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in her eyes I see the blue and green like christmas lights

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She doesn’t usually introduce people to her mother. It’s not— she’s not ashamed of Sandra, alright? They’re fundamentally different from each other, to the point that she sometimes wonders how in the world they could possibly share DNA but she’s not embarrassed to be related to her. And no, she doesn’t go around advertising her mother’s tendency to get involved in the sketchiest possible business ventures because that’s nobody’s business.

It’s time, though.

She’s been with Lu for almost two years, and last year they both decided they’d rather spend Christmas in Barcelona, without adding family to the mix. It was nice, too, to spend the holidays together and really just get to be lazy around the house. They’d just recently moved in together, and Rebeka ended up convincing Lu to go down to the shelter, which is how they ended up with Max — a grumpy, overweight cat with very few redeeming qualities. He’s not particularly cute or cuddly, and he’s moody as hell. Their new feline companion loved them being home around the clock during the holiday period, and Lu quickly went from saying she’s a dog person to begging her to adopt another cat, so they have two now.

Sandra isn’t really one for hosting rousing family Christmases, mainly because they’re not talking to the rest of the family. It was always just the two of them. Well, after her dad died anyway. Before that, Christmas was probably Rebeka’s favorite time of year. Her father would cook, and finally not be working for once and she distinctly remembers thinking her parents were madly in love, for those few days a year.

Lu is the one who suggests they go. They’re lounging in bed, both slightly hungover from Lu’s work Christmas party the night before, when she brings it up. “I’ve got some friends in Madrid that I haven’t bothered in a while, and it’d be nice to finally meet this intimidating mother-in-law of mine you keep hinting at.”

Well, hinting is a stretch. Rebeka has obviously let Lu know what to expect. She didn’t exactly need to use the words sketchy drug ring leader for her girlfriend to get it; Lu’s a smart cookie.

She sighs. “If we go, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Lu cuddles closer to her, groaning at the sunlight threatening to break through the small gap in the curtains. “Believe me, having a crazy parent isn’t gonna make me break up with you. You’re crazy and I haven't left you yet..”

Well, that’s probably the best-case scenario here. She snorts, then tickles Lu’s sides just to piss her off. Trying for sarcastic, she says, “Thanks, babe.”

“You’re welcome.” Lu grins at her, then pulls a face and sits up. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

She wants to joke about how the thought of meeting her mother apparently makes Lu want to puke, but she’s pretty sure her incredible sense of humor wouldn’t be appreciated while Lu’s got her head bent over the toilet. So she brushes her hair away from her forehead and pats her shoulder.

Christmas at Sandra’s probably won’t be so bad.

***

“You’re bringing someone home for Christmas?”

Sandra’s always extra hostile on the phone, especially when they’re on FaceTime. It’s probably just the aesthetic of it all — with the cigarette smoke around her, Rebe usually finds herself breathing a sigh of relief that she’s breathing clean air right now.

“Stop saying someone, you know her name,” she says, because her mother can be so fucking annoying to deal with. It’s not like she hasn’t been with the same woman for almost two years. Hell, they fucking live together. Would it kill her to call her by her name? “Let me know if you’d rather spend Christmas alone, if we go I’m not gonna let you be a cunt to her.”

“Sweetie, relax, of course you and your lover can stay with me.” She takes a drag of her cigarette. “Will you need the guest room or is this a bedsharing sort of situation?”

She’s about to yell at her when Sandra breaks into a fit of laughter. “I’m just fucking with you, hun. I know all about the anatomical ways in which this whole lesbian thing works.”

Not this again. “Mom!”

“It’ll be great! You two can take your old mom out on the town for a night out!”

God, for once she’d just like her mother to be normal. But no, Sandra can’t ever just tell her what she wants to hear. She’s got a feeling Lu might regret going on this trip.

Hell, she’s already regretting it and they haven’t even left yet.

***
They’re sitting in a bar at El Prat airport when Lu, tipsy after two glasses of wine (fucking lush), nudges her shoulder with her chin and asks, “So what sort of drugs are we talking?”

She laughs at her because she fucking knew Lu was curious about that. It’s been obvious she’s been holding back whenever the topic of Sandra’s occupation has come up.

“Why, d’you wanna impress her by discussing the pros and cons of cutting coke with lidocaine?”

“Is that—,” Lu turns to glare at her. “Stop messing with me.”

She glances at her phone for the time, then finishes the rest of her beer and clasps her hands together. “Come on, we’ve got a flight to catch.”

Lu looks annoyed at being ignored, but really, that’s hardly a question Rebeka is gonna answer in the middle of a public airport. Chances are some national security body has ears on everyone at any airport at any time. She grabs her backpack, then Lu’s hand and tugs on it until she dramatically lets herself slide off the barstool.

“It’ll be fine,” she tells her when they’re walking through the terminal at arrivals in Madrid hand in hand. “She’s cool, she’s just... eccentric.”

You’re eccentric. You know coming from you this isn’t actually reassuring to me in any way, right?”

Rebeka just laughs. Okay, that’s kind of true.

“I don’t know what to tell you, but you need to chill. Your hands are all sweaty and shit.”

They come to a halt at baggage reclaim, and she grabs onto Lu’s cheeks with both of her hands, just to piss her off enough to laugh. She knows she hates when she touches her face because it fucks with her pores, or whatever. “Don’t be nervous. Are you nervous?”

Instead of shaking her off as Lu would undoubtedly do under different circumstances, she sighs loudly and closes her eyes. She says, “No,” but it comes out a little too quietly.

Rebeka pecks her on the lips, then spots their suitcase and drags it off the belt.

***
All things considered, she feels like introducing her girlfriend to her mother could’ve gone worse. The first impression Sandra makes is... well, it’s okay.

Sandra’s waiting for them outside the mansion Rebeka spent her teenage years in, waving enthusiastically as they get out of the cab. She’s in a leopard print tracksuit, and her lips are painted a color of pink that’s dangerously close to neon, her acrylic nails long and colorful.

Lu smiles at Sandra from afar, then gives Rebeka a subtle look and says, “You weren’t kidding about her sense of style.”

“I would never lie about fashion, babe.” She smirks when Lu rolls her eyes a little at the pet name — she totally likes to pretend she hates it, but Rebe has a feeling she’s actually pretty into it.

When they get close enough to hug, Sandra takes Rebeka’s backpack off her arm and lets it drop to the ground, then hugs her so tight, it kind of takes her breath away. She smells like cigarettes and the kind of expensive perfume a tacky person might buy, and despite the strangeness of the whole situation, Rebe is kind of thrilled to be home. Look, Sandra’s fucking weird, but she’s her mom, okay? It’s been just the two of them for forever, so even if they’ve got very different ideas of what leading a nice life is like, she’s always gonna love her a little extra just for being there when nobody else was. Losing your dad right in the middle of a terrible moment of teenage rebellion is rough.

When they finally pull apart, Sandra’s grinning at her, and she knows she’s got that very same grin on her face. Almost as an afterthought, she reaches for Lu’s hand and smiles encouragingly. “Mom, this is Lu. Lu, this is Sandra.”

Sandra gives her an intimidating once-over, then slaps away the hand Lu has reached out for her to shake and hugs her close. “You’re even prettier than the pictures.”

And yeah, Rebe can tell Lu is fucking uncomfortable but she’s also so damn polite, she just hugs her back like this is all totally normal and says, “Thanks,” as she smiles at Sandra when they break apart. They’re the same height since her mother has apparently decided to forego the crazy high heels for the time being, and not for the first time, Rebeka finds herself wondering where the hell she got her tall genes from.

Lu comes from a loud, rowdy Mexican family, and is no longer in touch with any of them, which is information she may have mentioned to Sandra. She didn’t think it would result in Sandra literally decorating the living room like it’s dia de muertos, a tray with two bottles of tequila forming the centerpiece on the table.

“Blanco or reposado?” Sandra asks, and she can tell Lu is actually kind of into this display by the way her lips curl upwards just a tad.

Without hesitation, she says, “Añejo, but reposado will do,” and then they’re somehow all sat around the dinner table taking shot after shot of tequila. Lu loosens up significantly about three shots into the night, which is honestly about the amount of tequila the girl can handle if she doesn’t want to spend the rest of the night puking, and it’s barely even awkward.

In an unexpected twist of events, Sandra and Lu are actually getting along — it’s weird.

Christmas Eve is tomorrow and it’s late already, so Rebe clears her throat after about an hour or so and says, “Okay, how about we call it a night?”

Lu looks a little hesitant, like she either doesn’t want to be rude or is actually enjoying herself, but Rebe knows she’ll thank her for this tomorrow when she doesn’t have to spend Christmas dinner wondering whether her stomach can handle food.

Sandra smirks at her. “Ah yes, tequila always gets me all worked up too.”

Yeah, no. So much for this evening going better than expected. “Jesus, mom, please.”

She only calls her mom when she’s nervous or embarrassed, and Sandra knows it too, so she just grins a little wider, looking back and forth between the two of them as they get up and come to stand next to each other. Then she’s cracking up, and even though Rebe’s sure she doesn’t even want to hear the joke her mother is about to make, she raises a brow at her and waits for the punch line.

“I guess I don’t need to tell you to use protection.”

Lu is definitely drunk. She snorts, then honest to god giggles as she grabs Rebe’s hand and dear fucking god, why is every woman in her life insane? She must be a masochist.

They’re quiet on their way up to her room, and when they get there, Lu spends several minutes just looking at random memorabilia Rebeka never bothered to move out of this place. When she finds a high school musical notebook in one of the drawers, filled with terribly cringy diary entries Rebe used to think sounded insightful and profound, she grins. “Sharpay or Gabriella?”

Like that’s even a question. “Kelsi, obviously. She’s the gayest person in that whole movie.”

Later, Lu is half asleep in her arms, and she can’t help but ask, “That wasn’t so bad, right?”

Lu groans. “No,” she says, running a hand over Rebe’s hip. “She’s not wrong about the effects of tequila, you know...”

Rebeka laughs. She’s still laughing when Lu kisses her. She stops laughing right around the time she reaches down and takes off her shirt.

***

Christmas Eve isn’t even that bad.

On Christmas Eve morning, she wakes up in her childhood bedroom with her very serious girlfriend and feels both 15 and 55 at once. (She’s 27, for the record.) Lu doesn’t seem too hungover or miserable, so calling it a night when they did was obviously smart.

“If you ask nicely, I’ll make you pancakes,” Rebe whispers, smiling a little when Lu lets out this little sleepy content sigh and cuddles closer to her.

“It’s Christmas, you should make me pancakes just because.”

They bought hideous Christmas sweaters for the occasion, so they both head down decked out in casual yet festive gear, earning praise from Sandra for their choice of attire. Lu accepts the compliment (she’s never met a compliment she didn’t like...) and says, “We got you one too,” and Rebe can barely mumble, “We did?” before Lu has taken off for the stairs again, coming back with a third, equally hideous sweater.

There’s clearly something stuck in her throat because she actually feels herself getting a little choked up when she watches Sandra fawn over the admittedly hideous reindeer sweater. Rudolph is wearing gold chains and a ridiculous rapper get up, and it’s so perfect for Sandra, Rebe actually reaches for Lu and hugs her, just because.

The days’ festivities don’t get weird until they’re all tipsy bordering on drunk after dinner and Sandra starts asking Lu about her family. Well; she doesn’t so much ask as she basically quizzes her, pressing her on the issue. Lu just gives Rebeka a look, and it’s a look she’s come to recognize — she’s asking her to put a stop to this, because she doesn’t talk about her family, and definitely not about her parents.

And Rebeka tries, really, to derail the whole conversation. Sandra is dense as they come, though. The best she can do is deflect from the uncomfortable personal questions and listen as Sandra turns the whole speaking to someone of Mexican origin thing into something resembling a cartoonish investigation.

“Any relation to the Escobars?”

“Pablo Escobar was Columbian, mom.”

Sandra nods, shrugs, then takes another sip of her wine. “Al Capone?”

“Italian-American.”

At least Lu looks slightly less checked out now, grinning slyly as she listens to their back and forth. She's glad her mom's utter idiocy is somehow amusing to Lu.

“Sorry, I get them all mixed up. Maybe I shouldn’t base all of my stereotypes on movies.”

Rebeka finally gets a word in, changes the subject and when Lu shakes off the initial weirdness of having to think about her family and joins in again, they just go back to having a chill evening.

It’s really fucking weird to see the two of them chatting effortlessly like they didn't just meet yesterday. 

When they move to the couch and Sandra heads to the kitchen for more drinks, she drops down next to Lu and apologizes for her mother’s stupidly invasive line of questioning.

Lu doesn’t seem too fazed. “That’s okay. You should’ve seen my last boyfriends’ parents, his dad literally acted like a comic book villain, down to that thing where they’re all involved in evil business ventures that get people killed.”

“Wait, the ex I met? Guzmán? He seemed really nice.” She laughs and cuddles closer to her.

Lu doesn’t miss a beat. “Yeah, well, he’s adopted.”

There’s probably a reason Lu and her mother are getting along so well.