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Pretend it's Monday

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Previous Entry Pretend it's Monday Apr. 10th, 2007 @ 10:24 pm Next Entry
Because then it would be raqs' birthday and I wouldn't be tardy. Of course, in my defense, I was road-tripping down the left coast and completely without internetz, which, we all know, is like a time void or something. It's totally a plausible defense.

So, anyway, for raqs, on the occasion of her birthday +24 hours.

Title: Desert Made of Glass
Setting: S10, pre-Line in the Sand
Rating: R
Pairing: Daniel/Jack, mostly
Word count: 2600
Beta help: Thanks to betas rydra_wong and synecdochic, who are allowed to still make adjustments since I posted without the official direction (but! raqs' birthday!)
A/N: For the extraordinary raqs, a present.

~~~

Daniel woke up on Jack's side of the bed, with the sense of dislocation that a few weeks hadn't quite reassured away. It wasn't Jack's bed, wasn't his bedroom with the light shades open, the window catching full morning light on the bed. Jack would be angry he'd moved. Jack was gone for a reason. Daniel wasn't allowed here in the mornings, only the nights, in the dark.

Jack was gone. Jack had left. Or Jack had changed.

All of which were too heavy. It was too early, despite the warmth of the sunlight on his hair, to contemplate such disaster, or he was too jet-lagged. Daniel shoved his face further into his pillow, and wrapped his arms around it as well, partly for comfort, partly to block out the light, partly to retain the sense of safety.

He shoved his doubts, sour like morning breath, down too.

We are close, but we haven't quite found him.

Daniel took a calculated risk and moved from mouth to neck, fitting his lips under the tendon, above the clavicle, where Jack's pulse visibly raced. He kissed Jack's heartbeat.

His mouth was prepared to move downward, to play with teeth over skin over tendon, over bone, to the open space in Jack's shirt. Suddenly, though, he knew; he knew Jack wouldn't be ready for that, so he paused, breath rolling over wet skin. Jack's hands moved up to carefully cup his jaw, bring his face up to eye level. Daniel could feel Jack’s palms nervously hovering over his skin, with barely restrained strength, like he would break. Daniel braced his hands against the wall, one near blue jeans and one near brown hair. Protecting, though he didn’t know against what. So he waited.

Eye to eye, which felt right, and then off. Like actors who realized they were off-script. And then Jack shifted his hands, elbows between them, forearms braced on Daniel's shoulders. He shook Daniel a little and said, with the finality of a plea, and a rejection, "Not for pity, Daniel, not some experiment-thing."

The words were familiar, like a treasured artifact given place of pride. And Daniel knew his response, but instead he said, "Jack, you've said that before."

"What?" Jack replied, close distance making his eyes dart left and right to look quickly into Daniel's eyes, one after the other and back. His scent was rich in Daniel's memory, taste ingrained in his mouth, pressure on his jaw speaking of restrained need or panic. Not worried that Daniel would leave anymore, but that he would be taken away.

And suddenly the déjà vu was gone, like a name you couldn't remember. Daniel was looking into focusing pupils, swollen mouth, feeling long fingers trailing up his cheekbones. "Yes, Jack," he said, hands rising to pull away the arms keeping a respectable distance between them, shoulder ducking under the defenses. "Yes," he said, losing the last part of the word into Jack's mouth.

It echoed through Daniel's mind with the ferocity of an army preparing for battle.

That's it, we've found him.

"Run," Daniel said, all seriousness in the warm safety of Jack's living room.

"What?" Daniel didn't remember seeing Jack's lips move to frame the words, but the red orange light was flooding over his shoulders, his mouth was in shadow. Daniel turned him, like he was on a spit, to better see Jack’s face in all its colorful glory; Jack let him. The light softened the echo of sound, the dry creak of voices sore from shouting at nightmares.

Red orange light over sickly purple turned sections of Jack's skin a deep black. "Never mind," Daniel said, "I don't know why I said that." He ran his fingertips around the edges of a goose-egg on Jack's forehead, then mirrored the movement around the old bruise on his shoulder, healing in lurid greens and blacks.

"Paranoia is really my gig, you know," Jack said, drawing Daniel's attention up from the extra heat emanating from discolored skin. “You really need to have the grey hair to fully pull it off.” Daniel had a flash of wild hair, not cut for decades, centuries, and a full beard. It overlay Jack like a ghost, but only for a brief moment.

"It's coming to a head," Daniel said, "Soon." He traced the lines of nose, jaw and collarbone with his eyes. Pulled lightly at wiry chest hair, let the tip of his thumb hook lightly in Jack's bellybutton. Tried to hide the white medical tape under his hand by stretching his fingers wide; the tape covered too great an area. Daniel wished for a moment that he had bigger hands.

"Take the moment now, then.” Jack said softly, and then with the echo of familiarity, “Not broken.”

"Close," Daniel replied, eyes on where the tape had pulled away from skin, leaving a sticky line that caught at the grey lint from Jack's shirt and a few wayward grey hairs.

"Not even," Jack protested lightly, face still serious, "what are you so worried about?"

Daniel didn't answer, except to shift his hand from bellybutton to hipbone, half on skin and half over jeans, and shove gently. Jack gave easily and recovered, a belt loop shifting slightly and catching Daniel's ring finger. He rubbed at the place where the delineation of Jack's ribs disappeared under tape with his other hand.

Jack had taken a deep breath to speak again when Daniel finally said, "Your rib might take exception to that dismissal," and heard him snap his jaw shut with a click. It was the sound of Jack thinking. Daniel worried at a loose thread in the underside of the belt loop with his free fingers. A lifeline, a way to keep them both there, in the moment. To keep them connected to each other, and everyone else out.

"You can be nice," he said after a pause. It caused Daniel to raise one eyebrow in challenge. "I can be still," he continued.

"You can't be still," Daniel said, the unspoken 'Jaaaack,' a missing coda to anchor the banter, to signal that he'd let it go.

"It'll be worth it, Daniel," Jack said, eyes already flinching from the expected reaction to his near-mushiness. But Daniel’d loved it, he’d just never said so.

Three days, Daniel thought, enough for bruises to look older and newer. "We came as fast as we could, Jack," He repeated, his hands still on the tape, still trapped in the belt loop.

"It was fast enough," Jack said, hands twitching at his sides.

"No, it wasn't," Daniel said, squinting behind his glasses. He resolutely did not look at the grocery list of reasons on Jack’s body why it most certainly was not fast enough; did not look at the old scars, little white reminders of how it was never fast enough. Not in this job.

"Not yet, Daniel," Jack said, hands coming up inside Daniel's to carefully grasp the arms of Daniel's glasses and tip them forward off his nose. "We're not there yet." Daniel watched Jack fold his glasses and felt him dip his legs to turn to his good side without twisting his back and set them down on the side table.

He waited until Jack had turned back, straightened back into full height, brought his good arm up to cup Daniel's face and kissed him, once, carefully, chastely; a brush of chapped lips and healing scabs. The heat of it was fading from his mouth when Daniel said, smile pulling at him from both cheeks, "Knew you couldn't stay still."

“There just isn’t time anymore,” Jack said.

I require you to jump ahead. A time like this, before he left, before he died.

"You're not dead," Daniel said with finality. The blue tinge of Thor's ship echoing the words between stale light particles.

"Yeah, thanks for that, stasis not being all they promised in the brochures." Jack sounded tired, bizarrely, considering how long he'd slept. “There’s no need to advertise it, though, seriously.”

"She wants something from us, Jack."

"Who does?" He was curious, happy, not as tired. The light was warmer, Jack bounced on his toes.

In the distance, Daniel heard sounds from the women's tent on Abydos; the sound of many women talking at once, when no men were present. Chatter carried on the wind, over the sands. The sound was wrong, it echoed in a large room.

"You can ask me anything, Daniel," Jack said, sand burn on his face stopping at the line on his forehead his cover had protected. The look was out of place in Daniel’s concrete office.

"Do you remember Sha're? Remember how we gave it up for lost and suddenly there was this revolution and it was all her?" Daniel's voice cracked on the last word and he looked down at the cavernous box as thought it held the echo of everything he wasn't saying: Before she was only Victim and Loss. Visible echoes.

Jack said, "I love a self-made entrepreneur; though I think she was probably way smarter than me too, which gets old."

"Entrepreneur of what? What did she get for all that, Jack?" Anger, naturally. He hated analyzing himself. Sometimes you just had to go with it and there was no ease in naming how much of an ass you were being. Sometimes the only solution was to name how much of an ass other people were being, intruding into memories.

"You, Daniel." It was against all fair laws that Daniel's voice felt even more likely to break and shatter when Jack spoke. He picked up a piece of pottery from the box to have something grounding, solid, less fragile, less dangerous, in hand. "Pretty good bargain."

Daniel looked down at the box, feeling the refutation too strongly to speak it. A burst of airconditioning lifted the edges of the box and raised with it the smell of baked stones, glaze, and a desert of shattered glass pieces, melting.

“I’m not the one you want to fight, you know,” Jack said, the ease completely jarring.

“My grandfather once told me that voices in your head always say that,” Daniel said, defeated.

Speak of Antarctica, talk of remarkable things.

"What did it feel like? In the chair?" Their noses were mere hair's breadth apart; hands on each other had helped synch up their breathing, and so they snuffed gentle puffs of air into each other's faces. Daniel resisted closing his eyes every time hot breath threatened to leave condensation on his eyelashes. At first it had been because he didn't want to miss anything, but he was beginning to suspect Jack was playing with him and it was becoming a point of pride not to blink.

At the question, Jack broke off his growingly comical loud breathing and drew back an inch so as to actually focus on Daniel's face. "I still knew you were there."

Daniel looked sideways and down, rephrasing the question while idly pondering how many years of training it took to get you to unconsciously drape your leg, post-coitally even, in a way most likely to give you leverage should you need to break into hand to hand combat. Jack had long legs, and Daniel could run his hand over them if he wanted to.

He pulled his palm in a line from hip to knee, feeling the hair slide coarsely along his lifeline, heart line, head line; he held his fingertips away from contact.

"What was it like, talking to the system? What did it sound like? What did you say?" He dropped his fingers to skin and carded backwards back up to Jack's hip and over, to backside.

What did it take to initialize the system?

"What?"

"What?"

"Jack," Daniel felt the panic well up and fall away, a quiet resignation seeping up in its place. "Did you initialize the system to respond to any of us?"

"You want to talk to her yourself? It felt like flying to me, Daniel, I didn't hear it in vowels and accents and," Jack fluttered his fingers on Daniel's chest in a minimized hand gesture, "dipthongs."

"Dipthongs?" Jack looked smug and wonderful, but Daniel saw years of long distance and loss. "It's not for me, Jack."

"Sure it is; anyone can do it. Of course, it's a weapon, so they'll probably use soldiers, not civilians." Daniel didn't remember it this way, didn't remember the question, didn't remember the asking, the answer; not like this, not those words, not that meaning. Different vowels, consonants and dipthongs. Same protective instinct.

"Okay," he said, catching half a breath in his throat, "So we'll be fine."

"Yeah, sure," Jack said, eyes steady, "No problems. Just watch."

The silence echoed so loudly Daniel couldn't hear Jack breathing any more.

We feared this, but will not let it stop us.

Daniel tipped his head forward in the deafening silence to rest his forehead against Jack's chin. "Good enough," he said.

"She go?" Jack said, "Think they bought it? I got a little carried away with the optimism at the end."

"Yeah, she’s gone," Daniel felt weary, heavy, “I think.” Muscles thick with molasses and current. "Thank you for protecting him," Daniel said. Jack smiled in a doting way and pulled in a deep, settling breath. Daniel’s grip tightened over Jack's knee and his heel pressed into Jack’s calf; ready to fight, ready to go down clinging. He pulled his head back to stare fiercely into Jack's eyes; they crinkled along the edges.

"What do you suppose they wanted?" Daniel worried that he was about to crack, from the interruptions, the rampant tug-of-war on his subconscious. His voice sounded like he was going to laugh, that was a bad sign.

"I don't know. I don't think she needs much of a reason." Jack's face tilted a little into the pillow; studying him. Daniel shut his eyes tightly. "I'll let you rest then, Dr. Jackson."

"Don't go," Daniel said, opening his eyes too quickly.

Jack smiled with the side of his mouth that was mostly buried in the pillow. He sounded so much like him. "Her influence is fading,” Jack said, weary “We won, time for us to sleep. She'll be back to wake you up soon, and we’ll have a full day of deception ahead of us."

"No." Daniel watched Jack's eyes like they were strange to him, felt the adrenaline beat his heart loudly. "Give me this; he'll leave me soon anyway." Time flexed and twisted, dreamlike. Daniel felt too aware of himself, laid open.

"But not die," Jack's smile widened to his whole mouth, his whole face; it was such a good replica, but Daniel had always had a good memory. "I'm not quite dead."

"Not quite, good lying, for whatever it’s worth," Daniel said, feeling the uncomfortable sleeping platform under him, recycled air drifting over his face; he was waking. "But you are quite gone. Or I am."

A glint in Jack's eye should have warned Daniel that he was up to something, but the light kiss to the nose was a surprise and he found himself smiling. Jack looked absolutely delighted. "That's a good look on you," he said, "You look in love."

"Merlin," Daniel said, sliding his arm up and around, pulling an unnaturally pliant Jack into an embrace on his chest and holding tightly, "Jack would never say that."

"Her influence is fading, I can’t tell what he would say," Jack said in a voice skin damped and echoing, "I’ll leave you for the moment; dream quickly."

Daniel closed his eyes and the world took on the red-tinged quality of the back of his eyelids. He tried fiercely to relive the feel of tentative steps and shaking fingers, of questions that had to be asked against skin and through hair, but the feelings slipped and slid and remained distant as ghosts.

The man in his arms breathed with the regularity of sleep, and that was right, that was how the memory went. Daniel drifted light fingers over his face, over the wrinkles and lines and spots of age. Daniel had witnessed those, had caused a few of them; it was grounding to have so much detail under his hands. While he could believe in the safety of it, Daniel let go and followed the old man into sleep.


~fin~
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From:kres
Date:April 11th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
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Whoa.

...

Eerie.

...

I gotta read this again.

And I really want to.

\o/
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
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\o/ My beta said it was kres-like (I rolled the r in my head this time)

Also, we have a tentative move-in date: May 1 That work for you? I'll know more early next week...
From:catspaw_sgjd
Date:April 11th, 2007 07:31 am (UTC)

Yay, onionfic!

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Oh excellent! :-) Twistiness and spookiness and guerilla dreams...

I've read this three times and I'm still finding nuances. Good job!
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Yay, onionfic!

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Wow, what a compliment. Thank you for reading it three times! Goodness! Also, guerilla dreams is a nifty turn of phrase. *ponders*
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From:jenlev
Date:April 11th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
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i adore how this begins, the various iterations of moments, the way you show that dislocation. wow.

and oh this is so very very jack: ""Yeah, thanks for that, stasis not being all they promised in the brochures." "

the ending is lovely and eloquent, the pace and cadence of this is remarkable.
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, Jen! Hee, such nice feedback. I'm all warm and blush-colored.
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From:advection
Date:April 11th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
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This is neat, and of course I love the way Jack figures in it. I'm glad you're doing more surreal, dream-logicky stuff. This situation is an ideal opportunity for that kind of piece, and I really like where it takes your prose.
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh thank you. That's a lovely compliment, and it's really nice to hear since this is so much fun to write and just let go with. The plotty stuff... is harder, and it tends to distract me from the words I'm using if I have to be so tuned in to other aspects.

Although the surreal stuff can feel remarkably self-indulgent. To the point where I wonder if I've crossed a line somewhere and just never noticed. Hee!

Glad you liked Jack. This all started when raqs said she missed Jack and Daniel and I had some disjointed images in my head that I needed to pull together somehow.
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From:green_grrl
Date:April 11th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
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Meep! I had to read it twice through. It feels like a morphine dream, but without the dreaminess. Does that make sense?

“I’m not the one you want to fight, you know,” Jack said, the ease completely jarring.
“My grandfather once told me that voices in your head always say that,” Daniel said, defeated.


Ouch!

Each little moment is a tiny portrait. Beautifully written!
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked it. I worried after every beta comment, that it was too obscure or that what was clear/neat/interesting to me was just confusing to everyone else. I'm really glad to hear it worked for you.
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From:raqs
Date:April 11th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)

glee

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Oh wow. I am so gobsmacked. This is very rich, lots of little currents and eddies and a walnut-capsule of their whole relationship, really. You are just too much. Thank you so much! What an awesome, awesome birthday present!
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)

Re: glee

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Hee! Your birthday was just really wonderfully timed, I've been messing with this for a while for you, and it was time to stop wondering if it was too obscure and just post the durned thing. So well done on the birthday having!
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From:starglyph
Date:April 12th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
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Surreal and beautiful, and so, so very clever.

*applauds*
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 13th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, thank you. I wasn't actually trying to be clever, actually, but I needed a *reason* for Daniel to be dreaming twistily about Jack, and that's all it was. Necessity being the mother of plot inspiration or something.
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From:teand
Date:April 13th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
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This reads like poetry. It has, for me, the rhythm of waves each one bringing an image to the shore and, like poetry, I need to read it more than once because the parts are more important than the whole. And man, does that ever sound pretentious... but I do mean it.

"Take the moment now, then.” Jack said softly, and then with the echo of familiarity, “Not broken.”

And that's ten years of J/D right there, all in one sentence.
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 14th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC)
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Wow, thank you so much! This whole thing came about because I really miss them, so I'm glad it felt like good, solid Jack and Daniel, even if there were far too many other personalities involved.
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 19th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
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Aw, thank you! And friend away, you are most welcome. You should know that I'm more likely to rec than write, but I have the softest of soft spots for Jack and Daniel. Post-season 8 just calls to me for J/D fic sometimes.
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From:tresa_cho
Date:May 6th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)

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Whew! Confusing >:3 I shall be forced to read it again to understand it. Nicely done.
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 3rd, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
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I am so sorry for the belated response, but thank you. Thank you very much for reading and I hope it wasn't too confusing. (smile)
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From:spacemonkeyphd2
Date:May 9th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
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*sniff* A little confusing to start with but so sweet and intimate. I felt so sad for Daniel in the end that it was just a dream. I miss our boys too, we definately need more J/D. :)
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 3rd, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
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I missed seeing this comment! I'm so sorry for the belated thank you, but I agree heartily that we need more J/D. *nods*

Thanks for reading, Monkey!
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From:sidlj
Date:May 16th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
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You know, I must have read this once, but left the link up because I didn't leave fb for whatever reason. So now I have read it twice, and I still don't know what to say!

Lovely, twisty scenario. With the subjects of the inquisition becoming the deceivers. And Daniel gets to snatch a few minutes of Jack's love and support even though he knows it's nowhere near reality.

He and Merlin make a good team, and you had a wonderful idea here!
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From:_minxy_
Date:April 3rd, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much for the compliment, Sid. I have no idea how this comment escaped notice, but what a wonderful discovery to find it! Thank you. Thanks for the comments and the praise and for reading twice!
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 15th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Oh, you are awesome.

What I think is unique about this story isn't that it's a play off someone messing with their minds and really, genuinely confusing them about reality, or nearly breaking them, even. It wasn't the setting and it wasn't the season. I think... I think it was a combination of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind idea, setting, pairing and style. But with a conceptual framework that let the focus be off Jack/Daniel and therefore reveal a lot more about them, and about Daniel. I think maybe what's unique is showing that Jack is Daniel's safe place, in a complex and multi-layered way (and nothing in their lives are simple, truly.) So.

I owe my ability to verbalize the next bit entirely to Synecdochic, who is much more eloquent on the subject: prose ought to reflect and drive the tone of the piece. Howling in the Factory Yard is disjointed, with short choppy sentences, an absence of pronouns, and abrupt scene shifts. Desert Made of Glass has looping sentences, a lot of descriptors, contradictions and constant scene-shifts (occasionally only partially shifting into or out of) to add to the confusion in measured amounts. If I did it well, you should have started with a sense of 'whaaaa?...' but just gone with it, having it feel inevitable and a little hopeless, certainly confusing but comforting in the moment. As Merlin reveals himself to Daniel, in words and images, the confusion of the scene shifts increases, even as the characters reveal themselves and their motives, and speak their own words (Adria, Merlin, present-Daniel.) But that's Adria driving, and Daniel resigning himself, Merlin stepping forward to protect the reveal of information about the Ancient weapons platform, while invading Daniel's mind and memories just as egregiously as Adria does.

Poor Daniel, really.

I have another comment from you, eeee! You're so good to me.
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From:_minxy_
Date:October 15th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
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I'm looking back and realizing that I was playing with really complex layers of motivation, and what people will do (ruthlessly) to achieve their objectives, on top of characters not being who they seem, and a very disjointed style.

I don't think I was terribly conscious of that at the time, so let me say that I'm *thrilled* that it worked as well as it did.
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