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FIC: The Noble Girl: The Unquiet Dead (4/6)

Title: The Noble Girl – The Unquiet Dead

Rating: T


Author: tkel_paris

Summary: Jenny's random joke possibly triggered the TARDIS to take them to the Victorian Era. The historical aspects – and the clothes – are amazing, but they weren't expecting to actually see Charles Dickens surrounded by ghosts. At Christmas. Written and posted for cassikat's birthday.

Disclaimer: Hugely AU. So no, I own nothing. Also, involves racism and other nasty things.

Dedication: cassikat, of course. Happy birthday, my friend! :D And tardis_mole and bas_math_girl, for beta-reading.

Author's Note: This idea was floating around in my head because I thought that a certain character looked more like another character than the one who was her (sole) parent in canon. And I know cassikat wanted a Nine story without Rose. So we both get our wish here! :D

Everyone has had the idea of taking a character and putting them into a different family situation. So, take one character from Who, transform the circumstances of her birth into something normal (or as normal as one can get in DW), and give her a different family. What do you get? Possibly this story. If you eliminate one other character...

Also, working on this fic made me realize how sheltered the companions who were – well, not of a “different race” appears to be the term even though I don't like using it – were. As if Mickey didn't have enough to deal with in canon; being ignored by his girlfriend for one, the Press that denied his place as the first Black companion, being called an Idiot when he was only playing the fool (which actually makes two things), then he chose to escape the girlfriend by going to a world that had to be at least as intolerant as the one he fled from, and who knows what he dealt with while Rose tried to work that Cannon. Here, I have faced the ethnicity issue head on and... well, read on. You may want a pillow to punch at times, as I have kept it true to the era in which this episode was set. Fair warning.

And as always, please review first with the idea that this was New Who airing for the first time. Then compare. :D Oh, and make sure you've read the whole series, starting with "Jenny". It'll help. A lot. ;D


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three





CHAPTER FOUR: SIGHTED GIRLS

Gwyneth, the timid Welsh woman and maid, poured them all tea. Jenny had needed a long moment to recover herself while they went to the parlour, and so the proper introduction to Dickens didn't happen until they entered the room. Mickey wanted to wait for her blood to not be so up. She needed to have her say, but he saw wisdom in helping her defuse a little so she could reason again. Like her mother, anger rendered her rational mind a bit limited at times.


So he risked breaking protocol to confirm to Jenny that she was in the presence of one of her favorite authors. She had gushed almost as much as the Doctor had. She couldn't say she had read everything Dickens ever published, but her questions were phrased in a much more polite manner of expressing disagreement with or confusion over various things. Dickens was rather impressed with Jenny as they sat at a table. He had removed his jacket and cloak, but she kept hers on, feeling a need to be comforted by its presence.

While Dickens already had his tea and Jenny was sipping hers, she remembered what had happened. “What the hell are you up to?!” she suddenly snapped at Sneed, who held a handkerchief against his still bleeding nose, and jumped up to stand menacingly nearby. She thought about grabbing his cane, but she would've preferred her gran's axe.

Mickey's knuckles were protesting what he did, but he had no regrets over his actions.

Sneed was furious. “That little n-”

He,” screamed Jenny as she marched into Sneed's face, “is worth more than twenty of your ilk!” Her voice was taunting, her own anger making her barely remember her manners.

He ought to know his place!”

She slapped him.

Sneed was rendered silent, and Dickens sat with eyes wide.

Jenny wasn't done. “And you drugged and kidnapped me! My skin tells me that your hands wandered a bit, you dirty old man!”

The Doctor would have sniggered, but he found he wasn't keen on the idea of anyone touching a companion without their permission. Especially not this one. Hadn't he agreed to treat her like a daughter? He'd have to punish this man if he didn't think Jenny and Mickey did enough.

But he frowned even more at her words. A human shouldn't be able to retain external fresh stimuli for the length of time it took to revive from chloroform inhalation. How did she know?

Sneed lowered his hand enough to try for an effective glare. “I won't be spoken to like this!”

Jenny slapped him with her other hand.

The man looked like he was seeing stars. The Doctor flinched. Two red cheeks and a broken nose. Not Sneed's night. Jenny clearly got it from her grandmother. But hadn't she said her mum slapped even harder? He was suddenly a little nervous about meeting her. Even if she was a ginger.

Mickey grinned in pride as Jenny continued her rightful vitriol. “Then you locked me in a room full of zombies, leaving me to die! I've earned an explanation and the right to slap you, so talk! Or are you too galled by the knowledge that someone you consider beneath you is better than you'll ever be?!”

Sneed, as shocked as he was, had to retort at the Doctor. “The likes of a blackie acting above his station, speaking in polite company, hitting his betters. He should be flogged, sir! I’ve a good mind to do it myself! And now you, you little urchin!”

Jenny snapped, “An underage urchin, you pervert!”

Sneed’s face paled a fair bit. He shut up, for the moment.

Jenny folded her arms. “What loyal servant wouldn't hit someone for hurting their master's charges? You scream at him for simply doing his job? You should count yourself lucky it wasn't the Doctor who hit you. Now... talk.”

Despite being alarmed by a young girl bringing him a tongue-lashing like he had never had from a man, Sneed slowly recovered himself enough to talk, without causing himself more of a headache. “It's not my fault, it's this house! It always had a reputation.” His eyes drifted about the room's occupants, although he avoided looking at Mickey. “Haunted. But I never had much bother until a few months back. And then the stiffs--” He stopped when Dickens looked a bit offended. “...the er, dear departed started getting restless.”

Dickened scoffed. “Tommyrot.”

You witnessed it! Can't keep the beggars down, sir! They walk. And it's the queerest thing that they hang on to scraps...”

Gwyneth place the Doctor's tea on the ledge over the fireplace, where he leaned against. Two sugars, sir, just how you like it.”

She barely met his eyes as she spoke, leaving the Doctor looking at her retreating back in confused curiosity. He was beginning to wonder about a second strange young woman, but this one seemed easy to figure out. She was psychic. He could feel it. Jenny, on the other hand, was far more intriguing, but that could wait. She also plainly a different kind of psychic, but again that could wait. And Gwyneth wasn't going anywhere. Indeed, she sat down near where Dickens sat.

Unaware, Sneed continued. “One old fella who used to be a sexton almost walked into his own memorial service! Just like the old lady going to your performance, sir! Just as she planned.”

Dickens shook his head. “Morbid fancy,” he declared, standing.

The Doctor shook off concern over what Gwyneth could sense. “Oh, Charles, you were there.”

He walked a bit to the side. “I saw nothing but an illusion.”

The Doctor quickly swallowed his tea, making his companions flinch from imagining all that heat in a throat at one time. “If you're going to deny it, don't waste my time. Just shut up.” He barely noted Dickens' stunned reaction, instead focusing on Sneed. What about the gas?”

The man lowered his handkerchief, apparently feeling the bleeding had stopped. “That's new, sir, never seen anything like that.”

The Doctor frowned. “Means it's getting stronger, the rift's getting wider and something's sneaking through.”

Mickey frowned. “What's the rift?”

A weak point in time and space,” the Doctor explained. “The connection between this place and another. That's the cause of ghost stories, most of the time.”

Dickens, Mickey noticed, looked intrigued as Sneed had a moment of clarity.

That's how I got the house so cheap,” the old man recalled.

At the same moment, Dickens slipped from the room.

Mickey pointed at the newly closed door when the Doctor looked a moment later for the author, puzzled over missing his departure.

Stories going back generations,” Sneed continued. “Echoes in the dark. Queer songs in the air and this feeling like a... shadow. Passing over your soul. Mind you, truth be told, it's been good for business. Just what people expect from a gloomy old trade like mine.”

The Doctor left the room, following Dickens. Jenny motioned that she was going to follow Gwyneth, and Sneed was clearly not going anywhere. So Mickey followed the Doctor.

When the Doctor looked at him in question, Mickey shrugged. “I think Jenny can take care of herself right now. Me, I think I need to be right by your side. I'm not keen on getting into a fight or worse.”

The Doctor nodded. “Wise. And you've earned Dickens' respect, which is no small feat.”

Mickey felt a lot better, even found a smile of pride.




Dickens walked the hall and stopped by one of the gas lamps. He listened for the odd sounds, almost like whispers. But he could make out none. “Impossible,” he declared, turning to the Chapel.

The author soon lifted the man's coffin lid, and thought a moment about how he could check for anything that could explain away what they saw. He waved his hands in front of the face, shook the corpse, and searched around and underneath the coffin.

He was oblivious to the two men watching him – the Doctor with his arms folded in the doorway, Mickey standing still in empathy for the confusion.

Checking for strings?” the Doctor inquired.

Dickens kept looking. “Wires, perhaps? There must be some mechanism behind this fraud!”

The Doctor unfolded his arms and walked into the room. “Oh, come on, Charles,” he said, walking over to join him. “All right. I shouldn't have told you to shut up.” He put a supportive hand on Dicken's shoulder. “I'm sorry. But you've got one of the best minds in the world. You saw those gas creatures.”

Dickens shook his head. “I cannot accept that.”

Mickey understood the feeling.

The Doctor pressed on. “And what does the human body do when it decomposes? It breaks down and produces gas. Perfect home for these gas things - they can slip inside and use it as a vehicle. Just like your driver and his coach.”

Stop it!” Dickens looked horrified, stricken. “Can it be that I have the world entirely wrong?”

Not wrong,” the Doctor suggested. “There's just more to learn.”

That described anyone's life, Mickey realized. The question was how willing a person was to learn.

I've always railed against the fantasies,” Dickens mused. “Oh, I loved an illusion as much as the next man, revelled in them – but that is exactly what they were. Illusions! The real world is something else. I dedicated myself to that. Injustices. The great social causes. I hoped that I was a force for good. Now you tell me that the real world is a realm of spectres and jack o' lanterns. In which case – have I wasted my brief span here, Doctor? Has it all been for nothing?”

Mickey had no idea how to answer that. Even the Doctor seemed to be struggling.




Jenny came in through the kitchen and found Gwyneth lighting another gas lamp in the wash room. It was a crowded and dark room, nothing like she was used to seeing. Frowning gently at the evidence of all the work women in this time had to do and that this maid was left to do it all alone, she walked over and grabbed dishes to help with the washing.

Gwyneth turned, startled. “Please, Miss! You shouldn't be helping! It's not right!”

Sneed works you to death. I don't mind. I know you meant me no harm. I have a little instinct about people.”

Gwyneth reluctantly passed her a dry cloth. “But your dress!”

It's just a dress, Gwyneth. It can cleaned. Now won't it feel better to have all this done?”

That left the maid without a reply, and the two began to work – although Gwyneth continued to look a bit put out.

Jenny remembered one summer helping Great-Gran clean like this. She had evidently done the same for Donna years before – help her learn how to function without many of the modern conveniences. Like her mum, Jenny took pride in her ability to do so.

Although it was a test of her patience. She wondered if that was one more thing her mum could rightly blame on her dad's genes.

Shaking off her thoughts, Jenny turned her attention to Welsh woman. “How much do you get paid?”

Eight pound a year, miss,” was the prompt reply.

Jenny nearly fumbled a plate. That little? Then she remembered the existence of inflation and how in the Jane Austen novels her mum was so fond of, half a guinea (now 58 pence in modern money) was a great gift for one heroine's brother when they were children. She only heard the term in reference to horse races and certain types of payment – where it seemed more an aristocratic hanging on than a useful word. All she said was a stunned, “Really?”

Gwyneth smiled. “I know. I would've been happy with six.”

Wow, Jenny thought dumbfounded. She hadn't realised just how different that really was. Ten pounds a year would probably seem like a lot to Gwyneth, never mind as a gift from a wealthy uncle. “How often did you go to school, if I may ask?” She wasn't sure it was the right way to say it, but it sounded better than the more direct methods she usually employed – learned at her mum and gran's knees. And her great-gran's. She missed her sorely right then.

I went every Sunday. Nice and proper.”

Jenny blinked. “Once a week? That's all?” When did the almost daily schools open?

It seemed like she didn't hear the second part. “We did sums and everything. To be honest, I hated every second.”

Jenny smiled. She wasn't going to admit that she found that subject easy – she wasn't sure Gwyneth did. “There was plenty to hate about school, wasn't there?” she agreed.

They both laughed.

Gwyneth suddenly lowered her voice. “Don't tell anyone, but one week, I didn't go and ran on the heath all on my own!”

Jenny squirmed. “I know people who did plenty of that. I once did it because I knew I'd already learnt what they were teaching. I went to the library instead, and read until my granddad came and found me.”

Gwyneth stared at her in shock.

They finally got me into a different class,” Jenny continued on a shrug. “Which kind of put me at odds with the other girls. I wasn't terribly interested in going down the shops with my mates. Did it only when I needed something.” She laughed. “Although I found it funny to watch them looking at boys!”

Gwyneth looked scandalized. “Well, I don't know much about that, miss.” She promptly turned her attention back to the washing up.

Gwyneth!” Jenny stopped and grabbed her hands. “Isn't there someone you like? Someone you wish you could know better?”

I suppose...” The trailing off told more than she probably suspected. “There is one lad...”

Jenny smiled encouragingly.

The butcher’s boy. He comes by every Tuesday. Such a lovely smile on him!”

Oh, a good smile! Anything else good about him? Character, eyes...the rest of him? Nice smile, nice bum, my mum says.” She was trying to not shock Gwyneth, even with a remark her mother had once said about her father.

Well, I have never heard the like!”

Jenny laughed, provoking laughter from Gwyneth. Obviously she'd failed to not shock her. “Well, make him a cup of tea or something and smile at him, that's a start. Catch his eye, that's an important step.”

Gwyneth stared at her.”I swear, it is the strangest thing, miss. You've got all the clothes and the breeding but sometimes you talk like some sort of wild thing!”

Jenny bristled a little. Compared with the girls who loved shopping and gossiping? Not on her nelly! “You should see some of my mates, or my mum's. I'm a... bit conservative compared with most of them. But maybe being a little bit wild is a good thing. It's not fair to have nothing in your life other than Mr Sneed.”

Gwyneth shook her head. “Ah, now that's not fair. He's not so bad, old Sneed. He was very kind to me to take me in. Because I lost my mum and dad to the flu when I was twelve.”

Jenny paled. She'd forgotten how short life was in these days. “Oh, I'm so sorry.” She wanted to know if they were her only family, but she couldn't form the words. It still felt too close to losing her Great-Gran. And it made her think of her other great-grandparents.

Thank you, miss.” Gwyneth pulled herself together, as one clearly had to in this age. “But I'll be with them again, one day. Sitting with them in paradise. I should be so blessed. They're waiting for me. Maybe your great-grandparents are up there waiting for you too, miss. All three of them.”

Maybe.” Jenny nodded absently. She hadn't thought much about the spiritual beliefs of her early childhood in years, although she liked the idea of something of her and her family existing on another level. Then her brain caught up with the implications of Gwyneth's statement. “Um, who told you about them?”

Gwyneth flushed and returned to the washing up – far more quickly than before. “I don't know, must've been the Doctor.”

Jenny thought for a moment. “I told him that three of my great-grandparents had died and when, but when did he have the chance to tell you? And why?”

Gwyneth didn't answer. “You've been thinking about your dad lately, too, more than ever. Wondering if he's even alive.”

I s'pose so...” Jenny trailed off, trying to make sense of the moment. “How do you know all this?”

Mr. Sneed says I think too much. I'm all alone down here. I bet you've got dozens of servants, haven't you, miss?” She laughed.

Jenny wanted to laugh, but she was too engrossed in putting this new puzzle together. “No, no servants where I'm from,” she slowly admitted.

And you've come such a long way.”

That unnerved her. “What makes you think so?”

Gwyneth looked at her intently. “You're from London. I've seen London in drawings, but never like that.” Her gaze became intent, yet there was a distant look – like she was distracted by her own thoughts. “All those people rushing about. Half naked, for shame. And the noise... and the metal boxes racing past... and the birds in the sky... no, they're metal as well. Metal birds with people in them. People flying? And you – you've flown so far, further than anyone! The things you've seen... the darkness... the Restorer--”

The words terrified Jenny. Gwyneth had to be psychic. There was no other explanation for her ability to know this with her lack of education. But she was more alarmed when Gwyneth staggered backwards against the shelves, looking just as terrified as Jenny suddenly felt. “I'm sorry! I'm sorry, miss!” cried Gwyneth.

Swallowing her fears, Jenny tried to wave a hand non-threateningly. “S'alright... I'm not offended. Just wondering how you can know all that.”

Gwyneth was near tears. “I can't help it - ever since I was a little girl. My mum said I had the sight. She told me to hide it!”

But it's getting stronger.” Both jumped at the Doctor's voice. He was standing in the doorway, Mickey behind him. “More powerful, is that right?”

Jenny wondered how long they'd been there.

All the time, sir,” Gwyneth said, unknowingly preventing such a question. “Every night. Voices in my head.”

The Doctor had overheard quite a bit. Enough to figure out a way to get more answers. “You grew up on top of the rift. You're part of it. You're the key.”

Mickey and Jenny exchanged a look. That sounded ominous to both of them.

I've tried to make sense of it, sir,” Gwyneth admitted, drying her tears. “Consulted with spiritualists, table wrappers, all sorts.”

The Doctor nodded. “Well, that should help. You can show us what to do.”

What to do where, sir?”

We're going to have a séance.”

Jenny and Mickey realized they needed to reassess what they thought possible. The list of things they never thought they'd hear was growing longer by the minute.


Chapter Five: Talking With the Dead

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
serenityslady
Aug. 12th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
"Like her mother, anger rendered her rational mind a bit limited at times." Can you say understatement, at least where Donna is concerned?! :D

Oh, how different the conversation with Gwyneth is. Jenny is so much more mature. And the sequence rings truer than in the original. Even with her fancy clothes, there is no way the Pink One could ever be accused of having "breeding". But Jenny carries herself well.

And who (or what) is "the Restorer"?????
tkel_paris
Aug. 12th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yep. And the same applies to Sylvia, so naturally it'd also apply to Jenny. :D

It is, isn't it? And fancy clothes? Um, more like a working-class girl trying to look middle-class or higher. When I got a good look at it, I thought it reminded me of the things you see in the old pictures from the wild west. I bet you can guess the type I'm thinking of.

Ah, patience, Grasshopper. ;D
serenityslady
Aug. 13th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
Jenny had no real chance, did she?!?! :D

Oh, that is so true! (See comment in other chapter about clothes!) Rose, no matter what she wore, could ever be more than what Cassandra said when she inhabited her body: "Oh my God. I'm a chav!"

You don't have any idea who you are talking to, do you?? Patience is NOT one of my strong virtues! :D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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