marginalia: (jaci)
disagree (1) ([personal profile] marginalia) wrote2012-11-30 04:34 pm

Fic: The Stories We Tell (Jellicoe Road, Jessa/Chloe P)

Title: The Stories We Tell
Fandom: (On the) Jellicoe Road
Pairing: Jessa/Chloe P
Author: [personal profile] marginalia, skirmishes against the author
Notes: For [ profile] fox1013 in [community profile] femslash12. I own nothing.

Jessa is thirteen years old the night of the fire that burned down half of Lachlan House at the Jellicoe School. It is a good story, and she will tell it often. She will talk about the smoke, and the tunnel, and her broken arm, and the cadet who rescued her. She will talk about all of the arsonists she lived with, and how it wasn't actually caused by any of them, can you believe it, and she'll talk about the serial killer, because that is always effective.

She will not tell the story Taylor told her on that night, the story Taylor tells her not nearly often enough, about their parents, and Hannah, and the Brigadier, and that afternoon on the Jellicoe Road long before she was born, the afternoon that links them all together.

Jessa is waiting for the story she tells to be about her.


Her first story is the story of her mother. It's a hard story to tell, because she doesn't remember it. She doesn't remember having a mother; she doesn't remember the transition to not having one. When she's older, when she understands about cancer, she thinks about the time in between having and not having, of the doctors and the medications and the slow motion horror of it all, and a part of her is grateful she can't remember.

Jessa gets angry at that part of herself, the child for forgetting. She’s angry with her mother for leaving, and even with her aunt who took her in but was never really what everyone knows a mother should be. But in the end she is always grateful, strangely, that she knows where her mother is. She knows her mother did not choose to leave her. She knows her mother is looking out for her.

She thinks her mother sent her Hannah.


Her second story is the story of her father. Someday, sooner than is right, she will be older than he ever was.

Jessa was nine when he died. Nine when he ran out of struggle, and when she learns exactly how he left this world, she doesn't cry. She waits until all is quiet and she can slip away. She climbs to the top of the Prayer Tree, past the names and stories carved deep in the bark, and sits, tight and hollow, her own hands pressed together. She breathes deep and slow, in and out, until her hands relax, until she’s loose and warm again, until she can release the pain with forgiveness.

She thinks back on all the stories that he told her, how he filled her with the best parts of his past, how he hoped for the best parts of her future.

She thinks her father sent her Taylor.


Her third story is the story of Hannah and Taylor. Hannah, who hugged her so tight the first time they met, who made her feel she belonged with someone for the first time since she lost her father. Hannah smothering her with love and attention, and Taylor giving her none at all.

Taylor didn't need to. Taylor was fierce. Taylor commanded attention without saying a word, which was like a magic trick to Jessa, who thought if she stopped talking she might disappear altogether. Jessa felt connected to her all the same, connected through Hannah, perhaps through more than that. Taylor, who had no time for show. Taylor who would always come for them when she was needed, but protected a part of herself as well.


Her fourth story is the story of Chloe P. Jessa doesn't remember the other Chloe. She might not have ever known her. But Chloe P had been Chloe P for so long, she wasn't sure if she could answer to anything else.

Jessa thought she should try.


When they’re older, Chloe asks Jessa about the serial killer. Part of it was the childish obsession with horror. Part of it was the attention it drew from everyone, students and staff alike. Part of it was all of the faces, ghostly faces, of families torn apart. It’s a little obvious, she thinks now, but most children are.

They all have so many photos, people smiling up out of the past, not knowing the story that is coming for them in the future. Jessa thinks her story is getting better, but her family was not together, not smiling, not optimistic enough to have so many images.

She wonders about families who can tell their stories this way, about her friends in school and in town, about Chloe.

Jessa thinks she might like to have a family like that some day, a family full of smiles, a flesh and blood, giggling, roughhousing, lively family. She thinks it might be possible.


Chloe was tiny and clinging, slipping stealthily into the beds of other girls at night, so quietly, so naturally that they didn't always realize she was there. She said her bed was too big and too cold with just her in it alone, and that was probably true.

Jessa wished she’d slip into her bed more often, and then she wondered why she wished it.

When they tell the story of how they got together, they tell it different every time. Often they pretend the Jellicoe School never happened, that they met at the dog park, in a skydiving group, in the middle of an improv performance. Sometimes it’ll have a note of truth: a firefighter introduced them, they fought over the same song at karaoke, or they were in the same gardening workshop.

It’s always a great story, even if it’s never true.


The fifth story, well. The fifth story is the story Jessa and Chloe will tell together.

It’s the true story of kisses stolen outside of Hannah’s house, of terrible karaoke renditions of pop songs, of figuring out who they are, where they are going, and if they can go together.

It’s the story of deciding what family looks like to them. It’s the story of believing the most important people in your life can be the people you know when you’re a teenager. It’s a romantic story and an implausible story and most of all, it’s their story.

They’re looking forward to telling it.
fox1013: cover picture from the Australian edition of ON THE JELLICOE ROAD (Kidlit - Jellicoe Road)

[personal profile] fox1013 2012-12-01 06:16 am (UTC)(link)
I cannot even tell you how much I love this story.

Ugh, it's so wonderfully achey while still being optimistic and PERFECT. And it has Taylor and Hannah and all the other people who are really important jut by existing, because Jessa isn't Jessa without them and this story wouldn't work without them and. Just. LOVE.

Also the stories, and the use of storytelling as device within the story (I BELIEVE YOU KNOW MY FEELINGS ON NARRATIVES), and using it to tie Jessa together into a fuller character. Seriously, this is amazing, thank you.