Torchwood Academy:

Higher Education

Episode 1

Survival of the Fittest

(Part 1)

by That Long-Haired Creepy Guy

It was supposed to have been Park Vale High School.

Strangely, this was the coherent thought swimming through his brain at the moment, that he'd been down for Park Vale but ended up here instead. Everything else was was a mess at the moment, though.

His name was Leon. Of that, he was more or less certain. Leon Cameron, to be specific. He was seventeen years old, in sixth form, and preparing to take his A-levels. He had peach skin that was tinted a light brown, possibly from a tan, and his stomach was about to unload its contents. The last one occurred before Leon could point his face all the way away, leaving him with a mess on his uniform trousers. Thankfully, the regurgitation hadn't gone on long due to his stomach being mostly empty. He couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten.

Apparently, it had been a while, or a very light meal.

His stomach refused to settle, even after emptying its contents. Reluctantly, Leon forced himself up off the dirty ground. He was...

A teenager, that's what. He was a terrified kid alone on a rainy night in an alley where there was almost no light to see by. He couldn't remember exactly where he lived, or what his parents' faces looked like. The fear that gripped him shook his soul, but he made himself stay calm. Stupid kid or not, he was not going to panic now.

Thinking this gave him some resolve. Leon attempted a few tentative steps, found his legs to be in working order, and headed for what looked like the mouth of the alley. It didn't feel like any part of his body was broken. There were no traces of blood, and a quick brush through his hair with his fingers confirmed he hadn't hit his head. Overall, aside from the nausea and stubborn refusal of his stomach to calm down, he seemed to be doing fine.

Which, the more he thought about it, made even less sense. This kind of amnesia didn't come out of nowhere without a cause. There had to have been some reason for him waking up in a dark alley with fractured memories.

Leon realized he'd been standing in the mouth of the alley under the rain for several minutes now, thinking to himself. He must have looked ridiculous, except there was no one around to pass judgment on him. Beyond the alley was a street, and across from that lay the front grounds of what looked like a school building.

Instinct took over, and his feet strode purposefully over to the front gates. They were locked, but something made him turn left the moment he reached them. Along the brick wall that fenced the grounds in he walked. Leon had no idea where he was going, but his feet appeared to think otherwise, and he wasn't feeling up to an argument at the moment. When he came to the corner, Leon followed the wall to the far back. There, he stopped in front of a suspicious green door. There was nothing remotely strange about it. The door was just a slab with a knob on it, easily missed in the darkness of the night rain.

Leon reached out for the knob automatically, then hesitated. Thoughts raced through his mind, to where he felt dizzy on top of nauseated. How did he know what was behind this door?

Defiantly, Leon grabbed for the knob and turned. It was unlocked, and swung open with the weight of itself. Leon let go, and dove inside out of the rain just as an ominous flash of lightning struck overhead. Reaching back, he closed the heavy slab before shaking himself off. It was cold, and a dull hum somewhere off in the distance told him that an air unit was blowing.

"Now what?" Leon wondered, looking down at his soaked shoes.

Taking a step forward, he moved along through the deserted, dark corridor. His shoes squeaked against the tile floor, and it sounded as though people from miles away ought to have heard. No one came, though, and as Leon approached a set of stairs on his right, he automatically turned to climb them.

When he reached the third floor, Leon turned left again, making his way to a room on the far end of the hall. At number eight, he stopped, and reached for the knob.

It opened at his touch, and a young woman jerked up, startled by the sound. Her eyes narrowed, and she at him angrily before getting up off the bed. "Where have you been?" she demanded. "The headmaster is going to skin us both alive."

Leon found himself being pulled forward inside the room. The strange girl gave a quick look out through the door before ducking back inside.

"You're soaking wet," she noted, still fuming. "You must have left a trail all the way up here. There's no way anyone is going to overlook that."

There was something about her face. Leon felt like he ought to know her, but remembering her name was like trying to grab at air. Something else seemed odd, and it actually took a moment for Leon to realize he was standing in his dormitory room, and a girl was there with him.

Another glance around made him cringe. Calling it a dorm might have been stretching things. The place looked more like a prison cell, yet as Leon stared down at the cot that he was sure had been his bed, something flashed through his head. It was only for a second, but that was more than long enough for his face to burn bright red.

"Stacy," he blurted out.

The girl frowned. "Why are you calling me that now?" she wondered. "And what are you doing just standing there in those wet clothes? Take them off."

Leon went rigid. "Um," he began, unsure of where to even start with that statement.

"Well?" she demanded.

Leon noticed then that the girl was wearing a strange sort of white uniform. It looked nothing at all like something a school would issue, and the front appeared to unzip all the way down for quick, easy removal.

"You should have been out of your uniform hours ago," she was saying, looking him over as if checking for damage. "Go ahead and take it off. We haven't got all night."

"Um," Leon said again, sounding like a very bored parrot.

The girl called Stacy looked at him closely in the face. "Is everything alright?" she asked suddenly. "You're acting very queer, you know."

"I'm..." Leon began, clearing his throat. "I woke up in the alley across the street. Something must have happened. My head feels funny, and I'm having some trouble remembering things."

Stacy looked alarmed now. "Were you attacked?" she demanded. "This is serious. Do you remember anything before waking up?"

"No," he said quickly, shivering now. "Is there a towel in here I can dry off with? I'm getting really cold."

"Towels are kept in the bathing area," she said, "which you should know already. Whatever happened must have really scrambled you."

Leon sneezed. "It feels like it."

Stacy thought hard for a moment, then went to the door. "Start getting undressed," she ordered him. "I'll see if I can't slip into the shower area and slip out a towel or two so you can dry off. After that, though, we should get started."

Before Leon could think to ask what she meant they should get started on, Stacy was gone. Even with her gone, Leon hesitated getting changed, but the shivering was getting tiresome. His whole body ached a bit now. Sighing, he began pulling the soaked uniform off his body one piece at a time.

There was no mirror in the room for him to look at, so Leon looked down at himself as he stood in the middle of the cell-like room, naked. His body was toned like a swimmer's, with special definition in his abdomen. Apparently, he was big into sit-ups and chest presses. He was also uncircumcised, a fact that felt odd for some reason.

The door burst open, startling him, but it was only Stacy returning with two towels. Leon started to cover himself, but she tossed the towels his way as though he weren't even there. Leon caught them, wondering for a moment if he should be offended, then decided drying off was more important. He thought he heard a zip sound as he turned to dry the rainwater from his body.

"Are you still haven't trouble remembering?" he heard Stacy ask from behind.

"Kinda," he answered. "I remember my name, and other bits and pieces, but there are these gaps in my head, like black patches."

"So you don't remember what happened in the alley?" she pressed, getting right to the point. "You don't know what happened, or how you got like this?"

"No," he said, feeling frustrated as the last drop of water was wiped away.

Stacy grew quiet for a moment. "You'll have to report to the head nurse first thing in the morning," she decided, her footsteps echoing in the room as she came up behind him. "If you aren't badly damaged, though, we should get on with it."

"Get on with wh...?"

Leon's words froze in his throat as he turned around. Stacy was standing directly behind him, as naked as he was.

"Procreating," she said impatiently, before lunging at him.

"Wait, I..."

Anything else Leon might have said in protest was lost as Stacy's lips locked with his. Blood rushed from his head to other areas as they fell back onto his bed.

"Hurry," she hissed into his ear. "I've been waiting all evening for you to show up. Go ahead and fuck me!"

{} {} {} {} {}

"Excuse me, my friend needs to speak with the school nurse."

Ianto Jones pivoted on his heel, plastering a warm, boyish smile to his face before he was even halfway around, and stared over the counter at the young woman. The friend she'd spoken of, he assumed, was being held to her side by what looked like a very strong grip.

"Right," he said, looking from her to the boy next to her. "Nurse Gita. She is in with another student at the moment. Is it serious?"

"I think so," she answered for him again.

Ianto looked from her to the boy, who reluctantly nodded. "I see. In that case, why don't you have a seat. It might be a little while, so unless you really need to stay with him, it would be best if your friend went back to class."

"I'm good," he told her, pulling free at last. "You go on ahead."

The girl looked less than happy, but consented. "Come and find me once you're done," she told him, and it sounded like an order. "We've got to get this sorted out before T-day."

Ianto couldn't resist smiling as the young lady stormed off. "Girlfriend?" he ventured.

"Sure looks that way," he mumbled, moving over to a nearby chair near the door marked nurse's office.

Remembering that he was supposed to be posing as a receptionist, Ianto began busying himself with the young man's file.

"Your name is Leon Cameron, correct?" he asked, looking up at Leon again, who nodded politely. "It says here that you're from America originally."

Leon took a long moment answering. "Right," he said, though it sounded to Ianto like he wasn't so sure.

"That's interesting," Ianto commented. "How long have you lived here?"

"A while," the boy answered evasively.

"Well, I hope you're enjoying yourself so far," Ianto replied, taking the hint. "I'm going to give Nurse Gita a ring so she knows there's another student waiting."

Ianto heard the boy mutter something. It sounded like, 'some parts', but it was too low for him to be sure. A thought occurred to him as he picked up the PA phone, and Ianto paused.

"Would you like me to tell her what the problem is, or is this something you'd rather discuss with her?"

"With her," Leon answered at once.

"Right."

Before he could press the button for Gita's office, the door swung open. "Anyone else?" the nurse asked, as a pale girl with dark hair brushed past impatiently.

Nurse Gita's eyes fell on Leon. "Mr. Cameron, is it?" she asked, before turning toward Ianto. "Is he here for me?"

"Yes," Ianto answered, smiling. "Go right on, then."

No sooner had the two disappeared behind the office door, Ianto's cell phone rang. "Hello?" he asked, after peeking out through the receptionist office window to ensure the coast was clear.

"Ianto," a rich, smooth voice on the other end said.

Ianto felt things inside of him grow warm and quiver. "Jack," Ianto said, a little breathlessly. "It's... ah, it's good to see... hear your voice."

"Did you think I wasn't coming in today?" Jack asked from the other line. "A teacher's duty is to be on time."

"Vastra and Bray said something about needing help with a bug downtown," he replied by way of an explanation, hoping his voice wasn't shaking anymore. "I thought you'd be giving them a hand."

"False alarm," Jack replied, nonchalantly. "Turns out, we aren't being invaded by an alien horde. It was just a mutant. Probably something to do with the Rift. How goes the undercover work on your end?"

"Same as always," Ianto said, glancing over toward the nurse's office, which was still shut tight. "Speaking of that, though, do you remember the student we had to RetCon yesterday? The one that saw us interrogating the gym teacher."

"I remember you were quick with a needle," Jack teased, his voice growing deeper. "Never knew you could move so fast. We may have to test that under different circumstances later."

Ianto tried not to smile, and failed. "He came into the office this morning with a girl, wanting to see the nurse."

"And?"

Ianto thought for a moment before speaking, wrestling with how to convince Jack of what he suspected.

"It's probably just the RetCon," he admitted, fingering the ornamental pen in his front pocket while he spoke. "But there was something different about him. He looked less sure of himself, like he was dazed or something."

"You just described most of my students," Jack retorted playfully. "And that includes Wren and Lisa. No offense."

Ianto felt a pang at the mention of the name. "No problem," he said stiffly, feeling himself withdraw on the inside. "I was wondering about the boy, though. His file lists him as an American named Leon Cameron. What if..."

"...he's one of them?" Jack finished.

"According to his file, he's a board here at the school," Ianto said, flipping through the papers quickly to confirm. "And we don't know exactly what's going on up on the top floor, or what they're giving the students."

"Synthesized hormones and Axpotil."

Ianto hesitated, waiting for Jack to explain. "Tosh did a scan on a food sample I took from the cafeteria," Jack continued, enjoying the bemused look he knew must be fixed on Ianto's face now.

"And," Ianto tried, before giving up. "Sorry, what does that mean?"

"The hormones are designed to affect specific areas of the body," Jack said. "Like the reproductive glands. Axpotil is a rare drug used in the Dar'thia system. Or, it will be in about twenty or so years. It lowers the inhibitions. The kids are only being given one or two micrograms. Any more than that and their inhibitor impulses would stop firing."

It took a moment before Ianto caught up to Jack's train of thought, more from revulsion than anything else.

"Someone in the school is drugging the students with reproductive hormones," he said slowly. "And an alien substance that essentially makes you act stupid."

"Correct."

The frown on Ianto's face made him look as though he'd bitten into something sour. "Why?" he wondered.

"Reproduction," Jack explained. "It makes the universe go round."

Ianto's face turned slightly red at that. "Of course," he said. "How silly of me. And I thought I was confused before you explained that part."

"The kids are being exploited," Jack said, his words laced with anger as each step he took brought him closer to the school. "Someone is doing experiments on them, possibly for breeding. It might explain why the dormitory level is so heavily restricted."

Ianto was at a loss for words. "This is just... wrong," he managed at last.

"Keep up the good work," Jack told him. "You're my eyes and ears in that part of the school. Also, make sure you keep a close watch on that kid. If he starts to remember anything, we might have a problem."

"I will," Ianto said. "When will you be arriving?"

A knock at the door made Ianto look up. Jack was sticking his head into the receptionist area, smiling like a cat that ate the cream.

"Will now do?" he asked, smirking. "I thought we might squeeze in some fun time of our own before the bell rings."

Ianto's face went slack as the tall, handsome man with wavy brown hair strode across the room toward him. "Jack, this is a school," Ianto managed to say.

"So?" Jack demanded. "We do this kind of thing all the time in a school."

"At the Academy, yes," Ianto replied, hoping to maintain some tiny shred of decorum as Jack leaned purposefully over the counter toward him. "I remember. It's just that..."

Jack silenced Ianto by seizing the front collar of his suit and yanking him over the counter for a kiss.

"Alright then," Jack complied. "You can be the teacher this time, and I'll be the student. Now, let's go someplace more private. I need a spanking."

{} {} {} {} {}

Leon shivered as Nurse Gita brushed her fingers expertly over his throat, checking the glands there for swelling. Her hands felt almost unnaturally cold, and each new bit of contact his skin made with them sent shivers coursing through his body.

"You may have had a bump on the head," she mused, peering through the thick mop of hair, trying to see the scalp underneath. "It was raining yesterday evening, so falling and hitting your skull cap isn't out of the question. All in all, I'd say it will pass in another day or so."

Leon frowned. "Shouldn't I see a doctor?" he asked. "Or go to the hospital?"

"No need." Nurse Gita sounded bored as she made a notation on her clipboard. "Even if it isn't temporary, your memories will return."

Before Leon could open his mouth, she raised her head back up. "I suggest you go back to class," she said curtly.

"Right," said Leon, fuming on the inside. "That's certainly more important."

"Agreed," Nurse Gita replied. "Off you go, then."

Leon gathered his books and left the office, letting the door slam shut on his way out. For a moment, he stood outside in the receptionist area, still furious at having been given the brush off.

"Weird," he muttered to himself, glancing around.

The man from before, the receptionist, was gone now. Still feeling put out about the whole mess, and somewhat clammy from the nurse's cold hands, Leon decided to find Stacy in the hopes that she could help. Thinking of her made the memory of last night rush back to him. Leon felt a blush creep up his neck as he stumbled out into the hallway, closing this door much more quietly than before.

Was Stacy his girlfriend?

The man behind the counter thought so, and by all accounts from last night, Leon was having a difficult time disputing the fact. It dawned on him that a co-ed dormitory in a sixth level school was strange by itself.

They hadn't used protection, something Leon had already thought of earlier this morning. Mentioning it to Stacy had earned him a wide-eyed look of shock, like the idea was beyond her. That, he guessed, was why she'd been so determined to get him to the nurse's office before class. Still, it ought to have mattered to her. The last thing either of them needed was for her to turn up pregnant.

At least, that was what Leon assumed he should feel.

Another spot of dizziness hit Leon as the thought bounced around his head like a rubber ball. As he staggered, a faint grunt sounded over the squeaking of his shoes against the tile floor. Following that was a low moan, which came from a closed door off to his left. Righting himself, Leon turned toward it curiously. Before he had time to think about it, his hand was reaching for the knob.

The door opened out, forcing Leon to crack it much wider than he'd planned to. Any thoughts about getting caught were forced out of his head as his eyes landed on the two figures at the other end of the empty classroom.

Leon recognized one immediately as the receptionist. The other was a tall man with brown hair and very broad shoulders. Both were naked, and the taller of the two was currently slamming his hips forward into the receptionist sprawled out flat on his back atop one of the desks. A smile almost like a leer spread over the broad man as he leaned forward to press his mouth hard into the receptionist's lips.

Leon's cock sprang to life at the sight of the two men coupling together like there was no tomorrow. That, he mused, was most likely not a good sign.

Something like lightning flashed through Leon's brain, and he remembered that the sweaty man currently atop the school aid was a teacher, one named Harkness. Backing away, Leon shut the door as quietly as he could, then took off back the direction he'd come. The front doors were ahead of him, and coming closer. Leon burst through them, taking several deep breaths of thick London air as his feet skid to a stop on the pavement.

"Okay, keep calm," he said to himself. "Even though talking to yourself at this point is probably a bad sign. You saw two blokes having a shag in one of the empty classrooms."

Leon took a deep breath. "Big deal, right?"

No one replied, something that Leon was grateful for. "Right," he answered instead. "Time to go back to class before Stacy comes and hunts me down."

Trying to ignore the erection lingering in his trousers, Leon turned toward the doors with the intent of going back inside. As he did, however, something made him stop dead in his tracks. The sky up above was overcast, but enough sunlight peeked down through the clouds to show his reflection. Leon squinted as he stepped tentatively up to the glass front doors. Though it wasn't perfect, he could see enough of himself to know something was very wrong.

His hair. It was lighter.

Not quite blond or anything. It wasn't that it had somehow bleached itself within the last twelve minutes, but he was sure the locks hanging down around his face this morning had been dark brown. Now, they looked closer to the color of wet beach sand.

Gently, as if afraid that it would burn him, Leon brushed his fingertips through the strands. The hair was silky to the touch instead of the slightly dry texture he recalled from that morning. Shaking his head, Leon watched as it flew around his face like something from a shampoo commercial. Darker strands closer to the shade he remembered having lurked underneath, giving it a layered appearance.

"What...?"

Leon couldn't even finish the question. Fear clenched his stomach as he studied his face closely. The changes were different, subtle, but they were there. It looked like his eyes, which had been brown, were now flaked with moss green. The nose centering his face seemed larger, and the eyes were farther apart. Overall, it wasn't that big a difference, but Leon knew that a person's features did not change so fast for no reason.

"What's happening to me?"

Leon broke into a run, hoping to get as far from his changing reflection as he could. His feet beat against the pavement as he raced along the front of the building toward the corner, where he remembered students sometimes lingered between classes. It seemed like a great place to hide and collect himself before the bell rang. At the moment, all Leon cared about was waking up from the nightmare he seemed to be trapped in.

On the side of the school building was a railing guarding a set of concrete steps leading down to the basement. Leon slowed to a stop as he reached the area where the railing began. Not from exhaustion, though; his body was racing as though it had been built for heavy exertion. His eyes had caught too figures standing at the bottom in front of the doors. Something screamed in his brain now, ordering him to stop them.

Instead, Leon waited.

"Thirty-seven thousand possible combinations," a young black boy with long cornrows said to the equally dark-skinned girl next to him. "Quite the challenge for me."

"For you, yes," the girl said derisively in a cold, empty voice. "For me, however, it is no challenge at all."

The young man had something attached to his arm. Leon squinted, and saw it was some sort of metal casing, shaped like a cylinder, but more curved and wider at the end. He was holding it up to a metal plate beside the basement doors. A blue screen was hovering in mid-air above the metal device, only it was see-through. It looked almost like a hologram from a TV program.

Leon watched as the girl nudged her friend out of the way before pressing her palm to the plate next to the door. "It is triple-encrypted," she told the young man watching beside her. "There are several security protocols, and a back-up solely for detecting infiltration. If I overload the system, it will most likely trigger an alarm, thus compromising our reason for being here."

"Yeah," the young man said, as the screen on the metal arm device flickered away. "I could have figured that last part out on my own, but thanks anyway."

"Your gratitude is unnecessary," she replied curtly.

Leon stood where he was as the two continued working, oblivious to his presence for the moment.

"This level of security is unnecessary for such a building," she concluded after a moment. "Captain Harkness's suspicions were valid."

"The disappearances were enough for me," the young man said, studying the panel closely now. "A whole level of student boarders don't just up and move, never to be heard from again, five different times."

"Seven," the girl corrected.

"Seven times, then."

Leon started to back away, and felt his shoe crunch against something on the ground. The noise was apparently loud enough to get the two's attention. The girl whirled around and looked up at him first, followed by the boy. Startled, Leon took off.

Leon didn't bother looking to see if he was being followed. His feet flew across the pavement like a track star's. Rounding a corner, he shot for a spot near the back as the sound of footfalls echoed behind him further back. Whoever the two were, they'd apparently decided to give chase. Gritting his teeth, Leon pushed his body further, turning on new steam. Chancing a glance back, he saw that the boy was falling behind, but the girl was fast on his heels.

Two more turns, and Leon still couldn't lose her. Veering sharply to the right, he took off for a side gate someone had left open. Once outside school grounds, Leon worked his way toward the street in front of the school. If nothing else, should the girl catch up to him, it would mean doing something to him in front of eyewitnesses.

Still, she didn't let up. Against his better judgment, Leon darted across the street as soon as he reached the main gates. Cars honked, and several people shouted curses his way, but the unexpected change in direction accomplished what Leon had hoped. The girl was fast, but not as agile as he. By the time she'd changed directions, Leon was already breaking ahead of her through traffic. The cars slowed her down further while Leon was able to make it to the other side without becoming street pizza.

It was the same alley he'd woken up in yesterday.

The sound of a bus roaring past the mouth of the alley filled the narrow space. Impulse filled his body, and his legs pushed him away from the ground. Leon found himself facing toward the ground as the girl raced past, not bothering to look up.

The alley emptied into a different street on the other side. Leon watched her disappear, then waited to see if the other one would come along. No one did, so he let go.

Except that he wasn't holding on to anything. His fingertips clung to the brick siding of the building like they were coated in glue. Panicking, Leon pushed away, and felt himself fall. He should have been a stain on the ground, but instinct once against seized him a second before his head could greet the asphalt.

Leon's feet sailed over his head as he cut a flip, landing in a crouch.

His fingers were still sticky. They clung to the ground beneath his feet for a moment, before he finally yanked hard enough to disengage them. Grime clung to the surface, digging into the groves that formed his fingerprints.

"Okay," he said softly under the noise of traffic behind him. "I'm pretty sure that's not normal."

{} {} {} {} {}

"Hi, honey. I'm home, and we brought you a present."

Jack's voice carried through the vast expanse of the mansion observatory that served as his office. Ianto, Wren, and Lisa entered the space behind him, and followed Jack across the room over to the small corner set up as Tosh's personal space. Toshiko Sato raised up from the row of computer screens in front of her and smiled. Tosh sat at a circular desk that was covered from top to bottom in postcards from different places all over the world.

"I guess this means you can't say he forgets your birthday," Ianto muttered dryly as he and the others came to a stop beside Jack, who was standing in front of Sato's desk now.

"Don't make fun," Jack bit back, giving Ianto a look. "Tosh loves it when I bring her samples from our adventures."

"I hope this isn't a Torchwood thing that women pick up on," Wren said worriedly. "I don't know enough about mucus, and it was hard enough memorizing the sames of different flowers."

"I believe your hair is slimy enough that a woman wouldn't care," Lisa commented, giving Wren a once-over as she spoke. "Assuming your theory has credence."

"Enough, you two," Ianto ordered, though Jack was smirking at their banter.

"Tosh," Jack said, turning his attention back to their computer expert. "I'd like for you to analyze a sample we found earlier today near the Tower Hamlet Sixth Level Academy."

Tosh accepted the sample from Jack without a word using one hand. Her other hand was flying across the keyboard in front of her, typing at inhuman speed. "What have you got for me this time?" she asked, as a slot on one of the towers opened to accept the sample dish. "I hope it's not another Huon energy wild goose chase."

Jack's smirk faded briefly. "Not this time," he replied as Tosh placed the Petri dish into the slot.

"Good," Tosh said, oblivious to Jack's shift in mood, "because the last one gave my system a nasty virus. I had to spend the whole day disinfecting."

"First time that's ever happened," Jack muttered.

"I have no doubt of that," Ianto chimed in.

The slot retracted back into Tosh's console, who refrained from commenting further. "Does he feel the need to flirt with everyone?" Lisa asked Ianto bluntly as Tosh's system went to work. "Or is it only when I'm around."

"I think you're just jealous that he doesn't bring you anything for your computer slots," Wren whispered to Lisa, who gave him a withering look in answer.

"I have analyzed the sample," Tosh interjected. "The substance is a bio-adhesive."

"And?" Jack pressed.

"The computer is already searching through the Torchwood archives," Tosh informed, as numerous alien lifeforms flashed across the screens. "Done," she declared after a moment, before frowning. "This can't be right. There are no matches."

No one spoke. "Alright," Jack tried, breaking the silence. "So where did it come from?"

"According to my analysis, there is a fifty-two percent chance that the adhesive substance is of alien origin," said Tosh, squinting at the screen closest to her. "The scan indicates traces of human DNA, however, so I can't be certain."

Everyone but Jack frowned. "An alien hybrid," Jack offered, wearing an intrigued look.

"That's probable," said Tosh, as her fingers flew across the keyboard again. "The human DNA is easy to identify, but I am having no luck pin-pointing the exact species or origin of the unidentified half. According to my data search, however, it is highly unlikely that the remaining fifty-two percent is located anywhere on earth."

A light went off behind Jack's eyes. "That's it," he said, turning to Ianto, then Wren and Lisa. "That's the answer. Alien hybrids."

"Sorry," Ianto said, frowning, "but what's the answer exactly? Tosh just said that she hadn't identified the alien DNA yet."

"And you repeated her statement," Lisa threw in coldly.

"Remember the food?" Jack said, ignoring Lisa for the moment. "The synthetic hormones and the inhibitor shut-down drug? They're breeding half-human hybrids at that school."

Wren's eyes almost doubled in size. "You're serious?"

Lisa didn't seemed fazed at all by this bit of news. "That would explain the sealed-off dormitory level," she said to Jack. "And the unnecessary security. The dorm rooms are their breeding ground."

"They're letting students shag on school grounds?" The look of horror on Wren's face quickly gave way to one of fury. "How come I can't get enrolled there?"

Before Ianto or Jack could reply, Wren flew forward into the hardwood floor thanks to a casual smack to the back of the head courtesy of Lisa. Ianto frowned as Wren let out a low groan.

"Lisa," he chided.

"Sorry," she said, not sounding like it in the least.

"Help Wren off the floor," Jack ordered her, then added as she knelt down, "And try not to hurt him in the process."

"Right," Ianto added. "I don't think he could survive another blow to the head."

"Or another landing on the floor," said Tosh, watching as the prongs on Wren's robotic hand twitched.

"Let me go. I'm fine," Wren insisted as he stood up, pushing Lisa away.

"Hold still, Wren," Tosh told him as a bright light encased him momentarily.

Wren froze as a diagram of the human male skull, flashing bright red in the back, appeared on one of Tosh's computer monitors. "You have mild swelling in the rear cranial region," she informed him, studying the results of her scan. "I suggest you pay a visit to the infirmary at once."

"Right then," Wren muttered. "I'd better go before the cyber-woman does any more damage to me."

"Try not to make any jokes at Novice Thomasina," Ianto warned. "You wouldn't want her scratching you on top of everything else."

Wren groaned at the thought. "I just hope she's cleared up her hairball problem," he grunted, before stumbling out the door.

"Lisa," Jack said, bringing them back on track once Wren was gone. "You said you found the sample in the alley."

"And on the wall," she added, staring unflinchingly back at Jack again. "It was in both places."

"That was the same area where the boy I RetConned yesterday wandered off toward," Ianto said. "Could it be a coincidence?"

"The universe is full of coincidences," Jack replied.

"It was the alley where I chased the student," Lisa informed. Her eyes deliberately avoided looking Ianto directly in the face when she spoke.

"Where you lost the student," Ianto corrected, noticing.

Lisa did look at him then. "Correct," she said stiffly. "Where I lost the student after chasing him into the alley."

"So you lose sight of him, then find a sticky residue of unknown alien origin on your way back through," Jack finished. "A student who is most likely the result of an alien-human hybrid breeding program."

"Would the RetCon have worked on him?" Ianto asked as he remembered the shocked expression on the boy's face.

"No idea," Jack said. "But I think it would be best if we got into the top floor of that school, and the sooner the better."

"Understood," said Lisa. "I can infiltrate the compound's sealed basement in short order."

Tosh, Ianto, and Jack all looked surprised.

"If you could do that, why didn't you earlier today?" Jack wondered.

"I was told to remain undercover," she told him dryly. "The door would have been easy enough to tear off the hinges, but there was a high probability of it setting off several alarms, and giving our positions away."

Jack and Ianto looked at each other. "Of course," Jack said. "Good call on that one."

"Anything else would have been illogical," Lisa said, giving Jack a once-over. "Just like your jacket."

"Hey!" Jack said sharply. "Don't diss the jacket. It's a classic."

"I find your taste in fashion quite bizarre."

"Lisa," Ianto warned. "Don't be rude."

"I think you should give her detention," Jack advised, suddenly wearing his playful expression again.

Ianto's face fell. "Please don't help me right now," he begged.

"That is not necessary," she said, turning around. "I have no need to be detained, and I suspect Ianto would rather be put in detention with you, anyway."

Ianto watched, wearing a pained expression, as Lisa left, closing the door behind her. "That was certainly an unusual metaphor," Tosh muttered to herself.

"Nice to see we're all getting along so well," Jack said ruefully.

"Must you provoke her?" Ianto demanded, looking angrily at him now. "That was very unprofessional."

"Anger is a natural human emotion," Jack countered, sitting down on the very edge of Tosh's desk. "No matter how much Lisa tries to deny it, she has anger inside of her. If we can reach that, we'll be one step closer to reaching her humanity."

"Or risk getting torn apart by an angry cyborg," Tosh warned, going back to her computer monitors before either of them could glare at her.

Ianto swallowed and looked back at Jack, who had a glint in his eye. "I am... grateful," he began slowly. "For what you've done... for her, for both of us. I just wish..."

"You wish things could have been different?" Jack offered.

Ianto looked back around at the door where Lisa had left. "Always," he said quietly. "Ever since the Battle of Canary Wharf, she hasn't been the same."

Ianto sighed, hearing his own words. "Lord, is that ever an understatement. I keep hoping she's still in there somewhere."

"She was converted," Jack insisted gently. "Officially, there's no going back from that. The only reason Lisa retains any of her emotions or old personality is because the Cybermen cut so many corners during her upgrade."

Ianto's lower lip trembled. "The Daleks," he said, and even to him, his voice sounded broken. "There were so many of them that the Cybermen needed more shock troops than they were able to produce."

Slowly, carefully, Jack reached out and circled his arms around Ianto's middle. Ianto didn't lean back into him, but didn't pull away either. Tosh, meanwhile, kept both eyes firmly on her monitors. She considered clearing her throat for a moment, but doubted Jack would care. Many times, the man acted as though having a private moment in front of someone was no big concern at all.

Honestly, it was like he had come from a whole other place in time.

"Her emotion inhibitor circuit was faulty," Jack was saying now. "No one had ever restored a victim of cyber conversion before, even partially. That she's here at all is a miracle by itself."

A tear rolled down Ianto's face. "You don't believe in miracles," he said, looking at Jack in an almost accusing way.

Jack pulled Ianto into him, holding the man tightly. "The universe is a miraculous place," he whispered in Ianto's ear.

Jack gave Ianto a squeeze, then turned away sharply. "Tosh," he said, making her jump. "You said that the surgery was a success. Has there been any unusual spikes in her brain activity."

Tosh's face burned read as she coughed, hoping neither Jack nor Ianto realized she'd been watching the both of them closely.

"Nothing worth mentioning," Tosh said, bringing up Lisa's file. "The program holding back her Cyberman personality is still intact. Without the emotion inhibitor, she should have full access to her memories and feelings. I still think the problem is primarily a psychological one."

Ianto swallowed the lump in his throat. "I had to drag her out of the building," he whispered softly. "All those months I hid her in my basement, I thought I was doing what was best."

Tosh stared up at Ianto sympathetically. "She kept wanting to go outside," he continued, hands shaking now. "I was terrified what might happen if somebody saw her."

"She just needs time," Tosh insisted, hoping to ease the broken look on Ianto's face somewhat. "Her real personality is still trapped inside there. If you keep at it, she'll begin emerging. It just isn't going to happen overnight."

Ianto's face all but crumbled at this. Jack went rigid as his partner on the field, and in other things, looked almost accusingly at him. Tosh, however, didn't notice. Her eyes were suddenly glued to the screen on her far right. Jack looked away from Ianto and noticed this.

"What is it, Tosh?"

"It's an intruder alert," Tosh said, showing them a screen shot taken by one of the security cameras surrounding Torchwood Academy.

Ianto and Jack both leaned in close to get a better look. "Strange," Jack said. "The perception filter should be blocking him from noticing the school as anything important."

"He looks familiar," Ianto said. "I could be wrong, but he looks like the student that was in the office earlier today."

"Could it be an equipment malfunction?" Jack asked.

"The equipment is working fine," Tosh insisted, and she sounded offended by the very idea. "There is something you might find interesting, though."

Tosh brought up a scan read-out on a different screen. "I've already run a scan," she said, pointing her finger at the results. "The trace sequences of hybrid DNA found in the bio-adhesive sample you brought me match with the DNA of our young guest perfectly."

Ianto looked at the young man on screen with renewed interest. "It's him, then?"

"My sensor readings don't lie," Tosh said proudly. "The Tower Hamlet Sixth Level student is the source of the bio-adhesive secretion."

"And now they've found us," Jack said grimly.

"I have already alerted Lisa and Madame Vastra," Tosh assured them as both men headed for the door. "Both are on their way to intercept right now, and Madame Vastra is bringing Myfanwy along with her."

"Thank you, Tosh," Jack said on his way out the door. "Keep monitoring the situation. I want to know everything that happens until we get there."

"I hope Myfanwy doesn't eat him before we have a chance to interrogate," Ianto said as the door shut.

Jack gave Ianto a look. "Let's hope Madame Vastra remembered to feed her, then."

{} {} {} {} {}

Leon peered around the side of the building at the Torchwood Academy. The place looked ancient, like something made over a century ago. The sight of the mansion made his skin crawl. Or rather, what little of it he could see.

The topmost portion was the only real part that was visible over the high brick wall surrounding it. Sharp spikes stuck upward on top of that, adding to the ominous vibe surrounding the place. It was hard to believe this was some kind of school.

Leon was still trying to rationalize being there. A part of him wanted to run home, to call his parents back in America. He wanted someone to explain what was happening to him. After escaping the girl that had been chasing him, Leon had sneaked back out of the alley, narrowly avoiding the boy that had been chasing him along with the girl. From behind a parked cab, he'd watched as they reconvened. Several minutes passed, with the duo just standing there idly watching the cars go past, before the Tower Hamlet receptionist showed up with another man in tow.

It was the bloke that had been shagging the receptionist in the empty classroom before. The sight of him so much closer sent shivers down Leon's spine. Against his better judgment, he'd followed them. It hadn't been easy, mind, since the four had left the area in a black SUV of some kind. Surprisingly, his body was able to keep up well enough. Apparently, whatever he was changing into, it was quite spry in addition to sticking to walls.

It had been easy enough. Too easy, really, and the more Leon thought about it, the more he wanted to see Stacy. Looking at the Torchwood place was hard, like his eyes wanted desperately to turn away. He wanted to hear from his parents back in America, and feel Stacy's arms around him. He wanted her to hear about what was happening to him, and hope she didn't think him mad.

Something wavered through the air, a peculiar scent brought by a sudden shift in the breeze that was blowing. Leon started to turn, and felt a hand grab him by the throat. The grip was like iron, and to his great shock, Leon felt himself lifted up off the ground.

The young black girl from before was looking up at him now, wearing a bored look on her face as the life was slowly squeezed out of him. Leon's body went rigid as what felt like electricity shot through him. The pain made his head scream.

It was over almost as quickly as it had began. Amazingly, he was still alive, and hadn't passed out.

"That would have disabled an ordinary human," she said coldly. "You clearly are not that. Adjust shock levels accordingly and discharge again."

Leon's eyes flew open. Bringing his feet up, he shoved them as hard as he could down at the girl, freeing himself. Her fingers slipped off his throat, breaking the hold she had on him, and leaving him to fall. Before he hit the ground, Leon managed to right himself, and landed in a crouched position.

"Maybe another time," he said, leaping back away from her.

Leon charged for the wall separating the Torchwood Academy, and jumped into it with his fingers splayed out like a frog's. The tips gripped at the gaps between the layers for a moment, before slipping.

"Oh, come on," Leon pleaded as the girl's footsteps approached him from behind. "Cut me this one break and work already!"

In answer, he felt a slight tingling in the tips before they held in place. Thrilled, Leon pushed himself further up with his legs, crawling toward the row of sharp-looking spikes as the girl came to a stop down below him on the ground.

Leon smiled down at her as he came to the top. "Better luck next time, then," he called out. "Bet you didn't see this one coming."

Leon's smile quickly became a frown as the girl's face lifted up off her skull. A metallic one with glowing eyes stared coldly at him while the face slid up on top of her head like some kind of cap. An antennae sprang up behind each of her ears, coming together to form a sort of half-square that framed the upper part of her head.

The girl pushed off the ground and flew past Leon, landing on top of the wall a few feet from where he clung.

Leon gulped. "Okay, I didn't see that one coming."

Something sprang out of the girl's right forearm. There was just enough time for Leon to register it as some type of a weapon; a laser blaster, though his mind was racing too fast to wonder how he knew that. Leon pushed away from the wall, allowing himself to fall back as the blast flew past where he'd been a second ago.

"Or that," he said, landing with a back-flip back on the ground.

Something screeched high overhead, getting his attention. Leon looked up as a figure swooped overhead. It looked like a giant bird, but as the thing came close, Leon's jaw dropped in horror as the pterodactyl closed in on him.

The creature's claws dug into his flesh through the material of his school uniform. Leon felt himself yanked from the earth into the air, and thrashed about helplessly.

"Let go of me," he demanded. "You oversized chicken. Go fall in a deep-fat fryer somewhere."

To his surprise, the beast did precisely that. Leon gasped as he felt gravity resume its hold over his body. Dropping like a stone to earth, he managed to right himself as the ground rushed up to him. For the second time that day, Leon managed to land on his feet. On autopilot, he rolled forward to alleviate some of the strain on his knees.

The shadow of the pterodactyl passed overhead as he stood up on his feet again. The robot girl was coming close, having dismounted off the wall. The blaster built into her arm was charged, and pointing at his chest.

Leon started to move, but froze when he felt cold, sharp steel brush ever so slightly against his neck.

"It will be best if you did not move," a woman's voice hissed. "I am ever so hungry, and would hate to deprive Myfanwy of her own prize."

Leon blinked. "Who?"

The woman was just outside his line of sight. As the robot girl approached, she pointed upward just as the pterodactyl made yet another pass.

"Myfanwy," Leon said, feeling like the world had officially gone mad. "You named a pterodactyl 'Myfanwy'. How is there a pterodactyl flying around Canary Wharf in the first place?"

"It fell through the Rift."

The woman holding the katana to his throat moved just enough so that Leon could see her. "As did I," she finished, smiling at the fear in his eyes.

Leon gulped, unable to look away. She was like a reptile. Not a snake exactly, but definitely something akin to a lizard. Behind him, the robot girl was charging her arm blaster again.

"Shall I fire?" she asked coldly.

Leon's body reacted before he could think about what a bad idea moving was. In the space of a heartbeat, he was flipping backward away from the sword and out of the robot girl's line of sight. At the same time, his foot kicked out, touching the flat side of the blade and kicking it high in the air.

The lizard woman snarled, baring her teeth at him. The robot girl opened fire, but Leon ducked in time, and charged straight for the lizard. This was the last thing either of them had expected Leon to do, but at this point, he was moving strictly on adrenaline, and there wasn't time to argue. The lizard woman recoiled slightly, giving him just enough time to somersault over her shoulders and race for the grounds behind the mansion.

Leon dove into a grove of trees and out of sight. "This has got to be some kind of dream," he gasped, once his body rolled to a stop next to a hydrangea bush. "I really, really need this to be a dream right now."

"'Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.'"

The unexpected male voice was coming from overhead. Leon jumped up off the ground and searched the tree branches above him. Not far away, hanging upside down by his feet, which were shaped like a monkey's, was an incredibly stout and hairy man with a huge sloping forehead. A pair of glasses framed his face, and the Nook that he held in one hand was upside down as well.

"Edgar Allan Poe," the freakish man finished.

"Right," Leon mumbled fearfully.

Stumbling backward, Leon found himself falling through the bushes and directly into the path of a handsome-looking young man. A collar adorned his neck, marking him as a clergyman.

"Vicar Bray!"

Both of them turned to see the lizard woman and robot girl coming around the grove of trees. The robot girl had her arm blaster out, and the lizard woman had retrieved her katana.

"I was attempting to enjoy a quiet afternoon with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket," the freakish man with the sloping forehead said irritably as he stepped out of the grove into the sunlight. "What seems to be the trouble here?"

"That youngling is an intruder," the lizard woman declared.

"Please remain still while I render you unconscious," the robot girl said, aiming her blaster at his chest.

"Please, wait!" the vicar called out, but the robot girl had already fired.

Leon dodged, which only encouraged the robot girl to fire more. As he moved out of the way, he noticed a swirling purple cloud rise up from the ground and surround the vicar. A moment later, he was gone, replaced by a giant buzzing wasp.

Before Leon could run, two more women were coming up behind him, cutting off his escape.

"What's going on?" the younger of the two asked, looking across from Leon at the lizard woman. "M'lady?"

The lizard woman looked from her to the slightly older one standing at her side, and scowled in anger.

"The situation is well in hand," she insisted, and it sounded like a challenge.

"Doesn't look much that way," the older of the two said, before pulling out a revolver that looked old enough to belong in a museum.

The lizard woman scoffed. "Typical," she mocked, turning her nose up at the gun. "In a time of crisis, you turn to barbaric weapons."

The younger woman sight. "Please, Vastra," the younger begged. "There's no call for this."

The lizard woman, apparently called Vastra, looked down at once in shame. "She's right," said a new voice, this one coming from the building. "There's no reason for violence."

Leon turned to see a man dressed in a long coat coming across the grass toward him with two more in tow. The receptionist from Tower Hamlet was with him, along with the dark-skinned man with cornrows and metal arm thing. Up close, the last one looked to be about his age.

"Leon Cameron," the man in the long-coat said.

The smile on his face never quite reached his eyes, Leon saw. Up close, the chill from before returned in full force. Something about the man was dangerous. It was like Leon could smell it coming off him.

"How do you know my name?" he demanded.

The man didn't answer. "I'm Captain Jack Harkness," he said, introducing himself. "Mind telling me what you're doing here?"

Leon's eyes drifted to the young man in cornrows. He was holding his robotic hand up now, and between the prongs, the barrel of what looked to be some sort of gun was extending out.

"Welcome to Torchwood Academy," the young man named Wren said. "I hope you brought your tardy slip."