Gwen tapped the edge of the file nervously. Lois had written up the requisition, and with the Queen behind them and the new PM willing to do anything to stay in power for another week, they had every resource they wanted at their disposal. Rebuilding would take all of those resources and more.

The employment package was generous, more so even than before, and with the changes she was making -- more direct support from the government, more analysis of threats versus allies among the aliens they encountered instead of assuming the former, and greatest of all, no more operating in secret -- Gwen was almost certain she could make this work. Now she had to attract and hire the talent they so desperately needed.

How had Jack done it? He'd never sat her down and asked, "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" or "What's your greatest weakness?" He'd sprung Tosh from a prison cell, brought on Owen to keep him from committing suicide, and picked up Suzie in a bar. As for his last two hires, both had tracked him down and kept at it until he'd given in out of a mixture of curiosity and amusement. Hardly a good precedent. Time to set her own.

"It's all here," she said, setting the file in front of the other woman. "Recreated from the ground up, including, as requested, the Charter. We're starting over. You could be part of it."

"And then?"

"What do you mean?"

"How long until the killing starts all over again? Torchwood has already been reborn at least twice. Jack," Gwen winced at the name, "tried to remake it in the Doctor's image. And it led you here." Another new Torchwood, built on the bones of Gwen's friends and baptised in the blood of Alice's child. It didn't need said. Gwen reminded herself every morning in the mirror.

"He said that we go on. We always go on."

"Why? Why not let it go? UNIT does the same job, with far more people and the support of nations. The Doctor does it with just himself and whichever poor fools he's brought along with him this time. Why you? Why bother?"

Anger spiked sharply to her lips, and grief. How dare anyone question the sacrifices the people she loved made, dismiss them as not worth anything? She felt hot words form, and then she saw it, the calculation in the other's eyes. This was a test. If this worked, she was in for many more, she knew. Worth it.

"Because the job still needs to be done and because it's the right thing to do." She locked eyes with the woman across the desk. "Jack," and it wasn't easy to say his name, not yet, "hired me to be his conscience. I need you here to be mine."

Help me find a new direction. Show me your way because the one we followed led us to this. Argue with me when I need it. Have my back.

The moment lasted, and then the other woman smiled. "Done." She took the file, and without even reading the contract, signed the bottom.

"Thank you," Gwen said, and let out the breath she hadn't known she was holding.

"Thank you," said Sarah Jane. "For giving the right answer."

The End