Rating: T (brief language)
Summary: Post-Episode one-shot collection featuring Mary Margaret/Emma bonding.
True North; Emma wonders why people couldn't have taken the time with her like she did for Ava and Nicholas.
Note: This is a bit similar to my previous MM/E bonding fic, Threads. But that's because I essentially called the emotions/actions from the two of them in True North back in November. And since this is a follow-up to episode nine, there may be a few comparisons. These one-shots will be dialogue heavy.
After driving Henry home and hugging him goodnight, Emma spent another half hour in her sheriff's car, listening to the sounds of the night before returning back to Mary Margaret's apartment. She wanted to avoid any further conversation with the woman for the evening; her comment about their similar facial features having been too much for her overburdened mind to deal with.
Before she headed in, she made a phone call to the man she'd convinced just hours before to start a family with twelve-year-old twins. "Mr. Tillman? It's Emma...just...making sure everything went okay?"
There was a relieved sigh on the other end of the phone. "Yeah...actually. The kids just went to bed. We had a long talk that we'll probably continue over the next few weeks while...we figure all this out...but...I had them sleep in my bed for tonight, I'll take the couch until we get them some proper furniture...I'm still not sure if I'm ready for this but..."
"It'll take time," Emma said softly. "You'll adjust and eventually...it'll be like you've always been together. If you need anything, you know how to get ahold of me...I'll do whatever I can to help."
"Thank you," Michael replied. "And I hope it's okay, but we were talking about different things we could do together...and Ava asked if she could come see you and Mary Margaret sometimes to have...girl time or whatever, and I told her that would probably be fine."
Emma laughed, "Of course. Tell her if she ever needs anything or has any...questions...she can always come to me. Or Mary Margaret." She frowned, if she'd had a female influence at Ava's age, she might not have wound up in as many fist fights as she had. "But, I'll let you go, Mr. Tillman. Call if you need anything."
After hanging up, Emma leaned her head back against her seat, the smile still on her face. In the short time she'd been in Storybrooke, she'd changed the lives of at least four young people; Henry, Ashley, Ava, and Nicholas. Nothing she'd done had taken drastic effort or prompting. It was all just the right thing to do; things decent human beings do.
Why couldn't anyone have been decent for her?
Turning the key in the lock after eyeing the clock and hoping Mary Margaret was sleeping, Emma paused in the doorway to find a piece of paper tapped to the counter. Her eyes gazed to the left and she noted Mary Margaret's drapes were drawn and her light was off; indicating she was at least feigning sleep. With a hard swallow, Emma's eyes strained in the darkness to read what she'd been left.
There's caesar salad for you in the refrigerator. And chocolate cake from the kids!
You seemed quite distraught when you left. I hope I didn't upset you when I said you have my chin. I should have been more sensitive to the fact that you've probably spent your whole life wondering what your mom and dad might look like. I'm so sorry it's taken you so long; and I know you might want to give up — but don't. They're out there somewhere. If there's ever anything I can do to help you, please let me know.
If you want to talk, about anything, please wake me up!
Emma smirked as she placed it facedown, trying not to imagine the -M at the bottom of the page standing for Mom. Mary Margaret was so brutally honest sometimes, she was hard to take.
With a silent heave of her shoulders, Emma removed the dinner her roommate had left, quickly scarfing down the lettuce before moving onto more than a fair helping of cake, letting the chocolate dull her feelings.
After piling the dishes in the sink; not wanting to create too much commotion, the sheriff brushed her teeth and ascended the staircase, where her stack of clothes Mary Margaret had folded earlier was neatly on her bed; which was also made by the teacher. "Goodness sakes," She mumbled under her breath as she pulled out pajama pants and shifted the pile to a chest of drawers. If Mary Margaret didn't stop acting like her mother, she was going to start actually believing it.
She pulled back the quilt and prepared to slide in, before realizing she'd left her baby blanket on the main floor. While it usually sat on a chair or in a box, if there was ever a night she needed the security device, it was this one.
Tip-toeing down the stairs and hugging the cream blanket close to her chest, Emma stared at the curtains in Mary Margaret's doorway. The woman had said to wake her up so they could talk; but in Emma's experience, such language was a mere formality for leave me the fuck alone I want to sleep. She didn't even know what she wanted to talk about...yet her body moved of it's own accord, parting the sheer white material. She paused, leaning against the wall as she held her blanket at her side, observing the potential Snow White laying on her side, away from Emma, presumably sound asleep. Deciding whatever ramblings she would muster could wait until morning, the blonde turned to leave —
"You can come in," A soft, sing-song voice registered from the bed, causing Emma to stop in her tracks and whip around. Mary Margaret sat up slightly, moving a pillow against the headboard. Emma gave her a questioning look as she padded across the floorboards and set herself down on the edge of the bed. "My superpower is knowing when people are staring at me," Mary Margaret said with a knowing smirk. "Now, what's on your mind?"
"I-I don't...I..." She struggled to find words as she stared at her first worldly possession. "I'm just..." She bit her lip, feeling a strong need to cry; but she wouldn't. Not in front of her roommate. "I don't know."
Mary Margaret sat up a little taller, spreading her hands over the comforter, resisting a pull to embrace the woman sitting next to her. "Is it what I said earlier? I'm sorry, Emma, I didn't mean—"
"No," The taller sighed, shaking her head. "It's not that. You...didn't upset me...this whole...situation..."
There was a moment of silence as Mary Margaret slid to her left, making more room for Emma, who twisted to face her more fully, the evidence of unshed tears glistening in her eyes from a small beam of light from the window. "I don't understand how I could find Ava and Nicholas's father in a day, but no one could help me find my parents in twenty-eight years. And...how you made them feel so welcome, and wanted, in just...twenty-four hours with them. They were scared and desperate, but when they were here, they didn't feel that. It was all so easy, and I don't understand...why..."
Mary Margaret shook her head. "Why no one could do that for you?"
"Exactly! It's not like you did anything out of the ordinary, or over the top...you baked with them, and fed them...and just sat down and had pleasant conversation with them. That's not hard!" Emma nearly shouted as she glared daggers at a wall. "It's not hard to treat a kid like a human being instead of a paycheck!"
"Oh, Emma..." Mary Margaret sighed her name as the blonde continued her rant.
"If I had stayed in just one home with one adult like you," Emma shook her head and balled her hands into fists against her blanket. "It would have made all the difference. I wouldn't be like I am today. I wouldn't have gone to jail, I wouldn't have gotten knocked up, and I wouldn't be so...so...angry all the time! If just one person had showed me that people are capable of being kind, and compassionate, and decent—"
"Hey, hey..." Mary Margaret reached out a hand, placing it against Emma's shoulder. "Emma..."
She breathed deeply, collecting herself. "I-I'm sorry, you need to sleep, and I—"
"You need to let it out and keep talking," The shorter-haired woman responded gently, keeping her palm against Emma's skin. "This has been bottling up for a very long time. I don't know if it's going to really help to let it out, but at least you have someone who can listen and try to understand what you've gone through."
Emma was more than tempted to run from the offer. She didn't open up. She didn't talk about feelings. Every time she let down that damn wall she got nothing but hurt. Graham had been a prime example of that.
"I've never had anyone that I could just...talk to." She finally said, honestly as Mary Margaret shifted over completely, patting the newly-created space next to her. Emma blinked hard before climbing up, settling herself against the headboard and spreading her baby blanket over her lap. "Unless you count several periods court-mandated counseling. But I wasn't about to let some stranger into my psyche. I learned to say what they needed to hear to get me out as soon as possible."
Mary Margaret rubbed her wrist, feeling quite empathetic — she knew what it was like to keep silent all that was wighted. "You can talk to me, about anything. I just...I want you to have a place free of judgement and a friend you can trust to not betray you."
Emma bit her lip, willing her tears to remain unshed, finally asking the question that had been plaguing her since the first week in Storybrooke. "Why did you offer me a place to stay?"
Her roommate appeared taken aback at the subject change, blinking quickly and shrugging. "It seemed like the right thing to do."
"To take someone into your house who'd been arrested twice just days before? Who are you, Jesus?" Emma chided in disbelief, earning a hearty laugh from Mary Margaret.
"Not quite. Maybe his little sister. Oh, that's...probably blasphemy, isn't it?" Even Emma had to chuckle at her statement and a light moment passed between them. "In any case...It's like I told you when I picked you up from jail. I...trust you. I don't know why. Part of it is because you're willing to stand up for what is right...and the other part is just the fact that I think you're a genuinely good person. And you needed somebody. If I could be the one to give you what you needed, then I'd do it."
Emma processed this before questioning further. "So, you'd do it for anyone you thought was a good person?"
Mary Margaret shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe, it would depend on the situation. I usually save my spare room for the birth mothers of my favorite forth graders, though."
The blonde laughed again, a little more bitterly before leaning her head between the bars of the bed. "What makes someone a good person? Because I think the record books are against me there. I'd need two more fingers to count the times I've been arrested."
"It depends on what records you look at. The ones that make you a good person probably aren't written down on paper...they're written on people's hearts."
Emma glared with a raised eyebrow in Mary Margaret's direction. "You've lost me."
Mary Margaret explained, "There's a quote on the back of the door in the teacher's lounge at school. It says, 'One Hundred Years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money was in my bank account, or what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.' In the short time you've been here, Emma, you've made a difference in the life of four children — in a huge way."
"Four?" She raised a brow.
"Well, Nicholas and Ava today...and then Henry, obviously. And if it hadn't been for you, baby Alexandra probably wouldn't be with her mother. And that's just specific kids. You've really made a difference to every man, woman, and child in this town by...standing up against corruption. You're just getting started but I have no doubt you are going to continue improving things around here." Emma flushed and tried not to smile. Mary Margaret nudged her side as she caught this expression. "You should be proud of yourself."
There was silence as Emma contemplated all that had been said before Mary Margaret added, "And you know what? The fact that you didn't have good people in your life? It only made you stronger. You've been able to overcome the fact that there wasn't anyone there to...make you cookies or talk problems out with. Now you're making sure other people don't have to go through what you did."
"I wouldn't want anyone to grow up thinking no one wanted them, no one loved them. It sucks, and...I guess if I hadn't been the one to go through it, there'd be four other kids who would be going through it now." She stretched, letting out a sigh. "That does make me a good person."
Mary Margaret nodded, "Yeah. It does...I'm going to hug you now."
Emma laughed as the other woman embraced her. "I'm over my monthly hug quota. Between Ava, Nicholas, and Henry...Now you? Pretty sure I've had more hugs in the past three days than I have my whole life."
At this, Mary Margaret held her tighter, not wanting to hear such truths. "Oh, Emma. There's no limits when it comes to someone you care about. For anything."
Emma pulled away, her eyes still betraying her exterior, glassy with emotion and exhaustion. Mary Margaret squeezed her hands before smiling softly and requesting, "How about you get some sleep? I'm going to Granny's at quarter after seven, you can join me—"
"That's way too early," Emma groaned, sliding off the bed. "Thanks though...Maybe dinner together tomorrow?"
Mary Margaret repositioned herself against the pillows, teasing, "You cooking?"
Emma scoffed. "Maybe you can show me your ways." With her blanket clutched tightly to her chest, she smirked and bid Mary Margaret goodnight before ascending the stairs.