CHILLAXING DRINKS WITH A FORMER KIDNAPPER
Some light tension relief with some questionably stocked alcohol after a long day of finding no new information at the creepy hotel bar;
She wasn't about the argue about Baelfire versus Neal; she knew him as Neal, to her, he would always be Neal. But she was getting morose, as well as stressed, and she hardly thought that would help in any way to calm her or settle the anxiety within. Sipping the drink, Emma just stared at the counter ahead of her.
She wasn't sure how much she should share with Jefferson; the entire town knew that she'd given birth to Henry in jail thanks to Regina's smear campaign during the Sheriff elections. But she'd never shared the full story, not even with Mary Margaret, not even before she knew that Mary Margaret really was her mom. "I thought I was doing the right thing when I gave him up," she wasn't fit to be a mother, she couldn't even protect herself never mind this sweet little child, she didn't deserve that chance, those adoring little eyes and the dependency of something so innocent. She'd just fail. "Look how that turned out."
If she had to guess, she would figure that maybe yeah, Jefferson had a point. Her foster parents had lied all the time, but it wasn't exactly comforting. But they'd never really done it with her best intentions at heart. "You lie to Grace? Not like... I just meant did you? Or... I mean, when you were in the Enchanted Forest?" Smooth, Emma, real smooth.
Jefferson could understand going to the drink because she felt horrible and to dull her pain. There was a point in his life where he would have done the same. He just didn't drink much after Grace was dependent on him, or at all, not until he was alone in that house. Sometimes it dulled the pain, sometimes it made him even angrier.
But attempting to reason with the buzz in her head wasn't the smartest decision he'd seen her make.
"Yeah, look how that turned out." He nodded along slowly for her as if trying to steer her through the motions of the explanation. "And if you hadn't given him up Regina wouldn't have brought him to Storybrooke. You would have never broken the curse, found out who your real parents were, or gotten any answers. Maybe you weren't ready to be a mother then, maybe, you just needed to grow up a little. I know this savior thing is obviously giving you a big head and all, but, the truth of the matter is you're still only human. With a lot of magical qualities, but still."
And humans made horrible decisions. They had pain, and they lived through it to fix those mistakes, or they regretted never getting the chance. He got an entire half of a lifetime to ponder this crap.
Sighing, Jefferson dipped his head to rest against his arms for a moment, not really wanting to recall anything about Grace right now. But in the game of this conversation fair was fair. And maybe it would give Emma some confidence, and if she was feeling up to par, good things would start happening. "Of course I did. It's key to her survival and happiness. Right now, the best gift she has--the best gift they have, is their perception of the world. They're young and naive but with all the capabilities of being intelligent, and letting their imaginative little hearts guide them."
He didn't expect Emma to fully agree or comprehend this but he didn't care. She wanted an answer, and he was giving it. "If you told Henry that all he had to look forward to was a job he was probably going to hate, a life of living to work and working to live, maybe some tragic deaths of those he loves, do you think that would make him very happy or want to strive to do much of..anything? You tell them they can do anything they want, be what makes them happy, because you want them to try."
Being the saviour, having this pre-determined path, it didn't sit all that well with Emma. She didn't like the idea that her life had already been written out for her, that all the things she'd been through were just collateral damage in the grander scheme of the dark curse. Being the saviour hadn't given Emma any confidence, any self-worth, any feelings of being needed or wanted or special. Being the saviour just complicated her life.
But, when it came to the kids, he had a point.
Henry was resilient. He was smart and creative and bright. For all that Regina had tried to curb his imagination when it came to 'the curse', he still had a lot of belief in everything around him. Especially magic. Apparently, he hadn't grown out of that.
She hadn't wanted Henry to think badly of people, to close himself off to those around him, the way she had. She didn't want him to know that his dad had abandoned them both to save his own neck. "Apparently, anything he wants is rather limited in the world of fairytales." Although she had to assume that eventually they'd live a life free of constant threat from fairy tales and magic.
"I get the feeling they believe it more than we do sometimes."
He didn't know anything about being a savior or being important or wanted for some grander scheme. Jefferson had always been the man to get what people needed and take them where they wanted to go, even when he didn't want to. To his little girl, he was more than that, she needed him, and that's all he really cared about. Taking care of her and seeing that she was happy.
Everyone else could go to hell. Maybe except for Henry. And Emma. They weren't so bad..
"Fortunately anything Henry seems to want, fairytale or not, seems to be good things for other people. Nosy as he is, I wouldn't call that a loss." They could have ended up with worse children. He'd seen horrible children, just, vile things. Even from the kindest people who didn't deserve such a thing.
Snorting, Jefferson reached over the counter for a glass before helping himself to that bottle she was guarding, lightly it closer to himself to pour a little bit, because why the hell not? "Someone has to. We can't all be bitter, old people who just made a bunch of stupid mistakes that we now have to live with."
Emma had to bark a laugh at that. Yeah; Henry liked to get involved in things he really shouldn't have. She couldn't fault his inquisitive nature, it was something she was pretty sure he got from her, and she still felt little blooms of pride any time she noticed one of those things, one of those traits that was just so her in him.
"Yeah, he's a good kid, nosy and all." If he hadn't been nosy though, he might've never looked into the Curse, and then he might've never looked for her. And that was what brought her to Storybrooke after all.
"I think I'm already at the bitter part." She was fairly sure that had happened a while ago too. Although it did show merit to Jefferson's point. No one had ever really encouraged her to believe in anything; the foster system was so harsh and draining that she never fully learned to hope, not after the Swan's sent her back. Henry was much more open, much more trusting and caring. She had to believe it was down to the people around him; like Archie and Graham and Mary Margaret. It just made her sigh and wonder what could've been.
Stupid mistakes aside, she wasn't sure if she could really wish for different things. "If it's not stupid mistakes it's insanely out of this world situations that just don't make sense." Like getting pulled into yet another world she knew nothing about.
"I've heard parental abandonment does that." Which is one of the many reasons he loathed leaving Grace on her own. He hadn't wanted to abandon her, it wasn't like that. Hell, if he had a little more direction from his own parents, maybe things would have gone differently for himself. That was too long ago for him to stir into bitterness though.
The way Jefferson saw it was that he could only deal directly with the now. And right now, Emma had only to accept that the horrible things she'd thought about her parents weren't true, and she wasn't some ordinary woman. That was better than those lies.
He finished his glass and let it sit on the counter, tracing the rim lightly with his fingertip. "In the larger scheme of things they make sense. You had the privilege of growing up in a relatively dull place with no magic. These 'insane' situations are pretty ordinary where we're from. Give it some time, you won't bat an eyelash....especially when you learn to control all of that magic of yours."
God, she was entirely too sober for any conversation about abandonment in any kind of way. Grabbing her glass, she finished off what was there before reaching for the bottle again, hesitating for a moment before just sighing and following through. She'd cut herself off before it got bad, she had Henry to take care of, she couldn't get drunk but damnit she could catch a buzz.
"Among other things."
She'd spent her entire life believing she wasn't wanted. She'd been found on the side of the damn road, how could she not think that? And after the Swan's, well, she was unwanted and replaceable clearly. Coming to terms with the fact that Mary Margaret and David wanted her, they'd loved her and wanted her and tried to protect her in the only way they could've, it was still a lot to get through the twenty-eight years of believing otherwise.
The 'privilege' of 'normal' was something that Emma wasn't sure they saw the same way. It took Henry almost dying for her to open up and believe in anything, to access any capability of actually saving anyone. "Right, that magic I have." She rolled her eyes just as she sipped from her glass again, "Fat lot of good that is."
The more time he spent with Emma, the less Jefferson was able to try and believe that she was the daughter of Snow White and Prince not so Charming. He could tell where she got her violent streak, and while the sugary sweet couple were just gooey enough to give him cavities, they didn't get to where they got by hugging rabbits and throwing daisies.
Even still the reluctance to give up even when someone had point blank told them there was nothing that could be done--ahem, David--that wasn't something he saw in Emma. And therin he supposed was the years of loneliness.
He knew what it was to be alone. Powerless to do anything to change it, maybe not in the same way she had, but it could do a number to your psyche.
"And I can't imagine why, what with this sunshine attitude you've got going." Jefferson rested his chin in his hand, looking at her pointedly. What was she so afraid of by believing? It wasn't like any of this was going to go away as soon as she opened up to it. Oh no, it's who she was, and that was that. "You're the embodiment of the strongest magic anyone ever has sought, probably stronger than--nevermind it is stronger than Gold's and Regina's, and all you have to to is embrace that and....you don't want to because?"
Staring into her glass, Emma half wished that the ground would open up, or the walls would split, that something would happen and break the almost palpable tension right then.
When she was with Neal she could've almost believed. She'd been happy and carefree and thought that finally she could start her life, that everything from the system was behind her and she was starting from there. She'd be happy and loved and get everything she wanted. Tallahassee. She'd wanted so badly to believe in that.
"Because not everything has a fairytale ending." She'd spent two years waiting, two years letting her heart crumble to pieces and her hope die. She'd built the walls that Mary Margaret saw and hid everything behind them. She wouldn't need anyone but herself and she'd be fine. Lonely, but fine.
"What makes you think that it's even true? So Mary Margaret and David have true love, and I broke one stupid curse because of mine for my son, what makes you think that's not all it is?"
With a heavy sigh Jefferson let his head fall onto the bar counter, leaving it there until he had the energy to lift it again. This woman was just..exhausting. She wanted answers that she was just going to ignore. While he may not be the first person anyone would trust, he wasn't a fool, and he made applicable points.
His own social skills weren't up to par thanks to all of that time in isolation. So maybe there just wasn't something he was understanding. If she didn't want answers, or didn't credit him a reliable source of giving them, then why was she wasting her breath? Maybe..she didn't want answers, and she just needed to talk. He could understand that.
Dragging his feet out from under the bar stool and sliding up and out of the chair, he made his way around to the back of the bar, slowly guiding his hand along the top, surveying the counter space and it's contents. "Let's pretend for a moment that you accept everything about magic, and this is just a lesson. True love, for whatever reason, is the strongest of all magic. Supposedly, there's just nothing that can overcome it. Your parents are the epitome of true love, making you a," he waved his hand around in a circle, trying to find the proper terminology that wouldn't warrant a glass in the face,"..product of true love. You, as a person, are that essence of the strongest magic that exists."
He picked up a bottle and turned it over, checking it's contents. "I know it because for years that's all Rumple could talk about. The magic of true love. And no one knows more about magic than he does."
She followed his movements carefully, not exactly sure what she expected. Honestly, after the exasperated sigh and dropping his head she'd half expected him to just wander off and leave her there with her drink.
So far, as she understood it, her magic was mostly accessed. As far as she was aware she'd used it twice. And neither of those times had been anything she'd consciously tried to do. She'd stopped Cora to save Mary Margaret, and as Cora had tried to take her heart it was just instinct that made her attack Cora with magic.
Gold pretty much was the leading voice on all things magic, Emma couldn't find fault in that. But if her magic was love how the hell was she supposed to use that?
"What if I can't use it? What if I don't know how to just accept that?" If love was her trigger, if love was what made her magic work, or made it strong, or whatever, how in the hell was she really supposed to figure that out? Beyond Henry, she wasn't even sure if she was capable of it anymore. "You make it all sound so easy, but it's not."
"You've already used it, Emma. You've already changed Storybrooke and everyone else's lives within it. At this point, if you refuse to believe that, you're just holding yourself back." He considered her dilemma as he reached over for his glass and poured some of the liquor in his hand into it. Bending over to snag another bottle he added a few drops, swirling the glass to mix it and take a small sip.
The world was something he'd never get used to, but their alcohol was very, very strong.
Finally Jefferson met her eyes, if only to show her that he was giving this attention, and taking what she said seriously. And that she should too. "I'm not trying to say it's easy. Speaking it is easier than doing it, of that I'm sure. As for how, well, let's start with why you won't. What's keeping you from just saying 'This is who I am, this is what I'm capable of'? Is it the cliche concept of true love that has you avoiding it, or just...self doubt?"