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Fic: The Flower Tender 5/6

Title The flower tender 5/6
Fandom Doctor Who (EDA)
Pairing Doctor/Fitz, some one-sided Sam/Doctor, mentions of Doctor/Turlough and Doctor/Grace.
Beta thought_goddess
Words of chapter 4580
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 notes Comments are very welcome!

After a month of silence in the house, the Doctor’s long-awaited return felt almost odd. When Fitz woke up the next day, he heard singing from the garden, and, when he crossed to the window, saw the Doctor in his shirt-sleeves and a broad-brimmed hat caring for his herb garden. He watched him, opening the window a little to let the sound of his light tenor in. It had a sincerity uncommon for one who was simply singing to himself when working.

She was a fish-monger - that sure was no wonder
For so was her father and mother before.
And she wheeled her wheel-barrow
through streets broad and narrow
crying, ‘cockles and mussles,
Aly, aly-o.

Aly, aly-o, aly, aly-o...

Fitz watched as he scooted closer on his knees and inspecting the rosemary. His feet were bare, encrusted with dirt. Even if his face was turned away from him, the last verse of the song was easy to hear, as his voice rose mournfully.

She died in a fever - no one could save her
and that is the end of sweet Molly Malone.
But still she wheels her wheel-barrow
through streets broad and narrow
crying, ‘cockles and mussles,
Aly, aly-o...’

The song cut short and his head turned. The morning-sun cast his face in shadow, but Fitz could feel his gaze on him from under the brim of the hat. He did not dare to admit to having spied on him, but simply turned away from the window, pretending that he had simply been watching the sky. He pulled the curtains to get dressed and ready for the market, leaving the Doctor with Samantha.

The days at the flower-stall gave Fitz time to think, and Samantha time in the Doctor’s company. While the Doctor’s absence had changed her, his return had not turned her back to her previous state. Something in her mood had shifted, and whenever Fitz saw her, she would chew her lip and be quiet. The Doctor seemed oblivious of this, which made Fitz wonder whether she acted happier when only he was there. It struck him that also the Doctor had changed. Before, he had spent much of his time with Samantha, but now, as soon as Fitz would return from the market, he would come bounding into the hallway to greet him. He had stopped taking walks as he had before; Fitz first thought it was because he did not have the energy, but when he learned that he sometimes went out walking in the daytime, he realised that that was not the case. About a week after the Doctor had had been discharged, Samantha broke her customary silence to Fitz while they were preparing the dinner.

‘He touches you a lot,’ she observed. Her voice sounded a little strained, as if she was trying her upmost to make it sound casual.

‘I guess so,’ Fitz answered and shrugged. He watched how the knife she was holding went up and down rapidly, chopping several carrots at once.

‘I thought you might mind it,’ she pressed on.

‘Not particularly,’ he said. ‘It’s just the kind of thing he does.’

‘Really?’ she asked and then shouted suddenly and dropped the knife. The carrots were stained red.

‘Samantha, watch what you’re doing,’ he said and took out a handkerchief. She accepted it and tried to stop the bleeding from her thumb, which bore a shallow gash where the knife had touched her.

‘Sorry,’ she muttered, not looking up. ‘Thank you for the handkerchief.’

‘Not at all,’ he said, suddenly worried for her. He had never seen her be careless with a knife before. ‘Are you alright?’

‘Just a bit tired,’ Samantha said curtly. ‘I’ve let myself get lazy, with no one to take care of.’

‘I can ask the Doctor to help me with this,’ Fitz said and gestured at the ingredients for the dinner. ‘In case....‘

‘No, no, it’s fine,’ she said and started walking towards the door. ‘I can manage. Let me just do something about this. I don’t need help.’ She disappeared to tend to her cut thumb and left Fitz puzzled.

The incident was still on his mind a few days later while he prepared the Doctor’s bath. After their landlord had been discharged, Fitz and Samantha had decided that to be on the safe side, Fitz should be present when he bathed and shaved. Fitz felt precarious about it, but the Doctor seemed to mind neither his presence nor the implication about his mental state. Fitz had just finished filling the bathtub when the Doctor entered and greeted him with a smile. Then, absolutely unabashed by his gaze, he dropped his dressing-gown, the red silk falling around his feet and for a moment it looked like his naked form had just grown out of a pool of blood. Fitz felt himself blush as he looked over his body and then averted his eyes. When the Doctor was safely in the water, he dared to look again and watched as he dipped his head in the water. He brought it up again and shook it like a dog would. Drawing his wet hair out of his face, he took a sponge from the nearby cupboard and tossed it towards Fitz. He caught it and looked at it with puzzlement. The Doctor inclined his head.

‘Come on,’ he said playfully. ‘I’m an invalid, remember?’ Fitz stared at the sponge in his hand and then said:

‘Sure.’ He put it down momentarily to roll up his sleeves and get a bar of soap. Then he moved the chair in the corner close to the bath-tub and sat down. The Doctor drew his hair away from his shoulders, exposing his back to him. Biting his lip, Fitz lathered the sponge and, taking a light grip around the man’s shoulder, he started to draw it over his back. The Doctor made a sound which almost sounded like purring. They were silent, and Fitz almost forgot his concerns as he looked over the Doctor’s back. There was something characteristic about the shape of shoulder-blades and the nodes of his spine under the skin. He let go of the Doctor’s shoulder and drew his fingers after the sponge. Then he remembered what had kept him preoccupied before, and he admitted:

'I’m worried about Samantha.’

‘Why?’ the Doctor asked, not sounding particularly interested. ‘Sam is alright.’

‘Just... she seems a bit troubled,’ he said and paused for a moment as he drew the sponge down to the surface, at his waist. Where the lather from the soap glided apart, he could glimpse his buttocks through the water. ‘I don’t know really what’s wrong,’ he continued, looking away and drawing the sponge up his back again. ‘It’s just... she’s not herself.’

‘I think you’re worrying for no reason,’ the Doctor assured him and looked over his shoulder with a smile.

‘She said she’d become lazy when you were away,’ he said, ‘but that sounds like an excuse to me.’

‘Perhaps she’s feeling a bit rusty,’ he suggested, sounding as if there really was nothing to worry about.

‘How long have you lived together?’ Fitz asked and pushed his fingers into the Doctor’s hair, fascinated at its texture even when it was wet. He started scrubbing his shoulders, and the Doctor squirmed pleasantly.

‘Oh, years,’ he answered. ‘Well, perhaps not quite. One and a half years, perhaps? Or perhaps two. I don’t know. My memory isn’t very good.’

‘She told me that she was a Salvation Army soldier in the East End,’ Fitz remembered.

‘Well, she was eventually,’ the Doctor said.

‘What do you mean?’ he asked.

‘She wasn’t the first time I met her. I think the dark-blue and red suited her rather well, though.’ Understanding that the Doctor would not tell him more, he simply continued to scrub his shoulders. He continued until the Doctor reached and caught his hand.

‘No more?’ he asked.

‘No,’ the Doctor said ambiguously and drew his hand over his shoulder to his chest, pressing down the sponge to show what he wanted him to do. Fitz swallowed, and then lathered the sponge again before starting to run it in slow circles. From where he sat, he could only reach his shoulders and collar-bones, so he stood up and leaned over the tub, steadying himself with his free hand against its edge. He moved the sponge down over his chest, and the Doctor hummed appreciatively as he leaned back, resting against Fitz. The water in his hair soaked through his shirt, and Fitz swallowed again. His heart sped up until it beat madly, so rapidly that he thought that the Doctor must hear it. He was painfully aware of the water and the soap and the Doctor’s smooth chest, and felt his trousers grow increasingly uncomfortable. He was glad that he did not have to stay closer, or the Doctor would notice that, but surely he could not be oblivious about this? Then again, the Doctor was comfortable in his body in a way people usually were not, and exposure did not seem to bother him, whether it was of his bare feet or his naked body. Perhaps he did not notice that there was anything erotic about the situation... The soap lather which had run off his body had formed a thin film over the surface of the water, so he could not tell by a glance if he was in a similar state, and simply sticking down his hand seemed too obvious. He concentrated on drawing the sponge down his chest and stomach, and once again the Doctor purred. Then he raised his arm over his head and put it around Fitz’s neck, pressing him close. Fitz inadvertedly gasped and let the sponge fall from his grip, instead flattening his hand against the Doctor’s chest. They tightened the precarious embrace and the Doctor turned his head so that his forehead rested against Fitz’s cheek. He closed his eyes, and that cold skin under his fingers and the soft sound of the water moving was all he perceived. Fitz imagined getting down on his knees so they were face to face, kissing him, taking off his own clothes and slipping into the bath-tub with him, reaching down into the water and touching him...

The Doctor lowered his arm, releasing him, and he felt him move. When he opened his eyes, he had turned to face him. His eyes seemed huge in his face, and when Fitz tried to speak, all that came was an unattractive gulp. The Doctor smiled and reached up, cupping his cheek.

‘Doctor, I...’ Fitz started saying, but he hushed him.

‘Don’t, Fitz,’ the Doctor said softly. ‘Just kiss me.’ He stared at him, shocked at having heard him say it. His knees shook with trepidation, but still he leaned in. Their lips brushed together, just a soft touch, but enough. Fitz stood up and backed a few steps, breathing heavily. ‘Fitz,’ the Doctor said, disappointment seeming to rise from his skin.

‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered; he found that he could not raise his voice. ‘I... I can’t. I don’t... dare.’ The Doctor frowned.

‘Why? You don’t dare?’ Fitz felt a sudden spark of annoyance.

‘It’s all so easy for you, isn’t it?’ he said and, forgetful of his duty, turned and left the door. He realised a few steps from the door that he should not leave the Doctor on his own and stopped, wondering if he should go back. Then he shook himself and continued to his room. It had been an overcautious decision anyway, and he did not want to face him. The reflection which met him in the mirror was laughable; his forearms were soapy, his shirt had splotches of water on it, where the Doctor had leaned his head, and is hair was mussed. Fitz sighed and started to flatten it as he undid his shirt. Having discarded the shirt, he sat down on the bed, confused at what had happened. He had had the opportunity to kiss him, as he had wanted for three weeks (probably longer than that, although he had not known it at the time), and he had not dared. Sighing again, Fitz leaned his head in his hands. Not only that, he had told him that he did not dare, and the Doctor had not understood. To be fair, he was not certain he understood himself, but still...

For the first time since moving to the house at Primrose Hill, he felt true anger against the oddness of his landlord - his friend. Most of the time, his eccentricity or his condition (Fitz was not certain which one was more prevalent, or which one caused the other) was either charming or a cause of worry. It had not inhibited him from understanding him like now. By the sound of it, the Doctor simply could not grasp the complexities of what was going on in Fitz’s mind. He just hoped that he would understand that it had not been a rejection. The problem was simply that Fitz Kreiner was a coward. He rose and looked himself in the mirror again. Yes, that was all there was. He was a coward and did not dare to do what he had yearned to do for so long. Swearing under his breath, he started pulling on a dry shirt.

‘It’s the way of the world, I guess,’ he said to himself as he started buttoning it. ‘There are some things we simply can’t have, because we’re too damn stupid to take them.’ That brought on another thought - what would happen if the Doctor approached him about it again? Would he dare to kiss him then? He wanted it desperately, but he did not trust himself to be strong enough to actually do it. There was the risk, of course, that he had scared him off for good, and that the Doctor would not want to kiss him again, perhaps even that he would not want to speak to him... In his mind’s eye he saw the Doctor’s face as it fell, disappointed in his failure to please. He shuddered at the thought.

He needed to get out. He would go to the vegetable garden and see if anything needed tending or pruning - it was not quite dark yet. Strengthened by this sense of purpose, Fitz left his room. Just as he went out onto the landing, there came a mighty crash from the kitchen which half made him jump out of his skin. Then he snapped into attention again and ran down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Samantha was crouching in the shards of what had been a large porcelain dish, her hands covering her face and her shoulders shaking.

‘Samantha?’ Fitz said, but she did not react. He picked his way through the shards until he reached her and took hold of her shoulders. ‘Sam, it was only a dish. We can replace it...’ She only wept harder. He realised suddenly that quite possibly, it was not the broken dish she was crying about. ‘Come on,’ he said and, shifting his grip to her arms, hefted her up. She blubbed an objection as he lead her to a chair. There was something odd with the situation - even if Samantha was emotional, she usually swallowed her tears and pretended to be strong. It seemed out of character for her to cry like this. As he leaned in and made her sit down, he realised that there was the smell of gin on her breath. Perplexed, he sat down and looked at her. ‘Samantha, have you been drinking?’ She made a sound as if she objected to being questioned and covered her face again. ‘What’s wrong?’ he pressed.

‘Why does he never look at me?’ Her speech was slurred, but the words were clear enough. ‘Why does he never pay any attention to me?’

‘Who? The Doctor?’ She started crying again, and, feeling rather helpless, he put an arm around her shoulders. Even if she did not answer his query, he could think of no other it could be. Suddenly it struck him how stupid he had been. His own obsession with the Doctor had blinded him for Samantha’s. All those months ago, she had told him that she was not a kept woman. Now he realised that she actually wished to be one.

It made his mind up. He let her cry for a little while more, and then he helped her upstairs and into bed. She would probably feel pretty rough in the morning, so he reminded himself to leave a note for the Doctor telling him to take care of her. Then he went to bed, intent on leaving for the market before everyone else had risen.


In the afternoon when he came back to the house, it first seemed empty. He finally found the Doctor in the garden, sitting in his favourite whicker chair staring at the birds which flew back and forth. Fitz slumped down in the chair beside him, and they sat in silence for a long time.

‘How’s Samantha?’ Fitz finally asked.

‘Asleep,’ the Doctor answered, his tone disinterested. ‘She’ll probably be down for dinner.’

‘I’m still rather surprised,’ he admitted. ‘It doesn’t really seem like her to... get in such a state.’

‘Perhaps you are judging on appearances,’ the Doctor simply said. Fitz thought that now he sounded almost cruel, as if he was aware that he had a hold on him, and he was not going to tell him what he did not know of the events in the house. He considered asking him if this had ever happened before, but he knew that would only be stalling for time. He needed to get to the heart of the matter.

‘Look, Doctor,’ he said and turned to look at him. The Doctor did not look away from the birds. ‘Listen to me, this is important.’ He cast him a disinterested glance. ‘Why don’t you do the honourable thing?’

‘And what would that be?’ he asked and leaned back in his chair.

‘Come on, you know that,’ Fitz said. ‘Why don’t you marry Sam?’ The Doctor’s head shot up and his eyes seemed to pierce him.

‘Marry Sam?’ he repeated. ‘Whyever would I do that?’

‘Because she’s in love with you, and she’s been it all this time,’ Fitz explained forcefully. ‘You’ve lived together for so long, and she wants you to know how she feels but can’t tell you, because she feels that you should make the first move. That’s why she got drunk yesterday - because she’s absolutely lovesick for you.’ The Doctor hung his head and then rose, once again turning his eyes to the sky. They lapsed into silence, and only the bird song could be heard.

At last the Doctor said:

‘I couldn’t marry Sam.’

‘Why not?’ Fitz said.

‘Because I couldn’t.’

‘Not even for her sake?’ he pressed. ‘People talk about you, I’m sure. When I first got to know the two of you she felt the need to tell me that she wasn’t your mistress. Surely it’d be better for her if there wouldn’t be those questions?’ The Doctor stayed still, facing away from him. Fitz sighed and admitted: ‘There’s another reason too.’

‘Oh?’ he said hollowly. Fitz swallowed, hoping to understand his reasoning, and said:

‘I’m in love with you too. So it’d be better if you married Sam.’ Now the Doctor turned, and Fitz’s stomach lurched when he saw the melancholic smile his face bore.

‘I never knew anything about love,’ he said as he slowly returned to his seat, not leaning back but simply sitting on the edge. The way he leaned his elbows against his knees showed just how difficult this confession felt. ‘I barely knew it existed, until a few years before I met Sam. I was out walking - I walked out of the city until I could barely see it, until I met someone else who was walking down the same road.’ He smiled at the memory. ‘He was young, and quite beautiful, with the most fetching pale eyes. His name was Turlough - he had run away from school, and was going to walk home, all that way. I thought I might walk there with him. We walked together until the night fell, when we lay down in a field, and suddenly I realised...’ He drew his fingers over his lips, reminiscing the discovery. ‘I had seen so many people putting their mouths together. I had heard the word “kiss”. I had never understood it before. But when I kissed Turlough... it was something extraordinary.’ He sighed.

‘The police found us the next day, and took him back to the school. It made me quite sad. They took me to the asylum, where they kept me for months, even when I wasn’t having my funny-turns. There was a nurse there with thin wire spectacles and sharp cheek-bones and an odd accent. I tried kissing her a few times, to see if it was like kissing Turlough. It wasn’t at all the same - her mouth was all wrong. After a while I realised that it was because she was a woman, and Turlough was a man. I tried to tell Doctor Smith that. He locked me in a cell for it. He seemed to have found it offensive in some way.’ He shrugged. Fitz stared at him in disbelief.

‘Do you really not understand why he did that?’ Fitz asked. The Doctor shrugged.


‘You mean it doesn’t bother you? Two men...?’ He looked perplexed at his question.

‘Why should it?’ Fitz tried to answer; because it had always been wrong. Because the church and the state and the law said it was wrong. Because it was disgusting and immoral and did not further society...

He simply closed his mouth. The Doctor would not acknowledge the church as an authority, and he would not know the law, and he did not care for society. In this house, there were other rules. If Fitz’s love for the Doctor should fall outside such rules, then so would anything the Doctor felt.

Now he smiled at Fitz’s silence and leaned a little closer.

‘You see, Fitz, I think that kissing Sam would be like kissing Nurse Holloway - I think her mouth would feel wrong in the same way. But...’ He looked down, looking slightly embarrassed. ‘That tiny kiss yesterday was better than any kiss Turlough gave me.’ Fitz sat up straight and stared at him. Finally he admitted:

‘I don’t know if I could do it, Doctor.’

‘You don’t dare?’ the Doctor said, sounding ironic.

‘No, I...’ He cut himself off. ‘I can’t explain it.’

‘Is it real, in that case?’ he asked and reached out, fingers extending to touch his. Fitz watched their hands, wanting both to hold it and draw back. ‘I’ve wanted to touch you since I first saw you,’ he explained. ‘I have been so happy that you’ve been here, but... it’s not enough.’

‘Are you saying that if I should leave?’ The Doctor grabbed his wrist hard.

No,’ he said, and the momentary gleam of madness entered his eyes. ‘Don’t leave, please don’t leave.’

‘I don’t want to leave,’ Fitz insisted. The Doctor smiled, looking a little more hopeful. For every moment he watched him, his defenses were becoming weaker. He had planned to speak to the Doctor on Samantha’s behalf, hoping that if he could solve her problem for her, his would go away. Besides, there were the sodomy laws, and he thought that if the Doctor would be married, it would keep him from transgression, and if he failed, it would avert suspicions. Now it felt increasingly unlikely that the law’s long arm could stretch into this peaceful house. Finally, he wondered how the Doctor would deal with rejection. He did not want to spark another episode, simply by his own stupidity. Who are you trying to kid, Fitz Kreiner? he thought. You’re fooling exactly no-one.

‘Come here,’ he said and shifted their hands to that he grabbed the Doctor’s wrist as well. He obeyed, rising from his chair and settling instead on Fitz’s knees. It was a precarious position at first, as the Doctor’s legs were too long for it to be comfortable, but Fitz’s arm slipped around his waist as the Doctor touched his hair and face, as if in preparation.

‘Perhaps I should have shaved,’ Fitz said as he drew his fingers over the stubble on his chin.

‘No,’ the Doctor smiled, his hand coming to rest on one side of his jaw. ‘This will do. It makes you look a little like a ruffian.’ Fitz laughed the very same moment that the Doctor chose to dip down and kiss him. Lips met teeth, and the Doctor tried to open his mouth at the same time as Fitz tried to close his in an attempt to find a consensus. They drew back and looked at each other, half embarrassed and half amused. Then they grew serious again, and the Doctor started shifting, so that instead of sitting on his knees, he straddled his lap. They looked into each other’s eyes, humbled by the moment, and Fitz reached up. He drew his foppish locks away from his face and guided his lips towards his. The Doctor himself closed the final gap between them. His lips were oddly cool, and his tongue tasted of tea and bonbons. He was perhaps not an experienced kisser, but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in enthusiasm. His hands pushed into Fitz’s hair as he slid forward in his lap, so that their groins met. Fitz kissed him back, letting go of his hair and grabbing at his thighs instead. It must have been minutes before the Doctor broke the kiss. He looked lost, as if the kiss had been what had anchored him to reality. Fitz stroked his cheek, and he leaned into the touch gratefully, like a cat who appreciated being petted.

‘I don’t quite know how it’s done, but I want to do more,’ the Doctor said quietly.

‘I’m sure we can figure something out,’ Fitz answered, entertained at his innocence.

‘If we took our clothes off, and sat like this...’ the Doctor suggested as he trailed his hand down Fitz’s chest experimentally.

‘I’d like that,’ he said, his breathing becoming shallow again. He thought of the scenario and pulled the Doctor close again for another kiss. They kissed for a long time, lips slipping against each other and tongues touching, until it ended and the Doctor smiled.

‘Tea,’ he then said decisively and climbed off his lap. With a wink he left the garden, leaving Fitz mildly disappointed. Then he reminded himself of the Doctor’s inexperience - he could not expect that he would go to bed with him at once. It was not primarily the shyness of a virgin, but a kind of flitting behaviour so typical for the Doctor. He would not sleep with him until the fancy struck him directly; like with any of the Doctor’s actions, one might not lead naturally to another. Fitz went upstairs to his room to do something about his current condition, before returning to the kitchen for tea with the Doctor.

Next chapter


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Awww!! This is just so cute and sweet and adorable in so many ways. I am just loving this story so very much. <3
Jul. 10th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Not much left now...
Jul. 10th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
I'm almost done with my Victorian fic too. It's such a cool period to write in, isn't it?
Jul. 14th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
love this story, looking forward to the next part. would it be alright if i tried to illustrate a scene?
Jul. 14th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! If you tried your hand on an illustration, I would be very honoured. Do give me a link in that case!
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)
it's done!
i have no idea how to make a proper link in lj comments, so i hope this works: http://d-eli-rium.livejournal.com/26282.html
Jul. 16th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! It's great. I've linked the post in the header of that chapter.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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