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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Two

Title: Heritage, Chapter Two
Author:  NP-Complete
Rating: General
Characters: OCs; implied Rose/Ten
Spoilers: Doomsday
 
Author's Note:  People very flatteringly asked for more, and before I knew it, there was more.  Wow.  Thanks in particular to kalleah for beta and persistent encouragement. 

 That night, on the train, she curled in a seat, gazed at the blackness out the window, and thought about John Tyler.

He wasn’t by any means a bad-looking man. He had lovely eyes, deep and soulful and velvety, and a well-shaped, pensive mouth. His body was long and lean. He didn’t wear a ring, and he couldn’t be more than ten, maybe twelve years older than she was. 
 
She did not want to succumb to any clichés about office relationships. She did not want to over-interpret events.  She most particularly did not want to make a fool of herself. Nonetheless, when she thought of him, of the look on his face and the tone of his voice as he’d spoken to her, she felt a rush of warm feeling. She wanted the chance to coax him and tease him and cosset him, until she’d put a smile on that sad, expressive face. 
 
She thought it was important to take a stand, to show where her sympathies lay. She went out and bought an African violet in a pot, and took it into work the next day. Under the fluorescent light it seemed a hunkered, slightly stunted thing, timid in its blooming, resolutely ordinary. But it was the best she could do. She sat at her desk, reading email over and over, gazing at his closed office door, waiting for something to happen. 
 
At about 5 before nine, there were footsteps in the hall, and John came in. She felt bold enough to look at him without pretense of doing otherwise, to seek his eyes with hers. He paused in taking off his coat, caught by her attention. His face turned to hers, and they remained there for a minute, taking each other in. 
 
Then, John turned away and continued taking off his coat. She smiled as warmly as she could, but he gave just one more glance in her direction before heading for his office. 
 
So much for that, she thought. She had no other sufficiently subtle overture to make. She didn’t have a comparable ability to conjure loveliness from nothing, to surprise an explorer with a secret beauty in a wasteland of office furniture.
 
The day dragged on, as did the next few days. The African violet was twice knocked off her desk by passers-by. Her desk – a temporary one until her office was finished – was near the coffeemaker, and, as she looked up when anyone passed, she found herself frequently in conversation with others in the department as they passed by on their way to or from getting coffee. She listened to jokes by one or another about her name being almost too long for her nameplate, smiled, and felt tired. 
 
John went by from time to time, tension visible in the set of his shoulders, giving her glances that lingered but seemed to look past and through her. It was as if he wished to show that he wasn’t afraid to look at her, but wasn’t quite brave enough to actually do it. His eyes were dark and unrevealing, his face set and enigmatic, and although she tried to smile, self-consciousness made it difficult. The African violet wilted slightly, and she thought she knew how it felt. 
 
It was a long and dreary week before she found herself in a meeting of quite remarkable dullness, in which Geraint, the Deputy Director, walked them through six months of future projects with which she was to have little to do. She found herself wishing for a pencil to drum, and glanced over at John to see if he’d had his usual impulse. 
 
He was, instead, looking at her. He turned his head as soon as he realized he’d been caught, and stared straight ahead. His cheeks turned just the very faintest bit pink, and she was charmed.
 
Geraint delayed her as they left the conference room, instructing her on the monthly and annual reports it was her duty to assemble. “See if you can get me a version by the first week of March,” he said. “If we issued a draft report on something by the end of December, you can say we were finished in ‘44. Get somebody to give you a rundown on the departmental direction.”
 
“John?” she suggested.
 
“Might as well,” said Geraint. “He’s not busy.”
 
When she exited the conference room, she saw John lingering at her desk, leaning over the African violet. She came up beside him.
 
“You’re over-watering this,” he said, turning over the soil with a finger to show her.
 
“It came that way,” she said. 
 
“Mm,” he said, managing to combine pessimism and resignation in one unvoiced syllable.
 
She waited, but he didn’t seem inclined to continue. “Would you like a coffee?” she said. 
 
“No thanks, I’ve just had one,” he said, a bit absently, still studying the plant.
 
She sighed internally. They stood, side by side, each in their own thoughts, contemplating the African violet. Just as she began to feel silly, she heard him take a deep breath, and he said, “I was going to get a sandwich. Would you like one?” 
 
Eyes on him, she nodded her assent.
 

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kalleah
May. 2nd, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
As I said when I first read this, it is such a touching illustration of two introverts trying to make overtures to one another. I can see the Doctor in John even if Rose can't - the quiet moments of compassion, when he says “I'm so sorry” with words and eyes and soul. And the violet is representative of so much.

Beautiful.
np_complete
May. 5th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Yes, John feels -- and sees -- much more than he ever says. He didn't inherit his father's gift for gab, that's for certain.

He arrived almost completely formed in my head, all at once. I'm discovering him as I write him.
jvgymnast
May. 18th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
I agree about the introvert interaction. Very nice story.
dettiot
May. 2nd, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
I really like this--it's so quiet, and subtle, and real. I can really see the Doctor in John, and I can see parts of Rose in the unnamed girl, but they're both their own people, people that are trying to make a connection. Just lovely.
np_complete
May. 5th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm gratified that people can see the Doctor in John, especially as I have been drawing him with such thin brush strokes, so to speak. And I'm glad they can see that he's very much his own person.
irishaithne
Jan. 19th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
You're brilliant at this - all of it: tone, characterization, setting....and oh, the lovely awkward tension between John and Penny.

Btw, I've decided to friend you so I can keep up better with your updates. You do not need to friend me back unless you want to - I have no expectations :)
np_complete
Jan. 24th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! It was very scary to write this chapter, since I'd never thought of expanding the story, and had never written a multi-chapter fic before. I thought, "This has to be very delicate", and I'm so pleased it worked for you.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )