Susie had been dead for seven days. The week I'd given Gwen to get her affairs in order and recover from the trauma of her first Torchwood encounter was finally up. I had to admit I was relieved. I was ready to start over, begin a new chapter of Torchwood. I wanted to fix the mistakes I had made with Susie. I was also looking forward to seeing Gwen Cooper again. Stupid to miss someone who'd I'd spent less than 12 hours with, but there it was. I felt sure a week was enough time for a person as strong as her to recharge and process everything she'd seen. When she came in tomorrow morning she would be ready, or as ready as anyone is on their first day at Torchwood. She wasn't who I was worried about.
In the past week the Hub had felt the loss of Susie Costello. I couldn't be sure if it was her death or the final actions of her life that kept Owen, Tosh, and Ianto moving around headquarters like it was some kind of tomb. Nobody laughed, nobody talked everybody just worked. The air was stifling, thick as it was with all of the things we weren't saying to each other. If I were a different kind of boss maybe I'd hold a grief counseling session. Unfortunately the only way I way I can get people to open up, well open up emotionally, is by pointing a gun at their head. Somehow I don't think that would help relieve the tension around here. The way I've chosen is much simpler. Some people would say replacing Susie so quickly was bad for my team, insensitive. I say if something rips, you patch the hole before it gets any bigger. I could hear the alarm sound on Tosh's computer from through the glass walls of my office. Maybe I'd be patching that hole sooner than I thought.
"Tosh, what have we got?"
"Incoming space debris, maybe no more than two meters in diameter, from the readings I'd say meteorite."
"What about trajectory and velocity? Is it dangerous?" Tosh's eyes scanned the screens of information doing the complicated equations necessary in her head.
"Unlikely. The collusion will create impact trauma for a 20 meter radius, but it look like it's going to land about ten minutes outside the city."
"Good. Owen, grab the kit. Toshiko, send a message to Gwen's cell. I want her here fast." Owen paused mid-step and turned to look at me. "Problem, Owen?"
"Do we really need the newbie? This is nothing we haven't handled before and who knows how long it will take for her to get here. You know what a pain in the arse it is when the amateurs arrive first."
"Your concern is noted. Now go get the kit." I'm pretty sure whatever Owen muttered under his breath wasn't complementary to me, but since he did head of to do what he was told, I didn't mind too much.
"She just texted me back. She'll be here in ten minutes."
"Ten minutes? I thought her flat was farther away than that."
"It is. She must have been out. Some people do have lives outside of work. Or at least so I'm told." Tosh was probably right. I had very likely interrupted Gwen Cooper's personal life. Some who works for me had a personal life. That's a novelty. I wonder where she'd been. At the pub with her friends? Gwen seemed like someone who would have a lot of friends. Hopefully if that's where she had been she hadn't drunk too much. Bad things tended to happen when Torchwood was mixed with tequila. Where else could she have been? Where did normal people go on their nights out? The movies? A karaoke bar? I could almost picture it. Gwen on stage swaying back and forth belting out some awful pop song. Toshiko was looking at me. I guess I didn't stifle my chuckle as well I'd intended.
"Care to share what so funny with the rest of the class, captain, while we're stuck here waiting for your new recruit." I guess Owen had finished gathering the equipment.
"Gwen's not my new recruit, she's your new team member."
"Yeah whose hiring I didn't get a say in."
"I wasn't aware personnel recruitment was one of your specialties Owen."
"Judging what happened with Susie, it doesn't seem to be one of yours either." The room got very quiet, very quickly. None of the members of my team have a military background and I would never recruit someone who did. People extensively drilled in rules and regulations tend to have trouble adjusting to a world that obeys none. Still some things could be said for military discipline, like for example that it teaches people not to disrespect their commanding officer.
"I also recruited you Owen. Was I wrong there to? " I kept my voice light and let my eyes communicate the warning behind the comment. Owen broke our staring contest.
"Just saying it might have been to be asked. I am going to be putting my life into her hands after all." True enough. It was a bit of a weigh on my mind to know that if I'm wrong about Gwen, the most probable victims of my error would be my team. Regardless I felt some kind of crazy unshakable confidence about her. I wasn't wrong. Not this time.