Lana glanced up from her spot on the couch, giving a lazy half-smile to her younger sister. The TV continued it’s rambling in the background, the announcer droning on and on about some animal that Lana had been too bored to care much about. “Ah, welcome home. How was the trip?”
Ema, evidently, took that comment as a signal to step inside, shutting the apartment’s heavy door behind her. Though she knew her older sister would be on her case for it, she set the bag down on the coffee table, effectively crossing the carpet and wetting it. “Cold. Freezing. Frigid. I think I was going to die, Lana.”
Lana chuckled fondly, only shaking her head. Even though Ema hadn’t quite landed her dream job and become more cynical, she always managed to let that go around her older sister. “You poor dear.” She replied teasingly, smiling all the while. “You really should stay off of my carpet, though. Do I need to make you clean it again?”
Ema rolled her eyes and mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like “yes, mom,” but did as she was told. She opened the bag, already feeling the warmth through the plastic. The other bag held Snackoos, but that was not particularly surprising, nor something she took particular note of once the scent of ramen reached her nose.
Ema took care to rid herself of her shoes and coat rather quickly, flopping onto the couch beside her sister. “Ugh, why does it have to be so - so cold?!”
Lana said nothing, but simply handed her the heated ramen and her fork, to which she purred happily, grabbing her favorite blanket from the back of the couch and worming her way into her favorite spot. Rolling her eyes, Lana pulled her blanket back into her lap and attempted to focus on the television, but quickly found herself tired of it.
“I saw Mr. Justice again today,” Lana mentioned offhand as a distraction, watching her sister for any signs of tension.
She didn’t seem to show any, to her credit, instead switching the channel to a romance movie. Not exactly Lana’s first choice, but it would have to do for filler noise. “Oh, did you? How is he?”
“Good. He said that they -” she decided to quickly adjust that sentence - “um, everyone’s trying to help clear Mr. Wright’s name.”
Lana glanced over at her, eyes shining with emotion and concern that Ema wouldn’t have known if not for their current conversational topic. “Ah….i- is Mr. Wright doing alright?”
“You mean all-wright, sis?” Ema grinned from ear to ear, watching in satisfaction as the older woman’s face morphed into one of exasperation. “Ema,”
“Right, right. He’s, um….doing better, I guess. I - I don’t really know, it’s kinda hard to get up the nerve to talk to him now. I mean, like….I guess what I mean is that we haven’t really seen each other all that much, and what am I supposed to do? Drop in and say ‘hey, I’ve been here for the past 2 years but didn’t come to you when you were disbarred because I’m bitter over not getting the job I want?’” The younger woman rambled, flushing out of shame and fussing with her ramen. “It’s sort of….stupid, if I’m being real with you.”
“Hm, I don’t know, I haven’t seen him. Good self-analysis, though.” She said, taking a bite of her ramen. In truth, the ex-prosecutor had seen Phoenix. Quite a lot of him, in fact, as he insisted on paying her visits and reporting to Ema about how she was doing. After the man’s unfortunate disbarment, the visits hadn’t been as frequent. Once every few months, except now, he was bringing a small girl with him by the name of Trucy. She was his adoptive daughter, he had supplied. And little Trucy had sat with her father behind the glass, giggling and expressing to her daddy that yes, she very much liked this woman behind the glass divider.
Ema scoffed and rolled her eyes, but neglected to comment anymore.
The silence after that was somewhat comfortable, other than Ema looking over at her, seeming rather troubled about something that her sister couldn’t quite place. Lana rose an eyebrow, and when that was met with even further amounts of troubled silence, she sighed.
“What’s the matter, Em?”
Though Ema’s heart swelled at the nickname, she didn’t show it, nor was she going to bathe in the affection that she’d spent years missing out on from her sister. “Well….uh….it’s kinda, I don’t know, sensitive? And I don’t want to bring up something bad and -”
“Ema. Cut to it.” Her sister interrupted her, speaking firmly. Her expression was that stern sort that always seemed to cut through the detective’s defenses, and Ema sighed. “Promise you won’t get mad and you’ll tell the truth….?”
“I promise.” The ex-prosecutor nodded, setting down her bowl of ramen.
“Um….okay. So….it kinda made me think of….y’know. Mia. And, uh….I was wondering something.”
Lana tensed, a wave of century-old emotion crashing over her. “And that would be?”
“How hard was it?”
“How hard was what?”
“Being in love with Mia, even though you knew she didn’t feel the same way….?”
Her question prompted a silence, and Lana stared at the TV screen. Right now, it showed the main characters at some sort of fancy gala, and she was not watching, but rather reliving the events that were a century old, but still felt like they were yesterday. It came in waves - one moment she was in the living room and the actors were on a TV screen, and the next, she was there, mingling with businessmen she’d never know the name of and watching as Mia laughed with that damned boyfriend. One, who, if she were being honest with herself, did not deserve someone like Mia. She was eyeing Ema out of the corner of her eye one moment as she stood to the side awkwardly, and the next, she was gripping Ema’s hand ever so tightly in her own as she watched them dance.
How was she supposed to ever express this to her sister? How did one express, if they could, what being in love with Mia Fey felt like? It was…..it was flying and free-falling at the same time. It was smiling and laughing, only to wish for more. It was being over the moon and drowning at the same time. It was congratulating her on her new boyfriend, only to hold back tears. It was…..it was Mia standing too far from her in court. It was feeling tempted to reach over and hug and kiss all her tears away from that damned case she’d heard so much about, because all that she wanted to think about was if Mia were okay, being in court. It was testifying and being thankful, for once, that someone was finding the truth that she herself couldn’t see.
It was resisting the urge to reach out and fix Mia’s hair. It was watching, and not just believing, but knowing that she would never have that chance. It’s drinking on the night that she died, every year, because she just can’t live with what she never thought to do. It’s 12 years of a push and pull with herself. It was realizing that maybe, just maybe, she didn’t only like boys, but pushing it aside in favor of getting a stable job and keeping Ema happy and taken care of. It was being a schoolgirl whenever Mia came to investigate a crime scene, only to realize that she had to focus.
It was crying when she thought no one was watching. It was a galaxy, and yet a black hole. It was Lana being more bitter than his coffee could have ever hoped to have been. It was confessing that to Phoenix some years later, only to be told, with a sad smile, that if she’d made the move, Mia would have been sure to reciprocate in kind, and maybe, just maybe, Lana told herself, if things hadn’t gone the way they had, she would still be alive.
It was blaming herself for how Mia died, even though she could have done nothing by that point.
A sharp intake of breath brought her out of her silence, and at some point, she realized she’d bowed her head, and allowed her cheeks to wet themselves.
“O-Oh god, you’re crying, I’m sorry, I -” Ema looked close to tears herself, which was quite odd, considering that she hadn’t cried for a few months now.
Despite it all, Lana laughed, only slightly. “There’s nothing to apologize for. You only asked a question.”
“Y-yeah, but, but….”
“No buts, Em. You asked a question and I said I’d answer.” The older lady tutted, tucking her hair back behind her ears.
Ema said nothing, only moving to start pulling her own back into a sloppy ponytail.
After a moment, Lana spoke, finally finding the words. “Being in love is….hard,” she started lamely, “It’s everything. I don’t consider myself particularly, er -”
“ - romantic -”
“ - right. But when you find your…..person, shall we say, it’s incredible. You’re lifted in ways that you didn’t know were possible, and in the same way, you can feel like you’re drowning when things go wrong. Even the smallest things are, well…” a small smile had crept onto her face, “perfectly imperfect. But things get upsetting. You start to wonder about the times you’d missed, the chances you had….and then, just like that, they can get swept up right in front of you.” Lana surmised lamely, not really able to capture the way she was feeling.
Ema sniffled. “.....You’re still in love with her, aren’t you….?”
The ex-prosecutor’s eyes misted over, and yet she smiled. “I fear I may never fall out of love with her, Ema.”
The younger brunette reached for her, but Lana was quick to dodge, not feeling up to crying more. “Now, now. You’ve got dinner to finish.”
“Well, here we were, getting all sentimental, and you had to go all mom mode on me again.” Her sister pouted good-naturedly, trying to lighten the mood.
Lana only laughed, settling back onto the couch.
Neither mentioned the fresh tears that had escaped her when she talked about being in love with Mia still.