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Fic: Heritage

Title: Heritage
Author:  NP-Complete
Rating: General
Characters: OCs; implied Rose/Ten
Spoilers: Doomsday

Author's Note:  Second Whofic.  A different take on a familiar scenario.  

It was on her third day at the Tyler Institute, after she’d been firmly ensconced in the Physical Sciences department, that she was introduced to Rose Tyler’s other legacy, Dr. John Tyler. He wasn’t what she was expecting. 
 
She asked what she should call him, and he seemed momentarily flummoxed by the question. “John,” he finally settled on. His eyes, earnest and serious, almost pleading, were a deep velvet brown, his skin pale, his brown hair escaping the constraints of whatever product he used on it. He seemed shy of her, glancing towards her, then away, then back again, and she decided right then that she liked him. She had always been attracted to what was fragile in people. 
 
As Rose Tyler’s son, he was nominally the principal expert on organic xenochemistry, but the other scientists would whisper and occasionally snicker whenever his name was mentioned by some management figure. He would sit in meetings, sometimes drumming a pencil, but never spoke. He seemed to play no role in the daily activities and projects of the department. There was a large arrangement of tubing, retorts, flasks, and meters on one of the rear tables in the lab, with a sheet of paper taped to it on which someone had written “J. Tyler” in large letters, but as far as she could tell he never went near it.
 
He arrived reliably at nine every morning, sighing as he took off his dark overcoat and hung his scarf on the coat-rack. Sometimes he was absent for half a day or more, and she learned to associate those days with the times the Institute was giving or receiving some ceremonial honor. Occasionally he could be seen in the back of a picture of some tribute or official visit, hair tidier than usual, mouth set in a straight line of unhappiness.
 
He ate in his office, alone. She made a point of smiling whenever her eyes caught his, and she thought he looked faintly hopeful. 
 
One day, towards evening, she found herself alone in the lab, lingering around his doorway. He peeked out. 
 
“Come on,” he said, beckoning. It was the first time he’d ever asked her for anything. His office was full of books, data storage media, and papers. At first there seemed to be no order, yet he had clearly arranged everything in a way that made sense to him.   She had a sense of pattern being there, but it seemed almost too subtle to take in. What he had to show her was in the back, where a little lab bench was set up and a cabinet had been arranged to block the view from the door.
 
It was a plant, a budding flower, in a box filled with what looked like blue sand. “Watch this,” he said, and let loose a drop of clear liquid from an eyedropper onto its leaves. A she watched, the flower unfolded its petals.
 
“Listen,” he said. She listened. Just barely audible above the air conditioning was a soft little sound, like a sigh, musical and sweet.
 
“It’s a Xenolilium tylerii,” he said, softly, near her ear. “It’s from Hyrflixenposa. They don’t flower often. You have to feed them and water them and think soothing thoughts.” 
 
Soothing thoughts.  “You like flowers,” she said, feeling as if a door she’d known must be there had finally opened. “It’s named after you.”
 
“After my mother, actually,” he said. “I always liked plants. I would have studied botany, but my mother preferred xenochemistry.” 
 
She could see him, a shy, private boy, forced by his heritage into the ranks of Earth’s defenders. “What was your father like?” she asked, hoping he’d say more.
 
“I never knew him,” he said. “He parted company with my mother before she even knew she was pregnant. She was very young then. I’m not sure she even knew his real name.”
 
It seemed natural to take his hand, and she felt his pulse beating, slow and sure. He sighed. 
 
“I always got the impression I wasn’t what she’d expected,” he said at last. “But I couldn’t have told you what that was.”
 


Next Chapter

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
np_complete
Apr. 16th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
I agree with you: the Doctor wouldn't give a toss what other people thought about his looking so young and her looking so old. He'd be affronted at the suggestion that there was anything wrong with it.

Somebody on T&C asked if John were human or Gallifreyan. I'd hoped that by mentioning her feeling his pulse (and implying there was nothing unusual about it) it would be clear that he had turned out human -- a sensitive, intelligent human, but merely human. Not the mercurial half-alien genius, image of his father, that she might have been hoping for.
irishaithne
Jan. 18th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
I've decided to reread Heritage, and as before, I'm so stunned by this piece and super glad you decided to extend it!
np_complete
Jan. 19th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
I've decided to reread Heritage, and as before, I'm so stunned by this piece and super glad you decided to extend it!

It's funny, but by the time I'd finished writing it, I knew who John was. Even though it's just a short little thing! It was already clear to me who he was and what he thought, how he would speak.

I'm glad you've decided to re-read, and thank you so much for commenting!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )