(2014-06-08) The Love of a Queen
The Love of a Queen
Summary: On another outing with Laurel, Emma discusses her reasons for becoming an educator, and why she takes her job so seriously.
Date: 2014-06-08
Related: Various
Scene Runner: NA
Social/Plot: Social

Yes, Laurel has swept Emma Frost away from the day to day drudgery of the school despite all protests. Now they are sitting on a picnic bench in the middle of the wood. It is quiet and peaceful, the music of nature playing as the sun begins to set in the distance, the oranges and reds filtering through the trees. Laurel seems content to hold Emma's hand as she sighs and relaxes, enjoying this very pleasant moment of relaxation in the midst of the madness of a superhero's life.

Of course, to be fair, Emma's protests were virtually legion, from her own important duties and concerns - including increased security safety worries of late - and of course lack of preparation, and the right clothes. Emma isn't exactly dressed for a hike in the woods. But Laurel seems to have overridden even that concern, likely with soem lunarkinesis in the end. Now, as they sit on the bench together - yes, a corner of Emma's mind is currently estimating the cost of getting her suit dry-cleaned, and whether or not they'll be able to get the schmultz out of the white silk and wool - Emma is honestly /trying/ to relax. But she has to ask. "And what possessed you, Laurel, to decide that instead of allowing /me/ to woo you - that is what you asked - you would sweep in and kidnap me?" She almost sounds … amused? Certainly not angry. Maybe curious is the best edjective.

Laurel leans her head on Emma's shoulder. "I wanted to." And that's all she seems to have to say on the topic. She inhales deeply, drawing in the scent of pine trees and dirt and blooming flowers and then exhales, relaxing. Sighing happily. She squeezes Emma's hand and lets her eyes close as she feels peace and comfort flowing across her body. "I wanted to be in the woods and I wanted to be with the person who is winning my heart."

Unable to help herself, Emma's chest tightens at those words, and the wistful tone with which they are delivered, though she at least does squeeze Laurel's hand gently in return, reaching over with her other acros herself to brush her fingers through Laurel's steel-grey hair. "Tough day?" she asks gently. It's a way to deflect. To still reach out, and make contact with Laurel that matters, without specifically addressing the romantic and emotional content. In short, it's classic Emma.

Laurel knows it, too. She's learning how Emma works. How Emma operates. "I wonder how far and fast you'll run if I ever use the 'l' word." She ponders out loud. "Or will you just end it, right there and then? I hope not." She doesn't move, enjoying how solid and warm Emma is even on this lovely mid-spring day.

"To be fair and honest, I have no idea." Emma answers. Bald honesty, because she promised herself that if she was going to allow Laurel to pursue this, she at least would always be truthful with her. She might not say some things, not admit them or address them. But what she does say will always be the truth. A way of reclaiming her soul, proving she's not all bad, as it were. "I know it won't make sense to you. You've never lived through what I have. But in my experience, 'love' is a word used by those who want to possess and control you. And all of the lovely feelings that go with it are just the device they use to exercise that control." Horribly unfair. She even knows it; she can read Laurel's mind, and knows Laurel would never mean it that way. But that doesn't change how she reacts at her core. Emma said she was scarred; she meant it.

"No." Laurel agrees. "I've never been through what you have. On the other hand, I have to wonder if you're tired, yet, of using your past as a reason. If you were one of your own students, would you be content to let them stand in front of that wall, using it as a reason to deflect the possibility of growth? Or would you be encouraging them to break through it?"

Emma's response is slow, measured, considered. Like everything about her, or so it seems. "One of my students, Laurel, I would make sure she could function. That she could survive, and operate with others without retreating. That she could assume a measure of control over herself and her life, instead of remaining a victim. But I would never push one of my students to emotional closeness. Never." Of course, this is also Emma, the ice queen original prototype. She would likely never even consider the idea of pushing a student towards /emotional/ growth. Only psychological. "Maybe that makes me a cold bitch. But that's life. My children are survivors. It's the least I can do for them." My children. It's the most loaded term Emma has ever used.

"Oh, Emma." Laurel says softly. She slides off the table so she can stand in front of Emma. So she can take both of those perfectly manicured hands into her own. "Don't you see? Obviously you wouldn't set them up or shove them into closets with each other but it isn't enough to just function or survive. We thrive on connections. Maybe just one solid, deep connection or maybe several connections. But the difference between being alive or living is how we connect with other's."

"I have made it my life's mission, Laurel, to save these children from what I went through. To make sure that none of them experience what I did." Emma answers, looking deep into the other woman's eyes as she looks for the other's understanding. "I search the /world/ for them, and I move Heaven and Earth to prevent any of them from going through something like I did. And I bring them here. They get a top-shelf education. Safety. Understanding, Guidance. They learn control, and confidence, and power. And they get choices of what to do with their lives, and their hearts." In short: she would encourage her students to have the connections that Emma herself does not, may never have. Because none of them - if she has her way - will ever be crippled as she has been.

Laurel leans forward until her forehead rests against Emma's. She smiles brightly. "That's wonderful. It is noble and I admire you for it." Again, she squeezes Emma's hands gently. "But I think, Emma Frost, that you will have an easier time guiding these young souls… you'll do a better job of helping ensure they have the tools to be happy in life… if you have some measure of happiness yourself?"

Emma's face, which had been showing some of the depth of emotional difficulty and confusion she was feeling, shuts down. Her expression becomes the placid, utterly calm poker face that faces the world. It's rare that she has ever done that with Laurel, but she does that now, like shutters closing over the light that had been - if only barely - visible in the depths of her eyes. "Laurel. When we started this, you told me you would give me time. And control. A chance to build trust and assurance. On the hope that someday I might be capable of more." She reiterates it, doing an admirable job - all things considered - of keeping most of her emotion out of her voice, almost like she is instead reminding a business partner of an oral contract they negotiated. "Are you now saying you can no longer wait for that?" A part of Emma doesn't want to ask this. But she does.

Laurel's smile doesn't dim but it does become more gentle. Softer and smaller. "Of course I'm going to give you all the time you need. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to ask the difficult questions. Or push a little. You need that. You won't do this by yourself because it is the easier thing to do. You've got so many hard things in your life - your business and your students, for example, that I think it is…" She pauses, considering her words, "… nice to follow a simpler path when you can. And the simpler path is to do with me what you've done with every relationship you've had for a long, long time."

Emma's lips twitch, but not up into a hint of a smile, but downward into a hint of a frown, before it is gone. She shakes her head slightly. "Laurel, I think perhaps you have a misconception. About me. About who I am. About what relationships I have had in the past." It's not going to be pleasant, but Emma realizes she's going to have to make things more clear, even if that means that Laurel is disgusted and leaves her. She cannot continue and allow them to proceed upon a false perception. It's too close to a lie that she promised she would not perpetrate.

Emma actually shudders a bit, a rare show of bone-deep emotion, before she continues. "Since I was a teenager, Laurel, I have never had a relationship … like this. Mutual, even if unequal. Never. I have flirted and enticed, to draw in the rich, or the powerful, or the influential. To gain information. To reach them at a weak point. To manipulate or control. Or worse. I have never had a relationship with a subordinate, with someone who had nothing to offer me." She might have flirted, quite actively. But she never went too far. And certainly she never let down /her/ guard, exposing any weaknesses, however momentary.

"So if you think that this path we tread is somehow comfortable and familiar to me, please understand that you could not be more mistaken." Emma finishes, quietly. And she opens her hands, ready to let Laurel's go. Ready to let Laurel go. She has confessed to being pretty much an opportunistic whore; she has no illusions about what follows from that.

"Oh, Emma." Laurel says with a long sigh and still that small smile. "Of course I knew all that. You never told me, no. You never shared that with me but I'm not some babe in the woods. I'm not inexperienced with people. I'm actually fairly clever, you know. That's what I meant by relationships. I know I befuddle you because you aren't sure what you want from me but you're still with me. You know you can't manipulate me the same way as lonely older men seeking companionship to fill the void in their wealth lives or young turks who think sex with the hottest woman in the world will show the world they have power. I understand that."

Emma listens to what lies beyond Laurel's words, and finds the truth there, that Laurel understands who Emma has been, and that what they are experimenting with is completely new and untested to her. And therein lies the thing Emma feels she needs to express. So she works up her nerve and her words, figuring out how to say what she has decided needs saying.

"Laurel, I told you when we started that I wasn't sure I could truly love." Emma begins. "What I did not say is why I believe that. You see … I have never known love. Of any kind. Ever." It sounds impossible. But Emma isn't kidding. She promised herself, as well as Laurel, that she would not tell an untruth, and she isn't. "Not the love of a mother, nor of a father. Nor of my siblings. School friends. Or more. Never. There were those who used the words. But what they meant by them was, as I've said, just a means to control and manipulate. To pit me against them, or someone else. My sisters. Other students. And I know what I am telling you is true … because I read the truth from each and every one of them."

Laurel listens to those words. Words of emptiness and despair. "Oh, Emma. Don't you see? Don't you understand." The Maiden of the Moon sits down next to Emma once more. She never lets go of those hands, however. "Don't you see? You're at that school. Trying to make life better for your students. Trying to ensure that they become good people, happy people, content people. Strong people. Don't you see? You don't know if you could truly love?" Laurel laughs but it is not a derisive sound. It is joyful. "You love EVERY day."

Impossible! Preposterous! Emma shakes her head. "No, Laurel. I do not love my students. I care that they succeed, because that makes me, and my mission, my goals a success. It is purely a factor of enlightened self-interest." At least, that is what Emma has always believed. What else makes sense, given the worldview she has assembled from her life and experiences? But that honestly doesn't make Laurel wrong. Just confusing as heck.

Again, Laurel laughs. She can't help it. The sound is infectious. "Oh, Emma. Emma. Emma…" She covers her mouth with her hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh at you but… what do parents do? They raise their children to be happy and healthy, successful and content. They raise them to have a better life that they had. Why? Out of love. It can be easy to break it down to genetics or psychology. The desire to ensure one's offspring lives long enough to pass on your genes. The desire to achieve immortality of a sort by laying the foundations for your offspring's accompishments but the truth is they do it out of love."

Emma does not like being laughed at, but she is willing to accept for the moment Laurel is not laughing /at/ her. Still, she bristles. "No, Laurel. /Good/ parents do so out of love. That love may be engendered by those other things, but it is felt by those parents as love. But not /all/ parents do so. /Some/ parents still strive to push their children to succeed. But love has less than nothing to do with it." And since Emma is following that example, if a bit less destructively, she's pretty sure she doesn't 'love' her students.

That couldn't be it.

"Emma loves her students." Laurel says in a sing song voice. "Emma loves her students." She giggles again. Girlish. Joyful. "Emma, face it. You, my dear, are a good parent. You aren't trying to push your students because it is in your best interests. Your best interests would be to have nothing to do with them at all. After all, you could avoid failure if you stuck with your corporations and your parties and your stacks of money. No, you do this out of altriusm and, therefore, out of love."

Emma elbows Laurel a bit. "I do not think that word means what you think it means, Laurel." She frowns and then returns to that placid expression, again avoiding those frown lines. "I know what I see in their minds, of what love is, of what they expect out of someone who loves them. And that is definitely not what I do for my students." Though in truth, she does many of those things. Just not in the ways that her students expect of someone who loves them. Hence her conclusion.

"They're teenagers. They have no idea what to expect there." Laurel says with a gentle shrug. She slides an arm around Emma's shoulder. "Not from a teacher, anyway. But… I happen to know there was an attempt on Supergirl's life recently. Think about how you would feel if you lost her. Would that anger and sorrow be born out of a feeling of self-interest? Or a feeling of love?"

Emma's response is predictable. Laurel could set her watch and compass by it, honestly. "Self-interest, naturally. I have invested time and effort in the girl. I do not wish to see that time and effort wasted. And I most certainly do not wish to be responsible - especially not to her /cousin/ - for failing to keep one of my students safe in my charge." And honestly, Emma's right. Absolutely right. Except there probably /is/ a level of love down under there, where she's not looking. Because Emma wouldn't just have been upset. She'd have been explosively vengeful. Even now, she's actually actively pushing her resources to track this down, with the intent of putting a stop to it, permanently.

"Emma. You are the smartest woman I've ever met and quite possibly also the blindest." Laurel kisses Emma's temple. "You don't really know yourself at all in this regard. I hope soon you can see yourself as you really are. But I know it will take time." She stands up. "Come on. I'll fly you home so you can tend to your charges. The ones you don't love."

Truth is, Emma probably is emotionally blind, where she herself is concerned. But she is being honest, so far as she knows. "I do not know how you, the non-telepath, can be so sure of what is within me when I am so sure it is not there." the blonde admits, perhaps a mite grumpily. It's irksome, be honest. "I take it, speaking of, that none of your sources have found anything useful regarding Supergirl's attackers? She is becoming increasingly restive under the restrictions we are applying for her safety. And she is the sort who will resort to increasingly risk-laden stupidity to challenge that 'authority'."

Laurel lifts into the air and waves her hand. Emma is surrounded by a field of silver sparkles and begins rising as well. "Nothing so far. The Justice League is looking into it but these things take time. I think you're going to have to let her live her life, Emma, despite the risk."

Emma floats up, extending her hand to take Laurel's as they fly back towards the Mansion. "Well, I am prepared to lift her restrictions when I feel there's no other way to keep her on the leash, but not until then. At that point, my one hard and fast rule is that she will not be permitted to leave school grounds unless she is in the company of at least one other person, that person being capable of calling back to the school if there is trouble." It's as loose a restriction as she can imagine using in this case.

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