It had taken weeks of Regina wilfully avoiding Emma before the blonde could get the other woman to talk to her. Weeks of just not being able to find her, weeks of seeing flashes of a familiar feminine figure turning a corner, and a couple of incidents of coming face to face by accident and Regina bluntly poofing away, face transforming into fury, before Emma could utter a syllable.
The only reason Emma had found her now was because Henry had called, voice low and sad, saying he didn't know what to do. Regina was sick. Choked up with a bug that caused her to sneeze, cough and generally be disgusting. Henry was fed up being the only one to try and look after look after her since Regina refused to allow anyone else in the house. Not that she was letting him do much.
“Ma, you need to come, she needs to be looked after...”
Emma sucked in a slow breath, “Henry, do you really think she wants to see me of all people? God knows I've tried to talk to her.”
“I know, I know, but she's really sick and I'm worried in case she gets worse – I don't know what to do if that happens... you always know what to do Emma,” his voice turned into a whine at the last few words, “She's sneezing all over dinner and looks like she's about to pass out.”
The blonde silently cursed, “Ok, ill be over soon, try and get her into bed. Or something.” Sighing, Emma contemplated the possibility that this was a bad idea. The other woman had made her feelings quite clear upon their return from the past – the hurt and confusion written across those regal features as Robins ragged voice, “Marion” had her turning accusingly towards Emma, “You did this?” The anger shaking that vulnerable voice. Emma's heart had ached for the other woman, it truly did – She had seemed to be getting along very well with Hood – albeit things did seem a bit rushed but she had heard Tink mention fairy dust and soulmates and who was Emma to question these Enchanted Forest rules that she strove to avoid learning about.
Bottom line? Emma cared for Regina, and had done since she first met her. This woman had looked after her son for 10 years, taken him in, given him a loving home and had raised him into the wonderful young man that he was – She had given him everything Emma had never had growing up and everything she wouldn't have been able to give him if she had made a different decision all those years ago.
True, the other woman had driven her up the wall, spiteful words and heated exchanges had sparked the air between them for a long time, but they had gradually grown to trust, and to rely on each other. And Emma couldn't deny that she was attracted to Regina, the woman was a goddess but she had shied away from every pursuing anything like that with Henry's other mother, the risk of rejection, of fucking up this fragile, this very new familial relationship with the other woman was far too high.
She explained where she was going to her parents, both wide eyed with the unsaid statement, “be careful”, both having been on the end of Regina's wrath too many times for this to be anything other than habit. They had all moved forward. Emma truly loved her little unconventional family unit. She was so glad she had changed her mind about going back to New York. Kissing a grumpy Neal's forehead she smiled to her parents and went to jump in the bug. It was time to look at getting a new place though, it had been cramped in the little loft before the baby had arrived and as much as Emma was willingly soaking up all the 'family feels' as Henry dubbed it, a newborn and 3 adults, sometimes a youth as well, did not make for harmonious living when at 3am said newborn had everyone up.
Henry was waiting for her on the porch of 108 Mifflin, his face transforming into the grin that always graced his young face when he saw her. She smiled back and ushered him in out of the cold.
“She's in the kitchen,” he advised before taking himself into the den out of the Regina wrath zone. Emma smirked and rolled her eyes before straightening her self and taking a breath. As soon as she set eyes on the brunettes slumped shoulders standing over the sink, all thoughts of being firm and aloof with the other woman flew from her head.
Regina's back tensed as she heard Emma's uttered greeting, “Hi.” She didn't reply but braced her hands either side of the sink, visibly deflating.
“Miss Swan, what the hell do you think you are doing here? You are most certainly not welcome in this house right now.”
Emma automatically took a step towards towards the other woman, “Henry,” she offered, as though that explained everything.
“Get out, Miss Swan, I do not have the time nor patience to deal with you,” the brunette sighed, head shaking.
“I said go. Leave!” Regina whipped around, eyes flashing. She gestured towards the door to the hallway. “You are not wanted here, you have done enough.”
The blonde stubbornly stood her ground, palms raised in as non threatening a stance as she could muster, used to Regina's anger being directed at her. This time, she wasn't wanting to rile or antagonise the woman further. She took another few steps towards the trembling woman, “Regina, I'm just here to make sure you are OK-”
“Yes, I'm fine Miss Swan, you made sure of that,” spat the other woman, her rage tangible in the space between them.
Emma took a deep breath, willing herself to have the patience needed to not react as she normally would with this fiery woman and took another few steps forward. “I'm leaving these issues at the door, I'm just here to make sure you are not coughing yourself to death or working yourself into an early grave. Henry is worried about you.” Green eyes implored red rimmed brown, “I am worried – not just about what happened, but if you are ill then someone needs to look after you.”
“Why would you do it? What do you care?” Regina voice cracked as she turned away, crossing her arms.
“I care Regina, because in spite of everything that has happened between us, in spite of the way we have treated each other,” Emma took another few steps bringing her just behind the brunette, “we have to be there for each other, and I know that I have caused you hurt - that I will make up to you somehow,” she added hastily, “but ultimately Regina you are part of my family and you need someone.”
“I don't need anyone Miss Swan,” the woman snapped turning around again.
Emma took in Regina's broken appearance, eyes red rimmed, hair dull and messy. Tired. Sad. She looked exhausted and like she was ready to collapse in a heap.
“Nevertheless Regina, here I am, so just shut up and let me look after you.”
An eyebrow quirked at Emma's challenge, brown eyes regarding the sincere woman. “Fine,” came the defeated whisper, eyelids sliding shut and hands coming up to rub temples.
Emma smiled, a small victory. It was a testament to how crappy the other woman must have been feeling for her to have given in so easily. She instinctively reached out to touch the other woman's arm, ignoring the flinch and gently pulled her away from the sink.
“Screw the kitchen stuff for now, lets get you comfy”
Emma ushered the other woman into the den, calling Henry to get some blankets. She directed Regina to sit on the couch and to rest whilst she dealt with the kitchen. Ignoring the comments about burning the house down from both brunettes Emma returned to the other room, intent on finishing whatever it was that Regina had started preparing.
20 minutes later with some burnt pans and a decidedly unpleasant smell in the air Emma gave up.
“I sooo cannot make lasa-” Emma trailed off as she entered the den, eyes landing on the curled up form of Regina on the couch, blankets tucked in. Henry sat on the armchair, observing his mother with interest.
“I've never seen her so peaceful in such a long time Emma,” he voiced quietly, not wanting to wake up the older woman.
“She needs to relax kid, things have been so stressful for the last few months and she's just never let herself switch off,” Emma came further into the room, gazing with wonder at how serene the other woman looked. She tried to ignore the niggling guilt that she was the reason Regina had not been able to switch off – the situation with Hood had clearly hurt her but Emma was surprised considering she thought they had only been seeing each other for a short time. Perhaps there was something to the whole soul mate thing. Emma shook her head to bring herself back to the matter at hand.
“Why don't I take you to Snow and David's for a few days, means you don't have to put up with my cooking and your mom wont be verbally destroying me for letting you eat fruit loops for every meal,” Emma smiled conspiratorially.
“Ok, I know she's In good hands. I just don't wanna get ill, its disgusting!” The blonde laughed gently at her sons reaction.
“Alright, no phlegm for you! Go get your stuff we'll head in a minute,” Emma whipped out her phone as Henry headed upstairs, “Hey Ruby, can you make me some food – ill be by shortly to get it. What? I dunno. Stuff Regina eats. I don't know. Healthy stuff. Shut up. Ok see you soon” She stuffed her phone back in her pocket and eased down beside the sleeping form.
God you are beautiful, Emma's treacherous mind echoed. She rolled her eyes at herself, these unwanted and frankly unneeded thought would not help her right now.
Regina stirred and pulled the blanket in tighter to her chin, gentle huffs of breath escaping. Emma was transfixed. Emma had never seen the other woman without some form of mental armour – she was always sharp witticisms or razor like retorts. She was so... open looking right now, almost childlike. It was breathtaking.
“Ok got everything,” Henry's arrival broke her out of her contemplation.
Emma started at his words and rocked back up to her feet. They left a note and left the sleeping woman.
Emma left Henry with her parents who were more than happy to have him for a few nights – she explained that she had to be there for the other woman and they both agreed that someone should be. She walked up to Grannys smiling, the thought of a grilled cheese was making her mouth water.
Ruby smiled knowingly as she came through the door.
“Shut up and where is my food Rubes,” Emma grinned at her friend.
The waitress raised a hand to her chest in mock offence, “Emma what on earth are you talking about? You are simply playing nurse to the gorgeous yet forbidding woman that you could cut the sexual tension-”
“Ruby!” Emma slapped some notes down on the counter, “Please woman, be quiet!”
Ruby laughed and handed over some bags, enticing aromas emanating from them.
“If she's not well the lasagne will do her some good, she came in looking like death the other day, tell her I said get well soon.” The waitress grinned.
Emma cleared her throat and thanked her friend, threatening her with bodily harm if she was to ever mention what she had been joking about to anyone, before heading back to Regina.
She found her as she had left her, curled up in the corner of the sofa. Emma went to the side of the sleeping woman and crouched down. She instinctively reached out to tuck an errant lock of hair back behind delicate ears, cringing as feelings of affection and adoration came roaring to the forefront of her awareness. Not helpful right now she scolded herself.
“Hey hey, sleeping beauty, time for some food,” Emma placed her hand on the other woman's arm, gently rocking her.
“Funny, Miss Swan,” Regina mumbled, before sighing and opening her eyes.
“Emma, Regina. You should know my name by now,” The blonde joked, attempting to keep the mood between them light. Sleepy brown eyes cast a withering look towards her before a hand grasped her arm and tugged on it to help pull herself up. Emma curved her arm to the brunettes back to help her to stand as the woman rocked unsteadily, “Yeah OK, ill shut up.”
Emma settled Regina into a seat at the dining table before answering the unasked question, “Grannys, I burnt the one you were making.”
Regina nodded once before attacking the lasagne with gusto. Emma stared at the normally restrained woman, eyebrows hiked up as the brunette devoured the dish.
“Ok so someone was hungry, good call on Grannys eh?” Emma attempted to draw the other woman into conversation but all she got was a sneeze and a glare. She decided to keep the one sided conversation going for the time being, talking about Henry, her parents, how they were coping with the new baby. Emma chattered away, scoffing her grilled cheese and then licking her fingers with a sigh of satisfaction.
“Where is Hook?”
Emmas eyes rose to meet Regina's, defiance radiating from the other woman.
“He's... gone. It doesn't matter. We are leaving everything at the door like I said ok?”
Regina narrowed her eyes but didn't say anything more. She sighed and her shoulders slumped forward. “Thank you... for dinner. You didn't have to.”
“My goodness, was that gratitude? From the great Regina M-”
“Don't push it, Miss Swan,” The brunette snarled.
Emma lost her temper, “Regina for fucks sake, I am trying here. I am trying to help you and you are just giving me attitude.”
“Well I didn't ask for it and I certainly don't expect it from you!” The other woman spat.
Emma took a deep breath, preparing herself for some vitriol. She fixed the other woman with a determined look. “Ok, I said I wanted to leave this but you clearly want to talk about it. I am sorry. I am so so sorry Regina. I know I hurt you but you are being ridiculous by-”
“Ridiculous?” The chair Regina had been sitting on flew back as the woman stood up, “For the first time in, gods, forever, I was opening up... to someone... someone had me at the fore of their thoughts.” Emma stood up to try and placate the raging woman, “For the first time in forever, I was able to feel, and have that returned. With no drama! Someone cared about me? Do you know what that feels like Emma? Of course, you have parents who are so sickeningly in love with you, a son who has never felt anything but love for you” Regina was shouting now, tears starting to roll down her cheeks, “Someone caring about me Emma, only me, do you know how long it has been? And once again, that was torn from me by the actions of a child!” She spat the last word before storming out the room, swiping at her eyes.
Emma stood, mouth agape, momentarily stunned. She raced out the room and caught up with the other woman, reaching out for her arm. Regina slapped her arm away, going towards the stairs. Emma tried again, grabbing the brunettes arm and spinning her around 'til they were face to face. The blonde reeled from the impact of Regina's palm against her cheek, the resounding 'smack' echoing in the hallway.
“I'm so sorry Regina, I didn't think of it like that,” Emma whispered, trying to reach for the other woman again.
“Stop apologizing,” Regina sobbed before striking out at the blonde again and again, tears streamed from her eyes as she took out her rage on the other woman before her strength and rage left her as suddenly as it had came on. She gave one last ineffectual swipe at the blonde which was batted away before she collapsed, chest heaving.
Emma gathered the other woman to her as she slumped towards the ground, pulling the other woman's body against hers to support her. She stroked dark hair, and pressed her head against the other woman's before saying quietly, “Ok I will stop, but you know that I didn't mean for this to happen. I didn't want to hurt you. I don't want you to ever hurt Regina. I will try and make this up to you somehow.” She felt Regina's head nod listlessly as the woman's legs buckled once again. Emma turned her gently and bent down to sweep an arm under the brunettes legs and hefted her up into her arms. “Bedtime.” She uttered before ascending the steps, precious bundle cradled to her chest.
Regina was asleep as soon as Emma had laid her down and untangled the other woman's arms that had wound their way around her neck. She shuffled the duvet out from under Regina and pulled it up over her slight form, pulling it right up until it brushed brown locks and brushed her hand against the brunettes forehead. Emma frowned as she felt the other woman was really very warm but didn't have a clue where Regina kept something like a thermometer. She opened a window gently and tugged the sheets down a bit to cool the other woman.
Jobs done, Emma rocked on her feet for a moment indecisively before climbing onto the bed beside the sleeping woman and kicking her shoes off. She sat for a while on her phone, making sure the other woman was still breathing easily. Sure Emma that's why you are overstaying your welcome in her inner sanctum. Inner sanctum? Sometimes Emma wanted to shoot her voices. She settled down on top of the sheets intending on staying for a while to make sure Regina didn't get really sick during the night due to her maybe fever, and promptly fell asleep.