Characters: Ianto, Owen, Jack, Tosh, Gwen, Eleventh Doctor OCs.
Summary: The Torchwood Team were just minding their own business when suddenly they found themselves somewhere else.
Word Count: 1090
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Any, Human petting zoo,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
“Well this is just great, isn’t it?” Owen muttered sarcastically, ducking away from a reaching hand with a snarl.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Ianto said, leaning into the petting hands and other appendages. “Most of these people have never seen a human before, they’re bound to be curious. We’re a novelty.”
“You’re a nutter is what you are. Novelty or not, we’re humans, not puppies! This is insulting!”
“Lighten up, Owen. Just relax and go with it. You’re letting the rest of us down.”
“Like hell I will!” Owen snapped at a reaching tentacle and it jerked back.
Ianto heaved a gusty sigh. “Look, all I'm saying is, if you're going to be abducted by aliens, it could be worse.”
“I don’t see how.”
“They could’ve taken us as slaves, or to carry out experiments on us, or for an alien brothel…”
“Okay, you’re right,” Owen admitted grudgingly. “It could be worse, but that still doesn’t mean I should have to put up with… this!” He waved his arms around agitatedly.
“Jack doesn’t seem to mind, and neither do the girls. Well, not much anyway,” he added, glancing at Gwen who was blushing furiously, trying to dissuade an alien from poking curiously at her breasts.
“That’s no surprise, Jack’s probably getting off on all the attention.”
It was true, Jack was positively preening as a group of aliens reached over the fence to their enclosure, touching and patting him. He planted kisses on various limbs, garnering the alien equivalent of ooohs and ahhhhs and awwws. Unsurprisingly he was proving very popular.
“Ianto, come over here!” Jack called, beckoning, and with an apologetic smile at his own little group of admirers, he made his way over to Jack and submitted himself for more petting.
“If it bothers you so much, why don’t you go inside, or at least keep away from the fence?” Tosh asked Owen, coming over to join him. They’d thoughtfully been provided with a very cosy indoor shelter, but as the weather here, wherever they were, was pleasantly mild and dry, they hadn’t needed to use it in the few hours since they’d been plucked up and teleported out of Bute Park.
“We should stick together,” Owen said. He really didn’t want to end up separated from the rest of the team.
“Then stop being so grumpy.”
“You don’t think this is weird? We’re exhibits in a bloody petting zoo!”
“They just don’t realise we’re sentient beings rather than animals,” Tosh said calmly. “They’ll figure it out. Jack is working on communicating with them.”
“And in the meantime, we’re stuck on some alien planet, being pawed at by a bunch of aliens.”
“We’re the aliens here, Owen, and I don’t think this is a planet, more likely we’re inside a spaceship. The clouds overhead haven’t moved since we got here; they’re probably a holographic projection so we’re in a familiar environment. They obviously don’t want to frighten or upset the animals in their zoo.”
“I’m not a bloody animal!” Owen yelled.
“If you’re going to act like that, they might think you’re dangerous,” Jack said appearing alongside Owen. “Now be a nice, friendly human before you wind up being tranquillized or put to sleep.”
“They wouldn’t!” Owen sounded appalled.
“You don’t know that; are you willing to take the risk? Anyway, we shouldn’t be here much longer, I sent a message to the Doctor.” Jack held up one arm, revealing his wrist strap. “I’m sure he’ll be along soon. In the meantime, talk to the visitors and act like a civilised person, or at least a friendly creature. They’ll figure out we’re not animals eventually. I’ve tried talking to them in Galactic Standard and a few other languages, but they must be from a different part of the galaxy, or maybe another galaxy altogether.” Jack started towards the fence for another round of being petted and fussed over.
“Come on, Owen, it’s not so bad. They’re mostly gentle. Just avoid the littlest ones; they tend to pull at your hair and clothes. Not much different from human children really.” With that, Tosh abandoned Owen and went to join the other three.
One of the aliens was offering Ianto a piece of fruit. “D’you think that’s safe to eat?” he asked Jack, looking at it dubiously while alien hands and tentacles patted his hair and stroked his clothes. The aliens themselves were hairless and scaly so all the different textures of the Torchwood team seemed to fascinate them, from Tosh’s woollen cardigan to Gwen’s silky top and leather jacket, Ianto’s wool and silk blend suit, Owen’s t-shirt when he got close enough for them to touch it, and the coarser texture of Jack’s coat.
“Best not to risk it. What’s in our food trough is probably safe enough, but you know kids at zoos; they’ll feed the animals anything.”
“Good point. I could do with a drink though. All this talking at them is making my mouth dry.” Ianto wandered over to the water trough and scooped up a couple of handfuls. It smelled and tasted just like ordinary water, so he hoped that was what it was.
The Doctor arrived a couple of hours later, and with his TARDIS translating his words into the aliens’ language, was able to explain their error. There was much apologising done, along with compliments on how well and courteously most of the team, with the exception of Owen, had put up with the indignities of being mistaken for lower life forms. Apparently the space ship was travelling through the galaxies neighbouring the aliens’ own, visiting planets and temporarily transporting specimens of the various worlds’ animal species on board for the education of the ship’s inhabitants. They’d be kept for a few weeks for study and then returned to where they’d been found.
“They usually select family groups or small herds, and provide them with a suitable habitat,” the Doctor explained. “The most docile species are put in the petting zoo. You were quite a hit, one of the most popular attractions they’ve had.”
Jack was naturally unbearably smug about that.
“Well, if you’re ready, I’ll give you a lift back to the Hub.”
“Can’t be soon enough for me,” Owen grouched.
“You’re lucky I showed up when I did,” the Doctor told him cheerfully. “You were so much more aggressive than the rest of the team, your hosts were considering castration.”
“WHAT?” Owen shrieked, hands dropping to cover his groin protectively.
Jack laughed. “In future, maybe you should try being less snappy.”