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“We need a man on the inside.” Rumpelstiltskin rasped to the table full of allies. “The Charmings are even suspicious of you Madam Mayor.” He nodded towards Cora who sat with her husband to her left and her daughter to her right.

“The sheriff will never find evidence of our companionship, I assure you.” She drawled.

“I expect nothing less but that doesn’t change the fact that your people won’t be in his inner circle anytime soon.”

“Then what do you propose?”

“My son,” he gestured to the man sitting to his right, “Baelfire, is around the same age as the sheriff’s daughter. The girl just returned from a retreat and I hear she is available.”

“You want your boy to seduce her? And what? Would she even have any valuable information?” The mayor was skeptical.

“She is being trained for initiation into the family business as we speak, no doubt her parents will allow her access to knowledge other recruits don’t have.”

The mayor looked thoughtful. “And how will you arrange a situation where a gangster has access to her?”

“I don’t need to arrange anything. The annual holiday ball for the town is approaching, Baelfire will attend under a false identity.”

“The holiday ball, what a perfect opportunity.” She turned to her daughter, “Regina, you will also attend. It is a good opportunity to mingle among the elite. I trust we will see you there Mr. Gold?”

“I attend every year, much to everyone’s disdain. Luckily, Baelfire has been away and will be unrecognized.”

Regina let her mind wander, she wasn’t interested in mingling with politicians, but she was expected to be a part of her mother’s empire. She dreamed of the days that Daniel promised to spirit her away from all of the corruption but those were long in the past.

She looked over at Baelfire, he was handsome considering who his father was. She thought he looked entirely too cocky, but perhaps the perfect little Charming princess would be fooled by a pretty face. Regina didn’t see the appeal, then again, she hadn’t seen the appeal in anyone since Daniel.

She was smart, so she saw the merit in having a Charming wrapped around her finger, but she didn’t see how it could be of more use than the other plants they had in the police department. She figured she’d go to the ball and observe, get introduced to a few people, and be on her way while everyone else put their plans into action.

~*~*~*~

“I’ll be over there.” Emma pointed to the buffet table.

“But dear,” Her mother chided, “there are some more people I’d like you to meet, some with handsome sons.” She smiled conspiratorially.

“It’s ok mom. I’ll meet them later.” She started to shuffle away, ignoring the look on her father’s face.

“Do you think we made a mistake?” He asked his wife.

“Of course not, we acted in her best interest.” She smiled to the guests walking by.

“But she’s not the same.”

“That was the point, wasn’t it?” She guided him into the crowd.

~

Emma was trying to be discreet but mostly just wanted to fill her purse with candy. She didn’t know how she was going to get a frosted gingerbread man in her bag so she resolved to eat two before leaving. She knew her mother wouldn’t be happy if she left early but hopefully the woman wouldn’t notice. Emma snuck a glance at her parents, they were definitely in their element surrounded by adoring fans.

“You’re going to need a bigger bag.” A voice startled her and she looked at the man beside her.

“At least I have one.” She snarked, not being polite despite the nagging voice in her head.

He chuckled, “you’d be surprised how much suit pockets hold.”

She smiled, “I guess I’ll have to invest in one.”

“You’d look stunning, not that you don’t already.” She almost rolled her eyes. “Care to dance?”

She looked at the crowded dance floor and cringed. “I don’t know.”

“Come on, I promise I’m a good dancer.”

She scanned the room and noticed her mother looking her way. “Alright.” She grabbed his arm and caused him to stumble in surprise as she dragged him onto the dance floor.

She pulled him close and they swayed to the music. “I’m Neil by the way.”

“Emma.” She snagged a tootsie roll from her bag, popping it in her mouth before offering one to him.

He took it and smiled at her. “I didn’t think you’d share.”

“I can always get more. Plus my parents raised me to share.” She grimaced a little.

“How about I return the favor and take you out for a coffee sometime?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, “smooth.”

He chuckled, “it was worth a try.” They pulled back from each other as the song ended. “He pulled out a card. “My number, in case you decide to get more free food.”

She laughed and took it, “thank you for the dance Neil, I’m going to go powder my nose now.” She winked and sauntered off.

She entered the bathroom and sat on the counter rifling through her purse. She pulled out a pixie stick and tore it open, downing it’s contents. She sat for about 15 minutes when a woman entered. She had dark hair and a dark purple gown. She nodded to Emma before leaning against the counter to powder her nose.

“I didn’t think people did that anymore.”

The woman raised an eyebrow at her. “I didn’t think people hid in the bathroom either.”

Emma threw her head back and laughed. “Got me there.” She wiped a sticky hand on her dress before reaching out, “I’m Emma.”

The woman considered it for a second before grasping her hand, “Regina.”

“It’s a pleasure.”

She went back to fixing her makeup. “So why are you hiding?”

“I wanted to pig out in peace.”

“Is that true?”

“No, I would’ve left.” She admitted. “I don’t want to dance with loser boys who think all they have to do is flash a cute smile and I’ll drop my panties.”

Regina scoffed, “Sounds reasonable. They do need to be taken down a peg sometimes.”

“I bet you’d do well at that.”

“What makes you say that?” She put her compact back in her purse.

“I don’t know, you just seem like you wouldn’t take anyone’s shit.”

“And you would?”

“Gotta keep the masses happy.” She sucked on a lollipop.

Regina shrugged before quickly running her fingers through her hair and starting to head towards the door.

“Wait!” Emma hopped off the counter. “You seem cool, we should hang out sometime. I only just got back into town so I need some new friends.”

Regina hesitated, it wasn’t part of the plan for her to interact with Emma but the blonde admitted that she wasn’t interested in Baelfire so perhaps this was their opportunity. “Alright.” She pulled a card from her purse and handed it to Emma.

Emma studied it for a moment. “Wow, the mayor’s kid. I think we’ll get along better than I thought.”

“Whatever you’re assuming, you’re incorrect.”

“I’m assuming that you hate the pressure of never quite living up to your parent’s expectations while simultaneously wondering how far you’d get if you ran away.” She said it as a joke but Regina could hear the pain in her voice and felt an echoing tightness in her chest.

“Well, I guess you are right.” They smiled at each other.

“I’ll text you.”

Chapter Text

“I think it went well.”

Regina rolled her eyes at Baelfire’s overconfidence. She didn’t want to be here, being updated on the progress of their ‘mission’ but her mother insisted that she be present. “It didn’t go as well as you think.” She got a sense of satisfaction as the smug look fell off Baelfire’s face but regretted that everyone’s eyes turned to her.

“Regina?” Her mother phrased it as a question but she knew it was anything but.

“I ran into Emma in the bathroom afterwards and got the impression that she wasn’t interested.” Regina shrugged, hoping they would start planning among themselves again.

“You spoke with her?” Baelfire mocked.

“I am a person of standing, unlike you.” She sneered. “In fact, she asked to hang out sometime.” She meant to just one up Baelfire but she realized that she had inadvertently inserted herself into the plan. Her mother looked beside herself with pride, which did perk her up somewhat.

“This is perfect Regina, now we can have two sources of information.”

“You forgot the part where she wasn’t interested in me.” Baelfire pouted.

Rumpelstiltskin gestured to his son to shut up, “That wont be a problem when Emma’s new best friend puts in a good word.”

Regina’s mother grasped her hand. Part of her was she impressed her mother but the other part should have only observed. She should’ve never gone into that bathroom, she knew Emma was in there. She hoped the woman would just ignore her, that maybe she could gain some insight, but she never wanted an active role.

“Has she reached out yet?” Her mother asked.

“Yes, she invited me out for coffee.” Regina didn’t want to admit that she had been texting Emma everyday since the ball. She should’ve known better but the blonde was quite charismatic and Regina found herself wanting a friend. She hadn’t gone out much since Daniel.

“Well then, accept and make sure to put Baelfire in her good graces.”

~*~*~*~

Regina had no idea where they were, they drove hours without so much as a telephone pole as Emma shouted along with the music of the radio, before reaching a small cafe.

“Awful far for a coffee date.”

Emma colored, “I like trying new places, it’s my goal to have hot coco at every cafe in Maine.”

Regina shook her head and headed inside.

They got their beverages and sat at a small table, there weren’t many people around, but they were in the middle of nowhere. Regina would’ve thought that after all the texting that they would run out of topics for conversation but Emma seemed to be able to pull words out of thin air.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” Emma asked, finishing her hot chocolate.

“No.” Regina snapped, but the look on Emma’s face had her explaining, “I was engaged, but he passed away.”

Emma reached across the table and rested her hand on top of Regina’s. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Regina pulled her hand back into her lap. “Do you have one?”

Emma grimaced, “No, I didn’t want to string anyone along while I was away.”

“The retreat? You never said how it was.” When Emma just shrugged, Regina brought the conversation back, “So you didn’t like Neil?”

“How did you know about that?”

Regina inwardly cursed, “we are family friends, he couldn’t stop talking about you.”

Emma made a face, “he was fine, I guess.”

Regina knew she needed to make Emma give him a second chance if he was going to get any information out of her. Better him than her. “He’s a cool guy once you get to know him.”

Emma gave her a skeptical look.

“Look, just go out for coffee or something, he’s going to be unbearable if he gets rejected so soon.”

Emma cackled, “alright, as a personal favor to you. But you owe me one.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Regina waved a hand dismissively, “I’ll buy your coco next time.”

Regina thought the girl across from her couldn’t smile any brighter.

~*~*~*~

Emma sat across from Neil in a booth at a small restaurant just outside of town. He was nothing but a gentleman, though she could tell he felt insecure about the amount of time it took her to text him. She really didn’t care but she did want her parents off her back so she was willing to waste some time with him.

“How are the fajitas?” He smiled lopsidedly, it was endearing enough but it didn’t make her stomach flutter.

“Delicious, I love coming here. The nachos are to die for.” She reached between them and snagged another.

“I was worried you wouldn’t reach out to be honest.”

She started to feel guilty, the least she could’ve done is let him know one way or another. “I wasn’t sure I would either.”

“What made you change your mind?”

“A little birdy told me you were much more than your frat boy exterior.”

He laughed, “I will endeavor to prove that bird right.”

She had to admit he was charming, “I hope you do.” He seemed like the type of man she could love.

Music started to fill the restaurant as the band started playing. Neil stood up and reached out for her, “let’s dance.”

“You don’t dance here, the band is just for entertainment.” She took another nacho.

He pulled her out of the booth and swayed in place, “we can dance if we feel like it.”

She couldn’t help but laugh and sway along. The date was better than she thought it would be, “next time, I’m picking the place.”

He leaned forward and she thought he might kiss her, but he just rested his head against hers.

~*~*~*~

“Where have you been?” Emma cringed at her mother’s tone, Snow ran a tight ship and in response, Emma tried to disrupt it as much as possible.

“I was on a date.” She said flippantly but knew her mother would be appeased.

“With who?” She squealed.

“His name is Neil, we met at the ball.”

Her mother looked beside herself, “Emma, I’m so happy for you.” She embraced her daughter. “It’s all going to come together, I promise.”

Emma ducked out of the hold and ran into her father. “What’s wrong with your mother.”

Emma snickered but Snow responded before she could, “Emma went on a date!”

David looked at her curiously, “well, make sure to give me his full name so I can do a background check.”

“Dad!” She complained but gave him Neil’s card anyway.

Chapter Text

“It’s going great.” Baelfire told his father, but the man turned to Regina for confirmation.

She had met up with Emma several times and the two were becoming close friends. “It is. She seems to have come around to the idea, despite being hesitant at first.” And it was the truth, for some reason Emma seemed pleased with her relationship, even going so far as to make Neil her official boyfriend.

“Have either of you made any progress with gaining information on the sheriff?”

“She doesn’t really like talking about her parents.” Baelfire admitted.

“She seems to harbor a lot of resentment towards them, more so than usual rebellion.” Regina added.

“We can use that to our advantage.” Cora chimed in. “She’ll be more willing to complain about their faults, things we can use.”

Regina nodded, Emma had been very tight-lipped about her relationship with her parents. It struck her as odd considering that the Charmings were the golden family of Storybrooke. But she knew as well as anyone that everyone had their secrets and no one was perfect.

“You both are going to have to try harder, this isn’t a game. We need leverage on the Sheriff. The pirates are getting more bold as of late and we need the Sheriff to side with us if it comes to a gang war.”

~*~*~*~

Regina was happy to be going to a small bakery that had just opened on the outskirts of town. Normally Emma wanted to drive hours in the countryside to try new places.

“This place is supposed to have the best apple tart in the country!” Emma gushed.

“Apple tart?” Regina walked a little faster towards the door.

“You like apple?” Emma held the door.

“It’s my favorite.” Regina smiled.

They both grabbed a tart and sat in a booth, Regina hummed in delight at the sweet-sour flavor. Emma laughed, “Now that I know, I have so many places that you’ll like.”

“It is one of the better apple tarts I’ve had.” Regina admitted, “but I still like to make my own.”

“You bake?” Emma grabbed her hands, “you have to make something for me.”

Regina laughed and rolled her eyes as Emma went up for seconds.

“It’s blueberry.” She stated as she dug into her second pastry.

“Let me try.” Regina reached with her fork but was shooed away. “Hey!”

Emma pouted for a moment but then scooped up some with her fork and held it out. When Regina reached for it Emma snatched it back. “Say ‘ahhhh.’”

“You’re joking.” But she wasn’t and Regina wanted to try it so she allowed Emma to feed her the bite, her teeth clacking against the silverware. “It’s good.” She praised.

“Emma! What a coincidence seeing you here!” A sickly sweet voice called.

Emma froze in place, her face going pale, and for a moment Regina thought she might faint. Before she could say anything, Emma stumbled to her feet, forgetting that she couldn’t push her chair back. “Mother Superior! What are you doing here?” The blonde fidgeted.

“I’ve heard such good things about the pastries here and just had to try it for myself.” She glanced over at Regina and the brunette thought that she saw disgust on her face. “How are you doing dear?”

“Great!” Emma was clearly flustered and Regina didn’t know how to help. “Awesome! I have a boyfriend now.” Her words came so quickly it was a wonder she was understood.

“Very good. And who is your friend?” She gestured to Regina.

Before she could introduce herself Emma interjected, “This is Regina, the mayor’s daughter, my new friend.”

“I’m glad that you are taking networking seriously Emma.” Emma nodded quickly and Regina felt a pang in her chest.

“I’ll let you get back to it then, I’ll tell my mother you said ‘hello.’”

“That wont be necessary dear, I'll be seeing her myself soon enough.” The woman patted Emma’s shoulder and walked away.

“That was rude.” The woman didn’t even speak to Regina directly, but before she could complain she noticed Emma. The blonde hadn’t moved and looked like she was going to vomit. “Are you ok?”

“Can we leave?” Emma said in a shaky voice.

“OK.” Emma turned and walked out so Regina grabbed all of their things and rushed to the car. When she got in, Emma was grasping the steering wheel so tightly her hands were white. “Emma-”

“It’s OK. I’m OK.” Her breaths came out as short puffs. “Everything’s fine.”

Regina almost shouted as they peeled out of the parking lot. She rushed to put on her seat belt, “Emma calm down, you’re going to crash the car!”

After ten minutes of Regina fearing for her life, Emma finally pulled over. “I’m sorry.” She whispered, “that was an overreaction.” She tried to laugh.

“What happened?”

“Mother Superior is good friends with my mom. I know she’s going to report back on us.”

“So?” Regina didn’t understand why she was so upset.

“My mother doesn’t think I have my priorities straight, she’d rather me spend time snagging a husband than seeing my friends.”

“Why? She has loads of friends.”

Emma shrugged, “we might not be able to hang out for a while. Maybe dropping your mother’s name would help, she wants me to be more involved in the town.”

Regina felt sour at the idea that she wasn’t good enough on her own. “Emma, there’s more to it than that.”

Emma shook her head and pulled back onto the road. The rest of their trip was silent.

~*~*~*~

Emma was terrified. She stood just outside the door, knowing her mother was home and had likely heard about her outing with Regina. Even though she did nothing wrong, her mother wouldn’t see it that way. She took a deep breath, hoping she could find a way to talk her mother out of any extreme measures, and opened the door.

Her mother was sitting at the table, obviously waiting for her, her father standing off to the side looking uncomfortable. Emma resented that he never stood up for her, even though he seemed conflicted. Emma sat down at the table, knowing she’d be asked to.

“I got a call from Mother Superior.” Snow started and Emma looked at her lap. “She told me you have a new friend.”

“I do.” Emma whispered. “Just a friend.”

Snow didn’t look convinced, “She said you looked awfully intimate.”

“I can’t have friends now?” Emma snarked.

“Emma.” Her father warned.

“She’s the mayor’s daughter, I thought you wanted me to make friends of a higher caliber.” Emma tried.

Snow looked thoughtful, but it was David that spoke again, “The mayor has been involved in some suspicious activity lately.”

“That has nothing to do with Regina.” Emma crossed her arms.

“You wont be seeing her again.” Snow stated.

“That isn’t fair! I’ve done nothing wrong!” Emma stood, knocking the chair she was sitting in to the ground.

“Emma!” David looked scandalized at her outburst.

“What are you going to do? Send me on another retreat?”

“If we have to.” Snow stood as well. “I’m not asking Emma, you need to start putting your future first. The world is cruel and your reputation is important if you want to be sheriff one day.”

Emma scowled, it was the same excuse over and over. David stepped in and hugged her, “we just want you to have your best chance.”

She sighed, she wasn’t going to win the argument, the only thing she’d do is make it worse for herself. Maybe she could find a way to convince her mother to let her see Regina, but it was not the time. She hugged her father back, pretending things were easy like they used to be and she didn’t have to feel like her parents’ love came with a catch.

Chapter Text

“There’s definitely something wrong in her home life.” Regina told them. She hadn’t heard from Emma in several days even though the blonde used to text her everyday. She tried texting herself but got no response. “She was terrified at the idea of her mother finding out where she was, though I don't understand why.”

And she didn't. Regina couldn’t think of a reason Emma wouldn’t be able to spend time with her friends. Cora speculated, “Abuse? I didn’t think the Charmings capable but everyone has their secrets.”

“Many abusers try to isolate their victims, it’s a common tactic.” Rumpelstiltskin added.

“Try reaching out again, maybe she’ll open up about the cause. Baelfire, has she been in contact with you?”

“Yes, we have a date on Sunday. I’ll try to find out what the problem is.” He said with conviction but Regina didn’t think he’d be successful. Emma obviously trusted her more.

~*~*~*~

Neil was confused. Emma never took him to places where they’d see her parent’s friends, but today, they were going to Granny’s, a popular hang out for all the do-gooders in the town. Not that he didn’t hope to get some information on the regulars, but she normally steered clear of this type of environment.

“I don’t know why you need a hot chocolate and a chocolate milkshake.” Neil joked.

“The hot chocolate is for drinking and the shake is for dunking fries.” She replied, matter of factly.

He looked around, “so, why did you want to come here?”

She ignored the question, “you’ve obviously never tried it, here.” She scooped a fry through the shake and held it out to him. “Say ‘ahh.’”

He smiled at her playfulness and ate the fry.

“Emma, can I talk to you?” They looked up to see Ruby standing by the booth.

“Ruby! This is Neil, my boyfriend.” Emma introduced them before looking to Neil, “Ruby and I have been friends for the longest time.”

“Nice to meet you.” Neil said.

“Likewise,” Ruby made a gesture for Emma to follow.

Niel got up under the pretense of using the restroom and hid close enough to hear the two talking.

“You don’t have to do this you know.” Ruby tried.

“I’m not doing anything. I can’t have a meal with my boyfriend?” Emma defended.

“It’s not that and you know it.” Ruby crossed her arms, “I’m trying to help you.”

“That’s not necessary, you’ll only get yourself into trouble. Please just let me handle it.” Emma grabbed her friend’s hands, “I need your support, if my parents think anything is off-”

“OK, I just want you to know that not everyone is alright with this.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Emma hung her head. “Nothing will change.”

Ruby pulled her into a hug. “Why don’t you introduce Neil to Granny. I’ll make sure she calls your mom later to tell you how cute you guys are.”

Emma smiled, “she’d do that?”

“Absolutely, come on.”

Neil hurried back to the booth, “Neil!” Emma came around the corner and pulled him to his feet. They went up to the bar where an older woman was cleaning glasses. “Granny, this is Neil, my boyfriend.”

Granny looked at them, confused. She stole a glance at Ruby who was nodding. “Nice to meet you dear.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” He replied as Emma linked her arm through his.

~*~*~*~

Regina was tired of waiting for Emma to call her back. Regardless of familial obligations, she was worried for her friend. She knocked on the door, not knowing what other options she had but to show up at the blonde’s house.

When the door opened, Regina realized her mistake. Standing in front of her was Snow, smiling, but not in a friendly way. Regina berated herself for not considering she could make Emma’s situation worse.

“Hello! Can I help you?”

“I’m Regina, Emma’s friend.” She cringed, maybe she should’ve lied.

“Regina! Come in!” Snow was way too chipper compared to Emma’s reactions.

Regina was ushered to the small table in the kitchen and had a cup of hot chocolate placed in front of her. It was a little sweet for her tastes but she didn’t want to dig herself into a deeper hole so she continued to sip from it.

“Emma’s in the shower.” Snow stated, “but don’t worry, I’ll keep you company. I’d love to get to know some of Emma’s friends better.” She patted Regina’s shoulder before sitting across from her.

“Thank you for the coco.” Regina didn’t know how else to respond.

“Tell me about yourself Regina, your mother is Mayor Mills, but I don’t really know anything else.”

Regina felt uncomfortable, “I’m not really sure what to say, I like horseback riding and I grow my own apple trees.”

“Do you have a boyfriend? Like Emma?” She said it as a dig but Regina couldn’t understand why.

“I was engaged.” She wished Emma would show up.

“Was? What happened?” Snow reached out to place a hand on her arm and Regina didn’t know how to shake her off without being rude.

“He passed away.” She was ready to just leave.

“How awful! I am so sorry for your loss.”

Before Regina could sink any further into herself Emma rounded the corner in a T-shirt, toweling her hair. She stopped when she noticed Regina sitting with her mother. Her face flushed in embarrassment at her lack of pants, before turning to horror at her mother sitting there with Regina. “What-”

“Emma! Put some clothes on!” Snow stood abruptly.

“I didn’t know we had company!” Emma ran back around the corner and after a few loud thumps, appeared in a pair of sweat pants. “Mom-”

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t telling Regina any embarrassing childhood stories.” Her mother said sweetly.

Emma looked between them, not knowing what to do and Regina wasn’t any better.

“Regina was just telling me about her fiance, how sad.”

Regina cringed and instead focused on how the water from Emma’s hair was coloring her shirt.

“I know a very nice boy! His name is August, he’d be perfect for you.”

“Mom! It’s a little soon for that don’t you think?” Emma slid into the chair next to Regina, which made them both feel a little more secure, like they were united against the onslaught.

“Nevermind that, why don’t you go on a double date! That would be so much fun, the amusement park a few towns over is a popular spot.” She looked at Regina expectantly before turning her gaze to Emma. Emma could tell that chaperoned was the only way she was going to be able to spend time with her friend.

“OK Mom, I’m going to walk Regina out now.” Emma dragged her to the door.

Once they were outside Regina didn’t know what to say, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shown up. You weren’t answering and I thought-”

“No, it’s OK. I’ve- I’ve been really busy, that’s all.” Regina didn’t believe her but nodded anyway. “I’m sorry for my Mom, she’s a little much. If you don’t want to go you don’t have to.”

“I’ll go. I’m not really interested in dating anyone but I miss spending time with you.” She flushed at the way her words sounded. “Anyway, just text me the details, you should get inside before you get sick.” She tried not to notice that Emma wasn’t wearing a bra out in the cold.

Emma nodded, for a moment Regina thought she was going to reach out but instead they parted ways.

Chapter Text

“I don’t know what it is but it can't be that bad if the Charming’s inner circle knows.” Baelfire reported.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the corrupting effect of power.” Cora interjected. “No one wants to be on the wrong side of the sheriff. Not only can he bend the law but public opinion is that he is the epitome of goodness.”

Rumpelstiltskin nodded, “we are running out of time, the Pirates are going to make their move soon. We have a few weeks at most. We need the sheriff to pick the right side in this.”

“We have a double date tomorrow with one of Emma’s childhood friends, perhaps that will shed some light on the situation.” Regina added. She was growing more and more uncomfortable reporting on her friend who was obviously going through something. The naive part of her wondered if they could help once they figure it out, or if it will just be leverage. She didn’t want to leave Emma in that situation.

~*~*~*~

“Buy me some cotton candy.” Emma commanded, leaning into Neil.

“You’re going to throw up if you eat before we go on the roller coasters.” He replied but led the way to a concession stand anyway.

“I have a stomach of steel!” She smiled brightly.

Regina walked awkwardly next to August, the man seemed friendly enough but she didn’t want to send the wrong signals. Even so, she needed to get more information, “Emma seems to be having a good time.”

He gave her a tight smile, “she likes roller coasters, the scarier, the better.”

“And she can satisfy her sweet tooth.” They both laughed. “I was afraid she wouldn’t want to come.”

“Of course she did, you’re here.” His steps stuttered, “I mean, she misses having friends. Ummm-”

She took the opportunity, hoping he’d put his foot even more in his mouth, “why doesn’t she have friends?”

He looked around, “I- it’s just- you should ask her.” He sped off towards the other pair.

Sighing, she followed. Emma was eating her cotton candy, feeding Neil little pieces, when she got there, Emma held out a piece for August and a piece for her. She took it, letting their fingers brush.

She couldn’t help the strange feeling that bubbled up inside her every time she interacted with Emma, maybe it was because she didn’t have many friends herself.

They were all heading towards a ride, Emma having shoved the trash into Neil’s pocket, much to his dismay, when the girl suddenly stopped walking. Regina bumped shoulders with her and tried to see what the problem was.

“What do you want?” August said angrily.

Then Regina saw her, a brunette woman, standing in front of them, staring. “Emma.” She said, trying to look at the blonde behind August.

“You can’t be here!” He practically shouted. Regina looked at Emma, she couldn’t tell what her friend was thinking, but her breaths were coming out shorter with each puff.

“It’s a public place! I can go where I want!” The woman shouted back.

Emma grabbed Regina’s hand, trying to stabilize herself. She never thought she’d run into Lily again.

“That’s not how it works, we have a restraining order. Are you going to walk away or do I have to call the sheriff?”

The woman continued to try and get Emma’s attention, “Emma-”

“Lily,” Emma spoke for the first time and all eyes were on her. Regina could see the way Lily’s gaze lingered on their entwined hands for a moment. “Please go.”

The brunette looked stunned. “You don’t mean that.”

“Get lost!” August shouted, getting in her face, “you’ll only make it worse!”

Lily looked at a loss before turning around and walking away.

“Can we leave?” Emma said softly.

August’s face scrunched up, “do you want to go to Granny’s?”

She looked at him, suddenly too tired to even pretend, “if you think it’ll help.”

He linked arms with her and led the group away, Emma dragging Regina by the hand.

When they were in the car, Regina and Neil shared a look before he spoke, “what was that about?”

“Nothing, just an old friend.” Emma said as she fidgeted in her seat, still grasping Regina’s hand tightly. “We had a falling out and she went a little crazy so we had to get a restraining order.”

And that was the end of the conversation.

~*~*~*~

Even after they had been at Granny’s for an hour Emma didn’t relax. August tried to keep up the conversation for her but she just kept regulating her breathing with deep breaths. She let go of Regina’s hand when they got out of the car but sat close to the other woman.

Regina and Neil glanced at each other nearly as often as August and Ruby did. Finally August said, “I’ll be right back.” and disappeared around the corner.

Regina tried to follow them but felt a tug on her shirt. Emma looked at her, pleading for her to stay so she sat back down and motioned for Neil to go find out what was going on.

“Where’s he going?” Emma asked, Regina was surprised that the blonde was even paying attention.

“The bathroom.” Regina laid a hand on Emma’s thigh. “Are you OK?”

“No.”

When Emma didn’t elaborate Regina tried again, “you know you can tell me anything. I consider you my best friend.”

Emma looked at her for a long time. “I know. You’re my best friend too.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t want to talk about it. Maybe some other time.”

Regina took the hint.

~

Neil was trying to stay out of sight but there wasn’t much room in the small hall. He spotted Ruby and August whispering to each other.

“She showed up there? Is she crazy?” Ruby asked incredulously.

“I don’t know why, it was probably just an accident. She left as soon as Emma asked her to.”

“Is Emma OK?”

“Not really, she hasn’t said much since.”

“Are you going to tell her parents?”

“I don't think so.” August looked conflicted. “I think it’ll do more harm than good. Lily doesn’t deserve to get anymore crap for an accidental encounter and it’ll just make Emma more nervous. Who knows how her parents would react if they heard?”

Ruby nodded, “that’s for the best, if it happens again though-”

“I know.”

Chapter Text

“Perhaps we should get in contact with this woman.” Cora offered.

“From how she was described, she definitely has a bone to pick with the Charmings.” Neil replied.

“Exactly the type of person who would give out information that paints them in a negative light.” Rumpelstiltskin smirked.

“I’ll talk to her.” Neil volunteered.

“Are you sure she’d talk to you after what happened?” Regina asked, even though that was the original plan, she wasn’t keen on everyone getting their hands on Emma’s secrets. She didn’t care about Snow and David but the thought that it could hurt Emma made her chest feel tight.

“You’ll find I can be very persuasive.” He boasted but she scoffed in return.

~*~*~*~

Regina was surprised when Emma showed up at her door. She was glad her parents weren't home to try and gather information. When Emma noticed how stunned Regina was she offered, “I thought we could hang out, watch a movie or something.” She held up a grocery bag, “I brought snacks.”

She could tell Emma was working herself up for something so she waited patiently. About halfway through the movie, Regina got tired of watching Emma try and make herself sick with how quickly she was wolfing down microwave popcorn. “Emma-”

“I’m gay.”

They both held their breath for a moment. “Alright.” Regina wasn’t sure what the big deal was.

Emma laughed, a little hysterical. “That’s how normal people react.” She grasped Regina’s hand so tightly the brunette couldn’t feel her fingers. “But not my parents, no. They need their family to be perfect, for me to be just like them and become sheriff and have babies. We wouldn’t want to lose public support by having a lesbian in the family, as if most of their friends aren’t appalled that they sent me for conversion therapy.”

“What?!” Regina grabbed Emma by the shoulders and turned her so that they faced each other.

“Yeah.” Emma looked a little sheepish, “that’s why I got so freaked out by Mother Superior, she runs the program and I didn’t want her to think we were- you know.”

Everything made so much sense now, Regina couldn’t believe she didn’t see it before, Snow not wanting her to have friends that are girls, her not being interested in Neil, everything. “So Lily-”

“Is my ex-girlfriend. My first real one, I had fooled around before but my parents put an end to that. I dated her in secret for months before my parents found out. Because we were so serious I put up a fight. It didn’t end well. They got her into a lot of trouble on bogus stalking charges.”

“I’m so sorry.” Regina pulled her close. She was surprised Emma was doing so well, her panic attacks had become frequent but now she just seemed relieved.

Emma hugged her back and they sat for a while before she pulled away, “you can’t tell anyone. You have to promise, if my parents knew that I haven’t changed my mind-”

“I promise. You don’t have to worry about me.” Regina smiled, “so. Neil?”

Emma laughed, “is it awful, the way I’m using him?”

“No, I think he deserves it.”

“I thought you said he was a good guy?”

“I lied, he’s a loser.”

~*~*~*~

Emma was apprehensive, the four of them were at the amusement park again. She knew the odds of running into Lily again were insignificant but she still spent a lot of the time looking over her shoulder.

Regina and Neil bickered ahead of them as she walked next to August. “You told her.” He said.

She looked at him, shocked. “You can tell?”

“She doesn’t look confused when she’s looking at you anymore. Though Neil does.”

She scoffed, “I told her. She’s my- best friend.” Emma flushed at her stutter.

He smiled knowingly at her, “I think she feels the same way.”

“No way. She was engaged to a man!”

“You dated tons of guys before you knew, and after.”

“Still.”

“I have an excellent gaydar, thank you. Now that you’ve told her she’s become conscious of how much she stares at you.”

Before she could respond Regina hooked arms with her, “we are going to go get caramel apples, you can make yourselves useful elsewhere.” She steered Emma away.

“Did you win the argument?” Emma joked.

“Always, he’s just too stupid to figure it out.” They laughed.

As they approached the stand, Emma thought she saw Lily out of the corner of her eye. She shook her head, knowing that it was impossible. “Sprinkles or nuts?”

“Emma? Can I talk to you?” Emma spun around and came face to face with Lily. Her brain rebelled at the idea that she was standing right in front of her but her eyes weren’t lying.

“What- Are you following me?”

“No! I work here.” She replied.

Regina felt uncomfortable and she could tell Emma was feeling the same. “Why don’t you text her and she’ll decide whether she wants to talk later.”

The girl turned towards Regina aggressively, “First of all, I don’t have her number. Second, don’t you think her parents will find out and throw me in jail for violating the restraining order?”

“Like you’re doing right now?”

She huffed and turned back to Emma, “you know you don’t have to put up with this, any of it. Between the two of us we have enough money to get out of here.” She reached out to Emma, “I still love you.”

Emma recoiled, bumping into Regina to avoid being touched. Regina started to get angry at the wild assumptions of the other woman. “Stay the fuck away from her.” She got between them.

“Is she your new girlfriend? This bitch?” She got in Regina’s face, so close they were almost touching.

“She’s my friend.” Regina felt weird at the denial but ignored it in favor of keeping her away from Emma.

“Emma, please, just come with me.” She tried to get around Regina but she didn’t budge.

“She doesn’t want you.”

“How would you know?” Lily pushed Regina and she fell to the ground, scraping her hands.

“Regina!” Emma tried to go to her but Lily was standing in the way. Emma didn’t seem willing to confront her ex in order to do anything.

The blonde froze as Lily took her by the arms, “tell me you don't love me.”

Regina held her breath, not knowing why it mattered so much to her. If Emma wanted to runaway with Lily, she should be happy her friend is getting the chance. But part of Regina didn’t want that because she knew it would mean losing her friend forever.

“I loved you. I really did, and if you asked me this a few months ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated.”

Regina felt her body uncoil and got to her feet, pulling the woman away from Emma. Lily seemed to snap out of her stupor. “It’s because of her isn’t it?” She grabbed Regina, “She isn't yours!”

Emma seemed to have found her voice and pulled on Lily’s arm, “let go! It’s not her! Things are too different now!” In the scuffle Lily elbowed Emma in the face. The blonde fell on her butt and put her hands on her now bleeding nose.

“Emma! I didn’t mean to-” She tried to go to the blonde but Regina took action and put herself between them again.

“What the hell is going on?!” Regina breathed a sigh of relief as August and Neil appeared. August took inventory and shouted, “Have you really become a stalker now?”

“No!” Lily tried to defend herself, “I work here! I was just- It was an accident.”

“An accident? Look at her!” He pointed to Emma who was being helped up by Neil. Regina wasn’t sure if she should move yet, keeping herself firmly between the two. “I should have you arrested.”

“You wouldn’t! Emma, tell him!”

When Emma didn’t respond, she screamed, “this is your fault!” Regina didn’t know who she was talking to anymore, “you brainwashed her against me!” She looked at them for a moment longer and realized she wasn’t going to get anywhere, so she rushed away.

“Are you OK?” The three of them crowded Emma.

“I’m fine.” She said, stuffy and with drips of blood coloring her jacket.

“I’ll grab some napkins, let’s get out of here.” Neil spotted the nearest booth.

“I’m going to get that bitch fired.” August said with more venom than Regina thought he had.

“It’s fine, really.” Emma accepted the napkins Neil handed her.

They went back to the car to find it had been hastily keyed. August sighed, “you know I have to tell your parents now.”

She nodded, slumping into her seat. She held Regina’s hand as they sat in the back and the boys called the police.

“Are you really OK?” Regina asked.

“Yeah, it’s nothing. It didn’t even hurt, it’s just so dry out.” She checked and saw that the blood had stopped.

Regina took a napkin and started to clean up the blonde’s face, “Did you consider it? Running away with her?” She wasn’t sure she wanted the answer.

“Sort of. I mean, sometimes, I’d give anything to get away. And I will, when I’ve saved up enough to make it on my own, but I don't love her, not anymore.” She took Regina’s hand to stop the clean up. “Too much has changed for me to love her, and to be honest, she’s a little crazy.” The blonde laughed.

Regina didn’t know why that made her so happy, or maybe she did. What she did know is that she wanted Emma in her life, that if the woman left, she’d have to follow. That she wanted to get away too, from all of the corruption. Before she knew it, she was leaning in, to press their lips together.

It was short and tasted like blood but Regina thought it was the best kiss she ever had. “Emma- I feel-”

“I know.” Emma interrupted before looking at her shyly which Regina thought was ridiculous because she still had dried blood under her nose. “I feel the same way, but my parents-”

“It’s alright.” Regina flushed, “I’m not asking for anything- I just.” She stopped, not knowing what to say.

Emma grabbed her chin and placed another kiss to her lips, “I want nothing more than for you to be my girlfriend, but it can’t happen until I’m ready to leave. I don’t want to ask you to give up everything for me.”

Before Regina could tell Emma that there was nothing without her, that she didn’t want to be her mother’s pawn any more than Emma did, August and Neil got in.

“The police are here, they’ll take statements and then drive everyone home.”

~*~*~*~

Emma sat on the couch, August was telling her parents what had happened so she just stared, gauging their reactions. She could tell they were worried for her safety and angry that their secrets wouldn’t stay away. They were obviously relieved that Lily hadn’t said anything incriminating.

She could tell by the looks her mother kept shooting her that she was wondering whether it would cause a relapse in her behavior. Emma tried to act as calm as possible, she didn’t want to give them a reason to send her away again.

“We’ll take care of it. She’s not going to get away with this.” David said with conviction.

“I knew she was trouble.” Snow sat next to Emma and took her hand. “We will make sure you never have to see her again.

Emma didn't care, Lily was just another painful part of her past. What mattered was Regina, her future. She could put up with anything for the hope that one day they could be together.

“What did she say to you?” Snow asked as David and August continued their conversation.

“Nothing. Just nonsense.” Emma didn’t look her mother in the eye.

“Are you feeling alright?”

“Yeah, it doesn’t hurt, she barely touched me.”

“No, I mean. Should I call Mother Superior? She can stop by for a session.”

At this David and August looked at them. August looked ready to spirit her away himself. She tried not to shiver at the thought of another session. “I’m fine. It didn’t effect me at all. She’s delusional, asking me to run away with her.” As soon as the words left her mouth she regretted it. She knew from her mother’s gasp that she wouldn’t go anywhere alone again.

Before Snow could insist, David stepped in, “Maybe Dr Hopper then.”

“Dr Hopper isn’t qualified for this sort of thing.” Snow retorted.

“He has more credentials than a nun.” Before Snow could be offended he continued, “we have to trust Emma. She knows what to do and punishing her for doing the right thing is not an option. Dr Hopper is a more permanent solution.”

Emma would rather Dr Hopper any day, he was much more reasonable and impartial. “I’ll see Dr Hopper. You can trust me mom.” Though she meant the words, they felt wrong in her mouth.

Snow looked torn, “alright, but if anything changes, he’ll let us know.”

Emma wanted to remind her mother that was illegal but nothing was illegal under the facade of goodness.

Chapter Text

“I’ve gotten into contact with Lily, we’re meeting later this week. She’s been arrested so I’m sure she’ll be happy to do anything to discredit the investigation.” Baelfire updated them.

“Make it sooner, the Pirates have made their move. Several of our warehouses on the edge of town have been hit and the sheriff made it clear that he won’t get involved unless it spills over into the town.” Rumpelstiltskin added. “Is there anything you can do Mayor?”

Cora rolled her eyes, “I’ll see if there is a precedent for it, put a little pressure on the sheriff but it’ll only further his distrust of me.”

“Did Emma say anything after the incident?” Rumpelstiltskin asked Regina.

She hesitated, as much as it was her duty to her family, she felt that she could not betray her love. “Nothing, as far as I can tell, that woman was insane.”

“Yes, but how did her parents react?”

“The usual way, she’s in jail isn’t she?” Regina said sarcastically.

By the way Baelfire was looking at her, she knew he thought there was more to it.

~*~*~*~

Neil and Emma sat in her room, watching TV. He could tell she was getting more distant and didn’t know how to fix it. If he lost her before finding out what the big secret was, he would fail his father. He wanted his father to know that he was ready to take a more prominent role in the family business not look incompetent.

He threw an arm over her shoulder and pulled her close, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

“Neil, I’m trying to watch this.” She whined. He picked up the remote and turned the television off. “Hey!”

He turned her towards him and kissed her again, this time on the lips. He didn’t know what he was doing wrong, her response was there but lackluster. She put her arms around his neck but he could tell she was still holding back. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She kissed him with more force, part of her hoped her mother would walk by and notice but her parents didn’t check in nearly as often when she was with a boy.

He pulled her on his lap and pressed their bodies together. He considered himself a lady’s man so the fact that he couldn’t make her swoon irked him.

“My parents are home.” She pulled back.

“We’ll be quiet.” He bit her neck and thrust up against her.

She startled and fell backwards onto the floor. He chuckled, “are you OK?”

She didn’t know what to do, this was normally the point in which she’d break up with her boyfriends but her parents were so worried about her lately that she didn’t know if they’d take her breaking up with Neil as a sign. “Yeah,” she stood up and brushed imaginary dirt off her pants. “it’s just a little soon for that don’t you think?”

“No.” They’d been dating for a while, this was probably the longest he’s dated someone without at least going to second base.

She flushed, “well I do, so let’s just watch TV.” She turned it back on and sat next to him.

“Emma. Do you really want to be with me?”

“Is that some kind of ploy to get sex?” She snapped.

“No.” Though he probably had used that line before. “I mean, you’ve been distant lately and I need to know if I’m wasting my time.” He didn’t want to take the chance on an ultimatum but they didn’t have time with the Pirates destroying their inventory.

She sighed, it wasn’t fair to string him along. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore. I can’t give you what you deserve.”

He was shocked, “I thought everything was fine.”

“That’s the problem!”

“Well if you opened up more-”

“I don’t owe you that.” She crossed her arms.

“I’m your boyfriend, you owe me some kind of connection.”

“Not anymore.” She opened the door and gestured for him to leave.

“Why are you doing this? We don’t have to have sex right now if you don’t want to.” This was going downhill fast and he didn’t know how to salvage it.

“It’s not that.”

“Then what is it? Is there someone else?” The split second of hesitation confirmed it for him. “There is! Who is he?”

“No one, there isn’t anyone else.”

He walked up to her, “I deserve-”

“No you don’t! Get out!”

He was going to argue more but the sheriff rounded the corner looking concerned at all the yelling.

“Fine, your loss.” He stormed out.

“What happened?” David was confused, he noticed his wife come too and hoped it wouldn’t turn into another argument.

“I broke up with Neil.” She tried not to look at the horrified face her mother was making. “All he wanted was sex, he’s not worth my time.”

That seemed to sooth them a bit. “I’m sorry honey, boys suck.” Her mother hugged her. “We’ll find you someone nice, husband material.”

~*~*~*~

Baelfire was fuming, he didn’t want to go back home empty handed so he found himself at the sheriff’s station where he knew Lily was waiting to be transferred to the county jail.

Luckily, the sheriff was at home and it was easy to convince the small blonde woman to let him see Lily.

She looked pissed and he knew he could use that to his advantage. “Hello Lily.”

She stalked her cage, “what do you want?”

“I want to know why you’re in here.”

She scoffed, “harassment, destruction of property, violating my restraining order, you name it.”

“The sheriff seems to have a vendetta against you.”

“Of course he does, I corrupted his precious little girl.”

“How so?”

She eyed him warily, she still wondered if she’d be able to get Emma back and spilling her secrets was the wrong thing to do. “Aren’t you her boyfriend? Why are you trying to dig up dirt?”

“We’re not together anymore, there’s someone else.”

She brightened, “did she say who?”

“No.” Did she know?

“Has she said anything about me?”

“No,” He knew how to turn her to his side, she obviously still cared what Emma thought. “She said you were a delusional stalker and proved it by keying her car.”

A storm brewed on the brunette’s face, “I bet it’s that bitch she was with.”

“Bitch? Regina? You’re joking.”

“I knew she wasn't reformed.” She said sarcastically.

“Wait. You’re telling me that Emma’s banging Regina?”

Chapter Text

“I expect for everything to come out into the open by the end of the day.” Baelfire said smugly.

Regina tensed up, “I thought she broke up with you.”

“She did.” He wasn't even trying to suppress his smirk. “But I know her secret and I’ve made sure that she won’t be in that house much longer.”

“Why is that?” Rumpelstiltskin leaned in.

“She’s going to take refuge with her lover.” His eyes didn’t leave Regina’s and she felt her stomach churn.

“Lover?” Cora scoffed.

“Yes, I’m surprised Regina didn’t tell you.” They all looked to her. “Emma is a lesbian and I’ve informed her bigoted parents about their tryst.”

Cora gaped at her daughter. “Regina?”

“You’re sick.” She spat at him. “You know how scared she was and you outed her anyway.”

“Unlike you, I don’t let my feelings dictate my actions.”

“Regina?” Her mother said more forcefully. “You knew all along and you didn’t say anything?”

She tried not to cower. “unlike you, I don’t ruin innocent people’s lives because I got rejected.” She snarled at him.

“It doesn’t matter.” Rumpelstiltskin interrupted. “Emma soon wont have a choice but to seek our help and once she does, the sheriff will have to choose our side.”

~*~*~*~

Emma knew as soon as she walked through the door that something was wrong. Her mother was sitting at the table with two cups of hot chocolate and her father squirmed by the door. She sat across from her mother and accepted a cup.

Snow was smiling at her daughter, but Emma could tell it was strained. She looked at her father for answers but he wouldn’t meet her eye. She felt a weight in her chest and wondered what the problem was today.

“Is there something you want to share Emma?” Snow asked, in a sickly sweet voice Emma knew was reserved for her bigger fuck ups.

She sipped her coco. “No?”

“Was that a question?”

“No.” Emma knew she didn’t do anything wrong. Whatever her mother thought, she was wrong.

“Neil stopped by.”

“I already told you we broke up.” Emma shifted in her seat and tried to catch her father’s eye again but he had taken up staring at the floor.

“But you weren’t entirely truthful about why.”

“I told you the truth. He was a pig, you’re always saying men only care about one thing.”

“That’s not what he said.”

“And you believe him over me?” Emma crossed her arms.

“That’s not-” David tried to interject.

“You’ve given us no reason to trust your word.” Snow responded.

“So what have I done now?”

“Why don’t you tell me about your relationship with Regina?”

Emma froze, “I told you we were just friends!”

“But you love her?”

“What does it matter? I told her we couldn’t be together!” Emma stood, knocking her chair over.

“But you do have feelings for her! And she has feelings for you too! Yet you continued to spend time with her!”

“Nothing was going to happen!”

“You should’ve told us! We could’ve stopped this before it got out of hand.” Snow stood as well.

“Nothing is out of hand.”

“The fact that you think that just proves my point.” Snow circled around the table and David shuffled forward to place himself between the two. “I’ve already called Mother Superior, she’ll be by soon so pack a bag.”

Emma recoiled from her parents. “You can’t do that!”

“I am doing what’s best for you!” Snow reached out for her daughter but Emma shook her away.

“You’re doing what’s best for YOU! God forbid your reputation is sullied!”

“Emma-” David tried to interject.

“You can’t send me back there! I won’t go!” She backed up to the door.

“Don’t be dramatic Emma.” Snow rolled her eyes.

Emma’s breaths came in shorter and shorter bursts. She had worked so hard and it meant nothing to them. She had to get away.

David noticed a second before she moved, but by the time he reached her, she was already out the door.

~*~*~*~

Even though Regina was waiting for the knock, she hoped with all her heart Emma wouldn’t show up at her door. That she worked things out with her parents and wouldn’t fall into Baelfire’s trap.

When the knock did come she rushed to the door, aware of her mother lingering by the stairs. As soon as the door opened, Emma was in her arms, crying, trying to explain what Regina already knew.

Regina wanted to smack the smirk off of her mother’s face but she just brought Emma inside and got her some tissues.

She didn't want her mother grilling Emma for information while she was still vulnerable so she brought her to her room. “I’m so sorry all this happened.”

“I don’t know how he even found out! I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“You can stay as long as you need.” Regina pulled Emma against her.

“They’ll come for me.” She sniffed. “If I stay here for too long people will talk.”

“It’s alright, you don’t need to figure everything out right now.” Regina couldn't contain her guilt even though she knew it wasn’t her fault. If she hadn’t come into Emma’s life she could’ve continued to pretend. But then again, what kind of life was that?

They cuddled for a while before Emma pulled Regina in for a kiss. “Emma, are you sure?”

Emma kissed her again, “there’s no reason to hold back anymore.”

Regina tried not to feel bad about keeping things from Emma and just focus on the blonde’s lips on her neck.

Emma suddenly straightened up, “what was that?”

“What? It was probably just my parents.”

Emma smiled sheepishly, “Sorry, guess I’m still a little paranoid.”

Regina smiled back but before she could respond, the window behind her shattered and smoke filled the room.

Chapter Text

Emma was pissed. She needed a shower, her hair had soot in it and she smelled like smoke. She didn't know exactly what was going on but sitting at a table with infamous crime lord, Rumpelstiltskin, was not was she had in mind for the day.

The only thing that made her feel better was that Neil, or rather, Baelfire, was currently nursing a broken nose. She smiled to herself but let it fall when she caught Regina sneaking a guilty look at her again. She sat in the corner of the cold room, it was a warehouse that didn’t look suitable for living but it seemed like she wasn’t the only one who didn’t have anywhere to go anymore.

“I didn’t expect the pirates to attack my home!” Cora somehow managed to look put together despite the stains on her clothes.

“No one expected such a bold move.” Rumpelstiltskin replied, “but we still have a card to play.”

They all looked at Emma and she laughed bitterly, “I don’t have any cards.”

“You’re parents don't want everyone to know about you indiscretions.”

“Fuck you.” She stormed away and Regina got up from her seat to follow. “I need a shower! Why isn’t there a shower here?”

“There’s a hose.” Emma did not appreciate her joke.

“I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

“Emma, I’m so sorry.”

“For what? Lying? Or getting caught?”

“Lying.” Regina looked down at her feet, she wasn’t even wearing shoes. “I never meant-”

“For what?” Emma crossed her arms.

“I wasn’t even supposed to talk to you. I thought that I could keep it separate, I don’t even want to be a part of this.”

“What do you regret?”

“Hurting you, getting you involved in this mess.”

“I was already involved, but I didn’t need you and you’re-” She made a sweeping gesture, “making it worse!”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“That isn’t good enough! You led me on! I gave up everything because of you!”

“That’s not true! I love you!”

Emma gaped at her. “You do?”

“Of course I do! Do I look like an idiot? Anyone who spends five minutes with you would fall in love.”

“Oh.” Emma flushed. “I love you too.”

Regina sputtered. “Good.”

“Good.”

They collided, panting into each other’s mouths. “I’m still mad.” Emma said as she caught her breath.

“I’ll make it up to you.” Regina smirked. She licked Emma’s neck but spat at the dirt she got in her mouth.

They both laughed, “I really need a shower.”

“I’ll hose you down if you want.”

“You wish.”

Before they could kiss again Baelfire burst in, “we have a problem.”

“Seriously? Do you want me to hit you again?” Emma stepped towards him.

He scuffled back, “the cops are here.”

~*~*~*~

David and Snow sat across from Cora and Henry in the interrogation room. Snow leaned forward, “you’re going down for gang activity. Maybe shacking up with your partner wasn’t the brightest idea.”

“You have no proof of anything, my being in the same room as Rumpelstiltskin isn’t exactly evidence of a crime.”

“We’ll see what a jury has to say.”

“We will. However, we are done speaking with you. We will wait for our lawyer and will not be negotiating with you any longer.” When Snow scoffed Cora continued, “Not only are you biased against us, but we don’t make deals with child abusers.”

Snow burst out of her seat, “How dare you!”

David pulled her back down, “That’s a serious accusation.”

Cora raised a brow, “Maybe I should be dealing with you, I seem to have more leverage than I previously thought.”

“Is that a threat?” David clenched his jaw.

Snow couldn't hold her tongue anymore, “we have only ever done the best for our daughter! You should be ashamed bringing yours up the way you did!”

“I don’t see anything wrong with Regina, I’m not a bigot.”

“That’s it!” Snow slammed her hands on the table.

“Speaking of Emma,” Cora wasn’t intimidated by the outburst. “Where is she?”

When David didn’t speak up, Snow answered “Don’t worry about her! Worry about your own daughter! Corrupting other children! And in jail! You have no right to lecture me on parenting.”

“Regina is an adult.” Henry spoke up for the first time. “She makes her own decisions and we respect them. You have nothing to hold her on but your own prejudice.”

~*~*~*~

David was conflicted. He knew that his wife was being unreasonable but he didn’t know how to help his daughter. He knew the world was tough for people like Emma, he wanted his daughter to have only the best in life and take advantage of every opportunity. But there did come a point where a parent is no longer responsible for their child’s actions. He didn’t care about his reputation, his work spoke for itself, but Emma was just starting. He wanted her to have the chance to shine.

It was with self-doubt that he sat in the interrogation room with Regina. “Should me lawyer be here?”

He tried to be reassuring, “No, we won’t be discussing the investigation.”

“What will we be discussing?”

“I was hoping to talk about Emma.”

Regina sat up, “is she alright?”

“I was hoping to find out from you.” He fidgeted, “I really only have one question: how do you feel about my daughter?”

“I love her.” Regina replied earnestly, “if she wanted to leave town today I would, I’d start my life over just to stay by her side. She is everything to me.”

“Aren’t you worried about how difficult it will be?”

“The only thing that’s difficult is being separated from her, the rest is easy. Other people’s problems don’t effect me, only Emma’s happiness does.”

He studied her for a moment before getting up, “let’s go.”

“Go?”

“Yeah, we’ll get your stuff on the way out. I need you to come with me.”

“What about the case?”

“We have nothing on you, we were just keeping you because of Emma.”

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, she followed him.