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06 May 2010 @ 05:53 pm
[fic] In Amnion, 12/? (Torchwood; Jack/Ianto, post-COE, MA)  
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Bugger, it's been so long since I've posted that I'm getting performance anxiety! ^_~ Seriously, I feel terrible it's taken so long to get this chapter out. I'm ridiculously nervous about posting but, if I don't do this now, I'll end up editing this chapter to death. We're back with Jack, who ended up taking the chapter in a direction I hadn't originally intended. He's persuasive like that. ^^; I just really, really hope this doesn't suck. And that I haven't lost your interest by keeping you guys waiting so long. *massive sweatdrop*

Many thanks to Ayashi for betaing and listening to me whine. Any remaining errors are due to the fact I couldn't stop picking at the piece. My thanks also to the truly marvelous captanne, for the inspiring discussion and general encouragement.

Truly gargantuan thanks to anyone and everyone taking the time to read this. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. If I could have just a few more moments of your time to comment, it would really make my day.

Thanks again,
Meredith

ETA: Slight continuity error fixed. I'd estimated Jack to be in his preteens when the attack on Boeshane occurred, but official sources put his age at fifteen. Thanks again to a_sliver_story for pointing this out.

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. Quote taken from T.S. Elliot's brilliant poem, "The Wasteland". No infringement is intended in either case-- only honest admiration.


PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:
Prologue | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven











In Amnion 12/?
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory

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







Jack Harkness did not stir or fumble towards consciousness, this time. Instead, he came to wakefulness without transition, abandoning the dreamless black to open his eyes. The shadows and colors that greeted him came so suddenly that they did not, at first, make sense. A swath of navy blue, the sound of creaking wood, the texture of linen smooth against his cheek-- all of these were jarring and without weight. He understood the graceful lines of the hand he held, however, and that quickly cleared the static of memory. Every last bolt of context slotted into place with quick, ruthless efficiency, leaving the burden of his exhaustion to rest on his body alone. Scrubbing at his face with his free hand, Jack propped himself up on his elbows. The clock on the nightstand read 1:42 AM, just handful of minutes before the alarm setting on his mobile. He'd slumped forward at some point in his sleep, and now his upper body bridged the space between the rocking chair and the bed. With a groan, Jack readjusted his hips and sat up fully, his gaze drawn at once to the man on the bed. Ianto's face was youthful, almost otherworldly in his repose. The little bit of stubble, the cut on his cheek, even the sparse beads of sweat from the too-close night-- none of those could detract from the shape, the aliveness that burned indigo-hot within flesh that finally breathed again. For a moment, Jack's mind conjured the sleeping statues on Eterni Gemelli. Twin moons, where mystics absorbed the passion of the recently bereaved to sculpt final images of the loved dead. The priest-artisans plied their chisels with empathic skill, whole temple caverns filled with sleeping lovers, carved into the living rock.

On the heels of that thought came a sudden, powerful wave of anger, so unfamiliar to the Captain that he rocked back on his heels. It came just as a chisel's sharp edge-- the fear was harsh and unwieldy, but the aim quick and sure. Like pricks of sensation returning to numbed fingers, it soaked against him unpleasantly, a childlike superstition of the under-mind. That current below the rational, chanting, whistling in graveyards, looking for portents and reading signs in the motion of the midnight sky.


('Step on a crack, break your mother's back! Step on a line, break your father's spine!' That was Alice, coltishly young, the Melissa-of-Before. All freckles and grazed knees, drawing pinwheels and hearts in green sidewalk chalk. Skipping rope with her friends, lacing arms, picking petals off flowers and looking for the pattern of luck.)


The priest-artists did not know Ianto's face, and they never would. The ghost-glow of their marble would never curve itself to the line of his jaw, or cling to the wry tilt of his mouth. UNIT didn't have him, locked and numbered, just another source of tissue to study and dissect. And Death? That coy, all-too-knowing Bitch Goddess of Boeshane shadow plays? Well, her hands had been pried loose. Pitiless tendrils of the Void, banished; the loom cut free of the rotting thread.

Ianto was here.



('You die. You die like a dog.'
Oh, those words rank and grinding on your tongue, but you said them. If there was a tremor in the vessels of your heart, you just turned your gaze away and spoke anyway. No heed to the relentless death-engine of fate, or the eye of some malicious god.
Spoke them, and laughed.)



"I didn't mean it," Jack whispered earnestly. Leaning over, he cupped Ianto's cheek and kissed the younger man, lingering over the feel of living warmth, the tentative pucker made even in the veil of sleep. Ianto sighed. It was soundless thing, but also one that smelled coppery, air ripe with too much autumn. Jack breathed it in anyway, ridiculously pleased. He stroked and petted the young man's hair. And if he was curled over the form of his lover the way a dragon crouches over a single jeweled egg? What of it? There was no one to see; the apartment was dark and his own eyes closed, blotting away the physical in favor of the hush-wave feeling of Ianto's mind. His chest swelled and his wrist ached, delicious and shadowy-sweet.







Rubbing absently at his cuff, Jack pushed himself gently away, edging between the rocking chair and the bed. There was a faint, oily puddle of illumination in the kitchen-- the bulb installed over the stove cast a yellowed light that matched its age. Lan Wei had done some reorganizing, all of which Jack catalogued with a single glance. The few dishes he'd purchased were stacked neatly in the cupboard, and two jarringly orange post-it notes clung to the refrigerator. Such a fussy, helpful tidying of things seemed uncharacteristic of the woman, but it struck Jack more as an unconscious attention to detail than anything else. The little orange notes confirmed it. Wei's phone number was written across the first, large romanized letters underscored with a smaller, ruthlessly slashed row of Chinese characters. 'Do not bother me unnecessarily!', they admonished, exclamation point dangling oddly at the end. The second note was slapped over the corner of the first, a lopsided afterthought. It contained a time and microwave setting, which drew a bemused, half-hopeless chuckle from Captain himself. The jars of blood were indeed lined up neatly on the refrigerator's top shelf, sitting patiently next to the styrofoam container of Jack's leftover noodles. Shaking his head, Jack selected one of them at random, feeling the cold liquid weight like a brand across his palm.


There were two mugs in the cupboard, fruits of his afternoon shopping trip. The day itself seemed almost physically distant, like landmarks seen across sweltering blacktop. Pulling out the slim, black-and-white striped coffee cup, he set it on the counter and busied himself with carefully twisting off the jar's lid. There was very little give-- Wei had filled the glass almost to overflowing-- and Harkness balanced it carefully over the sink. Red, bottomless red,
(bloodlight)
undulating just a little as the cool jar became slippery in Jack's warm hand. He set it firmly on the counter, leaning in almost unwillingly to take it in its acrid scent. Still metallic, despite the chill, almost like bottled lightning. It was what it was, a jar of blood, and Jack didn't think it smelled any different from countless other gallons he'd been exposed to. Just blood; just blood. Funny how the emphasis worked, how veins and flesh could be exchanged for vials and industrial bags, how this liquid could slide against a doctor's safely gloved hand or ooze around the ruthless point of a bullet.


(Is this wrong too, Doctor? Is the shade off, just a bit? Too dark, too light, too vermillion, in some way Owen or Martha could never detect? Does it smell wrong, potent like a clumsily poisoned drink? Would it burn you like acid, does it pump in a backwards dance against my heart?

Rose, lit with gold, blazing more brightly than the heart of a thousand suns.

Is this something I dreamed, or something I made up to fit what you told me? The TARDIS, crying out when I touched her, and your gruff voice in a stale corner of Martha's apartment. You said she did it out of love.)



With a derisive snort, Jack took a spoon and began cautiously ladling blood into the mug. As red as anyone else's in the warm summer night, just as blue running in the vein. And it paid. As Lan Wei said, it was the universe's oldest form of currency; in this case, Jack's coin was good. Pay, and pay, and keep on paying. If he bore the mark of his terrible difference somewhere in or on his body, Jack thought with cynical malice, it certainly wasn't here.

Mug half full, the Captain cooked it precisely to the instructions he'd been given, all the while fishing in his pocket for the eyedropper. Experimentally, he dipped the vial in and tested a drop of the now-warm liquid on the back of his hand. The heat was just enough to be pleasant and a long ways from scalding. Satisfied, he made an absent move to wipe it away with his sleeve. Bloodstains, however, were quite difficult to remove-- something he'd been reminded of at length. Ianto had been convinced they could clothe a nation in the number of pale blue shirts Jack ruined-- to say nothing of the danger his mere presence brought to windows, upholstery, and an impressive assortment of the Welshman's ties. Instead, the Captain diligently washed his hands and replaced the jar in the 'fridge.



"See, Ianto?" he teased, voice forcibly light as he set the mug on the nightstand and climbed back in bed. "I may be a bit thick, but I can learn my lessons. Mindful of stains, can you imagine?" Slipping under the comforter, he propped himself up against the headboard, gently drawing his lover's slack form up against his chest. Just as he had when he'd first awakened, Jack cradled the younger man against the crook of his shoulder, taking pains to support the head and neck. "I won't leave towels on the floor either." His whisper was almost thunderous in the rain-soaked night. The chill of Cardiff was absent, but the intimate quiet pulled his mind back to evenings in the Hub, or the SUV. The sound of rain and the towering fountain, the leathery flutter of Myfawny's wings as she slept and dreamed whatever passed for pteradon dreams. "I'll even take in a rugby match," he wheedled, though all playfulness has drained from his voice. "I know you're with me, Ianto. I can feel you in here." Rolling his head against his shoulders, Jack relished that tingling at the base of his skull, that sense of being connected. His wrist throbbed in concert, the buzz of arousal just barely below the firming up of flesh.






It took some doing, but Jack eventually settled on resting the mug between his knees. Massaging Ianto's jaw, he delicately pressed just a few drops past the sleeping lips. There came an echoing sensation, no less surprising for its faintness. Uncertain, Jack repeated the procedure, and was rewarded with a slight, unconscious swallow from the patient.
"Come back," he murmured, filling the vial a little more with each successive turn. He couldn't swallow, could barely breathe; it felt like the air was

(stale. stale in the gymnasium, in Thames house; redolent of murder)

somehow out of reach. The muscles in his body locked up; the Captain kept his grip from tightening on Ianto's arm only by sheer force of will. It was like one of his nightmares after the Master, after Gray. How the colors would get thick and sticky, unreal, waiting to slither when he looked away, and he hadn't been able to stand sleeping, it made him feel like itching his skin 'til it bled. Passing even on the small amount of sleep he did need, he'd endured periods of wakefulness so protracted that he couldn't tell the difference between the sensations of his fear and the symptoms of sleep deprivation.

(rest, jack. i'll wear you out, just rest.)

"Yeah," Harkness chocked out presently, watching in fascination as Ianto's lips puckered ever so slightly. Anticipating the tip of the eyedropper, the waiting trickle of blood. "I hadn't been bullied into sleeping like that in a long time. Probably since I was young enough for actual naps." But there was Ianto; mistrustful after Jack's return, or still aching after the loss of Tosh and Owen, but absolutely immovable. The firm hand in the velvet glove. Curving, demanding, against Jack's back-- filling him up, wearing him down from the inside out until they rested together, until the Welshman was a pleasant weight and there were no dreams of dirt or laughing black orbs. 'Perpetual Torchwood Stress Disorder', Ianto had called it, with that knife's edge of black humor playing in his voice. He'd said as much to Toshiko once, during one of her all-night programing jags. Jack could picture them clearly, laughing, clutching each other in sudden hilarity. Bending helplessly in fresh giggles when Tosh added, 'there's a reason psychiatric care isn't covered in our benefits.'



(Toshiko knows where to spot Jack, when the Captain starts getting cagey. Ianto thinks he stalks like some big jungle cat up on those roofs, back and forth, as if the whole of the earth isn't quite big enough for him. And maybe its not. His heart feels oddly still and heavy when he sees that visage on the CCTV, but Tosh deftly entertains Owen and distracts Gwen. She gives him coordinates and a demure little smile that can't quite hide the devious little twinkle in her eye. And Ianto goes to Jack, every time, always distantly wondering if an entire planet can make one feel trapped.)

That last bit did not belong to Jack, and he knew it. The impression was visually indistinct, bright bits of scattered mosaic tile, heavy with the sense of being more than just one memory. Instinctively, Jack reached out for it, that wisp of Ianto's dreaming thoughts which had, perhaps, responded to the turn of his own. It was gone just as quickly, the flash of quicksilver in water.

"Stay," he implored, kissing the word into Ianto's hair. "Stay, stay." Nothing, just the faint wash of waves, his psyche's way of registering his lover's presence. The tide in the darkness, the rush of blood in the heart, the pounding of harsh winter storms against the iridium spires of Boeshane. Jack kept dipping into the mug-- more slowly now, to match the rhythm of Ianto's swallows. The eyedropper scraped against the bottom of the cup, but he worked to get every last bit. He watched what he was doing without actually seeing, focused inward, straining towards anything that might be decipherable in amidst the sound of the tide.


(Tide, time and tide. The stopwatch in Mam's hand as she shows him how it works. He'd found it wedged in the back of one of grandda's antique desks, and she said he could keep it. Fair salvage. Buried treasure and ships run aground. Marooned. Tiny patches of land in the ocean; This Island Earth. He saw that with Da at the Electrode. The slave-aliens frighten him badly as a child, though he sees the film again in college and is shocked by how clumsy and ridiculous they are. Da smokes heavily on the way home and says he indulged Ianto-- Vaughn Jones certainly doesn't have a yen for science fiction.)


Less coherent now, but Jack couldn't help pushing. He wanted Ianto to be more than simply present; he wanted him to respond. Too much to ask, perhaps, but he'd never been very good making do, always reaching out with the other hand for more. It was upon him now-- that grasping feeling, the burning in his wrist, pleasure/pain too close the line.


(Burning. The moons are burning; they are aflame. They light the black ocean, the churning cacophony of waves. No tide here, for the water is too deep. Ebony darker than the meaning of the word-- it's not an ocean, it's a block of stone! The stone makes a wall and the wall makes a city, the city called Nowhere in the desert called No Place. The streets are narrow and dark, the natives are small shadows that twitter like birds.
Narrow and dark. Black and gold. Chess board tile, Thames House tile, it paves every street and every street leads to here, where the tree towers white and digs its roots into the linoleum with vengeful zest.)




Letting the eyedropper fall in the now empty mug, Jack brought his free hand up to fist against his forehead. His skull ached; it felt as if every fold of brain tissue had its own prickling agony. For all that, Ianto's presence had become very dim, close but decisively out of reach.
"Sorry. I'm sorry," the Captain murmured, though he doubted very much the withdrawal had been Ianto's conscious decision. The jumble of surreal images felt slick in his own mind, layered with subtext he cannot understand. It's little wonder; they don't belong to him and, unlike Jack's borrowed impressions of Toshiko and the tide, they came entirely without context. Death thoughts, Jack realized as his mouth suddenly went dry. He was painfully aware of each death his own immortal body experienced, but there was also always that little jump between Life and Void, a handful of seconds mercifully wiped from his mind.

"Please don't think about that," Jack held his lover firmly, embracing the slim shoulders and folding his hands behind the pale neck. "It's over and done with, I promise. I shouldn't have pushed you. I was just surprised I could read from you at all. But then, you're always full of surprises."


(Isn't he just? Innocence and guile. That honest little hitch of breath when Jack strokes his neck, the steaming coffee and blank face that kept deadly secrets. The archives are flawless, organized by a mind that recognizes patterns and effortlessly takes them to their natural conclusion. Yet there is also that naughty glance, the irreverent challenge.
"Ah, that's right, their heads must explode all the time." Absolutely unrepentant, the blue-eyed boy gripping the arms of the chair and barely hiding his chuckles beneath fake spasms.

Or oddly compassionate, offering solace when the Captain himself is so adrift he scarcely recognizes the invitation. Presence and distance, knowing touch and plain physical pleasure.
"That's the thing about gloves, sir." There is an uncanny wisdom written in his raised eyebrow. "They come in pairs." Always crisp and professional, he's happy to schedule the psi test that he somehow missed at Torchwood One; but wouldn't you know it, a crisis pops up, the world's ending--
"The world's always ending."
-- and it somehow slips by.

Ianto glances away, Ianto ducks his head, Ianto gives little smiles that may or may not mean what Jack reads into them. Ianto has beautiful hands, which accidentally brush against his new boss during coffee rounds. There's not a wrinkle in that suit or a shift in that expression to give the game away. Those same hands grasp Jack's wrists, guide them to the headboard, where he asks his leader to hold on tight.
"You're going to tie me to the bed during sex?" Jack's leer is playful, challenging. Waiting for a ripple in the polished veneer.
"Don't have to," Ianto replies with careless confidence. He trails fingers down Jack's arms, caressing muscles and humming somewhere back in his throat.
Jack pushes the envelope. "How else are you going to make me behave myself? What's gonna keep my hands from going after your admittedly luscious Welsh arse?"
"Your pride, sir." Oh, that quirk of the lip says more than any wide smile. He produces the stopwatch with a magician's ease, thumb on the button with loving anticipation. "Keep those hands on the rail. Let's see how long you can hold out." Ianto angles his kisses, down and down. "The clock is ticking, Captain." )



Jack groaned, the noise itself wrenched from his insides. The stir of his libido felt at once always-familiar and strange. His despair had dampened it, but now it flexed again, gold-shot crimson that twined and pulled taut. The cut on his wrist felt starved for touch, and his mind conjured easy images of reopening the wound. He thought of the warm of Ianto's mouth, the needy sucking, the sense of being devoured inch by delightful inch. Ianto stirred ever-so-slightly in his arms, making a tiny sleep-soaked sound of distress. Like the faint brush of moth wings, there was a stir in their connection, but it was eventually lost in the thick nothing that held them separate.
"Ignore me," Harkness whispered soothingly, even as he gripped the mug so harshly his knuckles ached. "Weren't you always telling me I'm a dirty old man?"






Resettling Ianto back against the pillows, Jack slipped out of bed and carried the mug towards the kitchen. Arms braced on the sink, he took deep lungfuls of air and expelled them with measured calm. He washed and rinsed the mug and the eyedropper, setting them out to dry and very deliberately not scratching at his wrist. The faucet loosed a stream of cool water, a thin rush that appeared almost bronze or ochre in the dim lighting. Rolling back his cuff, Jack was relieved to find that the cold water helped a little. He bathed his wrist in it gingerly, sinking his teeth into his lower lip. Willing the sensations to be small, and then pushing them away.

("Just as he will hunger to take, you will hunger to give.")

"That's putting it mildly," he muttered. Behind him, the refrigerator kicked up a weak, protesting cycle of cooling. Jack forced himself to feel the space of the apartment-- the floors he'd scrubbed himself, the walls painted a now barely-perceptible blue. This space was safe; he'd unconsciously made it so with his labor, putting his mark on it even as he made it ready for Ianto. The walls and clattering pipes, however, were precious little psychic protection. There was an entire building past these tiny boundaries; then the complex itself, the length of Hua She Street, the warehouse district and the whole of Macao. The Captain felt chilled somehow, naked in a way that shocked even the jaded 51st Century agent living in 21st Century skin.




("They ate of the fruit, and then they saw that they were naked."

Faith again, the very first time. Squatting next to him in the dank, hay-strewn alley, counting the turn of the centuries that would bring him to his 'certain kind of Doctor'. The fourteenth tarot card was called Temperance, but in Faith's deck it was labeled 'The Angel of Time'. The brisk, delicate lines of ink portrayed a young woman, golden locks dripping over her nude form. She stood, at once brazen and abashed, holding a pomegranate in her right hand. Oh, that relentless fruit, doggedly pursuing mankind down the corridors of the ages! In her left hand, she held a tipped jar, flowing freely with the waters of life. Deep brown eyes gazed out from the illustration, too young to die or be exposed to any of these things.

"This card represents the union between conscious and unconscious will," Faith had said, just a hint of a childish lisp around the words. "Life and death, change and the unchanging. A marriage of opposites." Delicately, she'd brushed at a particular bit of dirt on her already muddy skirt, looking up at him through her lashes. "Just as Eve wed godly knowledge to human mortality when she took the fruit."

He'd felt amusement, all those years ago, a bit drunk as he reflected as he reflected on the continued puritanical influences in the current, barely-civilized century. A bit annoyed, too, if one was honest, and he told her so. "Kid, anyone can cobble together vague, pretty words and make them sound like prophecy."

Unperturbed, she gathered her cards with leisurely care. "Come see me in a few decades, Captain. You'll see.")






Naked. The word echoed in Jack's skull, gaining a texture of unfamiliar shame. Unshielded. Defenseless.
'I couldn't go out like this,' he thought, flinching inwardly. 'A city like this, I'd be crazy to. One angry worker, one high school girl having a bad day, and it would feel like someone was rubbing bits of glass into a raw wound.' He was not, strictly speaking, even considered particularly gifted for his time. On a scale of one to thirteen, he'd tested firmly in the seventh tier, balanced on that perfect precipice of talent and everyday application. Someone who could block against other telepathic species, with enough empathy to sense the general mood of a crowd and form a hunch, but not so wildly sensitive that it could not be controlled. It was a fine line to walk, especially considering the fact humanity had only begun producing significant telepathic populations around the 49th Century. The increase had been considered a natural part of evolution-- from perhaps one skilled birth of thirty in the 20th century, to four in ten. And there was the boy called Jamie, talent hopelessly battered in the refugee ward, finally graduating as an agent.
'The only Seven to ever last three hours during Final Trial.' Jack acknowledged that there was still a trace of pride that came with that thought. Difficult to conceal, even after all this time. Couldn't he still picture the sour look on John's face, that narrow envy in the other man's eyes even as they gathered with their year-mates in the student lounge to drink and fuck and celebrate the victory?


'And look at you now, you decadent sod,' his own internal voice adopted Hart's tones of disgust. 'You're vulnerable, even in this practically psi-null century. You couldn't walk down the street in this state! Savage.'
"I've got time," the Captain whispered fiercely. "I know how to build shields, and I can do it again. Put them back the way they were, only this time..." He smiled, triumphant and just a touch hysterical. "This time, I'll build them with Ianto." Decisively, he flicked off the tiny stove light and stalked back towards the bedroom, leaving his doubts to fester on the dark kitchen tile.





Trembling a little with the enormity of the past few days, Jack quickly reset the alarm on his mobile and stumbled towards the bed. The patter of raindrops had slowed, leaving the night to swell with its contradictions of sunless cool and steam. He shucked his shirt and pants with more than a little relief and-- clad only in t-shirt and boxers-- eschewed the rocking chair in favor of his traditional side of the bed. Ianto lay just as Jack had delicately arranged him, every muscle relaxed in the depth of his strange dreams. With the comforter chastely between them, Jack curled against the younger man's side and slung an arm across the slim waist. There was comfort here, in the rhythm of Ianto and his dark, internal quay.

Closing his eyes, Jack drifted into the shallow, hyperaware fog that always came with late nights and too much caffeine. Little bits and pieces surfaced in his mind, seemingly random, sinking as quickly as they were observed. Ianto, inhaling the scent of coffee with a connoisseur's pleased smile. Some unseen hand, authoring Faith's tarot cards, dripping quill in ink. Paperwork on his old desk in the Hub. Rose, painfully young, whooping and hollering as she rode her red bicycle around the estate while Jack watched from the shadows. Owen flicking nuts at Suzie from across the pub. Steven, maybe five, wearing one of Jack's old shirts as he experimented with finger-paints. The meaningless and the profound, the extraordinary and the mundane, they flickered disjointedly, like a handful of oddly colored stones.


('A heap of broken images.'
That's an old one, that's Papa, who read to him from honest-to-God bound books. The real thing, with leather covers and paper marked in ink. A young boy, sitting beside that strong presence, smelling the ocean breeze and ancient print.


And that's what he thinks of, when the rescue ship takes him and Mother far away from Boeshane. The planet-city of Alshain is almost unbearable, all these bits and pieces of foreign feeling coming at him from unexpected angles. The doctors give him drugs for it, pills that make him feel heavy and stuffed with static noise. He's fifteen when he attends his first class in the crèche, and so embarrassed he feels like he's going to sick the shame up on his own shoes. Here he is, more than a head taller than any of the other children in the study garden. They sit on the pavilion, their cushions arranged in a circle as their teacher paces back and forth. The instructor is a beautiful young Rigellian, hooked beak gleaming in the dappled sunlight, green feathers shifting unconsciously as he speaks.

"It is of the utmost importance that you learn to erect shields." His golden eyes hold briefly with each student in turn, but the-boy-who-had-been-Jamie is slouched in his seat, desperately afraid that someone from his own class will spot him from the walkway. He cannot seem to make his wretchedness small enough to fit inside himself. The teacher makes a little trilling noise-- an adult's polite laughter-- speaking to the churning emotions of all children present. "I will train you not to leak your feelings about, just as you were once trained to use the appropriate facilities."

There's a backwash of humiliation from the entire class, many of whom are only a few grades above nursery school. For Jamie, this is almost-- just almost-- worse than the way he wants to cry for his parents at night, tears always overwhelmed by his pride and fear of being caught. He forces himself to raise his head and gaze attentively towards the instructor.
"Being able to shield is one of the first steps towards becoming a responsible sentient being. Truly civilized creatures respect one another's mental integrity. They do not indulge in base mental connections." One feathered hand is poking upwards in the air, emphasizing each word. "Such activities may seem minor to you now, but they all ultimately lead to a destruction of Self. This is not something any member of the Galactic Alliance would allow."
A vague, fearful murmur of 'yes, sir' rolls through the assembled students, and Jamie's voice is among them.

But once, long ago...)



There was something important here, some lynchpin trapped like a fossil in amber. Jack felt it even in the depths of his weariness, a drowsy epiphany he didn't quite have the will
(are you afraid?)
to chase down. Perhaps it wasn't that important, just one of those wispy thoughts that only seems clever when seen through the kaleidoscope of sleep. Boeshane was gone, there was no one here who answered to the name Jamie, or that other, exotic collection of syllables he had been born under. Let the past be the past, let sleeping dogs lie, let dust settle over the uncomfortable archives of the mind. Just a heap of images, nothing to see here.


('A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief...'*

That's Papa's thick finger tracing the text, pointing deliberately to each word. The boy is content to watch, too young to truly grasp the emotion or artistry in the words. He's just glad to be sitting with Papa in the fading copper sunset. Calmly, without shame, he runs his own tiny fingers along the leather edges of the book's binding and listens to
listens to
--papa's lips aren't moving--
listens to
--papa is not reading aloud--

the comforting, far-off thunder rumble of his father's mental voice.)







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


Glossary/Notes:
+Temperance- 14th card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. It is actually labeled 'The Angel of Time' in some medieval decks. As Faith says, it represents the fusion of opposites, and deep change. Reversed, the meaning becomes disenchantment with the world and inability to accept change. Usually depicited as a woman holding a jar (or two), thought to represent the waters of life for physical soil and the waters of the soul for spiritual nourishment.
... and I think I like Faith's tarot deck a bit too much for my own good. ^_~

+This Island Earth (1955) Starring Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, and Rex Reason. One of those science fiction movies based on a philosophical sci fi novel-- something kind of gets lost in translation. This film was actually used by Mystery Science Theater 3000 for their theatrical debute. But, long before that, I remember the slave aliens giving my little brother nightmares. ^^

+Alshain- (beta aquillae) a pale orange/yellow star 42 ly away. General Doctor Who canon (yes, I know-- Doctor Who has canon the same way the DC universe has canon. Namely, we have a big tangled ball of string with a sign that says 'canon'. *sheepish grin*) marks the early 51st Century as the 'Great Breakout', when humanity finally began colonizing other worlds. Just chose this on the general theory that, the closer the system was to Earth, the more 'civilized' it would be. Outer worlds, like Boeshane, would be the pioneer wilderness, I guess. *shrugs*

*'A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief...'

Line 22, The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot.

... I spend entirely too much time getting the details just right for this story. *rolls eyes at herself*



TO BE CONTINUED

It's probably safe to say that the Daleks and Cybermen have stopped conga-ing out of sheer exhaustion, I've taken so long to post. ^^;;; Poor Wedding Fairy!Ianto has to clean up their wild party leavings. He's such a lamb, bless. *puppy eyes* Will you give me feedback anyway? I know I'm a junkie, but at least I'm honest. ^_~






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Emotional Temperature: anxiousanxious
The Band Plays:: "Hoppipola"-- by Sigur Ros
 
 
 
tonjavmooretonjavmoore on May 6th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
It's always worth the wait for one of your rich and beautiful chapters. I can't wait for Ianto to wake up and find out what's happened. More when you can, please?
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kaylee_inaragarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
*blushes* You're so sweet! I'm glad this chapter lived up to expectations! I promise I'm not going to keep you guys waiting much longer for Ianto. Then, the shit will really start to hit the fan. ^_~

Thanks again for commenting!
-Meredith
(Deleted comment)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kissmegarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you remembered this story! RL sucked me into its evil clutches temporarily, but I'll hopefully be able to steal more time in the future. I need a timey-whimey detector to protect me, or something. ^_~

I'm glad Jack's internal struggle makes sense to you. Both he and Ianto are secretive people-- it's just that Jack is load and friendly to cover his, while Ianto hide behind his skill and polite helpfulness. Jack has so much history wearing down on him. I'm glad the little things that leak through work!

Thanks so much for your kind words!
-Meredith
(Deleted comment)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: dcgirlsgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
This story definitely has it's teeth in me-- I'm glad to see people still like/remember it. I promise more, it's just that I have to occassionally fend off that evil RL monster. *rolls eyes* It's such a pain.

Thank you for your kind encouragement!
-Meredith
stuffphile: J/Istuffphile on May 7th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Are you kidding? The details are what make this story so incredible. I swear it's like every sentence is alive.

Thrilled to see a new chapter, and yes, it was definitely worth the wait. Still loving this.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: lovesecretgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Wow, thank you so much! I love working weird little tid-bits into this story, and it pleases me to much when they work.

Great to see you're still enjoying this. Thank you so much for commenting!
-Meredith
albichorizonalbichorizon on May 7th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
It is great to have this chapter! Anyways a chapter after a break is always a good excuse to reread the story. =)

The telepathic element is a really interesting... I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I'm hoping for some interactions between Jack and/or Ianto and those two children who live in the complex.

I loved the details on the planet where mystics carved statues of dead lovers - fantastic! I think all the details you put in make it lush but don't overpower the story.
The itch on Jack's wrist is creepy (in a good way!).
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: magicgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Hey! It's great to 'see' you again! I'm glad the telepathic subplot is working-- it's hard for me to write sometimes, because I'm so worried about avoiding cliches, but I really love playing with how humans might have evolved. Jack's 51st Century phermones had me thrilled during 'Fragments'. ^_^

Our players will definitely be coming together as things progress. I got some complaints about the OCs, though, so I did promise a few chapters without them. They've got a definite part to play, though.

I'm glad you liked the statues! Thank you so much for the awesome and detailed feedback, not to mention the continued interest in the story. You're too kind to me!
-Meredith
Missus Howard: Zero Punctuation Bothering You Yetsyien_island on May 7th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
You never disappoint, but I bet you already know that. I love how you paint this portrait of Jack, who seems to be on the brink of losing his marbles but is driven by complete and desperate love.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: pmsgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
You never disappoint, but I bet you already know that.
*grins widely* It's ridiculously good to hear that, since I'm unreasonably paranoid. I can't thank you enough for your kind comment. I'm relieved that Jack's mental state makes sense to people. CoE was such a horrible ordeal-- I think even an immortal would have horrible scars.
-Meredith
alex_annnalex_annn on May 7th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
I was so glad to see the new chapter. I have been looking out for it.

I can't wait for Ianto to wake up.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kayleegarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy that so many people remembered this story! It's great!

I can't wait for Ianto to wake up.
Very soon, I promise.

*is entranced by GDL in the icon* ... you look comfy there... lucky... *shakes self* I'm sorry, what? ^_~

Thank you for the sweet comment!
-Meredith
captannecaptanne on May 7th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
Oh frabjous day! Calloo Callay! :-) Well done! Imma glad to see your story updated! Yep, yep, yep! Out of all of the beauty this chapter holds, I'm quite partial to your (Jack's) description of Ianto. First of all, it's fascinating to get an idea of what Jack saw in him that was so attractive. Second of all, it's just beautiful to read about Ianto. He is as you describe him. Particularly that marvelous image that I can only describe as a diabolical angel. A fundamentally good soul -- capable of harbouring the truly terrible.

I'm still a bit (okay, more than a bit) worried about whether or not our Jack is going to get what he bargained for.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: fleetgirlgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
*giggles* I'm so pleased I made you pleased! After our discussion about Jack and Ianto, I was actually more nervous about writing Jack's internal thoughts, but it eventually flowed. I'm just crazy about things being in-character. But I truly believe that Jack was fascinated by Ianto in many ways-- after all, this is the young archivist who conned the con-man! That takes genius and skill. The motives behind the deception were at once truly good and terribly misguided. I like your term, 'diabolical angel'. That suits Ianto to a 't'.

I'm still a bit (okay, more than a bit) worried about whether or not our Jack is going to get what he bargained for.
You know I'm a hopeless romantic, but I'm not a nice one. I can't help it. If I do this right, everything will make sense in the end. *sweats*

Thank you so much for commenting!
-Meredith
Sex. - captanne on May 13th, 2010 01:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
lone_star_womanlone_star_woman on May 7th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
Glad to see an update.

Jack talking to Ianto is just heartbreaking. I hope that Ianto wakes up before Jack has a complete mental break.

Meredith Bronwen Mallory: violetgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad so many people remembered this! I kept trying to write and it wasn't... going. Felt like I needed to get out and push. I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed this chapter!

As for Ianto... very soon, I promise!
-Meredith
missthingsplacemissthingsplace on May 7th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
I was so happy to see a new chapter this morning, i so can't wait for Ianto to wake.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: alicekatie2garnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Ianto will wake up soon, I promise! *grins* I'm just glad to hear you enjoyed this chapter!
-Meredith
Cat Moon: hell nomscatmoon on May 7th, 2010 11:39 am (UTC)
So wonderful to see an update to this -- yes definitely worth the wait. Like an old friend you haven't seen in awhile.

I never did understand that ‘die like a dog’ line. Thought it was really weird. I’m glad you had Jack remember and regret it here. The writing of COE was such OOC rubbish. Fics like yours give us the characters as they SHOULD have been portrayed. You honor them and respect them, and give them the attention they deserve. That’s something we really need.

"See, Ianto?" he teased, voice forcibly light as he set the mug on the nightstand and climbed back in bed. "I may be a bit thick, but I can learn my lessons.

I know he’s talking about a lot more than stains here, and my heart hurts for him that he had to learn this one at such a price. He’s trying so hard to be good. So many bad things happen to him that he doesn't really deserve. I want to see Ianto alive, for both of them. I know the road ahead isn't going to be easy, but at least they'll be together (or is Jack going to suffer some more first by Ianto being angry or distant when he wakes? :( Guess I'll have to wait to find out).

I wonder how much of himself/his thoughts Ianto is going to reveal even before he wakes, now that Jack’s picking up things from his mind without his conscious knowledge or consent…
‘blank fact that kept deadly secrets… such a great description of Ianto here. He’s so multi-layered, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being fascinated with him. Can’t blame Jack for falling for him. He’s one of a kind. Too good a character to have been killed off, and too good for Jack to give up, no matter what he has to do to bring him back. Can’t blame him, really.

Trying not to repeat what other's have already said here, but I too love reading Jack's descriptions of Ianto, how he saw him. Gorgeous story, beautiful chapter.

Cat Moon: beautymscatmoon on May 7th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, another thing I just thought of... ;) Jack's feeding of Ianto with the eye dropper and having those sensations in his wrist reminded me of what Lan Wei said about Ianto wanting to take and Jack wanting to give and how he'd only ever want to feed from Jack. Wow, it just hit me what a symbiotic relationship they're going to have. Physically and mentally intertwined in a way the two have never been and probably could never have imagined. And I doubt they're prepared for. In the past they've both been quite good at keeping a bit aloof, Ianto a private person who keeps his emotions and thoughts to himself and Jack who was used to holding people he cared about at arm's length... It's gonna be interesting, that's for sure!
(no subject) - garnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Silver: Elevena_silver_story on May 7th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
Awwwww loved it! Can't believe you made us wait sooooo long!

Quick question: was the whole Jack being in the creche at eleven set before or after the attack on Boeshane? You mention the rescue ship taking him and his mother to another planet, but the attack on Boeshane didn't happen until he was fifteen. Did you backtrack into Jack's Boeshane schooling? That little bit confused me :(

Other than that (and one 'stripped' instead of 'striped') I thought you did an excellent job. I agree with a commenter above - the way Jack is handling this 'quietly' I think really touches on a part of the canon character that we could never, ever see.

WUBBLY!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: rosegarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you're still enjoying this!

Re: the creche. Thank you for pointing out my error-- for some reason, I thought Jack was eleven when the attack on Boeshane occurred. I was so busy worrying about the DW timeline that I didn't pay enough attention to Jack's personal timeline. It's been fixed, though. The flashback was ment to show Jack's first 'formal' schooling on an inner-world planet, as opposed to out in the colonies.

Thanks again!
-Meredith
(no subject) - a_silver_story on May 11th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cen_evanscen_evans on May 8th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Yay! So glad this story is back! I've missed it.

Beautiful chapter. I love the way you simultaneously capture what is actually going on around the characters alongside the jumble of their thoughts (except, the way you write, their thoughts flow naturally while still somehow making sense).

Looking forward to the next chapter!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: partnersgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
I missed writing the story-- I'm glad people remember it! Thank you so much for commenting. I'm so happy to hear this chapter worked. I was afraid I'd been away too long. I'm also relieved to hear that the flashbacks and thoughts work. I've always thought there was a lot more going on in Jack's head than could be explored in a scripted medium. ^_~

Thanks again!
-Meredith
jdgaudior on May 8th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)
I am so happy to read this new installment! Thank you so much for continuing...a lovely chapter, as always!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: badassgarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for commenting! I'm thrilled to hear people are still enjoying this!
-Meredith
hab318princesshab318princess on May 8th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
loved this (and details are good...) seeing the cost though to get Ianto back... wow
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: togethergarnettrees on May 11th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like the details! ^_^

The cost... well, that would be telling. ^^ I just hope I get it right.
-Meredith