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There’s just a moment of disorientation; Jack’s step falters as the Hub appears around him. He turns on the spot, relishing each and every sight and sound and smell, Tosh at her workstation, the sound of Gwen's laughter, the scent of something Owen’s working on. He turns on the spot, a grin dawning on face.

Tosh looks up from her computer.

"Jack? Are you all right?"

The most important thing is to make sure nobody suspects that anything strange has happened. To pretend it hasn’t been months since he saw his friends, weeks since that last night he saw Ianto. The pause is just momentary, then he laughs like a kid and strides up to Tosh, hands stuck in his pockets.

He's back. He reaches out and ruffles her hair, making her scowl in protest.

"Never been better."

Today, it’s not empty bravado. There's no denying it’s odd, trying to step right back into the same point of time he was in. It’s been months. But he’s got no small amount of practice in this sort of thing. And it helps that when he looks over Tosh’s shoulder, he can make sense of what’s on her screen.

"Those the readings from the theatre again?" That's what they were doing that day, today, right? That whole mess bothered him, and he'd gone back to the theatre and he’d asked her to take another look at the data. But that's not what he's interested in at the moment. What he needs to know now is if MPU's experiment in friend-making is having any impact here.

"Yes." She half-turns in her seat to look at him. Jack’s aware of the sound of Gwen’s footsteps approaching across the metal flooring. "Why?"

He leans forward, one hand resting on Tosh’s desk, the other on the back of her chair.

"Pull up the Rift readings for the bay in the past three hours."

She watches him over her glasses for a moment, fingers poised above her keyboard.

"Anything in particular you’re looking for?"

"I hope not." She presses a few keys. The numbers on the monitor disappear, and the familiar graph of the Rift monitoring programme appears. He leans closer and traces the line with one finger.

Dammit.

He stares at it, searching for anything out of the ordinary, anything to give him something to work with on this. But it’s all just a lot of noise. The Rift's unstable even on a good day, and there's no damn way to tell anything.

Except that whatever MPU's technology is, if it’s having any impact on space and time in Cardiff, it’s miniscule.

"Is anything wrong, Jack?" Gwen’s voice comes from just over his right shoulder.

"No." He stares at the readout for a few moments longer, but it remains stubbornly unhelpful. "No," he repeats and straightens and turns to Gwen. He meets her eye and flashes her a grin. "Thought we might have a problem, but everything looks fine. Nothing to worry about."

She doesn't look entirely convinced. So he laughs and wraps an arm around her shoulders, making her laugh and Tosh smile.

This is where he belongs.

"Jack?" The grin freezes for a moment on his face just at the sound of Ianto’s voice. And as he comes closer, the smell of his best coffee drifts towards Jack from the mugs he’s carrying. It’s all he can do not to stride across to him, pull him to him and kiss him. Just to feel the warmth of Ianto's body against his, the strength of his shoulders under that suit jacket. The feel of their lips meeting in desperation and desire again after so long. There have been so many times at the Outpost when he thought he’d never see him again. And there he is, calmly setting Owen’s mug down on the ledge near where he’s working, wearing the same crisp suit he had on the last time Jack saw him weeks ago.

Their hands meet for just a moment as Ianto hands over Jack’s chipped coffee mug. He stares into Ianto’s eyes, blue gaze meeting blue, and he knows the look on his face must be almost unfathomable for Ianto. It's all he can do in front of the others, and there’s a danger it will show show how much he's missed, how much he's needed, him. It can’t have been more than a couple of hours in his time since Ianto saw him last. It’s been so long for Jack.

"I believe you said something about eternal gratitude for coffee."

Coffee, as normal and reassuring and familiar as it is, isn’t the important thing. Still, he takes the mug and heads for his office. He needs a little time to himself to sort through things. But one thing first.

"Ianto," he calls back over his shoulder, "when you’re done, I want to see you in my office."

He doesn’t miss the little smirk on Gwen’s face at that. But he doesn’t care. All he cares about is the kiss Ianto’s going to get when he steps through that door.

That day, Jack sends the others home early.

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Captain Jack Harkness

July 2014

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