That Which is Mine

December 18, 2016:

Jessica Jones may be trapped in her own nightmare, but she's not going to take it lying down for long.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Jessica had curled herself into a ball on her old bed, burying her face in sheets that smelled of Mom’s detergent. She didn’t move. She didn’t speak.

To anyone looking in from the outside it might look like she had given up. That she’d given in to her despondency. But sometimes the most important work happened when a person was still. She was slowly pulling broken pieces of herself back together.

She didn’t need them all. Not really. There were whole spinning shards of herself that could just keep spinning, cutting into the dark inside her mind, making her bleed. That was fine. She’d patch them up later with whisky and duct tape the way she always did. But damned if she was going to crumple for good. She didn’t need them all. But she did need enough to get functional.

To do this, she used the tools she had.

The first tool. She’d discovered – or perhaps re-discovered – that Kilgrave couldn’t control her anymore.

At first, obedience had been automatic. “Sit down, Jessica.”

“Smile, Jessica.”

“Drink your juice, Jessica, there’s a good girl.”

She’d obeyed because she’d been stunned. In shell-shock. Because she expected and believed she’d have to obey.

Then memories of a freezing New York night and a woman’s crumpled body under a bus came back to her. Him, shouting her name with that strange mingled edge of hatred and desperation.

Her stumbling blindly into a police station to admit to the crimes she could admit to. The assaults, but not the murder. Making restitution as she could. Going into court-ordered therapy. Meekly telling the judge alcohol had fueled her actions, not an unlikely super-power, because she knew nobody would believe her.

It had taken her time to remember, but he remembered first. He hadn’t ordered her to do anything extreme. Not right away. Testing her.

Do the laundry, Jessica. Do the dishes, Jessica. Put on this pretty dress, Jessica, that maid uniform makes you look frumpy.

He’d waited a good 24 hours before deciding her walking away had been a fluke, and then he’d moved in for more. And that’s when the memory had flooded back, and coldness had flooded her spine, and she’d found herself shoving him away, hard. “Screw you. Leave me alone.”

He’d crashed through the glass coffee table.

And then she’d stalked upstairs, leaving him to nurse his head injury. She didn’t bother to take in the look on his face or in his eye. He’d have a counter move, but for now, she had some time.

She should have killed him. But the thought of killing someone again twisted her stomach.

She had very little left in her cesspit of a soul that she could say was good or pure, but she had this. When she had the choice, she was a detective, not a killer. She brought truth, even when people didn’t want to hear it. She brought missing kids back to their families sometimes—when their families deserved to have them back. The kids to help and the families the finger, when the kids had fled for good reason. Sometimes, dare she whisper it even to herself, she brought justice. Not murder. Perhaps someday she’d smother that part of herself with a pillow to take Kilgrave down, but not today.

For one thing, she wasn’t even sure he was the real freaking Kilgrave. She wasn’t going to stain her soul a little blacker for some freaking ersatz version created by the entirely different madman she needed to focus her attention on. Someone who in himself might be worth murdering, especially to protect Zatanna. Though justice would still be better.
She’d have sneered at her own high minded thoughts, but she needed them too badly.

They were some of the pieces she’d grabbed to put herself back together.

Which brought her to her second tool—admitting to herself that what had happened in the hotel was not some dream. It was real, and she probably wasn’t dead and in Hell. She’d been sent somewhere, somehow, even if she didn’t entirely understand it. Fine, that was fine. There was plenty she didn’t understand about magic. But after the initial disorientation the memory was still there. Once she admitted that, she could think about it and get angry about it…her third and fourth tools. She ignored the shame the moment brought for now. It could go spin in the dark. Drink it away later. Not useful.

Thinking was the most important of all. There were other resources, if she only thought hard enough.

And then it came to her in the flash of the man’s knife on his cheek. He’d taken her blood to force his way into her head…

A familiar cold shudder of horror sent her into a tighter ball on the bed, wrinkling her yellow dress. The part of her that was doing the work waited it out, the wailing mental litany of “no, no, no, no, no no no no, Birch Street, Higgins Drive, Cobalt fucking Lane…”

And then it subsided, and she dove in again, swallowing hard.

He’d taken her blood. Blood was the spell component. There was always a component. She’d learned that much.

And it was her blood.

Hers. She had ownership of it. It belonged to her. So, she should be able to use it, even if she was no wizard.

She’d read a few books in preparation for this case. Will was important too. She was gathering some now. She didn’t think much of her own will…again and again it was the weakest part of her, but what she had was nevertheless hers, and these bastards might be able to pin it down for awhile so they could do their worst, but they couldn’t take it from her.

What else did she have? A mirror over the vanity. She didn’t know why that thought kept moving back into her head, only that mirrors were kind of disturbing. You looked into them, and a whole world looked back. Your conscience looked back. Your double looked back with her accusing eyes. There was a reason she spent as little time as possible in front of them. But they seemed to have a weird magic all their own, and they certainly figured into fairy tales.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Blood, will, a mirror. What else?

There was blood on the floor of the hotel room probably, a few trace amounts, especially if Muller hadn’t let housekeeping in there after all. A few droplets here and there from where she’d thrashed and cried. Maybe some hair, too. There would be DNA…pieces of her…all over that expensive carpet.

And…maybe some traces of John’s magic. Maybe something that would resonate. Something she could…piggy-back onto. Maybe it would work slow (time might even move differently here than it did out there), maybe it would work fast, maybe she’d get a door back out of here, maybe it would do nothing at all. Maybe it would do something so subtle she’d never be able to attribute her actions easily and directly to what happened next…she seemed to remember reading something about that too.

Was that Drawing Down the Moon? She didn’t remember. She didn’t care. Most of it had seemed like blather. But if that little was a weapon she could use right now, well, she’d take it.

She was grasping at straws, but that’s what she’d have to do. And if this didn’t work, she’d have to find out if this world extended past her little house and go try to find some other solution. If she could. For now, this house was also part of her. It, too, might provide some boost, some advantage she could use.

And she was wasting time.

Her body was still so weighed down with her emotional pain that it hurt to rise, like being weighed down with three or four cars instead of the one she could easily lift. But she did it anyway.

She padded carefully down the hall on bare feet, the hall she knew with such vivid intimacy. That board creaked. Ignore that one. That one didn’t, and was safe. She listened, but couldn’t hear signs of him in the kitchen.

She had thought she had heard him leave earlier, ominous, and quiet instead of slamming the door like she might have expected. He definitely had another move coming, but she had time to get the sharpest knife in the drawer, and she knew right where it would be.

She dashed back upstairs.

“Ow. Fuck.”

She ran the knife swiftly down her arm, staying well clear of her wrists. In movies, they always made letting one’s own blood look easy, but no, it was pretty much just like slicing into her god damn arm like a piece of meat. But…it was just physical pain, and that she could take. In a day, it would be little more than a scrape, in two, a pink line, in three, there would be no sign of her cutting at all.

She pressed her arm awkwardly to the mirror. She had no spells, no nonsense words like Zatanna chanted. But she focused her mind on the weapons she’d identified.

Her blood, here and in the hotel room, bound to one another because they were hers. Those bits of John’s magic, hers because he had given them to her. The fact that this house was hers even if she was here unwillingly. Even the trauma that had been built into this little hell was fucking hers.

And the one thing she wanted, no matter how it happened, as long as it didn’t result in someone getting harmed on her account. A doorway opening right fucking now, a metaphysical phone call to one John Constantine through those bits of magic that were also his because they’d come from him, a rescue that happened because these little bits of will and blood and magic all tied together in the form of coincidence and chance to create some opportunity for a rescue.

She did not care about the how, only about the result. And if she had no nonsense words, real ones would have to do. She put all her anger and emotion and conviction into them, speaking clearly, feeling no fear for just one blessed moment because now she was doing something.

“Get me out of here. Bring me back to my world.” Careful not to say the real world because for all she knew, this world was real, too.

Downstairs, she heard the door open and close. She had to hurry.

“Bring me back to Zatanna, my Zatanna, the one I’m supposed to be protecting right now. Get me back before my failures make something worse happen to her than has already happened. Get me back before anything worse happens to her period, whether it’s because of me or not.”

That was it. That was all she had in her heart.

There was no glow of power, there was no sense of something happening, and she didn’t feel any different. She’d just have to have faith that she’d done what she could do, that she’d at least tried…

Because he was there, behind her.

“Suicide, Jessica? I really thought better of you. Look, you even botched it.”

“What makes you think I care what you think?”

“Come away from there.”

“You forget. I don’t have to do what you say anymore.”

“Are you sure? Turn around and see.”

There was something in Kilgrave’s tone that made her turn around, despite not wanting

He’d found a pair of random people. They currently had guns to their heads, held by their own shaking hands. Well, if he was here it made sense some random innocents were here, too.

“Meet our new maid and butler, darling. I can command them to shoot at any time.”

Were they real?

Maybe they weren’t even real. And for one furious moment, maybe it didn’t matter if he was real or not, and maybe she could just murder him and be done with it after all…

“Please,” the woman said, as if sensing her sudden intent to rebel. “Please don’t let him.”

Jessica closed her eyes and let out a long, slow sigh. She knew she was going to do what he said, at least until another opportunity presented itself. She opened them and stepped away from the mirror, spreading her hands a little.

She watched his smile, content with his cheap victory.

Laugh it up, Kilgrave. I’m not your victim anymore, no matter what it looks like on the outside.

She’d pulled more of herself together than she’d ever thought possible.

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