Then it happened one day,
We came round the same way
You can imagine his surprise
When he saw his own eyes
I said please baby, please baby,
I’m in love with another man
And what he couldn’t give me
Was the one little thing that you can
All I wanna do is make love to you
One night of love was all we knew
All I wanna do is make love to you
Come on say you will, you want me too
Regina laughed and glanced at Henry who was sitting beside her in the car with a big smile on his face. He cradled the stuffed version of Batman against his chest and continued retelling the latest adventure of the Dark Knight he’d read in his comic.
Ending their weekend by going to one of the biggest comic stores along the East Coast had been a great idea and Henry had loved every single minute of it. Regina gave herself a mental pat on the back, vowing that she would invite Kathryn to dinner or do something equally nice that showed her appreciation for her friend’s advice.
Due to having to work overtime the last couple of weeks, she hadn’t been able to take Henry out of Storybrooke for their weekend for another month, but now that she’d spent three days only being Henry’ mom, not even thinking about her job, she felt happier than she had in months. She loved her little man more than anything or anyone.
One of Henry’s favorite songs came on the radio and he turned the music up with a laugh, singing along to the silly pop song about a fox. Regina chuckled and shook her head, turning onto a street leading them back to Storybrooke. She was hoping they would make it in time for dinner so that she could treat Henry to a burger at Granny’s for the grand finale of their weekend.
She rounded a corner and looked over at Henry who was starting to grow tired from the exciting day and barking along to the song on the radio. His head slowly but surely dipped to the side, his grip on Batman slackening slightly. She smiled at the sight and turned away when something by the side of the road caught her eye. She checked the review mirror if there were any cars behind her and slowed down.
Brown eyes widened with recognition. A large tree by the side of the road was neatly split in half, both sides haphazardly crashed into the trees surrounding it. The bark was black from where tiny flames had licked at it before the rain had quenched the fire. Regina inhaled a sharp breath through her nose and forced her eyes away.
No, she wasn’t going to think about that anymore. In the last few weeks she had finally been able to sleep through the nights again and during her weekend with Henry she hadn’t thought about it at all. She wasn’t going to let it come back to her now.
She tightened her hands around the steering wheel and took several deeps breaths while working her jaw silently. She didn’t notice Henry calling her name until he poked a finger against her shoulder.
She blinked several times before glancing at him. He was rubbing his eye while gazing at her with a furrowed brow.
“Are you okay?”
“Okay. I have to use a restroom.”
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Henry said, rolling his eyes.
“Do you think -”
“No mom, I really have to go. I saw a sign back there, I think there is a hotel coming up soon.”
Regina’s heart started pounding uncomfortably.
“It’s not far to Storybrooke.”
“Two hours, maybe less.”
“Fine, alright, we’ll stop. But you have to be quick, okay?”
Henry was squirming in his seat by the time the hotel’s sign came into view. Regina slowed down and pulled into the parking lot. Cold sweat was running down her neck and lower back while her face felt way too hot. Her mouth was dry and she licked her lips several times before turning to Henry. Usually she would’ve gotten out with him, just to keep an eye on him, but she couldn’t move a single muscle.
“I’ll be right back,” Henry said, already opening the door and getting out.
“Be careful Henry. Just go to the front desk over there and ask if you can use the restroom, I’ll be right here.”
Henry slammed the door shut and hurried across the parking lot with brown eyes following his every move. He disappeared through the main doors and Regina’s gaze flickered nervously over to the two-story building to her right, eyes tracking across the doors that still looked exactly like they had the last time.
There was absolutely no reason to be so frantic. It was not like she was going to run into her past here, now. She tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, engine still running. Henry was sure taking his time. It occurred to her that it had been almost exactly two months since she’d last been here. She swallowed thickly, staring straight ahead at the entrance, willing Henry to return. She refused to think about any of this. She deserved a respite.
By the time he emerged from the building, Regina was chewing on her bottom lip while tapping her foot restlessly. She exhaled a loud breath at the sight of Henry approaching the car. It was more than time to leave. Back to Storybrooke, back to safety.
Suddenly the entire trip out of town didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.
“Ready?” she asked when Henry was safely back in the car, putting his seatbelt on.
She pulled out of her parking space, turn signal clearly indicating her intentions, when something yellow flashed in her rearview mirror and she had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.
She cursed under her breath, quiet enough for Henry not to hear, and twisted around in her seat to look for whatever had just cut her off. A yellow bug that had most definitely seen better days drove around a couple of parked cars until it found a spot right across from where Regina’s Benz was still waiting motionless. She narrowed her eyes at the offending vehicle, contemplating whether she should give that person a lecture on responsible driving when a yellow door swung open and a woman emerged from within the confines of the death trap, eyes trained on Regina, gazing at her through the windshield that separated them.
All color drained from Regina’s face as she stared unblinking at the woman across from her who seemed frozen to the spot. She swallowed past the lump that was rapidly forming in her throat and ignored the way her heart beat uncomfortably fast against her ribcage.
“Henry stay in the car.”
He looked at her with questioning eyes but nodded.
Regina held the car door handle in a white-knuckled grip before opening the door and getting out. She didn’t expect her knees to feel this wobbly but she barely made it past the hood of her car before she had to stop and take several deep breaths.
The blonde took a couple of steps toward her, leaving her car door wide open. Green-grayish eyes widened with an emotion Regina couldn’t quite discern. She parted her lips to speak, but absolutely no sound made it out of her throat.
The blonde seemed to have similar troubles because her mouth opened but she didn’t utter a single sound. Several moments of silence passed until the blonde closed the distance between them with three quick strides.
“Emma,” she breathed out as if getting rid of something she’d held in for too long.
“What?” Regina asked, slightly dumbfounded.
“That’s my name. Emma. I wanted you to know it.”
A bitter little smile stole across her face. She knew the blonde’s name alright.
The sound of yet another car door opening and closing caused Emma’s eyes to travel from Regina to something behind her.
Regina’s legs almost gave out. She stumbled to the side and had to brace herself against the hood of her car. She gasped quietly and tried to fight the nausea and lightheadedness suddenly enveloping her. Henry was beside her in the blink of an eye.
“Mom, are you alright?”
Two hands came to rest on her shoulder and hip and she stared into concerned green-grayish eyes as she looked up. The looks on Henry and Emma’s faces were so hauntingly similar that Regina feared she might lose her stomach’s contents at any moment when all she wanted was to throw Henry into the car and flee. She doubled over and groaned quietly.
“Hey kid, I’m Emma, a friend of your mom’s. Think you can get her a bottle of water from the vending machine over there?”
Emma rummaged through a pocket of her red leather jacket and handed Henry a couple of bills. He nodded quickly and shot a concerned glance at his mom before hurrying across the parking lot. Emma didn’t waste any time and wrapped an arm around Regina’s middle to lead her back to her Benz. She opened the door with her free hand so Regina could sit sideways in the driver’s seat, feet still hanging out of the car. Emma crouched down in front of Regina, peering up at her worriedly.
Regina nodded and swallowed thickly, moistening her dry lips with the tip of her tongue.
“I’m sorry for coming back into your life like this, that’s not what I wanted. “
“Why are you here?” Regina eventually managed to ask.
“Oh well I just happened to be in the area…uh… I guess in the hope of seeing you again,” Emma said, a faint blush creeping up her neck.
Regina’s eyes widened. Henry rushed back to them and handed her a bottle of cold water before she could even think to say anything. She smiled at him and dragged a hand through his hair.
“Thank you dear.”
She uncapped the bottle and took a long drink, watching Henry and Emma side by side out of the corner of her eyes.
This was absolutely not how she’d planned her weekend to end. Absolutely not.
“Are you okay mom?”
“I am, don’t worry honey, I think I just got a bit tired from driving.”
“Okay,” Henry said, shooting her a look that was supposed to tell that she better not lie to him. She smiled but her lips turned into a frown when Henry addressed Emma.
“Thanks for helping my mom. She usually doesn’t get tired or sick easily.”
“No problem kid, it’s the least I could do.”
“I’m Henry by the way.”
“Nice to meet you,” Emma answered with a smile and grasped his smaller hand he offered in a gentle handshake. They both looked down at their entwined hands for a moment before letting go and focusing on Regina who had turned an even paler shade of white.
“Woah, you look like you’re going to pass out,” Emma said, immediately leaning forward while still crouching in front of her.
“I think I might,” Regina answered, breathing heavily.
Cold sweat was running down her back and her fingertips felt like icicles while her hands were shaking uncontrollably.
“Maybe you should lie down,” Henry suggested, turning questioning eyes to Emma who nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I think he’s right. If you have been really driving for a while you need some rest, and more water.”
Emma tapped the bottom of the water bottle for emphasis and waited until Regina had taken another swig from it.
“Come on, I have a room where you can just relax for a bit, okay?”
“But you just got here,” Regina said, still feeling like this was some awful nightmare.
“I called and made reservations,” Emma answered with a small shrug. She moved to stand and stretched her legs. Regina slowly shook her head.
“I’m okay, really, I don’t need to lie down.”
“Mom you look like when I had the flu and I was in bed for like a week,” Henry said.
“But I’m not sick dear, I’m just -”
“He’s right, you can’t drive in your condition anyway.”
It was two against one and it didn’t seem like Regina was going to get out of this anytime soon. Emma was right, she couldn’t drive like this and she simply needed a moment of peace to calm down and regroup. This was too much, even for her.
She mechanically grabbed her purse from the backseat and stood. Henry reached out and took the purse from her while Emma’s hands hovered close in case she passed out or something equally humiliating happened. She locked the car and shoved the keys into her coat pocket before waiting for Emma to lock her own yellow monstrosity. She led them across the parking and to a door on the first floor which she promptly opened to let Regina in.
The room looked exactly like the one she remembered, a bed to her left and a dresser and television to her right. Memories of images and sounds assaulted her senses as she moved to the bed and sat down heavily. She leaned forward and buried her hands in her face for a moment.
She looked up to find Emma gazing at her with a strange mixture of expressions dancing across her face. Henry walked through the door behind her and moved over to the bed where he gently coaxed Regina to lay down, with shoes and all.
“Just take a nap and we go home after that, okay mom? It’ll make you feel better, like when I come home from school and I’m like really exhausted sometimes you tell me to take a nap.”
Regina smiled at that and nodded.
“We’ll just go over to the diner down the street and have an early dinner, how about that?” Emma suggested, glancing at Henry. He turned large hopeful eyes to Regina who sighed quietly. This was certainly not how she had imagined this to go, not that she’d imagined any of it at all. But now that she was lying on the bed, she did feel pretty tired and a little nap sounded more and more tempting. She just needed a break from this mess, if only for an hour or so. She wouldn’t be able to handle any of it the way she was currently feeling.
So she nodded.
“Okay, but make sure to wake me when you get back.”
Henry smiled and bounded out the door. “Let’s go.”
“Coming, wait up for me,” Emma called after him before she turned to Regina and smiled. “I’ll take care of him don’t worry. Just try to relax for a bit, okay? I’m sorry Regina, that you’re not feeling well, I guess I’m kind of responsible for that, so it’s the least I can do.”
Regina’s eyes widened.
“My name… how do you…?”
Emma smiled and cocked her head to the side.
“Your note. Your name was on it.”
“Oh,” she said quietly and nodded.
She waited until Emma had closed the door quietly before taking a deep shuddering breath. She had just let Henry take off with his birth mother, a virtual stranger. What if she knew? What if this was a trick to take him from her? Panic rose in her throat like waves crashing against the shore, but she fought the urge to jump up and follow after them, telling herself that there was absolutely no way Emma could know what was going on.
For some completely inexplicable reason she trusted Emma – trusted her enough to let her take off with Henry.
She draped her arm over her eyes, lying on the bed completely dressed, heart pounding loudly in her ears, realizing that her life had just gotten infinitely more complicated.