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01 April 2010 @ 10:22 pm
[fic] In Amnion, 10/? (Torchwood; Jack/Ianto, post-COE, MA)  
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Aha! *small but triumphant wave* I'm so glad I was able to keep my word and post this bit for you. A little later than usual, but still here never the less. ^__^ Still having family issues-- in fact, some of them are arguing downstairs right now X_x;-- but I managed another chapter, which is currently off at the betas. My thanks to Ayashi for putting up with my insane schedule. And my very deep thanks to all of you. A story with no one to read it is a sad thing, indeed. If I could trouble you a bit more to tell me what you think, I'd be truly delighted!


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.

Prologue | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine

In Amnion 10/?
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory


The storm broke over Macao at quarter to one on the morning of July 15th. The sky, deepening one last time to a gray-indigo, didn't bother with preliminaries-- the rain came at once, a heavy downpour that was the trademark of Typhoon season. The bay rolled with its force but, apart from a few uncharacteristic flashes of lightening low in the sky, there was nothing truly remarkable about the summer fury. In the Entertainment District, tourists, wealthy foreigners, and Macao's business elite flicked dull, bored gazes towards the sky. The glitz and glamor of hotels, nightclubs and casinos quickly provided something more vivid for their eyes, and the rain was just an inconvenience. Officer Sun Gao Man-- Shuang's father-- ducked quickly back into his patrol car, coffee a little more diluted for his trouble. He sipped the overpriced brew, barking at his partner to roll the windows up despite the heat. The heavy shroud of drops blurred the endless neon lights and backlit towers, turning the skyline into a offbeat, cyber-impressionist painting.

Across the bay, near the warehouse district, Hua She Street accepted the downpour with the same reptilian malaise it used for everything else. Satellite dishes and TV antennae wavered on their precarious rooftop perches, and the few tenants who bothered with the constant struggle of keeping a tiny balcony garden received a brief respite. The freshly paved street-- which had baked uncomplainingly in the summer heat even as the storm gathered-- still held the warmth of the day. Just a few degrees cooler with the night, the rain sizzled against the blacktop, lifting the thinnest of misty veils. The fog twisted down the strange curves of Hua She Street and its smaller rambling offspring like a white snake. In the courtyard of Number Ten, the single crooked tree lifted its arthritic branches. The water lent it a strange texture, as if it were made of chipped pearl, or perhaps bone.

The street itself was possessed of a barely noticeable slope, a very gentle dip that began around Number Three and led one unsuspectingly downward. It was only if one happened to stop at the corner-- where dusty Number Fifteen marked the angle that turned into Fei Duan Road-- that the eye saw over the shoulder the jarring secrecy of descent. Already the gathering pools of rainwater began to run together, swelling the treacherous drains and washing the unsuspecting litter away. Bottles and wrappers were yanked along; the sewer drains roared like gnashing, wide mouths. The rain and debris of human living was consumed, falling away into the tunnels wandered underneath like a cancerous rot. Beneath the buildings and blacktop, the anatomy of Hua She Street endured, older than Macao or Haojing, which it had been centuries before. Its patience was the patience of the earth, which cares not for man; its lazy sprawl spoke of soil that has tasted blood and knows-- as all predators know-- that it need only wait long enough to taste it again.

Lan Wei was standing on her tiptoes in her canary yellow kitchen, elbows braced against the sink, when the storm's restless patter fell across her window. The woman herself barely noticed it, too busy tearing at the plastic of a donated bloodbag to focus on anything else. The Box was safely stored under her bed, wrapped in silk and locked in an old trunk, sighing in its not-quite satisfied sleep. Wei felt the prickle of its persisting desire on the back of her neck and shuddered. She stood in her underwear and faded, archaic camisole, pale and impossibly compelling in the gloom. Her slim frame shook with hunger and exhaustion-- her hair fell in an inky void around her shoulders, wisps quivering like the coils of Medusa's mane. Usually, she cooked the blood with dumplings, or at least warmed it in her creaky microwave, but the overwhelming force of her appetite blasted away the delicate veils of human pretense. Finally, she simply tore into the bag with her teeth, the slurp of her lips and thin tongue filling and washing against each wall. Sucking until the bag crinkled and had nothing left to give, Lan Wei reached for another, and another after that. In her bedroom, an ancient blossom-covered quilt waited to offer what little solace it could. For now, at least, the animalistic blast of her need drowned both memory and sorrow. Tearing into still another pouch of fluid, she sighed and tilted her head back. Little drops of crimson ran down her chin and neck, rolling across her breasts like an old lover's sure and familiar touch.
She made no move to wipe it away.

Jack Harkness, sleeping watchfully at Ianto's side, roused a little. His head, which had tipped back against the wicker rocker, lifted.
Please, not again. The thought sliced through his rest, which had been blessedly dreamless. His mind pulled from the tide of REM sleep, but not completely. Exhausted in both body and spirit, he could only founder directionlessly in that distressingly wide gulf between awareness and true waking. The sound of the rain on the roof pulled forth old, dormant associations.

(Dirt falling. Thick, rocky clods of it, down onto the lid of a casket. Caskets, for hadn't he stood at more than one funeral and watched the numb, despairing ritual take place over and over again? Something so hopeless about the soil as it slipped between fingers, as it fell from a fist that railed against the injustice of Death but could do nothing in the end.
And, worse still, those terrible flecks of earth against the face. On his cheeks, his forehead. Holding terribly still as his soldiers, his comrades, hoisted dirt onto the fallen. One more trench forced to serve as impromptu grave. Or, Belgium during the most hideous of winters, the kind that made even the memory of warmth seem pale and incomplete. The stillness of snow and bare trees torn apart by German artillery, men screaming, the forest exploding, and still everything-- even the fire-- was cold.)

The muscles in Jack's body locked up and went still in the centuries-old instinct to 'play dead'. His mouth opened wide, desperate for air, even as his chest tightened with the memory of John, John laughing. That mocking tone mingled with Grey's, with the voice that had once been young and trusting, and oh, god, he could feel the dirt on his face, they buried him, they left him down there for almost two thousand years!
"No more, not again," he mumbled, unable to wake enough to open his eyes. His hand, still cradling Ianto's, tightened briefly. The lines and shape of that familiar touch found him even in his dreams, and the Captain began to relax. Ianto was here. The slim, long fingers of the other man's hand clutched back for the smallest of seconds, quicker than the flutter of a ghost's eyelash. Another image sifted to the forefront of Jack's mind, buoyed by that fragile, new connection. The feel of Ianto against his back, strong arm across his stomach as the younger man moved inside him, and Jack murmured every dirty promise he could think of to feed the pace. A thin, psychic tendril uncurled and embraced Jack's thoughts. It came from a mind that was still very far away, still more than asleep, but it was also a mind that was used to protecting in its own careful, unobtrusive way.

There was no one to see it, but Ianto's eyes moved with sudden rapidity under their closed lids. As Jack's pulse and breathing evened again, even that small movement ceased, and Ianto was still once more.

The apartment Sun Jun Shuang shared with his father was on the third floor, in the building on the right side of the courtyard at Number Ten. The seven year-old was asleep on the top bunk when the rain started, resting on his stomach under his brightly colored dinosaur blanket. His mind-- which was at its most vulnerable when he was dreaming-- caught hold of an image that did not belong to him.

Dirt, Shuang whispered in his darkened consciousness. Burying. He rummaged through his mental corridors, chasing something more insubstantial than smoke. The dirt was falling on a coffin, on a hole in the ground. The picture was strong, thick and sticky with sorrow. It's discordance chased Shuang into waking-- Mama had been cremated, in keeping with Buddhist tradition. He remembered the bright orange and yellow flames, like thousands of blazing butterflies, catching up around her wooden coffin. The dream had not lasted more than two minutes, but the feeling was so strong that-- even as the boy suddenly pushed himself up off the mattress-- Shuang scrubbed at his face as if he expected to find dirt on his cheeks.

Groaning, he rolled onto his elbows to peer over the edge of the bunk. The little digital clock on the night stand read 12:50 am, casting a greenish glow on the cellphone that lay beside it. Shuang regarded this new silvery tool with some bemusement-- it seemed to sum up everything about the past week in its tiny, cheap casing. It was 'prepay', Baba said, which didn't mean much to Shuang, though he was given to understand that it wouldn't work for long periods of time. His father had pressed it into his palm earlier in the evening, just after they'd both washed their dinner bowls and left them to dry in the dish rack. Tonight was the first night Baba had gone to work since the 4-5-6, and there had been more strenuously repeated instructions and shakings of Baba's thick finger than the boy cared to remember. His father-- while watchful and loving in that distant, masculine manner modeled by his own male relatives-- had never been one for an abundance of rules or reminders. There was a space between Baba and Shuang, one the child was only peripherally aware of. It was not a terribly wide gulf, or one that was obscured. Instead, they were like two kingdoms that could see each other across the sea, familiar and foreign all at once. Shuang read his father's emotions with the ease of a mystic with a dowsing rod, but that didn't mean what he found always made sense.

This evening, the air had almost shimmered with all of Baba's busy, buzzing worries. The boy himself had been distant, his few safe certainties upheaved like broken bedrock by the apparition in the courtyard. He'd eaten his noodles with a heavy helping of guilt, and it burned his heart. There had been no words between himself and Ming when they parted-- just the awful, grating echo of his panicked accusation.

("Oh, Ming, why did you say that, before? Why did you say we never see dead-things here!? The gods heard you! You made it come true!")

Instead, they'd stepped slowly away from each other, each sending quick, furtive looks towards the tree. When it became clear the Blue Ghost wasn't coming back, they'd bolted for their respective homes without so much as a 'goodnight'. Ming's face had been perfectly calm, a painted dancer's mask, but the set of her jaw had betrayed her hurt. Shuang had seen that twitch of muscle, and known she was biting down on the inside of her cheek. Then she'd turned in a flurry of black hair and clicking plastic sandals, and he had run as well, not wanting to be the one alone amongst whatever unknown debris the Blue Ghost might have left.

She shouldn't have talked to it, Shuang reasoned to himself, edging down towards the ladder at the foot of the bed. He navigated the metal rungs easily, dropping to the floor from the third set and landing with a simian carelessness. Coming to the night stand, he picked up the new cellphone, turning it over a few times before losing interest. Dinner had been even more quiet than usual, and Shuang had been so wrapped up in his own thoughts it had taken him a moment to realize Baba had started speaking. The older man's voice had been low and tense-- heavy, like when he chastised Shuang for not taking the Tunnel, but without the anger.

"I have to go to work tonight," Baba had said with uncharacteristic insistence. The boy had looked at him uncomprehendingly, for the thought of Baba not going had never even crossed his mind. The aliens were gone; the doctors had poked and prodded their fill, school was back in session and even soccer was on offer again-- why shouldn't everything go back to the way it had been? And yet, those strong hands had closed around his slim shoulders as Baba knelt beside him, touching their foreheads together. Shuang was to use the cellphone to call the hospital if he started feeling funny at all, did he understand? Any weird things in the body, any loss of time, or if he should somehow hear the aliens again-- Shuang must call the hospital, and then Baba's work mobile.

"Baba," the boy muttered hesitantly, as if tiptoeing around a giant. "The aliens are gone. The TV and the teachers said so."

"Huh!" His father let loose with a strong of curses he never would have uttered in Mama's presence. "And who told the TV and the teachers all this wonderful news? Lying English dogs, deceitful sellers of children who kept secrets for over forty years! What a world we live in!" Then, he lifted Shuang's chin with one large thumb. "You listen to me, son. If those demons are gone, that's all very good. But if a man I've been chasing reaches for something, I don't wait to see if it's a gun or not. I shoot him. Got it?"

"Yes, Baba." The dutiful but seemingly earnest response had soothed the older man-- which was what Shuang wanted. The boy understood that his father was speaking of caution, of what Mama called 'self-preservation' during their talks about dead-things and when it was okay to lie. But Shuang didn't have a gun and, anyway, he hardly thought one would work on aliens. They almost never did in movies. He'd never speak the words to his father, but Shuang had far more pressing concerns than the truthfulness of Great Britain amongst the international community.

Presently, Shuang turned his gaze away from the mobile and the alarm clock, looking instead at the single, silver picture frame propped against the wall. He picked it up, holding it carefully between both hands and bringing it close. In the diffuse illumination of the city's many lights, the details were blurred, but Shuang knew them all by heart. This was Mama, and the sight was so familiar that his mind's eye filled in the gaps effortlessly.

"There was a ghost on Hua She Street," he said softly. "Or, at least, something like a ghost." In the picture, Mama stood frozen forever, smiling. She was standing by a fountain-- much younger than even the young mother Shuang had known-- arms hidden girlishly behind her back. Her short hair lifted a little in the endless breeze, pulled back by one of the many ribbon headbands she preferred. She was wearing a short green dress, one low heel canted outward, and her smile was one he knew well. I've got a secret, that playful grin said, and I'm not gonna tell you, but you're welcome to guess. Resisting the urge to hug the frame to his chest, Shuang instead set it back on the night stand. In a fit of restless frustration, he flopped down on the hard wood floor, fisting his hands in his red pajama bottoms.

"Tian sha de e mo!" That was a curse he'd learned from some of the older boys at school, but there was no one to scold him for it here. No, sir-- here was Sun Jun Shuang, all safely locked and bolted in Apartment 307, with the mobile and all his father's new concerns. Not to mention the bits of ghost-dirt from his dreams. Screwing his face tight, eyes burning, he locked up his body to keep from kicking and screaming. He didn't even like that picture of Mama all that much. She was so pretty when she smiled, but that was an old picture, and Shuang knew who that long-ago woman was really grinning at. That was College-Mama, and the sparkle in her eyes was for College-Baba, who stood behind the camera lens. The seemingly happy, carefree woman in the green dress was how Baba remembered Sun Zhu Liao. Shuang alone understood the secret isolation, the vast skies of her inner world lit by flashes of cheerful bravado-- it changed the picture in such a way that he and Baba might as well have known two completely different women. A little black kernel of resentment flickered in his child's heart, though Shuang was not capable of truly comprehending it. He only knew that he was alone, that he'd yelled at Ming and now wished he hadn't. Baba could worry about distant aliens and other television concerns, but all of that was vague and unreal to Shuang. Theory, wispy as fairytale or games of let's pretend. The world itself wasn't real, because Hua She Street was the world.

Muttering more bits of borrowed foul language, Shuang hauled himself up and walked towards the window by the door. The glass was glazed here, too, but he only had to stand on his tiptoes to reach the latch that opened the lower pane. Pushing at his already short pajama sleeves, he worked to inch the window open, peering up out over the sill. The rain roared down through the spaces between the tall buildings, splashing off railings and concrete walkways. The courtyard was already full of big puddles that oozed between the cobblestone. Shuang took in the scene with careful attention, eyes searching for the blaze of the Blue Ghost, or any dead-things that might have crawled in, suddenly alerted to the breach in his sanctuary. For all his fears, there was nothing, not even shimmering remnant of the ghost's dark blue corona.

Except, he considered with boyish cynicism, it wasn't really a ghost. It had a color, and dead-things don't have those. 'Ghost' is just a good word to use, like when Baba or the people on TV say 'demons' and mean 'aliens'. Why are you here, Daaihlou? He flinched a little, well aware he'd fussed at Ming for using the same familiarity. Please go away. I'm sorry you're lost, or dead, or whatever you are, but please go.

Unwillingly, his eyes lifted from the courtyard to the building across the way. The window on the far corner of the fourth floor was still lit, a single blazing square in the otherwise darkened hulk. Ming's window.
She has to forgive me. This thought did not quite reach the surface of Shuang's mind. For all his secret life and extrasensory gifts, he was still just a boy of seven. He loved Ming, but was far from a time when that could be articulated in any coherent way. The feeling was there, though, rippling in fathomless reaches of his mind. She has to, because she can't leave me, too.

Then, with that odd mixture of determination and practicality he'd inherited from each of his parents, Sun Jun Shuang visited the bathroom and finally climbed back into bed.

Across the courtyard, awash blazing light of the apartment she shared with her mother, Yao He Ming also heard the tinkling stampede of the summer downpour. In the far corner, the television blared a distressingly cheerful jingle, echoing around the small room as the late-night station switched away from the news and on to some program about gambling. Ming looked up briefly from where she sat on the small bed, her face a study of doll-like serenity. Surrounded by mismatched sheets and swimming in one of her mother's old nightgowns, the girl froze completely. Her eyes were the only part of her that moved, taking in her surroundings with a caution so deep it was more than instinct.

Some distance away, Ming's mother lay stretched out on the sofa, oblivious to the television's blather or the sudden roar of the storm. She'd drifted off earlier in the evening, limbs arranged in a thoughtless-- and somewhat sloppy-- echo of her usual elegant poise. The linen of her skirt road up ever so slightly, and her right hand still cradled the empty globe of a wine glass.
Ming gazed on this woman, her mother, whose body very deliberately invited the lustful caress of a man's gaze. Her thin arms pickled pins-and-needles pain from where Mother's manicured nails had pinched earlier in the evening. Rubbing absently at her already bruising skin, the child thought, 'She fell asleep in her nylons. Oh, she's going to be cross.'

In a little while, Ming would rise to gather the wreckage of cigarette butts that kept company with Mother, her glass, and the long-necked green bottle. She'd rinse everything carefully and perform all the little rituals that would put the apartment to rights-- up to and including setting out one of her mother's carefully tailored skirt and blouse combinations for the next day. Here, however, as the clock lurched with tired determination towards 1 AM, Ming snatched a bit of the night for herself. Her tiny fingers played over the tin she held in her lap, carefully plucking up each of her precious art pencils without making a sound. Most of them were little more than nubs, whittled down by her passion for the blank, two dimensional world she could fill by her own hand. Each pencil she selected was set in a line with the others, forming an orderly arrangement on the edge of her emerald nightgown. She looked at the colors she had arranged with a philosopher's patient contemplation, examining each shade of blue. One of these was labeled lantian, and that was the one she curled in her tiny fist. Gray, brown, and her ridiculously small shard of flesh-tone joined it quickly-- Ming put the others away and reached for her art pad.
Lantian, she thought, ignoring the twist in her heart that echoed with Shuang's words. That was the color. The Blue Ghost.

Angling the pencil against her paper, Ming began to draw.

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

Haojing- 'Oyster mirror'. The original name for Macao. The current title for the port is thought to come from the name of a temple founded there, 'A-Ma-Gao'. The temple was built to honor the goddess Matsu, who protected sailors and fishermen.
Tian sha de e mo- 'Goddamn monsters'. A curse.
Daaih louh- lit, Elder brother. Also used as respect for a male aquaintance younger than one's father.
Lantian- 'sky blue' or 'azure blue'.


So, we have Daleks and Cyberman dancing the conga, most likely with the Master in the lead (he doesn't follow well, that one)... what else? How about some Slytheen? Good ol' Margaret bopping along, most likely dancing with the Blowfish guy. They probably came in his sports car.

... I should not be allowed to type comments this late, clearly. ^^; Y'all know how I feel about feedback though, Blowfish or no. Come on... *Harkness leer* Please?

Emotional Temperature: hopefulhopeful
The Band Plays:: "Your Hand in Mine"-- by Explosions in the Sky
alex_annnalex_annn on April 2nd, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
Another brilliant chapter. I do love your writing style, there's so much depth.

Meredith Bronwen Mallory: lotusgarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for commenting! I'm glad the details aren't boring you-- I promise they're all going to come together in the end. *crosses fingers*
lone_star_woman: Gun Muglone_star_woman on April 2nd, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
Shuang's isolation and fear is so vivid. This is beautiful and weird stuff. Loving it.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: magicgarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Shuang's isolation and fear is so vivid.
Thank you for saying so! I worried about adding the children in at all, but this story has been writing itself in my head since August, and I really wanted to deal with the aftermath of the 456 from a ground level perspective.

I'm always thrilled to hear people are enjoying the story.
cen_evanscen_evans on April 2nd, 2010 05:42 am (UTC)
*smiles* Had a bad day today, but just seeing this new chapter waiting for my on my friends page cheered me up immensely. Brilliant update, thanks so much for that.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: partnersgarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
*higs I'm sorry you had a bad day, my dear. But I'm glad to hear I could cheer you a little! You did the same for me with your kind comments!

Hang in there!
tonjavmooretonjavmoore on April 2nd, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
Again I am amazed at the vivid pictures you can paint for me. The dangerous undercurrents in this story all have me tingling with anticipation. I'm lways excited to see a new chapter.

Great job.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: uhuragarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
*grins* I really appreciate hearing that! I see so much in my mind's eye, it's great to hear that some of it gets through on the 'page'.
deepsorskiesdeepsorskies on April 2nd, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
I got sloppy with commenting *is ashamed*, but I'm still very much enjoying this story. Your writing style is so beautiful and evocative, especially in this chapter. The first two paragraphs are incredibly powerful.

>In the courtyard of Number Ten, the single crooked tree lifted its arthritic branches. The water lent it a strange texture, as if it were made of chipped pearl, or perhaps bone.<

That was my favourite bit! - But I liked the entire chapter, and I loved how you used the storm to bind all the different characters together - like weaving a tapestry out of various threads.

The suspension you built up here works very well. On the one hand I'm impatient, if not anxious, for Ianto to finally truly arrive - on the other I want to savour every word and am glad for every paragraph you add.
Cat Moon: REVENGEmscatmoon on April 2nd, 2010 09:59 am (UTC)
You weave a marvelous yarn, my friend. I wonder what the Feng Shui is for Hua She Street... good, bad? I love how even asleep yet, Ianto is able to comfort Jack during his nightmares. A stark reminder of how much Jack needs him, how much strength he gets from his presence. And Ianto's love and devotion to Jack, expressing itself even when he's not fully back yet. But then we know how strong the power of Ianto's love is.

And the children... something tells me they may not make it through this with their innocence intact. Although on the other hand, it does look like Shaung could use some sort of training in shielding himself so he'll stop having other people's dreams in his head. And they need to learn what to be afraid of and what they don't have to fear. I don't know how you plan to handle this in your universe here, just thinking that not all ghosts/spirits are evil. I suppose when you have a special talent like that, you're going to grow up fast, regardless.

HAHAHAHAH! Loved the...subtle dig at COE. Even the little kid Shuang knows better than to try and shoot a powerful alien with a gun! That's it, hire this kid for Torchwood when he grows up! They need somebody with some brains over there!

Is it over already?? (huge sigh). Till next week...

Edited at 2010-04-02 10:00 am (UTC)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: gunslingergarnettrees on April 3rd, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
You weave a marvelous yarn, my friend.
You're too kind! *blushes* I really worry about the other characters taking away from Our Boys, but I needed to get everything in place before I could tackle Ianto's reawakening. It just makes my day to hear that whole story is working for you!

I love how even asleep yet, Ianto is able to comfort Jack during his nightmares.
I've always thought that Ianto acts as Jack's touchstone. The Doctor is a wildcard-- he's brilliant and a hero, but he and Jack are too much alike to balance each other. Ianto has a quiet strength and pragmatism to him, even in his most lunatic moments, that I think Jack is draw to. He needs someone who knows him for more than just the 'Charming Captain' facade, and Ianto is good for that. He believes in Jack, but he understands that, for all Jack's amazing gifts, he is still human.

And they need to learn what to be afraid of and what they don't have to fear.
That's the hardest part of being a child, isn't it? Fear of fire and fear of the boogey-monster have the same weight-- it's hard to tell what's real and what isn't. I'm glad that came through for Shuang and Ming who, of course, have additional problems telling real from pretend.

HAHAHAHAH! Loved the...subtle dig at COE.
My niece actually inspired that. She's known for sighing heavily and rolling her eyes at plot devices in alien movies, and when she saw that scene, she put her little hands on her hips and went, "Duh. You at least need a *special* gun! Or something." RTD needs to have kids as his continuity consultants. ^_~

Sorry I didn't get to reply to this more quickly-- I was halfway through replying when I suddenly discovered it was time for work. Darn RL. *grins*

I hope you'll enjoy the next chapter. It was inspired in large part by a comment you made a little while ago. I can't thank you enough for all your responses-- they keep the ideas fresh and moving!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: boomer2garnettrees on April 3rd, 2010 01:42 am (UTC)
I got sloppy with commenting *is ashamed*
Oh, don't be! I'm thrilled to hear from you whenever you have time. And I'm so glad you're still enjoing this.

But I liked the entire chapter, and I loved how you used the storm to bind all the different characters together - like weaving a tapestry out of various threads.
I'm glad that worked for you! I needed everyone to be on the same page before I started moving forward. It's great to know the feel of the story is coming through. I promise you, we'll be hearing from Ianto very soon. ^__^

Thanks again for commenting!
hab318princess on April 2nd, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
this is just gorgeous, I love the way you write
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: wyrdgarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Every word of encouragement means so much to me, I just can't tell you!
slns7552slns7552 on April 2nd, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
While you have a great writing style and I enjoyed the first few chapters it seems as if Jack and Ianto are taking a backseat to the children. It appears that the story is more about Shaung and Ming.
Meredith Bronwen Mallorygarnettrees on April 2nd, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
My sincerest apologies. This was a concern of mine when I began writing the story. I hope you will have some patience with me, however, as they will not be in the next several chapters at all. I merely needed to have them set so I could use them later. This chapter was meant to bring all the characters together in the storm, so to speak, because things will begin to move more quickly.

I apologize for boring you!

Edited at 2010-04-02 03:03 pm (UTC)
missthingsplacemissthingsplace on April 3rd, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
Another fantastic chapter :)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: zoegarnettrees on April 7th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Thank you, darling!
captannecaptanne on April 5th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Well done! So glad you're sticking with it!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: love1garnettrees on April 7th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
Thank you! This story definitely has it's teeth in me-- I promise to keep trying my hardest. ^__^
captannecaptanne on April 7th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
We're gonna need a bigger boat....
You're not the only one it has its teeth in! :-)

I was just rereading the previous chapter and I'd quite forgotten how annoyed your Ianto was at being brought back from the dead by Jack when Lisa killed him. All you're doing is making me more and more anxious about what we're going to find when this golem finally reaches the ability to communicate. As Alfred Hitchcock demonstrated so well, there is nothing more frightening than your own imagination.
badly_knitted: A Fic So Goodbadly_knitted on April 15th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
So much for not taking so long to comment this time - real life keeps getting in the way of my reading. There should be a law against that....
The storm breaking like that feels like everything that's happened so far is being washed away to make way for the next stage of the story, a literal cleansing away of the residue left over from the ritual. It's almost like the entire city was holding its breath and waiting for Ianto to be brought back to life and now that he is alive, it can start breathing and living again too. Like the oppressiveness started when Ianto's body was brought to the city, maybe it was even caused by Jack's heaviness of spirit. I know... my brain has weird thoughts!
It's odd that throughout the story so far, it never occurred to me that Lan Wei must be dependent on blood too in order to stay young-looking and alive. It rather surprised me, because I hadn't thought about it before, even though I'd known that Lan Wei's lover would have needed blood to survive if Jack had allowed the ritual to be completed back then. There was so much else going on that it just slipped past me. It really brought home how physically draining the ritual must be on the one performing it, Lan Wei's hunger so great that she couldn't even wait to warm the blood first.
I loved how, even though Ianto isn't really aware properly yet, he still felt Jack's distress and responded to it, comforting him through the bond that's forming between them. It's a wonderfully tender little moment. Jack's seen and experienced so much, it's not surprising that when the barriers are down (when he's sleeping or in that borderland between waking and sleeping) the more unpleasant memories start to leak through. Also intriguing that those memories are leaking enough that Shuang is experiencing them too.
On that subject, I hope Shuang and Ming make up quickly, they need each other. I enjoyed the peeks into their lives; Ming in particular seems to have a less than pleasant home life. Shuang's father, I think, is doing the best he can but is a bit out of his depth, especially now in the wake of the 456. He clearly cares about his son, but is at a loss how to deal with a boy who must seem ridiculously sensitive and overly imaginative, when he himself is so down to earth and pragmatic.
Great chapter - hopefully I'll be able to find time to read the next one in the next few days, although I'm not making any promises. The weekend's almost here and I have a feeling it will be busy!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: kissmegarnettrees on April 23rd, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
So much for not taking so long to comment this time - real life keeps getting in the way of my reading. There should be a law against that....
Don't worry about it! I'm thrilled to hear from you whenever you have time. And I feel bad it took me so long to respond to your kind words. Like you said, there should be laws preventing RL from getting *too* overwhelming. ^_^;;

Like the oppressiveness started when Ianto's body was brought to the city, maybe it was even caused by Jack's heaviness of spirit. I know... my brain has weird thoughts!
Your brain has interesting thoughts! You're right-- I definitely intented for the storm to act as a transition point between one part of the story (the ritual) and the next (ianto's recovery, ect). I'm glad that came across, along with the sense that Jack has brought/started something dangerous in the city in general, and Hua She Street in particular.

It really brought home how physically draining the ritual must be on the one performing it, Lan Wei's hunger so great that she couldn't even wait to warm the blood first.
I actually started thinking about that because of a History Channel 'special' on vampires. They were focusing on the cultural transition of the vampire from "boogey-man" to sophisticated sex symbol-- it got me thinking about the animalistic hunger that works underneath. The pretense of civil society exists over our own human animal, so what about the human pretense of a monster? I dunno, I hope that makes some sense. ^__^ And I'm glad the image of Wei had a shocking quailty to it.

Jack's seen and experienced so much, it's not surprising that when the barriers are down (when he's sleeping or in that borderland between waking and sleeping) the more unpleasant memories start to leak through.
I was struck by how many wars Jack has been through, particularly when watching "To the Last Man". When he remarks that WWI was like 'walking into hell', he looks so haunted... I wanted to play with that, because he's so strong on the outside. Deep down, I think that has to leave a mark, even if it is forced down to the sleeping mind. I'm so relieved that Ianto's 'reflex' action through the bond make sense-- he's always reached out to Jack, which is something I love about their relationship.

I'm also really, really relieved to hear that you liked the parts with Shuang and Ming. Some people have complained about the OCs, and I feel really bad about it. I wouldn't have them if it wasn't absolutely necessary-- I want them to be entertaining, but they really have a place in the coming plot. ^_^ *little smooch* It really brightened my day to have you say that!

I hope you had a good weekend... another one is already on top of us. Where does the time go!