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Fic: The Flower Tender 6/6

Title The flower tender 6/6
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 4853
Words of entire fic 29 644
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!

Fitz had expected the Doctor, but it was not until a week later when there was a knock on the door a while after he had gotten into bed. He heard from the knock that it was he, but he had not expected the Doctor to look so distraught.

‘Are you alright?’ he asked and opened the door fully. ‘Come in.’ The Doctor obeyed and accepted his hand to lead him to the bed, where he sat down heavily.

‘Something is wrong with the house,’ he explained finally.

‘The house?’ Fitz repeated, puzzled. ‘Why?’

‘It’s crying,’ the Doctor said simply. He was about to point out that houses did not cry, before he remembered that the way the Doctor saw the world was not the way others did.

‘Don’t listen to it,’ he simply said, but the Doctor shook his head and then clamped his hands over his ears.

‘How can I not, when it’s everywhere?’ he said loudly.

‘There, there, lie down,’ Fitz urged and crept up to lie beside him. It was an odd reminiscence of how they had lain the night before he had been committed. He lay beside him with an arm around his body until his countenance relaxed and he lowered his hands from his ears. He offered no explanation to what had brought this on, only sat up, moved to give him more space and then in one smooth motion took off his nightshirt. Unabashed by his nakedness, he lay down with his hands clasped over his stomach, watching Fitz inquisitively. Faintly entertained, he followed suit, lying down beside him and drawing the covers over them. They lay shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm. It felt oddly chaste, like two children sharing a bed. Still looking him in the eye, the Doctor moved one hand down and placed it over Fitz’s groin, as if trying to cover him up. His gaze grew questioning, presumably at his flaccid state.

‘Give me a kiss,’ Fitz told him, and he leaned in, taking his lip between his. He took the opportunity to embrace him and draw his fingers up and down his back. The Doctor removed his hand and rolled on top of him. Their actions were slow and measured, like an explorer stepping on untrodden soil. More than once, Fitz paused and asked if he was certain about this, and the Doctor only egged him on. The Doctor was unfamiliar with the sensations of the flesh - when he had said that he had not known what love meant, he had not been lying. Fitz forced himself to keep his eyes open, intent on remembering how the Doctor’s face looked as astonishment and pain and rapture passed over it. When they lay tightly in each other’s embrace and Fitz drew his hands over the Doctor’s alabaster-white skin, he asked:

‘You’ll keep me safe, won’t you?’

‘Of course,’ Fitz answered sleepily.

‘We will save each other,’ the Doctor mused and nuzzled closer. ‘And I’ll never have to go back to that place, will I?’

‘No, never.’ Then, enveloped in darkness and humming with the contentment of their first illicit illustrious union, it felt as if it were true. It was as if nothing whatsoever could break this embrace.


Fitz woke to find his arms empty, the bed cold where the Doctor had lain. He sat up, hair on end and eyes cloudy with sleep, and was aware of footsteps outside. The door was pushed open, and the Doctor entered the room. He was wrapped in his dressing-gown, but rather than the light, poetic spark which had possessed him after their tryst yesterday, his eyes were wide and pale with agitation. In his hand there was an envelope.

‘This was on the kitchen table,’ he said and reached it out. ‘I went into the kitchen - I thought Sam would be in the kitchen - but all there was was this...’ Fitz rose out of bed and took it from him, bringing it to the window to read the writing on it. It bore a single word - “RENT”. When he opened it, he found a wad of notes. When he counted it through, he got it to four pounds, sixteen shillings, two months’ rent. He looked up at the Doctor, who was watching him fiercely.

‘It’s Sam’s handwriting,’ he said, looking at the word again.

‘Why?’ the Doctor persisted. It seemed to Fitz that it was upsetting him rather too much, but there was something about the appearance of this envelope that gave him a bad feeling.

‘Let’s ask her,’ he said, managing to sound purposeful as he got his own dressing-gown out and shrugged it on. When he could pass as decent, he signaled to the Doctor to stay where he was and then crossed the corridor to Samantha’s room. His knock gave no answer. ‘Samantha!’ he shouted through the door. There was still no reaction. It was unlike Samantha not to be up at this point, and not to answer the door... Making a swift decision, his fist moved down and unclenched to try the door. It swung open soundlessly. He did not even have to step in to notice something odd. The paper flowers and the note-sheets she could not read and the penny-dreadfuls and the Bible were all gone. The only loose item in the room was her apron, flung over the neatly made bed.

How will I explain this to the Doctor? Fitz thought. Not even knowing quite what “this” was he made his way back to his own room and guided the Doctor to a chair, keeping hold of his hands as he told him:

‘She’s not in her room, and her things are gone.’ The Doctor stared at him, as if he had said it in a foreign language.

‘Where is she?’ he asked finally.

‘I don’t know,‘ Fitz admitted and, taking a deep breath, said: ‘I think... she might have left.’ Once again he looked perplexed. Fitz took the envelope from his pocket and showed it to him, even if he knew what it looked like as he had found it. ‘This is two months’ rent, Doctor. This month’s, and next.’

‘So why is she gone?’ the Doctor insisted, and seemed to be struck by an idea. ‘Is she not coming back?’ He tried to get up, but Fitz pushed him down again. In answer he gave a frantic whimper and tried again.

‘Doctor, stay calm,’ Fitz commanded, taking hold of his arms. The Doctor kept up the half-hearted struggle for a moment more, before he slumped down in the chair again, staring at him in dismay. ‘Right,’ Fitz said and drew a deep breath. ‘I’m going to make you a nice cup of tea, and then I’m going to go and find Samantha.’

‘What if she doesn’t come back?’ he asked urgently. ‘You don’t know what dangers there are out there...’ Something in his tone made Fitz think that he was referring not to the usual hazards of London, but to his imaginary monsters of steel and fear.

‘It’s alright,’ Fitz hushed and embraced him. The Doctor clung to him as if for dear life, and extracting himself of his grip to go downstairs took a long time. Despite what his doctor had said, Fitz felt false when he tipped the laudanum bottle over the tea cup, counting the drops. At eight, he screwed the cork onto the bottle again and put it back in the furthest corner of the cupboard. This vague disgust at himself remained as he watched the Doctor drink it and the artificial calm spread through him. He led him to bed before he was too drowsy and, certain that he would be under for long enough, he kissed his brow and got dressed quickly. The police-station was not far off, but he had not considered how hard it would be to explain the situation.

‘I’d like to report someone missing,’ he told the duty sergeant, who nodded at him to continue and got out a notepad. ‘Miss Samantha Jones of 18 Elsworthy Road. She’s... eum, my landlord’s maid.’ The sergeant gave him an odd look.

‘Your name? Your landlord’s, sir?’

‘I’m Fitzgerald Kreiner. My landlord’s... Doctor John Smith.’

‘Any particular reason why your landlord doesn’t deal with the matter?’

‘He’s not well,’ Fitz said curtly. ‘We haven’t seen her since dinner yesterday. This morning, all her things were gone from her room and there was an envelope with money for the rent on the kitchen table.’

‘I thought you said she was the maid,’ the duty sergeant said. ‘Why does she pay rent?’

‘Well, she... she was a tenant of kinds. Mostly she did the maid’s job...’ He broke off and exclaimed: ‘Look, this isn’t important. She’s missing, and we’re worried.’

‘It seems to me like you don’t have any way to explain why she was there in the first place, sir,’ the duty sergeant said, a malevolent glint in his eye. ‘By the sound of it, she scampered. Lone girl in a house with two men - can’t blame her, can you?’ Fitz was about to swear at him, but he did not want to end up arrested for such a thing, so he simply glared at him and turned on his heel. Once back in the house, he sat at the bedside, stroking the Doctor’s hair until he had to leave for the market. He left him a note, instructing him not to leave the house and not to worry. He took the spare keys with him and locked the door, once again having to fight down the self-hate at his own patronising actions, which made the house little better than the asylum.


Fitz had hoped that there had been some kind of mistake and that Samantha would turn up on the doorstep, but it was almost as if she had never lived there. He had never reflected on how helpless the Doctor would be and now was without her. It was not even the housekeeping which suffered most, even if her cooking was vastly superior to Fitz’s. Her absence had made the Doctor nervous and pale, and Fitz grew more reluctant than usual to tend the stall at the market and leave him on his own. He managed to convince Mrs Simms to let him work less, but she was unhappy about it and made sure to point out how much of his wages she would keep. Half a year ago, he had been angry with her, but now he did not care, because there were more important things at stake. It took over a week before the Doctor seemed to accept what had happened, when he said one day over dinner, staring at his hands:

‘She’s really gone, isn’t she?’

‘I think so,’ Fitz answered. The next question of ‘why?’ was written on the Doctor’s face, but he did not voice it, and Fitz was secretly glad. He had asked it himself over and over again, but he thought he knew the answer. He was certain that it had to do with her love for the Doctor, but whether it had been his obliviousness or his approaching Fitz which had driven her away he did not want to guess. What was more disturbing was that she had sneaked away in the night, without as much as a letter of explanation or good-bye, only a soulless envelope with money.

Left to their own devices, all they had was each other, and they took every opportunity at closeness. Their love, which had started as such a joyful, almost naïve thing, had turned more into a necessity, which knitted together their lives, keeping them from the brink of madness. As Fitz had worried it would, Samantha’s sudden disappearance had had a bad effect on the Doctor’s state of mind. He only hoped that keeping him company and showing him affection would make it better. They would often sleep in the same bed, simply for comfort and warmth; whenever they retired separately, the Doctor would leave his room and pad across to Fitz’s room, where he would slip into his bed and burrow his cold feet against his. Fitz, whether half-asleep or still lucid, would embrace him, and he would lie awake behind the Doctor, an arm slung over him, as his lover fell asleep. Much as Fitz enjoyed the intimacy, the uncomfortable sleeping situation and the strain of looking after the Doctor exhausted him. One could tell if the past few days had been bad from the darkness under his eyes and the lines in his forehead. A few times, he had, despite what he had promised himself and the Doctor, considered taking him to the asylum, if not to be committed then at least to be looked over by a physician. There were the days when the Doctor would not leave the garden, frantically tending his herbs and flowers; the days when he would sit cross-legged in the porch, waiting for Samantha to return; the nights when he would wake Fitz up with his screams and talk of things from his maddened imagination - glass men and evil encased in metal and a magic box. But Fitz could not bear to bring him close to that place. When he became too unruly, he would trick him into drinking laudanum, always making sure to hide the bottle and not to give him too much, making sure not to make a habit of it. He rather committed that small act of dishonesty than have him taken away. Sometimes, he would turn bitter, and he would wonder how what they had had those short few days, which had been so wonderful, had been perverted into this thing which only functioned to keep the Doctor moderately sane. When that happened, he blamed Samantha. Often, he tried simply not to think of what had happened, and instead concentrate on the Doctor. He could not bear to be angry with him, even if he sometimes felt like he should be.

How Mrs Simms found out about the Doctor he did not know, but a month or so after the Doctor and he had become the only inhabitants of the house near Primrose Hill Park, his employer had asked him tartly one morning:

‘How’s your new life as a manservant, then, Kreiner? I’ve heard it’s a real gentleman you live with, there.’

‘I’m his tenant, not his manservant,’ Fitz said glumly and dragged on his cigarette. ‘I’m just doing him a favour.’

‘And soon he’ll have you scrubbing the floors, I’m sure,’ Mrs Simms answered back as she tied string around the little bunches of violets. ‘Are you just going to stand there and gawk, boy, or help me as you’re paid to do?’ Suppressing a sigh, Fitz crossed and helped tie the bunches of violets and place them in baskets for the flower girls. The cold morning sunshine was giving life to the almost empty market place. A few flower girls, talking and laughing amongst themselves, were already approaching their stall to collect the baskets they paid to sell. Mrs Simms tutted and said: ‘Wouldn’t you be better off with a nice girl like that? A man has to chose his life, you know. What comes of a man with no wife? Gets lonely, he does, and bitter. Now, a man who gets married, he may have a rough time, but at least...’ But Fitz had stopped listening. While Mrs Simms had started on her customary speech on the virtues of marriage, he had spotted a girl, walking a small distance behind the flower girls. She walked along slowly, her step uncertain, as she pulled a big shawl around herself, obscuring the old dark green dress she wore. From under her bonnet, which was the colour paper took on when one spilt tea on it, cascaded a mane of hair so black that it looked sketched with coal. Neither the clothes nor the hair looked familiar, but there was something which had made him notice her - her gait, perhaps, or her way of holding her shoulders and head. Where had he seen her before? She was momentarily obscured by the flower girls, who leaned in to shake a particularly entertaining joke. When they drew back again, he saw that she had stopped and was looking up at the sky. The sun fell on her face, and Fitz’s stomach jolted. Throwing the bunch of violet he had been holding and his cigarette to the ground, he ran towards her, scattering the flower girls and sending Mrs Simms screaming after him. He did not heed them, simply shouted her name as he started to slow down. The girl looked his way. The look of surprise was only visible for a moment before she grabbed her skirts and ran. He set off after her, Mrs Simms’ screams and threats swallowed up by the sound of the city.

From the square into the streets beyond, around corners and through alleyways they ran. She tried to lose him, but he knew Hoxton too well, and her worn shoes were making her stumble and slow down. He closed in on her until he was finally in line with her and managed to grab her arm.

She stopped abruptly, pulling it away from him. He lost the grip but took hold of her wrist instead. The mute tug-of-war lasted for a few moments, until she stopped, her arm relaxing.

‘Please let me go,’ she pleaded. ‘Please, Fitz, let me go!’ Her voice broke and she tried to pull herself loose again. Fitz simply stared at her; using his name had been a way of admitting her own identity. ‘Please!’ she begged, pulling for a final time and then collapsing against him, weeping. He took her shoulders and held her at arm’s length.

‘What’s happened to you, Samantha?’ he asked, looking her up and down. Last time he had seen her, she had been troubled but collected, dressed in her light muslin dress with the apron she wore around the house over it, her blond hair in a loose braid down her back. Had he not seen her face, he would have thought it was some passing fancy which had made him spot her. The worn clothes and the too short dress sleeves were unlike anything she had worn on Elsworthy Road, and even her face had changed. During that month, she looked like she had aged several years. Her hair was unwashed, and he thought that there was a bruise down one side of her face.

‘I can’t talk to you,’ she said, the pitch of her voice turning hysteric as she tried to break loose again. ‘Go away!’

‘No,’ he said. That occasional anger returned to him suddenly. ‘You need to explain yourself.’ He looked around at the street, and then said: ‘Let’s find somewhere to talk.’ Still he held onto her a few moments to make sure that she would not run, and then lead her towards a nearby pub. Making her sit down at a table in the corner, he asked her what she wanted to have.

‘Gin,’ she said dully. He forced a laugh.

‘Really, Sam. What would you like?’

‘No, I want gin,’ she repeated, staring at the table. He pressed his lips together, feeling unable to object, and got two small glasses of gin. When he returned to the table, she had removed her bonnet; he noticed that her scalp was dark with dye. Samantha accepted the glass, but did not taste it yet, only turned it between her fingers and hung her head. Finally she asked: ‘How’s the Doctor?’

‘He’s been better,’ Fitz answered reservedly. He felt that she had little business to ask such questions. They were silent for a moment, while he wondered where he should start. There were too many questions. ‘Why have you dyed your hair?’ he asked.

‘I thought it suited me,’ she said without looking at him.

‘Why did you leave?’ She closed her eyes to block him further. Then in deliberation she took her glass and knocked back the gin, making a face as she swallowed it.

‘I wasn’t good enough for him,’ she admitted. ‘He didn’t need me anymore.’

‘Sam, he might snap any day,’ Fitz exclaimed. ‘He was getting better! But now... He barely eats. He talks a load of gibberish...’

‘But he’s rid of me,’ she said emphatically. ‘That’ll do him good.’

‘No, it won’t!’ he shouted back, loud enough to make the publican look sharply at him. She hung her head, pressing the heel of her hand against one of her eyes to keep herself from crying.

‘I love him,’ she whispered. ‘But I couldn’t stay there.’ When he did not answer, her hand fell and she raised her gaze. Fitz was struck by how fierce it looked. ‘I thought you knew,’ she said accusingly.

‘Knew what?’ he asked, bewildered.

‘What I was before I met the Doctor,’ she just said.

‘You were in the Salvation Army,’ Fitz said.

‘Not for very long,’ Samantha said with a shrug. ‘And that was all because of the Doctor.’ Her annoyance turned into disbelief. ‘Did you really think I was some innocent child? Surely everything about me screamed rescue girl?’

Fitz stared at her. If he closed his eyes, he could see the old Samantha, the blonde virgin, and the idea seemed preposterous. But the dark-haired Samantha opposite him... He did not want it to be true. She had been a silly girl sometimes, but never like that. The girl sitting at the table with him, on the other hand...

‘What happened?’ he asked quietly.

‘I ran away from home,’ she explained. ‘I could either starve as a seamstress or I could make a decent living with the assets I had.’ She glanced up at him and asked: ‘Can you blame me, Fitz?’

‘Did you lie when you said that the Doctor had saved you from some thugs who attacked you for rescue work, then?’ He remembered suddenly that the Doctor had said that the first time, she had not been in the Salvation Army at all...

‘No,’ she sighed. ‘He did save me, only he was... a little late. I think I fainted in his arms. When I woke up, I was there, with the Salvation Army. It was odd, because suddenly it felt like the right thing to do, because he had brought me there. But I didn’t lie to you - he saved me once again, after I had been rescued. From the same men, even.’ She looked away and added: ‘My pimps.’ They sat in oppressive silence for a while longer.

‘What was I supposed to do?’ she asked at last. ‘Don’t you see, Fitz, that he’d be better off without a companion who keeps a bottle of gin in the garden shed, when things get too hard?’ Fitz simply stared at her. Not Samantha the charity worker, the sweet-hearted girl, but Samantha, the drinker, the whore.

‘So all that... the person you were...’ he started. ‘Was that just a part to play?’

‘What isn’t?’ she asked. ‘But it’s not one I could continue playing. It hurt too much.’ He swallowed, the tragedy suddenly feeling like a personal affront.

‘I tried to make him marry you,’ Fitz told her. Now she laughed and reached over the table to take his hand.

‘Oh, Fitz,’ she said. ‘I could never marry the Doctor.’

‘I thought you wanted to.’

‘Yes, I did,’ she admitted, smiling sorrowfully, ‘but I knew I never could. Don’t you think he deserves better? I couldn’t pretend to be even his dainty little housekeeper. How could I ever play his wife?’ She loosened her grip of his hand, but still kept her fingers on his. ‘This is who I am,’ she said and gestured to herself. ‘It’s not a pleasant life, but I don’t belong in that house anymore. Perhaps I did once, when he saved me, but I grew out of it. That girl - that blond Samantha - was someone the Doctor created to keep him company. It was a role to play. But I couldn’t, not as well as I wanted to.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Fitz said. Her words hit him in waves, but they did not impact him.

‘At last, it seemed to me like this,’ Samantha sighed. ‘Either, I charged three shillings for any man who wanted me, or I pined away after the one man who didn’t want me, until I was a dry husk of a crone.’

‘Sam, this place will kill you.’

‘Some part of it, yes,’ Samantha admitted and shrugged, as if she knew and did not care. ‘The gin or the punters or the pox - but what does it matter?’

‘Are you happy?’ he persisted.

‘Are you?’ she just answered. Fitz looked away, thinking. Happy? No, but real people aren’t happy. Besides, there may be more important things than happiness in this world. Samantha nodded at his silence. ‘You see, Fitz. Let me ruin my own life. Perhaps the Doctor did the right thing to save me that one time, simply so that I could lapse again. I can’t live like that.’ Fitz gulped down his gin and they rose in unison, the meeting suddenly over. When they stepped out of the pub, Samantha grabbed his arm and looked into his eyes.

‘Look, Fitz, don’t tell him you met me,’ she said. ‘It’d be better if he didn’t know. If he thought I was gone, or dead, even.’

‘I don’t think it would be,’ Fitz said, shaking his head. His throat felt very tight all of a sudden. ‘Sam, can’t you reconsider?’ She shook her head.

‘Don’t you think that it would hurt him to see me like this?’ she asked. ‘Knowing I’ve sold all the pretty dresses he got me, and pawned my gold cross, and don’t take in sewing for a living any longer?’ She pressed his arm urgently. ‘Promise me that you’ll take care of him. Find someone else, if need be - a maid or a nurse or a tenant - someone who deserves him.’ She looked him up and down and then said: ‘I think the person he really deserves and who deserves him, though, is you.’ Fitz bit his lip. Samantha smiled. ‘I know he’s a sodomist, you know. Perhaps that’s a good thing, after all.’ He looked away, hoping he did not blush as much as it felt like. In that unguarded moment, Samantha’s hand slipped down to his and, using it as leverage as she got up on tip-toe, she kissed his cheek. ‘Please take care of him,’ she repeated, and suddenly she had let go of his hand and was walking down the street, arranging her bonnet. Fitz let her go, feeling that dull ache in his chest which comes from losing a friend.

When she was out of sight, he started walking, not towards the market but away from it. He knew that Mrs Simms’ ire had probably reached so far that she would not want him back, and facing her today seemed useless. Slowly he meandered up to Pentonville Road and walked through Somerstown until he came to Regents Park. By then he had walked for an hour, and the walk through the park and then along Primrose Hill Park took almost as long. When he stepped into the house on Elsworthy Road, he felt exhausted from the walk and drained from the encounter at the market. The only thing disturbing the quiet of the house was the Doctor’s humming as he came out of the living room, smiling him a greeting. He made a surprised little sound when Fitz embraced him suddenly, but returned the embrace; for a moment their roles were reversed, where the Doctor was the strong one and Fitz the one who needed to be comforted. He pressed his face into the Doctor’s hair and thought of the things he had seen and heard. He wanted to explain the two Samanthas to him, to assure him that she was safe, to tell him that he had probably lost his job at the market. On the other hand, none of it mattered now. A sudden light feeling started to unfold in his stomach. It took a few moments before he managed to identify it as hope. He pushed his fingers into the Doctor’s hair to hold him close. All those months ago, the Doctor had claimed that he wanted to save him. Now it was Fitz’s turn to save the Doctor. Of all the things he thought when they stood there embracing in the hallway, the only one he articulated was this:

‘I love you.’ The Doctor tightened the embrace and pressed his lips against his cheek. He did not need to answer; words were unnecessary. They simply clung to each other, an exile and his friend, who had happily cast away reality for him. The promises that needed to be made were contained in that fact.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2011 11:11 am (UTC)
This was such a beautiful story. I've simply adored it, and the end honestly brought a tear to my eye. Very sweet and tragic, and your Victorian Fitz is such a brilliant character. Great job capturing Eight's fragile innocence. I love this fic!
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading! :D
Aug. 5th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, I absolutely love this story! You have incredible talent.
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
Why, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
Aug. 24th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
This is such a great story!
I almost thought this would turn out into NC-17, but you put it always to a stop at the right time so that the reader can imagine the most of it on his own. That's how it should be.

Well done! :)
Aug. 24th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Glad you enjoyed it.
Nov. 15th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a touching story, loved it! :)
Nov. 16th, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! It makes me so glad when I get comments on my EDA fics. :D
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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