[A little ficlet imagining what character James Marsters might play on Torchwood]

Jack was glad to be home. To be back in the shabby Hub, with his team, slipping back into the rhythm that he'd lost ? problem, fumbled solution, tentative resolution?the incompetence was kinda reassuring. He knew where he stood with his gang. If he turned his back for a second, they'd be up to monkey business. In Owen's case, that was literal monkey business one time?when a shuttle containing space monkeys had crashed down outside Salisbury, and Owen had started a little freak show sideline, raking in the cash after he'd discovered the little creatures could dance. Jack sometimes wondered if he should fire Owen. Something about him just wasn't right.

But could you be right and do this job? Jack certainly wasn't quite "right" himself. The Doctor had told him as much, but he knew it long before that. His body contained an energy that didn't belong to it ? a charge that came from the heart of the TARDIS, and had no place living inside a human being.

Heh. He was part-TARDIS. That blew his mind sometimes. But generally, he tried not to think about what he was or what it meant. Get on with the job, keep going forward. Take care of your people and do what you can.

They'd asked him all sorts of questions when he returned. Mostly along the lines of "where the hell have you been" and "what the bloody hell happened to the US President?". They were also very curious about the Doctor, and he gave away bits and pieces of information. Talking about the Doctor too much felt like a betrayal, though. Hadn't he said he preferred that no one knew his name? Even though everyone in the world had known it not so long ago (or perhaps it was more accurate to say, not so far in an alternative future?).

But mostly, Jack wanted to keep the Doctor to himself, even if all he had was an idea and a rag bag of memories. That was all he had, perhaps all he deserved. A mix of duty and fear kept him here in Cardiff. He couldn't abandon his people?yeah, that was part of it. He also couldn't bear the idea of travelling with the Doctor forever, and never getting what he wanted?of never being good enough, and never being natural or right, in the Time Lord's eyes. It was better to stay away than be with that man but never have?

It was fifty seven varieties of ironic that Jack, the ultimate shag machine, the universal stud, ended up crushing on one person who would almost certainly never want him back. Sure, the Doctor flirted sometimes. But he never really looked at Jack with hunger, never needed him. He was amusing to the Doctor, little more. Still. He was going to live forever. Surely he'd meet someone even half as worth it as the Doctor, one day?? But in the mean time, all he could do was get on with his life and his job.

The man from UNIT arrived about a month after Jack had returned from his travels with Martha and the Doctor. Seemed that the death of the US President had caused a big upheaval in the running of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Paranoia was at an all time high, and some of the most experienced Counter-terrorist personnel were being roped in from all over the world. In times like these, Torchwood could no longer operate under the radar, and the US-led agency had sent one of their people to "liaise" with them: i.e. to control every aspect of their lives.

The specialist was a smallish man, with a tight, compact little body, dressed in a well-cut grey suit, no tie. Maybe thirty five, forty? His hair was dark and close cropped, though less military looking than Jack would've expected. Not a soldier, but someone who'd come up through the ranks of Intelligence. Ex-CIA? Also, fantastic cheekbones, though Jack wasn't sure whether he was more lustful or envious.

When the man first arrived, taking the invisible lift without an invitation, he'd strolled into the Hub so quietly that no one had noticed his presence until he'd been standing there, watching them, for a few minutes.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," he said. "I was told you weren't exactly a crack squad."

Owen had jumped up from his computer, quickly followed by Tosh and Gwen.

"Who the fu'ck are you?" was Owen's less than suave reaction.

Jack observed from his office for a moment, then came down. The man looked up to him, standing still and straight, arms relaxed by his sides. "I'm George Walsh. Head of UNIT intel for Northern Europe and the Atlantic." His voice was almost accentless, perhaps a hint of East Coast, if anything. He looked from Jack to Owen, Gwen and Tosh. "And I already know who you are, so no need for introductions."

"Europe and the Atlantic?" said Jack. "What, not content with ruling the world, you've got to rule the waves as well?"

"Well, Britannia isn't doing it any more," said George, with an unpleasant smile. "So someone's got to. Especially given that 80 per cent of alien landings happen at sea."

"How do you know??" began Tosh. Then she stopped herself. Of course, UNIT must have vast resources.

"We know plenty," said George. He brushed some rubbish ? old pizza boxes ? off a seat and sat down. The others stood around awkwardly. Jack folded his arms, but he couldn't think of the appropriate thing to say. He wanted to tell this man to get the hell out, leave them alone; that they didn't need him. But George's calm, steely gaze, his air of authority, the casual way he crossed his legs and relaxed in his chair, in no rush for anything? Jack was pissed at himself, but he couldn't help feeling they did need him. He half wondered if UNIT had adopted the Archangel tech for themselves?after all, the CIA had worked with mind control in the past?but part of him was grateful to have someone to share the load with. Even if it was someone he didn't trust. It was a relief to be around someone again who had that crackle of power about him.

Oh Jack, he thought. Is this really it? You're never happy unless you're somebody's bitch?

George shifted in his chair and gestured for Jack and the others to sit down. "Maybe someone could get us some coffee? Or perhaps something stronger? We're going to be working together from now on, so I think we should bond, don't you?" George smiled. Jack thought of big cats and crocodiles.

This was the beginning of?not a beautiful friendship. But things were going to change, and that could only be good?right? Immortality got flat sometimes. This dangerous new addition to their lives made Jack feel awake and aware. He was a little afraid. He wasn't sure if U.N.I.T. were to be trusted.

But if George proved a problem, he could always get Owen to slip him a rufie?