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Olivia was up late, though she shouldn’t be. She should have been in bed hours ago, but her mom was gone for the night, working late on a last-minute photo shoot for her magazine, New York Style . Normally, Olivia would stay with her Aunt Emma (she wasn’t really her aunt, but Olivia always called her that, so that’s what she was), but her Aunt Emma was also working late. Her best friend Henry had gone to Hoboken to stay with his dad for the weekend, which was why she was alone with her babysitter, Ashley, who thought Olivia had gone to sleep hours ago.

Olivia snuck out of her room, tiptoed to the kitchen, and ever so gently, pulled out a step stool. Opening a cabinet, she reached up as far as her nine-year-old frame could stretch, her fingertips reaching until she found the cookies her mom hid high in the back of the top shelf. There was a slight crinkling noise as her fingers wrapped around her prize, and she stilled, listening for the sounds of footsteps on their way to catch her in the act. She let out a breath when no one came, and as quietly as she could she closed the door and placed the stool back into its spot.

She was making her way back to her room when she heard whispered voices from the living room. Curious, she crept along the wall and crouched down, listening to the unmistakable voice of her babysitter and what sounded very much like a boy.

“When’s the kid’s mom supposed to be home?”

Olivia heard sounds of heavy breathing, and she stood slowly, peeking over the chair that blocked her view. Her eyes widened when she looked over the edge, and she ducked back down quickly, making a face. Eww, kissing is so gross, she thought, shaking her head.

Ashley’s breathy voice answered, “Another hour or so.”

More loud breathing and moans from her sitter followed. Olivia covered her mouth to keep from giggling aloud. Ashley would be in so much trouble if Olivia’s mom knew she had a boy over and was doing that . Picking up her fallen bag of cookies, Olivia began to get up from the floor when the boy’s voice said, “Where’s the kid’s dad?”

Olivia stopped, her mouth tipped down into a frown as she listened for her babysitter’s reply. Why would he ask that? Olivia wondered.

“She doesn’t have one.”

Olivia’s brows rose up and up, her frown turned into a scowl of indignation. That isn’t true, the little girl wanted to stand and insist, but she didn’t want to get caught for being up so late. Her mom had told her she had a daddy; he just wasn’t here right now.

The boy must have been just as confused by Ashley’s answer as Olivia was because he asked, “What?”

She heard Ashley sigh before she said, “Her mom did that in-vitro thing.”

“Like a donor baby?”

“Yeah.”

More silence and more sounds of kissing and then his voice was asking, “What, are she and Emma…”

“What? No!” Olivia heard Ashley hit him, and then his laugh followed. “God, Sean.”

“What, sorry, I just thought…”

“Well, it’s not what you thought. Regina and Emma are straight, and the kid has a dad she’ll never meet. End of story.” Ashley then said, in a voice Olivia had never heard her use before, “Now do you want talk about Olivia’s donor daddy, or do you want to make out?”

Olivia listened for a few more minutes, but hearing nothing other than their kissing, she grabbed the cookies and made her way back to her room, where she dropped the bag onto her bedside table. She was no longer in the mood for cookies or even the book her momma had just bought for her, Breadcrumbs . Her late-night plan to read and eat cookies was dashed. All thoughts about witches, frozen hearts, and magic were gone from her mind, leaving the little girl with nothing but sadness and doubt. Shutting off her bedside lamp, she pulled the covers up to her chin. She went to sleep that night not understanding exactly what it was she’d heard, but she promised herself that tomorrow, she’d find out exactly what Ashley had been talking about.


The following morning Olivia woke to the sound of rain on her windows and Stevie Nicks playing on the radio out in the living room. It was Sunday. A day usually reserved for her and her mother. A day when Emma slept in late, and Henry was almost always away with his dad until dinner time. Sometimes she and her momma would spend the day doing what her momma called “organizing” when Olivia knew what it really was. Cleaning. Sometimes they went out for breakfast and would “shop till they dropped” as her Aunt Emma would say when they came home with sore feet, their hands full of shopping bags. Then there were rainy days like this one, when they would stay in their pajamas all day watching movies or playing games. Olivia yawned and sat up, rubbing her eyes as she glanced out the window covered by her sheer pink curtains at the rain. Droplets of moisture were hitting the window, gathering, and running down in fast steady rivulets.

She bit her lip. She wanted to go tell her momma what she’d overheard the night before, wanted her to hold her and tell her what Ashley said wasn’t true so she could go back to how it was before. Unfortunately for Olivia, hearing that she did have a dad out there, but that she would never ever meet him, filled her with a sense of loss she didn’t understand. Why could she never meet him? Did he not want her? What did a donor daddy mean? All these thoughts raced through her mind, confusing her, and making her want answers.

Olivia jumped at the sound of her bedroom door opening. Her mother’s face peeked in, and when Olivia turned to greet her, she opened the door fully, a wide smile on her face.

“You’re awake, good.” Her mom made her way over and leaned down to kiss her head before combing her fingers through Olivia’s long dark hair, which had pulled into tangles as she slept. “I thought you were going to be in bed all day. I was just about to come wake you up.”

“I was just so sleepy.”

“Mm, you didn’t stay up late again, did you?”

Olivia’s eyes widened for a second, then she looked out toward the living room before her eyes settled back up on her momma’s, which were gazing back at her knowingly.

Olivia’s voice was still sleepy when she quietly admitted, “Not too late.” This was true as far as she was concerned, as she planned to be up much later than she had.

“I figured as much. Are you hungry?”

Olivia nodded through another yawn.

Her mother chuckled. “Come on, sleepy head. Let’s go make some hot cocoa and cinnamon toast, and while I catch up on some work, you can practice a bit.”

“Aw, but Momma, you never work on Sundays.”

“I know, this week has busier than usual for me, but I promise next week will be back to normal.” Her mother sat down next to her, brushed away the hair that had fallen over her face, and gently placed her forehead against Olivia’s. “Just you and me next weekend. Okay?”

Olivia blew out a breath in resignation, but gave her mom a small smile.


Regina hated working on the weekends. She didn’t usually, unless she was doing a project of her own, she wouldn’t be parked in front of her computer going over which frame of which picture she needed to choose. Saturdays were days for Olivia’s homework and cello practice, and Sundays were her days to relax with her daughter before Monday, when Olivia's homework and her job vied for their attention. What they did varied, but their time was always spent together.

The last few weeks had been different, however. She’d been given an unusually heavy workload, as a co-worker had taken some personal time to plan her wedding. Of course, she had been happy to take up the slack; being a single mother in New York City was never cheap, and as a mother of a child with a musical gift, there were certain expenses, and in a city like hers, those expenses were never reasonably priced.

Regina realized her daughter had a special talent when she was only two-years-old. The little girl had picked up a violin in a Mommy and Me playgroup, and amazed her by following along with the teacher. Olivia, just old enough to string together sentences, was able to arrange her tiny fingers and move the bow well enough to play, amidst the inevitable untutored screeching of the strings, several recognizable notes. The instructor had been impressed enough to encourage her into researching some music programs for toddlers. Now here her daughter was, almost seven years later, playing the cello like she’d been born with a bow in her hand.

That was the reason she sat at her desk on a Sunday, a day set aside for her daughter, so that Olivia could receive the very best musical education she could afford, her father’s contribution notwithstanding. She tried not to think about that though, about her parents’ contributions. It had been a point of contention between her and her mother since Olivia had been born.

Her mother had been outraged, completely aghast at her decision to have a child on her own, almost to the point where Cora had threatened to disown her. Her father had come to her apartment a week later and told her that he and her mother would accept her choice, but she knew her mother; there would be a catch. Her father had smiled at her, which confused her, but he assured there was no catch, only that she let them help raise her daughter right.

Ah, there it was. Cora’s control disguised as a warm welcome package.

At first, she refused. She made enough money on her own; she didn’t need their support or their money to raise her child the way they saw fit. However, her father had pleaded with her, told her to give Cora the illusion of control, let her think she had a say for now. He wanted to be a part of his grandchild’s life, and he’d convinced her mother that if the child were raised properly, in the best schools in New York, they could all quietly forget how the child had been brought into the world, keeping her mother’s socialite status from absolute ruin (as her mother would exclaim with great theatrics), and that would be enough.

She had given in then. She gave her father that much, but that was all. Olivia did go to the best school her father’s money could buy. Her mother had her bragging rights, and she refused to give her any more than that.

With a soft sigh, she put the final touches on her last print and sent them off in an email to her editor. Glancing at the time, she smiled to herself. It was only ten past two; they still had plenty of time together. Shutting down her computer, Regina pushed in her chair and set off to the kitchen where she called Olivia in to help her make caramel popcorn and then the two of them cuddled together on the couch and watched Alice in Wonderland.


Olivia’s eyes glanced away from the page of her book for what must have been the twentieth time in so many minutes. She’d been reading for the last half an hour, while her mother started dinner, anxiously waiting for Henry to return. Most Sunday’s his dad dropped him off in the afternoon, but Emma had gone to get him this time, and it was taking forever!

Finally, the sound of keys had her sitting bolt upright.

The door to the loft opened to reveal a haggard-looking Emma and a smiling Henry back from a weekend at his father’s.

“Hey Aunt Regina, hey Olivia,” eleven-year-old Henry called out, as he and Emma walked into the apartment.

“Henry!” Olivia bounded off the couch, her book falling to the floor with a thunk, left forgotten behind her as she ran up to meet him on the way to his room.


Regina had just sat down, about to take a drink of her tea, but lowered the cup and watched her daughter bolt across the apartment in amusement. Raising an eyebrow, she asked, “Olivia Harper, what has gotten into you today?”

“I’m just excited to show Henry…” The little girl’s lips pressed together, and her brows rose as she waited. A moment passed, and Olivia let out a small laugh, and blurted, “Just… something.”

“What?” Henry asked.

With a jerk of her head, Olivia replied, “It’s in my room.”

Henry shrugged but followed. “Okay.”

Olivia began to dart off towards her room with Henry trailing behind her.

“Olivia,” she called before her daughter could get too far away.

“Yes?”

“Are you forgetting something?” She lowered her eyes to the fallen book on the floor, and Olivia sighed dramatically, then sprinted across the room and picked up her book before she took off running back down the hall.

Emma dodged Olivia, and with a chuckle and a toss of her head in the direction of the kids, she asked, “What’s all that about?”

She narrowed her eyes, suspicious of anything that made Olivia jumpy, and today that’s what she’d been. She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I have no idea.”

Emma sat down heavily into Olivia’s vacant seat, letting out a long exhale.

She chuckled. “Tired?”

Emma’s booted feet lifted on the coffee table and she sank further into the cushions until she noticed her pointed look, and with a sigh, removed each foot.

“Exhausted,” she began with a groan as she leaned forward to remove her boots. “I was out half the night last night, and then Neal called and asked me to pick up Henry today.”

Regina let the book she had been reading fall to her lap. “Why couldn’t he just drop him off?”

“He’s got to go up to Newark for a job. I took pity on the man.”

“You’re a better ex-wife than I would be. My pity doesn’t extend to New Jersey.”

Emma chuckled, and teased, “Maybe that’s why you’re still single?”

“Ha!” She looked at Emma in mild disbelief. “Because I refuse to cross the Hudson?”

“Because your standards are too high.”

Regina rolled her eyes at that. If you called not wanting to date every man who had tried to hit on you high standards, well, that was just fine with her. She was a mother first, and as far as she was concerned she didn’t need a man. She’d watched Emma’s marriage disintegrate, followed by a string of dating disasters. Not that she minded her roommate having a life; she just wasn’t interested in it herself. Picking up her book from her lap, she returned, “That’s rich coming from the recently divorced.”

“Just calling it like I see it.” Emma closed her eyes, and tilted her head back into the cushions of the couch. “What do you want to do for dinner?”

She turned the page of the book, and replied, “I’ve got a roast already in.”

“You know, one of these days I’m going to cook,” Emma told her.

She looked at her with one eyebrow raised. “Don’t threaten me, Miss Swan.”

Emma barked a laugh and tossed a pillow blindly in Regina’s direction. She caught it easily and used it to prop her book in her lap. The day Emma cooked something other than reheated takeaway was the day she took her and the kids out for pizza.


 

After nearly frog marching her friend down the hall and into her room, Olivia glanced over Henry’s shoulder one more time to make sure no one could overhear them.

Henry eyed her with mild interest. “What do you have to show me?”

Olivia lowered her voice to nearly a whisper as if her voice would carry down the hall and out into the living room. “Nothing.”

“Okaaay,” Henry said, waiting with a furrowed brow until Olivia took a deep breath and moved closer to him.

Swallowing, Olivia went on, “I need your help. I heard Ashley talking to her boyfriend last night and she told him that I don't have a dad.”

Looking even more confused, he replied, “But everyone has a dad. Yours is just-”

“Not here, I know .” She sighed with a bit of her own mother’s exasperation. “That’s what Momma tells me. That she’ll tell me about him when I’m older, but Ashley told that boy that my mom had something called an in-vitro... something.”

The crease between Henry’s brows deepened even more if that were possible. “A what?”

“I tried to get on Momma’s iPad to look it up myself but it’s locked, and I can’t ask her what Ashley was talking about.”

“Why not?”

Olivia sat down heavily on her bed, gave a half-hearted shrug. “Because I don’t know what it means, not really.” Olivia gazed up at Henry, and with hope in her voice, asked, “Do you?”

“No.” Henry shook his head, and Olivia frowned, but then a smile pulled his lips up, and his eyes grew wide, adding, “But I know a way we can find out.”

Olivia stood, her heart picking up its pace. “How?”

It was Henry’s turn to lower his voice when he told her with a bit of smugness, “My dad gave me my own tablet this weekend. My mom doesn’t know about it yet. I’m sure we can look it up online.”

“Where is it?”

“Out in my backpack.” Henry held his hands out and told her, “Stay here, I’ll go get it.”

Olivia nodded and sat back down on her bed trying with great difficulty not to get her hopes up just yet.


Regina looked up from her book to see Henry come back out into the room, sans her daughter. She raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment when the boy took his bag from beside the entry table and then walked back in the direction he came.

Emma must have noticed her preoccupation because she sat up on the couch and turned in the direction of her son. “Hey kid, what are you two up to?”

Henry paused, turned around, and sounding slightly offended replied, “Why do you always think we’re up to something?”

“Because you generally are.”

Henry sent his mother a feigned cry of disbelief, and then said, “Olivia found a Harry Potter game she thinks she can beat me at. I’m just gonna play a couple rounds with her before I start my reading assignment.”

“Okay, well, go easy on her. She hasn’t read them all backward and forwards like you have.”

“I will,” he called from over his shoulder.

Regina and Emma’s eyes met knowingly. Having grown up together, Olivia and Henry had an almost sibling connection, and that relationship developed even more so when Emma and Henry moved in three years ago. Like any brother and sister, Olivia and Henry got along extremely well, they also had their moments of disagreement. Sure, there was laughter and fun, but there were also tears and hurt feelings. Unfortunately for both children, they inherited their mother's competitive spirits, and though both children were taught win or lose they needed to be good sports, sometimes it just didn’t work out that way.

Regina just hoped it wasn’t going to be one of those times.


Olivia breathed a sigh of relief when Henry came back into the room. He pulled out his tablet, and smiled widely at Olivia. “We’re going to find your dad. What was that thing called again?”

Once Olivia told him the correct word, which she remembered while Henry was getting his tablet, he pulled up the browser and typed it in. After a moment, Henry’s eyes went wide, and then he scrunched his nose, a noise of disgust following shortly. He shook his head, and Olivia watched as he tapped on a few other links, reading over the information he found with each. Minutes passed, and then finally he turned to her. “Okay, first, so gross.”

Olivia blinked at him. “What is?”

“Well, let me ask you this: you know how babies are made, right?”

Olivia sat up straight, crossed her arms in front of her and said rather indignantly, “Yes.”

“Okay so, it’s like that, only your dad gave his part to a bank that then put it in a fridge, and then gave it to your mom.”

Olivia’s brows knitted together, and she frowned. “I was made in the fridge?”

Henry rolled his eyes. “Don’t you remember how they made the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s just like that, but without the eggs. Don’t worry; it says here that lots of kids are born this way. I think I can find him.”

Her expression changed from a perplexed gaze to an uncertain wonder. “Find him?”

“Well, yeah.” Henry’s head tilted. “Don’t you want to meet him?”

Olivia thought for a moment on that. Would she like to meet her dad? The answer was such a simple one that her mind screamed instantly, yes! Olivia would love to have a dad like Henry had, but what if he didn’t want her? What would her mom say if Olivia wanted to find him? Would her mom be upset with her? Would it make her feel bad? “I do want to meet him. I’d love to have a daddy, but...”

“But what?” Henry asked.

Olivia’s voice was as small, and uncertain as she felt. “How do I ask my mom?”

“We don’t have to tell her right away.”

Olivia looked up. She knew Henry was smart but they were just kids. “Then how do we find him?”

Henry chuckled. “If I know one thing from having a mom like mine is that if you know the right people and where to look, you can find anybody.”


They tiptoed out of Olivia’s room, peering back into the living room where their mothers were in a lengthy discussion, and quietly let themselves into her mother's bedroom. Once they were in, Henry directed Olivia to start looking around.

“What are we looking for?”

“Anything that might help us with our search? Your mom probably kept the records from the place she got you and your hospital records.”

In a quiet hiss, Olivia replied, “How do you know all this stuff?”

Henry shrugged. “My mom, mostly and movies.”

Olivia stepped away from the nightstand she’d been about to open. “I don’t know about this. If my mom catches us...”

Henry sighed and began to shift through some books on her momma’s bookshelf. “Look, on a search like this you’ve got to be sneaky and we’re not going to take anything, we’re just gathering intel.”

“Intel?”

“Intelligence, you know, information. Like in your books when Sabrina and Daphne look for clues. That’s what we’re doing, looking for clues. Now, where would Aunt Regina put important papers?”

Olivia pointed across the room. “She keeps all her stuff in her desk.”

Henry nodded, walking over to the desk where he began opening drawers, shifting around papers and books. Olivia climbed up onto her mother's bed beside the desk and watched Henry with unease, shifting her focus from him to the door. Finally, pushing the bottom drawers shut, he stood and with his hands on his hips he shook his head. “Nah, this is all work stuff.”

“Henry? Olivia?” The door opened, and her mom stepped in. “What are you two doing in here?”

Henry spoke up before Olivia could, “We were just looking for Olivia’s baby book.”

Her momma fixed her gaze on her and regarded her for a moment. “It’s on the bookshelf where it’s always been. Why do you want it?”

Her voice was quiet when she answered, “I just wanted to see it.”

Her mother’s gaze softened. “Sweetie, are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Olivia lied, and for the first time since she and Henry started this operation, felt her stomach twist. Something about what they were doing started to feel very wrong to her.

Her mother walked up to her and placed a hand on her forehead. “You’re not getting sick, are you?”

“Now that I think about it, my stomach isn’t feeling so good.”

“Okay, let’s go get you something for it.” Her mom led her from the room with her arm around her shoulder. Olivia forgot all about Henry and what he might be doing now that he was alone.


Regina spent the rest of the night cuddling with Olivia on the couch, getting her crackers and tea, and just taking the time to baby her. She didn’t get moments like this often these days. It seemed the older she got, the less and less time there was to hold her close without Olivia jumping up a moment later wanting to play. Not that Olivia was not without her moments. There were times when Regina would wake to her little girl snuggled up by her side, having left her room in the middle of the night to sneak into beside her.

And the last time had been a while ago, so she was determined to take advantage of the moment while she could.

It was nearing Olivia’s bedtime, and she had been reading to her for a good hour from her new favorite series, The Sisters Grimm. Olivia was addicted to them the moment Henry had pointed out in Barnes and Noble that they were about fairy tales and magic. Growing up with Henry and his love of books, especially those filled with all things magical, had rubbed off on her daughter.

She noticed Olivia’s eyes had begun fluttering open and closed for the last ten minutes. Finishing up the chapter, she placed the bookmark into Once Upon A Crime and set it on Olivia’s bedside table.  Raising up on her elbow, she brushed the dark hair off her daughter’s brow, and giving her a kiss, whispered, “Goodnight, sweetheart.”

Getting to her feet, she clicked off the overhead light that triggered a night light beside the bed, bathing the room in a soft glow.

“Momma,” Olivia called out, sleepily.

She turned back. “Yes?”

Olivia turned onto her side to face her. “Do you believe in fairytales?”

She took the few steps she had made back to her bed and sat down beside her. “I think every story has a little magic involved. Why do you ask?”

“I sometimes wish we could be a fairytale.”

She laughed lightly. “Like queens, princesses, knights on white horses, and frogs that turn into princes?”

Olivia giggled. “Just like that, only maybe here in New York like in my book.”

“That would make things interesting for sure.” Regina shifted down on the bed a propped her head up on her elbow and asked her daughter, “Who would we be?”

“Well, you would be the queen,” Olivia told her turning on her side like her, and added, “and I’d be a princess.”

“Naturally. And Henry and Emma?”

“Hmm.” Olivia’s eyes shifted up in thought, and after a moment she answered, “I think Emma would be a knight because she’s always chasing bad guys. Henry could be Merlin, like in The Sword and the Stone because he has so many books just like he did.”

Regina grinned down at Olivia, and told her, “Sounds like a great story. Now, my little princess, get some sleep.”

Olivia sighed heavily, and she waited, her daughter looking like there was something else she wanted to say. Finally, she raised her blue eyes to meet hers, and asked, “Momma, in the fairytale, could I have a daddy?”

Regina blinked, and it took her several seconds to find her voice. “A daddy?”

“I don’t have one here, I thought it might be nice. You know, in the story.”

She smiled, but it was forced. “Of course, you can. That’s the great thing about fairy tales; they can be whatever you want them to be.”

“Good, because I'd really like one, even if it’s just for pretend.” Olivia reached over and wrapped her arms around her. “I love you, Momma.”

She closed her eyes, and held her daughter close. “I love you too, baby girl. Get some sleep, okay.”

“Okay,” Olivia replied.


Closing Olivia’s door, Regina flipped off the light in the hall, and made her way out into the living room. Her mind replaying the last few minutes in her head, while her heart ached from the emotional impact left on it from Olivia’s words.

A daddy.

Her daughter wanted a daddy.  

“That was a long story,” Emma observed.

She sat down on the couch next to her roommate and ran her fingers through her hair before letting out a groan. “I think she’s getting to that age.”

Emma glanced at her and did a double take at her expression. With a brow furrowed, she asked, “What age?”

“The asking questions age. Olivia told me she wished her stories were real and then asked if it was okay if she had a daddy in them.”

Emma nodded. “Ah, well, you knew it was bound to happen eventually. I’m surprised she made it this long, to be honest. I had her pinged for asking about daddies the moment she stepped into kindergarten.”

She made a small sound of frustration. “Sure, she’s asked why she doesn’t have a dad like all the other kids, but it’s always been easy to satisfy her questions with vague answers like some kids have two mommies, and some have two daddies, and some have parents in two different places like Henry. Now she’s getting to that age where those answers don’t work anymore.”

“What are you going to tell her?”

Regina rubbed the heels of her hands across her eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t think she’s old enough to really grasp the situation yet. I mean, how do I get her to understand it, Emma? Momma wanted a baby but didn’t have a man available, so she went on down to a special bank, picked out a candidate, and then ordered a batch of baby-making juice?”

Emma snorted a laugh. “Well, not if you put it that, way, Regina. Olivia’s a smart kid. I think you might be surprised.”

“She’s still so young, though.”

“Yeah, but she’s growing up. As much as you hate to admit it, and I personally think the sooner you’re honest with her, the sooner she’ll start accepting the family she does have.”

She shifted to face the blonde. “Do you think she’s unhappy?”

Emma sighed, reached over and gripped Regina’s hand firmly. “No, not like that, but come on, Regina, she sees kids, even Henry, with their dads and all those movies with families, things she’s missing out on. Look, she loves you, she does but think about you and your dad. No offense, but you’re a spoiled daddy’s princess.”

She scoffed.

Emma raised an eyebrow. “You are, and you know it.”

“I will not dignify that with a response.”

“Whatever, Livie is a lot like you. I mean a lot. She’s craving that male influence in her life that she hasn’t yet gotten to experience.”

She bit her lower lip in thought. Emma’s words from earlier that afternoon played through her mind. Maybe her standards were too high? Maybe if she let herself live a little bit, instead of using her daughter as an excuse to avoid a social life, Olivia could have had a father by now. “Maybe I should have made more of an effort to date over the years.”

“I don’t think that’s your answer.”

“Then what?”

Emma looked like whatever she was about to say, Regina didn’t want to hear but barreled on anyway. “Have you ever thought of looking the guy up?”

Her eyes widened. “No, I couldn’t. He’s probably out there with his own family and that would just open a whole ugly can of worms. I mean, hell, Emma, the whole reason most people donate to a sperm bank is the anonymity.”

“I’m not saying you have to meet the guy. I’m just saying look him up, get a picture for her. You don’t have to contact him.”

She pulled at an invisible string on her jeans. “I don’t even know if I can do that.”

“I could take a peek.”

Regina eyed her for a moment before she got up, walked to the kitchen and began to make herself a cup of tea. She could have Emma look. “Could you?”

Emma followed. “I could. Nothing too in depth, but I could get you a picture and a background.”

“A picture?” Her voice hitching up half an octave made Emma’s lips twitch.

“Okay, just a background then.” Emma leaned against the doorway into the kitchen. “That way when Olivia asks about him, you’ll have some answers.”

“No, that’s not it, I…” she trailed off. She was tempted, sorely tempted. Just for her own knowledge. To have an image behind where her daughter got those bright blue eyes, or where those adorable dimples had come from, despite how much of a personal violation to the father it might be. She turned to face Emma, her hands gripping the counter top behind her. “I just don’t know if I want to know, yet.”

Emma looked at her, a look like she was disappointed she wasn’t giving her the green light to find him. “Well, think about it, and if you decided you’re up for it, let me know.”

“I will.”

“Alright, I’m gonna hit the hay.” The blonde stretched her arms up over her head and then out to the side, groaning a bit in what she could only guess was discomfort. “You still gonna get both the kids in the morning?”

Regina turned back to her cup of tea. “Yup, I’ve got them.”

“Thanks. I swear, if I don’t get this guy tomorrow I’m going to charge him my daily rate,” Emma told her before heading to her room.

She chuckled, and replied, “Good luck.”


A few days later, while his Aunt Regina was busy fixing dinner, he and Olivia snuck into his mother’s room intent on furthering their search, and if it came down to it, getting on his mom’s computer and looking up the source she used for people even she couldn’t find.

First, though, they decided to check around the room. His mother was known to keep things, papers mostly from his childhood, his parents’ divorce, and random stuff Henry always wondered why she saved. He told Olivia he had a feeling that maybe his mom would be the one to save stuff for her mom too.

“What do you want me to do?” Olivia asked him.

“This time I want you to be the lookout. Tell me if your mom comes this way.”

Olivia nodded eagerly. “Okay, I can do that.”

“Great.” He dropped down onto his knees and crawled under his mom’s bed. A moment later he was back, with a black box in his hand. “She keeps important stuff in here.”

Olivia watched him nervously while he shuffled through the papers. “Lawyer papers, my birth certificate… Nah, there’s nothing in here.”

Henry pushed the box back under the bed. Sighing and sitting back on his legs he looked around, Olivia eyes followed as his eyes landed on the file cabinet. Walking over to it, he pulled out the top drawer; it made a terrible squeaking sound that caused Olivia’s head to whip down the hall and then back at him with wide startled eyes.

They both froze and waited for a sign her mother had heard them, but nothing came, and he breathed a sigh of relief.

“Be careful,” Olivia warned as he began to open the drawer once again.

“I’m trying,” he whispered back, gingerly opening the drawer in small movements to minimize the sound.

Once it was open, he got a good look at all the files mostly covered in a thick layer of dust, and each marked on with a black Sharpie with names he’d never heard of. All the files in the drawer were the same, old cases his mom had saved for whatever reason. He shut the drawer slowly, and once that was done, he opened the next, which made no sound, and looked through the contents. Nothing. He knelled to open the final drawer and pulled it out, but just as he started to look through it he heard his aunt’s voice from the hall.

“Olivia, Henry, dinner’s ready.”

Ugh, great, he thought.

Quickly his eyes scanned the files, and to his surprise tucked in the back, there was a file that stood out in red Sharpie marked Olivia . Bingo! Henry excitedly reached for it, pulling it out, but in his haste the file got caught on the side of the cabinet, papers falling to the floor, and he scrambled to pick them up. His brows shot up when he saw a picture fall from in between the papers. It was a picture of a man in a suit, walking out of a building. He had short dark blonde hair, and looked, well, kind of like James Bond.

He could hear Olivia’s voice from behind him, telling him they needed to go, that her mom was going to come if they didn’t answer her, but he couldn’t move. Flipping over the picture, Henry saw that in the same red Sharpie the man’s name, Robin Locksley. Looking down around at the other papers, he saw a paper labeled New York Cryobank. Curious, he picked up the paper and there it was. What he’d been looking for. This was him!

His mom had already found him.

He scrambled to his feet and held out the picture to Olivia. “This is him. His name is Robin, he’s your dad.”

Olivia looked down at the picture with complete and total awe.

Chapter Text

The next day, as Olivia got ready for school, a small frown pulled at her little lips. She stayed up late, and every now and then, pulling the photo Henry had found out from under her pillow. Her eyes studied the man in the blue suit, wondering all kinds of things about him. Was he going to work? What did he do? He wore a suit and had a briefcase; did that mean he worked in the city? Had he always been so close to her? Would he want to meet her?

More importantly, did her momma know about him all this time? If she did, why hadn’t she ever shown her his picture or told her his name was Robin? Olivia was confused and well, mad, and she wasn’t quite sure what to do with her new knowledge.

She ate her breakfast, her favorite, sliced bananas on cinnamon toast, while her mom braided her long waist-length hair and chatted with her Aunt Emma. Munching quietly, Olivia didn’t realize her sullen mood had gone noticed until her momma gave her braid a tiny tug once she was finished.

“Hey, you, why are you so quiet today?”

Olivia looked up at her mom and gave a small lift of her shoulders. “I don’t know.”

Henry, who had been eyeing her from across the table, looking back and forth between his mom and hers, was equally as quiet.

Emma got up from the table and looked at her son with amused interest. “What’s your excuse?”

Henry looked over at Olivia with a quick glance, then back up to his mother, his face completely masked with a look of innocence when he replied, “What? I’m fine.”

“Yeah, okay. If you’re done go finish getting ready,” Emma told him, and he was up and off like a shot out of his chair.

Olivia sighed, felt her mother’s hand on her forehead brushing, what her mother called, her “baby hairs” away from her eyes. “Olivia, aren’t you hungry?”

Olivia shook her head, her eyes falling to her half-eaten toast. “Not really.”

Her mother’s brows creased, but gave Olivia a nod. “Alright, go get your things.”

She got up and walked back to her room. Grabbing her backpack, she turned when she heard footsteps behind her, and she tilted her head at Henry’s approach.

“Okay, here’s the plan. I overheard Aunt Regina tell my mom she’s going to drop you off today, so when she does, you need to pretend like you’re going in, but once she’s gone, you need to walk around the corner to the Starbucks right by your school, go in and stay there until I get there.”

“Are you crazy?” Olivia’s high-pitched hiss alerted her mother.

“Olivia, are you almost ready?”

“Yes, Momma.” She glared at Henry and raised her hands in question.

“Don’t worry, I’ve mapped it all out. I know which buses to take, where the stops are, and the times. This will work. As soon as my bus drops me off, I’ll make my way over to you. Just find a seat in the back and wait for me.”

“Okay.”

“Olivia, we need to leave now, you’re going to be late,” her mother’s voice called again.

“Henry, you need to get downstairs before you miss the bus, kid.” Emma was more casual, but there was steel in her words, too. Olivia looked at Henry with wide eyes, and he placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, we can do this. We’ll find him.”


Regina and Olivia took a cab over to the east side of town, where her school sat nestled in the East Village district. Her mom was in a hurry this morning. She mentioned to her Aunt Emma she had been called into work for a meeting. It didn't happen often, only on occasion, and afterward, her mom was usually very busy with work for a couple of weeks. Olivia hoped that was not the case. She missed her mom lately, missed her extra time with her after school and on the weekends.

The sound of car horns, startled her from her thoughts. It was a one-way street, and in the middle a school rush hour, it appeared she and her mom weren’t the only ones running late this morning. The cab pulled up a couple car lengths short of the entrance, double parked and waited. Her mother sent a scowl at the driver before turning to Olivia, sending her out of the cab with a kiss and a promise to pick her up from school.

Olivia gave her mom a quick, tight hug. Knowing what she was about to do, she whispered, I love you, into the crook of her mother's neck, breathed in the smell of her, and pulled back giving her a weak smile.

Once she was out of the cab, she wandered slowly towards the front doors of her school. She stepped up on the bottom step just as her mother turned in her seat and sent her a final wave before blowing her a kiss. Olivia returned the gesture, but once her mother’s cab rounded the corner, she turned on her heel and started walking in the opposite direction. She ignored the odd looks from fellow students she passed along the way, kept her eyes forward and her mind set on getting to the Starbucks Henry told her to go to.

He was right, it wasn’t far, and when she saw the white and green sign, she ran the rest of the way. Pulling open the door, Olivia looked around and spotted an empty table near the window. Taking a seat, she watched the throngs of people milling in and out, getting coffee and pastries, and some parking at tables with their laptop or phones. She tried her best to avoid anyone’s gaze, her eyes often watching out the window for Henry.

Beside her, a noise made her jump. A younger man who roughly pulled out a chair from the table, his plate coming down upon it with a clatter, and his iPhone playing a song so loud in his ears that even Olivia could make out the tune. Her nose scrunched up, much like her mothers did when she was annoyed or disgusted, as the boy next to her was now inhaling his blueberry muffin. She wondered if his mother ever taught him table manners. Even so, the sight of his muffin had Olivia looking away. Her stomach had ached since Henry had surprised her with his plan, but since then, it mostly started to ache when she thought about where they were going, or more specifically, who she was about to meet.

She pulled the picture of her father from the pocket of her black pea coat. Staring down at it, she still couldn’t believe the man in the picture was her dad.

She wasn’t looking out the window when Henry ran past, so she missed him entering.

“Hey, you ready?”

“Oh!” She jumped up from her chair, the movement causing some of her hair to fall from its braid and into her face. She pushed her hair back, and exclaimed, “Yes!”

Henry gave her a nod, and led them outside. “Good, let's go. We have to be at the bus stop in twenty minutes.”

“Okay and that'll take us to his house?” she asked picking up her pace to stay caught up with Henry.

“Not right to his house, no, but that’ll get us close.”

She bit her lip in thought. “How do we know he’ll be there?”

“We don’t.”


Her office was a disaster. A disaster of packed boxes, photos, and more boxes. A week ago, the senior photographer for New York Style, Mulan, got married, and then over the weekend, she and her wife spontaneously decided to move to Hawaii. Senior after Mulan and lead in her field, Regina was called into her editor’s office that morning and promoted on the spot. Regina had never been more shocked in her life. She gladly accepted, of course. The job meant more money, more flexibility, and more time with her daughter because she could now work from home whenever she needed. But to see her friend and colleague go, out of the blue just like that, she’d been floored.

She stood in Mulan’s old office, her office, and let out a long sigh. Hands on her hips, Regina categorized in her mind what needed to be done. She’d been given a few days to settle into her new role, and she appreciated her editor for that. Going from freelance photographer to senior lead was a giant step, but nothing she couldn’t handle. Mulan had been training her for some time now, but she just hadn’t expected it so soon. She thought for sure she might make assistant before taking on any leadership roles, but here she was, and Regina Mills was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

As she began to unpack her belongings, her new assistant, Anna, poked her head in and greeted her with a big bright smile. “Anything I can help with?”

“Thanks, Anna, but I think I’m all set.”

“Oh, okay, well, if you change your mind.”

“Thank you.”

“And I just wanted to say, congratulations. I’m so happy for the opportunity to get to work with you,” she paused, closed her eyes, then restated, “ For you, work for you, I mean. Also, I just love your work and you.” The young redhead’s eyes widened. “Not, not like that. I have a fiancé , not that you’re not great, though. You’re like, crazy beautiful… I just mean…”

Regina chuckled and walked around her desk and over to her new assistant. Taking her by the shoulders, she instructed, “Anna, breathe.”

Anna smiled, embarrassed, and looked down, while her chest rose and fell with a heavy exhale. Anna Arendelle was new to New York Style and had only been with Mulan for three weeks before she left. She’d been recommended to Mulan by Regina after Anna’s sister, Olivia’s principal, had mentioned her sister was looking for an assistant job. Anna and Mulan had gotten along amazingly, and now here she was saddled with a boss who didn’t have much use for assistants.

Regina straightened and looked around the room. What the hell was she going to do with this girl? She supposed she’d have to figure out something, in the meantime, though, she said, “Actually, I would like your help with something. I have some photos down in my old office I haven’t gotten a chance to go down and get. Could you grab those for me and maybe get us a couple coffees?”

“Sure, I can do that. Iced, Irish cream, and cream, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Watching her assistant leave, she smiled, turning back to her organized chaos. At her desk she began to unpack the nearest box when her cell phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID, her stomach dropped. It was Olivia’s school, and the last time they’d called, Olivia had fallen from the monkey bars during recess and came home with a sprained wrist. She swiped it immediately and answered with an apprehensive, “Hello?”

“Hello, Miss Mills?”

Regina closed her eyes. She could sense something was wrong, and tried to prepare herself. “Yes, this is she.”

“Hello, this is Georgia Randell.”

Regina breathed a sigh of relief. The principal's voice was warm and cheerful and contained not a drop of anxiety. “Yes?”

“We didn’t hear from you this morning, so I was just calling to see how Olivia was doing and if she was going to be back in school tomorrow?”

The unease she had felt only seconds ago was back, only now the air left her lungs completely.  She felt her chest tighten as fear she’d never felt before seized her in a vice-like grip. There had to be some mistake. She dropped Olivia off this morning, watched as she walked to the school. No, the teacher had been mistaken, another child perhaps. “I’m sorry, but Olivia is at school. I dropped her off there this morning.”

“Oh,” Ms Randell fumbled; she could hear some shuffling in the background. “That’s strange. Her teacher reported that she was absent.”

She swallowed, her panic threatening to take control of her, and said with as much authority as she could manage. “Well, I want you to check again because I know I dropped her off at the front door.”

Her principal wasted no time and replied, “I’ll check in on her class personally, and call you back right away.”

“Yes, please do.” She hung up the phone, clutching it tightly to her chest, she willed herself her remain calm until she knew something for sure. She pressed a palm to her forehead. Olivia had to be there. She dropped her off, could remember looking back to give her one final wave as she stepped into the line of children going in. Hot tears filled her eyes as the thought, the terrifying thought, filled her mind that someone might have grabbed her baby before she’d gotten inside.

Regina couldn’t wait, she called Emma.

Her tears fell, hot and steadily down her cheeks as she waited, and then Emma’s voice was there. “Hey, I was just about to call you.”

Her head snapped up. “Why? What’s happened?”

“Henry skipped school.” Emma’s voice was angry, and though her roommate concealed it better, she could hear the same concern in her voice. “Someone saw him take off after the bus dropped him off.”

“Oh God.” Regina threw her hand up in the air. “Olivia is missing too, the school just called me.”

“Okay, don’t worry, I’m sure they’re together,” Emma told her. “Meet me back at the apartment, maybe they went back home.”

She nodded and grabbed her purse from the desk. “I’ll be right there.”

She was out the door and in the elevator in record time, her heart pounding in her chest. She tried to tell herself that Olivia was with Henry, she’d be fine. Then her phone rang again.

“Miss Mills,” the principle began.

Regina took a deep breath, finishing for her, said, “She’s not there is she?”

“No, ma’am.” There was a pause. “Do you want us to contact the authorities?”

The police? Oh God, Olivia, where did you go , she thought as the tears came back with renewed force. Forcing herself to choke back a sob wanted to break through; she managed to say, “No, that’s alright. I think we think we know where she is. My roommate's son skipped school and we think she's gone with him .”

“Please let us know if there’s anything we can do.”

Regina wiped the wetness from her face. “Yes, I will. Thank you.”


The cab pulled up in front of their apartment building just as Emma’s yellow Volkswagen came to a screeching halt across the street. Regina waited impatiently for the blonde to cross, shifting her weight from one foot to the other until Emma ran up beside her. They said nothing to each other as they climbed the stairs to the third floor, neither feeling like waiting for the elevator. She had begun to panic in the ride home, wondering to herself why the kids would skip school, only to go home. Surely, they both knew their schools would call her and Emma? Regina had no idea why they would do something like this, and that was what terrified her most.

Emma reached the door first, key already in hand, and it took her no time to unbolt the lock. In her own panic, Emma shoved it open hard enough that it swung back, hitting the entry table with a loud thwack !

Regina followed, called out, “Olivia!” in time with Emma’s, “Henry?”

The apartment was dead quiet. Everything in its place, just as they’d left it that morning.

Still a bit out of breath, Emma gestured to the back of the apartment with a tilt of her chin. “Check around, see if they left something around that might tell us where they’ve gone.”

Regina’s eyes were scanning everything. The kitchen table, counters, the floor of the carpeted hall that led into her room, yet everything was in its place. She rushed down the hall and into Olivia’s room. Tears sprang to her eyes and fell unchecked as she looked around at all her daughter’s things.

Picking up one of her favorite books from the shelf nearest her, she whispered, “Olivia, baby, where are you?”

“Regina!”

Her eyes widened at the sound of her name. Setting the book back down she headed to Emma’s room. “What? What is it?”

Emma was standing in front of her bed, a yellow piece of paper in her hand. She looked up at her and sounded almost apologetic when she told her, “I know where they are. Henry left a note.”

Confused, she demanded, “What does it say?”

Emma took a deep breath, and to Regina, her friend looked like she’d rather do anything than read the note in her hand. “Okay, here goes. Dear Mom and Aunt Regina, we went to Brooklyn to meet Olivia’s dad. Don’t worry, we took the bus and we’ll be careful. See you soon, Henry and Olivia. ’”

Olivia’s dad ? Wait. What? There had to be some mistake. How could they know about him when she didn’t know a thing about him? It made no sense. Unless... “Emma?”

The blonde was kneeling beside her file cabinet, opening it up, and sighing at what she’d found. “Crap, I can’t believe that kid. He’s gone through my things.”

“How do you know?”

Emma looked up at her, pulling a file from the front, and then stood and handed it to her. “Because he found this. The picture is gone and so is the page with his current address.”

She flipped through the pages and could not believe what she was seeing. Robin Locksley. Medical files, financial, criminal, credit, taxes, college transcripts, Manhattan Cryobank Donor Release… what in the world was this? She slapped the folder together, anger bit hard, and gripping the folder in her hand, she accused, “You looked him up?”

Emma had the good grace to look guilty, and good. Regina was pissed. Mightily so. The blonde held up her hands. “Yeah, I know, but I knew you’d want to know eventually, so I had August run a background.”

“Oh, God, Emma, I told you not to!”

Emma grimaced, and said, “Technically, you didn’t say not to, you just said you didn’t want to know.” At her glare, she sighed. “I know, okay. I should have put the folder somewhere else, but God, I didn’t expect the kids to do anything like this!”

“Damn it.” She turned away, wrapping her arms around herself. She closed her eyes and let out a heavy breath. At least you know they’re okay , she thought to herself, and then a small voice of fear added, something could still happen to them on the way there . A single tear escaped, and Regina touched her top lip with the tip of her tongue, before asking, “Do you at least know where they’re going?”

“I do. I have a tracker on Henry’s phone, and I remember the general vicinity of the guy’s place in Park Slope.” Emma started for the door. “Come on, if my car hasn’t been towed, we just might beat the kids there.”


Olivia looked out the large bus window to watch as New York City faded into the background, replaced with the steel and concrete of the Brooklyn Bridge, leading to a city she’d never been to before, at least not that she could ever remember going. Brooklyn. Her eyes took in the city so much like her own but different, and somewhere out there in that unknown place was her daddy.  

She turned to her friend in the seat next to her, who was playing a game on his phone. "Henry, I don't think this was such a good idea."

Not looking away from his game, Henry replied, "Aw, come on, don't freak out on me now."

"Have you been to Brooklyn?" she asked, looking back out the window at the unfamiliar buildings and streets.

Henry shrugged. "I've been there with my mom a few times, and my dad lived there for a while before he moved to New Jersey.” He paused his game and looked over at her. “Trust me, I know where we’re going.

She bit her bottom lip as Henry’s phone began to ring, a picture of her Aunt Emma’s face lit up the screen, to which he hit the big red button, ignoring the call. “That’s the fifth time you’ve ignored Aunt Emma, Henry. You know we are going to be in so much trouble, right? I mean, my mom’s gonna kill me, and your mom’s gonna kill you , and then we’re both gonna be grounded until the end of time !”

Henry rolled his eyes. "I know ."

She looked at him with wide unbelieving eyes. “And that doesn't scare you?"

Henry’s lips turned up into a half smile. "Not really. Knowing my mom, she'll probably take away my video games, maybe ground me for a month, but it’s worth it." He looked over at Olivia, and with a serious tone added, “Now Aunt Regina, on the other hand…”

Olivia groaned and shook her head. Crossing her arms, she sat back in her seat. After a few minutes, she said, "Thank you for helping me."

"We're best friends, and that's what best friends do."

"Do you think he'll like me?"

"Your dad?" He looked away from his game, and at her small nod told her, "Of course he will! Why wouldn't he?"

She shrugged, gave a small sigh then admitted her fears to him. "Maybe he has other kids. Maybe he doesn't want another one. Maybe he doesn’t have any and doesn’t want to be stuck with one."

"If he doesn't like you, he's crazy.” Henry began, but his statement only made her look even more crestfallen, so he backpedaled and added, “But don't worry, he'll like you."

"I hope so."

“He will. I know he will. You have to trust me on this. Look, if you’re scared, I’ll do all the talking.”

Olivia sat up, and looked from her picture then back up to Henry. “Would you?”

“Sure, I mean, look at the guy. Does he seem like the kinda guy that’s mean to kids?”

She studied it, and somehow when she pictured meeting the man in the picture nothing about him scared her. “No, he doesn’t look mean. He looks like he would be nice.”


When the bus dropped them off at their destination just outside of Prospect Park, Henry looked down at the map on his phone and frowned.

Olivia watched him with trepidation. “What is it?”

“We went too far.”

“What do you mean? Are we lost?” she asked, her little voice shooting up a couple octaves.

Henry gave her a look very reminiscent of her Aunt Emma when she was annoyed. “No, we just have to backtrack a little way.”

Olivia’s hands were on her hips, and she demanded, “How far?”

Henry shrugged. “Eight blocks or so. Come on.”

He decided the best way to get to Robin’s house would be to take another bus rather than walk. They crossed the street and walked a block to wait for the B61 bus that would take them to Robin’s neighborhood. Unfortunately, it meant another twenty minutes they would have to wait.

“Don’t you think your mom and my mom will figure out where we’ve gone?”

“Of course, they will.” Henry looked down at his phone. “It’s only eleven. I’m sure the schools have already called them, and I figure we have another couple hours or so before we’re busted.”

Olivia shook her head sadly. “Momma is gonna be so mad at me.”

“Yeah, but she’ll get over it. This is important.”

There was a shuffling noise back behind them. They looked over to see an old man wearing an old dirty pink dress and black overcoat approach the bench near them. With wide eyes, Olivia slid over until she was right up against Henry's side. The man took a seat next to her, and she took a deep breath, looking up at Henry with a look of unease, to which Henry sighed, and getting up motioned for her to move over to where he had been sitting. Thankful, Olivia took her new seat but kept a steady eye on the man at the end of the bench until the bus arrived.

It took them until noon to reach his brownstone, and when they finally did it was only to discover that he was not at home. A woman with long, reddish-brown hair answered the door. Her smile was warm and kind, her accent a bit strange, not one Olivia had ever heard. Despite her warm welcome, she stood back, letting Henry ask for Robin, and when they were told he would still be away for another couple of hours, Olivia’s hopes fell. She was certain her Aunt Emma and her momma would find them by then.

They walked down the street to a diner, Henry had spotted from his seat on the bus, and suggested they get something to eat while they waited. No matter what Henry did, how much he tried to cheer her up, she still couldn’t help but worry.

“Just eat something,” Henry encouraged. “You’ll feel better if you do.”

She shook her head. “I can’t. I don’t feel good.”

Henry sighed but bit heartily into his grilled cheese. “Your loss.”

Just then an older woman with gray hair stepped up to the table and sat two mugs in front of them. “Here you are, one hot chocolate with cinnamon and one hot apple cider.”

Twin, thank you’s, came from both her and Henry.

The old woman’s now free hands went up and perched on her hips. Olivia glanced up and met her scrutinizing appraisal of them behind her small framed glasses, and Olivia sunk down a bit in her seat.

“Where are your parents?” the old woman asked.

Henry swallowed his mouthful of sandwich, and said without missing a beat, “She’s just a few houses down checking out a house for sale. We were hungry, so she dropped us off here until she gets done.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed, but seemed satisfied enough by Henry’s lie she didn’t question it. Only hummed to herself before walking back around the counter.

Olivia breathed a sigh of relief. “What am I going to say to him?”

Henry shot her an exasperated look over his plate, his mouth was full once again. Olivia may have asked the same question a few times now, but with each passing second, she grew more and more nervous.

“What do you mean? I thought you wanted me to talk to him?”

Olivia sat up and pulled her cider towards her. “I do want you to, but I mean after.”

“My guess is he’ll probably ask questions. Just answer him like you would anyone.” She shifted in her seat, her lips pulling back into a frown. “Pretend like he’s not your dad. Like he’s your principal or something.”

Olivia blinked at him. She found it helped, thinking about it that way. She could pretend, like acting in one of her plays at school. She’d done that a lot. Olivia gave Henry a resolute nod. “I can do that.”

Henry grinned.

At half past one, they headed back down the block and around the corner to 9th Street sitting across the road where they could be directly across from his brownstone. She and Henry played a Disney trivia game he downloaded on his tablet until just after two, when a Jeep Cherokee pulled off from the road and in front of number 2463.

Neither of them moved as the man got out of his car, unaware he was being watched and headed up to his door. Olivia swallowed and blinked back tears when the door closed behind him, but she turned to Henry with the biggest, brightest smile.  

“Henry, that was him! That was my dad!”

Henry laughed. “I know .”

“Now what?”

Henry got to his feet. “Now we,” he started, but whatever he was about to say was cut off.

The sound of the door opening once again, pulling them from their conversation as the woman from earlier called out, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

They waited where they were until the woman walked down the street and out of sight.

Then Henry turned to Olivia, and his bottom lip stuck out as he shrugged. “So maybe she’s not his wife?” He looked back across the street, and she followed his line of sight. Her nervousness was coming back to her more than it had before. “Okay, let’s go,” he said.

Olivia only nodded, and when they reached the three steps that led to his door, she paused there, while Henry knocked. Olivia now feeling anxious and shy, twisted her fingers around each other. “Henry, this is a bad idea, we shouldn’t be here. We can go home, and then we can come back-”

“Olivia, we’re already here,” Henry pointed out. “And I’ve already knocked on the door. Don’t worry, I’m going to do all the talking, remember?”

Olivia nodded, and Henry gave another knock for good measure. They waited for almost a full minute before Henry’s hand rose to knock one more time. Just then, the form of a man could be dimly seen through the frosted glass at the top of the door. Henry and Olivia both froze as the knob began to turn.  


Working at his architect desk, listening to the works of The Rolling Stones in one ear while the other end of his ear bud dangled loosely down his dark tee shirt, Robin Locksley tapped his pencil on the paper in time with the music, letting his eyes drift over the sketch in front of him, waiting for a bit of inspiration. He liked this time of the day when his work day was over, and his toddler had just settled in for his big nap of the day. When he could just be for a moment, and not think about life, or his lack thereof. Not think about the wife he’d lost and all the hope and dreams that had left with her, or about how his son was growing up without his mother. Robin could just listen to his music, and zone out completely.

That was until he was attacked by his overly large Bernese pup. Looking down, he bit back a curse as the newest member of his family jumped up on his legs. Those massive paws digging into his skin every time they hit the floor, or more accurately, his bare feet.

“Oi, Ella, no.” Kneeling down, he held the little beast by the collar and stated with authority, “No jumping.”

The furry pup looked back at him with wide dark excited eyes and lunged towards him, licking his face. He couldn’t help but laugh as he was knocked back. At six months, she had doubled in size since they’d gotten her. Back when she was all ears and fur and her abundant playful energy was cute. “Look you, I know you think you’re small but you’re not, you know that? You’re massive.”

Ella let out a bark, her tail wagging merrily, causing Robin’s eyes to roll up to the ceiling. Though he grumbled, he and his toddler loved the large, wiggly pup. Robin pulled the mutt close to him and began to pet her, which only encouraged her to love up on him more with slobbery wet licks. “Yeah, yeah, girl.”

There came a knock at his door, and Ella froze looking from Robin and back behind him. His brows knitted together. He wasn’t expecting anyone that he knew of. Then came the rueful thought of perhaps it could be his mate Cian off to drop another pup on his doorstep, all in the name of having another female in his life and moving on.

He scoffed to himself and got to his feet, just in time to hear another knock. Ella took off before Robin and was at the door in no time, dancing a large circle in front of the large oak glass door. He pointed to the spot by his feet a few feet away and said, “Ella, here.”

The dog obeyed somewhat regretfully and stood by him.

“Now sit.” The pup’s back end promptly fell to the ground, and he praised, “Good girl, Ella. Now stay.”

His brows rose, impressed. Those training lessons just might be worth the money he paid. Walking away, Robin pulled opened the door to find two kids, a boy, and a girl, on his doorstep. Mildly curious as to what two kids would be doing on his doorstep without an adult, he looked around for any sign of parentage nearby. When there was none, he figured they were old enough to be doing some neighborhood fundraising and prepared himself for whatever they might be selling. He greeted his guests with a smile. “Hello.”

“Are you Robin Locksley?” the boy asked in a tone that was all business, no beating around the bush about it.

Robin looked between both children with more curiosity and replied, “Yes, I am.”

Just then barking sounded behind him. Ella had apparently grown a bit too restless, and began pushing her way between the door and him, then licked the boy’s hands as he reached out for her.

"Cool! You have a dog!" The boy laughed at the excited pup’s antics, but the girl backed away with wide, fearful eyes.

Robin grabbed Ella by the collar, pulling her back. “Whoa, no, Ella.” He looked up at the young girl and assured, “Don't worry, sweetheart, she's gentle, she's just forgotten her manners. Give me a moment, and I'll put her back inside.”

Robin practically had to drag Ella to the den, and he grabbed a treat on the way and tossed it into the laundry room, where the pup took off after it excitedly. He sent up a silent prayer that it would keep her busy long enough for him to take care of the kids at the door before the pup decided to start barking once again and wake his toddler.

Opening the door, he smiled at the kids. “Okay, how can I help?"

Again, the boy minced no words and asked, “Did you make a donation to Manhattan Cryobank eleven years ago?”

Robin swallowed hard. His stomach dropped somewhere near his knees and the floor, as the realization that this was no candy bar sale slammed into him harder than ten shots of whiskey. His gaze shifted from boy to the girl, and he admitted, in a slightly raspy voice, “I did.”

“Well, I’m Henry, and this is my friend Olivia.” He waited a beat as the boy took a breath, and then said three words that forever altered Robin’s world forever. “She’s your daughter.”

Chapter Text

Robin stood in front of a Manhattan building on East 40th street and gaped at the silver steel lettering framing the entrance. Was this some sort of a sick joke? Did his friend honestly think that this was the way he should get money for his summer internship abroad? There wasn’t a bloody chance in hell that was happening, and he told his friend as much.

"Listen, mate, they pay ya top-dollar."

"A cryobank?” He couldn’t believe the nerve of the man in front of him. He’d come to his apartment a few short hours ago, physically pushing him out the door and into a cab, all the while telling him he’d found the answer to all his financial problems. An absolute surefire way to make the money he needed to get to Valencia in no time at all. He shook his head, hand on his hips as he stood his ground. “Absolutely not, Killian."

"Robin, hear me out. It’s not like anyone’s gonna know but us," he implored, holding his arms out wide.

His lips pressed together. “Killian, I think I can officially say you’ve lost your mind."

He turned around, intent on walking away, far away; however, Killian expected as much because before he knew it, his friend was in from of him with a hand out to stop him from going any further. "Then tell me, how else are ya gonna get the money to afford it, eh? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity you’ve got on your hands and you’re just gonna let it slip through your grasp?"

He was taken aback by his tactic and insistence. It wasn’t his own lineage he was asking to give away, it was his , and he sent Killian a look of pure annoyance. "You understand what it is you want me to do, right?" Robin shook his head and glanced up at the ten-floor building. “This is more than just selling some jewelry for extra cash, mate.”

"Yes, yes, I know,” Killian waved away his argument as if it would vanish by doing so, countering with an, “I think you're missing the much bigger picture here. You'll be helping some poor sod or lonely lass, who can't have wee ones, create a family." His friend smiled, really trying to implore to Robin’s good nature.

Robin, however, was having none of it. "No, I'm not buying it. That would be my child out there somewhere. I realize it's selfish, but my own flesh and blood means more to me, mate, I'm sorry."

"And how do you plan on affording this internship, then? Your parents? This is a great opportunity, and all you need is the money to get there. Was it not you who has been going on and on about how this program would get your name in the hat?"

He sighed, spent. No, he would not be asking his parents for money. They’d given him enough over the years and now that they’ve retired, they were happily traveling and enjoying themselves. Though he knew they’d give him whatever they could, he would not go that route. If he had worked more over the last couple years, than focus on irrelevant courses and frivolous music gigs that paid shit, he probably could have saved some money away, but he hadn’t. So here he was, standing in front of a cryobank out of time and options. "It’s true, the internship would put me ahead in my field..."

Killian clapped him on the shoulder, a little over enthusiastically if you asked him. "So get your arse up there, think up a nice fantasy of some sweet lass, and get your money."

Robin groaned, hanging his head in shame. "Well put, Killian. Spectacularly, well phrased. I can't believe you have no trouble getting women."

Killian smiled, wolfishly. "It’s all in the accent and dashing good looks.”

Sighing, he looked up once again at the building, his hand rubbing the back of his neck. There was really no harm in speaking with them. He could always leave. “I suppose I could see what it’s all about.”

Killian grinned, and he knew his friend was very aware he had him. “That’s the spirit.”

That was almost eleven years ago, and now here he stood, right in front of the product of his decision that day. Her bright blue eyes were staring up into his apprehensively, shyly waiting for his response he realized.

Opening the door a bit wider, he said, “Why don’t you come in?”


He let the children in, what choice did he really have after all? He couldn’t very well leave them outside and close the door on them. After standing unmoving for a full minute, he asked them if they’d like something to drink. He needed a moment alone, hell, he could do with a drink himself. Directing them to the kitchen, he got them each a glass of water. He took a moment to breathe, before going and sitting across from the children at his dining room table.

He watched as the young girl tentatively picked up her glass of water. She had long dark hair that was braided down her back, and she had expressive blue eyes that seemed to already see through him.

He was still reeling.

His daughter? Sure, he recognized the shade of blue of her eyes, he looked at it every morning in the mirror, but this was New York. There could be hundreds of men out there with blue eyes of his shade, and who was to say her mother hadn’t passed that on to her child? He swallowed.

He thought his donation was to remain anonymous, it was only under an express emergency or the child had reached eighteen that he had agreed to be contacted. How in the world did a couple of kids find him anyway? More importantly, how did they end up unattended on his doorstep? His eyes widened, and he asked, “Does your mother know where you’ve gotten off to?”

The little girl bit her bottom lip, cast her eyes down. The boy, Henry, shrugged, almost bored by the question. “We left a note.”

“You left a note?” he repeated, and they nodded, making him sigh. Pulling his phone from his back pocket he said, “She must be worried sick. What’s her number?”

“My mom has GPS on my phone. They’re probably halfway here by now.”

“They?”

“My mom, her name is Emma and my Aunt Regina, that’s Olivia’s mom. The school probably called them. They both went home and found the note and the missing file. So if I had to guess, they’re probably almost here.”

Robin blinked at them. Who the hell was this kid’s mum, some version of Nancy Drew? He got to his feet. “Regardless, I would feel much better knowing that they know you’re both safe.” Kneeling down beside the Olivia’s chair he told her softly, “Olivia, I know you have a load of questions for me, and I promise to answer as much as I can, but I bet your mum is really worried and probably misses you a lot. Let’s give her a call, and then we can talk, yeah?”

Olivia looked over at Henry, and then her gaze fell to her hands which were twisting lightly in her lap nervously. She held out her hand when he showed her his phone, and he pressed the iPhone into her hand, the dial pad already up, and she then typed in the number.


They left the city just past noon, but a wreck on the Williamsburg Bridge had everyone redirecting to the Brooklyn Bridge, making lower Manhattan a complete nightmare. They’d been sitting in the same spot for the last fifteen minutes, in silence. Neither had spoken since they left the apartment. Regina had been too upset with Emma, and now that she had some time to really think about it, she realized Emma was just looking out for her, in the only way her friend really knew how.

Watching as a man and a woman argued in the car next to them, she sighed. “I’m sorry I got so upset.” She was still pissed, and probably would be for a while now, but it was the best olive branch she could offer up at the moment.

“Nah, it’s my fault.” Emma’s voice held a hint of annoyance, and she could tell it was directed not at her but at herself. “I should have asked you before I did what I did. I’m the one that should be sorry.”

She wasn’t about to argue. They both knew the kids wouldn’t be where they were had Emma not done the leg work that took them straight to the man’s front door. Her grip on her phone tightened in her palm and she brought it up to her lips for a moment. Finally, she asked the question she had been wondering since they left, but hadn’t because she’d been too worried about Olivia and Henry. “What did your background on Olivia’s father say?”

Emma looked over at her then settled her gaze back on traffic that now started moving. “You really want to know?”

She scoffed in irritation. Then gesturing in front of them, said, “Well, I want to be prepared for what I’m about to walk into.”

She could hear her roommate's sigh, but she was not in a forgiving mood. Emma would just have to deal with her ire for now. “For starters, as far as I can tell, he’s a pretty normal guy. He’s thirty-four, an architect. He’s a single dad, widowed. He lost his wife a couple years ago to cancer. His kid’s three.”

“Oh my God, that’s… that’s horrible.”

“Yeah.”

She shook her head, still not quite believing that this was all happening. What had gotten into Olivia that she wouldn’t come to her first was most concerning for her, and one of the biggest reasons for her anger. She could have talked this over with her, maybe together they could have approached Olivia’s father, but like this? This was about to get very real very fast for him, and after everything he’d been though, he shouldn’t have to be put through this too. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “And now Olivia is just going to go marching over there and make his life even more complicated.”

Her phone let out a loud obnoxious shrill just then, but it was only for a second before she had it to her ear and immediately began speaking into it. “Hello?”

“Hello,” a tentative, British accented voice began, and she closed her eyes in relief. She was still angry, but a call from him meant they made it there safely and she was thankful for that at least. His voice was speaking again, “Is this Regina Mills?”

“It is.”

“This is a bit awkward, but I have something here that belongs to you, and I -”

Her hand came up to cover her eyes. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Is she okay?”

“She’s fine, love. She and Henry are at my home.”

She let Emma know the children were both fine, and the blonde cursed, said Henry would be watching nothing but C-SPAN for the next two months, then asked for the number of his brownstone.

Robin must have overheard because there was a heartbeat’s pause and he was giving her his address.

She sighed. This was all such a mess. Her stomach was in knots over the thought of meeting him, the father of her child. The man she pictured in her mind almost every day for the last nine years. He wasn’t just that wonderful image anymore, though. Soon she was going to have to put her expectations, her hopes aside, and face the real thing. She looked out the window, at the sun starting its downward trend, and view of Brooklyn. “We’ll be there soon.”

His voice was warm and dare she say, sympathetic in her ear. “Take your time, they’re fine.”

She thanked him and hung up the phone.

“Did he sound angry?” Emma asked when she had yet to speak.

She thought about that. Did he sound angry? She realized with a start that he hadn’t. “No, in fact, it was more like he was trying to be comforting.” Now that she was able to breathe knowing her daughter and Henry were safe, she let herself wonder what the man behind the voice looked like. There was a moment of silence before she asked, “So you had a picture of him?”

Her eyes never leaving the road, Emma nodded. “I did.”

She clicked her tongue and looked up at the roof of the car. “And?”

“Olivia is very much her father’s daughter.” Emma gave her a lopsided smile.

“Meaning?” she asked.

The blonde smirked at her. “The dimples run in the family.”

The moment she decided she wanted a child was four months ago, now. A week after her old college roommate and best friend Emma Swan marched into her new SoHo loft and announced her and Noah had finally done it. They got married in Atlantic City and that wasn’t all. Emma just found out she was three months pregnant.

Of course, she had been happy for her friend. Loved the fact that Emma was calling her Aunt Regina, and dragging her into places like Carter’s and Baby Gap, already beginning to stockpile baby clothes, and not just any baby clothes, blue baby clothes because the blonde just somehow knew she was having a boy.

At first, she considered adoption, but watching Emma as she steadily became more and more pregnant, she had come to realize she wanted to experience pregnancy, too. At the moment, dating or the very idea of seeing someone was out of the question. Her heart was still so much with the fiancée she buried, not so long ago. A year had passed, but the ache in her heart was still there, and she wasn’t sure that feeling of hopelessness would ever go away.

Deciding to move forward, she made an appointment with her doctor, explained what she wanted to do, and after getting some of her own questions answered procedural wise, her doctor had sent her home with her options. Once she’d made her decision to have the child herself, she began looking online, found a forum that pointed her to the top local donation agency.

The list of donors was a bit staggering. She was on her laptop, reading over the website when there was a knock at her door. Not expecting Emma, she never closed out of the site, so when her old college roommate came barreling into the apartment, it wasn’t long before Emma noticed what she was up to.

She had been worried about her friend's reaction, worried that she might feel like Regina was taking some of her attention, but she needn’t have worried. Emma loved the idea, and two hours later, the blonde was sitting on the couch, the laptop resting on her large belly, with a jar of peanut butter in one hand and a bowl of Oreo’s on the sofa beside her, reading off the list of donors as she dipped cookie after cookie in the jar of Jiff, while she made them dinner.

She looked over at Emma, and teased, “You’re not going to have any room for dinner if you keep inhaling those things.”

Emma snorted, her eyes never leaving the screen. “You underestimate how much I’m able to put away these days.”

“You’d think with that baby in there you wouldn’t have room.”

Emma laughed, turned as much as she could to look back at her and quipped, “Just you wait till you get pregnant and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I could eat a five-pound lobster and still want fries.”

Her nose scrunched at the thought and she turned back to layering her lasagna.

"How about this one?" Emma called out. "Irish. 5'10. Marketing. Imagine the hair your kid will have."

She replied over her shoulder, "You do realize not every child born of Irish descent is born with red hair."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, how about this guy. Number 23. He's getting a Master’s in architecture. Your kid could be artsy. He's also a double major in art. Plays soccer, music, enjoys the outdoors. British.  5’9, sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes. Aw, and he can write. Here, read his letter."

"Let me see,” she said, coming up behind Emma and glancing over her shoulder.

She read over the letter, normally written to recipient parents with a brief word of good wishes for their future families. This letter, however, was written to the future child. She was drawn into the note, in the care that went into penning the wording, and the sincerity expressed for the child that he or she grow up happy, healthy, and above all loved. And if might one day, they wish to know him, only ask. She’d never been more moved by a simple note before, and she took up the laptop from its resting spot on Emma’s large belly.

“Hey, I was still reading that.”

“Yeah, but this is my baby. You’ve already knocked up.”

“Whoa, I found out about this baby after I got married, so I prefer the term, with child.”

“Call it what you will, Neal still knocked you up. ” She scrolled down to the top of his profile and sure enough… “This says here that he is open to meeting the child once she turns eighteen.”

Emma, who was about to dip another cookie into the peanut butter, paused and asked, “Is there something wrong with that?”

She thought on that a moment before shaking her head slowly. “No, I mean, I suppose if my child ever wants to find out who her father is someday I should want someone who won’t ever turn her away.”

Emma smiled and raised a brow. “Her, huh?”

“Or him?” She smiled at Emma, thoughtfully. Giving the laptop back to her, she let out a wistful sigh. “I’ll only have one shot at this.”

“Just one?”

She laughed lightly. “Well, considering how much just the first time will cost me, I won’t be able to afford more than once.”

“I’ll happen. I’m sure it will. You just gotta stay positive.”

That had been ten years ago now. She had picked number 23, six months after Henry had been born she’d started the process, and a surprising nine months after that Olivia was born. With a full head of dark hair, rosebud lips, and steel blue eyes, Olivia cried and cried until she was placed in her mother’s arms, and when she gazed down into those pools of blue she instantly fell in love.  

Never once over the course of her pregnancy did she regret having Olivia the way she did, but there was a moment, as the nurses handed her baby back to her after she’d been bathed and wrapped in that god-awful white and blue stripped hospital baby blanket, did she stare at the bundle in her arms and wonder briefly what the baby’s father would say if he were there.

Would he think she was as beautiful as she did? Would he hold them both close and whisper how proud he was?

It was only a moment. A bit of weakness probably every single mother had, she wasn't sure, but she allowed it for herself anyway as she held her new baby close, whispering soft words of love and promising to try and be more than enough.

Chapter Text

Robin sat looking across the large pine dining room table at two pairs of young inquisitive eyes, both seemingly sizing him up in their own unique way. However, it was Henry’s gaze that drew his. His posture was surer and more confident than that of Olivia, and Robin knew without a doubt, that it was the boy who was the mastermind behind the day's activities.

Robin offered them both a snack, not knowing when they'd eaten last. It was well after three o’clock, and they admitted to skipping school, so he gotten them each a bowl of red grapes. Henry popped one into his mouth and watched him intently. Robin met his stare with one of his own and asked, "What would you like to know?"

Henry shrugged as if the question bored him. "We googled you, so we know pretty much everything about you."

"Oh, did you?" Robin sat back, folded his arms across his chest. "And what did you find?"

Henry straightened in his chair, his hands folded neatly together in front of him on the table, and Robin bit back a smile, picturing the boy in another twenty years staring down a criminal across a courtroom. "You're thirty-four. You work at Richard Lionel and Associates, and before that, you played in a band in college. You also played soccer in England, where you're from..."

"I think you mean football," Robin interrupted, because honestly, what was it with this country and calling the sport soccer? Just then, he caught sight of Olivia, who smiled at him for the first time and oh … those dimples. He blinked hard. That was his child alright. Those dimples he knew.

Just then Henry and Olivia turned when there was a cry of "Daddy!" from the living room.

Robin looked just beyond Henry and Olivia into the other room, to see his son, Roland, wide awake and leaning against the long baby gate, which was meant to keep Ella from waking Roland while he napped downstairs.

"Excuse me a moment," he said, getting up from the table and crossing the room into the hall where Roland stood, his little arms outstretched in anticipation of his father.

"Up, up," the toddler cried, his little fists opening and closing in excitement.

He took him and settled him on his hip. "That was a fast nap, my boy." He kissed his forehead and with a steady hand on the boy's back, took him into the kitchen where Robin sat back at the table.

Henry cocked his head to the side. "You have a son?"

Robin's brows rose, and he quipped, "You didn't find that in your Google search?" Henry made a face but quickly composed himself.

"So, you're married?" Henry prompted.

Slowly, Robin said, "I was. My wife passed away."

The boy glanced down, and then back up, his little tough-guy demeanor dropping for the moment, replaced with genuine empathy. "Oh, I'm sorry."

Robin noticed Olivia's attention was now on Roland. He would not call it jealousy, but she seemed to sink back further into her chair if that was even possible. There was a look of sadness that shown in her blue eyes. Not wanting her to feel bad, Robin decided to flip the tables a bit. "How about I ask some questions now?"

Henry and Olivia shared an uneasy look. "Okay," Henry replied.

"Right then, how old are you both?"

"I'm eleven," Henry supplied easily.

With a nod, Robin acknowledged the young man, then settled his gaze on Olivia. "And you, darling?" he asked her with gentleness. "How old are you?"

He could see her swallow, and glance over at Henry for a bit of reassurance. The young lad nodded his head barely perceptively, prompting her to answer him, but it was enough to give her some confidence and she turned her face back to him, and said in a small voice, "I'm nine."

Robin wasn't sure if Olivia was just shy, or if meeting him that was making her nervous. Probably a bit of both, he imagined. Still, he was determined to draw her out of her shell a bit, and he asked, "What grade are you in?"

"Fourth."

"Fourth grade, that's exciting. Do you like it?" She nodded and it came with a hint of a smile. Good, he thought, if he could just keep at it. Robin continued with the same track. "What school do you go to?"

"Norman Unique."

His eyebrows shot up. He knew the school she spoke of, not because he had a toddler or because all parents should know every alternative to public school, but because he'd overseen some of its renovations. What he did know about it was that it was a very posh, very well-to-do, very expensive school. He'd heard in passing that the yearly tuition cost nearly the sticker price of his new SUV.

Intrigued, he sat up a bit, balancing his now fully awake toddler on his knee. "How do you like it there?"

She sat up in her chair, mirroring him. "I love it. We have houses like in Harry Potter!"

He smiled at her enthusiasm. "Do you? And what's your house name?"

She nodded. "Kenneth. Our color is yellow."

"She's a Hufflepuff." Henry sniggered.

Whatever the boy Henry found amusing in that must be a teasing point of contention between them because Olivia's smile faltered, and a frown appeared in its place. "Hufflepuffs are good, too," she mumbled, her head dropping a little.

Robin frowned in the boy's direction; he would have absolutely none of that. Leaning forward, Robin said, "You know, yellow is my favorite color."

"It is?" Olivia's head lifted, and her eyes widened, looking back at him.

His face became serious; his lips pursed as he leaned forward over the table and told her in a conspiratorial stage whisper, "It is, and truthfully, if I were to ever be sorted, I'd want to be in Hufflepuff."

"Really?" she whispered back, with awed surprise on her small face.

He could see Henry smiling and rolling his eyes. The young man was clearly onto Robin, but Robin paid him no mind and remained focused on the little girl across from him. "Absolutely. They're loyal and honest, and if I'm not mistaken, the friendliest of all houses."

She nodded slowly in agreement. "They are."

"So you see, that's where I'd want to be." He glanced at the clock, realized how late it was, and how long it was since he'd talked to her mother. "Do you both live in the city?"

"Yep," Olivia replied, nodding her head. She seemed to be overcoming her shyness as she followed that with a, "Momma moved there before I was born. She used to live in Staten Island, but Momma said she needed a bridge between her and Grandma."

Robin tilted his head. "Oh?"

"Mmhm, now we live in SoHo and Grandma never visits SoHo."

Robin smiled at the note of seriousness in her small voice. "That's a shame."

Olivia shrugged, unbothered. "Momma is happier when she doesn't visit."

Well, whatever that was about was not any of his business or really anything he wanted to get into with a nine-year-old. Roland leaned back against him, and Robin absently rubbed the child's belly, contemplating how to proceed from here. He saw Olivia catch the gesture and then lean into Henry slightly, and even though she was trying to whisper, he could hear her and see the uncertainty in her features.

"Henry, he has a son," Olivia said, and clear in her voice was the implication of then what would he want with me? He watched as Olivia shifted herself slightly farther from him, and he sighed.


There came a sudden and loud banging which startled Roland, and caused the two children across from him to tense immensely in their seats, both looking at each other with a great measure of foreboding. Robin got to his feet and placed Roland in his chair before making for the door. He couldn't say he didn't feel a bit sympathetic for them, especially considering the circumstances, but they'd run off, and he could remember the sound of her voice perfectly. The worry, fear, and relief in her voice when he called her. If they were his children… he stopped short on that thought and sighed.

Opening the door, Robin attempted a smile at the two women standing in front of him, but the blonde wasn't interested in Robin or his effort at friendliness. Scowl fixed firmly in place, she stomped past him, and he quickly stepped back. Robin looked back and gestured his arm out for the woman with the dark hair to come inside.

He was startled at first by her beauty. Her long dark locks, high cheekbones, and full lips were some of the loveliest he'd ever seen. Not to mention, beautiful dark eyes that he could get lost in, eyes that seemed to be taking him in as well. Clearly, Olivia hadn't gotten her eyes from her mother and it was a shame. She was waiting for him. She had the anxious look of a mother who had been separated from her child, so he shook himself out of his thoughts.

"They're right this way," Robin told her, but needn't have because just then the blonde's voice could be heard from several feet away, and Robin could clearly hear that she was barely reining in her temper.

"Hey kid, you and me in the car, right now ."

Henry and Olivia both jumped up from their chairs just as Robin and Regina turned the corner into the kitchen. Ella could be heard from behind the gate in the laundry, excited by the uncommon commotion. Roland got down from the chair Robin had placed him in, and ran over beside him, watching the scene from behind his father's legs.

It was clear to see Henry, knew the moment his mum walked in the room he was in trouble, and yet felt the need to defend his actions.  "Mom, I -"

His mother snapped back, and Robin could easily tell she was in no mood for explanations. Henry sensed this as well. His mouth closed immediately as she said, "No, you don't get to talk now. Let's go."

The blonde led her son from the room, but the other woman, his daughter's mother, stopped Olivia with a hand on her shoulder. It was clear where Olivia got the rest of her looks; aside from her smile and eye color, she was the very image of her stunning mother. Robin could see the silent but clear communication that passed between the two mothers, and then Olivia’s mum's eyes traveled to meet her daughter's. "Olivia, I want you to go out to the car with Emma and Henry."

"But Momma," Olivia began, but Regina knelt down and with the extreme patience of a mother on a precarious emotional edge, told her, "Olivia, I need to talk to…"

She glanced up, and Robin met her gaze, then understanding that he was supposed to jump in here, replied "Robin," he supplied.

Nodding once, she turned her attention back to her daughter. "I need to talk to Robin alone right now, and then we'll talk about this more at home. Now, say goodbye, and go with Emma."

Olivia nodded, her big blue eyes filled with tears, but she didn't let them fall. Robin's heart broke for her, and he knelt too, sticking out his hand for her to take. He watched as she placed her small hand in his own, and he covered it with his other hand. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Olivia."

He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile, and her little chin wobbled before she took a deep breath and replied in kind, "It was nice to meet you, too."

Emma gave Regina a sad smile. "Take your time," she said right before taking Olivia's hand and leading both kids from the brownstone.

They both stood, and she was the first to speak. "So..."

Again, he was struck by how beautiful she was and felt an immediate and surprising attraction to her, but he shoved that down, pushed it away for now, as something completely inappropriate to the situation at hand.

Remembering his manners, he held out his hand for her. "I'm sorry, Robin Locksley."

"Regina Mills," she said, her lips managing to make their way up into a half-hearted smile. "I'm Olivia's mother."

He shook her hand, tried to ignore how soft her skin was and also tried to escape the feeling that he'd seen her somewhere before, but uncertain as to where. "It's nice to meet you."


She swallowed and took a deep breath. Her eyes quickly took him in, and not for the first time, noted how extremely handsome he was. She was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t exactly what she pictured. Regina let go of his hand, and for a few seconds met his thoughtful gaze. Finally, she said, "I'm sorry, but this is extremely awkward."

He laughed, his hand coming up to run through his sandy hair, and admitted, "A bit, yes."

Regina's brow furrowed together, her nose scrunching as she apologized, "I'm sorry. I don't know how they found out about you..."

"It's not a problem," he interrupted.

Her mouth fell open slightly, and she looked at him in disbelief. "It's not?"

Roland, deciding to make his presence known, stepped out from behind his father, and hitting his leg, he then stretched his arms up in a silent gesture to be picked up. Robin reached down, taking his son in his arms, set him on his hip. "Well, it's certainly surprising, to say the least," he told her with a light chuckle, and added, "but not unwanted. I mean to say, I'm not bothered by it."

Her brows rose. "You're not bothered that my child looked you up out of the blue, years before your consented contact?"

"Well, I can understand her curiosity."

Regina frowned slightly and let out a breath. She was sure getting one hell of a headache. "Alright, I don't really know what to say here."

He nodded slightly. "Why don't I do this then?" Crossing the kitchen and placing Roland down on the counter in front of him, he opened a drawer, pulling out a piece of paper and grabbing a pen. He then scribbled down something Regina could not see, but she could assume that what he was about to give her was his phone number. Taking Roland back in his arms, he walked back over to her, and held out the paper to her, which confirmed her suspicions. "Here is my number. I imagine you'll want some time, and if you'd like to talk later, well, feel free to call anytime."

Regina tilted her head, her dark eyes meeting his sincere blue gaze. "Thank you." She watched as his son's head fell against his father's chest, a wide sleepy yawn leaving him before he buried his face in Robin's neck once he realized Regina had been looking at him. Robin noticed and chuckled, then placed a kiss his son's head. Regina bit her lip. "I'd better go."

"Of course," he replied, and began to walk her out of the kitchen and into the foyer. Grasping the handle, Robin opened the door for her. "I hope you are all still able to have a good night." He gave her a hopeful glance.

She paused, and returned, "You too."


It was a quiet night in the Mills-Swan apartment later that evening. Henry had been sent to bed the moment they walked through the door with the promise Emma would be in later to have a long talk with him once she'd cooled down, and Olivia was sent to the shower, and then to her room, where she also waited for Regina.

Opening Olivia's door, Regina found the girl lying in bed, holding a soft, small stuffed gray and pink elephant Olivia had had since she was two. Her cheeks were wet as Olivia looked up, making her eyes that much more blue. Regina's heart ached, it had been all day, but the ache that was once filled with fear and panic was now filled with sympathy and sadness.

Making her way over to her daughter's twin bed, she laid down beside her. Olivia immediately and without reservation, scooted close and snuggled into her arms, and Regina's arms tightened around her, her nose in her hair, breathing in her rose smelling detangling shampoo. Neither spoke for a long while until she heard Olivia's muffled voice against her chest, soft and fearful when she asked, "Momma, are you mad at me?"

Regina let out a breath, her chin resting on the top of Olivia’s head, and she thought for a moment. "No, I'm not mad," Regina told her with a sigh. She was mad, but that anger Regina held was more directed at herself than at Olivia. If she'd been honest with her daughter years ago when she first asked about her father, they might not be in the situation they found themselves now. Olivia might have accepted it sooner, might not have gone out looking for him, but that point was moot now. However, there was one thing Regina was feeling and she needed Olivia to understand it, so she added, "But I am disappointed."

"That's even worse," Olivia mumbled, her small arms squeezing her mother tight.

As much as Regina wanted to hold her daughter all night, what she wanted more were some answers to the questions that had been going through her mind all afternoon. Regina gently pulled Olivia from her embrace, and looking into her eyes, Regina asked, "I just don't understand why you didn't come to me. How did you even find out about your… about Robin?"

Olivia looked down at them and replied. "I heard Avery telling her boyfriend that I didn't have a daddy. She said you had me on your own and then he called me a donor baby."

Regina's jaw dropped open slightly as anger filled her, and the more she thought about it the angrier she became. The fact that Avery was talking to her boyfriend about Olivia like that, while in her home, with Olivia there, made her seethe. Regina’s jaw tightened, and she made a mental note to call Avery later that night. Taking a deep breath, she let it out along with her new-found anger and said, "Well, I'm sorry you had to find out that way."

"It's okay."

"No, it's not." Regina put her index finger under Olivia's chin and gently lifted it so that she could see into those eyes she loved so much. "I should have been the one to explain things to you." Regina paused, and asked hesitantly, "Are you mad at me?"

"Me?" Olivia's eyes went wide. "Why would I be mad at you ?"

"Well, I should have been honest with you a lot sooner. I guess I didn't realize how grown up you've gotten. You're getting older, and I suppose I didn't want to admit you weren't a little girl anymore." Regina pushed a still damp lock behind Olivia’s ear. She should dry it before Olivia goes to sleep, Regina thought. "Do you have questions for me?"

"Um, so you didn't know my daddy?"

Regina let out a wry sort of chuckle, she couldn't help it. "No, I didn't." Olivia's face scrunched into a frown, and she added, "Before I had you, I lost someone. Someone I loved very much, and well, I was a bit lonely. I didn't want to wait to have you, and so I went to a doctor, and she helped me."

Olivia's voice was a whisper, when she asked, "Did my daddy want me too?"

Regina’s heart felt heavy, and her eyes were hot with tears, and she assured her daughter, "Your father wanted to help someone like me have a beautiful gift, and he gave me you. So yes, he wanted you."

"Do you think he wants me now?"

"That's something I'm going to talk with him about. Do you want to see more of him?"

Olivia’s eyes lit up, and Regina could hear hope that filled her voice. "Can I?"

"I'm going to have to talk to him first, but if he's okay with it, I wouldn't mind taking you over to see him or him coming over here to see you."

Olivia’s voice rose, and her lips pulled into a bright smile that had her dimples showing. God help Regina, but now she could really say now how much Olivia looked like her father. "Really, Momma?"

Regina held up her finger, and her eyes held her daughter’s with the natural authority of a mother. "On one condition. You promise never to go off or sneak around like that again."

The young girl was quick to respond, "I promise!"

"I mean it, Olivia." She placed her finger under her chin again holding her attention. "I want you to realize something bad could have happened to you and Henry."

"I know, I'm sorry."

While Regina knew Olivia was sorry, and she had learned from her and Henry's impromptu trip how dangerous it could be, she wouldn't let their actions go unpunished. "I hope so, because you, young lady, are grounded." She tapped her daughter on the nose, meeting the young girl's eyes, and added with emphasis, "No TV, no computers, or games for the next month."

Olivia let out a long sigh, her eyes shifting from her mother's to the ceiling. "Okay."

Regina chuckled. "You're getting off light with me, young lady. Your Aunt Emma has a special project for you and Henry."

Olivia's eyes flew back to her mother's and she asked reluctantly, "What project?"

"You'll both have a book report you'll work on every weekend for the next month while you're both grounded."

"Every weekend?" her voice was dejected and held a soft whine that Regina was sure she was doing her best to hold back.

"Every one."


Regina closed the door to Olivia's room and made her way out into the kitchen. She was going to need something a lot stronger than just tea before bed tonight. The apartment was dark. The only light was that spilling in from the city through the windows. Clicking on the light in the kitchen, Regina padded over to the cabinet and took out a wine glass.

"Think you can grab another one of those?" Her roommate's voice came from behind her.

Looking over her shoulder, Regina wasn’t surprised to find Emma leaning over the small kitchen island. "Sure," Regina replied, and then asked, "Red or white?"

"Red."

Regina took out the bottle of merlot and poured them each a sizable glass. Taking both glasses, Regina turned and walked the handful of steps over to the counter, set Emma's glass in front of her.

They each drank a few sips in silence, and then Emma asked, "Do you think he'll want to be a part of her life now?"

Regina thought for a moment. That was the question, wasn't it? Would Olivia's father want to see her? She didn't know the answer to that question, so she replied honestly, "I have no idea."

Emma looked up from her glass. "How did he seem about the whole thing?"

"Understanding, maybe?" Regina took a sip of her wine and then tilted her head. "I mean, he wasn't shoving us out the door asking us to never come back, which was honestly, what I expected him to do."

"Okay, so now what?"

Regina chuckled darkly and looked over at Emma with a tired smile. "I don’t know. He, Robin, gave me his number."

Emma eyed her then asked, "You gonna call him?"

"Later I will." Regina nodded thoughtfully. After she figured out how she felt about everything and how she wanted this new addition in her life to proceed. Regina played with the stem of her glass thoughtfully. "I want some time to figure all this out first."

Hesitantly, Emma began, "I hate to say it, but you might want to think about getting a lawyer."

Regina looked up at her roommate with wide, disbelieving eyes. "What for?"

"Well, he knows about Olivia now. He could want visitation, I mean you just never know."

Regina looked down mouth open in an incredulous smile that morphed into a humorless laugh. Placing her hands out across the counter she gazed back up and told Emma, "I don't believe I'm hearing this."

"Look," Emma started, with a roll of her eyes. "I'm not saying he will. I'm just saying you might want to be prepared is all."

Regina shook her head. "No, I don't think it's going to be like that."

Emma studied her. "How do you know?"

"Because he was…" Regina trailed off as she searched for the right word. How could she put it in a way Emma might understand? "He was sweet."

The blonde's brows rose up and up into her hairline, and suddenly Regina felt foolish for saying anything. "Really? You're not getting a lawyer because the guy you met for two seconds was nice to you?"

Regina held Emma's gaze and thought, you know what, screw it. She didn't have to explain herself or her feelings to the woman she was still upset with for starting this thing in the first place. "I can't explain it, but I'm not going to jump to conclusions just yet."

"Okay. Anything I can do?"

Regina raised an eyebrow and gave her friend a clearly expressed you've-done-enough look. "Thank you, but I think I've got it from here. I'm going to bed."

Oh, and that reminded her. Grabbing her glass of wine and her phone, Regina set off for her bedroom intent on having a very lengthy discussion with her soon-to-be former babysitter.


Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Robin Locksley laid awake that night staring up at his ceiling. He truly could not believe it. He had a daughter. Looking back all those years ago, to the time when he was young and naive and didn't really believe that one day someone might actually choose his… donation . All these years since, she, Olivia , had been out there learning to walk and talk, growing up right under his nose, a mere city away from him. He sat up in bed, twisting over to sit on the side, where his head fell into his hands.

Christ, what was he going to do?

He pictured her face when her mother told her it was time to go, and it was the tears that gathered in those blue eyes, his blue eyes, because her mothers were not blue but brown with flecks of warmth in them, that stood out in his mind the most.

He wondered about her mother, Regina. What kind of a woman was she? She was well-dressed. Robin imagined she rushed out of work once she got a call from the school. Regina had to be a successful single mother, as she wore no ring and had no husband tagging along. She was beautiful, and now that they'd gone, he let himself appreciate just how captivated he would have been had the circumstances been different.

From her long dark hair to her full lips, slender neck, and gloriously supple breasts, she'd been a vision, a stunning vision that had nearly knocked the breath out of him. Robin felt ashamed for looking, even thinking it about it now, but her low collar had shown a decent amount of cleavage, and when she bent down to be eye level with her daughter, well, who could blame him? Any man in his right mind would have looked.

He ran his hands over his face and got to his feet. He wouldn't be getting much sleep if he continued with that train of thought, as its path only led to a cold shower.

Walking downstairs he made his way into the kitchen and flipped on the light. Deciding he needed a drink, he opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of ale from the untouched six-pack he bought a week ago. If there was ever the time for a drink he didn't know when there would ever be a better one.

Taking a seat on one of the bar stools along his kitchen island, he studied the gray marble countertop as he pulled sips from the cold beverage. The longer he sat there the more questions came to his mind. Questions like, when would he see Olivia again, if she came on her own did that mean her mother was against the idea of him being in her life? And a question for himself, did he want to even be a part of Olivia's life?

The answer to the latter was a definite, yes . He wanted to know the girl. Family meant a great deal to Robin, and even though she was the product of an anonymous donation, she was his, and she obviously wanted to know him.

However, it wasn't up to him. That in and of itself was what was keeping him up. All he could do now was to wait and see.


As Robin entered The Black Horse pub the following evening, he nearly groaned aloud as the aroma of Irish food hit him all at once. He hadn't slept well at all, had very little to eat that morning, and when he arrived at work it had been one meeting after another, leaving hardly any time to eat, only short moments where he snacked on small bites of crap food -donuts and scones- nothing substantial. There had been no time for that. Then to top it off, he had the brilliant idea since he had been so completely knackered he would take the subway into the city. The morning commute hadn't been too bad, but going home was met with pouring rain and train delays. To say it had been an entirely shit day would be putting it mildly.

Taking a deep breath through his nose, and his mouth watered. Christ, he needed to eat something, but he just didn't have the time. Robin stopped in only for a quick drink with his mates, and then he would head back home to his son.

Glancing towards the back, Robin found his friends near the end of the bar, a place they generally took refuge on game nights during the football and hockey season. He pulled out the bar stool that sat between them.

Killian was the first greet him. "Oi mate, where the bloody hell have you been?"

"Sorry fellas, it was a long day, which was followed an even longer evening. I had some catching up to do today," Robin said, while nodding to the bartender Jefferson, who held up a glass in question, already familiar with Robin's beverage of choice.

David took a drink from his beer and questioned, "That Harmon account giving you trouble?"

David, not only Robin's friend, but also a work colleague for about the last five years now, and had lived in an apartment with his wife about two floors down from his and Marian's before Robin moved over to Park Slope.

Jefferson sat his beer in front of him, and Robin thanked him before replying, "No, it's not that. I just had… a few unexpected guests over last night."

Both of his friends glanced over at him. He could feel their eyes burning into him, and it was David who asked, "Oh?”

Robin was sure it wasn’t the right moment, but he had to talk to someone about what had happened. Unsure of where to begin, he looked down into his drink, hummed, and then said, "A couple kids."

Killian took a pull from his pint, his attention over on the big screen playing the highlights from the latest sporting event recaps and said in a bored voice, "Tryin' ta sell ya something then?"

Robin took a deep breath and pressed on, "No, no actually, Killian do you remember that trip I took back in 2004?"

"Aye, I do, but what's that got to do with-" His friend finally tore his eyes away from the screen and with wide knowing eyes, added, "Oi, ya don't mean?"

Robin nodded, took a long drink of the IPA that sat in front of him just then, and caught David's eyes as he looked over at his two friends, not understanding anything they were talking about.

Killian let out a bark of laughter. Clearly entertained at Robin's plight and he sat back in his chair, amusement coloring his features as he took another pull from his beer, before asking, "Seriously?"

David’s voice rose, and he called out, "What's going on?"

Robin rubbed his stinging eyes, then turning towards David he began to explain, "Eleven years ago, I had an opportunity to take an internship in Italy, and well, I was just completing my Master's and I hadn't been working for a while, I was a bit broke-"

"He was a bloody bum," Killian supplied.

"Yes, thank you for that," Robin tossed back, and then went on, "Anyway, I was running out of time to apply, and it was an amazing opportunity. I honestly don't think I would be working where I am now had I not gained the experience I did from it."

"Yeah, yeah," Killian drawled, prompting, "get to the good part, mate."

Robin shot Killian a look that he could not misinterpret, but his Irish friend only raised his glass in the air toward him. Robin rolled his eyes, and proceeded, "Killian had the brilliant idea that I should… donate my…"

"Oh, for God sake man, just say it. He donated his uh, manly contributions for a good cause."

Robin could see the wheels working over in David's head and after a moment, he put it all together. "So those kids were yours?"

Robin shook his head. "Not both, only the girl."

"It seems like congratulations are in order, mate. You have' yourself a wee lass."

David's brow furrowed, his tone suspicious, when he asked, "Wait, aren't donations supposed to be anonymous?"

"Aye, they are, however, these are not regular children," Robin clarified. "These kids are smart. The boy used the word "source" to describe how they managed to track me down. After the shock wore off, I have to say I'm rather impressed."

"How did this source even find you?" David pressed, clearly more upset than Robin over the entire situation. The guy took two years of law school before changing his major to architecture, and ever since then, the man thought that made him a bloody barrister. Normally it amused him, today; however, it only annoyed him. "That's a breach of your personal information. You could sue someone for this."

Robin’s lips tightened and turned down at the ends. "I'm not suing anyone, David. The poor girl was just looking for her father. I won't fault her for that."

"Think about this, Robin. Now that they know who you are, what's to stop them from claiming child support?" Robin looked over at his friend, his mouth opened completely aghast, yet David continued unaffected, "Sure, she just wants to know you, now, but what happens when she comes to you for other things. Raising children around here isn't cheap. First the kid visits-"

"Her name is Olivia," Robin cut in.

David nodded through this and continued on once Robin had finished. "First, Olivia visits, then soon she needs clothes for school, and extracurricular activities, and then college."

Robin's head fell forward. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You need to relax a bit, mate. It's not like that."

However, David was apparently on a mission to convince Robin otherwise, and he continued to prod, "How do you know that?"

Robin set down his beer, and held out his hands palms up over the bar, and said, "Olivia's mother didn't even know that she was looking for me."

There came a snort from beside him. "Parenting at its finest," Killian quipped, eyes still glued to the television.

"Back off, mate," Robin said slowly, voice thick with irritation.

Killian got a knowing glint in his eyes and sat up leaning towards Robin. "What's her name?"

Robin did a double take. Hadn't he just said…? "Olivia."

"No." The dark-haired man shook his head. "No, not the daughter. The mother. What's her name?"

Robin sighed. Killian had been on him for the last year to get a move on with his life, and though it wasn't that Robin didn't agree, his son deserved a mother in his life, after all. The problem was that it never felt like the right time. There was always something holding him back, and Robin wasn't saying that now was the time either because he didn't know that himself yet, but he prepared himself for where this conversation was going. "Regina."

Killian waggled his eyebrows and twisted his face into a devilish grin. "Is she good looking, then?"

"That's not... even what this is about," Robin stammered. Had the man not been listening to him? Had either of them? He made a fist with his index finger pointing down on the bar for emphasis. "This is about my daughter wanting to know me."

"Ah, yes, Robin Locksley, ever so noble and all the rubbish," Killian said, waving his hand in the air as if it would erase the qualities he deemed a hindrance out of him, then added, "but you didn't answer my question, mate. Come on, tell us. She easy on the eyes, is she?"

Robin closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, before letting his arm drop back down on the bar. "Yes," he confessed finally. He knew she was. Couldn't argue it if he tried, not that he ever would want to, and then almost as if he had no control over himself Robin added, "She's stunning."

"And is she available?"

"I don't know."

"Well, you should find out man!" His dark-haired friend clapped him on the back roughly.

"I don't think that's a very good idea right now," David interjected.

Robin agreed.

"Why not?" Killian exclaimed. "She's already the mother of your child."

"I'm not looking to date the woman, Killian." That was a bloody lie, his mind berated him, and Robin scolded himself mentally. She was attractive, yes. Under normal circumstances, would he ask her to dinner if he had bumped into her somewhere? Of course, yes. In a moment. However, it was far too delicate timing right now, and he didn't even honestly know if she was single. And truthfully, he didn't even know if he would see Regina or his child again. Robin left the ball entirely in Regina’s court, and he told his friends as much.

"I guess the question is," David began, looking over at Robin seriously, before continuing, "Do you want to hear from them? You don't have to be a part of this kid's life, just because she shows up one day on your doorstep if you don’t want to."

"And what if I do want to?"

Killian shook his head. "You're far too soft, mate."

"I'm not," Robin defended. "I feel for her."

"Aye, but she's not your problem."

Robin scowled down at his beer. This was just brilliant. On one hand, he had one friend telling him he should stay away from them, and on the other, one who was trying to push him into starting a relationship. It was all frustrating, and Robin was starting to feel a headache coming on. What he needed was to get away from his good friends' opinions, as much as he valued them, and go home. He was just not in the right mindset for either of them.

Robin stood and tossed some money on the counter. "Well Olivia may not be, but if my daughter wants to get to know me I will not send her away."

"Aw, Robin where are you going?"

"Robin," David began. "We'll stop, okay?"

Robin shook his head. "No, I'm just tired. I'm going to go pick up Roland from Belle."

"Mate, look I'm sorry."

"It's fine."


Regina made herself a cup of tea late Friday night after tucking Olivia into bed and took some time for herself to relax before making the call she had been dreading all week. Setting her tea next to her bed, Regina grabbed her phone from the nightstand, and adjusted the pillows just so, before climbing in.

Regina checked her Facebook and replied to some ridiculous meme Emma had tagged her in before getting bored and checking out a few of her photographer friends' Instagram photos. She smiled to herself as she scrolled through Megan's pictures of her new home. Thirty minutes later, Regina decided she was being ridiculous. The longer she avoided the call, the more awkward it would become. Glancing at the clock, it was just after nine o’clock. Would he be in bed by now? He did have a young son and she'd hate to wake him. Deciding it would be better to text him first, she sent off a quick, I know it's late, but are you free to talk?

Robin’s reply came only a moment later. Yes, of course. Call whenever you'd like.

Brow pinching together, Regina bit her lip, wondering for a split second how he'd known it was her, only to remember Robin had called her that night. Olivia had given him her number. Taking a breath, Regina pressed on his name and swiped to call. It rang twice, and then his voice was there, answering, “Hello."

"Hi," Regina replied, closing her eyes, and sinking down further into her pillows. Wanting to avoid any awkward silence between them, she jumped right in. "I was wondering if you had plans on Sunday? I know it’s last minute, but I thought we might meet for coffee. Somewhere we could talk?"

Robin replied, immediately. "Yes, of course. You pick the time and place and I'll come to you."

"Are you sure, if you'd rather we could meet halfway?"

"No, it’s fine. I'd rather you'd be comfortable."

Regina felt a wave of gratitude wash over her. For a moment, she thought perhaps this wouldn't be as bad as she thought it would be, but then Regina remembered what they were facing and knew it couldn't be that easy. "I appreciate that. Why don't we meet Sunday, around eight?"

"Sounds fine, and the place?"

Rubbing her lips together she thought for a moment on that. There was only only one place she had in mind that was close and would be somewhere she'd really be comfortable in. "There's a cafe on Houston and Prince Street called, Brew Espresso Bar. It has good coffee, and it's generally not too crowded on Sunday mornings."

"Alright," Robin paused, and Regina felt the line grow thick with expectation. Hers and his. "So, until Sunday then?" he asked, and she thought she could hear some uncertainty there in his voice, almost as if he was waiting for her to move their conversation forward.

Regina wanted to say more. She had questions, lots of them, but she knew they'd be better to ask when he was sitting across from her. When she could observe his body language and see for herself if he carried any hesitance in being a part of Olivia's life.

"Yes, Sunday it is."

They said their goodbyes, and as Regina hung up the phone, she slid down further beneath her blankets. She thought back to Emma's words from almost a week ago, and her conversation just now with Robin. There was a lightness to his voice, yet also an eagerness that she hoped was held for her daughter. Emma was wrong, Regina told herself as she went to bed that night. Somehow, she knew Robin would be different.

Chapter Text

The commute into the city on a Sunday was sparse and for that Robin was thankful. He had a rather late night with Roland. The young boy thought half past three in the morning would be the perfect time to play. Robin had been less than amused, as he’d already been up till nearly midnight working on some plans before he made himself go to bed.

That morning, Robin dropped Roland off with David and Mary Margaret. Mary Margaret wished him luck, before shoo’ing him out the door. Robin was sure he never been so nervous in all his life than he was right at this moment. He had no idea what Regina might say. Robin knew what he wanted, he just hoped his wishes aligned with hers.

Robin was able to let his mind drift as the GPS in his Jeep guided him to the cafe he’d agreed to meet Regina at. He tried to go over in his mind how he imagined the conversation would go. Regina, would, no doubt be very protective, hesitant even if the previous weekend was anything to go by. He wanted to start off reassuring her that she called the shots. Robin decided he wanted to be in Olivia’s life as much as he could, he was still very aware how out of the blue this was and how new it would be for all parties concerned. If Regina wanted to take her time, then by all means, he would go at the pace she set.

Turning onto West Houston, Robin swallowed as the cafe came into view. It was early enough that there was still reasonable parking, and turning off the ignition, Robin took a deep breath. Here goes nothing , he thought.


 

Regina had never been the nervous type; however, that morning as she stood in front of the bathroom mirror dusting on some blush, Regina sighed heavily at her reflection. She had been up late talking with Emma about all the possible outcomes she might expect now that Olivia’s father was in the picture. Unfortunately for Regina, the possibilities were far and wide, and until they really talked about Robin’s part in her daughter’s life, there would be no point in stressing herself out over it. Though, she told herself that each and every time she’d woke up throughout the night, it didn’t help. Regina still worried. Finally, at five in the morning, she gave up on sleeping, made her way to the kitchen and started herself a very large, very strong pot of coffee.

Looking at her reflection for another moment, Regina closed her eyes and took a breath, remembering the longing in Olivia’s voice when she’d told Regina that she wanted to see more of her father. How could Regina deny her that? The last thing she wanted to do would be to cut Olivia off from at least getting to know him and Robin didn’t seem like the type to push her for more. Regina had always thought herself to be a good judge of character, and from the moment she met him, until he told her goodbye on the phone, something inside Regina told her she could trust him.

Placing the blush to the side, she grabbed her clear lip gloss, quickly slicking on a thin coat, and taking it out with her, placed it in her purse along with her phone. They agreed to meet at eight before the Sunday crowd got crazy, and she still had fifteen minutes before she needed to meet him. Luckily, he agreed to meet with her on her turf, so she suggested a coffee shop close to her loft, just a five-minute walk down the block.

Regina went back to her room and grabbed a pair of her flat sandals to go with her jeans and dark blue cowl sweater over a white tank. She left her hair down. Now that it reached the middle of her back, the late spring and summer days would have her twisting it up and into a topknot whenever possible, it was still cool out for March, so her long locks wouldn’t be too much of a bother just yet. The truth was she preferred wearing it down and she was determined to enjoy it for as long as she could.

Shoes in hand, Regina peeked into Olivia’s room, making sure she was still asleep before heading out. A smile broke across her face when she realized Olivia had buried herself beneath her covers and pillows. Rationally, Regina knew Olivia was fine beneath the layers, yet it never stopped her from removing the pillow from over her head. How her daughter slept under it comfortably, Regina would never know. Adjusting Olivia’s blankets quickly, she placed a kiss on the young girl’s cheek and quietly made her way from the room, closing the door behind her.

Making her way across the living room, she intended to stop by and let Emma know she was leaving, but was saved from it by her very rumpled looking roommate walking her way from her room.

“You off?” Emma yawned.

“Yes.” Regina smiled and told her, “I was just coming to tell you. I checked on Olivia, she’s still out for the count.”

“Okay,” Emma replied sleepily, taking the remote from the coffee table and collapsing ungracefully onto the couch.

“I’ll be back soon,” she told her roommate with a chuckle.

The blonde gave a weak wave. “We’ll be here.”


Walking into Brew Espresso Bar, Robin breathed in the deep smell of coffee. He had a quick cup before getting into the shower that morning, but the time it took getting Roland and himself ready had been more of a mad dash, and he’d not been able to have his usual two or three cups it usually took to rouse him.

Glancing around, Robin noticed the place wasn’t packed, yet but filled with what looked to be the local morning crowd. People sitting with half-empty cups and partially eaten pastries, while they sat back and chatted, browsed on their phones, or for the older patrons, read from the Post or Times .

There was still no sign of Regina, frowning Robin pulled out his phone and noted that it was still early yet. Stepping in line, he thought he might wait for her before ordering, but seeing as though she still had twenty minutes before they agreed to meet, he decided to grab a coffee and go ahead and pay in advance for hers. Robin wasn’t sure what she drank and so he paid ten extra, described Regina to the cashier, and as soon as he mentioned her name the redhead barista smiled at him.

“Oh, Regina. Okay, I’ve got it.”

Robin returned her smile with one of his own. “You know her, then?”

“I see her and Olivia almost every morning.”

“Excellent, well then, thank you.”

The cashier, Alice, her name tag stated, passed him his dark roast and prodded, “Are you guys out on a date?”

Robin laughed at her boldness, but he shook his head. “No, not a date.”

“Too bad,” Alice said with a sigh.

Robin thanked Alice for her help and the coffee and looked around until he found a spot for the two of them. It was near the back, intimate enough for the two of them to have a private conversation, but not too far away from the exit that Regina might feel cornered.

He did a bit of people watching for the most part, and tried not to let his anxious tap of his thumb on the table get too out of hand. At ten till eight, he pulled out his phone and sat it down on the table in front of him. But when he checked his phone five times in as many minutes, he took it and put it into the inside pocket of his leather jacket before removing it and draping it over the back of his chair. Robin wore a sweater over his tee, as the early morning had been in the low teens, but as the sun rose, the temperature had risen and now he found the jacket unnecessary. It also didn’t help that he was nervous, and Robin didn’t fancy being a perspiring mess. Wiping his palms over his jeans, it was then Robin glanced out the window and noticed Regina walking across the street towards the cafe.

He couldn’t help the way the air that left his lungs or the way his mouth fell open slightly at the sight of her. His nervousness increased tenfold, though it shouldn’t have. It wasn’t like they never met before or spoken on the phone, so it wasn’t as though he was meeting a complete stranger.

No, it’s only the mother of your child, he thought. Robin’s head fell forward. Thought’s like that would not help his frame of mind in the slightest.

Robin looked up eyes still on her as Regina glanced around, spotting him. He sat up, straightening in his seat, before giving her a small smile and a wave. She walked over to the register, and he bit his lip as she greeted the cashier. Alice was shaking her head at her when she pulled her wallet from her purse, and then pointed a finger in Robin’s direction with a cheerful grin. Regina placed her wallet back into her bag as she made her way to the end of the bar to wait for her drink.

The next three minutes were possibly the longest minutes of his life to date. Until, finally, the barista handed Regina her beverage, and she began her walk over to his table. He stood because he was nervous and because he could hear his mother’s voice in his head about manners in front of a lady, so he did, and she must have appreciated the gesture because he could see the upward pull of her lips as they settled into a smile.

“Regina,” he greeted, taking his seat again. “How are you?”

Regina for her part, looked completely relaxed, not at all as anxious as he, and he wondered if that was because she truly was fine, or if she was just that brilliant of an actress, either way, the lightness in her voice helped calm even him. “I’m fine, thank you. And you?”

“Well, thanks.” Robin took a breath, and let it out with a chuckle, confessing, “Honestly, I didn’t sleep much last night.”

“Truthfully, I didn’t either,” Regina admitted.

Robin was relieved by that, and finally, he let himself relax. Dropping the tension from his shoulders, he smiled. “Glad to know it’s not just me. Misery loves company, as it were.”

Regina chuckled, and it was a rich, deep thing that had him sitting back in his chair. His brow furrowed, and he took a moment to really look at her. He thought he had seen her before last weekend when she had come to get Olivia, but at the time Robin chalked it up to shock. Now that she was here and in front of him, he let himself think about where that familiar feeling had come from. It was with a jolt that he remembered where it was he knew her from.

“What?” Regina asked, with a note of tension, as she noticed the change in his expression as it hit him.

“We have met before,” Robin told her, his mind was reliving that moment all those years ago.

Regina sat back and looked at him unbelievingly. “Excuse me?”

Robin shook his head, almost too gob smacked to believe that all this time, they had crossed paths before. Robin leaned forward, explained excitedly, “Yes, we have. It was the day I’d interviewed for my firm. I remember it like it was yesterday because I’d been so nervous I wouldn’t get it.”

He laughed lightly at her look of uncertainty, and Robin placed his hand on top of hers. “It was summer back in 2005. You were at Richard Lionel and Associates. I’d nearly missed the elevator but you held it for me. We rode up together. I told you I was running late and was nervous, that I was there for an interview, and I remember...” Robin chuckled, thinking back to how Regina glared at him from across the small expanse.

“It was summer. Your hair was shorter then, and you’d looked very uncomfortable from the heat and annoyed that I was even talking to you, but you told me good luck as we separated paths. And…” He trailed off, remembered the reason for her discomfort, he remembered his eyes taking her in from her beautiful dark eyes, to her lovely lips, and down, down… to the curve of her belly. The realization hit him square in the chest, and with a touch of awe, Robin added, “Oh, you were pregnant with Olivia, weren’t you?”

Regina blinked at him, then after a few moments, her eyes widened slowly, and he knew she remembered.

The Fourth of July weekend in New York was always crammed with tourists and with people who were always in a mad dash to go from one tourist sight to the other. No matter how many years you lived in the city, the annoyance toward the increased foot traffic from the out of towners never left you, especially in the summer when the temperature was up, and the humidity was so thick the thought of going anywhere outside your neighborhood bordered on only for those who were suicidal. That was why Regina thanked God for a job she could do at home and air-conditioned cabs for the rare instances when she had to go on assignment. And at six and a half months pregnant, she thanked Him very much.

Stepping out of the cab, Regina pulled out her phone with a sigh. She had a little bit of time before she had to be at her first professional shoot for New York Style, but not a lot. She would be meeting with Richard Lionel, the CEO of latest and greatest architectural firm in Manhattan. She’d take his picture from his office, a few shots of him working, and be done.

Pushing open the front door, Regina sighed in relief as the cool from the building’s air conditioning hit her. This was going to be a long two and a half months. She just had to have a summer baby. Making her way to the elevator, Regina waited as a throng of people exited, and looked down at her watch. She still had twenty minutes, she was fine.

She waited, camera and phone in hand, waiting for the elevator while listening to a family of eight ask the front desk for directions to the MET, which Regina wouldn’t find half as annoying if she still wasn’t sweating beyond all belief. God, this pregnancy was turning her into a human furnace.

Regina rolled her eyes, looked at her watch again, and huffed an impatient breath. As soon as this was over she was going to go home, strip off her clothes, and stand in a cold shower. Finally, once the elevator emptied, she made her way inside and pushed the button for the 45th floor.

Just then, a voice called out to hold the lift, and Regina held out a hand to halt the doors as the slightly out of breath man gave her a nod and told her, thank you. Regina gave him a tight smile in return.

"You're welcome," she muttered, still annoyed but cognizant that she still had manners.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, and she glanced quickly over, taking note of his crisp business suit. Aside from his somewhat frazzled state he was really quite good looking. Oh, come on, Regina, she thought, he was gorgeous. Regina could feel the blush creeping up her neck and she tried not to glance in his direction again but failed when he started talking.

"Oh excellent, we're off on the same floor."

Looking up at him, she licked her lips as he smiled at her, and blushed again. Of course, her hormones decided to kick in at the sight of a handsome man; against her own will, she took note of the neatly trimmed beard, the kind blue eyes, and sandy blonde hair. Looking that good with that accent should be criminal. "Lucky you."

Robin, for his part, could not tear his eyes from hers, though he should because she was obviously pregnant, and therefore, almost certainly, taken. "I'm here for an interview."

His eyes were happy, yet a bit nervous, and it put a dent in her grumpiness. Regina looked away, tucking a fallen lock of her short hair behind her ear (that she’d just gotten cut because it had been just too damn hot out), and with a small smile, told him, "You look terrified."

He shook his head and insisted, "Not terrified, really. I just really want to work here and, well, I suppose I am scared shitless." He closed his eyes, obviously regretting his choice of words, and she chuckled as he gave her a crooked smile. "Sorry."

Regina internally groaned. His smirk was causing her stomach to erupt with butterflies, and it had nothing to do with the tiny baby kicking in her belly. The door to the elevator opened, arriving at their floor, and she pulled her eyes from his and took a step forward.

She let him check in with the receptionist first, and when he took a seat Regina made her way to the desk. No sooner than she introduced herself did the journalist for the piece, Sydney Glass, call out her name.

He motioned impatiently for her; biting back an annoyed response, Regina made her way over to him.

Passing by the handsome man in the suit, at his smile, Regina whispered, "Good luck."

Regina sat back in her chair. Amazed. “That was you.”

Robin was smiling, grinning really, from ear to ear, but he didn’t care. He had met her all those years ago when she’d been pregnant with his child, and it was just too remarkable not to smile at the way fate worked out for them. Robin couldn't help the feeling that stirred in him as she walked away from him that day and had cursed the lucky bastard who got to go home to her for the rest of his life.

Robin shook his head and confessed with a sigh of regret, “I had assumed you were married.”

In the middle of a sip of her drink, Regina looked over at him with a furrowed brow. Setting her drink down, she tilted her head to the side. “Oh, why’s that?”

“You were obviously pregnant, and I clearly remember you wearing a ring.” Robin’s stomach knotted at the thought, and he didn’t know why, but the thought of another man being with Regina while she was having his child made him uncomfortable. Robin knew it was ridiculous to feel that way. Wasn’t that the point of his donation after all, to help a family have a child? And yet, this was different somehow.

Regina pushed a lock of hair behind her ear and folded her arms on the table in front of her. “I’ve never been married. I was engaged briefly before I decided to have Olivia. He was in an accident and it took me a while after his death before I could take off the ring,” Regina confessed.

Robin nodded. He understood that all too well. It took him a good year after Marian passed before he could remove his and even then, another year after that before he stopped feeling like something was missing.

Regina’s voice snapped him from the painful memories and back into the present. “You got the job, I take it?”

Robin smiled, nodded. “I did.”

“Good.” Regina took her cup from the table, and putting it to her lips, she took a careful sip, then another longer drink once she was sure it wasn’t too hot. Regina placed the cup back on the table, her eyes met his, and she took a breath.

He could tell she’d come to some decision, and he was proven correct when Regina said, “So what kind of part do you want in my daughter’s life?”

Straight shot, and right to the point, Robin thought. He had expected as much, and replied gently, “That all depends on what kind of role you and Olivia would like me to play.”

Regina watched him. Sizing him up, probably and Robin found it didn’t bother him in the slightest. His intentions were pure, and Robin was willing to do whatever it was that would make her comfortable.

Her eyes narrowed and her voice lowered, “That’s not what I asked.”

“Indeed, it wasn’t. Regina, you have a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful daughter, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on it since that night. Honestly, I’d love to be in her life as much as you’d allow,” he paused, hoped he expressed the sureness that he felt. His eyes bored into hers and held them as he told her, “But she is your daughter, and I would count myself lucky just to know her.”


Regina could see it in his eyes, the sincerity and the truthfulness, and it gave her a sense of security Regina didn’t realize she needed to hear from him until now. “Olivia does want to get to know you.”

“I have no problem with that,” he returned with a smile that made his eyes crinkle, and the corners of his mouth turned up, revealing those very dimples that made Regina’s stomach flip. “I’d love to get to know her as well.”

Nodding, Regina was glad this conversation wasn’t going to be as awkward as she pictured it. “I think we should take things slow. Maybe once a week we could meet if our schedules allow for it? You have a son, is that right?”

“I do. He just turned three last month.”

She suggested, “Perhaps we could take them both to the park?”

“Roland would love that.”

Regina straightened in her chair and grimaced, remembering Olivia’s punishment. Meeting Robin’s eyes, Regina amended, “Though, maybe this weekend you could just come by our apartment for a while. Olivia is still grounded, and I wouldn’t want her to think she’d gotten off the hook too quickly by letting her go to the park.”

Robin chuckled, his tongue just peeking out from in between his white teeth, and good God save her from the heat that began to burn low in her belly from the sound of it. “I wondered about that. Is this the first time she’s-”

“Run off on her own?” Regina interrupted. “Yes.” She closed her eyes and shook her head for a moment before meeting his gaze once again. “And I still don’t understand it. I don’t want to say she’s not brave because she is, but she’s timid. Very cautious around strangers.”

“Well, she did have a clever accomplice,” Robin allowed.

“That she did.”

“He’s quite the little mastermind.” Robin lifted his cup and took a drink.

“He is.” Regina acquiesced. “He’s just like his mother.”

“Ah, yes, his mother Emma? She seemed…” he trailed off, bit his lip for a moment, his eyes narrowed like he was searching for the right word. Then finally he seemed to settle on something, and said, “lovely.”

It was Regina’s turn to laugh, he was teasing her now. “I’m sorry about that night. You really didn’t get to see either of us in the best light.”

“No, it’s understandable. You were both scared for your children. Honestly, I’m impressed how together you were.”

“I wasn’t,” Regina admitted freely and not because she wanted to defend herself but because Regina truly had never been more scared in her life. Losing Daniel had been heartbreaking, but if she ever lost Olivia, she didn’t know how she would ever go on without her daughter. “God, I was so terrified something might have happened. So many unimaginable things could have happened.”

She closed her eyes as tears gathered just from just the thought alone, and then she felt something warm. Robin’s hand curled around hers, as he assured, “But she’s safe. No need to think about those things now.”

Regina shook herself from her thoughts. He was right. Olivia was home and safe, and there was nothing to worry about anymore. “You’re right. I know.”

There was a moment between them where they simply traded smiles, and Regina let Robin’s hand hold hers, giving her a bit of comfort in a way Regina hadn’t had in a very long time. The moment went on, and his thumb was now moving back and forth across her knuckles, sending a shiver down her spine. Taking her hand back, Regina reached for her coffee cup, taking a sip and hoping Robin hadn’t noticed his effect on her.

“The coffee is excellent here,” Robin remarked, mirroring her actions and drinking his own.

“It is,” she agreed, taking another sip. It’d gone lukewarm a while ago, but it was still drinkable. “And thank you, by the way. It wasn’t necessary.”

“It was the least I could do.” Robin looked over at her. “So, Regina, perhaps it would also behoove us to get to know another?” Regina’s brows rose, and she bit her bottom lip. She had to admit, she wasn’t expecting him to want to get to know her as well, at least not right away. Regina liked that about him, how he was nothing like anything she’d imagined, he was better. Robin was speaking again, his humor surprising her when he pointed out, “I mean, generally when one shares a child with another they have some knowledge of the other, and I have a sneaking suspicion your knowledge of me is much greater than mine of you.”

She smirked. “True.”

“So,” Robin started, returning her smile with one of his own. “What do you do for a living?”

Regina brightened, thankful for the temporary reprieve from their earlier conversation and for him for knowing she needed it. “I’m a photographer.”

“Oh?” She hummed an affirmative and Robin asked, “Freelance?”

“Yes, mostly. Though I’ve been contracted with a magazine for a while now, I do take on my own projects every now and then.”

Robin tilted his head and asked with genuine interest. “Which magazine?”

New York Style .”

His brows rose, and Robin gave her a nod. “Very impressive.”

But it was Regina who was impressed. “You’ve read it?”

“I’ve been known to pick up a copy or two,” Robin replied, then gave her one of those smiles again. The very one that made her stomach flip all those years ago and still made it flip to this day. He continued despite her inner ogling, stating, “Even architects look for inspiration in photography.”

“And you? Are you still with…”

Robin saved her from remembering the name and said, “Richard Lionel, yes. It has great pay and excellent benefits. They’ve also allowed me to work from home as much as I need.” He started to turn his cup absently, his voice went a bit lower when he explained, “After Roland's mother passed away it was difficult on my own. It took me a while to get into the swing of being a single father with an infant.”

“How old was he when she died?”

“A little under a year.”

Regina couldn’t imagine losing someone like that, especially right after having a child so young. She thought back to Daniel again, about the unfairness of it all, and told him, “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.”

Regina’s heart ached for him, for his loss, and for being a single parent through such pain. At least when she had Olivia, her own heart had begun to heal. She couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for him. “I’m also sorry for all this, Olivia coming into your life right now when you’ve already been through so much.”

“Honestly, I don’t mind,” Robin told her, and Regina started to say something, but he pressed on before she could. “Regina, please don’t think that Olivia is any inconvenience to my life because that’s just not so. I am more concerned that I am the one who is an inconvenience to the both of yours.”

“What, no.” Regina let out a breath and told him, “It’s not that it at all. This is just all so new for me, for us all, and will take some getting used to, but you’re not an inconvenience. I admit I was worried at first, but I’m not anymore.”

“Glad to hear it.”

They talked for another hour, getting to know one another. Questions and answers that were reminiscent things you might ask on a first date, colleges and families, music, and books. They kept things vague, didn’t dig too deep and for that Regina thanked. It was just nice getting to know him, the type of man he was. Robin even made Regina laugh a few times from stories he told her of his childhood. It seemed Olivia inherited not only the dimples and blue eyes but also her love of nature from him as well. They parted later that morning with smiles, the promise of a call from Olivia, and agreed to meet later that weekend at her apartment.

Regina took her time walking back home, giving herself a chance to think over her conversation with Robin. She realized she had nothing to worry about. Robin was thoughtful and sincere, showed a real desire to be a part of Olivia’s life. Regina wondered how it was that she got so lucky in the donor department.

He could have been worse , she thought. He could have been much worse.

Chapter Text

It was slowly becoming springtime in the city, and Regina rolled over in bed Sunday morning to a warm light filtering in through her curtains. It had rained all week, been nothing but a damp mess, keeping them all indoors for much of it. Robin had called on Wednesday to talk with Olivia for a bit, and after she had described her new book and various things she did in school that day in great detail, Regina had told her to say goodbye and that Olivia would see him soon. Once Regina had taken her phone back from her daughter, she and Robin decided early afternoon on Sunday would be a good time for him and Roland to come by. Closing her eyes, she was brought back to that night.

Since her talk with Robin, Olivia had been so excited, and that night she lay on Regina’s bed in her favorite lavender pajamas after her bath and plied Regina with questions while she looked over a few prints submitted to her. Questions like, would he like the drawing I made for him? Do you think he’ll want to play a game with me? Will Robin stay all day? Do you think he’ll bring his son with him? It was the last question said with such insecurity and hesitance that gave Regina pause, had her turning to Olivia, looking straight into those blue eyes which reflected so much doubt and uncertainty that Regina suddenly understood.

“Yes, Robin will bring Roland.”

Olivia’s eyes fell to the bed and she began tracing the stitching on Regina’s quilt. “Oh.”

Putting her work aside, Regina turned to face Olivia. “Sweetheart, just because Robin has a son doesn’t mean that you’ll mean any less to him.”

“Really?”

Regina paused, thinking of a way to explain the situation to her daughter in a way she would understand. “Well, it’s like with you and Henry. You’re my daughter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love Henry too, right?”

“But Henry’s not your son,” Olivia pointed out.

Taking a breath, Regina turned her chair and scooted it the few feet separating them until their knees touched and she took Olivia’s hands in hers. “Olivia, do you think parents with more than one child love any of them any less?”

Regina could see Olivia thinking about that for a moment and then she finally replied, “No.”

“It’s no different with you and Roland, you’ll see.”

“I hope so.”

“It is.” Tilting her head to meet Olivia’s eyes, Regina gave her a soft smile. “Remember I went and talked to him, and your father is very happy that you found him.”

Olivia straightened and her eyes widened. Regina could see that excitement she had lost a moment ago returning now. “He is?”

Nodding, she confirmed, “Yes, he is, and he can’t wait to get to know you.”

The young girl bit her lip, and then asked, “What should I call him?”

Regina’s brow furrowed. “Who? Robin?”

“Yeah, do I call him Robin or…” Olivia hesitated, and Regina was pretty sure she knew where her daughter was going with this, but Regina let her get there on her own. “Umm, do you think I could call him Daddy? Would that be okay?”

Regina contemplated that. After speaking with Robin, having gotten to know him as much as she could and knowing his feelings toward Olivia, Regina had no doubt that Robin wouldn’t mind Olivia referring to him as Daddy. The term for Regina, however, felt like someone had put a heavy weight on her chest. It wasn’t that she minded, but after parenting by herself for so long, it meant something more for her. It was an ideal that Regina marked ‘not for me’ and put away in a box somewhere. She never thought she’d want to open herself up to it, to him, but here she was. “I think that you should ask Robin first.”

Olivia smiled, but it dimmed shortly after and her hands tightened on her mother’s. “It won’t hurt your feelings?”

Regina’s head fell to the side slightly as she looked back into those blue eyes so full of worry for her and Regina pushed Olivia’s hair back from her forehead and smiled. “No, it won’t.”

Coming back to the present, pulling a pillow from beside her, Regina hugged it to her, the soft cotton still smelling like the fabric softener Regina used when she did laundry the following day. Closing her eyes, Regina breathed deeply, trying to catch the elusive pull of more sleep, though she knew it was useless. Regina would get up, make coffee and maybe send out a few work emails. She had nothing pressing, nothing that needed to be done, but it would be one less thing she would have to do Monday, her mind told her.

With a heavy sigh, Regina pushed back her down comforter and went to go make that coffee.


Much of the morning Regina spent tidying up the apartment, as Emma watched with a raised eyebrow from her spot on the couch.

Olivia sat at the table finishing up a list of questions for Robin with Henry, while Regina worked on her laptop and drank a cup of coffee.

Noticing Emma walk by her, Regina’s eyes rose from the photo she’d been staring at.

Taking a seat across from her, a smirking, Emma said, “Still stuck on the same photo, huh?”

Regina gave the blonde a look. “I’ll admit I’m a little distracted.”

The blonde let out a little snort while scrolling through her phone. “I’ll say. It’s been over an hour, and as much as I like cheesecake, there’s no cheesecake picture in the world that you could look at for an hour straight.”

Regina shut her laptop with a thump . “Shouldn’t you be working?” she asked pointedly.

Emma snorted. “And miss this? Are you nuts? Besides, what kind of friend would I be if I left you and Livie all alone with the guy on the first visit?”

Regina rolled her eyes. “I assure you, he’s nothing like what you’re thinking.”

“What are you thinking?” Olivia asked curiously, looking between the two of them.

Regina looked over at Emma with one eyebrow raised, which caused Emma to let out a small sigh and answer, “Nothing kiddo, I just really want to meet Robin, too.”

Regina shook her head, and just as she was about to open up the laptop again, her phone rang. Olivia’s eyes widened and she called out, “He’s here!” just as Regina, putting her phone to her ear, asked, “Hi, are you here?”

“We are.” Regina squashed down the thrill running along her spine at his warm accented voice.

“Great, I’ll buzz you in. See you in a few.”

Hanging up and putting the phone back down, Regina told Olivia to put whatever she was doing away as she made a quick trip to the bathroom. Brushing her hair out with her fingers, she applied some lip gloss and looked back at herself with amusement. What the hell was she doing? It was just Robin, only her daughter's father. It’s not like you’re dating him , Regina, she told herself on the way back out to the living room.

The knock at the door came quickly, and before Regina could reach it, Olivia was already running to answer it.

Regina was standing behind Olivia when the little girl pulled the door open, and there Robin was, standing with a toddler on his hip, carrying a bag over his other shoulder that Regina, as the parent of a former toddler, instantly recognized. The image he painted, oh it was a good one. A handsome father like that, paired with that accent, and those dimples now on display as he smiled at her...

Regina was saved from her thoughts by Olivia’s excited, “Hi, Robin. Hello, Roland!”

“Are you going to say hello to everyone?” Robin coaxed is son.

“Hello,” the little toddler replied, smiling shyly at everyone, and Regina caught Emma’s eyes across the room. She rolled her eyes slightly at Emma’s smirk. Regina knew the blonde was thinking the same as her. Dimples did run in the family.

“Come in,” Olivia invited, opening the door wide for them.

“Thank you.”

Regina stepped up to Robin and held out her hand. “We can put your bag and your coats over here.”

“Oh great, thanks,” he replied, handing her the bag, then set Roland on the floor and knelled to remove the boy’s jacket. After the jacket was neatly folded and placed in the bag, he stood, removing his own.

“Do you guys want something to drink?”

“Oh, I’m fine, but maybe for Roland?”

Regina leaned down to catch Roland’s eyes. “Hi, sweetheart, would you like some juice to drink?”

The boy gave her a small nod in reply, and she smiled at him. “Okay.” She rose and started over for the kitchen, and Roland started to follow her. Chuckling, Regina looked back and asked, “Are you going to come with me?”

Regina met Robin’s eyes, who smiled back, amused by his son.

“Hey,” Emma started, walking over to Robin and holding out her hand. “I’m Emma, sorry for not really taking the time to introduce myself the other day.”

Robin laughed lightly. “Robin, and think nothing of it, I understand.”

The blonde took a deep breath and admitted, “Well, I feel bad. I’m kinda the reason they were able to find you in the first place.”

“All’s forgiven,” he told her and then looked over at Olivia. “Like I told Regina, I don’t mind.”

Emma pursed her lips and gave him a nod. “Okay, great.”  They stood there for a moment and then Emma suggested, “Olivia, why don’t you show Robin around?”

“Oh, okay.” Olivia took his hand and began to walk them around the living room, and down the hall.

Emma took the piece of paper from the table. “Wow, talk about twenty questions.”

“That’s the idea,” Regina said, taking the cup of juice from the counter and, kneeling, handed it to Roland. “Olivia and Henry came up with the questions last night.”

“Huh, that’s kinda smart.”

Regina tossed the blonde a glare. “Don’t act so surprised.”

“Oh, you came up with it?” Emma smirked.

“I did.”

Emma nodded. “Good job, mom.”


After his tour of Regina’s home, Robin was quickly herded into the living room by two excited youngsters who explained they had a game for him. Robin was sitting across from them now, watching in amusement as they sat looking down at a piece of paper, consulting one another.

Finally, Olivia raised her head and asked, “Do you like movies?”

“I do.”

“Which one is your favorite?” Henry asked with a raised brow.

“Roland and I really love watching 101 Dalmatians .”

Olivia’s head tilted to the side as if contemplating his answer. “That’s a good one.”

“What’s yours?” he asked, amused by the way her little brow furrowed, and her nose scrunched up in thought.

After a moment she answered with a resolute, “ Fantasia .”

“Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I do remember liking that one as well.”

Henry interjected, “What’s better, summer or winter?”

Robin thought, his lips thinned into a line and his eyes to the ceiling, and then said, “Um, I’m going to go with summer.”

Olivia smiled and asked, “What’s your favorite holiday?”

He didn’t need to think about that one. “Christmas.”

“Favorite food?” Henry asked without missing a beat.

Blowing out a breath between his lips, Robin said the first thing that came to his mind. “Italian.”

The game of questions continued for a while, had them all smiling and laughing, and just really let Olivia get a chance to get to know him, and for Robin, Olivia was an absolute joy.


Regina stood at the counter slicing apples, making a snack for the kids when there was a knock at the door that caused Henry to spring up from the couch and run into the direction of his room.

“That’s Henry’s daddy,” Regina heard Olivia tell Robin.

Emma got the door, and a smiling Neal came in. “Hey Emma, Regina. Is Henry ready?”

“Yeah, he’s just getting his things,” Emma told him, gesturing with a jut of her chin towards his room.

Neal noticed Robin, and laying the knife aside, Regina wiped her hands on the towel and said, “Neal, this is Robin.”

Robin stood, and Olivia mirrored him, and reaching over the sofa Robin held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Neal started, and then stepping back put his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “Emma told me all about what happened. Sorry about that.”

Robin shook his head, and Regina frowned, noting that just about everyone was expecting him to be angry or upset, instead of what he really seemed to be, which was happy to be found. “Thank you, but I’m not at all upset.”

Neal’s brows rose, and he gave Robin a look half unbelieving and half amused. “Yeah, okay.”

Neal was saved from Regina’s retort when Henry came running into the room. His backpack on his back, and as usual crammed with too many things for such a short time. “Hey, Dad, I’m ready to go.”

“Awesome, lets get moving,” Neal replied, clasping his son on the shoulder.

Emma opened the door for them, reminding Henry and Neal, “Remember, no games and no TV.”

“Oh, don’t you worry,” Neal replied, looking down at his son. “I have a closet that needs cleaning and a wall that needs painting. He won’t have time for anything like that.”

“Aw, man,” Henry groaned.

Emma leaned down and kissed Henry’s cheek. “Have fun with your dad.”

“Yeah, sure,” Henry grumbled, and he followed Neal out to a chorus of “ goodbyes” from everyone.

Regina took the plate of apples and walking into the living room, bent down to where Roland was sitting playing with some of Henry’s old toys, offering Roland a slice, and he took one in each hand and happily began munching away.

Olivia and Robin had reclaimed their seats, and Emma sat down beside Olivia, and then bumped her shoulder against the young girl’s. “Livie, you should go play something for Robin while he’s here.”

“Oh, could I, Momma?” At Regina’s “Of course you can,” Olivia was sitting up and turning to Robin. “Do you want to hear me play?”

“I do. What do you play?”

“The cello.”

Robin’s brows rose up. Impressed , Regina thought. “I would love to hear you play.”

“Okay, come on!"


 

Olivia bounded off the couch and ran back into her room, Roland already following behind her curiously. Regina stood and with a tilt of her head, gestured for Robin to follow.

Taking in the softness of her room, the light pinks and purples were quite a contrast to his son’s bolder themed nursery, along with the many stuffed toys and dolls. When Marian had been pregnant, Robin thought about what it would be like if they had a girl, and it wasn’t what he imagined, but better.

In the corner sat her cello and even a child sized one, as Olivia sat in the chair and pulled it next to her little pixie-like frame, it still seemed to be twice her size. Robin smiled when Olivia glanced up at him.

“What should I play?” her eyes sought out her mother’s.

Regina bit her lip and narrowed her eyes in thought. “Why don’t you play “The Cello Song?”

Emma quipped behind her, “Yeah, I think everyone recognizes that. Unless you lived under a rock or somewhere like, I don’t know... Idaho.”

Olivia’s eyes lit up, and her blue gaze landed on him when she said, “I love that one.”

Situating her fingers and grasping her bow just so, Olivia began to play, and the breath was taken from Robin immediately. He expected “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but not this… nothing ever like this. It was as if she’d been playing for years. He was no expert or aficionado by any means but this, to him this was flawless. Every note was clear and strong, richly textured, and he was lost in the look on her face and the way her small hands moved up and down, across with her bow, he could see when she played she became lost in the music. Astonished, he couldn’t help when his eyes became wet, as pride filled into his very soul.

Olivia was his daughter, and she was extraordinary.


Robin took Roland up in his arms, settling the boy in his hip. “Can you tell everyone and Olivia goodbye?”

“Bye!”

There was a chorus of goodbyes from the living room, Regina waved, and Olivia took Roland’s small hand, and said, “Bye, Roland.”

“We’ll see you both next week.”

“Um, Robin, may I ask you a question before you go?”

Olivia looked up at her mum, who gave the girl a small smile and a light encouraging push forward. Olivia stepped to him, shyly crooked her finger at him, and Robin’s eyes met Regina’s gaze right before he knelt while balancing Roland on his hip. “Yes?”

Cupping her hand around her mouth, Olivia leaned toward him, and he met her halfway, amused that she had something she wished to whisper to him. Robin was expecting pretty much anything but wasn’t prepared for the words she actually spoke, when she asked, “Can I call you, Daddy?”

Punched straight in the heart, that’s what it felt like, only followed by a searing warmth that filled its place. Swallowing past the lump in his throat he told her, “Yes, I would like that very much.”

Olivia beamed at him.


Two weeks later, Regina held Olivia’s hand while they walked to the park on a Sunday afternoon to meet Robin and Roland.

Robin.

He came back to Regina’s mind once again, and she couldn't help but recall his last visit the week before. Robin played so many games with Olivia and everyone. Henry had also been home, and the Wii U Sports tournament Henry had challenged him to, had been memorable, to say the least. They all played except for Regina and Roland, and Olivia hadn't done too bad but was taken out in the tennis match, though the young girl didn't mind too much. She always enjoyed being more of a spectator at sports, like her mother.

In the end, Emma had won, had spectacularly taken out Henry and Robin, though both had vowed revenge. It was fun and different in a good way. After Robin and Roland left even Emma had commented how having them there, livened the place up, and Regina couldn't help but agree.

Sure, it hadn’t been technically a month, and Olivia was still supposed to be grounded, but the morning started off bright and clear, and it was just too good of a day outside to miss. Vesuvio playground had a little bit of everything, somewhere Olivia and Roland could both play. Maybe they could even walk over to the Children’s Museum and have a bite to eat if they had time.

After breakfast, she’d sent Robin a quick text asking if he minded that change in plans, to which he’d been happy to alter. After all, it was more of a day out together than just a visit.

“Just think of all the things you can show Roland.”

Olivia glanced up at Regina as though she hadn’t thought about that and asked inquiringly, “He’s never been to the park?”

“I’m sure he’s been to parks where he lives, but maybe not this one, and when we take him to the museum all the stuff in there might be new to him.”

“Oh, I could show him the pool and the fountains!”

Regina chuckled at Olivia’s enthusiasm. “You could, but you can’t swim or get wet today. It’s nice out but it’s not that nice out,” Regina said, emphasizing her words.

“But I could show him,” Olivia dramatically mocked while looking up at her mother with a bit of preteen exasperation that made Regina’s heart twist a bit. 

Pursing her lips playfully and swinging her hips to bump into Olivia, with the same amount of sass, Regina echoed, “Yes, you can show him the pool.”

Olivia giggled, and they walked for a few minutes, before Olivia said, “Momma, Henry told me that because Robin’s my daddy and Roland’s daddy that makes Roland my brother.”

“Henry’s right, he is.”

“Oh look! There they are!” Olivia cried out, pointing over by the castle Regina had described to Robin earlier that morning. “Can I go?”

“Yes, go play.”

Olivia ran straight up to Robin and without any hesitation stepped into his embrace. Regina could hear his laugh, as he kneeled. Could hear Olivia ask after Roland as she pulled away, and Robin turned pointed to the sandbox where the little boy sat happily burying a small toy.

Wasting no time, Olivia ran over to the boy and began playing in the sand with him.

Robin greeted Regina with a warm smile. “Hello there.”

“Hello.”

“You were right,” Robin started, looking around the area, before adding, “It is a beautiful day out. This park is fantastic.”

“Olivia just loved it here when she was younger. I thought Roland might enjoy it.”

“Oh, he already loves it. We played on the castle and the merry-go-round for a while before you and Olivia got here.”

“I’m glad.” Regina noticed a bench free up over by the sandbox and with a tilt of her head, said, “Shall the parents sit while the children play for a bit?”

“Yes, I think that a fine idea.”

They watch the kids play, Olivia taking Roland’s hand, helping him up from the sand, then watched as they walked over to the grassy area.

“She so beautiful.”

Regina warmed, had been watching both children as they played, but her eyes fell on Olivia at his words, and her heart filled from his compliment. “Thank you.”

“She looks just like you, you know.”

Regina tilted her head in his direction and raised an eyebrow. “So you’re saying you think I’m beautiful?”

Robin stammered and tried to back-pedal, and to Regina, it was probably the most adorable thing she’d ever witnessed on a grown man. “I- I’m sorry, I don’t mean to flirt, I just…”

Regina chuckled. “You’re fine.”

There was a heartbeat's pause as he looked at her, and she could tell he was contemplating what he should say in return, so she turned her attention back to their children and waited. It wasn’t long before he said, “Well, if I’m forgiven, then yes. You are.”

Regina rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at her lips.

Robin watched with a bit of wonder as Olivia walked with Roland around the park, holding his hand and showing him the small flowers growing around the grass, explaining to the toddler what they were. As they were occupied he turned his attention to the beautiful woman next to him. “How was your week?"

They spent the next twenty minutes catching up. They weren’t what she considered close yet, still strangers mostly, but Regina could feel how easily they were settling into a friendship. It was nice. He was nice. And it'd been a long time since Regina felt close to someone outside of Emma or Mulan, so she took the time to just enjoy being with him.

"So now that your project is done, what do you do?"

Last weekend they a had little time together, sitting at the table drinking coffee while the others played a round of bowling, to talk. Regina had mentioned that her next issue had wrapped up, giving her a bit of free time that weekend. Regina sighed, thinking about the ramp-up ahead. "Now it’ll be meetings and more meetings. Summer is a pretty busy time for me."

"I can imagine."

"And you?"

"I have a few things I'm working on at the moment, a couple renovations and finally finishing up a new site. It's the new plaza that's been going up over on the West Side," he told her.

Regina sat back a bit and turned towards him. She’d been wondering when the building would be finished and was looking forward to visiting it with Olivia. "That's yours?"

"Well not mine personally..." Robin started, smirking at her.

Regina rolled her eyes and whapped him on the arm. "Stop."

Robin chuckled. “Yes, I did design it."

Regina was about to compliment him on it, when Olivia’s voice rang out across the park. “Daddy, come push us on the swings!”

He waved to Olivia and then turning to Regina he gave her a heart-stopping smile. “That’s me.”

Regina opened her mouth to say something but whatever it was got stuck. Instead, she closed her mouth and gave Robin a nod and her most encouraging smile. Regina watched as he jogged out onto the soft turf of the playground. Robin’s effortless ease as he picked up his toddler and placed him in the swing next to Olivia, who was grinning up at him like he carried the sun and the moon in his arms, was heartening to see.

Something steadily began to burn in Regina’s chest and she could feel the beginnings of tears form in her eyes. Regina never realized just how much something like this, having a father, could mean to Olivia or to her. Regina suddenly felt very selfish. Not just for today but for the last nine years. She had been shortsighted to believe that Olivia wouldn’t need this, didn’t need a father in her life. Regina knew that single moms did this all the time. They had children and raised them amazingly, but she didn’t know a parent in the world that would choose to take away a moment like this from their children.

Both Olivia and Roland were laughing as Robin gave each child a push in turn. Olivia was swinging higher, the young girl having years of experience ahead of Roland, knew how to pump her legs to gain momentum. Her little voice rang out across the playground. “Watch how high I can go, Daddy!”

Regina smiled, watching Robin. He was laughing, but there was a bit of apprehension in his eyes as Olivia leaned back, swinging forward. Roland was tucked safely in a toddler swing, with no danger of falling out, but Regina could tell that Robin was a bit nervous as he watched Olivia. Though, Robin technically had two children, he was still a first-time parent, and there were times when even Regina’s heart stopped a time or two every time Olivia did something new.

Roland was starting to become fractious, already tired of the swing, and Robin lifted the young boy out, setting him down, and Roland began a walk over to the small slide. Robin looked between the kids, Olivia was still wanting to swing, and Roland determined to slide, so Regina caught Robin’s attention, getting up and pointing to Roland and then to herself, indicating she would watch him. He returned a warm smile of gratitude.

She met the young boy by the steps, and Regina stood close, but let Roland climb while her hand hovered just behind his back. Roland smiled at her when he reached the top. “Do you like the slide, Roland?”

Roland nodded, his eyes lighting up, and with the force of a three-year-old stated, “It’s my favorite!”

Regina chuckled, stepped away as the tot sat down, and she made her way to the end of the slide. “Ready?”

Roland grinned, and with a jubilant squeal, he pushed himself forward, down and into Regina’s waiting arms.

She heard the footsteps of her daughter right before her cries of, “Momma! Momma! Can we take Daddy and Roland to see the fountains now?”

Regina met Robin’s smiling eyes, and she shook her head. What was it that made her heart knock hard in her chest whenever he smiled? Moreover, what was it about the way those smiles affected her every time one of those was directed at her or her daughter?

“If they want to, I don’t mind,” Regina said, more to Robin than Olivia.

“Of course, we’d love to. Roland loves the fountains, don’t you?” he asked the boy, who took his hand and grinned up at him, and replied, “Yes!”

Olivia was the first to turn and head out of the park toward the pond, Roland running along after her as fast as his short legs could go. Regina and Robin stepped into a comfortable walk beside one another, every now and then stealing a glance at the other before dragging their eyes back to their children.


It was almost a month, and over a handful of visits, when Olivia asked to have a sleepover with her father. Regina was hesitant, extremely hesitant. After all, there was still so much she and Robin didn’t know about each other. On the other hand, he was her father , and he had a son of his own, who was also her brother , and as a parent himself, she trusted that Robin knew what he was doing. Still, it was her baby girl who’d never so much as even been to a friend’s sleepover, and yet Olivia was so enthralled with her father that she finally wanted to. Regina couldn’t help but feel the beginnings of the green-eyed monster creeping somewhere inside of her.

When Robin showed up ten minutes early on Friday night to pick Olivia up, Regina was ready for him. Her daughter’s backpack and a list of instructions in hand, she began to rattle them off. From Olivia’s bedtime, down to the television shows she wasn’t allowed to watch, and finally to her food.

"She's allergic to peanuts and dairy, so meats without breading, fruits, and vegetables are best. I also packed her some of her favorite snacks. "

"No peanuts and nothing dairy,” Robin echoed, his eyes scanning the paper Regina held in her hand. “Got it."

"I packed her epi-pen just in case. Her reactions haven’t been severe enough to need one, but those could possibly change, so it’s better to be prepared.” Regina looked up at him. A frown worrying her brow, she didn’t even think about whether or not Robin knew how to use one before. With trepidation filling her, Regina asked, “Do you know how to use one?"

"Yes, I actually do. My little sister had a terrible reaction to bees, so I've had to stick her a time or two."

Regina nodded and looked down at the list in her hands. "That's a relief."

Just then Robin’s hand was on her arm, strong and reassuring, and his blue eyes looked into hers, as he soothed, "Regina, love, I promise I’ve got this."

Regina let a sigh pass through her parted lips and reached up to touch his arm in return. "I know, I'm just-"

"You're nervous, it's understandable,” he interjected softly, and Regina couldn’t help but lean into the way his hand was now caressing her shoulder. “I know if I were to leave Roland in your care, I would be nervous, too. I mean, I trust you, but it’s different, I know."

Always looking out for her, Regina thought with a wry smile. Always so reassuring and understanding. She smiled at him, appreciating him all the more for that. Handing the list and Olivia’s backpack to him, Regina then leaned down as she spoke to Olivia, who stood by waiting eagerly to go. "Okay, have fun with your father, sweetheart. I'll see you tomorrow."

Olivia launched at her mother, tossing her arms around her neck. "Bye, Momma."

Closing her eyes, Regina took a moment to hold her little girl tight, before pulling back. Regina kissed her daughter's cheek. "I love you, baby girl."

Olivia leaned toward her and gave her Eskimo kisses as she returned, "I love you, too."

Standing up, it was clear Robin noticed Regina’s hesitance because, with a smothered smile, he teased, “Would you like to stay, too?”

Regina narrowed her eyes, but she couldn’t pull off the look when he kept smiling at her like that. “Very funny.”

Robin’s smile tipped into a crooked smirk. “You might enjoy it? Movies, some board games, and…” He glanced down at the list in his hands, and adding, “A trip to the grocery.”

Her lips pulled up of their own volition. Traitors . Why did he have to be so infuriatingly adorable? “As fun as that sounds, I have a date.” Robin tilted his head, his eyes narrowing slightly, and Regina was sure he looked taken aback by her word choice. Regina fought another smile as she amended, “With Netflix.”

The satisfaction Regina felt from the smile that came from him at that should not have affected her as much as it did, but to be honest, it had been a long while since Regina had a man’s attention, and if she was going to have anyone’s Regina was glad it was his.

“Oh, anything particular you’ll be watching?”

“I’m not sure yet. It’s been awhile since I’ve wandered out of the kid’s section, so who knows what I might find on the adult side.”  Robin laughed and bit his lip to steady the grin on his face, and Regina thought over what she had said that had him smiling so profusely. Her eyes widened perceptively right before she narrowed her eyes playfully at him. “Not that adult.”


Robin’s living room was a mess. There were LEGO’s, Matchbox Cars, and Lincoln Logs scattered all over the floor, HiHo! Cherry-O , Sorry! , and Candyland stacked on the coffee table alongside the still-left-open Operation . Robin was really quite horrible at that last one, which was something Olivia and Roland had taken great delight in.

Robin looked down at the floor where his children slept soundly side by side, atop many blankets and pillows, and one furry pup nestled between their legs, out for the count as well. Robin’s heart warmed at the sight. He decided to let them be, no need possibly waking them by transferring them upstairs. Robin figured he would just go upstairs, snatch a pillow for himself, and crash on the couch for the night.

On his way up, Robin grabbed his phone, deciding to give Regina a ring only because he knew if the situation were reversed, he would be wondering how his child was faring. Regina picked up within two rings, and the sound of her low voice pulled his lips up.

“Hello.”

“Hey. Is everything okay?”

Shifting the phone from his hand to balance on his shoulder, while he changed out of his jeans and into some cotton pants, Robin answered, “Yes, everything is fine. I just thought I’d let you know, Olivia had a wonderful night with Roland. They wore themselves out until they were both so completely knackered that they fell asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. Neither one of them made it past the previews in Peter Pan.

“I’m so glad they get along.”

Robin tossed the jeans across the room and into the laundry basket. “She is quite taken with him, yes.”

“Well, she’s no longer the youngest. I think she likes being a big sister.”

“I agree. Speaking of, we just introduced Roland to the term tonight. That’s the wonderful thing about his age, tell him Olivia is his sister and he just rolls with it, no questions asked. So how was your evening?”


Regina blew out a breath and glanced around her kid-free and roommate-free apartment from her place on the couch. Henry was gone with Neal, and Emma was out for the night with Patrick, to Regina, it left the place startlingly empty.

However, she found a way to take advantage of the evening alone, and ordered from her favorite restaurant, Chao Thai. It was a small hole-in-the-wall she and Emma discovered when Regina was five months pregnant and craving everything and anything spicy. It was something she only indulged in when she was out without Olivia or would order from work. With Olivia’s allergies, Regina had to always be mindful of where she took her daughter.

After she ate, Regina showered and settled onto the couch with a tangerine Pellegrino and her laptop. She was determined to get some work done while she caught up on some television, and Regina was three episodes into a reality cooking show when Robin called.

“Surprisingly unproductive,” Regina replied, glancing guiltily down at her laptop which was not being used for work but on the Williams Sonoma website. “I thought I would get more done, but I don’t know, the place is too quiet.”

“Did you at least find something good to watch?”

Regina grabbed the remote, hitting pause on her show, placed the laptop to the side, and got up in search of a snack. “A few. Chopped , Revenge , and I was thinking about Outlander later. Emma keeps bugging me about watching it.”

“Ah, Chopped is a good one.”

“You’ve seen it?”

“I have, and I have to admit, I think I’d show those fellows a thing or two.”

Regina snorted, and arched a disbelieving brow. “You think so?”

“I could. I’m an excellent cook,” Robin told her, his voice so full of confidence that it gave her pause.

“Really?”

“Mm, I’ll have to have you and the others over for dinner sometime. I make a mean bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese.”

Regina laughed outright, and her nose crinkled, as she teased, “You’re so full of it.”

“I prefer cleverly adorable.”

“So I take it you made it through the evening?” She pursued her lips together as she looked in the fridge, but nothing looked good. Shutting the fridge, Regina opened the cabinet, and smiled to herself, grabbing a pack of grasshopper cookies. Bless Emma and her addiction to junk food.

“I did. Olivia even helped me make some tea, and she even took out the proper tea cups and everything.”

Regina couldn’t fight the smile if she tried. “Huh, who would have thought? I would never have pegged you as the ‘tea party’ type.”

A snort followed her comment, and he defended, “Surely not in the political sense, no. However, I do love a proper cuppa. It made me a bit homesick, to be honest.”

Taking the cookies and one of Olivia’s rice milk, Regina hummed. “And where’s home?”

Robin’s voice was light when he replied, “I would have thought you knew that from reading my profile all those years ago, babe.”

Regina’s eyes rolled up to the ceiling. “Oh, shut up and tell me where you’re from.”

She could hear Robin chuckling, before he answered, “Sheffield. It’s about a three-hour drive north of London. Ever been?”

Regina sighed. “Sadly, no. When I was younger Paris was where I’d found myself when my mother had finally had enough and decided I needed a fashion sense.”

“I think you have a wonderful fashion sense.”

“And if you ever met my mother she will love to take full credit for that. Having a daughter who preferred reading books and riding horses was a great disappointment for her.”

“I bet you were an adorable book nerd.”

“Prepare to be disappointed.” Regina thought for a moment and then something came to her. Something ridiculous that she was loathed to admit and didn’t understand why she felt compelled to tell him, but she laughed a and said, “I wasn’t very popular in school.”

“I have a hard time believing that.”

“I wasn’t. I had braces, and wore these big black framed glasses.”

Robin made a clear noise of approval, and it sent delicious shivers down Regina’s spine. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing about what you’re describing that’s turning me off.”

“Librarian fetish,” Regina murmured under her breath and bit her lip in amusement when Robin chuckled. “And I may have crimped my hair,” she admitted sheepishly. “It was the 90’s!” she protested as Robin’s chuckle turned into a full-blown laugh.

“Hmm, I’m sure.” She could practically hear him smirking, when he said, “And did you wear grunge clothing and spend your nights listening to Alanis Morrisette? I only ask because I have this picture of you in my mind and it’s really quite fetching.”

“Ugh, I knew I should never have told you.”

He laughed, and said, “Well, I’d better let you go before you embarrass yourself any further. I just thought you’d like to know how everything went.”

Regina smiled and held the phone closer to her ear. “Thanks for calling.”


Her voice was quieter, and to Robin, it was almost like a caress. He closed his eyes for a moment, his hand tightening on the phone as all sorts of thoughts of Regina and caresses slid through his mind, and then breathed out slowly.

“You’re welcome. Good night, Regina.”

Chapter Text

Regina wasn’t the most organized person in the world by nature, and honestly, the only reason she really tried was because she had a daughter whose schedule required her to be. Having a child not only meant school activities, private lessons, and recitals, but also play dates, and now shared time with her father, which Regina had to juggle right along with her own schedule.

It was a Wednesday early afternoon, and Regina was sitting down at her desk with a cup of tea, trying to get rid of an oncoming migraine. As she began going through some work emails and adding things to her calendar, Regina noticed, in bright red letters, Olivia’s end of year recital set for the following Friday. Shaking her head, Regina wondered how time had gotten so far away from her. It felt like summer was still so far away when it was just right around the corner.

Then a thought occurred to her that maybe Robin would like to come with them. He hadn’t seen Olivia’s school, hadn’t had the chance to go to a school function or participate in that part of Olivia’s life just yet. He’d love it, that much Regina knew from his reaction to Olivia’s mini-recital on his first visit. Regina smiled at the thought, and taking her phone from beside her, Regina quickly scrolled through her contacts to pull up Robin’s name.

The line rang five times, and right before Regina was sure it was about to go to voicemail, Robin picked up. “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.” The line was quiet, she could hear a man’s voice in the background not belonging to Robin, talking something about plans and next week, and Regina felt like she was interrupting. “Do you have time to talk?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. I was just finishing a work thing.”

Her teeth dug into her bottom lip and Regina asked, “Do you need me to call back later tonight?”

“No, not at all, I’m all done for the day.” Robin sighed into the line, and then Regina could hear the smile back in his voice when he asked, “How are you?”

“I’ve been better.”

“Oh, what’s wrong?”

Regina closed her eyes, silently chiding herself for her words. Robin didn’t need to know about her personal problems. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said that. I’m fine.”

Robin wasn’t buying it, though, and he pressed, “Obviously not. Tell me what’s bothering you. Is it Olivia?”

Regina sighed, touched by his concern, but it wasn’t about his daughter, so it wasn’t his problem. “No, Olivia’s fine. In fact, that’s why I was calling. Olivia has a recital at school next weekend, and I thought you might like to come along with us?”

There was a pause, and then it was followed by his happy reply, “Absolutely, yes, I would. I’d love to go.”

“Great. I can text you the details if you’d like?”

“That will be fine.”

Resting her elbow on the edge of her desk, Regina rubbed the bridge of her nose, applying pressure to try and relieve some of the pain. “Alright, well, I better not keep you from your work.”

“Like I said, I’m done for the day. So why don’t you tell me what’s troubling you?”

Damn it. Regina’s sidestep away from that conversation had failed spectacularly. “It’s nothing I should be bothering you with.”

“Regina, aside from being the mother of my child, I’d like to think we’ve gotten to know each other well enough to call one another friends.” His voice was soft and affectionate, as Robin continued, “And as my friend, I promise you will never be a bother to me. What’s wrong, love?”

Regina knew it was a British term of endearment, but the way he called her “love” made her heart knock hard in her chest. She told herself to focus. Robin was just being kind to her and it didn’t mean it the way that he said it, so with a sigh, Regina admitted, “It’s nothing really, sometimes I just get these headaches. It’s been awhile since I’ve been seen for them and I’ve been meaning to go get another prescription, but I never seem to have the time.”

“Are you feeling unwell now?”

Regina wanted to tell him, no, that she was not feeling well at all. She could already feel this one was going to be a bad one, but Regina didn’t want to worry him. There wasn’t anything Robin could do about it anyway, so why bother? However, the need to be honest with him outweighed her pride it seemed and Regina admitted, “Starting to. I can feel them coming on. I’m usually okay if I take some Excedrin and go to bed, but unfortunately, it’s the middle of the day. I still have to get Olivia and Emma won’t be home till later, and she needs to do her homework, eat, and-”

She was about to go on, but Robin softly interrupted her, “Regina, why don’t I go and get her for you and you can get that prescription taken care of?”

“No, that’s okay.” Regina shook her head even though she knew Robin couldn’t see her. “You’d have to come all that way.”

“I wouldn’t, I’m already in the city.”

Regina attempted to protest. “But Roland?”

Robin told her, “Roland is back at home with his nanny, who I assure you, won’t mind me taking some time to help a friend.”

Regina bit her lip. “I don’t even know if I can get in to see my doctor on such a short notice.”

“So why don’t you call and see, and even if you can’t I’ll pick up Olivia anyway, take her home with me for some dinner with Roland and I while you get some rest. I can see that she does her studies and have her back before bedtime.”

Regina paused and then with a grateful sigh, she asked, “Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

Regina hated keeping him, but she had to admit, she was so very tempted to take advantage of this brief moment of relief Robin was offering her.

“Let me do this for you, babe,” he beseeched her softly. “You can always be stubborn about something else later on.”

Regina smiled despite the pain behind her eyes. He was always doing that, making her smile. Regina had to blink hard to fight back the tears that began to form. “Oh, I’m stubborn?”

Hearing his deep chuckle, Regina couldn’t help by smile. It was the same chuckle Robin got when he was more than satisfied with himself. The one that stirred something inside her, something that made her legs go weak and her breath catch in her throat. Regina had to stop this, stop liking him so much. They had a child to think about. If anything more between them were to happen and then something went wrong, where would that leave their daughter?

Regina couldn't risk it. They couldn't risk it. They could be friends, close friends, but that's as far as Regina would allow it go.

"Fine, I suppose I could call and see if I can get in. I'll call Olivia’s school and let them know you'll be there to pick her up."

“Excellent. I’ll be there.”

“And Robin…” Regina started, but paused, unsure of how to convey how much all this meant to her, having him there for her, as well as for their daughter. It had been a long time since she had this, had someone other than Emma worry about her. Regina inhaled a breath between her lips. Maybe not even since Nathan.

Robin’s voice was there again. “Yes, Regina?”

Smiling and wiping away her traitorous tears, Regina simply said, “Thank you.”


It had been quite a while since Robin really had to cook. Sure, he made things for himself and his son. However, a toddler’s palate was pretty straight forward, and Robin got used to Mac and Cheese, tater tots, and sliced fruits and vegetables, quick and simple finger foods.

Rummaging in his pantry, cupboard, and refrigerator, Robin quickly realized he would need to be very mindful of what he served to his daughter. Nuts were easier to stay away from than dairy. Pulling things from shelves and reading the labels closely Robin found that he was really going to have to make a trip to the store before he had Olivia over again.

They had stopped by and gotten a few things on the way home, but it wasn’t nearly enough, and by the look of things, over half of his pantry was filled with either one or the other of what Olivia couldn’t eat, and that wouldn’t do. Most certainly not for his little girl.

And that was how Robin found himself later that night, chopping vegetables and watching as Olivia and Roland sat at the table peeling away the husks from corn and giggling as the silk fell all over them and the floor. The smell of the meat cooking with the vegetables filled the kitchen, taking him back to his own childhood when his mum made the very same stew, mixed in with the sounds of his children giggling, gave off a warmth that had been absent in his home for some time now.

A delighted shriek and the sound of laughter from Roland caused Robin to look up. His toddler had his hand stretched out from his chair, letting Ella lick at his fingers. Robin had a sinking suspicion his son was feeding some of his Goldfish snacks to the pup, and Robin was determined that the dog would not beg at the kitchen table, or eat much of people food, for that matter.

Robin’s eyes drifted to Olivia, who was diligently picking every last bit of silk from an ear of corn, and he smiled at the look of concentration there. God, she looked just like her mother. “Olivia, how is that corn coming along?”

“Good,” Olivia replied, glancing at him with a smile and brightness in those blue eyes she’d gotten from him. “I’m almost done.”

“Excellent.” Finishing up the last of the carrots, Robin placed the knife on the counter, and taking up the cutting board, went over to the stove. Carefully tilting the board, Robin dropped the bits of cut carrot into the boiling pot.

“Daddy, can we make dinner for Momma sometime?”

Robin looked back at Olivia, a smile making his features light up. Robin loved that idea. “Yes, absolutely. Just as soon as she’s feeling better.”

Still fixated on her task, Olivia told him, “We should make her a cake, too.”

“A cake?” Pulling the stock of celery from the fridge, Robin thought on that. A dairy free cake? While Robin was certainly up for the challenge, he was curious as to what Olivia had in mind, and asked, “What kind?”

“Momma likes red cake.”

Robin nodded. “Ah, red velvet?”

“Yes, that’s it,” Olivia replied, smiling widely, her dimples flashing out again.

Robin grinned back at her. Taking the celery to the sink to rinse, Robin said, “Well then, we shall make it for her.”

“Me too?”

“Of course, Robin began. “I’ll need a helper.”

Just then there came a knock on the front door, and Robin’s eyes met Olivia’s. “I’ll be right back, darling. You just keep up with those.”

Walking over to the door and pulling it open, Robin was surprised to find his friend, Killian, standing there, six pack in hand and smiling up at him. Robin tossed the towel he was holding over his shoulder, and his hands fell to his hips. “Killian, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

Killian looked at him taken aback. “You’re joking, mate? Tonight’s the last game.”

Oh bollocks , Robin thought with a groan. His head fell back, and Robin muttered, “I forgot all about that.”

“No worries, we’ve still got time before it starts,” Killian told him, stepping inside and pushing past Robin.

“Thing is,” Robin began, following behind Killian into his living room, where his friend had already grabbed the remote, flopped down on his couch, and turned on the television. Robin sighed, knowing Killian would be a bit put out by the sudden change in plans, but he’d just have to get over it. “I have Olivia tonight.”

Twisting the cap off one of the beers, Killian looked up at Robin with a mixture of boredom and amusement. “So what? The lass can’t watch football?”

The sound of footsteps alerted Robin of Olivia’s presence right before she ran into the room, informing him, “Daddy, I’m all done,” and then noticing Killian, stepped a bit closer to Robin and added a soft, “Oh, hello.”

Killian for his part smiled warmly at Olivia, and gentling his tone, replied, “Hey there.”

Robin smiled at the exchange, and putting a reassuring hand on Olivia’s back, he introduced her to his friend. “Olivia, this is my good friend, Killian.”

Looking up at him, Olivia glanced back at Killian, offered him a small smile in return and again said, “Hello.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Olivia. Your dad talks a lot about ya.”

“Really?” Olivia asked, brightening.

Killian nodded gravely as though it pained him and added, “Aye, a lot .”

Robin rolled his eyes, but Olivia loved it and giggled at Killian, then glanced back up at Robin and in almost a whisper said, “Daddy, I finished the corn.”

“That’s great, darling. Can you go check and see if Roland is finished with his snack?”

“Sure,” Olivia replied, and took off out of the room both adults watching as she went.

“Alright, we can still watch I suppose, but on one condition.” Robin held up an index finger and pointed it at Killian. “Language, watch it.”

Killian shrunk back against the couch with a groan. “Ah, bloody hell...”

Adamant, Robin shook his head. “I mean it. The last thing I need is Olivia going home to Regina and repeating after you. She’d never let me have her over again”

Killian gave him a look Robin could not misinterpret and stated, “That’s a bit of the pot callin’ the kettle black, you know.”

Tongue in cheek, Robin couldn’t deny he didn’t have a bit of a sailor’s mouth when it came to his football. “I’ll watch it too. I never said that I wouldn’t.”

Killian sighed deeply, took a pull from his beverage, and looked forlornly at the television as he turned to the right channel, and muttered, “G-rated footy, brilliant.”


The drive back to the city that night was an easy one, and while Olivia attempted to teach Roland ‘I Spy,’ Robin had some time to go over the evening. Once Olivia had warmed up to Killian, they had both gotten along wonderfully. His friend explained the finer points of the game while Olivia sat beside him listening intently. She even told him many of the things she already did know of the sport, while Robin tended to Roland and their dinner. After their meal, they all sat around the television eating and cheering Ireland on in the final match of the season.

Nearing the apartment, Robin’s thoughts drifted to Regina. He hoped she was feeling better. The last message he got from her was that she would be going to bed and to call Emma when he stopped by to drop off Olivia. Wanting to see how she was faring before he left, Robin told Emma he would walk Olivia up.

Taking the stairs, Robin followed behind the children and watched with fatherly pride at both his son and daughter. Olivia held Roland’s hand all the way up. She had taken to Roland more and more over the last few weeks, and he to her, and it warmed Robin’s heart to watch the bond between them grow. All of them were slowly settling into a small family of their own.

The door to the apartment was already unlocked, and Roland took off after Olivia as she made her way over to Henry, who was engrossed in a movie, Jumanji , if Robin wasn’t mistaken. Emma came into the room shortly thereafter, with a half glass of water in one hand and a small bottle in the other.

“Hey, how are you?” she asked, with a backward glance over at the kids, then to him.

Robin returned her smile. “Great, and you?”

“Pretty good,” Emma replied, placing the bottle on the counter and the glass in the sink. “I wish I could say the same for your baby momma back there.”

Robin frowned. He hated the thought of Regina still being in pain, so he asked, “She still not feeling well then?”

Emma shrugged as if it was an everyday occurrence. “She says she’s fine, but I know when she’s lying, and so I know she’s feeling like shit.”

Robin looked back in the direction of Regina’s room and then to Emma and sighed. Robin wished there was something he could do for her, anything really, even if it was just to fetch her water and painkillers and keep the place quiet so she could rest.

Robin suddenly felt very jealous of Emma Swan.

“You can go see her if you want.”

Robin looked up to see the blonde looking at him with a perceptive smirk on her lips and Robin knew he was caught. “She won’t mind?”

Emma’s smirk widened at Robin’s flimsy attempt at deflecting. “Nah, besides I think she’d rest better knowing you got Livie back.”

Robin took a breath and gave Emma a thankful look of gratitude before heading down towards Regina’s room.

Opening the door to her room softly, Robin poked his head into a very dark space, where the only sounds were of Regina’s soft breathing. Letting the light from the hall filter in and light his way over to her bed, Robin found her lying against a jumble of pillows, her blankets pushed down by her feet. Regina must have been hot before, Robin thought, as he walked quietly over to the bed. Regina was wearing shorts that were bunched up to the tops of her thighs, and for a moment Robin was mesmerized by her long, toned legs on display. Robin swallowed hard, looking away from the sight of her bare limbs.

Sitting down on the edge of her bed, Robin said her name softly. "Regina?"

Regina raised her head slightly from her pillow, and Robin watched as she grimaced at the action. "Hm?"

Robin placed his hand on her back, and rubbing gently, Robin spoke in a hushed whisper. "You don’t have to get up. Just thought I'd tell you Olivia's home. Emma's going to tuck her in."

Regina let her head fall back to the softness of her pillow. "Mm, okay."

"You rest, love.” Pushing her hair to the side, Robin began to rub a bit higher, hoping Regina found the caress to be soothing. “I'll call you tomorrow. Do you need anything?"

"Mm, don’t stop," Regina breathed, as his hand made another caress across her shoulders. Regina was tired and unwell, and Robin’s eyes widened a bit when he realized what Regina was asking. It was enough to make his heart speed up.

"What? This?" Robin asked, just to be sure, and ran his hand down between her shoulder blades, applying just a bit more pressure than he had been using before.

“Mmmm,” Regina confirmed in a sleepy hum that was muffled by her pillow, her body curling in toward him.

Robin kept up the caress, ever so gently lightening the pressure as Regina began to fall into the gentle pull of sleep, her face becoming more and more relaxed with each passing moment. Her top was a soft thin cotton tee, and Robin could feel the warmth of her skin under his hand. He wondered how long it had been since Regina had been touched like this, and was surprised by the sudden flare of possessiveness, or quite possibly jealousy , at the thought of someone, anyone , else touching her. Robin had to concentrate then to keep his hand steady.

When Regina’s breathing evened out to a deep steady rhythm, Robin lightened his touch as to not startle her when he left. Robin took one last moment to take Regina in, her long hair splayed across her pillow, face relaxed, and composed. Regina’s beauty enchanted him, even in her sleep.

Robin couldn’t help himself, and leaned down to place a kiss on her brow. He didn’t think Regina would mind. Her skin was smooth and warm under his lips, and she smelled deliciously of apples and vanilla. Robin had to pull himself away, and shook his head at his foolishness. Robin might be mightily attracted to her, growing to count her as a friend, but he was not anything more than that right now. Robin had Olivia to think about, and couldn’t afford to mess things up with his daughter’s mother, no matter what he was feeling towards her. Still, Robin knew that the image of her sleeping peacefully would no doubt invade his dreams that night.

Closing the bedroom door gently, Robin walked out into the living room and gave Olivia a hug and Henry one last goodbye. Before he could go, Robin was stopped by Emma, who was carrying two bowls of popcorn and placing them on the floor beside the kids who were settling into a movie before bed.

“Hey, you out?”

Robin nodded as he picked up his son, who was none too pleased with being taken away from the popcorn or movie if the scowl on his little lips was any indication. “Yeah, I need to get this guy to bed. Oh, and I let Regina know you’d put Olivia to bed.”

Emma’s eyes glanced back behind his shoulder in the direction of Regina’s room. “How’s she doing? Last time I checked on her she was hurting pretty bad.”

“She’s asleep.”

“That’s good. I guess that last dose of Excedrin I gave her finally kicked in.”

The blonde began walking back towards the kitchen and Robin followed, now curious. “Does she get many? Headaches, I mean.”

Emma shrugged. “Not really. It’s been a while, but I’d say a few times a year. Mostly from stress.”

Robin frowned at that. He didn’t like the idea that it could be him that was causing her pain. However, Emma was quick to reassure him. “Look, your whole situation has been a bit rough on her, but don’t blame yourself. I mean, give yourselves some credit, you’re working this whole thing out better than a lot of people probably would.”

“Aye, that’s true,” Robin began, but then paused. Robin felt like there was more he could do for Regina. He thought back to a few minutes ago, about being there to rub her back until she fell asleep, and though their relationship wasn’t exactly intimate like that, he still wished he could be the one to care for her and not Emma. Robin sighed. His thinking was absurd because they weren’t together, and he should in no way push her, but still...

Robin looked up to see the blonde watching him, and Emma gave him another knowing smile and offered, “And you both seem to really like each other, so there’s that.”

He blinked at her. Robin didn’t know what to say to that. Was he really that transparent?

Suddenly, it was like Emma was saving him from his thoughts, because she was moving around the counter and towards the door, assuring, “Don’t worry, she’ll sleep like the dead, wake up and be her usual feisty self.”

Robin grinned at the blonde. “I’ll look forward to it.”

“Oh hey, before I forget.” Emma walked over to the small table by the entryway, and taking something from the bowl, held it out to him. “This is for you, you know, in case you need to drop off or pick up the kiddo again.”

Taking the silver key from her hand, Robin looked up at her in amusement. “Does this mean I passed the infamous Emma Swan background check?”

Emma raised a brow and her lips pulled into a crooked smile. “Count yourself lucky, my friend. There aren’t many men who get that honor.”


A week later, Regina was feeling much better. The stress from work began to lift as she settled into her new role. It wasn’t that Regina’s job was stressful, well, it was, but she could handle that. Mostly, the feeling of intense pressure was self-made from the pressure she put on herself to have time for Olivia.

Regina was beginning to really embrace having Robin and Roland in her life, in their life. It wasn’t a difficult thing to do. Regina liked Robin, really liked him, and she found herself thinking of him more and more often. And though she worried about what was happening between her and Robin, about that feeling she got when his eyes met hers. Regina also thought about the way Robin would focus his attention on their daughter. How he would listen to Olivia as she babbled on and on about everything and nothing, still making Olivia feel like she was the most captivating person in the room. Regina realized she was helpless to it, to them, and what they brought to her and Olivia’s lives.

Regina loved those times most, the times they all spent together. Having time to herself did have its perks, but there was only so much reading or watching TV she could do before she became bored and would work into the evening or crawl into bed early and trade texts with Robin until she was sleepy and called it a night.

Which was exactly what Regina did last night, and it had been rather late before they had stopped talking. Sometimes Regina felt like they were teenagers in high school, trading silly notes to one another. Robin would throw out random questions like, If you could go anywhere in the entire world and live there, where would it be? Or simple ones like, Favorite color? Or the ones she loved, the thought-provoking questions, What would you do differently in life if you knew no one would judge you for it?

Of course, Regina would answer Robin’s questions, sometimes ask the same of him, or return with her own questions. Most were just as simple or silly, but Regina was definitely bolder in some of her questions. What should I know about you that I would never think to ask? And, Are you close with your family? Also, because she’d just finished her second glass of wine that night and Regina thought, why not ? What is your favorite article of clothing… on a woman?

It was a way to get to know one another, Regina knew, but it was more than that, which was really what Regina loved about it most.

But really their messages had started that night with a simple text from Robin inviting her, Emma, and Henry to his home the following night for dinner. Olivia was already there and with Robin, and he told Regina he and Olivia wanted to do something special for her. How could she really say no to that? Why would she want to? So when Regina asked Emma, the blonde had shrugged and said she was always up for free food. Henry was thrilled to go, but mostly just excited to get a chance to play with the dog.

As Regina got ready to go out for the night, she hummed a song that had gotten stuck in her head earlier that day, Love Song by Adele. Standing in front of her closet in nothing but her underwear and bra, Regina contemplated how she wanted to dress for the night. Pursing her lips, Regina thought about a skirt or a dress but then thought better of it. There would be children and a dog, and so she would save the fancier dress for another night. Settling for casual, Regina grabbed a pair of her favorite jeans and sandals, but added a flirty red sleeveless keyhole top. Regina applied light makeup and spent a good amount of time agonizing over what to do with her hair before deciding to leave it down.

Twenty minutes later, Emma was there pounding on her door telling Regina they were going to be late if they didn’t get going, and it wasn’t like Robin wasn’t going drool over her no matter what she looked like anyway.

Regina ignored that last comment, but couldn’t help the blush that burned across her cheeks.


The doorbell rang at half past four, and Olivia sprung up from the floor where she and Roland had been coloring.

“Come on, Roland, Henry’s here!” Olivia told her brother, taking his hand, both of them running toward the door with Ella following behind them.

Robin shook his head, walking after them all, and stood back as Olivia unbolted the door and smiled widely at their guests.

Clambering in, a harassed-looking Emma sidestepped her way over to Robin and shoved a couple of bottles of wine into his hands. “Could the construction down the street be any more of a mess?”

Robin winced. He’d forgotten to warn them about that. “Yeah, sorry about that.”

Pulling her mother by her hand into the foyer, Olivia reminded, “Daddy, we need to show Momma her surprise.”

Robin looked at Regina, the dark jeans emphasizing her long legs and the red blouse against her skin and hair was doing things to his mind. Robin had to swallow before he found his voice.

“Yes, we will,” Robin told Olivia, and then spotting young Henry already on his knees petting Ella, added, “You know, Henry, she has a ball out back I bet she’d love you to throw for her.”

“You have a yard?” Henry asked standing and looking up at him in awe.

“Well, not a very big one, but yes.”

Henry was off without another word, making the adults chuckle. Then the doorbell rang, and Robin started towards it. “Ah, that would be, Killian.”

“Oh, I’ll answer it!” Olivia said, letting go of her mother’s hand and opening the door once again. “Hi Killian,” Olivia greeted brightly.

“Hello, little lass,” Killian replied, stepping in and glancing around at them all. “Er, I was going to say sorry I’m late, but it looks as if I got here just in time.”

Robin stepped up beside Regina and introduced everyone. “Killian this is Olivia’s mum, Regina Mills, and this is my friend, Killian O’Riley.”

Killian smiled and held out his hand. “Ah yes, the beautiful lass’ mother, I’ve heard nothing but good things.”

Regina smiled in kind and took his hand. “I should hope so.”

Robin placed his hand on Regina’s back as a clear “hands off” signal to Killian, while he gestured to the blonde across from them with the other. “And this is Regina’s friend and roommate Emma Swan, and her son Henry is out back with Ella.”

Robin watched as Killian’s eyes drank in the blonde, and Robin shook his head. He knew that look.

Killian’s voice lowered, his hand held out once again. “A pleasure to meet you, love.”

Emma for her part wasn’t as taken as Killian, and Robin held back a smirk, when she replied with a nonchalant, “Yeah, you too,” before pulling back her hand.

There a weighted moment, and then Robin once again spoke, “Anyway, I have drinks for us and the kids out on the deck.”

“I’ll take that drink,” Emma quipped, being the first to make her way towards the back. Robin, Regina, and the rest followed behind her. Once outside, Emma let out a low whistle, “Wow, look at this place. You’ve got your own secluded back yard out here with all the plants.”

“Aye, you should have seen the place when he bought it. Nothing but rock and rubble,” Killian supplied.

“This is beautiful,” Regina stated, smiling at Robin.

“Look Momma.” Olivia pulled Regina’s hand and pointed across the yard to a large tree. “I even have a swing.”

Sure enough, there was a small swing tied to the branch of the tree. Regina turned toward Robin. “You put that up for her?”

“I did, yeah. I’m afraid Roland’s tiny tot of a slide wasn’t much fun for her.”

Regina looked up at him, a surge of affection warming her chest for this wonderful man. Regina wondered for the hundredth time how she –how Olivia got so lucky.

Robin took a bottle of wine from the table, and pouring a glass, asked, “Care for a drink?”

Returning his smile, Regina nodded, taking the glass from him. As he poured his own, Regina watched him, appreciating the view for a moment now that his eyes weren’t on hers, and thought about how easily she could fall for this man if Regina just let herself.


After dinner, while the adults sat around the table outside, Olivia had come up to Robin and asked if they could all have some of the cake they’d made for Regina. Robin was more than happy to oblige and told Olivia he would go slice it up and let her know when they were ready.

That was exactly what Robin was doing when he heard a voice from behind him ask, “Would you like some help?”

“Wha-,” Robin turned suddenly at Regina’s voice, and unfortunately for Robin, the knife in his hand followed, slicing across his index finger. “ Ah , shit.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just a bit of a clumsy idiot.”

“Let me see.”

“No, it’s fine…”

“Robin, let me see.” Regina stepped up beside him and took his hand, scowling up at him at his sigh. Removing the towel, Regina grimaced and Robin let out a hiss at her touch. “This is deep.”

“It’ll be alright. I’ll just go bandage it up.”

Regina’s eyes lingered on the cut on his finger. She wanted to argue that he should get it looked at, but instead raised a brow and relented, “If you say so. Why don’t you let me do this ?" Regina gestured to the cake with a tilt of her head, adding, "While you go see to that because I don’t know about you, but I prefer my cake without the garnish of blood.”

Robin chuckled, placing the towel back around his finger. “I’ll just be a moment.”

Regina watched him go and once he was gone, turned back to the cake. Reaching across the counter, Regina grabbed a clean knife and began to slice the cake into pieces. Smiling fondly at the slightly crooked confection, and placed each piece on a plate. Ever since Olivia and Robin had shown it to her, Regina had been wondering what it would taste like, not that Regina didn’t trust Robin’s culinary skills, but now came the moment of truth, and Regina was only a tiny bit nervous about it.

She should try it now, before Robin came back. It was her cake after all, and it wouldn’t hurt to try a bite first, so Regina would know whether or not she was going to need to school her features later in front of Robin and Olivia.

Regina didn’t want to hurt their feelings, after all.

Taking one of the plates, and then grabbing a fork from where Robin had already laid a bunch out on the counter. One deep breath and Regina went for it, and much to her surprise her eyes closed of their own volition when the sweetness mixed with the spices hit her tongue. It was amazing, and it had her letting out a soft groan of appreciation.

“I take it my lady approves?”

Regina’s eyes widened, and turning towards him, she smiled guiltily. “Mmm, so good.”

“That’s a relief.” Robin softly chuckled, now stepping towards her, his finger was wrapped in gauze and tape, and Regina wanted to scowl, but her mouth was full of cake. She knew his cut was deep, and was proven correct when a simple band-aid didn’t do the trick. Regina just might lecture him about going to a doctor to get a stitch or two later. Robin leaned against the counter a few feet from her, and admitted, “I’ve never made a dairy-free cake before.”

“You did a great job.”

Robin gave her a crooked smile, but glanced back over his shoulder towards the living room where the kids were playing with the dog, and as if he would be overheard Robin told her, “Better not let Olivia catch you eating that. It might break her heart to not see your reaction to the first cake she’s ever made for you.”

Her face fell, and Regina stopped mid-chew on the bite she’d just taken. Regina looked down and swallowed. Licking her lips, Regina told him, “You saw nothing.”

“Hmm.” Robin pushed himself away from the counter, took a step towards her, and placed his hands behind his back, a mischievous look on his smug face. Robin’s voice was low when he told her, “I’m afraid I’m going to need some sort of incentive to keep my silence.”

Regina’s eyes widened right before narrowing at him. “You wouldn’t.”

“Are you quite sure about that?”

Regina straightened. “What do you want?”

Robin grinned, and then his top teeth sunk into his full bottom lip, and her eyes followed, all the while Regina thought that just might be the sexiest thing she’d seen on a man in a very long time. Licking her lips, Regina’s eyes flicked back up to his. His blue eyes were bright, and he was smiling at her knowingly. Robin knew he had an effect on her, and Regina bit her tongue to keep from smiling back at him. “You’re trouble, Robin Locksley.”

His brows rose. “Oh?”

“Yes, you are, and I don’t think for one minute you’d rat me out.”

Robin tilted his head. “Sure about that, are you?”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t want to see your daughter disappointed.”

“You play dirty, Miss Mills.”

“You know what they say, all’s fair.”

“Mm.” Robin’s eyes held hers and the corner of his mouth twitched. “Then why don’t we test your acting skills, shall we?” Suddenly, he called out, “Olivia, your mum is about to try our cake.”

Regina’s eyes widened, and she could hear Olivia cry out, “ Wait for me, Momma!

Shoving the plate into Robin’s hands, he winced as she nicked the tip of his injured finger. “Serves you right,” Regina muttered under her breath, as he stepped behind her.

Regina took another plate with an uneaten slice while waiting for Olivia. As soon as Olivia skidded into the kitchen, she looked up at Regina slightly out of breath and said, “Okay, now you can try it.”

Taking a spoon from the counter, Regina dug in and as she put it in her mouth, hummed a tad bit theatrical than Regina normally would have, and swallowing, praised, “It’s very good. You and Robin did a great job.”

“Oh good! Can we all have some now?”

“Yes, go get Henry and Roland,” Regina began, but then remembered they had all been playing with Ella, and said, “But first, all of you need to wash your hands.”

Olivia nodded and made to leave but stopped, looking over at Robin with a furrowed brow. “Daddy, did you eat a piece of cake before Momma?”

Robin frowned, looking down at the plate in his hands and then tossing a small glare at Regina, who was licking the spoon in her hand and blinking up at him innocently through her lashes. Bloody minx , Robin thought. “I just wanted to make sure it tasted alright,” he told his daughter, but Olivia frowned at him, her little lips pulling into a perfect little scowl. She was not impressed with him, not in the slightest and he apologized, “I’m sorry, darling, next time I will wait before I have some.”

Robin looked sideways and threw Regina a scowl of his own. She only smirked, while slowly licking the last bit of cake off her spoon. Robin felt his mouth go dry.


The sun had gone down a while ago, and Regina should really be getting Olivia and Henry home, but Emma was sitting across from her in a fiery debate with Killian, who had taken offense at something Emma had said. Regina wasn’t even sure they knew what they were arguing about anymore, as the point was long gone by now. Both were now just trying to goad the other into yet another debate.

Robin’s eyes caught hers from across the table. He rolled his eyes at the other two and then grinned at her, and it was such a genuine affectionate smile that time seemed to slow for Regina. The soft light from the candles, the smooth sounds of jazz drifting out from the kitchen, and the warmth of the coming summer night gave the evening a, dare she say, romantic feel to it. Regina glanced away coyly. Robin had been watching her, and Regina couldn’t say that she minded. For the hundredth time, she wondered how Robin was still single. He was gorgeous, kind, and successful. A wonderful father… but Regina’s thoughts trailed off as she felt Robin’s foot against hers under the table and their eyes met once again. Their silent exchange of looks and touches had been going on far longer than Emma and Killian’s exchange.

Finally, Robin rose and offered Regina his hand, saying, “Regina, I don’t think I’ve ever given you a proper tour.”

Grateful for the reprieve from Emma and Killian, but maybe more so grateful for some time alone with Robin, Regina took his hand with what was mostly an offer to help her get to her feet, but instead of letting go, Robin shifted his hand so that his fingers threaded through hers. Regina found her fingers reciprocate the gesture as if it were the most natural thing in the world. His skin was soft, but his hand was firmer than what Regina expected of someone who spent their time drawing and working on a computer. Robin gave her a sideways glance, and those expressive eyes sparkled over at her smugly, before giving her hand an affectionate squeeze. Regina could really get used to this.

“I’m sorry about him.”

Regina chuckled. “Does he always say exactly what he thinks?”

“I’m afraid so. We’ve been mates since college and you’d think the man would have developed some sort of filter by now.”

“Well, it looks like he’s met his match. As you can see, Emma doesn’t have much of one either.”

Robin snorted. “A match made in heaven, then.”

Regina laughed, even though she’d noticed that in spite of the arguing, the two did seemed well matched. At the very least Killian seemed quite taken with Emma.

Robin led her through the hall and then over to the stairs. Regina marveled at the high ceilings, the refinished eggshell colored walls contrasting with the exposed brick of its age that gave the place character and warmth. She asked, “So how did you get this place?”

“Actually, that’s an interesting story. Just after my wife, Marian, and I got married was when I first spotted it up for sale. We looked at it, but she was just starting a business, and I wasn’t making the salary I am back then, so we passed. Then about a year ago, Roland and I were out for a drive, and I saw it was back up for sale. It wasn’t a pretty sight when I got it. No one had lived here for about fifteen years, and the previous owners decided they didn’t want to put the extra work into it, so I got a good deal for it. It took a lot of time and some tough love, but I think I did alright.”

Regina’s hand reached out and touched the wall, letting her fingertips trail along it as they walked. “You did all this?”

Robin glanced around the room with a fondness. Proud, Regina thought. “Aye, the moment I walked in I knew what I wanted to do with it.”

“How many rooms are there?”

“Originally there were three, but once I was finished, five.”

“Five?” Regina chuckled. “Three wasn’t enough for you?”

“Well,” Robin began, rubbing the back of his neck, looking a bit sheepish. “My parents tend to drop in every now and then, and honestly, I’ve always wanted a big family.”

Robin said the last part with a tone of sadness, like that was a dream he didn’t believe he had a chance for anymore, and Regina knew what that felt like. She too, had experienced the pain of having the dreams you once had ripped apart until they weren’t possible anymore. However, Regina didn’t want Robin to dwell on things like that because things could change, and they were already were changing for both of them.

Regina gave his hand a squeeze before saying, “Fair enough.”

They made the rest of the way upstairs, and Regina didn’t let go of his hand until Robin showed her into the first room, where they both reluctantly let go. It was empty but clean, with cream colored carpet and pale blue walls. Robin told her that he had been meaning to do something with it, but life always seemed to have other things that needed doing, and Regina couldn’t help but agree. They walked to another room down the hall, this one he had done something with. Not a lot really but there were a few boxes, a small TV and a treadmill.

Across the hall was Roland’s room. The walls were olive green, with a pine toddler bed in the corner, and a matching small dresser against the window. There were two small bookshelves filled with books, most Regina recognized from Olivia’s early reading days, and some Olivia still had. An open toy box filled with cars and trucks nestled in the corner of the room and a few stuffed animals lined up along the wall beside it. Most impressive was the floor, which was scattered with blocks and LEGOs of all shapes and sizes, where a mountain of a castle was stacked up high. Much too creative for a three-year-old, Regina thought, and she had a sneaking suspicion that someone had been playing blocks with the kids that morning.

Regina turned to him with a small smile on her lips. “Nice castle, Daddy,” she teased, and poked him in the belly with her finger as she began to walk out of the room.

Robin attempted to grab her hand, but Regina was faster, dodging quickly out of his reach. Making their way further down the hall, Regina knew the last room would be his. The door was already open, and as Regina stepped into the room her jaw dropped, and turning to him, asked, “Does this take up half the floor?”

Robin leaned against the door frame and grinned unapologetically. “Almost.”

Regina shook her head. “I don’t even know what I’d do with so much room,” she spoke, almost to herself. Taking her time, Regina walked around, taking it all in, and wondered if Robin was really a tidy person or if he had cleaned before they all got there. The floors in the other rooms had carpeting, but this room had a beautiful dark wood floor, and instead of eggshell walls like the others, his were painted a soft gray which was accented with white molding, making the room stand out. Regina absolutely loved it.

Walking around his bed, Regina found another door, and stepping inside groaned aloud at the sight of the large closet. “I take it back,” Regina amended, adding, “I know exactly what I would do with all this room.”

She could hear Robin’s laugh and his voice called back, “Wait till you see the loo.”

Regretfully leaving behind the closet, Regina stepped out and raised a brow at him. “Do I dare?”

Robin shrugged, still smiling and leaning against the door frame.

Regina narrowed her eyes at him but made her way to the other side of the room. Pushing open the door, words left her before she could stop them. “Oh my God.” It wasn’t an overly large room, but the shower was enormous. You could fit her, Robin, Emma, and his mouthy friend into it and still have room for more. Two sinks and a large claw foot tub completed her dream bathroom. Hell, Regina wanted to have a sleepover at Robin’s for the bathroom alone.


Robin could hear her voice call out from the bathroom. “You wanted Olivia and I to move in when?”

Robin laughed. “Well, I do have the room.” He couldn’t help the sudden leap of his heart at her teasing words.

“Kidding,” Regina replied, as she stepped back into the room with her own grin to mirror his.

Robin feigned a sighed, and told her, “And there you went getting my hopes up.”

Regina laughed as she walked towards him. She stood out in that lovely red shirt of hers, and he’d be damned if that wasn’t the perfect color for her.

Stopping just before she reached him, Regina looked around almost wistfully, and told him, “It’s amazing.”

“I dunno if I’d go that far,” Robin told her, glancing around, then added, “To me, it’s just home.”

An empty home , Robin thought for a moment, and then reminded himself that it hadn’t felt that way lately. That slowly, ever so slowly, it was beginning to change, thanks to Olivia and this beautiful, wonderful woman standing before him.

The air around Robin grew thicker as Regina gazed up at him with those warm dark eyes, and his breath caught in his chest. God, what he wouldn’t give just to take her in his arms, and kiss those lovely pouty lips... Robin mentally shook himself, knew that wasn’t a fantasy he could entertain. Definitely not here with a house full of people. If -no, when , he was determined it would be a when- he shared a kiss with Regina, it would be a moment when the sounds of children and their friends were not filtering in from the outside. Robin needed to put some distance between them. He needed to be able to control his thoughts, and he couldn’t do that with her standing so close. Robin cleared his throat, looked down trying to get a hold of himself. “Sounds quiet out back. Do you think they’ve gone and killed one another by now?”

Regina raised a brow. “That or they’ve gone and found a room.”

Robin shook his head. “You got that vibe from them too, then?”

“I think even the dog got that vibe from them.”

Robin snorted a laugh, took her hand once again and gestured with a tilt of his head towards the door. They walked back downstairs, Robin taking the time to show her the last guest room near the back of the house, near the bathroom and laundry. His eyes wandered to Regina’s face every so often; couldn’t help it tonight, she was really lovely with her dark hair falling down her back and the soft makeup emphasizing her delicate features. More than that, Robin admitted to himself, but still, chased the thought away. Flipping on the light to the pantry, Robin had forgotten about his sleeping pup he put away for the night not too long ago, and Ella’s head rose, and she yawned long and wide, emitting a soft whine.

Regina’s lips formed a perfect pout, and she kneeled against the gate holding out a hand to the dog, Ella immediately went to Regina.

“Hey there…” Regina trailed off and looked up at Robin.

“Ella,” Robin supplied.

Regina blinked up at him, then looked back the way that they came, and up to him once again. “Wait, the music tonight… Ella Fitzgerald?”

"You know your jazz?"

"I know good music."

Was she trying to make him fall for her because it was working? Where did this woman come from? Though Robin would never give up his years with Marian, or his son, heaven forgive him, because he couldn’t help wondering what might have been had he done more than just chatting with the beautiful pregnant woman he’d met those years ago. It wasn't only her beauty, but everything that made her so uniquely Regina that had him enchanted. The way she loved Olivia and had taken in his son, her laugh and sense of humor, intelligent and drive, and bless her taste in music. All of it had him falling for her, and though he knew he shouldn’t let his heart get entangled, Robin was powerless to stop.

He pushed off Killian's words of warning in his head. Aye, he was going to fall for her, but that was one cliff he was willing to walk straight off the edge.

"Seems you do."

Chapter Text

Robin hadn’t been to a recital in years; scratch that, a decade and some change to be exact. Robin assumed a school performance at Nord Anglia would require fancy dress. The tuition alone told him the parents of these youngsters were not your ordinary parents. Luckily, he worked downtown with business clients, so he was no stranger to “dress to impress.” Robin pulled out one of his work suits and looked at it with a critical eye. It was a dark gray, from a decent designer, and fit him well, emphasizing his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Robin told himself he was most certainly not trying to impress anyone, but that was not quite true. He was, in fact. This was his daughter’s first chance where Olivia could say, this is my dad , and Robin was not going to show up in anything less than his very best. Besides, there was a beautiful woman who was also going to be in attendance, and Regina never seen him in a suit. Robin bit his lower lip and smiled as he realized that he was just as anxious to impress Regina as he was to impress the parents of Olivia’s schoolmates.

Robin showered while Roland napped. He planned on asking Regina if she and Olivia would like to join him for dinner after, as a kind of celebratory thing Robin knew he would do for his daughter had they been a family from the start. Robin also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would have been to every recital, every play, and hung every little drawing she would have brought home up on the fridge and plastered them all over his study.

Robin frowned into the mirror as he finished brushing his teeth. He wasn’t there, though, and he shook his head while taking a deep breath and reminding himself, he was here now, and so he would be from here on out. He would be at every recital, every play, and every school presentation. His fridge already proudly displayed her art and would continue until she decided she was too big for it. He still had years to go through before then, and thank God for it because Olivia was already so beautiful, just like her mother, and Robin was nowhere near ready for her teenage years.

Dressing in only his slacks and white tee, in case Roland decided to be unusually messy at dinner, he went to check on his son, who was thankfully wide awake and had been for a while if the large newly made mega-block castle was any indication.

“Daddy, see what I made!” The toddler proudly grinned up at him.

“I do see, my boy, excellent work. You’ll be designing buildings like me before you know it.” He reached down and lifted his boy from the floor. “Come on, little sprog, let's go get you something to eat before we go see Belle.”

“See her?” His dark brown eyes looked up at him curiously.

“Yep. Daddy is going to go into the city, so you’re going to go play with her for a while.”

Roland clapped his hands enthusiastically, and cried out, “Yay!”


Parking in this city was madness, and because of it, Robin was relieved Olivia’s school was so incredibly fancy. Just when he thought he would never find a spot, he noticed, valet parking was available, and didn’t have to worry about walking blocks back to it.

Handing the man his keys, Robin took a slip in return, and as he stepped away from his car, Robin straightened his tie and smoothed his slacks before heading on in. His eyes lit up when he spotted her. Regina . She was standing the foyer with Emma and Henry, who were waving him over, but Robin's gaze was only for the dark-haired woman in a criminally red dress. As seemed to be the standard with him now, the sight of her in the dress, which left nothing to the imagination on top but flared out from her hips and showed off her legs from just above the knees down, made his mouth go dry. It didn’t help when he caught a glimpse of her strappy black heels before he could drag his eyes up to her face. He caught the blonde’s knowing smirk out of the corner of his eye as Regina’s warm sultry voice reached his ears.

“There you are.”

Robin smiled, walking over to their group. Stepping up next to Regina, without thinking, he leaned into her and placed a kiss her cheek. She returned his smile with one of her own. It was big and bright, and her cheeks were a lovely shade of pink, which flushed a bit deeper as he pulled away. Robin bit his tongue to smother his grin, making a special note to make sure he saw that look more often on her.

“I wouldn’t miss it. Where is the little darling?”

“She’s in with the other students. I told her I’d take you back real quick before the performance starts.”

Emma spoke up from beside him, “Hey, while you guys are doing that, we’re going to find us some seats.”

Regina gave the blonde a nod. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

Regina took Robin’s hand and led them through the throngs of parents and teachers milling around and making their way into the small auditorium. Regina pulled him into a small hall, and down it for some time until he could hear excited young voices, and then a woman’s voice asking for quiet.

“Everyone please, I know you’re all bursting at the seams to get out there but we are almost ready to start. Ten more minutes, and until then, remember…” the stately young woman with long white-blonde hair and a blue dress put a finger to her lips, and with a significantly lower tone said, “inside voices.”

A quiet murmuring fell between the children, and Regina leaned into him and told him, “That was Olivia’s principal, Elsa Rendelle, and her music teacher is...” Regina looked around, placed her hand on his arm for support as she stood on tiptoes for a better look. He tried not to notice how wonderful she smelled long enough to follow what she was saying. “Ah, there.” Regina motioned with her chin tilted to the right, and Robin’s eyes followed, spotting a short woman with blonde curls piled loosely on top of her head. “That’s Zoe Bell. She’s new to the school but she’s already amazing with Olivia.”

Robin nodded, was about to ask how long Miss Bell had been teaching when an excited squeak and a call of, “Daddy!” rang out from across the room.  

Robin looked around to see Olivia running towards him. Robin only had seconds to prepare before he was hit around the middle, her arms around him hugging him tight for a moment, then releasing him with one hand so she could reach for her mother.

Embracing them both, Olivia looked up at him. “You’re here! I told Momma you would be.”

Robin leaned down and kissed the top of her head, careful not to disturb the intricate hairstyle she had, her dark hair delicately braided and pinned up into a bun with a blue jeweled headband. Robin thought Olivia looked like quite the princess all done up. “Of course, I am. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, darling.”

“Okay, sweetheart, we are going to go get our seats. I just brought Robin back here to say hi,” Regina told Olivia, kneeling down and straightening her daughter’s dark blue dress. The color was perfect for his little girl, Robin thought, emphasizing her large blue eyes and fair skin. The delicate cap sleeves and empire waist, tied with a sash, fell into a long skirt that added to the impression of a princess, and the shiny black shoes with jeweled bows matching her headband completed the picture. She’s a vision , thought Robin, and felt his chest swell with fatherly pride.

“Okay, Momma.”

“You ready?”

Olivia gave her mother a confident smile and a quick nod. “I am.”

“Good, and what does Aunt Emma say before these things?”

Olivia’s brow rested against her mother’s and they began to recite in unison, “Knock ‘em dead,” before sharing a giggle between them, and Robin’s chest suddenly burned with a warmth he hadn’t felt in a very, very long time. He felt something more than just love for the two of them making its way straight to his heart.

Regina stood and gave Robin a look, letting him know he had a moment if he wished, and he did. As Robin knelt, he told Olivia, “Good luck,” and then pulled her into his arms, taking a moment to hold her tight.

“Thank you, Daddy.”

“I’ll see you after.”

“Okay.”

When they made their way back to the auditorium, Henry and Emma were there waiting. Henry was slightly sullen, as he watched his mum scrolling away on her iPhone, and Robin thought the young boy’s mood might still have something to do with his grounded state. However, Henry perked up a bit when Robin sat down beside him.

“Hey, what kind of dog do you have?”

“Ah, she’s a Bernese, I believe.”

“Cool. I wish I had a dog.”

Emma overheard, and without looking up from her phone, deadpanned, “Not happening.” Henry’s mouth started to open, and again, without looking, Emma held up a finger. “And I’ve already talked to your father about it, and we agree.” Robin marveled at her ability to anticipate Henry’s reactions.

Henry scowled and hunkered down once again in his seat, and soon after the lights began to dim, Robin’s attention was pulled away from the boy and now focused on the stage. He rested his hands on the armrests, and an excited bit of anticipation twisted in his gut as the curtains slowly opened. The lights rose on stage, and his eyes found Olivia at once. There was his daughter out in front of the group, sitting completely composed with her cello resting in front of her.

There was a weighted moment as if all the parents in the room were holding their breath before their children began to play, and then the teacher came out. There was another beat of anticipation, and then wand in hand, she sent the kids off. All but the first performer filed off, and Robin watched Olivia march off into the wings, and then he settled to listen.

Song after song was amazing. Robin couldn’t really believe this was the work of such young children. Soon Regina was leaning into him, her voice low in his ear as she whispered, “Olivia’s solo is coming.”

Robin nodded, shifted up in his seat a bit straighter and watched. Suddenly he felt nervous, and his fingers started tapping the arm of the seat. It either annoyed Regina or she was just as nervous as he, because she took his hand in hers, threading their fingers together.

This is better , Robin thought. He could handle this.

But then Olivia started playing, and the air left him. She was absolutely amazing, and with Regina’s hand in his, he marveled at the girl they had created together.


Once the recital was over, Robin stood in lingering in the auditorium with Regina and Emma, waiting for Olivia to be dismissed for the night. There had been a few parents who had come over and praised Regina for Olivia’s performance, to which she would thank them, or if their child was performing as well, would offer the same sentiment. Robin was surprised to be introduced so soon to everyone, but Regina hadn’t hesitated, and he proudly stood there shaking hands and meeting his daughter's little mates' parents.

All of it came very easily to him, to fall into the role of her father as though he had always been there. Robin wondered if it felt the same for Regina, if, like him, she felt as though a piece of her that had been missing for some time had finally been found. He didn’t have time to contemplate that for long, because before he knew it, Olivia was running down the hall towards them with a big bright smile on her face.

“Momma, Daddy, did you see me?”

Robin scooped her up in his arms and told her, “We did, darling, and you were absolutely wonderful.”

“You did great,” Regina praised, as Robin placed Olivia back on her feet, and reaching for Olivia, hugging her tight.

“Nice one, kiddo.” Emma high-fived Olivia, before pulling her into a sideways one-armed hug.

Henry also mimicked his mother’s gesture and held up his hand for a high-five. “Yeah, great job.”

Robin smiled, having a special surprise for his daughter in mind, he asked, “Well, I think this being my first recital, how would you all like to go out to dinner? My treat.”

“Oh yes!” Olivia hopped excitedly in place, and then turned to her mother with wide pleading eyes. “Momma, please, can we go? Please?”

Regina already knew of Robin’s plan and answered, “Of course we can.”

Olivia let out a jubilant cry of exclamation and hugged Robin once again. Putting an arm around Olivia, Robin glanced up at Emma and Henry. “Emma, Henry, what do you say?”

Emma sent a look at Regina that Robin couldn’t quite place and politely declined. “Thanks, but I think we’re gonna go back home.”

Robin looked between them. “Oh?”

“You sure?” Regina asked, her brow pinching together. Robin didn’t miss the faint blush on her cheeks as Emma nodded with a tiny smile.

“Yeah, you guys go,” Emma insisted and, glancing down at Henry, ruffled the boy’s hair and said, “I’m gonna take this one home and maybe let him play a few video games and order some pizza.”

Henry’s head whipped up at his mother, his brow raised in question almost as if he didn’t believe what he was hearing. “What, really?”

Emma groused, “Yeah, I think you’ve learned your lesson.”

“Yes!” Henry exclaimed, as his fist rose in the air triumphantly, making all the adults laugh.

Robin looked down at Olivia and then up at Regina. “Alright, where shall we go?”

“I think,” Regina began with a smile, and then added, “Olivia should choose.”

Olivia’s eyes lit up at the attention she was getting. “Oh, I know! How about Mermaid Inn?”

Robin hadn’t missed the way Regina’s lips tighten for a moment before it was replaced with a forced smile. There was something about the way she straightened, as well. Her posture, which was once relaxed, became tense, and it had him instantly on alert. Robin’s hand went to her back, and he asked, “Are you alright?”

The smile Regina gave him was put on for Olivia’s sake, but Robin saw straight through it. “I’m fine,” she said, before holding her hand out to Olivia. “Let’s go to dinner.”


The Mermaid Inn was a quaint restaurant not far from Olivia’s school, and Robin immediately saw why his daughter was drawn to the place. Dark tables and chairs stood out against the white walls, and a myriad of photos covered them; large maps showing portions of the world with a great swathe of ocean, island belts, and of course, mermaids, which filled the expanse between. The outside seating looked cozy, but there was a cool breeze making it a bit too chilly for Olivia, who was still in her recital dress.

Deciding to eat inside, they were shown to the back to a round table away from most of the noise, and it looked as though they’d lucked out for the night, as it was the only table that appeared to be empty.

Robin pulled out a chair for Olivia, as she told him, “This is my favorite restaurant, Daddy.”

“I can see why. It’s wonderful, darling.” Robin took a seat between Olivia and Regina.

“Momma doesn’t like it,” Olivia stated matter-of-factly.

Olivia ,” Regina scolded in a low whisper.

“What?” she asked, blinking up at her mother. “We used to come here all the time, but you always say no anymore.”

Regina sighed and glanced uncomfortably at the menu. Robin’s hand reached over and touched hers. “Would you rather we go somewhere else?”

“No, tonight is Olivia’s night.” Regina caught his eyes only for a moment before she shifted them back to her menu. “I’ll be fine.”

Robin inhaled and nodded. Her mood, he was almost certain, had something to do with this place, and he was damned determined somehow to find out exactly what that was, but for now he’d follow her lead and let it drop. “What’s good here?”

“Oh, everything is good, but the crab is the best!” Olivia assured him, taking a drink of her water that the waiter had placed in front of them before telling them he would return in a moment.

“The crab you say,” Robin began, taking his own menu from the table and studying it. “Ah, yes. Oh, a crab boil on Wednesday’s.”

“We’ve had that! It’s mine and Henry's favorite.” Olivia swung her legs back and forth in her chair. “You can eat as much as you want to. Momma and Aunt Emma eat a lot .”

Regina’s eyes widened. “Olivia.”

“What?” Olivia looked up at her mother with innocence, unaware she had just embarrassed Regina enough to turn her cheeks into a nice shade of red. “You do.”

Robin’s elbow came up to rest on the edge of the table, and he covered his mouth with his hand in an attempt to smother a grin. Regina threw him a look Robin could only interpret as slightly hostile. Changing the subject, he asked Olivia, “So what are you having, darling?”

“Umm,” Olivia pursued her lips and eyed the children's menu a moment before making a decision. Placing her menu down on the table, Olivia said, ‘Lobster and fries.”

Robin nodded. “Excellent choice. I was just thinking of trying this Lobsterpalooza myself. And for Mum?”

Regina hummed. Robin could see some indecision on her face, her mouth tilted in a half frown. “I think I’m going to have the Mermaid fish tacos.”

Glancing back at the menu, Robin read over the description, and his eyebrow lifted. That also sounded good. Folding his menu, he decided to stick with his choice. Having skipped lunch, Robin wanted that extra pound of lobster, and he also figured he could always bring them back there sometime soon. “Sounds wonderful, too.”

They gave their waiter their order and then settled into their first evening together.

Taking a sip from his water, Robin placed the glass back on the table and directing his attention to Olivia, asked, “Tell me about your new teacher, Miss Bell. Your Mum tells me you really like her.”   

With wide eyes, Olivia nodded. “Oh, I do. Miss Bell is much nicer than my other teacher.”

“Oh?” Robin glanced over at Regina, who seemed to be a bit preoccupied. Her eyes were darting around the restaurant almost as if she were looking for someone. Just when he was about to ask Regina if she was alright, Olivia was continuing on, unaware of her mother’s plight.

“Yeah, Miss Bradley didn’t like me very much.”

His brow knitted together, a feeling of annoyance toward the music teacher Robin didn’t know personally but didn’t like the sound of, pulling his lips into a scowl.

“Olivia, that isn’t true,” Regina broke in gently and shook her head. A roll of her eyes told him that this was a conversation Regina seemed to have had many times with Olivia already. Sure enough, Regina caught his gaze and clarified, “She was strict, but she loved Olivia.”

“Didn’t seem like it to me,” Olivia muttered softly, her shoulders falling slightly.

Regina gave Olivia a small smile. “I promise you, you were her favorite.” Regina’s hand fell to her glass, and with her finger tracing the rim, she looked to Robin and explained, “Olivia has always learned to play more by ear training rather than seeing and reading the sheet music. Her tutors have all encouraged her to train herself by ear, but Miss Bradley was very set in her ways. Luckily, Miss Bell teaches by combining styles, not like Miss Blue. She teaches Olivia to read the music and recognize the different styles and patterns, but still encourages her to listen to the music to help reinforce her learning the notes.”

Relieved by this news, had Robin letting out a breath he’d been holding. Curious, he asked, “How long has Miss Bell been at her school?”   

Regina thought on that a moment. “About six months now. She took over just before Thanksgiving last year. Miss Blue decided she wanted a change in careers and retired from teaching.”

“Was she older?”

“No, I think she was in her late thirties.”

“Aunt Emma said she couldn’t get any, so she threw in the towel,” Olivia quipped, looking up at Robin with the innocent eyes of a child who had no idea the impact of her statement, and he bit his lip to keep from laughing outright.  

Regina, who was just about to take a sip of her water, sputtered and lowered her glass, and began looking around them to make sure Olivia wasn’t overheard. Robin could tell Regina was trying to look stern when she whispered, “Olivia Harper,” but instead her head fell into her hand that was resting on the table. Shaking her head slightly, Regina looked over at their child and murmured, “What am I going to do with you, young lady. We don’t repeat after Aunt Emma.”

“But you laughed when she said it,” Olivia pointed out, sending her mother a knowing look. “And you never told me what she couldn’t get.”

Robin’s blue eyes met Regina’s brown ones, and smirking at him she told him, “She joined a convent.”

Robin let out a snort of laughter. He couldn’t have helped it if he tried; it just got better and better.

“What’s so funny about it, Daddy?” Olivia pressed, scowling at both of her parents, who were now grinning at one another.

Gathering himself, Robin smiled at Olivia and very seriously said, “She couldn’t get really good spiritual learning without joining the convent.”

Olivia made an unimpressed face. “Well, that’s silly. Couldn’t she just ask her pastor to get some?”

Robin pressed his lips together, a roar of laughter at Olivia’s unintended escalation of the comment trying to escape his mouth.

Then in a voice shaky with amusement, Regina replied, “I suppose she could have. But the pastor’s wife might object to her taking the pastor’s... time... like that.”

Looking between him and Regina, Olivia studied them both for a moment, then coming to conclusion for herself, told them, “It’s not funny. That’s what the pastor’s there for.”

At a strangled sound from Regina, Robin lost it and started laughing, grateful that they were away from the rest of the people in the restaurant. Olivia stared at him in consternation, likely worried that her Daddy had lost his mind, and after a few deep breaths, he was able to calm down a little and compose himself. Olivia turned to her mother.

“Momma, is Daddy okay?”

Amused, Regina looked over at Robin, who was in danger of another bout of laughter. She mercifully changed the subject. “He’s fine, sweetheart. He was thinking of...something else. Now, why don’t you tell your father about your other teachers?”


As the evening went on Robin noticed how Regina began to relax. She was smiling more often and meeting his gaze, hers reflected a warm glow that hadn’t been there since their arrival. They each shared stories of their favorite restaurants in the city as they dug into their appetizer and discussed places they should all go to another time because Olivia was adamant that there would be more nights out with both her parents and her little brother.

No sooner had their meal was placed in front of them, Robin noticed a graying older man come up to the table, completely uninvited and addressed Regina with far more familiarity than Robin was comfortable with. Regina sat up, her back ramrod straight, and before Robin knew it, the man was taking Regina’s hand without consent and placing a kiss on her knuckles. Regina’s lips tightened, and Robin knew instantly that this man was the very reason why she didn’t like to come here.

“Ah, my dear Regina, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen you.” His thumb caressed over the back of her hand, and Robin fought the unsettling urge to lay the man out cold.

Regina, however, looked calm and composed, though the tense set of her shoulders and the pinched look in her eyes spoke volumes to Robin. “Leopold, how are you?”

“My evening is much better seeing you here.” The man’s voice was syrupy, his hand not letting go of Regina’s though she was clearly leaning slightly away from him, and Robin felt his jaw set as this Leopold leaned closer to Regina.

“Excuse me, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Robin stood abruptly, his eyes boring into the man as he held out his hand, and introduced himself. “Robin Locksley.”

The older man’s focus shifted from Regina to Robin’s and he gave Robin an almost bored look. Robin’s jaw clenched tighter at the nerve of the man, but Robin kept his frustration under wrap. He would not start a brawl in front of his nine-year-old daughter, but he would sure as hell make sure this man knew exactly who would be leaving with Regina tonight.

“Leopold White,” the man said. “I own this restaurant. What do you do, Mr. ... Locksley, is it?” The way he raised an eyebrow clearly showed his disdain, and he took Robin’s hand and squeezed a little harder than necessary. Robin smiled without showing his teeth, his eyes hard, and for his part, squeezed a little harder than Leopold. The man winced slightly and let go, surreptitiously shaking his hand.

“I’m an architect. I own a firm that just finished a new plaza in the city. Now, if you’ll excuse us,” Robin said, his hard tone leaving no room for the man to misinterpret. “ My family and I were just having dinner.”

The man made a face to Robin, looked like a repressed sneer. “ Your family?” Leopold looked at Regina, who was folding her hands in her lap. “I wasn’t aware that you were...with anyone, Regina.”

“This is my Daddy,” Olivia said brightly from her seat.

Robin smiled down at his daughter beside him. That’s my girl , he thought proudly. Shifting his gaze, Robin looked back at Leopold. “Regina and I reconnected a while back.”

“Oh well,” Leopold broke off, his eyes moving from Regina to Robin, and he took a step away. Robin bit his tongue to keep from smiling as the older man started looking decidedly uncomfortable.

Regina’s eyes as they met his, wide with surprise at the impression Robin was giving Leopold. He tilted his head slightly and tried to look innocent enough. Well, they had, hadn’t they, even if unknowingly, after that meeting years ago?

Regina swallowed and smiled faintly at Leopold. “Yes, it’s been so great to have our family back together again.” The look she shot at Robin was only half amused, though.

Leopold looked over at Regina, taking note of the possessive way Robin had moved to stand by her, and then his eyes shifted to Olivia’s smiling face as she looked at Robin.

“I- I didn’t realize.” Leopold licked his lips slightly as he swung his gaze back to Regina, who looked at him steadily. He grimaced slightly and pasted a fake smile on his mouth.

“It’s not a problem, is it?” Robin told the man with a distinct air of finality. “Now if you’ll excuse us.”

“Of course.” Leopold gave him a nod, and with one last look at Regina, turned and left.

Regina licked her lips, attempted to hold back a smile, but failed once she met Robin’s eyes as he took his seat once again. Taking a drink of her water, letting it go down slowly, Regina then picked up her napkin, and placing it on her lap, said, “I hope you enjoyed yourself.”

Robin chuckled, reached for her hand that was recently taken by that old git, took it in his and brought it to his lips, placing a light kiss on her knuckles. “Immensely, love.”

“Thought you two were going to start measuring,” Regina muttered, and Robin grinned.

“He would’ve lost that, too,” Robin murmured and looked over at her.

Regina’s eyes lit up, and he could see the blush delightfully coloring her smooth cheeks. Glancing across the table at Olivia, Robin was surprised to find her eyes were on them both, watching them with a smile on her face. Robin threw a wink in Olivia’s direction, making her to giggle.

Later that night, Robin walked them to their door, both he and Regina holding a hand of their daughter as she excitedly told him about her music instructor and how Robin would have to come to her school someday and meet all of her teachers. He promised to, of course, and once they’d opened the door, Robin said goodnight to his daughter and placed a kiss on her forehead before telling her to be good for her mum and to sleep well. Olivia wrapped her arms around him, hugging Robin tightly, then with a quick, “I will. Bye Daddy,” she was off.

Regina called out for Olivia to get ready for bed, then hovered a bit longer in the hall, and Robin tilted his head curiously at her. “What?”

“Thank you for tonight. It was unnecessary, but thank you anyway.”

Robin took a step toward her. “Who was he, might I ask? You did seem rather uncomfortable.”

Regina swallowed, looked away and Robin noticed the pinch of her brow that made him think it must be unpleasant, as he had only seen her use that face when speaking of her mother.

“About a year and a half ago, someone at work set me up on a blind date with him, and needless to say it did not go well.”

Robin took a deep breath in, and couldn’t help the way his hands tightened at the thought of her having to be in that man’s company all alone. “Bit of a cad?”

Regina fidgeted a bit. “That’s putting it mildly. He was...handsy.”

Robin felt his jaw clench at the thought of Leopold’s hands on Regina. “Shall I go back? Knock him to the ground?” He was only half joking.

Regina laughed and stepped up to him, biting her lip and trying to suppress that beautiful smile while fiddling with the tie he’d loosened in the car ride back to her apartment. “You know, while I do find the over protectiveness charming, I’m a big girl, and I assure you I can handle myself.”

Robin’s eyes found hers. The warmth from her nearness and the smell of her perfume made the urge to pull her the last remaining couple steps between them nearly overwhelming. Instead, Robin caught his lower lip with his teeth, and watched in satisfaction as her eyes followed his action. God, he wanted to kiss her. “Of that, I have no doubt, love.”

Her sly grin was almost his undoing, and then, grasping his tie, Regina pulled him towards her. Robin felt her soft lips against his cheek, right before her breath fanned across his jaw as she whispered another thank you into his ear, then stepped away.

Robin smothered his own smile, when Regina turned and walked into her apartment, giving him a small wave before she closed the door behind her.

Walking back to his vehicle Robin tried his best to listen to the sensible half of his mind that told him he should most definitely not fall for his daughter's mother, while the other half replayed thoughts of her lips against his cheek, her warm breath on his skin, and the feel of her hand in his.

It was with a start that Robin realized it was already too late.

Chapter Text

Company picnics were a rare thing for Robin to attend in recent years. Ever since Marian’s illness, then passing, getting out of the house to go and spend time at more of a family event than anything, wasn’t something he looked forward to. However, this year was different, and when David approached him last week at work about having to drag him to the park again this year, Robin had smiled and said he’d see him there.

A week went by before Robin gathered up the courage to ask Regina if she and Olivia would like to go with him. He had just dropped off Olivia, and Regina had agreed quickly, easily. Regina sent him off with some extra turnovers she made earlier that day, a kiss on the cheek, and a half-whispered promise in his ear that she would see him then.   

The ding of his phone had Robin pulling it from his back pocket. Glancing down, he saw it was from Regina. They were in the park, but Regina was having a hard time finding him. Instead of texting her back, Robin called, and glancing down at David’s wife, Mary Margaret, asked, “Could you just keep an eye on Roland for a moment?”

“Of course,” Mary Margaret replied, smiling up at him.

Regina’s voice answered the line with an aggravated huff of annoyance, “Where did you say you were?”

Robin looked around the park; it was a sunny day, the summer starting to really take hold of the city as May was starting to creep into June. The humidity was up, right along with Regina’s temper it seemed. Even with his sunglasses on, Robin had to put a hand over his eyes, and that was when he spotted her. “I see you, keep walking forward and I’ll start over your way.”

Olivia saw him first, and she made a run for him. “Daddy!”

“Hello, my darling,” Robin replied, hugging his daughter to him as Henry and Regina came near. “Hello, Henry.” Pushing his sunglasses up to rest on his head, Robin turned to Regina and gave her a warm smile. “And hello, love.”

Robin kissed her cheek, placing his hand on her back as Regina exhaled. She leaned into him and managed a soft, “Hi.”

Robin tilted his head, his lips pulled into a frown as he studied her. “You alright?”

“I’m fine,” Regina replied, squinting under the high sun.

Olivia took his hand. “Daddy, Daddy! Can Henry and I go play in the bounce house?”

Robin glanced over at the large inflatable contraption not too far from where they were now, and with a nod answered, “Sure.”

Turning his attention back to Regina, he observed, “You don’t look fine.”

Regina sighed, seemed to deflate a bit at his concern. “I’m just… annoyed.” At his raised brows she added, “It’s just been one of those days, and it doesn’t help that it’s ridiculously hot out.”

“Well I can’t do much for the heat, but what’s got you annoyed?”

Letting out what Robin believed to be a frustrated breath, Regina looked away and then back up at him. “For starters, this morning the hot water in our building decided it wanted to go out while I was in the shower, and after that refreshing awakening, Olivia decided she was going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. She’s been snappy at Henry and at me. I’ve been calling all morning to try and get someone to fix the water, but no one is answering, and along with everything else, I didn’t get enough coffee.”

His frown deepened, and Robin took a quick glance over at where Henry and Olivia were playing, and it looked to him as though they were getting on alright for the moment. He opened his mouth to tell Regina something, but she continued on, “So the kids are grumpy, and I have a headache, but we’re here.”

Robin frowned. Then his eyes found one of the tents that had been set up earlier in the day, and he told her, “Alright, come with me.”

“Where are we going?”

Taking Regina’s hand, and threading her fingers with his, they began to walk. “Just over to this booth here.”

Regina began to protest. “But the kids…”

“Are fine and can see us,” Robin told her, holding a hand up and waving at Henry then pointing to his destination. Robin could see Henry understood as the boy gave him a nod right before jumping back into the bounce house.

Stepping underneath the canopy of the booth and into the shade, Robin smiled at the young woman working there and asked for two iced coffees, both with cream.

Regina turned to him. “You didn’t need to do that.”

“I know I didn’t,” Robin replied, his hand pulsing around hers twice before adding, “I wanted to.”

Then her brow furrowed and Regina asked, “Where’s Roland?”

Robin turned a bit towards the trees just opposite them on the other side of the bounce contraption where there were a few blankets and picnic tables spread out in the shade, “He’s over with a couple friends of mine. I’d like to introduce you to them if you don’t mind?”

Regina’s face softened. “Of course. I’m sorry I’m in such a bad mood.”

“Don’t apologize. You’ve had some rotten luck this morning; you’re entitled to be a little grumpy for that.”

“I’m already in a better mood. Thank you for this.”

Robin took the drinks from the table once they were finished, and handing one to Regina, he said, “A couple more of these and hopefully you’ll start to feel better.” Regina let out a breathy laugh, and he pulled her to his side, arm wrapping around her waist as they walked back out into the sunshine. “And you know if your hot water is still out later you can always come steal some of mine.”

“Oh, trust me, if it’s still out prepare for house guests.”

Robin laughed and squeezed her waist. “Look forward to it.”


They walked over to where Olivia and Henry had been playing. Robin called for Olivia and Henry to come with them for a minute, and it was not without a grumble from Olivia, which took Robin by surprise. He’d never seen her moody before. Not that Robin thought his daughter would always be the perfect angel, mind you, he wasn’t that unrealistic; however, Olivia’s poutiness directed at him did surprise him in that moment. Robin let go of Regina’s hand long enough to lean down and explain to Olivia that he would like to introduce her and her mum to his friends and he’d hoped he could introduce his sweet girl to them.

Olivia’s features fell into a guilty frown for a moment, and then looking up at him, told him and Regina that she was sorry. After some hugs, Olivia perked up, and taking Robin’s hand, they all walked across the field. A light breeze started to pick up, and a few scattered clouds overhead gave them all a brief reprieve from the glaring sun.

Reaching a blanket beneath a row of trees, Robin placed his hand on the small of Regina’s back, and said, “David, Mary Margaret, this is Regina Mills, our daughter Olivia, and her friend Henry.”

Mary Margaret stood, a jubilant expression filled with warmth and excitement and held out her hand to Regina. “Oh, I’m so happy to finally be meeting you all. Robin’s told me - us all about you.”

David then mirrored his wife’s actions and replied, “Pleasure to meet you.”

“You both as well,” Regina replied in kind.

“What’s the ball for?” Henry asked, looking over at David.

David glanced down at the ball in his hands then back up at Henry. “Oh, this? We were going to set up a game here soon with some of the other kids. Do you guys want to play?”

“Yeah!” Henry exclaimed excitedly.


Regina noticed Olivia’s eyes, darted away. A sad crestfallen look came over her that had the little girl’s shoulders dropping and her looking out to where the others were playing with a small frown. Just as Regina was about to ask her what was wrong, Robin was already kneeling beside her. “What’s wrong, darling?”

Olivia shrugged her shoulder half-heartedly. “I don’t know how to play.”

“That’s alright, I can show you.”

Olivia’s head came up then, her eyes hopeful and wide with surprise, and asked, “You can?”

Robin chuckled. “Of course, I can, that’s what dads are for, right?” Olivia smiled and nodded, and Robin took her by the back of the head, gently bringing her forehead to him and placed a kiss there. “That’s my girl.”

Regina’s chest burned, and she blinked away tears as the overwhelming sensation of love for the man swept over her like no other feeling she had ever felt. Feeling ridiculous, Regina turned away to wipe the errant tears from her cheeks. A few moments later, she felt Robin’s arm around her middle, his hand settling on her hip and pulling her to him in a small show of comfort, as he said to the kids, “Alright you lot, why don’t you go help David find some more players, eh? I’ll be along in a minute.”

Olivia and Henry followed David, who tossed the ball to Henry, who then, in turn, threw it to Olivia, causing the girl to laugh and cheer up considerably. Robin turned to Regina. “Now would Mum like to play or would you like to rest in shade a bit?”

Smiling, Regina replied, “I think I’m going to sit this one out.”

There was a soft voice from behind them and Mary Margaret was there saying, “Regina can keep me company.”

“Alright.” His hand was rubbing soothing circles on her back, and then Robin let his hand drop as he looked over at the field, blew out a breath and said, “Let’s see if I still have the energy to keep up with the young ones.”

Regina laughed while patting him on the shoulder, and she wished him luck. She watched him go before making her way over to the blanket. Regina noted how Mary Margaret, who was once sitting over by a sleeping Roland, was now on the other side of the blanket, leaving her vacated spot for Regina.

Taking a seat, Regina glanced down at the little boy and brushed his dark locks away from his face. His features were relaxed in sleep, and she smiled. Regina could see so much of his father there in him. She placed her hand on his back, giving it a rub and soft pat, and she felt someone’s eyes on her. She looked up into the warm green eyes of Mary Margaret, who was watching her with a soft smile on her face.

“I’m sorry I’m staring, it’s just I’m so happy to meet you. Robin told us about Olivia and it’s just so amazing.”

Chuckling, Regina replied, “You know, in the beginning, I might not have said amazing, but now… seeing how happy Olivia is,” glancing out, she caught sight of Robin kicking the ball back and forth with Olivia and showing her how to stop another player from taking it away once Olivia had it. Regina added, “I’m just really glad she has him now.”

“I know it’s the same for him, not just for Olivia, but for you both.” Mary Margaret glanced away from Regina and looked out onto the field, no doubt watching what Regina had been only seconds ago, then turned her attention back to Regina and told her with sincerity, “I don’t think I’ve seen him smile so much in a long long time.”

Regina’s head tilted to the side. “How long have you known him?’

“Almost five years now. David, of course, works with Robin, and we used to live next to him and Marian before he moved.”

“You knew her?”

“Oh yes, Marian and I were good friends.”

Regina wasn’t sure what to say to that. Really, how did one ask about their… daughter’s father’s deceased wife? It felt like she was prying into something that wasn’t her business. At least she didn’t think it was. Instead of asking, her eyes once again found Olivia and Robin, and she smiled as she watched them both chase after Henry, David, and some children who’d joined in.

“She’s a beautiful girl. I can really see both you and Robin in her.”

“Thank you.” Regina took a breath, knowing the young woman was really trying to have a conversation with her, so she decided to turn the conversation another way. “Do you have any children?”

The short dark haired woman’s lips pulled up but she took her head. “No, not yet. We’ve been waiting for me to finish with my teacher's degree, and now that I have, once I find a steady job we’ll start trying.”

“What grade?”

“I’d really love kindergarten, but anything in elementary would be great.”

They talked some more. Regina found the younger woman to be sweet and a little idealistic for her, but she was younger, and well, if she wanted to live in a fairy tale world for a while who was Regina to judge? Somewhere in the middle of their conversation about Olivia’s school, Roland woke up and had stolen Regina’s attention since. He’d seemed to have taken a liking to her over these last couple months as he climbed up into her lap and rested his head on her chest while rubbing his small eyes until the drowsiness left him.

Twenty minutes after Roland woke, an exhausted Robin collapsed face down on the blanket beside them with a dramatic groan. Regina smiled down at the state of him. He was a bit red from the sun, and his hair glistened in spots near his temples from perspiration. She was going to have to pull out some of the sunblock she already plied Henry and Olivia with to spray on Robin.

Grabbing a water bottle from beside her, Regina held it out to the adorably pitiful man on the ground, and chuckling, Regina teased, “Can’t keep up?”

Robin turned his head to the side, and glancing up at her, he answered, “I admit I might be slightly out of shape, but really where did those children get so much energy? I don’t recall ever having that much.”

Roland, who had been watching their exchange, looked up at Regina. Leaning toward the little boy, in a stage whisper Regina told him, “I think your daddy is just getting old.”

Rolling to his side, Robin took the water and scoffed playfully, “Oy, take that back. I’m not.”

“Nope, not going to.” Regina ran her fingers through his hair, mussing it up, and adding, “I'm afraid to say it, but I’m seeing a few grays in there.”

“I’ll have you know those are wisdom hairs, and I’ve earned every one of them.”

“Mmhmm.” Regina hummed disbelievingly.

Sitting up beside her, Robin asked, “How’s that headache? Not too bad I hope?”

“No, it’s gone.”

“That’s good.” Robin smiled over at her and Regina’s heart twisted from the warmth she found in his gaze, and found she couldn’t look away.

“Daddy, grape?” Roland asked, holding out a small green piece of fruit.

“Why yes, thank you, my boy.” Robin leaned over and took the grape from the boy’s hand with his teeth, causing Roland to burst into giggles.

Once Roland settled down, he told his father, “R-gina likes grapes, too.”

Robin grinned at his toddler’s pronunciation of Regina’s name. “Does she?”

Roland nodded and, then as if he knew something was missing, looked around and asked, “Where’s Ollie?”

Robin pointed out across the lawn. “She’s out there playing with Henry.”

“Hey Roland, I think I want to go out and play ball for a while,” Mary Margaret began, standing and holding out her hand. “Do you want to come with me?”

Roland nodded, and taking Regina’s hand to help step over his father’s legs, he reached out and took Mary Margaret’s hand. Robin thanked the young woman who only smiled at them, and setting Roland down walked after the excited youngster as he ran towards his sister.


They sat side by side for a while and watched their children play. It wasn’t until Robin spotted some of the vendors starting to set up across the park that he spoke. “I think they might be getting ready lunch soon.”

Regina hummed a grateful sound. “Thank goodness, I’m starving.” She straightened up, stretching her back; Robin’s eyes were drawn to the movement and the arch of her slender back through her white cotton shirt. Robin swallowed as she turned this way and that, and winced from the movement.

“Back hurting?”

Nodding Regina told him, “Yes, but it’s mostly my neck. I think I slept on it wrong.”

“That never feels good.” Robin sat back and adjusted his legs out a bit, and patted the ground in front of him. “Come here.”

Regina’s eyes widened at his intent. “Oh, that’s okay.”

“Come on.” Robin took her hand and, giving it a tug, added, “You’ll feel better for it.”

Her eyes held his, and for a moment Robin thought Regina was going to refuse. His head tilted, unsure of how she was feeling, and he hoped he hadn’t upset her with his offer. His intent never to make her uncomfortable, only to give her some relief, and just when Robin was about to apologize for overstepping before he knew it, she was smiling. Robin was transfixed on her face, as she got to her knees, and crawled the couple of feet separating them.

Robin wallowed hard as Regina lowered herself in front of him, and it suddenly occurred to Robin that this might not have been the best idea in the world. Her long dark hair was falling down her back in soft waves, and her rear so precariously close to parts of him that were very aware of her proximity. Her hands fell against his thighs, gripping them so she could shift back a bit more and Robin had to bite his lip, as he nearly groaned aloud.

Once she was settled, Robin took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. Gathering Regina’s hair in his hands, Robin couldn’t help but run his fingers through the softness a few moments longer than necessary, enjoying the smell of her shampoo. Something floral, lavender, he thought, and maybe a hint of her perfume too. It had been a long time since he’d been this close to a woman; since he had wanted to be.

Gathering her hair together, Robin pulled it to the side and placed it over her shoulder, then bringing his hands up close to her neck, began to knead the muscles there. He started with a light pressure, working his way slowly down her shoulders until Regina was good and relaxed and her weight fell back a bit into his hands. Making his way down her spine, Regina groaned at a particular spot, and Robin stayed there, continuing to work the knot until she let out a relieved sigh.

Robin leaned into her, so he could be close to her ear when he asked, “Better?”

Regina’s head fell back against his shoulder, and feeling a bit bold Robin massaged his way down her arms.

Regina sighed. “You’re hired.”

Robin snorted a laugh, kissed her temple and told her, “Free only for you.”

They sat together like that, neither making an attempt to move, just remaining close as they watched their children play some more and enjoyed the brief moment of intimacy they allowed for themselves.

It wasn’t until Regina’s phone dinged a little while later that she sat up and reached over for her phone. Regina smiled, making Robin wonder what the message contained. Thinking she was going to go back to sitting next to him, Regina surprised Robin by sitting back against him, and Robin leaned back, his arms falling behind him to brace them both. Once they were both comfortable, Regina asked, “Emma wants to know if you're up for a crab boil tonight?”

Robin grinned. “Oh ho, absolutely.”


Rather than taking his normal way home after picking up Olivia, Robin turned onto the FDR across the East River, having a surprise in store for his oldest child. After thinking a lot about it recently, Robin had decided over the week it was time for Olivia to have her own room, instead of sharing with Roland, or using the makeshift bed Robin made for her out of blankets. It was clear now that this arrangement would be a permanent one, and for that, Olivia needed to know his home was her home too.

Taking Roland to Home Depot one early Monday night, they made their way into the paint department and picked out her favorite color, the perfect shade of purple. They bought tape and brushes, plastic tarps and rollers. Over the week Robin had painted the walls, bought and hung curtains, and now it was just waiting to be filled.

Pulling into the parking lot, Robin was slightly relieved to find the store wasn’t packed to the gills.

Olivia looked up once the car had stopped and from her seat in the back. “What are we doing here, Daddy?”

“Well, darling,” Robin began to explain, as he took off his seat belt. “Since you’re going to be staying with me every now and then I think it’s time we got you your own bed to go in your own room.”

Her little mouth fell open a bit, and Olivia whispered a reply, “I get my own room at your house?”

“Mmhm, the one right across from Roland’s.”

The expression that lit his daughter's face was not one Robin would soon forget. Olivia’s eyes sparkled the bluest of blues, and her smile shone so big and bright that her dimples showed. Robin knew in that moment it had all been worth it. He would do just about anything for that smile.

They spent almost three hours in the store, walking through the maze of furniture, textiles, and consumables. He meant to get her a bed and a dresser, perhaps a few little things to fill her room up. It wasn’t until they were all standing at the checkout with a bed, a nightstand and lamp to go on said nightstand, a dresser, her own little drawing desk, white faux sheepskin rug, and heart covered bedding, Robin realized he’d gone a tad bit overboard, and that perhaps he ought to think about having it delivered.


Later that evening as Robin was brushing his teeth, his brow furrowed thinking that he heard the ding of his cell phone. Walking over to his bed he grabbed his phone and shifted the brush in his mouth to the side, biting down on it so that he might check his messages. He heard right, a text from Regina was there waiting for him. Her innocent, How is everything going? in translation, no doubt meant something along the lines of, Tell me my daughter is fed and happy because I still don’t quite trust you . Smiling amidst the foamy substance, he walked back into the bathroom, and spat out the toothpaste into the sink.

Robin replied with a smart, Wonderful, I just about to send the children to bed without supper, after letting them play in questionable puddles while taking Ella out on a walk.

Regina’s response was instant, and he could almost picture the scowl on her beautiful lips. You think you’re being cute with that?

Robin sniggered, set the phone down and rinsed his mouth with water, then picked up his mouthwash. After Robin was all finished, he picked up his phone once again and made his way into Olivia’s room, where she, Roland, and Ella all laid snuggled into her new bed while she read one of Roland’s books aloud to her brother. He sent her another text in response. I think you rather enjoy it, yes.

How is MY daughter?

Robin’s eyes widened and took note of the little red devil emoji at the end and he shook his head. God, Regina could be so feisty when she wanted to be. OUR daughter is reading Roland a bedtime story at the moment.

Really?

He snorted at the little red heart that followed. A devil to heart, eh? Yes, it’s rather adorable. I’d send you a picture, but then that would most likely destroy the mental image you have in your head that pictures me ignoring the children while I listen to The Who and drink the night away out on the deck.


Regina rolled her eyes from her bed in the city. The house was too quiet. Emma and Henry had gone out to the movies earlier that night, invited her even, but Regina sent them along without her. Claimed she was going to enjoy a night to herself, and she really tried to for a while. Regina drew herself a hot bath, watched the last few episodes of Revenge , made herself a small dinner from the leftovers she made the night before, and was now tucked into bed at eight at night, eating ice cream and ready to begin Outlander .

Putting her spoon back in her pint of coffee chocolate chip gelato, Regina pulled up Robin’s messages and typed, Send the picture already.

He did, and of course, it melted her heart right then and there. Olivia was lying next to Roland reading a large hardback copy of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who! Regina looked closely, and a smile lit her eyes and face and felt another rush of affection for the man who’d taken the picture.

Did you braid her hair?

If you want to get specific it’s a French braid, and yes, I did.

How did you know how to do that?

Well, your daughter requested it, and there’s really nothing you can’t learn from YouTube.

Regina rolled her eyes, but it was only half-hearted. Robin always seemed to take her by surprise. Every small effort that may have been insignificant to some, was always done with the truest devotion. There seemed to be nothing Robin wouldn’t do for Olivia or Roland, even as something as simple as learning to braid his daughter’s hair.

Regina’s tongue touched her top lip, as tears began to fill her eyes. She wiped the few drops of moisture that escaped her defenses. She never expected to feel this way. Never expected her daughter would be able to have a man so wonderful in her life or even herself for that matter. Regina couldn’t help a small part of her heart that felt cheated. She had been lucky enough to meet him not once, but twice. Though she hated to feel like she was pushing her luck, but where was fate before their first meeting, she wanted to know? Was it too much to ask that she -that, Olivia had him from the very beginning?

Closing her eyes, Regina breathed in slowly, deeply. One breath of acceptance in and out. Reminding herself Robin was there with her daughter, tucking her in and kissing her brow whispering words like sleep well and I love you to her now .

Another message from Robin helped Regina blink away her last remaining tears.

Little ones are tucked in and accounted for. Now, how is Mum doing this evening? Relaxing and not worrying, I hope?

Regina smiled and tried hard not to fall even harder for the man who not only took great care of her daughter but also had room in his life for checking on her too. No, not worrying. I am relaxing actually; I’m eating ice cream in bed and watching a movie.

Now that’s not fair.

I share, you know.

And alas, the beautiful woman with the ice cream is across the bridge and I am here with sleeping children.

Feeling bold, Regina typed, Pity. I was going to let you lick my spoon. She laughed and tossed her phone on her mattress beside her, pretending to watch the beginnings of Outlander , but her mind was elsewhere, somewhere in Brooklyn picturing a handsome man reading her texts in bed. When her phone vibrated next to her, she couldn’t help but reach for it, anxious for his reply.

Regina Mills, are you flirting with me?

Maybe?

You’re an evil woman, you know that?

I’ve been told that a time or two, yes.

Regina flirted with him until she finished her ice cream. She had to put her phone under her pillow away from her as she got further into Outlander . She knew why Emma had been so insistent that she give it a try, and Regina was glad she was alone when she did. Thoughts of Robin came into her dreams that night, thoughts of his accent, of him laying her down across that large oak table of his and kneeling between her legs, her hands in his hair clutching him to her as his tongue made long strokes against her clit, and the sounds she had made… the sounds he make, and just when Regina was about to tip over the edge a loud sound of a car alarm filled the room.

She blinked her eyes open, with her heart beating hard in her chest, breathless, and incredibly wet. It was the first dream she had like that in years, and she was still reeling from it. Closing her eyes Regina pictured his face and grabbing her pillow she let out a soft moan into it as her hand made its way down, imagined it was Robin’s hand between her legs. It took only seconds for her to reach her peak, and no sooner did she remove the pillow, her phone beside her let out a soft ding , alerting her to a new text from the very man in her dreams.

Reading it, Regina chuckled and threw her arm over her eyes.

Sleep well?

God, he had no idea.

Chapter Text

She didn’t drive much, but on Sunday Regina messaged Robin telling him that she was going to be picking up Olivia this time. Robin tried to protest, but Regina had been adamant. Robin was always dropping Olivia off and offering to come to get her; it was time Regina did it for once, and she told him as much. He had replied to her with a cheeky, Whatever milady wishes . See you shortly, love. Regina smiled and put her phone away before she found herself flirting with him once again.

Stepping into the elevator, Regina twisted her thick, dark hair into a knot and tied it at the base of her neck, using bobby pins to keep it neatly in place. Taking a small detour for a coffee before she left for Brooklyn, Regina walked into her coffee shop, the smell of freshly ground coffee drawing her up to the front, and Regina smiled up at Alice who greeted her with her usual bright smile.

“Hey lady, your usual?”

Regina groaned, replying with a grateful affirmative. “Yes, but throw an extra shot into it today.” The coffee here was already strong, but Regina stayed up later than she intended and could use the extra boost for the road.

“You got it,” Alice replied, grabbing a cup, marking it, and then tossed it to the barista. He was a dark-haired young man whom Regina didn’t recognize. It wasn’t unusual for the shop to get a few new people right before summer, before the crowds of tourists began to flourish right along with the heat. Regina bit back a smile, noticing how the young man’s eyes would shift in the direction of Alice far more often than not.

“You’re all dressed up today,” Alice observed. “Anything special going on?”

Regina glanced down at her flats, dark skinny jeans, and cap-sleeved top. So alright, maybe her top had a cut-out bust and back, and it might have accentuated certain assets that just might draw the eye of a certain man she was about to see, but it was still modest, only showed a hint of cleavage. Was it really her fault it fit her like a second skin and made her feel incredibly sexy?

“I’m just going to pick up Olivia from her father’s.”

Alice’s eyes widened, and she sent Regina a knowing grin along with a, “Oh, okay.”

Regina bit back her own smile, and handing the young girl the money, she told Alice to keep what was left. A moment later her iced latte was placed down in front of her. With her coffee in hand, Regina dug her sunglasses out of her purse, ready to take on the mid-morning commute.

Wanting the rest of the afternoon with Olivia, they hadn’t stayed long once Regina arrived. Truthfully, Regina was having a very hard time looking at Robin without thinking back to her dream, and there was no amount of chastising that would help her at this point. Maybe it was because it had been so very long for her or because they were just so incredibly drawn to one another, but she could not get the image of the two of them together out of her mind.

And boy, was it a good one.

Being in the same room with Robin, hearing his voice, and having him so close, was too much. And with the way he was looking back at her, Regina was going to lose it. Not to mention what the sight of Olivia's room did to her ovaries. Regina had turned to him in wonder and asked, "You did this for her?"

Robin had looked at her with a guilty smile, merely shrugged his shoulders, and told her, "She needed a proper room."

In that moment, if Robin didn't already know how Regina felt for him, she was almost certain he could have seen it on her face because the look she sent him held all of her affection for him.

And the moment Regina knew she had to get Olivia and leave before her words spilled out was later downstairs when Robin offered her a simple cup of tea. Regina had been leaning against his kitchen counter, waiting for Olivia to get her things, and looking up found him walking towards her. His blue eyes held hers as he came closer and closer; Regina was unsure of what Robin was doing but unwilling to stop him.

Licking her lips, Regina was sure Robin was going to kiss her, and they parted expectantly, and her breath hitched in her chest but just as Regina was about to close her eyes, leaned a bit to the left, reaching around her.

Regina swallowed, took a shallow breath, trying not to look as affected as she felt even though she was sure Robin could hear her heart beating as loudly as it seemed to be pounding in her chest. Pulling back, Robin held a jar between them. His eyes were back on hers, never leaving them, as he asked, “Black or green?”

Tearing her eyes from his Regina looked down at the canister in his hand, then back up at him. “Oh, actually, I think we should go.”

His brows rose and Robin frowned. “Must you?”

Regina chuckled. She couldn’t help it. She was so nervous, and Robin wasn’t making things easy on her at all. Hell, neither was she, but Regina was enjoying this. This incredible slow build-up between them, and not wanting to ruin it just yet, Regina placed her hand on his chest and gave Robin a tiny shove back. “You’re playing with fire, Robin Locksley.”

Robin looked at her then. Really looked at her. His eyes traveled quite intentionally and without remorse, from the tips of her toes, up her body and slowing at the cut in her shirt before almost lazily meeting her eyes. “It’s a good thing I don’t mind getting burned.”

The moment filled with tension once again, and Robin brought a hand up, placing it over hers on his chest. Her heart knocked hard in her chest once again as she looked up into his eyes. Regina had been attracted to Robin from the beginning but always pushed that attraction away. She had to, for the sake of their daughter -but Regina couldn’t help wondering if this could work between them.

Regina was about to open her mouth to ask him that very question when there came a bark and a sudden weight against her legs. They both looked down to see Ella sitting on the floor, leaning against Regina and looking up at her with a soft whine and pitiful eyes that wanted attention. Her attention.

“Oy, of course, it’d be you,” Robin muttered, looking down at the pup with a scowl.

Regina giggled at Robin’s frustrated tone, took back her hand from his chest and took a step away so she could kneel and pet the pup. Regina could hear Robin’s soft sigh, and Regina told herself, “someday,” before standing once again and calling for Olivia.

Taking a step towards him, Regina rose up on her tip toes and placed a kiss on Robin’s cheek. She let the kiss linger, enjoying the stubble from his beard tickling her lips and smell of his soap. Regina meant for that to be it, but Robin had other ideas. Before Regina knew it, Robin pulled her into his arms and found herself overwhelmed by the feel of him against her, and his strong arms around her. It had been a long time since she had simply been held, and oh, how she had missed it. Closing her eyes, Regina melted into him, feeling his warm hands on her back holding her impossibly close to him. Neither let go for long moments, until the sound of their daughter's footsteps on the stairs calling for them broke them apart, and even then, it was with twin sighs of regret.

They all walked to the door, and Robin picked Olivia up in his arms, giving her a hug and kiss on the top of her head, with a promise to call her later in the week. Regina began to follow Olivia as the young girl started out to the car, but was stopped by Robin’s hand catching hers. Her dark eyes met blue as he brought her hand to his lips and placed a soft kiss to her knuckles.

Regina bit her lip, and Robin mirrored her before telling her goodbye.


It wasn’t until they were nearly home that Regina was able to shake herself from thoughts of Robin to ask her daughter, “How was your weekend with your dad?”

Olivia looked up at her with a smile from the back seat. She was playing with a big peacock feather, Robin had gotten for her, and with the feather over her eyes, she replied, “It was so great. We went to the park, and Daddy taught me to draw.”

Imagining Robin teaching her daughter to draw had her insides warming all over again. “Really?”

“Uh huh, oh I forgot to show you my desk! It’s just like the one Daddy has in his office, so I can color and draw while he works.”

“Don’t worry, you can show it to me the next time we go over to see him.” Glancing at Olivia in the rear view mirror, Regina asked, “Did you do anything else?”

“Umm,” Olivia tilted her head back against the seat and ran her feather along the roof of the car, before replying, “We also took Ella for a walk with Belle.”

Regina’s brow pinched together and she felt a weight drop in her stomach. “With who?”

“Belle. She’s like Avery, she’s Roland’s babysitter. Only she’s older than Avery and she has dark hair and blue eyes like me and Daddy. She’s really really pretty,” Olivia explained.

Regina bit her tongue at the seemingly innocent comment, while dread and doubt replaced the lightness she felt only moments ago. “I bet she is,” Regina mumbled to herself.

“What, Momma?”

Shaking herself, Regina managed a tight smile that she wasn’t feeling. “I bet you had a great time.”

“Oh, I did.”

Regina didn't know why, but her eyes stung with tears that were threatening to fall. Unexpected and unwelcome, Regina burned with the knowledge that Robin just might have another woman in his life. One that wasn't nine years old and wasn't her. She hated herself for thinking it, but Regina was annoyed with him now.

Was Robin seeing this Belle person? He’d never mentioned her, not once. And Regina would think if Robin had someone else in his life he would have said something by now.

You’re being ridiculous, Regina, she told herself.

Sure, she and Robin weren’t together, but they’d flirted and spent time with one another. It was obvious, at least in her eyes, that there was something there between them. Something they’d been building on slowly as they got to know one another. She knew Robin, and he wouldn’t let that happen between them if there was someone else. He just wouldn’t. That was what Regina tried to tell herself, anyway. But that small thread of jealous doubt coiled in her heart, making her wonder if Robin wasn’t feeling the same things she was, after all.


 

When Robin met Regina and Olivia for breakfast the following Sunday, Robin noticed immediately that something was wrong. Regina wasn’t looking him in the eye, and she was always glancing down or away whenever he spoke. Her body language was speaking volumes, though, even when she told him she was fine, Robin knew better.

Truthfully, he noticed the change in her earlier in the week. Something had been off. Her messages were short, and when Robin called her to confirm they were still on for today, she’d been distant and got off the phone with him as quickly as she could. Robin worried if it was something he’d done, something unintentional, or had he overstepped somehow? Things between them had been good, and he was sure they were growing closer to one another. He had feelings for her. Had come to acknowledge that for a while now, but was waiting for the right time to open up to her, to make sure he wasn’t the only one to feel this connection between them.

Robin genuinely thought Regina felt that same way too, was sure of it until now. And now Regina wouldn’t even look at him.

Watching as Olivia and Roland chatted while eating their heart-shaped pancakes, Regina blurted out, “So you have a nanny?”

Robin looked up somewhat startled by her question, and his brow furrowed. There was something poignant there, something in her tone made the question come off almost like an accusation, and he wondered if he had heard her right. “I do.”

Regina licked her lips, and still not looking in his direction, stated, “Olivia mentioned she met her.”

“She did,” Robin confirmed, thinking back to Saturday morning when Belle had dropped by on her way out of town with her husband for their anniversary. “Belle brought a book of Roland’s by just as we were leaving to walk Ella. She really likes Olivia.”

Regina hummed and reached for her coffee. Robin’s eyes narrowed as he studied her. Was she bothered that he had a nanny? She didn't think he was leaving Olivia with her, did she? “Something wrong?”

“Hmm, oh no, it’s nothing.”

It’s not , Robin thought but didn’t say aloud. Picking up his coffee, he asked, “Then what’s that face for?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Regina replied, feigning innocence and Robin watched as she subtly schooled her expression back to something neutral as she sipped her coffee.

Letting out a breath Robin tried to keep the frustration he was starting to feel out of his voice. They'd been planning this weekend with their kids for a while now, and he couldn't understand her sudden coldness towards him. “Alright, so where are we off to?”

Regina was helping Roland take a drink of his chocolate milk, and she waited for him to finish and then cleaned off his mouth before she replied, “I thought we’d take them over by Belvedere Castle. With the weather like it is, I could get some really great shots of them up there and by the pond.”

“Sounds great.”

Finally meeting his eyes, Regina folded her arms in front of her on the table. “Also, I was wondering if you maybe wanted to take Olivia tomorrow night. One of our junior photographers had a family emergency, so I told him I’d fill in for him. I’ll be out most of tomorrow night. I was going to leave her with Emma, but I thought you’d both rather have some more time together if you don’t mind taking her to school.”

Always happy to have more time with Olivia, Robin replied, “Of course, I’d love to have her.”

Regina merely nodded and looked away, and again Robin wondered why she had asked about Belle. Suddenly it hit him. Was she jealous? After all, Regina had been fine on Sunday when she picked up Olivia, more than fine in fact. It wasn't until she left that something had happened, and though Robin wasn’t a betting man, he was sure Olivia mentioning his sitter was what started all of this.

Robin bit back a smile. Relief like he never felt flooded his chest, making the air a bit easier to breathe. He told himself, as soon as he got her alone he would tell her what she was thinking was all wrong, but until then he’d just have to be his charming self and hope to hell that she didn’t kill him with one of her looks before then.


They finished their breakfast in near silence. Regina knew she was being ridiculous but she couldn’t help it. She was disappointed, and couldn’t muster up the energy to put on what her mother would call “ a pretty face .” Robin would just deal with it. Maybe then he would stop giving her the wrong impression, stop being so infuriatingly good to her, just be a father to her child and leave her alone.

But the longer Regina stewed on it with him by her side, the more and more upset she became, and Regina knew he could see it, but again she couldn’t begin to care.

Walking with the children between them as they made their way to the park half an hour later, had given her a chance to breathe, to gain a semblance of calm. So when they’d arrived at the castle, she told Olivia and Roland they could go play a bit while she got her camera out.

As soon they were out of earshot, however, Regina could hear Robin as he walked up beside her. She tensed as his hand settled warmly on her back, and then his low voice as he told her, "Regina, I'm not seeing Belle."

That knot in her stomach that had been there all week immediately began to ease, but Regina refused to let him see how relieved she was by his confession and replied with a casual, "Why should it matter to me if you are or aren't? It's not like we're seeing each other or anything. You can date whomever you want."

Robin snorted a laugh and straightened up, his hand leaving her back making Regina look up at him sharply. He raised a brow at her and grinned. "Really?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Yes, really."

"All right then."

Regina sighed, frustrated. Why did this Belle thing bother her so much? And was he trying to tell her something by opening up about it? What did he want her to do, come out and admit she was jealous? He had her daughter's attention and a pretty nanny that just stopped by to go for random walks with him. What did he need with her?

Robin shook his head, leaned toward her, and in a low voice murmured, “You see, the problem with that is, I already have a bit of a crush on my daughter’s mother, and I’m hopeful that’s headed somewhere.”

Regina looked up at him, startled at first by his confession, but as she considered his soft blue eyes she realized Robin was serious and that everything she’d been feeling about them had been right. They were headed somewhere, and that scared her and excited her all at once. Her insecurities seemed to vanish right then and there, and Regina closed her eyes, lips pulling up as she felt his brow fall gently against hers. Regina replied softly, “Me too.”

Feeling his lips against her cheek, Regina smiled for the first time that morning. “Now what do you say we take some pictures of our children?”


Robin watched from his desk as Olivia sat just beside him. He’d taken her for the night while Regina went to her shoot, and Olivia had been drawing while Robin finished up a set of plans for some time after finishing her homework. Robin looked on as her little tongue stuck out in concentration while she tried to mimic a cartoon character he drew for her earlier. She’s absolutely adorable , he thought and, not for the first time, noticed how very much she looked just like her mother.

Going back to his work, he hummed along with U2 that was playing in the back ground, until Robin heard her ask, “Daddy?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Do you think I could stay with you this summer?”

Robin placed his pencil down and turned in his seat to face Olivia. He wasn’t opposed to the idea; however, it was very much out of the blue. “Have you talked with your mother about this?”

Olivia shrugged. “She wants me to go to a summer camp, but I don’t want to go.”

Robin’s lips tipped down slightly. This was the first he had heard of any summer camp. It wasn’t that he expected Regina to run by every decision she made concerning Olivia, but Robin felt a bit saddened Olivia would be gone all summer just when he’d gotten used to having her around. He would have thought Regina would have brought this kind of thing up by now and was a bit hurt that she hadn't. “Why don’t you want to go? Summer camps are great. You get to go outdoors, learn how to camp, and you get to go swimming.”

Olivia made a face, her brow scrunching in distaste. “I guess.”

Robin let out a heavy exhale. He was completely torn between wanting to give his little girl the sun and the moon, and wondering what her mother would have to say about that. “You know, it might be a bit boring hanging around here all summer. I’d still have to work and…”

Olivia instantly perked up. Standing from her chair, she insisted, “I wouldn’t be bored. I promise!”

Robin sighed, worried now that he’d gone and gotten her hopes up without a word to Regina, so he told her, “Olivia, you know I’d love to have you, but what about your mum? What do you think she’d have to say about that?”

“She won’t mind! I know she won’t!” Her blue eyes looked up at him, and he knew he was done for. ‘Please, Daddy?”

He groaned internally. She’d done it. Wrapped himself tightly and securely around her little finger and she seemed to know it. “Okay, I’ll make a deal with you. I will speak to your mum tomorrow when I drop you off,” Olivia started to say something, her mouth widening into a huge smile, but Robin held up a hand to stop her, adding a condition, “but if your mother says you are to go to summer camp instead, I don’t want to hear any argument about going. Promise?”

Olivia nodded enthusiastically. “I promise.”

“Alright then.”

Olivia took that as her cue and launched herself into his arms. “Thank you, Daddy.”

“You’re welcome,” Robin replied, hugging her tight before pulling back. “Now, it’s getting late. Why don’t you go get ready for bed, and then we’ll read some of that book you brought?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll be right up.”

Robin watched her go thinking perhaps he should have given Regina a call before promising Olivia anything. He could only hop Regina wouldn’t mind him butting into a summer she already planned for their daughter.


Regina had felt it all day now, a low-grade headache there just behind her eyes, the ache that was soon to settle into one hell of a migraine if Regina didn’t take an Excedrin and get to bed soon.

If only Robin would get home with Olivia she would be able to do that. Regina expected them over an hour ago, and now not only was Olivia’s dinner cold but eating it now would put her in the shower late, which meant Regina would have to blow dry her hair. The thought of having to sit through over a half an hour of that sent her jaw clenching.

Olivia was just going to have to skip the shower tonight.

Setting her work aside, Regina got up from her desk and padded heavily into her room. She was going to save herself some time and get herself ready for bed. She didn’t care what Robin would think about the sight of her not completely put together. Regina just wanted to go to bed, and so the sooner Robin realized that when he arrived, the better.

Slipping into a set of gray cotton pants and tank, Regina stepped into the bathroom and removed her makeup before making her way back out into the kitchen. She had just finished her cup of tea when her headache exploded into a full-blown migraine. She whimpered as the pain in her head increased exponentially, making her stomach roil and threatening to bring back her tea. Regina closed her eyes tightly as the lights bored into her skull. She gripped the edge of the sink, breathing hard, willing the pain to subside. When the timpani in her head lowered a bit, and that was when her phone dinged.

Finally , Regina thought.

There was the sound of keys, and a few moments later, Olivia happily bounced her way into the apartment. Walking over to them, Regina held open the door for Robin, who carried Olivia’s backpack and a new oversized teddy bear. Taking them from him Regina held out the multi-colored monstrosity.

“You’re going to spoil her,” Regina said, before tossing the bear and the bag over the couch. She could hear the gravelly sound of her voice, and it was taking everything in her not to wince as her movements sent a spike of pain shooting through her with every step.

Robin chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, looking away guiltily. Regina might have found the look somewhat adorable on him if she had been feeling well, but she didn’t so he got no relief from her current mood.

“Technically she won that.”

Regina sighed and replied, “Let me guess, at a place where parents go to spoil their children?” She brought up a hand and tried to massage the side of her neck. It did nothing, Regina hadn’t really supposed it would, but Robin was here, and she didn’t want to appear so vulnerable in front of him.

“Well, I suppose…” Robin started, but was cut off.

“Was there something else you wanted?” Regina never meant for it to come out so bluntly, so harshly, and it appeared to have startled him because Robin was looking at her uncertainly, a touch of concern showing in his eyes.

“Are you alright?”

Regina avoided his gaze, looked down at the ground, and rubbed her neck again to try and relieve some of the tension that had been settling there. “I’m fine.”

Chancing a glance Regina could see that his eyes narrowed suspiciously, but if he was on to her Robin chose to say nothing, instead he thankfully got to his point. “Olivia mentioned she’d be going to a camp this summer.”

Regina’s brows fell, and she pinched the bridge of her nose. Damn. She forgotten about that, and meant to mentioned it sooner, even weeks ago, but with everything happening lately with them and work, she had completely overlooked it. “Yes, she is. I forgot to mention it.” She suddenly felt chilled, and she gritted her teeth. Oh God, this was going to be a bad one.

Robin nodded and glanced back in the direction of Olivia's room. “Hmm, well she mentioned she didn’t want to go.”

Regina folded her arms in front of her and held back a sigh. “Oh, she does, she’s just being stubborn.”

“You might want to talk with her,” Robin began, and Regina rolled her eyes, began to walk around him, heading for the sink to get a glass of water to take her medicine, while he continued on, his voice lowering, as he followed behind her, “I’m not trying to step on your toes here, Regina, but perhaps instead she could come to Brooklyn and stay with me and Roland for the summer. I feel like she and Roland are settling in well together...”

Turning on him, Regina braced her hands behind her on the counter. She met his gaze and for the life of her couldn’t keep the angry frustration out of her eyes. “Look, I appreciate your input, but I know my daughter. I know what’s best for her, and I’ll decide what she does or does not do.”

Robin’s eyes searched hers, and his mouth tipped down into a confused frown. “I’m not here to argue that, I just…”

“I know , Robin. You wanted to come here and try to co-parent with me."  Her hands clenched, her nails dug into her palms, as the pain worsened, and she turned to face the sink. Her hands gripped the edge, and she squeezed her eyes shut as a huge spike of pain slammed through her temples and down her neck. She was breathing hard, she knew it, and couldn’t help the hiss of pain that slipped from her lips. Regina heard Robin take a step, but before he could move further, she added, "Well, you know what, I’ve been doing this by myself for more than nine years, and I’ve got this. I don’t need your help. We’re fine.”

Regina was able to turn to face him, trying to school her features into calm, but knew she only looked upset and probably angry. His mouth closed, and she could see his jaw set for a moment before he replied, “I was only concerned for her. She seemed genuinely upset.”

“Well, she’ll get over it,” Regina told him with a bit more bite than she meant. Then another wave of horrific pain swept through her head, and without a filter, words flew out of her mouth as she snapped at him, “Just like she’ll get over you .”

Regina regretted the words the instant they left her mouth, but it was too late.

Robin took a step back, his jaw clenching as his eyes held hers. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Realizing she had gone too far, that she let a headache speak for her, Regina felt terrible. She didn’t mean it. Any of it. And the look on his face, she knew she’d hurt him deeply. Her shoulders slumped, and she could feel the burn of unshed tears begin to gather, only adding to the anguish in her skull. “Robin… I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

Robin held up a hand. “You know what… I think I’d rather go than say something I’ll regret.”

“Robin…”

Shaking his head, Robin took a step back and then another. “Tell Olivia I’ll call her later.”

Chapter Text

Regina felt terrible and guilty, and it was that feeling that had her leaving her daughter with Emma late on Monday evening, driving through town and over the bridge into Brooklyn. Emma had made sure to give her no end of grief, when Regina told the blonde where she was going, making the comment that she thought Regina didn’t cross bridges for men. Regina had retorted that Brooklyn was still, in fact, New York.

When Regina’s migraine had abated the following morning, her first thought after a large cup of coffee had been of Robin. She felt terrible for the way she spoke to him. Even as the words had left her lips last night, she instantly regretted them. However, the pain had been so intense that she felt powerless to do a thing about it. Regina knew his concern was only for Olivia, and after a chat with her daughter the next morning, his concern made sense. However, Olivia had neglected to fully disclose the specifics of her camp, in lieu of spending more time with Robin , and had been ashamed and remorseful at her attempted manipulation once Regina pointed out that Olivia shouldn’t be building a relationship with her father by attempting to lie to him, even by omission.

So now here Regina was, deeply remorseful and making her way up his stoop. Taking a deep breath and tucking her hair behind her ears, she knocked, and waited for a few moments, tempted to ring the bell but it was after nine, and didn’t want to risk waking Roland. She should have called him. Glancing through the narrow gap between the curtain and the window, she could make out a dim light from the kitchen light still on.

Regina blew out a breath of frustration. She didn’t drive all the way to Brooklyn to not speak with him. Reaching into the pocket of her running jacket, Regina pulled out her phone and sent him a quick text. Are you home?

Regina only waited about thirty seconds when his reply came. Yes.

She frowned at the screen and sent a response. I’m here. Can we talk?

A heartbeat and then, I’ll be right down.

Putting her phone back into her jacket, Regina began to feel increasingly uncomfortable. She really should have called first. She wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to see her after what she’d said, and the thought that that might be true, that he would turn her away, caused something inside her to twist. Regina shook the thought from her as quickly as it came. Robin wasn’t like that. She hurt him, yes, but she knew that he would hear her out and never push her away. What she needed to do was get a hold of herself.

Soon, the sound of footsteps and a quiet hiss of cursing could be heard from near the door. As it grew closer Regina groaned silently, when Robin’s voice commanded, “No, Ella. Sit.” Regina forgot about Ella.

Robin opened the door, and Regina looked up at him apprehensively, though his was more curious than upset. Licking her lips, Regina smiled, and said softly, “I came to apologize.”

He gave her a nod, opening the door wide enough for her to step into the darkened hall while he closed it, and flipped the deadbolt.

“Tea?” Robin asked, gesturing towards the kitchen; however, he did not wait for Regina to reply. He made his way towards the kitchen, Ella trailing behind him.

Regina let out a breath and followed. Robin was obviously still upset with her and probably hurt. Seeing him that way only made her feel worse.

The house was quiet. Roland upstairs in bed, and there were no other signs of anyone else, yet she still felt compelled to ask, “I’m not interrupting anything am I?”

Robin flipped on the light, continued on into the middle of the kitchen, and muttered a solitary, No, in response. He took the kettle from the stove, walked to the sink, and began filling it with water.

Once finished, he stood at the kitchen island across from her and waited.

Regina uncrossed her arms and then took a few steps to close some of the distance between them. Taking a deep breath, Regina began, “I didn’t mean it. What I said. I wasn’t feeling well. When I get intense migraines like that, I feel like I have little control over my temper and the things I say. I know it’s no excuse, but I want you to know that I do value your concern when it comes to Olivia.”

Robin nodded. “I know.”

Regina looked at him in surprise, and he grimaced slightly. 

“Emma called just before you got here. She told me that you’d been going through a migraine, and I was to give you a chance to explain, or she would, and I quote, ‘kick your ass from here to Long Island.’ So I’m listening.” Robin was calm, but his eyes still showed some of that hurt, and his voice was carefully bland. 

Regina bit her lip. “I want us to be in this together, it’s just…” She wasn’t sure exactly where the emotions came from, but all of a sudden her eyes were blurry with unshed tears and her voice hitched, “I guess I’m jealous.”

Robin obviously decided to cut her a break as she felt his hand on her arm, and gone was the tone devoid of emotion, and his voice now the one she recognized, the one filled with nothing but care. “Jealous of what, love?”

Her chest filled once again with a warmth she felt every time he touched her, and right now was no exception. Sniffing, Regina’s shoulders lifted and fell. “You’re all she talks about anymore. Whenever we go and do something it’s ‘Can we ask Daddy to come?’ or ‘ Can we go visit Daddy?’” Regina’s brown eyes gazed back into his blue. I’ve never had to share her with anyone, and I’m also a little scared that because of the dynamic I have with my mother, maybe one day, somehow inadvertently, she wouldn’t want to be close to me. I’m ashamed of the way I feel about my mother, but the thought that Olivia might one day feel the same way towards me…” Tears fell steadily down her cheeks, but she ignored them, never broke the connection she held with him. “That’s my biggest fear, always has been, and I guess I let my insecurities speak for me yesterday. I am sorry, Robin, and I hope you can forgive me for the things I said.”

His hand came up almost hesitantly, almost as if he thought she’d wouldn’t want if touch, but he continued toward her, cupping her cheek and wiping the tear tracks that were left behind. “Regina, babe, that will never happen. You are the most loving, wonderful mother to our daughter, and she loves you so much. I never realize the impact I’ve had on her.”

“She loves you.”

The corner of his mouth tipped up into a soft smile for a moment before falling once again. “Thank you, I needed to hear that. And now I feel like I need to apologize,” Robin let out a breath while running a hand through his hair. “I knew something was off yesterday, and when Emma called today-”

“It’s not your fault, I didn’t say anything-”

“But I should have asked. I feel like I could have helped in some way.” He tucked a stray hair behind her ear, and his fingers trailed through her dark tresses until they reached the bottom of her shoulder. It was then that he began to rub slow soothing circles there. Regina felt a shiver run up her spine, and if he noticed, he didn’t say a word about it. “You know, it’s interesting you should say that because when I have Olivia here with me, it’s you whom she always seems to talk about.”

Regina’s wet eyes looked up into his in surprise. “She does?”

“Mmm, she is quite determined for me to know just how amazing her mother is,” Robin told her gently. A coy smile pulled at her lips, and Regina looked away, felt her cheeks warm from the way he looked at her. “The thing is,” he continued, using his free hand to place over hers that was resting on the counter beside her, “I’ve known how amazing you are for quite some time now.”

Her eyes flicked back up to his. They were standing so very close, and Robin was looking at her like he wanted nothing more than to kiss her. God help them both, if he did, Regina wouldn’t stop him. It’d be messy and complicated, but honestly, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted more.

Robin leaned toward her, and when she didn’t move, when he was a mere breath away, Regina closed her eyes and her lips parted. Just as she felt the ghost of his lips against hers, the moment was shattered by the sound of Roland’s cries.

They hadn’t moved far from one another, so she looked up at him, and he sighed. Taking her hands in his he gave them a squeeze and apologized. “I’m sorry, just give me a moment.” Regina nodded, squeezed back, and watched as he turned and jogged out of the room and up the stairs.


Robin made his way quickly upstairs to his son. Flipping on the hall light, he pushed open the toddler’s door to find him sitting up in bed rubbing his sleepy eyes.

“Hey, buddy, what’s wrong?”

Roland stood and held his hands out for his father. Robin walked over to the bed and lifted Roland, who snuggled into his chest, his small hand grabbing a fist full of Robin’s tee, closing his eyes. Robin placed a kiss on the top of his head. “I love you, son, but you have the worst timing, you know?”

Knowing it would take a while before his son was fully out enough to lie back down again, Robin took him downstairs. Robin made his way back into the kitchen, he flipped on the light by the stove and off with the overhead as to not wake Roland.

“I’m sorry, do you want me to go?” Regina whispered.

“No, it’s alright,” Robin murmured patting his son’s back gently. “He’ll be out in a few minutes, then I can lay him back down.”

Regina pushed the curls off the young boy’s brow. “He’s going to be quite a heartbreaker, you know,” she told him, in a hushed tone.

“He already is. Belle assures me he has quite the gaggle of girlfriends at the park.”

“How long has she been taking care of him?”

“Ever since Marian got sick, even cut her honeymoon short when she passed away.”

“That was very sweet of her.”

“Yes, it was and I daresay I owed her husband quite the favor later on.”

The tea on the stove started to whistle, and Regina made her way quickly over to it, moving it to another burner before it woke Roland. “Why don’t I take care of this,” Regina suggested, turning back to Robin, adding, “and that way you can go get him back to bed.”

“You don’t mind?”

“I don’t. I still have some things I wanted to talk to you about, and Emma said she could put Olivia to bed tonight.”

“Alright then,” Robin replied, his hand coming up to caress her bicep, then, “I’ll be back down shortly.”

Regina nodded, watching him go. Taking a deep breath, she turned her attention back to the tea. Looking around at the white cabinets and gray marble countertops, Regina spied a set of see through glass doors with mugs and glasses. Walking across the expanse, she opened the door, removed two mugs and placed them down. Turning, Regina looked around again, asking herself where in this enormous room she would find spoons. Deciding on the drawer between the stove and the sink, Regina smirked when her own logic paid off.

Now for the tea. “If I were tea, where would I be?” she asked aloud.

“It’s a… you’d be here,” Robin said, leaning against the wall beyond the fridge, or at least what she thought was a wall before. The white handles had thrown her off, and he stepped away, revealing a pantry.

“That was fast,” Regina remarked, coming over to stand by him. Reaching into the pantry cupboard, she took out a box of Moroccan Mint and walked back over to the cups.

“He’s tired. Sometimes he just wakes and needs a bit of reassurance that I’m there.”

Regina smiled knowingly. “Olivia used to do that. Sometimes all she needed was a pat on the back and other times, well, I admit I spoiled her a bit and let her sleep with me more than I should have.”

Robin chuckled, caught, she thought, and he whispered conspiratorially to her, “Then I think I can confess, I do the same.”

Regina shook her head and grinned at him. Handing him a mug, she took up her own and made her way around the kitchen island to the line of bar stools. Pulling one out, Regina sat, and he followed, pulling out another next to her.

“You said there was something else you wanted to talk about?” Robin questioned, bringing the cup to his lips, blowing away the steam, before taking a sip.

“I did.” Taking a sip of her own, then setting her beverage to the side, Regina turned in her chair toward him. “With regards to Olivia’s summer camp, I’m also sorry for cutting you out like that. I do want you to have a say in our daughter’s life.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. I told you from the start of this, you’re her mother and the decision is yours.”

“You’re her father, Robin. I think enough time has passed that we both know this isn’t just a one weekend a month thing; you’re a part of our life now. I can tell how much you love her, and how much she loves you.”

“I do love her, very much.”

“And that’s why you get a say.” Regina put her hand on top of his that was resting on the counter. “Did she tell you she’s been looking forward to this summer camp for a year now?”

“No, she didn’t. To me, she made it should like it was some awful place she had to go to.”

“Well, she has, and it’s not. It’s really all she could talk about for weeks once she got accepted. Robin, it’s not just a summer camp with nature hikes in the woods and campfire safety. It’s a seven-week summer session with the Perlman music program. It’s not a camp in the normal sense; it’s on their campus at Shelter Island. They only take 40 children a year, Robin. The only way to get in is to audition, and it’s based strictly on talent. She’s going to learn music with the best cellists and teachers in the country.”

His fingers threaded with hers. “That’s fantastic for her.”

“When she got her letter saying she’d been accepted, Robin…” Regina shook her head, remembering the day she told her daughter she’d been accepted, the way she danced around the apartment most of the night, how she’d practiced every night that week just a little longer than she normally would. “I’d never seen her so excited.”

Robin tilted his head. Looking truly mystified at Olivia’s sudden turnaround. “But then why would she tell me she doesn’t want to go?”

Regina’s smile slid up, and she traced her thumb along the side of his hand. “Because of you.”

“Me?”

Regina licking her lips, Regina explained, “I think she’s afraid if she goes, you won’t be here when she gets back.”

Robin shook his head adamantly. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Well I know that, and you know that, but I think what she needs is some reassurance from you.” Her fingertips splayed open and closed in his hand, enjoying the feel of his soft skin beneath them. Regina suggested, “Why don’t you come over tomorrow night, and we can both sit down with Olivia and talk to her together.”

Gripping her hand, he pulled it to his lips, and placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist. “I’d like that.”

The feel of his hands on her skin and the soft way his thumb caressed the inside of her wrist had her insides burning. Regina realized she had to leave soon, otherwise, she wouldn't find it in herself to keep her hands away from him. As much as Regina wanted them to take that step, she wanted that moment to not be followed directly after an apology.  "I should go"

"I'll walk you out." Leading her from the kitchen, Robin wanted to say something to her. Wanted to reassure her somehow that the last twenty-four hours of misspoken words and hurt feelings had not changed the way he felt for her. If anything, her ability to open up to him, to show that vulnerability rarely shown to anyone, made him love her all the more.


Robin followed behind her; the place was still dark, but the street lamps and moonlight filtered in just enough that Regina was able to make her way out without his help. He reached to open the door, but before he could open it, Regina made a quick decision and stepped into his arms. It took him only a moment to catch up, but soon Robin’s arms were around her, and she could hear his heavy exhale. Regina wrapped her arms around his shoulders, her cheek against his, closing her eyes and breathing him in. She whispered one more apology into the crook of his neck and felt his hands tighten around her before she heard his soft reply, “I am too.”

Regina let them just be like that for a while, she wasn’t sure who pulled away first, but as she drove home that night she felt that the heavy weight in her heart had lifted, replaced with something more, something that felt a lot like hope.


The next evening, Regina listened as her daughter practiced in her room, the deep rich sounds of Bach filling the living room, she closed her eyes placing her copy of All the Light We Cannot See beside her. All other sounds from the apartment were gone. Emma had taken Henry out with her and Patrick to a game so that when Robin came over they could have a talk with their daughter alone.

Regina had been thinking about him all day, about how much he meant to Olivia and to her. They needed to talk and have more than a conversation about Olivia; they needed to have a talk about them . There was so much there between them, most of it unsaid, but all of it felt deeply.

Regina let herself admit that night, as his arms tightened around her, that she was in love with him, and she knew without a doubt that he felt the same for her. Robin told her as much from his confession in that park, in the way he cared for her, and in the connection that pulled them together.

They would talk, when they were alone and had time to really sit down and figure out what they wanted. Regina already knew what that was, but for now, she’d enjoy the sweetness of him, of them. The soft notification of her phone pulled her from her thoughts, but not too far because it was with a smile that she saw the message she received was from Robin. He was there, and on his way up.

Pulling two mugs from the cabinet, she began to make them some tea and only looked up when she heard the keys in the door right before Robin stepped inside. Smiling, Regina said, “I see Emma gave you your key.”

“Yes, she did,” Robin replied while removing his jacket and placing it on one of the hooks by the door. “Though perhaps its uses were to include bringing Olivia home…”

Her smile deepened before Regina began to flirt, “One of them.” Robin mirrored her grin, and stepping into the kitchen, he came up beside her. Handing him a mug, she asked, “Are you ready for this?”

“As much as I can be.”

“She might cry.”

Robin nodded and took a breath. “I thought as much.”

“She just needs us to reassure her that no matter what, we’ll be there for her,” Regina told him, placing her hand on his arm and turning towards him. Robin had never been victim to those eyes of Olivia’s when they filled with tears, when her face fell into a look of sadness that made Regina want to pick Olivia up and hold her tight, wanting to give her the world if it meant sparing her any hurt.

“I know.”

“Okay, I’ll go get her.”


Walking over into the living room, Robin took a seat on the couch and waited. His first real chat with his daughter and her mother felt somewhat surreal. They were still navigating their way around being a family, and in many respects, Robin wished things could be different, that they could all be together and not cities and bridges away. But that was him getting ahead of himself. They were a family now, despite the logistics, and that’s what mattered.

Sounds of footsteps right before a delighted squeal were all he heard before Olivia stepped into his arms. “Daddy, what are you doing here? Can you stay for a while?”

Hugging her to him before he released her, Robin pulled her down to sit beside him and replied, “I came to talk to you.”

Robin smiled up at Regina as she took a seat next to her daughter. Olivia looked between them, and an unsettled look of worry pulled her small lips into a frown. “Am I in trouble?”

“No, darling,” Robin assured, twisting on the couch so that he could face her better. “Your mum and I just wanted to talk with you about the summer and what we’ve decided.”

Olivia’s eyes fell to the floor, and Robin could see her small shoulders fall in defeat. “Oh.”

Regina took one of her daughter’s hands in hers, pulling her attention from the floor and up to her mother, and said, “Olivia, when you told your father about your camp, you neglected to tell him what kind of camp it was or how much you were looking forward to it.”

“I know,” Olivia’s soft crestfallen voice replied.

“Sweetheart, your father and I are not mad at you,” Regina assured her, hugging her against her side. Placing a kiss on the top of her head, Regina continued gently, “We just want to understand why you don’t want to go anymore. You were so excited when you got accepted.”

Olivia shrugged. Then after a moment, told Regina, “I just changed my mind.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.” Olivia’s head fell against Regina’s chest, and Olivia wrapped her arms around her. Regina looked at Robin from over Olivia’s head, giving him an encouraging smile.

“Darling,” Robin started, scooting close so that he could lean over and see into his daughter’s eyes. “You know you can tell your mum and me anything.”

“Olivia, do you think that if you go to camp Robin will forget about you?”

Her voice was just a whisper, but Robin heard Olivia when she said, “No.”

“Then what?” Regina asked.

Robin’s heart broke when he heard her sniffle, and then with a tight voice Olivia replied, “I’m going to miss him.”

She was crying alright, and Robin held out his hand for her. “Oh, come here, darling.”

Olivia launched herself from her mother’s arms and settled into Robin’s. He held her to him as Regina soothed, “Sweetheart, you know it’s only six weeks and Robin will come with me to see you on parents’ night…”

“But I- I’m going to miss you both. It’s a long time away.”

“It is a little while,” Regina conceded, but added for Olivia’s benefit, “but you’ll be able to call us whenever you want, and we can Facetime. Besides, you’ll be so busy playing music and making new friends you won’t have time to miss us.”

Olivia shook her head and her grip tightened around him. “I don’t think so.”

“I promise, you will. Let’s just try it out, and you know what, if you find that you don’t like it, Robin and I will come and get you, won’t we?”

Robin met Regina’s dark eyes and gave a nod and kissed Olivia’s brow. “That’s right, we will. But my darling, at least give it a try. Alright?”

Olivia sniffed, and she replied with a half-hearted, “I guess I could.”

Robin pulled away from her so he could see into her eyes that were bright with tears. Regina was right; those little eyes could break your heart. “Your time there will go by faster than you know, and we’ll still have loads of summer together before you go back to school.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” Robin pulled his little girl close and felt Regina’s hand on his leg. Meeting her bright brown eyes, he closed his hand around hers. “Now how about you, your mother, and I go out for some dinner together, hm?”

Her head tilted back, and her small blue eyes found his. “But what about Roland?”

Robin’s heart warmed with love for his little girl and her love for her brother. His eyes flicked to Regina’s, and he could see she was thinking the same thing as his hand tightened around hers. Robin glanced down and explained, “Roland is with Belle tonight, so I can spend some time with you.”

Lifting her head from his shoulder, Olivia looked between her parents and asked, “Can we just stay and eat here together?” 

“Sure we can.” Regina took her hand from his and stood up. “Why don’t the two of you find a movie for us to watch, and I’ll order us something?”

“Oh okay!” Olivia took off, jumping off his lap and making her way to where they kept her DVD’s.

Robin stood as well catching Regina’s hand in his before she could walk away. “What is it?” Regina asked with a curious half-smile.

Robin shook his head, unsure of how to explain to her how much she and Olivia meant to him without telling her he loved her. Instead, Robin simply took a step towards her and closed the distance. This time it was he who kissed her cheek. Pulling away, he said, “Nothing, I just… thank you.”

“Daddy, can we watch The Jungle Book ?” Olivia turned from the case and held it up for him to see.

“Absolutely, darling.” Letting go of Regina’s hand, he felt her hand on his arm giving him a light push toward their child.

For the rest of the night, Olivia stayed close to her father as they cuddled on the couch.


The beginning of June finally came and with it last week of school. Henry had already been released for the summer and was now off with his father for the next four weeks on a fishing trip. Olivia had just four more days, and Regina was ready for it. Ready for the mornings when she didn’t have to get up at six, nights without homework, and one less parent-teacher meeting to worry about fitting into her schedule.

Remembering she needed to call Robin, so they could plan the weekend before Olivia went to camp, she grabbed her phone and, bringing up his number, pressed the send.  

After a few rings, he was there, “Hello?”  

“Hey there,” she greeted Robin, distracted as she tossed a variety nonessentials; lip gloss, Chapstick, gum, and sun block haphazardly into her purse, all while holding the phone to her ear with the aid of her shoulder and taking sips of coffee between tosses. “I’m sorry, I meant to call last night when I got back, but it was really late, and I didn’t want to wake…” she paused, listened. That wasn’t the sound of the subway or the radio. “Is Roland crying?”

Regina heard his heavy exhale, and then a small cough, rough and barking sounds. Robin was saying something about putting him down just a moment to get him a drink, and how daddy will be right back. Oh no, poor Roland. She didn’t need for Robin to say it to know, he was sick.

“Yes, unfortunately. He woke up last night with a cough and it’s steadily progressed. He’s now got a fever and a bit of a temper.”

Regina took the phone in her hand and a frown of sympathy pulled at her lips. “Poor little guy, is there anything I can do?”

“You wouldn’t by chance have the cure for the croup, would you?”

“If only I did,” Regina began, then looked down at her watch. “Hey, I’m running late for a meeting, but why don’t I swing by after? I can bring some soup and if he’ll let me take him, give you a break for a little bit?”

“What about Olivia?"

"She has a lesson after school, and I can get Emma to pick up her up after."

"Regina, you don't have to do that."

“I know, I want to.” The line was quiet and again she cursed herself, thought perhaps she might have stepped over that line they’d been dancing around for a while now. “Unless you’d rather I didn’t.”

“You know I would always jump at the chance to spend time with you,” Robin began, and Regina knew he was about to say more, something gentlemanly, something like you’d have to come all this way, and I don’t want you to catch this… whatever it was Regina decided she didn’t care.

“Great. I’ll see you later then,” Regina said, taking up her purse and grabbing her set of keys from the entryway.

She could hear his chuckle. “I see where she gets it from.”

“Excuse me?”

“Olivia, her stubbornness.”

Regina let out a very unladylike snort and mocked, “Oh, like you’re not stubborn?

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”


Roland was never a child that got sick very often. Sure, being in daycare he caught his fair share of stuffy noses, but never something as worrying as this. His cough rattled his small chest, and each time it made him wheeze out his breaths that followed. His fever was high but steady with medicine, but still, it had Robin frowning at the thermometer every four to six hours when it came time for another dose. Robin had taken his son to his pediatrician early that morning after a restless night of a runny nose and fitful crying.

Though Robin was certain he knew what was ailing his child, he was still an unsure new father to sickness, and wanted to be positive and not assume. The doctor confirmed his suspicions, it was croup. Robin and Roland were sent home with instructions for rest, Tylenol, and hydration. Robin frowned at the man. That was it, eh? That simple, just go home and rest, Robin had thought mocking the man in his exhausted mind.

When Regina had called later that morning, just hearing her voice had cheered him. Robin had been doing this alone for most of the young boy’s life, and just to have another there, even for a moment, was slightly overwhelming for him. He was a proud father, loved his son more than anything in the world, but there was something in him that yearned for the intimacy that came with raising a child with someone.

Robin spent the next three hours trying to coax the toddler from his arms long enough to take a shower. He tried the television in his room, put in a movie, and promised the lad he’d just be in the next room for just a moment, but Roland would have none of it. His son wanted to be held, wanted to be in his father’s arms. Robin finally relented, turned off the TV and took the boy downstairs. And after many failed attempts of getting Roland to eat something, it turned out a sippy cup full of Pediasure was all the boy would do. In hope that the toddler would fall asleep, Robin walked a path around the living room, and through the kitchen, and back again. All the while Phil Collins’ songs played in the background on Pandora, and his dog Ella watched them from her overly large dog bed on the floor by the fireplace.

The last half hour Roland’s eyes started to flutter open and shut, and just as they finally closed, and Robin was about to sit down, there was a soft knock on his door. Robin’s head fell back, relieved. Regina. He padded gently over to the door, and sure enough, she was there with bags of groceries and a soft knowing smile that he returned with one of his own.

Regina stepped inside, walked straight to the kitchen table to set down her bags and purse, and then turned to him. That soft smile was back for him, then her eyes fell to the boy in his arms, and that smile tipped into a frown. Regina was taking steps over to him, her hand reaching to feel the forehead of his son with the trained care of a mother not wishing to wake her child.

Regina whispered, “How long has he been sick?”

“It started last night,” Loan replied in the same hushed tone. “I took him to his doctor this morning and its croup and there’s nothing they can do for it, really.”

Her frown deepened, but she nodded. Knowing that unfortunately there were some illnesses you just had to wait out. “Did he just go to sleep?”

Robin let out a breath. “Yeah just about as you arrived, it’s been a long night.”

“Why don’t you let me take him,” Regina suggested, and with a sympathetic tilt of her head, she gestured upstairs. “You can go take a nap or get something to eat?”

His tired, blue eyes met hers. “A shower and something to eat would be much appreciated.”

Her nose scrunched up, making that adorable face he’d come to adore over these last few months, and Robin knew Regina was teasing when she said, “Might be a good idea.”

Robin shook his head, tried not to scoff in indignance because any movement could wake his son, and he wouldn’t want that just yet. Regina stepped closer, and they transferred Roland from Robin's chest to settle against hers. He wasn't sure how his son would like that, having been very insistent that he only wanted to be in Robin’s arms all morning, but apparently, his concerns were for nothing. The small boy’s eyes opened long enough to see what had woken him, and he looked up at Regina who smiled down at him, whispering, it’s okay, sweetie, and go back to sleep, and he did. Roland wrapped his small arms around her neck and buried his face just under her chin.

Robin watched in wonder and awe at how well Roland had taken to Regina. Perhaps it was because of the time the little boy spent with her already, but whatever it was had his eyes burning with held back tears. He was so thankful for this wonderful woman who was not only the mother to his daughter but also a mother to his son, who wasn’t her own, but was loved and cared for as nothing less.

Regina must have seen the change in him, as he felt her hand on his arm, and then his cheek. Her words are almost a caress as she coaxed, “Robin?”

Robin took her hand in his and placed a kiss to her palm, lingered his lips there for a moment, then swallowed. “I’m sorry,” he told her, his eyes leaving his son and meeting hers. “I’ll just be a minute.”

She held tight to his hand as he began to release hers and step away; his eyes snapped back up to hers, and they were soft and knowing somehow. It came to him that of course, she must know. “Take your time.”

He nodded, grateful, and gave her hand a squeeze. “Thank you.”


Roland began to stir against her chest. His small legs stretched out as he came out of his sleepy fog. His eyes blinking and looking around, but he stayed unmoving.

Robin was watching as his boy took in his surrounding, and he placed his head against his hand as his elbow rested on top of the couch. He met Regina’s eyes and smiled.

The soft short curls around his face were damp from sweat, Robin noticed as the boy raised his head. He let out a cough, and it still sounded deep and hollow in his son’s lungs making Robin grimaced in sympathy.

Roland blinked up at Regina, and she gave him a smile that Robin couldn’t even help but adore. She was so amazing, and his son knew it too. Even though he was sick, Roland smiled up at her, probably the first one all day, and then asked the question that stopped Robin’s heart cold, “Momma, where’s Ollie?”

Robin told himself it was because Roland had heard Olivia call Regina that, his son naturally assumed he could call her that too, but Robin didn’t really believe that was the only reason. His insides felt like ice as the cold hard truth made its way to the forefront of his mind, that Roland could not remember Marian. It was a truth that Regina could feel as well, he knew it when her warm brown eyes met his, and her hand reached over threading them together, as though she knew he needed this support.

“Olivia is at my house, sweetheart,” she told him gently, not even Robin was sure how to correct him. Still worn out from his sickness, Roland’s head fell back against her chest, and she rubbed his back as he began another fit of coughing, placing a kiss on his brow when they finally abated.

Robin met her eyes, and it was with a broken exhale he stated, “He doesn’t remember her.”

Her head fell back against the couch, and Regina turned her face so it would be close to his. As Roland’s eyes fluttered closed once again, Regina asked in a low voice, “Tell me about her. How did she die?”

Taking a deep breath, Robin began, “It was a tumor. We met about a year after I started working for Lionel. Marian was one of my first clients. She had bought a flower shop down in Brooklyn and wanted to do some renovations.  It was a slow romance, we were friends for a long time, and then it became more. About a year after we were married she got sick. She was always tired, bruised at the simplest touches, and then she started getting these horrid nose bleeds. We went to see a specialist and found out she had leukemia. She did lots of chemo, battled it for a few years, and then she went into remission. She stayed in remission for two years, so we thought we’d beaten it. Marian really wanted to have a child, so we started to try and have a family. Seventeen months later we found out Roland was on the way.” He smiled remembering the day they found out Marian was pregnant

“After he was born, we had a good few months. We were happy new parents, and then she started to get sick again. This time was different, she’d been dizzy a lot and feeling sick. We thought she might have been pregnant again, but we found out the cancer was back and had likely started again during pregnancy. Marian passed away shortly after his first birthday from stage four glioblastomas.”

Robin didn’t realize he had been crying until he felt the backs of her fingers brush away the wetness on his cheek. Glancing down, he captured her hand and kissed the back of it. “I just wish Roland could remember how much she loved him.”

“He has you, Robin. Later when he’s old enough to understand, he’ll have you to remind him of her.”

Robin couldn’t respond, his throat felt too tight, so instead, he looked into her dark eyes and nodded. With her hand on the back of his head, he let her pull him against her. With his head on her shoulder, Robin closed his eyes and that was the last thing he remembered before he fell into a deep sleep.


Regina woke a while later with a small palm against her cheek, and she looked down to see a pair of big, brown eyes looking up at her. He patted her face, and his lips pulled up into a smile so reminiscent of his father Regina couldn’t help but return, as her heart warmed with love for the young boy in her arms. 

“Daddy’s sleepin’?

Robin breathed in sharply, he must have heard Roland because he was sitting up blinking the sleep away. “Mm, s’rry. Fell ‘sleep on you.”

Regina chuckled at his slurred rough voice and ran a hand through the hair that was now standing slightly on end attempting to smooth it down. He yawned, and the thought of how immensely adorable he was when he woke filled her mind making her smile. “Literally.”

Robin’s shoulders shook with silent laughter. “Sorry ‘bout that.”

Suddenly the silence was shattered by the growl of Robin’s stomach. Both laughed, and he asked, “So lunch then?”

“Lunch?” Regina chuckled, pointing towards the windows, which were once alight before with sunlight but were now shadowed from the setting sun. “More like dinner.”

“That was one long nap.”

“I brought soup and juice for this little guy and pastrami and roast beef sandwiches for us.”

Robin groaned and rubbed his stomach as he stood, then, holding out a hand to help her up, said, “Bless you, love.”

Roland began to cough, and Regina shifted him to her hip, his head falling against her shoulder. She grimaced, put her hand up to feel his forehead, and frowned from the heat she felt there. “His fever’s back. When did you say he had Tylenol last?”

Taking his phone from the coffee table, Robin frowned at the time. “About nine hours ago.”

“Okay, let’s get some medicine and food in him, then we can give him a bath. I brought some vapor bath, and we can turn on the shower while he’s in there. The steam will help with his cough.”

Robin shook his head not sure he got so lucky to have her in his life. “Have I told you how grateful I am to have you here?”

“Not in so many words, but I know.”

Robin took Roland to the bathroom while Regina heated up his soup. It was mostly broth and vegetables, as she remembered when Olivia was down with croup once, her young girl’s appetite became all but non-existent, and so Regina knew from experience that broth would be the best thing for him right now.

Placing Roland at the table in his booster chair, Robin stepped aside as Regina handed the soup to Robin and Tylenol to the little boy, who took the grape flavored thick medicine without complaint, swallowed it down, and with Robin’s encouragement, chased it with some orange juice.

As Robin fed Roland, Regina made them each a sandwich. Robin wasn’t the only one starving. Regina hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and a single egg on an English muffin didn’t go far. She grabbed them deli rolls, wasn’t exactly sure what kind of bread he would have at his house and layered their sandwiches with provolone, meat, tomatoes, cucumbers, mayo, and mustard.

They ate while Roland munched on crackers, and Robin expounded on Regina’s choice of dinner for them. She laughed, told him anyone can make a sandwich and it was just because he was hungry that it tasted so good. But he shook his head and insisted it was the best one he ever had.

Regina finished first, and Robin went back for seconds, so she decided to get Roland into the bath while he ate. The little boy was getting tired again, and she didn’t blame him. If she had a fever and cough like he had, Regina was sure she would sleep the day away too.

Taking him upstairs and flipping on the light to his room, Regina made her way over to his dresser, and, pulling open the drawer, she smiled down at the neatly folded sets of little boy pajamas, the question of whether or not Robin was a bit of a neat freak now answered.

“Hmm, let’s see Roland, blue whales or green turtles?” she asked the boy and he lifted his head from her shoulder long enough to say with a rough voice, “Blue!”

Taking the set of clothes with her and a pull-up from the top of his dresser, she took him into Robin’s bathroom. Roland raised his head up from her shoulder and watched while Regina set down his clothes and reached for a towel.

“I’s taking a bath?” he asked her curiously.

“You are, sweetheart,” Regina told him, tapping his nose with her index finger. “It’ll make you feel better. Do you like bubbles?”

Roland nodded, and she smiled, setting him down on his feet beside her as she kneeled by the tap and started running the water, getting it warm but not too hot, reaching over and pouring some of the vapor bath into the stream of running water.

Roland giggled as the bubbles began to foam and fill the tub. She stripped him down and placed him in the water. He happily began rolling and kicking around as some of his energy was returning to him momentarily. Regina rose, went over to the shower and turned on the spray to full heat letting the room fill with steam.

Regina let him soak a bit and play, so he would get the full effects of the vapor before she slathered his little body with soap and shampoo. He babbled to her in a way that toddlers do, lots of words about the things that they love and innocent questions like, “ Do fishies like bubbles? ” Regina laughed and talked with him, and once Roland was washed, rinsed, dried, and dressed, Regina took a very tired toddler back downstairs. Robin was still in the kitchen, just finishing up cleaning when he turned at the sounds of her footsteps. He smiled at his son, and Roland held out his hands to Robin, who took him and placed a kiss on his brow.

“I came upstairs to see if you needed help but you both looked like you had everything well in hand.”

The warmness in Robin’s eyes made her smile. “We did.”

“I made us some tea.”

“Sounds great right now.”

Robin walked over to the fridge and took out a cup with a straw that he encouraged Roland to take a drink from it. “Would you like to watch a movie maybe?”

Stepping up to the father and son, Regina brushed Roland’s curls off his forehead as the young boy yawned and told Robin, “I’m not sure this little guy will make it through a movie.”

“One for us then?” Robin asked, with a slight smirk, adding to his plea, “I’ve been meaning to watch The Great Gatsby for a while now you see.”

Regina arched a brow. “You know that movie has been out for more than two years now.”

Robin smiled a bit sheepishly and admitted with a half shrug, “I’m a bit behind.”

“So it seems.”

“Stay and watch it with me?”

Those eyes. Those bright blue eyes of his pleading with her for a bit of companionship were her undoing. After all, she planned to be here as long as he needed her. Emma had Olivia well in hand for the night, and if she was honest with herself, Regina knew she wanted to stay.

Then as if it were somehow a deal breaker, Regina asked, “Do you have popcorn?”

Robin grinned, and walked over to the pantry, pulling open the door he asked, “Kettle corn or movie butter?”


Roland stayed awake for a while eating popcorn with Robin and Regina, laughing hoarsely at Robin who tossed the fluffy kernels up in the air and, to be fair, more often than not, caught them in his mouth. The ones he didn’t always landed unceremoniously on his forehead or somewhere over the couch. Robin even tossed some in Regina’s direction, only once managing to successfully get one into her mouth.

Regina laughed when he hit her in the eye. “Smooth. Don’t quit your day job Michael Jordan.”

“Hey now, I claim to be no basketball player. Football is my game.”

“Mmm, so are you saying you’ll make it more if you kick them in my mouth?”

Robin snorted, offered a cheeky, maybe , and laughed at her look of unbridled disbelief until a cold nose nudged his arm and Ella looked up at him with pleading eyes and a soft whine. “Time for another walk is it?” Robin asked the pup, whose ears perked up and started turning excitedly in circles.

Regina chuckled. “She sure knows that word.”

“Aye, she does. Alright, girl, I’m up. Do you mind if I…”

“You don’t even need to ask, go. I’ve got this little guy, huh Roland?”

Roland smiled sleepily up at Regina and gave a nod, then snuggled up against her chest.

When Robin returned it was to find Roland fast asleep. Once again, his head was on Regina’s shoulder, curled contently up against her. She rubbed his back as she spoke softly into the phone.

“Did you practice tonight?” Regina asked, and Robin knew she was speaking to Olivia. He smiled as he listened, he could listen to her talk to their children forever. “Okay sweetheart, take your shower and get to bed. I’ll see you soon. I love you too, baby girl. Now, let me talk to Emma.”

There was a pause, and Robin walked into the kitchen giving Regina some privacy. He filled Ella’s water dish, gave her a scoop of food, and a quick pet behind the ears before making his way back into the living room.

Regina had hung up with Emma by the time he had come back. She smiled at him softly, and he sat down beside her, looking down at his son who was breathing a bit better than last night and placing a hand to his brow carefully not to wake him. “His fever seems to have gone back down.”

“Mmm,” Regina hummed, her tone expressed a knowing affirmation.

“I suppose I should go put him down for the night. Hopefully he’ll rest easier than last night.”

“I’ll help you take him to bed.”

Robin nodded. He held out a hand to help Regina up from the couch as she carried his son gently in her arms, and together they walked up the stairs. Placing him in his bed, Regina tucked a light blanket around him.

“Thank you for all your help tonight. I don’t just mean with the excellent sandwiches either, but with Roland as well. He is quite taken with you.”

“Well the feeling is mutual, so I was happy to help. He’s a very sweet boy and it’s been a long time since Olivia was that little. I have to admit, I miss her at that age.”

Robin glanced down at Roland, and a look crossed his features, it was one filled with a mixture of sadness and regret. “I’d have liked to have seen that.”

Robin wasn’t the only one who wished things might have been different for them, she wished for it too, but there wasn’t anything they could do about that now. However, there was one thing she could do for them both, and she offered, “I have some videos at home. You could come over, and we could watch them together sometime.”

“I’d love to.”

They made their way from Roland’s room and into the hall. The only light filtering in was from the window down the hall. Despite Roland’s illness, Regina had enjoyed spending the day with father and son, but that time was coming to an end and they both seemed to know it. Taking a breath and letting it out slowly, she said, “I should get home.”

“Why don’t you stay?” Regina looked up unsure, and he added, “It’s late, and I’d hate to send you home to deal with the buses and subways this late at night. I can take you home first thing in the morning.”

Regina smirked up at him, but her heart leaped in her chest. Narrowing her eyes, she teased, “I think you just want the company.”


Robin knew Regina’s words were meant in jest, but they caught him off guard. She was right. Though, Robin did worry about her safety this late at night, more than that, he wanted to be near her. Hell, if he couldn’t be honest with himself who could he be honest with? He had fallen in love with her, and yes, selfishly he did want her to stay. Wanted not just any company but her company. “I do,” Robin admitted, looking down, away for a moment. “Your company.”

“Then I’ll stay.” Regina took his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze.

Robin’s eyes found hers and he swallowed thickly. Was there nothing she wouldn’t do for him, for his son, for their daughter? He cursed himself, for letting his emotions get the best of him, and he cleared his throat and led them down the hall and into his room, where he flipped on the light. 

“I have a shirt and some sweats you can sleep in,” Robin said pointing to his dresser, and adding, “Feel free to use the shower or whatever.”

“Thank you.”

“Well, I better let you get some sleep.”

Regina reached out for him and taking his wrist asked, “Where are you going to sleep?”

“Oh, I thought I would sleep in Olivia’s bed.”

Regina giggled, probably at the image of him in their daughter’s bed with rainbow spotted sheets and matching pillow case. “Really this is silly. Why don’t I sleep in there or downstairs?”

“It’s alright,” Robin insisted.

Regina clicked her tongue and suggested, “We could just share the bed.”

He stopped at that and thought for a moment. That was a very bad idea. “We could,” Robin replied slowly, while his mind screamed at what a bad idea that was. He almost kissed her twice in the last two weeks, and it was only by sheer willpower that he hadn’t taken her in his arms and kissed the breath from her. Lying in bed with her, having her so close, might just be his undoing.

“Then it’s settled,” Regina told him with a bit of finality in her voice, then walking around him added, “Now get some sleep, while I go use that suite you call a bathroom.”


Regina took her time, removing her makeup and undoing her braid. Brushing out her hair with her fingers, it was now much more waving than it was normally. It was also getting long, too long. Well past her bra strap now, she was going to have to get it trimmed soon. Removing her clothes, save her underwear, Regina pulled Robin’s tee over her head. Regina took hold of the neck of the shirt, bringing up to her nose, and breathing in and letting the smell of him fill her. Thinking back to the picnic in the park, her lips pulled into a smile remembering how Robin had gathered her hair in his hands and the way it felt to have his hands on her, to have someone hold her. She realized then how much she missed having someone.

Regina didn’t realize she wanted that back again until she met Robin. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she thought about Robin and Roland, she and Olivia. There was no doubt in her mind they could make it work, be a family. There was just that line they needed to cross, but both hesitant to take the final step. Regina shook her head at herself and let out a breathy laugh. This was stupid, they were being so stupid. With her mind made up, Regina turned on her heel ready to take that next step if she had to do it herself.

Flipping the switch for the light, Regina padded over to his bed, not sure if Robin was asleep or not, she pulled back the covers and eased herself onto the bed. It was softer than she imagined it would be. The sheets were soft and cool, and Regina closed her eyes, enjoying the smell of laundry soap and... pine?  She felt the bed dip beside her, and Regina opened her eyes to see Robin was now facing her, his blue eyes taking her in.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

Robin’s voice was soft when he replied, “No, I’ve been awake.”

Her lips pulled up. “Better get some sleep, Daddy. It’s been a tough day for you.”

“It has, yes,” Robin told her, then took her hand that was resting next to her head on the pillow, he kissed her knuckles, and added, “However, it could have been tougher if you hadn’t come. Thank you, it means more than you know.”

Regina took her hand back and placed it on his cheek. “I think I understand a bit.”

His eyes held hers for a moment, and Robin replied, “Yes, you do.” The air between them charged once again, she could feel it. That moment they’d shared countless times that was almost always interrupted or stopped by one of them. Only this time it felt different. Only inches between them now, she felt like this was right, it was time, and her breath caught she licked her lips, and his eyes followed.  With a rough voice filled with want, he said her name, “Regina...”

Her eyes fell to his lips. “Yes?”

“Can I just…” Robin began, but that’s all he could get out before Regina surprised him and closed the distance between them, her lips crashing against his. Robin took only a heartbeat to catch up, and when he did, Regina felt his arms around her, pulling her across the expanse of the mattress separating them and up against him. His hands were on her back, and she threaded her fingers into his hair at the nape of his neck, his tongue licked against the seam of her lips seeking entrance, and her mouth softened and opened for him, her tongue sweeping in and meeting his eagerly.

There was a moan, his or hers, she didn’t know. All Regina knew was she never wanted to stop kissing him. And Oh , he was such a good kisser, too. Gentle, yet eager with just the right amount of pressure. Why did it take them this long to kiss? To think they could have been doing this before now… Then her thoughts faded, as he shifted, rolled her onto her back and settled above her, and she wrapped her legs around his middle without ever breaking their kiss.

They should slow down, she thought somewhere in the back of her mind, but that voice faded away when he kissed a trail down her neck. Wet nips against her collar then back up, and he found a spot just behind her ear that had her breath hitching, weaving her fingers into his hair and holding him close.

Regina tilted her chin and her face towards him. While she loved his lips on her neck, she wanted them back on hers. Robin took her cue, and a low groan escaped him as her legs tightened around him, pulling him fully down on her. Regina gasped in his mouth when she felt him. He was hard, incredibly so, and she was already so very wet, her hips moving of their own accord up and against him. He broke their kiss his forehead dropping to her shoulder with a pleasured heavy exhale.

“My God, Regina, have mercy.”

“Robin,” Regina breathed his name in the space between them before he lifted his head and captured her lips once again, her mouth opening for him easily, tilting her head to get just the right angle and then suddenly her hips were moving again. She'd never been too sexual of a person. She had Nathan for a few years before he died, and a one-night stand after a horrible date almost two years ago now. Even then just as soon as it was over, she had thrown him and his boots out after him, praying her daughter hadn’t heard her. So between Nathan and… God, whatever his name was, Regina spent her mid and upper twenties alone, and she would be damned if she felt shame for this moment of weakness. It felt too good to stop, it had been so long, so long and it was Robin . And she loved him. Maybe they wouldn’t have sex, but they could enjoy each other.

“Regina, my love, you have no idea how much I want you, but,” Robin started, pulling back, his normally bright blue eyes dark with lust that sent a shiver of want down deep in her belly.

“I know, I want you, too,” Regina replied before he could continue, and leaned up placing a kiss to his lips. “But maybe we should wait till we’re alone before we really do this.”

Robin pushed himself against her and she gasped, clutching his shoulders, she was so wet he slid deliciously against her. “We should,” Robin agreed, but his lips found hers and her hips and his began to find a rhythm together, and their breathing quickened. Regina couldn’t think about stopping if she tried. They were going to dry hump to completion, and she couldn’t bring herself to give a damn about it. Her belly tightened, she was close, so very close, and he hadn’t even touched her. Robin pulled away from their kiss, and then his voice was in her ear, husky and strained, “But maybe we could do this?”

Regina nodded. God yes , yes, they could, and she told him as much before pulling him down on her, chest to breast, leaving no distance between them as they rocked together.


It was too much, Robin thought, having her like this, warm and soft, with her legs wrapped around his waist and her hips showing him just how much she wanted him, too. He tried to stop himself, tried to move away from her, but the moment he moved she’d looked back at him with those dark lovely eyes, and she’d pulled him back against her.

Feeling the heat from her and how easily he moved against her, Robin could just imagine how wet she was, how slick she’d be with him sliding in and out of her.

Robin groaned, his forehead falling against Regina’s shoulder. With her hand in his hair and on his back urging him closer to her, he lost it. Leaning up, his lips found hers, and automatically their mouths opened, tongues sliding together and his hands sliding up her arms to cradle her face, his fingers tangling into her long silky locks.

Regina gasped as he pressed himself against her more firmly while slowing their pace. She clutched at him, moaned into his mouth, and he wanted nothing more than to hear her make those sounds again and again.

He broke away from their kiss to trail a wet path down her neck as she breathed his name into his ear. She was wearing one of his old tees, and thank God for it because the larger neckline gave him a greater expanse of her bare skin. He nipped at her collar before soothing the spots with his tongue.

Her chest heaved, and Regina arched into him. Her breathy, "Touch me, Robin," almost had him coming right then and there.

"You're sure?"

"Yes," Regina replied, gasping again as their hips continued to rock together. "I've never been surer of anything."

Not having to be told twice, Robin leaned to the side, his hand sliding slowly down from where it was tangled in her hair. He traced a path down over her chest where it skimmed across her hardened nipple, causing her to inhale sharply, right before he cupped her through his shirt. 

Regina let out a soft cry and took his face in her hands bringing him down and kissing him deeply, almost desperately, and he kissed her back matching her intensity. Her breast was so soft, even through the tee shirt he could feel the pillowy softness, the perfect size that more than filled his hand, and hard tight nipples he couldn’t wait to get his lips around. A soft growl left his throat, and, not being able to resist, his hand quickly reached down taking the hem of the shirt and swiftly reaching under. He cupped her bare breast and rolled the firm peak. She pulled away from the kiss to gasp for breath, and her voice was a high breathy murmur in his ear, “ Yes , Robin…”

Her hips lunged up into his, the layers of clothes between them should have kept the fire they felt for each other contained; however, Robin found out quickly that they didn’t matter in the slightest. He didn’t know how much more he could take. He placed a kiss to her lips, and asked, “Are you close?”

“Uh huh.”

Picking up the pace with long quick thrusts against her, he teased her with gentle tugs and twists to her nipple, and he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Then come for me, my love.” Her breathing increased right before Regina fell over the edge, and Robin blissfully followed.


"My love."

Wave after wave took over her with his words in her ear and his breath on her cheek. Regina wondered how she ever waited this long to do this with him. She loved him, loved him so much, and she already missed the feel of his lips against hers. He was placing kisses just below her ear between breaths. She turned her head, her nose nudging his cheek.

Once his lips met hers, Regina reveled in just how soft they were, and how good they felt moving against hers. Her legs felt heavy now, and they fell away from around him. They traded lazy kisses for some time, basking in the afterglow of finally sedating at least some of the tension between them.

All too soon for her liking, Robin pulled back, and sweeping away some of the hair from her brow, and looked down at her, biting his lip and smiling he said, “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.”

Regina giggled and smiled up at him, her hands cradled his face in her palms and her thumbs caressed his cheeks. “You’re not the only one.”

Growling softly, Robin kissed her once again, lingering only a moment before pulling away and confessing with a grimace, “As much as I loathe having to move away from you, I’m afraid I’m going to need another shower.”

Regina snorted a laugh, and kissing the tip of his nose said, “Go, I’ll be right here when you get back.”

Robin made to move away but first his lips were on hers, for one last tongue filled kiss. It was with a soft scowl that Robin finally left, promising her to be quick. Breathless once again, Regina touched her lips that were still tingling from their kisses with her fingertips and smiled.

She lay there in bed thinking about what was next for them. How they would do this, how they would tell Olivia and what that would mean to their daughter. Regina slowly realized she wasn’t as scared as she used to be. Being there with Robin tonight had proven that to her. They would make this work, together. Then just as Regina was about to drift off to sleep, she heard Roland’s cries for Robin, and she got up.

Walking down the hall into his room, the little boy reached out for her just as soon as he spotted her. Roland’s cries ceased, and he snuggled into the crook of her neck. Swaying him from side to side, and patting his small back as he coughed.

“I’ve got you, sweet boy,” Regina murmured to him, and she smiled as she felt his small hand pat her shoulder in time with hers.



Chapter Text

They slept together but with a toddler between them. After Roland woke up, Regina walked with him for a short time before he was fast asleep again. Taking him back to bed with her, Roland slept by Regina’s side, until Robin came back from the bathroom. He carefully lay down beside them, taking his arm and placing it around them both, and it wasn't long before Regina was sound asleep as well.

Roland was still sleeping when Regina woke the following morning. The young boy, still tired from his sickness, breathed deeply beside her. She put her hand to his forehead, brushing aside his thick curls to feel for a temperature, and then breathed a sigh of relief when he was cool to the touch.

Her eyes glanced up and studied Robin's face. His lips were slightly parted, his beard a bit longer than its normally trimmed look, yet, she found she didn’t mind. Regina reached over, intent on feeling the coarse stubble beneath her fingertips. Careful not to wake him, she caressed his cheek with her thumb. The feeling brought back thoughts of last night, of the prickly sensation of his hair against her cheeks and neck and his lips on hers.

“You know, it’s far too early to look so beautiful,” his hoarse yet soft voice spoke, startling her.

Her eyes darted up to see that Robin was awake, blinking away the remnants of sleep. She smothered her grin into the pillow and whispered back, “Stop it.”

“I won’t.” Robin cleared his throat and leaned close, pressing his lips softly to hers. It was short, completely chaste, but took her breath away all the same.

“Robin,” Regina sighed against his lips. Her hand came up to rest against his cheek. “What are we doing?”

Robin pulled back looking at her, his blue eyes searching hers a moment before he answered, “What we are doing is taking advantage of the fact that my son is still asleep, and our daughter is at home with Emma, so I can kiss you without worrying about little eyes spying on us.”

“Not this right now, I mean us .” Dragging her hand down from his cheek, Regina was about to pull away when his own came up and took it in his. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed her fingertips, while she asked uncertainly, “What are we, Robin?”

The smile Robin gave her was warm and loving, and she began to feel some of her doubts starting to slip away. 

“Well, I’ve been meaning to ask you something for some time now, but with work and the children I haven’t really found the right moment.” Robin took a breath, then added, “Regina, I want to be with you. I know that may seem fast, but I’ve found myself falling for you for some time now. I know this may be complicated with Olivia, but I want nothing more than to for us to be exactly that. Us .”

She inhaled, and could feel the beginnings of tears fill her eyes. “You do?” She wanted this for so long, wanted him for so long, and relief she felt overflowing upon her hearing his words. They could do this. They were already a family. They were a family, all four of them. Coming home to Robin, Olivia, and Roland, she wanted it all.

His eyes held hers. “Yes, if you want that too, that is?”

The smile that pulled at her lips was probably big and ridiculous when she answered, “I do. I want us.”

“So, having said that, as soon as Olivia is gone to camp I want to take you out. I want to date you, Regina Mills. I want you to know how much you mean to me.” He pulled her to him, kissing her once, twice before pulling back again and smiling. “Now, how about I go cook us all some breakfast before we go into the city?”


Regina had been slacking lately. Before Robin and Roland came into her and Olivia’s life, she had a pretty set daily schedule that every now and then she managed to fit the gym into, at least a few times a week anyway. But now, now it had been twice that she managed in the last two months, and Regina had the eight extra pounds around her hips to prove it. And that really wasn’t going to do. Especially when she was planning to be naked in front of a very handsome man.

Having finished work early, Regina got to the gym a little after one o’clock. Luckily, the afternoon rush was dwindling down, and Regina noticed her favorite elliptical in the corner by the windows was free. The spot where she could look out over the city listen to her iPod and not think.

Only now Regina had quite a lot to think about.

Robin had dropped her off Thursday morning. He hadn't stayed, didn't want to chance Roland giving his illness to Olivia or Henry. They parted with an extended kiss and whispered goodbyes, promising to call or text the other later.

Emma had been relentless. The blonde was apparently psychic, because the moment Regina stepped through the door, Emma took one look at her and knew.

The blonde tossed a smile and a cheeky, "It's about damn time," Regina’s way before walking over to the couch. Plopping down on the sofa, Emma tucked her feet up underneath her and looked up at Regina expectantly, waiting for Regina to spill how her evening went.

Regina rolled her eyes up to the ceiling as she hung up her scarf then placed her purse on the table. Removing her phone and Chapstick, she made her way into the living room and took a seat in her favorite overstuffed chair beside the windows.

Thankfully, both Olivia and Henry were away at school, so Regina didn't have to worry about little ears around when she told Emma, "We kissed."

Emma slapped her hand down on the back of the sofa and exclaimed, "Ha, I knew it! I knew the two of you wouldn’t be able to keep your hands off one another much longer. So, how was he?"

"We didn't have sex.  Not really.” Regina shrugged her shoulders while slicking on a coat of Chapstick. “We've decided we’re going to wait until Olivia is gone... And then, we’ll date."

Emma’s brows creased together in almost a comical way had the look not been followed by an exasperated, "What do you mean by, "not really?" Did you have sex with the man or not?"

"No,” Regina spat back, before taking a deep breath. Was there nothing she could keep to herself? Knowing her roommate was not going to let up until she was satisfied, Regina added, “We kept our clothes on."

Emma let out a barking laugh that had her head falling back and her eyes bright with mirth. Regina felt a sharp stab of annoyance for the blonde. "So you dry-humped your boyfriend? Nice. Very high school of you both."

Regina groaned, her hands coming up to cover her face. "I don't know why I tell you anything," she muttered into her palms before they fell into her lap.

"Oh, come on,” Emma coaxed sweetly, trying to appease Regina. “It's sweet. You two wanting to wait, I get it."

Having enough of the inquisition, Regina grabbed her phone from where it rested beside her on the chair and heaved a heavy sigh. "I need to go get some work done. How was Olivia for you last night?"

"Great. Just like always."

Regina warmed at Emma’s subtle compliment. "Thank you."

"Yeah, of course. How's the little kiddo doing?"

"Better today. I think he's got through the rough patch."

"That's good." There was a pause as Emma reached for the TV remote, and Regina stood, intent on going to her room and replying to a few work emails, when Emma's voice stopped her in her tracks. "Hey, question."

Regina turned to face her roommate who was looking up at her with a grin. That had been their thing since college, a simple thing they shared together to this day, and Regina’s response came automatically, "Hey, answer."

"But was it good?"

Letting out a breathy chuckle, Regina shook her head. A smile formed on her lips when she thought back to last night and the feel of Robin’s kisses and how good they’d felt together, even through the layers of clothes. She bit her lip. It was good. Very good and would soon be even better.

"You know what,” Emma began with a wave of her hand and a shake of her head. “Don't answer that. The look on your face tells me all I need to know."

When the alarm on her phone went off an hour later, an out-of-breath Regina came back from her thoughts, punched off the elliptical, and stepped off with tired, heavy legs. Regina rested against the wall for a moment to catch her breath, thinking that she was most definitely letting herself get out of shape. Getting into the locker room, Regina turned off her music on her iPod before opening her locker. Pulling her gym bag from it, Regina groaned aloud when she realized she’d forgotten her shampoo. She was just going to have to shower at home.

Tossing her bag over her shoulder, Regina made her way out of the building. It was a bright, cool day, so she decided to walk, burn up a few more extra calories. Just as her building came into sight, her phone began to ring.

Smiling down at his name, Regina swiped to answer it. “Hey there, isn’t it a bit early for you to be calling?”

“Caught. I have to admit,” Robin replied, and she could hear the grin in his voice, “I did skip out on work a bit early today.”

Her brows rose. “Oh?”

His voice was light and warm, as Robin said, “Yes, I thought maybe I could talk a couple of my favorite girls into coming over tonight for dinner?”

Her heart knocked hard in her chest and Regina felt an overwhelming warmth in her belly. “Hmm, your favorite girls, huh? And just how many girls do you have?”

“Well, you know, aside from my mum, there’s Olivia and...”

Regina couldn’t help the smile that bloomed across her face, and she encouraged, “And?”

“And you.”

She was grinning ridiculously, she knew, but Regina just couldn’t make herself care when his voice was soft like velvet in her ear. “We could be available. When would you like us to be there?”

“Well, I thought I’d save you the fare and pick you up.”

“Olivia still has school for another few hours.”

“Ah yes, another reason for my early departure. I was also hoping I could take you for coffee before then, and then we could go and get her together?”

“Like a coffee date ?” Regina made sure to emphasis the word “date” because ever since their time together that night, things between them had been not so much stressed, but thick with anticipation. Regina knew it was caused by the fact that they both wanted to explore their new intimacy but could never seem to find the time to be alone together.

“I suppose you could call it that.”

Her brow furrowed. “What would you call it?”

“I’d call it spending time together,” Robin replied, and it made her stomach flip in disappointment, until he continued, “I have plans for our first date that don't include a five-dollar cup of coffee.”

Her disappointment transformed into delight, and with great interest, Regina asked, “Oh really?”

He hummed in confirmation. "I was thinking dinner, somewhere fancy where we can be in a room full of adults without kid’s menus for the evening. Just us."

"You don't like our dates with the kids?"

"No, I don't mean, I just..." She could hear his snort of laughter from her side of the line and then his weary sigh. "God, I am spectacularly cocking this whole thing up, aren’t I?”

Regina decided to give him a break. “No, you’re not. I think it would be nice to go out and focus on just us. How close are you?”

“I’m leaving the office now.”

Pulling open the door to her building, Regina figured she still had about twenty minutes before he got there. She should still have time to get home and clean up. “Good, that will give me time to shower and change.”

“That’s not necessary, you know. I’m sure you look lovely just as you are.”

Regina chuckled. “I just got back from the gym. Trust me, it’s necessary.”

There was a pause. “Fine, go shower. I’ll see you soon.”

Robin was there thirty minutes later, in dark gray slacks and a blue button up shirt. The first few buttons were undone, revealing the white tee underneath, and Regina thought he’d never looked so ridiculously handsome since she had known him. Regina felt a bit self-conscious dressed in a salmon colored button up knee-length skirt, a white rip curl summer top, and a pair of sandal high heels she bought almost a year ago, but had yet to wear. It was the beginning of June and was just starting to get warm, and well, they had been so close lately she felt like getting dressed up for him, for once.

His smile was there, as always, only now it held a bit of reverence and a little awe, she thought. Regina bit back her own grin, happy to be the reason his eyes couldn’t keep from working their way from her own down to her expensive heels and back up again. In his hand, he lifted a single red rose. 

Taking it from him, Regina lifted it to her nose, smelling its sweet scent and smiling up at him. He licked his lips, and she bit hers before thanking him and telling him she would just be a minute, wanting to put the rose in some water before they left.

Stepping out into the hall and turning to lock the door behind her, she asked, “Ready?”

Turning back to him, Regina found herself pulled back to the day she had gone to his house to pick up Olivia, where they almost kissed in his kitchen. Sure they kissed since then, but this held the same tension as he slowly closed the distance between them, and now here they were again. She couldn't but smile right before his hands found her hips, and she wound her arms around his neck, pulling them together, their mouths parted just as his soft lips descended on hers.

They kissed and kissed, her hands on his shoulders holding him against her, and his hands buried in her hair. Regina was glad she wore it down. Robin had an affinity for it, she discovered. She felt herself backing up, and then before she knew it, her back was against the door. Leaning against it, she broke their kiss, and his lips found their way to her cheek and down her jaw to that spot below her ear he knew she loved so much.

She hummed, God how she loved this man already. “Robin…”

“Hmm?”

“Should we um… go?”

“We should, yes.” He continued to kiss his way back up to her lips, and once there, Robin gave her one last lingering peck that was entirely sweet but oh so short. As he pulled away, her lips slid down into a playful pout, making him laugh. “It’s your own fault you know. I was perfectly content kissing you right here in this hall.”

Regina laughed, and her voice was light and breathy when she replied, “It's the ‘in the hall’ that's the problem." His eyes flick to the door behind her and she admonished playfully, "Oh no, if we go in there we'll never get coffee."

Robin hummed knowingly, leaned in and kissed her sweetly once more, before pulling away. "True, though I wouldn't mind finding sometime later to snog you good and proper."

Regina snorted, but the blush filling her cheeks gave away the rush at his words. "Let's get going before I give in and let you snog me now."


They held hands as they walked down the block, deciding to leave the car for when they picked up Olivia and made their way to the coffee shop. Regina smiled over at him. It was a warm day, and he had rolled up his sleeves, a styling choice that made him look even more handsome somehow.

As they turned the corner nearing the coffee shop, Robin asked, “How were you and Olivia planning on getting to Shelter Island?”

Tensing at his question, Regina began, “We’re driving down with my parents.”

“Oh, alright.”

Regina could hear the disappointment in his tone and felt terrible for not telling him sooner. "I’m sorry. I should have told you.”

“No, it’s fine. I was just going to offer to take you, but you already have plans.”

Unfortunately, that was true. Her mother had already made plans to drop off Olivia and then spend the day rubbing elbows and schmoozing with all of the other socialite parents while being forced to spend the night at a nearby ridiculously expensive hotel, because God forbid they drive home in the city at night. She bumped her shoulder against his as they walked. “I’d much rather ride with you if that makes you feel any better?”

Robin laughed. “It does.”

Regina stopped in her tracks, and he turned to her with a curious look on his face. “How about you and Roland can come spend the weekend with us before Olivia leaves?”

Robin raised an eyebrow. “The whole weekend?”

Regina smiled, and it was a shy coy thing that had him smirking at her. She confirmed, “Yes, the whole weekend. Emma will be out of town and Henry is still with Neal, so it’ll just be us.”

“Ah, another sleepover.”

She bit her tongue to try and suppress her smile. “If that’s what you want to call it.”

Robin took her by the waist. "Mmm, I’ll take any opportunity to sleep next to you."

Poking him in the chest, Regina dropped her chin, giving him a stern look. “You will behave yourself, Robin Locksley.”

Biting his lip Robin shook his head, and then, mirroring her, he wrapped his arms around her and said, “You know, I do believe the last time we found ourselves in bed together it was you who kissed me first."

“Because it was time.”

He hummed, looked knowingly into her eyes, and admitted, “Yes, we’ve had our fair share of bad timing.” Sweeping a lock of her hair that blew out from the breeze and tucking it behind her ear, he added, “But that's over now.”

Regina nodded and then licking her lips to fight some of her nervousness, she began, "I think we should still be a little careful around the kids, especially Olivia until we know, well, you know."

He took a breath and looked down between them. "Ah, yes. Until you're more sure about this."

She tilted her head to meet his eyes. "I don't mean that in a bad way..."

"No, I understand.” Robin finally raised his eyes to hers, and the soft tone of his voice was enough to assure her, he did understand. “You need time, and I'm happy to wait until then."

Her lips pulled up, and her heart flipped over in her chest. "You don't need time?"

"Honestly, I've wanted to be right here with you like this for a while now." Robin leaned in and closed the distance between them, his kiss filling her with comfort and love.

They broke apart only after they had their fill of one another. Inhaling through her nose, Regina pulled away. Pressing her lips together and looking up into his clear blue eyes, she told him, "Sometimes I wonder how Olivia and I got so lucky to have you."

"I think we're both lucky to have found one another."

With that, right there on the sidewalk of New York, they kissed again as though they were the only two people in the city.


They stood just outside the doors to Olivia’s school, waiting out the final fifteen minutes before their daughter was released for the summer.

As two o’clock hit, the children slowly but surely started to filter out from the building, parents greeting their smiling figures, finally free from early mornings and homework. It was Olivia who spotted them first, a smile lighting her face at the sight of them both there waiting for her. Olivia ran to them just as soon as her eyes met theirs, straight into both their arms.

Excited, the young girl asked, “Hey Daddy. What are you doing here?”

Holding out his hand for her to take, Robin answered, “Your Mum and I have a surprise for your last day of school.”

“A surprise?” Olivia was now walking between Robin and Regina and she looked back and forth between them. “What surprise?”

“We are all going to spend the night at my house.”

Robin could feel his daughter’s hand tighten in his, Olivia glanced over at Regina then to him, a hopeful look in her eyes when she asked, “All of us?”

Robin glanced over at Regina and caught her grin, confirming, “ All of us.”

“Like a family?”

Almost missing a step, he glanced down at Olivia, before his eyes found the sidewalk in front of him, completely taken aback by her question, so Robin answered her as honestly as he could, “Well, we’ve always been a family, but yes, I suppose like that too.”


After they went back to Regina’s so she and Olivia could pack a bag for the night, they stopped by the store, telling Olivia she could pick out their dinner. She decided that pizza was what she wanted, and Robin’s brow rose. Dairy-free pizza, huh? Luckily it wasn’t something he had to worry about because Regina was already a pro at navigating her daughter’s food allergies and had the meal well in hand.

They picked out vegan pizza crust and tomatoes, pepperoni and pineapples, bell peppers and onions, and mushrooms and garlic. They bought root beer for Olivia and Roland and a bottle of wine for themselves. As they make their way over to the frozen section, Olivia asked for ice cream and why not? He wouldn’t be able to spoil her once she went off to camp, and he told Regina as much.

Relenting, Regina took them down the aisle and got strawberry sorbet for the children and, with a smirk, she picked out a pint of Karmel-Sutra, raising a brow in his direction. Minx, oh she was a minx, and she was grinning up at him evilly.

Olivia was happily reading the labels of the other brands, in her own little world, when Robin pulled Regina close to his side and said, “Hmm, a flavor I have yet to try.”

“It tastes amazing,” Regina replied, low and sultry in his ear, and he bit his lip hard. She just had to say it like that, with the deep sexy voice that he could remember clearly from the night they spent together last week.

Pulling back so he could look down into those lovely dark eyes, Robin noticed a glint there that told him she wasn’t talking about the ice cream. His hand found purchase on her hip and squeezed. “I look forward to tasting all kinds of new things tonight.”


Regina leaned back in the seat as Robin drove them to Brooklyn and looked at Olivia, who was in the backseat watching a movie on Regina’s iPad with earbuds in her ears, entranced in the world of Oz. Shifting her focus to the handsome man driving the car, Regina was surprised when his hand reached over to take hers, but it was a good surprise, and she threaded their fingers together. They didn’t speak, just enjoyed the newness of their relationship.

His brownstone was in a very nice neighborhood. The sidewalks were clean, children could be seen playing and families out walking. Regina had always loved it, but now she found she looked at it with a slightly new perception. No longer was it just Olivia’s father’s house, now it was the house of the man she was seeing, and somewhere deep down she let herself imagine a future for them, and it wasn’t in the city like she had always seen her and Olivia’s life, but here in Brooklyn, with Robin and Roland.

She felt him squeeze her hand once before he let go so he could place the car into park. Shaking herself from her thoughts, Regina took off her seat belt and helped Olivia with their bags, while Robin got the groceries from the back.

Robin unbolted the door, and they all were immediately greeted by an excited Ella, who was followed by a short redhead shushing after the pup.

“Hey there, oh hello! You must be Regina. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Olivia took Regina's hand and, smiling brightly up at her, introduced, “Momma, this is Belle!”

Regina wasn't surprised to find her there, but somehow the young woman's presence caught her off guard. Olivia had been right; Belle's beauty was shown not only in her appearance but also through her warm tone. Remembering Robin's words from before, Regina smiled at Belle and said with sincerity, “Nice to meet you.”

“You too. I've heard a lot about you. Roland talks about you and his big sister all the time."

Regina warmed thinking of the young boy, how he’d clung to her whenever he saw her, and it was then that she felt Robin's hand on her back, and, glancing up, she caught him looking at her with a soft loving expression.

Taking a breath, Belle continued, "Okay, well Roland just went down, and I don’t think he is feeling very well. He had a low fever this afternoon, but I gave him some Tylenol, and it seemed to do the trick.”

His brow furrowed, and his eyes darted up to the second floor, a worried expression on his face.  “Alright, thank you, Em.”

“I’ll see you next week.”

“Sounds good. You and Gordon have a good weekend.”

“You guys as well.”


They cooked together, him chopping vegetables while she started the pizza sauce. Olivia and Roland were in the living room, him with his blocks and Olivia with her drawings, while Fantasia played in the background. With the children occupied, Robin stole kisses from her. Soft, fleeting ones, most quick but a few that lingered, leaving expectant shivers down her spine, making her wish the children were asleep. Regina loved how comfortable and easy she and Robin felt together, how seamlessly they fell into the role of a family as if they had always been one from the beginning.

As Regina stood absentmindedly stirring the sauce, his kiss to her cheek took her away from her thoughts and back to the present. His hands sneaked around her waist and he asked, “What are you thinking?”

“Hmm?”

“You’ve been miles away tonight, babe. I was just wondering what has captured your attention so?”

Regina took a breath, wondering if she should admit how much she loved this, being here with him, imagining their nights always like this. “I was just thinking how nice this is, all of us together.”

Robin dropped another kiss to her shoulder. “I agree. Perhaps once Olivia gets back from camp we could do this more often?”

Regina turned her head slightly to look at him, and bumping her nose against his. "Count on it."


They ate pizza and ice cream, while Robin and Regina shared a bottle of wine. The children drank ungodly amounts of root beer and played Jenga and Operation with sticky fingers until their bellies were full and they were all exhausted from the excitement of the day.

Once showers were taken, stories were told, and both kids were tucked in well off in the land of Nod, they stood staring at each other in the hall, unsure of what to do next.

Robin was the first to speak, stepping closer to her as he asked, “Do you want to watch a movie or…”

Closing the distance, Regina brought her arms up, wrapping them around his neck, and she prompted, “Or?”

Robin swallowed. “Or go to bed?”

“I’m not really tired.”

“We don’t have to sleep.” One of his hands left her hip and came up, his thumb tracing her bottom lip. “And if it’s alright with you, I’d very much like to kiss you.”

Regina licked her lips as his thumb dropped away and was up on her tiptoes meeting him halfway as they closed any distance between them.

Tilting his head slightly, Robin returned her kiss with one of his own. This time he pressed a little harder and her mouth softened and opened under his as she moaned, his tongue sliding along her lower lip, tasting and teasing. The kiss went on and on. Their mouths molded together as their gentleness began to build, turning more and more intense as they lost themselves in one another.

Sliding his mouth across her jaw and to her neck, Robin took another deep pull of air and exhaled. His breath tingled a sensitive spot on Regina’s throat, and she sighed, causing him to reclaim her lips. His fingers tangled in her hair, his thumbs gently brushing across her cheekbones. It had been such a long time since he had been with someone like this. Someone who wanted to be loved as much as he.


A shiver ran down her spine at his gentleness and Regina placed wet, open-mouthed kisses on his lips. He sucked on her lower lip and it pooled heat low in her belly.

Oh God, Regina had wanted to be alone with him and now that the kids were finally asleep, now that they were finally at a place where they felt they could do this, them, have this together, she never wanted it to end.

Her whole body was tingling as his hands moved over her back and shoulders, kneading and fondling. Her own hands had found their way under his shirt and were stroking over the warm skin of his back.

Robin pulled back and looked at her earnestly. “Regina, I need to know what you want...”

“I want to go slow, ye, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do other things.” Her lips were on his again, and Regina mumbled against his mouth, “Bedroom.”

Robin nodded, and with their lips still locked, they stumbled through the hallway and to the bedroom beyond. Robin had no problem with that. In fact, anything that involved her lips on his, hearing the sounds she made, and learning every curve and the feel of her soft skin was worth it.  Robin broke their kiss and groaned as her hand drifted down his neck and began unbuttoning his shirt.

There had always been something between them, a connection that they couldn't explain, and its presence was evident in the shiver of her skin and the corresponding tremble of his fingers as he slowly took the hem of her shirt and lifted it up over her head.

The air left in his lungs left him in a rush as she stood before him in a black bra, her breasts held tightly on display. It was all he could do to keep from groaning aloud. She was a vision, and for the hundredth time that night, Robin thanked God for their daughter and her amazing mother. He thanked fate for giving them a second chance, for bringing them all together as though it’d been waiting for the perfect time.

She was looking up at him, and he couldn't wait any longer. Taking her in his arms, Robin walked them back until his knees hit the edge of the bed, where they fell back. Once centered, his eyes held hers until all he could see was warm brown, flecked with gold, and something that burned bright and deep within their welcoming darkness. Robin bit his lower lip as he caught her gaze falling to his, and he kissed her soundly.

He turned them and rose up over her, settling between her thighs, kissing her gently on the lips as he whispered, “You’re so beautiful.”

In a lustful haze, Regina lifted her head, held him closer and kissed him. Her tongue swept languidly through his mouth, and he kissed her in return, warm soft lips slowly caressing hers. With her arms draped loosely around his shoulders, she sighed into his mouth and then slid her lips from his. “We should wait.”

He threaded his fingers through her hair. “We can, my love. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

Regina growled frustration clear in her tone. “But I do want to do this with you, Robin. I just think we should wait until we’re alone. Really alone. Because if we start this now I don’t think I’ll be able to stop…”

He kissed her lips to stop her from rambling, then once she was sufficiently distracted, he pulled away and told her, “I can’t help but agree with that. The first time I feel you, I don’t want you or me to hold back.”

Regina blushed. God, she wanted him, wanted them, but until then they were going to have to control themselves. “We have three more days till Olivia leaves. Then we’ll be able to have some time for us, for this.”

“Yes, we will.” Robin sighed loud and heavily, his head falling to her bare shoulder, and her hand made its way up along his bare back, over his shoulders, where it then rested against his neck. Then suddenly, as if an idea came to him, he lifted his head and smirked down at her. “We never did have any of that ice cream of yours.”

Regina giggled. He was giving them an out, and as much as she hated it she knew it was for the best, for now. With one last kiss, Robin rose, and taking her hand, he helped her stand. Grabbing her shirt from the floor and tugging it on over her head, they made their way downstairs together.

Regina got the ice cream out of the freezer while Robin got the spoons. Turning towards him, she took note of his bare chest and toned stomach and wondered why the hell they were downstairs and not up in that bed of his.

Holding up a spoon, he shot her a grin. She raised a brow. It seemed they would be sharing, which was more than fine by her. Taking off the top of the ice cream box, Regina handed it to Robin who tossed it into the sink. She leaned back against the counter, watching him as he came up to stand in front of her.  They stayed just like that for a while, feeding one another bits of the cold caramel ice cream between stolen kisses and soft touches.

Regina held the ice cream while he scooped out a small bit, and Robin's lips ripped into a smirk right before he let the frozen cream drop onto her chest, where it ran down in between her breasts.

Regina looked up at him, his not so guilty face smiling down at her with a cheeky, "Whoops,” and “Let me clean that up for you.”

Before Regina knew it, his lips were on her throat, his tongue licking at the trail of sweetness left behind. She tilted her head back and sighed his name. Feeling the tip of his tongue reach the tops of her breasts, her breath caught, and her eyes darted over to the entry to the kitchen. She wasn’t a religious person, but she prayed their daughter stayed asleep and didn’t wander down to find them anytime soon.

“I’m going to need a bit better access,” Robin said, startling her from her thoughts. “You don’t mind do you?”

Regina needn’t have answered because there was only a heartbeat's pause right before his hands were tugging down her shirt, then his tongue was back, only this time right between her breasts licking along her curves, ridding her skin of the wet sticky substance. She could tell by the look on his face as he pulled away from her that he approved of her choice in undergarments, her black push up bra doing its job of displaying her assets for him. Watching him devour her with his eyes as his fingertips danced up her sides, closer and closer to where she really needed them, she asked him, “Did you get it all?”

“I think I have, but one can never be too sure.”

“Better check then.”

That was all the permission he needed, and with that, his head dipped back down. His hand came up to pull the cup of her bra aside, and he latched onto her hardened nipple. Regina’s hands fell back against the counter, and her breathing quickened as he sucked and scraped his teeth over her sensitive peak. Robin’s other hand came up to cup her other breast through her bra giving it attention she so desperately craved and arched into his hand.

“D-did you get it all,” Regina managed to gasp between his gentle nips.

With one final suck, he released her breast with a wet pop, and murdered against her skin, “Almost.” Switching sides and latching on her other dusty pink nipple, Regina moaned but then swallowed it back. She needed to be quiet but the things he was doing to her felt so… Mmm! ! His teeth caught the tip of her nipple between them, testing it with a bit of a bite, right before he took it into his mouth and sucked.

“God, Robin!” She wasn’t sure if she said it aloud or not, but he released her then. Must have sensed her losing it and began to place soft kisses back up her chest and neck.

A couple of moments later, Robin decided he had enough of ice cream. Taking it from her hand, he placed it on the counter beside the sink. He looked down at her with that heated gaze she had come to recognize when he wanted nothing but her, and he leaned toward her as she tilted her head up to meet him halfway. Their lips found their way to one another as if they had done it a million times before. His hands were on her hips, pulling her to him, and her arms went up to wrap around his neck.

Regina could taste the sweetness of the ice cream on his tongue, and she let out a soft whine as he begun to pull away.

Between his nipping kisses along her jaw, Robin asked, “Problem, my love?”

She lowered her hands to clutch at his broad shoulders. “Yes, yes there is, in fact. I’m entirely too turned on by this, but we have a daughter who could wake up at any moment and come right down those stairs.”

His head rose, and Robin looked as though he was biting back a grin, when he replied, “You worry too much. The third to the last step creaks, I promise I will hear her if she comes down.”

Regina groaned aloud when she felt him begin to unzip her skirt. Her hands fell to grasp his biceps as the material pooled around her feet. “What are you…” she began, but her words were caught in her throat when he leaned down and grasped her thighs, placing her on top of the counter.

Her eyes fluttered open to look into his as Robin stepped in between her parted legs. He didn’t give her a chance to continue because once again his lips were on hers, and she reached for him. Her fingers threaded through the soft hair along his neck, and he mumbled into their kiss, “I promise if I hear anything I’ll stop.”

Her soft “Okay,” was all he needed. His hands were on her, scooting her to the edge before he caressed up and down her thighs. Regina moaned into his mouth wanting more. Winding her legs around his hips, she pulled him towards her, needing friction where she was so very wet and aching for him, but the countertop was too high, only pressed her against his belly. She could hear his soft chuckle. Frowning into his kiss, she pulled away and glared at him. She was about to tell him off for laughing, but once again he surprised her. Regina’s breath hitched as she felt his fingertips against her, pulling aside the soft satin of her already wet panties, and flicking teasingly over her clit.

Her head dropped back with a soft thunk against the cabinet. She couldn’t think, only feel, as his fingers stroked and flicked against her. Her stomach tensed, and her grip tightened on his arms. Oh . Oh God, that was so so good . This wasn’t going to take long at all.

His voice was warm and husky in her ear, “You wanted something, beautiful?”

That smug bastard, she thought as her eyes opened. Leaning back, letting her weight fall against the cabinet, her mouth fell open as two of his fingers circled her just before easing into her slightly before pulling out. Oh… oh… fuck.

“Is this alright?”

Biting her lip and closing her eyes, she nodded. “Yes. Please, Robin.”

She heard his soft growl as his fingers pushed into her further. Leaning to her ear, Robin told her in a whisper, “Christ, Regina. I want to be inside you.”

“Soon,” Regina murmured back. “I promise.”

“I know,” his voice told her, while his fingers picked up the pace, thrusting in and out of her with his thumb against her slippery clit. “But for now, I want to watch you come for me.”

Regina felt her cheeks heat, but she didn’t care. He could watch her all he wanted as long as he never stopped touching her. Licking her lips, she then pressed them together. She was so close.

“What do you need, babe?”

“Harder,” she whispered. And with a curl of his fingers he pushed harder into that spot, and with the sensation of his palm pressed against her clit, Regina shattered. Her cries were swallowed by Robin, as he kissed her hard, his mouth covering hers. Wave after wave of pleasure swept through her as she fluttered around him, riding out one of the most intense orgasms of her life.

He pulled his fingers from her a moment later, and she sat up, looking around the quiet kitchen, listening, hoping to God that Olivia was upstairs blissfully unaware of her parents’ late-night activities. 

Robin’s voice was what pulled her from her thoughts. “You are incredibly sexy, you know that?” 

Biting her lip, she fought the blush that threatened to erupt. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

Robin snorted a laugh before kissing her quickly. “Come on, you. Let’s get to bed before we decide to sod it all, and I take you right here on this counter.”

Regina felt another shiver of want heating low in her belly. “You know, once Olivia is at camp we could always do this again.”

Chuckling and pulling her to him, Robin placed a kiss to her neck. “That we shall.”

They went to sleep that night and didn’t wake until the early hours of the morning, where they lay in bed spooned together, soft caresses over cotton, and light kisses against bare skin and lips, enjoying the intimacy of slowly waking beside one another.


They all had breakfast at the diner down the street from Robin's before they made the journey back to the city. Both Olivia and Regina opted for hash browns and fruit, while Robin shared pancakes and eggs with Roland. They smiled at each other like lovesick idiots, listened to their children chatter, and watched as their waitress and the old woman who ran the diner argued over in the corner. On the car ride back they held hands, fingers sliding together, and every now and then Robin brought her hand up to his lips and placed a kiss on her knuckles or palm. She'd look away, blushing, before turning back and smiling at him and his adorable dimples.

Olivia had remarked that they were “awfully cuddly,” but neither minded their daughter’s observation. Only traded knowing looks before threading fingers together once again and asking their children what they’d like to do over the weekend.

Another case of high temperatures kept them all in the loft for the day. They let the kids watch movies, and Regina caught up on laundry, while she sent Robin to the store with a list of groceries for dinner. This was the last weekend Olivia would be at home for the next six weeks, and Regina planned to make all of her favorite things, like chocolate banana muffins, apple and plum cobbler crisp and lactose-free lasagna.

An hour and a half later, Robin came back from the store. Bags in hand, he made his way into the kitchen where she was already getting started with the cobbler. As he walked over to the table, Regina took a moment away from where she was chopping up an apple into pieces to appreciate the view. His white tee and stone washed jeans that fit very nicely if she did say so herself, plus the rear view, had her biting her lip and smiling after him.

“You know, I for one am glad we decided to stay in today. It’s getting bloody hot out there.”

“It’s getting pretty hot in here, too,” Regina teased, the heat in the room having nothing to do with the temperature outside.

Robin turned after setting the last bag on the table, catching the look in her eyes and grinning madly, and smugly replied, “Oh is it?”

He began to walk towards her with a purposeful look in his eye, and Regina glanced over her shoulder to the living room where both children were happily occupied. With her eyes back on Robin, Regina backed up against the counter, chiding softly, "The kids are right there."

Robin frowned, and then looking over at the children and then across the room, he leaned towards her, his hands coming to rest on the counter beside her. "I'm sorry, but I must kiss you," he muttered, and he tugged on her waist and led her across the room and down the hall into her bedroom, shutting the door behind them. It wasn't shut maybe seconds before his mouth was on hers.

Regina kissed him back, eagerly, enjoying his hands on her back that were making their way up her shirt along her spine, sending a shiver through her. Knowing they couldn't be long, Regina broke the kiss, placing her hands on his chest as she looked up at him, his blue eyes hazy with lust.  She smiled and asked, "Better?"

"It'll do," Robin chuckled. Groaning a soft growl and moving her hair back, he placed a kiss and then another to her neck.

Giggling, Regina leaned into him, bumped her nose against his playfully, before promising him, "later," with a wink and half smirk.

Just as she was about to open the door there was a knock from the outside. "Momma, Daddy?"

Each shared their own versions of guilty smiles, and then pulling open the door, Regina and Robin were under the inquisitive gaze of their nine-year-old.

"Hey sweetheart, did you need something?" Regina asked, stepping out into the hall.

"What were you guys doing?"

"Uh..."Regina began but trailed off, unable to come up with a reason why she would have Robin back in her room with the door closed. 

"Your mother was showing me where to find the towels," Robin cut in, throwing the excuse out with extreme ease, saving the day.

The little girl's forehead creased, and her nose scrunched, doing a wonderful imitation of her mother. "Daddy, why do you have lipstick on?"

Regina bit back a smile as Robin’s thumb came up to his lips. "It's Chapstick. Your mother let me borrow some of hers," he managed to stammer out.

Olivia's arms dropped to her sides, and she shook her head. "It looks really silly."

Robin hung his head, now wiping away the remains of Regina's lipstick. Regina smirked at him and guided their daughter back into the living room.


Once dinner had been eaten, and games had been played, Regina had taken a drowsy Roland from Robin and declaring it bath time. She made a bath for Roland, while Olivia showered and when her daughter was done, Olivia eagerly helped entertain the toddler while Regina washed the boy’s hair. Roland reached up with bubble covered hands and rubbed them on his sister’s face, dissolving them both into gales of giggles.

Regina had laughed, let them play for a bit while Robin cleaned up from their dinner. However, Regina wasn’t aware just how long they’d taken, and that Robin had been quietly watching them for some time now by the bathroom door. It wasn’t until Olivia jumped up from beside her mother and said, “Daddy, look, Roland gave me a bubble beard!” that Regina became aware of his presence.

He laughed and stepped into the room. Regina turned just in time to catch his loving expression. “I see that, darling.” He knelt beside Regina. “Would you like some help, love?” His hand went down into the bath, and with his finger, he scooped up some of the bubbles. Regina watched as a grin swept over his face, right before wiping that very finger over her nose.

Regina’s nose scrunched, and her eyes narrowed. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

Robin chuckled, his tongue peeking out just before his teeth bit into that soft bottom lip.

“Momma, you’ve got bubbles on you,” Olivia laughed.

Regina wiped them off with her hand and then drew it across Robin’s cheek. It wasn’t much but she’d pay him back somehow later. The look in his eyes told her somehow he knew she would.

“Get me a towel behind you,” Regina told him, reaching for Roland.

"Yes, my queen."

They set them all up on the living room floor, blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows. The kids snuggled down into the plush softness, while Regina made them all hot chocolate and Robin put in Fantasia . Roland was nearly asleep, and Olivia already engrossed in the film, when Robin stepped up behind her, asking if he could help with anything.

Regina’s stomach clenched, and she turned finding him so very close to her. “You could grab us some mugs.”

“Alright.” There was a moment between them where he didn’t move and their eyes locked. The spark between them rose once again, almost overwhelming in its intensity, drawing them together slowly as if fighting it wasn’t something either of them could do. His hands found her hips, and she began to turn toward him. Robin leaned down, and her eyes closed.

That was until Olivia’s voice rang from the living room, “Momma is the hot chocolate done?”

They sprang apart, Robin smothering a smile, stepping over to the cabinet to grab the mugs Regina mentioned earlier. “Almost, and don’t yell or you’re going to wake Roland.”

“Oh.” Olivia looked back at her mother sleepily, then mouthed, “Sorry.”

Robin set three mugs on the counter next to the stove and leaned against it, smiling and shaking his head. “You know, I’m beginning to think our children have it out for us.”

“Don’t worry,” Regina glanced out into the living room, watching as Olivia yawned widely and set her head on the pillow. “She’ll drink this, and it won’t be long before she’s out for the count.

“Hmm, and what will we do when the little princess falls asleep?”

Taking the hot chocolate from the stove and pouring it into three cups, Regina handed one to him and lowering her voice to keep Olivia from overhearing as she told him, "We can go into my room for a while until we get tired."

Coming to stand in front of her, Robin placed a quick soft kiss to her lips before whispering, "Sounds like a plan."


Unwashed mugs of leftover hot chocolate sat beside the kitchen sink. The only light in the apartment came from a nightlight in the living room, leaving a soft glow over the forms of the two children sleeping peacefully side by side atop many blankets spread out on the floor.

The only sounds being made were the soft murmurings and muffled laughter from Regina’s room. Behind the closed door, mother and father lay together in bed, taking advantage of their time alone.

They’d talked for a while, but soon found themselves once again absorbed in one another. It hadn't taken long for things to heat up between them. Their pull to one another was something Robin had never experienced before, not even with Marian. Wanting to be with Regina, to touch and taste her was nearly overwhelming, and her desire for him matched, if not exceeded his own.

Hovering over her, Robin sealed their lips together in an open-mouthed kiss that stole the breath from them both. She started to move her hands between them, her intent clear, but Robin had other things in mind for her tonight. He grabbed her hands and raised them above her head, hovered over her, eyes heady and clouded with lust. Regina smiled up at him mischievously.

Robin’s lips pulled into a smirk. “So impatient, my love,” he mused, as he ran his fingers across her cheekbones and then through her hair, before closing the distance between them once again, fusing their mouths together. His tongue ran across the seam of her lips, and he moaned as her mouth softened and he felt her tongue against his.

They kissed and kissed some more. The air thickened between them and he broke the kiss to taste her skin, nipping along her jaw as he went.

Robin's breath caught as she slid one of her hands free from his grasp and managed to work it between them, sliding it into his boxers. Taking him in her hand, she caressed his smooth velvet tip with her thumb, eliciting a strangled moan from deep down his throat.

Regina slid her hand over the head of him and down his length, slowly moving up and down. Robin’s hips instinctively jerked forward, forcing him further into her palm. He groaned, and his eyes started fluttering closed. She tightened her grasp, and his breath hitched, and he shifted closer to her.

“We need to be quiet,” Regina reminded huskily, slightly increasing her rhythm while she placed kiss after kiss along his cheek and down his jaw, nipping at his pulse, and then soothing it with her tongue, making him thrust into her hand.


Robin swallowed hard. “I know,” he panted. And he did know, but Christ she was driving him insane. He needed a distraction from the feel of her hand around him, and he pushed her cotton pajama top up so he could cup her breast. The feeling of her hand around him had his brow scrunching and his lips parted to release her name in a reverent growl.

“And you say I'm trouble,” Robin told her before taking her lips in a deep, tongue-filled kiss. Maneuvering them to their sides, Robin dipped his hand beneath the hem of her pajama bottoms. She trembled underneath him as his fingers slipped into her, and then nuzzled her neck. Without much warning, he pressed a finger into her, eliciting a gasp from her.

Bloody hell, she was hot and incredibly wet for him. “How's that, babe?”

“Mmm, so good,” Regina assured between breaths as she held him in her grasp, stroking him, and his hips followed the motion of her hand. Robin gritted his teeth before his lips fell to her neck, wanting nothing more than to feel himself inside her. Damn, self-control meant nothing where she was concerned.

"Robin," Regina breathed, her voice filled with desire and longing. 

Robin hummed as he continued to suck and lap at her neck.

"Please," she begged, releasing him, her voice strained as the request rolled off her lips.

Robin dragged his lips between the valley of her breasts and down her stomach, moving lower with each kiss. Regina panted, and Robin grabbed at the hem of her cotton pants. He shimmied them down below her hips and Regina bent her knees so he could slip them past her ankles, where he tossed them somewhere on the floor.

Looking at her dark red thong, Robin let out a groan of appreciation. “Do you wear knickers like this all the time?”

“Not always, no.” Biting her lip, Regina grinned at him and said, “Sometimes I don’t wear anything at all.”

“Christ," he panted, hardened even more at the thought alone, and his forehead fell against her belly. Taking a breath, he dropped a light kiss to her stomach before his head rose, and while slipping her panties off her, Robin told her, with a smirk, “Well let me help you out of these then.”

Once they were discarded to join the others, Robin slipped his hand down between her legs, teasing her as his thumb circled her clit. The sensation was abrupt and gloriously appreciated, as he watched her clench the pillow beneath her head. He bit his lip, Regina was already soaking wet. Placing a kiss to the inside of her knee, Robin planted a trail down her thigh to just above where his thumb caressed her. Placing a hand on her belly, he could feel Regina tense right before his mouth descended on her. With one long petting lick, Robin took her clit between his lips and sucked. Softly at first, and then harder, then swirled his tongue over the pink bud. Regina tightened her legs together on instinct, but he pried them gently apart, draped one over his shoulder and held the other down with his hand. Licking and applying more pressure with his mouth, and felt a surge of satisfaction as Regina’s back arched off the mattress, whimpering loudly.

He brought up his hand and slid his middle finger inside her, pumped in and out with a slow thumping pace. Regina jolted when he blew cool air across her clit and then used her own wetness so he could easily swipe his thumb around her swollen bundle of nerves.

“Do you like it like this?”

“Yes,” she mewed, and he increased his speed. “God, Robin, don't stop.”

Regina spread her legs wider and a smirk formed on his lips. Robin inserted a second finger and began to pump into her, massaging with deep, slow thrusts.

“Oh... oh , Robin y- yes ,” Regina moaned softly.

“Good?” he rasped. Regina was nodding, his name leaving her lips over and over in reverent confirmation. Robin grinned, quite pleased with himself, continuing to move, pumping his fingers into her. He licked and lapped and suckled, his stubble rubbed against the inside of her thighs, and Regina hummed, panting in short, breathy little gasps.

Robin added another finger, making her writhe, stretching her walls, pushing harder and harder against that sensitive spot inside of her. One of her hands clutched desperately at the sheets the other covered her face and she bit at the skin of her arm.

Regina’s stomach muscles began to tense up, her breathing quickened. He could tell she was close, his name pulled from deep within her throat. After another moment, her orgasm ripped through her, and a strangled moan escaped past her lips only a second before she caught it.

She was so bloody sexy.

Not being able to resist, his lips fell to her clit once again, suckling there gently before telling her, "I love the way you taste."

 Regina reached for his hand and Robin laced his fingers with hers as her legs continued to tremble, his tongue and fingers still pulling gasps and moans from her throat.

She was trying to catch her breath, when Robin started trailing open-mouthed kisses back up her body. Her eyes opened, looking up at him as he hovered over her. “Your turn.”

Robin nodded. Swallowing hard as Regina took him in her hand again, and soon his hips matched her strokes, and he clutched her side as her name spilled from his lips. He was already so incredibly turned on and… Fuck , he was going to come. And just as he was about to tell her as much, with her lips against his brow she whispered, “It’s okay…”

With a guttural groan of her name, Robin spilled on her belly and then fell to his side against her heavily. When he found his breath, Robin turned to his other side, remembering that he had spotted a box of tissues on his way in. Taking a few from it, he turned back to Regina, who was watching him, a small smile pulling at her lips as he cleaned himself from her. She told him thank you and held out her hand to take the wet Kleenex from him, before turning and tossing them into the bin beside her desk.

Moving back into his arms, Regina cupped his face and rubbed her thumbs over the stubble on either side of his jaw. He trailed his mouth from her neck to her lips, and they lay in her bed, sharing wet, open-mouthed kisses until they started feeling drowsy.

A while later, Regina lifted her heavy eyelids and noticed Robin’s tired yawn. Placing a soft kiss to the brim of his nose, his eyes lifted to meet her own. “I think we should probably go lay with the kids just in case Roland wakes.”

“Mmm, probably a good idea, though I have to say, I find your bed quite comfortable.” He closed his eyes and pulled her close burying his nose into her hair.

Regina giggled at the feel of his breath on her neck, and, pushing gently at his shoulder with her hand, she coaxed, “We’ll have plenty of time to spend in this bed later.”

Pulling back, Robin sunk his top teeth into his full bottom lip, imagining all the lovely ways he would take her on this very bed once they were alone. With a sigh. he kissed her once before sitting up.  They both looked around the room, finding their clothes tossed away in the heat of the moment, and they dressed once again before making their way out into the living room.

It didn’t take them long to settle in.  He leaned over and arranged the covers over him and Regina so they’d be cozy and warm. Regina snuggled back against him and Robin wrapped his arm around her stomach, pulling her closer to him. Unsurprisingly, they fit perfectly together. In minutes, his eyes drifted closed, and with the feel of her deep breathing against his chest and their children sleeping peacefully, Robin let sleep claim him.

Chapter Text

The following morning, Regina opened her eyes to find her daughter awake and watching her with a curious little stare. Blinking away the last remaining moments of sleep, Regina realized Olivia’s preoccupation when she felt Robin’s breath on her neck and his arm also around her holding her tight to him.

“Morning, sweetheart,” Regina said in a whisper, pushing away the hair from her daughter’s forehead.

Olivia scooted a bit closer to Regina and replied, “Momma, Daddy is snuggling with you.”

Biting back a smile, Regina told her with the same scandalized voice, “Yes, he is.”

Olivia’s nose wrinkled, and she rose up a bit to look down at Robin, whose head was pillowed against Regina’s shoulder, before she fell back against the pillows. “Isn’t his beard scratchy?”

This time, Regina couldn’t hold back her laugh. “Sometimes.”

Olivia was silent for a minute, contemplative, Regina thought. Finally, the young girl looked up at her and asked, “Are you and Daddy going to get married?”

At first, Regina was taken back by the question, but given how close she and Robin had become, it was inevitable that Olivia would pick up on their affection. Regina licked her lips, taking a moment to find the words to answer her daughter the best she could, feeling, at the same time, how Robin’s breathing behind her had changed and she knew he was awake, also awaiting her answer.

“Your father and I are going to be together. But for couples to get married.... well, it takes time for things like that.”

“So maybe later?” Olivia went on expectantly, her face lighting up in the prospect.

Regina took a breath. “Young lady, that is something you don’t need to be worrying about right now.”

Suddenly there came a loud dramatic snore from behind Regina, and Olivia’s eyes widened before she sat up, looking down at her father with a wide grin and fighting off giggles. “He’s so loud!”

Regina shook her head, fighting laughter herself when she felt Robin’s arm tighten around her, pulling her against his side. “Maybe you should wake him up?”

Rising on her knees, Olivia leaned over and pushed on Robin’s shoulder. “Daddy, wake up!” Suddenly, Robin’s arm left Regina and he grabbed Olivia by the waist, pulling her over Regina, making Olivia shriek with laughter. Robin plied the young girl with kisses on the cheeks. “Daddy, your beard is too scratchy! Get, Momma!”

“Alright then,” Robin replied, and before Regina knew what was happening, she was on her back, being tickled and attacked by this overgrown child who was nuzzling her neck, every now and then placing a kiss or nip there or to her cheek.

Giggling, Regina half-heartedly attempted to fight him off. Olivia laughed from beside them, and Roland’s head rose from his pillow, blinking at them through sleepy eyes. It wasn’t until they heard Emma’s voice from above them that they stopped.

“What is wrong with you people? It’s seven in the morning on a Saturday !”

The blonde stomped into the kitchen, where Regina was sure she was about to grab a Red Bull from the fridge before retreating into her room once again. Robin, who was still hovering over Regina, his eyes bright with mirth, told her, “Good morning.”

She returned his smile with one of her own. “Good morning.”

Leaning down, Robin placed a soft kiss on her cheek, before he asked, “Coffee?”

Regina nearly groaned aloud, the hot beverage sounding too wonderful this morning after their late night. Leaning up, Regina bumped her nose against his playfully before replying, “Please.”


Later that afternoon, while Olivia and Roland were occupied in the living room, Robin and Regina retreated into her room to say their goodbyes alone before he went out to say his final goodbyes to Olivia.

They stood just on the other side of the closed door, his lips moving against hers slowly, both taking their time since they knew they wouldn’t see each other for a while. Not that a few days away from one another would kill them, but this thing between them was new and wonderful and they both wanted to keep that going as long as they could.

His lips left hers, and as their foreheads pressed together, Robin asked, “You sure you don’t want me to take you both up there?”

Regina breathed in, breathed him in while her hands ran up over his chest. “As much as I want you to, my parents will still expect me to stay with them tomorrow, and even though I want you there, I’m not ready to expose you to my mother just yet.”

“Not ashamed of me, are you?”

Regina pulled back abruptly. “No, of course not.”

“Regina, my love, I’m kidding,” Robin was quick to assure with a smile. His hands came up to card through her hair, his thumb caressing her cheekbone.

“I’m sorry." Regina paused, frowning at the thought that someday Robin would have to meet her mother. She tried to explain, "She’s so judgmental and overbearing, and knowing her, she’ll say something that will upset Olivia, and I don’t want her upset before camp.”

“I understand." He smiled at her, and teased, "I’ll just have to meet your lovely mother another time then.”

“Honestly, if I could put that off forever, I would. Nothing is ever good enough for her.” Regina looked away, ashamed that she was a part of that.

Robin placed a thumb under her chin, tilting it gently up so he could look at her. “Then it’s a good thing I don’t give a toss about what she thinks of us or our family.”

Regina fell straight into his arms at that, and he enveloped her automatically. The warmth emitting from his chest provided her with a comfort she missed and couldn’t believe she’d been lucky enough to find again.

Knowing that they needed to get back in the other room, Regina pulled back and stood on her toes, placing a soft kiss to his lips. “I’ll see you soon.”

He gave her a nod, and asked, “Call me later? Let me know how it all went?”

“I will.”


Walking out into the living room, Robin made his way over to where Olivia sat playing with Roland. “Alright my darling, Roland and I need to be getting back. Have a great time, and I will see you when your mother and I come up for Parent’s Night.”

Robin could see Olivia’s eyes had begun to tear over, and he got down on his knees in front of her, taking her hands in his. “Bye, Daddy.”

“Chin up, no tears, we’ll see one another soon,” he told her reassuringly. Adopting a most serious tone of a parent wanting their child to pay attention, he went on, “You remember what we discussed?”

Olivia took a breath, smiled a bit even at his words as they reminded her of their talk. “If I don’t like it I can come home.”

“Yes. You give me or your mother a call and we’ll both be right there to get you.” Robin held her eyes and smiled. “I’ll see you soon.”

Her blue eyes gazed back, and her chin tipped down a touch as if daring him to go back on his word. “Okay.”

Robin chuckled at her look. She was very much her mother’s daughter. “I love you.”

That did it. Her little face softened, and she pulled her lips up, making those inherited dimples show. “I love you too, Daddy.”

Giving her one last hug, Robin then got to his feet and called over to Roland, who was standing by Regina, holding her hand and watching their exchange curiously. They’d explained to the boy about Olivia’s trip to the camp, and Robin was incredibly thankful for his young son’s inability to grasp time. Had Roland really understood how long he’d be apart from Olivia, Robin was sure he would put up one mighty fit. As it were, it was just like any other few days without her. “Roland, tell your sister goodbye.”

Taking a few steps towards Regina, Robin leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, whispering to her, “I’ll call you later.” She smiled at him and then watched him scoop up Roland in his arms as they went off.


A few hours after Robin left, Regina made her way down the hall to her daughter’s room. Tapping lightly on Olivia’s bedroom door, her daughter looked up from her book and smiled at her. “Hi, Momma.” 

“Hey, what are you reading?” Regina came into the room and sat down on the bed next to Olivia, wrapping her arms around her, hugging her daughter to her side.

Olivia shrugged slightly, “ The Fairy Tale Detectives .”

Regina hummed, and taking the book from Olivia’s hands, Regina set it aside, “Sweetheart, before your grandparents get here I wanted to talk to you about something.”

Olivia’s blue eyes looked up at her curiously. “What is it?”

Regina took a deep breath. She hated what she was about to do, but she didn’t have much of a choice. Robin wasn’t the only one Regina wanted to protect against Nora’s inevitable wrath. “You know how much we both love Robin and how excited we are to have him in our lives, but let’s not tell your grandma and grandpa about him just yet.”

Olivia’s brow furrowed, a frown pulling at her lips that reminded Regina very much of Robin. “Why not?”

“Well, you know how your grandma can be, and it wouldn’t be fair to Robin to tell them about him when he isn’t there. Let’s just wait until we can introduce him when we’re all together, okay?”

Regina could tell her daughter was thinking about that. Putting a picture in her mind of getting to introduce Robin to her grandparents was a much bigger prize for her daughter than just speaking of him. Finally, Olivia smiled. “Sure, Momma.”

Regina pulled Olivia to her and kissed her brow. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

For the rest of the afternoon, until Regina’s father Andrew arrived to pick them up, mother and daughter cuddled together reading about the fairy-tale detective’s sisters of New York City.


When Robin arrived back in Brooklyn, he got to work on some plans he had been putting off for some time now, listening to his son sing along to I Just Can’t Wait to be King , while running in and out of the living room chasing Ella with his stuffed lion at hand. Used to Roland’s exuberant energy before bed, he was still able to get a bit of work done, and before he knew it, his iPhone was vibrating on the desk beside him.

Thankful for the distraction, Robin brightened considerably, and answered, “Hello, my love.”

“Hi,” Regina replied.

Robin could tell by the sound of her voice that she was exhausted, and so he asked, “How are you?”

He could hear her let out a deep sigh. “Tired. It was a long day.”

“You sound it.” Robin put away his things, now finished for the night. It was almost Roland’s bedtime, and he’d rather focus his attention on Regina while he had her on the line. “How did check in go?”

“Really good. I didn’t know, but Olivia’s music teacher, Zoe Bell, is on the summer staff at the camp here.”

Hearing that Olivia would be near a familiar presence during her time away filled Robin with relief. “Oh, that’s great for Olivia.”

“Yes, she was much more comfortable about staying after we talked to Zoe. I think she’ll be fine.”

Across the room, Ella began to bark, and Robin made his way down the hall toward her. Opening the back door, he stepped out onto the deck while the dog went to do her business and said, “Good. I had a feeling she’d feel better about it once she got there.”

Robin heard her yawn, before Regina replied, “That makes one of us, but I’m glad it worked out.”

Robin hated to sound pathetic, but the sound of her voice all warm and sleepy made him miss her. “What time are you starting back tomorrow?”

“Sometime after brunch.” Regina paused, and let out another deep sigh before saying, “Mother never misses her tea time.”

“Hm.” Looking up at the stars, Robin wondered if, after the weekend away with her parents, Regina would be in the mood for company when she returned. “I was hoping to take you out tomorrow night, but perhaps another night would be better?”

Robin was surprised when her voice lowered, and he could almost hear the smile when Regina told him, “I don’t mind going out.”

Chuckling, Robin bit his lip. God, he loved her. “Miss me already?”

 “You know I do.”

Robin was sure his heart stopped for a moment and then he went on, “I can assure you the feeling is mutual.”

“No, but you’re right. I do have a few meetings early Monday morning. Maybe we can go out that night instead of tomorrow?”

Understanding, Robin agreed, “That will be fine.”

“What are you doing tonight?”

Robin blew out a breath from between his lips and ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing too terribly exciting. Killian is going to be stopping by in a bit. I think he’s feeling a bit neglected.”

“We have taken most of your attention lately, haven’t we?”

“It’s true you both have, but I wouldn’t have my attention anywhere else,” Robin mused. “Besides, he’ll live. What are you doing for the rest of your night?”

“Well, I have a few work things I could do, but I thought about taking a bath.”

Robin groaned into the phone as the image of her beautiful bare body flashed through his mind. “Must you tell me things like that?”

“Wishing you were here?”

Her voice was soft and husky, and it did things to him even with her miles away and over the phone. “You have no idea.”

“I have some idea, but no, I really should go so I can get ready for bed.”

Robin let out a sigh, trying not to picture her soft curves gloriously naked and slippery. “Fine, go get all wet without me.”

“I’d rather get wet with you.” 

He swallowed hard and closed his eyes. “You are a minx, Regina Mills.”

Regina laughed. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Yes, you will." Robin told her, opening the door to step back inside, then closing it behind Ella. "Goodnight, babe.”

“Night.”


It was late. Roland had been put down to bed over an hour ago, and Robin had just gotten out of the shower when Killian had finally shown up. They'd made their way out back, Robin tossing the ball into the small yard with Ella chasing after it happily.

“Aye, now this feels familiar,” Killian said, taking a seat in one of the chairs on the deck.

Robin followed, holding out a bottle to his friend he replied, “It has been a while hasn’t it?”

“It has, but it’s understandable, you’re a family man now.”

The statement was unexpected coming from Killian, of all people; however, if Robin thought about it, the man had been very supportive when it came to his relationship with Olivia and Regina, far more than David had. Perhaps it was their history together, but Robin felt a rush of affection for his longtime friend at his words. “I am.”

Robin’s thoughts fell to his daughter, tucked away up at camp probably having the time of her life, and then to her mother, to their conversation not long ago and how they would soon be on their first date, taking their first steps into their relationship that had been going on far longer than either would have admitted before.

“I know that look,” Killian started, a small smirk on his lips, his words startling Robin from his thoughts. “How’s that going?”

Sure he had missed something, Robin asked, “How’s what going?”

Throwing Robin an exasperated look, Killian drawled on dramatically, “You and the lass’s mum. I mean, you two are together now?”

“How did you know?”

“Don’t think I didn’t notice the looks between you both that night we were all together.”

“I didn’t realize you knew Regina and I were in the room with the way you and Emma were going on,” Robin retorted.

A grin pulled at the man’s lips. “Aye, she’s a fiery lass.”

Robin snorted. An understatement if he’d ever heard one when describing Miss Swan.

“Is she single?”

Robin nodded. “I believe she is, yes.”

“Do you think…” Killian paused looked over at him, tilted his head, and with a tad bit of hesitance unlike his friend asked, “Perhaps you could look into that for me?”

Robin laughed, he had to. It was too amusing. Killian asking him to set him up. The man who took great pleasure in informing Robin about all of his trysts was asking Robin for help. “You mean you didn’t manage to sweep her off her feet that night?”

Killian scoffed and sat up in his chair. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying, believe me. She told me I couldn’t handle a gal like her! Can you believe that?”

Knowing Emma like he did, Robin nodded. “Yes, I can, actually.”

Scoffing, Killian told Robin, “Well I’ve got news for her, I could more than handle her. I could handle that all night lo….”

“Okay, stop, stop. I get it.” Robin started, sitting up with a grimace. “You don’t have to paint that particular picture for me.”

“At least I have a picture. What are you and Regina still mooning over one another from across the room?”

“We have a date Monday night if you must know.” Robin got to his feet, walked over to the table where another couple of beers sat, and took them.

The surprise in Killian’s face showed clearly. “Oh, really?”

“Mmhm.” Robin hummed taking his seat again and placing their drinks on the deck floor beside them.

His Irish friend’s lips pursed, right before he took a final sip of his current beer, and then reaching for another, Killian said, “About bloody time. What’s it been, two years for you?”

“Three years.”

“Blimey. It’s a wonder you’re not starkers. A man can only fly solo for so long mate.”

Robin groaned, his chin falling into his hand, to cover his mouth as he shook his head . That was what he was talking about. Leave it to Killian to make absolutely everything about sex. “Yes, well, not all of us feel the need to be frequent flyers. I have a job and a son to think about.”

“Yes, well I’m glad it’s you and not me, mate.” Robin looked over at his friend, couldn’t help but wonder about the man who had zero responsibilities in life, yet was interested in Emma. Robin would have to agree with the blonde. He wasn’t so sure his friend could handle her. Killian then raised his new cold bottle of beer and said, “But here’s to you and your lass.”

Robin raised his bottle and met the man half way. He would most definitely drink to that.


It wasn’t that Robin was unfamiliar to personal meetings with the CEO of his company, Robin had been called up many times in his career for a job well done or to be asked if he could be of personal assistance to something close to Richard Lionel’s heart, but it was unusual to be called up with a sense of urgency.  So it was with a bit of trepidation that he made his way to the fortieth floor, his mind racking as to what could possibly be so important that he was needed right this very moment.

Approaching the secretary’s desk, Robin smiled at Rose, and said, “Hello, I’m here to see Mr. Lionel.”

Rose returned his smile with one of her own and turned in her seat to reach for her phone. “I’ll let him know you’re here.”

Nodding, Robin thanked her and prepared to sit down, but the loud, boisterous voice of Richard Lionel boomed at him from across the office foyer.

“Robin, thanks for coming up. Come in.”

“Sure thing.” 

The office of Richard Lionel was a large one. The man was well traveled, and his decor showed it. Relics and artwork from trips he’d taken to other countries were displayed in an eclectic variety of strategically organized consideration. Masks and spears, paintings and coins, and a large table displaying the model of Lionel’s first building. Robin loved it, had always admired the man, who, at times through the years, had taken him under his wing.

“Please, have a seat,” Lionel told him, taking a chair across from the one he directed Robin toward. As Robin took the offered chair, not beating around the bush, Lionel said, “You’re probably wondering why I called you up here.”

Robin chuckled at the understatement. “I am curious, yes.”

There was a short knock on the door, followed by a man in a suit who Robin recognized straight away. Robin and Lionel immediately got to their feet.

The new guest approached, and Robin looked from Richard to the guest, the man’s face seemingly hesitant. “Am I interrupting?”

“Not at all,” Richard told him and waved him over. “Come in, I was just sitting down with Robin here and was about to explain why we’re meeting with him today.”

Wait, what? Was he meeting with both men? This was news to him.

The hesitance gone, the slightly bald man approached them with a warm smile. “Ah great, then I’m not too late.”

Richard said, “No, please come in. Robin, I’d like you to meet Alexander Mattias.”

To say Robin was tongue tied would have been another understatement. Alexander Mattias was known as the Golden Architect. Every building, every design with this man’s name attached to it was as good as gold. Just being in the same room with him was enough to take words right from Robin. Somehow Robin managed to kick himself into gear and replied, “I know, sir. It’s a great pleasure to meet you.”

“You as well, I’ve heard great things about you, son.” He extended his hand to him, and Robin took it in a firm shake. Not a man to beat around the bush, Mittias began, “Robin I’m going to cut right to it. I’m starting a project, and I want you as my lead architect for our new center in downtown San Francisco.”

Floored, Robin’s mouth fell open slightly. “Oh, I’m… honored.”

“Good to hear. I’m glad I can count on you. Richard here,” Mattias gestured to the other man, clapping him on the shoulder, then continued, “has all of the information and schedules. I’ll see you in three weeks in California.”

Wait, what? Shit . Taking a step toward the man already leaving Robin said, “I’m sorry, San Francisco?”

Mattias barked a laugh. “Well, of course, that is where the site is. Is there a problem?”

Robin swallowed, his stomach now somewhere floors below them. Richard was looking back at him with mild incredulity, while Mattias looked on amused. Mattias was not a man one said no to, and they all knew it. But Robin couldn’t leave. Thoughts of Olivia and Regina and the life they were creating here in New York flooded his mind. “I’m sorry, but could I have some time to think about this?”

Mattias blinked at him as though he wasn’t sure if he was hearing Robin correctly. “What’s there to think about?”

“Well, sir,” Robin started, biting his tongue and thinking about what an assumptive ass the man was. “My family is here and…”

The man raised a brow and cast a glance at Richard. “It was my understanding it was just you and your son.”

“Yes,” Robin started slowly, adding, “While that was true, things have changed.”

“Ah, I see.” Mattias looked almost disappointed and rocked back and forth on his feet. “Well, I suppose I could give you a few days.”

Robin knew he didn’t need a few days, but something held him back from giving his answer immediately. “I appreciate it, thank you.”

“Don’t keep me waiting long, Mr. Locksley.”

“I won’t, sir.”

Just as he was about to walk away, Mattias added, as an afterthought, “I’d hate to have to pass the position on to Keith.”

Robin’s jaw clenched at the name, his gut twisting with contempt and annoyance. What was this man playing at? With barely contained patience, Robin asked, “Kingston?”

“Mm.” Mattias nodded gravely, taking his glasses off to wipe a smudge with the end of his tie. “Absolutely the most unpleasant son of a bitch in the business, and he does not have your talent, but he’s still the best, right next to you. Like I said, don’t keep me waiting long.”

Watching Mattias leave, Richard gave Robin a sympathetic smile.


Taking a long pull from his beer later that night, Robin set down his glass on the bar with a bit more force than necessary as he ground out, “That old sod knew exactly how to push my buttons.”

Killian, who was just about to take a drink, paused, his glass held aloft, and stated, “It seems the knowledge of old competitive hatred between you two extends beyond New York and England.”

Robin scoffed. Understatement of the bloody century, that one. With disdain in his voice, Robin said, “Keith sodding Kingston. Well, cheers for the poor bastards of San Francisco who can still look at the skyline without wanting to vomit.”

David did a double take from beside him. His face fell into an utter cloud of disbelief. “You’re not actually thinking of turning it down?”

Robin turned in his seat, brow pinched in irritation he told him, “How can I take it? I can’t move to California. It’s clear across the bloody country.” Shaking his head, Robin was fixed in his response, “I won’t leave Olivia and Regina just like that.”

“Robin, do you realize what this would do for your career? How much money you would make from this?”

Robin almost rolled his eyes. “Yes, David, trust me, I know exactly what I’m turning down.”

If there was one thing Robin could count on, it was Killian’s direct nature to cut to the thick of it. “Do you love her?”

“I do.” Robin smiled for what felt like the first time that day. “I love my daughter and I am completely in love with her mother. I don’t know where things with Regina are going, but I know we’re going somewhere. There are just some things in life that are worth giving up everything for, and that’s them.”

Killian sighed, and Robin felt his hand clap him on the back. “Sounds like there’s nothing ta think about then, mate.”

Robin stood, and David asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m taking Regina out tonight. I need to get going.”

“Ya gonna tell her?” Killian asked.

Robin shook his head. “No, it’s not something she needs to worry over.”

“Did you ever think she might not want you to give up something like this? Maybe she’ll go with you?” David implored. “Relationships are two-way streets.”

Robin couldn’t help but simply stare at his friend for a moment before saying, “While I’m aware of that, it might have been relevant if we were married, but we’re not. I won’t ask her to give up her life here when we’ve just begun dating.”

“But you said it yourself you see a future with her.”

“Exactly,” Robin told him, grabbing his jacket. “And I see that future here.”

Killian gestured towards the doors of the pub. “Well then, what the bloody hell are you still doing standing here with us? Go, get your girl.”


Pacing in his kitchen, Robin watched as his son played at the table with his new containers of Play- Doh Regina had brought for him the last time she and Olivia were there. Taking up his phone, Robin glanced at the time. He still had a couple hours before Belle would be there to watch Roland.

Though he’d asked Mattias for some time to think, Robin had already made up his mind. One or two days wouldn’t change it. He might as well get it over with. Professionally, turning down this opportunity for anyone else, or for his younger self, would have been nothing less than absurd, crazy even. However, now for Robin to move away from his daughter and Regina, to be across the entire country for the next two years or more, was intolerable to even think of. No, his place was here with them, with his family. There was no amount of fame, notoriety, or money that could replace what he’d found here. 

Dialing the number given to him by Rose earlier that day, Robin took a deep breath and pressed send. He waited a few beats, and then a younger man's voice filled the line asking for his name. “Hello, this is Robin Locksley. May I speak with Alexander Mattias?”

“One moment, sir.”

The line was silent for a few minutes, and Robin began to pace the length of his kitchen.  “Robin, good to hear from you, son,” Mattias’ voice rang out through the line, and then lowering his tone, added, “I do hope you have good news for me?”

Here goes , Robin thought. “Sir, I want to thank you for the opportunity. I am very honored by the offer, but the truth is I’ve recently discovered I have a daughter, and I’m sorry, but I can’t leave her. I am truly sorry.”

Mattias sighed, and a silence filled the line a moment. Robin was just waiting for an inevitable lecture or brush off, but it never came. Instead, Mittias’ tone was understanding, sympathetic even when he told Robin, “I won’t say I’m not disappointed, but I understand. I have a daughter, myself and they do wrap themselves around your heart, don’t they?”

Robin breathed a breath of relief. “That they do, sir.”

“Worth more than all the gold in the world if you ask me,” Mattias continued thoughtfully. Then clearing his throat roughly, added, “Alright, Locksley, I appreciate the call.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mattias,” Robin said, and he smiled as he hung up the phone, now more certain than ever that he had made the right choice.


Putting on her new MAC long wear lip color, Regina was not surprised to find Emma leaning against the doorframe watching her get ready.

“Wowsa, you trying to make the guy swallow his tongue or what?”

Regina smirked at Emma's reflection in the bathroom mirror. “This is the first date that I’ve wanted to be on in more years than I’d like to admit, and if I feel the need to overdo it a bit, well that’s my choice.”

“Alright fair enough, settle down there, lady. Where’s he taking you?”

Taking her hair in her hands, Regina began to twist it into an elaborate side braid. “Out to dinner.”

“Where to?”

When Regina was finished with the braid, she took a few bobby-pins from the counter and twisted it into a bun at the base of her neck and secured it with the pins. “It’s a surprise.”

“Well, if he’s taking you anywhere around here, I hate to tell you, but you’re overdressed. I honestly thought you and Robin would just skip over the whole dating thing, to be honest.”

Regina’s brows creased, and she turned to face her roommate. “And why would you think that?”

“Come on, Regina, you already have a kid together, you like each other, you spend all your time together, and don’t think I don’t see it when he texts you and you get that look on your face.”

Regina straightened slightly. Offended that she might be so transparent. “What look?”

Emma wasn’t letting her off the hook though and deadpanned, “Like the one you get when you eat a cheesecake.”

Regina was not about to dignify that with a response and instead said defensively, “When we spend time together, it’s always with the kids.”

Emma pushed herself off the doorframe. “Well, now’s your chance while Olivia is gone to take it to the next level.”

“And what level is that?” Regina asked, following after the blonde.

Emma let out a snort on her way to the fridge. “That level you missed out on when you got pregnant with his kid.”

“Well put,” Regina muttered, not without sarcasm.

Emma laughed. “I do what I can. You coming back tonight?”

“I’m not sure.”

Emma eyed her from across the room, shuffling through a drawer, searching for the bottle opener. “Just put something on your door handle if you guys bring it over here.”

Regina pressed her lips together, opening the closet door and reaching for a box that contained a new pair of heels she’d bought earlier that morning for her date. “We are not going to have sex.”

“What?” Emma dropped her hands to the counter looking at Regina like she’d lost her mind. “Why not? It's not like you guys don't know each other.”

Taking the box to the counter, Regina flipped off the top and pulled out one white shoe. Even if she and Robin were going to have sex, it was none of Emma’s business. They may be friends, but she didn’t have to tell her everything, and Regina didn’t want to speculate what would or would not happen tonight. “We’re not rushing into it,” Regina explained, and at the roll of Emma’s eyes, added, “We have the next six weeks to ourselves and we plan to take our time.”

Emma’s eyes widened. “Take your time? Are you kidding? I’d take advantage of your time without Olivia.”

Regina’s eyes looked up at the ceiling. “It’s called romance, Miss Swan.”

Emma snorted. “I’ll remember that when you’re asking for a babysitter six weeks from now when Olivia comes home.”

Regina hummed doubtfully, and placing on her shoes, walked back to the bathroom intent on checking herself once more in the mirror and to spray on a bit of perfume. Anticipation fluttered in her belly, and she honestly couldn’t wait for their first official night together to begin.

Chapter Text

It had been on his mind all night long as he planned their evening together. Regina's description of her last date with a man. "Handsy" was what she had called him, and even now Robin's jaw clenched. The thought of the old man's hands on Regina still set his teeth on edge and a rage burning through him. And having known that she had that kind of experience with such a man, in all her years of being single with Olivia, lit a fire in him. It gave Robin a determination to be more than that for her, to show Regina that not all men were self-indulgent pricks.

As much as Robin wanted to be with Regina, he respected her and their relationship more. Robin would give her a night full of romance, like a gentleman would. For tonight she would be courted properly, just as a woman like her should be, and he would leave her with just a kiss and the promise of more.

Robin kept that in mind as he got dressed, taking out a pair of black trousers, a light blue button-up, and a simple dark tie. He couldn’t help but wonder what might have been, had they been together from the start, if he had asked her for her phone number all those years ago when he’d run into her in the elevator. Would it have been immensely ballsy to ask after a pregnant woman? Of course. There was no doubt about that. But oh, if he had only listened to his instincts then. If only...

Robin looked at himself in the mirror when he was done and concluded with satisfaction that he looked every bit the gentleman on his way to take his lady out. He was unaware however, that a city away, Regina’s attire would make it enormously difficult to remember that he was supposed to be a gentleman.

Walking up to her door a little while later, Robin was knocking only a moment before it opened, and Regina’s roommate was there smiling at him.

“Hey, come on in. She’ll be right out.”

“Thanks.” Stepping inside, Robin inquired, “How are you?”

“Oh, you know same old, same old.” Emma smiled at him then, a secret smile that made him wonder what she was thinking.

His eyes roamed the normally busy apartment. With Henry and Olivia gone it was unnaturally still. The only sound came from the air conditioner running in corner of the apartment, and Robin noticed the television was paused. If memory served, Miss Swan was in the middle of an episode of Game of Thrones . “Regina tells me you had to go up to Maine. How was that?”

Emma walked towards the living room, Robin following right behind her. “Wet, but luckily for me, the rain came in handy.”

Intrigued, his brow creased. “Oh?”

The blonde smirked. “Guy tried to outrun me by cutting through a field and got his car stuck in the mud. It was actually pretty hilarious.”

Chucking at the picture in his mind of Emma chasing a man through the mud in her small bug, Robin replied, “I can imagine.”

"Yeah, well, anyway, prepare yourself.” Emma’s eyes shifted towards the hall and in a lower tone, she finished up with a, “I don't think I've ever seen her this dressed up before."

His brows rose, and Robin turned in place to glance down the hall. Regina always looked lovely. Hell, even in jeans and a tee shirt she was downright stunning. He couldn’t wait to see her. Just as he was about to thank Emma for the heads up, Robin heard the distinct echo of heels on the hardwood floor and he looked up in time to see Regina walking toward him. His jaw went slack as he took in the sight of her. His eyes roamed from her white heels, up her defined calves, to her dress. It was a sea green number, well formed to her figure, outlining every lovely curve. Her hair was twisted up, which disappointed Robin for a moment until he caught sight of the lovely naked expanse of her neck and upper back.

“You’re early,” Regina observed with a smile that matched his own.

Robin swallowed. Her lips shone with a sheer pink gloss that he simply wanted to kiss right off of her. It took him several tries to find his voice. “I am,” Robin replied finally. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“I don’t,” Regina told him.

Her cheeks were dusted with blush, and her dark eyes were smoky, making them appear bigger and bringing out the gold flecks. As Regina walked up to him, Robin noticed just how much easier it was to see into her eyes. And bless her heels, because she boldly stepped up to him and brought her lips to his in an open-mouthed kiss that surely knocked the wind from him.

Just then they both were startled as Emma stepped up beside them. “Good God, just go or get a room already.”

Regina rolled her eyes but Robin could only grin. Holding out his hand for her to take, he said, “Well milady, your evening awaits. Shall we?”


One if by Land, Two if by Sea was without a doubt one of New York’s most romantic and favorite date night restaurants, and that being said, one of the hardest places in the city to make a last minute reservation. Robin Locksley however, had been working in this city long enough to make a few influential friends in the city, and though he was never a man to abuse such acquaintances, Robin hadn’t minded giving a former client a call two weeks ago, wondering if there was any way she might have a table available for him.

Upon hearing his voice Gwen was delighted, had scolded him for not calling her sooner, but in the end, promised him they'd be taken care of. “My best table for my favorite architect.”

Regina was no stranger to the happenings in this town. Working for a magazine like New York Style , she knew just how difficult reservations were to come by, so when Robin pulled up to the restaurant her brows rose, and she looked over at him with an impressed yet suspicious gaze. "Just how long have you been planning this date?"

Robin chuckled, biting his tongue between his teeth. "Not that long, I assure you. The owner is an old client of mine."

"You know Gwen?"

Robin blinked at her. "I do. And you do as well?"

Regina laughed a breathy chuckle, her eyes finding their way out the window to look up at the restaurant before finding his again. "I did a photo shoot here a couple years ago right after..."

"Right after its renovations,” Robin smiled, finishing her sentence with a nod. “It seems we've been crossing paths for a while now."

Leaning towards him, Regina smiled and when he started to close the distance between them, and just before his lips touched hers she whispered, "So it seems."


The interior was surrounded by flowers, warmed by dual fireplaces, and lulled by the mellow stylings of the resident pianist. There were tables with white linen cloth, candlelight, and a rose centerpiece, which complemented the chandeliers. Hundreds of small lights made the ceiling above look like a fairytale land that gave the room below a soft glow.

Shown to a table beside the fireplace and balcony, Regina and Robin sat and talked for a bit about how they both had been here but only once, and both were there in the daytime and agreed that there was something the night offered to ambience. They were served a bottle of red wine, which was “On the house,” their waiter had said, with the owner’s regrets that she could not be there to deliver it herself.

Once their orders were taken, they seemed to both collectively take a breath. Finally, they were here. 

Robin raised his glass of wine. “To our daughter. To her bringing us together.”

“To Olivia," Regina offered, feeling her stomach flip as she took a sip. "I’ve been wondering, how is this even going to work? I mean, we have a daughter.”

Setting his wine down on the table, Robin leaned forward resting his arm on the table. “We do.”

Regina pursed her lips. They needed to have a serious discussion about what they were doing and how it might affect Olivia. She knew Robin was sure things would work out, but that didn't mean she was so confidant. Regina mirrored his posture, her hand coming to rest near his, she asked, “That doesn’t bother you?”

Robin took her hand in his, and the warmth from it somehow began to soothe her jangled nerves. “It doesn’t, but I can see that it bothers you , so why don’t you tell me what you’re thinking?”

“It’s not that it bothers me," Regina began, loving the feel of his thumb caress across her knuckles. She watched their hands for several seconds before licking her lips and raising her eyes to meet his. "I just don’t want to start something and get Olivia’s hopes up.”

“Regina, is there a reason why you think this might not work out between us?”

Regina could hear the genuine puzzlement in his tone, and she tilted her head, her brows knitted together, before she took a deep breath. She couldn't think of a reason why they wouldn't work, only the ways Robin could be taken from her. As much as she didn't want to live in fear of wondering "what if," Regina knew from experience she had no control over such things. “No,” she admitted.

“The way I see it, we’ve already gotten to know one another, became friends, even fought and made up.” The grin Robin gave her was smug and knowing when he said, “And judging from our nights together, we are not lacking in chemistry...”

Regina bit back her own smile, but couldn't help the warmth already stirring low in her belly at his words, images of their time alone sharp in her mind. “Definitely not.”

“Which is why I’m not worried," Robin finished with a confident smile.

Narrowing her eyes at him, Regina teased, “Has anyone ever told you that you are far too optimistic?”

Robin grinned. God, she was her own worst enemy. Not being able to resist he returned, “Has anyone ever told you that you are far too pessimistic?”

She shook her head. “Just goes to show how different we are.”

His thumb moved from her knuckles to the back of her hand, and it sent a shiver down her spine as Regina imagined those fingers of his caressing other places. “I believe differences balance a couple.”

“See, there you go being optimistic." Regina gave him a meaningful glance across the table.

"Only when it comes to us." Raising her hand to his lips, he placed a kiss on her fingers. "Have I told you how absolutely beautiful you look tonight?"

Heat rose to her cheeks, Regina grinned at him and teased, "Once or twice."

Those bright blue eyes studied her face a moment. "Well, I feel the need to say it once more. Regina, you are stunning."

"Charmer. You're not so bad yourself." And he wasn't. The man was always incredibly handsome, and maybe it was the light or the atmosphere, but she felt a lick of satisfaction that he was here with her.

"I do try. So how was the rest of your weekend? Did you manage to get away from your mother unscathed?"

Regina nodded. "I did. Though, that was probably only because I asked Olivia to not mention you."

“Did you now?"

Just then, the waiter came over with their meals, and Robin and Regina sat back, thanking the man before picking up their conversation. Robin looked over at her with brows knitted slightly, and Regina knew she wasn’t imagining the faint hurt in his voice.

Quick to assure him, Regina's voice softened as she explained, "Not because I want to keep you secret, but I just felt it would be easier for my mother and everyone involved if we introduce you in person."

Placing his napkin in his lap, Robin was thoughtful a moment before answering, "Makes sense. How do you think she'll feel about me?"

She didn't have to think about it, Regina knew. "Threatened."

His head tilted. "How so?"

Regina regarded him. He didn’t seem upset by her statement, more curious and amused than anything. "Well, for one thing, you will be one more person my mother will feel she needs to control. Right now, she and I have a mutual understanding. She uses Olivia and I as ornaments for her social standing, and in return she stays out of our lives. We are nothing more than something she can use as bragging rights."

Wiping his mouth with his napkin, Robin cleared his throat. "And your father?"

A genuine smile pulled her lips up. "My father will love you,” Regina began, knowing without a doubt that Henry would approve of Robin without a moment's hesitation, and yet, her father’s opinions always took a backseat to Cora’s demands. Straightening in her chair, Regina added, “But nothing my father thinks is ever taken into my mother’s consideration."

His fingers twisted around the stem of his wine glass that sat upon the table, and Robin got that look, the one she had seen the night he took her home from dinner and asked about Leopold. "She's not a very pleasant person is she, your mother?"

Taking her wine from the table, Regina held back a scoff. "No, she isn't.” After giving it a sip, she sat the glass back down and took a breath. Regina wished she could keep Cora as far away from Robin as possible, but knew that was out of the table now. “Which is why I wish I could avoid subjecting you to her, but…"

"But if we are to have a future together," Robin interjected, leaning forward and placing his hand over hers, letting his thought linger.

Her face softened, and Regina turned her hand so she could grasp his. "Exactly."

Robin’s hand squeezed hers twice before he released it and took up his fork, diving back into his smoked salmon. "I'm not worried."

Regina laughed. “I like that you’re not. It makes me feel better knowing she might not scare you off.”

“Regina, she couldn’t scare me off if she tried. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, no matter how much of a witch your mother turns out to be. I am Olivia’s father, and despite what your mother may or may not think, I am right where I need to be.”

Though she sent him a smile, Regina didn't want to ruin their evening with the sour subject of her mother. Turning the tables on him, she asked, “And your parents? You mentioned you were close, have you told them about Olivia?”

“Actually, I have.”

Regina was about to take another sip of her wine, but her glass stopped midair as she blinked at him in surprise. Regina regarded him as Robin smiled through a drink of his own wine. He never mentioned it to her, and now she was curious. “And?”

Setting his glass on the table, Robin glanced up almost guiltily, which made her wonder what he was holding back. “And… I’m sure as soon as they get my message they will be thrilled to hear about her.”

Her eyes widened, and Regina dropped her chin down, her voice thick with disbelief as she asked, “You left your parents a voice mail about their granddaughter?”

He chuckled while sitting forward and reaching for her hand one again. “My parents retired last year and have been traveling. My Mum decided that they were going to be free from technology, leaving their phones and what not behind. There are times when I don’t hear from them for weeks or even months. They do check in occasionally though, and I figured once they do receive my message, it might entice them to call me back.”

His thumb traced circles on the back of her hand and was distracting her from their conversation. Pulling her eyes from their joined hands, they settled on his blue. “How do you think they’ll feel about all this?”

“Oh, they’ll be delighted. They will love Olivia. And you.”

Her eyes softened, at warmth in his gaze. “I’m glad you think so.”

“I know so, my darling.”

The night went on with light discussion about work and things they needed to get done at home. It was easy. Talking, connecting, and being together was something they’d already established along the way. Still, their pull to one another could not be ignored. Hands sought out the others’, and heated looks kept being shared between them. With one last sip of wine, Robin took Regina’s hand and, helping her from her chair, guided her out of the restaurant and into his car where they made up for the time they were separated with a table between them.


They managed to make it upstairs and into the apartment. Regina tossed her keys into the ceramic bowl Emma had purchased a year ago at a farmer’s market. The place was quiet, and the only light came from across the room, where a small lamp beside the couch had been left on. Regina turned to Robin, tucking a strand of her long hair behind her ear, and swallowed. She was nervous. It’s been so long since she’d been with someone. Even her one date last year with Leopold had never gotten this far. It had been an awkward, horrible dinner, and then she’d gotten out of there as fast as she could.

With Robin it was different. She shared a daughter with him, and she loved him.

Robin must have sensed her nervousness because he was slowly closing the distance between them, his blue eyes set on hers, never wavering as his palms found her hips, fingertips clasping and pulling her towards him gently. Her hands found purchase on his biceps, and she smiled up at him.

Her voice was soft and unbelievably sexy, when Regina asked, “Do you want to stay, or do you have to get back to Roland?”

Robin wanted to kick himself. Here she was in his arms, smelling like a dream, in her empty apartment with no children, and he was going to walk away from her. Fuck, he was an idiot. But he swallowed, remembered why he was doing this, though that reason was surely fading from his mind the closer she drew him to her. “Actually, as this is our first date, I planned on leaving you tonight with a kiss.”

Her chin dropped, and her dark unbelieving eyes searched his. “A kiss?"

“You're disappointed?” Robin asked, already knowing the answer.

Regina let out a light laugh, and shook her head slightly, before replying, “Not disappointed, but when we agreed to take it slow I didn’t know that meant all bases were off the table.”

Robin chuckled and taking her hands in his, he brought them up to his lips placing a kiss on each and promised, “Only tonight.”

"You don't have to do this, you know.”

Robin knew she was serious, and that perhaps this wasn’t necessary given the times they’d already been together and how they felt. "I know I don't have to, but I want to. I want to show you how much I appreciate you."

One of her hands came up to rest against his cheek softly. "I know you do."

"Good.” He nodded once, resolute in his decision. Placing a kiss on her lips, Robin pulled back and continued, “Which is why I'm going to tell you goodnight, and that I will call you tomorrow because I would like to see you again, as soon as possible."

Running her hand down from his cheek to his chest, Regina said, "Even if I told you there is nothing else under this dress?"

Robin growled softly, and his brow fell to hers, his fingers flexing on her hips, as he replied, "Must you tell me things like that?"

She wasn’t making this easy one him. He wanted to stay with her, God, how he wanted to, but Robin was resolved that he would take his time with her. 

“Tempting as you are, and believe me when I say that I will be kicking myself all the way home… but I think I should go.” Regina began to take a step back, doubt clouding her eyes, causing her gaze to fall between them. Robin would not have that, though. There was no way he would leave her thinking that he did not want her, because that was the furthest thing from the truth. He would close the door and take her right now, but damn his honor for holding him back. “I want to woo you, Regina Mills.”

She leaned forward, closing the distance and kissing him lightly. Pulling away after only a few heartbeats, Regina took his face between her palms and told him, “You already have.”

“Then I’ll say good night.” Taking her back in his arms and lowering his head, their lips met in an open-mouthed kiss that went on and on for longer than each of them intended.  After several moments, or hours, he wasn’t sure, with one final kiss, Robin sighed. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Her dark eyes found his, and Robin watched as she licked her lips.  Her response held all the disappointment he felt in his heart, but Regina managed a bit of a smile when she returned, “You better.”


After saying their goodbyes and closing the door, Regina leaned back against its cold surface. She was so torn. She loved the way Robin was trying to show her he cared, but at the same time Regina couldn't help but be disappointed. Their relationship seemed so complicated, and yet it was so simple.

They were together. The feelings they had for one another were already so deep. As noble as Robin was trying to be and as much as she appreciated it, she still wished he would have stayed.

Sighing, Regina pushed herself away from the door and headed to the bathroom, stopping to find a sticky note posted to her bedroom door.

Didn't want to text you on your hot date. I'm out with Patrick for the night, might not be home till the morning. Enjoy getting your groove back. -Emma

Regina crumpled the small square paper in her hand and raised her eyes to the ceiling. So much for that idea.

Walking into the bathroom, Regina flicked the light on before tossing the crumpled note in the trash. Turning toward the mirror, she began to take down her hair, placing the pins on the counter one by one, while thinking back to her evening with Robin. About the feel of him close, about his touch on her skin, and his lips against hers. Just as she was about to undo the braid, Regina heard her phone began to ring from the living room where she left her purse.

Walking barefoot, she padded out into the darkened room, reaching over the couch and taking her phone from the inside pocket of her Coach bag. Shook her head at his name, Regina answered and held the device to her ear. "Miss me already?"

"As a matter of fact, I do.”

Regina smiled into the phone. “I told you, you should have stayed.”

“Funny you should mention that, because I got all the way down to my car and even managed to put it into drive when all of a sudden I realized…”

The line went silent and Regina’s brows creased together. “Realized what?”

There came a hard knock on the door, making Regina turn toward the sound. She swallowed as her breath caught in her throat and her heart knocked hard in her chest. Phone still to her ear, Regina whispered, “Robin?”

Grasping the door handle, Regina opened the door and there he was. Robin had come back, and his gaze held such longing for her that nearly left her speechless. “What did you realize?” Regina asked, finding her voice, while lowering her phone from her ear.

Stepping inside Robin told her, "That I'm an absolute idiot," before closing the distance between them and taking her in his arms, his lips crashing onto hers.

Regina moaned into his mouth, her tongue finding his over and over. They stumbled back, before Robin turned them, stepping backwards as he shut the door. Regina felt the warmth of his chest meet hers as he pushed her against the cold steel and heard the tell-tale click as Robin flipped the deadbolt.

Finally , Regina thought. After all this time they were doing this.

Robin took her phone from her hand and tossed it on the entry table alongside his. He leaned down and drew his fingers across her knee and under her dress causing the material to bunch up as he gripped her thighs. Picking her up effortlessly into his arms, Regina wrapped her legs around his hips, securing herself against him.

Gasping against his mouth, Regina smiled down at him as Robin began to walk them towards her bedroom.

They continued to kiss while he stumbled through the apartment, balancing the weight of her while navigating nearly blind through unfamiliar territory. Robin tripped over the chair and bounced off the hallway wall but neither seemed to mind, too caught up in one another to take the time to care.

Robin broke the kiss long enough to ask, "Emma?"

“Gone for the night,” Regina mumbled against his mouth.

He hummed against her lips, and she felt her back against the hallway wall, sliding down it ever so slowly. His lips left hers and made their way wetly down her neck as her feet touched the floor below. His hands came up only for a moment to cup her through her dress before he dropped to his knees in front of her.

Regina’s breath caught in her throat, and her head fell back against the wall.

His fingertips brushed along the back of her bare thighs and under her dress, dragging it up and up until his hands met the curve of her ass. All at once his breath left him. Robin’s brow fell to her belly, as his hands caressed and mapped under her dress and over her hips, looking but finding nothing but smooth bare skin. She really wasn’t wearing anything under that dress.

"Christ, you weren't kidding."

Regina bit her lip to keep her smile tampered down but it was short lived when Robin pushed the material up and up, and cold air hit her acutely, right before his hand guided her leg up and over his shoulder, lips descending on her where she was wet and aching already.

Her hands threaded through his hair, clutching him to her. “ Oh , yes… Robin ...”

Robin licked and lapped at her clit, paying special attention to the way her breath caught and the sharp cries that fell from her lips, teasing and learning all the ways that drove her to the brink.

With her eyes closed she could not believe he was doing this to her. Right there, in the hall of her loft, between her room and their daughter’s, with the very real possibility that her roommate could possibly come home at any moment. He took her clit between his lips, and… Oh, fuck , she thought. She didn’t give a good goddamn if Emma walked in on them, as long as he never stopped doing this .

Letting out a moan of appreciation, Robin continued his assault with his tongue, his hand caressing her thigh, then coming up to her center, his finger filling her, finding her more than ready, eliciting a hiss of pleasure from her in return.

Her voice hitched, and Robin could feel her trembling. “So good .”

Robin looked up at her, pressing another finger in her, and relying in a husky tone, “Are you going to come for me like this?”

Regina nodded with closed eyes, and she whimpered an almost desperate, “Uh huh.”

Torn between wanting to be inside her and watch her come undone from just his fingers and tongue, Robin was unable to resist, he leaned forward and flicked his tongue against her tight bud over and over again until she stiffened and cried out his name as her climax took her over the edge. His brow fell against her belly once again. He’d never been so turned on than he was in that moment. Rising, Robin took her in his arms once again and continued the last few steps into her room, setting her on her feet beside her bed needing to be inside her. To feel her.

Her tongue licked along his lip, and Robin parted his mouth to allow her entrance. His hands trailed up over her back, finding the zipper of her dress and dragging it down while his fingers feathered behind, causing a shiver to run through her.

“You alright?” Robin asked, noticing the hitch in her breathing and the tremble of her fingers as they began to work the buttons of his shirt.

Her dark eyes met blue. “Yes, I just… It’s been a long time for me.”

Robin paused the zipper’s descent. “Regina, if you’re not ready we can wait. We can stop this right now and go lie on that fantastic sofa of yours and watch Netflix till we cannot keep our eyes open. This is too important to us, and I don’t want to rush you.”

Regina looked up into his eyes and after a minute swallowed. “No, I don’t want to wait. I guess I’m just nervous.”

“And I as well,” he told her, as his hands came up to caress her cheeks.

Her mouth curled into a smile, and she turned them and guided him backward. Robin raised his eyebrows.

“But I hear it’s a bit like riding a bike,” she mused with a beautiful smile, pushing him until his calves hit the edge of the bed. In a swift movement, her hands were on his belt. Undoing his pants, she tugged them down and over his hips and shoved him back onto the soft mattress. He made quick work of his shirts, tossing them to the floor while she inched forward. Standing between his legs, she bumped her nose against his as his hands found their way to the zipper of her dress once again, unzipping it the rest of the way. Regina then stood and eased herself out of her dress slowly, watching the way his gaze took in every new inch of bare skin.

The dress pooled at her feet. Leaning forward, Regina kissed his lips. Once. Twice. A third time, before pulling back, dropping her gaze to his cock. She licked her lips, and Robin groaned. At the sound, her eyes met his, and she climbed up on his lap, lowering herself onto his bent knees, whispering, “I think we’ll get the hang of it in no time.”

Robin grinned slyly and nodded. Regina was teasing him now, and he could see a mischievous spark in her eyes. Caressing up her thighs, one hand made its way to the small of her back, holding her while the other one dipped down between her legs. Finding her still wet and hot, her previous orgasm having left its remnants on her body, keeping her ready for him, he circled her clit, making her breath hitch and his name fall with a reverent sigh from her lips.


Regina’s hands gripped his shoulders, her back arching into his touch as his fingers touched and teased, did everything she wanted them to. Her breathing sharpened. Regina knew she was close again, but this wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted him . She was tired of waiting.

"Robin, please . I just want you inside of me."

Unable to resist her, he moved swiftly, twisting them so she was now with her back on the mattress and him above her. Parting her legs with his hips, he gazed down at her, her dark eyes boring into his with such an intensity that it stole the breath from him. She threaded her fingers into his hair and pulled him to her, locking her lips with his.

Holding her breath as she felt him press into her, slipping in gently, she groaned. Finally. Hearing the sound, a small growl left his lips, and with one thrust he filled her, pushing into that perfect spot that brought her, let her - Oh God... She couldn’t think about anything, only feel as he moved slowly, oh so slowly, in and out. He was big… not huge but thick, and oh, it felt so different once he was inside her, filling her, and Regina could only bite back whimpers as he moved inside her. God, he felt

Then suddenly Robin stilled her, and his lips left hers. "Wait, should we-"

Regina looked up at him, knowing full well what he was talking about. They forgotten a condom. Her fingers caressed the back of his neck, and his blue eyes gazed down into hers uncertainly. Regina trusted him, and she was on birth control. She didn’t think she was likely to get pregnant. A moment passed, a silent communication of trust between them. She licked her lips. "It’s alright. I’m on the pill. Don't stop..." Regina told him, digging her heels into the mattress and tilting her hips to meet his.


Christ, Robin didn't think he could stop if he wanted to. Regina was tight and hot and wet... she felt amazing, and a wave of relief washed over him as her words hit him. And by God he was glad for it, because the feel of rubbery latex between them would have been nothing compared to the feel of her surrounding him. With his lips against hers Robin mumbled, “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Robin began to thrust inside her once again, slow lazy strokes, giving her time to adjust to the feel of him. With his belly pressed to hers, and her legs up against his sides, he set a slow in and out that had Regina whispering his name and her fingers tangling his hair, clutching and releasing in time with their rhythm.

Breaths mingling, brows together, her heavy-lidded eyes look up into his, and once again Robin wondered how he got so lucky.

Robin wasn’t going to last long. He grunted and bit his lower lip, pressing his forehead to her shoulder, unsure of how long he would be able to hold back. “Are you close?”

“Yes…” Her voice was tight in his ear as she whispered, “I’m going to come.”

He groaned. So completely and utterly captivated by her, so aroused, but he wanted nothing more than to give her what she needed. “Tell me...”

She hummed, her brow furrowed, and her mouth dropped open as he hit that spot inside her over and over. Her legs wrapped around his waist, tightening around him, pulling him deeper inside her. “More… faster .”

He nodded and obeyed, sharpening his thrusts, rapping against her, making her whimper, and cry out. Her jaw dropped open and God, he wasn’t going to last. “Come for me, beautiful.” Robin encouraged her.

It didn’t take her long. Eyes fluttering shut, Regina’s hands clutched against his back, and he felt her coming around him, breathless and trembling she arched her back and let out a cry of release. He only lasted a few more moments as the last of her climax dwindled, his hips sporadically thrusting upward, then he stiffened and groaned her name as he released deep into her. Robin collapsed on her, bracing his weight on his forearms as he breathed harshly into her neck. Regina’s warm breath feathered across his cheek before she tilted her head back, trying to catch her breath. He trailed his lips along her jaw, moving up to her earlobe to affectionately nibble there.

Placing a kiss to her lips, Robin then leaned back to look down into her eyes, which met his own.  A look of soft affection was held there, and her lips tilted up into a small smile Robin couldn’t help but return. God, he loved her so much and he fought the urge to tell her so, his mind and his heart battling to wait for the right moment. With one last kiss, Robin eased out of her and moved them to their sides, threading his fingers through her hair he tucked strands of it behind her ear.  Her lips met his and they soothed one another down from their climax. Breaking apart moments later, they both smiled, but, as they held each other’s gazes, their smiles slowly faded, and tears began to form in Regina’s eyes and she turned her gaze from him.

“Regina?” His hand reached down and gently coaxed her chin up to look at him. “What is it?”

Regina smiled, tears welling up, and shook her head. “Nothing, I’m sorry,” she apologized, her hands running up and down his arm. “It’s just, I’ve missed this.”

Just when he was about to ask her what she meant, suddenly he knew. It was them. Being with someone, sharing this connection they felt. He gently cupped her face, held it between his hands and professed deeply, “You won't have to miss this anymore, my love.”

Regina gave him a soft, broken smile, and Robin leaned forward and brought her lips to his. He kissed her deeply and brushed tears away from her cheeks.


Robin had a plan, and that plan was to kiss every lovely inch of Regina’s body. And he was off to a brilliant start this morning if you asked him, as he placed one last kiss to the underside of her breast and started a new path down her stomach. It was only then that Robin noticed that she had one stretch mark from Olivia.

One small scar, marked low on her belly just beside her hip, and he traced it with the tips of his fingers. “Was her birth long?”

Running her fingers through his soft hair, Regina laughed. It was a breathy chuckle, as relaxed as she felt lying in bed with him, taking the time to just be. “A little over ten hours.”

Placing a kiss to the scar, Robin propped his chin on her belly and looked up at her. “Was Emma with you?”

“No, actually she missed it. She was supposed to be there, but she and Neal went on a trip, and Olivia decided she'd arrive two weeks early.”

His hand caressed over her stomach. “Really? So who did you have with you?”

“I had a nurse and a wonderful doctor named Kathryn. She was there from the start. She actually had a hand in helping me get pregnant with Olivia."

Robin frowned at her words, realizing that no one had been with her for Olivia’s birth. "You were alone."

Regina gave a small shrug. "I was, but I figured I got myself into this, so it seemed fitting to have her by myself."

Robin rested his head against her flat stomach. "Tell me about it."

Her fingers ran through his hair. "Her birth?"

He nodded.

"Well, it was an easy birth for the most part. I woke up from back pain that morning. I thought it was maybe Braxton Hicks because she wasn't due quite yet; I still had about two weeks to go. I decided to wait and see if they would go away, so I spent the morning lying in bed texting Emma and reading on and off. I even managed to take a nap through a good portion of the afternoon, until a sharper pain woke me up again. I got up to make some tea and call Kathryn, to see if I should come in, but my water broke before I even got to the kitchen."

"She was born so early." His brows fell, a look of needless concern on his face, though she found it endearing. That even now, even though their daughter was grown and healthy, he was still concerned for their baby's wellbeing all those years ago.

"Yes, and that's what worried me most, but once I got to the hospital and got checked I was already dilated to an eight and ready or not she was on her way. I had her at four in the afternoon that day."

"And she was fine?"

"Oh yes. She was small, though. Only six pounds, three ounces, but my, did she have a set of lungs. She loudly protested her birth, being cleaned and weighed, the nurses, everything."

Robin chuckled. "I can imagine."

"She was a good baby, though. She slept mostly through the night from the start, and once I went back to work I kept her with me. I took her to my shoots in a wrap keeping her close to me. It made life a lot easier than paying a sitter."

He smiled and kissed the small scar once more. "I'm happy that having our daughter wasn't hard on you. I know there have been times with Roland I've wondered if I was cocking the whole thing up somehow."

Regina laughed at that. "Oh, even though she was good, it didn't mean I didn't have my moments of doubt. I don't know what I would have done without Emma and Henry."

"I have the same thoughts about Killian and Belle."

Her fingers ran through his hair and her lips pulled up into a warm affectionate thing that made his heart fill with love for her. "We're both lucky."

"That we are. Besides work, what would you like to do today?"

Kissing his way back up her stomach, a knowing glint shone in her eyes that lit her face as Robin crawled up to lie over her. Regina giggled, feeling his lips on her neck and his stubble against her skin.

Hooking her leg around his, Regina managed to flip them, and she was happy to see the surprised look on his face that quickly turned dark as she rubbed herself along him, he was half-hard but becoming harder beneath her as she languidly rocked against him.

His hands caressed up her thighs before they made purchase on her hips, and he bit his lip, watching her slide slickly over him, teasing him. He then growled as he felt her reach down between them, taking him in hand, and began slowly pumping up and down.

Leaning over Regina kissed him lazily, and raising her hips just so, he slid into her easily, wetly, and Robin groaned into her mouth as the feel of her surrounded him. Sliding his hands up her sides, he took both breasts in his palms, cupping their weight and feeling their softness.

"I did have something in mind..." Regina said, breathily.

Robin took hold of her hips and thrusted up inside her, making her gasp. "Oh, did you?"

Regina hummed in affirmative and grounded herself down on him as she said, "Yes, but I'll have to show you."

Robin swallowed. Longing and desire burning a fire low in his belly, which spurred him to thrust up more powerfully into her. "Please, do."

She bit her lip in satisfaction as a groan spilled from Robin. Rising up, Regina then lowered herself down onto him, and her eyes fluttered closed with the sensation of him filling her. Her breath caught, and she let out deep moaned as his hand found its way between her thighs, his thumb rubbing tight circles against her clit. Gasping, Regina tensed, and Robin grunted as he felt her tighten around him. He teased and swirled his thumb more, eliciting a series of whimpers from her beautiful full lips.

Robin’s stomach tightened as she rode him. His other hand palmed her breast and pinched the peak, watching as her mouth dropped open, her breathing increasing with each deep thrust inside her. Robin reveled in the feel of her skin and of the sounds she made.

Quickening his pace, Robin’s head tilted back against the pillow, and closing his eyes, he bit his lip. She felt bloody amazing, and if she kept that rhythm like she was, he was going to come. He gripped her hips hard, guiding her over him as he thrust up into her faster, and one thumb moved to press against her slick, swollen clit. Regina arched her back, and with a strangled cry of his name, she tipped over the edge and shuddered hard. Grasping her hips, he ground up into her. It wasn’t long before Robin followed after her, groaning, his white-hot release filling her once more.

Regina fell forward onto his chest. Her head against his shoulder, his hand threaded its way into her long dark hair, before kissing the top of her head as they caught their breath. Gathering her hair to the side his fingertips grazed up and down her spine, and her head tilted up, her lips meeting his in a tender kiss.


Making her way into work much later that morning, Regina sighed happily, taking a sip of the latte Robin had bought her before dropping her off at work and leaving her with a kiss. It had dawned on her on their ride over that she felt genuinely happy. Not that she hadn’t been before. She always loved being a mother, and she had great friends, but as Robin’s fingers threaded through hers she glanced over at him, she felt like this was the way life should be.

With Robin.

Walking down the halls, Regina tried not to think back to her night with him. Though it was nearly impossible, as she could still feel the ghost of his lips on hers, his whispers in her ear, and...

“Good morning, Regina.” Anna smiled at her brightly, walking beside her.

Where the hell had she come from? Good God, Regina had to get a hold of herself. “Good morning, Anna.”

Practically jumping in step, Anna asked, “Did you have a good weekend?”

A secret smile pulled at Regina’s lips. “I did, and you?”

“Oh, it was amazing." Anna's love for life carried clearly in her singsong voice. "Christopher and I went up to Niagara Falls, and it was just so magical we ended up getting married!”

“What?” Regina stopped in her tracks and blinked at her assistant, who realized she had stopped and turned to her.  “Anna, congratulations." Normally, Regina wasn't the type of person to openly show affection, but her bright-eyed, peppy assistant was grinning so widely and jumping nearly up-and-down in place was what broke her. Reaching out for her, Regina hugged Anna for a moment and pulling away abruptly, told the girl, “Anna, why didn’t you say something? You could have taken some time off.”

With a wave of her hand, Anna dismissed her concern. “We didn’t want it to be a big deal. I mean my sister is the only other person that knows. His is business is so new that he can’t really afford to take time off, but we had a good weekend.”

Regina looked at her doubtfully. “If you’re sure…”

They began walking again. “I’m positive , I promise. I’ve got your schedule for the next three weeks… hotel confirmation…”

Stepping into her office, Regina looked back at her assistant. “Hotel?”

Anna's forehead creased into a confused frown, but the smile never left her face. “For the Rochester shoot… we leave on Thursday.”

Regina closed her eyes. Damn, was that this week? Regina couldn’t believe how quickly her trip had snuck up on her. She shook her head at herself at how preoccupied her mind had been that she let a trip she had been looking forward to slip her mind. Only now Regina felt something that felt a lot like disappointment fall into her chest. She would be gone for two weeks, at least, depending on how well her and her staff kept to their schedules, and the thought of not seeing Robin in that time left her wishing she passed on the assignment.

Taking a deep breath, Regina swallowed down the regret and looked up at Anna with a smile. She’d just have to get over it. They could still call one another, and besides, two weeks wasn’t that long. They would survive. She and Robin would just have to enjoy these last few days before she left.

Taking a deep breath, Regina had a seat at her desk and then after a moment looked up at her assistant with the smile. "That's right, well at least I'll have you there so I won't forget anything important."

"Oh, you can count on me. Is there anything you need?"

"Did you get those proofs up to Malory?"

"I did, and she told me to tell you she was taking you out for lunch today, and she did not want to hear a word about it."

Regina leaned back in her chair and sighed. "I guess I'm going out then."

"Okay well, I'll be out here if you need me."

"Thank you, Anna." Turning to her computer, Regina opened her emails. She had a few calls to make, needed to follow up on a couple shoots from some of the newer photographers to the magazine. She didn’t have much to do, but it was enough to keep her busy until lunch. It had been a while since she had been out to lunch with her boss. Normally, Malory’s schedule and Regina’s did not give them a lot of time for socializing.

Regina, however, loved the woman’s attention to detail and the way she ran the magazine as though it were her child. She respected Malory, and it was that connection between them that occasionally had them scheduling some time away from work to talk. They talked mostly about work but sometimes about life, and with the new developments in her life, Regina found that she was looking forward to lunch.

For the next couple hours, Regina was able to get a good amount of work caught up and prepare for the next couple of weeks ahead. She would be traveling with a journalist and two other junior assistant photographers, who would essentially be doing much of the work for the most part. Regina would be mostly there to supervise and make sure they had what they needed for the piece before they left. 

There was suddenly a soft voice that filled the near silent room, and Regina looked up to see her editor, Malory. The older woman smiled at her before saying, “Stop with all that God-awful work and let’s go get a drink already.”

Just as Regina stood, Anna came into her office carrying a large vase full of deep pink stargazer lilies accented with sprigs of lavender. Malory looked at the bouquet and then at her with a raised eyebrow.

The smile on Anna's face could not have been bigger when she told Regina, "These just came for you."

Robin , Regina thought. Taking the flowers from her assistant, she set them down on her desk and took the card from them. Knowing she had two sets of eyes on her she schooled her smile into something less affected than she felt, and opening the small card was his scribbled print, Sending you a kiss to last all week. See you tonight.

Tucking the card back into its envelope, Regina straightened her shoulders and looked to the other two women who both suppressed knowing smiles. Well, her boss did at least, Anna not so much.

Malory, too refined for such love-sick behavior, told her, “Finally we’ll have something interesting to talk about over lunch.”

Chapter Text

When one thought of romance, they thought of flowers and jewelry, perhaps even long walks on beaches and candles strewn across the room and rose petals. Surely they were all great in their own way, at the perfect time and place; however, Robin had other things in mind when it came to wooing the mother of his child. He discovered a lot about the woman he loved over these last few months, and he took a lot of careful time and planning when it came to prepare for their next date.

One of the things Regina loved most was the city she lived in, and tonight he would be taking her to a picnic dinner on the recently completed rooftop of the new plaza he had worked so diligently on these last two years.  It was still mostly empty, most offices and tenants still signing leases, leaving the building blissfully quiet.

Robin picked her up at half past seven, giving them enough time to eat before they watched the sun set below the city. He had everything set up and arranged ahead of time, and as they walked past the security guard, Walsh surreptitiously threw a wink in his direction.

Regina bit her lip as they stopped in front of the elevator. “Where are we going?”

His eyes rose to the ceiling, and Robin replied, “Up.”

As simple of response as it was, Regina looked back at him unamused. She is just so bloody impatient , he thought, and biting his tongue to keep from grinning and annoying her further, instead, Robin took her hand and pulled her to him. “I have a surprise for you on the roof.”

Her lips tugged up, and Robin could tell she was fighting to keep her features composed from this new information, but once her eyes gazed into his, she lost the battle and her soft smile became a full on delighted grin. “Oh?”

Robin laughed, closed the distance between them, and kissed her sweetly. Pulling away slowly, he murmured against her lips, “Wine and… pizza .”

She giggled and brought her hand up to palm the back of his head, bringing him back down to kiss her fully on the lips. They kissed and kissed in the empty foyer while they waited for the inevitable ding of the elevator. Robin slid his hands from her shoulders down her back and over her backside. She hummed in response, and Robin couldn’t help but think about how glorious that lovely arse of hers would look naked.

Pulling her against him, Robin felt himself begin to stir from the feel of her, and thank God for the arrival of the elevator because neither one of them felt inclined to come up for air anytime soon. If they weren’t careful, Robin would surely find a quiet office somewhere in the building that would include something soft for them to lie on and have his way with her.

They came apart slowly, Regina’s eyes half hooded, and Robin smirked at the thought that she was just as affected as he was. Holding out his hand and gesturing towards the elevator, Robin smiled and said, “My lady, your evening awaits.”

Regina smiled the same coy smile she sometimes gave him from underneath her lashes that made his heart skip a beat.

They rode the elevator up in silence while holding hands. Their fingers sliding together, clutching and splaying while they traded heated looks and shared secret smiles. Robin marveled at their restraint. He didn’t know how they made it as long as they did, fighting the connection they shared. Even now, the thought of not holding her hand or being near her in some way felt intolerable.

He never knew being in love could feel like this.


 

Once, quite a while ago, while standing in line at a slow moving check stand at her local grocery store with her tiny daughter in the shopping cart happily babbling to her pink elephant, Regina casually picked up a copy of Cosmopolitan while waiting for the woman in front of her to “find the right coupon.”  In the magazine, Regina had read an article that said women generally hit their sexual peak in their early thirties. At the time she shrugged it off, placed the magazine back on the shelf, and carried on with her day.

Regina wished she read into it more now. Looking over at Robin, Regina wondered if it was him or if it was her that had her feeling like a sex-crazed teenager. Maybe it was the constant tension between them or the fact that the sex was already amazing? Whatever it was, she was more than ready to find out. She wanted him, wanted them together, and tonight she would make sure he knew just how much.

Following him out of the elevator, Robin led the way by taking her hand and guiding them down the hall and to the stairwell. Anticipation fluttered in her stomach at the evening he had planned for them. That he would go to such lengths for a date with her spoke volumes, and as much as she looked forward to the evening on the rooftop, what Regina looked forward to most was going home with him.

As they reached the top of the stairs that led to the roof, Robin let go of her hand and took a small white card from the back of his pocket. He smiled at her before he swiped it over the sensor. Even though she was not completely familiar with this type of system, Regina knew enough to tell that something was wrong when the lock buzzed noisily and lit up bright, angry red.

“What the-” Robin began. Swiping it again, he scowled when he got the same results. Pushing on the door, his lips pulled down into a frown when it didn’t move. Running a hand frustratingly through his hair, Robin sighed. "Just bloody brilliant."

“Robin-”

“It’s alright I can get this fixed, I can call someone,” Robin told her pulling his phone from his back pocket.

Regina put a hand on his arm. "Robin, it’s okay."

He blew out a breath between his lips. "I'm sorry, Regina. I had this romantic evening planned with flowers and dinner, and-"

Regina stopped him, closing the distance and placing her lips on his, kissing him with all the love she had for him. After a few moments, they pulled away, both a bit breathless, their foreheads resting together. "Let's just go back home."

Robin shook his head. "I'm sorry."

Her chest felt heavy with the affection she felt for him, and grabbing his wrist, Regina pulled him close. "Robin, don't be. This is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me, and as long as we get to be together tonight, that's all I care about."

"You're sure?"

Lowering her voice to a soft whisper, Regina said, "Take me home with you."


 

They stopped by Mary Margaret and David's on the way back and picked up Roland.  Both were starving, so Robin stopped along the way back and got them all dinner since they had sadly missed out on their date.

As Robin unpacked the containers of Chinese, Regina put Roland down in his chair and then walked over to the cabinet to fill one of his small cups with milk. Walking back to the table, Robin took her by the waist, stopping her in her tracks, and placed a kiss to her lips. 

Regina pulled away smiling. “You’re horrible.”

“And you love it.”

She bit her lip to try and suppress the smile that threatened but it was no use, and his lips were on hers once again, stealing the breath from her until Roland’s giggling from across the kitchen had them pulling apart and glancing over at the toddler who was watching them with a wide little grin.

Regina’s cheeks warmed and she took a step back. “Behave yourself and feed your son and me.”

Robin chuckled and let her go.

Joining them at the table, Roland looked up at her with his big, brown eyes and asked, "Sit by me, Momma?"

Regina smiled softly at the little boy, and nodded. “Of course I will, sweetheart.”

Robin handed Regina a plate for the young tot, and the boy’s eyes widened in delight. “Mmm, sweet chicken!”

“Do you like chicken?” Regina asked with an exuberance that mirrored the boy.

“It’s my favorite!” he told her.

“Mine too.” Well, the chicken part anyway. Regina preferred general tso over the sweet and sour, but he didn’t need to know that.

Robin took a seat on the other side of Roland and looked down at a pitifully whining Ella. “No,” he told her with authority. Getting up, he grabbed a dog biscuit from the jar on the counter and dropped it at the pup’s feet on his way back to the table. He gave her a pet behind the ears and said, “ That you can have.”

Roland outstretched a chubby arm and pointed to the pup saying, “Good doggie!”

Robin snorted as Ella took up her treat and went to lay at Regina’s feet. “Oh sure, use me to get what you want and then leave me for her.”

“It’s a girl thing,” Regina replied, reaching down and petting the pup who promptly turned on her back and closed her eyes. A laugh spilled from Regina, and she pet Ella’s belly for a moment before going back to her dinner.

“I don’t blame her really. Actually, now I think I’m a bit jealous.”

Regina winked at him. “Later.”

They ate their dinner while Roland babbled away about his day and what they would play once they finished. However, once the young boy had been fed and bathed, all thoughts of playing were gone and replaced with cuddles and bedtime stories.


 

Waking up to a child curled against her chest, as Roland was now, was not unusual, but the soft warm body pressed up against her back wasn’t something Regina Mills was used to. An arm around her middle, securing her to him with his deep, slow in and out breathing, made her want to turn and tuck up against him. And when her alarm went off at seven in the morning, Regina did not feel a bit of guilt when she reset it for an hour later.  Roland had been restless, up and down a dozen times before Regina gave up and brought him into the bed with her and Robin, effectively ending any attempt to have sex. But cuddling with Robin like this...well, this was definitely something she could get used to.

Robin didn’t have to be in the office that morning, but she knew Roland was likely to wake up soon. Robin would be making his way into the city for a meeting around ten, but stealing another hour with his arms around her couldn’t hurt. They wouldn’t have breakfast down the street, but so what? They could make it themselves. They’d even have time to call Olivia and let Roland talk to his big sister before Robin left for the day. She closed her eyes and pressed back against Robin, her fingers gently combing through Roland’s curls as she sighed in contentment.


 

The sun shone down on a cloudless Central Park on the day before Regina’s trip. She wasn’t supposed to be out today. She was supposed to be packing, but at the last minute the photographer who was assigned had a family emergency of some sort and wouldn’t be able to make it. There were many others who could have taken it, but it was an expensive account and Mal insisted it be Regina. She huffed over to the nearest tree and took a sip of her bottled water.

Hot and increasingly annoyed, Regina scowled at her camera crew, who sat around joking and taking their time breaking down the equipment. They had been out in the park for over five hours now, and she didn’t know about the rest of the young idiots, but she was done for the day.

Her phone dinged from her back pocket, and she sighed, hoping there wasn’t anything else Mal wanted because Regina swore she would hand in her resignation if one more thing came up.

Thankfully, it was the one person Regina did want to hear from. His blue message popped up and she couldn’t help but smile. 

Are you still working?

Looking over at the crew, Regina was glad to see most of them had gotten back to work. Just finishing up. I should be done in about a half an hour.

I’m in the city and famished. Think I could convince you into having lunch with me?

I could be persuaded. Where would you like to meet?

Tell me where to find you, and then you can choose where we go.

Regina messaged him directions, and took the time while waiting for him to help pack up the set and her equipment. Robin rounded the corner of the path just as Regina was saying her goodbyes to everyone.

“Hello, beautiful,” Robin greeted, walking towards her.

“Hello there, handsome,” Regina replied and grabbed a hold of his tie once he was close enough, using it to pull him eagerly against her for a long-awaited kiss. She loved her casual jeans, tees, and flannel Robin. However, polished uptown architect Robin always had a low heat pooling in her belly.

Robin pulled back after a moment, and Regina could tell he was amused by her eagerness. “Hungry?

Regina’s lips pulled into a coy smile. “Mmm, I was thinking instead of going out, maybe we could head back to my place and eat there?”

A knowing grin spread across his lips. “That’s the best plan I’ve heard all day.”

She chuckled as he leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers, and Regina mumbled against his lips, “Good.”

Later in her room, Regina was not quite sure if she was the one to drag him back there, or if they just ended up kissing the moment they walked through the door, finishing up somehow on her bed. Whatever it was, Regina wasn’t complaining. They had both lost their shirts, her bra was lying on the floor somewhere forgotten, and his slacks were already undone with him straddled between her legs. She wanted him and he her. She knew she should be packing or at least eating the lunch they went there for, but they were just so lost in one another that they had gotten a little distracted.

And she loved kissing him.

His lips began to descend down her jaw, his breath warm on her skin as he said, “Must you really leave?”

She chucked. "I won't be gone long. We'll survive."

"Hmm, I beg to differ.” Robin raised his head long enough to glance into her eyes, his normally bright blue were now dark and gazing back at her lustfully. Lowering his head to her breasts, he told her, “I will not survive without this," right before his lips latched onto her, and taking a rosy peak into his mouth, sucking and nipping, sending a shiver of want down to where she was already aching for him.

Robin switched breasts and was just starting to undo her slacks when a loud pounding on her door startled him. “Hey, Regina, you in there?”

Robin’s head snapped up, and his eyes met hers with a bit of a scowl on his lips, obviously not amused that they were being interrupted by her roommate. He dropped his head into the crook of her neck and sighed. Regina wanted to laugh at him, but instead called out, “Don’t come in!”

“I wasn’t going to barge in calm down. What do you have Robin in there?” When there was silence from the two, they heard Emma say, incredulously, “Ugh, he is in there with you. You know, you could at least warn a person somehow.”

Regina rolled her eyes and then giggled as Robin placed tongue filled kiss after kiss on her neck. “If we’re quiet will she go away?”

“We can only hope,” Regina told him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders with no intention of leaving her bed. “We’re busy , Swan.”

“Yeah yeah, you guys want pizza or what? August and I bought some, once you’ve finished.”

Shit. August was there too? Regina sighed. They wouldn’t be having sex now. Her eyes found his and she gave him a regretful smile. "We'll be out in a bit,” Regina replied, and then looked up into Robin’s gaze. With a disappointed frown, she asked, “Rain check?”

Robin nodded. “Mmm, of course.” Placing a kiss to her lips, he pulled back and looked down into her eyes. She was amused to find his lips pulled into a mischievous grin. “But if we are really fast…”

Giggling, Regina pushed at his shoulder. “Won’t happen. They’ll hear us.”

He kissed a path down between her breasts. With one long lick across the underside of her breast, Regina moaned, clutching him impossibly closer. “We are rather vocal,” Robin agreed, his voice rough with desire.

Regina hummed as he latched once again around one of her nipples. She gasped softly as he sucked at her. We could be quiet , she thought. It certainly wouldn’t take long, as she was already on her way there, already wet and ready for him. Just one quickie before lunch, before she introduced him to August.

“Alright, but not on the bed. It makes too much noise. They’ll hear us.”

“Oh?” Robin chuckled against her skin. “Where do you fancy us doing it?”

"Well, um… the floor wouldn’t be such a bad idea," she said.

Robin pulled back and gazed at her, amused. "You're serious?"

"Yes." She was absolutely not going to be heard by August and Emma going at it like teenagers in the middle of the day. She didn't have to worry about it too much at night, her and Emma’s rooms were an entire apartment away from each other's, but now they were just a hall and a few feet. If she and Robin had sex, Regina would bet her pair of Jimmy Choo’s they would hear them.

Robin snorted a laugh and kissed her lips. “Perhaps we better just wait.”

Regina let out a soft whine. She still wanted to have sex with him, she just didn't want to be heard. She wondered how she was going to go without the feel of him next to her, above her, inside her. “Almost three weeks?”

Robin gave her one of those crooked smiles and began to kiss a trail down her neck. "What if I just do this then..." His lips moved lower, down her chest, stopping only to lightly kiss and suck each nipple before continuing on, down lower still, unbuckling her jeans and lowering them along with her panties.

He shifted down on the mattress and pulled the material from her legs and parted her thighs.

“What are-” Regina stopped short just as she was about to ask what he was doing, the words caught in her throat, and her mouth dropped open as his lips clasped around her clit. “Oh." 

Oh .

Placing a kiss to the inside of her thigh, Robin whispered, "Just lie back and enjoy, my love.”

She took a deep breath through her nose, closing her eyes. A protest was on her lips, yet her legs opened wider. "Robin, I can’t… be quiet."

Robin chuckled. "Sure you can.”

Fuck . She couldn't. Not when his tongue was flicking against her clit like that.

Taking fistfuls of her comforter, she hissed his name as her head fell back against her pillow. “ Yessss ,” Regina ground out through clenched teeth as her hips arched into his mouth.

Robin set a wonderful pace with his tongue and later with his fingers. He brought her to heights she didn't think were possible so quickly, unless it were brought on by her own hand. Regina came with a silent scream, a chorus of curses in her head, and as she came down from her high Robin moved above her, taking her lips in his and kissing her languidly until her heart beat settled.

Pulling away so he could look down on her, Robin told her, “There you are. You can think of that while you're away.”

“I'd rather just take you with me.”

His eyes held hers. It was ridiculous to even think about. Of course, he couldn’t go with her. He had Roland, and work, and for God’s sake, they weren’t love-starved teenagers. They could get through two and a half weeks without one another. “If only I could.”

“I know.”

“It won't be so bad. We’ll talk on the phone. I hear sexting is all the rage these days.”

Regina laughed outright at that. “I don't think so.”

Robin chuckled, leaning back down pressing another kiss to her lips. “Alright, up with you. Let's go get out there before she's back pounding down the door.”

Regina’s brow fell, and her eyes narrowed in a glare meant not for him. “She wouldn't dare.”

Robin snorted. “I’d think not.”


 

It wasn’t until they were dating that Robin discovered Regina had an affinity for spicy food. Not only did she put hot peppers flakes on her three slices of pizza, but when she discovered the bottle of buffalo sauce in the cabinet, that had to go on it as well.

He watched with his nose scrunched in half admiration half disgust as she happily devoured each slice with a look of bliss across those, no doubt, spicy lips. If he ate that Robin would surely be hitting up his stash of TUMS in his bathroom.

Regina chased almost every bite with a sip of her Coke, and he couldn't imagine how she did it, but then again, hot dishes really weren't his thing.

“You’re not eating.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just…you really like that, eh?”

“Mmm.”

Robin laughed, and then he picked up his own slice and took a bite. He was enjoying watching the woman he loved chatting with her roommate about her trip and answer questions August threw at him. He liked the man almost instantly.

August was extremely intelligent and seemed to have a genuine friendship with Emma and Regina, which warmed Robin to know they'd been well looked after all these years. Then at one point, August mentioned the New York Rangers score and that'd done it. They talked about nothing but sports for the rest of the meal, both missing the smiles shared between Regina and Emma.

Later that evening Robin watched from the seat at her desk as Regina packed and tried not to let his lips pull down into a frown when he thought about how long he would have to go without her. Eight weeks without his daughter, and now two bloody weeks without her beautiful mother. It really wasn’t fair if you asked him. Regina brought over what she claimed was the last of what she needed of her clothes from her closet and tossed them into her luggage on her bed. Zipping it up, Regina set it on the floor and turned towards him.  She giggled when Robin pulled her to him, walking them back to the bed where he let them fall back gracelessly. He loved that sound. Her laugh, and Robin vowed the moment she returned to make it his mission to hear more of it.

He could say the same thing for soft gasps as well. Like the ones she was making that very moment, as he nibbled his way along her jaw and to that spot behind her ear that always made her breath hitch right before she spoke his name.

Robin .”

He smiled against her skin. There she was.

A noise from living room carried down the hall, “Regina, the car is downstairs.”

Robin’s head fell into the crook of her neck. 

Two bloody weeks.


 

Placing the last of the dishes from his and Roland’s breakfast in the sink, Robin turned around and watched in amusement as his son chased an energetic Ella around the downstairs in nothing but his Avengers underwear. Robin had taken off the tot’s pajamas after Roland had coated in strings of maple syrup.

Truthfully, Roland preferred to be without clothing. If the child had it his way, he'd run starker’s nonstop. It wasn't something Robin minded before when the home was warm, and Roland had the protection of a diaper to keep him from going on the floor. Over the last few months, his son had taken to potty training amazingly, and he had a beautiful woman in his life to thank for that.

Thinking about her, Robin crossed the kitchen to the table where he left his phone. Pulling up her string of messages, he typed, Made Roland pancakes this morning for breakfast and he says to me -very seriously, “Daddy, they're not like momma’s. Can you get her to come make me breakfast?”

Smiling to himself, Robin thought about her reaction, and his mind went over these last few days without her. He certainly knew he had some sort of a life before Olivia and Regina came along, but it was different like he had been merely going through the motions. A working single father, focusing everything he had on his son and their way of life, which was mostly a dull routine. Work. Son. Work. Bed. Repeat.

Thankfully that was all over now. He was happy.

Regina’s reply came quickly, and it caught Robin by surprise. Awwww! Tell Roland as soon as I get home I will make breakfast AND dinner just for him.

His chest filled with love for her. She was so good to his son. It was no wonder Roland was so taken with her. He even managed to steal Robin’s time with her some nights, and it was that thought that had Robin typing back a cheeky, Only him?

I’ll save the desert for you, Daddy.

Grinning at her response and the kissy emoji, Robin replied, That’s more like it.


 

Finally finished for the day, Regina kicked off her boots, shimmied out of her slacks, and tossed off her shirt. Pulling back the covers, she slid in between the cold sheets and sighed in bliss, closing her eyes. Her headache started around noon and, despite taking her medicine, it had stayed with her. A dull throbbing behind her eyes Regina knew would only dissipate with sleep.

Reaching out for her phone, Regina checked the time. Robin would probably be getting Roland ready for bed soon. With one week already behind them, Regina reminded herself there was only one more left. Still, she wanted to hear his voice before bed. Pressing on his name, she waited as the line connected then turned down the volume once it began to ring.

Well hello, beautiful.”

She smiled softly, laying her head on the pillow. “You know, if you drove up here you’d make it in a little under six hours.”

He paused before answering. “Bad day?”

“Yes and no. Headache.”

“I’m sorry. Did you take anything for it?”

Robin knew by now she had her prescription and was even the one to remind her to pack them just in case. “I did. I think I’m just going to go to bed and be glad this week is finally over.”

“It won’t be too long now and you’ll be home,” his knowing voice told her.

“I know.” Regina sighed deeply and pulled the phone back a bit to keep him from hearing it. 

Though he must have heard the despondency in her time because he asked, “Do you need me? You know I’ll come up if you ask.”

The conviction in his voice brought a smile to her face. “I know, but no, it’s not necessary.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. I’m just in a mood.” And she was. She needed to get some sleep and snap out of whatever this funk was.

“Well get some rest, and just think, only one more week.”

“I know.”


 

Two days later, Regina was enjoying a Sunday afternoon, Skyping with her daughter, listening to the joys of her camp when her phone dinged from beside her.

Olivia called this morning, and we had a nice chat about her new friend .

Regina chuckled at Robin’s message and the angry looking little smiley face with the steam coming out its nostrils. Haha! I’m Skyping with her right now. Calm down Daddy, he’s just a friend.

Robin’s reply was instant. I still don’t like it.

Turning her attention back to Olivia who was telling her about her other new friend Paige, Regina typed, Your daughter doesn’t think of boys like that yet.

Thank God for it. I’m not ready for that. Not nearly.

Regina laughed outright by the little crying emoji. 

“What is it, Momma?” asked Olivia’s curious voice.

“Nothing sweetheart, your daddy just sent me a message that was funny.”

“What was it?”

“He's afraid you have a boyfriend.”

Regina chuckled when her daughter's face morphed into a look of disgust. Nose scrunched up, Olivia said, “Eww, no.”

Later after promising her daughter that she would see her soon, they said their goodbyes. Regina grabbed her phone as she made her way into the bathroom. She turned the shower on high giving it time to warm up and sent a message to Robin. Well you better get ready. You only have a few years left before that starts to change.

Undressing and stepping into the shower, she hissed as the heat hit her. That was just a little bit too hot. Adjusting the tap with her foot, Regina brought the spray down to a more tolerable level. Taking her shampoo from the ledge, she poured a generous amount into her hand and began to lather the sweet floral scent through her heavy locks. She was going to have to get a trim soon, if not cut a good few inches off. As much as she knew Robin loved it, it had grown past her bra strap, and her hair’s thickness could very well be one of the reasons for her headaches. Maybe she’d do that once she got back into the city. 

Hearing her phone chime from the counter, Regina mused over Robin’s response to her message. His protectiveness not only extended to her but also to their daughter, and it amused her how much the idea of boys and Olivia bothered him. Olivia was still so young, this was true, but she was growing up. In only a little over three short years, their sweet daughter would be a teenager.

Regina’s brows dropped down together at the thought. Her baby girl was growing up. Suddenly she was hit with a wave of sadness, and she longed to take her daughter in her arms and hold her while Regina read to her until she fell asleep. Olivia had only been gone for three weeks now but it felt like forever. Regina missed her daughter. Missed Olivia’s soft voice and snuggles.

Regina shook her head and coughed. Clearing the lump that formed in her throat, while willing herself not to cry because she knew she would see her soon. Only two more weeks till Parents Day, and the week after that Olivia would be home. 

Finishing her shower, Regina took the towel from the rack, and stepping out, wrapped it around herself. A need to be free from the steam filled bathroom hit her, so she grabbed her phone and opened the door, stepping into the coolness of the room.

Looking down at her phone, Regina rolled her eyes mostly in amusement. No. Absolutely not. She’s not allowed to date.

Perching on the edge of the bed Regina replied, Good luck with that one.

She didn’t have to wait long, as the little blue dots appeared instantly, and his response came at once. She’s too beautiful. Just like her mother.

Regina snorted though even six hours away from him she felt herself blush. Charmer.

I mean it. I’m not ready.

Regina sympathized with him. She wasn’t ready herself. I’ll be right here for you when the time comes.

Is that a promise?

Her breath caught in her throat at the implication from such an innocent comment, but in her heart, she knew it was the truth. You know it is.


 

Tapping his pencil against his desk, he sighed and looked around his empty home. It was just after nine. Roland had been put to bed a couple hours ago, hell even the dog had turned in early escaping to her bed in the laundry.

It was quiet. Too quiet. His missed Olivia’s laughter and Regina’s … everything. Blowing out a breath between his lips noisily, Robin tossed his pencil aside giving up for the night. He wasn’t likely to get much done with his sullen mood the way it was. Maybe he’d turn on something. Watch an episode of House of Cards. Something to take his mind off the fact that the women in his life were gone.

Collapsing onto the couch, remote in one hand and phone in the other, Robin flipped on the TV and brought up a list of his favorite programs he had yet to catch up on but nothing sounded appealing. Deciding just to settle on Netflix, he pulled up House of Cards, hoping the brilliant Kevin Spacey would be enough to take his mind from things.

Glancing at his phone, he stared at the picture of Regina, Olivia, and Roland, the one Regina had taken at the museum the week before Olivia left for camp . He pulled up his messages and typed, Is it Sunday yet?

A little over an hour went by, and Robin was well near the end of the episode when his phone’s alert startled him.

Two more days.

He frowned, his lips pulled into a scowl. Regina called him earlier that morning telling him they were finally done with all the shoots and that they only needed to get one more interview that afternoon. Robin naturally assumed they would be home tomorrow and not on Sunday when they originally intended. Must you really wait until then if you’re already finished?

We have to get Malory’s final word.

Robin rolled his eyes, not liking her editor much. This is torture, you know.

I know, but surely that phone call last night took the edge off it a bit?

Robin grinned at that. What had started out as an innocent phone call goodnight got a bit out of hand, and they’d ended up having phone sex. He’d never done anything like that before, and Regina confessed she hadn’t either, but one thing had led to another and… Robin shook himself, thoughts like that would only lead to a cold shower. Typing back, As amazing as it is to hear you, my dearest, I have to say I miss the feel of you even more now.

You’re not the only one.

Robin sighed and let the phone drop against his chest. God, he missed her.


 

Putting the last of her bags into the rented SUV, Regina took out her phone as she waited for Anna and the rest of her crew to load up. Regina already called Robin and Emma early that morning to let them know they would be heading out soon, but she promised to text when they left, so she sent off a quick, Leaving now.

Her phone vibrated in her hand, and she smiled at his message. Thank God for that!

Lol. Someone anxious?

You have no idea.

I’ll see you soon . Opening the door to the passenger side of the car, Regina got in while Anna climbed into the driver’s seat. Bright-eyed and chipper for the morning drive back to the city, Anna began to chat with Regina about her and Christopher’s plans for the rest of the summer and how much the young woman was looking forward to helping her new husband and his brand-new business.

Regina sighed and listened, anxious herself to get back to her new life at home.


 

Dropping her bags on her bed, Regina let out a grateful sigh. Almost three weeks in upstate New York had been fun and exciting. It had been a while since she gone out on an assignment for work. Ever since she became a mother, Regina made sure to keep her projects local, but knowing that Olivia would be gone at camp this summer, she requested Rochester. Regina looked forward to it for months until a stranger came into her and her daughter's life. Till that incredibly handsome stranger came in and stole her heart.

While she loved her job, Regina was glad to be home. Taking a deep breath, and rubbing her neck she smiled when she heard her roommate call from the living room, “Hey, what do you think about going out for burgers tonight?”

“That sounds fine, just let me get unpacked.”

“Sure thing.”

As anxious as she was to see Robin, she knew he was going to be working late tonight, and they would be seeing one another tomorrow. She hadn’t seen much of Emma lately what with her and Robin’s growing relationship and Emma’s maddening schedule. It would be nice to spend some girl time for the evening anyway.

Unzipping her bag, Regina piled her clothes up on the bed. Make-up, hair dryer, straightener, shampoo and conditioner bottles, all of these she walked back and forth to the bathroom until all that remained occupied were the pockets of her luggage bag. Flipping it closed and unzipping the front pocket, Regina’s hand closed around a cardboard box, and pulling it out, her heart stopped when she looked down at what she was holding. A box of tampons, the unopened flaps staring her right in the face. Regina felt a sudden heavy weight in her stomach.

Shit.

She missed her period.


 

She walked down the street with her roommate in a daze. Regina half listened as Emma went on and on about her latest case, while in her mind Regina counted and recounted the days since her last period. She had to be mistaken somehow. Her stomach churned, and she wondered how on earth it could have happened. Well, she knew how it happened. They had unprotected sex twice, but she was on the pill for God’s sake!

Regina thought of Robin and his reaction and swallowed.

Just then Emma’s voice startled her from her thoughts, and Emma stopped in her tracks. Glancing to her side where the blonde once had been, Regina found she was alone. Turning around, she saw Emma holding open the door to their favorite burger dive with a smirk on her lips.

“Where ya going, lady?”

Regina blinked at her and stepped past her, not muttering a single word until they ordered their food. They hadn’t been served their meal for more than five minutes when Emma started in on her.

“What’s with you?” the blonde said, pushing her fries to the side of her plate, then taking the ketchup, squeezed a healthy amount onto her dish.

Regina pushed her hair behind her ears and sighed. She needed to talk about it, Regina realized, so taking a deep breath, she said, “I just- I think I might be pregnant.”

Emma regarded her from across the table, and after a moment, she let out a snort of a laugh. “Seriously?”

Blowing a breath out from between her lips, Regina leaned forward and with her elbows on the table began to massage her temples. “I missed my period.”

“You’re pregnant.” Emma’s voice was calm, but Regina heard the amusement in it.

Her head tilted forward, and Regina felt a scowl on her lips as her eyes found Emma’s. She didn’t know for sure, but what else could it be? Regina hadn’t missed a period since she was a teenager, and even then, she wasn’t sexually active and she panicked. “I think so.”

Taking a fry from her plate, Emma swiped it through her glob of ketchup and asked, “Like...pregnant pregnant.”

Regina narrowed her eyes at Emma. What other kind of pregnant was there?  “Yes.”

Chewing and chewing, Emma took a healthy chug of her Coke and continued, “Knocked up, with child, in the family way, bun in the oven, expecting-”

Regina’s head fell into her hands, fingers gripping her hair as she shook her head. Her own inner mantra of how could she have let this happen? replaying over and over in her head as Emma droned on. Finally, when Emma was just about finished, Regina’s head snapped up. “God, Emma, yes! All of those things! What the hell else kind of pregnant did you expect?”

Emma eyed her. Her demeanor, perfectly calm, as if Regina merely spoke of a light rain shower, was annoying. Regina wanted to strangle her for it.  “How many times did it take?”

Regina did a double take. “What?”

“How many times have you guys have sex? How long has this been going on?”  Emma’s tone sounded almost hurt, the amusement was gone from her tone, and Regina suspected that her friend thought her and Robin’s relationship had been going on far longer than it actually had been.

Regina squirmed slightly. “It was just a few times that we were, um... we didn’t have sex. The first time we were together was our first date, the week before I went to Rochester. And since then we’ve both been so busy with our jobs, and then we couldn’t at his place with Roland, so we haven’t…. well, again.”

Wiping her hands with her napkin, Emma then tossed it on the table. “So let me get this straight. You use Robin’s donation and on the first try, you get pregnant with Olivia. You have sex with Robin just once-”

“More than once,” Regina muttered, barely loud enough for Emma to hear.

Emma rolled her eyes. “Just one night , and then you end up pregnant-”

Possibly pregnant,” Regina interrupted, holding up her index finger.  “I missed my period, but I haven’t seen my doctor yet.”

Emma huffed. “Fine. So you’re possibly pregnant with this new one.”

Regina took a breath and let it out noisily. “Pretty much.”

Emma threw her hands in the air, but the amusement was back in her eyes. “What the hell are you two, rabbits?”

Regina cringed and looked around the restaurant. A few eyes darted away, going back to their own meals. “Announce it to all of the West Village why don’t you,” Regina hissed.

The blonde smirked at her right before taking a bite of her bacon cheeseburger. Regina began to pick at her own fries, but her appetite was nonexistent.

"Are you gonna tell him?"

Folding her arms across the table, Regina took a breath. "Of course I am, but first I want to be sure."

“Alright.” Emma sat up and finished off her soda. "You want to go grab a test after this?"

A test. Suddenly everything became so much more real. As if it couldn’t be more real. What would she tell him? Regina picked at her plate of fries. "What if I am?"

Emma shrugged. "Then you are."

Eyeing her roommate, Regina licked her lips. "It only took one time for me to get pregnant with Olivia,” she pointed out.

Lifting a brow, Emma replied, "Yeah, but you were also filled up with hormones and prenatal pills."

Emma had a good point. Regina had been taking hormone injections and had been taking prenatal vitamins a few months before the IVF. Still, Regina had only missed one period her entire life, and the only other time was because she was having Olivia. Regina groaned. "This can't happen now."

"Would a baby be such a bad thing?"

The air left her lungs and her shoulders dropped. The churning in her stomach that was once filled with fear was replaced with guilt. She hadn’t been thinking so much of the end result, only how soon it had happened and how they would deal with this new development. She hadn’t been thinking about the small life possibly growing inside her, of the fluttering in her belly, or the strong kicks to come.

A baby.

Regina felt her lips pull into the first sign of a smile all night. “No, it wouldn’t. But our relationship is so new, it would be nice if we could enjoy it a bit more before we-”

“What? Have another baby?”

Regina shot the blonde a glare. “You know what I mean.”

“Regina, you’re with Robin. You two already have a kid together, and seriously, let's be real, you and Robin have been “seeing” each other a hell of a lot longer than you both want to admit.”

“True.”

“Do you love him?”

The question caught Regina off guard, but the answer spilled quickly and easily from her lips. “I do.”

“There you go,” Emma replied with a smile, before adding, “and I know he loves you. Anyone can tell just by looking at the man. You and I both know he’s not going anywhere. Besides, you guys make cute kids. It wouldn’t hurt the world to have a few more beautiful babies running around.”

Regina warmed. “Always a way with words.”

“That’s what I’m here for.” Taking Regina’s plate, the blonde began to finish off her fries. “So, are you going to tell him?”

“What, no,” Regina said a lot louder than she intended. Lowering her voice, she amended, “I mean, I don’t even know anything yet, and I don’t want to worry him if it’s over nothing.”

“Worry him? You honestly think that he would be?”

Regina pushed her hair back behind her ears and thought. No, Robin wouldn’t be worried or even upset. She was more than sure he would be thrilled at the prospect, but the timing... she sighed, thinking of her daughter. Of how much she missed Olivia when she was little. The baby face, wobbly steps, and smell unique to newborns. Regina wouldn’t be alone this time. Robin would be there, and it was with that thought that the weight began to lift from her chest.


 

Two pregnancy tests later, Regina Mills had never called her doctor faster than she had that very next morning. With one negative and one inconclusive, it was enough to have her up at dawn waiting for the nurses’ staff to get in, so she could make the first available appointment.

She hadn’t slept well at all. Regina tossed and turned all night, thinking about what she would do, what they would do if she were pregnant. Robin had called her when she had been short in her messages. He told her he was concerned when he’d intentionally made fun of the fact she went out for dinner with Emma and had not come back with heartburn and received no reply in return.

Regina blamed it on the traveling. That she was tired and just needed to catch up on some sleep, and he’d been understanding and sweet, bringing tears to her eyes when he offered to come make her tea and tuck her in. Wiping away the errant tears, she laughed and told him not to drag Roland out of bed just because she was tired and missing him. She would see him tomorrow, and he promised to give her a backrub and put them all to bed early.

At exactly seven o’clock, Regina dialed the number she memorized long ago and waited with bated breath for someone to pick up. Having to push ‘one’ for an appointment, and ‘three’ for gynecology and obstetrics, then ‘five’ for Kathryn Frederick, Regina let out a frustrated breath as she waited on hold another five minutes before she was able to speak with a real person.

However, once Regina finally managed to get the receptionist, Regina was grateful to hear there had been a cancellation that morning and she could have the early appointment only if she could get there in the next twenty minutes.

Throwing on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt, Regina pulled up her hair into a ponytail, grabbed her purse, and was out the door in no time.

She held her cell in her hands on the cab ride over, in the reception area after filling out all the necessary paperwork, and finally in the examination room while she waited for Kathryn. Every so often she would bring up his string of texts, glance over their last few conversations, and end at the last one from him. Goodnight, my love.

Her chest burned, and her eyes filled, but Regina didn’t let the tears fall. She loved him so much, and as she thought about having another baby, another baby with him this time...

It was the soft knock and click of the door that brought Regina’s eyes up and a smile to her lips as her doctor came into the room. Tall and lithe, her long blond hair swept up into a twist, Kathryn smiled, looking just as she had the last time Regina had seen her a month after Olivia was born.

“Hello, Regina.”

Despite her nerves, Regina smiled warmly at her. “Kathryn. How are you?”

“I’m good. How have you been?” The doctor set her tablet on the counter and leaned against it. “It’s been so long. How’s our girl doing?”

Chest filled with warmth remembering the year and a half spent with Kathryn preparing for Olivia and then for her birth. “Well. She’s growing up fast.”

Shaking her head and picking up the tablet from the counter, the doctor lifted a brow. “Olivia, has a birthday coming up soon if my memory serves?”

Regina chuckled. “Ten this September.”

“Wow, how time flies,” Kathryn mused.

Regina couldn’t help but agree. “Don’t I know it?”

There was a pause as each reflected, and as if shaking herself to the present, Kathryn’s eyes fell to the tablet in her hand, taking her finger and tapping here and there on the screen. “So, pregnant, huh?”

With a small nod, Regina’s hand tightened around her phone, and Regina suddenly wished she had Robin by her side. “That’s what I’m here to find out.”

“Doing it the old fashion way this time.” It was a small joke, one that Regina would have appreciated if her emotions hadn’t been all over the place, but they were, so all Regina could manage was a small smile in return. Kathryn seemed to have noticed Regina’s preoccupation, her brows fell into a concerned frown and she asked, “Are congratulations in order?”

Regina let out a sigh, and she looked down at her hands before raising her eyes to meet the doctors. “Yes and no. It’s a long story. I am in a relationship but having a baby… it’s a bit too soon for us yet.”

“It says here you’re eight days late and you took a test?” Kathryn asked while studying the screen.

“I did. Two of them. One was negative and one was inconclusive.”

“Those darn over the counter tests messing with your mind. Don’t worry, I’ll get you ordered a blood test and we’ll go from there.”

Nodding, Regina thought back to the reading she had done the night before. When she couldn’t sleep and finally gave up on trying, she pulled out her iPad and Googled everything and anything about the early signs of pregnancy and causes for her birth control failing. Clearing her throat, Regina confessed, "I read something online that said the prescription I'm on for my headaches can actually interfere with birth control."

Kathryn hummed knowingly. "There is a possibility. I would suggest if you're not pregnant and you don't wish to get that way soon, you both might want to think about another alternative to the pill."

Taking a breath through her nose, Regina let it out slowly. Well, that was another thing she would have to talk to Robin about. Then it hit her. Regina would be seeing Robin tonight when he came over to stay with her for the weekend, and the anxiousness she felt earlier came flooding back. “How long do I have to wait for the test results?”

“Normally I would say a couple days, but I can have the results for you maybe tonight or as soon as tomorrow.”

A whole night without telling him? Regina didn’t know how she was going to do it. Still, she put on a grateful smile even though she didn’t feel it and said, “Thank you, Kathryn.”

“Of course.” Kathryn came over to her and placed a hand on her arm. “I know it’s hard, but in the meantime, try not to worry about it until there's something to worry about.”


 

Later that night, Robin came as expected. Work had him at the office late, and it was with a sleeping toddler on his shoulder, that he stepped into the quiet apartment. Closing and bolting the door behind him, Robin made his way carefully through the living room and down the hall to Olivia’s room where he placed his already pajama-clad son into bed and tucked him in.

With a tired yawn, Robin walked to Regina’s room. She sent him a message earlier to wake her when he got in, but when his eyes landed on the dark-haired beauty in bed, sleeping peacefully, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Stripping down to just his boxers, Robin lifted the blankets and scooted in, spooning behind her. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, one that roused her enough to sigh his name.

“Shh, darling. Go back to sleep.”

Regina turned in his arms, and Robin pulled her against his side as he rolled onto his back. “I’ve missed you,” she breathed, and he could hear the tiredness in her voice.

“I’ve missed you too, but sleep.” Robin pressed a kiss to her brow. “Tomorrow I promise we’ll make up for lost time.”

Regina hummed, and her leg came up to wrap around his. He smiled into her hair. A little over five months now Robin had his daughter and Regina in his life. As his mind thought over the last couple weeks without her, Robin realized how quickly his life had changed and how grateful he was for it. 


 

It wasn’t until much later the next afternoon that Regina got the call she had been expecting all morning long. She and Robin just started a FaceTime chat with Olivia, and Regina smiled over at Robin, telling him softly that she would be right back and made her way out of the living room and into hers.

Swiping the call quickly to answer it before it went to voicemail, Regina took a deep breath and answered with a tentative, “Hello?”

"Regina, it’s Kathryn. I have your lab results."

The woman’s voice held nothing that gave away the results and Regina swallowed. Unsure of what she wanted them to be. "Okay."

"You're not pregnant."

Regina suddenly felt it hard to swallow. "Oh, alright."

"You don't sound happy about it," Kathryn replied.

"No, I am.” Sounds of Roland’s giggles and Olivia’s laughter filled the background giving her pause. Regina’s brow fell against the cold door. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and tried to tell herself that she really was happy about it. “It's too soon for us. Like I said before, Robin and I just started seeing each other. "

"Well, just continue with the birth control till you are ready, and if you have questions or need anything, I'm right here."

"I will. Thank you, Kathryn."

Hanging up the phone, Regina let the few tears that had filled her eyes fall as disappointment settled in. She shook her head, reminding herself that they still had time. Until then they had Olivia and Roland, and perhaps someday they would have more.


 

Robin woke slowly to the sounds of several police sirens, and grimaced, buried his face deeper into the back of Regina's neck. He would never get used to this city. Not that Brooklyn wasn't loud, because it did have its moments, but his neck of the woods was so much quieter.

Now that he was awake, semi-awake, Robin thought ruefully, he realized he needed to use the bathroom and probably should check on Roland. Regrettably untangling himself from Regina's warmth, Robin padded down the hall, only in his boxers, he knew Henry was away with his father, and Emma would most likely still be sleeping. In any case, Robin was not going to be up for long.

Once he finished in the bathroom, Robin stopped to peek in Olivia's room where he settled Roland for the night. The toddler was still sound asleep and probably would be for the next few hours still. Leaving the door open a crack, Robin headed back to Regina's room.

It was just light enough to make out her form on the bed. Regina moved in his absence, turned to her other side so she was now facing him. Lifting the down comforter, Robin crawled back in beside her and as he did, Regina instinctively moved to curl against his side. His arms wrapped around her when she laid her head on his chest. He placed a kiss on her head, buried his fingers in her hair, and closed his eyes.

He could lie beside her forever. He wanted nothing more in the world than to be with her. It was with a deep breath, his nose and senses filling with her scent that he realized he could be. They could be just like this forever.

All Robin needed to do was ask her.

It was with that thought in mind he fell back into a deep sleep.


Waking to a car alarm was one rude bloody way to rise for the day; however, waking to Regina Mills naked with her bare leg hooked over his hip pressing herself against him, well that was another thing entirely. Hands slid over soft skin, and it wasn’t long before mouths met. Normally the room was filled with enthusiastic gasps and pleasured moans, but this morning it was different. The only sounds were their breaths and gliding of hands on skin and sheets. It was more intimate for sure, and pulling her to him, Robin turned in bed so Regina was now on top of him, just where he loved her.

Pulling away and sitting up, Regina gave him a moment to look and to feel with his eyes and hands. She was absolutely stunning. His palms slid up her sides and over to cup her breasts, and as he pinched the tips her head fell back, all that lovely long dark hair cascading down her back in waves. Christ, she was a goddess.

He must have said that out loud because her head lifted back up, and those lovely brown eyes were set on his. Regina took his hands from her and pulled them towards her, wanting him close. Robin was no man to argue. Sitting up, Robin’s mouth met hers and his hands drifted up her back fingertips tracing up along her spine then over her shoulders, pulling her down on him. He still wasn’t inside her, but he could feel her against him, hot and incredibly wet.

They kissed and kissed, and after a moment she leaned back, stopping their movements. Robin frowned, was about to ask her what was wrong when he noticed her looking away. Bringing his hand to her cheek, he asked gently, “Regina, love, what is it?”

She took a deep breath, tilted her face back towards his. Licking her lips, Regina paused while regarding him with a hesitant almost unsure look before she told him, "Robin, we need to talk."

"Alright.” He swallowed. There were almost no times when a conversation beginning with those words was pleasant.

"I need to tell you something." She looked down between them, away again, making Robin’s heart twist in his chest anxiously.

After a moment, when she still did not speak, Robin pressed his forehead to hers and urged, "What is it?"

Her eyes flicked up to his, and he pulled away knowing she was ready.

She took in another breath and then said, "I know I should have told you sooner, but when I came home last week, I realized that I missed my period." He couldn't help the slight flicker of happiness that bloomed in his chest right before she said the words that put it straight out. "I'm not pregnant, but I thought I was."

Robin swallowed down the momentary disappointment, and couldn't help but notice even her tone seemed almost saddened. "Okay, are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine." She took a breath, shoulders dropping, but her warm brown eyes held his. "I just think maybe this is a sign, the universe telling us we are going too fast? That perhaps maybe we should slow down?"

Robin shook his head. He could hear the uncertainty in her tone that told him what she needed his reassurance more than anything. Taking her face in his palms, Robin tangled his fingers in her hair and told her, "I disagree.”

A soft smile played on her lips, pulling them up, and her hands ran up his chest to his neck. "I thought you might."

“I think the universe is telling us we aren’t going fast enough." Her eyes widened slightly, and he was quick to explain, "Not that I think we need to have a baby right this moment because that would be-”

“Crazy?”

“Yeah.” They smiled at one another, and Robin chuckled. God, he could not be more in love with her if he tried. Who was he kidding? He wanted a family with Regina. The one that they already had and the one they could make together. He did not care how little time they'd known one another because he already knew that this was where he wanted to be forever. With his hands running down her arms to wrap around her back, Robin pulled her closer against him. Chest to bare chest, he said, “Regina, we already have a daughter together, and perhaps where we are right now is right where we should be."

Her eyes searched his. "Where are we, Robin?"

"You must know,” Robin began looking back into her dark eyes. “From the moment I saw you all those years ago in the elevator I have been enchanted by you. I knew then, just as surely as I knew the day I opened my door to see you standing there, that you were what I wanted. You’ve given me so much. You brought me back from something I never thought I could return from and helped me come out stronger in the end. You gave me Olivia, and she is the most beautiful amazing little girl a father could ever ask for. But it is you , Regina Mills who has stolen my heart, and I am completely and madly in love with you," he professed.

Regina swallowed, tears filling her eyes. Her heart pounded in her chest, and with a whispered breath she asked, “You are?"

He leaned forward, placing a light kiss upon her lips, lingering there for a moment before pulling away and answered back softly with a, "Yes."

"You said before that you wanted a big family someday. Is that still true?” She looked up into his eyes, and she felt his hand come up to wipe away the tears that had fallen. “Do you want more children?"

Robin’s heart leaped at her words. "Yes, I mean we have two children already, but I'd like us to have another. What about you?"


His deep blue eyes were looking into hers with such open affection and love, talking to her about their children and how he'd like them to have another. "Yes, I'd like to be able to share the experience this time. Have you there to get me cookie dough ice cream at two in the morning and maybe rub my feet when they hurt." His smile was big and his tongue was caught between his teeth, clearly enjoying the image she painted for him while his hands were pulled her against him.

She cupped his face between her palms, her thumbs caressing over the prickly stubble there, and just took him in. Regina couldn’t believe how lucky she was. To have this man and his gentle heart who loved her and their daughter, who wanted a family with her. Regina knew right then that this was it. That he was hers, and she was his. And with that, she said the words that she’d been feeling for so long now but never said aloud, “I love you, Robin.”

His brow fell against her softly. “And I you.”

Their lips met, and Regina began to rock against him once again, building them back up to where they'd left off before, rising just so and tilting her hips, taking him inside her slowly. Inch by inch, he slid deeper driving them both insane with want for one another. They came together in a gentle rocking, filling the room with soft gasps and whispered, “I love you’s.”



Chapter Text

When Robin suggested a double date with Emma and Killian on Friday, Regina had been skeptical at first. She was torn between wanting to spend their last weekend alone before Olivia came home at his house or her apartment and spending time with their friends. Robin had grinned down at her from where they were snuggled together late Thursday night watching reruns of Star Trek. Roland had been put to bed a couple hours before, snuggled and tucked into Olivia's bed.

Turning a bit, Robin adjusted them so that Regina was nestled against his chest and between his legs.

He coaxed, "It will be fun. We'll go out and have a few drinks with them," and he paused, placing a kiss to her lips, her nose, and cheeks, before adding, "and then we can come back here and spend the rest of the night alone." Grabbing the blanket from the back of the couch, Robin threw it around them. Making sure they were both sufficiently covered, his hands skimmed down her back, finding the edge of her thin tank and gliding underneath, making their way up and around her front, cupping her breasts in his hands, surprising her, and making her gasp.

Regina bit back a moan and murmured, "Emma is still up."

He bit his lip, and with feigned innocence, Robin replied, "We're not doing anything."

She shook her head, was about to suggest they take this into her room when he maneuvered them once again so they were sitting up with her straddling him. Regina could feel his hard length through his cotton pants, and feeling playful, she ground herself against him, causing him to sigh heavily.

His hands released her breasts and came up to push her hair back from her face. "Come here," Robin commanded, right before he pulled her down and kissed her deeply.

They really should have gone in her room, but Regina really didn't think Emma would be up anymore tonight. It was after eleven, and the blonde generally hit the hay around this time. If she did happen to come out, well, with the blanket over them the way that it was, they could have easily claimed that they were just making out.

Before Regina could make the decision for them to stay or go, Robin surprised her again by brushing aside her shorts and underwear, fingers sliding through her slick heat, traveling up and circling her swollen clit slowly, teasingly. She hummed into his mouth, his kisses swallowing her whimpers, as her hips arched into his touch.

Robin eased them from their kiss. The only sounds in the apartment came from the television and their heavy breathing. Her lips pulled into a grin, and reaching into his pants, she took him in hand, giving him a few long lazy strokes, making Robin's head fall back against the couch. Leaning forward, she planted a trail of wet kisses and nips along his neck. He whispered her name, and Regina grinned. Two can play at this game, she thought. Biting his earlobe gently, she asked, "Did you want something?"

Robin growled as her thumb caressed over his tip. "Christ, Regina."

"You like that, do you?"

She watched as Robin swallowed hard, and then rasped, "Yes," and Regina continued to stroke him with her hand. His brows fell, and his hips thrust into her touch. "Mmm, my love, I want to be inside you."

Regina grinned. She loved it when he talked to her while they had sex, and sex on the couch with Emma down the hall was no exception. She rose up on her knees, and he held her garments aside so she could lower herself on him, but she found that she liked teasing him, especially when they had to be oh so quiet. Regina rubbed the tip of him against her wet opening, and leaning forward with her lips just a breath away from his asked, "Tell me how much you want me."

His dark blue eyes opened, surprised but full of desire. And she leaned back a bit so he could see her properly. With an evil teasing grin, she sank onto him but only the tip before rising back up. His head fell back again and he let out another, " Christ .”

"Tell me."

"So much, my love." His free hand slid up her tank once again to her breast, cupping her and pinching her nipple while his gaze fell as she began to sink down again. "So fucking much, you have no idea."

His words set a fire low in her belly, and she lowered herself completely this time. Robin's heavy sigh and hers mingled together with the feel of him stretching her, filling her up. She moved slowly at first, setting a tempo that was amazingly intimate. His hand left her breast and made purchase on her hip, squeezing and guiding her as she rose slowly before sinking back down on him. Closing her eyes, Regina breathed in deeply enjoying the feel of him. Oh - she almost gasped aloud, on a particular downward thrust that had her biting her lip and trembling at the fullness. She wished they'd gone to Brooklyn, would have loved to have been able to fuck him for real, to let go and tell him just how good he felt sliding in and out of her like this.

Their lips met again, tongues sliding against one another, and he brought his hand down between them, slipping up and down along her clit before switching to tight little circles. She pulled away and breathed, "Oh God," as pulled her down against him, harder, and she whimpered between pursed lips.

"Are you close?" Robin whispered. He was just as affected as she, and Regina could tell he was already holding back.

Nodding and nodding, Regina’s brow fell to his. Yes, she was close. So close, but she needed more. Picking up the pace, she almost cried out when his hips began to thrust up into her. He hissed soft curses and encouraging words for love for only her to hear and she came a moment later with a breathy gasp, and with a groan of his own, Robin followed after her.

Collapsing against him, Regina began to chuckle, and she felt his lips on her temple. "What?" Robin asked curiously.

Taking a breath, Regina told him, "Not doing anything, my ass."

He let out a snort, and Regina sat up looking into those amused but oh so smug blue eyes. 

Robin bit his lip, taking her in and studying her before he replied, "Well, we got away with it. And you, my love, that was incredibly sexy."

Blushing, she smiled. "Really?"

"Mmhmm," Robin hummed in affirmation and cupping her face in his hands, brought her down for another tongue-filled kiss.

Then as if on cue, they heard the door to Emma's room open, and rising up off his lap, they fixed their clothes quickly. Regina tucked herself up against Robin's side right before the blonde made her way into the living room.

Flopping down in the chair across from them, Emma sighed. "Well, I just got off the phone with Neal. I'll be picking Henry up this Sunday night instead of next. So looks like both the kiddos will be home next week, and this place can finally get back to normal." Emma paused, looking over at them. "What's with you two?"

"Nothing," Regina defended, pressing her thighs together, feeling the remains of her and Robin's love making. She needed a shower. "We were just about to get ready for bed."

Emma looked between them and turned her attention back to the television. "You know, I've always preferred The Next Generation over the Original series . There's something about that Kirk guy that annoys me."

Robin chuckled. "Not into the womanizing sort?"

"It's the narcissism that kills it for me."

Robin hummed in agreement, then with a furrowed brow asked, "The actor or the character?"

Emma let out a snort. "Both."

They shared a chuckle as Regina let out a yawn. "Well, I'm going to go take a shower before bed." She stood with Robin's hand in hers, and she gave it a tug.

Looking up at her with mirth in his eyes, Robin inquired, "Would you like some company, my love?" Her smile was all the answer he needed, and getting to his feet, he looked over at Emma.

"Would you mind listening out for Roland?"

The blonde rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, go on. Just know, by doing so you relinquish all rights to the remote."

Laughing, Robin followed after Regina. "Thank you, and the TV is all yours, Miss Swan."


 

A string of jazz clubs conveniently nestled between the West Village and SoHo was their destination. They finally ended up at the 55 Bar. Tucked in a basement of a brownstone, the establishment was known for its strong drinks and 1919 circa underground life, where people stayed until four am, listening nightly to live jazz and blues, and opening its mic to major talent and newcomers alike.

The room was alight with fairy lights and small glasses that glowed with a candle on each table. The only exception to the soft ambiance was the well-lit stage, showcasing the bands that came and went throughout the night. Regina sipped on her Apple Crown and Coke, while Emma and Robin argued the finer points of hockey. She was glad they got along, thrilled in fact, but two weeks away from Robin had her anxious to get the evening over and spend some quality time with him.

Killian, who had been watching the exchange with amusement, had been the one to notice most of their glasses were just about empty. "Why don't I go and fetch us all some more drinks, eh?"

"I'll go with you," Regina had offered, and she slid out of the booth, Robin's fingertips grazing along her thigh as she moved, sending shivers up her spine. Her brown eyes flicked up to meet his blue, and for possibly the hundredth time that night, his eyes roamed from her dark smoky eyes down to where her breasts were pushed together by the tight fabric she wore, and further still to the hem of her skirt and bare calves. His gaze never failed to make her blush.

Sure, the little black number she bought earlier that day was sleeveless and maybe a bit short, reaching just mid-thigh and riding up higher still when she sat down, but it did its job. It drew the eye of the man she was in love with, keeping his hands on her all night, whether that be holding her hand as they walked down the street or high on her leg as she sat beside him, grazing the inside of her thighs with his fingertips until he would get just a little too high, and she would cross her legs in silent admonishment. His smiled would widen then, and he would chuckle, removing his hand to a more appropriate perch, where it would stay only for a short time before it began its ascent once again. More than a few times she caught him staring at her, and he would grin before apologizing and leaning in to whisper words like  stunning  and gorgeous against her lips before kissing her deeply.

Regina smiled, tore her eyes from Robin's, and followed Killian over to the bar where they waited to be served.

"You and Emma seem to be getting along tonight," Regina commented, wanting to get an idea of the man she knew so little about.

"Aye." Cain smiled then and added, "Well, I knew my charm would win her over eventually."

She studied him, the way his gaze settled on the blonde affectionately. Narrowing her eyes Regina observed, "You like her."

His eyes pulled away from Emma, and Killian responded with what she hoped was sincerity. "Aye, I do."

"She has a son," Regina pointed out with a bit of warning in her voice. It was one thing to start something with her single friend, but it was quite another to start something with Emma which might eventually have an impact on Henry.

Killian turned to face her. "Look, I know what you're saying, or rather, what you're  not  saying, and I'm not sure exactly what my mate over there has told ya about my past with the lasses, but I can assure you, my intentions toward Emma  and  her son are genuine."

Leveling her gaze on him, Regina searched his eyes and found not a hint of deception. She wasn't sure about him, but she trusted Robin's judgment and that was enough for her. "Good, now that that's settled."

His face brightened with a smile. "Another?" Killian inquired, holding aloft her now empty glass.

"Yes, thank you."

After he finished ordering them all another round, Killian's eyes flicked back to hers, and he told her, "You know it's I who should be thanking you. I'll tell ya when I heard about Robin's job offer I wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of him moving away."

Moving away? Regina's brows creased together. "What do you mean?"

Killian gave her a look that was reminiscent of a child who had just given away a secret, and he pulled at his ear looking down before guiltily replying, "Ah, he hasn't told ya then?"

Looking from Killian to where Robin was seated across the room, Regina questioned, "Told me what?"

Killian sighed. "You're likely to get it out of me anyway. He got a job offer in San Francisco."

Regina blinked at him. This was news to her. Her gaze automatically found Robin once again and swallowing she frowned. "He did?"

"Aye, money and his name out there in the architectural world for all ta see and want." Killian sighed, and then added with a grin, "I guess it's lucky for us, Robin doesn't give a toss about fame and fortune."

Her stomach twisted at his words. Fame and fortune. Oh, Robin, you didn't, she thought as something akin to guilt flooded through her. "He turned it down?"

"For you and your little lass, yes." Regina frowned, and her features must have given her away, so Killian continued on, "Now I know what you're thinking. How could he give up that for me? Because I know of course that ya love him and would never ask him ta do that, but ya know," he paused and looked over at Robin before returning his eyes back to Regina, "he lost a lot when Marian passed. A bit of himself, really. And it hasn't been since recently I've seen that part of him comin' back. I hope ya know that what he did, he did it because he loves ya."

"I know he loves us."

Echoing her words, Killian said, "Well then, now that that's settled." He handed Regina her drink and clinked his glass lightly to hers. "Cheers."

Killian began to walk back to the table, but Regina's legs felt like lead. She watched as Robin continued his conversation with Emma, something that had Emma laughing until Killian arrived at the table. It must have been amusing, whatever it was, because Emma leaned over to the dark-haired man and whispered something to him, and moment later he was laughing right along with them, but Regina’s eyes were trained on Robin.

He turned down a job. For Olivia. For her. Regina was so stunned she didn't know what to think. A thousand emotions vied for dominance. First and foremost was anger. When did this happen and how could he not tell her? If they were going to be in a relationship shouldn't this have been a decision they made together? She watched as his brows fell, and he began to look around the room. Searching for something. For her. When his eyes found hers, his head tilted, and a curious smile pulled at his lips. She watched as he said something to the others before he got up and made his way over to her.

As he maneuvered between the tables and couples standing in the softly lit bar, Regina imagined a life where he did choose a job, a life, where he wasn't here with her but over three-thousand miles away, and that wasn't a life she wanted to imagine. Regina wanted to cry, but as Robin took those last few steps that closed the distance between them, she looked up into those blue eyes she loved so much, and she couldn't find it in her to do anything but feel gratitude and affection for the man standing in front of her.

His warm hands settled on her hips, pulling her to him, and her hands slid up his arms and settled on his chest. His voice was low, but enough that he could still be heard over the band that played in the back, "Have I bored you to tears with all the Rangers talk?"

Regina managed a small chuckle at that. "No, it's not that."

His lips pulled into a frown, and Regina could tell he was concerned. "What then?"

Shaking her head, Regina rose up on tiptoes and kissed him. She didn't want him to think she was upset with him, even though it bothered her that he never mentioned his promotion, now wasn't the time to bring it up. She wanted to enjoy their night, enjoy the fact that he was here. That he chose Olivia.

He chose her.

It was with that thought, Regina's tongue slid across the seam of his soft lips, and with a groan, his mouth opened for her. They kissed and kissed, and as her hands slid up to his neck, she felt his hands on her lower back, then lower still, pulling her hard against him. They should have probably found a more private corner to make out, but fuck it. She was tipsy and she just found out the man she loved had all but given up his career for her. She would kiss him in front of this bar and all its patrons for as long as she damn well pleased.

A few minutes later, when they came up for air, Robin pulled back enough to see her clearly and grinned down at the beauty in his arms. "What was that for?"

Her hands slid up, and with her palms against his biceps, licking her lips she murmured, "Because I love you."

"And I you," Robin replied, lowering his head down to meet her lips once again.


 

Eventually, they made it down to the end of the bar closer to the stage. Sure it was a bit louder, but the music was smooth and on point with their introspective mood. Robin leaned back against the bar while Regina stood in front of him. He offered her the one available barstool next to them, but she refused, choosing instead to lean against him, wanting to be as close to him as she could. She sipped on her drink, and he, his while they listened to set after set. Every now and then Robin dropped kisses to her bare shoulder, and once in a while, when all eyes were trained on the stage, he'd plant a row of wet kisses up along her neck. And he would smile when her head would tilt back, giving him more access for him to nibble, then chase his bites with soft lips and tongue. He would hear her sigh softly, and her rear would push back against him as she arched slightly, making his half hard cock stiffen with need to feel her.

He was sure they stayed there for hours swaying to music. Killian and Emma had found them sometime during the night, Emma whispered something to Regina that Robin didn't quite make out, but the look on Killian's face told him all he needed to know. He was certain Regina and he would have the apartment to themselves tonight and good for it because Robin didn't think he could be held responsible for how loud they got that night.


 

They made out in the elevator. He wasn't sure if it was the alcohol or just the simple fact that they knew there were no children, no roommates upstairs, nothing that would be holding them back from devouring one another. Yet there was something different. There was something in the way she was kissing him, something that'd kept her… he wouldn't use the word quiet per say, more like contemplative, and it had him wondering if the night out with everyone had upset her in some way or if there was something he might have done.

Whatever the cause, Robin was determined to find out. Just as soon as he could pull himself away from her, which was a task that was far easier said than done. They reached their floor and the lift opened. Walking her backward, he led them down the hall and to her door. All the while Regina reached into her purse and pulled out her keys.

Taking them from her, Robin stopped them just shy of the door, breaking their kiss, to unlock it. Though his kiss stopped, hers never did. Leaning into him, she breathed him in, humming, and he felt her nose skim along his jaw before he felt her lips began to drop kiss after kiss. He chuckled when he felt her hands begin to undo the buttons of his shirt. Turning the handle, his hands wrapped around her waist, and looking down into her dark eyes, he brought his lips to hers while closing the door with his foot.

This time it was Regina who backed them the few feet to the door. Flipping the lock, she then set back on her task, undoing each and every button. He broke their kiss and looked down at her, and she looked back but said nothing.

His lips tilted down. "Is something wrong?"

"No, why would you say that?" Regina looked away, and it made him think there was something there in her eyes that might give her away that she was trying to hide by doing so.

Giving a slight shrug of his shoulders, Robin told her, "You've been quiet tonight."

Her eyes were on his, and she bit her lip. For a second he thought she was about to tell him what was bothering her, but instead, Regina arched a brow, her painted red lips pulled up into a grin, and she teased, "I just wanted to get you home."

Robin knew her better than to buy into that, but Regina obviously wasn't ready to share. So he would play along, for now, knew she would open up when the time came. Smirking down at her, his hands slid around her hips and down over her lovely backside. "Oh, did you?"

"Mmhmm," she hummed.

"All you would have had to do was say something. You have been driving me crazy all night."

"Have I?"

He groaned and told her, "I nearly lost my mind with you in this dress. With this magnificent arse of yours up against me. All I thought about was how I would just have to lift up your skirt a bit, and..." he turned her around, stepping them forward towards the small entry way table, brushing her hair to the side he placed a kiss to the nape of her neck and added, "Are you wet for me?"

Her voice was tight and breathless, and she nodded. "Uh huh."

Unbuckling his jeans, he kissed along her shoulders, and taking himself in hand, he used his other hand to take the hem of her skirt and pull it up and up, displaying her creamy skin, bare except for a dark red thong. Robin growled a, ”Fuck, babe, you are so sexy.” Releasing himself, his fingertips hooked around the sides of the material, pulling them down and letting them fall to the floor.

Stepping up to her, trapping him between them, his hands caressed her hips before one made its way down between her legs, his palm sliding over her. Her breath caught as his finger flicked over her clit before spreading the wetness he found there.

" Yes, " she gasped, her hands clutching the counter as her head dropped back against his shoulder.

Flicking over her clit a few more times, enough to have her shaking with need and moaning his name, he brought his lips to her ear and told her, "I'm going to fuck you, my love. Right here against this table."

"God, yes" Regina replied, turning her head towards his and mumbling a husky, "Fuck me, Robin," right before closing the distance between them, kissing him hotly a moment before he broke away.

His palms dragged over her hips, gripping them before releasing one so he could take himself in his hand and line them up. The tip of him brushed against her, and she let out a throaty moan in anticipation. He chuckled, teasing her, letting himself slid in just a bit, and she thought about yesterday, when they were on the couch, when it was her teasing him, and…

"Oh!" she cried out, as he began to slide all the way in slowly... oh so fucking slowly, before slipping out of her again. That  bastard .

He groaned as he sank in again. Nestled in her snug wet heat, filling her all the way once again, he could barely stand to keep the pace this slow. Her heels made her just the right height for this, for him to fuck her from behind, where he could watch her arch and her hair fall down her back.

"You're so sexy," he breathed, brushing her hair to the side. He found the zipper to her dress and dragged it down her back just enough that he could get his hand under the material and around her front to cup her breasts. Back arching, Regina gasped and then moaned loudly as he began to fuck her for real.

Her hands were against the wall, her nails digging into the paint, and she cried out his name. One of his hands was on her breast, pinching her nipple, sending jolts of pleasure through her. God, she loved him. She loved his cock, the way it slid in and out quickly, and then slowed for just a moment in this almost languid motion that left her knees trembling and weak.

His hand gave her nipple one last pinch before it dragged away to settle on her hip and join the other. Gripping, he pulled her back to him, making his thrusts harder and deeper, and she let out a cry, then whispered, "Oh fuck !"

"Tell me, beautiful," Robin pleaded, and she knew what he wanted. It was just what she wanted the other night. For him to tell her how amazing she felt because it turned her on, and fuck if she couldn't tell the man she loved how amazing he felt when he was fucking her after six Apple Crown and Cokes, she'd never be able to.

"You feel so good , Robin…" Regina began but stopped as he began to still, then pulled himself slowly out, before sliding back in even more slowly against her wetness. Her mouth dropped open when he leaned against her back, his cock so deep into her as he bent them forward, trapping her against the small table. His body was pressed so snugly to hers that she could feel his heavy panting breath on her neck and in her ear.

"You're so wet and tight," Robin began, dropping a kiss on her neck. "I love being inside you."

Licking her lips, Regina reached her hand back, her fingers threading into the hair at the nape of his neck and giving it a tug. "Mm, and you're so thick and feel so fucking amazing and…" she whimpered and gasped, as he pushed up into her. “God, Robin… I want to come. Make me come."

He hissed a " fuck,"  before pulling back and taking her hips again. This time he didn't let up. He started thrusting into her in hard, quick strokes, rapping into her that had her calling out his name and crying out, " Yes!"  and " just like that,"  over and over again until he groaned, fingers digging into her skin, and continued to pound hard into her, while his lips told her how sexy she was.

She was so goddamn close. If she just had something against her clit… and then she thought, fuck it , shifted her weight, braced herself against the wall with one hand while she nestled her hand between her thighs and dragged her fingers over her clit, and she cried out, " Oh !"

This wouldn’t take long at all. Not with her fingers on her clit and Robin thumping against that spot inside her... Mmm , she was so close.

Robin's head tilted, watched as her back arched and her rear buck back into him. "Christ," Robin breathed as he continued to watch her, and his jaw dropped open when her hand left the wall to drop down and further still. He loved it when she touched herself, and yes, she needed to do that because he wasn't going to last long. He could feel when she began to tremble, right before she tightened around him, calling out his name louder than he'd heard her before, and he thought for a brief moment they probably should have moved away from the door, but then her velvety walls were fluttering around him and the tightness sent him over the edge along with her. His hips thrust wildly another moment before he was coming, spilling deep inside her.

It was only their heavy breathing that filled the apartment then, and his lips fell softly on her back and he began placing light kisses there before he grunted and teased, "I may never be able to look your neighbors in the eyes again."

"It's your own fault." Regina giggled with her brow against her arm that was resting against the wall.

He hummed, placed one last kiss to her shoulder, and stood up straight, his softening cock slipping from her, and his palm rubbing over the cheek of her rear before giving her a light smack. "Damn right."

She scoffed a laugh and pushed her weight away from the wall, feeling a bit dizzy. The alcohol left her a bit tipsy, and now she was weak in the knees from being thoroughly fucked, so she kicked off her heels before turning towards him.

He looked down at her, grinning and biting his lip. "What?" Regina asked, curious to know what had him so amused.

His eyes glanced down at himself and then shifted to her, and she took in the state of their clothing. Her dress, bunched up around her middle, and his shirt unbuttoned save the last few buttons with his slacks riding low on his hips. Regina laughed. So they were a bit on the impatient side tonight.

Stepping up to him, she finished undressing him slowly until he was naked, and once she was finished, he helped slid her dress down until it pooled at her feet. Pulling her to him, he lowered his head while she tilted hers up to meet him in a tender kiss.

Much later, when they finally make it to her bed and the covers were pulled over them with him spooned up behind her, she thought about his promotion and what he gave up for her. She wondered if maybe it was time she thought about what she would give up for him.


 

When Robin woke it was with a slight hangover. Not so much a pounding in his head but more the feeling of sickness in his stomach. He knew he shouldn’t have mixed drinks. Once he started with the ale, he should have stuck to it and not added the three shots of whiskey that followed. Damn Killian and his bloody toasts.

He closed his eyes, bringing his hands up, and rubbing the soreness from them. The pull of more sleep was strong, He reached out for Regina, but his arm fell to the bed, to the feel of cold cotton sheets. He opened his eyes, frowning and squinting at the light that filtered into the room.

He sat up, rubbed his hands over his face, and then gave his eyes a moment to adjust. Pushing back the covers, Robin swung his legs from the bed and let the smell of coffee pull him from the room.


 

Standing at her window in her robe holding her coffee, Regina watched the rain as it fell steadily down outside and along the glass. She woke feeling exhausted. They stayed up late making up for lost time. They had sex once more in bed this time, with her on top, riding him quickly to their release, then collapsing beside him, feeling his fingers against her bare back, tracing a soothing up and down motion there, made her feel sleepy and boneless until she succumbed to slumber.

It wasn't until Regina woke the next morning with one hell of a headache that she remembered the night before and speaking with Killian. Gently pulling herself from Robin's arms, she grabbed her robe from the back of her desk chair and went to make some coffee.

There was the sound of footsteps on the hardwood floor, and then Regina felt his arms around her middle and his chin on her shoulder.

Robin’s voice was hushed, rough from sleep when he asked, "How are you feeling?"

Regina smiled, figured he must be feeling the effects of the alcohol as well if he was asking how she felt this morning. Turning in his arms, she remarked, "Better after some coffee." Regina held her cup out to him and then added, "And even better after I've had a shower."

"Mm," Robin hummed, taking the cup from her gratefully and taking a generous gulp, after which he handed it back and leaned into her, placing a kiss to her lips. "Care for some company?"

"I'd love some," Regina told him, then setting her coffee aside on the window ledge, she took a deep breath and said, "Only I do have a question for you first." Looking down at her, Robin remained silent, waiting for her to continue. "Why did you turn down the job in San Francisco?"

Robin's eyes closed, and his head fell back. "I'm going to bloody murder Killian."

Her brows fell, and she frowned. He really had no intention of telling her. Trying not to be angry, she placed her hands on his chest and waited for his eyes to come back to hers before Regina asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"

Taking her by the arms gently, his thumbs caressed her biceps as he explained, "Simply because I didn't want to put that on you. I didn't want you to feel like there was some kind of choice I needed to make because there wasn't. My life and family is here."

Regina took a breath through her nose let his words sink in. She understood his reasoning, and it made sense, but there was still a part of her that felt guilty that he would have to give anything up for her, especially if it was as Killian described. "I'm relieved to hear you say that, but I don't want you to ever regret..."

Robin shook his head and interrupted, "My love, please let me stop you there because there isn't a job in the world I would choose over us. Ever."

Searching his eyes, Regina saw nothing but absolute sincerity, but she felt like she should do something. She couldn't let this just be it if it was important to him it was important to her. "But Robin if this is something you want, I don't want to stand in your way."

"What I want is you and our children. There will be other jobs."

Dropping her head, she sighed. "I can't help but think that I shouldn't let you do this."

Tilting her chin up so he could see her, Robin told her, "Regina, even if we were not together I would still turn it down. Leaving Olivia, separating her and Roland now, would be unthinkable."

Regina sighed brow scrunching in thought. Then a moment later, she looked up at him. "What if we went with you?"

Robin took a step back, her words crashing over him like a title wave. Was she suggesting what he thought she was suggesting? All of them move together? Just when Robin thought he could not love her more, she went and did something so incredible it stole the breath from him. The fact that Regina would move her whole life for him left him without words. Finally, Robin smiled, lifted his hand to cup her cheek and tangle in her hair. "Do you know how much I love you?"

She chuckled lightly. "I do."

"As much as I appreciate, no that's nowhere near the right word to convey the gratitude I'm feeling right at this moment, that you would give up everything for me is beyond words. Regina, believe me when I say I want our lives to be here, where we met, where our children have family and friends. This is our home." Nodding, Regina swallowed, and rubbing her back Robin coaxed, "Why don't I give Belle a ring, and let her know we're going to have a bit of a lie in this morning. I think we could both use the extra rest after last night."

Regina couldn't help but agree. She took a step towards him and let her head rest against his chest. Their arms wrapped around one another, and they simply held each other for a while. Finally, Robin hugged her to him, squeezing her gently before pulling back. "Let's go back to bed."

She let him take her hand and guide her back to her room. After placing a call to Belle, Robin got into bed, and sliding up behind her, he wrapped his arm around her and buried his nose in her hair. He breathed her in and kissed her right below the ear. His assurances had soothed her guilt, and his explanation had her anger all but dissipated. If they hadn't been seeing one another, she'd have no say in whether he turned down the job or not. Robin chose her daughter over a promotion, and she couldn't bring herself to argue against that. With that thought, it wasn't long before she relaxed into him and was fast asleep again.


 

He was sure he was dreaming when he felt her lips on his chest, moving down and down some more. His hands moved to tangle in her hair and he sucked in a breath between his lips, realizing this was indeed no dream.

"Regina," he groaned, her name falling from his lips in a reverent whisper. Christ, her mouth … Fuck, it felt so good… So hot, and God he was going to come soon if she didn't stop. It was sweet torture. He was trapped somewhere between heaven and hell, wanting her to go on but wanting to be inside her, to make her moan like he was now.

He let her continue to tease him, but when her teeth grazed him just so, and she began to suck the tip of him, Robin lost it. "Regina, stop…" Hissing at the feel of her hand and her mouth simultaneously was…  Oh fuck , he thought desperately as his head fell back and his eyes closed. He didn't want to come in her mouth, he wanted to be inside her, but if she didn't stop soon, he would have no choice. "Stop! Please, babe."

She released him, and he lay there trying to catch his breath as he felt her gloriously naked body crawl up to lay atop his. In between placing wet kisses to his neck, she said, "Look who's finally decided to wake up."

Robin laughed and couldn't imagine continuing to sleep through  that . Growling he kissed her, and wrapping his arms around her, he rolled them so that he was the one above her. She giggled and opened her legs for him, wrapping them around his waist. He tilted his hips up, groaning when he entered her.

He stilled inside her. As amazing as she felt, it would be over all too soon if he started in after having come so close to coming just moments before. He kissed her languidly for several seconds before Regina moaned in her throat, and then he deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue into her mouth. He tasted her, nipped at her lips, before pulling her back into another kiss. It wasn't until she began to tilt her hips that he started moving again. A slow rocking motion that had them panting heavy breaths, her voice whispering his name in his ear as he sucked and kissed along her jaw and neck, his movements slow and sensual, neither rushing the moment.

She shifted her legs up higher along his sides, changing the angle, allowing him in deeper. He hummed against her neck, head dropping to her shoulder as he set the pace to something a bit faster. Her mouth dropped open at the new sensation. Each thrust drove her closer and closer to the edge, until he shifted up onto his knees, taking her legs and hooking them around his forearms before pushing back into her. Long quick, sharp strokes, in and out as he thrust in her, bending her just so so that he was hitting that spot inside her that had her reaching up and clutching his arms. Her nails dragged over his skin, and she sucked in a breath through her nose before whimpering at the feel of him at the new sensation and the friction.

His hand slid down her thigh and his thumb rubbed over her clit, stroking her in time with his thrusts. And  oh , it didn't take long at all. Soon she was falling over the edge, panting, gasping, and clutching around his him while he groaned, and with hips jerking he came inside her.

Releasing her legs, Robin fell on the bed beside Regina, shifting and tucking her to his side against his chest. He breathed into her hair, and she closed her eyes, enjoying the sensations that continued to roll through her from her climax, reveling in his touch and the feel of him for a little while longer before they had to get ready for a long weekend ahead.


 

After taking a shower together, they headed to get coffee before they left for Brooklyn to pick up Roland before they headed to Staten Island. They planned on staying the one night, arriving later in the evening and getting to the camp early the next day.

Robin reserved them a room at a bed and breakfast nearby. It was a small thing, a nice elderly couple who had owned the house for nearly half their life. The beds were soft, and the food was amazing.

The next morning they got up early. Robin showered first, and while Regina took her turn, he went downstairs and fetched them strong mugs of coffee. They dressed for the day, him in dark slacks and a dark blue button up shirt over a white tee, and Regina in a soft pink summer dress cutting just above her knee, sleeveless with a modest scooped neckline that drew Robin's eye regardless. Her hair was done up in an intricate knot at the nape of her neck, with pieces of dark locks falling around framing her face in a way that stole his breath from him.

"Hello, beautiful."

Regina looked up and grinned. "Hey there, handsome."

They met in the middle of the room. Lips met softly, and his palm came up to her cheek, caressing her cheekbone while the other found the small of her back, pulling her closer to him.

"You're going to kiss all my lipstick off, you know."

"It's a good thing you've got more isn't it."

Regina smiled against his lips. "You're trouble." Robin hummed in agreement and pulled her impossibly closer.

"Daddy, can we see Ollie now?"

They broke apart with a chuckle between them as Roland stood beside Robin's knees, tugging at his pants and looking up at both of them with his big, brown eyes. Reaching down, Robin took Roland in his arms and tickled his belly. The little boy squealed with laughter and doubled over in his arms. Settling down, Robin kissed the boy's cheek. "First, we are going to get some breakfast, and then we will all go see Olivia."

Roland's eyes widened, and he took Robin's face between his small hands and said excitedly, "Pancakes!"

Robin laughed at his tot's enthusiasm and replied, "Yes, little sprog, you may have pancakes!"

Letting go of Robin's face, his hands came together, clapping happily before reaching out to Regina who smiled at him.

"You want to come to me?" Regina said, smiling, and Roland nodded as Robin met her eyes. Taking Roland from him, she asked, "Can I share some pancakes with you?"

The young boy's eyes lit up. "Yep, and Daddy, too!"

Robin made the most serious of faces, telling his son, "Well then, we should get a move on, shouldn't we, before all the pancakes get eaten." Taking his keys and wallet from the dresser, they headed downstairs for breakfast.


 

Pulling up to the camp, Robin bit back a scoff. Valet parking. Just brilliant. Just how posh was this camp? If he didn't know any better, he would say that along with talent came a lot of rich backers. Regina had never mentioned any kind of tuition she might have paid. Robin assumed the way she spoke that it might have been a scholarship of some kind. However, seeing this camp for himself, he felt like an utter moron for assuming such a thing.

Soon he was going to have to have a conversation with Regina about Olivia's expenses. They were together now, and she had spent so long parenting Olivia on her own, it was time for him to take some of that from her shoulders.

Robin reached for her hand, taking it in his and linking their fingers. Regina looked over at him from the passenger seat. "What?"

"Nothing," Robin told her.

She gave him a smile that lit up her dark eyes. Bringing her hand up to his lips, he kissed it. These were the moments he lived for. Moments where something as simple as holding her hand would make her smile as she was now, and he vowed to make sure he did that every day for the rest of their lives.


 

"Momma, Daddy!"

They heard her before they saw her, and Robin looked up just in time to spot Olivia's long dark hair and smiling face. Kneeling down, Robin scooped her from the ground as she launched herself into his arms. It had been four weeks, but it felt much longer than that. He missed her so much, and holding her tight, he could hear her giggling and her words reiterating what he'd been thinking in his ear. "I missed you, Daddy."

"I missed you too, my little darling."

Robin set her on her feet, and then Olivia wrapped her arms around Regina's neck, who held her tight in return. Robin could hear the whisperings between mother and daughter and stood back, taking Roland by the hand giving them a moment. As hard as it had been for Olivia to leave, it had been just as hard for Regina to let her go.

Standing up straight, Robin noticed Regina quickly wipe the traces for tears from her cheeks, and he put his hand on her back, a smile of support pulling at his lips. Olivia bent down and gave Roland a hug as the tot cried out, "Ollie!" with a sunny smile, happy to see his sister once again.

Looking up at them, the little girl smiled brightly. Her blue summer dress brought out the lightness in her eyes, making them stand out against the darkness of her long, dark hair. Those light eyes and dimples may have been his, but that smile was all her mother, and Robin's chest warmed with love for her.

Taking his hand Olivia asked, "Do you want to come see my camp?"

"We would love to. Lead the way, darling."

Olivia took them all around the campus, into the hall where they practiced, the auditorium where they would perform for all the parents this weekend, and out to the dorms and kitchens and all around outside.

While Olivia showed Robin the ducks over by the pond, Regina took Roland to the bathroom. He had wanted Regina more and more lately, and she and Robin had been working with the little boy, getting him out of pull-ups, however, this weekend they decided to keep with the pull-ups just in case, and it was a good thing for it.

On her way back from the bathroom, carrying a very sleepy toddler, Regina stopped abruptly in her tracks. Across the lawn, Olivia was standing next to Robin with her hand in his, talking to an older couple. They had their backs to her, but Regina would recognize that Chanel suit anywhere.

Mother .

Somehow, as if sensing Regina's thoughts, Cora turned and met her gaze. Taking a deep breath, Regina shifted Roland in her arms and watched as her mother excused herself from them and began walking towards her.

Regina took a step and then another. Stealing herself for the conversation she knew was coming and adjusting a now dozing Roland on her shoulder, Regina put on a smile and stopped just as her mother reached her.

Cora Mills was first and foremost never one to beat around the bush, and nor was she the sort to display any sort of public affection. So when Cora's first words to her in over four weeks were, "Regina, dear, Olivia was just introducing us to her father," Regina wasn't the least bit surprised.

Regina held her Mother's penetrating gaze, the accusing one she'd seen many times over the years, the one that clearly implied ' you've been hiding something from me' . Choosing to sidestep her Mother, for now, Regina replied, "Mother, I didn't know you and Daddy were planning on attending."

"Well, I don't know why you'd think we would miss this." Cora laughed airily, then with great smugness murmured, "I did have something to do with getting her in this program after all."

Clenching her teeth, Regina took a breath. "Right, because it wouldn't have anything to do with her talent."

"Yes, of course, we all are very aware of how wonderfully talented Olivia is. Really, Regina, don't be so dramatic." Regina straightened, feeling like a chastised twelve-year-old all over again. Cora glanced across the lawn to where Robin was talking with her father and Olivia. "I didn't realize you were looking into Olivia's biological father?"

Regina sighed. "It was Olivia's decision to find him, Mother."

That peaked Cora's interest. Her eyes widened and Regina internally cringed. "Oh, do you really think Olivia is old enough to make that kind of decision?"

Holding Roland close to her and letting her eyes drift to Robin, Regina took a deep breath. "Considering how well it worked out for us, yes, I do."

"Us?"

Biting her tongue, Regina came to a decision. There wasn't anything Cora could say or do when it came to her relationship with Robin, and if her mother was insistent on these kinds of questions, she might as well as tell her what she wanted to know so Regina could be done with her. "If you must know, Robin and I are seeing each other, Mother."

"Oh, and how is that going?" her mother asked sweetly. "Not confusing my granddaughter, is it? Because it will, you know. Especially if it doesn't work out between you."

Regina blinked at her. "Why are you assuming it won't work out?"

"Oh, honestly, Regina, don't you think if you had wanted to be happily married, you would have done so by now?"

Regina felt like she'd been slapped. "I was happy before, Mother."

"Oh please," Cora began, irritation now beginning to make its way into her tone. "You were barely old enough to know what real love was."

Turning to fully face her, Regina pierced her mother with an angry stare. Cora knew how much Daniel had meant to Regina, and to talk about her love for him like that, like it was nothing, made Regina's heart clench and her eyes burn with unshed tears. "How can you say something like that to me?"

"I only speak the truth. You just don't want to hear it," her mother told her in a low, cold voice that brought Regina back to that day. The day she'd walked up to her mother after leaving the hospital after her fiancé had died. She had always known her mother to be distant and closed off, but what mother would ever turn away from her child that was in pain? There had only been one time in her life where she wanted the comfort of her mother, wanted her to take her in her arms and tell her how much she loved her and how maybe it hurt now but she was strong, and she would get through it that she would be there for her.

Only Cora hadn't said that. Instead, she took Regina by the arms and said, "If only you had listened to me. I told you, Regina. Love is weakness. The sooner you learn that the better off you'll be. Now go upstairs and wash your face."

Hearing Olivia's laugh snapped her attention from her mother. And looking back at them, the picture of Olivia smiling up at Robin and holding his hand while they talked with her father calmed her enough to keep her from making a scene. "For Olivia's sake, I'm going to pretend this conversation never happened. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go be with my family."


 

Cora followed behind her, much to Regina's chagrin. Robin was waiting beside Olivia, his knowing gaze bore into hers as she approached, and he held out his hands to take Roland from her. She tried to not let him see the shaking in her hands or the hurt and anger in her eyes.

"There's my girl." Henry smiled at Regina, and she couldn't help but step into his loving embrace and hold him close for a moment.

"Hello, Daddy." Stepping back, Regina took Robin's hand in hers, feeling his silent support as it tightened around hers. "Robin, these are my parents. My father, Henry, and my mother Cora, and this is Robin Locksley, and his son Roland."

Her father smiled and took Robin's hand eagerly. "Pleasure."

Cora's eyes locked onto Robin, traveled down and back up, and Regina's lips pursed in irritation. How dare her mother so openly scrutinize him, solely to get under Regina's skin. She wanted to drag her mother inside and tear her a new one, but her mother had other ideas. Her unpleasant look of disdain stretched into what one would call a smile, and she remarked airily, "What an adorable child. Is your wife here with you?"

Regina gave her mother a look Cora could not misinterpret, but her mother being her mother, she chose to ignore Regina.

Robin, looking completely unfazed, answered, "My wife passed away a little over two years ago."

"I'm so sorry to hear that," Cora replied, even though she didn't look apologetic in the slightest.

"Thank you," Robin replied, sincerely.

Regina's lips pulled up. He was such a good man. If only her mother would stop trying to control everything and everyone in her life, she would see this too. And then there was a moment, a brief moment where they all paused, and Regina felt like maybe it wasn't going to be so bad. That her Mother was done with her interrogation and they could all just enjoy the day with Olivia. But then again, Regina's never had that much luck where her Mother was concerned, and she closed her eyes when Cora asked, "So Robin, what is it that you do?"

Olivia, unaware of her grandmother's intentions, happily answered, "Daddy makes the buildings in the city, Grandma."

Robin chuckled down at Olivia and clarified, "I'm a senior architect for Richard Lionel and Associates."

Regina looked up at her father to see him smiling, and Regina warmed a bit knowing she at least had her father's support, however silent that it was.

Her mother's eyes narrowed. "Is that a reputable firm?"

"Cora-" her father began to admonish.

"Mother-" Regina started.

However, Robin took Regina by the hand and jumped in, meeting the older woman's derisive gaze with one of his own, and told her, "It's one of the top architecture firms in the US."

Cora gave a light laugh. "It's funny I've never heard of them."

Not one to back down from what was swiftly becoming what was known as a pissing contest, Robin told her coolly, "Well when one's priorities are solely entwined with societal gossip and fashion runways, I don't suppose you would."

The older woman's eyes widened at the not-so-veiled insult, and Cora’s mouth opened, about to spit back something no doubt cruel, but Regina jumped in, taking Robin by the arm and saying, "I'm sorry, Mother, but I see someone I need to introduce Robin to. If you'll excuse us."


 

They began to walk away, and Robin took Regina's hand in his, threading their fingers together. He could see it now, the reason why Regina felt the need to keep him from meeting her mother.

As first impressions went, Robin could already see a long road ahead with that one, but if she thought she would get away with insulting him or Regina, she had another thing coming.

Once they were a sufficient distance away, Regina’s voice spoke from beside him. "I'm sorry about that."

Robin’s hand pulsed in hers, offering her what comfort he could. "Don't worry about it, babe."

"No," Regina’s voice was thick with anger. "She had no right to pry into your life like she did."

He stopped them then, and once her eyes found his Robin told her, "Luckily for me, I have thick British skin. It'll take more than a level stare and a few personal questions to get to me."

She took a deep breath, and he could see just by the tightness in her jaw and tension in her shoulders how upset she was.

Even little Olivia, with her small knowing eyes, wrapped her arms around her mother's middle, hugging her tight. "Momma, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, sweetheart." Regina began to rub Olivia's back and assured, "It's just a small headache is all."

Looking around the lawn at the groups of parents mingling, Robin caught sight of her parents not far from them. "Do you want to go inside?"

"No, I'm fine," Regina assured, then with a tilt of her chin gestured across the lawn. "Besides, I really do have someone I wanted to introduce you to."

"Ah, so not entirely a ruse then?" Robin smirked and stepped forward placing a kiss to her cheek.

"No, not entirely."

Walking along the grass, they make their way over to the short, young woman with blonde curls piled on top of her head, and then Robin remembered her from Olivia's recital, it was her music teacher.

Olivia began to bounce up and down, looking up at Robin and saying, "Oh Momma, are you going to introduce Daddy to Miss Bell?"

"I am." Regina laughed. "Would you like to do the honors?"

"Oh, could I?"

"Of course, sweetheart."

Olivia's excitement had her dropping Regina's hand to run after her. Little Roland began to squirm in Robin's arms, anxious to run after his sister. Setting him on his feet, Robin shared a smile with Regina, as they watched Roland take off after Olivia.

Olivia stopped in front of Miss Bell. The woman looked down at her a moment before excusing herself from another conversation with someone. Olivia said something to her that made her smile and nod, and then taking her hand, let Olivia lead her to them. Once Roland had caught up, Olivia held out her hand for him. "Come on, Roland."

Another few feet and they all came together with Olivia smiling up widely at Robin. "Miss Bell, this is my Daddy, his name is Robin, and this is my little brother, Roland."

Miss Bell smiled at Robin, but kneeled first and stuck out her hand to the boy. "Hello, Roland. It's so nice to meet you."

The toddler eyed her with his big, brown eyes, and stepped close to Regina, hiding his face into her leg. Regina chuckled, "Roland, can you say hello to Miss Bell?"

"Hello," Roland said, peering out for a second before disappearing behind Regina's leg again.

Miss Bell laughed, and standing, she held out her hand for to Robin, and said, "Pleased to meet you. Olivia has told me all about you."

Taking her hand in his, Robin replied in kind, "And I've heard nothing but great things about you. Olivia really enjoys your teaching."

Miss Bell's eyes flicked down to Olivia. "I don't know that I'd call it teaching. I think Olivia is the one who's been teaching me. I'm sure you know this already, but she is just an inspiration."

"Thank you," Robin said as he beamed with fatherly pride inside and out. "We do know."

"You'll both be at the performance tonight?" Miss Bell inquired.

With his hand on the small of Regina's back, Robin smiled. "We wouldn't miss it."

Zoe Bell grinned at them both. "Well then, I really must be going and getting ready. I'll see you both tonight."

"Goodbye, Miss Bell," Olivia called out after her.

Roland stepped out from behind Regina to wave after the woman. "Bye!"

Glancing at Regina, Robin noticed her gaze was not on the retreating teacher but across the lawn, where her mother and father were engaged in a conversation with one of the owners of the camp Robin met a few hours before. Pulling her to against his side, he suggested, "Why don't we get out of this sun and take our girl out for some lunch. We could drive out to the place we had breakfast?"

Regina breathed in through her nose, shaking her head she told him, "They have lunch here. That's the point of this whole day."

Regina was understandably irritated, so Robin dismissed her abrupt tone. "I doubt they would take offence to us leaving for an hour or two."

Turning to him, Regina leveled her gaze at him. "I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I'm not going to run away from her."

Robin gave her a nod. "Alright then."

Regina tried to smile but it was a weak one. "But I wouldn't say no to food."

Chuckling, Robin kissed her temple and turned his attention to the children who had been looking up at them with curious eyes. "Alright, how about some lunch?"

Olivia perked up at that. "Yes! I'm so hungry."

"Are you?" Robin took his daughter hand, while Regina reached out for Roland's hand. "Did you not have any breakfast?"

The young girl looked up at him and sighed in exasperation. "I did, but not too much. I was just too excited to eat."

Nodding gravely and pursing his lips, Robin told her, "I bet you were. Well, now that we're here you can eat a good meal before you play for us tonight."


 

They stayed and watched many performances, each one more spectacular than the next. Robin was awed that these were the work of children, Olivia being the youngest among them, save one child, a boy who played cello beside his daughter. Olivia's friend, Quinton, Robin had the pleasure to meet earlier before the performance. Robin bristled upon hearing the fondness in Olivia's voice. Regina rolled her eyes at him and took his hand in hers.

The finale came and with it, Olivia's solo. It was indescribable how he felt in that moment. It was more than pride, more than love. His daughter was simply amazing.


 

They drove back late that night and decided to stay at Robin's. He could tell the meeting with her mother had upset Regina more than she was willing to admit. Regina had a very strong heart, but there was something about her mother that left her more vulnerable than he had ever seen her. Robin knew, of course, that their relationship was a difficult one. Regina had told him how strict and how high Cora Mills set her expectations for her daughter, but there was something Regina was holding back from him. Something deeper than not being able live up to her mother's outlandish standards.

It was nearly midnight when they returned home. Carrying a sleeping Roland, Robin unlocked the door, a silent Regina following him inside. His brow fell, and worry clenched at his insides. "Regina, why don't you go upstairs, hm? Make yourself a bath or take a shower? I'll put Roland to bed and bring up our things."

His words seemed to pull her from her fog. Features softening, Regina reached out for Roland. "No, I'm sorry. It's just been a long day. I can help put him to bed."

Torn between wanting to insist and not wanting to upset her further, Robin asked, "Are you sure? I've got him if you want to go up."

But Regina shook her head. "No, let me."

"Alright." Passing the sleeping boy between them as carefully as trained parents not wishing to wake their child could, Robin smiled at her. "I'll be up in a bit."

Before she could step away, Robin took her by the elbow and leaned in for a kiss. He meant for it to be a light fleeting thing, but when she leaned into the kiss he couldn't help but reciprocate. Lips softened, and mouths opened for one another. If he could pour all the love and comfort he could into one kiss, it would be this one. His hands came up to tangle in her soft dark locks, thumbs brushing over her cheekbones and he broke their kiss to rest his brow against hers. Opening his eyes, he'd hoped to see hers, but they were closed. She was hiding her hurt from him, and it killed him to know there was nothing he could say to make it better. But he would be her support, her strength when she felt like she had none left.

"I love you," Robin murmured.

"I know," Regina whispered back.

With that, they broke apart silently. Regina walked upstairs while he went back outside to fetch their bags. As he stepped out into the warm summer night, Robin looked up at the stars shining back at him, took a deep breath and wondered how a mother could be so cruel.

By the time he had got their bags from the Jeep, had fed and taken out Ella, and stopped to check on Roland, Regina was already in bed. Turned away from him and facing the window, Robin was sure she was still awake. Stripping down to his boxers, Robin climbed into bed and spooned up behind her, kissing her shoulder and whispering good night. He wouldn't push her to talk about it. As much as he wanted to know and do what he could to help, he knew her.

Robin heard her sniff, then a moment later Regina was turning in his arms, and tucking her head into his shoulder. "I'm here."

Regina pulled away, her head back against her pillow so she could see him. Her eyes filled suddenly, brimming with tears. "Have I ever told you that I had a horse when I was younger?"

Tucking a long stray lock of hair behind her ear, Robin gently replied, "No, you haven't."

"He was a race horse; his name was Ricinante."

Robin smiled at the thought of her on horse. "A race horse?"

"Mmhm. It was something my father and I did while Mother was away. He loves horses, just like me. We've always been closer, my father and I. I think that's one of the things that angered my mother. I preferred to my father over her."

Robin said nothing in response. Instead, he brushed the hair away from her face and waited for her to continue.

Taking a breath, she told him, "There was one summer while my mother was away, I went with Daddy to a race. We got there early, so I asked him to take me down to see Ricinante before it began. He took me down to the stables and that's where I met Daniel. He was my first love. We were together for three years. He proposed to me out of the blue one day, and I said yes despite my mother's objections. She thought I was too young and told me that I needed to finish school before I thought about doing anything so foolish. She needn't have worried because Daniel died three months before we could be married."

"What happened?"

"There was an accident, and he fell during a race and the fall broke his neck." Regina took another deep breath and let the tears fall down her cheeks unchecked. The wound from Daniel's death had healed, but her mother's indifference still cut deep. "She never approved of him, and I think she was glad when he died."

"I'm so sorry, my love."

"She told me I was too young to know what real love was."

Furious for her, Robin insisted, "Regina, obviously it's she who cannot fathom what real love is." Taking her hand, Robin placed a kiss to her palm and told her, "You love with everything that you are. It's her, not you, my love." Pausing, Robin then said the words that Cora would have never acknowledged, "You loved him very much."

"I did." Regina let out a sob, and tears sprang anew to her eyes then spilled over. Falling and falling, and all Robin wanted to do was take this pain from her somehow, but somehow he knew that she needed this, that she'd never mourned properly. She closed her eyes as if trying to hold back her tears, but when she opened them again, Robin saw more than pain, he saw fear, and Regina continued on, "I love you, Robin, so much and I feel like she's doing it all again. I don't want to lose you..."

His eyes widened and Robin shook his head. There was no way on this earth her mother, her bitch of a mother, could run him off. If anything, it only drew out this need to protect her and his daughter from her mother more. He had to put a stop to that thinking.

"Hey hey, Regina, look at me." He placed a knuckle under her chin, guiding it up gently.

Once her dark tear-filled eyes met his, Robin told her fervently, "You'll never lose me. Ever."

Her lips pressed together, and Regina gave a slight nod. Then taking a deep shuddering breath, she asked, "Will you hold me?"

His heart broke with love for her. For the girl who'd lost love so young and for the girl who never had the support and comfort during that time. Would he hold her? He would hold her forever. "Come here."

Wrapping his arms around her, Robin buried his nose in her hair, whispered assurances of love, and held her until her shoulders stopped trembling, until the tears he felt dripping on his shoulder ceased. Eventually, Regina began to relax and her breathing evened out. It wasn't until then that he let himself finally succumb to sleep.


 

Waking alone in Robin's bed, Regina sat up, and taking her phone from the end table, she squinted at the time. It was just after six. She let herself fall back down into the softness of the pillow and closed her eyes. She wanted to go back to sleep, but thoughts of her mother and the way she let her get to her filled her mind, making sleep almost impossible. With a heavy sigh, she got up from bed and went to use the bathroom before making her way downstairs.

The house was quiet, but she could smell the aroma of coffee. Regina wondered what it could have been that had Robin, her Robin, the man that kept her in bed as long as possible in the mornings, the man who would sleep till noon if he could, up so early in the morning.

Stepping into the kitchen, her smile fell when she discovered it empty. Brushing her hair behind her ears she walked out into the hall, down deeper into the house and into his study. She smiled leaning against the door frame, watching him as he sat at his desk hovering over a drawing and tapping his pencil against the paper to the tune of whatever he was listening to on his iPod. Taking a sip of his coffee, she let out a giggle when he placed the cup back atop his desk and started to sing.

Who knew her Robin could sing? She smiled and shifted her weight against the door frame. She would have gone on undiscovered had it not been for Ella, whose ears perked up upon noticing Regina, and jumped to her feet from her pillow to run over to her.

Noticing the movement, Robin turned in his chair. Removing a bud from his ear, he sent her a warm smile. "Good morning."

"Morning," Regina returned, leaning down to pet Ella for a second before making her way over to him. She felt as if she were caught in the act, which really, she was, but still, she couldn't help but feel a little shy about it. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you."

Once she reached him, he took her hand and placed a kiss to her knuckles. "You didn't, I'm just making a few final adjustments on this." He motioned to the paper beside him with a wave of his hand then, studying her he asked, "Feeling better?"

She smiled softly while stepping into his arms, and replied, "I am." Reaching up, she tapped the lone earbud still in his ear. "What are you singing?"

"Ah, Diana Krall."

Regina's lips pulled into a grin. Robin was just too adorable with his jazz obsession. Just when she thought she couldn't love him more, she would catch him in a moment like this, and she couldn't believe how he wasn't taken long ago. "Really?"

Robin looked down, caught and a little red for it, but then looked up and shrugged. "What can I say? She helps me concentrate."

"Can I watch you?"

"Of course."

Robin leaned back, taking her hand and indicating that Regina step between him and his table. Once she did, he rested his chin on her shoulder, and his hand came up in front of her, holding the end to one of his ear buds. She smiled at him and put it in her ear. She watched as he began to sketch, his hand moving back and forth, making strokes here and there, almost in time with rhythm of the music. Regina recognized the song, it was  Cry Me a River , and before she knew it they were both gently swaying together.

Regina made a suggestion, a change to help with the lighting, and Robin paused considering it for only a second before he was erasing and making the necessary adjustments. It was perfect, and he told her so.


 

Robin turned his face slightly, taking a deep breath and breathing her in. She smelled like soap and jasmine. "I have to say I quite like the sight of you here in the mornings and in my shirt."

He could feel her low chuckle before he heard it, with her back up against his front feeling the vibrations from her shaking shoulders. His hand wandered from her hip to grasp the hem of the shirt, his fingertips trailing over the soft skin of her thighs, up and up, and that expanse of bare skin only continued over her hips, it was with a start Robin realized she wasn't wearing any underwear. The air left him. Regina had been standing in front of him, with him pressed up against her half hard, and she'd been bare-assed the entire time. His forehead fell to her shoulder, he was now rock hard from his revelation, his voice was rough and thick with arousal when he told her, "You've been naked all along."

"Mmmm," Regina hummed in confirmation, as his hands continued their path up her sides, and over the swells of her breasts, cupping her with a feather light touch until her nipples were stiff hard peaks that had her gasping and sighing his name.

"Robin,  mmm , I need you."

"You have me." He stood from his chair, pushing it back with his foot, and "Spread your legs a bit more, my love."

She leaned forward slightly, gripping either side of the desk, and took a step apart. She felt his hand trail from the top of her spine down, and she shivered in anticipation.

With his breath in her ear, Robin whispered, "You're so sexy." His hand slid down between her legs then, finding her wet and ready, fingers flicking over her clit, making her gasp, before pumping in and out of her.

Her breathing hitched, and her head fell back against his shoulder. "Robin."

"Are you ready for me?"

With pursed lips, she nodded. "Yes."

Bending forward slightly, she followed his lead and felt him from behind, the tip of him against her, slipping in just slightly before he paused, his head falling against her back grunting right before thrusting into her, filling her fully, blissfully.

Regina let out a moan of pleasure. He felt so good like this. So amazingly thick, not that he wasn't already, but this position… the same one when he'd taken her after they'd come home from the bar. When he'd fucked her up against the table and...  Oh God , she was going to come soon.

Gripping his desk in time with his rhythm, Robin set a slow in and out thrusting against her. She pushed back into him, making him grunt, and his hand stole up the front of the shirt, cupping her breast and pinching her nipple just so, the way she loved it while his other hand held her hip guiding her back against him.

"You feel so amazing like this. Close your legs, for me, Regina." She stepped together, his brow falling against her back Robin grunted and then hissed. "That's it."

"Robin..."  Oh -oh my God , Regina thought, as Robin thrust into that spot inside her, making her jaw drop and her hands grasp the edge of the desk. She gasped as he pulled out almost all the way and then pushed back into her with a slow thrust. Mmm, she loved it like this. Loved the friction and how big he felt when he took her from behind, but mostly the feel of him inside her.

"What is it?" His head fell against her back, breathing in the smell of her. The shampoo scent she used, so familiar now, yet smelled just as good if not better.

Trembling, she managed to find her voice, "You feel so good..." His hands gripped her hips, pulling her to him, hitting just the right spot inside her with every in and out motion. She hummed a moan, not wanting to wake Roland upstairs with her cries. But on a particularly amazing deep thrust, she let go, a deep cry and gasped his name. "I'm close."

She felt his hand leave her hip, and slide down her front and into her wetness, finding her clit and rubbing her in little circles.

Dropping her head to the table she let out a,  "Yes!"  and  "Don’t stop!"

His hand left her, and just as she was about to protest, about to tell him she was just about to come, he took her hand in his and brought them down, slipping both their fingers into her wetness, sliding over her clit. Their combined fingers sending a shiver up her back, and heat like she's never felt burning inside her. God, she loved him, she never knew she could feel like this, that making love with someone could make her feel so alive. Bending over her and thrusting with his body pressed up against hers, his voice was low and in her ear, when Robin said, "Touch yourself and come for me, babe."

Regina turned her head towards his catching his lips in a kiss as his hand left hers, and holding her hips, he began to thrust into her hard. Fucking her. It didn't take long, with her fingers rubbing her clit and the deep quick thrusts she fell blissfully over the edge, her orgasm hitting her with wave after delicious wave, making her inhale sharply, and reaching back, held the back of his head in her palm.

With a groan Robin followed after her, thrusting once and twice and then filling her. They stood over the desk, Robin's brow against her shoulder with hers resting across her folded arms while they caught their breaths.

Minutes later they stood slowly, Robin slipping out of her she turned into his arms. "My love, you are without a doubt the most sexy, profound lover."

Arching a brow, Regina smirked. "I could say the same thing about you."

Pushing her dark hair behind her ears, Robin placed a kiss on her lips and smirked down at her. "It's still early and Roland should be asleep a little while longer. How about we go make use of that shower of mine?"

Biting her lip, Regina nodded through a smile.

Chapter Text

They made Sunday about Roland. Fire trucks and dinosaurs at the museum, lions and monkeys at the zoo and they even hit the bookstore on the way home where they bought him a set of books that he and Regina could read together before bed. The afternoon was full of fun and fits of giggles, and as they drove home, one very happy but very sleepy little boy.

Robin put him down in Olivia’s bed, taking great care to remove his shoes without waking him. Regina had turned the air conditioning on the moment they stepped inside. One thing Robin had come to know about Regina, her love for spicy food aside, was that she hated the heat and avoided it whenever possible.

Leaving the door open a bit, just in case Roland woke, Robin made his way down the hall and into the living room. Regina was nowhere to be seen, so he sat on the couch and rested his head back against the cushions. Closing his eyes, he thought about how easily he could take a nap himself. That was until he felt her legs against his, and then her chest pressed to his as she straddled his lap.

He kept his eyes closed, but couldn’t help the smile that grew. His hands found her bare knees, and he caressed her smooth skin up and up until he met the cotton of her shorts. He frowned then, slightly disappointed that she wasn’t naked.

He heard her begin to chuckle, then her nose bumped against his. “I take it he stayed asleep?”

Robin hummed an affirmative while his arms wrapped around her hips, pulling her tightly to him. “He was tired.” Opening his eyes, his breath all but left him. She’d stripped down to nothing but a cotton shirt and shorts, removed her make-up and pulled up her hair. She was gorgeous. Her gaze lowered to his lips. “What would you like to do?”

Leaning forward he kissed her lips once, before moving down her chin and neck. Kissing along her collarbone, Robin’s hands left her back to grip her backside, lifting her so he could trail his tongue down between her breasts.

Her voice was breathy in his ear when she asked, “Are you hungry?”

“Ravenous,” Robin replied. His hand came up to push aside the material so he could take her nipple in his mouth. He loved her breasts, could spend hours feasting right there, kissing and nipping while she gasped and sighed.

“Mmm, this morning wasn’t enough for you?” Regina asked him, her fingers tangling in his hair while arching under his touch and lips.

Robin chuckled against her skin, the memory of taking her in the den and then making her come once again in the shower with soap and slippery fingers rushing through his mind. So yes, indeed, this morning was enough, but opportunities like this would soon be few and far between. “Are you forgetting this is our last week before we go fetch our daughter?”

“I haven’t forgotten,” left her lips, right before Robin teased her nipple between his teeth, making her gasp and bite back a moan.

Sucking her nipple back into his mouth before he let it go, Robin took her face in his hands and said, “I plan on enjoying every moment with you while I have you to myself.”

“Oh,” Regina breathed with her lips inches from his, then she remembered what day it was and she added, “Emma is coming back with Henry later.”

Nodding, his palms slid down her back, and he kissed her lips once before suggesting, “Let’s go in your room then.”

Biting her lip, she smiled. Adjusting her shirt as she got up from his lap, she then took his hand as they made their way to her room and closed the door behind them.


 

Later that evening, Regina decided to make a special dinner for everyone, in honor of Henry coming home from his father's. She was excited to see him. The last six years Henry and his mother lived with her had given her a unique bond with the young boy, just as Emma developed with Olivia. Henry had become as special to her as her own daughter.

So when she sent Robin to the store to procure the things she needed for Henry's favorite homemade lasagna, Robin was ever so happy to oblige.

No sooner than she began to layer the dish did the front door burst open, and she turned to see Henry’s smiling face.

“Aunt Regina!”

“Hey, you.” Regina placed the pasta aside and opened her arms to him, which he stepped into eagerly. Hugging Henry close, Regina placed a kiss on the top of his head before she took him by the shoulders and pulled him back. “What has your father been feeding you? I think you’ve grown at least six inches.”

Henry smiled up at her. “Na, not that much.”

“Three at least.” She returned his smile and kept Henry in a one-armed hug to her side as she turned back to the stove.

“You're making lasagna?” the boy asked, sounding hopeful.

“I am,” Regina confirmed with a nod.

“Whoohoo!” Henry called out, making her grin.

Emma stepped into the kitchen carrying two backpacks that looked fit to bursting. “Henry, come on, kiddo, let's go get these things unpacked.”

Regina ruffled the boy’s hair as he began to walk towards his mother. Just then Robin stepped into the room carrying Roland, who had just awoken from his nap. Henry paused, looking a bit surprised to see him. “Oh, hey Robin.”

“Hello, Henry,” Robin greeted. “How was your summer?”

Henry shrugged. “Good.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Wait you’re here-” Henry glanced behind them, searching the apartment. “Did you bring Ella?”

Robin chuckled but shook his head. “I’m afraid she’s with my friend Belle for the night. But if your mum and Aunt don’t mind, I can bring her over with me tomorrow?”

Regina’s eyes met Robin’s and then Henry’s, who looked at her almost pleadingly. For her part, Regina didn’t mind. She loved Ella, and she wasn’t sure why she didn’t suggest Robin brought her over before now. “I’m fine with it if your mom is.”

“Yes!” Henry fist pumped in the air, right before taking off in the direction of his room at a run.

Both Robin and Regina chuckled, and Robin stepped over beside her. “Smells good,” he told her, leaning in and kissing her cheek.

“You know, instead of leaving Ella with Belle you can bring her over here when you stay,” Regina told him.

He looked genuinely surprised but happy by the small gesture. “You don’t mind?”

“Not at all.” Regina smiled, then teased, “Besides, she keeps my feet warm at night.”

Robin scoffed and shook his head. “You know, you’ll regret letting her up on the bed when she becomes enormous and takes up half of it.”

She leaned into Robin and placed a kiss to his lips, before telling him, “Well, it’s a good thing you have a big bed.”

The rest of the night was spent eating dinner until they were all stuffed and playing games with Roland and Henry. A heated game of Sorry! and many video games had them all up a little later than they probably should have been, but soon Roland climbed up into Regina’s lap and his head fell against her chest. His eyes blinking and blinking, tried to fight off the sleep that eventually claimed him. With a yawn, Emma ushered her own son to bed, promising that his Mine Craft would be waiting for him in the morning.

Regina met Robin in her room after putting Roland down. He was just finishing getting undressed, stripping down to his boxers and tee, when she walked up behind him.

Wrapping her arms around his middle, Regina let her head fall on his shoulder. She closed her eyes, as she felt his hands on hers.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Robin asked.

“I’m just tired.”

Robin turned in her arms, and lowering his head, he met her in a kiss that lasted longer than either of them anticipated. Robin was the first to break away and his forehead fell softly against hers.

"I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for our daughter to be home."

“Are you sure?” She licked her lips nervously before continuing, “I can’t help but feel like once she’s home, this will all be so... real ...and I…”

Robin stopped her with a kiss. "Regina, if I’ve somehow left you uncertain about us let me just say this. I want to be with you. Not because of Olivia, though she is a wonderful bonus, but because you are you . I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere."


 

Their week went by in a blur. Regina had been going in for work early and staying late into the evening, wanting to get caught up and even put a few of her own projects to bed before the weekend. Olivia would finally be home, and Regina wanted nothing more than to wake up to her daughter’s bright smile, make her dairy-free pancakes, and sit with her on the couch or go snuggle with her in her bed and hear all her stories of camp. She didn’t even want to think about work.

Robin had the same idea as she, and while they spent as much time as they could together, nights at his house were usually with her on her laptop, and he in the den.

She took a break after Roland was put to bed, to take a bath. Pulling her hair up into a messy top knot, she stepped into the deep water and relaxed back into its welcoming heat. She let her eyes close, but for some reason her mind wouldn’t settle. Opening them, Regina looked around the room where she noticed simple things she never really took the time to grasp their small yet significant meaning. The two towels, instead of one, that hung near the shower. A bottle of her perfume that sat next to his cologne. Two toothbrushes, two bathrobes…

Sure, Regina knew how serious their relationship was becoming, but it was the ease of it, and how simple it was to fall into this role with Robin, that had her heart knocking hard in her chest.

She heard the creak of the door and a smile pulled her lips up. “You’re supposed to be working.”

“You mean stay downstairs and picture you up here all alone, wet, and naked? Not a chance, my love.” He came up behind her, and bracing his hands on either side of the tub Robin asked, “Is there room for two? Or did you want to relax by yourself?”

Leaning her head back, her eyes met his and she smiled. “Get in here.”

Dropping a kiss on her lips, Robin then stood straight and stripped down. Regina pulled herself up and scooted forward so he could step in behind her, and he hissed from the temperature.

“Too hot?” Regina asked, with a small chuckle.

“No, it’s fine,” Robin replied while he eased himself down slowly, and once he was fully in, reached for Regina. Hugging her to him and dropping a kiss to her shoulder before easing them both back against the tub. She hummed a happy contented sound and adjusted her head to lie back on his shoulder.

Regina let her eyes close but then snapped them back open. “Can we hear if Roland wakes?”

She felt him nod and then his hand pointed to the floor where she recognized a small radio. “I took out his old baby monitor a while back. We’ll hear him.”

“Clever,” Regina said while letting her shoulders drop and her eyes close.

“I do have my moments,” Robin said with a chuckle.

They relaxed there like that for a while, not saying anything, just enjoying being together. Almost as soon as Regina thought she could very well doze off, she felt his fingertips begin to trace a path along her belly. She hummed and turned her face towards his, feeling the prickly stubble from his beard against her nose and cheek, while his fingertips trailed up and up, teasing along the underside of her breasts and around. Never touching her where she really wanted, where she really needed those hands.

“Robin,” Regina pleaded in a breathy whisper.

Robin’s voice was low in her ear when he replied, “Yes, my love?”

Regina growled, and just as she was about to open her mouth to demand where he put those infuriating hands of his, he cupped her breasts in his palms, squeezing, before taking her nipples between his fingers, twisting gently just the way she liked, the way that made her writhe and moan. She hissed when he got just a bit too rough, but he soothed them by cupping her once again, kneading them gently.

Pulling in a breath through her nose, Regina pushed her hips back against him, feeling his hardness pressing low on her back and she wanted him. There would be time for teasing later, right now she just wanted Robin inside her.

Pulling away from him, Regina turned and could see his confusion in his eyes a moment before he caught on. Grinning, Robin held a hand out to her, sitting up and closing his legs so she could straddle him. When she was settled on his lap, Regina threaded her fingers into his hair, gently tugging his head back so she could kiss him. Robin moaned as she licked along the seam of his lips right before opening them for her. The kiss deepened as their tongues met. His hands glided up her back and around her shoulders, pulling her down on him, and she hummed feel of his hardness caught between them.

Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, Regina tilted her hips and rose slightly, letting herself slide over him before sinking back down. Teasing them both a moment and did the same thing again before rising just enough for him to take himself in hand and adjust himself so that on the next slide downward he filled her.

Their lips broke apart as a strangled groan left Robin, and Regina’s breath hitched. Letting her head fall back, Robin placed wet kiss after wet kiss to her neck and collarbone. Regina set a slow rocking motion up and down, taking it slow so that they didn’t make a complete mess of the bathroom. The water wasn’t too high, but she could see it spilling over easily if they really got going. Drops of sweat beaded along his hairline, and she could imagine she looked about the same. The water had already made it hot, but combining with what they were doing now, the room might as well have been a sauna.

“You’re so beautiful, Regina.” She met his dark blue eyes and her heart knocked hard in her chest. She would never get over seeing him so turned on and knowing that she was the cause. His hands trailed down her spine, making her shiver despite the heat of the water, then glided up and out of the water to cup her breasts in his hands once again.

Her breath hitched and then she swallowed. Closing her eyes, her voice was tight and needy, when she told him. “Don’t stop.”

“I won’t,” Robin assured her.

He lowered his head to her, taking a nipple between his teeth, then flicking his tongue over her sensitive tip making her arch. Gripped his shoulders, Regina left angry crescent marks, before sliding her hands up his neck and threading her fingers through his hair in order to pull him harder to her breast.

Opening his mouth, he sucked hard, pulling on the soft flesh, then letting go to nip and nibble, soothing his tongue over her dusty pink tip. Switching, he moved to the other breast, giving it the same treatment, while her hips ground down on him eagerly.

Her hands were on the side of the tub, fingers clutching and splaying. She missed his hands on her breasts but needed his fingers on her clit like they were now. Licking her lips, she opened her eyes to find him watching her. He liked to watch her, to hear her coming undone above him, and she couldn’t find that she minded. Not one bit. He smirked up at her with those dimples and that deep accented voice and ordered, “Touch yourself, my love,” she did.

Regina let go of the sides of the tub, and Oh, god , that was just what she needed. Regina whimpered as she pinched her nipples and his breathy, “Oh, fuck…” just sent heat low into her belly, added more fuel to the fire that was already consuming her.

His hand on her hip was helping her move faster, harder, and his fingers continued to slide over her swollen clit. Regina let a loud moan break through as pleasure gripped her. She could hear his voice, and strangled, “So beautiful,” and she was gone. Came with his name on her lips, and his fingers on her all-too-sensitive clit, and revealed at the feel of him inside her as he groaned, and came too.

Falling against his chest, Robin settled his hands on her back as they tried to catch their breaths. She was hot, needed to get out of the tub and cool down, but her legs felt like jelly. His palms continued to caress and stroke her thighs and lower back, and being still sensitive, Regina trembled under his touch. Heartbeats settled and then his lips were on her cheek, dotting kiss after kiss until she raised her head, meeting his lips in a soft kiss.

Soon they pulled away and Robin grinned at her, that smug, yet incredibly satisfied smirk she loved so much. “Feel like a cool shower now?”

Regina shook her head smiling. “You read my mind.”

They helped wash one another as they stood under the lukewarm water. Using his soap, the smell of pine filled the shower, as she ran her lathered hands over his chest and shoulders, and when it was her turn he eagerly shampooed and conditioned her hair. After they were clean, dried, and dressed, neither one thought of any more work for the night. Robin checked on Roland one last time before they turned out the lights and once situated, with him spooned behind her, they fell into a deep sleep.


 

Finally, Saturday came, and they couldn’t be happier for it. Leaving the city with large cups of coffee for each of them, and Roland snoozing in the back of the Jeep, they headed to Staten Island for one final time. Regina was anxious to have Olivia back and to spend the next month with her before she had to worry about things like homework and PTA meetings.

They talked on the drive over, about work and some of the things they liked to do as a family before the summer was over. There was still the farmers market they had yet to hit, and Robin admitted he had been eyeing an outdoor grill for a while now. Regina chuckled at his enthusiasm, and told him if he was so inclined, she would willingly suffer through a man wanting to cook for her.

Robin leaned toward her and she met him halfway, grinning as he kissed her lips, and told her to be ready. She would be sick of BBQ before the summer was out. Regina accepted that challenge.

As they drove up, they saw all the children lined up outside, speaking amongst themselves as they awaited their parents. Olivia chatted away, until she saw Robin’s Jeep, and had been hopping in place as they came to a stop, jumping in Regina’s arms as soon as she opened the door.

Robin had grinned at her from his seat. “Are you ready to go home then?”

“Yes!” Olivia exclaimed with a bright, cheerful giggle.


 

The sounds of little feet running down the hall woke Robin and Regina the following morning. Laughter from Olivia, Henry, and Roland could all be heard over the sounds from the television. Regina turned in Robin’s arms, resting her head on his shoulder. Robin held her for a long time, his fingertips skimming over her arm and back as they both just listened, happy to hear them all together again.

“I’m going to go make them breakfast,” Robin told her.

Regina hummed gratefully. “I’ll be out in a few. I need to check a few emails.”

He placed a kiss to her temple. “Take your time, I’ve got them.”

Over the weekend they managed to make it to the market to fill up on fresh fruit and food that Regina normally kept stocked, but over the last few weeks they had been splurging on less vegan dishes and more so on things that they couldn’t have around the house in case Olivia somehow ate something she shouldn’t.

Breaking out the waffle mix and some strawberries, Robin whistled along with the tune of Let’s Go Fly a Kite that rang out from the living room. He spotted Olivia out of the corner of his eye. She stood beside the kitchen island, her blue eyes studying him quietly.

“Well, hello there.”

“Are you making breakfast?” Olivia asked.

“I am. Is Mary Poppins over?” Robin inquired while taking a strawberry from the bowl to slice.

Olivia nodded, pushing her long dark hair away from her face. “Can I watch you?”

Robin gestured to the barstool on the other side of the counter. “Absolutely.”

She padded around the counter and climbed into the chair. Watching him as Robin sliced one berry after the other, Olivia nibbled on her lip in a gesture reminiscent of her mother, and then finally she seemed to have come to a decision. Tilting her head, Olivia said, “Daddy.”

Robin looked up from slicing, and licking the sweetness from his thumb, he replied, “Yes, my darling?”

Olivia’s little arms came up and she rested her chin in her hands. “Are you Momma’s boyfriend?”

Robin smirked and wondered what brought this on. “I am. Why do you ask?”

The little girl’s shoulders raised and fell quickly. “That’s just what Henry called you.”

“Ah.” Henry. Robin should have known the little mastermind was behind this. “I see.”

“Are you gonna marry Momma?” Olivia asked, sitting up, innocently blinking at him with those dark lashes of hers.

Robin very nearly dropped the knife on that one. Eyeing his daughter, Robin said, “These are quite the questions this morning.”

“Henry said that's what comes next.”

He would tell her that, wouldn't he , Robin thought with an internal roll of his eyes. It's not that it bothered him per say, but he would prefer Henry not get Olivia's hopes up before he even had a chance to ask Regina. Setting the knife aside, he went around the island and sat on the barstool beside Olivia. Turning to face her, Robin took a breath before he explained, “You see, Olivia, before mums and dads decide to get married, they spend lots of time together getting to know one another.”

“But you both already know one another,” Olivia replied slowly, and her little nose scrunched the way it did when she was confused.

His daughter had him there. “That’s true, but I think I need a bit more time to show your mum how much I love her.”

That seemed to stump the little girl because her brows fell looking more confused than before. “She doesn’t know?”

Robin let out a light laugh. How did one explain relationships such as his -and Regina’s to a nine-year-old? Better yet, explain the way love worked. Robin took on a different tactic, and told Olivia, “She does, but I want to make sure she knows that I’ll love her forever. And you know, the best thing about that is we’ll all be together more.”

Olivia’ eyes widened and she smiled at him. “Does that mean you’re gonna sleep over like last night?”

Robin gave her a nod. “Sometimes.”

“And Momma will stay at your house?” she asked, with a hopeful tone in her voice.

Robin chuckled. “Yes, she will too.”

“So,” Olivia began, and Robin could tell she was putting it all together in her mind, then added, “we'll be like a family, only we’ll have two houses.”

The thought that Olivia needed this confirmation made Robin’s heart ache. Taking her hand from where it rested on the counter, Robin gave it a squeeze. “We already are a family, my darling. No matter where we sleep.”

Olivia’s dimples shown when she smiled. “I like that a lot.”

“I do too.” Releasing her hand, Robin stood from the chair. “Now why don’t you come over here and help me with these strawberries, eh?”

Jumping from the stool and following him, she “ Oooh’ed” and asked, “Can I have one?”

“Yes, of course,” Robin replied, picking one of the washed strawberries from the pile beside the cutting board and handing one to her.

A short while later, Regina made her way into the room carrying a babbling Roland on her hip smiling at father and daughter as the two made breakfast together. Regina stood next to Olivia who was standing on a stool, busily squishing strawberries in a bowl. Roland leaned forward to peek inside, and Regina braced the boy’s side so he wouldn’t fall. 

“What are you both making?” Regina asked.

Olivia looked up at Regina. “I’m helping Daddy smash these strawberries.”

“Oh yum,” Regina said, feeling her stomach growl in anticipation.

“Berry?” Roland held out his hand to his father, his fist opening and closing in a rapid movement, and Regina turned in the direction of Robin.

Robin handed Roland and Regina a berry each. “Here you go my boy, and my love.” Robin shared a look with her, one that was chased with a soft kiss, and a wink. Regina bit into it, tasting the juicy sweetness, before holding out the rest. Robin grinned and, opening his mouth, took the bite along with her fingers in his mouth making her laugh.

Chewing and chewing, Regina swallowed then grimaced as the strawberry Roland had been eating was now dripping with juice down his chin and in his hands. Walking over to a drawer, Regina took out a clean dish rag and turned to the sink. Getting it wet, she wiped Roland’s sticky fingers.

“More?” the boy asked with those big, brown eyes that had her wanting to give in but knew better than to let him spoil his breakfast.

Shaking her head, Regina told him, “We can have more when breakfast is all done.”

His little lips tilted down into a pout, but Regina tapped him playfully on the nose making him giggle and grab at her finger. The little boy quickly forgot all about the strawberries.

“Momma?” Olivia’s voice rang out.

“Yes, sweetheart,” Regina replied, taking Olivia’s hair that fell from her ponytail and ran her fingers through it.

Turning, Olivia’s blue eyes looked up at her mother. “Did you know that Daddy loves you? Like loves you forever and ever?”

Regina’s eyes left her daughter’s and landed on the man behind her. Robin’s eyes were trained on the strawberries he was slicing, and Regina could tell he was holding back a smirk. “I did know that.”

Olivia turned towards her father with a wide, bright and triumphant smile, and she staged whispered a, “See, Daddy. She knows.”

Robin bit his tongue and replied, “Yes, thank you, Olivia.”


 

Saturday morning, while the adults sat on the back patio drinking coffee and making plans for the day and weekend, Regina got called into work for an emergency meeting that could not wait until Monday. Regina showered and dressed and was about to kiss Robin and walk out the door when she felt him place something in her hand.

“Take the car. The train will be horrible today, and the children and I are not going anywhere. It’ll be faster,” Robin told her before placing a kiss to her lips. Regina looked down at the keys in her hand, noticing the chain contained two keys instead of just the one for the car. Raising her eyes to his, he smiled at her. “I had another set made for you, one for the car and one for the house.”

Regina’s smile was bright, and her dark eyes narrowed perceptively before she teased, “That’s quite official.”

“I’d like to think so, yes,” Robin replied, his own eyes going impish, taking her by the waist and pulling her to him, before lowering his head and meeting her lips in a lingering kiss that had them pulling back moments later, slightly breathless.

Regina hummed happily and then frowned, not wanting to leave but knowing she had to. “I might not be back until late afternoon.”

“Go and do what you must,” Robin coaxed, letting her go, his arms dropping to his side. “We’ll find something to do till you get back.”

With one final kiss, Regina left. Robin glanced over at the clock on the living room wall. The children were sure to be up soon, but until then he had some laundry to finish and a little bit of work he could get done so that he wouldn’t have to worry about it the rest of the weekend.

Little did Robin know how busy it was about to get. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon, after he and the children had lunch, while Olivia and Roland colored at the table and Robin cleaned up after them, that there was a ring of his doorbell.

Both children looked up at him expectantly, and he shrugged, told them, “I wonder who that is,” then headed to the door.

He expected almost about anyone. Belle, Killian, Mary Margaret and David, hell even a neighbor delivering a piece of post that had accidentally been mixed up with his. Anyone but the two people standing in front of him when he’d opened the door.

Stunned, all he could do was stare. After a heartbeat's pause, Robin blurted out, “Mum? Dad?”

His father, Jack, let out a bark of a laugh, and his mother, Eleanor, grinned and replied, “Well that's a wonderful ‘how do you do’ to your parents.”

His mother stepped up to him, and holding the door with one hand, Robin gave her a one-armed hug. “I didn't know you were coming.”

“That's because we never rang you,” Jack deadpanned, and Robin shook his head at the graying man. He could see the slight smirk on his father’s lips and teasing in his eyes behind his thick black glasses.

Eleanor let Robin go and stepped inside, and he held open the door for his father. Once everyone was all in, Robin closed the door behind them and then heard his mother’s intake of breath. “Oh my, is this her?”

Pushing past his father, Robin saw that Olivia was standing in the hall blinking up at the woman and man with curious eyes. “Yes. Mum, Dad this is my daughter, Olivia.” Stepping beside Olivia, Robin told her, “Olivia, these are my parents, Eleanor and Jack.”

“Oh goodness, look at you.” Eleanor kneeled. Her eyes took in her granddaughter for the first time, and she smiled. “You're absolutely beautiful.”

Olivia’s eyes left Eleanor’s and flicked up to Jack. “So you're my other grandma and grandpa?”

“Yes, my darling, but you may call me Nan.” Eleanor tapped Olivia on the chin adding, “The term ‘grandma’ makes me feel very old, and I am still very much young at heart.”

A giggle left Olivia, and she replied, “Oh, okay, Nan.”

Eleanor shared in the young girl’s laugh for a moment, but then as if realizing something, she observed, “Jack, look at her, she looks just like Robin.”

“I can see that,” Jack answered back with a bit of exasperation.

Robin shook his head. “You think that now, but once you meet her mother you'll think differently.”

“Oh? Is she here?” Eleanor asked standing and looking past him.

“No, Regina had to go in for a meeting this afternoon, but she'll be back later.” Looking between both his parents, Robin noticed they only carried a small bag between the two of them and he frowned. “How long are you here for?”

“Just tonight I'm afraid,” Eleanor replied, looking over at Olivia and then back at him with a regretful half smile. “Your sister has decided to go and redecorate. We need to get home before the walls, like the furniture, are covered in pink.”

Robin laughed at the image of his sister rearranging his parents’ house and covering all their furniture in pink sheets as she did when they were children. “How is Nicole?”

Eleanor’s head tilted, and she tried to smile but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “She has her good days and bad. Lucky they've all been rather well as of late.”

“That's good to hear,” Robin said while taking her bag from his mother, then said, “The last time I spoke with her she seemed in high spirits.”

“Yes, well, you of all people know what it's like to lose someone you love,” Eleanor told him before her eyes clouded with sadness.

Remembering his soon-to-be brother-in-law brought back memories from last summer in England, the time he spent with them all, and Robin swallowed. His heart clenched in his chest with sympathy for his sister. “Indeed.”

“Are we all going to stand here in the hall while you two gab all day or can we go in?” Jack’s voice rang out from behind them.

Robin laughed. “Yes, of course, Dad.”


 

Taking her bag, Regina packed away her laptop and prints. It had been a long morning and an even longer afternoon. The emergency meeting was stressful, to say the least. Their magazine was going to be doing a few cutbacks, and Regina had to fight to keep Anna. Not that she really needed an assistant, but Regina had grown attached to her quirky personality and upbeat demeanor. And honestly, Anna and Christopher were newlyweds, just starting out on their own, and Regina would not let Anna go. Not without a fight anyway, which was what she had done and won.

So now they would be down to three junior photographers and Regina. They could manage, they were a good team. At least, that’s what she told herself as she packed up her things, ready to be done with the day, to go home to her family.

Speaking of family, just as Regina was about to pick up her phone and put it in her pocket, when she noticed a picture of her and Robin come up on the screen. Regina had forgotten to turn the sound back on, so it was lucky that she saw it come in.

Tapping the call, Regina put the phone to her ear. “Hey.”

“Hey, babe. I hope I’m not interrupting?” Robin asked, sounding hesitant.

Regina smiled and reassured, “No, you’re fine. I was just getting ready to leave.”

“Ah,” Robin began, and Regina could hear laughter and noise in the background. It sounded like one hell of a party, or he let the kids turn the volume up to a ridiculous level. Which knowing 00Robin, he might have.

Chuckling, Regina asked, “Where are you?”

The sound dissipated, and she wondered if he stepped out into another room. “At home. I just thought I’d call and warn you…” Robin paused, and Regina held her breath.

He was going to tell her they had company. Closing her eyes, she sighed and wondered who it could be. David and Mary Margaret, or maybe Killian and Emma? Regina couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. After her afternoon all she wanted to do was to relax. Well, it looked like wasn’t going to be in the cards for her tonight anyway.

Resigned, Regina prodded, “Yes?”

Robin was definitely in another room because it was all but silent when he replied, “Sorry, I just had to step outside. I wanted to warn you that it seems my parents did check their voicemail while they were away, and they decided to drop by.”

Her eyes widened. Shit. His parents? Her heart picked up its pace and she swallowed. “Your parents are there?”

“Yes.”

Oh. Well, that was a bit different.

“Alright,” Regina let out a breath and felt an anxious nervousness begin to fill her, but then she shook off the feeling. She had to meet them eventually, she reasoned with herself. “And Olivia?”

Robin knew what she was asking. Her concern for how Olivia was taking everything seemed to be on his mind as well. “They’re all getting along brilliantly. She already loves them, and they her.”

Regina nodded though he couldn’t see her. That was a relief. “Should I bring anything?”

“Only yourself, my love,” Robin replied.

Grabbing her bag, Regina began to walk towards the elevator. “I’m leaving now. I should be there soon.”

“They’re going to love you, you know.”

Regina smiled at his attempt to ease her nerves. “Hmm, we’ll see.”

“And oh, I want to apologize in advance for anything they might say or for any stories from my childhood you might have to hear at least ten times.”

She chuckled. That she looked forward to. “Go back and spend time with them. I’ll see you soon.”

He was laughing as well, and then his soft voice, the one Robin reserved only for her, murmured, “I love you.”

Her lips pulled up. He had done it, soothed her jangled nerves with three little words. “I love you, too.”

Placing the car in park outside the brownstone, Regina turned off the engine and slumped back in the seat. Letting out a breath, she looked over at the house. She could do this, Regina told herself. They couldn’t be that bad. They were Robin’s parents after all. Not her train wreck of a family. When Regina always imagined his parents, it was simpler couple. Not poor, but more humble, down to Earth. Parents that cared not about the grade that you brought home but that you did your best. The kind of parents that comforted you when you were upset and held you when you were sick.

Taking the key from the ignition and grabbing her purse, Regina made her way out of the car and up those few steps to the door, feeling grateful for the key Robin had given her that morning. If Regina would have had to ring the bell or knock on the door with them all gathering around her at once, she might have turned back.

Stepping inside, she breathed a sigh of relief when the hall was empty. Setting down her things, Regina pushed her hair behind her ears. She could hear Olivia’s voice and the sounds of laughter coming from the kitchen.

Frowning, Regina brushed the nonexistent wrinkles from her dark gray slacks and white button up shirt, feeling like she should have gone home and changed.

Robin’s voice startled her. “You look beautiful, you know.”

Looking up, Regina smiled and couldn’t help the blush that settled in her cheeks after being caught lingering in the entryway. “You’re biased.”

Hands in his jean pockets, Robin shrugged unapologetically while walking over to her. Regina bit her lip, taking him in. He was wearing a white flannel shirt, with soft greens, blues, and browns. It was very Robin. It made her think of nature, and how well he fit into that category.

Closing the distance between them, right before his lips touched hers, Robin mumbled, “My bias had nothing to do with it.” Returning his kiss, she hummed unbelievingly. After a long moment Robin broke away, and taking one of her hands in his, asked, “Ready?”

Nodding, she gave him an encouraging smile before following him down the hall and into the kitchen. It was Olivia who noticed her first, smiling widely at her from beside an older woman with short blonde hair and kind eyes. Robin’s eyes. “Momma, you’re home!”

Roland sat between Robin’s parents, and his head snapped up from his snack of goldfish he just taken a bite of. With a mouth full of crackers, Roland managed to mumble, “ Momma!” and slipping from his chair, ran around the table to her.

Regina tried not to notice the looks the older couple had given one another. It was hard to explain to the toddler why Olivia could call Regina ‘“Momma” and Roland couldn’t. She and Robin both found it difficult as they didn’t want to confuse him, but with their relationship the way that it was knew the term was inevitable. Though, it was mostly when Roland was sleepy or not feeling well that he would refer to her as “momma,” Regina didn’t mind any of the other times. She loved the little boy very much.

However, now in front of Robin’s parents… that was another thing. She and Robin had only been together a couple of months, and in Roland’s life less than six. Regina could see how some might question how soon it was for him to call her that, and why they might let him.

And yet, when Regina lifted the boy into her arms and his arms came around to hug her with his head settled against her chest, the only thing she saw in their eyes was kindness.

Regina felt Robin’s hand on the small of her back and his voice beside her when he told her, “Regina, this is my mum, Eleanor, and my dad, Jack.”

With the energy of someone half her age, Eleanor rose from her chair and came around the table. A smile graced the older woman’s face as she came to stand in front of Regina, not minding a bit that Regina was holding Roland, Eleanor pulled her into a warm embrace, and with her thick English accent, said, “Oh, it’s such a great pleasure to meet you, finally.”

Unsure of how to reciprocate with her arms around Roland, Regina stood and let herself be hugged for a moment until Eleanor pulled away. The older woman’s eyes lingered on hers before announcing, “You know, I would never have believed one child could look so much like both parents, but I must say, Robin was right. Olivia is the spitting image of you, my dear.”

“Thank you,” Regina replied in kind. Her nervousness all but left her as she looked at them. Somehow Regina felt like she had been right about them.

Robin’s father sighed. “Eleanor, let the poor girl go before you run her off.”

Regina met Robin’s amused gaze and they both held back a smile.

Eleanor paid her husband’s words no mind, and led Regina further into the room, pulling out a chair for Regina to sit in. “Now sit down and tell us all about you.”

Regina was grateful when Robin pulled up and chair and sat next to her. For a while, they spoke about where Regina grew up and what she did for a living. Eleanor asked most of the questions while Jack sat back and listened. Regina could see a lot of Jack in Robin. Soon the conversation turned to Olivia, and how she was as a small child, her upbringing, and her school. Regina had pulled out her phone and played them one of Olivia’s recital videos from her school's YouTube channel.

Both grandparents watched in stunned awe. Eleanor had asked if Olivia had her cello with her, but it was sadly left in the city. The older woman had frowned, but Olivia promised to play it for her the next time they visit, and that seemed to have helped. 

A couple hours later, Olivia came up to Regina. “Momma, I’m getting hungry.”

Regina looked over at Robin and was about to ask what he wanted to do for dinner, but then Eleanor had beaten her to it.

“Jack, why don't you and Robin run off and get us some takeaway, and Regina and I will stay and get to know one another some more.”

Jack gave a nod. “Why not.”

“Alright,” Robin began slowly. “Anything particular you'd like?”

Eleanor stood from the table, going over to the stove where she poured herself another cup of tea. “Surprise us.”

Olivia ran over to Robin. “Daddy, can I go too, please?

“Sure.” Regina met his eyes, and Robin looked at her in question. “Do you want me to take Roland as well?”

Glancing over to the living room where the boy was resting on the couch watching a movie with half lidded sleepy eyes, Regina told him, “No, he's fine with me.”

“Okay,” Robin leaned in and placing a kiss to her cheek, whispered, “Good luck,” into her ear, and pulled away with a cheeky grin.

Regina frowned at him. She would make sure he paid for that one later. 

Turning to his mother, the older woman smiled at her, held up her cup, and asked, “Tea?”

Regina shook her head, full from the last four cups she had over the last few hours. “No, thank you.”

Eleanor took a seat at the table and held the cup up her lips, blowing the steam away. “So,” Robin’s mother began, her blue eyes looking over the table at Regina, before taking a sip of her tea. Regina prepared herself for what was to come. She couldn't help but feel like she was interviewing for a position she hadn't quiet applied for yet. Swallowing, Eleanor cleared her throat. “How long have you and my son been together?”

Regina’s eyes went up to the ceiling as if doing the math were easier somehow that way. “We've been dating now for about eight weeks.”

“Ah, and how's that going?” She gave Regina the hopeful look of a mother who wanted to know nothing more than confirmation that she raised her son right.

Regina chuckled. "Very well, thank you. He's an amazing father and a caring man."

"I can't take all the credit I'm afraid, he takes after his father. He was always so very patient and quite the snuggler." Regina suppressed a knowing grin, but his mother was quick, and Eleanor laughed. "I can see by the look on your face that he still very much is."

"It's not something a girl minds," Regina assured.

Eleanor returned, "I should say not." She studied Regina a moment. "You know, I find it amazing how this all worked out for you two. I must say, Olivia, is a wonderful child."

Regina’s heart warmed at the compliment. "Thank you."

"I mean it, bright and intelligent, and goodness knows to look at her, you can see the pair of you there."

Regina smiled. "She is her father's daughter, alright. They're so very much alike. Her spirit and temperament are exactly like his."

"He does adore her so,” the older woman said, and then added, as Roland ran into the room and up to Regina, “As well as little Roland."

Roland held up his hands, and Regina happily placed the young boy on her lap. "The feeling is mutual for Olivia. She loves having them both in her life. There are times that I look at them all together and it's like they were never missing from her life."

"I know what you mean. I was just telling Jack how grateful I am that you all found each other. I don't think I've seen Robin quite this happy in…” Eleanor paused, her lips pursuing in thought, then said, "Well since Roland was born. There were a good couple months there where he and Marian had a bit of hope. He's told you about Marian, of course."

Regina nodded. "He has."

Eleanor's eyes were on Roland who began to play with Regina's hair. “It took him a long time to find his way out of the fog Marian's death left him in."

Regina knew that feeling. She had mourned Nathan’s death for a long time, even after Olivia was born."It's obvious he loved her very much."

"Yes, we all did,” Eleanor remarked with sadness in her voice. “But you know, I believe fate has a plan for us all. The timing has to be just right."

Regina placed a kiss to Roland’s mop of curls. "I've never really believed in fate until I met Robin."

"I'll tell you, I never say it because it's overused and classically cliché, but…” Eleanor leaned forward and lowered her voice as though someone might overhear, “I really mean it when I say that you and Robin were meant to be."

Regina felt her lips pull up, but kept them pursed together, suppressing her smile. Both women sat in thought, and after a moment, Regina asked, "Classically cliché, huh?"

Eleanor laughed. "Ugh, horribly so."


 

Robin and Jack had returned with Italian takeaway with three different kinds of pasta, salad, and Olivia’s own special dinner, as well as desserts.

It was interesting for Regina, seeing a family so close. Though it was just Robin and his parents, Regina listened as they told stories of his upbringing with his sister, and it wasn’t hard to see how much they all cared for all the members of their family. It was something Regina always wanted, but as she looked around the room at Roland who sat on Robin’s lap and Olivia who sat beside her, Regina realized that it was something she already had. Something she and Robin had been building for a while now.

Just then, it was Eleanor’s voice that pulled Regina from her thoughts. “You know, Regina, Robin’s family line ties in with royalty.”

Looking over at Robin, Regina grinned. The crazy image of him being a prince or a king came to mind, and it wasn’t a bad one. She rather enjoyed the idea. Her eyes met his, and Robin’s lips pulled into a half smirk. Shifting her gaze back to his mother, Regina said, “You don’t say?”

“Mmm.” The older woman hummed an affirmative through her bite of dessert then once she was finished, turned to her husband. “What was it Jack, you would have been thirteenth in line for the throne?”

More interested in his apple pie, Jack managed a, “More like thirty-third, but yes, something like that, darling.”

Curious, Regina asked, “Would have been?”

Eleanor’s eyes widened, and she wiped her mouth with a napkin before explaining, “Ah, yes, well you see Jack’s family was quite the scandal. Turns out that Jack’s great-great- great grandfather fell in love with a foreigner, and he was booted out, disowned and stripped of the title and any claim.”

Taking her wine, Regina’s head tilted to the side. “How sad.”

“Indeed,” Eleanor replied, sighing. “But you know what they say about love.”

Jack rolled his eyes, and meeting Regina’s gaze he insisted, “It was not a love story.”

Robin’s shoulders shook with silent laughter when his mother let out an indignant noise. “It was. Just because she was French you can’t hold that against her.”

The older man looked at his wife and began, “She was a who-”

“Jack!” Eleanor scolded, hitting her husband with her elbow and flicking her eyes across the table to the children.

Olivia, who had been listening intently asked, “What was she, Pop?”

“Wholesale, my darling. She sold things,” Jack covered quickly.

As Olivia looked to her parents for confirmation, Robin could only cover his mouth, hiding the smirk there, and Regina shook her head at her daughter and encouraged Olivia to finish her dessert.

Swallowing her piece of pie, Eleanor said, “Hmm, you know, it explains where your father got his appetite from. It’s the French in him.”

Robin choked on his water, and Regina laughed.

“Mum, please.” Robin’s tone was pained.

“What?” His mother looked from Regina to Robin, her brows knitted together, a bit confused and obviously unaware of her son’s embarrassment.

Robin sighed heavily. “Could we not talk about this?”

“Oh, does it embarrass you?” Eleanor blinked at her son in delighted amusement. “I'm sure Regina here knows all about it. You've always taken after your father, and I have no doubt you're much like him in that regard.”

Robin dropped his fork and shook his head, and Regina chuckled at the pink tinge that was beginning to make its way up Robin’s neck and cheeks. “I can't believe I'm hearing this.”

The older woman laughed at her son. “Oh, stop it, darling. You've always been a bit prudish, but really you have two children of your own, you should be familiar with the way of the world by now.”

Olivia’s nose scrunched. Looking over at her grandmother, she asked, “What's prudish, Nan?”

Robin gestured over to his daughter with a wave of his hand. “You see the things you're teaching my nine-year-old?”

Eleanor paid him no mind, only leaned toward her granddaughter and explained, “It means your father is easily shocked by matters he should be perfectly used to.”

Regina was looking away and trying to cover her laughter, but the shake of her shoulders was a dead give away, and she felt Robin’s hand on her thigh. Regina turned to him. Her eyes were bright, and she bit her lip to keep from smiling too widely. It was a good thing they sat on opposite sides of the table from his parents because Regina felt his hand slide up and pulse there.

His eyes narrowed playfully. “Think that she’s funny, do you?”

“I think your reaction to her is pretty comical.”

Robin leaned in close and placed a quick kiss on her cheek. “She’s trouble.”

“Like mother, like son.” Regina scrunched her nose, and then bumped it playfully against the tip of his, before placing a hand on his chest and pushing him away.

Robin chuckled and went back to his dessert, but he left his left hand on her leg. Regina, who’d been done with her piece of pie for a while now, having filled up on pasta and salad, placed her hand on top of his, her thumb unconsciously tracing patterns every now and again.

“Robin,” Eleanor began, and Robin’s eyes flicked up to his mother's. “You really must bring Regina and Olivia home to meet the rest of the family.”

Jack looked at his wife, aghast. “Why put that on the boy?”

“What?” Eleanor looked over at her husband.

His father held up a hand, gesturing to the young couple. “They’ve not been together two months, and already you want him to bring her home? Are you trying to scare her off?” he accused.

Eleanor scoffed at the very notion and told him, “I want nothing of the sort, Jack. I simply meant it would be nice to have them over for a visit.”

Jack rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, and his head slowly moved from side to side as his wife spoke. They’d been married for so long that he knew exactly what she wasn’t saying. “You want to show them off, is what you want.”

“Of course, I want to show them off! What mother wouldn’t love to share a story such as theirs?” Eleanor leaned forward over the table and in a conspirator tone explained, “Regina, I have a sister back home who shall remain nameless...”

Exasperated, Jack insisted, “You’ve got one sister. Why not tell Regina her name? She’s going to know eventually.”

Regina shared a suppressed smile with Robin before turning her attention back to his mother.

Ignoring her husband, Eleanor began again, “As I was saying, my nameless sister is quite, as you American’s say, “a piece of work.” Ever since we were children everything’s always been a competition, and even to this very day she always thinks she has had the better of me, and now finally, my dear, you are my saving grace.”

Regina’s eyes widened, and she looked over at Robin, who had his head in his hand, while Jack rubbed his temples. Amused by both father and son’s similar reactions, Regina clarified, “Me?”

Eleanor sat up, taking up her glass of wine, and confirmed with a, “Yes.”

“Mum…” Robin began.

Sighing, Jack interrupted his son with an, “Eleanor…”

However, his mother waved them both off. “Both of you be quiet, I’m talking to Regina. You see, we both have sons, and just this last summer her son, Samuel, got married. And I had to hear all about how wonderful his bride was, how beautiful and successful. As it turns out, she’s absolutely horrible.”

Regina frowned. “Oh dear.”

“Indeed.” Eleanor nodded gravely, but then her features transformed, and she smiled, reaching across the table to take Regina’s hand. “Which is why I’m so glad Robin has found you.”

Robin’s head fell back in exasperation. “Mum.”


 

They stayed up late. It was after one in the morning when Robin carried a sleeping Olivia up the stairs and to her bed. Their daughter managed to stay up till nearly midnight, tucked up against Eleanor, while she told Olivia stories of her father when he was her age, before finally succumbing to exhaustion. Roland had fallen asleep much earlier than Olivia and had already been put to bed hours ago. The toddler was still too young to be swayed by the excitement of the evening.

It had been Regina who had taken him up after Roland had fallen asleep against her. Robin had offered, but he hadn’t been the only Locksley man to steal her heart. Regina had grown just as attached to Roland as Robin had to Olivia, and sure, she wasn’t Roland’s mother, but that didn’t mean she didn’t feel like it, especially as her and Robin’s relationship continued to grow.

When Regina came back downstairs after putting Roland to bed, she rejoined Robin and his parents while they shared with them their latest adventure in Sydney. Regina tucked herself against Robin’s side and her feet underneath her. His arm came around her, embracing her, and Robin spent most of the night tracing his thumb up and down her bicep absentmindedly.

Because Jack and Eleanor would be leaving the following afternoon, they had called it a night, refusing to take Robin’s room and insisting that the full-sized bed in the guest room would be perfectly suitable.

Hand in hand Regina and Robin made their way upstairs and to Robin’s room. Shutting the door behind them Regina was surprised, but not unpleasantly so, when Robin pushed her gently back against it, where they kissed and kissed some more.

His hands found their way up and into her hair, and pulling back a bit, Robin told her, “I’m sorry about my parents. They can be a bit… much.”

Regina chuckled while shaking her head. “No, don’t be. I loved them.”

“The feeling is mutual, I assure you. I think if my mum could pack up you and Olivia in her carry-on and take you back to England with her, she would.”

“Oh, I’m sure she would. She already made me add her as a friend on Facebook.”

 “Thank you for tonight, my love.”

“Anytime.”

He looked at her then, his eyes filled with so much affection it nearly left her breathless. Closing the distance, they began to kiss once again, languidly taking their time to just enjoy one another.  “I know it’s late, but are you very tired?”

Regina smiled against his lips and pulled back. His smirk was still there wide and undeniably sexy. “Your parents are right below us,” Regina responded, as her hands found their way underneath his shirt, and then added, “but I think if we’re quiet...” Regina leaned in and kissed him oh so very lightly while she slid her fingertips down his belly until she felt his jeans and undid the button there. Regina leaned in again, only this time, turning her head just so to place a kiss to his jaw. “Or we could just wait. Practice some restraint?”

“We could,” Robin agreed with a nod, while he started to undo the buttons of her shirt. Regina grinned up at him. “But I find you just too irresistible to do something like that.”

Regina began to chuckle, and she raised her eyes to meet his. With a quirk of her brow, she said, “It’s all that French in you.”

Robin snorted a laugh and shook his head. “I’ll show you the French in me, woman.”

With a grin, Robin leaned down, his arms wrapped around her just under her rear, lifting her effortlessly up and into his arms, making her giggle as he turned and carried her to the bed.


 

They were all there standing just outside of security, saying their goodbyes, when Eleanor pulled Regina into a tight, motherly hug. “I’m so happy I got to meet you, my darling.”

Regina hugged Eleanor back, a tightness gripped her chest along with a warmth Regina never really felt before, never knowing what it was like to feel a loving embrace from a mother. Tears sprang to her eyes, but she held them at bay. “I am, too.”

Breaking away, Eleanor pointed a finger at her son. “Robin, you take great care of Regina and my grandchildren.” Robin nodded, opened his mouth to say something, but his mother continued, not finished with him quiet yet. “And you must bring them home to meet the family soon.”

“I will, Mum,” Robin told her, and Regina stood back holding Roland and Olivia’s hand while both Jack and Eleanor said their goodbyes to their son.

The older woman’s gaze drifted to the children, and unable to resist, she hugged them both once again. “Goodbye, my little darlings.”

“Eleanor…” Jack began, glancing down at his watch. “If we don’t get going, the plane is likely to leave without us.”

“They’ll do nothing of the sort,” Eleanor dismissed, kissing each child on the cheek once again.

“Buh-bye!” Roland called, waving his little hand enthusiastically as they began to walk away.

“Good bye, Nan and Pop!” Olivia echoed.

Robin stepped beside Regina, and they both sent one last wave to his parents before turning to one another. Robin leaned in and kissed Regina’s lips, lingering just a bit longer than he perhaps should have in a crowded airport.

They broke away, and Robin smiled. “Shall we go home?”

Her lips mirrored his and Regina nodded. Yes, home sounded perfect to her.

Chapter Text

The second week of August, Emma went out of town on another assignment. Neal, having already had his son for the summer, had left for a trip, leaving Henry at home with Regina. She never minded having Henry. He was always an easy kid to handle. However, Regina had a heavy workload ahead of her, so Robin volunteered to stay over with them while Emma was gone and fill in for her whenever he could. He had his own job as well, but between their schedules, they were able to manage everyone.

They ordered pizza and made popcorn, watched movies, and played board games, anything to keep them inside and out of the heat, or more specifically to keep Regina out of the heat. Robin, for his part, didn’t mind venturing outside with the kids. He enjoyed taking them to the park where they would all play soccer, and after they finished, with sweat pouring off of them, they’d all run through the fountains until they were hungry and tired.

Nightly routines for the children seemed to work for Olivia and Henry. They took baths or showers, watched a movie or played games, and then Robin or Regina would sit down with Roland on their lap and Olivia at their side as they read books before bed. Henry claimed he was too old for stories but would still sit on the end of the couch playing a game on his tablet. Regina would watch him out of the corner of her eye and knew Henry was listening.

Two out of four nights, Roland would end up cuddled up against Regina. Unused to being away from home for so long, the toddler would wake in the middle of the night, asking for his father. They didn’t mind keeping the boy with them. These days had been so busy that once they were in bed, sleep was about the only thing on their minds.

Mostly.


 

Half way through the week, Regina left the kids with Robin while she went grocery shopping. They were out of almost everything. The boys drank milk like it was going out of style, and Regina was tired of takeout. With work all but done for a while, she wanted to start cooking. They all sat around the table and made a list of the meals they wanted for the next four days they would spend together, and tonight would be tacos for dinner.

As Regina moved from isle to isle gathering all the things she needed, her phone began to ring, just when she finished bagging some tomatoes. Glancing at the name on the screen, she let out a sigh. His call could only mean one thing. She picked up the device, pressed the answer button and then offered what she hoped was a cheerful, “Hi, Daddy.”

“Hello, Regina.” Her father’s voice was warm and sincere and made Regina feel a bit guilty for not wanting to speak to him. She loved her father. Her mother, on the other hand…

Letting that thought go, Regina replied, “How are you?”

“Oh good, just finished reading the Times,” he told her, making her smile and remember how he would do nothing else until he had his coffee and read the paper. “I thought I’d call and see how my girls are doing.”

Pushing the cart, Regina held the phone between her cheek and shoulder so she could bag a bunch of dripping wet cilantro. She rolled her eyes and tried to shake some of the moisture from the greens. “We’re fine.”

“Good to hear.” The line went silent, and Regina waited. “And Olivia’s camp? She made it home just fine?”

She raised a brow, and tossing the bag into the cart, Regina then took the phone back in her hand.  “Yes, Robin and I went and picked her up last week.”

“Wonderful.” Her father sounded distracted on the other end, and she wondered why he would ask her about picking Olivia up since she messaged him when they got back. He was searching for things to talk to her about, Regina realized.

Regina clicked her tongue, then thought she would save him the trouble and cut to the chase for him. “Daddy, what’s this about?”

Henry’s slightly startled voice asked, “I’m sorry, my dear?”

Growing impatient, Regina pointed out, “You visit when you want to know how we’re doing, but you only call when she wants something.” Narrowing her eyes at a menacing looking bunch of broccoli, she pictured her mother’s face and added, “What is it?”

Henry sighed on the other end and Regina waited for the inevitable request from her mother. “Only a dinner party, sweetheart. Your mother wishes to apologize for her tone at the camp.”

Incredulous, Regina stopped walking and repeated, “Her tone?”

Because really, it was just her mother’s tone that was the problem? It couldn’t have been her rudeness towards Robin or herself, she thought sarcastically.

“Regina, you must realize how much of a shock it was for her. To be face to face with Olivia’s father without so much as a word to her. You know how she doesn’t like being in the dark,” Henry told her.

Regina bit her tongue. She hated how her father made excuses for her mother’s behavior. Only once in his life had he stood up for her and that was more than ten years ago now. Regina told them both that she didn’t need them or their money, and if they didn’t want to know their grandchild, well, that was fine by her. But that was a long time ago, and since then he reverted back to his ways, letting her mother take charge while he watched from the sidelines.

Now annoyed, Regina defended, “That’s not how I planned for it to happen.” Because it wasn’t. She’d planned to introduce Robin to them in person and at the right moment. She didn’t plan on Olivia having to introduce them while she was away in a bathroom changing a toddler.

She could hear her father’s weary sigh. “Regardless, it’s the way it did happen. Now that Cora has had some time to think about it, she wants to do it properly.”

Shaking her head, Regina told him, “I don’t think one of her big parties is-”

“It won’t be large,” Henry interrupted. “She’s already assured me of that. Just a small affair where we can all get to know one another, and we can see Olivia.”

“When is it?” Regina asked, already knowing that it had been planned.

“Saturday.”

Saturday she would still have Henry and no other sitter because she fired the one babysitter she had a while ago and had yet to replace her. She wouldn’t dare bring along three children to her mother’s, despite how well behaved they all were. Saturday wasn’t going to work for her. “I’m watching after Henry until Sunday, and Robin has Roland.”

Her father wasn’t letting her out of it, though. “Bring Henry along. Bring Robin’s son as well.”

Regina internally groaned and grabbed a gallon of milk from the shelf. “I’ll need to talk to Robin first.”

“Of course.”

She looked down at her list, Regina still had a lot of things to get before she could leave. “I’ll call you back later tonight.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

They said their goodbyes and as they hung up, Regina couldn’t help but feel an unsettling mixture of apprehension and unease.


 

An hour later Regina finally made it home. She found Robin sitting at the table frowning at his computer while the sounds of the children could be heard from Henry’s room. He looked up as she came in, and closing his laptop, he got up to help her.

“Babe, why didn’t you call from the car?” he asked, while taking a few of the bags from her hands. “I would have run down and helped you.”

Lifting the bags, Regina grunted as she placed them on the counter top. “That’s good because there’s still more down there.”

Robin chuckled while leaving the bags he’d taken next to hers. Leaning over, he placed a kiss on her lips and replied, “I’ll run down then.” He started pulling away but noticing her preoccupation his brow furrowed, and he asked, “Is something wrong?”

Regina let out a breath, pushed the fallen locks of hair that had come loose from her ponytail behind her ears, and said, “Nothing that can’t wait until you get back with the groceries.”

“Alright then.” He nodded, gave her another kiss before turning to grab the keys and headed out the door.

Turning back to the counter, Regina started putting away everything while her mind ran in several different directions. The sensible part of Regina knew that at some point in the future, Robin and her parents would have to be in the same room together for one reason or another. She was more than certain that she and Robin had a future together, and whether the next meeting be at their wedding (God, was she really going there right now?) or the birth of another grandchild (she was definitely going there with considering how serious her relationship with Robin was turning out to be), she knew that the day where they all shared the same air was inevitable.

Regina only wished it wasn’t this weekend.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear the door open or Robin’s heavy footsteps behind her until he was setting more bags down beside her, causing her to jump, completely startled. His lips pulled into that deep frown Olivia made when she was worried or grumpy, and she had to chuckle at the similarity.

At her laugh, Robin tilted his head looking even more confused. “What is it?”

She let her head fall back, scrubbing the palms of her hands over her eyes. She was torn, not sure what exactly to feel other than the anxiety that gripped her heart. “My father called while I was shopping. It seems that my mother wants us all to go to her home for dinner Saturday night.”

Comprehension dawning, Robin leaned his hip against the counter. “You don’t want to go,” he observed. He knew her well.

“I don’t, but my father says she wants to make up for the day at Olivia’s camp.” Regina mirrored Robin’s stance and crossed her arms over her chest. “But I know my mother and I don’t trust her.”

Robin nodded. “I can understand that. She wasn’t exactly pleasant the last time we saw her.”

“I told him I’d have to talk to you first.” She shrugged and traced her nail along the cracks in the marble. Robin was quiet, and as much as she did not want to go, she was worried that the impression Cora left that day at the camp had put him off from her parents’ altogether. As much as she hated to admit it, Regina loved her mother and, somewhere deep down inside her, she still had a sliver of hope that one day Cora would return that love.

“I’m willing to go if you are,” Robin told her, and her eyes raised to meet his that were gazing down at her with a gentle smile on his lips. He took a step and closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her waist. “But if you’d rather not, I’ll support you in that as well. We’re in this together.”

Unfolding her arms, Regina reached up and pulled him into a kiss. With the feel of his arms around her and his words of support at that moment, she felt like there wasn’t anything her mother could say or do to hurt her. Not when Robin was there by her side.


 

Emma surprised them all on Friday by coming home early. The kids were excited and restless from the week spent mostly inside, so Robin suggested they could all use a night out.

The adults decide to take them to the movies. Robin paid ridiculous amounts of money for popcorn with extra butter, candy, and sodas. The kids choose the newest Disney flick, and they found the theater mostly empty. They picked seats in the middle of the theater, and Roland settled on Emma’s lap, while Olivia and Henry decide they were too grown up to sit with the adults and move down a row, sitting by themselves but right in front of their parents.

Robin's arm was around Regina even before the lights went out. The couple shared the same bag of popcorn, and more than once Robin licked the butter from her fingers, making Regina laugh.

Roland clapped and giggled along with the little girl on the screen and the even smaller creatures in her head. And near the end, when all the eyes were engrossed on the screen, and the tears began to fall from Regina’s eyes, Robin didn't feel the least bit guilty when he distracted her sadness with a kiss.

Who could blame him, really?


 

Pulling her hair up, Regina twisted and pinned it into a curly up-do. She would have left it down, but she didn’t feel like hearing her mother’s thoughts and opinions on the latest styles and how she was letting it get far too long. the way she always did when Regina let her hair grow past her shoulders and now that it was past the middle of her back, Regina would never hear the end of it.

Though, Regina tried to get in with her hairdresser sooner, Anastasia had been booked solid all week, and the earliest her hairstylist could do was next week. Sighing, Regina worked bobby pin after bobby pin into her hair, praying enough of them would hold up the weight of her long locks throughout the night.

Emma came into the bathroom and perched along the side of the tub. “What’s got you so riled up?”

Regina dropped her hands, which were tired and sore from holding them up so long, and met Emma’s concerned look through the reflection in the mirror with a sigh. “I just don’t trust her. This dinner, whatever it is, regardless of whether or not my father calls it her way of apologizing, I still can’t shake the feeling that she’s using that as an excuse.”

“An excuse for what?”

“I don’t know,” Regina sighed, frustrated. She felt trapped, and she hated that feeling more than anything.

“Maybe she really wants to make amends?” Regina’s eyes narrowed, and she gave the blonde a look Emma couldn’t misinterpret as anything other than have you lost your mind ? Emma laughed. “Okay, yeah even I didn’t believe that one. But hey, Olivia and Roland are going, she’s not likely to make a scene in front of them, right?”

Regina thought on that. Taking a deep breath in, Regina shook her head. No, Cora wouldn’t go as far as to upset Olivia, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t beneath vague insinuation and petty ridicule disguised as compliments.

“Regina, Robin already knows how much of a bitch your mother can be. Nothing she might say or do is going to change what you guys have.” Emma smirked at her then and shrugged. “Just one less person to send a Christmas card to.”

“Sometimes I just wish…” she trailed off, placing her hands along the sides of the sink. Regina closed her eyes to stop the onslaught of tears. Why did her mother have to be like that? Why couldn’t she just be happy for her, for once? Despite her resentment and anger towards her, somewhere inside Regina just wished her mother could love her for who she was, wished that she would love her granddaughter the way Olivia loved her. Regina opened her eyes, she had to stop thinking like that. Her mother was the way she was, and nothing was going to change that.

“I know, Regina.” Emma was behind her and felt her hand on her back in support. “One of these days she’s going to regret all she’s done. But for right now, don’t let her win. Go over there with Robin and your kids, and don’t let her see any of this because at the end of the day it’s her who is miserable.”

Regina nodded, and with that thought she finished the last of her make-up with Emma beside her, distracting Regina with her details from her latest date with Killian. Things were going really well for them. He was much more of a gentleman than he led on, much sweeter than Emma had expected, romantic even. Regina’s nose scrunched and she giggled. She was truly finding it hard to picture Killian as the romantic type.


 

They got stuck in traffic on the drive to her parents’ house. Regina was already a mess of nerves and stress, making her snap at Olivia more than once for not getting ready when she told her, and then another time for tangling one of Regina’s round brushes in her hair. It took Regina twenty minutes and a few of their own tears to get it out. More than once she thought about cutting it out, but it was at the base of her head, and it would be so so short. Finally, once Regina freed her, Olivia turned in her mother's arms with tears pouring down her face, saying sorry over and over, making Regina feel horrible for yelling at her in the first place.

Robin had stood back, unable to help, so he took charge of Roland, got the boy dressed and himself ready to go.

Dressing Olivia in one of her favorite green dresses that fell to the middle of her calves, Regina quickly braided her hair, then told her to run off and get her shoes.

They left soon after, but Robin made sure to ask Regina if she was certain she wanted to go. Robin smiled over at her from the driver's seat, dimples on display and his eyes bright when he told her, “Say the word my love, and I'll take us all home.”

Regina only wished they could.

An hour later, she stood in her parents’ living room. Olivia and Roland were over in the corner of the room playing and talking to a few other children in attendance with their parents. Robin had gone to get them a drink because with this crowd, Regina had a feeling she was going to need it.

Robin came up beside her, holding a glass of wine for each of them, and handing one to her, he observed, “Not so bad, eh?”

Grateful, Regina took the glass from him, and before taking a sip of her wine, with an arch of her brow, replied, “There’s still time.”

Robin laughed and placed his hand on her hip, fingers pulsing into her skin, he pulled her closer to his side. “Have some faith, love.”

Regina would have snorted if she hadn’t been in a room filled with her mother’s uppity gathering of friends. Instead, she hummed, gazing around the room, taking in those she recognized and many she didn’t, and she internally rolled her eyes when she spotted her mother’s red-head assistant, Zelena Greene, walk into the far end of the room. She didn’t want to go as far as to say she disliked the woman, but over the years Regina had come to realize that having to see her own mother meant going through a rough scheduling process with Zelena first. The woman was about as warm as a cube of ice.

She could feel Robin’s eyes on her, and she tried not to bristle. She knew he just wanted to help, to be supportive, but it came off as overprotective, and it made her feel suffocated. He took a drink and inquired “Something wrong?”

“It's nothing.” Taking another long sip of wine, Regina felt the dry Merlot burn slightly as it made its way down her throat and felt a pang of guilt settle in her middle. Regina didn't mean to be short with him, she was letting her mother get to her, and now she was taking it out on Robin. Shaking her head, she said, “I'm sorry. I just want this night to be over.”

“You don't need to apologize.” He was excusing her attitude, and it made her feel all the more horrible. “Olivia seems to have found some friends.”

Regina’s gaze settled across the room to where Olivia was talking with another girl close to their daughter’s age. “So I’ve noticed.”

“Does your mother have dinner parties often?”

“She does, but nothing like this.” Regina waved in the direction of the kids. “She’s not a fan of children. There’s a reason why I’m an only child.”

“Perhaps she’s trying to show you she’s turning over a new leaf?” Robin supplied, optimistically.

Before Regina even had the chance to scoff at that statement, a voice interrupted her train of thought. “Regina, sweetheart.” Regina turned to see her father entering the room, two fingers of whiskey in his glass at hand. He stepped up to her and kissed her cheek and then turned to her right. “Robin, how are you?”

“Very well, sir,” Robin replied and added in kind, “How are you?”

“I’ll be better once all of Cora’s friends are out of my house.” The balding man winked at his daughter, and Robin smothered a smile. Robin liked her father and could see why Regina had grown closer to him than her mother.

“I thought this was supposed to be a small affair?” Regina groused with her glass held up to her mouth in an attempt to shield their conversation from onlookers and those close by.

Henry shook his head, told Regina, “As did I, but I guess I should have known better when your mother is concerned.”

Regina felt Robin’s hand warm on the small of her back, and she leaned into his touch, muttering a, “Too late to back out now?”

Henry’s light chuckle could only be heard by them, and he replied with a serious, “My dear if there was a way out I would have left long ago. We’d never hear the end of it.”

He’d never hear the end of it, Regina thought ruefully. Regina, on the other hand, would simply not answer the phone for the foreseeable future.

A woman dressed in a black pantsuit came from across the room and walked up to Henry, telling him that dinner was about to be served. Henry thanked the woman and then announced dinner to the room. As the guests started to trickle out, Robin took Regina by the elbow, bringing his mouth close to her ear and remarked, “If I’d known you’d grown up this posh, I would have brushed up on my table manners and formal dinner etiquette before tonight.”

Regina, however, was too anxious to find his jest amusing, and she rolled her eyes before downing her glass of wine in one go.

“Easy does it, my love,” Robin said, his lips pulling down into a frown, and when she was finished, Regina handed the empty glass to him. “You don’t know my mother,” was the last thing she muttered under her breath to him as she began to walk from the room. He let out a heavy sigh. No, he didn’t know her mother, but he had a feeling he was about to. Setting the glass on the mantle, Robin followed Regina, praying that dinner would turn out to be at least civil.


 

The children were taken into another room to eat separately from their parents. Olivia ushered Roland along with her, and Regina waved to him as he looked back, a bit unsure of this new custom. She was certain that she or Robin would have to go at some point and sit by his side unless Olivia was able to keep the toddler entertained through dinner.

Most of the dinner had gone well. Regina talked mostly to Robin, who sat beside her. There were six other couples that had joined them for the evening, five of which she knew to be mostly her mother’s work acquaintances, and then another couple she and Robin had been introduced to but only for a moment before they were ushered away.

It wasn’t until the main course was served that a silence fell over the room, and as everyone started their meal, Cora spoke up from the end of the table.

“Regina, dear, why don’t you tell everyone how you and Robin met?” Cora’s cool eyes met hers from across the table, as she took a drink of her red wine.

Smiling, Regina looked over at Robin, who reciprocated her stare with a bit of a confused frown as he wondered exactly what her mother was playing at.

“We met because of Olivia, actually,” Regina began.

“So it is true,” Zelena asked from across the table. Regina narrowed her eyes at her, and when she let out an airy laugh, it set Regina’s anger on a low simmer to moderate boil. “I mean, when your mother told us the story about you having Olivia on your own and then meeting the father all these years later…” again Zelena laughed and turned her gaze to Robin. With her attention set on him, her tone turned excessively compassionate when she said, “What a terrible shock for you. I can’t imagine the obligation you must have felt.”

Robin set his napkin beside his plate, his fist clenched on the table in tune with his jaw. “I beg your pardon, but I don’t like what you’re insinuating. Finding out I had a daughter was never in any way an obligation to me.”

“No, I don’t suppose she would be,” she almost cooed, but her eyes shifted to Regina and Zelena didn’t need to say anything more. Everyone at the table knew what was being left unsaid. Zelena wasn’t talking about Olivia, she was talking about Regina.

Regina pursed her lips to keep from lashing out at her and her mother. She should have known better than to come here. She knew it would never really be any different. Her mother had brought her here to embarrass her and Robin, nothing more. She felt Robin take her hand from under the table, threading his fingers with hers.

She took a deep breath and told herself what Zelena was saying was ridiculous. What she and Robin had was real, not something forced out of any kind of obligation. His thumb began to trace patterns on the back of her hand, and as she began to calm, Regina let her gaze turned to him, and her eyes softened at the love she found there, only for her.

However, it was short lived because Cora’s voice filled the room once again, and her eyes turned hard.

“Speaking of obligations, I can’t tell you all how excited they were at Perlman’s Camp for that sizable donation Henry and I made at the last moment,” Cora told them, and her husband beside her looked uncomfortably over at Regina before shifting his gaze back down on his plate.

Oh, this woman is simply too much, Robin thought as he shook his head. Maybe not everyone at the table knew Olivia went to Perlman over the summer, but he could already see through this woman. She wanted him to know exactly who had been paying for Olivia’s education. All right then , Robin thought with a slight smirk, he’d play her games.

“Your generosity for the arts knows no bounds,” Zelena told Cora, chuckling her false and pretentious chuckle, and then added, “I would bet they send you an award or make a mention of you in their correspondence.”

Regina’s eyes rolled to the ceiling. Finally, Cora had the daughter she always wanted in this wickedly cruel version. It had never escaped her notice that comments Zelena made, which should not be at all acceptable in an assistant, were looked over by Cora, while comments that Regina made, while far milder, were always met with reproach.

Cora took up her wine glass. “Well, I’m sure they took it into consideration when it came to picking the children for their summer camp.”

Regina licked her lips and took another sip of wine while Robin sat back in his chair, his eyes fixated on his drink, a deep scowl across his lips.

There came a light laugh from the end of the table. He was a father of one of the children Olivia had been playing with earlier, and proclaimed, “Well, good for them to let your granddaughter in. I imagine my Mildred showed her a thing or two. I mean, that’s what they’re there for, to learn after all.”

Fuming, Regina’s hand tightened around Robin’s before downing the rest of her wine and giving it a good, deep swallow. Olivia was the youngest child at camp and was able to keep up with all the other older children. Some of them had years of experience ahead of her. Her eyes shifted along the table to hold her mother’s. “Olivia got in that program all on her own.”

“Of course, she did, dear,” Cora’s voice became cold and patronizing.

Taking her hand from Robin’s, Regina tightened both into fists to keep anyone from noticing the tremble in them. She had enough. It was one thing to insult her, but her own granddaughter? In front of everyone? Regina would not let that pass by that easily. “What is it about you always having to be the center of attention? Can’t you for once stop and make this about her and not you?”

“It will be about her when I don’t have to pay for it,” Cora replied with condescension.

Taken aback, Regina regarded Cora. It was her mother who had insisted she pay for Olivia’s education. She was the one to put her into Norman Unique, not Regina. It was the deal Regina made with her father before Olivia was even born, but things were different now. Regina wasn't a twenty-three-year-old with an infant anymore. She had a good job, and she had Robin now. “Olivia never asked for your money and I never asked for it either.”

“Oh please, as if you could afford to raise a child by yourself.”

“I have,” Regina defended, her voice rising with every passing moment. “I may have done it by myself, and my daughter may not have grown up having everything, but she has always had my love. Something you will never understand.”

At that, Cora’s eyes widened. “How dare you come into my home and say such things to me in front of my guests?”

Regina was about to open her mouth to snap back when Robin’s voice shouted out, “Alright, I’ve had about enough of this. I will not have you, or anyone else,” he looked pointedly at Zelena, who shifted back but tilted her scolded head up in defiance, before continuing on, “speak to Regina in this manner. Your vague snide comments may not be obvious to some, but I see what you’re doing here. And I will not stand for it any longer.”

Cora’s chest puffed up in defiance, and disregarding him, she turned her attention back to her daughter. “Regina, honestly, I don't know what's gotten into you. You let this man come into your and your daughter’s life, regardless of the fact that he took a whole five minutes to aid in her creation…”

“Mother!”

Cora paid Regina no mind, and standing from her chair, she continued on her tirade, “Olivia tells me he's been letting her participate in games like soccer. Does he realize how delicate her hands are? If she wants to be a professional-”

Robin’s face went tense. His jaw tightened and he said slowly, “ He is here in the room. You may address your statements or any questions you may have to me.”

“Fine.” Cora’s eyes flicked onto him and narrowed menacingly. He would have called her out in the middle of her own dinner party, something that judging by the reaction of those sitting around the table, was not done very often, if at all. Regardless, Cora challenged, “Do you understand the harm you're putting my granddaughter in? Those games are dangerous, especially to a young girl-”

Regina cut in, “Mother, Robin would never do anything that would put our daughter in danger.”

Her mother’s mechanical laugh rang out across the room, her eyes closing and her hand splaying against her stomach. Robin looked over at Henry once again, and the older man was now holding his head in his hands, no doubt embarrassed by his wife’s outburst. Finally, once she was finished, Cora smiled over at Regina. “Oh, now she's “our daughter” ?” Gesturing between Robin and Regina with a wave of her hand, she added, “Yours together? Oh, that's wonderful. Tell me,” her eyes snapped onto Robin and she asked, “Now that you've taken responsibility for my grandchild, do you plan to take her away from her school, from her passions?”

“No, of course not,” Robin began, lowering his tone, hoping Cora would subdue her own if he calmed as well. However, Robin wanted to be clear that she was not calling the shots when it came to his daughter, and he added, “but if she wants to be a child and play at the park or participate in sports, I won't stop that either.”

Cora stood there, her mouth opening and closing, and Robin rather thought she looked like a fish floundering for breath. Finally, Cora’s chin tilted up and she drew her shoulders back as if preparing for war. “Regina, I can't believe you're letting him do this.”

They never really talked about what recreational activities Olivia would participate in the future, but it appeared Regina was in the same mindset as him because she told the old woman, with quite a bit more patience than Cora deserved, “Olivia is still a child, Mother.”

Cora poked her finger down on the table in front of her, and meeting Regina’s eyes, in a slow stilted voice, she told her daughter, “I will not sit idly by while you let this happen.”

Henry looked up and reached for his wife’s hand. “Cora-”

“No, Henry!” Cora snapped, pulling her arm out of reach. “This has gone on far too long. Regina, if you continue to let her do these things, so be it, but I won't pay good money to have it wasted.”

Robin stood abruptly, and his chair screeched along the hardwood floor as he did so. “I’m sorry, but I’m done listening to this. I've been quiet out of respect for Regina, but I will not sit by and have you disrespect my daughter and the woman I love.”

Cora’s laughter was shrill and mocking. “The woman you love?”

Jaw set, he affirmed, “Yes. Now if you'll excuse us, we'll be taking our leave.”

With one final look at Henry, Robin shook his head. Taking Regina’s hand, they began to walk from the room.

“Regina, I meant what I said,” Cora called out. Stopping them in their tracks, they both turned towards her. Once Regina’s eyes met her mother’s, Cora told her, “I won't waste any more money on an education that is not appreciated.”

Regina regarded her mother for a moment, and Robin’s eyes met Henry’s, who looked away. In shame, no doubt. Robin would have said something to the man, would have addressed his cowardice, but could not do that to Regina right now.

With sadness in her voice, Regina replied, “I'm sorry you feel that way, Mother, but I don't need your money. I never have.”

Fuming, Cora turned her attention to Robin. “And you? You'll just let this happen?”

He leveled a glare at her. “Yes, Olivia has the support of both Regina and I.”

Cora snidely scoffed at him and spat, “I hardly think you can afford-”

Robin had enough. “Mrs. Mills, you don't know a damn thing about me and what I can afford.” Oh, how Robin would love to tell her how wrong she was. And then he decided, to hell with it, make the woman think a bit. “Should my daughter wish to continue with the school she’s at, the tuition will not be an impediment.” He watched in satisfaction as Cora’s eyes widened in surprise before narrowing at him.

They turned again to leave, and Cora’s voice rang out one final time in some kind of last-ditch effort to sway her daughter. “And if something were to happen to you? What then?” Regina’s head whipped around, and Robin watched her raise her eyes to meet her mother’s. A look flashed between them. “We both know, Regina, how things can change in the blink of an eye.”

Regina’s eyes held her mother’s, and the old woman smiled. Cora knew she'd done it.

Robin sent the woman a glare and brought his hand up to Regina’s bicep. He waited for her to look at him and once she did, Robin whispered only for her to hear, “That's not going to happen.” Then looking around the room, he offered with finality, “Goodnight to you all.”

Walking into the kitchen where they had the children set up, Robin scooped up Roland from the chair, and turning to Olivia who was looking up at him, he said, “Come along, darling. We’re going home a bit early.”

Olivia followed without question, taking his hand and letting him lead her to the front door where Regina was waiting. They said nothing on the elevator ride down, nor as they got into the car.


 

It was late enough in the evening when they arrived in Brooklyn that Robin called it a night the moment they walked in the door. He felt the odd sensation of déjà vu creep along his spine. He was suddenly taken back to the night they arrived home from Parents Night, and Robin wondered vaguely if every encounter with Regina's mother would end like this one. One which left them both emotionally exhausted and Regina in tears.

After putting Roland down for the night, Robin stopped by Olivia’s room. The day had been upsetting for them all, and as quiet as Olivia was, he wanted to make sure that she was okay before turning in. The door was cracked open, and he tapped lightly on it before going in. Olivia was sitting up in her bed, blinking up at the glow-in-the-dark stars they stuck to the ceiling a few days before she left for camp.

Her head turned at the sound of a door opening, and she smiled over at him.

“Hey, sweetheart. I just wanted to check and see if you were settled before I went to bed.”

“I'm okay.”

Something about her voice made Robin pause. “You're sure?” She nodded and turned her eyes back to the stars, and he took that as his cue. “Alright, good night, my darling.”

“Night, Daddy.”

Just as Robin was about to shut the door, he heard her soft, almost hesitant voice ask, “Daddy?”

Robin paused. “Yes?”

“Is Momma really okay?” Olivia asked, without turning to look at him.

Not wanting to worry Olivia, Robin said, “She’ll be fine. Just needs a bit of rest is all.”

With a hint of sadness that had Robin’s heart breaking a bit, she asked once more, “Did Grandma hurt her feelings again?”

Robin let out a breath between his lips and ran a hand over his face. He was tired and spent for the evening, but his daughter needed his assurance now, so he pushed that aside and walked back over to her bed and took a seat next to her. “I’m afraid so.”

“Why does Grandma hate Momma?”

“Oh, sweetheart, I don't think she hates her. It's just that your grandmother is a bit difficult. Parents could never hate their children. I believe she loves your mum. Some people just have a difficult time showing it.”

“I don't like her very much when she makes Momma sad. Is that bad of me?”

“It's never bad to be upset with someone who hurts someone you love,” Robin rephrased. He couldn't tell Olivia it was right to hate the old woman, even though Robin himself shared the very same feelings towards Cora, but Robin couldn't tell his child it was right to hate anyone. “Maybe instead of hating her, we should just feel sad for her?”

Olivia blinked at him for a long moment. She was almost incredulous when she replied, “Feel sad for Grandma?”

“Yes, because she's the one missing out if you think about it.” Her little forehead creased, and she gave him a dubious look, so Robin explained, “Your mum is a really special person, and she loves us with all her heart. So your grandma is really missing out on that love.”

“That's really dumb of her.”

Robin laughed. “I agree, darling.”

Olivia nodded, and her eyes fell away from his and the stuffed elephant she held. She traced her finger over the tips of its ears and asked him, “But you’re going to take care of Momma, right?”

“I will always take care of her.” Robin leaned in close to her as if he was about to tell her a secret, and lowering his voice, said, “You know what is great about all of us being together?”

Lifting her big blue eyes to his, in a whisper Olivia questioned, “What?”

Robin smiled. “We will always take care of one another,” he told her, tapping her nose, which caused it to scrunch as he did so, making them both laugh.

Olivia raised her eyes to his once more. “Henry and Aunt Emma too?”

His chest warmed with love for the little wonder beside him, her big heart always looking out for everyone around her. He smiled, and placing his hand on the back of her head, he pulled her to him and kissed her brow. “Yep, even them. Now, get some sleep.”

“Okay. Goodnight, Daddy.” Pulling back her covers, Olivia snuggled down into their warmth.

“I love you, little one,” Robin said, grabbing the handle of the door.

“I love you, too,” she said through a yawn.

The door to his bedroom was open and the bed still made. His eyes flicked to the bathroom, but the door was open and the light off. Instead of going downstairs to her right away, Robin decided to get ready for bed first.

Robin found Regina in the kitchen, her back to him, standing near the stove, making herself some tea. She had taken her hair down, and it fell on her back in long soft waves. She, like him, had changed into her usual pajamas, cotton shorts and a tank top. Coming up behind her, knowing that she heard his steps, he brushed her hair to the side to set his chin on her shoulder. With his hands on her hips, they stood there silently for a while.

Regina was the one to break the silence, surprising him when she said, “I’m getting my hair cut next week.”

His lips pulled into a frown, and he asked, “How short?”

Regina shrugged mindlessly, causing him to raise his head. “I don’t know yet. I was thinking maybe to my shoulders. It’ll help with my headaches.”

She turned around to face him, and Robin pushed her hair back behind her ears with his fingertips. “I won’t deny that I’ll miss it, but it makes sense. I’m for anything that makes you feel better.” His comment earned him a soft smile, right before her chin fell and she looked away.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

Regina sniffed, and then her hands came up to shield her face as she began to cry, silently but steadily. Stepping forward, Robin took her in his arms and with her head against his chest she clung to him. Her shoulders were shaking, and he could hear her choke back her sobs. "I'm sorry."

Closing his eyes, Robin pushed aside his hatred for her mother because that would not help her right now. He kissed her brow softly and said, “Regina, why are you apologizing? That was her, all her. You did nothing."

When she finally did look up at him, her brown eyes were shiny and red-rimmed. "I hate her, Robin. My mother…” She let out a deep sigh and continued, “she can be a real delight when it suits her. Anytime she has something to gain from you, she will put on such a show that you’ll believe you had the best day of your life. But when she wants to hurt you? She knows exactly where to hurt you. And that was precisely what she was doing tonight."

Jaw tightening, Robin took a breath. “You didn’t deserve that, especially in front of guests.”

Stepping back, Regina wiped the wetness from her cheeks. “Nothing I do has ever been good enough for her.”

“How could it?” Robin asked, incensed by her mother’s actions. “Your mother lives in a ridiculous fantasy world.”

“I just wish for once she would see me for me and not criticize me for not living up to her standards.” Her tears began to fall anew, only slowly now.

Shoulders slumping, the tight coil of anger left him, sadness taking its place. “She doesn’t deserve you. Either of you.”

Regina closed the distance between them, and lifting up on her tiptoes, she met him in a soft loving kiss. “Thank you for standing up for me tonight. Not many people do.”

“Always,” Robin told her with a smile. Reaching up, he cradled her cheeks between his palms, his fingers in her hair. “And I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, but I just couldn’t let her talk to you like that anymore.”

Managing to chuckle softly, her hands lifted and held onto his wrists. “No, I’m glad you did.”

“What can I do for you?” Robin asked, sighing and dropping his brow to hers.

“I just,” Regina began, faltering a moment, then finding her voice told him, “Maybe she's right.”

Robin lifted his head then. Her mother? He didn't understand what she meant by that, so he asked, “What?”

Regina pulled away from him, must have needed space because she was halfway across the kitchen and beside the table. Her tone was raised, and he realized that she was upset. “What we did tonight, Robin. I didn't just walk away from her, I walked away from everything .”

No, she didn't. Robin sighed, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. Christ, he was tired. “Her money, you mean. Are you saying you prefer hers to mine?”

Regina narrowed her eyes at him. “No, but she made a good point. What if something were to happen-”

“Between us? That's what you're getting at again, isn't it?” Good Lord, Robin could strangle her mother and the way she so easily manipulated Regina. He didn't understand why this kept coming up, why she was always so afraid. “Regina, what do I have to do to prove to you that I'm not going anywhere? You, Olivia, Roland, this is it.”

Regina didn't look at him when she answered, “Things happen, Robin.”

She's told him that before. When they first started dating, before they told Olivia about them. He had to be sure they were on the same page, so he asked, “Is this some way of you telling me you don't want this?”

Regina’s dark eyes lifted to his, and Robin could see by the lift of her brows and the set of her shoulders she was angry now. “What? No.”

Robin wouldn't let her off. They had to have this out, his fears and hers, right here and now. “Well, it's what it feels like. Like you're using this as an excuse because you're scared.”

“So what if I am?” Regina yelled. “People come into our lives unexpectedly and can be gone in the very same way, in an instant. Yet we never seem to realize that, and we build a future in our minds based on others and the certainty that we will always have them by our side. That’s what I’ve been doing with you, that’s what I’m basing Olivia’s future on as well. But I cannot not take into account all of the possibilities, Robin! And I don't make the money you do. I don't make six figures. I work extra just to pay for Olivia's lessons, and yes, God forbid, I'm afraid I'll lose you somehow.”

There it was. He took a step toward her. “My love, I’m not Daniel. What happened to him isn't going to happen to me.”

She whispered a reply, “I know you're not Daniel.” The fear and devastation in her eyes clawed at something inside him.

Closing the distance, Robin took her hands in his, and pleaded, “Then let this fear go, Regina.”

Breaking away from him, Regina moved back, crossing her arms over her chest. “It's easier said than done, Robin. Losing someone you love isn't something you just get over.”

Robin’s jaw tightened, taken aback that Regina would say something like that to him. “You think I don't know that? You think I don't live with the same fear that someday I'll come home and you'll be sick? That I'll lose you the same slow painful way I lost Marian? If you don't believe I don't think about that every day, every time I look into your eyes or at your smile, that I don't think how quickly it could all be gone someday, then you're wrong. So if you're itching for a fight, Regina, you're going to have to do better than that, because, despite my fears, I won't run from us.”

Regina’s eyes were filled with tears, but her tone was still cutting, “That's what you think I'm doing?”

Robin held his hands out wide. “What else is this, Regina? We’re fighting over our fears of losing one another.” He chuckled because he didn't know what else to do. “It's ridiculous.”

“Well, I'm sorry I don't find this funny,” Regina hissed.

“Bloody -” Robin bit back the rest of that and groaned, and walking away from her, he took a breath. “I never said it was, but we’re arguing over what ifs! All because you let your mother poison your mind.”

Regina blinked at him. Her eyes turned hard. “Excuse me?”

Robin nodded. “I saw it, there at the end. You let her dig into your heart and twist it.” Motioning between them, Robin shook his head. “This fight isn't about us, it's about her.”

“You're wrong,” Regina told him.

His eyes held hers, challenging, “Am I?”

Tears fell unchecked down her cheeks, and Robin felt his heart clench as she began to walk past him. “I'm going to bed.”

Reaching for her, Robin began, “Regina-”

Pulling away, Regina stopped and whispered, “Don't, Robin. Just don't.”


 

Olivia Mills was never a sullen child by nature. She had her moments when she could be grumpy, but there was usually something or someone that could cheer her up or make her smile. However, she hadn’t been doing much smiling in the last few days. Her Momma and she had gone home early on Sunday morning, her Daddy telling her that her mother wasn’t feeling very well and didn’t want Roland to catch another cold.

That sounded fine to Olivia at first, but when her Momma got in the car, the drive back into the city was quiet. She watched her parents from the backseat. Normally they held hands, but they didn’t do that. When her Daddy had tried to talk to her Momma, she just looked out the window and when she answered, and she didn’t sound very happy. Her Daddy was frowning, and as soon as they drove up to their apartment, he hadn’t come up with them. They didn’t even kiss goodbye, and they were always kissing!

Olivia didn’t hear her friend Paige’s voice until her friend was right beside her. “Olivia, why are you walking so slow?” her blonde friend had asked her.

They were going to the park with Paige’s mother. Her Momma had an appointment today, and for some reason, her Daddy was busy working. He had been busy a lot this week. It was already Wednesday, and he hadn’t been over once! He called her yesterday and told her that he would come and get her, so she could stay with him for the night.

Olivia wasn’t stupid. She’d seen her Aunt Emma and Henry’s dad fight before, and it was just like this. Tears sprang to Olivia’s eyes, and she sniffed, trying to hold them back. She didn’t want her Momma and Daddy to fight. They were just becoming a family, a real family, and now Olivia had gone and messed it all up.

Henry had told her it wasn’t her fault, but she knew better. Olivia got out of bed Sunday to ask her Momma if she could sleep with her, and she had overheard her Momma and Aunt Emma talking about her fighting with Grandma about her school. That was probably what her Momma and her Daddy were fighting about, too. It was because of her, and she needed to fix it somehow before she lost her Daddy.

“What’s wrong?” Paige asked, slowing.

“My Momma and Daddy are fighting,” Olivia replied, wiping her eyes with her fingers.

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’ll be okay, mine fight too, but eventually, they make up.” The blonde girl shrugged and added, “My mom says my daddy is just an idiot.”

Olivia frowned at her friend. Her Daddy was not an idiot. Somehow Olivia had to get them to talk again. Yes, that was what Olivia was going to do, as soon as she got home, she would call him and tell him to come over.

“Olivia, this way,” Paige called, already ahead and standing at the crosswalk with her mother.

Picking up the pace Olivia started to run to catch up, and it wasn’t until she heard Paige’s mother scream, “Olivia, no! Stop!” that Olivia heard the screech of the tires on the pavement and the feel of the car as it hit her, knocking her to the ground.

The last thing Olivia remembered was looking up and seeing the blue sky before her eyes closed and the blackness took her. 


 

Stepping out of Mirror Mirror hair salon early that afternoon, Regina left feeling lighter than she had in years. Literally. Her stylist, Anastasia, had cut nearly fourteen inches from her hair, the bottom just now reaching barely past her shoulders, and Regina absolutely loved it. Right now it was the only bright spot in her day. Pulling out her phone, she frowned at the screen. It had been three days since Robin dropped her and Olivia at home, three days since she told him she wanted some space to think, and in that time they hadn’t spoken. Okay, so Robin had sent her a text yesterday that he was missing Olivia and if it would be alright if he could come and get her for the night. The message instantly had her in tears.

God, she missed him.

Regina stared down at her phone, wondering if she should call him and ask him to come over early so they could talk. Regina wondered for perhaps the hundredth time if there was still time to fix it, to fix them. Regina had been mad at him, furious even, but after a long emotional talk with Emma she realized the person she was really mad at was herself, and yes, Regina wanted a fight, not with him but with her mother. The things Robin said hurt, but the kind of hurt that came from the truth. Regina just didn’t want to hear it.

As Regina was about to tap on his name, Helen’s name came up, and she sighed. Olivia had been quiet over the last few days, and Regina imagined her little girl could sense that something was wrong. Olivia was so attuned to Regina’s moods, so observant of others. Something her daughter got from her father. Her lips pulled into a soft smile. Olivia probably wanted to come home, and that was fine with her. Regina missed cuddle time with her favorite girl.

Answering the call, Regina held the phone to her ear and asked, “Is she ready to come home?”

The other end of the line was filled with Helen’s soft cries and what sounded like a siren in the background. “Regina,” the woman’s broken sobs managed to say. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but it came out of nowhere.”

Dread like Regina had never known filled her, stopped her dead in her tracks on the sidewalk of New York City. What was she telling her? Regina pulled her mind together long enough to demand, “Helen? What came out of nowhere?”

There was only a sob to answer her, and then a scuffling sound and a new voice filled Regina’s ear. It was a warm, male voice, but the next words that he said made Regina’s hand tighten around her phone until her knuckles were white.

“Ma’am, this is paramedic Nick Barnes. Your daughter has been in an accident and is being taken up to Mount Sinai West.” Regina gasped, and her hand covered her mouth. No, no, no, no! her mind screamed. Not her daughter, not her baby girl. “She’s unconscious and has a few lacerations. Is she allergic to any medications?”

Tears poured from her eyes, and she swallowed. “No, she’s- no.”

“Listen to me, ma’am,” the man’s voice commanded as if he’d made calls like these a million times before. “Your daughter’s stable and in good hands here. You just get yourself safely to the hospital, alright?”

“Alright.”

The line went dead.

Regina's hands were trembling when she dialed the number she knew by heart and waited for him to answer. When his warm voice murmured, “Hello?” Regina let out a sob, shaking as she replied, “Robin. There’s been an accident...It’s Olivia.”



Chapter Text

The emergency room at Kravis Children’s Hospital, for the most part, was eerily silent.

Olivia has never seen the inside of an emergency room and it had been years for Regina as well. As she thought about it, she was sure that the last time she was in one was the night Daniel died. When after thirty minutes of CPR the doctors finally gave in and told her they were so sorry, but there was nothing more that could be done. He was gone.

Tears fell steadily down her cheeks as Regina tried to hold it together. She could do nothing but wait for the ambulance that carried her daughter to arrive. Regina could not believe that she'd beaten it there. Was astonished and livid that the one cabbie in New York, who stopped for all the fucking red lights, had made it to the hospital faster than an emergency vehicle!

Regina could feel the nurses watching her as she paced back and forth across the hall, watching the door, waiting for them to bring Olivia through it at any moment. They stopped trying to speak to her, to keep her “calm.” Stopped saying, “I’m sure it’ll be any moment now” because Regina had snapped at them ten minutes ago and told them that unless they knew the precise moment her daughter would be brought through that door, then they should shut the hell up.

Just when Regina was about to ask again if this was the right hospital, if they were sure they were bringing Olivia there, the doors to the room burst open, and her heart sank as she heard her daughter's cries over the noise of the paramedics and sounds of the stretcher wheeling noisily down the hall.

Running over to them Regina called out. “Olivia!”

“Momma,” Olivia’s voice croaked. Her face was bright red, flushed from crying, Olivia opened her wet eyes in search of her mother, their normal deep blue was also red and filled with pain. “It h-hurts, Momma.”

Choking back a sob, Regina held onto the stretcher as they walked along the hall. There was so much blood. Her forehead and arms were covered in gauze, speckled with her bright red blood.

“You the kid’s mom?” the paramedics asked Regina, and had her daughter not been seriously hurt she would bitten out something sarcastic, but instead replied with an affirmative, “ Yes .”

One of the nurses’ staff directed them through a double set of doors and along another hall before they turned into a room. There was so much going on all around her that Regina was forced to step out of the way. A nurse started to take Olivia's blood pressure while another came rushing in with an IV. All Regina could do was stay out of the way and wait for an opening, so she could get back to Olivia’s side.

Yet, she couldn't just stand there and do nothing. “Someone tell me what's wrong with her?”

Distracted, one of the EMTs told her, “A few cuts, maybe a concussion. You’ll have to wait for the doctor, ma’am.”

“Where the hell is the doctor?” Regina demanded.

“Right here.” A younger man with overly bleach hair came walking in taking his stethoscope from his neck and sticking it quickly into his ears. He tossed a glance at Regina and asked, “What’s her name, mom?”

Regina swallowed. “Olivia.”

“Olivia, hi my name is Doctor White.” He told Olivia while he listened to her heart over her cries. “I know you’re hurting sweetie, but I need you to tell me where you hurt.”

“M-my arm,” Olivia said through a hiccup. Her daughter was getting to the point where she was so distressed she was going to have trouble breathing soon. “My… my h-head.”

“Okay, don’t worry we’re gonna make it all better.” He turned to Regina. “You’re the girl’s mother I presume?”

“Yes,” Regina replied, her eyes nervously glancing between the doctor and Olivia.

“Is she allergic to anything? Any medications?”

She shook her head. “No, not any medications that I know of, just dairy and nuts.”

He nodded. “From what I understand she has a few scraps and some bruising. There isn’t anything superficial that is of great concern but on the inside that I can’t tell what’s going on. I don’t want to scare you, but internal bleeding, swelling - those are the things I can’t see. Given that the medics said she hit her head pretty hard, I want to have her taken up to get a few scans. It might take an hour or maybe more, so I would suggest you wait here or in the waiting room.”

Regina’s eyes widened at that. “Can I talk to her first?”

“Sure, just be quick.”

“Olivia…” Regina started coming up beside the stretcher and reached in to take Olivia's hand.

Olivia’s pain-filled eyes found hers. “Mom-my, I’m s-scared. It hu-hurts.”

Swallowing back tears, Regina brushed some hair away from Olivia’s face. “I know, sweetheart but the doctors are going to make it all better. Just be my brave girl for me for a little while longer, okay?”

“We need to take her up now,” the doctor told her.

Speaking as soothing as she could, Regina told her, “Olivia, they're going to take you for a little while, but I’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back.”

Olivia started to cry again. “But I w-want you, Mommy!” Regina’s chest burned but she could not let them take Olivia out of this room like she was now. As her daughter pleaded, her eyes darted around the room, quickly becoming terrified. “I don’t w-want to go with them!”

“Olivia, Olivia look at me,” Regina urged, calmly. Once Olivia’s eyes were back on hers Regina smiled down at her, and said, “You need to calm down, baby girl. You’re going to be fine, but they need to check you out and then they will bring you right back to me, okay? I promise I’ll be right here waiting for you.”

Olivia seemed to still at Regina’s words, but the tears still fell down the sides of her face. “Can you get D-addy? I m-miss, daddy.”

“He’s on his way. I promise he’ll be here when you get back.” Regina brought Olivia’s soft, small hand to her face and kissed her fingers. Standing, Regina nodded to the doctor, and the nurses wheeled Olivia quickly back into the hall and out of sight. 

Stepping back into the room, Regina felt her legs give in, and before she knew it, she was slipping down against the wall. Her quiet sobs were now the only sounds that filled the room.


 

If you were to ask Robin how he made it from one side of Manhattan to the other in less than twenty minutes he wouldn’t have been able to tell you. Once he ended the call with Regina everything was automatic. Running for the elevator, and through the parking garage, driving the forty-six blocks to the hospital, Robin couldn’t really remember it.

He only remembered the sound of blood pounding in his ears and the sick feeling in his stomach as he drove swiftly, veering in and out of traffic, and through red lights. Honestly, Robin was surprised he didn’t get pulled over. He parked illegally in a handicap zone, not giving a toss if his Jeep got towed or ticketed. He would pay it later.

The only thing he cared about was getting to his daughter.

Robin ran straight to the emergency room of Mount Sinai only to be informed that Olivia was taken to Kravis, the children’s emergency center two buildings away. Frustrated and angry beyond belief, the father swore before turning and running once again, this time in the right direction. As the bright red lettering of the building came into view, Robin felt a slight relief. He was almost there.

Out of breath, lungs burning from exertion, Robin took great gulps of air as he slowed nearing the front desk. “Excuse me, can you help me? My daughter, she was brought by ambulance, and I need to find her.”

The receptionist asked, “What’s her name?”

“Olivia Mills.”

A woman sitting next to a man and little girl close to Olivia’s age stood and walked over to him. “I’m sorry, but you’re Olivia’s father? Robin?”

“Yes.” Robin straightened, looking over at her. Her eyes were bloodshot like she’d been crying for a while now.

“I’m Helen, Paige's mother. Olivia was with me when she got hit. I’m so sorry.”

Robin’s mind reeled. He didn’t know what to say to the woman except, “What happened?”

“She and my daughter wanted to go play. We were walking to the park, I was on the phone with my husband, and Olivia was behind me. I should have been watching her closer.” The woman began to openly sob. Robin would have comforted her, but the knowledge that this woman was paying more attention to her phone conversation than to his daughter in this city no less, sent every shred of sympathy for her flying out the windows.

His patience thin, Robin asked, “What happened to her?”

Sniffing, Helen wiped her nose with a tissue. “We were standing at the crosswalk, and I looked back Olivia was running to catch up. We were by a parking garage, and I didn’t see the car turning into the entrance until it was too late. I yelled for Olivia to stop, but there wasn’t enough time. The car managed to stop in time from really hitting her, but she was still knocked to the ground.”

Though the news that Olivia was not as seriously injured as Robin imagined should have calmed him, it only served to make his need to find her and Regina that much more great. “I need to see her.”

“I’m so sorry.” Helen was now twisting her hands together. “I never meant for-”

Robin didn't have time to listen to her apologies, so he interrupted, “I know you didn’t, but I have to go.”

“Sir, she’s this way.” There was a nurse waiting for him by the door, and Robin followed behind her. He felt dizzy, and he was pretty sure he would throw up, he felt so sick, but he couldn’t worry about that now, not until he saw Olivia.

The young woman opened the door to a room, and Robin realized it was empty save Regina, who was sitting on the floor with her head in her hands. She looked up at the sound of the door opening, her eyes were blood-shot and wet, and her makeup from earlier that day left a smudge blackness around them. She held his gaze, and as the door shut behind him, her chin fell to her chest and her shoulders started shaking. His own tears began to fall at her anguished look and her name left his lips. “Regina.”

A broken sob left her as she slowly got to her feet, and Robin could see that she was pressing her lips together hard, trying to stifle her cries, to hold back, but the moment Regina stepped into his waiting arms and said his name, that dam of fear broke and she sobbed openly into the crook of his neck.

Robin held her to him, and Regina clutched him tightly to her in response. She was trembling, sobbing into his shoulder, and his eyes closed as he held her tighter. She began to mumble, to ask him, Why her, Robin?, Why Olivia?, Why our daughter? and with each question, her voice rose in despair. He had no answers for her. Robin wanted to shout those very questions to God himself, but somewhere in the back of his terrified mind, he knew he’d get no answers either. The only thing Robin knew was that the woman in his arms needed him, so, for now, he would put away his fury and his pain.  

Robin managed to murmur, “Where is she?”

“They took her in for some scans. Sh -she hit her head somehow.” She pulled away from his embrace, but her hands held onto his arms. “This is all my fault.”

His head shook. “No, Regina, it was an accident. A horrible accident. There's no way you could have known.”

Regina wasn't listening to him, though. Her eyes fell to the floor between them, and she insisted, “No, I dropped her off for a play date with Paige. They haven’t seen one another all summer, and I thought it would take her mind off of things. Helen said she was going to take the girls to the park.” She began to cry anew, and her brow fell against his shoulder. Her shoulders shook, and his arms enveloped her once again. “If I hadn’t fought with you, if I wasn’t being so stubborn, she probably would have been with you and this would never have happened.”

“My love,” Robin pulled her away and took her jaw in between his palms, urging her to look up at him. Once her dark, brown eyes held his, he told her, “Stubborn or not, I have been in the city all day today. Roland is with Belle; Olivia most likely would still have been with Paige.”

Robin could see the panic begin to take hold of her as her head shook in his hands. “I don’t think I can handle it if something happens to her.”

Something inside him clicked, pushing away his own fears and worry, and left him only with a need to look after and care for the woman in front of him. Putting her needs ahead of his own allowed him to be strong for her and for Olivia. “Regina, she’s going to be fine.”

“You don’t know that, Robin!”

“Yes, I do!”

“No!” Regina pushed him away from her and pointed a finger at the closed door. “You didn’t see her, Robin! You didn’t see her lying on that table with blood all over her face and arms! You didn’t hear her crying in pain, and I can’t…” she trailed off, and suddenly, it was as if all her anger left her. Her shoulders slumped, and she crossed her arms over her chest as if to protect herself from the pain, from the very thought of losing their daughter. If he hadn’t been watching her so close, Robin would have missed her whispered, “I can’t lose her.”

He closed the distance between them and took her by the arms. She could try and push him away again, but he wouldn’t let her, never again would he let her. “Regina, look at me! I spoke with Helen, she’s out there in the waiting room. She explained what happened. The car hit her but only enough to knock her down.” Regina’s eyes widened a bit, she hadn’t known, and he figured as much. Anger bit hard. How could no one have explained that to her? Robin would deal with that later, but for now, he had to help her see that everything would be alright.  His eyes softened, and gentling his tone, he told her, “Olivia will be fine. You have to believe that, my love. She’s strong and she’s a fighter, just like her mum. I promise you, nothing will happen to our daughter.”

She gave in then. Letting her head fall to his chest, his arms came up to wrap around her. One hand tangled in her hair holding her head against his sternum, as the other hand splayed across her back, and she held on as if for dear life as she continued to cry.

Neither Robin nor Regina knew how long they stood in the middle of the ER room. It wasn’t until Regina had stopped trembling and her sobs dulled that Robin suggested they sit in the two chairs along the wall. Once they were seated, he pulled her against him. Her head fell on his shoulder, and his arm came around her.

It felt like they’d been sitting for hours. Robin stopped looking at the clock. The slow drag of time only made him more anxious with every passing minute. So instead, he occupied his mind with Regina’s hair, and the way it felt between his fingers, its softness. It was shorter. Robin noticed it immediately, but it was a distant thought behind the canopy of other thoughts at the forefront of his mind. It wasn’t even the time to bring it up now; however, he needed something else to think about besides what could be taking the doctors so bloody long. Surely they hadn’t forgotten about keeping them updated? He was sorely tempted to go ask, to raise hell at the nurses’ station if need be.

The only thing keeping Robin in his chair was the woman in his arms. She hadn’t spoken a word to him since they sat down. Somewhere his mind wondered if she was still upset, but like her hair, it was a thought he wouldn’t allow himself to focus on for long. His mind was always drawn back to his daughter and her well-being.

Looking up at the sound of the door opening, there stood a tall blond-haired woman in a white coat. Robin and Regina got to their feet as she smiled and held her hand out to them. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Mills, I’m Doctor Frazier, a pediatric neurologist here at Kravis.”

Regina could care less about introductions and asked, “How is Olivia? Can we see her?”

“Olivia is just fine.”

“Oh thank God.” Regina’s eyes closed, and Robin watched as tears fell down her cheeks. Regina reached for him, and Robin went her to his side, and her arms went around him tightly holding him to her, and his around her.

The doctor went on, “She has a few cuts. She had a pretty deep laceration on her forehead that required a few stitches.”

Robin, of course, was grateful for the doctor and the information, but he hadn’t seen his daughter in days, and wanted to be near her. “Where is she?”

“She’s on her way back down now. I’ve had a chance to look over her scans, and everything looks fine. However, I do want to ask her a few things, and I thought she’d do better with the both of you in the room.” The doctor paused, and Robin bit back a scoff. They could take their daughter, scan her, and stitch her up all without them present, but to ask her questions then they should be in the room. Going on, Dr. Frazier assured, “I just want to check her concentration and memory, and with you here you can confirm and see any missing pieces.”

That didn’t make sense to him. “Alright, is there something that is concerning you that would require you to do that?”

“While I didn’t find any indication of swelling, I do want to check for signs of a concussion. It’s not uncommon in head injuries such as hers.”

The door was pushed open and Robin held his breath as Olivia’s bed was wheeled into the room. She was awake, a bandage covering the stitches on her forehead, and parts of her arms wrapped in gauze. She looked pale and sleepy, lying there holding a small black teddy bear to her chest, but her eyes lit up when she saw them.

Once they had her bed locked in place, two of the nurses stood back while the doctor sat down beside Olivia. “Hi Olivia, I’m Glinda.”

Olivia studied the woman a moment before replying softly, “Hello. Are you a doctor?”

“I am.” The woman confirmed with a nod. “You bumped your head today, so I just want to ask you a few questions to make sure you’re alright. Is that okay?”

“Okay.”

“First,” Glinda put her hand out and gestured over to Robin and Regina. “Do you know these two people beside you?”

Her voice sounded rough, but happy when Olivia replied, “That’s my Momma and Daddy.”

The doctor hummed taking what looked like a pen from her pocket and gave Olivia a smile. “And what are their names?”

“Regina Mills and Robin Locksley.”

The doctor clicked the end of the object, and the end of it lit up. “I’m just going to look into your eyes, okay?”

Olivia nodded, her eyes following the light. “Good. And what grade are you in?”

“Third.”

Glinda glanced over at them, her eyebrows raised in silent question, and Regina confirmed her query with a nod.

“One of the nurses told me you play an instrument.” The doctor clicked off the light, and asked, “What kind do you play?”

“The cello.”

Glinda’s eyes widened, and a look of wonder bloomed over her features. “Wow, the cello? I love the cello. Maybe someday I’ll hear you play when you get famous.” The doctor poked Olivia’s nose, and the girl managed a little giggle. “Okay, last question and I’ll let you have some cuddles with your momma. Do you remember what happened to you today?”

Olivia’s brows knitted together, and she frowned. Robin shifted nervously from one foot to the other, and Regina’s hand tightened in his. Olivia licked her dry lips. “I remember Momma taking to Aunt Emma this morning, and then my friend Paige called, but I can’t remember anything else.”

“That’s fine, sweetheart. Thank you.” Doctor Frazier stood and turned towards Robin and Regina.

“Is it normal that she can’t remember what happened?” Robin asked, in a hushed voice.

“It is. Sometimes concussions can include memory loss. It might take as long as a few weeks before it comes back to her, or she may not remember it at all. Sometimes it’s better if she doesn’t. Incidents like hers can be traumatic for someone her age. But I urge you both not to worry. All her scans came back normal. There’s no bleeding or swelling. Aside from some cuts, she’s one lucky little girl.”

Regina let out a breath through her nose. “When can we take her home?”

“Very soon. I’m going to have her discharged this afternoon. I’ll print out some literature on concussions and some of the signs you can look out for over the next few days.”

Robin frowned. “But you said she was fine. Wouldn’t it be better if she was here?”

“I understand your concern, but there’s nothing we can do for her here that you can’t do at home. Olivia responds well to questions, her reflexes are there, and she’s not in any current pain. We just want to be cautious over the next 72 hours.”

Nodding, Regina responded first, “Thank you, Doctor.”

“You’re welcome. Sit tight and I’ll get those release papers going.”

As soon as the doctor left, the sound of Olivia’s voice filled the room, “Momma, why am I in the hospital?”

Their eyes met one another’s. Regina didn’t want to scare her daughter, but they would have a hard time keeping it from her. She took the doctor's place at the side of Olivia’s bed and put her hand over Olivia’s. “You went to play with Paige today, and while you were out walking, you got bumped into by a car.”

“Is that why I have this?” Olivia motioned to the gauze covering her arm and with her hand reached up hesitantly to feel her forehead where she now had several stitches.

“Yes, sweetheart,” Regina replied, and tears burned in her eyes, but Robin’s words from earlier rang in her head and she knew she had to be strong. Felling Robin’s hand on her shoulder, Regina gave him a small smile to let him know she was fine. Turning back to Olivia, her smile brightened, and she assured, “But you’re alright.”

Olivia looked back at them with a frown. Her blue eyes gazed at her then Robin, to his hand that rested on her shoulder, and Regina grew concerned. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

“I remember,” Olivia murmured softly, as a tear fell down her cheek.

“You remember the car?” Regina asked gently.

“No,” Olivia replied, her little chin wobbling slightly, and she swallowed before adding, “You and Daddy were fighting because of me.”

Regina inhaled, and she leaned forward, carefully framing her daughter’s face in her hands. “Olivia, it wasn’t because of you. Why would you think that?”

“I heard you tell Aunt Emma that Grandma was mean to Daddy because I told her that we played soccer.” The little girl looked between them. “You were mad at each other after that, so I just thought it was my fault.”

“Oh Olivia, that was never about you,” Regina told her.

Robin kneeled down beside the bed taking one of Olivia’s hands in his. “Darling, you don’t have to worry because we’re not fighting.”

A single tear slipped down the side of her face. “But you were mad at each other.”

Robin and Regina’s eyes found each other’s guiltily, and then Regina turned back to her daughter. “Not anymore.”

Olivia considered them both as if she wasn’t sure if they were just telling her that because she was hurt or if they really meant it. The barest hint of a smile pulled up Olivia’s lips. “Promise?”

“We promise.” Regina’s thumb brushed away the last tear from her face, and with that, Regina slipped into the bed to lie beside her daughter, while Robin sat at their feet watching his girls until the time came to go home.


 

By the time they made it out of the hospital, it was early evening. Emma and Henry had made them soup and sandwiches and made Olivia her own little nest on the couch where Henry read to her from one of his newest books while Regina and Robin recounted the day to Emma.

The day was exhausting for all, so when Olivia started yawning at seven o’clock, Regina called it bedtime for her and Olivia. Robin followed after placing a call to Belle. His sitter and friend had been understanding and all too happy to keep Roland with her overnight while Robin stayed with Regina and Olivia, for which he was extremely grateful. The thought of leaving either of their sides for a moment was intolerable.

As their daughter slept soundly in Regina’s bed, the couple sat in an armchair across the room, Regina on Robin’s lap and a blanket over them.

Her head was tilted, resting against his, and turning slightly Robin told her quietly, “You know, the first time Olivia stayed over I watched her sleep for a while. It was surreal having her there next to Roland.” Regina closed her eyes and listened to his breathing, content to sit with him and let him hold her. She felt the stubble of his beard before she felt the kiss he placed on her cheek. “I'd never felt so incredibly blessed.”

His arms tightened around her, and Regina couldn’t help but feel that way too. In her panic at the hospital, in those moments between, when neither of them knew what was going on, she let herself imagine losing Olivia, even though her daughter was never really in such danger, Regina’s mind went down that path. A path where Olivia was taken from them, just like that, and since then she could help but feel like a fool.

She fought with Robin only four days ago about that very ‘what if’ and nearly pushed away the love of her life because she let her mother manipulate her. Regina didn’t know what she would do without Robin, but she wouldn’t risk their love to save herself pain. Just like if something had happened, and Olivia was taken from her, she would never regret making the choice to have her.

The day had been full of tears, but it had opened her eyes. A moment of clarity she supposed everyone had in times of life and death, and for Regina, today helped her appreciate the ones she loved even more.

With her brow against him, Regina turned toward him, and his face angled up. Their noses bumped, and she whispered, “I'm sorry, Robin. You were right. I was never angry at you.”

Robin sighed heavily. “I know.”

“Are we okay?” Regina asked.

Robin chuckled lightly, and she pushed herself away from him so she could look up into his eyes. “We always have been, babe. You wanted space, so I gave it to you.”

She licked her lips, dragging her eyes away from him, now slightly embarrassed by her behavior. “I was about to call you before everything happened.”

“I'm glad I wasn't the only one going mad sitting at home staring down at their phone.”

Regina laughed quietly. They were a pair alright. She touched her lips to his, and pulling away admitted, “No, you weren't.”

Pushing a short-fallen lock of hair behind her ear, Robin remarked, “I like it, by the way. Your hair.”

She smiled at his compliment. Remembering how she worried he wouldn’t like just how much Anastasia had cut off. “It's not too short?”

“Not at all. It's quite adorable actually.”

“Adorable?”

“Sexy,” Robin affirmed with a smirk.

Regina’s voice lowered, and her chin tilted down. “Better.”

He grinned, but it was short lived. A serious expression fell over his face, and she wondered if he had been thinking about everything over the last few days as she had been. And it was his, “I love you, Regina,” that told her all she needed to know.

“I love you, too.”


 

The following morning Robin left to go home and pick up Roland from Belle. Before he stepped out the door, Regina stopped him and told him to bring him and Roland some extra clothes and Ella. She wanted him to stay and be close to Olivia and her.

That night Emma ordered dinner, Henry and Roland played with Ella, and Olivia snuggled with Regina and Robin on the couch. She was sore and complained of a small headache, which worried both parents, but they gave her ibuprofen, and it soon abated, making the girl sleep peacefully for most of the evening.

They did this for three days. Took turns staying close to Olivia, watching her for the list of signs on the paper they brought home from the hospital. And when Friday came, they took her in for a follow-up. She was bruised up and her stitches itched, yet she was sent home with a clean bill of health, but under orders to keep to light mental activities.

“No video games, limited TV, and no music for three weeks,” Dr. Frasier told her while tapping the screen of her iPad.

Olivia’s jaw dropped open. “No music?”

The doctor’s head shook. “No music, little lady.”

Regina put her hand on her daughter’s back as she sat on the examining table and had to bite back a smile. Olivia’s scowl reminded her so much of Robin.

“But music won’t hurt me,” Olivia insisted, indignantly.

“Olivia, if the doctor says it’s not good for you,” Robin began, with a bit of a scolding tone.

However, Dr. Frasier held up her hand and offered Olivia a smile. As a pediatric physiKillian, she dealt with children on a daily basis. “I know three weeks seems like a long time, but sometimes things like games, music, even sunlight can give you headaches for quite a long time after an accident like yours. I just want to make sure you don’t have to go through that kind of pain if you don’t have to. Does that make sense?”

Olivia deflated at that, her shoulders slumped, and she sighed. “I guess.”

Robin met Regina’s eyes and sent her a soft yet tired smile.

It was going to be a long three weeks.


 

Sunday came quickly and so did Emma’s patience with both parents. She had enough of them fussing and circling Olivia like a hawk, as she said to Regina, making her bristle, but the blonde had been adamant and practically pushed them out of the apartment.

“I don’t want to see either of you for at least three hours,” Emma Swan threatened before swiftly closing the door.

Regina hadn’t been amused, but Robin took her hand in his and led her out of the building.

They decide to go for a walk, and so they made their way towards the park. It was quite a walk, Regina warned him, but Robin argued they had three hours to kill. The more and more they walked, the more certain he was that they needed this. The time away.

The sun was beginning to set. It was about that time where the sky faded from blue to orange and red, where soon the street lamps would start flickering to life, and the foot traffic from the day would begin to slow. The park was already quiet as they walked along the path lined with trees.

His arm was warm and tight around her. They kept close to one another these last few days, recovering from their fight and Olivia's accident. It was one thing to argue about the ‘what ifs’ and completely another to look at those ‘what ifs’ in the eye.

They had both been right in their disagreement. Time was fickle and short, but their love for each other and for their children wasn't, and that was exactly what would get them through anything.

The wind picked up and sent Regina’s hair blowing all around her. Robin pulled her by his side, and she felt his lips against her head, before he said, “You smell good.”

Regina's lips pulled up into an amused smile. She hadn't worn perfume in days, but she had to admit the huge bottle of Matrix Emma bought last month did smell a lot like apples. “Thank you.”

“This was a good idea of Emma’s. I don't think we’ve been on a walk together in a while,” Robin mused.

As much as Regina hated to admit, it did feel good to be outside. “It is nice being out of the apartment for a while.”

“Mmm, it is.”

She sighed, thinking about all the work she had to catch up on. “Now that Olivia is better, things can get back to normal.”

His grip on her waist tightened, and she could feel his fingers pulse into her skin. “I couldn't be more ready for it.”

That was something they could both agree on. She was ready to get back to their normal routines. Ready for school, and homework, and weekends spent together at Robin’s. “That makes two of us.”

“I was wondering if you and Olivia wanted to come stay with me for a few days?” Robin asked as if somehow he had read her mind.

With a knowing smile, Regina looked up and told him. “I'm pretty sure your daughter would love to, and so would I.”

Stopping them in their tracks, Robin dropped a kiss to her lips. Turning into him, her mouth softened and opened under his. They kissed and kissed some more. Probably longer than they should have, standing in the middle of a walkway, but she didn’t care. Breaking away, their brows met. “I missed you,” Regina admitted in the space between them.

One of his hands came up to palm her cheek and tangle in her hair. “And I you.”

She sighed softly. “Maybe tomorrow we can put the kids to bed early and have some time for us?”

His eyes held hers for a long moment. “Hmm, that sounds like a fine plan, but if you don't mind going for a ride, I have an idea.”

Regina tilted her head in question, but Robin took her hand and started to walk again before she could ask what he meant.

They walked to the edge of the park where he hailed a cab. Regina wondered briefly if he was taking them to Brooklyn, but Robin gave the cab driver directions uptown. Fifteen minutes later, she got out of the car only to look up at a familiar building, and smiled, knowing where they were but unclear as to why.

Robin thanked the driver and took her hand again. Making their way inside he exchanged hellos with the front desk night guard, and once they were in the elevator, he pulled her to him, bringing his lips down to hers in a soft kiss.

Pulling away Robin told her, “You know, that's exactly what I should have done when we met in this very lift all those years ago.”

Comprehension dawned, and Regina raised a brow. All those years ago when she was six months pregnant with his child, Robin thought he would get away with grabbing her and kissing her like that. Looking up at him, she smirked. “You might have gotten a lot more than just a kiss.”

Robin was intrigued. “Oh?”

“A stranger kissing me in an elevator when I was six months pregnant?” Regina chuckled a dark, serious chuckle. “You would have earned yourself a knee to the groin.”

Robin snorted a laugh. “You'd have done that to the father of your child?”

“I didn't know you were her father at the time,” Regina argued.

His eyes narrowed slightly as if in challenge. “I think I would have swept you off your feet.”

Regina scoffed. “I think you're delusional.”

“Let's see then, shall we?” Robin challenged.

“What do you mean?”

He stepped away from her and pressed the button to the 47 th floor, then turning back to her, held out his hand. “Robin Locksley, pleased to meet you, Miss...?”

Regina smiled but pressed her lips together tightly. Looking away from him she couldn’t help the giggle that broke through and for some reason, she felt a blush creeping up her neck. This was ridiculous and cheesy, but it was making her smile. Something neither of them had done in recent days.

Once she got control over her features, she took his hand. “Regina Mills.”

“Well I have an interview I'm running late to, but what brings you here?”

Regina rolled her eyes but played along. “I'm a photographer. I have an interview with Mr. Lionel.”

“With the CEO, wow. Perhaps you can put in a good word for me?”

She bit her tongue. He was such a horrible actor. “Perhaps.” Regina pretended to consider him. “Though running late? I won't speak for your punctuality.”

He laughed and took another step towards her. “Do you mind if I ask you something.”

“I think you just did, but yes.”

“I don't mean to be forward, but I can't help but notice you're not wearing a ring. Are you single?”

Regina giggled. This was how he was going to “sweep her off her feet,” the very thought amused her considerably. However, despite his full steam ahead approach, Regina answered, “For now, but I'm about to be a mother.”

Robin looked unconcerned by her declaration. “Since that's the case, perhaps I could give you my number?”

Regina narrowed her eyes at him, falling easily into protective mother mode. “Do you have some kind of fetish for pregnant women?”

“No, only beautiful women.” His top teeth sunk into his bottom lip and her eyes followed before he smiled cheekily, knowing the effect he had on her.

“Smooth.”

Robin chuckled. “I do try.”

The doors to the lift opened, and he took her hand leading her off to the right and passed the reception desk where a security guard sat.

“Mr. Locksley.”

“Hello Raymond, just grabbing a few things.”

“Alright, sir.”

They walked along a hall for a minute till they reached the end where the floor opened. Rows of architect desks filled the interior of the floor while the sides were aligned with small offices. They continued to walk through the desks in silence till they reached the end and stopped at a corner office. A plaque with Robin’s name adorned the door, and he opened it, pulling her inside, and closed the door behind them.

The room was dark aside from the lights of the city, and she walked over to the large window looking out. Regina imagined where Robin worked when he went into the city but never imagined the view. “It's beautiful.”

“Aye, very.”

Regina turned and found him watching her. “I was talking about the view.”

He shrugged unapologetically. “I wasn't.”

“Charmer.”

“What do you think?” Robin asked as he closed the distance between them. “Would you have called me?”

“It's possible.” His brow fell to hers, and she closed her eyes, breathing him in. “But you wouldn't have gotten as lucky as you are now. There’s no way I would have come back to your office after just meeting you.”

Shrugging, his hand found their way under her shirt, his fingertips caressing the skin of her back and sides while she brought her arms up around his neck. “We could pretend you did.”

Her eyes closed, letting herself stop thinking and just feel. After what seemed like forever, Regina replied, “There's one problem with this little scenario. I'm not pregnant.”

His words were soft against her ear, “Say the word, and I'll fix that.”

Her belly clenched at the thought of him getting her pregnant again. Her eyes opened, and her head tilted up, meeting his intense gaze. They stood like that, staring at one another until she could take it no longer, rising on her tip-toes her lips met his. She didn’t know what it was but there was nothing she wanted more. Maybe it was how real Olivia’s accident made everything, or maybe she didn’t want to wait another moment to start their lives together. She wanted to let go of her fears and just live in the moment with him and their kids forever.

“I want a baby, Robin,” Regina murmured against his lips.

His gaze dropped down to hers. They were so close that their noses were touching, and his office was dark, so she couldn’t see him well enough to gauge his reaction. He could have been kidding, but she didn’t think about that at the time. She felt like she might cry if she was wrong, so stupidly wrong to misjudge him so, and just as she was about to tell him to forget it his lips covered hers once again, only this time it was softer, slower, and more intimate than before.

His hands made their way into her hair, holding her lightly as they kissed. Her mouth opened under his, and she moaned when she felt his tongue against hers.

Robin broke away from her slowly, then leaning back, Regina was surprised to see a glint in his eyes and a smirk that followed. His hands moved from her hair to her jeans, and he began to undo them. “Well then, just standing here kissing won't remedy that, my love.”

He walked them over to the couch while tugging at the hem of her shirt up, she raised her arms long enough for him to slip it off of her and toss it to the floor. Mirroring him, she pulled his shirt up and up until he finished for her, tossing it to the floor alongside hers.

Her heart knocked hard in her chest, but the impish smile that pulled her lips up couldn’t be helped when he kneeled down and tugged her jeans down with him. She didn’t care that they weren’t married. She didn’t care that they still lived apart. They were together and screw the order. When it came down to it, with everything they’d been through, the order in which they did things didn’t matter.

Not to them.  

Chapter Text

Regina unlocked the door and groaned as the coolness from the central air hit her. The first week of September was one of the warmest yet, leaving New York in the high nineties with no sign of relief for another few weeks. She would be so happy when summer was over. Regina loved it when fall began to set in, turning the leaves from green to brilliant oranges and reds, and the winds picked up, bringing with them overcast skies. A time for layers and scarves, pumpkins and hot tea.

It was her favorite time of year.

For now, though Regina would just have to get through the rest of the summer the best she could. These last few weeks constantly working and staying at Robin’s with Olivia and Roland, Regina had become spoiled. Secretly she delighted in staying at home with both children. Emma sent her a text two weeks into her stay there, telling her if she wasn’t careful Regina would end up pregnant and quitting her day job to raise all of Locksley’s blue-eye babies.

Regina smiled just a little too much at that.

The sound of paws on the hardwood floor had her looking down just in time to see Ella making her way excitedly towards her. Her great big poofy tail wagged as she turned in circles at Regina’s feet and she let out an eager bark, happy to have her home. Kneeling, Regina pet her behind the ears causing the pup to lean into her. She chuckled. Ella was such a big ham where Regina was concerned, always wanting to cuddle beside her or at her feet. The last three weeks spent at Robin’s made her more attached to Regina than ever. Even caused Robin to grouse that he lost his spot to a furry female, to which Regina had laughed, and then kissed away his pout.

“Mumma, mumma!” Roland cried out, running at her from down the hall.

Ella moved quickly out of the way, and Regina scooped up the toddler then rose to her feet. “Goodness!” With wide eyes, Regina told the boy, “Ugh, you’re getting so heavy.”

Roland looked down at himself, and with a wide dimpled smile asked, “I’m getting big?”

Laughing, Regina confirmed, “Yes, you’re getting very big, sweetheart.”

Regina’s brow creased, as she took him in. He was missing a shirt, and his little hands were bright red and sticky, and she grimaced when he leaned forward and hugged her. Lovely.

“Daddy is cookin’,” Roland told her, pointing a finger in the direction of the kitchen.

“Oh, is he?” Regina placed a kiss on his brow, and then set him down on his feet. “Let’s go see.”

Roland started to run down the hall, and as Regina stepped into the kitchen, a bright smile lit her face. Robin was standing at the sink, peeling cucumbers, while Olivia sat at the table, colored pencils and paper spread all over around her, and on the other side, piles of Play-Doh and matchbox cars for Roland. The children had obviously stopped what they were doing for a snack, as Olivia plopped raspberry after raspberry into her mouth.

Roland let go of her hand and ran back over to his side of the table, crawling up into his chair and digging back into the bowl of berries. She spotted his white tee shirt on the counter behind him, and she now understood the reasoning behind it and his sticky hands.

Olivia turned her head in Regina’s direction, and her, “ Hi, Momma ,” had Robin looking up, flashing his own smile at her. “Hey, beautiful.”

Regina crossed to Olivia first, went up beside her and leaned down and kissed her brow, brushing her hair out of her face, before tracing a finger over the newly healed skin along her hairline.  “How are you feeling, sweetheart?”

Olivia shrugged and reached for another berry. “Fine.”

Shaking her head, Regina walked over to where Robin was diligently working on preparing dinner. Inhaling, she tilted her head and guessed, “Chicken?”

He pecked her on the lips with a quick kiss, then answered, “Chicken and steak kabobs with a salad.”

Regina’s stomach flipped appreciatively at the thought of food, and she grinned. “Someone finally got that grill?”

“Delivered this morning,” Robin winked.  “Are you hungry?”

God, was she ever. The small salad early in the afternoon did nothing to help get Regina through the day, by three o’clock she sent Anna for Starbucks and an iced coffee and one of their lunch sandwiches, but she got pulled into the meeting and the only thing she took with her was her coffee. By the time the meeting was over her sandwich was cold and she was headed home so she decided to just wait. So, yes, Regina was most definitely, hungry. “I am.”

“Good.” He took a bowl full of cherry tomatoes from beside the sink and said, “Oh and before I forget, I wanted to ask, you know that project David and I have been working on?” She hummed an affirmative and swiped a tomato from the bowl. He frowned at her thievery, but continued on, “The owners decided to hit us with some pretty drastic changes, so I’ll be working in the city on Friday.”

Her forehead creased, and it was her turn to frown. Robin had been working on the design with David for the last couple months and he was just telling her a few nights ago that they were mercifully finished. “That’s not good. I thought you were done?”

“We were, but now…” Robin growled softly in frustration, and let whatever he was going to say go. “Anyway, let’s just say they’ve made it harder to meet that deadline come Monday. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind watching Roland for me tomorrow. It might be an all day thing, maybe even late into the evening.”

“Of course, I will,” Regina told him, and taking him by the arm to get his attention. “And you don’t need to ask anymore.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied, stealing another tomato and a quick kiss from him. “Do you think that’ll be enough time to get it done?”

Robin’s brows rose, and he went back to slicing the vegetables. “We’re going to try.”

Looking around the kitchen, Regina could see he had the salad mostly done, plates at the ready, even a bottle of wine sitting beside two glasses. Already aware of the answer she asked it anyway, “Can I help with anything?”

“I’ve got most of it, actually. You just go sit down, pour yourself a glass of that.” Robin motioned at the wine with a tilt of his chin, before adding, “And relax a bit before dinner.”

“You’re too good to me.” She ran her hand across his back.

“Something that goes both ways.”

Regina took a seat on the barstool and helped herself to the bottle of cabernet. Speaking in a low voice, so Olivia didn’t overhear, Regina told him, “I was thinking about how school will be starting for Olivia soon, and I was wondering how you would feel about putting your name on her birth certificate?”

His blue eyes looked up at her, a bright smile making the sides of his eyes crinkle and his dimples pop. “I would love that.”

“Good.”

Finished with the salad, Robin set the knife down, and went over beside her, taking the bottle and poured himself a glass. Curious, he asked, “What would we need to do?”

Regina had already looked into the process a while ago. Sometime back when they first started officially dating and she was sure this was more than a fling. “There’s a form we’d both need to fill out, but it’s, for the most part, a pretty easy process.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Also, we should put your name on her information at her school. That way I won’t need to call when you pick her up or if there’s an emergency,” She said that last part quietly, and their eyes both gazed over to their daughter. Her cuts were mostly healed, nightmares were all but gone, but the memories for both parents were still raw.

“We can go down next week,” Robin suggested before taking a sip of his wine.

With a nod, Regina took a sip grateful sip, letting the fell of his hand against hers and the sounds of their children relax her. Grabbing her wine, she stood and told him. “Okay, show me this grill of yours.”

Robin grinned, getting to his feet, he replied, “Right this way.”


 

When she didn’t come home for three weeks, Regina hadn’t really expected her roommate to dust or clean. She had hoped, of course, but it wasn’t something she would ever bet on.  When Regina came home to an apartment that needed a bit of tidying she wasn’t shocked. She was, however, surprised to find her plants still alive and the counters crumb free and that was something.

And with Robin gone for the day, Olivia excited to practice once again, and Roland happily playing with Henry and some of Henry’s old LEGOs in his room, Regina took the opportunity to give the place a good scrub before summer ended.

She was listening to her favorite mix on her iPod, so Regina didn't hear the knock on the door the first time. It wasn't until Ella started barking that Regina paused her music and listened. Another knock, this one a bit more impatient than the last, but since she didn't hear it the first time, Regina assumed whoever it was must have been in a hurry.

Brushing the sweat from her brow, Regina made her way over to the door, wondering if Robin or Emma had forgotten their key, while Ella trailed behind her.

Eyes wide, Regina stood in shock. “Mother.”

Regina had not seen or spoken to her mother in over a month. Not since the night of her horrible dinner party. The night she and Robin fought. And there her mother was, large as life, waiting for Regina to ask her inside.

“Regina,” Cora replied, smiling.

Not sure what to think or feel, Regina stood there blinking at her. Cora had not been to her apartment in years , and after everything that happened, she was standing in front of her expectantly. The words left her mouth before Regina had time to process, “What are you doing here?”

“I've come to apologize,” Cora said, simply. Regina stared at her and her hesitance must have been obvious, because Cora went on, “I realize you might not want to see me, and I don't blame you for that. However, I’d like the chance to explain the reasons behind my visit.”

Regina’s mind screamed at her to tell her mother to leave. To tell Cora that what she had done, to her, to Robin, all the things that she said could never be taken back and there was no apology in the world that would ever make up for it. And yet, her heart, the part of her that longed for just a bit of her mother’s love, was the part of her that had Regina stepping back and opening the door. “Alright, come in.”

The universe, though, it had a sense of humor because her mother was not more than three steps in and Ella came bursting around Regina, all paws, and energy. She came at Cora mid-jump, and before Regina could stop her, she leaped up towards her mother’s chest.

“Ella, no!” Regina cried, grabbing the pup by the collar, while Cora braced herself against the entryway table. “I'm sorry, she's not exactly trained.” Regina grimaced.

“No, that's fine,” Cora said though she was clutching her heart, slightly out of breath.

Regina bit back a smirk, scolded the pup and told her to go find Henry. Which Ella did, happily. Turning back to her mother, Regina asked, “Do you want something to drink?”

“Thank you, no.” Cora straightened, brushing the nonexistent wrinkles from her pantsuit. “Your father's waiting for me, and I don't wish to take up much of your time.”

“Do you have time to sit down?” Regina asked, walking around the couch and into the living room.

Cora followed and then looking at the sofa with a critical eye, as though she might get dog hair on her, Cora perched herself on the very edge. There was an awkward silence between the two for a moment, and then Cora surprised her by jumping in. “Regina, I want you to know that your father and I are now in counseling.” Cora paused, her eyes dropping away and Regina could see her visibly swallow. Regina imagined it was hard Cora to say. Hell, it was hard for Regina to even believe. Soon her mother was speaking again. “After our dinner together... well, after all these years, to be more precise, it seems your father was done putting up with me. I know I don't show it, but I love your father, and I love you, Regina.”

Regina felt like the wind had been knocked from her. Like that time when she was eight-years-old on the playground at school, Regina had been on the swings and accidently let go. She remembered falling back and back until she hit the ground hard. She couldn’t breathe for the longest time. Tears filled her eyes, and when she was finally able to take that next breath, it was filled with nothing but pain.

Regina blinked back tears as she watched Cora removed a piece of paper from her jacket pocket. Unfolding it, her mother began, “First I want to say I'm sorry for my behavior the other evening. It was unfair to you and to Robin. Second, I promise from now on, to stay out of your decisions regarding Olivia. You're a wonderful mother, and I know you will do only what's good for her. And lastly…” Cora paused, and Regina braced herself for the final confession. “I know I have a lot to work on, Regina. I haven't been there for you. And I know a single apology cannot make up for years of neglect.” Cora looked up, and in a voice, Regina had never heard her use before, she said, “However, I hope you'll let me try.”

Knowing her mother hated displays of emotion of any kind, Regina took a deep shuddering breath and blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. Finally, once Regina found her voice, she replied, “That would be nice.”

Cora smiled at her and then the sound of little feet running down the hall broke the moment, and Regina spotted Roland running through the kitchen towards her. She smiled at him, and his hands came up, little fists opening and closing the way they did when he wanted something. “Momma, up please?” Regina gladly obliged, scooping up the small child and holding him to her side fondly.

She could feel her mother's eyes on her, judging her. “He seems very fond of you. It must be serious if you’re letting the boy call you that.”

Her mother’s statement wasn't what Regina had expected. It seemed there could be something said for therapy. “It is serious, and he’s also three. His mother died before he was old enough to remember her.”

Cora regarded him the way she would a pet, and Regina had to smile. The idiom, a leopard cannot change his spots, came to mind. “How sad for him.”

Regina tilted her head, her eyes studying her mother as Cora gazed down at Roland and she wondered if she really meant that. Roland’s head fell against her shoulder as he yawned, and Regina wrapped her arms around him. Her love for the little boy grew fiercer with every passing day. “It is sad.”

“But now he has you.”

Something inside Regina twisted, at her mother’s words, making the urge to cry again almost so overwhelming, Regina wasn’t sure how she managed to hold back her tears. Her hand threaded through Roland’s curls, and Regina gazed down at the boy whose hand came up to her cheek. “He does.”

Cora managed a half smile and then gave a heavy sigh. “Well dear, I really must be going. I have an appointment with your father downtown and I don’t think I should keep him waiting.”

Regina started to stand. “I’ll go get Olivia.”

“No, let her practice.” Cora told her, closing her eyes and listening for a moment before adding, “Besides, I’m still feeling… well, I’ll come see her soon.”

They both stood, and Regina shifted Roland onto her hip while walking her over to the door. “Thank you for coming, Mother.”

“Thank you for listening.” Pausing, Cora turned. “I am trying, Regina.”

Regina nodded, standing with Roland cuddled against her chest. There was so much she wanted to say but didn’t know how or where to begin that Regina decided to wait until she took in this new development and got her emotions under control. Her thoughts were everywhere, and Regina couldn’t help but feel guarded despite how sincere her mother was.

“We’ll talk again soon?” Cora asked, almost hopefully.

“I’ll look forward to it,” Regina said, finding that she really meant it.

The door opened before Regina could reach it, and the surprised face of Emma Swan came into view. “What the- Oh hey, Mrs. Mills.”

“Miss Swan, good to see you,” Cora told the blonde before walking past her.

Stunned, Emma’s reply came a little late, and she mumbled, “Yeah, good to see you too.”

The door closed, and Emma’s wide eyes flicked onto Regina. “What the hell was that about?”

Regina made a face, glanced down at Roland, and scolded, “Language, Swan.”

The blonde only rolled her eyes and followed behind Regina who began to walk into the living room. “Yeah yeah, sorry, but what the heck was that about?”

“That was my mother. She came to apologize.”

“No shi- No kidding.” Emma nodded, a bit astonished. “Wow. Okay, so lunch and you tell me what that was all about.”


 

That evening Olivia and Henry drug out all the pillows and blankets and settled on the floor ready to tuck in for the night and watch the magic of the three Sanderson Sisters in Hocus Pocus. Even though Emma pointed out that Halloween was still more than a month away, the kids didn’t care. It was a favorite that made an appearance many times throughout the year.

Olivia was excited to introduce Roland to the movie. He lay down beside her and listened for a bit as she explained how Binx wasn’t really a cat but a real boy. The movie was too much to keep a three-year-olds attention for long. Soon Roland was up, his sleepy eyes blinking and looking around for Regina, and she smiled at him from across the room. Running to her, the little boy in his green-footy dinosaur pajamas crawled up into her lap and cuddled against her chest.

Dropping a kiss on his brow, Regina frowned when she realized how warm he felt. Regina brought her hand up to feel his temperature. He was warm, warmer than she was comfortable with. “Hey sweetie, are you not feeling well?”

Roland shook his head against her.  

Emma who had been watching them from the couch, asked, “Something wrong with the kiddo?”

“I think he may be coming down with something.” Regina looked over at her. “Now that I think about it, he’s been really lethargic today and he feels warm.”

“Poor guy.” Emma grimaced.  “Want me to get the Tylenol?”

“Would you, please?” Regina said, thankfully.

“Sure thing.” Emma got up from the couch with a groan, padding her way down the hall and into the bathroom.

Olivia came over beside them, her eyes looking at her brother with a concerned frown. “Momma? Is Roland sick?”

Regina let out a sigh and began to rub the toddlers back, his little eyes already heavy with sleep. “I think so.”

Patting his back, Olivia asked, “Is he gonna be okay?”

“He is. He just needs to get some sleep.”

Olivia leaned forward and whispered, “I think he’s already asleep.”

Sure enough, Regina looked down to see Roland out for the count. His deep and even uncongested breathing, reassured her for the moment that at least it wasn’t another bout of croup. Emma was coming back into the room, carrying the Tylenol with her. Holding Roland tightly to her, Regina stood and took it, thanked Emma for the medicine. “Olivia, I’m going to go lay down with him. Is it okay if Emma tucks you in tonight?”

Olivia’s blue eyes blinked up at her. “Can I go to bed with you, too?”

Running her hand over Olivia’s head, she replied, “Oh sweetheart, I would love to have you lay down with us, but if Roland is getting sick I’d prefer it if you don’t get too close. I want to try to keep you from catching anything.”

“Okay.”

“Thank you, sweetheart.”

“Hey Livie, how about you come help me make some more popcorn?”

“Oh yeah!” The little girl took off in the direction of the kitchen.

Emma chuckled and waved Regina away. “Don’t worry about girly, I’ll make sure she gets to bed at a decent time.”

Adjusting Roland higher up on her shoulder, Regina told her, “I appreciate it.”

The blonde turned to walk away but stopped short. “Is Robin coming back tonight?”

“He was going to try.”

Emma nodded, her lower lip protruding out into a face she made when she was in one of her “whatever” moods. “Yeah, okay go take care of that little guy. I’ve got the preteens.”

Regina closed eyes at the thought. “Ugh, don’t even go there. Olivia is not allowed to become a teenager.”

Emma looked down at Henry who was engrossed in some kind of first person fighting game, and grumbled, “I hear that.”


 

It was nearly two in the morning when Robin unlocked the door to Regina’s apartment. He and David had worked all day and night, took small breaks, intermittently snacking throughout their project planning to try and save time. In the end, they’d made some excellent progress and were pretty sure they’d be able to present Mr. Lionel and Mr. Coleman a design they would agree upon come Monday.

Regina sent him a message earlier in the evening that she would leave him a plate of leftovers in the fridge he could warm up when he got home. Robin groaned aloud at that, and David had looked over at him like he’d gone mad.

Pulling open the fridge, Robin did groan. Meatloaf and roasted potatoes. The woman was a saint. He was going to have to do something for her. Jewelry or something equal to a meal such as this. Taking the saran wrap from the plate, Robin popped it into the microwave. He impatiently grabbed a fork, waited and inhaled the scent of spices from the meal making his mouth water. Indeed, the way to a man’s heart was truly through his stomach... well, mostly.

Standing in the kitchen, Robin ate his dinner then rinsed his plate before sticking it in the dishwasher. Removing his shoes, he placed them by the door, before padding down the hall. He flipped on the light to the bathroom, walked towards the sink to brush his teeth before heading to bed. Once he was finished, as quietly as he could, he opened the door to Olivia’s room. She was sound asleep, covers pulled up all around her. Only the top of her head peeked out. He walked around her bed, expecting to see Roland on his little makeshift mattress of blankets, but was surprised when he found it empty.

Opening the door to Regina’s room, a soft smile pulled his lips up at the sight. She was in the middle of the bed, Roland snuggled into her chest with a mountain of pillows on his other side to keep him from rolling off.

Robin went to the dresser and pulled out a pair of cotton pajama pants. After Olivia’s accident, Robin had gone and got Roland and him a few extra sets of clothes, and instead of bringing them home, he left them there just in case.

Pulling back the blankets Robin eased into bed, spooning up behind Regina as gently as he could without waking her. He would have gotten away with it too, but his kiss to her shoulder, had her inhaling sharply, raising her head, blinking awake. “Robin?”

He grimaced. “Sorry, I woke you.”

She yawned and her voice was filled with sleep when she replied, “No, it’s fine. Did you get done with everything?”

His hand came up to her arm, and his palm slid along the bare skin of her bicep in what he hoped was a relaxing caress. “I did. Thank you.”

“Mmhmm,” she hummed back sleepily.

His heart warmed, looking down at his son who was so content next to the woman he loved. The woman who was as good as the boy’s mother. She was drifting back to sleep, and he selfishly wanted to talk with her some more. With his chin resting on her arm, Robin joked, “I didn’t expect to come to bed and to find you sleeping with another bloke.”

Her laugh was a low, quiet thing. “Very funny.”

Looking down at his son, Robin thought about how odd it was that he was here with Regina and not in the room with Olivia. Normally when they put him to bed with his sister, once Roland was out he slept soundly through the night. Then again, Robin had always been there, and he wondered if Roland had missed him. “Was he terribly upset for me leaving him?”

“No, in fact, he was fine, but I think he might be coming down with something.” Just as Regina said that her hand came up and rested along his son’s brow.

Raising his head, Robin sighed. “Again?”

“Nothing too bad, just a low fever and wanted lots of cuddles. I gave him some ibuprofen. We’ll watch him.”

“He’d just gotten over that bad cold not too long ago.” Reaching over her, Robin pushed back the curls that had fallen to the boy’s forehead, felt Roland brow. He was cool to the touch, any fever he did have already taken away by medicine.

“It’s normal for his age,” Regina told him. “Olivia got sick it seemed like once a month one summer.”

Robin grimaced. He couldn’t imagine Roland getting cold after cold for months on end. “Poor girl, that’s rough.”

“At least Roland isn’t terrible cranky. Olivia was always so grumpy,” Regina replied her tone falling to a memorable exasperation.

Laughing silently, Robin could picture his little girl giving her mother no end of grief when she wasn’t feeling well. “She takes after her feisty mother.”

“I’m sure,” Regina mumbled, not amused in the slightest. He chuckled some more and placed a kiss on her shoulder. Just when Robin thought she might be falling asleep again, Regina surprised him by telling him, “My mother came by today.”

Eyes widening, Robin carefully asked, “Oh did she?”

“Mmhm. She apologized for her behavior. Apparently, my father drug her to counseling. She said she’d like us to start over.”

Robin’s hand found its way under her shirt, caressing the soft warm skin of her hip and stomach. “How do you feel about that?”

“I want to believe that she means what she says, or at least she wants to believe it, but… It’s difficult to trust her. She doesn’t exactly have a good track record in the honesty department.”

“I can understand not wanting to open your heart to that exposure. Needing to protect it from disappointment.”

Regina sighed. “I told her we could try and take it a day at a time.”

“Indeed. In the meantime, you have all of us here who love you” he began placing a kiss to her neck, then added, “Support you, and will be here for you no matter what happens.”

Regina reached back, placing a hand on his head, and threading her fingers through his hair. “Thank you. I love you, too.”

Robin tried not to be affected by the way her nails scraped against his neck. Distracting himself from that, he asked, “I was wondering if perhaps this weekend you might want to go with me and look into some preschools for Roland.”

Wanting to see Robin better, Regina turned carefully as not to wake Roland. “I’d love to.”

“Also,” Robin began, unsure if he really wanted to ask her the question that's been rattling around in his mind for a while now. Not the question he really wanted to ask. No, that question was planned. And he promised himself to wait until that day came. Until then, Robin reasoned he could get them one step closer.

“Yes?” Her dark brown eyes searched his.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Robin asked, “I thought maybe later we could talk about making us a bit more permanent.”

“What do you mean?”

Her curious eyes looked up at him, and Robin couldn’t help but think how gorgeous she was. God, he was a bloody idiot. He should just ask her already. Robin was sure he knew what her answer would be, but damn he had a plan, and it was worth the wait. Regina was worth the wait.

“With both our children in school soon, I just... I thought it might be easier to be together and if we lived in one place... I know your home is here but I dunno,” He trailed off, searching for the right way to say it. It wasn't until he felt her hand on his cheek that he gazed back down and told her, “Truthfully, I’ve grown quite fond of you and Olivia with me and Roland in Brooklyn and if we’re really going to start trying to-”

“Yes.”

Robin blinked, unsure if he heard her right. “Yes?”

Regina chuckled and placed her palm on his cheek. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you but… Are you asking us to move in?”

A smile formed on his lips that couldn't be helped. “Yes, that was what I was about to get at.”

“Yes,” Regina said again.

Robin looked down at her in wonder. “Just like that?”

She laughed softly. It was light and amused and stole the breath from him. “Do you want me to make it difficult?”

It was his turn to laugh. “No, it's just, it's a big step.”

Her eyes gentled then. “Like you said, school is starting soon. It would be better if both children were in one place, not bouncing between your place and mine. Especially Roland so young, adjusting to a school schedule will be hard enough on him.”

“And Emma and Henry?” Robin questioned because he didn't want to put them out in any way, even thought about keeping Regina's share of the rent going until they could afford it for themselves.

But Regina surprised him again with a slight lift of her shoulders. “Emma makes decent money, I’ll talk to her. See what she thinks but I’m sure she would just stay here.”

Dropping his chin to her arm, Robin smiled against her skin. “We’re doing it then?”

Shifting her shoulder beneath him, so her back was against the mattress with him half above her, she replied, “Yes.”

“I love you, Regina.” Lowering his head, Robin closed the distance between them.


 

Saturday was spent at Regina’s for the most part, but they decided to go and stay in Brooklyn for the night, so that come Monday they could start looking for preschools. Blinking awake in his bed on Sunday morning, Robin didn’t realize what had woken him initially until he heard Regina’s annoyed voice from beside him. “Robin, your phone is ringing.”

He grunted, reached out blindly to the nightstand beside him, feeling the smooth oak until his hand wrapped around his iPhone. Unfortunately for Robin, he had forgotten he had plugged it in to charge the night before, so it should not have surprised him when the phone snagged in his hand tumbling off the bed and down to the floor below.

“Bloody fuck,” Robin muttered. Regina beside him started to giggle. “Quiet you,” he told her teasingly, making a face Robin reached to the ground quickly then swiping to answer it before it went to voicemail.

He turned into Regina’s warmth, pulling her back into his embrace and hooking his leg over hers while he mumbled a gruff, “Hello?” into the phone.

“Good morning Mr. Locksley,” came the overly smiling voice of his CEO’s assistant, Rose into the phone. He pulled the device away from his ear and squinted at the time.

7:03

Robin had no idea how or why someone could be so bloody cheerful this early in the morning, on a Sunday no less, but she better have a point to this phone call and soon.

“Yes?”

“I know it’s early and Sunday,” her sing-song voice replied, and he rolled his eyes. Get to the point , he thought right before she was speaking again. “Mr. Lionel would like to meet with you this afternoon at one o’clock.

Rubbing his eyes, Robin remembered he and David were due to meet with Richard tomorrow about the Coleman account and the trouble they’ve had. Robin hoped word had gotten to Richard before they had a chance to meet with him. More awake now, Robin replied, “Sure thing.”

Thanking him, Rose disconnected the call and Robin tossed the phone to the end of the bed. Regina turned into him, burying her head into the crook of his neck, and his hand came up to tangle in her hair.

“Who was that?” Regina mumbled.

“My boss’ assistant. He wants to meet me later. Most likely wants to give David and I hell for not being finished with our project.”

Her head rose up, and Robin couldn’t help the smile that came from looking at her. Regina’s sleep tousled shoulder-length hair and bleary eyes made her look ridiculously adorable. “But it’s not your fault!” Regina protested in his defense.

Chuckling, Robin placed a hand on her shoulder encouraging her to lie back down. “I know, and he knows that, too. He’ll probably just offer his own suggestions and then tell us to just do what the owners want even if it ends up looking like rubbish.”

Regina laid her head back down, Robin began to make slow passes up and down her back with his palms and she sighed contently. With one pass down her spine, he took the hem of her shirt and pulled it up with the flow of his hand, and caressed the soft skin underneath. He felt her press a kiss against his chest, before her hand found its way under his shirt, gliding over his belly and chest.

Robin thought he would be content to go back to sleep like this. With her soft and warm and pressed against him, but then she hooked her leg up over his hips, her thigh resting against him. He was half hard already, but now with her thigh on him and the way she started to move it subtly but surely against him, he bit back a groan as he felt himself begin to stiffen.

Rolling them lightly to their sides, Robin’s hand slid from her back and around her side to her breast. Regina gasped, and she arched under his fingertips, pushing herself into his palm. Tilting her head up, she breathed a soft, “Yes,” and his lips began to nip and suck a row of planted kisses along her neck while he teased her nipple and cupped the soft weight under his palm.

After a few minutes of attention, he dropped his hand down from her breast and further still, worked it between their bodies and into her underwear. He could hear her breathing change, the hitch when he eased a finger down sliding it gently over her clit.

Kissing along her jaw, Robin smiled against her skin when he heard her moan, and her hips began to rock against his fingers. They should probably lock their door, but the kids had been up late last night, so Robin was pretty sure they would sleep in. Another hour for both of them at least, and as worked up as he and Regina were becoming Robin was pretty sure neither of them would take long.

Her leg rose up a bit, to rest on his hip giving him more access, and he slid that finger down, adding another and spreading the wetness he found there. Regina wasn’t quite ready for him, she was wet but not wet enough. So Robin pumped his fingers into her the way he knew she like it, while his thumb circled around her clit.

Her hips began to thrust in time with his fingers. Gasping, Regina took a fist full of his cotton tee in her hand and she pulled him towards her. His lips met hers in a deep open mouthed kiss. These last few weeks they had made love quite often, both eager to add another addition to their family. But since Regina had only just stopped taking her birth control pills, they didn't expect to get pregnant quickly, but whether it be now or later they knew they would make a baby.

Until then, Robin knew they would enjoy the practice.

Pulling his fingers from her, Robin rolled them so he was hovering above her, and leaning back into his knees, he hooked his fingers around her shorts and underwear and slipping them off of her. Parting her legs for him, he groaned aloud at the sight of her, wanting to go down and lick and taste her, but the door wasn’t locked, they needed to be quick.  Telling himself they would have time for that later, he slipped his fingers back into her, watching as she arched and gasped, giving her time to be ready for him.

Oh, but she was impatient, mightily so, and Robin chuckled when she reached for him and told him she wanted him. Lowering his boxers, Robin leaned forward, bracing himself on his elbow and tilting his hips he entered her slowly before pulling out and easing in again. His brow fell against her shoulder, while her hands glided up his arms and over his back her nails digging in, encouraging him, sending a shiver down his spine. He loved her like this. In the mornings, when she was nothing but soft sighs and breathy gasps, it was exquisitely intimate for them and it was all he could do not to wake her like this every morning.

Her legs came up to wrap around his hips, the action changing the angle just right, so now he was thrusting deeper and hitting that spot inside her that made her clench around him. Robin groaned, picking up his pace, and her hand came up to tangle in his hair. Regina gasped his name, and Robin knew she was close.

Sliding slickly in and out, he whispered for her to come, that he wanted to feel her coming. Her head tilted back, and she bit her lip, and he watched with smug pride as Regina fell over the edge. With Regina hot and wet around him he soon followed, and with a groan, his spilled deep inside her.

Falling onto her, Regina wrapped her arms around him as they caught their breath. Robin could feel her lips against his temple and he made a move to roll to his side, but she would have none of it.

“No, stay,” Regina told him.

Nodding, he placed a row of kisses along her neck and up along her jaw. “You know, I think we should wake up early more often.”


 

The drive into the city went by in no time at all, partly, Robin was sure, because he spent most of his commute on the phone with David going over possible questions Lionel might throw at him. The only thing they couldn’t figure out was why couldn’t it have waited until tomorrow and why didn’t he ask David to come in as well?

The only answer Robin could come up with is that the Coleman’s wanted to change their minds again, and since Robin was the senior architect on the project, Lionel only needed one of them to yell at.

David laughed at that and told him, “Thanks for taking one for the team.”

Robin grumbled that David would owe him one of these days, and told him he would get back to him after the meeting and hung up. He reached for the coffee Regina made for him before he left, and thought about Regina, his daughter and all of the moving they would be doing over the next couple of weeks before school started. All of which would take place after Olivia’s birthday party.

Pulling just outside of the entry, Robin downed the rest of his coffee, grabbed his briefcase and set off. Inside the elevator, Robin checked the time on his watch but noticed little black dots along the cuff of his light blue button-up. He let loose a few curse words, realizing his coffee had leaked onto his shirt. Bloody brilliant , Robin thought in annoyance, but it was mostly just his sleeve. Glancing at the rest of him, his black slacks and tie were safe, only a few small drops on his shirt. You know what, screw it, Robin thought in defiance. It was Sunday, the man was lucky he was even coming in.

Arriving at the top floor, Robin was greeted with the smiling face of Rose. She was dressed as she normally would be and Robin wondered if she had a life outside of Richard Lionel, which led to another completely different thought that perhaps there was a reason she was always at Richard's side, and he quickly shook his head. That was none of his business.

“I’ll let him know that you’re here.” Rose smiled at him knowingly. Like she was in on a secret he knew nothing about. Odd.

A few seconds later the doors to Richard’s office burst open, and Robin looked up to find the man himself standing there, he also was wearing a rather large smile. “Robin! Thank you for coming in on such short notice.”

“Mr. Lionel,” Robin responded walking over.

Before they went in, Lionel turned back to his assistant and asked, “Rose, hold all calls for me.”

“Of course,” the girl replied, the wide smile never leaving her face.

Stepping into the large office Robin stopped short. “Mr. Mattias.”

The grinning man got to his feet and waved away the formalities. “Alex, Robin please.”

Robin chuckled and conceited. “Alright, Alex.”

“I bet you’re wondering why I’m back.” Mattias was still smiling only pressing his lips together like if Robin didn’t guess soon, it might just spill out of him. This was the intimidating golden architect?

Robin could not keep from laughing a bit. “I am curious, yes.”

Mattias wasted no time, jumping in with all seriousness, he began, “Thing is, son. I want you in on my San Francisco project. I know Kingston is good, but you’re better-”

Bollocks. No, not this again. “Mr- Alex, while I appreciate the–”

The man’s voice rose above Robin’s, “Which is why I’m prepared to make you a better offer.”

That stopped Robin. His head tilted now curious. “A better one?”

A smug smirk pulled up the man’s lips and he looked over at Richard, who was sitting at his desk looking thoroughly entertained by them. “That’s right. Kingston will operate on site in California, but you, you will run the show from here in New York.”

Gobsmacked, Robin stood there. “I’m not sure what to say.”

Holding up a hand, the older man in a firm voice told him, “Before you say anything let me just say this. Don’t think that I’ll pay you to sit pretty here in the city. I expect you to make frequent trips out there from time to time to oversee and make sure things are staying on task and then report back to me. Now, what do you say?”

This was… acceptable. Both Mattias and Richard were now looking at him. Richard fighting a smile, knowing Robin’s answer and Mattias looking like he might pass out from holding his breath. Robin put him out of his misery and answered with a chuckle, “Yes. Absolutely, of course. Thank you.”

The old man seemed to deflate a bit at that. “Thank god.” He laughed for a moment in relief and then snapped back to business. “I want you on this as soon as possible. Richard here has all the details you need to get up to date and everything else will be sent to you this afternoon.”

Humbled and very thankful, Robin shook his new boss’ hand. “I’m looking forward to it, Alex. Thank you again, so much.”

Gravely, Mattias responded, “No, thank you, son. If I would have had to listen to that arrogant bastard Kingston any longer I’d have to build the damn building myself.”

Robin laughed.


 

Walking up behind her Robin placed a kiss to her neck and whispered, “Hello, Beautiful” into her ear, and Regina turned, her smile widening as she didn’t expect him back home so soon. She thought he would be at least a few hours and it seemed like he’d been gone no more than an hour.

“Hey,” Regina replied, turning her eyes widened as Robin pulled out the flowers from behind his back and held them in front of her. “Oh, what are these for?”

Robin shrugged, stepped forward to kiss her once again. “Because I love you and it’s just a good day.”

Regina arched a brow. “What happened at your meeting?”

He leaned back against the counter, grinning. “You remember that job, the one in San Francisco?”

Wait, could it be? She wondered briefly if the man who offered Robin the job before had come back again. Offered him more money perhaps, something Robin couldn’t say no to. For a moment, Regina had the sinking feeling of dread that came with the thought of leaving New York, of moving to California, but as quickly as it came it was gone. She would move anywhere for him, and then suddenly she was excited. Hesitantly, Regina replied, “Yes.”

“Well Mattias came back, he wants me to do it so much that he is willing to let me work from New York but with the proviso that I make small trips to check in every now and then and make sure things are on schedule.”

Her breath caught in her throat, almost afraid to ask but the handsome smug grin on his face already told her the answer. Finally, Regina breathed, “Tell me you said yes.”

Robin waited, building the anticipation and crossing his arms in front of him he nodded. “I said yes.”

She didn’t wait. She jumped. Straight up and into his arms. Robin laughed, thankful for quick reflexes he turned and set Regina on the counter where their lips met somewhere in the middle. They kissed and kissed some more.

It wasn’t until they heard Olivia’s giggles that they pulled apart. Turning they smiled down at their daughter, who was standing there watching them. “Daddy, what are you doing kissing Momma on the counter?”

Regina told her, “Daddy got a promotion at work today.”

The girl’s head tilted as she considered this. “Oh. Is that good?”

“It’s very good,” Robin said stepping away from Regina he picked up Olivia. “And I say we should all go out and celebrate. Where shall we go?”

“Anywhere?” Olivia asked with an impish smile very reminiscent of her mother’s.

Robin shook his head, smiling. “Anywhere,” he confirmed.


 

Switching off the light in the den, Regina yawned making her way upstairs. It had been a long night. A wonderful one, though. Emma and Henry met them at The Mermaid Inn where they all feasted on crab boil and lobster until they were stuffed and could barely move. Once they were finished, they had all started to make their separate ways home, Emma congratulating Robin once again before she and Henry hopped in her small bug and drove away.

Deciding to look in on the kids before she went to bed, Regina stopped by Roland’s room first. Slipping quietly over to the small toddler’s bed, she shook her head. He had kicked off all his blankets again. Granted he was a hot sleeper, but his bed was near a window and it was starting to get cool at night. Knowing the little boy as she did, she was going to have to talk with Robin about moving his bed to the other side of his room this winter. She placed the lightest blanket over him, and kissed his cheek carefully, before leaving the room as quietly as she came.

Crossing the hall, Regina noticed a soft light coming from under the door in her daughter’s room. A small smile played at her lips. Olivia had been put to bed a couple hours ago, but it seemed she wasn’t tired after all. Some things never changed , Regina thought, as she peeked open the door, feeling her heart warm up at the sight that greeted her.

Olivia was asleep. Her small snowflake flashlight had fallen to the floor, and the book she had been reading was still open, with her face lying on it. She probably fell asleep in the middle of a chapter. Olivia hated leaving chapters unfinished, but it looked as though her exhaustion had gotten the better of her little girl.

Taking a seat on the edge of Olivia’s bed, Regina eased Olivia’s head up, and gently pulled out the book, lowering her softly back to her pillow. Olivia stirred enough to get comfortable, her head immediately seeking the warmth under pillow. Regina rolled her eyes and sighed. She would never get used to Olivia’s love of being under things when she slept. Regardless, Regina placed another pillow alongside the other, propping it off Olivia’s face. Was she being overprotective? Yes, but she didn’t care. Regina always would be.

Turning off the flashlight, Regina set it and the book, Fairy Tale Detectives on Olivia’s nightstand and made her way out of the room.

Just as Regina shutting her and Robin’s bedroom door behind her, he stepped out of the bathroom. Robin had just finished getting ready for bed himself, and he smiled at her and she bit her lip trying to contain the smile that came seeing him in nothing but a pair of black boxer briefs. Regina smirked, thinking about the times Robin would complain about David dragging him to the gym at work during their lunch breaks, and made a mental note to thank the man someday. Robin wasn’t one of those pumped up steroid guys you see on the cover of Muscle, nowhere near, but he was in shape and toned and had a torso that sent a low heat straight to her belly and made her want to run her tongue down those defined lines.

He must have noticed her preoccupation because soon he was chuckling. “See something you like?”

Regina rolled her eyes, caught. “Maybe.”

“Oh really?” He started towards her, but she knew exactly where that would lead, and she had something else they needed to do before that happened.

Moving away from the door Regina said, “I printed out something for us today while you were gone.” She set herself up with a small nook in the corner of his room. Her laptop sat on a stand, along with some files and things for work, next to her favorite chair in the house. It was one of those deep armchairs that you just sunk right into, and Regina had immediately deemed it hers.

Grabbing a piece of paper along with her laptop and a pen, and walking over to the bed, Regina patted the spot next to her. Robin tilted his head but joined her.

When he was seated comfortably next to her, Regina handed him the paper, and Robin read, State of New York Acknowledgement of Paternity form. He looked up at her. “This is it?”

Nodding, Regina replied, “That’s it. We just fill it out and we can drop it off tomorrow.”

He looked back down at the form, and she could tell by the set of his jaw and his deep breath that this meant a lot more to him than he had let on.

“Would you like to go first, or shall I?” Regina asked.

When his eyes flicked back up to hers Robin was smiling. “You’ve got the pen, why don’t you start.”

Regina smiled back and took the paper from him. Setting it on her laptop, she began to fill it out. Standard questions with her information, name, address, birth date.

“You’re an Aquarius.”

She stopped writing long enough to glance up at him. “Yeah, so?”

Robin shrugged. “Nothing, it just answers a few things I’ve wondered about you.”

“Oh stop,” she scoffed, and attempted to push him back only to have her hand seized by him, and he used her forward momentum to pull her into a light kiss.

Regina laughed against his lips, then pulled away and handed him the form. “Your turn.”

Smirking, Robin took it, and she watched as he filled out all the questions pertaining to him, and read over the information about his rights and hers. It was simple and straightforward. By doing this Robin was now legally her father with all the rights and responsibilities as such. “Alright, I think that’s it then.”

Regina bit her lip. There was still a small part left unfinished. “There’s just one other thing.”

Robin frowned, looking back over it. “What’s that?”

Scooting closer to him, Regina held out her finger, hovering over the section. “This here.”

Robin squinted at the lettering and then began to read it aloud. “If the child’s birth certificate was already filed and you wish to change the child’s last name, complete the following...” Robin swallowed, before turning his face to look at her. “You don’t mind that she takes my name?”

Mind? She would never mind giving Robin and her daughter that last piece that made her his. “No, I don’t mind. I think she’d love it.” She suggested, “We could give it to her for her birthday. That is if it’s okay with you-”

She was stopped short by another kiss; however this time Robin had dropped the pen and paper, and took her face between his palms. His lips met hers softly but with a fierceness behind it that stole the breath from her lungs.

Mouths softened and opened under one another until moments later they broke apart. With his brow falling softly to hers, Robin told her, “It is more than okay with me. Do you know how happy you’ve made me?”

Placing her hands on his arms, Regina traced the muscles of his biceps. “I have an idea.”

Chapter Text

They spent an early September morning looking for preschools. They woke Olivia and Roland earlier than normal and they all walked to the diner down the street to have breakfast. The morning finally had a bit of a chill to it. Nothing that warranted a coat or even long sleeves, but just enough coolness to give hint that summer was about to turn to autumn.

After breakfast, they all walked home, hopped in the Jeep and made their rounds from preschool to preschool. Olivia kept Roland busy telling him all the things he would do in school, and walked with him down the halls, while Robin and Regina listened and followed behind school administrators comparing curriculums and schedules.

Driving home later that afternoon, Regina watched out the window as they passed the brownstones and small businesses along the way. There was a calm about this area of Brooklyn that seemed to relax her, making her feel like she was home.

Robin glanced over at her. “What do you think?”

She looked down at the pamphlet from the first school they went to, Harrison Montessori. They’d just left Parkside Preschool, the only one out of the five they had been to that morning that Regina loved, but this was Robin’s decision, Regina felt, so she tried to sound unbiased when she replied, “I like it.”

“But?”

Regina pressed her lips together to stay her grin. Robin knew her too well. She glanced over at him. He was waiting for her response, casting his eyes from traffic to her and back. Regina knew he wanted her honest opinion on the matter so with a sigh, she admitted, “But I like the last one.”

“It was quite nice,” Robin agreed. “I like the idea of Roland learning another language so young.”

Regina nodded and pulled out the details of Parkside from the pile of flyers, leaflets, and pamphlets on her lap. “Not only that, but they had the leadership skills and their outdoor programs are also exceptional.”

“I particularly liked that little detail.” Robin grinned and cast a glance back at Roland who was trying to play a game of I Spy with Olivia.

“It starts in three weeks and they only had two spots left for his age group. If we decided to go with this one, we need to call them and let them know.”

“And the others?” Robin inquired.

“Most are open enrollment.”

It was silent for a moment, but then they came to a red light, and Robin looked over at her and asked, “Have we decided then?”

Regina turned her attention to him, and he was looking at her with an amused smirk. “You're leaving it up to me?”

“Well, you have more experience,” Robin began, taking his coffee from its cup holder and taking a drink. It must have been cold because he grimaced and then added, “Having been through this with Olivia and all. Let’s just say, I am deferring to your good judgment.”

“Well, Parkside is close to us and it's on either of our ways out in the mornings.”

“True.”

“I like their approach the best. The curriculum is advanced, and he can go there until he starts kindergarten.”

“Regina, I promise you don't have to sell it to me. If you love it then that's the one we pick.”

Smiling over at Robin, and holding the pamphlet aloft, Regina admitted. “I really do love this one.”

Robin chuckled before saying, “Then we’ll go and register him Wednesday when I get back.”

“Mmm.” Regina paused. There was something they had planned that day, and then it hit her. “No, that won't work. We have the movers that day.”

“Ah, that’s right. When is August moving in?”

“Next week I believe.”

“It’s lucky timing that’s for sure.” She gave another hum of agreement and out of curiosity, Robin asked, “Are you sure he and Emma aren’t, you know…”

Regina couldn't help the laugh that escaped her. “No, they tried that a few years ago. I think the chemistry is there, but it just didn’t work for them, you know, working and being together.”

Nodding, while making a turn onto their street, Robin noted, “I can imagine that would be distracting.”

Regina shook her head. “ You would never get any work done.”

Feigning offense, Robin replied, “You wound me, milady. I am perfectly capable of focusing on things that need to be done.”

Regina let out an unbelieving scoff. “You would be able to work with me and not touch or kiss me all day? Please.”

Aghast at such a thing, Robin asked, “Why wouldn’t I?”

Regina laughed and took out her phone from her pocket. As she began to type a message to Emma she responded, “To be professional?”

Robin bit his tongue in thought. Then after a moment, he shook his head. “You’re right, I wouldn’t be able to.”

“Mmhmm.” Regina pulled up her calendar and sighed. “We have so much to get done over the next few weeks. I just don’t see how we’re going to be able to do it all.”

Robin began to tick things off the top of his head. “Aye, there’s moving, schools, Olivia’s birthday...”

When Robin trailed off Regina started, “Don’t forget school shopping. Olivia needs a new uniform and if Roland grows out of things as fast as Olivia did, he’s going to need some new clothes for school this fall.”

“We can do that now if you’d like,” Robin suggested.

Looking over at him, Regina blinked. “Now?”

He shrugged. “Why not? I have nothing else I need to do today. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a trip out for the day.”

Clicking her tongue, Regina let it then graze over her teeth. “I suppose it wouldn't hurt to get it out of the way.”

Reaching over Robin took her hand in his. “We could get lunch and spoil them a bit.”

“Only them?” Regina gave him a coy grin, making him laugh.

His thumb traced along the soft skin of her palm. “And their beautiful mother, too.”

“Now that sounds more like it,” Regina replied.

They did just that. The rest of the afternoon was spent in department store after department store, between Starbucks and Jamba Juice, and when they finally arrived back at home, with dozens of shopping bags and full bellies, Regina went to bed that night relieved that at least she had one less thing to worry about.


 

The next morning Robin got a call from Mattias informing him that Kingston had gone and took it upon himself to make some last-minute adjustments before Robin would have a chance to be in San Francisco and now his trip would not wait. He had to be in California by Wednesday before Mattias lost his mind and fired everyone.

By the time his tickets were booked, and bags were packed, they just barely had time to stop and register Roland for school before heading to the airport to drop him off.

Adjusting his bag over his shoulder, Robin came to a stop just outside of the security checkpoint. Turning to his family he gave them all a smile.

“Bye, Daddy,” Olivia said, lunging forward and wrapping her arms around his middle tightly.

Kissing the top of her head, Robin returned her embrace. “Goodbye, my darling. I’ll see you soon, and I’ll bring you and Roland back something from San Francisco.”

Olivia’s blue eyes looked up at him, and she smiled before stepping back.

Kneeling down, Robin scooped up Roland who was holding Regina’s hand. Kissing the boy’s cheek, he then told his son, “Be a good boy while I’m gone, yeah?” Roland nodded most seriously and then giggled when Robin tickled his belly. Turning his attention to Regina, Robin asked, “Are you going to be alright with them?”

Regina rolled her eyes, surely annoyed with him by now as that had not been the first time he’d asked her the very same question. “Robin, you’re going to be gone for two days, we’ll be fine.”

“I know.” And he did, but the guilt that was gnawing at him for leaving her to contend with the movers and both children on her own was not sitting well in the least. “I just hate that I have to leave and you’ll have to deal with the movers on your own. Why don’t you call and have Belle take them and-”

Regina stopped him with a kiss. “I’ve got them and I have Emma. Now go on,” she told him with a tilt of her chin in the direction of the security lines. “It’ll take you forever to get through that mess.”

Placing one last kiss to her lips, Robin whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”


 

Git.

Absolute bloody git. That's what that man was, and Robin was never so tempted as he was now to strangle someone.

Walking into his new office, Robin just managed to catch the door before letting it slam shut in his wake. Making his way around his desk, Robin dropped heavily into the leather chair and sunk back into it. Closing his eyes, he let his head fall back and tried to think about anything other than how infuriatingly annoying his on-site lead architect was. He’d been nothing but snide and arrogant from the moment Robin stepped into Mattias Architecture, Inc. Protesting that the emails he had sent Robin two weeks ago should have been more than sufficient and by taking the time for Robin’s meeting was only wasting Kin