Emma woke abruptly to the ear-splitting sound of Regina’s alarm clock. Thankfully, Regina was quick to react, smacking the snooze button into submission with her hand.
Emma groaned loudly at the prospect of having to get out of bed. She buried her face in Regina’s hair, squeezing the brunette tighter by the arm she had around her waist.
Apparently they had shifted to spooning at some point during the night, but Regina didn’t mind as much as she thought she would. She’d heard about this ‘spooning’ and always thought it sounded bizarrely uncomfortable and way too intimate. Now she realized the appeal as the blonde held her in a warm and comforting embrace. If she didn’t know any better, she would think they were perfectly molded to fit each other.
“Please tell me that you’re one of those OCD people who set alarms way before they actually have to get up.” Emma whined.
“Unfortunately not dear, it’s 7:00am and we have to get you and Henry out of the house by 8:00am for work and school.” Regina answered, lightly rubbing Emma’s arm, trying to ease her awake.
The blonde groaned again in response.
“Your really aren’t a morning person, are you?” Regina asked rhetorically, turning to face Emma.
“Nope. Especially when I have a hot piece of ass like you in bed with me, Madame Mayor.” Emma replied with a grin, earning her a jab to the ribs.
“Oww, jeez.” Emma exclaimed, rubbing at the sore spot.
“Oh, it couldn’t have hurt that much.” Regina said, rolling her eyes, and kissing Emma softly on the lips.
“I got a kiss out of it though, didn’t I?” Emma responded with a wink.
“Well played, Miss Swan.” Regina conceded, giving her another kiss and slipping out of bed into a robe. “I’m going to change into something more decent and then I’ll head downstairs to put some coffee on and tend to our son. Why don’t you take a shower? I’m sure that will wake you right up.” Regina suggested, disappearing into her closet to get changed.
Emma groaned as she stretched her limbs. Normally she didn’t mind dragging herself to the station in the morning, but that was back when she slept alone on a tiny uncomfortable twin bed and had no good reason to hang around and sleep in. It was strange having woken up with Regina in her arms two mornings in a row, but she felt as though she could easily grow accustomed to it. Regina was right though, she had to drag her ass out of bed and get to work on time, as she asked Ruby to meet her there bright and early.
Rolling out of the bed with a loud sigh, she shuffled her way over to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.
After Emma had taken her shower and wandered back to the guest room to get dressed, she made her way downstairs, following the heavenly scent of brewing coffee.
“Good morning, Miss Swan. You slept well, I hope?” Regina greeted her neutrally. Emma took this return to formality as an obvious attempt to conceal the fact that they slept in the same bed last night from their son.
“Yeah, like a baby, that bed in the guest room sure is comfy.” Emma replied with a grin, attempting to playfully torment the brunette.
“I knew you’d like it here, Emma.” Henry said with a big smile, already finished with his breakfast.
Regina placed a steaming hot mug of coffee in front of Emma, who already made herself comfortable on what she was already starting to consider her stool.
“Why don’t you go upstairs and get ready for school while Emma and I finish our coffee, okay dear?” Regina suggested to Henry, ushering him out of the kitchen while she returned to tending to his dishes.
Emma could sense that something was a little off with Regina, and figured it was because she wasn’t going to be around today. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay at home alone without me? I know you’re all magically badass and everything but I won’t go if you need me.”
“I’ll be alright. No one has tried anything foolish yet, so I’m beginning to think we’re in the clear.” Regina responded evenly, but Emma didn’t fail to see how the brunette’s hands were death gripping the edge of the sink as she spoke.
Emma walked up behind Regina, wrapping her arms around her waist and resting her chin on her shoulder. “I know that you’re saying you’re fine, Regina, but I don’t buy it. I know you better than you think.”
Regina sighed heavily. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m okay with it or not, Emma. You and Henry need to continue on with your lives.”
Emma squeezed her tightly. “Don’t talk like that. Don’t talk like you’re already gone.” Emma felt her heart constrict in her chest at the thought of losing the brunette. What was happening to her? Why was she feeling this way? Her every instinct told her that she shouldn’t need Regina like this every fiber of her being felt otherwise. She was so used to only caring for herself, but she felt compelled to comfort Regina – to protect her from anything that threatened her emotional or physical harm.
Regina pulled herself from Emma’s grasp and walked a few paces from her. She took a deep breath before turning back around and folding her arms tightly against her chest. “I think it’s about time we face reality, dear. We’ve been foolish in pretending like this isn’t all going to end in a few days.”
A pained pair of tear glossed hazel eyes met her own. “This isn’t you, Regina. We promised that we wouldn’t give up. Henry wouldn’t want you to give up. If you won’t fight for me, fight for him, damn it!” Emma pleaded, with tears beginning to well up in her eyes.
Regina averted her gaze from Emma. “We should never have engaged in – this affair of ours. Nothing good can come of it. It will only cause you and Henry pain.”
Emma walked over to Regina placing a gentle hand on her folded arms in an attempt to comfort her. “Regina…”
When Regina refused to look at her, Emma grabbed her shoulders and shook her lightly, forcing her to meet her gaze. “I don’t understand, you were fine like a half hour ago, what happened to change you like this? Talk to me.”
Regina began to panic as her mother’s words repeated through her head like a broken record. Love is weakness. Her mother was right, she was always right. The love she allowed herself to have for Daniel and for young Snow had only betrayed her and left her with nothing but pain and anger. She felt foolish for letting her heart betray her into loving again with Henry and whatever she had developing with Emma.
Regina smacked Emma’s hands off of her shoulders and pushed her away causing her to stumble. “I’m not strong enough, Emma!” she yelled, choking back a sob.
Despite Regina’s aggression, Emma’s resolve hadn’t diminished. She stepped back towards Regina again, this time pulling her into a tight embrace. “You don’t have to be strong enough, Regina - you have me. You’re not alone anymore. I can be strong enough for you. We can be strong enough together.”
Regina lost all control of her emotions as she collapsed into Emma’s strong arms with racking sobs. Emma just held her, gently running her fingers through her hair and whispering softly in her ear. “It’s okay, Regina. Everything will be okay, I promise. I won’t let anything happen to you. You’re safe with me.”
After what felt like an eternity, Regina finally stilled and quieted in Emma’s arms. Against her instincts, Regina felt safe being held by the blonde, with her face buried in that horrible red leather jacket, the surface of which was now marred with streaks of her salty tears. Her heart was betraying her for Emma Swan and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop it.
With Regina’s breathing returned to almost normal, Emma pulled away from her slightly to kiss her on the forehead and wipe some of the stray tears from the brunette’s now puffy, but still gorgeous face. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up before Henry sees you, okay?”
Regina let Emma guide her back upstairs to her bedroom and into the bathroom. She sat a virtually catatonic Regina down on the toilet and ran a washcloth under a cold stream of water from the sink. Wringing out most of the moisture, she the kneeled in front of Regina, gently running the dampened cloth across the brunette’s face while cupping it with her other hand. Regina couldn’t decide what was more soothing, the cool cloth or Emma’s touch.
Emma sighed heavily as she took in the state of the brunette. Something had driven her to this breakdown, and she needed to know what it was. “What happened, Regina?” she asked her gently.
Regina exhaled deeply, trying to summon up the courage to express her fears to the blonde. “I don’t do this Emma.” Regina explained, gesturing to the blonde and back to herself. “Anyone I ever cared about betrayed me or was taken from me. The thought of having to relive that pain again is too much to bear.”
Emma knew the pain that Regina was speaking of all too well. She was abandoned by her parents and then betrayed by Neal, the only person she let herself care about. It was safer to be alone, but it really was no way to live. She realized that the night of her 28th birthday when she wished for something more than the solitary existence she had spent so many years carefully constructing for herself.
“I know that things haven’t gone your way in the past, but things can be different with us. Things are complicated right now, but we’ll sort them out. You don’t have to be alone because you’re scared. No one deserves to be alone, Regina.”
Regina sighed as Emma pulled away briefly to rinse the washcloth again and returned to dabbing her face gently. “I don’t know what you expect of me, dear.”
Emma put the washcloth down on the floor and took the hands that were tensely clasped in Regina’s lap into hers. Emma gave the hands a squeeze and looked back up at Regina, locking their gaze. “I just want you to stay with me. Don’t push me away again. Trust that I will protect you, and just let whatever we have together just…happen.”
“That’s asking quite a lot.” Regina replied, not completely convinced.
“Maybe…but that’s just because nothing good comes without risks.” Emma said with a shrug.
“I never thought I’d say this, but you have quite a way with words, Miss Swan.” Regina admitted, squeezing out a reluctant smile for the blonde.
Emma’s demeanor immediately brightened at the sight. “So does that mean you’ll give this a chance?” she asked hopefully.
“I suppose that your ‘Charming’ sense of optimism may have won me over.” she teased, leaning in capturing Emma’s lips in an affectionate kiss.
“And you’ll be alright here by yourself?” Emma asked, her brow furrowing with concern.
“And you promise you’ll call if you need me?”
“You sure you don’t want me to stay?”
“Emma!” Regina snapped.
“Sorry…” Emma apologized, biting down on her lower lip and averting her gaze.
Regina took Emma’s chin between two fingers, lifting it up to look into the blonde’s eyes.
“There’s no need to be sorry, Emma…but it is getting late and Henry will be ready to leave for school any moment now. I packed you both a lunch, so please don’t forget to grab them from the fridge on your way out.” she said, giving Emma one last soft kiss on the lips and shoving her gently towards the door.
“You packed me a lunch?” Emma asked with genuine surprise as she was being hurried out of the bathroom towards the bedroom door.
“Of course. You don’t think I’d let you eat those artery-clogging chili fries at Granny’s every day for lunch, did you?” Regina replied, her face scrunching with disgust at the thought of all the grease that went into the food at Granny’s.
“I guess not?” Emma answered uncertainly, as she wasn’t used to anyone truly worrying about what she bothered to eat. Her response earned her a glare from Regina.
Cocking her head to the side, Emma returned the glare with a smirk. “Thank you Regina, it was really sweet of you to pack me a lunch.”
Regina pulled her in for one last kiss, tugging Emma against her by her leather jacket.
“I’ll see you after work, dear.” Emma said, winking at Regina before disappearing through the bedroom door and closing it behind her.
After dropping Henry off at school, Emma arrived at work a whopping 10 minutes early. She was never early as there wasn’t really any reason to rush to get to work on time only to be greeted by an empty office and a pile of paperwork. Today, however, she was greeted by Ruby, who was already making herself at home at the deputy’s desk. Emma observed her rifling through the drawers while kicked back in the chair with her feet resting on the top of the desk.
Ruby nearly fell out of the chair when Emma cleared her throat loudly, alerting her of her presence.
“Oh, Hey Emma!” she greeted with an awkward wave, jumping up from the chair.
“Hey Rubes, you’re here early.” Emma replied, trying to stifle a laugh while walking over to her office and hanging up her leather jacket on the coat rack and placing the lunch Regina packed her down on her desk.
“Well, you said bright and early…so…here I am!” Ruby answered with her signature toothy grin accented by bright red lips. Even though her memories of her past life as Red were now restored, she still clung to much of what made her Ruby.
“Right.” Emma answered looking hopelessly at the paperwork that went untouched in her recent absence. She turned to pull open the second drawer down in her desk, revealing the deputy’s badge. Picking it up from its place in the drawer, she took a moment to run her thumb over the contours of the brass, appreciating the weight of the badge in her hand. It felt just as heavy as the day Graham had handed it to her when he asked her to be his deputy. There was so much about that day she couldn’t forget. It was the day she accepted her responsibility as a mother and stayed in Storybrooke to watch over Henry. It was also the day that recognized her attraction to Regina at the mine. So much had changed for her the day she clipped that badge onto her belt. She wondered if it would have the same effect on Ruby.
Emma walked over to Ruby and handed her the badge. “Welcome aboard, Deputy Lucas.” Emma said, exchanging a smile with Ruby and shaking her hand ceremoniously.
“So what now, boss?” Ruby asked, arching an eyebrow at the blonde.
“Well right now is about the time we make the coffee, push some papers around, and wait for the phone to ring.” Emma explained with a chuckle, walking over to fix the coffee.
Ruby perched herself on the edge of her new desk, eyeing Emma curiously. She looked awfully at ease for someone she had seen come home drunk and upset just two days prior. With her curiosity piqued, she decided to probe her friend gently for information.
“How is everything going at Regina’s?”
Emma’s hand twitched almost imperceptibly at the question as she poured the water into the machine. However subtle the movement was, Ruby didn’t fail to pick up on it. Emma hadn’t really prepared herself for having to tell anyone else about what was happening between her and Regina. They hadn’t even figured it out themselves.
“Uh, things are as good as they can be I guess.” she said with a shrug, trying to reveal as little as possible without lying.
Her friend’s tight-lipped answer had Ruby itching to know more. “And how good would that be?” she asked, casually re-crossing her legs.
Emma scratched at the back of her head awkwardly as she turned to face Ruby, leaning against the counter while the coffee began to brew. “Well…she isn’t as horrible as she was before. She’s actually being kinda nice. I mean, we fight still…but it’s not as bad.”
“Regina…nice? I’ve known Regina for a long time and I don’t think she’s been nice to anyone but Henry.” Ruby scoffed.
Emma let out a long breath, trying to choose her next words carefully. “I don’t think she’s the awful person everyone thinks she is. She just doesn’t like to show everyone that because she’s scared of being seen as weak.”
“Look at you, one weekend with her and you’re the expert, huh?” Ruby teased.
Emma slumped down into the desk chair beside Ruby and propped both elbows up on the desk, burying her face in her hands.
“I don’t know, Rubes. After the curse broke and I found out about everything…nothing is anything like what I thought it was or what I thought it could be. I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my entire life.”
Emma leaned back in the chair, pinching at the bridge of her nose trying to stave off the migraine headache that was encroaching on her brain. She really didn’t know what she was going to do about the gigantic fucking mess that was her life. Emma wasn’t one for plans – present or future. As a person who lived day to day, bond to bond, she never really put much stock in anything. Having to actually work at something – to stick around long enough – this was all completely unfamiliar territory for her and it scared the crap out of her.
“Wow, I was just kidding with you Em, I didn’t know you were gonna get all deep on me.” Ruby said, covering Emma’s shoulder with her hand and squeezing it sympathetically.
Emma blew out a long puff of air. “I know Rubes, it’s just that there’s so much going on with my parents and Regina and the council. It’s all just really overwhelming.”
“Are things any better with your parents? I know the other day didn’t go so well.”
Emma shook her head. “Things are still difficult. I don’t really know how to act around them. They’re literally different people to me. It also doesn’t make things any easier that they’re hell bent on punishing Regina. How am I supposed to let them? She’s Henry’s mom.”
Ruby cocked her head sympathetically at the blonde, pressing her lips together.
“It’s totally normal for you to need some time to adjust to suddenly having parents, especially under such unusual circumstances. I think they get that, Em. As far as Regina goes, I don’t think anyone would have the heart to go through with anything so drastic. I also know your mom, and other than you, she’s my closest friend. I don’t think she’ll let anything happen to Regina.”
The coffee pot beeped, signaling that it had finished brewing. Emma dragged herself over to pour the two of them each a steaming hot cup. Emma took a sip of hers and handed the other cup to Ruby.
“I hope you’re right. I think if this thing with Regina just blows over that we can focus on trying to get to know each other, I guess. I just don’t want them to think I hate them. I don’t hate them, I’m just angry and…it’s complicated.”
“They know that. I’m sure of it. Everything will be okay in time.” Ruby said, smiling warmly at Emma.
Their momentary connection was disrupted suddenly by the loud ringing of the office phone, causing both women to jump.
Emma nodded in the direction of the phone receiver sitting on Ruby’s desk. “First call is all yours, Deputy Lucas.” she said with a wink and a grin.
Ruby hurried over excitedly to answer the phone. “Sherriff’s station, Deputy Lucas speaking, how can I help you?”
Emma observed her new deputy as she listened to the caller on the other end of the line. The wide grin that Ruby had been wearing moments ago slowly faded from her face, morphing into a look of apprehension. It was then that Ruby darted a glance up to Emma who’s heart plummeted to her stomach when she realized that something must have been terribly wrong.
“We’ll be right over.” Ruby said, slamming the phone back down on the receiver.
“What is it? Emma asked, fearful of the answer she was about to receive.
Ruby hesitated momentarily, not really knowing how to best explain this to Emma.
“We’ve got a serious problem.”