Disclaimer: Belongs to BBC and Russell T Davies and all those lovely, lovely people in England. Which I am not.
Summary: Set during 'Human Nature.' Instead of 1913, the TARDIS falls through the Void and lands in Rose's alternate world… but the Family is close behind, and things won't be anywhere near easy for everyone involved.
- Finally finished Torchwood so hopefully I'll add more to those characters; like Tosh and Owen;
- I'll try to get another chapter up soonish, at least before next Thursday, as I'll be in Europe for a month and will be pressed for time when it comes to writing and posting chapters (although my laptop will be joining me).
It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.
– Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954)
Pete told Jackie. It was obvious when Jackie didn't stop talking the entire way, on all the most inconsequential things in the world: her son and Rose's brother, Alexander, his wobbly toddling; the latest celebrity gossip; the upcoming Vitex charity ball that Rose would be expected to attend despite her pregnancy; Mickey and Jake's relationship; she stopped short of commenting on the weather.
But Rose didn't hear her – she was ignoring Abby's concerned looks and Jackie's own shuttered, pained expressions. Rose was staring out of the chauffeured car window, running over her meeting with John Smith again.
Fact one: the Doctor constantly used the pseudonym "John Smith," when he wanted to avoid being recognised, except for the one time when they met Jack and she called him Mr. Spock.
Fact two: John Smith had only one heartbeat, which meant only one heart; the Doctor had two.
Fact three: there was quite a bit about the Doctor and his past that Rose still didn't know, despite their intimacy.
Fact four: he recognised her.
It wasn't wistful thinking, or even Rose's imagination. There had been a spark of recognition in John's wide, brown eyes. Physically, John Smith was identical to the Doctor – mannerism as well. So what did that leave Rose with?
Alien artefacts. She worked in that field. She had seen tons of different pieces of technology, of art, of culture. She'd seen communication devices, like walkie-talkies – she'd seen necklaces and rings and pieces of jewellery that were symbols of love; she'd even seen cloaking devices that made aliens look like the local population. Who's to say the Doctor didn't have something like that? He had tons of junk and bits o' bobbles about the TARDIS.
So, was John Smith then the Doctor? Were they the same man, alien?
Rose sighed. She wished she knew.
When the car arrived at the Tyler Estate, Rose ignored both Abby and Jackie as she walked through the entrance and went straight up the stairs, directly to her room. She sat on the edge of the soft, dusky pink duvet and stared at the folded hands in her lap.
Did it really matter if John Smith was the Doctor or not? Regardless of how John looked, acted, spoke – there was an attraction.
But is it one you want to become involved in? Rose asked herself. She knew that despite being the Tyler heir, there was a lot of talk about her unmarried state and being pregnant. Having a father for her baby – who wasn't Uncle Mickey or Uncle Jake – would solve some things. It would stop some of the gossip, stop the whispers at work.
But a replacement wouldn't solve anything.
Rose sighed again. It was Torchwood business now, anyway; maybe she could con some information out of Pete or Mickey?
Several hours later, it turned out Rose couldn't get any information from Mickey or Pete. Both were still at Torchwood, questioning John Smith and his companion – another point in favour of John being the Doctor – and would not be returning to the Estate until early morning, if possible.
Mickey felt like a lout withholding information about the Doctor from her, but he had been in the middle of Martha's most recent escapade with the Doctor (Shakespeare? REALLY?) and they were nowhere near done. In fact, Mickey felt a bit bad about everything, in general; Rose, for wanting information he was hard-pressed to give in the first place – not to mention what Pete was going to go through when he finally went home – and Martha, for falling in love with the Doctor despite his very aloof and standoffish attitude.
Mickey figured that if the Doctor had never taken (stolen) Rose from him, he might have been far more charitable towards the alien himself, but by the time he left them and remained behind in the parallel earth, he knew he wanted to be more than the tin dog. Oh, he knew Rose and the Doctor didn't mean it, but with the two of them, they were always so wrapped up in each other that it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended.
He was reminded of a Greek myth where humans were originally beings with four arms, four legs, and two heads; they would roll everywhere and began to roll up Mount Olympus. Zeus worried that they were trying to take the roll of Gods and cut them in half – thus creating two separate entities of men and woman, two halves of a whole. Those two halves would then search for the half that they were split from, creating the idea of soul mates – the perfect other match. To Mickey, Rose and the Doctor were each others' perfect match.
Oh, he knew that growing up on the Powell Estate he couldn't possibly sprout random Greek mythology, but since taking the reign under Pete Tyler's Torchwood, he was steadily working his way through a technical engineer's degree and some of his electives were as random as the idea of hunting down aliens to the unsuspecting public. No, Mickey was determined to prove he wasn't the tin dog anymore.
And he wasn't; he hadn't been for some time now. He found a place with Torchwood, with Pete Tyler, with Jake Simmonds. He found a place in this Earth where his Gran was alive, where what he did made a difference.
"Sorry 'bout that," murmured Mickey as he slipped back down into the cold, metal seat in the interrogation room. He hadn't wanted to put Martha or the Doctor – erm, John Smith – in these rooms, but he also didn't want either of them to think that Torchwood was their friend.
Martha's pretty face settled into a slight frown, but she nodded in acceptance. "It's okay," she replied instead, jerking her chin towards the mobile. "Girlfriend?"
Mickey snorted. "Ex-girlfriend, actually, and she just wanted to know what was going on with you two. That's all – she's pretty high-ranking here at Torchwood too."
He wasn't dumb enough to say it was Martha's rival on the phone.
He may be "Mickey the Idiot" to the Doctor, or the Tin Dog (heck, now that he thought about it, K9 got more love from the Doctor than he ever did), but no one could accuse Mickey of being callous.
"How does someone get involved with whatever here is anyway?" asked Martha, glancing around the sterile, white room and the obvious two-way bullet-proof mirror that opened to a hidden observation room.
"You're in Torchwood," began Mickey hesitantly. He and Pete had spoken about it, and decided to let Martha in on who picked her and the Doctor up – they would, of course, not disclose everything, but offer enough information to make her spill enough back.
Mickey paused. "It's like… an organization that protects Earth from hostile aliens while learnin' more about alien cultures and worlds."
Martha frowned. "Is there…" she trailed off, visibly gathered her courage, and continued, "Is there one in our universe?"
Mickey nodded. "I was there at Canary Warf."
A pained look flashed across Martha's face. Her cousin had died there, and couldn't this Torchwood have saved them all? Didn't they have the technology? This world seemed years ahead of her own in technology and culture.
Mickey seemed to read her mind. "I was there as a scout. The Doctor and Rose did everything. They saved the world."
A bitter look flashed briefly across Martha's face before she carefully masked it. Oh, thought Mickey, saddened, how much you've learned from the Doctor in such little time. Two years later and Rose still can't hide her emotions. What has he done to you, Martha Jones? What have you allowed to be done to yourself to hide away behind a mask?
"You couldn't…?" she still had to ask.
"They had already begun cyberising the people before we knew what was going on. I'm sorry."
Martha nodded, accepted it, and folded her hands together on top of the metal table, looking calmly at Mickey. "So ask me what you need to know. But before you really begin: am I a prisoner?"
Shock filtered its way across Mickey's face before he slipped back into the Torchwood persona. A rueful, small grin crept onto his face and he shook his head. "No, you and the Doctor aren't prisoners. Had you been back at your Torchwood, he'd be in danger. But this Torchwood thinks quite highly of him. He'll be well protected here until the TARDIS will have time to heal."
"So what happens after this?" she had to know. She couldn't not know.
Mickey shrugged. "I'll probably take you to a Torchwood flat, or you might stay with one of the other agents. Maybe Abby, or you'll come back with me to my place while I go to the Director's. We're not going to just throw you back out there to survive on your own. I'm sure, though, that the TARDIS has a cover story figured out for the Doctor. You can go along with it, if you'd like, or we can help you continue your education."
"That's very generous."
Mickey grinned inwardly. Oh, she was leery of the offer alright; the Doctor had chosen well with taking her along for a spin 'round the Universe. "What can we do to convince you?"
"I want to see the Doctor."
Mickey winced. How could he tell Martha that his superior Time Lord brain was slightly frizzled and he could barely remember how to walk? Maybe seeing her would connect his missing cover story. Or, maybe it would make him fall for her. Mickey didn't know and wasn't sure he wanted to know.
A glance over his shoulder at the reflected mirror made his mind up.
"When we're done here, Martha. I still need to find out if there's an alternate you in this world. Once you answer our questions and I do that, I'll bring you to see the Doctor."
Martha agreed, and Mickey settled down for a long evening.
Pete was flabbergasted. Flabbergasted. The Doctor's human side was an idiot. John Smith was an idiot. The most babbling, puppy-like, eager five-year-old who found the cookie-jar, inane, geeky idiot Pete had ever met.
And considering he was the Director of Torchwood 1 and hired several stuffy, know-it-all scientists and geeks in his time, that was saying a lot.
He hadn't stopped. John Smith was still going on about the gravitational pull of several plants in Earth's solar system, and making it sound like astronomy and physics were recreational hobbies.
Well, amended Pete, they most likely are for a Time Lord. But that didn't mean he was growing sick of learning Earth's trajectory through space.
There was no doubt about it that John Smith wasn't smart; he was a genius. He was humble, though, not the cheeky arrogant alien Rose had described him as.
That was another issue he needed to breech. Did he or didn't he mention her to John Smith? On one hand, he was tempted to see the man's reaction; another side wanted him to bundle his somewhat-daughter up and keep her locked in the Tyler Estate house (Rose would kick him in the shin before he could even think that, though, so it was a bit moot point).
As for the alien's cover story, the TARDIS seemed to have realised that, despite the fact that she was barely functioning, she, the Doctor, and his companion were in friendly hands – and near Rose. When Pete walked into the TARDIS, to ensure that she wasn't too damaged (he also didn't want to get electrocuted near the console, but he had to be sure that it was the same TARDIS that Rose spoke of), the bloody ship had nearly purred in pleasure.
He soon realised it wasn't because of him, but rather his DNA. She recognised the Tyler DNA and his parent stream that contributed to Rose – even if it was a different him. Although he couldn't communicate with the ship the way Rose could (which was something else he had to ask the Doctor once he was the Doctor again), Pete understood enough that the TARDIS was okay with him and his Torchwood people taking care of the Doctor.
She did, however, still supply a cover story that seemed to just magically pop into John Smith's head.
Pete looked down at the file in front of him. It was rather thick; over half was all on the Doctor, including one of only four pictures Rose had of him from her super mobile phone. The other part of the file was now John Smith's.
Name: John Smith (no, really – it's the Doctor, Pete's mind supplied readily); age: 38 (900 and something, but who's counting?); occupation: historian and planetologist (and about a thousand other things on top of that); martial status: "quite single, thank you." (Not if Jackie got a hold of him); next of kin: none (just wait another month or two, Doctor); contact in case of emergency?: Martha Jones; credentials? – a flash of (blank) psychic paper that made Pete smirk but ignore the tingle at the back of his skull.
The poor sod didn't even realise that he was being manipulated; Pete felt almost sorry for him. Whatever original cover story the TARDIS might have had was completely changed the second it realised it was in the parallel earth – Pete had an opening for a competent planetologist – and the Doctor certainly fit that category even if he couldn't remember being to another planet (or the fact he was born – or whatever equivalent – on another planet).
The TARDIS wanted the Doctor – in human form or otherwise – near Rose and Torchwood. Rather, just near Rose and his offspring. Being near Torchwood was another plus; they could watch over him and Rose carefully and ensure they were protected from hostiles.
In the end, at nearly four am, Pete pushed a stack of paper at John Smith.
"What's this then?" he asked, stopping mid-one-sided conversation on the geological makeup of Mars, in surprise.
Pete withheld a smirk. "It's a contract that all our employees sign when they come to work for us. You'll need to sign every page…" Pete was going to relish this: "In triplicate."
The expression of wide-eyed terror on John Smith's face was committed to memory. Shame they had turned off the cameras in the room, though.
John was craving tea. It was like a mantra in his head: teateateateateatea. His hand ached from signing his name with flourish on several pieces of paper and now all he wanted was tea and a comfy bed and maybe some toast. With jam. Ooh, or marmalade. Marmalade would be nice, but where could he find a Tesco's open at this time of day?
Maybe Rose would know.
The thought popped into his mind unexpectedly and all his other, science-related, food-related, sleep-related thoughts came to a screeching halt.
Across from him, Pete Tyler was organising the papers into three piles, and typing in a phone number on his mobile. He was quite good at multitasking, John found, like Rose.
Again! Her name again! He met the woman once, just once, acted like a right fool in front of her and now he couldn't get her out of his mind. He knew there was something about the blonde that captivated him, but surely this was too much? Who was she?
Rose Tyler, his mind supplied, eagerly; happily.
"Uhhh," the noise was out of John's mouth before he had time to realise his mouth was open and his throat was working.
Pete looked up from his mobile and waited patiently for John to continue. "Yes, Mr. Smith?"
"Your, uh," how on earth was he going to ask? John could feel the heat of a blush working its way slowly across the bridge of his nose, his cheeks, and then rush to the tips of his ears which burned. "Your last name, Mr. Tyler. I met someone earlier with the same surname. Rose Tyler?"
A shuttered look fell across Pete Tyler's face, and his already pale complexion seemed to go paler. John wondered if he really stepped in it this time; he had a feeling he bungled his way through life most of the time, really.
"Yes?" the Director of Torchwood drawled slowly. "What about her?"
Oh, well, John thought; fortune favoured the bold. "Are you related to her?"
A series of emotions appeared on Pete Tyler's face before he finally settled on amiable. "She's my daughter."
He fancied the Director's daughter. His boss's daughter.
Wait – fancied? Oh. Oh no.
"Why do you ask, Mr. Smith?" there was a glimmer of something in Pete Tyler's face, but John didn't want to really think about it. He really stepped into it this time.
"I met her earlier." Honesty did seem the best policy.
"Oh? Where was this?"
"In the medical bay," supplied John, carefully, cautiously. "She was dizzy and hadn't felt too well."
Pete Tyler nodded. "Her pregnancy hasn't been that easy on her."
Oh, an opening. Should he take it…?
"The father of her baby… is he… uh… around?"
Another series of emotions flashed across Pete Tyler's face before he settled on a blank mask. "No."
The word could mean so much, but so little. John didn't know where he got his courage – he had a strong idea that he was a bit of a coward, actually – but he pressed on. Something was telling him that even if Pete Tyler decided to have a hit on him, he'd manage to survive, but it was such an abstract thought that John almost didn't continue. "Does she have a lot of people around to help her?"
John was beginning to recognise some of the emotions that were flicking across Pete now: worry, anger, helplessness, and then something like hope. "She has her family but she doesn't have the one she really needs with her."
The baby's father. Oh. Well, that certainly put a damper on things, didn't it?
"I see," murmured John, his eyes dragging away from Pete's, and settling on an ink mark to his far left, embedded into the table.
Pete cleared his throat. "Well, then, Mr. Smith, if we're done…? I'll have Jake take you to his flat where you can sleep the morning off. We'll expect you back here for noon, though, and we'll help settle you in. Your friend, Ms. Jones, will also be joining you but will be staying with Abigail McMaster." At John's worried look, Pete continued smoothly: "She is only a few rooms down in the building, and on the same floor, so you'll be near each other if there is an emergency."
"Great. Fantabulous! Fabbity-Fab-Fab! Fab-a-mondo!" He should really shut it, shouldn't he? John pulled a face and settled back on the metal seat, his bum aching. A tired grin stretched across his face.
Pete nodded and stood, stretching a hand across for John to shake. John stood as well, and reached.
It was a like a flare went off in his hand; it burned. It was like the recognition he had with Rose, but smaller, a little less vibrant. Rose Tyler was all gold and heat and burning and life and death and time and space and ohsomanyotherthings – Pete Tyler was like a small flame, a single candle lit in the darkness, familiar but John was sure that they had never met before in their lives.
A quick glance upward, underneath his long, rakish brown fringe, John searched Pete's face for the same recognition. There was nothing but a genuine, fond smile on the slightly older man's lips. His wrinkles – those across his forehead and small ones at the corner of his eyes – indicted he was tired and probably eager to return home.
Home to Rose, whispered another part of his mind. Inwardly, John made a face. He wasn't getting jealous about the girls' own father, was he? After all, he had just met her – didn't know her, despite the familiarity. He couldn't be jealous… could he?
Unbeknownst to John Smith, to Pete Tyler, Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones, and the rest of Torchwood 1, several hours earlier the second group that was sent out to explore the second ship that hit Earth's atmosphere did not come into contact with a TARDIS or a slightly deranged made-into-a-human Gallifreyan.
Unbeknownst to Taurus group, they came upon the Family of Blood's ship. Or, possibly. It was a bit hard to tell, thought Ryan Ford; and it wasn't like he knew it was the Family of Blood.
There was no crater and no scorch marks on the ground, but Jessica Burnberry had a broken nose and a black eye from walking into an invisible spaceship. She had been treated for her injuries – minor as they were – and the group of twelve sat in a large circle around the ship. Their communicators to Torchwood were down (interference? They'd never figure it out until it was far too late, unfortunately); they couldn't get in the ship and they certainly didn't have the horse power or equipment to drag the ship back to London.
At least, inconspicuously. People would wonder about empty transporters.
So, as dusk fell and nearly a hundred and fifty miles away Rose Tyler and John Smith met, the Taurus team had finally run out of patience.
"All I'm saying is that we've been sitting here for the past six hours without any instructions from Torchwood and we don't know if this thing is dangerous or not! We should make a decision and go for it!" snapped Ryan Ford, a tick in his left cheek.
The commander, Richard Lawhead, shook his head and frowned. "We don't know if it's dangerous, sure, I agree with that. However, it's an invisible ship, Ford. How would you propose we go in there? And – here's an idea – what if there are Cybermen in there? Or Slitheen? What about Usdabugfhs? Remember them? They killed two dozen civilians in Crawley before Torchwood got out there to stop them – and even Ms. Tyler didn't know about them!"
Ford grumbled and crossed his arms, ignoring the slight bunching of his Kevlar vest. "I don't like sitting around like this. I feel like sitting ducks. Something isn't right."
Jessica Burnberry shot Ford a disgusted look. "We work for Torchwood. Nothing is ever right."
"Except for Weevil hunting," inputted Lionel Wyatt, another Taurus team member. "That's almost a constant."
There were some grumbles and some laughs, but finally, after another hour of silence, Richard Lawhead gave in.
"Fine. Fine!" he agreed, throwing his hands up. "I'll go check it out." He looked around the sea of faces of those in his company, and chose three others; they were all well-known shooters with near perfect scores. "I'll have Hannah Lloyd, Jessica Burnberry, and Michael Daunton with me. The rest of you, stay here."
The remaining team – and a very put-out Ryan Ford – agreed. The group watched in awe as Richard slowly crept up to the barrier Jessica had walked into, and pressed his palm gently against it. The air rippled with green light and there was, briefly, an outline of a large, streamlined ship.
There was a hissing noise and a spot opened; Richard crept inside, and Ryan Ford could see a dark green/brown colour scheme and lots of wires and weird knobs. The other three followed him into the ship – and Ford jumped when the door hissed and slid back into place, hiding the ship again from prying eyes.
"C'mon, c'mon," muttered Ford under his breath, fingering his pistol nervously, constantly flicking his left wrist to see the watch he wore; twenty minutes had already passed.
As it neared an hour, Ford was more than just twitchy; he knew something had gone wrong. They should've called for backup, taken the official vehicles out to the nearest town if their communicators were down, called on the phone line, despite it not being secure…
But when his watch read 10:34pm, the ship shuddered – visibly, with green ripples like a pebble thrown into a pond – and the door opened, with Richard, Jessica, Michael and Hannah stumbling out, like they were walking on uneven ground.
"Oy! What happened!" shouted Ford, loping forward. "You lot were gone over an hour! What was in there?"
Richard stood straight as Ford approached, standing impossibly straight almost, and took a deep sniff.
"What's up with you, mate?" asked Ford, frowning. "Got congested or something?"
Richard shook his head, slowly, as if it was an effort. "Not at all, Ford."
"So? What was in there?" the man asked, again.
Richard, Jessica and Hannah all turned to face Michael, who sniffed like Richard – deeply, heavily, like a bloodhound – and answered for Richard. "It was empty."
Ford frowned. Something wasn't right; he was trained to notice things like this, but he didn't have any other proof other than his own instinct. And instinct was telling him to get the fuck away.
"Right," he settled on saying, backing up. "Well, let's get back to Torchwood. We'll report in during the morning shift, especially if there wasn't anything. We'll send a team up to block off the area?"
Richard took a sniff and turned his head to face Ford, who suppressed a shudder. "Yes, yes, that sounds good. Shall we?"
Ford stood back as the four walked towards the Torchwood SUVs, and saw some of the looks of confusion and suspicion on the other Taurus members' faces. Mentally nodding firmly, Ford made his mind up right then and there that he'd watch those four carefully.
A look back at the invisible spaceship made Ford frown in concentration. There was something weird going on, and he was going to make sure nothing bad happened from it. Besides – there were numerous cells in Torchwood in the basement that hadn't been used yet.
They needed some hostile aliens to break them in.