Emma opened the front door. Regina had just arrived at her car and was looking through her purse for her keys.
“Regina!” Emma ran towards the Mercedes. “Wait!”
The brunette stood frozen, giving the blonde her best glare. “What?”
Emma came to a stop at the passenger side watching Regina over the car.
“There is something I wanted to tell you.” Emma gave Regina a small smile.
“Which is what?” Regina still glared at her.
“I quit my job this morning and rented out my apartment. I won’t leave. I will stay in Storybrooke.”
Regina’s jaw dropped. “What?”
“You heard me.” Emma looked Regina straight in the eyes. “I will fight for you.”
With that she turned around and walked back into the house.
A week had passed since Henry’s birthday and Emma had not seen Regina once. Henry had spent Sunday with her and Snow lunch on Monday but neither said a word to her about the other woman. Emma was dying to know what Regina was thinking about her moving back to Storybrooke and fighting for her, but at the same time she was kind of scared so she didn’t ask either.
Emma was lucky that quitting her job and renting out her apartment wasn’t a big deal and that she didn’t really need any of her things from her home in California, besides clothing, since she only packed for a 3-day trip. Emma had managed to save a bunch of money over the past two years, because her life in California mainly consisted of work and not much else, but David and Snow were more than happy to have their daughter stay in the guest room and feed her. All three of them were well aware that the only job Emma was suited for was working at the Sheriff’s department…but that would mean getting Regina to agree to hire her, and no one really wanted to see how that would play out.
Emma sat on the front porch of Snow and Charming’s house, her feet curled up under her and wrapped in a blanket, watching as people went about their day in the sleepy little town. These past few days she had done a lot of thinking. She knew that trying to win back Regina’s heart was going to take time and she needed to be absolutely sure that it was what she really wanted. She took a sip of her coffee and let her mind wander to the time when it had all started.
Neverland had been hard for Emma, hurtful and confusing. With Henry being in danger, Snow admitting to wanting a baby, Neal being dead and then alive, and Hook always at her heels trying to get her attention, the only thing that kept Emma sane and focused was Regina and her determination to get their son back. Things had been surprisingly civil between her and Regina on the island. Emma often lay awake at night watching the former Evil Queen; wondering about their relationship. One night when everyone else was already sound asleep she saw Regina get up and disappear into the woods. Curious, but also worried, Emma had followed her. She found the other woman at a clearing, sitting on a rock and staring at the sky. The way Regina’s shoulders were slumped it seemed like she was sad, and Emma found herself wondering why. She was about to approach when she heard small sobs coming from the other woman. Regina was crying. Emma felt her heart ache at the sight. Regina had been right down at the mine when she had said that everyone just sees her as the Evil Queen. People expected her to be cold and heartless. The fact that she felt the need to steal herself away so no one would see her cry made Emma sad.
She had tried to be more attentive towards Regina after that night. They would always walk together and talk about things they could do to find Henry. She asked Regina to help her with her magic and part of each day they would take off – away from the others – to practice. Regina was a good teacher. Even when Emma got frustrated because it seemed like she was everything but in control of her magic, the other woman never lost her patience. Emma suspected that it was at least in part because Regina was trying hard to not repeat the mistakes Cora and Rumple had made with her. It was fascinating for Emma to see this soft side of the former Evil Queen and Mayor. She had always been intrigued by the other woman, but she had never made an effort to actually get to know her before. So Emma started to move her night camp closer to Regina’s and they would often stay up till the early morning, just talking. Of course it took Emma quite some convincing to get the other woman to open up, but somehow Regina’s walls hadn’t been that high since they arrived on the island, and it had been easier than Emma first expected. They learned a lot about each other’s pasts during those nights, and Emma realized that they were much more alike and had a lot more in common than just their love for Henry. It didn’t surprise her really. She had always thought that their explosive way to interact with each other was not because they were too different, but because they were too much alike. The fact that Emma was attracted to Regina probably added to the tension. Another thing that didn’t really surprise her that much. She had been attracted to women before and even before she got to know Regina better, she was well aware of how attractive the other woman was. Regina would probably kill her on the spot if she knew. So she vowed to keep it to herself; nothing would ever come of it anyways.
Sometimes during those talks Emma would see glimpses of the young Regina, before she was formed into the corrupted woman who then became the Evil Queen. Those moments made her understand a lot more why Snow, despite everything that had happened and what they had done to each other, somehow never lost hope in the other woman – and much to Emma’s dismay it made her even more attracted to Regina.
At some point during their time in Neverland they started referring to Henry as “our son.” It had been Emma who said it first. She had no idea where it had come from and she felt her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment as soon as the words slipped out of her mouth. But then she looked up and saw Regina’s face, eyes wide in wonder and a tiny smile dancing on the corner of her lips, and she knew that it was true and that the other woman felt the same. It gave both women a sense of family they were desperately craving for their whole lives. Emma knew not to read too much into it, she was just happy to have found some sort of connection to Regina.
Things in Storybrooke had gone back to normal after they came back from Neverland. Snow and Charming loved their jobs as teacher and deputy sheriff and decided to keep them, and even though some people were still not sure what to think of the new Regina, it was decided that she would resume being the mayor – after all she was the only one who knew how to run a town in this world and she had always been quite good at it. Emma went back to being the Sheriff, and she and Regina sat down and agreed on a form of shared custody for Henry and – with his input of course – they came up with a schedule for when he would be at Emma’s and when at Regina’s place. Neal decided to stay in Storybrooke for a while, and even though Regina was not happy about it, they managed to work him into the schedule without anyone having their heart ripped out.
Emma wasn’t really happy though. For days after their return she lay awake at nights, unable to fall asleep, just tossing and turning until her body just gave up out of pure exhaustion. The few hours of sleep she did get were restless, and she felt worse with each day. She had no idea why she felt so restless. Things were finally good. Henry was safe, there was no new threat in sight…life was good.
Snow watched Emma come down the stairs, her pj pants hanging loose on her hips. She had lost quite a bit of weight since Neverland. With a drained look on her face and the dark circles under her eyes she made her way to the kitchen, only nodding her head to her mother as a good morning greeting.
“Morning, honey.” Snow said.
Emma just grunted in response and poured herself some coffee.
“Couldn’t sleep again?”
“It’s been over a week now Emma. You need to rest properly.”
Emma glared at her mother. “You think I don’t sleep on purpose?”
“No honey. I think something is keeping you from finding rest and I think you need to find out what that is.” Snow moved around the counter and put a hand on one of Emma’s cheeks, looking intently at her daughter. “Or who.”
With that Snow turned around, grabbed her purse and left the apartment.
It didn’t take Emma long to figure out what…or better whom her mother was talking about.
During their time in Neverland Regina and Emma had become almost inseparable. Especially at nights, when they would talk for hours before they’d fall asleep side by side. Now they hardly ever saw each other. There was the welcome back party the town threw for them and the meeting for Henry’s living arrangements…but other than that there were only quick hellos and goodbyes when they dropped Henry off. Things had been busy at the station, with the Lost Boys in town and Emma barely had any time to think during the day. Now that she was thinking about it though, she realized that she missed Regina.
It only took her a minute to make a decision. Taking two steps at a time she ran up the stairs to get showered and dressed and within 30 minutes she was out the door.
Emma took Regina out for lunch that day and every day after that. They also started spending more time together with Henry. First it was a dinner every other night, then they added movie nights and game nights, and soon they were spending almost every night of the week together. In the beginning Emma would leave as soon as Henry went to bed, but then one night Regina asked if she wanted to stay and have a drink and from that night on Emma stayed every night until they both got sleepy.
Until one night everything changed.