Emma swept into the kitchen a few mornings later, rifling through the cabinets to find Mary Margaret's amazing homemade granola.
"What's got you in such a hurry this morning?" Mary Margaret handed Emma a glass of orange juice.
"I have to go in a little early to talk to my math teacher." Emma poured herself a bowl of granola. "Mr. Dane?"
"Why does your math teacher need to talk to you?" Mary Margaret raised her eyebrows.
"Beats me." Emma shrugged. She saw the look of concern on Mary Margaret's face. "Mary Margaret, I haven't really been in school long enough to get him mad at me quite yet. I'm sure it's nothing."
Mary Margaret nodded. "You look very nice today." She eyed Emma's tailored black shorts and sheer dark maroon long sleeved top.
"Really?" Emma glanced down at her outfit. "I guess. I don't know, I just put it on."
"Are you sure you're not dressing nice for a certain someone?" Mary Margaret asked with a knowing smile.
Emma scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous."
Mary Margaret tried to suppress a smile, knowing not to push the subject. She noticed Emma playing absent-mindedly with a necklace.
"That's a really pretty necklace." Mary Margaret said. "You always have it on. Where did you get it?"
"Oh this?" Emma glanced down at the gold cursive E in her palm. "I don't know. I've always had it. My… my, parents gave it to me. Just about the only thing. Weird huh, they left me with a handmade blanket, and an expensive gold necklace and a name, but they couldn't be bothered to take me to a hospital. Sick irony right?"
Mary Margaret looked sadly at Emma, who's eyebrows shot up as she realized what she had just said. She reddened and looked down. Mary Margaret glanced at the necklace. It seemed oddly familiar. "Emma…"
"This granola is really good." Emma cut Mary Margaret off. Not wanting to talk about it. "Have I ever told you that?"
"Thanks." There was sadness in Mary Margaret's voice. She wanted to talk to Emma, to be there for her, but she knew it would take time. "Hey I have something for you." She grabbed a key off the counter and handed it to Emma.
"A key?" Emma looked up as it clicked. "To the apartment."
Mary Margaret smiled. "I have a volunteer shift at the hospital this afternoon after school and I didn't want you to have to wait. You officially have a key."
"Thanks." Emma took the key.
"You know that key makes this your home too." Mary Margaret smiled.
"Right." Emma nodded uncomfortably. "So what are you going to do at the hospital, talk to more comatose patients?"
"There's only one." Mary Margaret said.
"Why do you talk to him?" Emma asked.
"It's supposed to help them to know someone's there, to know they're not alone." Mary Margaret shrugged. "Although it is getting harder and harder to talk to him."
"Maybe you should read to him." Emma suggested.
"Read?" Mary Margaret asked.
"Yea," Emma nodded, "It's interesting to you and maybe it will help him break out of the monotony that is you going on about your life."
"Hey." Mary Margaret said, Emma grinned.
"You should take that fairy tale book August gave to me." Emma said. "It's on my desk. They sure are weird stories. But you might find them interesting."
"I might just take you up on that offer." Mary Margaret put her coffee cup in the dishwasher. "You ready to go?"
"Yea." Emma nodded as put the bowl in the dishwasher and grabbed her backpack from the couch. "You know it's weird that you like a coma patient."
"I don't like him." Mary Margaret shook her head.
"Right." Emma nodded.
"You're one to be talking about denying feelings." Mary Margaret gave a pointed look to Emma.
"What?" Emma asked.
"Oh come on Emma." Mary Margaret smiled. "We both know Connor has feelings for you and it's getting harder and harder to believe you don't have any for him."
"Oh that is absolutely ridiculous." Emma denied.
"Right." Mary Margaret grinned to herself. "Emma you are not the worlds best liar."
"Well then it's a good thing I'm not lying." Emma said as she got out of the car.
"Have a good day." Mary Margaret called.
"Have fun talking to comatose individuals." Emma quipped.
The hallways were deserted as she walked through them early that morning. No one wanted to be at school longer than they had to. Emma was honestly surprised she saw a soul in the hallways but she figured they were the over involved achievers of the student body. She knocked on the doorframe of Mr. Dane's classroom, hesitating to enter the classroom.
Mr. Dane looked up. "Miss Swan, come in." He motioned for her to come in.
Emma silently slipped into the classroom. "You wanted to see me Mr. Dane?" She stood awkwardly in front of his desk.
"Yes." Mr. Dane nodded and shuffled through the stack of papers on his desk. "I finished grading the tests and I wanted to discuss yours with you." Emma nodded slowly. "I noticed as I was going through your test that while it was completely filled out. There was no work."
Emma shifted uncomfortably. "I guess I just thought since it wasn't going to be graded or an accurate representation of what I can do…."
"Emma." Mr. Dane cut Emma off. "I understand that. What really caught me attention that is, despite the lack of work, every single answer was correct." Mr. Dane looked at Emma, clearly intrigued. "Normally my first assumption would be academic misconduct…"
"I didn't cheat." Emma cut in defensively.
"And upon further thought, I realized how difficult it would be for you to cheat, when no one around you was near finished with the test." Mr. Dane continued. "How'd you do it Emma?"
Emma shrugged. "Lucky I guess."
Mr. Dane didn't buy Emma's excuse. "No one get's that lucky Emma. Do you want to know what I think?"
"Not really." Emma crossed her arms. "But I suppose you'll tell me anyway."
Mr. Dane ignored Emma's quip. "I think you are an exceptionally smart girl Emma. I know you are exceptionally smart." Emma looked around, refusing to meet Mr. Dane's eyes. "Emma, this isn't something to be ashamed of. All I really wanted to say is that, even if you can do all of the work in your head, I can't grade the work in your head. You need to show your work to get credit for the problem."
"Ok." Emma agreed. "Can I go now?"
Mr. Dane sighed. "Emma, do you not like people knowing about how smart you are?"
"I don't like standing out." Emma explained. "I'd rather just be normal. Being normal would be a gift."
"You're not normal Emma." Mr. Dane said. "You're special.
Emma shrugged. "I'm not that much smarter than anyone else."
"I'd beg to differ." Mr. Dane said. "I'm not even sure I could do these calculations in my head. You're very intelligent Emma, I've spoken to your other teachers, we all agree, there's nothing wrong being smart Emma. Keep it up."
"Thanks." Emma was clearly uncomfortable. "I've need to get my textbook before class starts. Can I go?"
"You're free to go Emma." Mr. Dane watched the teenager slip quickly out of the classroom. He shook his head, she was clearly embarrassed of how smart she was. Emma didn't like to stand out, and her intelligence set her apart. Mr. Dane couldn't help but wonder if Emma could even accept that there was something special about her.
"Em's." Connor hurried to catch up with Emma in the hallway.
"Connor." Emma nodded at her friend. "What's up?"
"I was wondering, you're really good at chemistry right?" Connor started. Emma nodded slowly. "I was wondering if, maybe, you'd be willing to help me tonight?"
"I don't know Connor." Emma started.
"Well Mary Margaret's staying late at the hospital right?" Connor said. "You said that at lunch today."
"Well yes." Emma said slowly.
"So that means you have nothing to do for dinner." Connor continued. "So why don't you come to Granny's with me? I'll buy you dinner in exchange for your help in chemistry."
"That sounds an awful lot like a date." Emma looked at Connor.
Connor shrugged. "Who studies on a date Emma?"
Emma took a deep breath. "You promise you'll actually study?"
"I promise." Connor agreed.
"You better." Emma held up a finger. "If you slack off, I'm gone."
"So we have a deal?" Connor asked.
"I suppose." Emma nodded. "I've got to run to AP Lang, but I'll see you tonight."
"6 o'clock?" Connor called. Emma nodded as she disappeared into the flow of students. Connor smiled to himself as he turned to make his way to his next hour, looking forward to dinner.