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Complex Relations

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Emma was toweling off her hair after her shower and absently rubbing her knee, which was still throbbing a bit from when she’d landed weird on it. She was sure it wouldn’t cause any lasting problems, but it still made more sense to head home about an hour before the others. Regina had offered to come back too, but since this was their last time out on the slopes, Emma didn’t want to cut it short for her.

Initially, Emma had been wavering on whether or not to head in or stick it out, but Regina had come over to. “If you act like a responsible adult who knows when she should stop, maybe we’ll go use the hot tub later.” Emma had sputtered and protested didn’t need to be bribed, but Regina had merely smirked.

Needless to say, Emma had caved. She was rewarded with a kiss and a very promising twinkle in Regina’s eye that would have been enough to make her blush if her face wasn’t already red from the cold.

Emma put down the wireless speaker she’d brought in with her from the bathroom and bit her lip, wondering how to bide her time until Regina’s return. Maybe glance over some notes? She could start to pack, but there wasn’t much to put away.

She was reluctantly staring at her notebook when her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door.

Emma’s brow furrowed in confusion—Regina wouldn’t knock. She went over pulled the door open, freezing automatically when she saw who it was. “Mom.”

“Hi, Emma,” Mary Margaret said, a weak smile on her face.

“Um…” Emma had no idea what to say, suddenly one on one with her mother after their blow up yesterday. “What’s up?” she offered, wincing as she said it.

“Can I come in?” Mary Margaret asked, more tentatively than Emma could ever remember her asking before.

Emma hesitated, before stepping back. “Uh, I guess. Yeah.”

Mary Margaret cautiously made her way over to the bed and sat down. Emma wanted to stay standing, but it felt too weird to tower over her mom like that so she reluctantly sat down as well.

Emma refused to say anything or ask why Mary Margaret was here. Her mom seemed to have trouble finding her words, but Emma was determined to wait her out Finally Mary Margaret said, “I talked to your aunt.”

That was not where Emma had thought Mary Margaret was going to go. Emma stared at her in confusion, “Huh?”

“Your Aunt Red,” Mary Margaret elaborated

Emma did not find that as helpful of a clarification as Mary Margaret seemed to be implying it was. “Okay?”

Mary Margaret could tell Emma didn’t understand whatever she was trying to get at and so she tried to figure out where to start since she’d hoped that would be a clear enough point. “She…she explained some… I… Red is also bisexual,” Mary Margaret finally got the words out and Emma’s eyebrows went up. “And she was…upset, too. With me.”

Emma hadn’t actually known that, although she knew Aunt Red was “cool” with LGBT issues according to Ruby. “Elsa told Ruby who told Red what was going on and Red talked to me. And I read some of the things Elsa gave me and…” Emma was able to follow the trail and, knowing Aunt Red, gathered that she had yelled at Mary Margaret too.

Emma suddenly felt very tired, was Mary Margaret actually going somewhere with all of this? And why did she need ten different people to hold her hand as she wrapped her head around Emma’s sexuality? Emma fixed her weary gaze on Mary Margaret, “Why are you here, MM?”

“I’m not doing a very good job of it, but I came to say I’m sorry.” Emma’s eyes widened at that, but Mary Margaret continued, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry I tried to tell you how you feel and that I didn’t listen to you.” It sounded practiced, but sincere and Mary Margaret gave Emma a self-deprecating smile, “I’ve always been bad at realizing when my interpretation of what someone else says or feels isn’t what it actually is and…” She drifted off before getting back on track, “That’s no excuse. I’m sorry, Emma.”

Emma crossed her arms over her chest. She’d never heard her mom apologize for anything big like this before or acknowledge she’d been wrong. “Yeah?”

Mary Margaret nodded earnestly, “I guess I thought I knew how it was, because it had seemed so obvious with Elsa, and I thought you were just slow to realize what I already knew and that was wrong of me. I shouldn’t have done that. You aren’t Elsa. I know that, I do, but…”

“Do you?” Emma asked. Her mother admitting she’d messed up was giving Emma the confidence to voice her own rebukes, “Because you act like Elsa’s the default and I’m like her until I tell you otherwise and then you act like I’m her with some specific differences. I’m an entirely different person, Mom.”

“You are,” Mary Margaret agreed quickly. “You are, I know that…” She trailed off and bit her lip guiltily, “But there’s knowing and there’s acting on that knowledge. I haven’t been doing a good job of the latter,” she admitted.

“When I first came to live with you guys, I did try to copy Elsa and be who you thought I should be, but that wasn’t the real me,” Emma confessed although she was fairly certain they both knew that. “And when I started to feel more comfortable being me, it felt like you…like you didn’t like that. Like you wanted me to stay a mini-clone of you and Elsa.”

“It’s not that bad anymore, but sometimes I still feel that way. And it sucks. So you claiming I like women just because Elsa does is a really messed up thing to say.”

“I’m sorry,” Mary Margaret looked down at her folded hands.

Emma continued since her mouth seemed to be on a roll, “And I want to tell you things, but you make it hard. It’s like you’re trying to finish my sentences for me, like it’s a game for you to prove how well you know me. But when you guess wrong, you don’t want to admit it. It’s like you try to convince me that I was wrong and so I just gave up correcting you.”

Mary Margaret opened her mouth before closing it and seemed to really think about what Emma had said. “I…I never meant to make you feel that way and I’m sorry I did.”

“Have you been talking to Archie?”

“A little,” Mary Margaret acknowledged. “Even I know when to consult a professional. What should I do to move forward? I don’t want to put this on you, but I want to hear how you think we can fix this.”

Emma hadn’t expected that. “Uh, I don’t know. Listen? Better?” Emma shook her head, “Don’t argue with me when I tell you things.”

“Okay, I can do that.”

“And maybe don’t talk to Regina until next year,” Emma added.

Mary Margaret laughed, “Yeah, that makes sense. She really makes you happy?”

“Yes,” Emma said firmly.

“I’m happy for you then,” she patted Emma’s knee. “I do want you to be happy and I’m trilled that Regina makes you happy, really.”

“Thanks,” Emma said with an almost shy smile. “Because she really does, Mom.”

Mary Margaret beamed at her and pulled her in for another hug.

“But, um, I gotta warn you—Regina’s pretty pissed at you. Her mom was a piece of work and some of this brought that back for her. She’s kinda protective of me, with you, right now. I, I forgive you, but I’m still sort of mad to? Like at the same time. And I can’t just stop that.”

“I know, and I know I have to do more than apologize, but we’ll get there. I’ll show you that you can trust me.

“Thanks, I really want to. I just want to feel like you’re interested in what I have to say, as a person, not just your daughter.”

“Oh Emma, I really do what to hear what you have to say, I promise.”

“Okay.” Emma said and then took another deep breath. “Okay.” A silence stretched out, neither of them knowing where to go from there. Emma desperately needed to move past this conversation until later and she searched for a way to change the subject, “Can we… What did you and Evan do today?”

Mary Margaret saw that Emma needed to talk about something lighter. “He wanted to fix up his snow fort before we left, in case the next people visiting wanted to play with it.”

They were both rather stilled at first, but soon gave way to a more normal conversation as they tried to regain their emotional equilibrium.

Then, the door opened and Regina walked into the room. All three women froze in surprise, Emma and MM at someone entering suddenly and Regina at finding Emma’s mother in the room.

“Hey Regina,” Emma said, trying to communicate that everything was alright.

It didn’t seem to work since Regina got a dark look on her face and glared at Mary Margaret. “Emma.” There was the sense of bitten off words, as if Regina was trying to keep back saying something along the lines of “is she bothering you?”.

“Well, Emma, I’m sure Evan would love if you could make his play. I’d better get ready for dinner with the Nolans. The offer is still open if you’d like to come.”

“Okay, sounds good. We’re probably just going to stay in.”

“Alright sweetie. Bye,” Mary Margaret gave an awkward little wave as she went to leave. Regina did not move much from where she’d frozen upon entering the room and so tha older woman had to awkwardly scoot by her in order to leave. The door clicked shut softly after her.

Emma collapsed back against her pillows, some remaining tension they hadn’t managed to diffuse with innocent talk was finally relieved.

“What did she want?” Regina asked, her stance tense, if at Emma’s word she would go hunt her down and make her pay for hurting her girlfriend any further.

“To apologize actually.”

Regina’s eyes brows shot up and she glanced instinctively at the door before turning back to Emma. “What?”

“Yeah.” Emma was staring at the ceiling, lost in thought.

Regina seemed to sense that Emma was still processing and so she grabbed some more comfortable clothes to change into. Once she was out of the bathroom, she carefully laid back down against the pillows, copying Emma’s pose. “Did she really apologize?”

“Yeah, a couple times actually. She seemed to have actually heard what I said the other day. And it sounded like Aunt Red laid into too—apparently, she’s bi as well and a lot of what MM said really pissed her off. Aunt Red’s always been able to get through to her, sometimes even when David hasn’t.”

“That’s big then,” Regina acknowledged.

“Yeah. She didn’t mention the job stuff, but its still more than I ever expected,” Emma said. “I just don’t what to feel anymore. But at least she said most of the right things. I just don’t know if it’ll stick,” Emma said, feeling more drained than she could remember in recent years. She sighed and moved closer to Regina, leaning her head on Regina’s shoulder. “Honestly, I just want to go home,”

Regina nodded as she wrapped an arm around Emma’s shoulders. “Me too.”

They sat together on the bed in peaceful silence for a while until Regina spoke up, “Next time we take a vacation together, can no one else from your family come?”

Emma laughed, “Definitely. I promise.”