Title: "Chaos Theory"

Author: Aeshna

Spoilers: Vague for the end of Doctor Who s2.

Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many DVDs and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to RTD and to Auntie Beeb, who already has my licence fee.

Many thanks to my wonderful beta, Mimarie - any remaining weirdnesses are all mine. Feedback of any variety is much appreciated but not compulsory - I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn...

Yvonne had always wondered why he chose them as he did, why he always went for the wayward, the misfits, the cocky insubordinates whom she would never have allowed to so much as darken the doorway of Torchwood One. Given his long seniority in the Institute he could have had the pick of the crop, the finest military and strategic minds that the nation could offer, all willing and eager to serve, to follow his orders without thought or question.

Jack had never been able to make her understand that that last point was precisely why he chose them as he did.

Yvonne had craved order, a perfect hierarchy for the efficient distribution of work - each to their role and each to their place, tasks passed upwards and downwards with smooth obedience. In an unpredictable universe, she had said, it was essential to provide a structured environment in which employees could feel secure, with a leadership that was approachable yet clearly defined. If the Institute was to survive then it had to adopt the methods of the modern workplace and adapt itself accordingly, and while one branch couldn't force its practices onto any of the others, it had been crystal clear to her that the methods that she and her immediate predecessor had brought to Torchwood One were the only way forward in the new millennium.

To Jack, the only thing that had been clear was that Yvonne had been on one management training course too many. She had looked damned good in those power suits, though. Almost as good as she had out of them...

Sighing - for all her overly-zealous patriotism, he had liked Yvonne - Jack looked up from the satellite data he had been half-heartedly scanning and cast a fond eye around the Hub, at the mess and the stains and the barely-safe brickwork that had so horrified his London counterpart on the one occasion she had visited. Yvonne had wanted order, but he needed the barely-contained chaos that was Torchwood Three, needed the disparate and argumentative personalities, needed the sense of danger and the infinite unpredictability of it all. Oh, his recruits knew who was the boss all right, he made quite sure of that, but he let them have the freedom to live their lives and to learn things the hard way, forgave their honest errors - it wasn't as though he'd never made any of those himself, after all - and punished their deliberate trespasses. He found them and fashioned them into something new... but he was always careful to step back, to leave something rough there, something unfinished, finding a raw beauty in their flaws that Yvonne would never have accepted.

But then, he didn't want eager underlings. He wanted challenges.

There was the sound of laughter from beyond the fountain's mirrored tower, Owen and Tosh squabbling good-naturedly over something, Gwen's Welsh lilt occasionally audible above them. Jack smiled indulgently - he had a good combination this time, even if Ianto was still very much one of Yvonne's: deliberately quiet and overly-deferential, the perfect administrative assistant but of little use for fieldwork as yet. The trick with building a team, he had found, was to achieve a balance of ability and friction that made them both capable and surprising, the dynamic constantly fluid. If things grew too comfortably familiar, he would add new faces to the mix, new skills, replacing the inevitable casualties with an eye to keeping things interesting.

Because if he had learned one thing in his too-long life, it was that the only thing that might finally kill him was boredom. If his people weren't perfect it was because he needed them that way, needed them to keep him alive and entertained, connected to the age that had created them. And if their imperfections and enthusiasms cost them dear... well, he would miss them but there would be others. There always were. They came and they went, brilliant and bright and mayfly-brief, his to shape and his to love and his to lose. They brought him joy and grief and friendship and pain and everything between, cast him as parent and confidant, teacher and executioner, kept him sharp, kept him keen. Kept him from fossilising alone in the depths, hardening beyond the possibility of recovery or repair. No, he didn't want order, didn't want mindless obedience, didn't want clearly defined roles. He needed life and death and honest loyalties, the awkward realities of a humanity he hadn't quite relinquished yet...

Yvonne - ensconced and armoured within her suits and her tower, as convinced of her own indestructibility as any mortal - would never have understood. But then, he had never needed her to, and now that she was -

Laying the satellite readouts aside, Jack pushed himself to his feet and moved to join the others, his smile sliding easily - and genuinely - into place. They might only be with him for a short while but he would enjoy their company while he could.

It was, after all, why he chose them.