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Torchwood Fic: "Ianto Jones In The Interim"
torchwood; ianto gazing skyward
cirrocumulus wrote in cirro_media
Title: Ianto Jones In The Interim
Fandom/Characters/Pairing: Torchwood; Ianto, Jack/Ianto
Rating: G
Word Count: 1,056
Summary: Reflection and a tiny jellyfish.



The traversal of tires over paved road hummed inside the SUV, threatening to lull Ianto into a cloudy sleep. His reasons for keeping awake were that, for one part, it seemed slightly disrespectful to enjoy peace and quiet while the rest of the team all sat knotted in little bundles of unease; also, the inevitability that should he fall asleep someone would have to wake him, perhaps with a touch. Primarily he stayed awake to continue watching the pattern of beaded raindrops as they huddled together on the window pane, warping the light that passed through them to outline themselves but retaining none at all.

Ianto also had the important role in this outing of playing host to the placidity inside the SUV that fled from the other occupants. Gwen sat with him in the back seat though a full space removed from him, arms crossed and ignoring the coastline outside her window. Tosh and Owen were completely silent in the front; the outline of Tosh's shoulders suggested deep agitation and Ianto knew precisely what she was thinking about.

He'd found her in the Hub a couple days ago, seated at her desk as usual, only everyone else had gone home and the dimness of the Hub's lights suggested the peculiarity of her workstation's brightness, trying to push it out like a foreign body. Ianto had assumed she was wrapping up some left-over work, but then he'd caught sight of her face: pale skin, shining eyes and a certain quivering of her mouth that had made Ianto freeze instantly. He'd put down the clipboard he'd been holding and walked over to her station, gauging his footfalls carefully to announce his presence politely. Tosh had looked over her shoulder as he'd approached and he'd tried to say something—nothing had seemed right, not are you alright, Tosh?, not what's the matter?-- but it all spoke on his face anyway.

"It's the CCTV footage of when Jack left," Tosh had said, nodding at the screen. Ianto couldn't make out much from the images; all the video screens had been paused, probably after who knows how many watches. Tosh hadn't seemed likely to actually show him what she was talking about; she'd just gone on and trusted he'd see in his mind's eye.

"He just ran off," Tosh had said, her voice sounding stronger than usual with the anger she was trying to keep in. "Literally just mounted the stairs and left."

Tosh had looked extremely close to embarrassing him so he'd steered her away from her console gently, over to the kitchenette wherein he'd placated her with warm coffee, words and pastries. Toshiko had eventually dried and warmed up, gave him a shy but sincere nod and smile when he'd asked if she were alright. He'd slipped away under the claim that he just had a couple more things to set straight in the Hub before he'd lead her out for the night.

He'd snuck over to her workstation, settled into her chair (though it felt wrong) and played one of the footage clips. Jack had paused, staring ahead at nothing, then grabbed the jar off the table and ran out of frame. The resolution had been too poor for Ianto to see any detail of Jack's face, but he hadn't needed to; he could see the joy, and the happiness, in his mind's eye.



The rain had stopped by the time they arrived; the raindrops on Ianto's window were now an anachronism and were already being picked off by the atmosphere. As he opened the door the salty air rushed into his chest, made a hollow place inside.

"Our rift activity readings came from somewhere along this beach," Tosh explained as she referenced the rift monitor in her hands. "So I suppose we're looking for anything that seems like it doesn't belong, basically."

"A scavenger hunt," Ianto mused.

"Oh, fantastic," Owen grumbled, and proceeded to complain about a bit else but Ianto was already walking away, across the wide expanse of dark, tide-polished sand that compressed into complacent depressions under his feet. The sand and rocks, all of a watery sheen, reflected the gray radiating sky and forewent their true colors. As Ianto approached the water he noticed how deep and crystal-dark the ocean looked on this day, its surface stretching thin and offering only its edges for movement, on the whole appearing like a vast sheet of black ice.

At his feet was a tide pool, bordered on one side by rocks and lined within its bowl of water by clusters of mollusks. But most arresting was the jellyfish floating in its center: tiny, no larger than a penny, with short tentacles and a bright pink color that made it stand out as a vivid blot against the pool's dark bottom.

Ianto furrowed his brow at it. It did not, indeed, look much like it belonged in Wales.

"Well, I think I've won," Ianto said aloud (not speaking to a jellyfish, no) and carefully stepped into the pool; the water immediately poured its coldness into his skin by way of communication. He was able with a little patience to cup his hands underneath the jellyfish and scoop it up. The water in his hands formed a simplistic microcosm, cut out of the tide pool which instantly healed over. The jellyfish hovered idly in his hands, seeming as content to be there as anywhere. Ianto held it a little closer to his body.

Down the beach the rest of the team were searching about, still gathered around Tosh's rift monitor and glaring at it peevishly. Their frustrated voices reached him through the wind in flickers and patches. From a distance Ianto could clearly see the practically-visible gap hovering by them, and they all were shrinking from it as if by packing themselves into a tighter group they could drive it away.

Bitterness would have been so easy, and Ianto frequently looked inside expecting to find it there hiding, but he had none and none to give. He knew only that he was waiting patiently, as a clock measures out time without expectation.

Ianto looked back down at his hands. The jellyfish brushed his palm gently as if to say your affections truly are misplaced but Ianto only gazed at it and said I will keep you alive.

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Very powerful and poignant.

*swallows lump in throat*

Beautiful. A really lovely piece. :)

I really liked this. Very unique, great imagery!

Ianto's beautiful soul is glimpsed here: Welshness trait of course...*preens self*

"The water in his hands formed a simplistic microcosm, cut out of the tide pool which instantly healed over. "

That is a really, really beautiful image. I love your descriptions in this fic, they're wonderful :)

I am in love with your jellyfish. I understand the jellyfish is dating Ianto right now, but if things should become complicated or unhappy, then I will be right here.


I am also in love with all these scattered phrases and moments that drift through the fic, and I shall quote all of them. I don't care if I end up quoting half the fic.


knotted in little bundles of unease

I like the fact that Ianto is afraid someone will touch, or if not afraid, then he doesn't want it. This Ianto is all smooth and pulled in, as much a kept-to-himself bundle as the others.

playing host to the placidity inside the SUV
The only flaw I would say there is in this piece is that sometimes you don't let strong, simple phrases like this stand on your own. Pare down some sentences here and there; even if you worried that your wording is odd or illogical, rest assured that it is evocative and the feeling comes across strongly. Think more carefully about the music of the piece as a whole; let some solitary notes breathe.

gauging his footfalls carefully to announce his presence politely.
I love when Ianto is written with that kind of peculiar consideration.It's a feature that sets him apart from the others.

I really loved the moment between Tosh and Ianto, but then you probably already knew that.

settled into her chair (though it felt wrong)
Love that sly detail.

dark, tide-polished sand
Lovely.

...that compressed into complacent depressions
I see the consonance and internal rhyme here, and I get the image, but it's just slightly off. A few too many syllables, I think. "Compressed" is probably the extraneous word here.

But most arresting was the jellyfish floating in its center: tiny, no larger than a penny, with short tentacles and a bright pink color that made it stand out as a vivid blot against the pool's dark bottom.
Ianto furrowed his brow at it. It did not, indeed, look much like it belonged in Wales.

This was me noticing the jellyfish across a crowded room and pausing mid-sip to watch it re-apply its lip gloss.

"Well, I think I've won," Ianto said aloud (not speaking to a jellyfish, no) and carefully stepped into the pool
I love the humour here, and the idea of Ianto stepping into a cold, cold tide-pool for the sake of the jellyfish.

The jellyfish hovered idly in his hands, seeming as content to be there as anywhere. Ianto held it a little closer to his body.
Very, very fond of the jellyfish. I love the protective feeling here, the gentleness, and the-- perkiness isn't the right word--smileness? The smileness of the jellyfish.

Their frustrated voices reached him through the wind in flickers and patches.
That, yes. That's exactly what it sounds like. "flickers and patches" is also fun to say.

From a distance Ianto could clearly see the practically-visible gap hovering by them, and they all were shrinking from it as if by packing themselves into a tighter group they could drive it away.
Here. That. This is new, I think, the assertion that Ianto is the more healthy-- more well-adjusted?-- person for remaining outside the group. Lots of fic comment on how the team drew together after Jack left, including Ianto. Certainly in KKBB you see Ianto as more integrated. This fic is set early enough, though, that you can see Ianto still holding himself apart. Perhaps the rest of the team needs to heal over Jack a bit, start drawing together because they need to cooperate rather than because they're scared. Maybe then they'll be able to find Jack. I mean, the jellyfish.

Bitterness would have been so easy, and Ianto frequently looked inside expecting to find it there hiding
I like that Ianto looks for bitterness, for some reason. That careful self-reflection fits what we see of Ianto at points (for Ianto has his ups and downs just like all the others.)

The jellyfish brushed his palm gently as if to say your affections truly are misplaced but Ianto only gazed at it and said I will keep you alive.
I am deeply in love with your jellyfish.

You are the sweetest thing. :) Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

The only flaw I would say there is in this piece is that sometimes you don't let strong, simple phrases like this stand on your own.

This is something I struggle with, and a criticism of my writing style I've gotten before. I think I do this because, as you said, I'm worried about bringing across a certain evocativeness, so I try to cram a lot of images and concepts together but at the same time that does detract from the flow of the writing.

However, while I agree with this comment in a general sense, I'm not sure how to apply it to the sentence you cited here (Ianto also had the important role in this outing of playing host to the placidity inside the SUV that fled from the other occupants. ) Maybe this sentence is a little too long but I think all the ideas in it are important and I'm not sure how I'd split it up to make it simpler and roomier; I'd be interested in your suggestions.

it's just slightly off. A few too many syllables, I think.

Oh god, this sentence was at least three times worse in the first draft. In the end it came down to me trying to balance crafting a vivid image with, as you said, keeping it concise and flowing, so I do still need to work on getting that balance right. I think I usually worry to much about making a very specific image but it'd probably be beneficial for me to trust the reader's mind to fill in an image for me. I think it's my love for film that's partly responsible for this, because while writing is good at getting across more ethereal human thoughts and feelings, a lot of my stories have strong visual components to them that I want the reader to see as well, but it's still hard for me to do that in writing without overloading on descriptors.

This is new, I think, the assertion that Ianto is the more healthy-- more well-adjusted?-- person

This was basically the main point of this fic, yes. I've read a few fics that take place while Jack's gone and in most of them Ianto is just as mad as the others or sometimes even more mad, but I realized that I don't share that view. I have a few theories about Jack and Ianto's relationship but I think the most important component for me is that Ianto has this innate, very strong understanding of Jack, which would keep him from getting as mad at him as the others did. He'd still feel sad and slightly... well, not quite abandoned, but lonely, maybe. But I think that he'd understand in some unnervingly simple way why Jack left, that Jack left for his own reasons which are just part of who Jack is, and what Jack needs, and I think Ianto would have known this and it would have helped him through Jack's absence a lot, help him forgive Jack a little. Because if Ianto managed to grow a significant emotional attachment to Jack by the end of season 1 (which he definitely has judging from the Brokeback Mountain-esque coat sobbing) he would have had to forgive Jack for killing Lisa, ordering Ianto to kill Lisa himself, all the other things that the team blamed Jack for but Ianto didn't like sending Jasmine to the faeries in "Small Worlds"-- and I think if he could do all that he must have an incredibly deep personal understanding of Jack. And I think that-- if it truly exists and I'm not just hallucinating relationship attributes here-- is an incredibly intriguing part of their relationship that I'd like to see explored more.

I am deeply in love with your jellyfish.

Haha, the jellyfish is definitely one of my more random inspirations. I was actually watching an episode of Planet Earth and there was a shot of this huge cloud of pink little jellyfish and I just got this image of Ianto holding one in his hands by the ocean. I thought, "of course, that makes perfect sense!" and was about to brush it off, but luckily I had already been thinking of making a fic about Jack's absence and that image after a little thinking managed to fit into it perfectly. It actually ended up being exactly the little detail that I needed to make that fic into a full idea instead of a vaguer thought.

tl;dr again with a side of playing professor

I'm sweet like candy! Quick, lick my face.

Maybe this sentence is a little too long but I think all the ideas in it are important and I'm not sure how I'd split it up to make it simpler and roomier; I'd be interested in your suggestions.

I'd say go full stop after "in the SUV" and then completely invent the next sentence.

"Ianto also had the important role in this outing of playing host to the placidity inside the SUV. The others [had no placidity]: Gwen sat with him in the back seat...."

The bit in brackets is just the information that's needed; you'd make it pretty, of course.

This technique is a good one for when you're getting too tangled up in a line. Don't be afraid to take a full stop after a good image, and then follow it up with a simpler, more denotational sentence. I know that goes against your instinct to condense and sharpen. That's a good instinct, but you also need to give your readers a chance to breathe. By "breathe" I mean they need a chance to reflect and absorb the text. That second sentence may seem empty, but the reader subconsciously uses the span of that sentence to reflect on whatever is immediately previous. In other words, by adding a simpler sentence, the reader more completely experiences the poetry of the phrase, "playing host to the placidity." You're exactly right that the concern is "vivid imagery vs. concise and flowing," and allowing for pauses is a good way to balance them.


I think I usually worry to much about making a very specific image
Yeah, you just have to learn that what ends up on the screen is going to be different from what's in your head. That's just the shakes of thinking in one medium and creating in another. Obviously if it's a written piece priority has to be given to the language rather than the literal image, because the language is all that people see. I kind of like that, personally, because it means I get more-- there's the image on the screen and there's the image in my head. They're doing the same thing in slightly different ways, kind of like fanfic itself. There's 1001 fics about Jack/Ianto post-Countrycide, and they're all pretty similar but different in the details. Endless variations and iterations. That's part of what I love about fandom, and postmodern internet culture in general, and I'm going to stop before I tell you to go read Benitez-Rojo's The Repeating Island. Even though I just did.

As for the revising the line itself:

"Oh, fantastic," Owen grumbled, and proceeded to complain about a bit else but Ianto was already walking away, across the wide expanse of dark, tide-polished sand that compressed into complacent depressions under his feet. The sand and rocks, all of a watery sheen, reflected the gray radiating sky and forewent their true colors. As Ianto approached the water he noticed how deep and crystal-dark the ocean looked on this day, its surface stretching thin and offering only its edges for movement, on the whole appearing like a vast sheet of black ice.

By my count, you have five or six images in there to describe two things: the shore, and the ocean. I'd suggest cutting a couple of the weakest, redundant ones. "Dark, tide-polished" means basically the same as "deep and crystal dark" which is basically the same as "a vast sheet of black ice." The black ice is part of a stronger image, so I say keep that, and tide-polished is describing the sand rather than the ocean. "deep and crystal dark" gets baleeted, then.

The sand gets described as "dark, tide-polished" and "watery sheen... reflecting gray radiating sky" and "compressed into complacent depressions." Tide-polished is so beautifully simple and easy to grasp, so I argue it's a good opener. Keep it. "Complacent depressions" is more sophisticated and just sounds nice, so keep that. "watery sheen" is basically the same as "tide-polished" (both connote shine, or gleam) and adds a third object of description-- the sky-- which is a bit too much for this one paragraph. So cut that.

I have to split up this comment because it's too long. Cont. below.

You end up with:

"Oh, fantastic," Owen grumbled, and proceeded to complain about a bit else but Ianto was already walking away across the wide expanse of dark, tide-polished sand. As Ianto [walked across] the complacent depressions [in the shore] he noticed how the ocean looked on this day, its surface stretching thin and offering only its edges for movement, on the whole appearing like a vast sheet of black ice."

(You'll notice I also deleted a comma. The correct placement of commas is an incredibly imprecise art, so I usually forgo grammatical correctness in favor of indicating the rhythm with which I want the sentence to be read. So you can put the comma back after 'walking away' if you want the reader to pause there, or leave it out. I always prefer a more rollicking, head-long rhythm but I think you generally like it to be more measured.)

I know that cutting these images hurt, and they are all beautifully worded, but remember two things:
1) less is more; if you use images more sparingly, the images left behind will be more easily noticed and enjoyed. As they should be because seriously, you are. Very. Good.
2) you will probably describe the ocean again. Tuck these deleted phrases into a notebook and bring them out for another time. Even if you don't save these particular phrases, you will invent other magical raindrops of poetry whenever you need to because you are talented and awesome.

I'm splitting the comment again because I need more time to think thinky thoughts on the Jack/Ianto meta. If I haven't replied by tomorrow night, give me a poke.

Or, you know, you could tell me to shut up and stop bugging you. :/

Thanks for your detailed response again. I like what you said about creating room for images to breathe within the text, it's definitely an important thing. And your analysis of my repeated images was interesting too, I'll keep an eye out for that when editing in the future. I don't think it will be too painful for me to take out extraneous images as long as the basic strength of the image I'm trying to get across is still there, so I appreciate the advice!

The correct placement of commas is an incredibly imprecise art, so I usually forgo grammatical correctness in favor of indicating the rhythm with which I want the sentence to be read. So you can put the comma back after 'walking away' if you want the reader to pause there, or leave it out. I always prefer a more rollicking, head-long rhythm but I think you generally like it to be more measured.)

I think I do this a lot too, yes. I just kind of looked back at a couple paragraphs here to see how my rhythm usually goes and I think that I do create kind of a pulsing, stop-and-go pattern, though not quite that abruptly. But inevitably the pacing changes with the mood too; I'm interested to kind of pay attention to my meter in the future and see how changing it might affect things. There's so much subconscious action in writing that it really amazes me. I've sent a friend stories and she's pointed out bits of irony that I hadn't even noticed at all when I was writing it but that were definitely there when I went back and looked at it. I usually try to do a fair amount of planning before I write a fic (usually if it's a little longer than this story, though) but even with all that brainstorming and planning it seems like the best parts of my writing just happen subconsciously and take me by surprise when they happen. It's peculiar.

And no, please, I really want to hear your thoughts on the Jack/Ianto meta! Don't feel like you're bothering me at all because I could tl;dr about Torchwood all day, honestly.

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