AN: A little shorter than usual but anyway thank you once again to everyone who has supported this fic in one way or anothere. I really appreciate it.(note: hasn't been beta'd)

Coffee Stains and Growing Pains


Chapter Five: The Question Is?

The first thing that he noticed was that it was cold: a chilling, unpleasant cold that surrounded him but not in the same sense of plunging into an ice filled lake on an alien planet or hiking in the Himalayas cold. This was a rational, carefully monitored and logical chill – like leaving the air conditioning on for a bit too long. It was just so artificial – he could taste it in the air.

The next thing he realised was that the world was blue. His eyes cracked open, slowly, running his tongue over his lips as his vision adjusted. He was at an angle, lying on a bench – no more like a dentist chair. There was metal all around him: metal plating, metal arches – all shiny silver in appearance, and there were monitors with screens, information in a blue script that changed briefly and quickly. It was alien, it had to be alien. No language that he had ever seen from Earth was like that.

Where was he?

He tried to twist and that's when he realised the probably most important thing. He couldn't move. Well he could but there was something holding him tightly in place. His head couldn't move much, there was a cotton-y material across his forehead. What the hell? His eyes travelled downwards to see a thick black strap across his chest, his hands tied down as well as his feet. His body had wires coming off it, all stuck to vital areas of his body and in his left forearm was an IV drip (or what he assumed was one anyway).

What?

It hit him – those monitors were for him. He was being laid out like some kids science project. Why? And why was he naked? Completely and utterly starkers and on some strange space ship if the dull hum he could hear was anything to go by. His pale skin was gleaming in the light and he felt very very small without at least some pants on – underwear even would be appreciated.

How did he get here? He tried to lift his body, levering up the right side of his body by propping up his elbow. If he could just – he froze, a cold hand resting on his right shoulder, pushing him back down. He grunted, swivelling his dark eyes to see a tall figure.

Janus'ka. The TARDIS. The Fight. The Prick. The Black. Torchwood. He had been abducted by aliens – fan-freaking-tastic. Rose was going to be so pleased when she found out – if she did. He hoped she did.

Except this creature didn't look like the Janus'ka: this creature was more muscular, with flowing blond hair and dark hooded eyes. Gone were the strange proportions and replaced with much more humanoid appearance. What was this?

The alien spoke to him.

It didn't translate.

"What?" he said, his voice cracking.

"Ah, Jon-ee, apoligies – this is your tongue, yes"

Technically Gallifreyan was his tongue but no matter.

"Yes," he said with a nod. "What are you?"

"Good – now please calm down. You are safe. Safe,"

The damn thing completely ignored his question.

The alien smiled – or at least what looked like one and moved around. It's long fingers with even longer and sharper nails trailed down his arm and he fought back a shiver. This was so clinical, the way the alien looked at him before heading over to the monitors: it was one of yearning, the look of an explorer or scientist when they see something fantastical – it was a look that he knew well because he often had it himself: that spark in the eye and that gentleness as not to destroy it – except this lacked warmth.

The Doctor watched carefully as the alien entered some information into the screens – what he wasn't sure which annoyed him. He always knew what was going on, always. Well most of the time anyway. At least if he could read the writing he would have a better idea but that was a no go. He eyed off the alien. Hopefully he was a talker.

Please let him be a talker, he thought desperately.

"So," said the Doctor, piercing the silence, "This is an interesting set-up, with the lab and all – so mind, telling me what is going on? Because it looks like -"

The alien (that he dubbed as the Scientist) turned sharply to face him. "Hush, Jon-ee."

"Hush? Hush?" he repeated, "I'm sorry but in case you haven't realised you have me strapped naked to a lab table – I think that deserves a bit of an explanation. So explain," he paused for dramatic effect, "now,"

"You are safe," said the Scientist calmly, like speaking to a small child, "That is all that matters, now hush,"

"Not until you answer my questions!" he practically growled out, "How can I be safe when I don't know what's going on? Safe is generally being in a state of –"

"You were rescued for your protection," said the Scientist.

"Once again – from what? And who are you?"

The Scientist didn't respond.

"Tell me,"

More silence as the alien continued entering in details.

"You know I can just keep talking and going on and on –"

The Scientist sighed. "You are an anomaly – a strange hybrid of some kind, you are in Torchwood, you are under the watchful guard of the head of Torchwood – you didn't exist until three months ago and though your body has the appearance of a middle aged human you are far too young," the alien frowned, "How did Torchwood create you? We have monitored them and they do not possesses the capability to create you,"

Ah, so it wasn't protection it was merely curiosity.

"Guard? Torchwood isn't guarding me and they didn't create me," he said, "And I'm dating, certainly not being a prisoner to – listen that doesn't matter, well it does but time is short – and the fact is I demand to be let go – you have no grounds or right to take me from my home. No grounds.

The Scientist shook his head. "You do not exist to … your species; it does not register under their database so we can do as we will,"

"Do as you will? Boy, like I haven't heard that phrase before – why is it always the way with you people? Why?" said the Doctor, grinding his teeth together.

"I suggest you calm down, Jon-ee,"

"It's Johnny,"

"Yes, Jon-ee. Now calm,"

The word lingered, reaching out to – no. A small voice in his head said 'no'. He narrowed his eyes.

"Who and what are you?"

"Hush, Jon-ee,"

He felt like tearing his hair out. "Who are you?"

"Calm down,"

That voice lingered once again and Johnny's mind shouted 'no'. To what he wasn't sure but it hardly mattered. He just needed to find out who these things were, how the Janus'ka fitted in and how the hell he was going to get home. He bit his lip. Maybe if he changed track.

"Take me home,"

"Your home is here,"

The Doctor's eyes narrowed. "No, it isn't,"

"It is,"

"You have no home. It will be destroyed soon,"

"Destroyed?"

Rose.

His gut twisted.

Rose. Jake. Pete. Jackie. Tony.

His breath caught.

What the hell was with all these aliens and destroying Earth?

His heart raced.

"I won't let that happen," growled the Doctor, "You can't do that!"

The monitors around started to beat louder, more frequent.


"It is most honourable meeting you, Mister Tyler,"

The Janus'ka bowed deeply in the conference to Pete Tyler, the head of Torchwood and the Vitex empire before he escorted them out with his award-winning Vitex smile and serious Torchwood face – an amusing mix if she ever saw one. Rose watched them carefully through the computer monitors, watching for any sign of danger but saw none. So far they appeared to be very enlightened and well-behaved aliens – no threats, just calm and nice.

She had come up here as soon as the interviews had been done, Jake tailing after her as he saw her heading. Drinking coffee and kicking their feet up in room next to Conference Room A where all the monitors were set up, the two of them had sat with some analysts and watched. Meetings or encounters with new species, or any species for that matter were always recorded. In the field it was common practice to wear contact-camera lenses so that everything could be broken down, examined and noted down. With live meetings like this, there was always one analyst in the actual room while three sat beside a monitor.

Generally other agents weren't allowed to crowd however often they did under the strict rules not to talk or disrupt the analysts as they worked – this often ran into complications when the Doctor came along for one because he really had a motor mouth.

She had expected to see the Doctor in here, chattering on with his glasses on and lips pursed, but he wasn't there – wasn't in the room either.

She had asked the analysts about that and they hadn't seen him.

Strange.

She had mentioned it to Jake (to the annoyance of the analysts) and he shrugged, reckoning he might have gone to work on his little project – whatever that was. A small bubble of annoyance rippled at the mention at that and she began to devise a plan to get it out of him – wine, sex and a late night dinner in that order seemed like a good plan.

Those thoughts were soon pushed from her mind though as she listened to the Janus'ka speak. Their voices were beautiful once they got going – like listening to a new music genre and slowly being consumed by it. They just flowed, mispronouncing here and there with those strange accents that she couldn't place but even those mistakes sounded lyrical but deep; like listening to Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman in some orgasmic mix. All it took was for a few minutes and then the sound set in, resonating.

It was a pity in a way when the meeting ended. The Janus'ka headed out and Rose looked over at Jake, jerking her head towards the door. She made her way out, him following.

"What do you think?" she asked, coming out in a side hallway, not used by guests or the public.

"Nice enough," noted Jake, leaning against the wall, "Those voices though … damn,"

"Yeah,"

"I mean they were just … lovely,"

"Like some orgasmic mix of Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman,"

"Alan who?"

Rose briefly mourned for this universe's lack of Alan Rickman.

"Never mind," she said. She shook her head, leaning against the wall, "I should go find the Doctor,"

"He'll turn up,"

"In the wee hours of the night," said Rose wryly, "Weird he wasn't there though – he would've had a lot of useful insights into the exchange program,"

"It seemed pretty straightforward to me," shrugged Jake.

Rose nodded. Yeah, it really did. Have the aliens come in and claim to be from Australia, shuttle them around – and then … she blinked, running her mind over the discussion except her mind pulled only that beautiful mix that carried her soul …

"Jake," she said slowly, "How long was that meeting?"

He glanced at his watch. "It went for two hours."

"And we decided what exactly?"

"That they would …" He blinked. "Something isn't right?"

"Yeah,"

"But what?"

Rose ran her hand through her hair. "Let's go find Pete,"


AN: Any thoughts: good, bad, inbetween, are very much appreciated especially on characters etc but anything is helpful! I love to hear your thoughts :)

Also I hope that you enjoyed this once again.