A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 32

About ten minutes after Clara set off to go to the butchers, an ape began banging on the front door. Vastra, already mostly recovered from her earlier bout of peevishness, reluctantly crawled out of the cellar to answer the door.

Outside on the step, she observed an ape that appeared to be wearing a police officer's uniform. It was a rather large and craggy example of its kind, with hair could have been described as between brown and blond, depending on the precise light conditions, and an aroma suggesting that it usually carried out interrogations with a certain amount of enthusiasm, and a great deal of physicality.

"Inspector Attenborough, madam." He introduced himself. "Someone told me to come over here and tell you that your maid is in the prison hospital."

Vastra's reaction was almost instantaneous. She took a slight step back, making a cloud of pheromones that suggested 'alarmed, resigned and upset'. "What happened?"

"She slipped and fell on the wheel, and the chain from one of her manacles got stuck between the slats. The sawbones thinks she has a broken ankle."

"Would be possible to see her?" Vastra asked, upset that she'd unwittingly created the situation in which her little ape got herself hurt.

"That is why I've been sent to fetch you, ma'am." He replied. "Sawbones wanted someone she was comfortable with for when she woke up. Given what happened to the chaplain when he tried a little bit of one-on-one counselling, I can understand that he doesn't want her waking up and nervous and surrounded by strangers."

Vastra just shook her head. I swear I am going to tie my little ape to the bed when she gets out, and ensure she never gets out again, except on a lead. She seems too good at finding trouble, even if she isn't actively looking for it, for my peace of mind.

"I think anyone would react badly in that situation, Inspector." Vastra said out loud. "Do you have a cab?"

"It's waiting outside." He said. "Where's your coat?"

"On the rack. It's the one with a hood." Vastra said, slightly stunned by the fact Jenny had managed to hurt herself inside prison. While the officer attended to her coat, Vastra headed into the kitchen, before fishing out a box of Joseph Terry and Sons luxury chocolates Santa had delivered to Jenny for Christmas, which included a variety of candied fruits dipped in chocolate, balls of nougat covered by chocolate, and simple lumps of flavoursome chocolate. The box itself was somewhat ornate, with multiple tiers each with their own array of chocolate accessible via drawers. There were even remarkably artistic scenes on all sides of the box, except at the bottom, which had been left plain.

When she returned, the officer was standing holding her coat, which he surprisingly solicitously helped her into, before providing her with assistance down the flight of stairs connecting Paternoster row to the street below.

The cab ride through the streets was relatively brief, with Vastra able to think of little else but the ape she had initially brought home out of curiosity and charity, and possibly to give her a more convenient meal at some point in the near future, before reluctantly discovering that a. She cared about it, b. It was most definitely a person and c. It was sub-adolescent when she initially caught it. The results of the ape's adolescent stage had been startling, and it had gone through a transformation from an essentially androgynous primate, albeit one with very little fur, into a surprisingly pleasant on the eye, mature specimen. At that point, via a certain amount of experimentation, it had been discovered that while Vastra had an interest in both male and female persons, that Jenny could not find any form of attraction to male apes, despite multiple attempts by Vastra to encourage her to pair with another ape of the opposite gender. She suspected that hormones had to be involved in an astonishing level in mating rituals after discovering what appears to be poetry while conducting a search of her ape's quarters to determine exactly why she hadn't paired yet.

The slight trouble had been that all the poetry had been about her. That discovery had caused her to take a slight step back and re-analyse her reasons for not eating her ape, or otherwise sending on its way, with a good reference. It had quickly become a friend, and within a few months, and reached the stage where she would be very sad to see it to go within a few months.

Things had developed along those lines for a while, before she finally realised that she had fallen in love with the ape as well during one of its periods of heat. They had done a certain amount of experimentation, before discovering ways both of them could make the other very happy. At that point, life-pairing, or marrying, as Jenny had insisted on calling it, had become the only option at an emotional level to Vastra's surprise, as she had found she loved the small ape at least as much as she had ever loved any of her own species. Via the TARDIS, they had travelled to somewhere they could legally marry, although Vastra's species had been fudged on the marriage certificate.

She came out of her reverie outside the prison gates, where she disembarked from the cab, Attenborough paying the driver, before hurrying through the wicket gate set into the heavily reinforced oak doors, before quickly traversing the prison yard, Vastra's heels and the hobnailed boots of the police inspector creating a duet that was surprisingly musical to her ears.

The squeal of poorly oiled hinges on a heavy door, however, was most definitely not to her tastes.

Her pace was only increased with the proximity of her beloved little ape, and she nearly suffered an injury of her own from sheer haste she hurried through the prison to the infirmary.

Inside, Jenny was flat on her back, one leg encased in a white material that appeared to be rigid, presumably a plaster of Paris cast. Her face was somewhat pale, and confusingly, someone appeared to have written a large M in the centre of her forehead. Vastra wanted nothing more than to rush over to her ape and grab up in her arms and just kiss her, telling her it was going to be okay. She looked quite possibly worse than the time she'd come off of a third story roof during an investigation, although she had fortunately landed in a tree, which had sufficed to break her fall, and her collarbone, along with knocking out three teeth.

"How long till she wakes up?" Vastra asked.

"We're letting her sleep on as long as she can." The doctor replied.

"Doctor…?"

"Rowlands, ma'am."

"Doctor Rowlands, this is in no way a sign of distrust in your practice, but for my own peace of mind, as Jenny is extremely dear to me, I would like to consult my own physician."

"I can understand that. She nearly caught herself a nasty bang on the head, and she seems surprisingly weak."

At the last words, Vastra quailed slightly. She knew that before Jenny had been dropped off, she had been given a general medication to annihilate various bacteria, particularly those responsible causing the disease of tuberculosis. If it hadn't worked, or the disease had come back, Vastra was very afraid of the potential consequences.

"I will summon him immediately." She said, before pulling a card out of her pocket. "Is there a phone I can use?" The man pointed into his office.

Hopefully, Vastra picked up the telephone on the desk, and placed the connected earpiece and mouthpiece in the appropriate configuration, before resting the bell button down for several seconds, until she heard an ape speaking through the device.

"Operator."

"Hello, could you get me Buckingham Palace 8638?"

"Connecting you now, madam."

A few moments later, Vastra heard the familiar sound of the TARDIS phone ringing for attention, before a few moments later the doctor answered.

"What?"

"Doctor, it's Vastra. Jenny's has an accident in prison. I want to get her checked out at a suitable facility, rather than in the prison hospital."

"What happened?"

"Apparently, she slipped and fell while on the wheel, and one of her manacles got caught briefly. They think she's broken her ankle."

"You did fill in those forms I gave you last time, right?"

"Yes. I gave them to Clara when she was here, just after you regenerated."

"Okay, that means you are registered with her GP. I'll be along in a few minutes."

A few long minutes later, spent gently stroking her ape's forehead with a tender hand, eliciting a very weak smile in response, Vastra heard the familiar tearing groan of the TARDIS as it dropped into the infirmary, before the Doctor stepped through.

"How did that get in here?" The prison doctor asked.

"It's an experimental project I'm testing." The Doctor replied, before unleashing the eyebrows on the unfortunate doctor. "Now get out of the way and let me see to the patient."

The human scuttled aside, before the Doctor marched forwards, taking a look at Jenny.

"This isn't good." He muttered. "You were right, Vastra. She needs medical attention. Fortunately, I have the best ambulance in the universe."

Gently, the Doctor took one side of Jenny, while Vastra took the other, and they helped her out of bed, taking nearly all of her weight, before the Doctor wiped a cloth soaked in spirits over her forehead, removing the M.

"We'll explain she's had morphine." He said, at Vastra's surprised glance. "That method isn't used when she's going, and it'd raise a few questions about where she was treated previously. Her medical history is bad enough there as it is. Our best bet would be to present her as having come from very eastern Europe, but she's got an east end accent that stands out a mile." He

Frustrated, he pulled the activation lever, setting the TARDIS for the 21st century.

Once it was traveling, he turned to Vastra.

"You know your way around. You'll need to ask the clothes machine for a burka, I think. It's the most concealing garment available in the period we're travelling to, and there are enough of them it won't cause any offense or raise questions."

Without hesitation, she headed off, leaving her ape in the Time Lord's care.

The clothing room looked different, compared to when Clara had been using it. It felt and smelt like the air inside one of the caves her people had stored garments and other essentials in. The computer terminal was in the correct place, much to her pleasure, and the keyboard layout and font were exactly as she remembered them.

"Burka, 21st century, European." She typed in, being extremely specific as a learnt precaution. She'd received garments in the past that had been decidedly incorrect. The first time she'd asked for a leather jerkin, she'd received an example that was ridiculous, and would never have stopped a bladed weapon strike. And then there'd been the fiasco with the scotch bonnet. She'd been given a chilli pepper costume instead of a late Victorian head covering.

She received a huge garment made from black cotton, with enough warmth to keep out a chill, and that completely covered her body, making it clear only that she was humanoid and probably female. The TARDIS had thoughtfully included a slightly domed cap for her head, which removed any visual evidence of her crests, although it would look decidedly odd if she removed the garment.

Then she found out the next problem.

It was hard to walk in. Her first few steps caused more issues than Victorian clothing had managed to, thanks to the sheer volume of material that was available for things to get caught in. At one point, she even snagged a dewclaw in the fabric, although she was able to extract it without effort, simply lifting it away, before tucking it and its twin on the opposite leg tight against her skin. It took her about fifteen minutes to get used to walking in it, and she resented the trouble it was causing.

Then she heard the Doctor call, and she headed back into the control room, setting the veil on her head as she did so, before nearly walking into a wall from how much it restricted her vision. Interestingly, there was a layer of fabric that was easy to see through, but completely concealed her face, eliminating any chance of someone ending up calling the police after seeing an alien in the waiting room.


The TARDIS dropped them in the car park of a fairly typical hospital, much to the confusion of several humans, who quickly noticed the rather unusual sight that had appeared in their midst. Vaguely, he remembered how Clara had dealt with materialising the TARDIS in London, and grabbed Vastra's disregarded hat, which was practically replaced by her alternate garb.

"Thank you, thank you." He said, relying on the fact his oddball clothing selections would reinforce the image of a conjurer or other street performer carrying out some form of illusion. He waved the hat under the noses of the humans, collecting a surprising amount of small change, before stashing it in one of his pockets.

"We take off tomorrow." He told them, before Vastra lugged Jenny, who he realised was still dressed in her Victorian prison uniform, out of the box, and over to the pedestrian entrance to A&E.

Inside, the two of them queued up for the counter, looking somewhat out of place in a room filled with a mixture of screaming toddlers, drunken adult males in packs, and a number of old people, who Vastra privately suspected to be playing medication top trumps. Santa had given her a pack of top trumps for Christmas, which had contained a huge variety of dinosaurs, some of which she'd even encountered, which increased her surprise at the comparatively accurate reconstructions, although they'd got some of the patterns or tones off. She remembered one species of duckbill dinosaur as having been patterned like a giraffe, while it was presented as one colour on the card.

The receptionist was slightly worrying.

"Why are you here?" She asked, trying to sound helpful, but quite possibly frustrated by the mass of rowdy drunks taking up most of the room.

"My wife has had a fall." She explained. "We've spent time aboard lately, and she broke her ankle while we were hiking in Macedonia." Vastra said. "They put a cast on it over there, and we spent the rest of our holiday in our apartment." Vastra lied, taking advantage of her veil.

"Would you mind taking that off?" The nurse asked. "It makes things easier if we're not separated like this."

"I'm afraid I can't." Vastra replied, glancing over her shoulder. "I have an unusual skin condition, and I find wearing this helps me get around."

"They're a pain." The nurse sympathized. "So you're not actually..."

"No." Vastra replied.

"What are the symptoms you've brought your wife in with?"

"Drowsiness, General lethargy and a possible chest infection." Vastra replied. "She had an opiate based painkiller I'm prescribed for her leg, so she can't have any morphine."

The nurse just looked resigned. "I've noted it. Go and find a seat, and I'll get you seen as soon as possible." The Doctor helped Jenny over to one of the utilitarian bench seats, before Vastra headed over to confront one group of males.

"Piss off." One of them threw at her, as she approached. "We don't want any bloody terrorists around us."

Vastra's reply was surprisingly courteous. "If you don't sit down and shut up, things will get terrifying."

"Fuck you." The ape swore, before swinging a slow, telegraphed, punch.

Vastra replied with a textbook arm lock, taking full advantage of her speed and training, before just gently pushing upwards.

"If I take this another five degrees or so, the current degree of pain will seem minor." She said, in a voice layered with honey. "Ten degrees should be enough to dislocate it, but as you are in a hospital, that won't be anything to worry about." She continued, grinning behind the veil. "You'd have full use of your arm again in about three months."

The ape shut up, as did all of his pack mates.

Vastra walked back across a surprisingly quiet waiting room, before taking a seat next to Jenny. The young human looked even worse under electric lighting, which threw into stark detail her slightly sunken eyes, and slightly discoloured skin.

Perhaps twenty remarkably quiet minutes later, which Vastra had passed just stroking Jenny's forehead, and having to remember that her tongue was decidedly unwelcome in public, they were surprised when a triage nurse arrived.

"If you'd like to follow me." She said, before providing an elbow to assist Jenny as Vastra heaved the human girl to her feet, the cast clattering audibly on the floor with every step. She seemed surprised by how dense the small human was, and by her comparatively petite frame.

Inside the same triage room, Jenny was laid carefully on the trolley, before the nurse gave her a careful head to toe examination.

"When did you last visit your GP?" she asked, after a moment, looking somewhat confused.

Vastra glanced at the Doctor, who looked straight back at her.

"I see." The nurse commented.

"Well, starting at her ankles, I would like an explanation of these." The nurse said, running a finger around something that Vastra had to lean in to see. At close range, she was able to observe signs of bruising, which formed bands around the young ape's pale skin.

"We're historical reenactors." The Doctor quickly explained. "We did an event at a Victorian life event a few days ago, as part of which Jenny played the role of a female prisoner."

The grunt he got in response was somewhat sceptical.

"Further up the leg, her calves are slightly curved inwards. I haven't seen this in person before now, but this looks very indicative of childhood rickets. Moving further up the body, her stomach is firmer than expected, even for someone with her level of muscle. I would have to do some scans to identify the cause of that. Further up still, she shows a surprising amount of scar tissue, most of which can only be described as indicative of participation in combat, using a bladed article, against others using a bladed article. Then we come to her hands, which appear to have done an awful lot of work, in addition to what appear to be scars from bladed articles."

Vastra reluctantly looked down at her feet.

"Overall, I'd like you to answer a few questions, young lady." She said to Jenny.

"I cin do 'at." She said weakly.

"First, where exactly were you born?"

"Down Billin'sgate way."

"What is your current employment?"

"Lady's maid a'…"

The nurse turned around and gave both the Doctor and Vastra an extremely challenging look.


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