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Fic: The Flower Tender 2/6

Title The flower tender 2/6
Fandom Doctor Who (EDA)
Chapters One - two - three - four - five - six
Pairing Doctor/Fitz, some one-sided Sam/Doctor, mentions of Doctor/Turlough and Doctor/Grace.
Beta thought_goddess
Words of chapter 5924
Words of entire fic approx. 30 000.
Rating/warnings R. Sexual situations, mental illness, some mentions of substance abuse, people having Victorian morals.
Spoilers The Blue Angel (simply because of the existence of Obverse), small ones from Unnatural History/the Dark Sam arc and The Taint (but nothing you probably wouldn’t know anyway).
Disclaimer I don’t own anything but the clothes on my back.
Summary A beautiful madman, who talks of begonias and mermaids. A girl who is not a tenant or a maid or a companion, perhaps not even the pious rescue worker she seems to be. Fitz Kreiner, who leaves his rooms in the semislum of Hoxton to join the eccentric household, entering into a world which challenge the very values of the time.
Author's note - edit 16/7 d_eli_rium illustrated this chapter here.


The Doctor was a passionate man. That much had been obvious when Fitz had moved into the house in Primrose Hill, but he did not grasped the full extent of it until much later. His landlord was not unlike a child in his excitement; he had his obsessions, and anything which did not tickle his fancy seemed not to exist for him. He loved his garden and his flowers, his library and his books, although he seldom seemed to sit down to read. There seemed to be so much fiction in his head already that Fitz could not blame him. The Doctor had explained some aspects of his fantasy world, which he nevertheless seemed to believe was real. Fitz did not quite follow his descriptions - there was a magic box and different worlds which the Doctor would travel between. It all sounded like some penny-dreadful, but the Doctor was absolutely adamant that it was true. Samantha urged Fitz not to encourage the delusions, least they became impenetrable and made him lapse into an episode, but he could not stop the Doctor from speaking of them, when he seemed so happy to describe them to him. He guessed that to their landlord, this was such an integral part of his life that any acquaintance had to hear about it. Fitz did not care that it was probably a symptom of his madness. Even if he did not understand the stories, they held an enigmatic force similar to the Doctor’s own. In a way, he admired the Doctor’s diligent escapism. Sometimes in the evenings if he looked out of his window, he would see the Doctor lying spread-eagled in the grass, watching the stars with a smile on his face. He wondered what that man saw, because it seemed like it was more than just specks of light.

One of the Doctor’s more specific passions did not become apparent until almost two months after Fitz had moved into the house. When he came home one Friday, Sam met him in the door, an apron tied over her dress and a smile on her face.

‘You haven’t made any plans for tomorrow, have you?’ she asked and took his coat from him. ‘It is your day off, isn’t it?’

‘Hadn’t planned anything in particular,’ he said, a little surprised at her sudden willingness to serve. She usually did not act the maid, even if she was always pleasant.

‘Good,’ she said. ‘The Doctor’s taking us to the fun fair. He’s not going to take no for an answer.’ There was a happy shout from the kitchen, and Fitz heard the Doctor bounding through the house. ‘I warned you,’ she said with an entertained smile just as the Doctor appeared and launched himself at Fitz.

‘There’s a fair tomorrow - here on Primrose Hill! You must come with us, Fitz, you simply must,’ he said, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him.

‘If you say so,’ Fitz answered and shrugged off his grip. ‘Calm down, Doctor...’ The man was jumping up and down on the spot, caught up in his own emotional excitement.

‘Doctor, come sit down,’ Samantha said softly and took his arm. ‘You shouldn’t agitate yourself...’

‘Fitz said he’d come to the fair with us, Sam! It’ll be an adventure!’ Fitz heard the Doctor say as Samantha lead him into the kitchen. He smiled to himself, thinking of the Doctor’s childish glee, which was so endearing. When he came into the kitchen, he saw the Doctor was sitting by the table, while Samantha was preparing dinner. He caught Fitz’s eye, grinned at him and, when he came close enough, extended a hand. Fitz hesitated for a moment, and then reached out to meet his. He had expected it to become a hand-shake or a squeeze, but instead, the Doctor’s lean fingers closed around his and pulled his hand closer, almost sending him off balance. Then the Doctor planted a kiss on the back of his hand, so hard that Fitz wondered if he would change his mind and bite him instead. When he let it go, he smiled innocently, as if none of it had happened. Fitz stood frozen, returning his gaze but not his smile. Did he understand the implications of what he did? Surely he could not - would he do it if he did? It was probably just an example of his eccentricities, or some aspect of his odd personality.

The Doctor tilted his head questioningly, and Fitz shook himself mentally. He forced himself to smile and nod at him, and went to help Samantha with dinner.

***

Early next morning, the Doctor was charging through the house, as if deliberately making as much noise as possible. The racket which woke Fitz sounded like a stick being drawn over all the doors as the perpetrator ran along the corridor. He groaned and turned onto his other side, but smiled to himself as he heard the Doctor shouting his nickname for Samantha to wake her up. He had never seen (or indeed heard) the man so excited - it was both touching and unnerving. He was acting like a child, which was not natural for a grown man. Then again, little of what the Doctor did was common, and not much of it could be called strictly natural. As Fitz got out of bed, he reflected that this was not how he had imagined living with a frequenter of a mental asylum would be. It was surprisingly pleasant. Absentmindedly he rubbed the back of his right hand where the Doctor had kissed it so forcefully last evening. After he had let him go the Doctor had acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Fitz had found it unsettling, simply because he could not imagine the Doctor’s reasoning behind it. It must simply be his (albeit slightly skewed) way of showing appreciation. He seemed so innocent (and if it were not apparent that this man was quite intelligent, Fitz would say simple-minded) that he was probably unaware of any implication in his actions. A lot of the time it seemed as if the Doctor was not really mad, but rather quite eccentric. Fitz wondered, as many times before, if the past two months had been a particularly good time, or if the Doctor’s illness only manifested itself very occasionally. It was hard to imagine the man now bounding up the stairs and beating on his door, asking him excitedly to get ready, to be in any state like the one he had seen him in during that first encounter.

It was after noon when they left the house, the Doctor taking them both by the arm and urging them on. The fair manifested itself as a blur of colours at first, and then Fitz could see the stalls, the tents and the flags. He heard horn music from somewhere, and the shouts of the carnival workers, calling people to their sideshows. The banners caught in the wind and the cloth slapped against the flag poles, adding another layer of sound to the gathering. The big sign suspended over the entrance proclaimed: “DREAMLAND FAIR”.

The Doctor did not let go of his tenants until they reached the entrance, where he presented the gangly, big-nosed man manning the booth with a handful of coins; Fitz suspected he had not even counted them. He did not comment, not wanting to sound tight-fisted, but he thought that even if he had, the Doctor would just have laughed and shrugged. It seemed as if his mood was reflected in the colours and the sounds of the fair, and when they stepped in and found themselves surrounded by it, he laughed, spun Samantha around and gave Fitz a one-armed hug.

‘Where do we start?’ he asked as he pulled away, grinning from ear to ear. The wind caught in his auburn hair and made it spread around his head like a halo. ‘The carousels! Come on!’

They had to run to keep up with him, and were both out of breath when they reached the carousel with its brightly painted horses. The Doctor offered Samantha his hand and helped her sit on one, and then grinned at Fitz and nodded at another free horse behind as he paid the keeper of the carousel. The Doctor took a horse in the outer circle, and soon enough the machinery of the carousel creaked and set them in motion. The painted horses started to move up and down leisurely, and Fitz grabbed the pole in surprise. He glanced over to the Doctor, wondering if he had the sense to hold on, and was shocked at what he saw.

‘Doctor!’ he shouted in alarm. The Doctor did have hold of the pole, but instead of sitting up properly, he was leaning back with his arms were straight. His head was thrown back, and his locks hung from his hair like a rain of gold. Fitz felt his heart in his throat at the thought of what might happen if his grip slipped and he fell headfirst off the moving carousel, even if it was not going particularly fast. ‘Be careful!’

‘Where’s your sense of adventure?’ the Doctor answered and let go with one hand. His upper body swung threateningly to the side and Fitz thought he saw the fingers of his other hand go white. The Doctor just laughed at his horrified face and flung back his head again. His face took on an expression of bliss, as if even the slow grinding of a fun-fair carousel was releasing him from old worries. Fitz watched the closed eyes and the half parted lip, his hair billowing around his head. It reminded him of a print he had once seen, depicting some saint caught in divine rapture. It was equal parts beautiful and unsettling, as if emotion that high were harmful.

The carousel ride was short, and when it ground to a stop the Doctor leapt off his horse with ease and lifted Samantha down. She seemed not to have noticed the Doctor’s dangerous behaviour during the ride, and Fitz decided not to mention it, not wanting her to worry. Besides, nothing had happened, so there was no need to bring it up.

The Doctor bought them all candy-floss, which they ate while watching a man with abnormally long arms juggle. While they stood there, Fitz noticed a midget dressed up as a clown. He could not help but stare, from the long-armed juggler to the clown dwarf. Evidently there was a band of freaks who were part of the fair. He had only been to a freak-show once, and he had been so little that he blamed much of the strangeness he remembered on his own imagination. When they finished their candy-floss and continued through the crowd, he realised that this was not the case. They navigated between the tents where announcers shouted out what there was to see.

‘Fortuna and Perpetua - two ladies, one body! Come inside and see the two sisters dance the mystic dances of India!’

‘Step up and see the mighty sword-swallower of the North!’

‘Roll up, roll up! The strongest man in the Empire!’

On Samantha’s request, they forwent the dancing siamese twins and went to see the strong man instead, who turned out to be a giant rather than a man. The tent he performed in was particularly high-roofed because of it. Fitz found his tricks of lifting weights and bending metal bars rather intimidating, so when the giant asked for a lady volunteer and Samantha started putting her hand up, he attempted to stop her. The Doctor, however, nodded vigorously and shuffled over so that she could pass. Then he turned to Fitz and squeezed his arm.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, so softly that it almost disappeared in the murmur of the crowd. ‘He knows what he’s doing.’ Fitz sighed in resignation and saw, when he looked back at the stage, that the giant was directing Samantha to sit in a chair with handles on each side. She nodded and sat down, looking apprehensive at the audience’s eyes on her.

‘Just hold on, miss,’ the giant said gruffly, bent down and grabbed the handles. Fitz saw how Samantha’s hands closed around the arm-rests, and then a moment later the chair was lifted high up into the air. A small scream escaped her, and the Doctor’s grip around Fitz’s arm tightened momentarily, but then she laughed. The giant was holding the chair over his head, his arms completely straight. Samantha was staring down at them in awe and then carefully let go of one of the arm-rests. Slowly, slowly, she stretched up her arm, until she spread her hand against the tent’s ceiling. The audience sucked in a breath, as if they were one entity, and then burst into applause. The giant lowered the chair and bowed to Samantha, who looked almost like Thumbelina in comparison, especially when he took her hand in his and kissed it. When she joined them again, the Doctor stretched out his arms towards her and she accepted the embrace.

‘You’re wonderfully brave, Sam,’ he said. ‘Now it’s Fitz’s turn to do something spectacular.’

‘Don’t make me arm-wrestle with him,’ Fitz said, and the Doctor laughed.

‘It was better than the carousel,’ Samantha confided as they left the tent.

‘He should’ve strapped you in that chair,’ Fitz pointed out.

‘He’s probably done it a hundred times before,’ the Doctor said. ‘He knew very well what he was...’ The sentence was left unfinished as the Doctor stopped in his stride. When Fitz looked at him, he saw that the blood had drained from his face and he had gone ghastly pale. His eyes had a faraway look in them.

‘Doctor?’ Fitz said and reached out to touch his arm, but the Doctor started walking quickly through the crowd, without paying any attention to if they were following him. Fitz turned to Samantha, who met his gaze with worry. She took hold of his arm, so they would not lose each other in the crowd, and set off in the direction the Doctor had gone. Fitz saw the familiar auburn head of hair ducking into a tent a while ahead.

‘This way,’ Fitz said and took Samantha’s hand. He lead her through the crowd, all the time keeping his eyes on the tent so that he would not mix it up with the others. Only when they were a few yards away could he tell which of the announcers belonged to that.

‘Come and see the lady of the deep! Half fish - half human! Step right up and see the mermaid!’ When he spotted Fitz and Samantha he put his hand in his pocket and jangled the coins in it, as he asked: ‘Come to see the mermaid, sir?’ Fitz dug in his pockets, trying to find some money, but was interrupted by a shriek from within the tent. It was high-pitched and distraught, but undoubtedly the Doctor’s. Fitz left his search and pushed past the man, who shouted for him to stop and ran after him.

The inside of the tent was only lit by two oil-lamps on either side of the exhibit, a mummified creature in a glass-case, and a handful of spectators were huddled at the other side of the tent. In the middle stood a circus worker, probably there to control the audience, and the Doctor, holding the man by the collar.

‘You said there was a mermaid!’ he shrieked and shook the man. ‘That-’ he relinquished his grip for a moment to point at the thing in the glass-case ‘-is a monkey and a fish sewn together. That’s not a mermaid! That’s an insult!’ The announcer stepped forward hesitantly.

‘Sir, please step outside, and we can discuss this...’ The Doctor’s head shot up and he stared at him. Fitz instinctively took a step back; there was something wrong with his gaze.

‘Where is the mermaid?’ he said forcefully. No-one answered, and he once again shook the circus worker in his grip. ‘Where is she?’ he shrieked. ‘Where?’ The announcer took his chance and launched himself against the Doctor, tackling him. They almost pulled the circus-worker with him, but he let go of his collar before the man lost his footing. As soon as they hit the ground the announcer got to his feet, looking down in disgust at the Doctor. He lay slumped for a long moment and then raised his head, looking around him in a bewildered manner. Fitz approached and fell to his knees beside him.

‘Doctor?’ The man on the ground shivered and blinked in shock.

‘Where is she?’ he whispered, as a tear broke loose of his eyelashes and trailed down his cheek.

‘You,’ the announcer said loudly; Fitz understood that he was addressing him, but did not look up. Instead he squeezed the Doctor’s shoulder, willing him to look at him. He just stared blankly into nothingness, weeping silently. ‘Get him out of here. He’s not welcome.’

‘Doctor?’ Fitz said, trying to catch his eye. ‘Please, Doctor...’ The Doctor just shut his eyes and whimpered.

‘Did you hear me?’ the announcer shouted. ‘Get him out!’ Fitz looked up, suddenly not able to curb his anger.

‘Shut up - can’t you see he’s not well, you idiot?’ he said back. The announcer almost growled.

‘Get him out of here, I said,’ he said under his breath. Fitz scowled at him, but turned back to the Doctor.

‘Hey, Doctor, come on,’ he said and took hold of his arm. ‘Can you get up?’ The Doctor turned his head away, still crying, but sat up slowly and let Fitz help him to his feet. When he stood up, he stumbled a little, and Fitz grabbed his arm harder. ‘Time to go home,’ he said quietly and lead him out, aware of the audience and the circus people staring after them.

The sunlight outside was blinding after the semidarkness of the tent. Samantha, who had been waiting outside, rushed to them when they appeared in the opening.

‘What happened?’ she said anxiously and grabbed the Doctor’s free arm. His head was still hanging, his face obscured by his hair. Fitz wondered if it was because he was still listless after his outburst, or if he was trying to hide the trails of tears from Samantha.

‘Just a silly squabble,’ he said, trying to assure her, even if he knew it did not sound very persuasive. ‘Let’s go home.’

Fitz half-lead the Doctor most of the way back, while Samantha hovered at his side, watching him worriedly. When they were finally in sight of the house, the Doctor pulled himself loose and straightened up. His face was grim and tear-stained when he pushed the hair out of his eyes. They approached the house in silence, and the Doctor unlocked the door wordlessly and proceeded to the kitchen. At last he sat down and his face fell again.

‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered. He squeezed his eyes closed again, as if to keep himself from crying, and Samantha rushed to his side, crouching down and taking his hand.

‘Don’t be - it’ll be fine,’ she attempted, but it came out weak and Fitz did not think it really helped. He made tea for them while Samantha lead the Doctor out to his whicker-chair in the garden. She sat beside him, while Fitz sat on the door-step. They did not speak, only conscious of the Doctor’s shallow sobs which had not yet subsided. At last he said:

‘We were having such a lovely time...’ Fitz put his cup down on the ground and reached out. He could just about touch his arm. To his surprise, the Doctor caught his fingers and pressed them, even if he did not look at him.

‘We’ll go next time,’ Fitz said. He saw the Doctor nod minutely, but then his grip on his fingers slipped and he hissed in pain. Samantha was suddenly on her feet, grabbing his shoulders.

‘You’ve agitated yourself, Doctor,’ she said worriedly. ‘You should rest.’

‘I guess you’re right,’ he said wearily, but then added: ‘I want to stay here.’ Samantha bit her lip and then nodded and went to fetch a foot-stool and a blanket for him. Fitz took the book with oriental stories he had been reading and brought it down to the garden, placing it on the table beside the Doctor. He smiled weakly; Fitz knew that he would not do any reading. Samantha and he settled in the kitchen, where they could see the Doctor from the window. They did not speak, only stared at their tea cups and looked out into the garden, where their landlord was resting his head against the chair, as if asleep.

When the sun started to set, Samantha made him come inside and sit in the kitchen, while she made an early supper. The Doctor did not eat much, but seemed calmer. He stayed at the table after finishing the little soup he had accepted, and when Samantha started clearing the table, he stood up, although to Fitz’s eye not without difficulty, and said:

‘I think it’s time for bed. These funny-turns are exhausting.’ Samantha put down the plate she had just lifted and crossed the table to him. She smiled briefly and accepted a kiss on the cheek from him. Then the Doctor squeezed Fitz’s shoulder. ‘Thank you,’ he whispered and, nodding to them both, he left. When Fitz was certain that he had gone upstairs, he asked:

‘Is he alright?’ Samantha nodded, but her smile was mirthless.

‘It’s just melancholia,’ she said with a shrug. ‘It happens sometimes.’ To Fitz, it had seemed like a little more than melancholia in the tent. The Doctor had given up his sense of reality for some kind of delusion, and the fact that he had collapsed when it had passed did not bode well. ‘When he’s like that, all we can do is humour him - it helps.’ He nodded, still worried. Samantha seemed to notice, because she interrupted her chore and came to stand beside him. ‘It sometimes happens. He’ll be better in the morning.’

‘You know best,’ he agreed and smiled at her. ‘You’ve seen it before, I guess.’ She nodded, biting her lip, as if she wished that that was not the case. ‘I’ll help you with the dishes,’ he said suddenly, and she laughed softly. They cleared up in silence, confident that anything sinister had been averted.

***

‘Fitz!’ The shout reached him through his dream, where the carousel horses had broken lose and were charging over the hill. Suddenly Fitz found himself awake in his bed, jerked out of the saddle of the mechanical steed. The first disorientated moment turned sharp at the banging on his door. ‘Fitz! You need to wake up! It’s the Doctor!’ Suddenly wide awake, he jumped out of bed and rushed over to the door. Samantha was standing outside, her face chalk-white in the darkness.

‘What’s happened?’ he asked.

‘The Doctor’s not in his room, and not in the garden either,’ she said hurriedly. ‘I was awake, and thought I heard a noise, so I got up to make sure he was alright...’ Her voice broke and she pressed a hand against her mouth to quench a sob.

‘Right - calm down,’ he said, trying to sound reassuring at the same time as fear made him go cold inside. ‘We’ll find him.’ He left the door and grabbed the trousers he had worn during the day to put them on, not even caring if Samantha was averting her eyes or not. ‘Have you checked the vegetable garden?’

‘No - I didn’t dare go out that far,’ she said. He understood her to some extent - he could not imagine her leaving the house in just her nightgown - but it did not seem like the ideal time to be ladylike.

‘I’ll check,’ he said as they left his room and went downstairs. ‘What about the garden shed?’

‘I only peered in,’ she admitted.

‘Look there, and around the house, while I check the vegetable garden,’ Fitz said and headed for the door before waiting for an acknowledgement. The night cold surprised him, and as he drew his coat around his night-shirt, he hoped that he would not find the Doctor at the vegetable garden, but that Samantha would have found him when he got back. It had been raining, and it still hung in the air - the thought of the Doctor being lost in weather like this was worrying. The twittens around the house were eery in the darkness, and as Fitz reached the vegetable patch, he only saw shadows there. He walked around the garden, making sure that none were solid, and then turned back. Samantha was standing in the doorway, wringing her hands when he returned.

‘I can’t find him either,’ she said, barely staving off tears.

‘Blast,’ Fitz swore, keeping himself from saying anything worse in front of her. ‘Has this happened before?’

‘Sometimes he goes wandering,’ she admitted, ‘but yesterday...’ Suddenly her eyes grew with realisation. ‘He may have gone back to the fair,’ she said.

‘Do you think so?’ Fitz asked and went into the porch. The Doctor’s velvet coat was still on its hanger, and his shoes were placed on it.

‘There was something which agitated him there,’ she said, sounding uncertain.

‘It’s the best we have,’ Fitz said. ‘Stay up, in case he comes back.’

‘Of course,’ Samantha said, swallowing. He stopped his step and looked her in the eye.

‘We’ll find him,’ he said emphatically. She nodded half-heartedly, but he did not have time to assure her more. Instead, he turned and left the house.

As he walked towards Primrose Hill, a light rain started up again, enough to make his skin uncomfortably moist, but not enough to make him properly wet. He hurried his step, worried what would happen if he found the Doctor, and if he did not. He followed the way they had gone the day before, but he started wondering if he had taken a wrong-turn, because he could not see the fair. He stopped and looked around. There was a lamp-post a little way away, and when he looked closer, he realised that from it hung a banner, carelessly left behind. The fair must have left in the evening - the Doctor’s insistence of going on Saturday must have been because they were only scheduled to stay that day. Then this was the right place, and if Samantha had been right...

‘Doctor?’ he shouted. As he had thought, there was no answer. He started walking aimlessly, scanning the field before him and shouting for him. He was just about to give up when he thought he spotted movement in the darkness. The clouds shifted a little and let through a burst of moonlight. There was a figure kneeling in the mud only a hundred yards from him. ‘Doctor!’ He set off at a run, and when he finally reached it he slipped and fell to his knees. Not minding how the mud instantly started leaking through his trousers, he reached out for the person in front of him. ‘Doctor, it’s me - it’s Fitz. Are you alright?’ The moon had disappeared and had plunged them into near-darkness, so Fitz barely saw anything, but he could make out the familiar outlines of his face, and he felt his long hair, drenched in the rain, under his fingers. His cheeks were deathly cold. ‘Doctor, say something!’ he commanded. Beyond the shadows which separated them, the Doctor’s eyes moved.

‘Where is she?’ he asked piteously. ‘Where have they taken her?’

‘It’s alright,’ Fitz said quickly and, edging closer, wrapped his arms around him. The Doctor let him hold him, but did not answer the embrace, as if he did not notice it. ‘It’s all fine.’ It was a lie, of course - it was the middle of the night and it was cold and wet and the Doctor was shaking horribly, having wandered outside only in his nightshirt... ‘Here,’ Fitz said, letting him go and unbuttoning the coat. ‘Put this on. We need to get you home.’ Making the Doctor put his arms into the sleeves was harder than he had expected, but when the coat was finally buttoned he could easily make him stand. ‘Come on,’ Fitz coaxed, taking his hand and grabbing his arm to make him follow.

‘I can’t go,’ the Doctor said urgently. ‘You don’t understand - it’s important...’

‘You’re not thinking straight, Doctor,’ Fitz said.

‘You don’t know about the threat coming!’ the Doctor shouted. Fitz suddenly remembered that sometimes, the only way to get through to his mother had been to play along.

‘We’ll deal with it,’ he said assuringly. ‘You know about it, and you can tell me, and we’ll let the police know and they will sort it out...’

‘The police won’t understand,’ he insisted. ‘Fitz, reality is shattering! If we don’t catch up with the man with the mirrors... I have to do it myself...’

‘Let’s get back to the house and get you ready to deal with it, then,’ Fitz said. He could sense the Doctor watching him, considering this, and then he nodded in acceptance.

Fitz had not anticipated that it would be so hard to lead him home. The ground of the field was muddy and slippery, and several times, the Doctor refused to go further and had to be cajoled or tricked into continuing. When they reached their street, the Doctor started stumbling, and in the gaslight, Fitz realised how pale he was. His hands were encrusted with mud, as were his bare legs, which made him look horrifically vulnerable. Fitz’s coat was too long for him and would have looked comical in any other circumstance, but now there was nothing funny about the Doctor’s appearance. His hair was plastered to his face from the rain, his eyes seemed even paler than usual and the mud on his cheeks was cracking with the tears running down them. He was trembling so much that Fitz feared he would go into convulsions, and his balance was failing. As he pushed the door open, Fitz was shouting for help. Samantha near screamed when she saw them in the porch, but she still had the presence of mind to put the Doctor’s free arm around her shoulders and help him into the house. The stairs were too narrow for the three of them; Fitz considered it for a moment, and then told Samantha:

‘Get blankets and a hot-water bottle - I’ll get him up.’ She nodded and rushed off to the kitchen, looking over her shoulder at them. Fitz coaxed the Doctor up half the steps, until suddenly his knees buckled. For a moment he thought he would lose his balance, but then managed to grab the banister and stop the Doctor from falling. Deciding to risk it, he put his other arm behind his knees and lifted him. He was actually too heavy to be lifted in such a way, but Fitz managed to carry him up the stairs and then half-drag, half-lead him to the bed. He fell onto it limply, and he made no protest when Fitz rolled him over onto his back. ‘Doctor, can you hear me?’ he asked and cupped his face in his hands. The Doctor opened his eyes, but he thought that even if he looked at him, he could not see him. He did not respond as Fitz unbuttoned the coat and took it off him, nor when he wrestled him out of the soaked night-shirt. Using the water in the pitcher on the dressing-table and a wash-towel, Fitz managed to clean the worst of the mud off his legs, hands and face, and dry his hair. He tried not to dwell on how cold his skin was. When he finally helped him into a new night-shirt, the Doctor was shaking even worse than before, and his protests when Fitz made him stand up so that he could draw back the sheets were very weak. When he had finally made him get back into bed and drawn the covers over him, he tried to tuck the blanket around his arms. In response, both the Doctor’s hands shot out and grabbed his fingers, clasping it so hard that it felt like the bones would break.

‘Fitz,’ he whispered, teeth chattering.

‘It’s alright, Doctor,’ Fitz lied assuringly.

‘I’m afraid.’ The confession struck a cord; he had not thought of that the Doctor must be just as terrified by his madness as anyone else. Impulsively, he bent down and kissed his forehead, hoping it would calm him.

‘It’s all going to be fine,’ he said, hearing Samantha approaching. When she entered, he managed to release his hand and together they added the extra blankets and the hot-water bottle. When Fitz looked back to the Doctor’s face, he saw that he had closed his eyes, but instead of looking peaceful, he seemed to be in pain.

‘We should call a doctor,’ he observed and glanced at the Doctor’s pocket-watch on the bedside table. It said ten to three. He rose. ‘There’s one living just down the street, isn’t there? I’ve seen a sign - Foreman, right?’

‘Well, yes, but...’ Samantha said, arms wrapped around herself where she sat on the bedside.

‘“But” what? He’s ill,’ Fitz insisted.

‘Doctor Foreman won’t help,’ she explained, half-choking on the words. ‘He’ll refuse.’ It took Fitz a moment to realise what she was saying.

‘He can’t refuse!’ he exclaimed and gestured at the Doctor, his breathing laboured and his skin white and clammy. ‘He’s ill. He might catch pneumonia. He might die.’

‘Doctor Foreman doesn’t care,’ she answered, just as loud. ‘He claims...’ She trailed off and looked away. ‘He doesn’t want... or dare... to treat him because of his... deformities.’

‘Deformities?’ Fitz repeated, not understanding what she meant. Samantha closed her eyes and swallowed a sob.

‘He’s... very ill,’ she said slowly, fighting to keep her voice from breaking. ‘It’s not just his episodes. There are other things too...’ He considered this, looking from the crying girl to the pale madman.

‘So we need to get doctor Smith from the asylum here,’ he concluded. She nodded. ‘We won’t be able to get hold of him until the morning at the earliest.’ He thought for a moment, and then sat down on the bed beside her, taking her hand in a way he hoped she would recognise as fraternal. ‘You know what, Samantha? Go back to bed. I’ll stay up.’

‘But he’s so weak...’ she whispered. He hushed her.

‘I’ll wake you first thing,’ he promised. ‘You’ll be no good for him if you’re this tired.’ Samantha sighed.

‘Alright,’ she said and rose.

‘I’ll take care of him,’ Fitz assured her. She nodded and started leaving, but stopped in the door.

‘Thanks,’ she said quietly and was gone. Fitz stood in the middle of the room, watching the Doctor, for a long while, then pulled the armchair over to the bedside and curled up in it. He reached out and clasped the Doctor’s cold hand in his, feeling himself drift off to sleep.

Next chapter

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
funtimevash
May. 8th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
So sad, and so sweet! Can't wait for the next chapter. I especially loved the little kiss on the hand, there was something so sweet and innocent about it.
apolesen
May. 8th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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