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FIC: Food of Love: Part 3/6

For notes and details, please see the Forward.

As the Doctor had predicted, the museum was mostly empty. Rose and Jack saw one tour group and a smattering of smaller groups and individuals as they wandered the halls, but the huge museum was otherwise theirs alone.

To satisfy Rose’s curiosity, their first mission was to find and investigate the museum’s Earth exhibits. After getting lost and then rescued by helpful museum employees, they found their goal.

“C’mon, Jack, I want to see what they have about my time period!” Rose said, happily dragging Jack towards the early twenty-first century exhibit.

“But we’re in the future even by my standards, Rose, there’s so much else to explore! Why do you want to see what you already know?” Jack complained, holding back and causing her to stop.

“It’s not that I already know it, it’s that I want to see what they know this far in my future,” Rose explained. “Haven’t you ever wondered what people thousands of years in your future would think about your culture? How you lived and what you did?”

Jack had to admit a certain curiosity, an interest which had ultimately led to his joining the Time Agency.

Satisfied, and with a promise to visit Jack’s time period next, Rose pulled him into the exhibit.

Jack watched with an indulgent smile as Rose whirled around the exhibit, chattering happily about the music samples they heard and the technology and instruments they saw.

At one exhibit, she clapped her hands and laughed, saying, “Oh, very good!”

“What about it?” Jack asked.

“It’s a juke box,” she told him. “Look here, they say it’s a juke box. I thought they’d got juke boxes confused with iPods in the future. At least, that’s what Cassandra said.”

That observation led to a short retelling of Rose and the Doctor’s encounter with a certain bitchy trampoline, a story which amused Jack greatly.

When Rose was satisfied with her time period’s exhibit, she convinced Jack that he really should visit his own before they went off to look at the alien exhibits. He agreed with less reluctance than he’d shown before, having seen how interesting Rose had found the exhibit for her time period.

The fifty-first century Earth exhibit was down the other end of the hallway, but Jack walked right past it and into the next exhibit, which Rose saw was for fifty-first century Earth colonies.

Jack stood in the doorway for a moment, and Rose watched his face as he scanned the room with a neutral expression.

His eyes lit up and a nostalgic smile grew slowly across his features when he finally found what he’d been looking for. In a complete role reversal, this time it was Jack grabbing Rose’s arm and dragging her into an exhibit.

He pulled her towards something that looked somewhat but not entirely like a piano. It was closer to an electronic keyboard than a real wooden piano, but it was more compact and had a futuristic looking control panel instead of banks of buttons like the electronic piano the music teacher in Rose’s elementary school had used.

The instrument, like the others on exhibit, was behind a display window. Jack skimmed the placard of information in front of it, and seemed to debate with himself for a moment about pressing the button for a sound sample of the instrument and music of its time period.

He reached for the button, then pulled his hand away and surprised Rose by dashing back out into the hallway.

She followed him at a more sedate pace, and saw that he had found the museum employee who had been assigned to discretely follow them and help them if needed after they’d first been lost on their own.

She hadn’t heard Jack’s question, but the alien’s enthusiastic nod and Jack’s delighted expression brought a grin to her own face. Their guide led them back into the exhibit room, and then over to the keyboard when Jack pointed it out.

“We don’t normally allow this for regular visitors, but your incredible contribution to the sound archive convinced the Director to grant you special access. Each instrument on display here is fully restored and in perfect functioning order. Simply ask myself or another employee to unlock one and you will be able to try it. As with entry to the museum itself, the only charge is that you consent to allow the recording of whatever sounds you produce,” the alien explained as he pulled a key off a belt loop and inserted it into a small slot underneath the information placard.

The display swung open, and Jack eagerly hopped up next to the instrument.

Rose thanked their guide, who nodded in reply and retreated back out into the hallway.

Suddenly, the instrument came to raucous life with a jazzy piano riff. Rose whirled around to see Jack practically dancing with it as he pounded away at the keyboard.

After only a moment, Jack pulled his hands across the keyboard for a final sting of rising notes before planting them on a jazzy chord that firmly ended the little tune.

“Wow!” Rose breathed. “I didn’t know you could play piano!”

“It’s not really a piano,” Jack explained. “It’s really a keyboard interface synthesizer unit, or key synth for short.”

“A synthesizer? Like an electronic keyboard? We have those in my time, too,” Rose observed.

Jack nodded in agreement. “But this is so much more than just an electronic keyboard. Come up here and I’ll show you what it can do!”

He gave her a hand up into the display case, and then touched the control pad on the key synth and caused it to grow a bench and rearrange itself into a piano-like shape that Rose was more familiar with.

“My parents had one of these when I was little,” Jack explained. “It was a rare thing in our little colony. I was lucky to have been able to grow up with it.”

He fondly stroked the side of the instrument as he spoke, and Rose could see the nostalgia on his face again.

“So what else can it do?” she asked him.

“Besides being a synth unit, the likes of which were actually invented not too long before your native time, a key synth can handle more intricate multi-layer recording and has a music AI,” Jack explained.

“An AI? Does that stand for artificial intelligence?” Rose asked.

“Yup. It’s a program designed to augment the user’s musical ability, or help the user with his compositions. I learned to play mostly from the AI in my parents’ key synth. Look here, if I choose the composition mode in this menu…” Jack proceeded to show Rose the various functions available on the key synth.

Genuinely interested in part because it was genuinely interesting and partly because it was obviously an important piece of Jack’s past, Rose asked several questions and eagerly tried out the various functions as per Jack’s instructions.

They lost track of the time as Jack flirted with the AI interface and Rose experimented with the different sounds and functions. Eventually, both Jack and the AI pronounced Rose competent enough to try a composition.

“No, I don’t know…” Rose said reluctantly.

“Come on, Rose, you can do it!” Jack encouraged. “And I’ll help, so we’ll do it together. Please?”

Unable to resist his pleading puppy dog look, Rose relented. “Alright, alright! I’ll give it a try. Hey, can we use those bell things that I really liked?”

“The tubular bells? That’s an orchestral instrument from your native time. Well, invented earlier, but widely in use in your time,” Jack said.

Rose nodded. “I like the way it sounds. I think if we use it for really fast notes, maybe arpeggios or partial scales, very repetitive, it’ll sound really interesting.”

Jack nodded in reply. “Maybe with a piano melody and harmony on top.”

“Exactly!” Rose agreed. “And then later the piano should take over the bells part while strings come in and take over the piano part.”

Jack hadn’t noticed Rose’s familiarity with musical terminology while showing her the key synth, and now that they were both interested in the idea of a composition he never realized that Rose knew more about music than he’d assumed. They were both caught up in the excitement of creativity, of building something tangible together.

Rose, with Jack and the AI’s help, designed the sounds she wanted to hear. Jack contributed to her decisions and did most of the actual work with the key synth, and then designed the percussion part when Rose wasn’t sure how to continue. Together, in just less than an hour, they created a short song that they both felt proud of.

They sat back to listen to it, a minute and a half of music which they had built together. When it finished playing, Jack reached out and started it again. The third time, it was Rose who found the correct button and played their song another time.

They listened to it several times, occasionally discussing a change only to decide that they liked it the way it was. Finally, they declared it perfect.

Jack went in search of their guide again, who insisted that he would love to hear their work. They played it for him, and he marveled at it as the most accurate modern reconstruction of early Earth music that he had ever heard.

As Rose smiled and tried not to laugh, Jack asked the guide if they could have a recording of their song to take away with them. The guide pulled a small recording device from his pocket and fiddled with it for a moment, then asked Rose to play the song again.

The device, he explained as the song played, was able to interface with any instrument in the museum, or lock onto any sound profile that it could analyze quickly enough, and record what the user selected without background noise.

When the song finished, he hit a button on the side of the device and three small tabs emerged from a slot on the bottom.

“One for each of you, and one for the archive,” he said, handing a copy to each of them and stowing the third in his pocket. “May I create one for myself as well? I truly enjoyed it.”

“Sure!” Jack said.

The guide caused another tab to appear, and then tucked it and the recording device back away in his pocket.

“Thank you, sir and madam. Are you enjoying your stay in the museum so far?” the guide asked.

“You’re welcome, and very much,” Rose replied. “I haven’t had so much fun in ages!”

“It was wonderful to use a key synth again. I haven’t seen one in years,” Jack added.

“Gosh, we’ve been here for a couple of hours already,” Rose noticed, looking at her wristwatch. “Where’s the Doctor got to?”

“Your friend finished helping the archivists integrate our systems with his device and copy its contents not too long ago. He was informed of your location, and left to explore the museum as he chose,” their guide replied.

“So he knows where we are?” Rose said.

“But he didn’t come join us,” Jack finished the thought.

“Would you like me to lead you to his current location?” their guide asked.

“Please,” Rose replied.

After the guide locked up the exhibit again, they left the room to head out in search of the Doctor.

Rose saw Jack give the key synth one last longing look just before they left.



( 6 comments — leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'd like to put Rose and Jack's song on my ipod! You plan on making it available?
Dec. 28th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
I'm flattered that you'd want it on your iPod... that's such a compliment! I think you've found the links in the endnotes already. Thanks for commenting! :-)
Dec. 18th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
Wow! Rose and Jack's song is lovely!
Dec. 28th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for commenting. :-)
Dec. 30th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
That observation led to a short retelling of Rose and the Doctor’s encounter with a certain bitchy trampoline, a story which amused Jack greatly.

Aha! Maybe why he decides to visit Platform One and observe his old friends? (If one actually believes that plot point.) I can only think that would be so painful, to be so close, to see them so early in their relationship, and not be able to touch them. I know I'm not the only one with a bunny or two in the hutch about that one, though this is the first time I've seen this kind of touchback.

When Jack and Rose were discussing the patterns for the tubular bells, I thought for a moment they might be channeling Mike Oldfield! I do like Jack and Rose's song, particularly conceptually, but I admit, musically, I was even more taken with Jack's piano riff. I always like asymmetrical rhythms, particularly over some sort of regular pattern. I loved the sound of that, and just the New Orleans touch on the keyboard itself.

Dec. 31st, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)
I believe that plot point when it suits me to, which is round about half the time. I do like the idea that Jack/Boe is on Platform One because he wants to see them, and maybe because he remembers Rose telling him this story! I think that story has been written (or else I have a stronger imagination than I thought)... though at the moment I can't remember where.

I'm happy you like the music, especially the piano riff. As it says in the notes, the left hand is a demo track from a Casio piano and I wrote the right hand myself. I had no clue what I was doing, just throwing notes together that sounded right, so it's especially nice to hear that you liked it! :-)
( 6 comments — leave a comment )


Adalia Zandra


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