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Fic: Heritage, Chapter Six

Title: Heritage, Chapter Six
Author: NP-Complete
Rating: General
Characters: OCs; historical Rose/Ten
Spoilers: Doomsday
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not even close. No money being made.

Summary: Half Time Lord, all human

Author's Note: Thanks to everybody who commented on my previous chapters. Special thanks to kalleah for beta and persistent encouragement.


Previous Chapters

He took that in, dark eyes intense. There was a determined look forming on his face, as of one resolving to meet his fate. She watched as he lifted his head from his hand, moved his elbow forward for balance, and leaned in.



Breakfast was tea and muffins at a small tea specialist’s, sitting at a tiny table. John recommended a particular blend. He was apparently a prodigious drinker of tea. She nibbled the muffin in tiny bites, drawing out their time together, knowing that after it ended politeness would demand that she make some move towards going home. They talked, quietly, about John’s childhood and her own, trading stories about mud puddles and climbed trees. It seemed that, at least until he’d gone to school, John had, like her, spent most of his childhood in the country.

“Feel like looking around some more?” John said, as the shop door closed behind them and they found themselves on the pavement again. “There are some interesting shops in the next street.” He caught her eye. “Unless… you have things you need to do. I shouldn’t keep you.”

“No!” she said, and then, “I didn’t have plans. I’d love to see the shops.”

“Good!” said John, much more cheerfully, and they walked on to the shops.

The next street was one that made a pretense of supplying what a neighborhood might need, in a much more expensive and specialized form. The chemist’s windows advertized that they stocked several lines of expensive skin care products. A yarn shop displayed angora, alpaca, rabbit fur, and silk in exquisitely shaded skeins that made her mouth water in clothing-lust. A specialty food shop called itself “Groceries” but the foods in its windows were set out like wares in a jeweler’s display, each with a card attesting to its origin, its maker, and what distinguished it from all others of its type.

They wandered. A newsagent’s-cum-bookstore appealed, cheap smartpaper sheets taped to its sign, headlines crawling across them. Many of the mastheads were foreign: she supposed the clientele were cosmopolitan enough that they followed the news in other countries. They went in, and spent some time browsing through the books, paper-and-glue or as memory cards stored in neat little envelopes. John leafed through a book of photographs of exotic locations, showing her one of the Arizona landscape, all bleak beauty and alien-looking cactus. "Always wanted to go there, someday,” he said. "Never find the time."

Next to the newsagent’s was a toy store, and of course they had to go in and look. John, as she ought to have predicted, liked the more mechanical toys, watching with delight as tiny motors whirred and little cars ran across display tables, their sensors detecting obstacles and drop-offs and keeping them from falling onto the floor. One in particular seemed to be his favorite, and, seeing him tempted, she urged him to buy it. He did, giving her a delighted smile as he took the wrapped package and put it in his pocket.

Outside on the street, John indicated the food shop. “Do you want to go in?” he said. “We could pick up something for lunch….” He let the sentence trail off and blinked at her hopefully.

“Yes, let’s,” she said happily, and they entered the shop.

The shop was an unusually good one, even for its type. They stood rapt, as the cheese specialist passed them trimmings of what he said were the best cheeses in Europe. They nibbled bits of bread dipped into olive oil, each oil tagged with an explanatory card and trailing its own cloud of meanings. The shelves were laden with boxes of pasta and biscuits and jam, brightly labeled, claiming (not always convincingly) to be artisan-crafted in the country, or else stamped with enough foreign language labels to make them seem a rarity known only to the cognoscenti of some other country. They admired, but did not aspire to buy, the rare and expensive meat, the prohibitively expensive ocean fish, their fattier and somewhat less expensive farmed cousins, the shining sausages and preserved meats, sliced in tiny quantities or served in an absurdly expensive sandwich. They selected cheese slivers, little tubs of bean pate, slabs of dark green vegetable terrine, exotically-flavored cultured milk drained to pudding-thickness, a tall cylindrical container of soup.

He touched her shoulder, getting her attention. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he said, “I just have to – just for a minute. I’ll be back.” She nodded, and in a few minutes she saw him departing out the door of the shop, coat fluttering behind him. She spotted a shelf of John’s favorite semi-fizzy Italian blood orange drink, and added a few bottles to her basket. She took her basket to the shop clerk, only to find that John had already arranged that anything she bought would be charged to his card. The contents of his basket were already there, in a bag, waiting for her to pick up. She left the shop and stood blinking on the pavement. The door opened at the chemist’s across the road, and John exited, stuffing a bag into his coat pocket.

“Got everything?” he said, smiling at her.

“I think so,” she said.

They walked back towards his flat, hands brushing together and then taking hold, each carrying a shopping bag in their other hand. The sky was partly overcast, and the light seemed to be all glare, shining directly in her eyes, and she wished she’d had her sunglasses. The headache from this morning was back, stronger now and seeming to pulse as her heart beat.

Back in his flat, they deposited the bags in the kitchen. John caught her rubbing her temples. “What’s wrong?”

“I have a headache,” she said.

“Do you want anything? Paracetamol? To lie down?”

“Paracetamol would be good.”

He fetched it, and poured her a glass of water. Now, all she had to do was wait for it to start working.

“Go lie down,” he said. “Use my room.” He strode ahead of her, opening the door to his bedroom, pulling down the shades to darken it.

“There you are,” he said, stood looking at her for a minute, and then closed the door behind him. She lay down on top of the duvet in the semi-darkness. There was a distant, rhythmic noise, as of someone’s washing machine, and the faint suggestion of music from one of the other floors. In his room there was no sound except for the faint tick of his clock.

~oOo~


She had a sense of becoming aware, and opened her eyes, finding that she’d been asleep. She was on her side, curled up. John was on the bed, too, some small distance away, stretched out on his side atop the bedclothes, propped up on his elbow, watching her. In the shaded light, his eyes were large, dark, unfathomable.

“Feel better?” he said, as she uncurled and stretched.

“Yes,” she said. The headache was gone; what was left was a sense of being extra sensitive to light and sound. “How long was I asleep?”

“About an hour,” said John, still looking at her. His gaze was not demanding: he merely watched, as if for the sake of watching. He didn’t offer any explanation for why he was on the bed. Nor did he move to get up.

Was he waiting for her to do something? She propped herself up on her own elbow and watched him back. Brown hair, pale skin, sweet freckles, that mobile mouth, the dark and velvety eyes. He was quite a good-looking man, and she felt a creeping excitement insinuating itself through her, one that she kept banked, not showing on the outside.

“I like this room,” she said, mostly for the sake of saying something.

“So do I,” he said. His right hand was resting on top of the bed, and he drummed his fingers against the duvet.

“Thanks for letting me stay here last night,” she said again.

“I like having you here,” he said, simply. She had the sense that not many people were told that.

“Why did you speak to me?” she asked. “Back when—with the flower. The alien lily. Why did you show it to me?”

His gaze did not waver from hers. “It was blooming,” he said, voice serious. “You were there.”

“Because I was there?” It was a discordant thought, breaking the mood. All the smiles and glances and seeking of his gaze, all that silent coaxing him to come to her—had it all been for nothing?

“It was blooming,” he said again. “Somebody had to see it happen. And there you were. Perfect.”

He spoke as if he found it romantic. She did not. It must have shown on her face, for he added, “I thought you would like it. You seemed … nice.”

That did not seem to help. In the same even, sober tone, he added, “And I thought you were very pretty.”

She huffed a laugh and dropped her eyes. She might occasionally deserve the adjective, but never the intensifier.

“I did,” he insisted. “You were pretty and you were nice and you didn’t know enough not to speak to me. It was blooming, I thought of you, and there you were, just outside my door. It was perfect.”

Put that way, it actually did sound a bit romantic. She could see why he thought of it that way.

“I thought you were good-looking, too.” she said, raising her eyes to his. “And … nice.”

He took that in, dark eyes intense. There was a determined look forming on his face, as of one resolving to meet his fate. She watched as he lifted his head from his hand, moved his elbow forward for balance, and leaned in.

Very softly, he touched his lips to hers.

It was a gentle kiss, a soft movement of lip against lip, and it was over almost before she had processed that it was actually happening. She felt a tingle under her skin, almost like an electrical shock, and that hidden place between her legs twinged, hard. She gazed at his mouth, still feeling its touch against hers, and spared a few last thoughts, for form’s sake, on propriety, collegiality, professionalism.

In those moments, John’s face went from a look of tender expectation to uncertainty, confusion, and then dismay, all covered within seconds with the rigid, shut down look she knew from work. It gave her pain to see it. She leaned forward and returned the kiss.

He hesitated before responding, but she persisted, working her mouth against his, kissing him over and over. At last he sighed, leaned forward again, and began kissing her back.

He tasted slightly sweet and slightly like coffee, and she thought, I can live with that. They kissed, mouths parting and touching again and again. She leaned even closer, and John moved, reaching out to pull her close to him.

She stretched to meet his mouth, and then pushed herself up on her hands, breaking his hold, and held herself above him. His hands moved up to rest on her sides, lightly touching her, and he looked up at her. She drank in the picture he made, below her, hair disarranged, eyes huge and dark, lips parted, finally ready for her, her touch, her kisses. She wanted to laugh and shriek and jump on the bed, but all she did was smile.

He smiled back, helplessly. She pounced. His arms wrapped around her and he pulled her close, her body against his, still kissing, kissing, kissing. Her tongue ventured forward and found his waiting for her, welcoming her like a lost love. They rolled to one side and she pressed against him, feeling a growing hardness finding a space for itself between her legs. One of John’s hands landed on her lower back, scrabbled a bit with her T-shirt, and then spread itself flat on her bare skin, hot and real against her flesh. The shock sent sparks flashing through her breasts and between her legs, and she gasped.

And then he was pulling away, getting to his knees, shirt loose, panting. “Listen,” he said.

She listened, half sitting up. There was a high, insistent beeping coming from somewhere.

“Oven,” he said, climbing off the bed and getting to his feet. She flopped back on the bed as he walked, a bit unsteadily, towards the door.

~oOo~


She waited for a bit, thinking he would be back any minute, but he didn’t come. Her heart calmed down and her breathing slowed. Eventually she climbed out of bed, smoothed down her shirt, and went to find him.

The smell of fresh bread filled the front of the flat. John was in the kitchen, cutting slices of a rustic-looking loaf, the bread resisting the knife and the insides squishing as he sliced. He should have let it cool some more, she thought. A wrapper describing its contents as bakery-fresh country-style bread dough lay empty to one side. The table was set and the little containers from this morning were arranged in the center, surrounded by plates and soup bowls.

“I wondered if you were coming back,” she said, leaning against the counter.

He gave her a surprised look. “The bread,” he said. “I just—if I’d left it, it would have burned. It wouldn’t have been safe.”

That explained why he’d left, but not why he hadn’t come back. “So you started lunch,” she said.

“I just –“ said John. “I just thought I’d give you a chance to reconsider.”

“Reconsider?”

“Whether you… want …” He seemed to run out of words, looking at her uncertainly.

Was he anxious about her feelings, or was this some other kind of anxiety? “Have you been reconsidering?” she asked.

“No!” he said, hastening to get the words out. “Not at all. I just—I just—“

She searched his face. He seemed earnest, if a trifle flustered. “You’re sure?”

“Yes,” he said. They stared at each other. “Absolutely,” he added, more determinedly.

She felt the corners of her mouth turn up. “It looks like a nice lunch.”

He looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I believe it is.”

She reached out and touched his arm, leaving her hand there, staying in contact. “How can I help?” she asked.

“You can pour some water—or orange drink, if you like,” he said, visibly more at ease. “Glasses are over there.”

“Let’s eat,” she said.

~oOo~



Lunch was a success. The food was certainly very good, but that was the least of it. There was something exciting about nibbling on soup and cheese and pate-spread bread, staring at the person you’ve been snogging, your breasts feeling heavy, your limbs twitchy. John gave her smoldering looks, something he was very good at, his eyes burning as they looked at her. She made eyes at him, thinking of things they might do after lunch, tempted to play tricks with her tongue but not quite daring.

They finished eating, and she helped him gather up the plates and wrap up the last of the cheese and terrine. Their motions seemed to make an excessive amount of noise, the plates clattering, the glasses clinking, the refrigerator door closing with a smack.

At last they were done, John wiping his hands on a dishtowel. They stared at each other.

It was John who moved, putting down the dishtowel and moving towards her. He put his hands on her shoulders to bring her nearer to him.

“I think we stopped about here,” he murmured, and kissed her, smoothing a hand down her back to pull her against him. There was nothing tentative about this kiss, no hesitation. This was the kiss of a man who has decided what he wants.

Fortunately she knew what she wanted, too, and it seemed to be the same thing.

Next Chapter


Comments

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
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ivydoor
Jul. 7th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
I have been very, very bad about leaving you feedback for this. I've enjoyed every minute of it and this chapter was no exception. You've got a wonderful way with words and I can't wait to see this continue. :)
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! What a nice thing to say! I've enjoyed your writing, too.
(Deleted comment)
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
... just a wee bit, perhaps. :)

Thanks for commenting!
platypus
Jul. 7th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeous. It's been one of those stories where the first couple of chapters passed me by when I wasn't really paying attention to stuff on T&C, and then I started seeing references to it and checked it out and... wow. I love this kind of pacing, the slow unfolding of the characters; developments here feel earned, not granted, and there's so much more emotional payoff to things like that when you've had time to really get invested in the story. It's not whiz-bang flashy but it's never been boring, not for a second. Stories like this one are a rarity, and I'm really glad you're writing it.
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I've seen your comments in many people's journals, and always admired your insight. So to hear something like this from you is absurdly flattering. I'm very honored that you find so much to admire in my story. Thanks again, and I'm so glad you're enjoying it.
spastasmagoria
Jul. 8th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
wooh hooh :)
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Yep. :)
dettiot
Jul. 8th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
This chapter was absolutely gorgeous. It was like something out of my dreams, and the fact that it was Penny and John who were getting it, not me, made me appreciate the utter rightness of my daydreams, because it so fit for the two of them. I'm just babbling now, because I'm just so in awe of how lovely this story is. Thank you!
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. You've always said such very kind things about this story.

Some days, when you're getting to know someone you think might be very important to you, just have a magic feel to them. I tried to convey that in this chapter, how the day is charmed by the presence of someone important to you, and the excitement of the build up to that first unequivocal gesture, after which you are officially involved. It sounds as if I succeeded, at least in part. Thank you so much, and I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter.
margaretmoony
Jul. 8th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
This is brilliant. You really have caught what it must be look to be poor, trapped John
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
Interesting that you described him as "trapped". Did you mean that with regard to this chapter particularly? Because he's not at all unhappy at how his day is turning out. :)

(no subject) - margaretmoony - Jul. 10th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
haelij
Jul. 8th, 2007 07:14 am (UTC)
I have a confession to make: every time I see you've posted an update to this story, I have to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. Not because I'm confused or can't remember what has happened before, like with some fics. In this case, it's simply for the pleasure of reading it all again. That's how much I enjoy this story. And I adore it all over again, every time.
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. That's really one of the best compliments a writer can get -- that you want to go back and re-read. And I do know what you mean -- I felt that way about kalleah's Calm Before The Storm.

I'm so glad you're enjoying it. I'm enjoying writing it a great deal.
jiggery_pokery_
Jul. 8th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
Just read this all the way through and I've really enjoyed it. I think I might just be a little bit in love with John, he's absolutely gorgeous! :)
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm awfully fond of John myself. I think that John (as I visualize him) has a lot of quiet charm, something you have to invest some time in getting him comfortable with you to see. Your comment gives me hope that I've been able to convey at least some of that.
jlrpuck
Jul. 8th, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
Another beautiful, lyrical chapter. I love the details you provide--not just about John and Penny, but about the world they inhabit.

Fantastic ending to the chapter, as well. John's change from sweet shyness and uncertainty, to knowing what he wants is well done, completely in character--and incredibly reminiscent of his dad.
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I spent time on the details -- thinking what would be there but be so ordinary they'd barely notice it.

Thank you for your kind words about the ending, as well. It's a big step for John, realizing that, yes, she really does like him, yes, this is really going to happen.
emmy_bemmy
Jul. 8th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
This story is completely made of win. Total and utter win.

I cannot wait until it has been updated once again.

Seriously.
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying it and looking forward to the next chapter. (Uh, oh -- pressure!)

I have bits of the next chapter written. I hope I can get it out faster than this last one -- it took 18 days, I think, between chapters 5 and 6.

(Anonymous)
Jul. 8th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
fantastic...next chapter pleeease xxxxxx
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:46 pm (UTC)
I'll try! Thanks for commenting.
blondie_lottie
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
To put down how much I am enjoying this story is rather difficult as the words I want to use seem rather lacking. So the best I can say is that this was an utterly delicious chapter to an amazing piece of writing.

Being new to the LJ scene, it was the comments of others about your writing that drew me to read it, and I am so glad I did. The characters are believable and I too am just a little bit smitten for John. =0)
np_complete
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. That really is a breathtakingly nice thing to say.

A lot of readers have found John attractive, which would astonish him but wouldn't surprise Penny a bit. He can be terribly sweet, and I'm glad that's coming across.

Love the icon, by the way. :)
(no subject) - blondie_lottie - Jul. 20th, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - np_complete - Jul. 21st, 2007 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand
kalleah
Jul. 10th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
I'm so pleased to see this posted ... I know it was a challenging chapter to write and it came out beautifully. Yay.
krabapple
Jul. 14th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Another lovely chapter. Beautiful.
np_complete
Jul. 14th, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
catsfiction
Jul. 24th, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
“You were pretty and you were nice and you didn’t know enough not to speak to me."

That line almost broke my heart. There's a whole lifetime of loneliness there.

There's a beautiful luminous quality to the detailed description of their surroundings, too - the intensity of a day that you know will be etched into their memories, hopefully as one of the happiest of their lives.

I have to confess that one of the reasons John fascinates me as a character is that I was raised as the only child of a grieving mother (my father died very suddenly whilst she was pregnant with me). So I can relate to the melancholy that seems to permeate his character, the feeling that he can never replace what has been lost, and that every feature of his absent father brings a confusing mixture of pain and pleasure to those around him. It plays havoc with your self-esteem. I find myself wanting to see more of his relationship with Rose, which sounds a bit dysfunctional to say the very least.
np_complete
Jul. 27th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
So I can relate to the melancholy that seems to permeate his character, the feeling that he can never replace what has been lost, and that every feature of his absent father brings a confusing mixture of pain and pleasure to those around him. It plays havoc with your self-esteem.

You sum it up well. I don't think I could put it better. In addition to that, in the eyes of the world he's living in Rose's shadow, and that isn't easy, either.

Thank you for the kind words about the writing. What you're describing -- that heightened reality, that specialness -- was what I was hoping to convey, and it pleases me very much to know that it somewhat came through.
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