A/N: wow yes its another whouffle fic but this is a little different- it's a Titanic AU. Okay. Yes. I couldn't resist an angsty whouffle love story. Please review, favourite, whatever you like. I'd just love some feedback :)
Also, sorry if my history isn't completely accurate. I've done a bit of research and if there is anything wrong feel free to message me. Enjoy!
10th April 1912
There was something Clara Oswald had always liked about the ocean. Maybe it was the sheer vastness of it; the fact that there was so many things lying across it. So many un-adventured lands and unchartered territory just waiting to be discovered. She grinned at the thought; she'd always wanted to travel. That one thing she'd always dreamed of doing ever since she was a little girl- but they're always going to stay that. Dreams. Real life, money, family; well it always gets in the way and dreams are just something that has to be pushed aside in favour of the rather more crueller reality. It doesn't bother her, not really. There are people in her life that she cared far too much about to forsake for dreams.
However, the chance to work aboard the RMS Titanic; well, that was one step closer to her ambition of travelling and it was the closest she was ever going to get. The voyage of a lifetime, she'd been told when adding her name to the list for a stewardess position. The unsinkable ship. Not many people will have the opportunity to board the Titanic on its maiden voyage- tickets like gold-dust in all three classes and yet here she is, boarding for free.
Well, Clara had to work, of course. Not that she was complaining. The money she got for turning beds and caring for people was enough to help her and her father ripple closer to the surface and further away from declining down another loophole of debt and difficulty. Ever since dad lost his job, she'd been so close to losing everything: her home, the food on her plate, her mother's few jewels, everything. So Clara took it upon herself to be the earner in her family even though it's rather unorthodox. Dad just can't find another position so really, it had left her no choice but to look for work. Titanic looked like an open door- a one she wasn't afraid to step through.
It wasn't long before the ship was due to leave Southampton. Most passengers had already boarded and were getting settled into their cabins on their retrospective decks (mostly according to their class- the upper decks predominately occupied by the rich men and ladies while the lower were occupied by the poorer ones and the crew- Clara included) and Clara expected that her services would be soon required.
She looked in the mirror, in her cabin in E Deck. Her cabin; well, it was small and quite crammed, a one in which she shared with three other stewardesses as herself: Nina, a rather pushy yet friendly girl who she'd instantly bonded with; Astrid, a woman just slightly older than Clara who shared the same dreams as her and Sally who seemed to keep herself to herself. Always wrapped up in a book, fascinated more about the way the ship worked than the ship itself. Sally Sparrow wasn't your conventional stewardess and Clara was sure that it wasn't Sally's first career choice.
The mirror on the wall was tiny and one Nina had brought from home, but it was sufficient enough for its purpose. Clara peered in, taking the grips perched in between her lips and clipping them to the white bonnet she had to have fastened to her hair as part of her uniform. She also wore a pretty basic black dress, with a white blouse underneath as well as an apron over the top. She'd not been used to such strict conditions when it came to work-wear, yet again she'd never been on the Titanic before. Nothing could be shabby on RMS Titanic. It just couldn't happen. If one hair was out of place- well, you could be out of a job. And that's pretty difficult when your job was on a cruise ship.
Clara's head turned to the door when a knocking noise came from the other side, accompanied by a shout of "Miss Oswald?"
A confused look flitted across her pretty features as she picked up her skirt and walked to the door. Her hand slipped round the door-handle and she pulled it open, revealing one of the senior stewards, a James Grosvenor, who combined with his constantly tetchy nature and haughty demeanour Clara had taken the liberty of disliking the man from the first moment he shook her hand.
"Oh!" Clara smiled brightly, and even though she hated the man with a passion the smile remained; nevertheless, he was her boss. "Mr Grosvenor! Is there are a problem?"
Grosvenor grunted, his face scrunching into a scowl. "May I ask why you are still in your cabin, Miss Oswald, when there are many ladies boarding second class right this second who are in need of your assistance?"
Clara frowned. Her hand slipped into the pocket of her apron where she kept her gold fob watch (a relic of her mother's). "Forgive me, sir, but I was told by the Chief Steward that I was not needed until ten, and its only just gone quarter to."
"Are you questioning my authority, Miss Oswald?" Grosvenor's whole face tensed and Clara can see in the corner of her eye a vein throbbing in his forehead. She had to bite her lip to stop laughter from escaping.
"No, not at all, sir," Clara nodded conclusively, "I just assumed that I was to go on the Chief Steward's word, sir."
Mr Grosvenor was not at all impressed by the young stewardess's attitude. Clara could see it in the way his top lip was twitching every time he spoke. Mr Grosvenor was one of those old-fashioned and reclusive men who still didn't believe in female's working generally never mind the Titanic! He was predominately hated throughout the female staff (there was only twenty-three of them) and Titanic hadn't even left Southampton yet.
Mr Grosvenor leaned down so that his lips were in line with Clara's ear. "May I remind you, Oswald, that I am very closely connected with the Chief Steward himself. He gives me orders to give to you and you will listen to them."
Clara wasn't scared, but the hot and harsh breath of the man on her neck made her feel incredibly uneasy. "Of course, sir. Sorry for any confusion."
Grosvenor retracted, coughing as he looked from side to side down the row of cabins. "Good. Because we haven't left Southampton yet, Oswald. One word from me to the Chief and you'll be off this ship and out of a job. Understand?"
Clara grinned as she gritted her teeth. Clara didn't despise many people but that man… God, she hated him. Of course she understood. Just because she was a woman, didn't mean she needed to be patronised like that. "Yes, sir. I'll be off now."
Grosvenor bowed his head in her direction and they shared a longer period that necessary of awkward eye contact; Grosvenor not leaving until he'd seen Clara abandon the corridor and get to her station. Clara mentally rolled her eyes as her hand snaked behind her, latching onto the door-handle and closing the door. The key slipped into the lock.
Clara nodded at her boss, before turning down the corridor and not looking back. Luckily, not all staff were as idiotic as Grosvenor. And, well, if any of her passengers were like that- she assumed there was going to be a lot of teeth gritting going on. She didn't deal with first class apart from their servants, so she hoped she wasn't going to bump into anyone with outlandish levels of arrogance. Seriously, give a man some money and they twist and crumble into something unrecognisable before your eyes.
Clara has worked as a servant before- and she's yet to meet an exception to this 'all first class men are pompous' rule.
She isn't betting on finding one now. She isn't betting on finding one ever.
Money made Dr John Smith incredibly uncomfortable. Ever since the remainders of his family had moved on, disappeared from his existence, he'd just been snowballed with such a fortune that he just didn't know what to do with it. His parents had been great investors in education and the expansion of the human mind, and their investments had proved worthy and raked in quite the riches. He'd kept on his parents' legacy, of course, developing telescopes and science and all the things that fascinated him- but, really, all he wanted to do was travel. Any opportunity he got to go on an adventure he would snap up in a heartbeat; the maiden voyage of the swanky new RMS Titanic was too hard to resist.
The only thing he lacked, perhaps, was someone to go on these voyages with. He had his friends, of course, but not that one friend. A person that relied upon him- a love, he supposed. He seemed to be lacking in that department. Not that he hadn't had offers.
Another problem that comes hand in hand with generous profits is that the Doctor wasn't sure whether his encounters of the female kind were based solely on the fact he had plenty of money. It hurt, sometimes, that no woman had once fell in love with him and not who he was. That it wasn't his personality that was attractive but the pounds in the bank and his inherited Estate.
Maybe, one day, he'd find someone who appreciated him and not his possessions. It did not seem likely. However, he was forever hopeful, that in the land of America where everything was possible he would find that special girl- even though it looked like he was already betrothed to the beautiful and rich daughter of a Count and Countess.
Lady River Song was a nice enough woman, and she was indeed very pretty with flowing blonde curls and elegant curves; but he'd always felt as if their current relationship was forced upon by the woman's parents. Count and Countess Song were determined that their daughter River would be the wife to Dr Smith; even though they'd barely met before and Dr Smith did not know much of her. The times they had met, River had known a lot more of the Doctor that he knew of her- all his travels and expeditions and educational discoveries. She was indeed very enthusiastic about his work and eager to be in his company, but the Doctor hadn't decided whether this need was one-sided.
He liked River, he really did. The occasions they had met had been good ones. He just wasn't willing to fall in love with a woman he'd been set with. Like she'd been given to him like a gift from her parents because they looked like a suitable partnership. Count and Countess Song were incredibly pushy people who wanted the best for River and the Doctor, apparently, was the best. Financially, of course. He was also quite handsome and they'd always thought that both their daughter and the Doctor would make a beautiful couple when it came to announcing their engagement and marriage in the paper.
He didn't like the forcefulness of this match which he had not agreed to. And now, on the Titanic, a heavy majority of the first class associates had primarily assumed that Doctor Smith and Lady River would be engaged by the end of the voyage.
The Doctor had literally been on the Titanic for a matter of minutes and even he was beginning to believe that there might not be a way out of this marriage proposal- if Count and Countess Song had anything to do with it, he'd no longer be a bachelor right this very second.
The Doctor awoke from his daydream to see Martha Jones in the doorway. Martha was, technically, his servant; but that word felt so awkward to him. He'd always seen Martha as more of a friend that anything else- she'd helped out her parents at a young age and, well, she'd sort of been passed down to him. He didn't need or want a servant; but he felt obliged to keep her in a job and pay her wages, so she helped with the house-keeping along with a few of his other staff and made sure everything was in check.
Besides, Martha enjoyed working for him. There wasn't much work out there in Britain for a girl with her skin colour and the racism was almost unbearable but the Doctor had always treated her as an equal and had never let her down.
The Doctor shifted from his position on his bed to look up at Martha with a smile. "Sorry, Martha, miles away."
Martha tipped her head. She, too, also felt so far away- she'd never seen such grandeur on a ship. The first class cabins were so vast and posh. It was like nothing she had ever seen. "No problem, sir. I just came to say that your belongings are now safely packed away in the hold."
The Doctor nodded. He'd had the necessary possessions he required for his journey already in his cabin. "Thank you, Martha."
"Also, Lord and Lady Pond ask if you will be attending dinner in the first class dining room with them tonight. They will also be accompanied by Count, Countess and Lady River Song and Mr and Mrs Tyler, Captain Harkness and Miss Gwen Cooper and the Captain has rumoured his attendance."
The Doctor hesitated for a few moments. "Yes, yes I suppose I will attend. Can't really refuse if the Captain will be there."
Martha agreed. "I'll confirm your partake now, sir."
Martha was about to leave, but the Doctor quickly interjected before she left- "How is your cabin, Martha? Is it all okay?"
Martha grinned in reply. "It's lovely, sir. Thank you."
Martha then exited his chamber, scampering down the hall. She was happy and comfortable which made him happy too.
Now- well, there was still several hours until lunch which he would be dining with the Pond's and their daughter, Melody, in the Café Parisien. Until then, there was plenty of time to do what he did best. Exploring.
The feeling of the Titanic departing from Southampton was a weird feeling- as if every person on board could feel deep within them that now, they were on their own. They couldn't just scurry back to shore if something went wrong.
But the Titanic was unsinkable.
The thought didn't spring to the thoughts of the majority of passengers- but, up in A Deck and below in D Deck, the Doctor and Clara Oswald thought the exact same thing. Maybe the ship would sink? But it was only a fraction of a second. The thought dissipated. It didn't spring back, but it was still tickling their synapses. Maybe the Doctor could feel that, the tiniest instinct that someone shared the same dire thoughts as he, and maybe that's why he ended up down in D Deck in the first place.
He was taking a stroll down the deck when he bumped into a young woman; a stewardess, carrying a pile of white folded sheets. The contact made her drop the sheets across the floor in a mess.
"Sorry!" the Doctor apologised, instantly falling to the floor to help gather them back up again. "Just didn't see where I was going. Sorry. Really, I am."
The girl shook her head. "You don't need to pick those up. I really am capable, sir."
"No, no! I am a gentleman, miss," he confirmed, as he finished picking up the sheets and handed her to her open arms.
He wasn't sure what gripped him first. Her bright, brown eyes alive with adventure and longing or the small grin which she'd tried ever so hard to supress across her lips.
"Well, thank you, Sir," she said politely, "But may I remind you that I am a steward and it is my job to pick up after you."
The Doctor shrugged, but he could not take his eyes away from her. This girl- something about her captivated him. And they hadn't ever met before. "If any lady had dropped those sheets, miss, I would have picked them up for her. Steward or not."
"For future reference, though," she reminded him as she adjusted the bonnet perched on her head, "Do not put yourself out for the likes of me. That's not your role, sir. Now, are you lost?"
His brow furrowed. The reasoning behind this question intrigued him. "Why would I be lost, miss?"
Her eyes narrowed. "This is the direction to the Third Class cabins, Sir. Please forgive me but you do not look like Third Class."
"Ah, well," he clapped his hands, "You got me. Just curious, I suppose. Can't blame a man for a little curiosity."
The girl can't deny that. He can tell she's a curious one herself- the way her face scrutinised him as if she didn't understand why he was holding a conversation with her. She was just a stewardess. Not worth talking to, really, unless he required assistance. That's what she was employed to do. "No, but I can be blamed for being off-duty if I am caught talking to a passenger for longer than necessary. So unless I can help you with something, I must attend to my duties, Sir."
"That's very good, miss," he confirmed, "I cannot keep you from your duties. Forgive me for distracting you."
She smiled at him. Her beautiful brown irises lit up. "No need for forgiveness, Sir. Thank you again for the sheets. Now, I must be off."
And off she walked, gone as quickly as she arrived. Even though the Doctor did not believe on being captivated by a woman on just their first meeting, he did believe that he was not going to be forgetting that particular stewardess in a hurry. The way she still remained polite but with that tiny element of sass; the fact she knew she was capable of making her own decisions.
So, he does what one always does when captivated.
He followed her.