Sometimes, Amelia wonders if she would have been better for Mr. Brodie than Julia is. She loves her sister, but in so many ways, Julia is more girl than she is woman. Oh she looks grown enough. A pretty forty, curvy in all the right places, a sad little something behind her eyes that says she's really lived, known sorrow, tasted grief.
But then there's that hair of hers. All wildness and springy. And her raucous laugh. And her wheezy lungs, caving in on themselves from years of chainsmoking.
And if Amelia even thinks about Julia's (nonexistent) housecleaning skills…
The thing about Julia, is that she needs to be taken care of. She doesn't take care of others, hardly notices them, really. And if there's one thing Mr. Brodie needs, it's to be taken care of.
It's not that he's incapable. He's perfectly fit and he makes his own living. He even has all his own teeth and hair. But Mr. Brodie has a daughter and if there is one thing Julia cannot abide, it's children.
Oh, Amelia's sure that Julia smiles prettily at the girl—Marlee, her name is—and that she tells Mr. Brodie that it's "simply splendid" that he has a daughter. Julia would sell her soul for a good alliteration. But for Julia, it would all be an act. Everything for Julia is.
"Everything you do in life is an audition," Julia says expressively over tea once. " 'All the world's a stage'—"
" 'And the men and women merely players'," Amelia says bitterly. She knows her Shakespeare as well as Julia. Better, maybe, since she's actually read the plays and not just to pad a resume. That wasn't even what the Bard intended to mean, at any rate. It was a monologue about life and the inevitability of death. That's Shakespeare for you. Grandiose, sometimes comic, always obsessed with death. Of course Julia wouldn't see that. She refused to.
Mr. Brodie would get it, though. Which is why Amelia thinks it's a wonder he's so gaga for Julia. It's a wonder he doesn't see right through her for what she is.
Or maybe—depressingly—he does see straight through her and it just boils down to sex.
Amelia shudders at the thought of Julia and Mr. Brodie together in bed. Julia isn't sensitive enough to spare the details when she talks to Amelia about it. She tells her about everything they do and how glorious it feels when things go right and how abysmal it is when things don't.
"It's not as if he's bad in bed," Julia says while they walk through Christ's Pieces. She's awfully loud and Amelia just knows everyone can hear her crowing about sex with Jackson Brodie. "He's actually very skilled. Does this thing with his tongue—"
Amelia shudders and she doesn't know if it's from jealousy or revulsion. Julia frowns and for a moment, Amelia thinks her sister's finally gotten it through her thick skull not to talk to her about Mr. Brodie's bedroom habits to her. Not when she's always been half-crazed over him.
"But he's more of a woman than I am sometimes," Julia confesses conspiratorially. No, she is not being sensitive. Typical, typical Julia. "I mean, there are nights when we're in the flat and he just wants to hold me."
"Are you complaining?" Amelia asks. She'd give her left leg to just be held by someone. Wanted and cared for.
"Silly Milly." Julia looks at her, far too brightly. "He's supposed to be the man. Didn't you know that?"
Amelia knows that if she were Julia, she'd snuggle up into Mr. Brodie's arms and wish he'd never, ever let go. For a while, Jean would hold her at night—all night long. But as time wore on, she was away more often than not, going into the law firm for longer and longer hours until she broke down with an "I can't do this anymore" and Amelia know—knows—it's because Jean is embarrassed by her. Not because she's a woman, but because she's an ugly woman. It's all right to be a lesbian, she thinks bitterly, when you're beautiful. Not when you're frumpy and stumbling towards middle age. Suddenly, when you talk about your "partner", it isn't tenderly or excitedly. It's just a fact. Or maybe that's every relationship when the spark dies.
Jean was her first girlfriend after all. First anything, really. She wonders if there's a new woman in Jean's life these days. And if there is, Amelia has no doubt the new woman is far more beautiful than Amelia ever has been or ever will be.
Thing is, she tried to be beautiful for them all. For Jean and for Mr. Brodie. She dyed her hair properly, cut it so it fit her face better. She learned to curl her lashes and wear nicer things. And still, it was always the Julias of the world who caught their eyes.
But the problem with Julias is that they can hardly see past their own reflections. Julia doesn't love Mr. Brodie. Not really. If she did, she wouldn't complain that he holds her at night, but instead, she would let him and love him for it. And Julia certainly doesn't love Marlee. She's whispered things, nasty things, about her to Amelia.
"She looks like a beanpole," Julia says dispassionately. "It's like she got the worst of Jackson's genes. And her mother, cor lummy! Jackson swears she used to be a doll, but I'd feel bad if Marlee gets her scrawny arse when she grows up."
Cor lummy. Who says that anymore? In fact, who says half of what Julia said at all? The worst of Jackson's genes? Who says that about a child? Marlee has his brown hair and his stubborn chin. She asks questions the way he does, carefully and curiously. And she had liked Amelia's bright red stockings when they'd all been together at Julia and Mr. Brodie's flat last. She's a good child as far as Amelia can see. And she's a child who needs to be cared for.
Not that Mr. Brodie is a poor father. He seems rather good with children—his own daughter, most especially. Amelia's own father never much liked her. Never cared for her. Victor, who had played blatant favorites, always made it clear that Amelia was least loved. And, from what she understood, that wasn't the worst fate that could have befallen her at his hands. She knows what he did to his "favorite" now. Mr. Brodie is a different breed of father altogether. He listens when Marlee talks—really listens. And his blue eyes light up animatedly around her. He laughs easier and smiles more around Marlee.
It's a nice smile. But a smile doesn't do everything. The girl has a proper mum, but when she's with Mr. Brodie, Amelia imagines that she not only misses her mummy, but also well-cooked meals and neatly done laundry. And Lord knows when the girl is a teenager Mr. Brodie will be out of his depth.
Sometimes she thinks she wants to be Marlee's other mummy more than she wants to be Mr. Brodie's favorite.
The desire to care for Marlee, though, stems from wanting to care for Mr. Brodie. It all goes back to that, really. She wants to cook for him (or with him. She's a rubbish cook, but she thinks maybe they could learn together). She wants to tidy up the messes Julia leaves behind. She wants to listen to his heartaches and line them up with hers.
All in exchange for that thing Julia mocks and loathes most.
She wants him to hold her safe at night, all night. She wants to make love to him—not "shag". Never "shag". Her students say "shag", but it sounds so vulgar. She wants something slow and deep and meaningful with Mr. Brodie. Something that can be expressed as easily with sex as with a look, a touch of the hand, or holding each other in the darkness. She wants to talk to him. Not just the superficial things they do talk about. Not the "How's work?" or "Nice weather" chats of near strangers. But the playful banter of lovers and the secret-sharing of kindred souls.
And Amelia knows she and Mr. Brodie are more alike than he lets on.
They are the caretakers. The ones in need of the most care, but also the caregivers. The ones who don't just soak up all the love and affection, but who give it back in tenfold. They are the ones who have lost their dearest companions. Julia told her that Jackson lost a brother and a sister in his childhood. It made her heart twist. That was why he helped them. And she thought that maybe he would understand why her own pain was so much deeper than Julia's because he was the same sort who cared too much and took too much to heart.
But no. He confided in Julia. Took his comfort in Julia. Bright, bubbly, maddening Julia.
If the world was a fair place, Amelia would be as pretty as her sister. Not this dumpy lump. Malformed, she thought. Woefully average, she knew.
And maybe that was why Mr. Brodie didn't love her.
As much as he could need her, he couldn't want her. He craved difference. They say that opposites attract.
But, if Amelia recalls her science lessons from long-forgotten school days, she knows one thing: water seeks its own level. One day, when the wildness that ran through Jackson Brodie slowed to a brisk jog; one day, when he realized that Julia was a child trapped in a woman's body; when his hair turned to grey and the budding lines below his eyes etched themselves there forever, he would seek her out.
And all the while, she would be waiting patiently.
A/N: I do love Amelia so much. She's such a sympathetic character. But I don't think she and Jackson could have ever worked out, no matter how much she wanted him. He was so cruel about her in the books and she never even noticed. Poor gal. Reviews would be lovely! I do plan to write more Case Histories one shots later.