I think... I think this one may be back on track for now. :D

Meaning... WTF/AFIT is now officially off HIATUS!

Has anyone missed me? -crickets chirping- Alright, alright, save your assorted vegetables for the end. I know it's been a long hiatus, bit this one chapter is a shortie: a necessary transition into the next heat-of-the-moment chap. Believe it or not, I have the base plotline in order for much of this fic and the one to follow. So, by all means, read on and remind yourself of why you read this in the first place - and THEN throw your food at me. But first, I'd like to say that the revisiting of this fic is partially owed to me laughing my butt off over outraged reviews of The Final Warning.

I no own. I only FIX. (and RIP DoctorTen! -sobsalloveragain-)

((Slight warning for language.))

Nine; Midnight Delivery

They were standing on the corner of what seemed to be a business district, next to a tall building several storeys high. Rose exhaled into the night air, trying to smooth down her hair. The humidity had caused it to go frizzy.

"This would be so much easier if it was daylight," she said, waving a hand at the dark sky.

"Oh, but all the interesting stuff happens at night." The Doctor grinned and sat back on his heels, hands in his pockets, staring straight up at the company name of the building by which they stood. "Hmm. Never heard of them before. iTechs."

Rose hadn't heard the name either and figured it was just some average American company, or perhaps a small branch of the Apple Mac Industry – iTechs, like iPods or something. She didn't know. This wasn't her country, after all. She'd only been to the States once or twice – and most recently with the Doctor's former regeneration. This also wasn't her time period – they were in 2008, a whole year ahead of her own. It could have been a new company.

Turning to look down the street again, Rose scanned the other buildings for a trace of anything suspicious, like... Oh, I dunno, just something... Like a weird building, or a sign, or that big black van coming around the corner...

Rose took an extra second to realise she hadn't imagined the 'big black van coming around the corner' – neither had she imagined that it was headed in their direction. More specifically, it was headed in the direction of the iTechs building. The Doctor was still staring up at the logo on the building; Rose tugged at his coat to get his attention, nodding at the van as it went by. The vehicle slowed as it turned at the corner of the building and disappeared from sight.

Apparently, this was suspicious enough to catch the Doctor's interest. He waggled his eyebrows at her and motioned for them to follow the van. The pair hurried to the end of the building, peering around the corner to see the van now parked by the curb, next to a sign that read "NO PARKING, LOADING ZONE" in big letters. The Doctor and Rose exchanged glances.

"Midnight delivery?" he suggested with a grin. Rose shrugged in response, looking back at the van. The doors were open now, and two figures stepped out, becoming silhouettes in the shadows of the unlit loading area. Only a moment later, three other shadowy figures in long coats appeared, apparently through the double doors of the building. They were pushing carts of some kind, similar to a trolley that you would find on a train or at an airport.

The two figures from the van began lifting something big and bulky from the inside of their vehicle. From the look of them, the bulky objects were lumpy bags. Big ones. Like body bags. Rose's stomach lurched. What if those were the kids? And if not, what were they?

The group worked quickly and quietly, barely making any noise as they went about their business. Rose counted the bags as they were loaded onto the carts – one, two, three, four, five – and then a smaller bag as well, about the size of a large handbag. How many kids had there been? And what was the smaller one?

So busy with her thoughts, Rose didn't notice that the figures had gone, disappeared through the double doors of the facility, save for one that climbed back into the van and began to drive away, back around the building. The Doctor nudged her and they crept out from their hiding place in the shadows, towards the doors.

"Bit late for a delivery, yeah?" Rose whispered with a slight grin. The Doctor grinned in response as he inspected the doors, eyeing the access panel on the wall. Next to the panel was a sign: ENTRY BY AUTHORISED PERSONELL ONLY.

"Ooh, I do like a restricted entry. Way to make it obvious, eh Rose?" He had his screwdriver out and was already disarming the locks on the doors. "Signs everywhere. No Parking – No Entry – No Ruining of our Evil, Take-Over-The-World Schemes..."

With a click and a whir, the locks popped open and the access panel went dead. Waggling his eyebrows again, he pulled open a door and slipped inside, Rose in his wake.

Light barely filtered through the thick, musty burlap surrounding him. Total shifted, trying to think past the fog in his brain. His sack was particularly tiny and he could hardly breathe, much less move.

I should to speak to the manager about my accommodations. Give 'im a piece of my mind. Whatever happened to dog crates? When did Itex adopt the burlap sack? How unprofessional. Someone needs to get sacked... heh, pun totally intended.

There was a bump and Total nearly flew off whatever he was laying on – which was something cold and metallic and apparently moving. He heard footsteps near his head and caught a whiff of antiseptic. Wherever he was, it seemed a lot like Itex. Was the rest of the Flock here, too? He thought he could smell them, but the stink of cleaning solvent and steel was so strong he couldn't be sure. Total could hardly remember anything between being captured at the forest and waking up here.

Whatever he was laying on suddenly came to a stop, its wheels squeaking in his ear. Total twitched. He wanted to move. He wanted out. The more he needed air, the more the burlap seemed to suck it away.

There were voices, men talking. He could hear them clearly but couldn't pay attention to anything being said. Out, out, out, out... Need to breathe...

Total began to struggle, wedging a paw above his head to feel for the top of the sack, where the opening would be. He found it, and his doggy heart leapt. He began scratching, pushing, trying to get rid of whatever secured the opening.

He wasn't sure how he did it, but what seemed like hours later – it could have been minutes, even seconds – his paw broke free. The burlap sack spilled open and light flooded in. The voices had become almost shouts – an argument he didn't try to hear. Instead, he tumbled out of the sack, onto the slick floor, and ran blindly in the opposite direction of the arguing men, too disoriented to think straight.

No one noticed.

The Doctor and Rose stood in a brightly lit hallway, squinting a little in the sudden light. The Doctor pocketed his screwdriver and looked down at his companion, said, "Not quite what you'd expect for the inside of a downtown business building."

Rose just shielded her eyes, waiting for them to adjust. The pair continued down the hall, listening for footsteps or the squeaking of the wheels on the trolleys carrying the big sacks. Rose heard the faint sounds of voices nearby; the Doctor took hold of her hand and headed in the direction of the noise, already pulling out his psychic paper. The two stayed just around the corner, eavesdropping on the conversation.

"...I told you, the Director wants the subjects to be placed in the holding cell immediately. He'll have already received word that the delivery has been completed, and he specifically asked for a second, consecutive conformation that the subjects were securely stored upon arrival."

"Then send him the confirmation, and I'll send them to the cell afterwards! He'll never know the difference! They will be in my care – not a minute out of my sight. That's secure enough. They're heavily drugged and my tests will hardly take more than an hour. An hour. That's all I'm asking."

"I can't allow you to interfere with the Director's plans, Greg. He specifically said that-"

"An hour, Frederick. An hour. That's nothing. The subjects won't even be awake for at least another two and half."

"You don't know that."

"Are you telling me what I know?"

"Damn right I am. You're not running any tests. Any damage to the subjects – even potential damage, Greg – and we might as well go jump off a building or drink a bottle of bleach. I'm not going to let you risk it."

There was a short silence. The Doctor and Rose exchanged glances. One of the men let out a furious sigh.

"Fine. Take them to their little cell. But I'm not going to send the confirmation for you. You can do it yourself."

Footsteps echoed harshly down the impeccably white hall as the angry man, presumably Greg, strode away. The squeaking of the cart's metal wheels and softer footsteps soon followed.

Rose let out a heavy sigh as soon as she was sure the other man was out of earshot. "I dunno about you," she said, "but that was awfully suspicious. Subjects and tests? The Director?"

The Doctor wrinkled his brow, stepping away from the wall. "The Uber-Director and iTechs. What would he have to do with a tech company all the way over here in America?"

"Could be a branch of somfin'," Rose suggested. "Or a cover up. You know, like in the movies. A fake company to hide the real one."

Smiling down at his companion, the Doctor said, "Leave it to you humans to come up with most ridiculous ideas for movies, and then apply them in real life so that no one suspects what you're really doing."

Rose just rolled her eyes. She opened her mouth to retaliate but cut off, startled as something bumped hard against her leg. She looked down to see something small and furry and black wobbling on the edge of its balance, as if woozy or delirious. The Scotty-like dog paused a moment to regain its balance, then looked up at her, as if confused.

"Oh – hello there." Rose bent and reached out to pet the small dog. It flinched a little before taking a few steps back and staring up at her in a muddled daze, seemingly rooted to the spot. "What're you doing here, little one?"