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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Fourteen

Title: Heritage, Chapter Fourteen
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.

“I’ve been thinking about this all day,” murmured John, between kisses.

Previous Chapters

John was in a good mood as they left his grandmother’s home, smiling, and humming snatches of a tune. He had the look of someone expecting good things.

“She liked you,” he said, in his first reference to the visit they’d just paid, reaching out a hand for hers.

“I’m glad,” she said, and then, “I liked her.”

“I thought you would,” said John. “I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

She thought back on the warning Jackie had given her, about believing in the Doctor, and she thought there had indeed been things to worry about. But apparently she’d passed the preliminary tests. She knew of at least one other who had failed.

John had shown her around the house, briefly, after lunch, and they’d taken a tour around the near end of the gardens, well into the early part of their blooming. They’d visited his favorite childhood climbing tree – John had eyed it speculatively, but decided he was wearing the wrong clothes – and chatted briefly with the head gardener, an old friend, about this year’s new plantings.

As they’d walked back to the house, she’d spotted a few faces at the windows, watching them – staff members, presumably, wanting a look at John, or at John’s friend – but they’d vanished as soon as she’d caught their eyes. John hadn’t seemed aware of them. Perhaps he was used to being looked at when he visited.

“Where are we going now?” she asked, returning to the present, as they shifted on to the motorway.

“Back to the city,” said John. “A surprise, remember?”

“I remember,” she said, and wondered what else could be in store. She glanced away and out the window beside her, framed like everything else in cushioned white leather. The outside world scrolled by, evenly and levelly: the ride of the car was extraordinarily smooth.

“This is different,” she commented. “Being driven somewhere.”

“I thought it might be nice,” said John. “A bit – well, of luxury, maybe. Part of my surprise. I wanted everything to be nice.”

“It is nice,” she assured him.

“This evening,” said John. “I tried – well. Make it a bit – well, a bit – a bit special. Just for tonight.”

“I’m sure everything will be wonderful,” she said.

“Oh,” said John, and leaned forward to turn a knob on a control panel across from them. “Almost forgot. I thought you’d like this.”

Music, acoustic guitars and tenor voices, filled the car. “I downloaded my music collection yesterday,” he said, sounding proud of himself. “We’ve got it all right here.”

The sound reminded her of the music that had been playing, when she had emerged from his room after that first night at his flat. “This is nice,” she said.

“Thought you’d like it,” he said.

They drove on, as the landscape changed from rural to suburban to urban, buildings and roads beginning to stretch into the distance, hazed with orange smog. The car avoided any of the slip roads that would have taken them in the direction of John’s flat, continuing on from junction to junction towards the business centers of the city.

“Not home, then,” she commented.

“Not yet,” said John, with a happy look of anticipation.

Finally joining a slip road, they split off at last from the motorway, transitioning from junction to thoroughfare, finally emerging into a forest of skyscrapers. This being a Saturday, foot traffic was very light as they threaded their way through the streets, and the bus stops were deserted. At last they paused, turned, and pulled up before a tall, broad, glass-walled building.

“We’re here,” said John, smiling. The driver exited and opened their door, and she stepped out on the pavement. She looked about and saw, rendered very large, the Vitex logo on the wall.

John thanked the driver and led her inside the building. The Vitex logo was worked into the carpet here, and the security guarded watched them as John submitted to a retinal scan and she wrote her name down in the visitor log.

“Ready for you, sir,” said the guard, punching in something on his keyboard, and on cue one of the lifts on the far wall dinged and opened its doors. They walked over and entered it, and John punched a button high on its panel. The doors closed, framing them in a small, sleekly decorated space, and they were whisked upward.

A man in an expensive suit was waiting for them on the top floor, greeting them both with a hearty handshake and a little speech on his pleasure in seeing John again. John replied in kind, bantering jolly trivialities in a way of which she would not previously have thought him capable. She was introduced, and told the man’s name, but it slipped right out of her head. He led them up a broad, wood-paneled staircase to the roof, where, amid much wind and noise, a zeppelin was waiting for them.

She had never seen one up close before. The sun was shining strongly on its near side, its reflected brightness obscuring any decorative detailing. Its shadow was visible against the next few streets of buildings. She was struck with an immediate and instinctive sense of awe at how big these things were. It loomed over them like the bulk of some great sea-creature, a plesiosaur or a whale. From this close, she could see that it was not a perfectly smooth shape: its lengthwise panels met at slight angels, not quite lapping, so that a cross-section would have looked like a many-sided approximation of a circle. Its engines, not usually visible on an airborne zeppelin, extended from the body like vestigial flippers, seemingly far too small.

John and the man in the expensive suit shook hands and exchanged insincerities about golfing trips to Scotland, and a steward in uniform took them up another lift to the gondola. There, they boarded the passenger compartment.

Entering the passenger compartment cut off the noise considerably, and they could talk again. “Whose zeppelin is this?” she asked.

“It’s Vitex’s,” he said. “I asked if I could have it for tonight, and they said yes.”

“They just agreed?”

“They let the directors use it, if it’s available,” he said. So John was a director of Vitex? Had she known this, and just forgotten?

The airship had plainly been designed for the comfort of executives and their guests. The scent of fresh flowers mingled with processed air and a slight smell of exhaust as John, who was clearly familiar with the layout, showed her the galley, with its airtight refrigerator and sleek professional cooker, the wine closet, the observation rooms, the dining room with its panoramic vista, the conference room, the media room, and the small number of bedrooms with their spa-like associated baths. The master bedroom had a king-sized bed, turned down and ready for occupancy.

A slight lurch marked the start of their journey, and she slipped for a moment on the hardwood floor, grasping for a handrail. But John, more surefooted or more used to zeppelin travel, was there to catch and steady her.

They reentered the dining room, where two stewards were unpacking insulated food containers from a hamper. “Just leave it when you’re done,” said John. “We’ll serve ourselves.”

“Very good, sir,” said the chief steward, in a thoroughly Jeevesian manner.

It was quite a new thing to see this air of calm command from John. He wasn’t imperious, but neither did he hesitate to give instructions. She kept glancing at the help, trying to gauge what they made of John, but their faces were neutral and impassive, seemingly content to be given orders. She wondered what they made of her, the director’s lady friend, there for the evening.

She had known his family had founded Vitex, of course, but, knowing the Institute owned a significant portion of Vitex shares and bore the Tyler name, had assumed it to have absorbed all the family money. Certainly, John lived simply, his flat a model of bourgeois moderation. What he had spent on the two of them had been in line with a senior researcher’s salary.

She had simply had no idea what resources he might be able to call on, if he chose. Now, he was apparently choosing to.

John called her to the front window of the dining room. “Penny. You have to watch this.” She came forward, and took a good look at him.

Eyes bright, eager; hair a bit on end from the wind: he looked exactly as she was used to seeing him, save for the suit. He just had a zeppelin at his disposal.

Together, they watched as the sun set over London, the sky a uniform orange with trailing streaks of cloud, dotted with zeppelins, hazily grey at the horizon. The city was brownish-grey beneath them, tall glass-walled buildings flashing orange fire, the river a glittering serpent.

John put his arm around her. “The sunset on Santorini is the most beautiful in the world,” he said in her ear. “I’ll take you there.”

His hand slid down from her shoulder, following the curve of her waist, to rest familiarly on the back part of her hip. The long caress startled her. She was acutely aware of the staff behind her, unpacking the hamper. A hand on the hip was not the same as a caress of the bum, but nonetheless it was a public intimacy she was not used to from John, normally the most circumspect of men. Did the staff not count as an audience? Did he feel free to be demonstrative, now he was in the circumstances to which he was apparently accustomed?


They ate in comparative silence. As promised, the staff had left the room. Despite being apparently a couple of hours old, kept warm in the insulated boxes, the food was delicious, perfectly cooked, ingredients exquisitely fresh. She ate small bites of a small, boneless game bird in an aromatic sauce, savoring each mouthful, and wondered if she could hope to taste everything. John – or, most likely, someone working for John – had ordered more dishes than they could possibly eat, apparently not wanting to presume about her tastes. The amount of leftover food would be tremendous, and she hoped somebody – the crew? – would get to enjoy it.

It was dark by the time they finished. The staff were gone, and she could believe that she was alone with John, her sweet lonely scientist. They had had quite a good bottle of wine with dinner, and he led her to one of the left observation rooms, where they sat on a couch with the lights dimmed, tried to guess what they were looking at out of the window, and kissed.

“I’ve been thinking about this all day,” murmured John, between kisses.

“Hmm?” she asked, kissing him back.

“Being alone with you.” Kiss. “Kissing you.” Kiss. “Taking you to bed. Taking you somewhere special and romantic, then – finally – taking you to bed.”

She thought of the king-sized bed in the master bedroom, and something inside of her cringed. No. She couldn’t possibly make love on the zeppelin, with the crew there, knowing what the two of them were doing, able to picture them, perhaps even hearing them through the walls.

Zeppelin as executive trysting-place. The idea made her feel sick. She drew back, trying to gather the words.

“We should be docking, soon,” said John. She looked at him. “We’re staying at the Bentinck, didn’t I say? I had our things sent ahead.”

Relief coursed through her, and she looked down.


The Bentinck Hotel didn’t have a dock, but it had an arrangement with the Egremont, which did. They were taken down a lift and across a covered walkway to the Bentinck, where they were met at the door. There was no ritual of signing in: John gave his name to the doorman, and they were ushered in, up a lift, and to their suite. Her bag was there and the bedroom had been made ready, bed turned down and lights low.

She had never stayed, nor expected to, in a hotel this luxurious. There was nothing present that appeared mass-produced. The linens were snowy white and creaseless, the furniture artfully made, perfectly polished; the rugs on the floor subtly colored with patterns exotic enough to suggest that they actually had been sourced from the Orient. The prints and paintings on the wall were signed, dated, the oil paint visibly textured, the paper of the watercolors authentically rippled. The flowers, of course, were fresh.

All too soon, the door shut behind them, and they were finally, genuinely, alone. John, having shed his jacket, reached for his wrist, unfastening the cufflinks in crisp sharp movements, gathering them in his hand before setting them on a dresser. His eyes were fixed on hers, dark with masculine intention. Ancient instinct told her to step backwards, but she stayed where she was.

John shed his tie, coiling it in his hand, and began unbuttoning his shirt. “Let me …” he said to her, voice low, though she had not moved. Shirt shed, he began walking towards her, eyes still fixed on hers.

“Let me … ” he said again, hands reaching for the edges of her cardigan. A sigh burst out of her, and he raised his head, saying, “What’s wrong?”

This is all wrong, she wanted to say, but struggled for words. It wasn’t his fault that his grandmother lived in a mansion, wasn’t his fault that his treat for the day had overtones of sybaritic executive pleasure cruises. It wasn’t his fault the zeppelin crew had prepared a bed for them – a bed he had clearly never intended to use. He had given her a lovely dinner, taken her to a lovely place for the night. It was John she was with: John, who cared for her, who wanted to make her happy.

“It’s all right,” she said, and wrapped her arm around his neck, pulling him down for a kiss. John kissed her back, but broke it, opening his eyes.

“Penny,” he said, “if you don’t like the room, if you’re tired – we can go somewhere else. We can go home. I can call the car, we can take you right back home.”

And what a kick in the teeth that would be, she thought, what an ungrateful rejection of everything he’d tried to do. “I want to be here,” she said, and fiercely willed it to be true. “I want to be here, with you.”

“Penny,” said John, on an outward breath, and kissed her mouth and then her cheek, drawing his mouth down towards the sensitive spots on her neck.

“John,” she murmured, and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, ghosting her hands down his back.

“Not yet,” said John, voice a little muffled, and pulled back, reaching for the lapels of her cardigan. He slowly slid it off her shoulders, dropping it to the floor, kissing the revealed skin.

Her shell was next, lifted over her head. John reached behind her and unfastened her bra with quiet ease, breathing in a deep breath as he slid the straps down her arms. He crouched, going down on one knee, and reached to cup and lift her breasts, squeezing them lightly as he kissed across them. “So beautiful …” he whispered, breath warm against her skin.

She sighed, and again stroked her hands across his shoulders, down his back, feeling the rich sweetness of his skin, that lovely warm tactile suppleness. He turned his head to kiss her arm, and she moved her hand up, running through his hair and rubbing against his cheek.

John made a noise halfway between a sign and a moan, but opened his eyes, and said, firmly, “Later,” and she dropped her hands, letting him do what he would.

Slowly, he continued to undress her, sliding her skirt down her hips and her stockings down her legs. Her knickers came last and he pressed a kiss just above the cleft between her legs. “Penny ….” he whispered, eyes drifting shut, resting his cheek against her skin.

He rose, and kissed her, passionately, before leading her to the bed. There he shed the rest of his clothes, and positioned himself above her.

“I love you, Penny. I love you so much,” he said, staring down into her eyes, his own burningly intense. He kissed her again, fiercely, thoroughly, his mouth working hers, his hand reaching down to test and then begin caressing her.

He wanted her to say it back, she knew that, and part of her wanted, so fiercely, to say it back to him. But she knew if she did she would belong to him forever, and too much already did.

Next Chapter


Apr. 1st, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
I love all the many facets of John that we get to see here, and Penny's reluctance to say "I love you" back feels right, if heartbreaking for John (I think).

“This evening,” said John. “I tried – well. Make it a bit – well, a bit – a bit special. Just for tonight.”

Aw. Cutest part of the chapter.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
John's reality is even more complex than Penny thought, as she is beginning to see. I don't think John realized quite how good a job he was doing at pretending to be a middle-class research scientist.

“This evening,” said John. “I tried – well. Make it a bit – well, a bit – a bit special. Just for tonight.”

Aw. Cutest part of the chapter.