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04 February 2010 @ 04:52 pm
[fic] In Amnion, 3/? (Torchwood; Jack/Ianto, post-COE, MA)  
AUTHORS NOTES: A little behind this week, mostly due to some RL issues, and the fact I'm not as pleased with this chapter as I could be. I have to stop shmutzing with it, though, or I'll delete the whole thing! Then I'd cry. ^^; *shakes head at herself* At any rate, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read my story! I really, really appreciate it! As always, if I could bother you just a bit more to comment, it would really make my day! Thank you so much to everyone who commented on the last chapter-- especially albichorizon, who helped me refine some of my ideas by talking things through.

Huge props to Ayashi for the beta, and Vivian for helping with the Chinese again.
-Meredith


DISCLAIMER: Torchwood is copyright BBC, and Russel T. Davies. I'm making no money off this, and am not affiliated with the above. Why can't we have nice things!? The short film Dumplings was written by Lillian Lee and directed by Fruit Chan. No infringement is intended in either case-- only honest admiration.








In Amnion
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory (garnettrees)

mallorys-girl@cinci.rr.com
http://www.demando.net/







The Void was absolute Nothing, and the Void was All.


It had no line of demarkation, no sense of horizon or space. It sprawled-- colossal beyond human comprehension-- in every direction, yet it was as close and inescapable as the body's own living flesh. Made out of absence, framed by angles that made no sense, it existed without animation or mercy or intellect. And yet, somehow it was alive.
The Void knew Jack Harkness; the Void remembered.


Jack lay in the darkness, in the absence that was neither of those things because it was so much worse. The mind could not grasp it, rejected it and looked for some frame of reference, finding none. The Nothing ran sticky, terrible black fingers along and through him; it probed and clogged his mouth, nose, and eyes, though he no longer possessed any of those things. As close as claustrophobia, as endlessly open as the worst nightmare of being alone. Jack himself lay at once trapped in its confines and scattered into tiny, still bleeding shards all across its unfathomable geography. Once, he'd stood with Martha and the Doctor at the end of the Universe-- they'd looked into the sky as entropy snuffed out the last of the stars. As horrible as that had been, that chill hand clutching the back of the heart, at least the memory of the stars remained.
This was so, so much worse.



(Here is a piece:
I want to scream, just let me have a mouth to scream with, and it will be better, because I can let this out. The kind of screaming no one comes back from, going on forever. It is the screaming that terrorizes nurses, making mothers moan and cry and it finally, finally stems the tide of Gwen's self-righteous words. The mind looks on certain things and turns away from sanity; Jack knows this, and Jonah Bevin knows this-- the Master knows this, and his laughter is only a scream in disguise. Later, in the close, warm night Ianto will swallow Jack's screams with a kiss, murmuring statistics and nonsense and maybe even the occasional covert endearment, drawing him back to the world.

That is gone now.)


(Here is another shard: Boeshane.
It is the word hidden inside each syllable of 'home'; it has not been built yet, and still it lay in ruins. Jack-who-is-not-yet-Jack runs down the slopes of white gold sand, he sucks in lungfuls of ocean air and whoops so the sound will carry. His legs are longer and faster than the other boys, faster than his brother's. One day, a shadow will fall, Jack will run and forever hate himself for running. Papa will lie prone amongst the fires, Grey will be missing, and Ahmah will be already dead years before. Mother will put her hands to her face and weep, refusing to embrace her son. There shall come another planet, clogged and industrial, and doctors with bland faces to tell Jack he'll been going to live in a crèche with many other children, and won't that be nice?

So Boeshane is, was, and will be no more.)



(And this bit, bleeding over here: I think I'm dying, Jamie.
They are old enough to enlist; they are way too young to be soldiers. Jack is still several years away from the Time Agency or John Hart-- he's barely old enough to drink, and he still gets carded at most professional sex establishments. He answers to Jamie, which is an easy way for his creche-siblings to shorten his birth name. Jace is slim and blond, he has eyes as green as a powerful squall whirling off the coast of Boeshane. They fight in a war that is just the latest in a long, long line of wars. In the daylight, the bombs blaze, and they see every terrible thing they were capable of imagining, and quite a bit they never could. At night, they touch each other and sigh as they once did in the darkness of their crèche bunks. They are soldiers, but they are also cannon fodder-- they are captured and tortured as a matter of course. The enemy is that same terrible enemy of the past, and thus cannot be named. Inevitably, their captors tear into Jace's body with detached curiosity, and they make Jack-who-was-Jamie watch. There are bits of Jace all over the room-- it doesn't seem possible he could still be breathing, but he is. The enemy applies green rods and blue electrodes, purple discs and orange fluids, and they force them onto Jace in what the other boy mockingly calls 'the rainbow orgy'.

Then, one day, he turns to Jamie with a smear of blood on one cheek and a spot of dried orange ooze on the other. He is speared through with green rods that are not the same green as his eyes. He says, "I think I'm dying, Jamie". Its the same bashful, honest tone he used when they were twelve, asking 'you wanna?' and reaching for Jack's hips. In the space of time it takes Jack to open his mouth, Jace's eyes go dull and he breathes no more.

All of that is dead and left behind.)




(Here is one more splinter, quivering in the dark: I was waiting for you, Sir.

Jack is gasping back to life in 21st Century Cardiff, already anticipating the ache and disgust that usually accompanies his return. Instead, he is warm and dry; he is not blind-sided by bright destruction, or faced with a human debris scattered around him. The Master is not breathing, hot and rotting, in his face. It is night, and rain patters gently against the roof of the SUV. Jack is laying with his head in Ianto's lap-- those long, beautiful Welsh fingers run through his hair and caress his temples.

"What...?" Jack asks, wincing at his own lack of brilliance. Ianto keeps up the soothing touches, waits for Jack's breathing to settle.

"You got 'im," Ianto assures his leader. In the blurry halo of the streetlights, the captain can just make out the slight tilt of Ianto's head.

"Cygnian Shell Serpent," Jack says, grounding himself in space and time.

"Already bagged and tagged in the trunk." It's very quick, but there's a little ghost of Ianto's smile. "That was not part of the Weevil-hunting bargain. I have a very clear checklist for Weevils, but Shell Serpents? Who knew something that size could have such a big mouth?" His hands are warm-- they abandon their hypnotic circles to brush hesitantly along the muscles of Jack's stomach.

"Don't let that fool you," Jack leers playfully. "Size does matter." He is warm, Ianto has brought him out of the chill Cardiff rain; they are pressed together in the confines of the SUV's back seat and, if Jack turns his head, he'll nuzzle into Ianto's thigh and smell that cedar-honey scent that rises with the younger man's emotions.

Ianto doesn't seem to have heard him. "Your shirt is a complete loss." Regret is in every touch of those hands, stroking again and again over the now-invisible places where the Shell Serpents tried to chew through Jack. There is, indeed, blood all over the tattered remains of Jack's dress shirt, but his coat is intact.

"It's okay." Voice too thick, the Captain captures one of those precious hands, begins laving the wrist with his tongue.

"No. No." Ianto's breathing is heavy now, Jack feels that pulse under his lips and it is so good. And yet, the young man has his eyes squeezed shut-- as if he is in pain. "You have to be more careful..." A pregnant pause. "Shirts don't grow on trees."

"How can you be sure?" Talented as he is, Jack manages to maneuver so that he and Ianto are nose to nose. He kisses his young man, this brave secretary who has a Weevil hunting checklist; this archivist who thinks nothing of collecting and cataloguing dead aliens so his boss doesn't have to worry about it when he comes back from the dead. Teasingly, "Maybe there's a planet where clothing *does* grow on trees, hmmm?"

"If there was, you wouldn't know about it," Ianto gasps, leaning in to suck a little on Jack's lower lip. "I can't see you going someplace where one could be so easily covered. You're more the clothing-optional sort. Always looking for an excuse to show off that arse." They're working on the clothing-optional part now, though there isn't a lot of room for movement, and they're hardly as far out of the way as they should be for this sort of thing. Jack is working on Ianto's tie, on the ridiculously difficult buttons of his vest.

"Why didn't you drive back to the hub?" the Captain asks, not really thinking about it. He has his coat off, and proceeds to simply tear the shreds of his shirt away. Ianto's grip tightens suddenly on his shoulders.

"I was waiting for you, Sir."

It's warm and dry. He's alive, and safe here in the rain-washed darkness with Ianto, who held him, who waited for him. Jack wants to say something-- thank you, maybe, and yet so much more-- but nothing will come out. Instead, he takes over the lovemaking; he reduces Ianto to little squirms and shudders and glories in his possession. He thinks-- without looking at what he is thinking, because he's not good at self-honesty-- this is mine this is mine he's mine.

And he's wrong. Ianto's dead and gone now, too.)




The Void held all of this. In the up-down, senseless geometry of nothing, there was no mercy, only a gibbering something that saw but could not understand. Jack had no eyes to cry with, no lungs for screaming, no lips to speak, but he struggled never the less.
Give him back! He projected with a violence-- all the rage of a storm trying to gain movement in a vaccuum. Whatever you want, it's yours. I don't care any more! Give me Ianto, give him back and you can have whatever you please.



He thought of Owen, battling the skull-and-bones image of Death in the middle of a hospital lobby. Of Toshiko, talking about the power of that last angry thought one held onto at the threshold of the end. Faith, swallowed by a coat she'd scrounged from somewhere, flipping tarot cards in a filthy back alley. The Tower. The World. The Knight with Jack's face. Gwen, muttering absently about the class she'd taken on Welsh mythology; faeries and the three weaver-women of fate. On Boeshane, Death was always portrayed as a woman in the pantomimes; a sexy, curved shadow that inspired lust and fear.
A knight in his armor. Three old crones spinning and weaving and cutting the threads.
You bitches owe me! Do you hear me? You've taken so much from me-- you've taken everyone! I want Ianto back.
Once, Faith had turned over the Death card, laying it out with that childish, delicate precision. Jack had laughed; he'd been drunk and brash and he'd told her maybe she should remove it from the deck.
God, he was such a fool.


In the darkness, something moved. It sounded like the shifting of ashes, the grind of bones in the charnel house. It was too large, too horrible to fathom, but it stirred.


The terror that lanced through Jack was chill and sharp-- it overpowered his anger, but not his need. With that fear came awareness of something much more familiar. It was the approach of life; that feeling of being dragged back, as if from a hook behind his bodiless spine. There were no muscles for Jack to tense, but he did it anyway, anticipating the hot-glass agony of resurrection. As much as he hated it, it made him bold.

I said, give him back! I'll come for him if I have to! I have nothing to be afraid of losing, not anymore.

There was movement in the darkness, the roaring of pain in his consciousness. And yet, neither of these things concerned Jack Harkness in those breathless moments before he returned to life.
He thought, he swore, he sensed something, like a sound right next to the ear.

Jack. A sigh. Fearful, exasperated, but filled with undeniable affection.

(Ianto)


Then it was over.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *





Jack drew a quiet breath, and opened his eyes to stare at Lan Wei's cracked, watermarked ceiling. He still lay on the couch, naked and covered in dried blood, as well as whatever bits Wei had ripped out in her haste to get to his heart. His pulse pounded in his ears and his chest felt burned through with pins and needles, but he was alive. Fighting that strange sense of vertigo that always accompanied his return, Jack struggled to prop himself up on his elbows. The plastic made horrible little crinkling noises as he moved, and he quickly discovered a particular ache in his side. Reaching behind himself, he pulled forth a long sliver of bone. A rib, probably. Time refused to settle around him; he opened his mouth to say Ianto's name.
Instead, he coughed up blood.



"You're awake." Lan Wei appeared in the kitchen doorway, holding her gaudy red beads aside. She frowned at him; a curiously aged expression on her youthful face, all the more disconcerting for the wrinkles that refused to form. Carelessly, she tossed a rag at him. Jack took it quickly, chest heaving as he tried to expel the blood from his lungs. Probably drowned in his own fluids before he had time to exsanguinate, the Captain considered clinically. The terrible, stale-skin smell of the apartment had diminished somewhat-- Jack looked around to find the lightest of breezes coming in through the open balcony door. He had no idea how much time had passed, but the slant of the sun was different, and the air now swelled with the possibility of rain. Wei considered him for a moment, before disappearing into her den-like kitchen. When she returned, she had a bowl of water and another washrag.

"Xiexie," Jack managed, reaching for both when she set them on the nearby table.

Wei rolled her eyes, quickly admonishing him in Chinese, "What took you so long? Half the day is wasted!" She shook her head, buns and ribbons bobbing. "Don't make a mess."

"Well, you try regrowing a heart," he grumbled in English. He barely had enough patience to translate her speech, and he certainly wasn't in the mood to bother making his own mind switch languages. There was something he was struggling for, groping in numb vaults of his emotions. He had forgotten... what?

"Men so lazy," Wei sneered, tossing it back like a return volley. After a moment, she looked at him coquettishly. "Making more dumplings. You hungry?" Her skin might be smooth as fine white silk, but Jack thought it was that feline smile that gave away her age. The curve and sadistic pleasure belonged on the ancient hags of folklore-- all those cautionary tales.

Stomach rolling, he said, "No. I'm not hungry." It was a lie, of course-- he couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten-- but Wei didn't bother to call him on it. Instead, she vanished once more between the beads.



Dipping the clean rag in warm water, Jack began to systematically wipe away the evidence of his latest demise. Briefly, an almost comical milage gage flickered in his mind's eye, but the truth was simply that Jack had lost track of how many times he'd died. He'd woken in dirty alleys, covered in musty hay; he'd woken surrounded by the bodies of fallen comrades, and to a bucket of water courtesy Miss Alice Guppy. There had been moments of pain, trapped underneath fallen bricks and mortar, and there'd been Gwen's needy hand, grasping his as he lay in the Torchwood Morgue. Tish, crying into his shirt on the Valiant-- or the Master, already working on another death while Jack recovered from the last. He'd woken with the knowledge that he didn't want to; that he'd been cheated in succumbing to the darkness, because Ianto had remained behind. Now, he toweled off quietly as the cracked, green walls slowly stopped spinning around him. He stood, tossing the rag back in the now murky pink water, and folded the plastic tarp.


Wiping a hand over his face, he stretched and began to look for his clothes, instead finding himself staring up at Ahn Mei's portrait. High on her shelf, flanked by statues of Kwan Yin and several cheerful peach children, Ahn Mei's silent, frozen face seemed suddenly to have more power. As if she had somehow witnessed the whole thing, blushing in her long ago garden behind the glass. Jack bit his lip, really looking at her. He wondered if Lan Wei had explained everything before the ritual began-- if that painfully young, naive country girl had understood the intent. For all her fine jeweled combs and embroidered robes, there was an air about that two-dimensional moment, be it her shy gaze or the set of her shoulders, that showed how out of place she was. He'd never known her-- only stood over her as she died, convulsing with energy from some, ephemeral, uncompleted circuit. She'd called out for Wei, reached out a quivering hand, saying, "Baobei... deui mhjyuh..."

Photographs were only useless attempts to halt time. They showed the moment, not the context. So why did it feel like those doe eyes were on him, urging?

You've forgotten something important.

Death did that to him, sometimes, worse than a hangover from the alcohol that no longer affected him or the crash from any futuristic drug. It always felt like a crapshoot-- would he wake up feeling like he could take on whatever had already killed him, or would the damage linger like a ghost? Sometimes Ianto would...
Ianto.

(That sigh. Away, away in the vast empty, he'd felt it close and coming to comprise his whole world.)



"I can find him," Jack whispered, with only Ahn Mei's picture to hear him. His limbs felt energy return to them-- he dressed quickly, tucking, buttoning and zipping neatly, but absent of consideration. In the kitchen, Lan Wei was singing, her voice the light and airy soprano of Cantonese opera.


"See how the spring blossoms have yielded their beauty //
If only to the dry well and these crumbling walls..."
*


As he pulled his braces into place, Jack felt a strange sensation. Everything was still so distant and foreign... was that feeling just his newly grown heart, or a tiny twinge of hope? Almost reflexively, he clamped down on the thought, shielding with a power completely unnecessary to a century lacking trained psychics. The instinct was an honest one, honed through time. Faith and anticipation had the same sharp edge, but he guarded it and reveled in the difference of its pain. If Gwen somehow came, bearing her guilt and her needy hands; if Martha came with her cool compassion and honest tears; if the Doctor came bearing all the weight and responsibility of shattered timelines, Jack felt he would simply shake his head and leave them gaping. He remembered Ahmah, sitting with him as they watched Papa and Mother dance, swaying to faintly melancholy strains. Her ringed hand had held his small one a bit too tight, and she'd whispered that the most dangerous weapon in the Universe was love.


"It seems we have met before //
and beheld each other in silent awe."



Lan Wei's voice was rising, playing over the high notes. He shrugged on his RAF coat like armor and looked at the clock. She was right, it had taken him a while-- the hands had cycled three times since he'd arrived, and it was now two o'clock in the afternoon. He would go into the kitchen and finalize things with Wei. Quickly, Jack amended internally, because he had a lot of things to do.

(Such a small thing, that sigh. But it had its own weight. It was real.)

He would be prepared. He would have everything ready for Ianto when he drew him gently out of the darkness. Nothing would be out of place; Jack would have Lan Wei's help and, afterwards, he'd draw soothing circles on Ianto's skin, to ease the transition.
Maybe there would be rain on the roof.



It was two in the afternoon in the humid port city of Macao. The sun swelled the air, baking the rooftops, but the sky gathered with darkening clouds in the East, out to sea. It was six in the morning in Cardiff, where already people turned in their beds and moaned at the sound of the machinery starting earnest excavation of the Plass. There was an alley, and a small hand that turned a card. It depicted a Knight with the face of Jack Harkness; the eerie illustration starred off and away from the viewer at some distant, fixed and precious point.
He held his love like a sword in his hand.









GLOSSARY:
Xiexie- Thank you.
Kwan Yin- The Chinese goddess of mercy.
Baobei- Precious, darling.
Deui mhjyuh- I'm sorry (cannot face).
*The song Lan Wei is singing is from Peony Pavillion, a Chinese opera written during the Ming Dynasty by Tang Xianzu. It's a very famous play-- both a love story and a comedy. The love story revolves around the sixteen year old daughter of an Imperial Offical, and a young scholar. They meet in their dreams and, when separated by the waking world, the young girl dies of love sickness. Her young man ends up bargaining with the Courts of the Underworld to ressurect her. ... ^^; Okay, so I'm not subtle, and neither is Lan Wei. *sheepish*





TO BE CONTINUED


... sorry about the darkness. I'll, uh, have complimentary flashlights next time, or something! ^_^;; But, regardless, feedback would make me happier than a bunch of Weevils dancing the Electric Slide.
... please?


.
 
 
Emotional Temperature: hyperhyper
The Band Plays:: "Whole Lotta Losin'"-- by Monsters of Folk
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on February 4th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. It's absolutely gorgeous, and I'm glad that you're writing Torchwood fic again.

The story is dark and there are all these suspenseful moments interspersed throughout the chapter that makes it incredibly engaging. You write Jack and his love so, so well, and I love all the little bits and memories that say so much about his character and his motivations. And this: He held his love like a sword in his hand. It made me catch my breath, because love is the greatest weapon (and so is grief for a lost love), and even though Jack has always loved so easily and readily, I liked this idea of his feelings for Ianto being a different kind of love.

I very much enjoyed the chapter and can't wait until I read more!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: evendeathdiesgarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Thank you For leaving such a lovely comment! I can't tell you how happy it made me to hear that the shifting memories worked. Jack has been alive so long, in a way no human should be, and it seems to me that the memories must at times be very overwhelming. We saw a little bit of that in "Adam" and "Fragments", and I wanted to play with it here.

I liked this idea of his feelings for Ianto being a different kind of love.
*smiles* I firmly believe that they are-- even though I thought the reason for Ianto's death was stupid, there was an honesty between Jack and Ianto in those final moments that was very touching. Jack begging Ianto to stay just tore at my heart.

Again, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to send me your kind words! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story just as much!
-Meredith
Skye Leng: [torchwood] they keep killing suziemlekopijca on February 4th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
Dear Fucking Jesus, you made me cry, you made me swear and I want next chapter like now.


The way your Jack is thinking. The details. Italics fragments. That one:
(Four. Five.
Four, five, six.
Pick up sticks! That was an old rhyme, one his Alice had once sung.)


Once, Faith had turned over the Death card, laying it out with that childish, delicate precision. Jack had laughed; he'd been drunk and brash and he'd told her maybe she should remove it from the deck.
God, he was such a fool.

<3333333

And the Void. You used The Void for underworld. I'm in love with that idea for months.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: teamgarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
Dear Fucking Jesus, you made me cry, you made me swear and I want next chapter like now.
*grins* Thank you! The next chapter is something like eleven pages long-- I'm thinking about trying to cut it down, but I don't know. It's with my beta as we speak, so I'm hoping she'll have some insight for me. ^__^

I'm glad the fragments work-- I was trying to show that Jack himself is fragmented, and I'm relieves to know that came across. As for the Void... I was rewatching "The Stolen Earth", and fixed on the comment Rose makes when she says nothing can live in the Void. That sealed it for me!

Thank you so much for commenting!
-Meredith
Skye Leng: [dw] stolen earth: jackmlekopijca on February 9th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
I wrote a fic about the Void as underworld some time ago. Based on quotes from "Doomsday" and "They Keep Killing Suzie":

‘In between the two separate worlds, we've got the Void.’
[…]
‘What's the Void?’
‘The dead space. Some people call it Hell.’

‘There’s something moving in the dark. And it’s coming, Jack Harkness, it’s coming for you.’


Meredith Bronwen Mallorygarnettrees on February 9th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
See, you're completely brilliant-- I had completely forgotten Suzie's comment. Shades of Lovecraft, which pleases me to no end, since I adore his work. ^__^ I'll have to find your story!
-Meredith
Skye Leng: [torchwood] i can survive everythingmlekopijca on February 9th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately it's in Polish.

But I assumed that "something moving" are actually shadows of dead people, nothing more. They usually don't see each other.
Skye Leng: [torchwood] i can survive everythingmlekopijca on June 18th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Um. Hi again. If you are still interested in reading my story, the translation is here.
Cat Moon: heromscatmoon on February 4th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to let you know I'm *really* enjoying this fic. It's dark and disturbing and utterly captivating. If it was a book and I had started reading it I'd be late for work because I wouldn't be able to put it down. Alas it's not, so I'll have to wait for the next part. Jack's love, and desperation, and the touch of insanity, is just so painfully REAL. Oh, and this chapter is the best so far!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: partnersgarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
*blushes wildly* Thank you so much, Ms Cat Moon! I must confess, sometimes this story feels like it wants to be novel-length. *rolls eyes* I'm so glad you like it, and I hope you enjoy the next chapter as well. I'm really grateful you took the time to comment!
-Meredith
doves_wingdoves_wing on February 5th, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
Wow. That was incredibly interesting. I love your parallels (subtle and not so subtle), and your imagery. "He held his love like a sword in his hand" is just a fantastic line.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: magicgarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
*blushes* Sometimes I'm about as subtle as a brick. ^_~ But I'm so glad you enjoy all the paralells, both hidden and outright. I'm glad they make sense, too! Thank you so much for the comments!
-Meredith
illusion_hope: Coloured Coffeeillusion_hope on February 5th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
Okay. Get ready for a long comment.

I love you. I seriously do. I do enjoy reading whatever you've written because it is so wonderfully written, so in character, and tantalizing to read -- almost like poetry. But this chapter took my breath away. Literally.

The fact that you've added the Void (made of win) and added the bit about Jack's past almost made me cry. Love how you made it out to be, because Jack is Jack, and Jack cannot be Jack without a past. You've made each part that is referenced about his past seem to come alive. Really well done.
The Void held all of this. In the up-down, senseless geometry of nothing, there was no mercy, only a gibbering something that saw but could not understand. Jack had no eyes to cry with, no lungs for screaming, no lips to speak, but he struggled never the less.

Wonderful. It's just... You've made Jack more human. Despite his immortality, we've forgotten at times that he lost more than anyone else. There is a difference in saying that it lost so much, and showing it, and you've done that so well. Each ending with a death that had impacted him and his life in a huge way. Mentioning the death of his father and the kidnapping of his brother. At the same time showing his mother, who couldn't look at him. Wonderful. :-)

Also the characterization of Lan Wei? Amazing.
Her skin might be smooth as fine white silk, but Jack thought it was that feline smile that gave away her age. The curve and sadistic pleasure belonged on the ancient hags of folklore-- all those cautionary tales.
Because we've all read the folktales and all. This is a wonderful example, because I can imagine her. Even though I hadn't seen the movie I can feel the creepiness of the situation and how Jack feels. Kind of sick but wary. That smile that we've been told as children to becareful of.
Oh and the interaction between Ahn Mei's picture and Jack? One of the interactions I enjoyed reading -- even if it is to the picture. Just. GUUH.
Lastly, (of my gushing praise), Jack the Knight, with love as his sword. Wonderful wonderful characterization. Just. Wonderful.

XD There was so much more I love reading, but this is kind of getting at a creepish length. Will stop gushing... Really cannot wait for the next chapter!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: togethergarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:39 am (UTC)
Okay. Get ready for a long comment.
Yay! My favorite kind! *showers Illusion Hope with chocolate* Thank you!

But this chapter took my breath away. Literally.
I'm so relieved to hear that! This chapter sort of invented itself-- I didn't intend for the time in the Void to go one nearly as long, and I had another scene I wanted to get in, but I finally decided that I had a great place to stop and I didn't want to mess with it. I'm glad I made the right decision!

You've made Jack more human. Despite his immortality, we've forgotten at times that he lost more than anyone else.
You read my mind! Jack is not a Time Lord-- he wasn't meant to live as long as he has already, and he definitely wasn't meant to live as long as he will. I watched School Reunion the other day, and the look on Sarahjane's face when she recognized the younger Ten as her Doctor... I think that's hard. We saw a little of that with Estelle in "Small Worlds", too. I wanted to tie Jack's past to his present (because sometimes, we really are doomed to repeat things) without being annoying. I'm glad to hear it worked!

Also the characterization of Lan Wei? Amazing.
Another bit of relief for me-- I don't like adding OCs unless I have to, but I really wanted her to serve as something of a dark mirror for Jack. She is not as old as he is, but she's old enough to have watched things change in linear time like he has, and reflect that bitterness back.

Even though I hadn't seen the movie I can feel the creepiness of the situation and how Jack feels.
The movie was a great jumping point for me. The witch-woman in the movie is named Mei, and she's a bit more... grounded and good at blending in. But I was so in awe of Lillian Lee's idea that I wanted a woman who projected Faith's outward innocence while at the same time giving off clear indications that she isn't what she seems.

I'm glad Ahn Mei's picture worked, too. I've been in love with Jack the Knight ever since I saw Faith in "Reset"-- it's just *perfect*.

You shouldn't worry about "creepish length", my dear. Look at me! *shakes head* Sorry, I do ramble so. Thank you so much for commenting, though. I smiled all day!
-Meredith
cen_evanscen_evans on February 5th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
So excited about the update- have been waiting anxiously since the last chapter. The more I think about this story the more I find myself wanting to know what happens next.

Brilliant update, especially your description of the Void; that had shivers running down my spine. Can't wait for the next chapter!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: ohiknowgarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
*bounces* Thank you so much! I'm glad the Void worked-- every time Jack has described Death, that's what it's sounded like to me! I hope the rest of the story lives up to your curiousity-- I'm working hard at it! ^_^
-Meredith
spilled_notes on February 5th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh my sweet dear Jesus. This has to be one of my favourite Torchwood fics ever. Ever.

You always end it on perfect notes. This is such a good story. Everyone is so in character, and you write so beautifully, and everything is so, I can't even. I absolutely love stories that have adventure and mystery and mythology and culture and yes, this is the epitome of that. :) Please keep writing this. I am so, so anxious for the next part. ♥ I have literally been on the edge of my seat through the entire fic so far.

Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kaylee_inaragarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
Oh my sweet dear Jesus. This has to be one of my favourite Torchwood fics ever. Ever.
You're far too kind! Thank you! Is it possible to die of blushing? *turns red* I'm especially glad you think everyone's in character. Jack is hard to write, but I firmly believe he reached a crisis point by the end of COE. In cannon, he left Earth, which I think speaks for itself.

I really hope you enjoy the rest of the story! <3
-Meredith
keshikat: jacks eyekeshikat on February 5th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
This is the most brilliant fic I've read in a really long time. And the touch from "Dumplings" was a really good idea! I remember when I first saw that film, and yeah it is morbid. It fits here so well. Can't wait for more \o/
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: love2garnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
And the touch from "Dumplings" was a really good idea!
Yes, someone else who's seen the film! Just thinking about it gives me the shivers, which is the mark of really good cinema. I love how the author and director never come out and say "she's doing ___, ___, and ___ and that's wrong." Instead, they lead us very slowly through a descending chamber of horrors and let us see the evil evolve. Too creepy.

I'm glad you're enoying my story! At first, I hesitated about it because I didn't want to take too much from "Dumplings", but does make sense in Jack's reality.

Thanks again!
-Meredith
missthingsplacemissthingsplace on February 5th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh wow ... this fic is just so amazing, you almost had me crying at one point.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: zoegarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
you almost had me crying at one point
Wow, that *is* high praise! *hands over tissues* I'm going to say 'thank you', even though I don't want to make people cry. This fic keeps getting dark no matter what I do. I'm so glad you're enjoying it!
-Meredith
hab318princesshab318princess on February 6th, 2010 07:42 am (UTC)
I'm not very good at long comments, but your description of the void and the different parts... just amazing and Faith's vision there at the end, I can't wait to read more

This is a brilliant fic
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: rosegarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
I'm not very good at long comments
I love all comments, trust me! It makes me so happy to know people are reading the story, I just can't tell you!

I'm glad Faith's vision worked for you. I was worried I was being overly dramatic but, at the same time, it seemed appropriate.

Thank you!
-Meredith
badly_knitted: A Fic So Goodbadly_knitted on February 6th, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
Wow! Just Wow! The imagery in this chapter is stunning, breathtaking! And you're not completely pleased with it? This is some of the best writing I've come across! I'm in awe. Such powerful emotions and vividly detailed descriptions. It pulled me in so completely I feel quite wrung out now =) Wonderful!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kissmegarnettrees on February 8th, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
You're far too kind! I'm so glad it worked-- the chapter was just hard for me to write, mostly because I didn't have everything planned out in advance. Your icon makes me smile deleriously, too.

Thank you so much for your generous words!
-Meredith
msemmaloo on February 9th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. It's creepy and hypnotic and heart-breaking. I can't wait to read more.
amuseme4nowamuseme4now on March 13th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
Here's another long one!

Oh, I love how you've made jack, so deep and disturbed after Iantos death. It makes you believe that Ianto really was special (and I want to, really want believe that about the real series as well).

The thing that struck me the most is the void, it seriously is written perfect. I can almost in some weird way feel it, the darkness, the loneliness, the pressure (like the pressure to your chest when there is just too much emotion, when you have to scream or cry or fight or run. When it feels as if, if you don't let it out your entire being will implode). I love how you feel the desperation of the nothing; "The Nothing ran sticky, terrible black fingers along and through him; it probed and clogged his mouth, nose, and eyes, though he no longer possessed any of those things."
And how you get some memories, to see how much of Jack there really is, and how in the end he remembers Ianto, how he does all this for him.

I love it, not much more I can say. It really is a _too_ dark fic for me really, but it keeps on dragging me back. As someone above me said, if it were a book I would never put it down. And it should really have been a book; too bad the characters are already owned.
But the thing is I can even see it as a dark, jack-centric mini-series of torchwood, and I wish it were.



Oh, just one tiny winy little thing, no complaints just something that hit me.
"Once, Faith had turned over the Death card, laying it out with that childish, delicate precision. Jack had laughed; he'd been drunk and brash and he'd told her maybe she should remove it from the deck.
God, he was such a fool."
I don't know if was the point or if I'm just making a huge fool out of myself but I thought it meant that the death card was for Ianto. Am I right? but I'm quite certain that in tarot the death card does not literally mean death. It's more renewal, change in a positive manner.

But that’s not criticism, not in any way. I love it! And now; onwards! To the newer chapter!