That night Emma didn’t sleep too well. Again. And it wasn’t because of the chilly cheese fries she had for dinner.
Nightmares of buildings collapsing above her and people getting killed by falling rocks were haunting her. She hadn’t been able to sleep well since the accident, and instead of getting better it had only gotten worse. Moving to Regina’s house was a vast improvement but still she couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.
That is why she sat in her bed in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat, waiting for her heartbeat to return to normal. Pushing a few strands of hair out of her face, Emma looked around the sparsely furnished guest room until her gaze landed on the red leather jacket on a hanger by the door. Without having to see them, she knew that there were lots of tiny mended cuts all over it, making it almost look better than new.
Sighing quietly she grabbed her crutches and got out of bed.
It was a warm night so the sheriff decided to venture out onto the back porch to gaze at the stars shining high above. She sat on the lounger, eyes closed, and listened to the sounds of the night around her.
There were quiet steps coming from inside the house and Emma didn’t have to look up to know that Regina had joined her on the porch. She opened her eyes and looked at the mayor who took a seat in the lounger next to hers.
“No. What about you?”
“I’m just looking at the stars…”
Regina raised an eyebrow at her and Emma half-shrugged in her typical ‘not a big deal’ manner.
“I might have had a nightmare, or a few…”
“Oh you know the usual, clowns, running from a guy with a knife without getting anywhere…”
It was clearly a lie but Regina didn’t call her out on it. Instead she leaned back and silence engulfed them once again.
Strangely enough Emma felt completely at ease in Regina’s company. Ever since the accident, everything seemed changed. The dislike that had existed between them was now gone, or maybe turned into the opposite. Emma didn’t know why, but she knew that there was this silent strength emanating from Regina, and although she always seemed to be in control of her emotions, most of the time a step ahead of everyone else, there was also this sadness, this brokenness, that made Emma want to hold her and reassure that she was there should Regina ever need her.
Emma couldn’t entirely pinpoint where those feelings came from or when they had first emerged, but they were there now and needed to be dealt with.
Hell, she had almost kissed Regina two days ago when she had struggled up to her room to thank her for taking care of her leather jacket. The urge to just press her mouth against those deliciously soft looking lips had been almost too strong to resist.
“I used to have a reoccurring dream when I was a child,” Regina eventually said.
Emma turned her focus and her gaze back to the mayor. “Really? What was it about?”
Regina furrowed her brows, looking up at the night sky. “I think it was about an egg that had fallen out of its nest high up in a large pine tree. A latter leaned against the tree and I tried to climb it, to put the egg back, but every time I lost my footing before reaching the nest. I saw the spokes rushing past me and always woke up when my body hit the ground…”
There was really nothing more beautiful than Regina sitting there, her posture relaxed, with pale moonlight bathing her entire form into an ethereal light. Emma swallowed thickly, forcing her hands to remain in her lap. She wanted nothing more than to reach out, but she was too unsure whether her touch would be welcomed or not.
“Got any idea what it could mean?” she asked instead.
Regina cocked her head to the side, still not turning to look at Emma.
“I really don’t know. But I suppose oneiromancy is not one of my strong suits.”
“Oneir… what now?”
“Dream interpretation, Emma.”
A smirk played around the mayor’s lips and made her eyes dance with amusement as she turned to Emma. A quiet ‘meow’ startled them both. A moment later Love stepped out of the shadows to their right and gazed at both women with large curious eyes.
“That cat again…!”
Regina was ready to pounce on the little animal, but Emma instinctively reached out and rested a hand on the mayor’s forearm.
“Just let him be, for tonight?”
Obviously not to keen on destroying the calm atmosphere, Regina settled back and breathed out a sigh.
Love was sneaking around them in the darkness but kept a respectable distance, seemingly sensing the hostile vibe from Regina. When the mayor had eventually decided not to follow every of the cat’s movements with her gaze anymore she turned to Emma, her brown eyes almost black in the semi-darkness.
“Now will you tell me what really keeps you up? I’m sure it’s not clowns and men with knives chasing you.”
Emma sighed quietly, knowing that there was no use in trying to skirt around the truth with Regina.
“Well I guess I haven’t really gotten over the entire situation of suffocating in the cellar of a building that might have come crashing down at any moment. I suppose my head just needs to accept the fact that we’re alive and well, and that everything is just fine.”
“Have you thought about seeing Dr. Hopper?”
“No! I mean that won’t be necessary, really. We’re already talking about it, right? It’s not like this is some deep-seeded trauma or something. I just need time to process.”
“If you’re certain.”
Regina rose from her lounger and looked around the garden one last time. “I’m going back to bed, and you should try to get some sleep too.”
Emma nodded and watched the mayor disappear back into the house. The oddity of the fact that she was having a little past-midnight chat with no other than Regina Mills, Madame Mayor extraordinaire and former opponent, did not go unnoticed by Emma. But she just couldn’t bring herself to deny that she was starting to feel things, which really were the opposite of dislike or mistrust.
Four Months Later
Emma was having one of her not so good days. They had become more frequent in the last couple of weeks but she just wasn’t in the shape or the mood to do anything about it.
Her leg was frustrating her, as was the pain that had become a constant companion ever since she’d started physiotherapy.
The day had already begun with her being late for the session and now she just couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.
Sure enough, she found brown eyes intently regarding her from the other side of the room. Ever since she had moved back to Mary-Margaret, after an admittedly very enjoyable weekend, Regina had taken it upon herself to check on Emma’s physical recovery and progress.
The mayor was continuously dropping in on her sessions, simply watching how Emma struggled to push weights or move her leg without her hands helping along. For reasons that weren’t entirely clear to either of them they had also started having dinner with Henry on Sundays. Sometimes Regina cooked, or they ate at Granny’s.
It was comfortable, almost feeling a bit homey and not to mention frightening, at least for Emma.
The citizens of Storybrooke had eventually started to accept the fact that Mayor and Sheriff were much more civil with one another now, and only Ruby kept on asking Emma what had brought on this change. And although Regina was still prickly at the best of times, it had become more bearable to be in her presence for everyone. Sometimes she even smiled and was downright nice to Emma.
If anyone had thought this development strange at first, they were certainly not complaining anymore.
Now darkened brown eyes were regarding the sheriff intently how she held herself upright with only her arms. Two metal bars were on either side of her and it took up all her strength to not land on the floor face first.
Her trainer, a young man with thick black hair, had his arms crossed in front his chest, slowly shaking his head.
“Really Sheriff, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to walk. The muscles in your leg are almost back to how they were before.”
Emma ground her teeth together. The last time he’d said that she had found herself lying on the ground, gasping like a fish without water. She just couldn’t walk yet. There was no way her leg would carry her entire weight, even with the movable cast around it. Sighing she put her uninjured leg down and took some strain off her arms.
“I’m just not ready yet. It’s not going to work.”
“But the problem is not physical!”
Her trainer, Ali, threw his hands up in frustration.
“Are you saying that it’s all in my head?!”
Emma narrowed her eyes at him and he opened his mouth as if to say something, but was interrupted by a deep rich voice.
“Don’t you see that the Sheriff is not ready for it?”
Regina was making her way toward them, heels clicking dangerously on the linoleum floor. Emma nodded and was about to thank Regina for helping her out when she impassively continued.
“I suppose you can’t expect much more from her. She is just not the kind of person to work through something till the end, now are you Sheriff Swan?”
Emma’s mouth was literally hanging open. She couldn’t believe what Regina had just said.
The mayor shrugged. “I guess I have bet on the wrong horse in this case. The position of Sheriff has been vacant for too long now, and seeing as you are not capable of regaining your complete physical health I will just appoint someone else. Probably should’ve done that months ago.”
Regina sighed and rolled her eyes. There was blood rushing in Emma’s ears. Her heart was pounding, with anger flooding her veins, making her almost dizzy with its intensity.
She had trusted Regina, even opened up to her. Hell, she even had allowed her to see her at her worst, when she hadn’t been able to simply raise her leg without help and started sobbing quietly like a child. Even then the mayor had been understanding, trying to comfort her as best as she could.
And now this.
“I think we’re done here. I don’t see any sense in continuing your therapy… It’s the same with old mares, they have to be put down when they can’t walk anymore. That’s life.”
Regina turned away, slinging her purse over her shoulder.
“How dare you…?!”
With a few quick strides the sheriff made her way over to Regina and grabbed her arm to spin her back around.
“After all the shit I went through…! How dare you compare me to some old horse! I fucking thought you were on my side. I wouldn’t be in this position if I hadn’t saved your damn life!”
Suddenly Regina smiled so blindingly bright, a broad flash of perfectly white teeth, that Emma took a small step back in surprise. Brown eyes travelled down her body, to her feet, and back up to her eyes.
Emma stared down at herself. She was standing, actually standing, on her own two feet, and all that without crutches. She had walked, and not even noticed it. Her leg wasn’t hurting, it was a little sore maybe, but otherwise completely alright. Emma took a small step toward Regina, like the mayor had done in front of the mine all this time ago, and lowered her gaze.
“You only said those things to make me forget that I was afraid.”
Regina smirked when Emma shot her a tiny glare. Already in the next moment Emma lost herself in that deep brown gaze. She felt like there were so many things she wanted to say, to finally get off her chest what was going on inside her head. But the moment was gone when Ali cleared his throat.
“Alright, well done Sheriff. I think that’s it for today.”
Without heeding Regina’s glare, he made his way across the room to disappear through a door at the far end. Emma exhaled through her nose and turned away to gather her things. It was actually fun, being able to hold something beside crutches in her hands, and she smiled as she trudged after Regina out onto the street.
The sun was shining brightly above them and it was beautiful warm day. A slight breeze blew a few strands of hair into Regina’s face as she turned around to Emma. The sheriff, so glad to finally have her hands free again, reached out and brushed the dark curls away from a smooth brow.
Regina’s breath hitched as Emma’s fingers grazed her cheek.
Henry walked down the sidewalk, his bag hanging off one shoulder. He was on his way to his session with Dr. Hopper and smiled when he saw his mom and Emma standing on the other side of the street. He raised his hand in greeting and was about to yell to get their attention when a warm hand clamped over his mouth.
“Not a sound,” a female voice whispered into his ear.
Henry was dragged away to a corner before the hand left his mouth. He spun around and stared at Ruby.
“What’d you do that for?”
Red lips parted in a smile.
“Seriously? Look at them.”
Henry slowly moved back and peered around the corner to where his mom and Emma were standing. His eyes widened when he saw how Emma leaned forward and his mom met her halfway. He was too far away to be completely sure, but it seemed like they were kissing. Actually kissing.
All of his previous attempts to get them to this point had spectacularly failed and both Emma and his mom had started to believe that they were having a streak of bad luck. They had on occasion found themselves locked in the mayor’s office for no apparent reason or had sat through dinner with Henry excusing himself because of stomachaches.
“Operation Wolf Boy is finally successful,” Ruby said, giggling.
Henry turned and they high-fived.
Somewhere between her lips touching Regina’s and tilting her head back to savor the feeling of a velvety tongue sliding across her lower lip, Emma had closed her eyes. And even as the kiss slowly ended, after sharing two, three short kisses, she still had them intently shut. Never before in her life had a kiss done something like that. Her entire body was vibrating, liquid arousal spreading through every single vein, making her head dizzy and her breath short.
When she had collected her thoughts enough, she opened her eyes only to stare into surprised brown orbs. There was a mixture of shock, want and confusion on Regina’s face and all Emma could do was wait which emotion would win out in the end. Luckily for her it was smugness. Regina raised an eyebrow and smirked at the sheriff’s dazed look.
“I suppose a reward was in order after your successful recovery.”
Emma couldn’t help but grin stupidly.
“Oh yeah… right.”
The mayor quickly looked around and Emma followed suit. She hadn’t really been thinking about that they were in the middle of the street where any passerby could see them, but it hadn’t really mattered in that moment. Nothing had. Together they made their way over to Regina’s black Benz. Emma’s beloved Bug was still standing vacant in front of Mary-Margaret’s apartment until she was able to drive again, but she patted her baby whenever she hobbled past it.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you later?”
Emma insecurely glanced at Regina, unsure of how they were going to handle The Kiss. Even in her head it had capital letters.
Shooting one of her ‘I own this town’ smiles, Regina got into the car and drove off, leaving Emma standing on the sidewalk, still smiling as if someone had just offered her a million dollars.
“Better than I could have ever imagined our first kiss to be…” she mumbled to herself.
Not two minutes later, Mary-Margaret drove around the corner and parked her car in front of Emma to pick her up.
She shot out of the driver’s seat, the biggest smile on her face. “You’re walking!”
“That I am.”
Emma accepted the enthusiastic hug and returned it happily.
“Ready to go?”
Regina sat at her desk, staring at the papers in front of her, but all she was seeing were blurry lines and letters that made no sense whichever way she combined them. Her thoughts were quite far away, with a certain blonde sheriff to be exact, and she couldn’t focus on a single one of her tasks. It was almost a small relief when the door to her office opened. But when she saw who had come to pay her a visit, her entire face darkened.
“Mr. Gold, I believe we do not have an appointment.”
“No we don’t, but I won’t keep you from work for long, I promise.”
“Well I really haven’t got time for…”
“You really want to hear I have got to say Madame Mayor,” Gold interrupted.
“So, please, give me a minute of your precious time.”
Regina raised an eyebrow and, leaning back in her chair, felt the last tendrils of magic surging through her, forcing her to do as Gold asked. Gold made his way over to her desk and tapped his fingertips on the surface while looking around thoughtfully.
“I simply came to give you friendly advice, nothing more.”
He turned his dark eyes to the mayor, his voice dropping. “You might want to be more careful who you chose to spend your time with in the future, because if you want this," he raised his hand and gestured around the office, “…to still exist the next time you open your eyes, I recommend staying away from the one person that could take everything, everything you have sacrificed so much for, from you once and for all.”
Regina gasped quietly and suddenly rose from her chair, stalking toward Gold with a snarl. “What are you insinuating?”
Gold chuckled darkly and shook his head. “You still haven’t figured it out, have you? I would’ve expected more from you, but I suppose all those years of calmly doing nothing but this desk job has dulled your…”
Regina slapped the flat of her palm atop the desk, effectively interrupting the older man’s flow of words.
“Say what you have to say, or else see yourself out. I don’t have time for your games.”
Gold smiled and it wasn’t in any way pleasant. There was something too smug about him, like he was about to deliver the final blow - which was of course impossible. But the bomb he dropped was still fascinatingly large.
“Sheriff Swan, or shall I say dear Emma, is no other but Snow and Charming’s daughter. She is the Savior and will break the Evil Queen’s curse. And correct me if I’m wrong, but that means you’re having relations with the enemy, thus my friendly piece of advice, get rid of her or lose everything.”
The air was literally knocked out of Regina and she had to use the hand still resting on the desk to steady herself. Anger, sadness, disappointment and betrayal in all of its forms were racing through her head.
“I’ll see myself out then. Have a good day, Madame Mayor.”
She stared unseeingly at Gold’s retreating form. He was just a pawn in this, albeit a talented player, nothing more than a piece on the board.
She was the one unknown force that could bring down the Queen.
She was the only one who could make her lose the entire game.