ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the January 3 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alatefeline. It also fills the "trust" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains intense topics. HANKIE WARNING! If it makes you cry, then I wrote it right. Highlight to read more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. This poem is positive overall, as it reunites Turq with his foster parents, but inevitably that makes it an emotional roller-coaster. Turq flibbers all morning until they arrive. He has hot-and-cold running skin hunger and touch aversion. Some of his trauma complicates things he used to do with his family. His memory is a mess. Ansel provides emotional support. Dao and Mingxia handle it by using some of the first-day rules for foster children as a familiar base for interaction. They talk about possible plans for the future, which is awkward because Turq doesn't feel he deserves anything good, and doesn't know about all the options in foster care. Mingxia also has a copy of Turq's memory book. They talk about adding to that. Turq doesn't want to put all the traumatic stuff in there, so Mingxia suggests starting a trauma scrapbook instead. Turq makes a valiant effort but runs out of cope and resorts to shapeshifting. His parents are startled by the transformations, but welcoming of his abilities. Much progress is made, but the whole day is just really rough for everyone. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward. However, this is a major plot point, so skipping it would destabilize much that comes afterwards.


"Together We Have It All"


Ansel looked forward to meeting
Turq's foster parents, but it was
all Ansel could do to keep Turq from
going to pieces before they even arrived.

Turq jittered and twitched and whimpered.
He paced around the yard in circles.

He switched shapes back and forth
until he mismatched something
that left him limping.

After that, Ansel put a stop to it.
"I understand that you're feeling
all wound up right now, but this is
not helping," he said. "Let's try
something else for a while. We
can sit and meditate -- I've seen
you doing that before -- and if it
doesn't work after ten minutes,
we'll try another idea then."

Turq leaned against him and
just shook. "Okay. I'll try."

They were still trying to meditate
when the car pulled up the driveway.

A graceful, muscular man got out.
He wore dainty wire-frame glasses and
comfortable brown clothes. His dark hair
was thickly threaded with silver.

His wife was a little shorter and plumper.
Her short brown hair was sun-bleached
to mahogany streaked with gold.

Turq had completely frozen in place.

Ansel stepped up smoothly.
"Hi, I'm Ansel Nicholson, also known
as Officer Pink," he said, holding out
a hand. "Welcome to my home."

"Dao Liáng, and this is my wife Mingxia,"
the older man said. He shook hands, but
bowed a little over their clasped fingers
as if he'd never quite abandoned
his first style of greeting.

"Do you hug, or shake hands?"
Mingxia asked. The corners of
her eyes crinkled with her smile.

"I hug with friends," Ansel said.

She squashed nicely, pressed
against him, in a way that untied
some of the knots that the morning
had made of his muscles.

Footsteps scuffed against
the wooden floor of the gazebo
behind them, and there was squeak
that might have been meant as "Hi."

"This is my friend Turq," Ansel said,
letting go of Mingxia to beckon
him into the meeting.

Turq was staring at his family like
a snake with a diamond ring in its mouth.

"It's good to see you," Dao said,
offering Turq his hand.

Turq gave a jerky bow, then
stopped wringing his hands
long enough to shake with Dao.

Mingxia spread her hands, inviting
Turq to choose his own greeting.
"Hello, sweetie," she said.

Turq bowed again, a little smoother
this time, then threw his arms
around her and hung on for
dear life. "Thought I'd never
see you again," he choked.

"I thought that too," Mingxia said
as her hands came up to stroke his back.
"I am so glad that we were wrong."

After a moment, Turq pulled away,
and then didn't seem to know
what to do with himself.

"How was the drive?" Ansel asked.

"Oh, it was beautiful," Mingxia said.
"I love your neighborhood. You
are so lucky to live here!"

"It used to be a resort," Ansel said.
"When that went bankrupt, the property
was broken up into smaller lots and sold off,
except for the central facilities which are now
owned collectively by the neighborhood. It's
a good arrangement; we like it a lot."

He and Mingxia filled the air with
gentle small talk, hoping to help Turq
relax enough the pick up the thread.

"I helped Ansel plant flowers,"
Turq said eventually. "It was
nice to do that again."

"What did you plant?" Mingxia asked.

"Spring bulbs -- we found daffodils in
a Free Seeds box, and then Ansel bought
some tulips," Turq said, waving a hand.
"They're all around the gazebo here."

"I look forward to seeing those
bloom in the spring," Mingxia said.

"Yeah, yeah," Turq said, a little
too quickly. He licked his lip.
"They'll bloom in spring. If they
don't die during the winter."

"Daffodils and tulips are tough,"
Mingxia said. "I think they'll survive."

"I think so too," Ansel agreed.
"We have some older ones that
bloom like crazy every year."

Turq skittered around, in and out
of the group and their conversation.

He washed up against Dao, and
leaned there for a long minute
until Dao surreptitiously curled
his fingers around Turq's wrist.

"Don't," Turq snapped,
yanking his arm away.

"I am sorry," Dao said,
dipping his head in a bow.
"Please forgive me."

Turq sighed. "It's not
your fault. I'm just ...
pretty fucked up now."

Mingxia bit her lip, and
even Ansel had a hard time
reining in his instinct to argue
with Turq's self-recrimination.

"Shall we reset permissions
to zero for now?" Dao asked.
"Would first day rules help?"

"Yeah." Turq nodded, and
drifted back toward them. "Yeah,
I think it would help a lot to have
something familiar to hold onto."

"Then it's a good thing I brought
cookies," Mingxia said, and went to
the car. Soon she came back with
a yin-yang travel plate. "These are
Chinese five-spice cookies, and
these are peanut butter cookies."

Ansel held himself to one of each,
just as Dao and Mingxia were doing.

It was hard. The cookies were delicious,
and he hadn't gotten much breakfast.
Turq had taken two bites of oatmeal
before he started pacing around, and
Ansel hadn't wanted to leave him alone.

"Thank you," he said sincerely.
"These things taste amazing."

"You're welcome," Mingxia said,
and began reciting the ingredients --
from both recipes -- from memory.

Turq devoured the rest of the cookies.
Well, at least his appetite was back.

"That was great," he said as he
licked cookie crumbs from his fingers.

"What are you feeling right now?"
Dao asked, looking at Turq.

"Mixed up," Turq said. "I want
to be with you ... but I have
all these new triggers, and
I don't know, it's just ... hard."

"What's hard?" Mingxia said
as she took the empty plate back.

"Everything." Turq's voice cracked.

"We could sit down for a while and
talk about things," Dao said, "or just sit,
if talking is too difficult right now."

Turq looked at the gazebo.
A gust of cold, damp wind made
the plastic flaps flutter against
the wooden sides of the structure.

"I don't know, maybe ..." he said.

"How would you feel about going
indoors?" Ansel asked carefully.

Turq took a deep breath, opening
and closing his hands. "I can try,"
he agreed. "It's freezing out here."

It really was, especially since Turq
didn't have his fur on at the moment.

"Please come in," Ansel invited,
waving everyone toward the stairs.
"Turq might need to step out sometimes,
but that's okay, I enjoy playing host."

"Thank you," Dao and Mingxia chorused
as they followed him up to the main floor.

Turq trailed behind, taking one slow step
at a time, but he made it all the way to
the top and into the living room.

Dao and Mingxia settled onto the couch.
"This is a safe place," Dao said. "Turq,
find somewhere that feels good to you."

Turq took the wooden chair in the corner,
which left the other one for Ansel.

"We want you to feel comfortable with us,"
Mingxia said. "Is there anything we
could to do to help that along?"

Turq shook his head. "Nothing
feels safe anymore," he said.

Mingxia looked sad. "Okay,"
she said. "Thanks for telling us."

Dao looked like he wanted
to kill someone. He had
his temper under iron lock
and chain, but Ansel could see
that thought in the tension around
his eyes and the corners of his mouth.

Ansel couldn't blame him. What had
happened to Turq made him angry, too.

"If anyone makes you feel unsafe,
then you can tell me, and I will
deal with it," Dao said to Turq.

"You can always come to us for help,"
Mingxia added. "We know that can take
a while to get used to. We'll be patient."

"Even though I'm not yours anymore?"
Turq whispered, looking up at them.

"Do you remember when you first came
to stay with us?" Mingxia said, and when
Turq nodded, she asked, "What did we
say then about belonging to a family?"

"That love makes a family, and that
I'd always be part of yours, even if
I moved away later," Turq said.

Mingxia pulled out her wallet
and showed off a picture of
a tow-headed boy. "See, I
still carry your picture along --"

"Is that the family altar?" Turq said,
pouncing on a different photo. "It
looks so different. It's so crowded!"

"Well, we've had a busy time,"
Mingxia said. "We've met a lot of
new people since you saw it last."

"Oh," Turq said suddenly,
touching the picture with
his fingertip. "I'm still there?"

"Of course you're still there,"
Mingxia said. "We don't take
people off the family altar. Once
you're on it, Turq, you stay on it."

He sniffled. "But I can't really go back."

"You can't," Dao said. "However,
we can go forward. Would you
like to talk about that now?"

"What's to talk about?" Turq said.

"I don't know what your situation
is here, but --" Dao began.

"Turq has been staying with me,
and he's welcome to keep doing that
or make other arrangements," Ansel said.

"That's good to know," Dao said.
"The foster care system offers a range
of options for people as they grow up."

"But I'm nineteen," Turq said.
"I'm too old for foster care."

"Actually, you're not," Dao said.
"People can choose to leave care,
or stay with a foster family, or get
partial support while they figure out
how to live independently as adults.
Depending on the program, that can
last until someone is twenty-two."

"Really?" Turq said, leaning forward.
"I've missed you so much. I wish --
I know it's awful of me, but I wish I had
someone to take care of me sometimes.
I just thought I'd outgrown the system."

"In special cases, extended care
is available," Dao said. "I know you
haven't told us everything, but you've
said enough to know that your situation
definitely qualifies. The system failed you
utterly, and you're not in good shape
to take care of yourself right now."

Turq picked at a stray thread on
his jeans. "I don't know what I want."

"That's okay," Mingxia said. "We don't
know either. It's too soon. We can
start thinking about our options
and our feelings, though."

"Like what?" Turq said.

"The basement bedroom is
empty right now," Mingxia said.
"If you like, we can reserve that
for you, in case you need a place
to stay, or just to come visit."

"I remember that room," Turq said
with a faint smile. "I used to imagine
moving down there, if we ..."

"I remember you saying that,
when we were talking about
adoption," Mingxia said. "That's
still a possibility too, if you think
it's something you might want."

"It can be made retroactive,
in certain cases," Dao said.
"What happened to us was
a mess -- there were things
that should have been done
but weren't -- which means
Family Services owes us all."

Turq looked at them, his face
filled with naked longing and pain,
until he started gasping for breath.

"Turq, remember to breathe,"
Ansel murmured. "Air is good."

"Yeah," Turq said, struggling
to get his breath back. "Okay.
I still don't know what I want,
but it's nice to be asked."

"You're a legal adult now,"
Dao said. "That means you
decide what to do with your life,
and we'll support your choices
to the best of our ability."

"It's hard to believe that you
even still want me," Turq said.
"I'm such a mess, and I was
only with you for six months."

A strange look crossed Dao's face.
"Turq, you weren't with us for
six months," he said. "You
were with us for eighteen."

Turq twitched so hard that
he almost fell out of the chair.
"A year?" he said, bewildered.
"I lost a year? How did, how did
I manage to lose that much time?"

"Foster care can be confusing,"
Mingxia said. "That's what
memory books are for.
Do you still have yours?"

"No," Turq said, shaking his head.
Tears trickled down his cheeks. "I
lost everything when I -- when they --"

"Would you like us to check on that
for you?" Dao asked. "Whenever
a child disappears from care, then
the foster parents have to return
all of his personal possessions to
Family Services for safekeeping,
in case he comes back later."

"Yeah, that's -- I think that
would be good," Turq said.
"It's so hard to think, I can't
really keep track of anything.
My memory is wrecked."

"Then it's lucky that I brought
the family copy of your memory book,"
Mingxia said. "I will go get it from the car."

Ansel got up to let her out, and
then came back to check on Turq.
"How are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm all --" Turq turned his hands
over and back. "But it's good, or
as good as it can be. I'm glad
for the chance to reconnect."

Mingxia came back with
not just the memory book,
but also two big plastic tubs,
one divided into smaller trays
and the other stuffed full of
binders and scrapbook paper.

She sat down on the rug
and opened the memory book
across her lap. "Shall we look at
this together?" she invited.

Turq scrambled down to join her.
"Yeah," he said. "It's been ages since
I've seen mine. I forgot so much, but
I don't know why, this was before
the worst stuff happened to me."

"I'll help you remember,"
Mingxia said. "Look, here's
your first placement, and these
fell in between, and then you
came to live with us. This
was your first day."

As she turned the pages, Ansel
caught glimpses of Turq's life.

He recognized the style, because
Family Services had blank pages
to print out and fill in, which Ansel had
seen foster children carrying before.

There was the page that read, Why I
Don't Live with My Mother or Father.

The lines about fighting and drinking
were checkmarked, along with them
not thinking they had any problems.

Underneath on the blank lines,
it said in childish, inch-high letters,
I felt awfull all the time im glad their gon.

Ansel's heart ached for little Turq,
having to deal with all of that.

Some of the placements only had
a single page, but the Liáng family had
filled out a placement page, a first day page,
one on trust, and all kinds of other things.

In addition to the usual pages,
there were dozens of collage frames
with photographs stuck inside them.
Some squares had handwritten notes
or keepsakes instead of images.

The Family page had the family altar
and snapshots of the parents and kids.
Relax showed Turq meditating with Dao
and cooking in the kitchen with Mingxia.
In Memory held a black-and-white photo
of an old woman who must be Dao's mother.

"I remember this," Turq said, touching
the photo. "We went to her funeral."

"Yes, you did," said Dao. "You
followed all the rules perfectly.
I was so impressed with you,
even though I was sad that day."

"It's a good memory," Turq said,
and then he turned the page.

Each month had a page of its own,
and there were two for Turq's birthday.
Each holiday had an entry too; Ansel
saw Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Turq stopped Mingxia on
the Thanksgiving page. "We had
a feast here for that holiday," he said.
"Ansel's girlfriend Janie came over, and
their friend Jasper, and our healer Ethan
who got called out and came back in
a total wreck. Janie fried the turkey
and it was so good and we made
campfire rice in pumpkins."

"That sounds memorable,"
Mingxia said. "Did you take
any pictures to help remember it?"

"I'm sorry, no, I didn't think of that,"
Ansel said, feeling foolish. He knew
how useful snapshots could be
to people with memory issues.
"Let me see, though ..."

"What?" Turq asked, perking up.

Quickly Ansel scrolled through
the pictures on his smartphone.

"I do have pictures of me, Janie, and
Jasper. I don't have Ethan, he's shy,"
said Ansel, offering his phone. "I have
some of earlier campfires, and then
one from last year's turkey fry."

"You can use those, just remember
to note the difference in the dates,"
Mingxia said as she copied the photos.
"A lot of times, we don't have exactly
the pictures we wish for, so then we
have to improvise what we can."

Ansel had seen where some of
the pages held magazine clippings
or artwork instead of photos. Most
of Turq's baby pictures were missing,
except for some from hospital records.

"Thank you," Turq said softly.

Ansel was starting to feel
like an eavesdropper, though,
and Dao seemed little better.

"I don't know about you, but I could
use more than just cookies," Ansel said,
looking at Dao. "Would you like to join me
in the kitchen? We can make sandwiches."

"I'm happy to help," Dao said as he
followed Ansel into the kitchen.

Ansel wanted a little bit of a distraction,
but not too much, and he wanted to offer
his guests something straightforward yet tasty.

After a brief discussion of ingredients, they
set to work. Ansel made finger sandwiches
filled with cream cheese and either tomatoes
or smoked salmon. Dao stuffed pita pockets
with Chinese chicken or plain hummus.

"Would you get the snack tray?"
Ansel asked Dao as he wiped down
the counter. "It's on top of the frigidaire."

"I'll get it," Dao said. As he reached up,
the cuffs of his shirt slid back to reveal
old, pale scars twining along his forearms,
part of a horned head on the left, and
then a clawed paw on the right.

"Oh my God -- are those real?"
Ansel exclaimed. "I'm sorry, that was
rude, you don't have to answer that."

Dao raised his eyebrows. "If you mean
are they genuine Shaolin temple brands,
then yes, they are," he said. He unbuttoned
his cuffs and pushed up the sleeves just enough
to display the dragon and the tiger. Then he
tugged his sleeves back into place again.
"Here is your snack platter."

"Yeah, thanks," Ansel said.

He hid his embarrassment by
fussing with the sandwiches, putting
each flavor into its own section of the tray.
Then he grabbed a bunch of grapes
to fill the circle in the center.

"I am not ashamed of my scars,"
Dao said. "You should not be
ashamed to ask about them."

"I'm not ashamed, I just
didn't mean to pry," Ansel said.
"I have my own mementos, although
most of them aren't that exciting."

Dao looked at the colorful tattoos
that covered Ansel's left forearm.
"They are beautiful," he said.

"These are," Ansel said.
"This one is more memorable."
He pushed up his right sleeve
to show the fading brown outline.

"Is that a handprint?" Dao
leaned in to take a closer look.

"Yes," Ansel said. "Turq gave me this
the day we first met -- it was my fault, I was
thinking like a cop, not like a trauma counselor."
He rubbed a hand over the old nerve burn.
"It's a valuable reminder that not all problems
can or should be solved with force."

"That is absolutely true,"
Dao said with a solemn nod.
"Remarkable imprint, though --
it looks almost like a lightning burn."

"The effect is similar, so the doctors
told me it would fade in a few days, but it
didn't," Ansel said. Then he sighed. "It's fading
now, though. I'll miss it when it's gone. I am
half-tempted to get it inked, but ... that's not fair
to Turq. He still flinches every time he sees it."

"I think that's something the two of you
should discuss together," Dao said. "Do it
soon, before the mark fades and you lose
the chance. Turq might surprise you."

"I'll think about it." Ansel tugged
his sleeve down. "I don't want
to push him too hard. He's got
enough on his plate already."

"That's kind of you," Dao said.
"Speaking of plates, let's go take
these sandwiches to the living room."

Ansel let Dao carry the tray, and
snagged six-pack of Azure Cap in
assorted flavors, so folks would have
something to drink with the food.

Mingxia and Turq sat in a flurry
of printed pages, plain paper, stickers,
and other scrapbook embellishments.

"Here, have something to eat,"
Ansel suggested, offering the tray.

"Yay food," Turq said softly,
digging into the sandwiches.
"Thanks for making lunch."

Ansel helped himself to
a smoked salmon sandwich
and a nice handful of grapes.
"It was no trouble at all."

Mingxia helped Turq
sort through the craft items.
"Think about which ones you
like," she said. "Maybe ask
your friend to pick some too."

Ansel dutifully suggested two:
a bright blue frame with snowflakes
and a teal one that said Family
and Awesome in the corners.

"Thank you for inviting me
to help," he said to Turq.

"You're part of Turq's story now,"
Mingxia said. "Adding new pages
to his memory book will help him
remember what has happened."

Suddenly Turq scrambled back.

"I don't want all of that in there,"
he said. "I like my old book
the way it is. It's good. I
don't want to mess it up."

"You don't consider Ansel
an important part of your life?"
Mingxia asked, looking worried.

"Yeah, okay, a page or two about
him and Thanksgiving and stuff is fine
but -- not everything else," Turq said.

"All right," Mingxia said. "Do you hate
the idea of tracking your other memories?
If they rattle around loose in your head,
that tends to get very uncomfortable."

"I know my head is a wreck,"
Turq said, his voice tightening.
"It's just, I don't want to mess up
my old memories, the good ones."

"How about making a different book
for your newer memories, the hard ones?"
Mingxia said. "I brought different binders,
in case you wanted to separate things."

"Yeah," Turq said. "Okay. That works."

He pawed through the offerings until
he found one that suited his tastes.
"I like this one," he said. "It locks."

"That's a biometric lock," Mingxia said.
"Anything you put in there will say private."

"Good," Turq said. He read the instructions,
keyed the lock, and then opened the binder.
Black pages fanned out. He sighed.
"Well, that's no use at all."

"The pages come out," Mingxia said.
"You don't like the black paper?"

"Not for this," Turq said, shaking
his head. "It needs to be white."

"I thought that was for weddings,"
Ansel said. "I've seen albums
made for that, white all through."

"In China, white is the color
of death, and black is the color
of life," Dao said quietly.

"And red is auspicious, that
means lucky," Turq added.

"Choose whatever you like,"
Mingxia said. "If you want to start
a trauma scrapbook, I have packets
of pages for different topics -- feelings,
PTSD, trauma healing goals, boundaries,
self-care, and all the usual journal stuff."

"I'll try," Turq said. "I like crafts."

He shuffled around the papers,
stacking up some white ones and
one black-and-white page with skulls.

Then he started making little bundles
of the more therapeutic pages, and
his hands began to slow down.

"If you like those normal-sized pages,
then you can tape or glue them onto
a twelve-by-twelve background so that
they'll match the others," Mingxia said.

"Yeah, I remember doing that with
the memory book," Turq said. "Maybe
use a line of some other color for contrast."

"I don't have any with me, but at home
I have some liner tape," said Mingxia.

Something in the latest packet
of printouts must have upset Turq,
because he yanked his hand back
as if the paper had been red-hot.

Turq balled up with his arms
wrapped around his knees,
rocking back and forth.

"You look upset," Mingxia said.
"What would help you feel better?"

"I don't want to be the human anymore,
it hurts too much," Turq said, looking
at Ansel. "Can I stop now?"

"It's your choice," Ansel said.
"Go on and change if you need to."

The ball of miserable young man
turned into a ball of periwinkle ferret.

"Oh!" Mingxia exclaimed. "That's new."

"He's had it for a while," Ansel said.
They had explained about Turq's abilities,
more or less, but there was a difference
between hearing and seeing it happen.

"You're his friend," Mingxia said.
"Do you know any of his coping skills,
resilience factors, or what else might help?"

"You're looking at it," Ansel said. "Turq
feels the trauma more in his human form, so
he shifts to deal with it. Our healer says that's
healthy -- it lets him rest, and feel something
pleasant instead of painful for a change."

"Good plan, then," Dao said firmly.
"If shapeshifting gives him a break from
the trauma responses, then it's probably
doing more than most medications could."

"Ethan said almost exactly the same thing,"
Ansel said. "It seems to be helping, slowly."

He only had half an eye on his guests,
though. Most of his attention was on
the ferret, who was ... sort of squirming,
very faintly, in a way that inched him closer
to Mingxia one hair's width at a time.

"What's he doing?" she wondered,
watching Turq with a worried look.

"The only times I've seen the ferret
have been when he wanted to be
picked up and carried," Ansel said.

"Okay," she said. "I can do that."

Mingxia reached out toward Turq,
slowly enough that he could move
if he wished to avoid contact. When
he stayed put, she scooped up
the fuzzy knot of ferret and
deposited him in her lap.

"Keep an eye on him," Ansel said.
"Turq likes to cuddle, but sometimes
close spaces make him uncomfortable."

"You mentioned that earlier," she said.
"I'm amazed that he lasted this long inside."

"So am I, but Turq is full of surprises,"
Ansel said. "He keeps impressing me.
He has also indicated that he has you
to thank for a lot of his survival skills."

"We do what we can," Mingxia said,
stroking the ferret's curving spine.

"It's good to see some people helping
instead of hurting," Ansel agreed.

Mingxia smiled at him. "I know
that you do, too," she said. "You are
a catcher in the rye, Ansel Nicholson.
You keep the young ones safe."

"I do my best," he replied.

The ferret looked up at Ansel,
groomed his whiskers vigorously,
and then flowed off Mingxia's lap.

A moment later, the ferret was
replaced by the much larger caney.

"Fúshī!" Dao exclaimed. "You said
that Turq had many shapes, but you
did not say one was a fu dog!"

"He calls that form the caney,"
Ansel said helpfully.

Turq flopped onto his back,
waving his paws in the air.

"In a dog, that would mean
pet me or possibly play with me,"
Mingxia said. "How much does Turq
understand when he's like this?"

"Plenty," Ansel said. "He can't talk
right now, but he understands a lot of
what we're saying. He just doesn't think
about it the same way that he might in
human form. He can even answer
yes-or-no questions, right Turq?"

The caney nodded, then moved to where
he could put his head in Mingxia's lap.

Tentatively she stroked him.
"Oh!" she said. "He is so soft."

"Yeah, his fur is amazing," Ansel said.
"Sometimes we brush each other.
It's soothing for both of us."

"Like a brushing protocol?"
Mingxia said. "That works for you?"

"It was Ethan's idea," Ansel said.
"I got groped --" He ran a hand through
his thistlebloom hair. "-- and Turq took care
of me, helped me settle down afterwards.
Later on, Ethan brought over a bunch
of different brushes for us to try, and
we've been doing it ever since."

Turq rolled off of Mingxia and trotted away.

"Oh dear, we've scared him off," she said.
"Maybe we should change the subject."

"No, he's heading toward the bathroom,"
Ansel said, his ears following the sound
of Turq's footsteps on the hardwood floor.
"Let's wait and see what happens."

A minute later, Turq came back with
one of his brushes held delicately in
his mouth. He dropped it in front of
Mingxia with an expectant look.

"Would you like me to brush you?"
she asked, and Turq nodded.
"All right, come here and I will."

He plopped himself where she
could reach him, the tip of his tail
waving slowly back and forth.

Mingxia swept the brush over him
in long smooth strokes, working from
the base of his head down his back
and then all along the sides.

Turq gave the odd, trilling purr
that he made when he was happy.

"That sounds like a good noise?"
Mingxia said, looking at Ansel.

"Yes, he purrs that way," Ansel said
and Turq nodded agreement.

Before long, though, Turq's purring
turned to faint canine snores. Mingxia
chuckled. "I've put him to sleep," she said.

"That's okay, he can use the rest,"
Ansel said. "I think that we can
declare this meeting a success."

"Yes," Dao said. "We may not have it
all together, but together we have it all.

* * *

Notes:

Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) -- He has ruddy skin and hazel eyes. His hair starts out light brown but he has it changed to pink by Paintrix, after which it also tends to stand straight up. He discovers that the pink color just feels right for him, and decides to keep it. Ansel is tall and athletic, with a rectangular face, wide shoulders, and trim hips. He is heterosexual and has a girlfriend. He sleeps so deeply that he's easy to sneak up on after he's asleep.
Ansel works on the Bluehill police force. He often volunteers for youth outreach and other public speaking. His pink hair helps other soups identify him, breaks the ice at presentations, and encourages people to ask him for help. On the downside, it also makes forks and other bigots hate him.
Origin: Upset by the increase in bullying, Ansel starts doing presentations at schools in Bluehill. The kids give him the idea of coloring his hair pink so he can see firsthand how people treat someone who is visibly different.
Uniform: On duty, Ansel wears the Bluehill police uniform. Off duty, he likes casual, sporty clothes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Expert (+4) Citizen, Expert (+4) Cop, Expert (+4) People Skills, Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Catcher in the Rye, Good (+2) Cheerful, Good (+2) Jigsaw Puzzles, Good (+2) Kindness, Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Problem-Solving Skills
Poor (-2) Deep Sleeper
Powers: Average (0) Moral Compass, Average (0) Wild Pink Hair
Motivation: To make the world a kinder place.

Turq (Drustan Moreau) -- He has pale skin and hazel eyes with hints of blue, green, and gray. His hair was originally brown, but is turning turquoise from the top down. His eyebrows, beard, and mustache are still brown. His ears are pierced. He is slim and muscular with a heart-shaped face. He is left-handed. Drustan is Scorpio with Pisces as a moon sign. His heritage includes Welsh, French, and German. Following incidents of child abuse and neglect, he grew up in the foster care system, so he has no real family support. The results of that have not been very good.
Sold by his foster parents, Drustan fell prey to a mad scientist whose disturbing experiments gave him superpowers. The body horror from his ordeal has left him full of dread and melancholy, making it difficult for him to connect with people. He also gets anxious about being tied up, locked in, or confined in any other way. That has given him a nasty set of striationary marks, more than once.
Turq works as a supervillain; he is a capable thief and a useful distraction, but iffy in a real fight. Most often he uses the shapeshifting, although his neural blast allows him to disorient people or shock them unconscious depending how much force he puts into it. He does his best to conceal the drawbacks of his superpowers, because he doesn't want anyone to take advantage of him. He is fatalistic about injuries and resistant to help. His cape name is a double tap. It's short for turquoise, in reference to his hair. It also touches on the Turk chess machine, which in Terramagne was not a hoax but an early gizmo.
Origin: Mad science torture. The supervillain Carl Bernhardt locked Drustan in a strange metal chamber and bombarded him with mysterious energies that caused his body to warp. He escaped when he finally manifested teleportation. Now he works as a henchman for hire.
Uniform: Street clothes. He prefers clothes with stripes, spots, or other patterns because they hide bloodstains better. Usually he wears dark or neutral colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adaptable, Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Comforting When Fuzzy, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Supervillain Henchman
Poor (-2) Body Horror
Powers: Average (0) Teleporting, Average (0) Neural Blast, Average (0) Regeneration, Average (0) Shapeshifting
His alternate forms include caney, deer, and ferret. In caney form he has a violet gland with a pronounced floral scent, which is less intense but still present in his other shapes.
Vulnerability: Turq has difficulty controlling his superpowers. Shapeshifting screws up his body in ways that leave him coughing and vomiting blood afterwards. However, he can heal the damage -- anything that doesn't kill him instantly probably can't kill him at all. Teleporting can leave him disoriented and twitching from misconnected nerves, or scrambled inside, or all of the above. He actually travels by disintegrating and then reintegrating somewhere else, rather than by blinking from one place to another the way most teleporters do.
Motivation: Get through the day without screaming too much.

This is the picture that Mingxia carries of Turq as a child.


Dao Liáng -- He has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and short black hair rapidly going gray. Dao's family moved from China to America when he was a little boy, as political refugees. He is the older brother of Fang who is a lawyer, husband of Mingxia Liáng, brother-in-law of his wife's younger sisters Mingmei and Mingyu, and father of Baozhen (deceased girl), Baozhai (girl), and Chung (boy). Dao and Mingxia have also parented a number of foster children, including Turq. Currently they have a white girl, Gwenllian (whom they have adopted); and two black brothers, Zachariah and Zaire (waiting to see what happens). Dao speaks Chinese and English with equal fluency, using Chinese as the home language so that the children can learn it. His day job is providing first aid at events.
Dao's first daughter Baozhen was born with serious medical problems, which required her parents to give up the foster children they had at the time -- including Turq -- because all the time and money went into taking care of her. Baozhen died at the age of two. Dao regrets that necessity, and it was his idea to try tracking down all the foster kids they let go of. The oldest girl, Andeana, was happy to reconnect with them and is currently in college. The next-younger boy, Benedict, refused to have anything to do with them. They haven't found the girl Jada, who was just older than Turq, or the infant boy Seth.
Dao enjoys painting American subjects in Chinese style. He also likes many Chinese games such as mahjong and go. In Shaolin kung fu, he favors the staff but works bare-handed too. Dao uses his creative skills toward timebinding -- creating a personal narrative that helps make sense of your life path, and being able to pass that along to other people. It's particularly useful for folks who have had a rough time, such as refugees or abused children. Because his family had to flee China due to politics, he's skittish about that, and prefers to avoid the topic unless it's urgent like with an election coming up.
Qualities: Master (+6) Father, Master (+6) Paramedic, Expert (+4) Benevolence, Expert (+4) Chinese-American Painting, Expert (+4) Home Repairs, Good (+2) Chinese Games, Good (+2) Shaolin Kung Fu, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence, Good (+2) Timebinding
Poor (-2) Gunshy About Politics


Mingxia Liáng -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and short wavy hair that grows in brown but bleaches to auburn in the sun. Mingxia's family moved from China to America when she was a teenager, as religious refugees because they practice Falun Gong. She is the older sister of Mingmei and Mingyu, wife of Dao Liáng, sister-in-law of his younger brother Fang who is a lawyer, and mother of Baozhen (deceased girl), Baozhai (girl), and Chung (boy). Mingxia and Dao have also parented a number of foster children, including Turq. Currently they have a white girl, Gwenllian (whom they have adopted); and two black brothers, Zachariah and Zaire (waiting to see what happens). Mingxia speaks Chinese and English with equal fluency, using Chinese as the home language so that the children can learn it. Her day job is raising endangered plants native to Missouri.
Mingxia's first daughter Baozhen was born with serious medical problems, which required her parents to give up the foster children they had at the time -- including Turq -- because all the time and money went into taking care of her. Baozhen died at the age of two. Mingxia still feels sad and guilty about all of those losses. She has been trying ever since to track down all the foster kids they let go of. The oldest girl, Andeana, was happy to reconnect with them and is currently in college. The next-younger boy, Benedict, refused to have anything to do with them. They haven't found the girl Jada, who was just older than Turq, or the infant boy Seth. Mingxia has done diligent therapy to cope with what happened, but the uncertainty of the missing children has made it hard to finish processing.
Qualities: Master (+6) Mother, Master (+6) Horticulturalist, Expert (+4) Emotional First Aide, Expert (+4) Falun Gong, Expert (+4) Sensitive, Good (+2) Comfort Food, Good (+2) Holistic Thinking, Good (+2) Multicultural Awareness, Good (+2) Stone Painting
Poor (-2) Maternal Guilt

* * *

“Family: We might not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
-- Unknown

This is the home of Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) which used to be part of a resort alongside a lake. When the resort closed, the rental cabins were parceled into individual lots and sold, while some of the resort's main facilities -- such as the lodge and the main boating dock -- were set aside as neighborhood resources. See the exterior, lower floor, main living floor, and loft.

Ansel's version of this gazebo has built-in storage benches where the seats lift or doors open to access the cabinets underneath. The two end benches have end doors that open at the entrance of the gazebo. The two middle benches have seats that lift up. The center back bench has front doors. There is a large central light and smaller running lights overhead.

Ansel's firepit is typical of the small ones found in many of the larger yards. It's a comfortable gathering spot for about a dozen people.

Ansel's bedroom has a subtle blend of masculine and feminine features. His bathroom is through the kitchen. Not visible from here, the kitchen is divided from the living room by a dining/buffet bar. Underneath the bar is a large hinged leaf that can be brought up to form a dining table. The wide end of the loft, which faces the lake, has a game room. The side of the loft is a home gym. The small end of the loft, which faces the driveway, has a futon with a matching coffee table that can be hidden by a pair of folding screens.

Aging out is a serious issue in foster care, and the system has a dismal 4% success rate if you look at college graduation as a benchmark of preparation for independent adulthood. In local-America, the transition can be abrupt and destructive, and many teens become homeless as a direct result. In Terramagne-America, this is recognized as a fundamental failure of the system to provide vulnerable youth with what they need to become successful adults. If the government fails to restore the child's original family or find a replacement adoptive family, then the government is on the hook as the "family support," permanently. Much the same thing can be declared in cases where the foster system egregiously failed to protect a child in its care, as happened with Turq. Family Services will wind up owing him a massive amount of cash and support for damages, once everything has been tallied up. As foster teens approach majority, they should develop an exit plan with their social worker. Some L-American states such as Florida offer a range of choices to foster youth when they turn 18, similar to what T-America has.

Foster parents need special skills to deal with damaged youth. Foster children often shift emotional age erratically, as Turq does here. They need extra help to form healthy relationships due to disrupted attachments. It takes a lot of work before mistreated children can learn to trust adults. There are tips for making it easier on the first day and first night in a new placement. For children who have gone through multiple placements, this becomes a familiar routine which helps them adjust. In this case, Turq's foster parents started out trying to reconnect the relationship they had with him before, but quickly realized that his traumatic experiences during their separation made so many changes, they would need to renegotiate a lot of stuff. First-day rules offer a framework for that.

Mingxia brought a yin-yang travel plate full of Chinese 5-Spice and Everything Nice Cookies and Healthy Peanut Butter Protein Cookies.

Mingxia also brought basic and advanced scrapbooking materials. One tub holds papers and binders. Another holds trays of tools and supplies. Scrapbooks come in many sizes. Standard 8 1/2 x 11" pages can be converted to 12x12" scrapbook pages by placing the smaller page upright or horizontally onto a larger background. Learn how to start a scrapbook.

Liner tape is very helpful if you want to subdivide big pages or put a smaller page onto a larger background. In scrapbooking stores you can find washi tape in various sizes. Here are some examples of metallic washi tape. In officer stores you can find liner tape in assorted styles meant for marking whiteboards.

Children in foster care can benefit from a memory book or life book. Here are some resources about creating one and a slideshow about life books. It is crucial that children participate willingly in making and updating their memory book, once they are old enough to do so. If you force them to do it, put in or take out things against their will, then it changes from a helpful tool to yet another betrayal and a way of humiliating them with their fucked-up life. This manual for social workers explains how to do it right. There are instructions for foster parents and children too. You can buy a blank foster care memory book to fill in, or print out a free one. L-America has few premade scrapbook pages and embellishments for foster care and adoption, but T-America has a lot more. Some general pages can be repurposed for use in memory books, too.

Turq's memory book uses a 12x12 ring-bound binder similar to this post-bound one. Pages include Me at Birth, Why I Don't Live with My Mother or Father, Important Information to Take with You, My First Foster Home, Your First Day Here, Foster Parents Memories, Where Have You Stayed?, What Does Trust Mean to You?, The Plan for My Adoption, and I Wonder.

Templates can help organize scrapbook pages. Here are some nice pinwheel patterns. Die-cut or laser-cut frames lie on top of a background page. Designs can be plain or fancy. Often these have a theme such as Turq's pages featuring On the Move, Family, Relax, In Memory, April, Happy Birthday, So Thankful For You, Christmas, and Baby's First Year. Ansel picks out Snowflakes and Family Awesome to add.

Ansel's snack platter divides the contents into several sections.

Finger sandwiches are cut into small pieces. Enjoy recipes for Chinese Chicken Sandwiches, Smoked Salmon Sandwiches, Tomato Tea Sandwiches, and Hummus in Pita Pockets.

The Shaolin tradition is old and deep. It follows certain principles. In L-America, Shaolin monks used to wear brands of a dragon on the left forearm and a tiger on the right, or in the O mei shan temple, a crane on the left and a mantis on the right. The Shaolin tradition has three lineages. In T-America, the Shaolin tradition is now in its fourth lineage, dating from the time when China tried to wipe it out and surviving monks fled. They have adapted their customs somewhat to give students the option of learning specific skills applicable to their life goals, rather than seeking to make monastery disciples out of all students, although only those with high enough mastery are allowed to attempt the (grueling and risky) graduation ceremony. The result is a wider dispersal of trained monks displaying the Shaolin teachings in everyday life.

Shaolin practices may be divided into "inner" and "outer," "hard and soft," or "yin and yang." It follows certain principles. There are many techniques in Shaolin kung fu; here is a list of 72 in summary, or read the whole book. There you can see the techniques listed in publication order. More than one skill may be practiced at the same time, and the earlier ones feed into the later ones. It takes 10-20 years to attain a good level of skill; Dao has been practicing longer, but not all of that in full-time training.

For greater clarity, I have sorted Dao's into skill trees. The easier techniques that require less time to acquire (months) appear first, then those that require more time (several years), and finally ones that take extensive cultivation (ten to fifteen years). One skill tree focuses on gentleness and flexibility: Four-Part Exercise (soft and hard training, brief), Soft Bones (flexibility, 6+ months), Skill of Sand Bags (fighting multiple opponents, agility, no time listed), Skill of Light Body (walking on fragile things, 2 years), Poles of Plum Bloom (accurate stepping, 3 years), Pulling a Silk Thread, walking on water, 10 years). These form the basis of many other techniques, and Dao has moderate mastery here. Another skill tree is durability: Iron Bull (speaking and silence, resistance to blows, 7-8 months), Iron Shirt (impenetrability, 3 years). Dao hasn't put nearly as much effort into this, although several of his other skills also produce durability. His specialty is techniques using the hands and arms: Celestial's Palm (penetrating strike with hand, brief), Palm of Guan Yin (chopping or slapping, 1-2 years to break stone), Rubbing Palms (destroying things with a touch, 2 years), Diamond Finger (penetrating strike with fingers, 3 years), Twin Lock (strong hands/arms, 3 years), Technique of Horse Saddle, breaking things with hand, several years), Fist Like a Bullet (punching, 4-5 years), Claws of Mantis (chopping, 1 year to begin breaking bricks, 7-8 years to break stone), Yin Fist Method (punching, 1-2 years for faint splashes of water, 10 years to strike a man from a distance), One Finger of Chan Meditation (penetrating strike with fingertips, 10 years), Cinnabar Palm (distant fatal strike, 15 years). Mostly Dao uses this stuff to break people out of wrecked cars without waiting for the Jaws of Life.

Also worth mentioning is that several of these techniques can kill, some of them from a distance. There are legends about a "kung fu death strike." One way martial arts can kill is with a sudden blow to the chest which stops the heart; another is rupturing internal organs. Others include using pressure points and/or meridians to disrupt the flow of energy, producing a delayed death. Dao isn't a soldier, but what he survived in China made him very serious about protecting his family.

It is often said that "Trauma survivors don't have memories, they have symptoms." Trauma recovery progresses through stages. It is especially hard on children separated from their families. Making a trauma scrapbook is one way to integrate the experiences with the survivor's life story. Scrapbooking can also help children deal with grief, loss, and other difficult feelings. Making a timeline can reduce triggers and flashbacks along with other symptoms of traumatic stress as it places hurtful memories into a stable context. Here are some thoughts on the visual usefulness of a timeline for traumatized children.

Check out some examples of trauma scrapbooking. Here is a scrapbook about the 9-11 disaster with the cover and inside pages. Here is a more personal journal that says "Forgive" and "Accept." You can buy packets of blank pages for different themes. By filling a binder with informational pages, blank forms, and scrapbook paper it is possible to make a lot of progress quickly. This helps people feel a sense of accomplishment before embarking on the more difficult work of recording their trauma journey through words and pictures.

Turq's trauma scrapbook binder is repurposed from a wedding album. See the outside, pages opened in a fan, and lying flat. You can find color-themed paper packets and kits with all kinds of embellishments. This is the skull paper that Turq adds. Among the pages he finds are Trauma Symptoms, Measuring Trauma, Life Story, The Ripple Effect, When You Are Upset Where Do You Feel It?, My Fears, Angry Body, Body Awareness, Body Labels, When I Felt Art Worksheet, When I Felt Writing Worksheet, Today I Feel, My Feeling Thermometer, Basic Emotion Assessment, Feelings Faces Worksheet, All Feelings Are Okay, Hourly Mood and Symptom Tracking Chart, Daily Mood Diary, Weekly Mood Diary, Recognizing Your Emotions, Cross-Sectional Formulation, Observing and Describing Emotions, Letting Go of Emotional Suffering, Sad Thought Bubble, Grief Sentence Completion, Introduction to Anxiety, Panic Assessment, Panic Diary, Traumatic Stress in Children, Acute Stress Disorder vs. PTSD, Fight or Flight Response, PTSD and Memory, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Grounding Techniques, Relaxed Breathing, The PTSD Linen Closet, Coercive Methods for Enforcing Compliance, Before I Blame Myself and Feel Guilty, What Happened, Triggers and Coping Skills, Handling Triggers, Hotspot Record, Intrusion Diary, Common Sleep Problems, Sleep Hygiene, Sleep Diary, Dream Journal, Letting Your Light Shine, I Will Do One Thing Today, RAIN, Self-Compassion Leads to Resilience, Practices for Boosting Self-Compassion, Practicing Self-Forgiveness, 10 Steps for Mindfulness Meditation, 15 Trauma Healing Goals, Finding Safety, Self-Regulation, Into the Body, Overwhelm to Simplicity, Inner Child Healing, Finding Goodness, Finding Life, 5 Senses, Finding Power, Finding Self, Grief Healing, Brain Training, Analysis, Finding Higher Mind, Boundaries and Filters, Boundaries Illustrated, Signs of Healthy and Unhealthy Boundaries, My Bubble, Setting Boundaries, Baggage Claim, Suitcase Open, Suitcases Closed, Let It Go Balloons, Stop Letting the Pain of My Past Ruin the Happiness of My Future, Self-Assessment, Metaphors for Me, Self-Care Plan, and Support System.

Printable journal pages are available from various places, and generic ones can be useful in trauma scrapbooks too. Examples include I Am Grateful For, Words of Advice, and Transitions.

Include some blank journaling pages too. Here are some with a blank border, a blank and lines, plain lined paper, lined paper with name and page, parchment with date, When Where What, and Time Machines.

T-America has a modular computer game called Eek!You (from EQ) for emotional intelligence, which has different topics that people can choose. Within each topic, the subtopics have descriptions, exercises, and fun ways to gamify their personal growth. It uses a visual interface. The menus make helpful printouts for trauma recovery and other pursuits. Turq found a packet including Why People Become Unhappy, Am I Being Fake?, Why People Break Down, How to Stay Positive, Types of Dreams, How to Visualize a Goal, Why People Give Up, Why To Never Give Up, 9 Ways to Stay Motivated, Why Procrastination Happens, How to Get Things Done, Why Take Risks, How to Be Decisive, How to Decide Faster, Ways to React to Criticism, Crisis Mentality vs. Growth Mentality, Why People Cheat, Reactions to Making Mistakes, Failing vs. Being a Failure, How to Learn from Mistakes, What I Learned from Hard Times, How To Not Be Hard on Yourself, How to Judge People, Types of Learners, Best Excuses for Not Learning, 9 Ways to Learn, How to Focus, 31 Ways to Be Creative, How to Have New Ideas, How to Be a Great Storyteller, and Why I Love Chinese.

For a little peek into the future, this module on How to Become a Superhero is written after the Republic of the Maldives begins teaching superhero and supernary skills.

Emotional meltdowns can happen to anyone. Young people often have them at transitional moments. Watch for the signs of an impending emotional meltdown. Know how to get through one or help someone else through one.

Developmental assets help children withstand abuse. It helps for children to make a safety plan of their own. Resilience factors allow people to bounce back from trauma without being crushed by it. Understand how to develop resilience.

Fu dogs are called by many names. Fúshī means "fortuitous lion." Closely related is ruìshī or "auspicious lion," referring to the Tibetan snow lion and good fortune. Turq's caney form with its quirky shape and vivid blue spots definitely resembles these temple guardians. Fu dogs are often made from blue ceramic. Most are solid in color, like these at Allerton Park near where I live. However, I found one that's blue with a white underbelly and tail, and another that's white with blue spots. You can see why Dao jumped to the conclusion that he did.

A dog may expose his belly for various reasons. Turq's primary motive is to seek love and attention, but it also shows trust and security. The submissive aspect is less prominant, but he does in fact consider his parents dominant to him.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-08 10:35 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
You were right about the hankie warning. I'm so pleased for Turq, though, and Mingxia's gentleness and openness seems to be something that Turq can accept fairly comfortably. I think that augurs well!

How far from Bluehill do Dao and Mingxia live? I'm hoping it's not too far away so that it's easier for Turq to go visit them if/when he chooses.

Ansel seems curious about Shaolin; I hope that as he and Dao get more acquainted, he'll have a chance to learn more about it.

I think this poem is one I'll be re-reading, and exploring links in, for a long time.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-08 12:16 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
*sniffles in a good way*

My sanity thanks you for not putting in all the could-be-justified trauma tropes that would totally break my heart.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-05-09 08:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Turq's foundation:

Would be in contrast to someone like Shiv, who seems to have never had a chance, until now. His prison sentence is probably the best thing that's happened to Shiv, because he's met Dr. G, Ambrose, Simon and Tolli and all the others who give a damn about Shiv and are helping him learn to "adult". He's learning, for the first time, to give a damn for himself, and take good care of himself, which expands to other people and the world in general.

Shiv was never all bad, or even "bad" at all, in my opinion. A super villain, yes, but it's not black and white. He never had much of a chance- maybe one foster parent that cared? (Though I forget or haven't learned all his childhood details). But in effect, He never had much of a chance. But it says a lot that as soon as Shiv has people who give a damn and want to help him, he is /responding/ to them. He is making things better, with hard work. He's kind of amazing.

And it's kind of sweet that the guard is Mr. VanBuren. 😊 Not just VanBuren. The people Shiv has respect for deserve an extra look, IMO

-tresta

Re: Thoughts

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2017-05-09 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Thoughts

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2017-05-09 08:53 am (UTC) - Expand

*strokes the ferret*. *skritches the caney*

Date: 2017-01-08 05:50 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
Yeah, hanky time. Glad things ended well. Hoping to see more of Dao and Mingxia in the future, as they become part of Turq's life.

One (all too common) slip-up that evaded detection:

>> reigning in his instinct to argue <<

Kings reign over their lands. Riders use reins to control their mounts, leading to the metaphorical "rein in" as a way to describe controlling something that might be damaging or dangerous if unchecked. Looks like you probably meant the latter.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-08 06:54 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Very sweet. Mingxia seems particularly good for Turq; I'm so glad they finally reconnected. And Turq has made very impressive progress.

Brave Turq is brave

Date: 2017-01-08 07:34 pm (UTC)
nsfwords: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nsfwords
So pleased with how this long anticipated reunion went! I feel so much empathy for Turq when he's worried that mixing his newer memories of trauma and abuse with his old memory book will somehow damage his good memories. I'm proud of him for being willing to work with them anyhow, even if he still feels he needs to separate them for emotional safety. Never awesome to feel like you need to separate yourself into different pieces for fear of contaminating what little bits of good you're clinging on to, but at least he's willing to work on the ugly parts and isn't insisting on denying them or shoving them away. Go Turq!
*whew! Emotional price, but it leaves me feeling hopeful*

Re: Brave Turq is brave

From: [personal profile] nsfwords - Date: 2017-01-08 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-08 07:34 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Dawww! I like Dao and Mingxia very very much. Dao concluding that Turq in caney form is a fu dog and Mingxia cuddling the ferret ... so beautiful! (I think Dao could be right. Surviving something terrible, undergoing a transformation, and exploring what it means are time-honored ways to attain some sort of spiritual or personal power ... it will take a long time for Turq to get there, but he has the potential to be a great guide and guardian if he wants to.)

Re: Thoughts

From: [personal profile] alatefeline - Date: 2017-01-08 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand

*whine*

Date: 2017-01-08 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
*hides under a blanket*

it was a good poem...but OUCH

Re: *whine*

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2017-01-08 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: *whine*

Date: 2017-01-08 10:27 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
*offers a fluffy pillow*

Re: *whine*

From: [personal profile] kyleri - Date: 2017-01-09 01:09 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: *whine*

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Relief!

Date: 2017-01-08 09:43 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
That was massively difficult to 'watch,' but I am glad that Turq's parents are back in his life again.

I would love to see the follow-up on the ways that the foster system let THEM down, too, since it fractured a working family for no good reason whatsoever.

Re: Relief!

From: [personal profile] lone_cat - Date: 2017-01-09 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-08 11:19 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
*happy tears* This was so good and beautiful. I'm so proud of Turq. He did so well this visit, though you could see how incredibly hard it was for him. I think my favourite bit may be when he turns into a ferret and his parents just accept it so readily. <3 I knew they would, but it was still absolutely heart-warming and wonderful to see them do it.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-09 05:22 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, this was such a nice thing to read before bed, even the tougher spots, because there's so much hope and progress here. Thanks for posting. -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-09 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
FEELS

I'm so happy, but it was so sad, but. Wonderful.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-10 01:09 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I see what you mean about the emotional rough ride, but the ending is worth the effort. Not a lot to say about this one, but it's given me a lot to think about.

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