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Oregon Trail

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When the spell drops them in the middle of a tavern in the 1800's, Regina simply rolls her eyes. "Typical," she mutters, as she yanks Emma away from a mug of foul looking ale that seems to have a caught her eye. "Miss Swan," she hisses, "do you want to get dysentery?"

"Um," Emma shakes her head, "no?"

And Regina rolls her eyes again.

Of course the Charmings have appeared with them. Of course.

At least Henry's there. His enthusiasm for the little boys running around with guns, shooting at cans, is not only completely inappropriate, but also somewhat endearing. That doesn't mean she avoids using her mom voice to corral him.

She has a feeling she'll be doing a lot of corralling, when she realizes they're stuck in a task spell. The only way out is to complete a task, and this one appears to be a real-life version of The Oregon Trail.

"Hey!" Emma exclaims with Regina's realization. "We played that in school sometimes."

Regina simply looks her up and down. "Which is precisely why your education was so...successful." She sniffs, and ignores the narrowing of Emma's eyes.

Once they've figured out what they have to do (and Regina's being generous with the "they"), it's quite clear that they need to buy supplies. Luckily, they are able to trade the jewelry and watches they have for $400, the townspeople impressed by the perfect workmanship. 'God bless machines,' Regina thinks.

Charming wants to save their money, but Regina ignores him. She suspects (rightfully it later turns out, though that's no surprise), that prices will be inflated horribly on the trail. 

She gets more than they need of everything, for she is sure that things will get lost or broken (she glares at Emma as she formulates this thought, before her eyes flit to Henry), or stolen (if Snow can be a bandit, anyone can be a bandit).

They've only been on the trail for a week, Henry rapidly loosing joy over the bouncing wagon, when Emma goes missing.

"Should've put a bell on her," Regina mutters. 

 

April 29, 1848

It takes two days before they "find" Emma, and despite the Charmings' insistence that they always find each other, it is Emma who finds her way back. Muddy, with ripped period-authentic trousers, bloody scrapes on her knees, and face dusty. There are thin tear tracks evident through the dust, and Regina grabs her roughly when she stumbles into the camp.

"Damn it, Emma," she huffs.

Emma looks at her sadly and Regina internally sighs.

She leads the blonde to a tree stump, shooing Emma's parents away because by the look of her quivering lip their presence is overbearing at best.

Regina crouches down, pushing her large skirt out of the way, and gently peels the fabric off Emma's knees. "Are you hurt anywhere else?" she asks without looking up. Still, she somehow senses Emma shaking her head.

Looking around she finds leaves perfect for their calming powers, and gently settles one over each knee. 

Emma hisses, and then sighs in relief, and Regina feels a fluttering hand against her arm before it is dropped. "Thanks, Regina."

Regina nods.

 

June 18, 1848

It is Charming who creates the next problem. 

Typical that he would think it sensible to clamber up a jutting rock to investigate "what lies ahead". As though Regina doesn't have a map, and isn't directing their wagon perfectly.

Regardless, when she sees Charming writhing on the ground, clutching his arm, she groans.

"Why me," she mutters, as she walks off to find Snow.

They don't have time for this. They need to go back to Storybrooke as quickly as possible, god know what the dwarves are up to.

After she's walked in a huff toward a grouping of trees, staring at how tall and green and...well, beautiful...they are, she senses the presence behind her.

"Could we," Emma begins tentatively, before clearing her throat and barreling onward as though she's never been reticent. "We need to stop for a few days. There's no real way to treat a broken arm out her, and the jostling will be painful."

They rest for an extra two days, but that's the only concession that Regina is making for Charming's stupidity.

 

 

July 31, 1848

Snow has been whining for days.

They're all suffering, on meager diets because Regina sometimes wakes up in a cold sweat, awakened by dreams of them dying of starvation.

And she's seen people starve to death before. It isn't pretty.

Of course, speaking of pretty, sweet, pretty, innocent Snow is tired, and so they all have to hear about it.

She's not going to listen to her, she's just not, but that night as she lies under the stars she hears a sniffle.

And she turns in her bedroll to find Emma sitting, knees clutched to her chest, staring up at the stars.

"They're so bright," she whispers. And of course she knows Regina is watching her.

"They are," Regina admits.

"It's just another reminder we're not home, I finally," and Emma's voice chokes, and even though it is dark, Regina knows that she is crying now.

Regina shuffles out of her bedroll, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders because even though it's summer the nights are chilly. She settles herself next to Emma, and though she can't quite explain why, she reaches out a hand and strokes it down Emma's back.

"We're not home," Emma continues roughly, "and I finally had a home. First time ever and now...it's just gone."

Regina shifts slightly behind Emma, and Emma instinctively leans back against her, releasing a tired sigh.

They're all tired.

They rest for four days.

 

 

August 4, 1848

Charming has apparently decided that one broken arm is not good enough.

Regina knows this to be true, because early this morning she discovered him writhing in pain on the ground, moaning loudly.

She stepped over him (delicately of course), and then went to find his wife.

And this, this is why she is not interested in relationships with men. They do things like trip over tiny logs on their way to the latrine and break their arms.

Still, tradition dictates they rest two days. So they rest two days.

Emma smiles at her softly when she announces this, and she is in no way pleased.

 

 

August 9, 1848

"Gotta go," Henry exclaims, leaping off the wagon and rushing into the trees.

"Again?" Emma asks with a wrinkled nose.

Regina is worried, and it must show, because she suddenly feels a hand sliding over hers. 

"Hey, he'll be okay."

"I think," Regina swallows, "I think it's dysentery, and children in this time die of that." 

"He'll be okay." Emma says it so adamantly that Regina almost believes it.

And it's that mantra of Emma's voice in her head that gets her through the terror as Henry grows sicker.

And, when Emma takes the credit three days later when Henry is well again ("Told you so!"), she doesn't say anything to the contrary.

 

 

September 12, 1848

Frankly, she's surprised that Snow hasn't made trouble before this.

The woman is very ill, and Regina wraps a blanket more tightly around her own head to try to block the noise of her grunts (and to try and protect herself from the germs).

She's sent Henry to sleep under the wagon, to keep him away from the illness, but there is only room for him and Emma. So, Regina is stuck in the wagon body with a disgusting-looking Snow, and a pandering Charming.

And that's what's really sickening.

When she sees the red spots on Snow's torso the next morning and groans out, "typhoid," she exits the wagon, keeping a safe distance from Henry and Emma as she explains to them that they cannot enter again for a few days.

"Emma will hunt, I'm sure," she reassures Henry. "There will be food."

"Not exactly my chief concern, Mom," and Henry does a decent job of mimicking her eye roll.

"Well," Regina acquiesces, "I'm sure Snow will recover."

"I'm not--" Henry starts, and when he pauses it appears as though Emma's elbow, not so secretly shoved in his side, is meant to encourage him.

Henry has already wandered off, a bit too close to a meandering buffalo for Regina's liking. 

"Regina," Emma says softly as Regina is preparing to close the wagon flap. "Stay safe."

There's no good response to that, so Regina doesn't give one.

 

 

October 1, 1848

Snow's so thrilled with her "speedy" recovery (Regina would like to point out that she has been complaining off and on for almost a month, making Charming wait on her hand and foot), that she decides to take an early morning jaunt.

So early, that no one else is awake yet.

When it's night fall, and Snow hasn't returned yet, Regina wonders aloud if she's been eaten by a mountain lion.

"Not helpful," Emma mutters, but Regina can see she's not really upset.

By the second day, Charming is frantic, though Regina points out that Emma went missing for two days early on in the trip and returned perfectly fine, and then mentally reminds herself that they also lost their daughter for 28 years, and he seemed a lot less frantic about that.

On the third night, she is awakened by Emma's sobs, and scoots next to the younger woman, undoing her bedroll and encouraging Emma to nestle against her side.

The blonde falls asleep mid-sob, tears dampening Regina's shirt.

Regina stays away for a long time, staring at those too bright stars.

On the fourth night, when Snow has been found safely, sitting on a log off the trail and apparently waiting for Charming to "find her", Regina thinks that all will be quiet.

Instead, she senses Emma beside her, and looks up from her place on the ground to see the former savior shifting nervously. "Come here," she sighs, and Emma gives her a little grin, dropping to the ground and snuggling up against Regina.

And Regina falls asleep to Emma's steady breaths against her neck.

 

 

December 1, 1848

Apparently Snow can't go more than a month without causing trouble. 

Regina is starting to think she's doing this on purpose.

Although it's serious of course, measles in 1848 always will be, Emma and Regina escape the wagon and collapse in laughter after the twelfth time that Snow complains about how itchy "all of her" is.

"All of her?" Emma giggles.

"Yes, even her--" Regina begins, one arm around the giddy blonde.

"Don't!" Emma interrupts, wiggling closer into Regina's hold even as she giggles again. "Ew, that's my mom."

Regina chuckles as well.

As their laughter dies down, she notices they are essentially hugging, but Emma doesn't seem unhappy with the contact. Instead, she feels the blonde nestle her head against Regina's shoulder, a soft deep breath taken.

They rest for five days, and every night Regina wakes midway through to find Emma's arms wrapped around her, the blonde's head resting on her breast.

 

 

December 23, 1848

It is two days before Christmas when the wagon, the oxen exhausted by the snow, pulls up to the end of the map.

"Yay!" Henry leaps up and down, grinning happily. "Just in time for Christmas."

"Well, dear, I'm not entirely sure the spell will work so promptly."

"But, Emma," and Henry pouts.

"What?" Regina spins on her heel glaring at the blonde. "What did you tell him?"

"Just that this was almost over."

"Oh, and was this so horrible?" Regina asks, voice tense. 

"What? Regina, no," Emma reaches out to grab Regina's arm, and it is in that moment that a cloud of smoke surrounds them.

 

December 24, 2014

They reappear in the middle of the dinner, and though it's clear from the holly and twinkling lights decorating the space that they have returned several months later, for some reason they are in normal clothes.

The whole town is staring at them, clearly having gathered for the annual Christmas Eve party.

"There you are love," Hook states, as though he has been waiting for Emma to walk over from her apartment. He grasps hold of her, and Regina watches as Emma's hand slides off her arm, the blonde disappearing into a crowd of joyous townspeople.

She looks around, alone in the diner, stuck apart from the happiness surrounding Emma, Charming, Snow, and Henry.

Regina catches Tinkerbelle's eye, and they nod at each other.

Then she heads out of the diner, walking in a flurry of snow toward her home. It's nice to be back, she reminds herself.

That night, as she lies in her comfortable bed, she brushes a tear off her cheek, missing the warmth of another body wrapped around hers.