced their way as they entered, and smiled.

“Go ahead – help yourself,” Jackie directed her, easing herself into the chair at the head of the table. “Go on.”

John placed water-glasses down next to their plates, and leaned in to kiss his grandmother on the cheek. “Everything all right?” he asked.

“Oh, fine, fine,” said Jackie, brushing him away. “Go on, sit down. Don’t fuss.”

“You lived through it, I see,” John said, as he seated himself at the third place setting, opposite her and around the corner from Jackie.

“Oh, go on,” said Jackie to both of them. “I’m not that bad, am I?”

“I meant both of you,” said John to Jackie, glanced back across the table, and winked.

Next Chapter



Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
jlrpuck
Feb. 10th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
An update!!!! *bliss*

And such a lovely one, too. What a brilliant way to share John's past with us--not just growing up, but what Rose went through both during the pregnancy and after. Poor Rose--it seems she learned well from the Doctor, always rushing off to save the planet and not necessarily taking care of the things closer to home. Which is not a condemnation (and how brilliant that you wrote it so neutrally); it's simply an observation.

John is, as always, delightful; and Penny is wonderful through-and-through. And I can absolutely picture and hear Jackie during her chat with Penny, the rise and fall of her voice, the pensiveness or the offence. It's a spot-on characterisation.

Thank you very, very much for the update!
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
What a brilliant way to share John's past with us--not just growing up, but what Rose went through both during the pregnancy and after.

Thank you! I thought we needed some more information about John's childhood and what Rose had done after Doomsday, and who better than Jackie to tell the tale?

Poor Rose--it seems she learned well from the Doctor, always rushing off to save the planet and not necessarily taking care of the things closer to home. Which is not a condemnation (and how brilliant that you wrote it so neutrally); it's simply an observation.

Yes; as you can tell from Jackie's telling of it, there was much debate in the extended Tyler family over whether Rose was doing the right thing in taking on those extra responsibilities, and whether she was balancing them correctly. John said, back in chapter 3, that Rose has at times been essential to defending the planet, but in chapter 4 that there were times during his childhood when he'd had to live through her being missing on a mission and feared dead. It's hard to say what the right thing to do really would have been. But he had Jackie, through all of that, and as you can guess, Jackie was always on his side.

And I can absolutely picture and hear Jackie during her chat with Penny, the rise and fall of her voice, the pensiveness or the offence.

Thank you! There was actually a lot more that I had in her voice, about Rose and the Doctor and what she went through with all that, but it didn't really fit in this chapter. She has a distinctive point of view as well as a distinctive voice, always focused on the human scale, on human needs.
dettiot
Feb. 10th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so so so happy to see this chapter! It was well worth the wait--I loved Jackie and Penny. I really liked the sense of how tentative, how nervous, Penny was--she knows how important Jackie is, and she wants to make a good impression.

I also loved getting these insights into John and how he grew up, and how Rose lived her life. Jackie's line about putting your baby first, not the world, really struck a chord with me.

Lovely lovely work!
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
I really liked the sense of how tentative, how nervous, Penny was--she knows how important Jackie is, and she wants to make a good impression.

Yes: that's a good summary. She wants to make a good impression, and she's trying to say the right things.

I also loved getting these insights into John and how he grew up, and how Rose lived her life. Jackie's line about putting your baby first, not the world, really struck a chord with me.

It's a police officer's dilemma, as Pete points out. In chapter 10, I think it was, he tells of going star-gazing with his mother and learning the constellations -- he was definitely important to her. She just had other claims on her time as well.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
(no subject) - np_complete - Feb. 17th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
ppyajunebug
Feb. 10th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ahh, love the chapter! I'd forgotten how brilliant the story is and *poof* it jumps back into my life!

Love Jackie, love John, love Penny, love them all. They're all so alive and brilliant and hilarious. I'd love to see Rose's reaction to Penny and John's relationship. That would be a fairly terrifying experience.

Very much looking forward to the next update!!
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Ahh, love the chapter!

Thanks! I appreciate your reading, and your commenting!

I'd love to see Rose's reaction to Penny and John's relationship. That would be a fairly terrifying experience.

Yes, it would be, wouldn't it? Meeting Grandma was frightening enough!
bouncy_castle79
Feb. 10th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
This is the most perfect thing to read on a rainy Sunday afternoon. There is something so calm and measured, but touching about this story. It's truly one of my favorites in all the DW fandom, and I can't tell you how happy I was to see it updated.

Penny is so adorably awkward through this, without any idea of how to react to any of the *stuff* that surrounds John, just knowing that she loves who he is. Sigh.
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
Penny is so adorably awkward through this, without any idea of how to react to any of the *stuff* that surrounds John, just knowing that she loves who he is. Sigh.

Yes; poor John, he has such a lot of baggage. She started off making friends with a quiet, shy scientist, and just finished discussing aliens and bulletproof glass with his grandmother. It's quite a lot to get used to in a short time.

It's truly one of my favorites in all the DW fandom, and I can't tell you how happy I was to see it updated.

I'm truly glad to hear that, and I hope you keep reading!
spastasmagoria
Feb. 10th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
w00t for updates :)
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
You've been updating, too, which I haven't missed. Good for both of us!
(no subject) - spastasmagoria - Feb. 16th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
earlgreytea68
Feb. 10th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yay! I love that you updated! And I loved this chapter. I'm really very fond of Penny. Her inability to come up with anything to say other than "goodness" to the description of John's ex-girlfriend? That was adorable, and so realistic.

I loved Penny getting to learn about the Doctor through Jackie's eyes, Jackie being one of my favorite views of the Doctor.
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'm really very fond of Penny. Her inability to come up with anything to say other than "goodness" to the description of John's ex-girlfriend? That was adorable, and so realistic.

Yes; what could you say, in all politeness? I'm glad you liked it!

I loved Penny getting to learn about the Doctor through Jackie's eyes, Jackie being one of my favorite views of the Doctor.

Mine, too. I think that's one reason John wanted to introduce them, so she could hear about the Doctor from someone who'd actually met him.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
liber_noctuae
Feb. 10th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
yay! I was just thinking about this story yesterday and how I wished a new chapter would appear, and here it is! Love how we get more of a peek into John's past, and Rose too. Can't wait for the next update!
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm hoping to get the next chapter out quickly -- I've got most of it written!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
rallalon
Feb. 11th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
This is a brilliant read, all the way through. The fine touches that are so very human, the gradual easing in of the details of Penny's character, her perspective on John... It's just gorgeous, completely.

I adored this line:

“He can’t do it, not really,” she said. “But he likes to try.”
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I've enjoyed Of Love And Waffles a great deal, and think it very well done, so I'm very flattered by your comments!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
tartancravat
Feb. 11th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
This is a lovely, lovely fic. I especially love how I keep seeing small hints of the Doctor in things John says, and of course he doesn't have any idea that he's said something Doctory, which makes it all the better.
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! John came into being almost completely formed and already himself: writing him has been like opening a window and listening to a conversation that was already going on. He's like his father, but not quite the same.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
bluevolvic
Feb. 11th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
Yay! loved the update :D

Really liked the conversation between Penny and Jackie ^__^
Jackie's quite protective of John and what he eats lol!
the ending was funny :D
np_complete
Feb. 16th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Really liked the conversation between Penny and Jackie ^__^
Jackie's quite protective of John and what he eats lol!
the ending was funny :D


Jackie's definitely protective -- she gave Penny clear warning of that! Glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks for reading, and for commenting!
starxd_sparrow
Feb. 11th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
A new chapter! Brilliant!

So quiet - and the way you gave his history and related his position of prominence (which we've only gotten from Penny's point of view before) through Jackie was remarkable.

I'm so glad to see this continue, darling!
np_complete
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
So quiet - and the way you gave his history and related his position of prominence (which we've only gotten from Penny's point of view before) through Jackie was remarkable.


Thank you! As Jackie says (and Penny is realizing), John's quiet, low-key style of life masks a more complex reality. We'll see more of this in the next chapter.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting! I always enjoy your comments!
lapacifidora
Feb. 11th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
D'you know, I went trolling through the archives of T&C about twice to make sure that I hadn't missed an update of yours during the holiday break and disappointed I was to find I had not. And then I was surprised and happy to find an update. (Squee!! XD) I love your Jackie - she's exactly as we might imagine her, 20 years on - and the interaction between she and Penny was so realistic. It was exactly how it is when you're introduced to the matriarch: trying to make a good impression and feeling sure that you're failing miserably.
np_complete
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
D'you know, I went trolling through the archives of T&C about twice to make sure that I hadn't missed an update of yours during the holiday break and disappointed I was to find I had not.

Ooh -- sorry to put you to the extra trouble! December wound up being a very busy month, and January was spent recovering from December! (Also, this was a hard chapter to put together.)

It was exactly how it is when you're introduced to the matriarch: trying to make a good impression and feeling sure that you're failing miserably.

Yes -- Jackie even more than most! She wants it clear that Penny had better not just be humoring John!

Thanks for staying with me, and thanks for commenting!
catsfiction
Feb. 11th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
You write Jackie - a richer, older Jackie - incredibly well. The family photo session can be a real cliche in the wrong hands, but you opened up all kinds of interesting questions with it. I like the way you draw Penny into the moral questions, things like whether Rose was right to lie, or to neglect John in favour of her work. It's been a great tale of people forming impressions of one another and then meeting and testing out their accuracy.

One thing you really convey is how difficult it must be to break out of a high-profile, privileged lifestyle and be accepted as a normal person - exactly what John wants and is finding in Penny. "They say that anyway" is a line that opens out so much of John's issues.

This is such an original story; it's astonishingly gripping considering we've only just met our first real canon character.
np_complete
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I always look forward to your comments: you pick up on both what I'm trying to do and also nuances of the story I'm not consciously aware of. I hadn't thought of the story being about impressions formed and then tested, but in a lot of ways it is.

I'm so pleased you like the way I wrote Jackie. She has both a distinctive voice and a distinct perspective: she is always focused on the human scale of things, on human needs and human priorities. I think John was very lucky to have her.

Thanks so much for reading, and for commenting!
irishaithne
Feb. 19th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
This was the perfect way to start my day. Now if only I didn't have to go to work and instead could stay here and bask in the warm fuzzies this update gave me...

I love Jackie and Penny's interaction with each other. I can already imagine what they'll be like in the future ;)

And this, this just broke my heart:
“He knows,” said Jackie. “He thinks she should have told him. But he’d said if he tried to get to her, in the flesh, both universes would collapse. She said – I remember she said, she couldn’t ask him to put her and the baby first, before the rest of the universe. Because he would have,” she said, and this was Jackie speaking in her own voice, with no doubt at all. “He’d have done it for her if she’d asked him. That’s why she couldn’t ask him.”

Sniffle!
np_complete
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
I love Jackie and Penny's interaction with each other. I can already imagine what they'll be like in the future ;)


Well, they're definitely off to a good start!

So glad you're still reading! Thanks for staying with me, and for commenting!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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