In Which Emma Doesn't Know She's Gay

Few people would let others tell them they don't know what they want, but Emma Swan is one of those people. Emma Swan assumes, and assumes so with a clear conscience, that relationships aren't her thing. That there's too much of a connection, too much responsibility, too many burdens and too little satisfaction. That to kiss a man feels like prison and nothing like the bliss she's heard of from mandatory-to-read books. Romeo and Juliet? Fairytale; something that's not real.

No, one night stands are a perfectly valid, albeit permanent, resolution for the occasional unresolved sexual tension (we all have needs, after all), which suit both her and the men she takes. No names, no calls, no breakfast, no cuddling, no spooning and definitely no kissing, just the way Emma likes her men, yes sir.

The first time she's doubted is when she tells Mary Margaret about her one night policy and Mary's immediate reaction is to say "Well that's because you're—" and then she stops mid-sentence, giving Emma the most awkward look in the history of Mary's awkward looks - and there has been a lot. Emma doesn't understand what's so strange about her not getting emotional over men and Mary covers it up with a profound monologue on how her roommate is "protecting herself". Emma raises one eyebrow and pulls on her sweatshirt.

The second time she's doubted is when she's having a late night out with the girls at Granny's and, after more than a couple of shots, fails to realize she's staring at something very much on her eye level and very much inappropriate to look at. Smirking, Ruby bends over the table suggestively a second later (replacing the aforementioned point of interest with her other assets), setting another shot of whiskey down firmly in front of the blonde and whispering - so that Ashley and Mary wouldn't overhear - "Like the view, Sheriff?" before casually strolling back to the bar. In her inebriated state, it takes Emma about fifteen seconds to realize what just happened. She blinks and frowns in confusion, then shrugs and downs the next shot.

The third time is the least subtle of all. It happens when she's saved Regina from the fire and a few hours later she's pacing around the kitchen at Mary Margaret's, rambling on about how ungrateful Regina is, and how Mary wasn't there to hear it but that woman has no manners whatsoever, and I swear to the great spirits one day I will claw her eyes out and choke her with a sleeve of her own blazer, one thank you, is that too much to ask, and Gold, don't even get me started on Gold, he could have hurt Regina, what the hell was he thinking, he could have killed her, good lord. I mean what makes everyone so certain I'm not "the type" to let people die, and of course I'm not but—

Mary zones out, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She knows Emma doesn't let her emotions run rampant but when she does, it's a stampede. Finally she can't stand it anymore. "Emma, sweetie, we need to talk," she cuts in, tapping the table as a peaceful gesture of sit the hell down. Emma is baffled by the teacher's use of a derogatory title she no doubt uses with her students, but she obeys, knowing that there are times in life when you need man up and face the fact you do not anger a Mary Margaret. Ever.

"Has it ever occurred to you that you might, I don't know, have feelings?" Mary probes innocently.

Emma eyes her even more suspiciously. "Uh, of course? Just like every other human being except for, apparently, town mayors?"

"No, I mean, romantic feelings?" Mary tries again.

"What? For whom?"

"I don't know, maybe the person you keep thinking about since the day we met?"

The blonde's frown deepens; she's completely clueless. "…Henry?"

Well this is what a perfect definition of awkward silence would be. Mary is this close to facepalming and/or banging her head against the surface of the table repeatedly, but she's fairly certain even this wouldn't take away the horrible, horrible pain of having the break the news to Emma. "No, Emma, I meant Regina," she sighs, waiting patiently for the information to sink in.

"Regina?" Emma repeats rather dumbly.

"Yes, Regina Mills. The mayor. You know, the one you just risked your life for a few hours ago?" She swears to god, half her class would have started singing Emma and Regina sitting in a tree about thirty minutes ago if they were present in this conversation.

"B-but Regina, she's, well, she's a woman, and a terrible one at that. I don't get it," Emma shakes her head and waves her arms in front of herself defensively.

Oh dear lord, this is going to be harder than expected. One would think a Bostonian could recognize when her best friend was none too subtly trying to inform her of her blatant gayness. So Mary decides to try a different approach. "And the fact that she's a woman is a problem because…"

Emma pierces the wood with a glare, trying to think of a reasonable answer. "W-well, because I've never… I mean, I don't… I mean, what?" she whines like a twelve year old child. No, that would be an insult to twelve year old children. She whines like a baby and Mary has to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

Stifling the tingling sound in her throat, Mary reaches forward to take her hand. "Look at yourself, Emma. You're always talking about her and you go around wearing a wife beater - of all things - and don't think I didn't catch you ogling Ruby's, uh, curvaceous behind that one time. And you get frustrated when Regina doesn't thank you even though you don't give a damn about politeness when it's about anyone else." She pauses, watching as Emma tilts her head to the left, disbelief evident on her face. "There's more to it, isn't there? You're always trying to get her attention, trying to get her to acknowledge you, and that's understandable. But what good would it do if she did and you had no idea why you were going for it in the first place?"

Wrinkles of worry appear on Emma's forehead and deepen the harder she tries to make sense of Mary's analysis. It takes her a few long moments before she breaks. "Well, shit. That actually makes sense. I hate how that actually makes sense."

A long pause of trying to deny the irrefutable.

"It's okay, Emma. It's the twenty-first century. I'm not going to condemn you for what you are," Mary soothes, sensing a hint of insecurity somewhere behind those walls.

"I know," Emma snaps as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "I just never thought that… me. I - actually - never thought about that. Y'know?" she looks up at the brunette, fairly certain she sounds like a complete blundering idiot. After the scene she's just made, she feels like it, too. And god damn her if there's a blush creeping up her cheeks right now. "But I'm not in love with her or anything," Emma grumbles, snatching her hand away and running off to the dishwasher to pretend to be terribly preoccupied with making sure all the glass plates are crystal clear before arranging them in the cupboard.

"Of course not," Mary replies, a smile dragging the corners of her lips upward, which she successfully hides by taking a sip of her cocoa. One life-changing revelation is enough for the day.