Jack was working in his office when he overheard the start of an argument.
"No this is not normal, it's definitely activity… look at that spike !"
"Tosh love, that's not a spike, that's a little blip, a slight 'upward movement', nothing to worry about."
"I've been studying these bloody readings for years now, Owen. If I say it's a spike, then it's a spike!"
"God Tosh, you're so anal sometimes! Ianto! Come and look at this, does it look like a spike to you?"
Ianto moved over reluctantly. The last thing he wanted to do was to get caught in an argument no one would win. He knew the drill; Tosh would go on and on and finally Owen would say something very hurtful and they'd all retreat to their desks, Owen smug as can be and Tosh sad and close to tears.
"Ianto look, that's a spike, isn't it?"
Tosh looked at him expectantly. He did see something, but hardly something you'd call a real Rift spike.
Still, just to tick Owen off…
"It's definitely an 'upward movement' Tosh, maybe a spike. Anyways, you're the expert on Rift activity, so I'll take your word for it."
"Yeah yeah, taking her side. Well of course you would, wouldn't you. Just fetch me a coffee Ianto, do something useful around here."
Tosh grinned, Owen growled, and Jack watched them from the office door. Sometimes they were like little children and those moments were the ones he enjoyed most; when his crew bickered or had fun together. That's when it felt like he had a family, a home. He knew that even if they fought often and nagged at each other endlessly, just like a family, they'd go through hell to protect each other from danger and there was lots of that to be had when working for Torchwood.
Jack went down the stairs, ready to settle the issue with his casual charm.
"Show me that spike Tosh, I'm sure the boys recognize a -how did they call it?- 'upward movement' when they have one but not the ones on your screen."
Owen threw Jack a dirty look. Always with the innuendos, that man really had a problem.
"Look at this Jack, this is a normal Rift spike it goes up and after a few seconds it starts dropping, but slowly."
"I had an ex like that" Gwen said just having entered the hub.
She was late, made a habit of it lately. Since her engagement with Rhys she seemed to have difficulty leaving him in the morning. Jack never complained about it for two very good reasons:
First of all she never complained about the late hours, the weekend work, the night shifts and the fact that sometimes she went home bruised, stabbed or shot. And further more, even if he'd been back for a while now, he knew that if he'd say anything, she'd go on and on about how ten minutes of tardiness couldn't be an issue if he could leave for eight months without informing any of them of his departure.
"Good morning Gwen. Your coffee, Sir."
Ianto gave everybody their favourite beverage and joined the group that stood around Tosh's desk.
"So, as I was saying, this is a normal Rift spike... and this is when nothing happens, the normal simple fluctuation model. This is what happened this morning. As you can see it's not comparable with any of the other spikes or fluctuations, it's a slow gradual rise, it doesn't peak so high and it takes forever to subside."
Jack looked at the picture before him. It did look different from anything they'd seen before, but it was definitely not nothing.
"Ok, Tosh, give me the location of that rift spike. I want a full calculation of the time span the rift was open. Cross reference it with all data, as far back as you can go, to see if anything similar has happened before. Ianto, you'll have to help her by going through the archives. Go through the readings from before the computer generation. I know, it'll take time, but we need this done ASAP. Owen, Gwen, when Tosh finds the location you'll go out to investigate, try to see if you can find any residual energy. If you do, track it down. I'm not saying something came through, but the Rift definitely acted up just then."
Everybody got into work mode. The excitement was palpable; it always was when things like this happened. The adrenaline rush was intoxicating. Tosh started her calculations, Gwen got her coat and the SUV keys. Ready and waiting to know their destination.
By the time Owen had gathered the right equipment, Tosh had an estimate location.
"It's just outside town, close to the old warehouses. I'll send you the exact coordinates while you're on the way there."
Owen and Gwen left the hub in a hurry. The first to reach the SUV could drive, so Jack hoped it was Owen. They needed to get there fast and with Gwen at the wheel it could get tricky.
"Tosh, I'll help Ianto go through the archives. If anything comes up we're on the coms.
Did he notice a little smile on her face just then? He really was going to help Ianto, what did she take him for?
Ianto was already going through the files. The first real Rift activity-sensor dated from 1912; it made beautiful lines on the brown paper. He loved the feel of paper, he was old fashioned that way. Paper had a certain quality PC screens just lacked. 1912... that meant a lot of time to go through, day and night readings spread over years and years. This was going to be boring, and long...
"Need a hand with that?"
"Oh, Jack, I didn't hear you coming. I was wondering when you gave the orders, if you were going to let us slave away, while you enjoyed your coffee."
Jack entered the archive and opened a cabinet. He didn't have the time to take out anything, Ianto slapped his hand and closed the drawer.
"You don't touch my archives Captain Harkness, you'll just mess up everything. I'll give you the readings and I'll put them back where they belong. You can start with these..."
Ianto handed Jack a file filled with readings.
"And don't mess up the order or I'll deal with you personally."
Jack wouldn't mind Ianto dealing with him personally, he wanted nothing more really. Since he'd been back they'd gone on a date, they'd kissed a few times, but Ianto seemed very reluctant to pick up where they'd left off.
So yeah, he had left them without warning, but he had come back, for them, especially for Ianto.
He knew he wouldn't be invited back in his bed the first night, but how long was Ianto going to keep him at bay. It's not as if he hadn't tried every trick in the book. He must have lost his touch while he was gone.
"So Ianto, would you mind if I came round this evening. We could watch a movie at your place. I'll cook if you'll allow me anywhere near the kitchen."
Ianto stood there, mouth open as if he'd just seen a ghost. Jack had been in his apartment before. After Lisa died he'd taken care of Ianto but after that he had never come near his place again. Everything just happened at the Hub or in Jack's sleeping quarters.
"…Huh, …you … at my place, for a movie? And you want me to believe that?"
"Ianto I can behave you know, haven't I shown that the last few weeks? I really can. We went on a date and I didn't even ask to enter your flat, remember? I told you, we'll do this right this time round, take our time. But taking our time if we don't spend some together is rather pointless, don't you think?"
"… And you'll cook? Really? And you'll behave?"
"I promise Ianto, a nice meal, a movie and no sex unless you beg."
Damn that sly grin of his. Ianto burst out laughing, this had been the toughest game to play. The very first thought that had crossed his mind after Jack's return hadn't been very pure. Even if he had played hard to get he was sure that if Jack came round to cook, by the end of the evening, he'd be on hands and knees begging pretty please.
"We'll see, first you help me with these sheets, then we see what came through that Rift and if you're very lucky, I'll let you near my kitchen… Just don't mess up my cupboards."
Jack could hear Tosh's voice on the coms.
"Jack, Ianto, I don't want to interrupt anything, but this is urgent."
A/N next chapter : team finds out what came through. if you want the rest just R&R. :-)