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I'll Cross The Universe For You

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The Enchanted Forest

“You know she’s going to kill you, correct?”

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, and I’m not doing anything reckless.”

“Liana, you’re climbing a tree seven months pregnant.”

“How else am I going to get to the apple, Charles?”

“Aren’t you a witch?”

Liana waved him off and hauled herself onto the next branch. The apple was in reach, and Liana huffed tiredly. Charles, still in his uniform, stared up at her in exasperated amusement. Liana snagged the apple down and smiled, waving it in the air.

“See? Nothing- uh oh.”

“Uh oh? Why the uh oh?” Charles asked, looking around with his hand on his sword.

“My water just broke.”

“What!”

“Oh, calm down and summon the Queen.”

“Are you out of your mind?” Charles exclaimed. “We have to get you to the healer!”

“Do you want to tell the mother of my child, who just so happens to be the Queen, you called her after the fact?” Liana pointed out.

“But- you- I- fine!” Charles held out his hand, and a bird landed on his arm. He sighed at it and asked, “Will you please tell the Queen that her stubborn best friend is in labor?”

The bird nodded once and flew off toward the Dark Castle. Charles turned to find Liana on the ground, a hand on her stomach, and he scowled.

“How did you get down?”

“Magic, Charles. Don’t be obtuse.”

Liana winked as she took a bite of her apple, and she started making her way slowly back down the path. Charles hung his head after he followed her.

“I wish I had never taken this job,” he sighed. “I was content living with my daughter as a farmer. Then I had to go and-

“Save the Queen and her best friend from idiotic robbers attempting to rob their carriage,” Liana finished. “And then you fell in love with us both and worked your way up to becoming the Queen’s bodyguard as well as my favorite man on this planet. Not to mention your beautiful baby girl will be a wonderful sister to the- Liana paused and winced, “impatient child currently pushing her way out of my-

“Do not finish that sentence, Liana Mills.”

“Oh, Charles,” Liana sighed, reaching out to grab his arm. “You are going to be a great father.”

“I don’t recall volunteering for the job.”

“The moment you saved our lives, you became our shared boyfriend and husband. You know this.”

“You both prefer the company of women.” Charles glanced down at her stomach and added, “Present situation excluded.”

“I wanted a child, and Lionel was more than willing to provide. Too bad his wife had an issue with it.”

“You were warned he was married.”

“After I slept with him!”

“How did you escape her wrath?”

“Desperation and lots of apologies,” Liana muttered.

Charles grunted and kept pace with Liana, who had begun to grimace with every step. Soon, they both heard the hooves of horses, and Charles placed his hand on the hilt of his sword. The Queen’s carriage appeared around the corner with two-and-a-half guards in front, and Charles snorted when he saw who was half-hidden on the horse behind the main guard.

“Speaking of children, our son has arrived,” Liana teased, “in a uniform twice his size.”

“He’s too young to join the guard officially, but he asked to be on baby duty. He’s eager to be a big brother.”

The carriage stopped next to them, and Emmett adjusted the too-big helmet as he leaned to the side. He smiled toothlessly at Charlie before he fixed his face. The door to the carriage opened, and the Queen frowned as she stepped out. She stared at Liana with frustration.

“I thought you were in the room!”

“Sorry, I wanted an apple.”

“There is a perfectly fine- get in the damn carriage.”

“Yes, your Majesty. Charles, would you mind?”

Charles helped Liana into the carriage with a hidden smile, and Regina smacked Charles on the arm.

“And you should not encourage this behavior!”

“Have you met her?” he asked wryly.

Regina blew out a frustrated breath and pointed into the carriage. Charles bowed at the waist sarcastically before he stepped inside, and Regina ordered the guards to take them back to the castle. Once the door was closed, Liana laid her head on Regina’s shoulder.

“You’re about to be a mother again,” she whispered.

 


Regina held the baby in her arms while Liana slept. The door opened, and a handmaiden stuck her head into the room.

“Your family is here,” she whispered.

Regina nodded, and the three people she wanted to see most filed into the room. Charles had a tight grip on Isabella, and Emmett stared widely at the bundle in Regina’s arms. Isabella crawled on the bed automatically, kissing Liana on the forehead as she moved, and Charles sighed and shook his head. Regina smiled at the three-year-old and adjusted her grip on the baby.

“You ready to meet your little sister?” she whispered.

Isabella nodded fiercely, and Regina moved the cloth down.

“Meet Lena Kieran Mills.”

Isabella didn’t speak, not that it was surprising, and she stared hard at the baby. Emmett shuffled beside the bed with Charlie, and Regina felt movement to her right. Liana opened her eyes and scrunched her nose in false irritation.

“Who are all these tiny people in my room?” she muttered playfully.

Isabella scrambled to Liana and looked Liana in the eyes, and Liana nodded sweetly. Isabella grunted and crawled off the bed. She held up her arms to Emmett, who snorted and picked her up. Charlie glanced at the baby in Regina’s arms, but before he could speak, another knock came. All six turned to the door, and a guard reluctantly stepped inside.

“We received word the King’s envoy is in town,” he said softly. “They are expected to be here within the hour.”

The mood in the room shifted, and Regina handed Liana the bundle. Charles kissed Isabella on the forehead before he stepped forward and held out his hand to Regina. She took it gratefully and stood from the bed. Emmett moved next to the bed and stared down at the ground. Regina wanted nothing more than to stay with them, but she held her head high as she moved through the room.

“Your Majesty,” Liana called out.

Regina stopped at the door and turned.

“I love you.”

Regina’s face softened, and she winked at Liana before she left the room. Charles was on her heels, and the guards in the hall fell into step. Regina hurried to her chambers, eager to get rid of the bloody dress from the birth, and she changed. After, her small group made their way downstairs, and she took her place at the entrance. The envoy appeared a few minutes later, and before it even stopped, young Snow White jumped out of the carriage.

“I missed you, stepmother!” Snow said excitedly, hugging her around the waist.

Despite the smile on her face, Regina’s happiness was on the other side of the castle. Charles subtly placed a hand on her back as if he knew her thoughts, and considering they’d been friends for nearly six years, he probably did.


“Kieran Mills!”

The five-year-old stopped and turned slowly.

“Hi, Mom.”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I wanted a cookie,” she admitted. At Regina’s look, Kieran pouted and added, “Izzy gets one all the time!”

Regina kneeled in front of Kieran, a rare sight if you didn’t know the Queen, and said, “Please try to avoid taking after your sister.”

“Because she’s a nuisance?”

“Yes, exactly.”

Someone scoffed in the background, and Regina winked at Kieran before she glanced over her shoulder. Isabella leaned against the wall with a bored expression on her face. Even at eight, she’d already perfected the look, and Regina felt a burst of pride. She looked so much like Charles that Regina’s heart ached for a bit, but she pushed the thought aside. Charles was gone, killed protecting Snow White, and Regina found an even bigger reason to hate the brat. She should’ve never been out of the castle in the first place.

“Mom?”

Regina blinked and looked down at Kieran.

“Sorry, sweetheart. Come on, let’s get you downstairs.”

Kieran shrugged and held out her hand. Isabella pushed off the wall and joined them as they walked down the hallway. They all knew Snow would look for Regina after her, and Isabella and Kieran would stay in the staff’s quarters until Regina came and got them again. As they got closer to their destination, Regina squeezed Kieran’s hand.

“How about this? I’ll tell the staff to let you have two cookies tonight after dinner?”

“Two?” Kieran repeated, eyes wide. “That’s one more than normal!”

“And this is the genius child that everyone raves about?” Isabella drawled, forcing a look of indifference on her face.

“Be nice,” Regina chuckled.

“Yeah, Izzy. Nice,” Kieran said, sticking out her tongue.

Isabella touched Kieran on the top of her head, and Kieran burst into giggles. Regina smiled at the sound as she led them down the stairs. By the time they reached the entrance to the staff quarters, her guard had that look on his face. Regina pursed her lips and glanced down at her daughters.

“Your Mama should already be inside.” Regina sighed and shook her head. “I love you both,” she said.

“Love you too, Mom,” Kieran said.

Isabella scowled at the ground and grabbed Kieran.

“Come on. Regina has to go play mommy with the princess,” she muttered.

“Bella-

“It’s fine.” Isabella opened the door to the staff quarters. Before she closed the door, she sighed and turned around. “I love you too, Mom,” she murmured.

Regina’s heart broke when the door closed, and her guard touched her shoulder. It was a silent show of support, and then it was gone. Regina cleared her throat and headed up the stairs. Emmett appeared at the top of the balcony and bowed at the waist. The eleven-year-old fell into step with the other guards, and Regina ruffled his hair. He shot her a faux annoyed look, but the amusement in his eyes gave him away.

“I love you,” she mouthed.

Emmett signed it back to her, knowing he couldn’t say it out loud, and she took that for what it was. Often, it felt like Regina and Liana had three children instead of two, but Regina wouldn’t change it for the world.


Nine Years Later

The King was dead, and Regina ruled in his absence with a firm hand. She wasn’t ruthless, but she wasn’t kind, and she didn’t care that a majority of the realm wanted Snow White in her place. It was her throne, and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, Snow White didn’t feel the same. She ran from the castle before her sixteenth birthday, and she gathered quite a following. It was why Regina had such larger-than-normal protection. No matter the threat against her life, Regina felt protected behind the gates, and her daughters had become restless inside. So, she took them out to the gardens and let them run around. And by them, she meant Isabella. Kieran had been content spending her days in the library, but the fourteen-year-old needed sunlight.

And human interaction.

Regina smiled when Kieran tripped Isabella, and her wilder daughter laid out in the grass as if she were exhausted. Emmett would be out there with them, but he was on snacks duty. Regina sighed to herself as she touched the rings around her neck. Her makeshift family had dwindled over the years. Liana grew sick, and despite the healer and Regina’s best efforts, she died in her sleep the day after Kieran’s seventh birthday. For the second time in a matter of a couple of years, she found herself holding a funeral for someone she loved. Charles and Liana were more than her friends. They were her family, her co-parents, and her occasional lovers, which she liked to pretend never happened for all of their sakes. Regardless, they were gone, but when Regina looked at Kieran and Isabella, she saw their personalities shine through.

“Mother, will you please tell your child to stop cheating?”

Regina arched an eyebrow at Kieran and asked dryly, “Which one?”

Isabella snickered and threw grass at Kieran. Regina caught a glimpse of something in the trees, but she had no chance to react before a strong pair of arms wrapped around her and dropped her to the ground. A knee pressed into her back, and several bandits ran through the trees. Regina didn’t have to wonder how they got in as several of her guards pointed their swords and crossbows at Isabella and Kieran. Isabella and Kieran crouched low, orange and red magic curling around their fists, respectively, and Regina panicked. It was supposed to be a secret that both children had magic, but Regina knew that they weren’t good enough to avoid a blade or arrow to the chest.

“No!” she shouted at them.

Isabella was the one who hesitated, but Kieran touched her wrist, and the orange magic faded from around Isabella. Regina felt something stirring in her chest as she watched the bandits separate Isabella and Kieran. A hooded figure walked out from the trees, and Regina scowled. Her stepdaughter pulled a baggie out of her cloak and removed two beans. Regina’s eyes widened, and that stirring in her chest grew to an uncomfortable level.

Snow nodded at the bandits holding Kieran. They released her daughter, but the nearest one swung a makeshift baton at Kieran’s thigh. Kieran cried out and fell to her knees, holding her leg. Snow took out the first bean and looked at Regina.

“Please, don’t do this,” Regina begged. “Please.”

“Did you give my father the same mercy?” Snow asked.

Regina didn’t have a chance to answer before Snow flicked the bean at Kieran’s feet. The closest bandit poured water on it, and everyone watched as a portal opened. Regina’s eyes shifted slightly, and she saw Emmett sneaking through the garden with blood on his shirt. He grimaced as he limped forward. The bandit threw Kieran into the portal, and Emmett lunged.

“Wait!” Snow shouted. “It’s only meant for one!”

The portal closed once Emmett jumped inside, and Emmett and Kieran were gone. Isabella screamed something unintelligible and elbowed the guard who had a grip on her. The guard holding her punched her in the face. Something inside of Regina snapped, and she clenched her fists. Her body began to warm, and she squirmed on the ground. Snow noticed and hurriedly took out the second bean. She did the same thing she did the first time, but some kind of purple energy wave exploded from Regina’s hands, and it threw the guards several feet away. Snow snatched the water from the bandit and threw the entire bottle on the bean in a panic. Regina ran as hard as she could when the portal opened, but one of the guards tackled her to the ground. Isabella met Regina’s eyes, and time seemed to slow down as her daughter reached out to her. Regina did the same, but Snow pushed Isabella backward out of frustration.

Isabella’s eyes turned orange for one long moment, and a fireball shot from her fist just as the portal closed. The fire hit the guard holding Regina, and he screamed as the flames hit his face. Regina remained on the ground, staring at where her daughters disappeared, and she took deep breaths. Regina rose to her feet, and she watched Snow’s retreat with the remaining guards and bandits.

Snow looked over her shoulder, and Regina’s smile was positively cold.


“It’s only meant for one!”

Emmett’s fingers outstretched toward the ones reaching for him, but the portal exploded in light. He was blown one way, and Kieran was blown another.

April 11th, 1935 - Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Emmett crash-landed in the woods, and he had no time to catch his breath before a bear charged at him. He reached for his sword, but there was nothing there. Emmett screamed as the bear tore into his body, and the last conscious thought he had was of Kieran.


June 15th, 2007 – Somewhere in Metropolis

Kieran crashed into the coffee table and hissed as the wood stood firm under the impact. She knew without a doubt her ribs were at the very least cracked, and she groaned in pain.

“How interesting.”

Kieran turned her head slowly, and she paled at the three people sitting across from her. She looked around as subtly as she could, taking in the gaudy and blatantly ostentatious room, and she hid her cringe. After spying on the King and his feasts, she knew what people who had too much money looked like.

“Where on Earth did you come from?” the bald man asked, glancing at the ceiling.

“I- have no idea,” Kieran lied, wincing. “Where am I now?”

“You’re in Metropolis, dear,” the woman said coolly. “What are you wearing?”

“A dress?”

The woman wasn’t impressed by the comment, but the teenage boy snickered and stood up.

“Well, you always wanted a daughter, Mother,” he drawled. “Now you have one quite literally from the sky.”

The woman scowled at Kieran before she asked, “What is your name?”

“Lena.”

“Hm. I’ve heard worse. Come along, dear. I’ll put you in something more befitting a Luthor.”

“What is a Luthor?”

The woman ignored her, and Kieran figured she should play along until she figured out how to get back to her family. She limped her way after the woman, already planning to do whatever she needed to blend in with her new ‘family.’ Behind her, the teenage boy and his father shared a look.

“She came from the sky, father,” the boy muttered. “Magic?”

“I’m not sure. But I expect you to find out.”


July 23rd, 2001 – Forks, Washington

Isabella grunted as she landed hard on her back. She watched helplessly as the portal closed above her and willed herself not to cry. All Isabella saw were clouds and trees. She was alone in some random place without her mother, her sister, and her brother.

And that scared her more than she wanted to admit.

“Uh, hello.”

Isabella twisted around and found a man standing behind her with a weird silver instrument pointed at her head.

“You, uh, you just appeared in my backyard from a swirly looking thing in the sky.”

Isabella blinked at him, and he frowned.

“You alright?” he asked.

Isabella nodded, and he cocked his head.

“What’s your name?”

Isabella looked down and wrote the letters ‘I’ and ‘Z’ in the dirt. The man read it and nodded.

“You’re not from here, are you?”

Isabella shook her head no. She didn’t want to accidentally tell him that he looked like her dead father or that she was from another realm. Possibly. Kieran told her all the time about the possibility of other worlds, other realms, and Isabella laid back on the ground. She screamed in frustration and pain and grief, and the man hovered over her with a look of sympathy.

“I bet if I put your name in the system, you wouldn’t show up anywhere,” he guessed.

The man stuck out his hand, and Isabella took it after a moment of hesitation. He tugged her off the ground and sighed.

“Listen, I’m no stranger to odd things in this town or the odd people that stay here, but this is way out of my element. If you do talk, can you tell me something, so I know how to help you? Like your actual name? Maybe an age or something because I have no idea what I’m doing here.”

Isabella gave him a look and exhaled tiredly.

“My full name is Isabella Mills-Swan,” she said. “And I recently celebrated my seventeenth year.”

“Okay. Wait, Swan?”

Isabella smiled sadly and said, “I think it would be best if we spoke inside of your home, sir.”

The man stared at her for a beat before he turned and walked inside. Isabella followed after him, touching the ring under her chest, and she glanced at the sky.

“I will find you, Kieran,” she promised. “I swear it.”


Kieran, or ‘Lena,’ lied flat on the uncomfortable mattress in a plain, white room. She touched the ring on her chest, something she managed to hide from the ‘Luthor’ family as she was asked question after question about where she came from. Kieran gave them vague answers without giving anything away, specifically her magic, but the family couldn’t be trusted. They weren’t good people, she could feel, but she had no choice but to adjust. Kieran turned her head toward the window, and she stared at the stars in the sky.

“I will search every universe for you,” she whispered. “And then I will search them again.”


When Emmett opened his eyes, he stared at the ceiling in confusion. He felt different. A hand landed on his arm. Emmett didn’t know why or how he did it, but he shot forward and across the room. He crouched low and glared at whoever touched him. The blonde woman held up her hands.

“I’m sorry. I thought you heard me come in,” the woman explained.

Her voice touched something inside of him, and Emmett relaxed. The woman reminded him of someone, and he touched his chest out of reflex. But there was nothing there. He panicked. It didn’t feel like he needed to breathe, but he struggled to put air in his lungs. Where-

The ring he was looking for appeared in front of him, and Emmett reached for it, but the blonde stopped him. He growled, and she knelt on the floor.

“You might break it,” she warned. “And I can see it means a lot to you.”

Emmett scowled but accepted her judgment. The burn in his throat got worse.

“I can help with that,” she said slowly.

Emmett gave her a look.

“I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Emmett glanced at the ring, then at the blonde. She reminded him so much of Kieran, so he decided to trust her. Emmett nodded to show he understood, and the woman pointed out into the woods.

“Follow me, okay? No matter what you smell, stay with me.”

Emmett nodded again, and the woman smiled at him before she ran off. He ran after her, the burst of speed catching him off guard, but once he found his stride, he ground his teeth. Emmett swore to put their family together again.


Regina walked into the castle with her hood up, and she barely reacted when a high-pitched giggle reached her ears. She glanced to the side at the humanlike creature beside her, and she arched an eyebrow.

“You have something I want,” she said.

“And you have the power to do something I cannot,” he replied. “A deal, then?”

“What are your terms?”

“I will teach you how to use your magic, and you will one day perform a favor for me.”

“That seems vague.”

“You are the desperate one.”

Regina clenched her jaw and inclined her head.

“We have an agreement.”

“Good.” The creature bowed. “Rumplestiltskin, at your service, Your Majesty.”

Regina exhaled through her nose but bowed in response. Snow White did the unthinkable, and Regina would not stop until she was reunited with her children.

No matter what.

Chapter Text

Bella’s first two years with Charlie were an adventure, to say the least. Charlie had to essentially teach her how to use a phone, a computer, the shower, an oven, and basically everything in existence. Bella was quick to assure him she was a fast learner, and within six months, she had a decent handle on her new life. Charlie knew someone who could create documents for her, seeing as Bella had no birth certificate or documentation that allowed her to work. And Bella remained in the house until she had the go-ahead to get a part-time job at the grocery store. But Bella was growing restless, and Charlie picked up on it. Despite enjoying being with him, Bella felt like she was failing her family by not making an effort to look for them, to find her way back to them. And Charlie wasn’t even close to being an expert in anything remotely dealing with science. There were things that Charlie couldn’t teach her, whether because of time or knowledge, and he decided for them both that it would be best if she went somewhere she could learn multiple things at once. So, Charlie made arrangements for that to happen.

Bella celebrated her twentieth birthday in Forks. The next day, she was on her way to London to stay with Professor Harrison Wells, an old friend of Charlie’s that was currently on sabbatical from Oxford College. He specialized in physics, and Bella hoped he could teach her a better way to create a device to send her through time and space. Or, at the very least, teach Bella the mechanics involving planes. The trip was terrifying for the first half, and then Bella got used to the experience. She wrote down more notes in her book, and she realized she was running out of space. Thankfully, there was a bookstore in Heathrow, and Bella had a bit of time to spare. She used a little of the money Charlie gave her and purchased a few books and a new notebook. During that time, Bella had her first “culture shock.” Forks, Washington was slow and steady, London was the opposite, and she retreated into her shell as she rode through the new city. It was disorienting, and Bella white-knuckled the entire trip. When she arrived at her location, Bella jumped from the cab and gulped in large amounts of air.

“I would ask if you enjoyed your trip, but you look like you could use a drink.”

Bella glanced up at the man Charlie sent her to meet, his face exactly like the picture she had in her wallet, and she grimaced.

“Hi, Professor Wells,” she said.

“Call me Harrison.”

Bella nodded and regretted it immediately. The driver dropped Bella’s duffel bag at her feet, and he held out his hand.

“I- what do you want from me?” she asked.

“My tip. Didn’ just drive ‘cross the city for nothin’, lady,” he said.

“Tip?” she repeated.

“I got it.”

Harrison passed the driver a piece of colorful paper and sent him on his way. The driver shot Bella a dirty look before he left, and Bella, for what felt like the millionth time in a matter of months, found herself wishing Kieran were with her. Her sister had the best ability to adapt to new situations.

“Come on then. Let’s get that drink in you, and you can fill in the parts of the story Charlie left blank.”

Bella picked up her duffel bag and followed Harrison into his home. He led her to his study and gestured for her to sit down.

“Charlie gave me the little details, saying that you weren’t from here and needed a bit of help, but he was exceptionally vague about the entire thing. If it weren’t for the fact I trusted that man with my life, you wouldn’t be here. So, if I’m to help you, I need to know where to begin.” Harrison handed her a glass full of amber-colored liquid, and she took it. “I believe my first question should be regarding your name?” he asked.

“My birth mother named me Isabella,” she muttered. “But my family calls me Iz or Bella.”

“Which do you prefer?”

“Either one works.”

Harrison nodded and sat down in the chair in front of her.

“And what is your story?” he asked.

“It depends on how open-minded you are,” she said honestly.

“You’ll find that I am open to all possibilities this world has to offer, as long as there’s proof.”

Bella tasted her drink, enjoying the burn that followed, and she said, “My name is Isabella Mills-Swan, and I was born in a different realm. When I explained where I was from to Charlie, he told me the Enchanted Forest was nothing but a fairytale. I told him that while it was fake to him, to me, it’s home. I was separated from my family and tossed into different portals. The last thing I saw before I landed in this realm was my mother fighting to get to me.”

Bella glanced up during the silence that followed, and Harrison eyed her with curiosity and doubt. With a sigh, Bella pointed to the dying plant in the corner of the room. The plant came back to life with a flick of her wrist. She looked back at Harrison, and he smiled.

“I think you and I are going to have a grand time together.”


Over three years, Bella met Harrison’s closest colleagues/friends and learned what she could from them. The first couple was Iris, an African Studies Professor, and her wife, Kate, a former track star turned culinary chef (who gladly helped Bella in the kitchen). Iris was her favorite person to talk to. The professor answered every one of Bella’s questions without judgment and was happy to discuss different topics as long as Bella needed. Kate, however, reminded Bella of Red. Her personality made cooking an adventure rather than a chore. Harrison sent pictures to Charlie with every new dish Bella created. For some reason, the one dish she couldn’t get right was lasagna.

The next set of friends Bella met were Oliver and Felicity. Felicity was a computer science major turned science teacher. She taught Bella the ins and outs of a computer to the point Bella could take one apart and put it back together again in minutes. Oliver, a millionaire bad boy turned CEO introduced Bella to the other side of life. His words, not hers. He took her to charity events, five-star restaurants, and Christmas parties where the cheapest gift could’ve sent someone to college with tuition left to spare. Bella wasn’t a dress person, so Oliver took her to a store that got her fitted for at least three suits. He paid for them, saying the purchase was less than what he spent on food during the week.

After Oliver and Felicity, Bella met the worst people she would ever encounter. Caitlin, a nutritionist, and Sam, Kate’s former track mate turned fitness instructor, were out to kill Bella. She was sure of it. Bella regretted every second spent with them. Regardless of the overall improvement to Bella’s health, she never wanted to see Sam or Caitlin again in any lifetime. She gained about ten pounds of muscle in the process but lost all respect for Harrison and his friends. Who the hell wakes up at dawn to run for fun? Psychos, that’s who, and Bella was surrounded by psychos.

And it didn’t end with them. Bella cursed Charlie every chance she could for sending her to what was meant to be a form of torture. Sam and Caitlin were puppies compared to Andrea, and Bella had never felt so dirty. Why did Harrison have a friend who owned an escort service? Why did Andrea spend an insane amount of time teaching Bella the rules of sex? Bella was never coerced into anything. But she knew more about the sexual preferences of London’s elite than she wanted. However, if someone other than Andrea or Harrison asked, it was the best six months of her life. Still, Bella could’ve lived several lifetimes without seeing Oliver’s CFO pretending to be a dog for two hours.

But her favorite person to spend time with was Harrison’s godson, Winn.

Winn wasn’t a professor but rather a pop culture expert. He invited Bella to his house for a weekend of pop culture overload. Harrison only agreed because the odds of them doing anything other than geek out over Star Wars was too low for his concern. Bella didn’t get the reference, but she let it go. During the last month of Bella’s visit, Winn was a relief. The ache in Bella’s heart was silent with him.

One of Winn’s pop culture introductions was comic books. He felt it was important for Bella to know almost every superhero in creation. She didn’t mind. Some of them were cool, others were pretty lame, but Bella was partial to the villains. The only hero she had a soft spot for was Supergirl. There was something about the Kryptonian that stuck with her. Winn listened to her talk about her home late at night over cups of hot chocolate, and he guessed that was why Bella related so much to her. They were both aliens in a world foreign to them and forced to either stand out or integrate. Kara Danvers – Kara Zor-El – chose to do the opposite. But Bella wondered if the Girl of Steel felt disillusioned by humanity. She landed on a planet where people celebrated her cousin, yet Kara owed humans nothing. She didn’t have to become a superhero, but she did, and people still hated her for it. Iris told her that while it seemed like humanity was awful at times, there were people worth getting to know, worth saving, and there would always be a chance to change someone’s life for the better. Bella thought on that, and if Supergirl was real, far away in another realm, Bella hoped that she had people who reminded her of the good in humanity.

But unfortunately, Bella’s time in England had to end at some point. On the day of her departure, her unofficial mentors said their goodbyes and gave her gifts to remember them by. Harrison gave her his favorite book, The End of Eternity. Kate gave Bella a recipe book, and Iris gave Bella her favorite hoodie. Oliver and Felicity got her a new laptop and a ten-thousand-pound ‘donation.’ Bella did the calculations in her head. That would help get her settled for at least a couple of months until she found a job. Caitlin and Sam pooled their money together to get Bella mythology books from different cultures plus a stress ball. Bella glared at Sam, who winked and told her to keep it close.

Andrea didn’t get her anything, but she did tell Bella if she needed a reference for a job to give her a call. Bella didn’t say it out loud, but she didn’t want any kind of job reference that came from Andrea. It was probably born from blackmail. Winn handed Bella a Supergirl comic from his personal stash.

“You are the only person on this Earth who might appreciate this more than me,” he said.

“Thank you,” she said. “All of you. Who knew Charlie knew so many interesting people?”

“He’s interesting too,” Sam said. “Give him a chance.” 

Bella promised she would and got in the cab. She’d shipped ahead most of her clothes and her other books, so she had just the gifts to bring on the plane. Bella twisted around and waved until she couldn’t see them anymore.


Charlie picked Bella up from the airport and said, “Hey, kiddo.”

“Time works differently on every Earth, Charlie. I could be older than you for all you know.”

“Christ, and to think I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

Charlie put her duffel bag in the back of the cruiser. She got in the passenger seat and yawned, the jetlag starting to catch up with her, and she rested her head on the window.

“How was your trip?”

“It didn’t feel like three years, that’s for sure. But it was fun and informative. I now know more about this Earth than my last one. I even got a chance to meet Adele, so that was cool.”

“Oliver?”

“He took me to a charity event. I got a little drunk, so I’m not sure who it was for. But I do know this Earth has much better alcohol.”

“Did the Enchanted Forest not have a legal drinking age?”

“If you could hold a cup, you could hold a pint.”

Charlie glanced at her and said, “I can’t tell if you’re kidding.”

“I had my first pint at twelve, Charlie, but I will say I’m not a fan of mead.”

“Every time we talk about your past life, you always mention something new.”

“Most of it comes in waves,” she admitted. “I know the important things, but there are memories I can’t quite grasp without giving myself a headache.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t say that to make you feel guilty. I’m just saying I’m not everything’s in my head, and I don’t know if that’s because of the portal or because of something else.”

“At least you remember your family,” he says softly.

“I do. A lot more than I want to sometimes.”

“Does it- is it awkward being around me?”

“It used to be. You have my Dad’s features, but you’re different. I had to find those differences to make peace with losing him.”

Charlie nodded and let the conversation drop.

“How exactly do you know Harrison and the others? I got the impression there’s more to the story you forgot to mention.”

Charlie grinned and turned onto the highway.

“It’s not a big deal. I just don’t talk about that time in my life.”

“Why?”

“Before my parents got sick, I was at the University of Washington with a major in criminal justice, and I was a bit of an athlete. Kate, Sam, and I ran track together. Harrison, Caitlin, Iris, and Felicity lived on campus with us. Oliver was the rich kid with his own apartment or whatever, and Andrea was in her own group, but we knew her through Oliver. Somehow we all ended up in the same philosophy elective where our professor asked us to write a one-page paper on who we were. Despite how easy he made it sound, it was a tough assignment. One night, I was in the library with Kate and Sam. We ran into Caitlin, and Caitlin called Andrea. We decided to work on the assignment together, so Kate texted Iris, who texted Felicity, who messaged Oliver and Harrison, and it became a group thing. We left with our papers nearly finished.

“By the end of the semester, we just kind of fell into this routine. We did things together without thinking about it, and they became my best friends. But then I had to leave. I was honestly afraid they would forget about me, but they didn’t. They drove to Forks every other weekend to spend time with me or help with my parents. After my parents passed, Harrison switched to online courses and moved in to keep me company. I didn’t want to go back to college, so I decided to become a cop. When I graduated from the academy, the group drove out and threw me this huge congratulations party.”

Charlie sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Then life happened. Senior year, Kate’s at the Olympic trials when her knee gives out. She starts cooking as some form of stress relief, and Iris moves in to help out. They fall in love, and they’re off to New York when Kate gets accepted into the Institute of Culinary Education. Iris wanted to pursue a master’s degree in African-American studies, so we were proud to see them go. Sam, after a shitty one-night stand, gets pregnant and has to drop out. Oliver’s Dad dies and leaves him the company, forcing him to take over in his place. Felicity got into a car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down, and Caitlin sort of fell off the map until she surfaced with Sam as a fitness guru. Sam never mentioned what happened to her daughter, and we never asked. Harrison gets this once-in-a-lifetime offer to attend Oxford, and the rest is fate. Andrea made a name for herself in a way I’m sure you learned, but she never forgot us. I’m the only one who didn’t end up in England. My demons kept me in Forks longer than I anticipated, but I made my bed, and I’m lying in it.”

“Charlie….”

“No, it’s okay. I promise.” Charlie glanced at her and smiled. “Plus, had I been anywhere else, I wouldn’t have met you,” he said.

Bella, possibly due to exhaustion or a combination of things, burst into tears. Charlie panicked for a second until she put her hand on his wrist. He relaxed once he realized she wasn’t upset with him, and he let her hold his wrist the entire ride home.


“I swear you brought all of England back with you. All of the boxes you sent back are full of books.”

“Books are a necessity!”

“They better damn well be after the back pain you put me through.”

“What are you-

Bella stopped just before she entered her room.

“You built me bookshelves?”

“Well, yeah. That first box told me I had a lot more coming my way,” Charlie huffed.

Bella wrapped Charlie in a hug and whispered, “Thank you.”

“Get off of me before I tase you.”

Bella laughed and let him go. She bounced on her toes and said, “This is so exciting.”

“You have fun. I’m ordering pizza.”

“Meat special!”

“Didn’t Sam and Caitlin put you on some caveman diet?”

“I haven’t had a slice of pizza in two years.”

“Meat special it is.”


“So? What’s changed here?”

Charlie propped his legs on the coffee table and said, “Some doctor showed up a month after you left with his family. The town loves him.”

“But?”

“Some of the folks out in La Push hate him.”

“They hate everyone.”

“No, just the Cold Ones,” Charlie snorted. “When Billy told me those legends, I almost put him in a tiny white room. Then you crashed into my backyard, and I figured he probably wasn’t too far off.”

“Billy is a pain, so is his son. But what’s the doctor’s name?”

“Carlisle, I think. He and his wife have three kids here, and the other two are in Vermont.”

“Was this watercooler talk?”

“I should have never taught you that word, but yes. Guys at work were telling me all about the Cullen family. Yorkie said his kid, Eric, went to school with them and that they were pretty shut-off from everyone else.”

“Sound like my kind of people.”

“They could be vampires.”

“My cousin was a werewolf.”

“Touché.”

Bella finished her last slice of pizza and laid back on the couch.

“So, what was your favorite thing to cook?” he asked.

“Beef Wellington.”

“That is the most obnoxious thing you have ever said.”

“It’s easier to make over lasagna.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“You can barely cook in the first place!”

“Don’t get mad at me because you suck at making pasta.”

“Oh, fuck you.”

Charlie snickered and tapped his beer bottle against her forehead.

“Just so you know, Carlisle is hosting a dinner at the end of the month. You’re coming with me.”

“Do we have to bring the dinner? Or are we the dinner?”

“I wager we bring a pie or something just in case, and we don’t know they’re vampires.”

“You get a pedicure with me if they are.”

“Fine, but if they aren’t, you have to wear heels for a day.”

“An entire day?”

“Yes.”

“Damnit. Fine, we have a deal.”

“So, we bring a pie? Maybe a bottle of wine to thin our blood a bit for dessert.”

“I wouldn’t taste good with wine. Maybe a good scotch.”

“You went to England and came back pretentious.”

“I did not!”

“Who drinks scotch? You sound like some fifty-year-old man.”

“Harrison gave it to me my first day there.”

“You’re proving my point.”

“God, and to think I came back early to spend time with you.”

“We both know you came back to finish watching old Sonic games.”

“Fair enough. Put the next one on, old man. I am going to get more beer for you and more pizza for me.” 

Chapter Text

Regina sat in the far corner booth wearing a hoodie and sweatpants hunched over a notebook. Granny shut down the bathroom for “renovations,” giving Regina the freedom to not be bothered by anyone for the entire day. It was the twenty-fourth day of the tenth month, and Regina woke up that morning feeling her limbs protest every moment. She shouldn’t have drunk as much as she did the night before. Regina could handle her emotions during the week, letting the distractions of being mayor keep her busy enough to ignore the emptiness in her bones. But when five p.m. on Friday rolled on, she reverted into her shell and made her way to Killian’s ship for the only alcohol in town to keep her demons at bay. The first time it happened, Killian was too shocked and too wary to let her on board. When she started crying, Regina assumed the pirate’s heart thawed enough to be a gentleman.

Of course, it came at a cost, and Regina spent the entire night telling Killian about Charles and Liana, about her children, and about Snow White. Regina passed out shortly after, but when she got up that morning, Killian had a plate of bread and cheese for her. He apologized for his actions in Neverland and with Cora, and Regina forgave him. She had no reason to hold a grudge against him. He was a pawn just like Regina was, and they both drank to forget their past. Naturally, Ruby found out, and she made it her mission to bring them water and fruit every Saturday morning. Then Granny found out. Regina’s weekly trip to Killian’s ship became monitored by Granny, and she fed them an insane amount of pancakes to soak up the liquor. Killian became a surprising ally, helping her dodge Snow White and Charming when she could and listening to her complain about her crush on the ever-oblivious Savior. Killian confessed that Emma wasn’t his type, that they’d spoken in Neverland about how they wouldn’t work as a couple. The only person who didn’t get that memo was Snow White, who seemed torn between pushing Emma toward Neal and Killian whenever they were around.

Regina’s phone vibrated on the table, and like clockwork, Ruby appeared and sat down in the booth. She put a cupcake with one candle between them, and Regina smiled. They blew out the candle together and grabbed hands.

“Happy birthday, Kieran,” Regina whispered.

“Please don’t be surrounded by books and papers,” Ruby added.

Regina snorted and pushed the cupcake to the side. She knew without a doubt wherever her daughter was, she was still eager to spend more time with books instead of people. Smiling to herself, Regina turned her sketch toward Ruby and tapped her pencil against it.

“I was thinking of painting this one in the vault.”

“Where? Most of it is already covered,” Ruby said.

“I have a wall in the back that still has space. Do you like it or not?”

“Of course. What is this from, anyway? I don’t remember Kieran having that hairstyle.”

“I’m not sure why she went blonde, but after three days, she went back to brown. And they were in the library. Kieran was teaching Isabella how to speak Spanish so they could surprise me for my birthday.”

“How long did that last before Isabella got frustrated?”

Regina laughed and said, “She actually stayed the entire time. Isabella was just as smart as Kieran, just didn’t have the same dedication.”

“You mean obsession,” Ruby corrected playfully.

Regina inclined her head and took the notebook back. She had plenty in her vault locked away. She’d started drawing so she wouldn’t forget her children’s faces, and Ruby liked to tease her about it. Regina didn’t care. She was that kind of mother, and she would keep being that kind of mother until she found them again.

“Are we still on for later?”

“Yes. Since most of the furniture is staying at the mansion, I don’t have much to move. My clothes are already boxed up, some of them going to the thrift store, and the rest is just miscellaneous items.”

“I can’t believe you’re moving in with Killian.”

“He has the space, and I need a break away from the house. It’s so empty now without Henry.”

“Fair.” Ruby stood up from the booth. “I have to go, but I’ll be back to check on you before you leave. Do I need to bring anything tonight?”

“Bacon.”

“Regina.”

“Killian doesn’t have any in his galley,” she argued.

“Whatever. Do you want tea?”

Regina flicked her wrist, and a cup of tea appeared in front of her. She gave Ruby a cheeky smile, and her niece shook her head.

“Sometimes, I wonder which one of us is the adult.”

Regina stuck out her tongue, and Ruby left with a vague promise to go to the store. Regina chuckled and wrapped her tea in both hands, letting the warmth chase away the persistent coldness in her limbs. Despite how much Regina enjoyed being around Ruby, Killian, and Granny, she was still alone. She’d cast the curse as revenge, wanting to steal Snow White’s chance at a happy life the same way Snow stole hers. But nearly three decades had passed, and Regina still hadn’t found her children. She thought fate blessed her with a second chance when she had Henry, but as soon as that stupid storybook landed in his lap, she’d lost him. Snow latched onto him through Emma, and Henry was gone before Regina could blink. Then that shit with Cora happened, and Regina sighed. Not even Snow killing Cora could make the town give Regina a little slack. They rallied around the princess with sympathies after Snow found out Cora killed Johanna. Regina huffed and took a sip of tea.

Cora wasn’t the best mother, she wasn’t even a good mother, but she cared enough about Regina to protect her and the people she loved. After Liana died, Regina made the room a shrine. She was the only one allowed in there. Not even her children went inside. It was off-limits, and everyone in the castle knew that. So why was Johanna in there in the first place? Why was she snooping around and taking jewelry from Liana’s box? Had Regina been there, she would’ve done much worse than what Cora did.

Regardless, Regina had reached her limits. She was tempted to drive over the boundary and never come back. If it weren’t for Ruby, Granny, and Killian, Regina would be gone.

“Your Majesty.”

Speaking of the Devil….

“Hello, Killian.”

“Morning, I’m sorry I missed the birthday celebration. Baelfire cornered me when I was leaving the grocery store and threw me off schedule.”

“It’s okay.”

Killian stretched out and ran a hand through his hair. He was growing it out, saying that he wanted to try a shaggy look, and Regina didn’t have the heart to tell him he was starting to look homeless. He was mid-story about what happened with Baelfire when the door opened. They both looked in unison, and Regina slid to the furthest corner and pulled up her hood. Killian sunk down and matched her position. Emma walked up to the counter, and Regina’s position gave her the chance to hear the conversation without being spotted. Ruby made her way to Emma and gave her a polite smile.

“Hello, Savior.”

“I take it you’re still mad at me?”

“What gave it away?”

Regina snickered under her breath, and Ruby spent hours complaining about Emma being Team Charming. They apparently had a full-blown argument that led to Ruby kicking Emma out of the diner.

“Listen, I’m not here to fight. I wanted to know if you’ve seen Regina?”

“No, but I can pass along a message.”

Emma pursed her lips and removed a familiar journal from her waistband. Regina’s eyes widened, and she physically stopped herself from jumping from the booth. Ruby had a similar reaction, and she clenched her fists on the counter. Killian kept his mouth shut, but it was clear he was curious.

“Where did you get that?” Ruby gritted out.

“I was changing out Snow’s mattress as a favor for David and found it there,” Emma said.

“Did you read it?”

“Just enough to know it belonged to Regina.” Emma chewed on her lip and added, “Who’s Lian-

“Don’t,” Ruby said sharply. “You don’t get to ask that.”

“Ruby, how long are you going to be mad at me? It’s my family-

“And Regina’s mine.” 

“Since when?”

“If you pay better attention to anyone who isn’t kissing your mother’s ass, you will see not everyone here is Team Snow White. You don’t know anything about our world or what we went through. You only know what that damned book told you, and it doesn’t even tell the whole truth.”

Regina poked her head around the corner and watched Emma’s face fall momentarily. Then it was gone, and she threw the journal on the counter.

“Tell Regina to avoid trying to kill my mother for having this.”

“Unlike your mother, Regina doesn’t kill for petty reasons. Enjoy the rest of your day, Savior.”

Emma scoffed and left the diner. Regina held her breath as Ruby made her way back to the booth. Ruby put the journal on the table and sat down next to Killian.

“How can you have a crush on her?” Ruby huffed.

“Stubborn blondes are my weakness.”

“Liana and Charles were brunettes,” Ruby pointed out.

“They were the exception.” Regina picked up the journal and caressed the spine. “I cannot believe Snow had this the entire time,” she muttered.

“What is it?” Killian asked.

“My diary, of sorts,” Regina said.

Regina opened it and turned to the first page, showing two sets of tiny handprints. She pointed to the red one and said, “This is Kieran.” Regina pointed to the orange one and added, “And this is Isabella.”

Regina flipped the pages and laughed at the slightly larger handprints in green and blue.

“These two are Emmett and Ruby.”

“I assume Ruby is the one in blue,” Killian said.

“Those are actually Emmett’s,” Ruby snorted. “Mine are the ones in green.”

“Oh.”

Ruby grinned and playfully flexed her fingers before she said, “I can’t believe Snow’s had it the entire time.”

“I’m not. I knew it was stolen, and I guess I should’ve known better. Pages are missing, though.”

“Like someone tore them out?”

“Yes, but only the ones that mention Isabella, Kieran, and Emmett.”

Ruby shifted and asked, “Are you alright?”

“Oh, yes. I remember everything I wrote in here, so it’s not like the memories are gone. If anything, I’m happy to have the handprints back.”

“So, you’re not going to go after Snow?” Killian asked.

“What would be the point?”

“Okay, who are you, and what have you done to my aunt?” Ruby joked.

Regina just smiled. She waved her hand over the journal and sent it away.


Gold exited his backroom and came around the corner. A journal sat on the counter, and he cast a few spells to make sure there was nothing harmful attached to it. He frowned when he sensed Regina’s magic, and Gold opened it to the first page. He traced the handprints in the front, and then he flipped through. Some of the pages had been ripped out, and Gold could imagine what they mentioned. Despite what the Savior and the others assumed about his relationship with Regina, they were friends. And she only sent him things that she wanted to be destroyed or protected.

Based on the handprints, Gold assumed it would be the latter. Gold took the journal and placed it in the same vault as his blade. He knew Regina was still looking for a way to leave Storybrooke safely, but he wanted to give her some kind of direction. Whatever portals Snow threw Regina’s children into split into six different realms, and each one was made up of ten various mini-realms. Gold was having to search a much larger map than he anticipated. But he did know one thing. Something was wrong with those beans, and whoever gave them to Snow wasn’t out to simply send them away.

They wanted to take them out of the picture entirely.


Regina adjusted her blazer as she walked into the office Monday morning. Her move to Killian’s ship went well, and she had the best sleep she’d had in a long time. Sunday was a lazy day, and she stayed on board with Killian. Regina taught him how to cook eggs, and he taught her how to fish.

It was a rare day where Regina could just be herself.

“Madam Mayor.”

Regina sighed and said, “Sheriff.”

“May we speak?”

“Depends on what you want to talk to me about,” Regina said. “Close the door.”

Emma did as she was told and came over to Regina’s desk. She leaned down on the chair and said, “Henry went by your house yesterday.”

“Did he now? And why would he do that? He made it very clear he wanted nothing more to do with me or that home.”

“He wanted a comic book.”

“All of his things have been sent to your apartment, Sheriff. If he cannot find it there, then he should look again. Your son would overlook his feet if they weren’t attached to him.”

“You changed the locks.”

Regina exhaled through her nose and clasped her hands on her desk.

“How about you say what you want to say so we can both move on with our lives?”

“Did you get the journal?”

“I did.”

Emma waited. When Regina said nothing else, she asked, “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

“What sort of response were you expecting?”

“Anger? Rage? Maybe another curse,” Emma said sarcastically.

“That Charming gene really kicks in at the most inopportune times.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means, Sheriff, that I have no desire to go after your mother for something she clearly did as a child.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Regina stood and came around the desk until she was face-to-face with Emma. She said, “Despite what you have been told, my anger toward your mother has nothing to do with anything she did as a child. It has everything to do with what Snow did as an adult. A child would not have done what she did. A child would not have taken everything that I ever loved and destroyed my world in a matter of minutes. I have no desire to go after your mother for stealing my diary. I do, however, have to spend every waking moment of my life not snapping her dainty little neck!”

Emma reared back and stared at Regina with a mixture of fear and confusion. Regina took a deep breath and stepped away. She went back to her side of the desk and sat down.

“If there is nothing else, I have work to do.”

“Regina-

“Tell your son to look in the boxes that are already in his possession. I have nothing else of his in the house, and I have no reason to lie. From now on, do not show up to my office over something trivial. If it is an emergency, call me. If not, figure it out. You have what you wanted, Savior. Your family is together and whole. So leave me the hell alone.”

Regina glanced down, her silent way of ending the conversation, and she held her breath until the door closed. She deflated against her chair and pinched the bridge of her nose to keep her tears at bay.


Emma walked up to the counter and looked Ruby in the eyes, saying, “I want to know what happened.”

“No.”

“Listen, I went to Regina’s office today, and I saw something in her eyes that scared me.”

Ruby continued to wipe down the back of the bar.

“Please, Ruby? What happened to her?” Emma asked. “Why is she so-”

“Enough.” Ruby threw down her rag and leaned on the counter to match Emma’s position. She added in a low voice, “You do not get to come in here and demand answers. You made your choice very clear when you helped Henry move out of the house he grew up in while Regina was at work. You made your choice clear when you were about to crucify Regina for killing Archie even though she had no actual reason to do so. And when it was proven to be Cora, all you did was move on as if you didn’t spend weeks calling her a murderer and a cold-hearted bitch to anyone who listened. You made your choice clear when you comforted your mother after she killed Cora. That was Regina’s mother, Emma. No matter what happened between them, no one should watch their parent die in front of them. You went home with everyone else to celebrate Snow and remind her that she wasn’t evil. Regina carried her mother’s body into the woods for a private burial. You, Emma Charming, are not interested in knowing what happened to Regina because you care about her. You’re a selfish, demanding brat just like your mother.”

“Ruby.”

Emma and Ruby turned as Granny came out of the kitchen. Granny put her hand on Ruby’s shoulder, jerking her head. Ruby huffed and went to the back. Granny clicked her teeth, and she looked at Emma.

“I think it would be best if you did your orders by delivery from now on, Sheriff,” she said.

Emma swallowed roughly and nodded. She shoved her hands into her pockets as she left. Emma let her feet lead her and somehow ended up at Gold’s shop. Emma chewed on her bottom lip as she went inside. Gold didn’t seem surprised to see her. If anything, he seemed relieved.

“I’m tired of being out of the loop,” Emma said. “Ruby hates me, Granny pities me, and Regina wants nothing to do with me. Snow is lying to me, and David refuses to do anything to upset Snow. I want to know what pieces of the story I’m missing.”

“You sound as if you are required to know.”

“Look, I know, okay? I know that I’ve made some stupid choices since I’ve been here. I’ve been so caught up in having a family that I’ve forgotten,” she paused, “that I’m not from here. I saw Regina today, and I saw something in her I see in myself every time I look in the mirror. So, please. What did my mother do to Regina?”

Chapter Text

Emma sat on the bench near the water with a bag at her feet. Her car was parked behind her, and she fiddled with the letter in her hands. It was a single note, an apology to Henry for leaving without saying goodbye. It was better than the alternative. She didn’t belong in Storybrooke. She never did, and after her talk with Gold, Emma felt like her entire life was a lie. When Henry showed up at her front door, Emma had celebrated another year without a family. She had made peace with it a long time ago, and one bus ride later, she had a mom, a dad, and a son. Then on a trip to a world that Emma never knew existed gave her back the one man Emma ever loved. But Neal was also the same man who abandoned her and made her give birth in prison. Emma’s life had gone from calm and lonely to chaotic and suffocating, but she forced herself to be grateful.

After all, she had a family. Wasn’t that what she wanted?

“Mind some company?”

Emma twisted around. Ruby gestured to the bench, and Emma wordlessly moved over. Ruby sat down beside her and folded her arms.

“I haven’t been treating you fairly, and I’m sorry about that.”

“You were right, though,” Emma said. “I shouldn’t have been so quick to take Snow’s side just because she said she was my mother.”

“When you told me you were in and out of the foster system, it never occurred to me that coming here and finding Snow would be the best thing in the world for you.”  Ruby scuffed her shoes against the sidewalk and added, “I should’ve seen things from your perspective and gone about it a different way. But I care about Regina a lot, and I have tunnel vision when it comes to her.”

“I went to Gold after I left the diner,” Emma said. “He was the only one in town I trusted to be brutally honest with me.”

Ruby shifted on the bench and asked, “What did he tell you?”

“I know why you’re so defensive of Regina and why my existence in Storybrooke caused more harm for her than good for Snow. I know why the curse was cast, or at least Gold’s opinion of it, and I know that somewhere out there, there are three people lost and confused because of my mother’s actions.”

“And how do you feel about it?”

“There was this foster home that I lived in right after the Swans gave me up. Mr. Swan had gotten me this stuffed duck for Christmas, and it was the only thing I had left. It was my most treasured possession, and one of my foster brothers threw it in the fireplace. When my foster father managed to get it out of the fire, it was too late.  My foster parents told me they’d buy me a new one, but that wasn’t the point. It was mine; it was something that I loved, and I hated them for not saving it in time. After Gold told me what happened, I amplified the feeling of losing that duck until I felt like it came halfway close to what Regina felt when Snow took her children.” Emma flicked lint off her pants and added, “And it still doesn’t come close enough.”

Ruby patted Emma on the arm and stood up.

“Walk with me?”

Emma stood and shoved the letter to Henry in her pocket. Ruby walked her down the docks at a slow pace.

“Granny was a local baker before Regina brought her to the castle. Granny explained that she was looking after me, and Regina told her that was fine. When we moved in, I was so scared of doing something wrong. One day, like an hour after the King and Snow went on some trip to another kingdom, I watched Regina become an entirely different person. The castle came alive when the King wasn’t around, and the staff laughed a lot more. The guards smiled when you passed them, and the kitchen was filled with music. One afternoon, Granny gave me a basket of muffins to give to Regina, and I asked around until I found her. She’d been outside near the guards’ barracks kicking a ball around with this boy. He was no older than four, and his pants were so big. He kept stumbling and falling, but he got up laughing each time.

“I watched them for a few minutes until Regina spotted me, and she waved me over. The little boy squealed when he saw me and made a lunge for me. Regina started laughing and peeled him away. That was my first time meeting Emmett, who apparently liked meeting new people and hugging them. Emmett held my hand the entire time I was out there, and Regina fed him little pieces of muffins while he sat in the grass. His parents died in a fire, and Regina didn’t want him going to the orphanage. She tasked the guards to watch over him. Regina never told the King, and the King never noticed this kid running behind the horses when the guards were training.”

Emma listened silently as Ruby’s eyes glazed over.

“Then Charles came into the picture. He’d saved Regina and her best friend, Liana, from being robbed while he was on his way home from the market. He had a little girl named Isabella, no older than two, and Regina brought them to the castle as well. If Emmett made Regina laugh, Isabella made Regina soft. Granny teased Regina whenever she could about how sappy Regina would get when Isabella was with her. And I understood. Isabella used to climb in bed with me and lay on my chest. Emmett slept on the floor next to us, his hand holding mine, and I grew to love them as if they were my blood. Emmett and I would chase her around the cots, laughing at every giggle that she made, and Regina would always tell Isabella that she was her happiness. And for a minute, that was our life. I was the big cousin, the one who got blamed for things even if it wasn’t my fault, and Granny took Isabella and Emmett under her wing. Then Liana got pregnant. Granny was a nervous wreck, as was Regina, and we were on baby watch. When Liana gave birth, the entire castle silently celebrated.

“Liana named her Lena Kieran Mills, an inside joke between Regina, Charles, and Liana. We called her Kieran, though, and with the baby in the midst, everything was terrifying. Kieran was surrounded by people at all times. She was the most guarded baby in all of existence, and the King never knew about her. It was fun watching all of them grow up. As they got older, their personalities started clashing in a good way. Emmett finally got into the guard, but he was still goofy. He was serious when it mattered, but he kept everyone laughing. Isabella, on the other hand, was this firestorm. She had a wicked tongue, a dry sense of humor, and she spent her free time with the archers or the blacksmith. She loved working with her hands. And where Isabella was fire, Kieran was ice. They were so different, but when they were together, they were a force. I would always find Kieran in the library. She knew three languages by the time she was ten, and Isabella was the best archer by thirteen.  Emmett was the only one who could keep up with them.”

Ruby stopped walking and sighed.

“Charles died when Isabella was six. Snow had gone to the stables late at night by herself because she wanted to see her new horse. The King told Snow she couldn’t see the horse because it hadn’t been broken in yet. Charles just so happened to be passing through when he saw her, and Snow ignored his warning. Charles pushed Snow out of the way when the horse reared up and was trampled. Snow screamed and ran from the stables. By the time Emmett and the others got there, he was dead. Regina never quite got over that. Charles was Regina’s personal guard, but he was her best friend. Isabella was too young to understand her father wasn’t coming back.”

Emma wanted to argue that it wasn’t Snow’s fault. But, in a way, it kind of was. She shouldn’t have been out in the stables in the first place.

“Liana died a few years later. There was this virus going around that she couldn’t beat. Kieran retreated into herself, and it had gotten to the point Isabella had to feed her, bathe her, and help her get dressed. Regina wasn’t around as much as she wanted because the King had started to demand more and more of her time. Snow was getting older and was lashing out because Johanna had died. The King let Snow do whatever she wanted, and Regina got the brunt of it. Isabella and Kieran pulled away from Regina, and Emmett had been called by the King to be his personal guard instead of Regina’s. I could only watch as my family fell apart.”

“Then the King died.”

Ruby gave a crooked smile and said, “Despite the rumors, Regina didn’t kill him. She didn’t help keep him alive, but she didn’t kill him. He’d gotten bitten by a snake while hunting, and Regina knew the antidote for the venom. We all did, actually. It was one of those things everyone knew how to make because the type of snake was everywhere. Regardless, Regina took her time making it, and the King died. Snow wasn’t home at the time. When Snow got back, she was so angry and blamed Regina. Regina told her she didn’t kill him, but it didn’t matter. Snow ran away.”

“Gold never told me that part. He just said Regina was present when the King died, and people ran with it.”

“Of course, they did. Snow didn’t let them think anything else. She started a revolt against Regina. The kingdom protested Regina taking the throne, but still, Regina became the Queen. Just the Queen. She wasn’t evil. She was a pretty fair ruler, actually. No one went hungry, everyone was living in peace, and it wasn’t bad. Until Snow showed up and did the unthinkable. I was with Granny in the woods when it happened. My wolf was acting out, and I couldn’t be around people. When I came back, Emmett, Isabella, and Kieran were gone. Regina’s magic manifested that day, and that’s when the Evil Queen was born.”

Ruby let out a humorless laugh and shrugged. If Gold’s story made Emma sad, Ruby’s version broke Emma’s heart.

“Snow started attacking Regina’s convoys, injuring the guards, and stealing the food the guards were transporting to the castle. She set fires to the stables, freeing all the horses, and Snow cut down Regina’s apple trees when Regina was gone. Then Snow met David, and they started calling for Regina to be overthrown. People were scared on all sides, and Regina was losing control. Regina had yet to do anything about her magic until Snow and David snuck into the castle again and set Regina’s throne on fire. That’s when Regina went to Rumpelstiltskin. Her magic did get better, sharper, and things were starting to turn around. Granny warned Regina to be careful, but Regina said she could handle it. And for a while, she did. Regina used her magic to get things back in order, helping the crops grow and restoring buildings that had fallen in all the fighting. The people were beginning to trust her again, and there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Emma shifted and chewed on her bottom lip.

“And then Snow announced her pregnancy.”

“The people were rejoicing, and Regina had even given a formal congratulations. Snow White was about to give birth to a beautiful baby. But Snow started bragging. She said you were her miracle and that you were going to live a long life in the castle you were conceived in.”

Emma frowned in confusion, and Ruby cocked an eyebrow.

“I take it Gold didn’t tell you this part of the story,” she said.

“What part?”

“The day Snow and David snuck into the castle, they… you know… in Kieran’s old room.”

“What!”

Ruby ran a hand through her hair and said, “Yeah, I had that same reaction. When Regina heard what Snow said, she was furious. There was no way for us to know where it happened until I took the long way to my room one night. One downside of being a wolf is that my senses are sharper than most, and I could… smell them. When I realized where the smell was coming from, I knew that would be the final straw. And it was. Regina snapped. In hindsight, yes, casting the curse was stupid. But whatever common sense Regina had disappeared the moment Snow opened those portals.”

Emma hunched over and screamed in frustration.

“I’m sorry, Em.”

“Why are you apologizing?” Emma scoffed, standing up straight. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Maybe so, but this isn’t fun to hear. It wasn’t fun to live through either, but.”

“Regina went through all of that, and then twenty-eight years later, I show up and ruin her life.”

“You are your parent’s child,” Ruby joked weakly.

Emma snorted and said, “I just wanted a family. I was so happy to know that I had parents, that my son was okay, and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. I wanted to make them happy so they would keep me around.”

“Emma, I- look, I know I’m biased, but you don’t owe them anything. They sent you to another realm without thinking of the consequences. You were an infant in a new world all alone, and then you got dealt the shittiest hand in life. That isn’t your fault. None of this is your fault. It’s a combination of events that started long before you were even a thought, and that’s not on you. Do you know why I’ve been giving you such a hard time lately?”

Emma shook her head no.

“The person that walked into the diner before the curse broke is not the person I’ve been seeing the last few months. I saw you transform into this submissive and obedient princess. It felt wrong, and I was angry that you let them change you into someone you’re clearly not.”

“I don’t- I don’t know who I am without them.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Ruby huffed. “You’re Emma Swan. You’re strong, confident, and you know this world isn’t in black and white. You believe in truth and loyalty. Now that you have the truth, it’s up to you how you handle it. Don’t let anyone, not even me, push you into something you don’t want. You are the one in control of your life, and no one can take that from you. So…. If you want to leave, I’ll let you go. I’ll miss you, but I would never make you stay somewhere you don’t want to be. Neither would Regina, neither would Killian, and neither would Granny. Make a decision for yourself, Em. And the rest will fall into place.” 


Regina was distracted when she walked into the diner. It’d been three days since she’d seen Emma. Regina knew Emma was there, but Regina hadn’t physically seen her. So, when Regina heard Emma’s laughter coming from the counter, she froze mid-step. The diner was relatively empty, still too early for some people, but Regina was confused. Ruby was leaning on the counter, far too close to Emma for it to be anything but playful. It was a complete turnaround from the last time the two of them were together. Regina arched an eyebrow when Ruby noticed her.

“Good morning, Madam Mayor. You want your usual order?” Ruby asked.

“Yes, please.”

Ruby nodded and went to the kitchen. Regina anticipated some kind of comment from Emma, hopefully, an apology, but nothing came. Emma sat at the counter with a cup of coffee and her phone in hand. Regina frowned, not out of anger but curiosity, and she sat down beside her. She didn’t feel ignored, but she did feel like Emma wouldn’t speak until Regina spoke to her first.

“Sheriff.”

Emma lifted her head and gave Regina a genuine smile.

“Good morning, your Majesty.”

Regina grimaced and said, “I know what I said, but you really do not have to call me that.”

“Okay. Also, I should apologize for my actions the other day, Madam Mayor. It was highly inappropriate, and I can assure you it will not happen again.”

Regina blinked once, twice, and she said, “Thank you?”

“You’re more than welcome. Do you have a busy day ahead of you?”

“Not that I know of,” Regina answered carefully.

“Would you like to have lunch with me?”

Regina’s heart stuttered in her chest, and she asked, “You want to have lunch with me?”

“Only if you want,” Emma replied. “I’ve been treating you wrong since I got here, and I would like to buy you lunch as a way to start my insanely long process of being a better person toward you.”

Regina felt like she was in the Twilight Zone. Ruby returned with two bags, and she put one in front of Emma.

“Oh, thanks, Rubes.”

“No problem, Em. Coming back for lunch?” Ruby asked.

Regina narrowed her eyes at her niece, but she fixed her face when Emma turned to her expectantly. Clearing her throat, Regina nodded. Emma’s smile was positively blinding as she gathered her food and stood from the counter.

“I’ll come by your office around one, and if you’re busy, we can reschedule. Deal?”

Regina nodded again, and Emma waved before she walked out of the diner. Once she was gone, Regina turned to Ruby.

“What the hell was that?” she hissed.

“That, my dear Aunt, was Emma Swan.”

“I have no time for your games, Ruby Lucas.”

“No, I meant, that was Emma Swan. An entirely different person from Emma Charming.”

Regina frowned and asked, “What changed?”

“Emma had a long conversation with Gold, and then she and I spoke a few nights ago.”

“What did Rumple tell her?”

“The truth.” Ruby propped her chin on the counter. “You know, I think I understand her actions a little more. I’m not saying she was right, but I’m saying you should go into this lunch with an open mind. Emma’s had a pretty rough going with parental figures. Well, she’s had a rough go with families in general, but I think your crush on her makes a bit more sense. She’s not too bad once you get to know the real her.”

Ruby’s smile was teasing, and Regina snatched her food.

“I hate you.”

“Love you too, Aunt Gina.”

Regina glared at Ruby and stormed out of the diner. Ruby snickered and went back to preparing for the breakfast crowd. It wasn’t until Regina got back to her office did she realize she essentially had a date with Emma in less than six hours. Regina’s stomach rolled with butterflies and anxiety. The last thing she needed was her stupid infatuation making things difficult for her. But no matter how hard she tried not thinking about it, Regina couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.


Emma chewed on her lip as she sat in a booth. Regina sat in front of her, looking every bit as put together as Emma expected, but Emma’s nerves were shot. Regina seemed to notice, and she relaxed a bit.

“Why did you invite me to lunch, Emma?”

The way Regina said her name made Emma blurt out something a little too close to the truth-

“I like you.”

Regina’s face turned red, and Emma panicked.

“Wait, no, I mean, I like you as a person. Not like a crush or anything. I mean, of course, I think you’re attractive. You’re so attractive, but I just mean. Wow. Okay, hold on.” Emma took a deep breath and released it. “I made an awful mistake in assuming that I knew everything about you based on what Snow and David told me. I shouldn’t have been so quick to jump on board with them when you never really gave me a reason to hate you.”

“I tried to kill you.”

“True, but I kind of deserved it.”

“No one deserves to be poisoned by an apple turnover,” Regina said wryly.

“My point is that I feel like I missed out on an opportunity to get to know you as Regina, not the Evil Queen, and I was hoping to have a second chance.”

“You didn’t have to take me to lunch for that.”

“I like food.”

Regina rolled her eyes and said, “I haven’t made this easy on you either, Emma. At first, I was afraid that you would break the curse. And you did, but then I was afraid because you came in and dismantled everything that I’d built in a matter of years. You weren’t even trying to, but that’s just who you are. You’re like a bull in a porcelain shop.”

“I think you mean China shop.”

“Both are easy to break, right?”

Emma held up her hands and said, “I get the point. It’s not a great excuse, but Snow and David wanted me. I didn’t have that growing up, and I let myself be blinded to everything else. I let them make decisions for me, pick the food I eat and the clothes that I wear-

“That does explain the sudden amount of pastel in your rotation,” Regina interrupted.

“Snow said real princesses wear pastel,” Emma grumbled.

“Oh, please. Snow was the only princess that wore those abysmal colors. She was a walking Easter advertisement even in the winter.”

Emma laughed and inclined her head in agreement. Her smile faded, and she plucked at her shirt.

“You know, a few nights ago, I was preparing to leave town,” she said.

Regina’s face fell just enough for Emma to know how big of a mistake that would’ve been, but then her mask was back.

“What changed your mind?”

“Ruby. She found me on the bench, and we just talked. In the end, she reminded me that I spent twenty-eight years without them. I am my own person. I’m not a princess, and I don’t have the patience or personality for royal behavior. If anything, I would’ve been the one scrapping with the guards or the local boys.”

“Why do you sound like someone from the nineteen-fifties?”

“Shut up. I watched Grease a lot when I was a kid.”

“What is Grease?”

“How do you know what someone from the nineteen-fifties sounds like, but you don’t know what Grease is?”

“I had a phase,” Regina muttered.

Emma made a mental note to bring that up later, and she said, “Well, Grease is a movie that shaped my childhood. I like leather-

“Obviously.”

“Can I please finish?”

“Sorry, sorry. Continue.”

Emma snorted and said, “Long story short, I need to get back to who I am. My first step is choosing who I want as friends and being honest about myself. If Snow and David can’t accept me, then that’s on them.”

Regina hummed and pulled a napkin onto her lap.

“It will take me a minute to trust you, but I can assure you that you’re off to a good start. I find Emma Swan is a lot more tolerable than Emma Charming.”

“Okay, Ruby called me that this morning. How many people actually call me that?”

“Just me, Ruby, Granny, and Killian.”

“Killian?” Emma exclaimed. “Since when are you two close? Snow said-

“Lesson number one in our interactions. You should erase everything your mother has ever told you about me from the last two years. You might be surprised by what you learn.”

Ruby slid over to their booth with her notebook and smiled.

“What’s the order, ladies?”

“Chicken Caesar salad with a glass of lemon water, please,” Regina said.

“One day, you’re going to turn into a chicken.”

“Shut up, Ruby.” 

“I’m just saying don’t come clucking to me when it happens. What about you, Emma?”

Emma’s first instinct was to order a salad as well. Snow commented about her picking up weight, but Emma wanted a burger. So, she exhaled and smiled nervously at Ruby.

“Can I have a bacon cheeseburger, please? With extra mayo?”

“Sure thing! Want fries or something else on the side?”

“Can I have cheese fries and a root beer float?”

“Oh, yes! I can finally use the new machine before Granny sends it back. I may or may not have promised to be making root beer floats more than I am.”

Emma chuckled as Ruby ran off to put in the orders, and Emma blushed when she caught Regina staring at her.

“What?”

“The last time I saw you in here, you were picking at a salad and drinking water.”

“Snow mentioned I was putting on weight, and I felt self-conscious about it.”

Regina’s eyes darkened a bit as he said, “Eat whatever you want when you’re around me.” She glanced down and back before adding, “And for the record, I think you look perfect the way you are.”

Emma had been called beautiful before by men and women alike. But Regina’s words stirred something in her, and Emma sat up straighter.

“How about we start over?”

“What do you have in mind?”

Emma held out her hand, and she said, “Hi, my name’s Emma. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Regina’s lip twitched as she grabbed Emma’s hand and said, “Hello, Emma. My name is Regina. As for whether it’s a pleasure to meet you or not, ask me again later.”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

Several pencils scratched out and wrote formulas to her right, and a cup of coffee stirred itself to her left. In the center of it all, Kieran read a well-worn copy of Alice in Wonderland. It was an older copy from the 1940s, and she’d purchased it from a small bookstore during one of her trips to Sweden. With Lionel dead, Lex in prison, and Lillian on the run, Kieran was upholding the Luthor name. And by that, Kieran meant she singlehandedly destroyed the family name until all that remained was altruism and goodwill. As she got older, Kieran had taken ‘Lena Luthor, the mysterious daughter from Lionel’s past’ and turned her into a household name for good. Naturally, Lillian and Lex hated her for it. Lionel did too at first, but then he realized she was bringing in more money by being compassionate instead of arrogant. Lionel became an ally during her later-teens, but cancer had a cruel way of tearing through a family and leaving nothing but ruins in its wake.

Lex’s obsession with Superman turned him into a vindictive prick who would have decimated a city if it meant being the person responsible for bringing down the Man of Steel. Lillian supported her son and all his irresponsible inventions. Lillian once gave Lex ten million dollars to build a robot meant to be ‘Superman’s greatest threat.’ Kieran watched from her dorm as the robot took one hit and short-circuited on live television. Lex was furious, and Kieran was indifferent. Lillian hated Kieran for not supporting Lex, but that was as far as it went. She would never admit they lied about where Kieran came from. It would’ve put too much scrutiny on the family. So, Kieran played her part in public, but when she was in private, she locked herself in her room and played music loud enough to drown out Lex’s tantrums.

Kieran didn’t know why Lex was so angry in the first place. It was obvious Clark Kent was Superman. A pair of glasses didn’t change a person’s face to the point they weren’t recognizable. Kieran paused when she noticed one of her formulas gave her the answer she was looking for. She sent the paper with the formula written on it over to her bulletin board and watched the equation come to life. Kieran sighed when the solution still left her with more questions than answers. Creating a device to potentially send her into different realms took a lot longer than she anticipated, but Kieran wasn’t going to stop. It didn’t matter if it took her another twelve years. She was going to find her family.

An alarm went off, and Kieran puffed out her cheeks in annoyance. She saved her place in her book and grabbed her coffee. The pencils went to their box, and the coffee stirrer went into the trash. She placed her thumb on the control panel near the door, and the alarm shut off. The door opened, leading out to her office, and she slipped on her heels. The lead door closed behind her, blending in with the wall as if it wasn’t there, and Kieran sat down just as Supergirl landed on her balcony. It was fun pretending not knowing Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El were two different people. She liked seeing what kind of lies and excuses Kara could come up with to explain where Kara Danvers was or where Supergirl was. Kieran wasn’t angry. Why would she be? She was many things, but a hypocrite, she was not.

“Good morning, Supergirl. To what do I owe the pleasure?” she asked.

Supergirl’s eyes were firmly trained on where Kieran had just exited, but the frustration on her face told her she couldn’t see through the lead. Kieran sipped her coffee and waited. The last thing she wanted was anyone other than herself getting into that room. Well, except Sam. Sam was the only person who knew the truth.

“I was coming to check on you after what happened.”

“You mean when Lex sent men to kill me?” Kieran shrugged one shoulder. “It stops becoming a thing after the fifth time,” she said.

“Still.” Supergirl glanced again at the door, then back at Kieran. “No one should have to go through this with their family,” she said.

“The Luthor’s are not my family,” Kieran said sharply. “And I told you that.”

A hint of Kara Danvers showed as Supergirl apologized. Kieran waved her off and gestured to the mountain of paperwork on her desk. How long was she in her private office? Kieran shook her head and returned her attention to Supergirl.

“If that’s all, Supergirl. I have work to do.”

“Right, of course.”

Supergirl gave a tight smile and turned toward the balcony. Kieran pretended not to notice the one last lingering look at the wall.


Sam knocked on the door and poked her head into the office.

“Hey, boo.”

“I told you to stop calling me that,” Kieran said distractedly.

“You said to stop calling you babe. I said boo.”

“How about you just stop calling me things in general?”

Sam grinned and closed the door behind her. She carried Kieran’s lunch to the table and sat down.

“I brought you some of those vegan cookies you like and a kale burger with extra jalapenos.”

Kieran finally looked up at that, and Sam smirked triumphantly.

“What do you want?”

“Nothing,” Sam laughed. “I know you need extra TLC today is all.”

“Oh. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Kieran put down her pen and removed her hair from its ponytail. She scratched at her scalp and kicked off her heels, softly padding her way to the couch next to Sam.

“I forgot how long your hair is when it’s up like that,” Sam said.

“My mother had long hair.”

“Which one?”

“Both,” Kieran snorted.

Sam grinned and passed Kieran her burger. She took out a chicken sandwich for herself and said, “Oh, so you know that mommy-daughter tea was this morning, right?”

“I remember. How was it?”

“Ruby spilled green tea all over Ms. Harrison’s dress.”

“Ms. Harrison was the one who made those comments about you being a single mother, right?”

“Don’t act like you didn’t research every last thing about her after I told you what she said.”

Kieran gave nothing away as she ate her burger. Sam shook her head and took a bite of her sandwich.

“Supergirl stopped by today,” Kieran said once she swallowed.

“Oh? What for?”

“Those men last night.”

“Did she give you her usual ‘family shouldn’t treat family like this’ speech?”

Kieran winked and tugged on her ear, their signal for when Supergirl was in hearing range.

“She tried, but I reminded her the Luthor’s aren’t my family.”

“Right. One of the joys of being adopted,” Sam teased.

“Especially when your brother’s idea of fun is mass genocide,” Kieran muttered. In a louder voice, she added, “But I do appreciate her checking on me. It’s nice to know the Girl of Steel doesn’t hold the same grudge that her cousin does against anyone with the last name Luthor.”

Sam faked a gag, and Kieran smacked her on the shoulder.

“When are you going to grow up?”

“The day you admit you eat meat in the privacy of your home.”

“I ate a steak one time!”

“And I will never let you forget it.”

Kieran huffed and said, “I liked you better when you hated me.”

“I never hated you,” Sam scoffed. “I was jealous of you. You were so damn smart for someone who couldn’t even drink until our senior year.”

“Legally,” Kieran corrected. “I’ve been drinking since I was-

Kieran stopped. She put her sandwich back on the table and wiped her hands with a napkin. Her first time drinking was with Isabella for her birthday. She wanted Kieran to have her first drinking experience with people she trusted. They spent the entire evening trying different types of mead with Emmett. Ruby couldn’t drink with them, but she liked watching them get drunker and drunker as the night went on. Regina found them passed out in the stables the morning after and threw a bucket of cold water on them.

“Hey, where’d you just go?” Sam asked softly.

 “Where I always go,” she whispered to Sam.

“You need me to leave?”

“No, no. I’m okay. It’s just one of those days, I guess.”

Kieran picked back up her sandwich, and Sam let the conversation end. They ate the rest of their lunch in silence. When Kieran’s phone went off ten minutes later, she quickly turned it off. She glanced at the plant growing in the corner of her office, more alive than it was when she first bought it, and she smiled.

Happy birthday, sister.

Kieran fell sideways into Sam’s body and closed her eyes. Sam wrapped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head. Sam was the only person who got away with casual affection. Though that might have more to do with the fact Kieran and Sam dated for six months, but the point was, Kieran felt more comfortable in Sam’s arms than anyone else currently in her life.

Kieran felt eyes on her from across the street, higher than any average spy, and she blindly reached for her phone. She pressed a few buttons, and a thin layer of lead fell over her windows. It took her a minute to get the density right, but she figured it out. Kieran was confident Supergirl could no longer see in her office unless Kieran wanted her to. She adjusted her position until her head was in Sam’s lap. Sam ran her fingers through Kieran’s hair and sat there with her in silence.


“I think Lena and Sam are dating.”

Alex had a mouthful of salad at that moment and started choking. Kara winced apologetically. Alex managed to swallow her food and held up her finger. She drank some water, and once she wasn’t on the verge of dying, she glared at Kara.

“What have I told you about spying on Lena?”

“I wasn’t- I was concerned.”

“Lena’s been the target of assassination attempts since she took over L-Corp. I doubt this one affected her any differently.”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t be worried! What if one of these days I’m too slow?”

“Lena can take care of herself,” Alex sighed. “We’ve seen that plenty of times.”

“But Alex-

“Kara, I’m serious. Lena is already annoyed with how much we’ve been poking into her life. You’re lucky she even still talks to you after that shit you pulled.”

“She had kryptonite,” Kara argued.

“You let James get in your head about someone you swore up and down wasn’t like her family. You accused her of being like Lex, and she reacted in kind.”

“Since when do you defend Lena?”

“I admit I had an issue with her namesake, but she’s proven she isn’t like them.”

“Then why does she have a hidden lead door in her office?”

“What?”

“There is a lead door in her office. I saw her come out of it this morning.”

Alex pursed her lips and said, “I can’t tell if your issue with Lena is because she might be hiding something or because she might be dating Sam.”

Kara shifted in her seat.

“What is it about Lena that gets you so out of whack?”

“I don’t know what that means.”

Alex leaned back and crossed her arms.

“It means that whenever the topic Lena comes up, you get weird. Like you can’t decide between trusting her or hating her. Don’t even get me started on how you describe how much you want-

“Okay!” Kara exclaimed. “I get it.”

“Do you?”

“Yes, okay? I like Lena in a non-platonic way.”

“No shit.”

“Alex,” Kara whined. “This is serious.”

“Not really, considering everyone knows, and that brings me back to the original point of this entire conversation. Sam and Lena aren’t dating.”

“How do you know?”

Alex cocked an eyebrow and said, “Sam has been dating Jess for the last three weeks.”

“Wait, what?”

“Honestly, Kara, do you pay attention to anything other than Lena when you fly by L-Corp every thirty minutes?”

“I do not-

“Yes, you do. We all know your route by heart.”

Kara sunk in her seat and pouted.

“That still doesn’t explain how you know Sam and Jess are dating,” she grumbled.

“Because Kelly and I went on a date with them two nights ago.”

“What!”

Alex rolled her eyes and went back to her salad.


Kieran walked barefoot through her penthouse in a pair of oversized sweatpants and one of Sam’s hoodies. She knew her best friend was out on another date, so she would be alone for the evening. Kieran turned on her record player and twirled on the spot as the music started to play.

I know they say you can’t go home again

I just had to come back one last time

Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam

But these handprints on the front steps are mine

Kieran placed her hand on the wall near her windows, and she watched lazily as the lead slipped over her windows.

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom

Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar

And I bet you didn’t know that under live oak

My favorite dog is buried in the yard

Kieran grabbed a bottle of wine from her cooler and placed it on the island. A wine opener went about uncorking the bottle while a wine glass slid from the hooks down to the counter.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it

This brokenness inside me might start healing

Out here it’s like I’m someone else

I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave

Won’t take nothing but a memory

From the house that built me

Kieran sighed as the wine poured itself. She grabbed the glass once it was filled. The wine bottle followed her in the air, and Kieran directed it to the coffee table.

Momma cut out pictures of houses for years

From better homes and garden magazine

Plans were drawn and concrete poured

And nail by nail and board by board

Daddy gave life to momma’s dream

Kieran tucked her feet under her legs and stared at the wall. Several pictures, images Kieran painted during her artist days, took up the entire wall. Some were of Emmett, Isabella, and a few of Ruby and Regina. There was only one picture of her birth mother, and Kieran sipped at her wine.

You leave home, you move on

And you do the best you can

I got lost in this ‘ole world

And forgot who I am

Kieran threw her glass at the wall. Streaks of red bled into the images, and she covered her mouth with the back of her hand. She brought her knees to her chest and cried.


Kara floated near the penthouse. She couldn’t see inside, but the music was playing loud enough that she could hear the words. Kara frowned. She flew up into the sky until she was high above the atmosphere. Kara took in deep breaths and let the world continue to turn beneath her. Ever since she got to Earth, she’d been living up to a reputation that wasn’t hers.

Kara wasn’t Clark, and Clark wasn’t Kara.

She didn’t owe anyone on Earth a single thing, but she chose to save Alex that night. Kara put on the suit, put herself in danger every single day, and protected the people she loved because she was able to do it. It had nothing to do with wanting to keep humanity safe or whatever bullshit Clark came up with. Kara pinched the bridge of her nose. She fought herself every morning not to let National City go up in flames. Kara wanted to see how far humanity would go to keep itself going. What would humans act like when they’ve been pushed to their limit? Could they do what her parents did and create something to attack one specific group of people? They’d already done it with slavery – the holocaust. It wasn’t unheard of for them.

Would humans be willing to give up their material things to save themselves from collapse? Or would they turn on one another? Who would go first? The poor or the rich? What would the Man of Steel do? Would he drop down between the fighting and give them the speech of all speeches?

Kara scowled. The symbol on her chest meant more to her than it did to Kal-El. He didn’t care enough about his culture to participate in the rituals, the festivals, and the ceremonies. He wore their family crest like a costume. He demanded the unification of a group of species that would rather tear itself apart than come together. Kara blew out a frustrated breath and closed her eyes. She focused on the sound of the ocean hitting the shore. Kara exhaled and dropped from the sky. The weightlessness, as temporary as it was, was a relief. When she got back to the city, J’onn was waiting on her.

“Something wrong?” she asked.

“Your thoughts are rather loud, even when you’re up there,” he said softly.

“What happened to you staying out of my head?”

J’onn chuckled and said, “Kara, I’m not condemning you. I told Alex a long time ago the comparisons to Clark would backfire in the future.”

“My sister assumes Clark and I have a good relationship.”

“You haven’t given her a reason to assume otherwise.”

Kara nodded and glanced out over the city.

“I’m tired of being compared to him, J’onn.”

“What’s brought this on?”

Kara chewed on her lip and said, “Lena was listening to a song tonight, and the lyrics hit a little too hard. I think I’ve forgotten who I am.”

J’onn cocked his head as he studied her, and he asked, “Would you like Winn to make adjustments to your suit?”

“I think so, yes.”

“You know your cousin will have an issue with it.”

“Let him.” Kara thought about the words Clark said to Jeremiah when he dropped her with the Danvers, and she added loud enough for J’onn to hear, “I am not his keeper.”


Winn blinked away his sleep as he shuffled into the DEO. Kara handed him a rough outline of a new suit, and his eyes widened. Brainy rolled over in his chair and stared at the image. Brainy didn’t say anything, but approval was written all over his face. Kara hadn’t told Alex or Nia yet, but she knew they would be okay with it once Kara explained why she altered it.

“This is what you want? You sure?” Winn asked.

“I am.”

Winn scratched at his jaw and shrugged.

“I can have it finished in like six hours. I should have some of this color left over.”

“Thank you, Winn.”

Winn nodded and disappeared into his lab. Brainy smiled at her.

“I think this version of you is much better,” he said.

“Speaking from experience?”

“No. As your friend.”

 


Sam didn’t knock as she entered the office. Kieran wasn’t fazed, and she glanced up when her best friend stuck her phone in her face. Kieran stared at the image until it sparked recognition, and she bit her lip.

“I told her when we first met that I’m only trying to make a name for myself away from my family.” Kieran leaned back in her seat and stared out of the window. She smiled and added, “And it seems Kara Zor-El has finally decided to make an appearance.”

Chapter Text

Alex dropped her coffee when Kara flew into the DEO. Her eyes went between Winn and Kara, and she stammered out some form of a sentence as Kara got closer. Winn snuck away while Alex was distracted, and Kara smiled genuinely at her sister. She struck her Supergirl pose.

“What do you think?”

“I leave you alone for twelve hours, and you come back with a haircut and a new suit? Wait, is this why J’onn put me on comms instead of cams today?”

“I wanted to surprise you. The haircut was spontaneous, but the suit was thought out. I had Winn come in and make it last night. I did promise food and free lunch for a week in the process, though.”

“Kara.”

“Alex.”

“You changed your suit,” Alex said.

“I did.”

“No, I mean, you changed it. Like wow. This is a lot to process.”

Kara’s pose faltered, and she asked, “You hate it?”

“No!” Alex waved her hands in front of her. “I love it! But it’s very odd to see my sister look so….” she trailed off awkwardly.

“Nia said I was giving ‘Daddy’ vibes, but I don’t know what that means.”

Brainy, who had been passing them when he heard the statement, said, “Oh. Being called Daddy means-

“Nope, not happening,” Alex interrupted.

Brainy shrugged and continued his walk. Kara folded her arms, which caused her biceps to flex dangerously, and Alex shook her head. She knew her sister had another side. The golden retriever attitude wasn’t fake, per se, but sometimes it was exaggerated. Alex remembered when Kara hung a boy upside down by his ankles for touching Alex inappropriately. She would’ve dropped him had it not been for Eliza calling them for their curfew. Kara had a different type of confidence that came with being a Kryptonian.

Plus, it wasn’t like the suit was awful. It was a little darker than before. Kara wore a white short-sleeved shirt with a blue stripe going down both sides. She switched out the red skirt for a pair of blue pants, and she kept the red boots. Her cape was blue at the top and faded into white toward the bottom. The biggest thing that caught Alex’s attention was the lack of ‘S’ on her chest.

“How are people supposed to know you’re Supergirl now?” Alex asked, slightly teasing.

“Through my actions.”

Alex grinned. She could tell it was a better fit for Kara in more ways than one. Her sister had an easier smile on her face, and Alex wasn’t going to take that from her.

“I do love it,” she said. “I promise.”

Kara relaxed completely.

“Thanks, Alex.”

“Of course. I still think you didn’t have to cut your hair.”

“It’s not like I’m bald!”

“Mom’s going to freak. Has she seen you yet?”

“No, I’ve been busy.”

“Busy procrastinating, yes, I can tell.”

Kara huffed and folded her arms, looking like the rebellious Kara that Alex remembered most. Alex turned when something heavy fell on the floor, and the agent responsible groaned at the broken remnants of whatever he was carrying. Some of the other agents helped him pick up the pieces when it was clear Kara wasn’t going to do it. Alex snorted when she realized why. Kara had her phone out, her face scrunched in confusion before she blushed and put her phone away.

“Did you seriously just google the word ‘Daddy’?”

“Yes, but I don’t think Nia knows what that word means. I’m not- I’m nothing like that!”

“Wow. Look in the mirror once or twice, okay?” Alex cringed and held up her hand to stop Kara from responding. “Don’t. I heard what I said, and I’m as disgusted as you are. Plus, I’m one-hundred percent positive Nia is the only one who knows what that word means.”

“I think she’s wrong. I-

Kara tilted her head to the side, and she shot into the sky. Alex heard the alarm a second later, and she glanced at her coffee on the floor. She stepped over it and grabbed the closet agent.

“Can you get that for me? I’m in a hurry.”

“What? But I-

“Thanks!”

Alex ran off before he could continue and hurried to find Winn.


Kara barely remembered to slow her descent enough, so she didn’t leave a crater on the balcony.

“It’s Supergirl!”

“Really? Where?”

Kara spun around as if she were looking for herself, and she heard someone snicker under their breath. Kara stepped through the broken glass and winked at Sam and Jess. The three men had them at gunpoint, and Kara was a bit disappointed. She looked up in time to catch a bullet before it hit her forehead. She flicked it at the guy who shot her. He yelped and went down, holding his leg. The other two turned away from Sam and Jess and started shooting at Kara. The bullets tickled when they hit her skin, and Kara laughed. The guys stopped when they realized it wasn’t working. Kara blew a strand of hair from her face.

“Are you done or- okay, you’re running. Why do you guys always run?”

Kara caught the two men before they made it to the hallway and dragged them back into the office. She smacked their heads together as softly as possible. They were unconscious when they hit the floor, and Kara put her fingers against their necks. She noted they were still breathing, and she moved away from them. Kara heard the DEO agents in the hallway and stepped back as they burst into the room. Alex glanced down at the two men warily, and she checked their pulses. Kara shot her a look.

“What? Standard procedure,” Alex said.

Kara clicked her teeth and went to the guy currently crawling his way toward the balcony. Where would he even go? They were almost thirty floors off the ground. Kara sighed and picked him up.

“It was pathetic watching you crawl, and I was trying to save you from further embarrassment.” Kara flicked some glass off his jacket. “Now, this is the second time this week someone has attempted to kill Miss Luthor. Would you mind explaining why?” she asked.

“Screw you!”

The guy spat in Kara’s face, and she used his shirt to wipe it off.

“I’m glad you did that. Because that way, I can say I did the diplomatic option first.”

“What are you-

Kara tossed him out of the open window and off the balcony.

“Supergirl, please, go get him,” Alex sighed heavily.

“Fine.”

Kara lazily threw herself backward, smiling as she fell through the sky, and she caught up with the guy. She grabbed him when they reached the tenth floor and changed directions. Kara dropped him on the floor once they got back to the office, and he was having a hard time catching his breath. The entire room seemed confused by the change in attitude, but Alex seemed more bored than anything. Sam and Jess were ‘secretly’ recording. Kara didn’t care, seeing as they weren’t the type to post it online.

“You can’t do that!” the guy shouted.

“Why not?”

“Supers aren’t supposed to kill humans,” he exclaimed.

Kara cocked her head tapped her chest where the infamous symbol no longer rested.

“Do you see an ‘S’ on my chest?” she fake-whispered.

“But- but you’re still Supergirl!”

Kara picked him up and slammed him against the wall. She looked him in the eyes. “To the people of National City, yes, I am Supergirl. But to you?” she dragged him close and whispered in his ear, “I am the only thing standing between you and a cell or a coffin.”

“Wait, wait, wait! Look, Lex said was that we had to kill his sister because she sullied the Luthor name. That’s all he said, I swear!”

“Really? How unoriginal.”

Kara carried the man over to the agents, and she handed him off. They slapped cuffs on him and dragged him out of the room. Alex waited until everyone else was gone before she started poking Kara in the center of her forehead repeatedly.

“What are you doing?” Kara asked.

“Trying to find the off button for that side of you that will eventually get me fired or worse, arrested.”

“I would break you out. Plus, you do know that I can control myself, right?”

“Did you not just throw someone off a balcony?”

“I did give him a warning.”

“You did not give him a warning! You said something and then threw him- you know what? No. I am not doing this with you.”

“Thank you for your diligence, Director Danvers.”

Alex hissed at her, and Kara chuckled as her sister left the office. Alex did stop and say hello to Sam and Jess before she left. Sam stared at Kara for a long time before she snorted.

“I can’t believe the glasses work on some people.”

“Eh, people see what they want to see.”

“Right. Well, K- Lena is downstairs in the lab, and I doubt she wants me to interrupt her.”

“Is she building a death ray to kill every man in the world?”

“That’s her Wednesday project.”

“I see. Well, give your friend my well-wishes. She has once again avoided becoming a martyr for Lex’s insanity.”

“Am I saying it’s from you or the other you?” Sam asked dryly.

“I’m the same person, Miss Arias.” Kara turned to Jess. “And I still expect you to chase me when I attempt to enter her office without an appointment,” she said.

“I’ll be wearing my Kryptonite shoes to give me an advantage,” Jess said flatly.

Kara laughed and walked toward the balcony. She heard a familiar heartbeat coming up the stairs and didn’t want to make things awkward. Kara hovered in the sky for a minute, listening to the city, and she sighed when she heard the sound she’d been dreading. Kara headed toward the DEO with her cousin right behind her.


Kieran entered her office and froze when she saw the mess.

“I was only gone for an hour.”

Sam and Jess turned around.

“Assassins,” they said.

“More? Lex is getting desperate,” she mused.

“Your future baby Daddy was here.”

“I told you to stop calling her that. Why are you calling her that, anyway?”

“You haven’t seen her up close,” Jess said.

Sam nodded in agreement before she added, “Also, you did tell me, but I was playing Candy Crush.”

“Why do I put up with you?”

“Because you love me.”

Kieran pushed Sam to the side. She picked up her tablet and said to Jess, “I will give you a raise if you break up with her.”

“That is a tempting offer, Miss Luthor, but I might have to decline. Ruby would miss me.”

“Hey!”

“What? She would.”

Sam pouted until Jess kissed her on the cheek. Kieran cleared her throat and pointed outside, and Jess got the hint.

“I’ll reschedule your meetings because I know you only came up here because you forgot something,” Jess said.

Kieran was too distracted to respond, and Sam blew Jess a kiss. Sam waited, and waited, and finally-

“How did she look?”

“She might shake up your emotionless demeanor if you see her.”

“I have emotions,” Kieran argued.

“You’re a robot with a poor sleep schedule and a dependence on red wine.”

“Am not!”

“Whatever. Oh, your baby Daddy also threw a man off your balcony.”

“She did?”

“Why do you sound so excited?” Sam asked warily.

“I have a thing for bad girls, remember?”

“God, you get on my nerves.”

“Love you too.”

Sam knocked a pencil cup over on her way out. Kieran smiled and made a noise of triumph when she found what she was looking for and headed back downstairs.


“I cannot believe you!”

“Hello, Clark. How are you? How’s Lois?”

“Kara, this is no time for your games.”

“I did not know we were playing a game. Who’s winning?”

Clark growled under his breath. Kara did an about-turn toward the meeting room when she heard Alex and Winn talking from that direction. DEO agents moved out of the way, and Clark fumed silently behind her. Kara walked into the meeting room to find not only Alex and Winn in the room, but James, Brainy, Nia, and J’onn in the room as well. The group went silent as they entered, and Kara drew strength from the subtle support of her friends.

Well, everyone except James.

“I demand that you put it back.”

Kara spun on Clark and said, “Excuse me?”

“We wear the symbol of our House, Kara, for a reason. We are a symbol of hope-

“Oh, spare me the speech I have heard it before. Hell, I even gave it a few times, remember?”

Clark rose to his full height, but Kara wasn’t fazed.

“You are dishonoring our family by removing that symbol.”

“And you are embarrassing our family by wearing it.”

“I am just as much of the House of El as you are!”

“You cannot even speak our native tongue.”

“I was an infant when I left Krypton!” he shouted. “It is not fair to put an entire culture on my back that I didn’t even know!”

“But who is Superman, if not a survivor of Krypton? Who is the Man of Steel, if not an alien from a planet that no longer exists? Who is Superman when he does not wear the suit? Is he still that alien? Or is he an alien pretending to be human, so the populace won’t notice that without the suit, Superman is nothing more than a little boy playing dress-up!”

Clark stepped back in shock and hurt. Kara tapped her chest over her heart.

“The meaning of our House rests in here, not on here,” she said, gesturing to her suit. “I do not need to wear it as a symbol. I am the symbol. I represent our House every second of every day, and I honor it more than you ever did. I landed on a strange planet after our home was destroyed. Something went wrong, Clark, we know that. I expected the last of my family to take me in and take care of me, but he gave me away instead. And what was it you said to Jeremiah? What was the statement you whispered under your breath because you assumed I was too overwhelmed to hear you?”

Clark’s face fell, and Kara clenched her fists.

“Go on,” she gritted out. “Say it the same way you did all those years ago.”

Clark swallowed and said, “I am not my cousin’s keeper.”

“Exactly, Clark, you are not my keeper. Yet you pushed me to be human so that I could fit in. You made me want to be you because you never gave me a chance to be anything but you.”

Kara pushed him out of frustration.

“But I was never meant to be human, Clark! The only good thing you ever did was to put me with the Danvers. They let me make mistakes and taught me what it meant to be loved unconditionally. They have proven to be more worthy of that crest than you ever have. So, fuck you! Fuck you and all that you stand for, Kal-El. You don’t get to come in here and make demands of me when you couldn’t be man or alien enough to protect me when I needed you the most! I watched our planet disintegrate. I was lost in darkness for decades while you were down here playing Farmer John. So do not stand here and accuse me of being anything less than what I am. I am Kara Zor-El, a survivor of Krypton and the daughter of Zor-El and Alura Zor-El. I am the one with the hero’s heart. Me, not you, and yet you dare to question me over the very thing that I am?”

Kara gripped Clark’s suit directly over the crest and brought him forward. She could hear the tension in the room growing to an uncomfortable level. Alex’s heart was racing out of fear, and that was the only reason Kara pushed Clark away from her. She stood tall and looked him in the eyes.

“You might be blood, cousin, but you have never treated me like family. All you did was try to change me and tell me what I needed to do to fit in like you, and I will always remember that. The lessons you taught me were valuable, yes, but they were as empty as your promise to be there for me when I needed you the most. So, while I will honor our pact to protect this world, I say this with as much emphasis as when you told Jeremiah you were not my keeper. Get the fuck out of my city, Kal-El, or I will show the world who truly represents our House.”

Clark was gone before she ever finished. Kara’s body trembled, and she felt a familiar presence behind her. Alex wrapped her arms around Kara’s neck, and then they were gone. Kara flew blindly, letting her emotions take her to Midvale, and she nearly crashed into their childhood home. Kara managed to land in their backyard without causing too much damage, and Alex jumped down. Kara heard a loud roaring in her ears that grew in volume until everything went silent. She dropped to her knees, and she didn’t know she was screaming until Eliza appeared in front of her. Eliza placed Kara’s hand over her heart and connected their foreheads. And like the slightest whisper -

“Breathe.”

Kara took in a deep breath, and sound returned to her as if she’d been underwater. She heard everything from the wheels of the grocery carts at the market downtown to Alex talking to J’onn on the phone. She listened to the planes fly overhead, the cars on the highway, and the squirrels that sprinted across the trees. Kara whined under her breath, and someone covered her ears.

“Find me,” Eliza said softly.

Kara strained to hear her mother’s heartbeat. Everything was so loud, but finally, she found it. The familiar rhythm was the only thing Kara heard. Her shoulders slumped forward, and she was exhausted.

“Momma,” she murmured.

“I know, baby. Go on and rest, okay? We’ll take care of you.”

Kara nodded and closed her eyes. The last thing she felt was Alex kissing her on the forehead, and the rest of the world faded into the background.


Kieran opened her balcony door out of surprise. Kara was half-hidden in the shadows, but it was clearly her. Not Supergirl. She had on fuzzy socks, sweatpants, and what looked to be a Pokémon hoodie.

“May I come in?”

“It depends. Are you here to arrest me?”

Kara pushed off the railing and stepped into the light of Kieran’s penthouse. Kieran froze at the look in her eyes, and she moved to the side once she collected herself. Kara bowed her head as she walked past, heading into her home toward her couch. Kieran locked her door and shut the blinds. Kara sat down and rubbed her eyes.

“How long have you known?” she asked.

“Since the day we met. I always knew Clark was Superman, and his cousin is the mysterious Kara Danvers who shows up in town at the same time as Supergirl? I have three degrees and graduated from MIT at eighteen, Kara. Give me some credit.”

“I always did, even when it seemed like I wasn’t.”

“You had me investigated because I had a small amount of Kryptonite.”

“Wouldn’t you have done the same thing if you were me?”

“I would have trusted you to tell me the truth if I asked why you had it. You never asked. And you gave me this big spiel about how I wasn’t like my brother, how I could make a new name for myself in National City. Then you turn around and accuse me of being exactly like Lex.”

Kara nodded and leaned down over on her knees.

“You’re right, and I owe you an apology. You have been nothing but incredible, and I should have extended to you the same courtesy that you gave to me when you first saw me as Supergirl.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“All my life, I had heard about how your family was bad news. I was wary of you. After all, Clark trusted Lex. But I’m not Clark, and you’re not Lex. We’re two different people with different beliefs, goals, and expectations. It was wrong of me to put your brother’s legacy on your shoulders just as it would be wrong of you to put my cousin’s on mine.”

“Is that why you changed your look?”

“You could say I’m taking your advice.”

“I’ve said a lot of wise things to you. You have to be more specific.”

“Do try to be less humble while you’re with me.”

“Well, I can certainly try. But seriously, what did I say that caused this?”

“I’m an alien.”

“Oh, how disappointing.”

Kara grinned and smacked her on the leg.

“I’m being serious, Lena.”

“Kieran.”

“What?”

“If we’re going to have a moment of transparency and vulnerability, I would rather you call me Kieran.”

“Okay, I can do that.”

“Thank you. Now, please, continue.”

“I’ve spent so long attempting to be human that I was starting to lose sight of who I am. I am an alien. My beliefs are of another planet. My culture is not found in any history book down here, and that is something to be celebrated. I was hiding behind that suit, behind my cousin, and I decided to branch out on my own.”

“It is a bold decision, I can tell you that. And why the hair?”

“Not you too. I didn’t just spend the last two days with my mother giving me the same speech to get it from you also.”

“You’ve been gone for two days? Who’s been saving all those cats stuck in the trees?”

“Cute. And I have backup plans for when I need to leave. But yes, I’ve been home with Alex and my mother. I had what Alex calls a system overload, and my mother is best equipped to handle them.”

“What is that?”

“I have moments where everything is too much, and my body shuts down. It only happens when I get angry.”

“So, you’re like the Hulk just with emotions?”

Kara blinked slowly at Kieran, and she said, “If all you’re going to do is tease me-

“No! That was- I was serious,” Kieran said shyly. “Sometimes, I have to make analogies in my head, so I can understand someone.”

Kara brought her legs to her chest and turned to face Kieran.

“You’re an actual dork. Why have I never noticed that?”

“Sam says it’s normal for me to be socially inept because of my IQ.”

“Did she really call you that?”

“Well, she’s not wrong. There are certain things in this realm that I don’t always understand.”

“In this realm?” Kara repeated, confused.

“You look like Brad Pitt in the early-90s,” Kieran said, changing the subject.

“What an odd answer to my question.”

“Can we please not talk about it?”

“Are you going to ever tell me what you meant?”

“One day. I hope.”

“Are you in danger?”

“No.”

“Are you here to steal our crops and take over our meat supply?”

“What? No.”

“Are you an alien from a planet that no longer exists with an ego the size of Jupiter?”

“We are still talking about me, right?”

Kara winked and settled back against the couch. A stray curl fell in Kara’s face, and Kieran tucked it back where it belonged.

“But the hairstyle works for you,” she said.

“Nia said I looked like a Daddy.”

Kieran took a deep breath before she responded, and she said, “Nia’s rarely wrong about these things. I’m sure some poor teenage girl is drooling over a screenshot of you in your new suit.”

“Gross.”

“To which part?” Kieran teased.

“I don’t want teenagers drooling over me. That’s weird.”

“Then say you’re pro-life or a Yankees fan. That’ll change your target demographic immensely, trust me. Lex lost fifty million dollars in one day when he was spotted wearing an anti-planned parenthood shirt. In his defense, he thought it was an anti-alien group. I had to watch him do damage control for a year before he was able to escape it.”

Kara laughed and ran a hand through her hair subconsciously. Kieran tried to keep her heart from giving her away, but she could tell it wasn’t working.

“Well, it’s clear to me that you did a lot of cutting since we last saw one another. But it suits you.”

Kara fake-scowled and said, “I didn’t know Luthors made puns.”

“I didn’t know Supers were so sensitive.”

“And the dried wine on your wall that you half-heartedly cleaned is from one of your stable moments?”

“Did you come here to apologize or torment me?”

“Both, and to ask if we could give that friendship thing a try.”

“You want to be friends with me?”

“I want to get to know you,” Kara corrected. “Regardless of the label that comes from it.”

“There’s that Jupiter ego of yours.”

“I’m trying to make a habit of not lying to the people I care about. I want something from you. As for what it is, that comes from time and companionship.” 

“Is this the version of you that was hidden behind cardigans and skirts?”

“Do you miss it?”

“You’re sitting in my apartment wearing fuzzy socks and a Pokémon hoodie. I doubt much as changed about your personality and your wardrobe beyond your suit.”

Kara’s eyes took on a crazy glint, and Kieran swallowed her amusement. Maybe she shouldn’t challenge the very different person sitting on her couch. Kara got on her feet in one fluid movement, and she leaned over until they were at eye level. Kieran’s heart did its best impression of a drumline, and Kara smirked.

“Your heart always gives you away,” she whispered.

“Doesn’t mean I won’t make you work for it.”

“You’re worth the wait.” Kara stood up straight and walked backward toward the door. “But I do wonder if you know what you’re getting into. My ego can handle whatever you give me. Can yours?” she asked.

“How about you go home, Supergirl? And take your arrogance with you.”

Kara bowed and rose into the air.

“Goodnight, Kieran.”

And if her heart was doing a drumline before, it flatlined hearing her name come out of Kara’s mouth. She was so screwed.

Chapter Text

“Hello. My name is Carlisle.”

Carlisle stretched out his hand to greet him. Emmett glanced at the hand, then Rosalie, and she nodded. Emmett reached forward and concentrated as he shook Carlisle’s hand. Strength was something that Emmett understood. He knew which pressure points on a man’s neck could be the difference between being paralyzed from the waist down or experiencing a slow and painful death. He knew how hard to press, how long to press, and when to let go. Emmett released Carlisle’s hand. Apparently, it was odd to shake a man’s hand longer than a couple of seconds. Emmett didn’t understand that part. Back at the castle, men would clasp arms and hold hands for as long as they wanted. It was a sign of brotherhood, of respect, and sometimes loyalty.

“He’s a quiet one,” Carlisle said.

“Yes, he can be.”

Rosalie placed her index finger in the center of his back, and Emmett relaxed. They had non-verbal signals with one another. Emmett was still getting the hang of not breathing, not having to move, and he flexed his fingers out of habit. He was trained to be a killer, and then he was reborn into a predator. It wasn’t hard to adjust to his strength or his restraint. Regina, Liana, and Charles taught Emmett everything he needed to know to survive. Emmett surveyed his surroundings, taking in the glass windows, the somewhat plain furniture, and the silence of the trees. There was something serene about Forks, Washington. Regardless, Emmett hadn’t met Rosalie’s family until that moment. She kept him hidden, for the most part, explaining that she wasn’t quite ready for everyone to know she’d changed someone.

“I can’t read his mind.”

Emmett knew that was Edward just from Rosalie’s warning. She told him Edward would attempt to read his mind, and he reassured her that his mind was protected a long time ago. Liana gave them teas to drink when they were younger, special herbs that were supposed to keep their thoughts and desires safe from those who wished to harm them. He never had a chance to see if it worked, but he was glad that it did.

“Is he alright, Rose?” someone whispered.

Rosalie lightly pressed into his back again, and Emmett blinked. He smiled politely at the woman he assumed was Esme, and he bowed at the waist.

“Yes, ma’am, I’m quite alright. I apologize. It would appear I am still getting the handle of having so many sounds and sights happening at once.”

“Oh, of course. Well, it is a pleasure to meet you, Emmett. Rosalie told us very little about you.”

“Yes. It was almost like you were a secret.”

Emmett turned to Edward and said, “She was concerned about your reaction to her saving my life. Though, I cannot imagine why you would have an issue with her doing it.”

“It depends on if it was your time to leave this Earth or not.”

“Rosalie saved me, and I will not allow you to poison her decision with your rhetoric.”

“Edward,” Carlisle intervened. “That’s enough.”

“Would you mind if we went upstairs?” Rosalie asked.

“Of course,” Esme said quickly. “You can pick whatever room you want.”

“I chose the last door on the right,” Edward said. “The rest are free.”

Emmett grunted and followed Rosalie up the stairs. He wasn’t a fan of Edward. The boy reminded him too much of Snow White, and that would be a problem if it didn’t change. Rosalie counted to three and opened the door on the left side of the hallway. It was the exact middle of the house, and Emmett appreciated she remembered that detail. Emmett cocked his head at the empty space and nodded in approval.

“I hope you don’t like pink,” he murmured.

Rosalie pushed him into the room and shut the door. Emmett cracked a smile at the disgruntled look on her face, and he walked in a straight line from the window to the door.

“I prefer orange,” she said.

Emmett paused and thought carefully about what he wanted to say.

“Orange was my sister’s favorite color.”

“I also like blue.”

“Orange is fine. I prefer the rustic style.”

“You want it to look like a barn?”

“Is that what rustic is?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, then no, that is not what I want. I spent too long of my life in a barn and a stable. What do you want the room to look like?”

“I like being comfortable. I grew up with having money, and I would rather not continue that trend.”

“Okay. We can do that.”

“Do you want to build the bed frame?”

“Please. I would like to build something we plan to use with my bare hands.”

“We plan to use it, huh?”

Emmett scrunched his face and said, “How else would we sleep, Rosalie?”

“I feel like you’re being intentionally obtuse.”

Emmett winked and continued his walk around the room.


Rosalie knew that Alice made Emmett uncomfortable, and she slipped her hand in his. Alice and Jasper were speaking with Edward and Carlisle while Esme listened. Rosalie turned and looked up at Emmett. To the family, it was an intimate position. But to Emmett, it was a sign Rosalie was about to be a brat. He narrowed his eyes, and Rosalie’s smile promised a headache if he could get one.

“Let’s go upstairs.”

“Why?” he asked warily.

“Because I missed you. You were gone for such a long time,” Rosalie whined.

Emmett twitched and said, “Would you prefer I starved to death?”

“No. But you can make it up to me with a bath and a back massage?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because you love me.”

“I tolerate you. There is a difference.”

“But Emmy,” she pouted. “I want some alone time with you.”

“Rose, behave.”

“I will bite you.”

“Been there, done that.”

Rosalie playfully snapped her teeth at Emmett, and Emmett pinched her side. She giggled and clamped a hand over her mouth. Everyone turned back to them, and Emmett kept a straight face while Rosalie pretended to pick lint off her shirt. Esme’s eyes twinkled with amusement, but she attempted to be stern. After that, it was pretty easy to see that Alice and Jasper were two people Emmett and Rosalie couldn’t relate to. They were the outsiders in the Cullen coven.

For seven decades, Emmett and Rosalie played their roles so well they almost believed it themselves. Until they got behind closed doors, behind the safety of their soundproofed walls, and the masks slipped away. Emmett bought a ‘my best friend a lesbian’ shirt when Rosalie came out and wore it whenever they were away from the house. He told her stories about his earliest memories to his last. Rosalie told Emmett stories about growing up in Rochester as a Hale, all the expectations she had from the city and her family. But the biggest test of their friendship came when they were away from the family. They had graduated from high school and went to college in Vancouver. They were mid-hunt when Rosalie threw up animal blood. Emmett asked her what was wrong, and Rosalie confessed that living on animal blood made her sick. She told him that she’d always known. Alice’s visions and Edward’s telepathy made it hard for her to do something about it. Emmett told her to hold on and ran to the nearest town. He knew how to get around Alice’s visions. Based on her explanation of how they worked, Emmett needed to make a subconscious decision to hunt a human and buy a gift for Rosalie. Emmett went to the store and bought Rosalie a necklace while he stalked a random man. He bided his time until he snatched the guy off the sidewalk. Emmett ran back to Rosalie, dropped the man in front of her, and turned around while she fed.

Emmett eventually hunted humans with her, so she wouldn’t feel alone, and he found that he was much stronger than before. They found ways to keep their secret. They spent more time away from Carlisle and the others until they had to go to high school together. Rosalie experimented with mixing animal blood and human blood so their eyes wouldn’t give them away. Emmett followed Alice’s advice on investments, the one thing he trusted her over, and he saved his money in a private account. Whatever money he didn’t put away, Emmett bought cars, car parts, microscopes, and old computers for Rosalie. And with the money she set aside, Rosalie bought swords, blades, specialty weapons, and boxing equipment for Emmett. They were a match made in hell, an inside joke because Rosalie refused to believe God had anything to do with their vampirism. Emmett couldn’t see Rosalie as anything other than his best friend, his partner, and his soulmate. But she would never be his mate, and he would never be Rosalie’s.

They were meant to be in each other’s lives as equals, but not lovers, and that was okay with them.


Emmett slinked through the shadows behind the two men. He grabbed them before they stepped under the streetlight and knocked them out. Emmett hefted them over his shoulders and sped through the woods toward the cabin. He jumped onto the balcony and pushed open the door with the tip of his boot. Emmett made a mental note to clean the glass and shut the door with his hip. He connected the men to the machine hanging from the ceiling, something Rosalie built for faster exsanguination, and he turned it on. While the blood drained ran, Emmett stripped off his shoes before walking on the carpet. He systematically undressed, folding his jeans and placing his shirt in the dirty hamper. He picked out a tank top and a pair of shorts, then he closed his closet door and went back into the bedroom. Rosalie came out of her bathroom in her pajamas and jumped on the bed. Emmett noticed that she wore a pair of cut-up basketball shorts. He suspected they were the same shorts that mysteriously went missing from his box two weeks ago.

“I just got off the phone with Carlisle. He wants us back in Forks for some kind of dinner next Saturday.”

“Really?”

“I assume Esme will be cooking, and the event will be at the house since it is large enough to hold fifteen people. Carlisle wants to be more involved with the community.”

“Sounds like it will be a long night. You want to ride or fly?”

“Ride. I need an entire week just to prepare myself for that chaos.”

“Did he give you a time?”

“Seven p.m.”

“Okay. We can leave the day after tomorrow. If we time it right, we can get there right as the dinner starts.”

“This is why I love you.”

Emmett waved off the comment. He double-checked the locks even though he knew, realistically, that no one could get in. They were so far up the mountains that no one could get to them, and their cabin blended into the trees. Emmett had the luxury of transporting the materials up the mountainside, but he didn’t mind. Rosalie deserved as many places as possible on this planet where she could get away, and he would gladly make that happen.

“Alice wants to know why we haven’t had our wedding yet. All mates are supposed to have one.”

“Need I remind you we aren’t mates? And Alice should learn how to mind her business.”

“She just wants an excuse to plan something.”

“You’re gay, Rosalie. Why would we get married?”

“The odds of me finding my mate have lessened over the years. I’m anticipating living alone for the rest of my life.”

“She probably hasn’t been born yet.”

“Okay, no. I do not want to think about possibly being mated to a fetus.”

Emmett snorted and turned off the machine when it ended. He unhooked the men but left them hanging. The blood was separated into two containers, one for him and one for Rosalie, and Emmett sniffed each one. He turned to Rosalie and put his hands on his hips.

“Do you want the AB positive or the A positive?”

“I hate them both,” Rosalie groaned. “But if I have to choose, I’ll take the A positive.”

“Figured. Yours is the one on the right.”

Rosalie slid off the bed and walked to her container. She tightened the lid and carried it out of the room. Emmett did the same, following her downstairs.

“We should sell that invention to other vampires. It’s so much more efficient.”

“Who did you have in mind?”

“I think Felix would appreciate it. As would Aro and the others.”

“Hi, Aro, this is Rosalie Hale. I built a machine that acts as a more efficient blood collection from humans. Yes, I’m still a part of the Olympic Coven. Yes, they are still vegetarian. Yes, I’ll hold.”

“Well, when you put it like that, it sounds stupid.”

“No, I just want to know when to pour the champagne when they agree to it.”

Rosalie flipped him off and dumped her container into her cooler. Emmett copied her actions, and once the containers were empty, he took Rosalie’s and his down to the basement. Emmett sprayed them with water until they were moderately clean and left them to dry. Emmett would clean them properly after he put something on his stomach. Once he got back upstairs, Rosalie had already taken out two bottles for him. She was midway through her first, mindlessly scrolling on her phone, and Emmett hopped on the counter. He stared at the bottle full of blood with the same hesitation, and he again wondered when he found his siblings if they would understand. Would they still love him? Would his Mom still want to be around him? Would he be able to live with knowing that one day they would die before him?

“I’m sorry.”

Emmett looked over his shoulder, and he said, “Don’t apologize, Rose. You saved me.”

“But you didn’t want this life.”

“Neither did you,” he said pointedly. “I would have hated dying that day.”

“But?”

“I’ve told you before that if I could go back in time and keep my family together, I would. I’m not from here, but this is where I am now. I just hope that when we find each other, my family won’t…hate me.”

“They won’t hate you, Em. Your mother saved you from growing up in an orphanage. You were blessed with not one but two mothers and a father. You had two sisters, a cousin, and a grandmother that loved you unconditionally. And you always talked about how growing up in the castle meant that there was never a second where you were alone. That kind of love doesn’t fade. I’m sure it will be an adjustment, but I don’t think they will abandon or hate you. If anything, I’m sure they will be happy that you are still alive.”

“Alive is a relative term.”

“Being a depressed vampire is Edward’s theme, and being a nagging one is mine. Stick with that disgusting optimism, Mills.”

Emmett laughed. After he finished his drinks, Rosalie threw an empty bottle at his head.

“I found a paper by a professor this morning,” she said. “It was published like three months ago, but it’s by someone called H. Wells and I. S.”

“Is?”

“No, I. S. It’s someone’s initials. I guess they didn’t want their full name printed with the paper,” she said. “But anyway, the paper wasn’t scientific, more so science-fiction. This Wells guy hypothesized a device that could split the space-time continuum long enough for an individual to travel from one realm to the next. He speculates there are multiple universes connected to ours that run on similar or identical time frames. Basically, Wells theorized that while it might be, say, October 25th, 2006, in our world, it could be September 23rd, 2016, somewhere else or November 19th, 2011, in another. Wells believes that time is the one non-constant thing in a set of constantly moving variables that operate under an unknown scale of- what? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“If you’ve ever wondered why you’re single, that’s why,” Emmett joked.

Rosalie huffed and said, “I’m sorry that I find the subject fascinating. Plus, this is a good thing! We can go to London and visit this Wells and talk to him about the device. What if he’s already in the process of creating it? We can steal the designs, and I can finish it much faster.”

“Wow, you went from inquisitive to illegal in a matter of seconds.”

“Emmett, I want to help you get back to your family.”

“You seem eager to get me back home.”

“I love having you here, but if your family needs you, I’m not going to be selfish and keep you here longer than you already have been. It would suck without you, but I’ll be okay.”

“Or you can come with me.”

“What?”

“Come with me, Rose. Meet my family and live in a castle, like the pillow princess you are.”

“I told you that in confidence!”

“Why tell me if I can’t tease you about it?” Emmett jumped down and made his way over to Rosalie. He grabbed her arms and squeezed. “But I’m serious. My family would love you.”

“What if we can’t come back?”

“I don’t care. Rose, you were the first person I saw when I opened my eyes. You’re my best friend, and I want to be selfish and take you with me.”

Rosalie chewed on her bottom lip and said, “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Yes,” Rosalie laughed. “I’ll come with you.”

Emmett kissed Rosalie on the cheek and wrapped her in a bear hug.

“Sweet! I love you, bug.”

“I love you too, captain. Always.”


Emmett threw their luggage in the truck and checked the cooler. Rosalie stomped through the snow and leaned over Emmett’s shoulder, frowning.

“Do we have enough without having to hunt for the next week?” she asked.

“With the way you eat? No. I think we have enough to get to Ohio before it becomes an issue.”

“It is not my fault that blood moves through my system so quickly.”

“Yeah, it’s because you’re defective.”

Rosalie smacked Emmett on the back of the head and went around to the driver’s seat.

“Shut up, and get in the car, Emmett Mills.”

“Yes, dear.”


Friday morning, Emmett drove through Wisconsin while Rosalie “slept” in the back. He turned up the song and put the truck in cruise control. They were on the back roads, no rush to get to Forks since they had a little over thirty-six hours before the dinner, and Emmett sipped at the blood smoothie Rosalie made. He glanced at her in the rearview mirror, and he smiled. She was a lot smarter than she let on, brilliant even, but Rosalie grew up in a time where women were meant to breed children and stay at home. She hid her intelligence even after she became a vampire. Emmett found her reading a science journal one night, and she was so terrified he would judge her for it. He asked her to tell him about it, and Rosalie’s smile was more than worth suffering through an in-depth explanation on protons.

Emmett thought she reminded him of Kieran. She was cold at times, her emotions stilted because of her upbringing, but there were moments of warmth. In another lifetime, Emmett would’ve loved to have been her mate. He would’ve treasured her every day, not that he doesn’t already, but it would’ve been different. Emmett vowed to keep her safe until she found the one she was meant to be with, and even then, he would have her best interest at heart. Emmett tapped along to the beat of the song and bobbed his head.

“I’m a straight-shooting, beer-drinking, rule-breaking, don’t think I won’t take a good thing too far,” he sang. “I’m a midnight, backsliding, getaway car driving, running away with your heart. I guess, be careful what you wish for is all I meant when I said what you see is what you get.”

“This is a tragedy.”

Emmett grinned as Rosalie climbed back into the front seat.

“What? You don’t like my voice?”

“I can’t believe you listen to this crap.”

“Hey! Luke Combs is a God, woman. Be respectful.”

“If you value your life, you will never call me woman again. Two, I refuse to be mated to a country bumpkin.”

“I never complain when you play that hard rock shit of yours.”

“Because you are a smart boy.”

“Why are you the way that you are?”

“I can ask you the same thing. Plus, you love me.”

“Unfortunately.”

Rosalie kicked back and pulled a novel from her bookbag. Emmett read the cover – Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - and smiled to himself.

“What?” she asked, holding the book to her chest.

There was a shyness to Rosalie’s voice, even after all the time they’d spent together, and Emmett cupped her cheek.

“Nothing, bug. Read it to me?” he asked.

Rosalie kissed his palm and pushed his hand away. She read, “A screaming comes across the sky.”


Bella smacked Charlie’s hand away from the pie and said, “At least wait until we get there.”

“Can you believe they invited so many humans?”

“I thought you said you didn’t believe they were vampires.”

“Yeah, well. I met that Edwin-

“Edward.”

“-and he gives me the creeps.”

“Me too. But I’ve learned not to piss off someone who could eat me alive.”

“You’re having way too much fun with this.”

“So are you. Go put on your coat.”

“Who are you, my Mom?”

Bella smacked him on the arm as he left and wrapped the pie in foil. She left the pie on the counter and moved to the hall mirror. Bella adjusted her tie and re-tucked her shirt. She had on one of the suits Oliver bought her, a burgundy three-piece, and she wore a black button-down with a pair of burgundy loafers and a matching tie. Charlie came back downstairs with his coat and stopped behind her.

“You look good, kid.”

“Vampirism aside, meeting new people is not fun for me.”

“If you can spend three years with Harrison Wells and company, this dinner will be a cake-walk.”

“As long as you keep Edward away from me.”

“The other kids will be there too.”

“Alice gives me stalker vibes, Jasper looks like he’s always trying not to bite me, and Edward looks at me like I’m his wife. If they’re all the same family, I’ll take my chances with the liquor.”

“If you want to leave, just tap my arm three times, and we’ll go.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“Please don’t call me that until we get to the house. I can’t imagine having kids, especially one like you.”

Bella punched him in the arm as he laughed.


Charlie leaned forward as he searched for the turn he needed.

“Would you like me to ask the trees?” she said.

“It’s a little spooky that you can talk to plants, you know that, right?”

“That’s not the spookiest thing I can do,” she muttered.

“Do I want to know?”

“No.”

Charlie shivered at the tone of her voice, but he made a sound of triumph as he found the driveway and rode down with the headlights on bright. Bella listened to the wind blow through the trees, smiling at the sounds of the leaves brushing against one another, and she closed her eyes. When the car slowed down, Bella opened her eyes and gawked at the massive mansion in front of them. It was clear the mayor and others were already there, but Bella was not expecting the place to be so big.

“Holy shit,” Charlie whispered.

“I know, right?”

Bella nodded in agreement and got out of the car. She handed Charlie the pie with a silent warning, and Charlie stuck out his tongue. The wind blew, and Bella turned toward the trees. She stepped closer to them as their message reached her ears.

‘Danger.’

The rustling seemed to get worse, and Bella held out her hand. The trees went still, and Bella turned to Charlie. He glanced between her and the trees, and he cocked an eyebrow.

“Yeah, still spooky.”

Bella snorted and walked to the door. She didn’t wait for someone to open the door and made her way inside with Charlie behind her. A blonde man turned to them, and Bella knew she’d won the bet. Bella avoided looking at Edward, choosing to focus her attention on the inhumanely beautiful man making his way toward them. If she were interested in men, he would be her first choice. A brunette joined him, and Bella grunted under her breath. Were all vampires insanely gorgeous? Even Edward was attractive.

“Chief Swan! Welcome to my home.”

“Dr. Cullen, Mrs. Cullen, thank you for inviting me,” Charlie said. “This is my daughter, Isabella, who you already know, I’m sure.”

“Call me Carlisle, and this is Esme. And yes, my children mentioned meeting her the other day. It’s a pleasure to formally meet you, Isabella.”

“Bella,” she corrected politely. “And it’s an honor to meet you as well. Your home is so beautiful.”

“Oh, this is for you,” Charlie said, handing Esme the pie. “Bella made it.”

“That’s sweet. I’ll go put it with the other dessert,” Esme said, walking away.

“It’s no problem,” Bella said. Under her breath, she added, “It’s not like you guys are going to eat it anyway.”

Carlisle gave Bella an odd look. She faked a frown of confusion, and he cleared his throat. Carlisle gestured to the spread of food in the kitchen.

“Have as much as you like,” he said.


Emmett puffed out his cheeks when he saw the ‘Welcome to Forks’ sign and glanced over at Rosalie. They had changed into their dinner wear, a red dress for Rosalie and a black turtleneck-black slack combination for him, and they rode through town slowly.

“Hey, so, apparently, Edward has a crush on the chief’s daughter.”

“What?”

“Yeah, Jasper texted me and told me she works at the library. They bonded over Tchaikovsky.”

“Oh, great. The last thing I want to do is watch Edward and his female counterpart talk violin arrangements all night. What was her name?”

“He didn’t say. He zoned out when Edward started talking about it. I guess we’ll find out tonight, right?”

“I still think it’s gross.”

“Ten bucks she wears glasses and a cardigan.”

“No, deal. That’s a waste of money.”

Rosalie grinned and sped up once the clock finally struck 6:59. They would be at the house in less than ten minutes, and that was more than enough time to get to the dinner at a reasonably late time.


Bella was desperately glad that someone brought alcohol. She was on her second glass of wine. Edward attempted to monopolize her time, but Charlie kept his promise. He steered her around the room expertly, keeping her distracted with conversations with people he’d apparently known for a long time, and Bella smiled and nodded at the right moments.

‘More danger.’

Bella twitched as she was alerted to more vampires, and she assumed it was the missing Cullen kids. She drained her glass and went to get another one. Bella could not stomach another hour of the dinner. It was boring, but it seemed like everyone loved the Cullen family. Bella poured her third glass and drank half of it before she went back into the main room. She had a high enough tolerance to recite Canterbury Tales in its original form with two bottles of wine in her system. Bella was well on her way to that state. She had her head down as she made her way to Charlie, and she looked up when the door opened.

Bella was glad Charlie had great reflexes because he caught her wine glass before it hit the floor. Her entire existence boiled down to one thing, and Bella struggled to breathe. Blonde hair, floor-length red dress with a thigh slit that stopped at an inappropriate height, and red-painted lips curled in an unimpressed scowl. Bella trailed her eyes up until she met a pair of golden irises that dilated the moment their eyes met. Bella’s heart was in her throat. She was ruined for everyone else, and Bella would die if she couldn’t at least know that beautiful creature’s name. She was moving away from Charlie, her wine glass still in his hand, and Bella sidestepped Edward. She approached the blonde with her hand outstretched, and she said the first thing that came to mind-

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

The blonde’s eyes widened, and she grabbed Bella’s hand. Her grip was cold but soft, and Bella smiled when she felt the competing emotions. There was confusion, fear, and happiness, but there was infatuation there as well. Bella didn’t care about the eyes on her or the whispers. All she cared about was knowing the woman’s name.

“What’s your name?”

“Rosalie.”

“Like a rose. How fitting.” Bella kissed the back of Rosalie’s hand. “My name is-

“Isabella?”

Bella’s head snapped to the side, and the rest of the world filtered in slowly as she looked at the person who she only saw in her dreams. She dropped Rosalie’s hand in shock.

“Emmett?”

Chapter Text

Bella’s heart leaped into her throat. It was definitely her brother, albeit a paler and possibly undead creature of the night version, but it was Emmett. Bella wasn’t ready to announce to the ‘who’s who’ of Forks, Washington, that she was from another realm, and Bella doubted Emmett wanted to reveal his not-so-human status. Bella blurted out the first thing that popped into her head.

“Thanks for helping me with my car last month! Um, when I broke down on my way to New York.”

Emmett gave a startled laugh before saying, “Oh, it’s no problem. I’m just glad you passed through Middlebury when you did.”

“I was trying to take the scenic route, but I think I got a bit too scenic. Took me hours to get back on track, but you were a big help.”

“As I said, it was no problem. Most people coming from Montreal tend to know their way around Vermont, though.”

Montreal? Jesus, where the fuck was their school?

Bella’s laugh was too high-pitched, but they were way too deep at that point. She said, “Yeah, I’m not well-versed in travel rules and maps. I took a flight from London to Montreal as a side-trip before coming home. I figured I could just hop on the interstate and visit Saratoga Springs, but I guess I hopped wrong.”

Emmett was having way too much fun with it, and he folded his arms.

“Did you ever make it?” he asked.

“After the car thing, I kind of rode to the nearest rental place to return the car and came home.”

“That’s a shame. Saratoga’s pretty nice this time of year.”

“I’m sure it is,” Bella gritted out.

“Oh, wait, is this the girl you were talking about, Em?” Rosalie asked. “Shredded tire, walking down the road-

“With a million coats on? Yeah, this is her,” Emmett said.

“Okay, first of all, it wasn’t a million coats,” Bella huffed. “And second of all, you told her?”

“I told her everything,” Emmett said.

Bella blinked and wondered if they were still talking about the fake story or if he meant their past life.

“Emmett told me all about how you weren’t used to being away from your sister for so long,” Rosalie said.

Okay, they were talking about the real story. Bella had a headache and was not sober enough to continue the conversation. Unfortunately, she didn’t hear Charlie come up behind her, so she jumped when he grabbed her the shoulder.

“Wear a bell, will you?” Bella exclaimed.

Charlie rolled his eyes and held out his hand to Emmett. Emmett stiffened a bit, but he shook Charlie’s hand.

“Thanks for helping her,” he said. “She can be a mess with cars.”

“It was no problem, sir. She was decent enough to know how to open the trunk.”

Bella’s hand twitched, and she said, “I think we can move on from this conversation.”

“I’m just saying. You’re lucky Emmett isn’t a serial killer.”

“He’s something alright,” Bella muttered. In a louder voice, she added sarcastically, “But yes, I was very blessed Emmett was driving down that road when he was. Who knows where I would be today?”

“You’re laying it on thick now, kid,” Charlie snorted.

Bella glared at him, and she said, “Weren’t you mingling with the Chief of Firefighters about some benefit?”

“Oh, you’re right.”

Charlie ran off to continue his conversation, and that jumpstarted everyone else. People moved on from Emmett, Bella, and Rosalie, and the trio managed to keep their smiles at bay. Emmett tugged on his ear twice, and Bella got the message to not say anything revealing.

“Had I known you came from a rich family, I wouldn’t have let you run me off so easily,” she said.

“And that’s why I kept quiet. No one ever wants to be friends with the rich kid for the right reasons,” Emmett joked. “My family’s a little unorthodox, but I missed them.”

Bella softened and said, “I know the feeling. I had a brother that I hadn’t seen in years, but we recently reunited.” 

“I’m glad.” Emmett then got a weird glint in his eyes. “So, you’re the Chief’s daughter? I think you met my brother, Edward? He mentioned something about Tchaikovsky.”

Bella should’ve known that brief interaction would become front-page news.

“I’m a bit of a classical nut,” she said with a fake smile.

“You made his afternoon.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Rosalie elbowed Emmett in the side and said, “Don’t be rude, Emmett. How about we re-introduce Isabella to the rest of our siblings? I’m sure they’d like to meet her again as the woman you saved from an untimely death.”

“What a wonderful idea, Rosalie.”

“I should get back to-

“Nonsense,” Emmett said. “We insist.”

“Of course, you do.”

Bella kept the smile on her face as she approached the other three Cullen siblings. She’d technically already met Edward and Alice in passing. Jasper was a mysterious stranger whenever Alice was around, but Bella didn’t need to meet them officially. She was content staying out of their way the entire evening while navigating the shitstorm that was her life.

“Hi, I’m sure you know after the other day, but I’m Alice.”

“Nice to meet you again.” Bella glanced at Alice’s outstretched hand and frowned apologetically. “Sorry, I try to avoid touching people’s hands,” she said. “It’s a germ thing.”

Bella hoped no one mentioned that the first thing she did was shake Rosalie’s hand when she came in, but Alice took it in stride.

“It’s alright!”

Jasper inclined his head, his hands staying behind his back, and he said, “Pleasure to meet you, Bella.”

Something about Jasper made Bella’s brain itch, and she said, “Same to you.”

Edward was the last one, and the look on his face made Bella regret ever leaving her wine with Charlie.

“I find it fascinating you met Emmett in Vermont a month ago,” he said.

“You would find mold on a slice of bread fascinating,” Rosalie deadpanned.

Bella snorted and covered her mouth.

“I’m only saying that the story has a few holes,” he gritted out.

“Other than the fact we met in Middlebury, Vermont?” Bella asked wryly.

“Yes. Considering a month ago, Emmett and Rosalie were in Boston.”

Bella shrugged.

“It could’ve been last month or the month before last. I’m a bit challenged when it comes to time.”

“Or a proficient liar.”

“Why, Edward Cullen, you would have to buy me a drink before sweet-talking me like that.”

Jasper’s shoulders shook with silent laughter while Alice hid her smile behind her hand. Edward scowled and gestured to the kitchen.

“Then may I pour you another glass of wine?” he asked.

“I never say no to a free drink. It’s how I ended up with my tattoo.”

“You have a tattoo?” Emmett and Rosalie asked in unison.

“Uh, no?”

“That was almost as believable as your Vermont story,” Edward said.

“Weren’t you pouring me a glass of wine before sweet-talking me?”

Edward gestured for her to go first, and Bella walked into the kitchen with Edward right behind her. Once they were alone, Bella grabbed a fresh glass from the cabinet and handed it to Edward. She watched him pour enough to make the conversation bearable, and Bella took it from him.

“What the fuck is your issue?”

“I’m just confused on why you would lie about how you know Emmett,” he said.

“Does it matter? I know him, he knows me, and that’s that.”

“Emmett’s not a cheater.”

“I- whoa, no. Ew, Emmett and I are not dating. Why would you even say that?”

“He-

“Carlisle needs you, Edward,” Alice interrupted them.

“Why?”

“He didn’t say.”

Edward sighed and walked out of the kitchen. Alice was gone before Bella could say anything else, and she frowned.

What the hell was that about?


Emmett and Rosalie vanished upstairs to their room to put away their luggage. With soundproofed walls and windows, no one heard Rosalie scream in frustration.

“Out of all the fucking people,” she muttered. “It had to be your sister!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your sister.”

“What about her?”

“Your. Sister.”

“Just because you keep- wait, my sister?” Emmett asked.

“Yes,” Rosalie whined. “Her. That one downstairs with the hair and the muscles and the tie, and I’m going to be sick.”

“My sister?” he repeated. “Seriously?”

“You think I did it on purpose?” she hissed. “I didn’t know her from a stranger on the street until ten minutes ago when she quoted my favorite book at me without realizing it!”

“Pride and Prejudice really shouldn’t be your favorite book.”

“Emmett!”

“I’m processing.”

“You? What about me? I’m the one who just found her mate, a mate that is my fake mate’s sister, and someone who will ruin our seven-decade secret.”

“One of those things is not like the other.”

“Emmett!”

“Look, sit down.” Rosalie plopped down on the bed, and Emmett kneeled in front of her. He said, “Am I thrilled about it? Not in the least. I’m very protective, and no one will ever be good enough for her. Not even you, but could it be worse? Yes. Will I adjust? Yes. Will I kill you if you ever make her cry for any negative reason or break her heart? Undoubtedly. Will I be your best man at your wedding should your relationship have a happy ending? I better be. And that’s that, Rose. I am happy for you, I am, and I will give you hell for the next couple of days. But enjoy this. You’ve been through so much, and now that you have a chance to be happy? Take it. Or I’ll shove it down your throat.”

Rosalie let out a breathless laugh and dropped her forehead onto his.

“You’re the worst,” she whispered.

“I know,” Emmett whispered back, kissing Rosalie on the cheek.


Her brother was alive.

Bella’s heart was beating so loud she couldn’t hear the conversation between Charlie and his lieutenant. Without the safety net of denial, Bella’s lungs burned with each breath. Charlie’s arm draped over her shoulder was the only thing keeping her grounded. He felt nothing but pride and affection for the woman he was speaking to, and Bella made a mental note to trick him into asking the woman out. Charlie was a hopeless romantic and a hopeless mess. Emmett and Rosalie came back downstairs, and Bella’s emotions spiked. Bella wasn’t sure how to react to knowing her brother was a vampire. Kieran would have the time of her life, as would Ruby, but Bella was confused. How did Emmett become a vampire? How long had he been with the Cullens? How did Emmett go from tossing himself through a portal after their sister to a dinner party in Forks, Washington? Something went wrong that day, and the being standing on the other side of the room wasn’t her Emmett anymore. Not completely. He was an entirely new creature with demons that went far beyond Bella’s.


It was about eleven p.m. when Bella sighed under her breath and made her way into the kitchen. She grabbed the somewhat empty bottle she’d been drinking the entire night and decided to drink the rest without a glass. Bella was very close to being drunk, and most of it had to do with the way Rosalie had been skirting around her all night. Bella didn’t know how to breathe when Rosalie was nearby, and Emmett certainly didn’t help. He found every excuse in the book to walk away, leaving Bella with Rosalie, and not a single thing was said between them. Rosalie was waiting on something, and Bella had to consciously focus on speaking English and not Latin. She was embarrassing herself.

There was the sound of heels behind her, and Bella cursed whatever deity was listening because there was a warning bell attached to those heels. Sure enough, Bella turned as Rosalie glided across the kitchen. She had the distinct impression she was being hunted. Not for a meal, but for something far worse. Or better. Bella wasn’t sober enough to know the difference. The closer Rosalie got, the more Bella’s mouth watered as she smelled cinnamon and something that reminded her of her home. Specifically, the smell of the banana muffins that Granny made on Saturday mornings.

What the hell was happening?

Rosalie stopped less than a foot away, and Bella started having heart palpitations. Rosalie’s eyes flickered down to her chest in concern, and Bella had an awful realization. Rosalie could hear her heartbeat.

“Oh, fuck me,” she muttered.

Rosalie’s eyes traveled back up slowly, her eyebrow arched, and Bella wondered if she should throw herself from the roof. She’d lived long enough.

“Are you alright, Isabella?”

Bella decided then and there, no one else on the planet could say her name, not even her family. Bella would fight her siblings in a hurricane in the middle of monsoon season with no magic before she let them call her Isabella. Rosalie’s lip curled in amusement at her lack of response, and Bella tried to calm her heart.

“I’m fine,” Bella lied.

Rosalie hummed in acknowledgment, not necessarily believing her, and she plucked a strawberry off the fruit platter. Rosalie placed it against her lips, the red contrasting with the shade painted on her lips, and Bella couldn’t look away even if she wanted to. Rosalie bit into the strawberry, sharp white teeth piercing the fruit, and Bella watched the juice trail down Rosalie’s chin until she wiped it away.

Charlie might’ve been a mess, but Bella was a hopeless, gay mess, and that was far worse. Women were beautiful at all times, but Rosalie was exquisite in all ways. Bella felt the bottle grow warm in her hand, but she didn’t think anything of it until something cracked. They looked down in unison to see wine dripping to the floor. Bella sighed and moved the bottle to the sink. Rosalie threw the strawberry away, and she ripped a paper towel off the rack and grabbed Bella’s wrist. There was another influx of emotions that pulsed through Bella, a mixture of fear, affection, and hope as Rosalie cleaned the wine off her hand. There was a subtle hint of possession underneath it all, and it felt dark. Not dark in a scary way, but dark in the kind of way that would bring Bella to her knees if Rosalie so much as asked for it.

Bella looked up and noticed Rosalie wasn’t cleaning the wine anymore. It was clear her mind was elsewhere. Bella wished she could control her power. It wasn’t always a breach of privacy, but rather a form of communication where Bella could know what someone wanted from her. But with Rosalie, it felt intrusive. Bella grimaced and moved her hand. Rosalie finally lifted her head. The air grew thick with a different kind of tension once their eyes met. Gold had never been Bella’s favorite color, but whatever shade Rosalie’s eyes were when the light hit them was imprinted forever in her mind.

“I am here, and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder,” Rosalie whispered.

Her voice was so low that Bella almost thought she imagined it, but fear and anticipation skyrocketed between them. Bella sucked in a breath. It felt like someone had wrapped a rope around her heart and pulled her forward. She had Rosalie backed into the counter by the time her brain caught up with her actions. Rosalie’s gaze darkened to almost black, a warning that Bella ignored as she tucked Rosalie’s hair behind her ear. Bella didn’t speak, afraid to break the moment, and her finger traced the outline of Rosalie’s jaw. She cupped Rosalie’s face, brushed her thumb across her cheek, and Bella decided then and there the rest of the world could disappear. Someone leaned in. Bella didn’t know if it was Rosalie or her, but one of them did. The closer their lips got, the more Bella had this all-encompassing, overwhelming, she-would-die-if-she-didn’t need that took over her entire being. Rosalie’s lips parted, an almost silent whimper escaping, and then Bella met air. She turned to find Rosalie on the other side of the kitchen. Bella’s hurt was replaced by annoyance as Edward came around the corner. Bella hid her hands in her pockets as they started to smoke. It wouldn’t do well to burn down the house from sexual frustration.

Or whatever that was.

No words were spoken as Rosalie brushed past Edward. When Edward looked at Bella, he had this look in his eyes. Like pity.


When the clock hit one in the morning, the crowd had dwindled to the mayor as he said his goodbye to Carlisle and Esme. Bella sat near the piano, her fingers glossing over the keys without pressure. Charlie was on the loveseat behind her. Alice, Rosalie, and Esme cleaned up the food while Emmett helped Edward move the furniture around with Jasper.

“Goodnight, Charlie. See you tomorrow,” the mayor said.

“Night, Bowman,” Charlie said. “Get home safe.”

The mayor tipped his hat and walked out of the home. Bella caught Rosalie’s eye as the door closed, and she started playing. Rosalie gave up pretenses and relaxed against the wall, watching her play. Bella grinned and looked down out of habit as if she could see the melody come to life. Fantasia No.3 in D Minor filled the room, and Bella grew more comfortable as the song went on. It shocked Charlie when she started playing at a small bar in Port Angeles. But her secret talent made Harrison furious after Bella jokingly played Gaspard de la Nuit after a few glasses of wine. Bella reminded Harrison she wasn’t from his realm and added that becoming a piano prodigy wasn’t in her five-year plan. Bella told him about how the King would have live music during his feasts, and Bella met the composer with Regina’s help. She would play the keys every night, fingers stiff and numb by the time she finished, but Bella never gave up. She lost herself for a moment, a slight stumble as she slipped into her memories.

Bella was in the ballroom with Kieran. They sat on the bench together while Bella played soft melodies, unfinished pieces that she wrote herself. Kieran laid her head on her shoulder, a book of poetry forgotten in her lap, and she would close her eyes.

“Can you play Mama’s song, Ignis?” Kieran would whisper.

“Of course, Gelu.”

Bella then switched into something slow and haunting, a piece she composed after Liana’s death, and the sound filled the room.

She hadn’t realized she’d been playing the song in reality until cold hands touched hers, stopping her mid-melody. Bella released a broken sob, old wounds ripping open in the middle of some strangers’ living room, and she was lifted off the bench. Emmett held her in an unflinching embrace.

“It’s okay, Ignis,” Emmett whispered in her ear.

Bella sniffed and gripped Emmett’s shirt. She chased the song away until it was buried back in the depths of her mind, and she went slack in Emmett’s arms once the noise was gone.

“You with me?” he asked.

“Always, Tellus,” she sighed.

“Good.”

Bella had no warning before Emmett swept her off the ground and spun her in wide circles. Her excited squeals echoed in the home until he finally put her down. Emmett held her out in front of him and looked her over.

“Wait, how old are you?” he asked.

“It’s rude to ask a woman’s age, Emmett,” Bella scolded, mimicking Regina.

Emmett’s laugh was as booming as she remembered, and he gave her a faux-scolding look.

“If you must know, I’m twenty-three,” she said.

Over Emmett’s shoulder, Rosalie bit her lip and looked away. Bella filed that reaction for later when Emmett pulled her back into his arms. Bella tucked her face into his neck and breathed in his scent. Unlike Rosalie, Emmett smelled like smoke and metal—like home.

“I’ve missed you so much.” Emmett tightened his hold when her voice cracked, and Bella added, “Also, am I supposed to keep pretending that you aren’t a vampire?”

Someone made a noise of surprise, but Bella ignored them. Emmett snorted and squeezed her waist, pulling her away. He gave her that same look he used to give her when she said something inappropriate for a ‘girl her age.’

“You could have pretended a little bit longer,” he said.

“Where would be the fun in that?”

“How do you know what we are?” Edward asked, stepping forward.

“There is no plausible explanation for Emmett sharing your same eye color, same skin tone, and same inhumane beauty. He was a goofy-looking kid with brown eyes and a tan the last time I saw him.”

“No, I wasn’t,” Emmett huffed, knocking his knuckles against Bella’s head.

The hit wasn’t what hurt, but rather it was the location. Bella had hit her head on the edge of the cabinet while looking for black pepper, and it was still sore. She hissed in pain and moved away from his hand, and Emmett panicked. She was about to tell him it was okay when Rosalie appeared. She pressed her fingers against the spot, the pressure almost non-existent, but Bella wouldn’t lie. The cool touch alleviated the pain immediately, and Bella would’ve missed Rosalie’s question had she not been hyper-focused on her lips.

“Are you okay?” Rosalie asked.

“I hit my head on the cabinet this morning-

“Again?” Charlie interrupted.

Bella twisted to look at him and said, “It doesn’t happen that often.”

“You hit your head on that cabinet at least three times a week.”

“Then fix it!”

“Or you can just duck just like I do,” he said.

“God, you’re insufferable.”

“Um, excuse me?”

Bella, Charlie, Rosalie, and Emmett turned to Alice. Bella had again forgotten they had an audience, and Rosalie’s hand fell from her head.

“Would someone mind telling us what’s going on?” Alice asked.

“With all due respect, it’s none of your business.”

“Ignis,” Emmett sighed.

“What? I’m not going to tell them, are you?”

“That wasn’t in the plans, no,” Emmett answered. “But you could have said that a different way.”

“Sorry, Mom,” she scoffed.

“And that is why you were always in trouble.”

“Why do you call her Ignis?” Carlisle asked.

“Bella’s got a fiery temper.”

Rosalie heaved a sigh and smacked Emmett on the arm. Bella and Charlie snickered and shared a fist bump. Rosalie hit Bella too, and Bella’s smile turned into a pout. Charlie made a whipping sound and froze when Rosalie looked at him. He cleared his throat and pretended to check his phone.

 “Does Rosalie know?” Alice asked.

“Rosalie knows everything, yes,” Emmett said.

“Wow, dude. The first pretty blonde you meet, and you spill all your beans, huh?” Bella teased.

“I couldn’t resist her charm.”

“She is standing right here,” Rosalie reminded them. “And she doesn’t appreciate being referred to in the third person.”

“Sorry, babe,” Emmett said.

“Babe?” Bella repeated. “Wait, are you two together? Like together-together? I was kidding!”

Three things happened at that moment: Rosalie physically curled in on herself and flinched, Emmett’s face twisted into discomfort, and Bella jumped away from them. Some sort of whine bubbled in her chest that she forced back down her throat, and it felt like her entire world had shifted under her feet.

“Oh. I- fuck, I’m sorry. Why didn’t you – cool. Uh, congrats,” Bella stammered.

“Ignis-

“No, no, it’s fine! You two make a great couple!”

“Isabella-

That time it, was Rosalie, but Bella moved away and let out an uncomfortable laugh. Why did it feel like she’d swallowed volcanic ash? She suddenly couldn’t breathe, but before Emmett could react, Jasper was there. He grabbed Bella’s face. Immediately, Bella’s senses were overridden by his. Their eyes met, and Bella exhaled. Her breathing slowed, and she tapped Jasper on the wrist once she was in her right mind again. Jasper released her and returned to his spot by Alice’s side. Rosalie and Emmett had gone back into their silent conversation, but Bella still felt too nauseous to navigate that. Charlie handed her a glass of water.

“Thanks,” she said hoarsely.

“Only you would almost die from a panic attack.”

Bella glared at him before she turned to Jasper and said, “I didn’t know vampires could be empaths.”

“Tactile empaths rarely recognize other empaths, regardless of what they are.”

“Oh, that’s why you didn’t shake my hand,” Alice said to Bella.

“It’s annoying at times to touch someone and know every single thing they feel.” Bella glanced at Rosalie and added, “Sometimes.”

Rosalie’s smile was shaky, and Bella grimaced. She turned back to Jasper.

“How did you even know?”

“When you touch someone, your emotions don’t disappear. They simply fade into the background. So, earlier, when you grabbed Rosalie’s hand-

“Uh, you don’t have to talk about that,” Bella said quickly.

“-your fascination with her didn’t vanish,” he finished. “It was simply muted while her emotions took over. I felt the shift and took a risk. Also, Emmett, you should probably tell her the truth.”

“You knew?” Emmett asked.

“Of course, I did.”

Emmett sighed. He glanced apologetically at Bella and said, “Rose and I aren’t together. We’re just friends. I call her babe all the time out of habit, and I’m sorry I gave you the wrong impression.”

Bella short-circuited.

“What?” she asked dumbly.

“Hold on, you two aren’t mates?” Esme asked.

Emmett didn’t answer, his attention solely on Bella, but Esme’s question triggered some kind of reaction in everyone. Edward seemed the most upset, and Charlie seemed curious as he stared between Bella and Rosalie. Bella, however, didn’t know what any of it meant.

“Mates?” she asked.

“Tell you later,” Emmett said.

“Jasper, why didn’t you say anything?” Alice asked.

“How many other lies have you two been hiding from us?” Edward huffed.

“Why did you two pretend for so long?” Esme asked.

Bella gave up trying to have a conversation. Knowing that Emmett and Rosalie were friends shifted her world back on its axis, and she glanced at Rosalie again. The blonde’s smile was sweeter, and Bella blushed. She shook out her hair to hide her face. Charlie snorted at her, and she elbowed him in the side. Carlisle cleared his throat, and the room went silent.

“The story about how you two met was a lie?” he asked Emmett.

“Yes, but Bella is a damsel in distress. She gets herself in the worst situations.”

“I think you might be confusing me with Gelu,” Bella said dryly.

“No, Gelu thinks later, acts first. You don’t think at all.”

“Rude.”

Carlisle cleared his throat again and said, “Yes, well, clearly there is history between you two. And I do believe we are entitled to some answers.”

“Entitled is the appropriate word,” Bella drawled.

“Isabella,” Emmett said. “Enough.”

“But-

“I will handle it.”

Bella scowled and glared at the ground. Emmett shook his head and looked at Carlisle.

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t something that we can share with everyone. We must keep this as close as possible because it affects more than us.”

“But you’ve been lying to us for decades,” Edward argued. “And the Chief knows what we are, and our secret-

“What secret?” Bella said. “As much as you guys probably try to blend in, you can’t. It’s impossible. I didn’t even need to know the story of the Cold Ones to see that you guys aren’t-

“Normal?” Edward guessed.

“Flawed,” Bella corrected. “Because humanity is a collection of individuals who are intrinsically flawed and broken and hurt and angry. I would’ve known the moment I arrived that you all weren’t like me.”

Jasper shifted to the side, a look of sympathy and understanding on his face, and the room descended into silence. Bella realized she’d said too much about her mental state. The entire evening caught up with her. Seeing Emmett again, meeting Rosalie, thinking of Kieran, and a bunch of other small things made her emotional state fracture. Bella could feel herself falling, and she wasn’t ready to tackle the thoughts in her mind, especially with super hearing vampires in her vicinity. Bella squeezed Charlie’s arm three times. Charlie took out his keys without a second thought, and Bella glanced at Emmett.

“I’m going home.”

Emmett was about to argue when he saw the look in her eyes. Bella could read the guilt on his face, and she looked away. Bella turned to Jasper. She placed her hand on his neck and sent him her gratitude and respect. His shock was the most prominent emotion, and Bella grinned. She dropped her hand. Jasper’s smile was radiant as he tipped an imaginary cowboy hat in her direction. Bella nodded politely at Carlisle, Esme, and Alice. She forced herself not to look at Emmett and Rosalie, knowing she would spill her soul to them if she did. Bella made her way to the door to wait for Charlie, and Charlie, ever the awkward cop, cleared his throat.

“Uh, thanks for the invitation,” he said to Carlisle.

“Thank you for coming.”

Carlisle’s tone was polite but detached. Charlie met up with Bella and opened the door. Once they were outside, the emotional fracture grew until it was a chasm. Charlie hurried Bella to the car when she started shaking.

Bella was never built to handle her own emotions.

Just everyone else’s.


Emmett ran a hand over his face.

“Are you going to tell us the truth now?” Edward asked.

“Why do you care so much?”

“I won’t let you or Rosalie play with her emotions!”

“You don’t know the first goddamned thing about her emotions. Plus, she’s off-limits to you.” 

Edward bristled and said, “That depends on her, not you or Rosalie.”

“Isabella is mine,” Rosalie growled.

“You expect me to believe that? Emmett was just your mate fifteen minutes ago!”

“Can we get back to the part where Bella and Charlie know we’re vampires?” Alice asked.

“Alice has a point. Their knowledge of what we are is concerning,” Carlisle said.

“How?” Emmett scoffed.

“She could be a threat to our family.”

“Now’s she a threat?” Emmett asked Edward.

“Okay, I think we should stop before things are said that we might regret,” Rosalie intervened quickly. “Emmett needs to go see Isabella. They have a lot to talk about, and what happens after that is up to them.”

“We both need to talk to her,” Emmett said.

“I can wait.”

“Oh, no. You’re coming with me so you can tell Isabella how she’s yours to her face.”

Rosalie narrowed her eyes and asked, “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Come with me and find out.”

“Emmett, this is ridiculous. Why can’t you tell us anything?” Esme asked.

“Because it is my life.”

“We deserve some explanation and some respect. We took you into our home.”

“I do not owe you anything. Especially my life,” Emmett said to Carlisle. “That title falls to Rosalie.”

“And she would be dead in the streets if it were not for me.”

“Carlisle!” Esme exclaimed.

“No, Esme. Carlisle is correct. I would be dead if it were not for him,” Rosalie said.

“That does not give him the right to say it,” Esme argued.

“But he did.”

“Yes, you saved Rosalie from death. I owe you for that but respect is earned, Carlisle. And all you have done is taught me how to hate what I am, and I cannot respect that.”

Carlisle straightened and faced Emmett directly. Alice stepped between them.

“Please stop,” Alice pleaded.

“No, Alice. I will not be challenged in my own coven. If Emmett cannot honor or respect us by telling something as simple as the truth, then he does not need to be here.”

“But the truth is never simple,” Rosalie sighed. “So please do not make him choose.”

Emmett released Rosalie’s hand and said, “It’s okay, Rose. If that is what Carlisle wishes and desires, then I will honor it.”

“Please don’t do this,” Esme said.

Emmett removed the bracelet around his wrist and placed it on top of the piano.

“Thank you for the years you have given me. I have no regrets being with you, and I will treasure the memories, but I will not betray the family that came before you.”

Emmett kissed the top of Rosalie’s head and walked out of the home. Rosalie stared after him and glanced at Esme, apologetic. The woman seemed to know what Rosalie wanted, and she bowed her head. Rosalie touched the crest around her neck. She sighed and placed it next to Emmett’s bracelet.

“Rose?”

“I’m sorry, Alice, I can’t.”


Charlie and Bella sat in the car with the engine off. The wine caught up with Bella quickly, and she’d been trying to get out of the car for the last five minutes. Her hands moved in slow motion as she unbuckled her seatbelt. Charlie watched in amusement, but his smile faded when two figures appeared on the porch. They’d changed into more comfortable clothes, two bags at their feet, and Emmett waved. Rosalie leaned against the column, and Charlie tapped Bella on the shoulder.

“Your brother is here,” he said.

“Tell him to get lost! I’m busy.”

“You do know he can hear you, right?”

“Get lost, Emmy! I’m busy.” Bella grunted. “Charlie! Your seatbelt is defective.”

“I asked if you wanted help.”

“Leave me alone, you narc.”

“Who taught you that?”

“Oliver.”

“Christ.”

Bella giggled and slumped in her seat. Charlie reached over and clicked the button, and Bella held her hands in the air as the seatbelt slid back into place. On the porch, Emmett pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I’m just glad Rosalie isn’t here,” Bella muttered, her eyes half-closed. “That’d be embarrassing.”

Charlie cleared his throat and said, “Uh, Bella-

“She is so out of my league! And I know she was hot as a human. I feel it, and now she’s quadruple hot.”

“Bella-

“Why does Emmett get to kiss her, and I don’t?” Bella complained.

Charlie gave up and let her talk. Bella hiccupped and opened her eyes. She gasped when she saw Rosalie and started crying.

“You are really wasted,” Charlie said. “I feel like I should arrest you on principle.”

“Don’t tell Rosalie I said this, but she’s way too hot for me.”

Charlie opened his door and said, “Can someone please come and get her?”

Rosalie stepped off the porch, and Bella manually locked her door. Charlie leaned back into the car and frowned.

“Why did you lock your door?” he asked.

“I panicked.”

Charlie snorted and said, “Goodnight, Bella.”

“You’re leaving me with someone who looks like she wants to eat me!” she exclaimed.

Rosalie faltered in her step before she stopped by the passenger side door. She knocked on the window, and Bella made the cross symbol with her fingers.

“Oh, for crying out loud. Quit acting like you wouldn’t be into it. Based on what Andrea told me, you liked when girls looked at you like that.”

Bella shouted at Charlie as he slammed the door. The cop patted Emmett on the shoulder as he went into the house, and Bella groaned.

“Isabella.”

“Shit!” Bella shouted, clutching her chest. “What the fuck is….”

Bella trailed off and swallowed when Rosalie leaned down and looked her in the eyes.

“Get out of the car.”

Chapter Text

Emmett made sure Bella was still asleep before he slipped downstairs to catch Charlie.

Once Rosalie managed to get Bella in the house, his sister spent the rest of her night reciting Latin poetry. Charlie made sure they got her in safely before he disappeared into his room. Emmett took off Bella’s shoes before Rosalie tucked her under the covers. She was asleep in seconds. Rosalie hovered by the bed for a moment, and Emmett could sense something was wrong. Rosalie sighed and told him she needed to hunt and left for Port Angeles. Rosalie rarely hunted by herself, but when she did, it was her way of telling him that she needed time alone. Emmett understood it went beyond Bella, and he sat down in the rocking chair near the window. She hadn’t returned so far, but Emmett would trust that she would.

Emmett also knew he would have to apologize to Esme for his behavior. Not necessarily Carlisle, but the others didn’t deserve his reaction. Emmett had always been slow to reveal anything about his personal life. Even when Emmett was at the castle, he avoided mentioning the fire or being an orphan before his fifth birthday. But Carlisle’s comments held some truth. Emmett learned a lot being with the Cullens, and those types of experiences were invaluable. Emmett hadn’t realized he’d stopped at the bottom of the stairs until Charlie cleared his throat from the kitchen table.

“You alright?” he asked.

“Do you have time to talk?”

“I’m the Chief. I can be as late as I want to,” Charlie joked. “Come and sit.”

Emmett gave him a genuine smile before he sat down.

“I just wanted-

“Hold on,” Charlie interrupted. “Let me say something?”

Emmett nodded, and Charlie wrapped his hands around his coffee mug.

“You should know that I didn’t take Bella in for any ulterior motive. When she landed in my backyard, she was in this weird dress and staring at the sky with tears in her eyes. There was smoke coming off her skin, and I admit I pulled my gun on her. Why wouldn’t I? But then Bella looked at me, and I saw it. I saw the fear, the pain, and the grief written on her face. She was so lost, and I knew that if I ever had a daughter in a situation like that, I would hope someone would show her kindness and hospitality. But that’s not my point. My point is I’ve always known that one day, Bella would leave. I accepted that she would inevitably find her family and go back to where she came from. But I just want you to know that Bella means the world to me. So. I’ll help in any way that I can to get you guys back to your family. I just wanted you to know that I’ve grown to love your sister as if she were my family. I’ll miss her, but her happiness comes first.”

Charlie refused to look at Emmett afterward and sipped at his coffee. Emmett took a second to gather his response. He eventually settled on telling the truth.

“I was angry when I saw you at the party,” Emmett said.

“Because I look like your father?”

“Charles was the only father figure that I had. There were others, but he was the one that made me feel safe. When he died, a part of me died with him, and I had to get used to a life where he wasn’t in it.” Emmett traced one of the scratch marks on the table. “So, when I saw you last night at the party acting as Bella’s father, I got angry. Not necessarily at you, but at life in general. It wasn’t fair. But then I saw you two interacting with one another. I saw how you knew what to say, what to do, and how to do it. Bella has always been an enigma and a challenge. She’s hard to navigate at times, but you did it as if you’d been doing it your whole life. My anger turned to regret because how could I ever be mad at the man who saved my sister from being in this world alone? You might not see it that way, but you did. So, I guess I came down here to thank you for stepping in and keeping her safe. Bella is my heart, and to know that she is alive because of you means more to me than you think.”

Emmett stood and held out his hand.

“So, if you ever need me, regardless of where I am, I will be there. I am forever in your debt,” Emmett said.

Charlie rose from his chair and stepped around the table. He wrapped his arms around Emmett and patted him on the back.

“He’d be damn proud of you,” Charlie whispered. “I know I would if I were him.”

Emmett’s vision blurred from tears that would never fall, and he hugged Charlie back. They stood there for a moment until Charlie moved away.

“I should be here by seven,” Charlie said. “Just tell Bella if things change or something happens to call.”

“Yes, sir.”

Charlie gave him a salute before he walked out of the door. Emmett remained in the kitchen for a second, listening to the cruiser until he couldn’t anymore, and he looked over his shoulder when the back door opened. Rosalie poked her head into the house. Emmett noticed that she was wearing a completely different outfit, and he frowned.

“Hey, can you come outside for a second?” she asked.

Emmett frowned and went outside to find Jasper waiting by the trees. Rosalie hovered behind Emmett, half her body turned toward the upstairs window. Emmett stopped a few feet away from Jasper.

“You here to yell at me?” Emmett asked.

“No,” Jasper said. “Alice took me for a hunt before the sun rose this morning. She told me I needed to be in Port Angeles by a certain time in the alleyway between the coffee shop and the records store. Alice then handed me one of Rosalie’s old dresses and sent me on my way. I went to where she told me to go and realized why she’d been so secretive and silent.” Jasper shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Rosalie. Alice and I have always known that you two feed off humans. Alice saw it long before you decided to do it. We’ve been keeping your feeding habits a secret as long as I’ve been keeping the truth about you two’s relationship. After last night, certain members of the coven felt like last night went wrong in so many ways, and we came here to apologize.”

Esme and Alice exited the trees and hesitated near the shed. Emmett glanced at Rosalie, whose expression told him she would follow his decision. Emmett jerked his head toward the house.


Bella groaned when Emmett gently woke her. She didn’t have a hangover, but she definitely regretted all the wine she had drunk. Emmett tucked hair behind her ear and left his hand on her cheek long enough for her to know he was feeling uncertain.

“What’s wrong?” Bella asked, her voice slightly hoarse from sleep.

“The Cullens are downstairs. Well, most of them at least.”

“What? Why?”

“They want to talk about what happened last night, and I said I needed to come and talk to you first.”

Bella looked him in the eyes, searching, and she said, “You want to tell them.”

“I do.”

“Why?” she asked curiously.

Emmett thought about the people downstairs, about what Charlie said earlier, and he said, “Bella, I’ve been here since 1935, and I have been with the Cullens since 1938. Since then, they have let me exist with them, and they’ve treated me like I was a part of the family. Carlisle and Esme, while they haven’t been perfect, have done more for me than I appreciated in the past. The truth is, I was afraid to let them in more than I already had. I had no chance to make peace with what happened before I was thrust into another life. I was suddenly an immortal creature who was so far away from home with no knowledge of what happened after I was gone. I was angry, scared, and I was lost. But I have been keeping this secret for a little over seventy years, and it isn’t fair of me to keep it any longer. Especially now that you’re here.”

Bella sat up against her headboard and patted the space next to her. Emmett shifted and sat beside her, and Bella laid her head on his shoulder.

“I owe you a huge apology.”

“You didn’t do anything.”

“That’s my point.  Seeing you last night opened old wounds that I never handled on my own, and I know it’s no excuse, but there was so much happening last night. I- it felt like I’d been backed into a corner, and I reacted poorly. I shut down on you, and that wasn’t fair. I was literally and figuratively drowning out my thoughts until there was nothing left to hear. And while I admit I’m curious about how you became a vampire, it never occurred to me that you could’ve been here far longer than I have. It wasn’t fair of me to make things difficult for you just because I’m… scared. I’m so scared, Em. I’ve done a great job of pretending like I’m alright the last five years, but it has been hell. And now that I know you’ve been here for nearly seventy years? Fuck. I’m so sorry, Em. I’m sorry.”

Emmett wrapped an arm around Bella and kissed the top of her head.

“We’ll find them. We’ll make things right,” Emmett said.

“But what if they’re gone? What if we’re the only two left?”

“Then we’re the only two left, and we’ll adjust,” he sighed. “But we owe it to them to try.” 

Bella sniffed, and she reached over to her nightstand. She removed her ring from a small box and sat back, slipping it on her finger. Emmett reached under his shirt to reveal his ring. He took it off the chain and placed it on his thumb. He held out his hand, and Bella held out hers.

“In faith and loyalty, our blood runs true,” Bella said.

“And in honor and love, our bond will never falter,” Emmett finished.

“You should know that you being a part of the Cullen family does not change anything. If you trust them, I trust you, and I am behind you. Always. But I do need to shower and change clothes. I feel icky.”

“You smell too.”

“Hey!”

“Vampire senses, remember?” he teased.

“Get out!”


Emmett went downstairs and paused when Esme got off the couch. She had his bracelet in her hand, and she seemed to take a deep breath before she walked up to him.

“You have always been an enigma,” she said. “I knew from the moment we met that there was something different about you. I assumed it was because you were quiet, but that wasn’t always the case, was it?”

Emmett shook his head no, and Esme nodded to herself. She held out the bracelet to him.

“This is not me asking you to come back to the coven,” she said. “This is me saying that no matter what you tell us, I will always care about you. Carlisle can be stubborn. A man from his time is made up of more pride than understanding, but I have grown to love you over the years. Emmet, you’ve made me laugh more than most of my children, and that’s a heavy feat. I’ve been proud of you every time you’ve come home with a new degree or a new hobby. Yes, I admit I want you to have the bracelet because I’m selfish and never want you to stop being my son. But whatever happens in the future, you and Rosalie will always have a place to return to. Always. I just-

Emmett hugged Esme, cutting off her rambling, and she hugged him back just as fiercely. He released her and took the bracelet, slipping it back on his wrist. Esme let out a sigh of relief, and Emmett laughed.

“Were you afraid I would turn you down?” he asked.

“I asked Alice not to tell me the response,” Esme admitted. “So I was walking in blind.”

Emmett grinned and threw his arm over her shoulder. He directed her back to the living room, where Rosalie flipped through an online catalog with Alice on Rosalie’s phone. Jasper had one of Charlie’s sports magazines in hand, and Emmett released Esme. She squeezed his arm before going over to Rosalie. Emmett noticed the necklace hidden under Rosalie’s dress, and he smiled when she caught him staring. The door opened upstairs, and everyone went still. They didn’t stop what they were doing, but they heard Bella coming down the stairs. Emmett snuck over to the side and crouched low. When Bella hit the last step, he jumped out and screamed at her. Bella yelped and fell forward. Her hands shot out, and she stopped centimeters before hitting the floor. Orange wisps of magic floated around her to keep her upright, and she glared at Emmett.

“That wasn’t funny when we were younger, and it isn’t funny now!”

“No, it’s absolutely hilarious.”

Bella moved her hands, and she floated back into an upright position. She turned to the Cullens, and they were each staring at her in shock. Bella scratched the back of her neck and shrugged.

“I have magic,” she said. “Well, abilities. There’s still a gray area on whether it’s magic or not.”

“She’s also my sister,” Emmett said.

Alice gasped and practically vibrated off of the couch.

“How is this possible?” Esme asked.

“Right, well, I guess that’s the best segue into everything,” Emmett sighed. 

Emmett tugged Bella over to the couch and put her next to Rosalie. He sat on the opposite side and leaned forward onto his knees. Bella put her hand on his shoulder, and Emmett rubbed the back of his neck.

“Well. My birth name is Emmett McCarty, but my story is a little different. When I was four, my home caught fire. All I know is one moment I’m in the front yard playing with sticks, and the next, my Dad is running past me into the house. The fire just burned and burned and burned until there was nothing left. I was still on the ground, crying, and that’s when the Queen found me. I-

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but did you say the Queen?” Alice asked. “Like of England?”

“Oh, no. No, uh, Bella and I aren’t from here.”

“And by here, my brother means we aren’t from this realm,” Bella added.

Rosalie was the only one who didn’t look confused.

“I think we might need a bit more information,” Alice said.

“The short of the story is I jumped into a portal to save my baby sister. Something went wrong, and I got blown away from her. I landed in Tennessee. Got attacked by a bear-

“Oh, that’s how it happened,” Bella muttered.

“-Rosalie saved me, and the rest, you know,” Emmett said.

Not even Alice had a response to that, and Bella snorted.

“I think you broke them,” she said.

“No, Rosalie had this exact reaction,” Emmett sighed. “And then she disappeared for three days.”

“I came back, though.”

“Yes, but you didn’t believe me until five years later!”

“The important thing is I believe you now,” Rosalie said.

“Can we start over, please?” Esme asked.

“Yeah, like who is this Queen you’re referring to?” Alice asked.

“Uh,” Emmett glanced at Rosalie, who had a wicked smile on her face. “Well, that’s- um-

“You should pull up the story of Snow White,” Rosalie interrupted.

“I was wondering why you would say that to me,” Alice sighed. “I already have it up.”

Bella and Emmett both wore matching scowls as Alice pulled up the story.

“The Evil Queen, formerly known as Regina Mills, was a lowly peasant girl before she found herself married to King Leopold of the White Kingdom. King Leopold had a daughter, Snow White, known for her beauty and innocence. Something that Regina envied. When Snow turned eighteen, Regina hired the huntsman to kill Snow White and cut out Snow White’s heart. The huntsman was captivated by Snow White’s beauty and let her escape. He brought a pig’s heart to the Queen instead. Snow White-

“Nope, no.” Bella folded her arms and huffed. “First of all, our mother was not jealous of Snow White. That spoiled brat was a nuisance and a manipulative piece of shit who wore pastel dresses everywhere and spoke with this high-pitched, nasally voice.”

“Sounds like you had a high opinion of her,” Rosalie said.

“I know we had a moment last night, but your sarcasm is not appreciated.”

“We did not have a moment,” Rosalie argued.

“You almost kissed me!”

“Hold on, what?” Emmett said. “When was this?”

“When they were alone in the kitchen,” Alice said. “I saw it happen, but Edward moved before I could stop him. I’m sorry.”

“Wait, we were actually going to kiss?” Rosalie asked.

“And what do you mean you saw it happen?” Bella added.

Esme cleared her throat and got everyone’s attention.

“Can we table that conversation until we get a handle on the one we started? For example, I would like to know how Emmett and Bella are saying they grew up with a Disney Princess and a popular Disney villain.”

“That’s the thing,” Emmett said. “In our world, they weren’t Disney characters. Disney doesn’t even exist where we’re from. Neither does indoor plumbing, cars, guns, and other things that you guys are used to. We were basically stuck in what you called the Middle Ages. There were kings, queens, pirates, and magic. Everything that you all see as a fairytale was the reality for us, and coming here was more than an adjustment. It was like taking a lion to the top of a mountain and pushing it from the cliff, telling it that it needed to fly if it wanted to survive.”

“Vampires don’t exist where we’re from, but our cousin Red is a werewolf. So the idea of it isn’t too far off, but they weren’t a thing.”

“Red? As in Red Riding Hood?” Alice asked.

“Yep. Fun fact, Red is not her real name. Her name is Ruby, and she comes from a long line of werewolves. So, technically, she is the wolf in that story.”

“Uh, Jazz?” Alice asked.

“They’re telling the truth,” Jasper said, a frown on his face. “There is absolutely no deception in them at all.”

“You should know that Emmett doesn’t lie,” Rosalie said dryly. “He may not tell you everything in one go, but he doesn’t lie.”

“I don’t talk enough to lie,” Bella added.

“So, you two have another sister?” Alice asked. “Or are you the one Emmett tried to save?”

Bella shifted and folded her arms.

“No, we have a younger sister named Kieran. She was thrown into a separate portal first.”

“When did you get here?” Esme asked.

“Five years ago,” Bella said. “I landed in Charlie’s backyard, he put a gun to my head, and I explained everything. Charlie didn’t believe me until I gave him proof. Then he sent me to his friend in London. I ended up spending the last three years over there, and I – well. I lived a life.”

“Is that what Charlie meant last night about you and girls who wanted to eat you?” Rosalie asked.

“Okay, no. Yes? In my defense, Andrea Rojas is a-

“Pimp,” Alice deadpanned. “She’s a pimp.”

“Escort Services Expert,” Bella corrected. “And how do you even know that?”

“I used to be one of her girls,” Alice said, shrugging. “Jasper and I had a thing.”

“A thing?”

“A thing.”

Esme looked like she wished she was anywhere else, and Rosalie stared at the side of Bella’s head with an unreadable expression. Bella pretended not to notice.

“This is a lot to take in,” Alice said slowly.

“Yeah, I know. When I created the Multiverse Theory, I had no idea-

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Rosalie said. “What do you mean when you created the Multiverse Theory?”

“I mean, I created it? I’m the literal evidence for the existence of multiple universes that operate on a similar or identical time frame, and I theorized it with a tenured physicist and got it copyrighted.”

Alice, Esme, and Jasper decided to let the conversation unfold without interrupting. Emmett looked between Rosalie and Bella in amusement.

“You created the Multiverse Theory.”

“Multirealm Theory sounded odd,” Bella said.

“What the actual fuck!”

“I’m not sure why you’re upset with me,” Bella said slowly.

“No, you just- I’ve been researching various theories to try and get Emmett back. I have a degree in physics, astronomy, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and even chemistry! Yet you show up, walk up to some tenured professor, and copyright a theory I’ve been working to construct for decades!”

Bella hesitated, and she said, “Would it help if I told you that the professor was a friend of Charlie’s? His name’s Harrison Wells, and I-

“Oh my god!” Rosalie exclaimed.

“What did I do now?” Bella whined.

Emmett finally caught on, and he snorted.

“Bella, did you write a paper with this Harrison Wells guy?” he asked.

“I wrote a lot of papers with him and with another professor on the sociological expectations that vary across a person’s gender and race, but I digress. Why?”

Rosalie sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, and Jasper shook his head.

“What was the most recent paper?” Emmett asked.

“It was about the possibility of an interdimensional transportation device.”

“That’s why she’s upset. She found it a few days ago,” Emmett explained.

“Oh, I see. Wait.” Bella frowned at Rosalie. “How? It was purposely posted on a website meant for people to speculate on obscure scientific hypotheses and theories. Like nothing was supposed to come from it.”

Rosalie shifted and said, “Well. As the site’s creator, I must approve all papers and proposals. I know it was written three months ago, but someone obviously found it and sent it to my email.”

Bella blinked.

“You created ScienceTalk.Net?” she asked flatly.

“I was bored,” Rosalie argued. “And I wanted to help Emmett get home. So, I thought if I started a dialogue and created a place for other like-minded individuals- why are you looking at me like that?”

“How is it possible for you to get even hotter?”

“You might be a little biased.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t make it any less true.”

“Uh, before you two have another moment, have you figured out how to make the device?” Emmett asked.

“No. Harrison kicked me out of the lab because I freed one of his monkeys, so I haven’t been able to get my hands on the technology. I told him the monkey was a mother who wanted to get back to her children.”

Emmett turned to Alice before she could ask and said, “Bella can talk to animals.”

Alice made an ‘oh’ face and put her hand down.

“But the device is going to help us find Kieran! It should, at least.”

“How?”

“Our powers are connected, remember? Once I build the device, I can track Kieran by her magic and use mine as the power source!”

“You can do that?” he asked warily.

“Not yet, but that’s the goal.”


Rosalie slipped away from the house while the others got to know Charlie better. Esme left an hour before to meet Carlisle, and Edward was hunting in Alaska. Rosalie ran as fast as she could, pushing herself until she skidded to a stop. Before her, there was nothing but an expanse of trees, and in the distance, the ocean. Rosalie didn’t even need oxygen, but she felt like she could breathe.

And then she couldn’t anymore.

Rosalie felt someone staring at her, and she turned. Bella materialized from the trees, literally, and stopped a few feet away. She shoved her hands into her hoodie pocket and tilted her head as she stared at Rosalie. Bella then asked the one question Rosalie wasn’t sure she was ready to answer.

“What’s a mate?”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Em!” Ruby greeted.

Emma grunted and sat down at the counter. Ruby rubbed her back. It was nearly closing time, a few stragglers finishing up milkshakes and burgers, but Ruby wasn’t concerned. At least, not about them. Her worry was on Emma. From the gossip and the rumors, Emma had the day from hell. It seemed like everything non-magical that could go wrong in Storybrooke went wrong the moment the day started. It was all over the diner that Emma was running from one side of the town to the other, and Ruby was pissed to learn that David took a half-day to spend time with Snow. Regina had been stuck in meetings all day. Ruby couldn’t get an hour away from the diner to check on her, and Killian was stuck cleaning out the warehouse across town. Everyone was on their worst behavior. Emma, as the Sheriff, had to deal with every single person on her own. Ruby took a deep breath, ready to comfort her friend, but she paused.

“Uh, Em?”

Emma held up her hand, and Ruby grimaced.

“Pongo peed on me,” she explained tiredly. “And instead of being able to go to the loft to change, I had a meeting with the principal because several students have egged the teacher’s cars.”

Ruby had the feeling that was only the beginning, and she swallowed her response. Emma knocked her knuckles against the counter almost absentmindedly.

“And after that lovely meeting, I came back to the station to find Snow and David having sex in the break room. They didn’t even see me, and I left it alone. I mean, it’s not like David took the afternoon off because Snow wasn’t feeling well. It’s not like I have a written and signed affidavit giving him the time off for a personal emergency. But I guess the Princess of the White Kingdom can’t go a whole day without sticking her husband’s nightstick down her throat for the entire station to see. Unfortunately, they didn’t start in the break room, but rather in my office. And once I was able to sift through the paperwork that got knocked over by Snow’s enthusiasm, I got called to the other side of town. Eric thought it would be fun to call Ariel glorified fish food during an argument. Ariel decided to hit him with a frying pan. He had blood everywhere and screamed about how he should’ve stayed in his own country with a woman who knew how to use every part of her body. And yes, that means what you think it means. I had to arrest Ariel, take Eric to the hospital for thirty stitches, Ruby. Thirty! He is currently staying with Naveen and Tiana. And to top it all off, David found out from Sebastian that I’d arrested Ariel, and he called me to tell me I needed to release her! Why? Because Princesses don’t get arrested! Goddamnit!”

Emma slammed her fists against the counter, and Ruby smiled politely at the couple in the corner when they looked up from the outburst. With her attention diverted, Ruby missed Emma’s eyes turning solid white.

“I am so close to walking off the dock with weights tied to my ankles. This town is fucking insane!”

Ruby glanced back at Emma, but she didn’t know what to say or how to comfort her. Storybrooke was exceptionally chaotic for a small town, but it was full of fairytale creatures from a different realm. Ruby had no idea Emma got the brunt of it as the Sheriff. Which made sense, in hindsight. Emma was not only the Sheriff but the Savior, and she had to pull double-duty whenever the situation required it. Especially if her father was playing hooky with his wife. Ruby’s heart ached for her friend.

“What can I do?” she asked.

“Nothing, Rubes. I shouldn’t have- I’m heading out, alright? These boots are all but done for, to be honest. The smell has soaked into the leather.”

“Em-

“I’m fine. All I need is a beer, my bed, and an uninterrupted night of cartoons wearing nothing but my boxers,” Emma joked weakly. “I’ll be okay by the morning.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Thanks for listening,” Emma said, groaning as she stood.

“Call me later?”

Emma waved to show she heard before she half-limped from the diner. Ruby shifted as she watched her go, and she frowned at the feeling settling in her chest. Something wasn’t right. Emma didn’t just smell like…Pongo. There was another smell there that made the hair on the back of Ruby’s neck stand up. Someone touched her shoulder, and she looked back at Granny. The older woman had a similar look on her face, and she sighed.

“You’re going to need to give Regina a heads-up,” she said.

“Why?”

“You tell her that what happened to Kieran and Bella is happening to Emma. She’ll know what you mean.”


“What happened to you calling me later?”

Emma didn’t respond, and Ruby sat down. They were back at the docks, back at the same bench, but Ruby frowned when she noticed what Emma was wearing. Emma had on a thin long-sleeved undershirt and her work pants, and she was barefoot. Ruby’s alarms started going off.

“What’s going on? Killian said that you have been here for an hour.”

That got a response, and Emma frowned.

“Killian?” she said.

“Yeah, he was the one who called me. He didn’t know if you’d feel comfortable talking to him.”

“Oh.” Emma wrapped her arms around herself. “I fought with Snow.”

Ruby wanted to tell her that it seemed like more than a fight, but she asked, “What happened?”

“It started with lingerie, believe it or not.”

“Lingerie?” Ruby repeated.

“When I got home from the diner, my goal was to shower, get a beer, and relax. But once I’m in the loft, Snow’s just talking and talking and talking. I’m not listening until she says the word lingerie. Snow then full-on sprints to the closet and pulls out a red shopping bag. She bought us matching lavender teddies with frills along the edges. I was mortified, but she was so excited. I knew I would need at least three beers to get through the conversation. Not only have I never worn a teddy in my life, but lavender? With frills? It was a lot. I went to the cooler where I normally keep my beer, but it was empty. Which was weird considering I’d purchased a twenty-four-pack of Guinness last night. I asked Snow what happened to it, and do you know what she did? She poured them down the sink. Her reasoning? It’s inappropriate for a Princess to drink alcohol.”

Ruby was afraid to speak. Emma’s voice had progressively gotten flatter, colder. She was startled when Emma jumped up and started pacing.

“I told her that I’d drank in front of her before, and Snow said that I was still too ‘otherworldly’ to be open to instruction. Now that I’ve been here long enough to see how things worked, I could be guided back on the path meant for me. I was so furious, but I let it go. I could always drink at Killian’s or sneak a shot or two at Granny’s, right?”

Ruby’s mouth opened to respond, but Emma moved on to the next topic.

“I tell her I need a shower, and I go upstairs. I opened my door and found every single last thing I owned missing. Everything. All of my books, clothes, shoes, and hats were replaced with things that I never in my life would’ve purchased. Snow and David planned this. They took half-days because they wanted to surprise me! They threw out everything, Ruby. Snow had the dwarves drive boxes and boxes of my stuff to the dump on the other side of town. She threw out every single pair of jeans, my tank tops, muscle shirts, graphic tees, and my hoodies. She replaced them with dresses, skirts, heels, and items that she’d been collecting ever since the curse broke! My boxers? Gone. Instead, I now own an ungodly amount of thongs!”

Ruby felt her wolf whimpering and squirming under her skin. She shifted on the bench to get it to calm down, but it got worse when Emma went still.

“But do you want to know what really pissed me off?” Emma said. “Snow got rid of my jacket.”

Ruby was about to ask which one when it hit her – the red one. Emma’s eyes started glowing, and Ruby stiffened. When Emma pressed her palms into her eyes, Ruby took out her phone. She shot off a quick text to the group chat she had with Regina and Killian. Emma turned toward the water. It was clear she was somewhere far away from Storybrooke.

“That jacket was my armor, it made me feel safe, and it was mine. But Snow threw it away. And it felt like my entire life boiled down to nothing in that single moment. Everything I worked for, things I saved up for and purchased for myself, was gone. I have nothing left to call mine other than the clothes on my back. And these pants belong to the town, technically. Snow babbled on and on and on about how I would look so much better for Neal, how the dresses would make me look so pretty. She explained how as a Princess that I needed to be the epitome of femininity. Did you hear that? Me, the epitome of femininity. Nothing but complete and utter bullshit, and I told her I didn’t want to be feminine or look pretty for any man, let alone Neal. But she kept talking like I hadn’t said anything, and I got so frustrated. Snow wasn’t listening to me!”

Ruby jerked back when Emma shouted, and she silently wished Regina and Killian would hurry up.

“So I told her the truth. I told her a truth that I hadn’t even come to terms with myself, but I did. I just blurted out that I was gay, and she- she laughed at me! She told me I was confused because Princesses are meant for Princes! I just remember waiting until they were asleep before I left. I just kept walking until I got here. And this doesn’t make any fucking sense! I’ve been playing the Savior, the Sheriff, and working my ass off to make them happy. I’ve given up everything I’ve ever known to be their daughter, but what’s the point if they only love me if I’m a certain way! What’s the point of trying if they won’t accept me for me? I’ve gone through hell for so long, hoping that when I found my family that they would want me. But they don’t! Why doesn’t anyone ever want me!”

Ruby stood slowly when Emma’s body started shaking. Her phone vibrated in her pocket, but she couldn’t look at the message. All her focus was on Emma. Ruby had never seen her friend so furious, so hurt, and the atmosphere was thick with Emma’s emotions. Emma clenched her fists, and the wind picked up around them.

“All I have ever wanted was to be worth it to someone!” Emma shouted, her voice cracking. “But no one ever loves me for me. They’re always trying to change me and fix me like I’m broken, but I’m not! I’m not broken!”

Ruby was relieved when she spotted Regina and Killian running down the street, but her relief was short-lived. Emma’s magic went haywire, and Ruby had to move back as Emma screamed. It got harder to breathe, and Ruby’s eyes stung from the wind hitting her in the face. Killian slowed as they got closer, his hands raised, but Regina didn’t stop. It was like she wasn’t affected, and she ran right into Emma. She wrapped her arms around her, and Emma tried to buck her off. But Regina held firm and started whispering into Emma’s ear. Ruby couldn’t hear what was being said, even with her enhanced hearing. Killian was forced to move back even more when Emma’s magic grew. Emma’s eyes were so bright, so angry, and Ruby fell to her knees. Killian fell shortly after, grabbing at his throat, and the water started crashing against the docks. Regina still spoke to Emma, still had her arms around her, and Ruby was afraid they’d die before she got Emma to calm down. But something Regina said finally got through to Emma. Everything went deathly silent, and Ruby heard the end of what Regina was saying.

“Please come back to me, please. I can’t do this without you, Emma. I need you.”

Emma’s eyes dimmed into their regular color, and she muttered Regina’s name before she went limp. Ruby gasped as the air was returned to her lungs, and she coughed as she caught her breath. The wind died down, and Killian panted as he staggered to his feet. Regina looked up at Ruby. Her face was twisted in exhaustion, and she sighed.

“Meet me at the mansion,” she said.

Those were her only words before Emma and Regina disappeared in a cloud of purple smoke.


Regina covered Emma with the duvet and brushed her hair from her face. She heard the front door open and paused.

“It’s just us!” Ruby shouted up the stairs.

Regina relaxed and double-checked everything. She made sure she left a water bottle, trash can just in case, and the extra blanket. Regina reluctantly walked out. She kept the door cracked and made her way downstairs. Killian untied his boots and left them by the door, and Regina stepped to the side as he ran to put his stuff in the guest room. Granny shrugged off her jacket with Ruby, and they hung them on the hooks. Ruby locked the door and hurried into the kitchen. Granny grabbed Regina’s hand and squeezed it, and they entered the kitchen to find Ruby bustling around.

“Hey, Gina, where’s your- oh, never mind. Do you want green tea or peppermint?” Ruby asked.

“Chamomile,” Regina answered.

“Ew, fine. Granny?”

“I’ll have the same.”

Ruby sighed and pouted as she grabbed the chamomile tea from the cabinet. When she picked up the kettle, she squinted at it in confusion. Regina chuckled and kissed Granny on the forehead before she walked over to help Ruby.

“I don’t know why you can’t have a regular kettle like most people.”

“Well, my darling wolf, I’m not like most people. Stop pouting, and I’ll tell you where the cookies are.”

“Please!”

Regina chuckled and flicked her wrist. The door to the pantry opened, and a packet of cookies flew toward Ruby. She squealed and plopped down on the floor, tearing into the bag. Granny shook her head and looked back at Regina.

“Ruby told me what happened on the way over. You okay?”

“I’m okay. I was prepared after the warning, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

“How is she?”

“She’s asleep. I anticipate at least twelve hours, but the Savior has never followed the rules.”

“And you’ve dealt with it before with the girls?” Ruby asked, a mouthful of cookies.

“I raised you better than that,” Granny scolded.

“Sorry,” Ruby muttered.

The conversation paused when Killian came around the corner in shorts and an old t-shirt. He waved off Ruby’s silent question about tea, and Ruby poured three mugs once the kettle sounded. Regina wrapped her hands around hers, not quite ready for it, and Granny sipped on her tea slowly.

“Um, not to be that person,” Killian started, “but can we talk about what just happened?” he asked.

“Yes, and we can start with Ruby telling us how it happened in the first place,” Regina said.

“I’m not sure if you heard the rumors about today, but Emma was all over town. Everything seemed to go wrong, and she was the only person duty.”

“Where was David?” Regina asked.

“He took a half-day, which… yeah. That comes into play much later.”

“What do you mean?”

“Emma stopped by the dinner after her shift, and I could tell something was off. She seemed so on edge, but she swore she was just tired. Do you want me to tell you how she told me?” Ruby asked.

“Please? And start from the diner,” Regina requested.

“Okay.” Ruby mouthed the words under her breath before she started. “First, Pongo peed on Emma, and she wasn’t able to change because she had a meeting at the school. Something about students egging the teacher’s cars. Second, Emma went back to the station and found Snow and David having sex in the break room. She said they didn’t see her, but Emma was upset because David took the half-day for a personal emergency. David told her Snow wasn’t feeling well, but, uh, Emma made a comment I’m not willing to repeat about it.”

“Why?”

“Because it was gross, and I’d rather not think about Snow White on her knees,” Ruby muttered.

“Fair enough. Please continue.”

“Emma then got called to Ariel and Eric’s house. The former underwater Princess and her beloved got into an argument after Eric called Ariel glorified fish food. Ariel hit him with a frying pan, and Emma took him to the hospital to get stitches. Emma also arrested Ariel, but David called Emma to tell her to let Ariel go because Princesses don’t-

“-get arrested,” Regina finished. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one. Many of the former monarchs want me to change the laws to ensure they aren’t arrested or charged with crimes they deem harmless to society.”

“Ariel gave Eric thirty stitches,” Killian said in disbelief. “That’s extremely harmful to society. And I ran into Naveen at the grocery store. He says Ariel and Eric started fighting shortly after the curse broke. Ariel is still too… ocean-obsessed for his taste. And I mean that literally.”

“Emma did mention that Eric said he wished he’d stayed in his own country with a woman who knew how to use her body,” Ruby murmured. “But I’m surprised Tiana isn’t on Ariel’s side.”

“Why would she be?” Regina snorted. “Tiana doesn’t get along with a majority of the Princesses. I think the only one she talks to is Pocahontas.”

“Oh, yeah. Where is Pocahontas, by the way?” Ruby asked.

“I’m assuming in the woods somewhere. She and John got a divorce, and John owns the main house. I was supposed to have dinner with her next weekend, but we’ll see.” Regina took a sip of her tea and gestured at Ruby. “Continue,” she said.

“Oh, right. Emma left the diner still angry, and that’s when Granny gave me that warning. Anyway, she got to the loft, and that’s when things went from bad to worse.” Ruby tapped her nails on the island. “Emma got home, Snow bombarded her with questions, and then she pulled out a bag of lingerie that she got for Emma and herself.”

Regina held up her hand and said, “Please tell me you aren’t about to say what I think you’re about to say.”

“Were you thinking that Snow bought her and Emma matching lavender, frilly teddies? Then yes, I am.”

“Teddies?” Killian repeated. “Like bears?”

“No, honey.” Ruby pulled out her phone and typed something into it. Then she turned the screen to Killian, who scratched the back of his neck.

“Is that normal for this world?” he asked.

Granny chortled into her tea, and Ruby shook her head no. Killian grimaced and looked at Regina. She pointed to the fridge, and he smiled in relief. Killian opened the fridge door and yanked open the bottom drawer, removing a beer.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Ruby said. “Emma went to her cooler because she said she couldn’t have the lingerie conversation sober. When she found the cooler empty, Snow told Emma that she poured out her beer because-

“Princesses don’t drink alcohol,” Regina sighed, rubbing her temples. “I know that one from the Sip and Stroke Tiana tried to put together that every single Princess minus Kathryn and Pocahontas objected to.”

“Wait, Snow dumped out Emma’s beer? Her Guinness?” Killian asked.

Ruby nodded slowly, and Killian sighed.

“That’s her favorite beer,” he said. “Her first foster father drank it all the time. She wanted to be like him, so she always remembered that detail. When she was able to get her first drink, she ordered it and never stopped.”

“It gets worse,” Ruby said.

“How could it possibly get worse?”

“In addition to dumping Emma’s beer, Snow emptied her closet.”

“What do you mean by emptied?” Granny asked carefully.

“Snow threw away every article of clothing Emma owned and replaced it with more feminine things. Emma’s words, not mine.” Ruby glanced meaningfully at Regina and added, “Snow got rid of the jacket, too.”

“Which jacket? The red one?” Killian asked.

“Yes.”

Regina leaned on the island and bowed her head, tucking her chin to her chest. She took several deep breaths while she reigned in her emotions. Emma walked on a tightrope at all times, regardless of who she was with. So if Snow got rid of everything Emma owned, things Regina was sure Emma purchased with her own money or shipped from Boston, then it was a slap in the face.

“This happened with Kieran and Bella too?” Ruby asked, breaking the silence.

“Yes. When Charlie died, Bella was too young to understand what was happening. Hers came out in bursts like the stable almost burning down, Snow White’s dress sleeve catching fire during dinner, or the trees around the castle attacking people if they got too close.”

“Or the snakes in the garden,” Granny added wryly. “Snakes that seemed particularly eager to bite Snow White.”

“Right,” Regina snorted. “Bella knew Snow White was involved, so she focused her attention on her, but she wasn’t consciously aware of it. I managed to keep it at bay, and we never really talked about her abilities until she was older.” Regina absentmindedly touched her hip. “But losing Liana triggered them both, and that was when things were hard. However, it wasn’t Bella I was concerned with. She was more aware of her abilities at that time, but Kieran? Kieran didn’t care enough to know. She iced over her room so many times that I had to leave Bella in there to thaw everything out before the handmaidens entered. She would levitate things for hours on end, things like books, swords, pieces of stone, and some people had the unfortunate pleasure of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. My girls are so talented, so powerful, and they are forces to be reckoned with. By themselves, they are a formidable enemy. But together?”

Regina traced symbols into the island while the others listened, long-buried memories rushing to the forefront of her mind.

“Bella and Kieran can run the world if they want to, and I’m sure they discussed it a few times. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re out there somewhere bringing men and women to their knees. But with Emma, her magic is too unstable. She needs to heal physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

“What can we do to help?” Ruby asked.

“Keep her away from stressors.”

“How do you plan on doing that?”

“Emma will be asleep for at least the rest of the night and well into the morning,” Regina said. “Killian, I’m afraid my move onto your boat might be put on hold. She’ll feel better if she were here, and I’ll feel better if I were here with her.”

“And I’ll be more than happy to stay in the guest room until Swan’s back to herself,” Killian said, drinking his beer.

“You’re staying here too?”

“I told you. I’m your friend, and I’m not going to let you go through anything alone. Plus, Swan’s my friend too, and I want to be here for you both.”

“Guess we’re having a big ole sleepover,” Ruby said.

“Ruby-

“Nope. You have the space, and if Killian’s staying, I’m staying.” Ruby glanced at Granny, who nodded with a small smile. “Right, I’m staying. Granny said yes.” 

Regina rolled her eyes affectionally and looked at Granny, who shook her head.

“I have to stay near the diner. But I’ll come to visit when I can.”

“Do I have a choice in this?” Regina asked, exasperated.

“No,” Ruby and Killian said.

“I’m afraid not, dear. And you know Snow and David are going to be looking for Emma,” Granny said.

“Let them.”

Chapter Text

Regina pushed her glasses up her nose and tucked her ankle against her thigh. She balanced in front of the stove and sang along to the music under her breath. It was barely nine a.m., and Regina was proud to note that Emma slept through the night without issue. And if anyone said anything about Regina sleeping in the same bed, they didn’t say it to her face. Regina was afraid of being too far away if Emma woke up, and yes. That’s the excuse she’s sticking with. Regina carefully flipped the pancake and shifted onto her other foot, tucking the opposite ankle against her leg. She took the day off, telling her secretary that she was under the weather and to use that excuse for anyone who asked. Ruby was working the morning shift before coming back. Killian was outside reading, and Regina wasn’t surprised at all. The former pirate found Regina’s classical literature books the other night and wanted to read more into the subject. Regina didn’t blame him. The lyricism of the classics is unmatched. It’s one of the few things Regina connected with the first couple of months in the new realm.

Flipping the pancake onto the plate, Regina wrapped the food in foil. She placed the plate in the oven and went to the refrigerator to grab the bacon. She stripped the bacon into individual pieces and put each slice on the skillet. Regina hid her yawn behind her hand. She spent the entire night thinking of her babies. It took a lot of effort not to speak or mention them as often as she wanted, and the pain of losing them grew into a subtle ache. Regina felt it every morning and every night. She could smile and laugh with Ruby and Granny, but Killian was the only one who saw Regina crumble and fall apart in the dead of night when the silence was too loud. Regina touched the ring hidden under her hoodie and briefly closed her eyes, swallowing the emotion bubbling in her chest. She sincerely hoped her children still had their jewelry because of the sheer amount of magic and blood that went into making them.

Regina glanced outside and frowned.

The type of magic that Liana pulled off that night….

It was the family secret that only Regina carried. Rumple knew as well, but he didn’t count as he knew nearly everything about her life in the Enchanted Forest. Still, Regina had been weighed down with guilt when Liana died. Rumplestiltskin assured her that Liana died from a non-magical illness, and some guilt vanished, but the entire situation haunted Regina. Those rings were crafted from Hell’s Gold, a type of metal that not even Rumple messed with without hesitation, but Liana was insistent. She wanted their children to be safe at all times, and Regina caved when Bella and Kieran grew into their abilities.

Regina knew Bella’s powers came from Charles and her birth mother, who kept their abilities secret from nearly everyone. Bella’s pyrokinesis was a surprise and a terror. Charles had no idea where it came from, and Regina didn’t know if it was worth researching. But Kieran was the anomaly. Well, no. She was more like an unforeseen development. Liana didn’t have magic, per se, but she wasn’t non-magical. The things her best friend did came from a power that Rumple said went above his “pay-grade.”

Regina’s eyes slightly glazed over as another secret slipped through the cracks, and she touched her hip. When Liana revealed her pregnancy, the accepted rumor and gossip was that she slept with the local blacksmith, Lionel. That was the end of it until Rumple, shortly after the curse broke, visited Regina for a truce. Regina didn’t hate him. She was angry about being manipulated, but they used each other. There was no reason to keep fighting. Dark One or not, Rumple was Regina’s ally. He knew her darkest secrets, more than Ruby and Granny, and he knew her darkest urges. But he also knew the other side of her, and Rumple came to Regina with the sole purpose of revealing things to her that she never knew. Things like the reason she had a scar on her hip.

Before Kieran was born, Regina remembered the day she woke up with a thin line on her hip, close to her womb, and thought nothing of it. She always had random cuts and bruises, courtesy of her dresses and a daughter who liked causing chaos wherever she went. But Rumple told her it was more than that. Liana’s dabble in blood rituals didn’t start with the rings but with the child growing in her stomach. Kieran was a biological miracle, in Rumple’s opinion. A child with genetic material from not two but four people was a magical phenomenon that shouldn’t be possible, but it was.

Kieran was biologically Liana and Lionel’s but Regina and Charles’ also.

Regina had a memory flitter to the forefront of her mind of the night of Charles’ death. She didn’t think anything of the scar on his side as Charles was a soldier. Scars were a part of the job description, but Rumple’s revelation changed things. Regina remembered the look on Liana’s face that night as she whispered to Kieran that her father loved her very much.

Regina destroyed her study in a fit of rage and pain. Instead of leaving, Rumple stayed with her well into the morning and cleaned the cuts on her knuckles. They never spoke of it again, but it was always there in the back of her mind.

Always.

Someone coughed, and Regina twisted to find Emma leaning heavily against the doorframe, eyes bloodshot. She turned off the stove and wiped her fingers on a towel. Regina rushed to Emma, leading her to the closest stool.

“You should not be up.”

“Nightmare.”

Regina sighed and said, “I meant you should not be out of bed. You lost a lot of energy last night, and your body still needs to recover.”

“Heard the music,” Emma yawned, laying her head on the island. “Why am I at your house?”

“I just told you.” Emma opened one eye and stared at Regina. Regina tugged on her hoodie sleeves and added, “Because you needed to sleep without interruption. Calling Snow or David to come to get you would have been counterproductive, seeing as they were the reason your magical core fractured in the first place.”

“Fractured?” Emma repeated. “How can magic fracture?”

“You suffered some form of emotional trauma that triggered your core to essentially,” Regina gestured with her hands, “fracture or break. You tapped into the rawest state of your magic, and you unleashed it on the docks that I spent a lot of money repairing after the last magical catastrophe.”

“I’m sorry?”

“What? Oh, no. That was me being- never mind. I do not blame you for what happened to the docks. I blame your mother.”

“Can we not talk about Snow at the moment?”

“That is probably the greatest thing you have ever said,” Regina joked.

Emma grunted and pointed at the stove.

“You’re making bacon.”

“I was, yes.”

“Why did you stop?”

“Because a stubborn and prideful Sheriff distracted me.”

“She sounds awful.”

“The absolute worst. Are you going to sit there and rest while I finish breakfast?”

“Do I get bacon?”

“Yes, Emma, you can get bacon.”

“Then you can wake me up when the food is done.”

Regina fought the smile threatening to break free. She relit the skillet and focused on cooking, not the eyes roaming over her body from someone who was supposed to be sleeping.

“I’ve never seen you like this.”

“Like what?” Regina asked.

“Domestic? Normal.”

“My corsets are at the dry-cleaners.”

“I’m being serious.”

“So am I. Did you think I washed those in a machine? They were handmade, and I refuse to ruin them for the sake of convenience.”

Emma lifted her head and narrowed her eyes on the back of Regina’s head.

“Why can’t I tell if you’re joking or not?”

“You can ask the dry-cleaner yourself if you would like. I go every Monday and pick them up every Friday in pristine condition.”

“But where do you even wear them for them to get dirty?”

Regina glanced over her shoulder and winked. Emma flushed red, and they turned when Killian came inside. His hair fell in his face, long enough to cover a portion of his forehead, and he waved at Emma.

“Morning, Swan.”

“Good morning, Killian,” Emma said slowly.

Her face was pinched in confusion, glancing between Killian and Regina, and Regina could see how it would look from an outsider’s perspective. Regina waited, however, to see how it played out. Killian put his book on the table near the patio door and went to Regina. He kissed the top of her head and leaned against the stove.

“You sleep alright?”

“No more than my usual,” she answered.

“Are you still taking your medicine?”

“No, I need a refill, and Archie has been exceptionally slow with signing off on it.”

“Want me to go tell him you’re threatening to curse everyone again?”

“Not that it hasn’t crossed my mind, but no,” Regina snorted. “I can exist another week without it.”

“A week?” Killian sputtered. “Gina, that’s-

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Emma was about to push herself up when Regina shot her a look, and Emma huffed as she sat back down. “Since when are you two this close?” she asked.

“I told you that we knew each other,” Killian said.

“This,” Emma motioned between them, “is more than that. You’re at her house in shorts and a tank-top, you’re kissing her on the head, and you’re reading one of her favorite books. It’s weird.”

“Which part is weird?” Regina drawled. “That Killian is my best friend or that I have a best friend?”

“That’s not what I’m saying, and you know it,” Emma argued. “I’m just saying it would’ve been nice to know-

“We’re not dating, Swan,” Killian interrupted.

“I never said you were dating.”

“No, but you were thinking it. And while it would be an honor to have the attention of her Majesty, I’m afraid I’m not her type or her interest.”

“You are as troublesome as my niece,” Regina scoffed.

“A compliment, I assure you.”

“Go shower, Killian. You smell like the ocean.”

“A smell you said you liked on me.”

Regina squinted at him and said, “I was drunk and feeling sentimental.”

“You wound me, your Majesty.”

Regina mushed him with her free hand. Killian chuckled and ruffled Emma’s hair before he left the kitchen. Regina finished the bacon and opened a cabinet for another plate.

“I feel like you still didn’t tell me everything at lunch.”

Regina looked over her shoulder  and asked, “Emma, do you have feelings for Killian?”

“What? No! I told you I didn’t like him anymore.”

“But you seem upset, and I am confused on why. Does it bother you that Killian and I are close?”

“It just reminds me that I’m still not as up-to-date on things that seem important.”

“My friendship with Killian is important?”

“Well, yeah. Killian means something to you, right?”

“Despite my best efforts at pretending otherwise, yes.”

“Then that’s why. Anything that makes you happy is important to me.”

“And that is where I get confused because you have never treated me or my happiness like they mattered to you. All I have gotten from you is accusations and distrust.”

“I thought we were starting over?”

“One lunch is not going to change two years’ worth of emotional suffering that you and your family put me through. So, you have to excuse me if I am a little slow to believe that you care about my happiness when it has never been a factor in our past interactions.”

Emma swallowed roughly and looked down. Guilt rushed over Regina, and she left the plate on the counter. She went over to Emma and sat beside her.

“I’m sorry. I had a rough night, and I’m taking it out on you.”

“But you’re not wrong. I’ve done a shit job at being your friend.”

“Emma, we were never friends,” Regina said carefully. “We were reluctant allies at best when the situation called for it, and in the spirit of honesty, I have never seen you as a friend.”

“What have you seen me as?”

Regina wanted to tell Emma that she saw her as a new start, a fresh beginning. But she pushed those thoughts aside and said, “I saw you as a means to an end and another reminder of what I don’t have. Seeing you with Snow White was a gut check every single day, and I spent hours crying over your existence. For a long time, your mother and father were the main sources of my anger. And then you came along, and all that anger went into ensuring you didn’t get to live a good life.”

“You were successful,” Emma joked weakly.

“And I am sorry about that. I had no idea – what you went through was never considered, and that was unfair. It was cruel, and I have spent decades regretting it, but I wanted Snow to feel what I felt when she took my children from me. I wanted Snow to watch her child vanish into this unknown world without her protection and feel the panic and pain that comes from it. Had I known you would grow up how you did, I would have hesitated to cast the curse. But I was lost in anger for a long time, Emma. Anger and grief can poison someone from the inside out. And I was killing myself by holding onto it for as long as I did.”

“Why are you telling me all of this?”

“As you said, we are starting over. We should have conversations like this if we want to be equals. And that means talking about this because we cannot ignore the fact that I was the catalyst that caused you to be sent here as a newborn.”

“But you didn’t put me in the wardrobe.”

“I still-

“No, Regina. Curse aside, Snow and David chose to send me away. They chose to trust in some prophecy or some pre-destined bullshit that I would come back and save them. I went through Hell, Regina. I have seen things, experienced things, and done things that no person should ever have to just to survive. I was,” Emma grimaced, “abused by people who swore to protect me and love me. I was assaulted, and I had something taken from me at a young age that I will never get back. I got into fights with men twice my size, stole food from gas stations, and I slept under park benches during the middle of winter. I went to prison because the man I thought cared about me used me and left me when I needed him the most. I gave up my son because I knew I would never be able to take care of him. And while I have said things out of anger, I never blamed you for any of that. You have never been the cause for my suffering. The people responsible were the people that hurt me, and that is not on you.”

Regina didn’t know how much she needed to hear those words until that moment. She turned away from Emma and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. Calloused fingers gently grabbed her chin, and Regina allowed Emma to turn her head. A tear slipped free, and Emma wiped it away with her thumb.

“I’m so sorry, Regina. I’m so sorry that you have spent so long thinking that all of the bad that has happened is your fault. And I’m sorry that I’ve not taken a second out of my life to look at you and see that the woman running this town is a human being with real emotions and feelings. You are allowed to change, to grow, and you are allowed to earn forgiveness. You are allowed to want to be happy, and you are allowed the room and space to heal.” Emma cupped Regina’s face. “I want to know you because the person I see behind closed doors is worth it. You deserve every bit of happiness and love and support this world can give you. Your happiness matters to me more than you think, and whatever I need to do to make it happen is nothing more than I can handle.”

Regina scrambled back, nearly falling from the stool, and she held out her hand to keep Emma from moving. Regina shook her head and ran from the kitchen. Emma’s hands fell limp to her lap, and she dropped her head to the table.

“Fuck,” she sighed.

Someone sat beside her, and she peeked over at Killian. He was freshly showered, hair combed away from his face, and wore his usual wear. He wrapped one arm around her and said softly, “She scares easily. Be patient with her.”

Emma grunted and asked, “How long did it take you to get in her good graces?”

“I have no idea,” he admitted. “I ask myself all the time when Regina let me in, but I’m glad that she did. Regina is a good person to have in your corner.”

“I know.”

“You’ll be coming over for dinner in no time if you keep trusting your instincts.”

“What do you mean?”

“You knew what she needed to hear, and you told her the truth. That earns major points in her book. But she’s scared of you.”

“Why me?”

“You have the power to break her, Emma,” Killian murmured. “More than anyone here.”

Emma sat up straight and looked him in the eyes. He gave nothing away, but Emma’s heart nearly beat from her chest at his comment. She chose to let the moment pass and glanced down at her clothes. Laughing, Emma tugged uselessly at her shirt.

“I have nothing to wear here or at the loft,” she said. “Well, nothing I want to wear.”

“Regina gave me her card to go shopping,” Killian said.

“What? I’m not spending her money.”

“She said you’d be against it, so she told me to tell you that you are free to pay her back however you wish. Regina wants us to keep all the receipts for each item we purchase, and we have a list of things to get from the grocery store as well. You are free to get as much and whatever you want. She’s not exactly strapped for cash. You can borrow anything you want from my room until we get your new clothes. Now, go shower and do whatever it is you need to do. We have a trip ahead of us.”

“Wait, where are we going?”

Killian just smiled.


“You ran.”

“Ruby.”

“The woman you’ve been crushing on since she got here poured her heart out to you, and you ran.”

“Can you just get me my coffee?”

“This is going to either be a missed opportunity or the world’s greatest love story.”

“I can hear you.”

“That was the point. Do you want creamer?”

“I will take it the same way I always take it.”

“With a miserable sigh and a depressed head shake?”

“Give me my coffee,” Regina huffed.

Ruby snorted and poured Regina’s coffee. When Regina ran, she naturally went to the one place where she would feel comfortable expressing her emotions without consequence. Of course, that was before Regina remembered that her niece took great pleasure in teasing her about her crush on someone off-limits. And straight. Regina sighed and took her coffee, and she ignored the knowing smile on Ruby’s face as she sipped at it. The bell over the door sounded, and Regina knew before Ruby’s smile ever faded what was coming.

“Where is my daughter?”

“How am I supposed to know? Don’t you have a tracker on her or something?” When Snow didn’t answer, Regina spun around slowly and blinked. “Please tell me you do not have a tracker on Emma,” she added in exasperation.

“It’s an app on her phone,” Snow said defensively. “And the last place it pinged was at the docks.”

“And that translates to her being with me how?”

“Because you mysteriously take the day off the day she disappears. And I thought you were sick.”

“I said I was under the weather. That can mean a multitude of things. As for Emma, have you tried the docks? The school? The station? Literally anywhere else?”

Snow clenched her fists and said, “I know you know where she is. I heard you two had lunch together and that you were,” Snow scowled, “laughing.”

“Oh, how terrible. The Evil Queen laughs,” Regina mocked. “She must be up to something.”

“Are you?”

“For the love of- no, I am not. I am trying to enjoy a cup of coffee before I return home to crawl in my bed and sleep the rest of the day. Does that satisfy your curiosity?”

“Look, you can fool everyone else, but I know you. I know your heart is cold and evil,” Snow said.

Regina stood, slightly towering over Snow, and she leaned over to look Snow in the eyes. The diner got quiet.

“How does it feel, Snow?” Regina whispered. “To not know where your child is? To not know if she’s safe and healthy? How does it feel to have your entire world narrowed to one thought that suffocates you from the inside out?”

“Tell me where she is,” Snow gritted out.

Regina adjusted her coat and picked up the to-go cup that Ruby instinctively filled while she wasn’t looking. “I don’t know where your child is. But I hope you return to school at some point, though. I’m sure the children there miss you. Which is a good thing because I doubt your own spawn wants to see you right now after what you did.”

“How did you know about that?”

“What do you mean?” Regina asked, faking confusion. “I haven’t spoken to Emma since our happy and enlightening lunch.”

Snow glared at her, and Regina patted Snow’s cheek.

“You have a wonderful day, my beloved step-daughter,” she mocked.


Killian unscrewed his hook and put it in the glove compartment. He put on the prosthetic Whale gave him and pulled his sleeve down to cover the bottom. It was still an odd fit, but it was better than walking around with a hook. He glanced over at Emma to see if she was ready, but she was staring in disbelief at the store. Emma turned to Killian, her eyes narrowed and curious.

“You can leave Storybrooke with your memories intact.”

“I probably should have given you that warning.”

“And you drive me to a Target outside of town while I was blindfolded.”

“I wanted to surprise you. And is this not acceptable? There is a mall down-

“No, I- how did you know there was a Target here?” she asked.

“Regina and I took a trip here last month with Ruby.”

“You three left without telling anyone?”

“We leave all the time, Emma,” Killian laughed. “Regina likes Starbucks. She doesn’t want to spend the money to build one in Storybrooke, so we come out here to get her caffeine fix and purchase the beans. I’m not sure why we don’t get shipments, but I think it’s because Regina likes being able to leave and get it herself. She’s a hoarder of Starbucks beans.”

Emma sat back.

“You have a car-

“That I can only drive with adult supervision, for obvious reasons-

“- and the ability to leave town-

“- but only with Regina, Ruby, and I guess you-

“- and you know what Target is! You have a prosthetic hand, a knowledge of classical literature, and you speak fluent Spanish.”

“I am confused on why you are pointing out these things to me.”

Emma shook her head and said, “I think my life just got a lot more interesting being in Regina’s circle.”

“You’re not there yet, but when you are, you’ll know.”

Killian grinned at Emma as he got out of the car and waited for her to join him. When she did, Emma seemed nervous, and Killian touched her arm to get her attention.

“Hey, whatever you buy in here will be yours to keep,” he promised. “No one will take it from you. I won’t let them, and neither will Regina or Ruby. Even Granny might partake in a fisticuff over you. This is for you and you alone.”

Emma sniffed and hurriedly wiped away a stray tear. She lightly elbowed Killian in the side and said, “No one says fisticuff anymore, idiot.”

“Got you to smile, didn’t it? Come on. I’m supposed to be your peanut gallery or something.”

Chapter Text

After her conversation with Kieran, the next two days were silent. Suspiciously so. Kara flew past L-Corp during her route, found Sam in the CEO’s office, and Kara realized that Jess wasn’t the only one who kept Kieran’s secrets close to heart. Sam was an impenetrable force, and that was not something the Girl of Steel was accustomed to. Kara flew by Kieran’s apartment right after, and it’d been cleared out. It was empty, and Kara panicked. Did Kieran leave? Sam gave Kara nothing to work with initially, but she did reassure her that Kieran was still in National City. The relief Kara felt was short-lived as Sam once again told her to get lost.

On top of it all, Lois heard about Kara’s outburst with Kal-El and had been blowing up Kara’s phone, threatening to come to National City in person, but there was no point. Kara would do the superhero thing her way, not his, and it made no sense for Lois to mediate anything. But it did seem like more people were against Supergirl losing the symbol than she assumed, and she struggled to get the city to accept the not-so-new her. Everything was chaotic and frustrating, and Kara was stuck at CatCo in a wig because Kara Danvers and Supergirl couldn’t show up at the same time with a new hairstyle. Alex gave Kara a knowing look when J’onn handed her the wig, a smug ‘You deserve this’ on the tip of her sister’s tongue. And Kara wore the wig with a type of pettiness only a younger sibling could pull off.

Regardless, Kara made a mental countdown. If she hadn’t heard from or seen Kieran before the weekend, then she would break Jess and Sam down until she got answers. Until then, Kara had a life-changing decision before her. Cheetos? Or Ruffles? Kara grabbed the wrong wallet that morning, and her choice was limited to whatever a dollar could buy her after she begged Nia to spot her four quarters. She scratched at the back of her neck, and she squinted at the two chips. Both were her favorite, but she could only get one.

There was an underlying theme of choice in Kara’s life that she wasn’t interested in delving into without Kelly’s help. Or with anyone at all.

“Heard you’ve made nice with Lena.”

Kara glanced at James through the reflection of the vending machine, and she said, “Once upon a time, seeing you made my day. Now, you remind me of Clark.”

“You make it sound like a bad thing.”

“It was an observation, not an accusation. What do you want?”

“What’s going on with you? First, you go off on Clark for no reason, and now, you’re best friends with a Luthor?”

“I would recommend you stay out of family business, Jimmy. Being Clark’s best friend does not give you the right to know every last detail about the House of El,” Kara said.

“Clark confided in me about something Lex told him ages ago.”

“So that’s three unreliable sources. How fortunate for me.”

“I’m serious, Kara. Lex wouldn’t make something like this up, and if I’m right, then Lena’s a lot more dangerous than you think.”

“Fine, I’ll bite. But only because I can’t decide which chip I want. What are you talking about?”


Kara stormed into Kieran’s office and said to Sam, “Where is she?”

“I already told you-

“Listen, I am not in the mood. I need to know where Kieran is because her secret is about to reach the DEO, and I will not be able to protect her if it does.”

Sam leaned back in Kieran’s chair and crossed her legs.

“What secret?” she asked.

“Do not bullshit me, Arias.”

“I think that might be the first time I have ever heard you curse.”

“Where is Kieran?” Kara gritted out.

Sam studied her, eyes curious, and she pointed to the blank spot on the wall Kara saw several days ago. It was still lined with lead, so she couldn’t see anything. Sam chuckled and reached over, picking up a paperweight. The wall slid to the side. Kara had no expectations but seeing Kieran levitating off the floor with a barrier of ice around her didn’t even come close. Sam stood and left the room after one last look at Kara. The door slammed shut, and Kara nearly jumped out of her skin when Kieran opened her eyes. Red pupils dilated then focused on Kara. The temperature in the room got so cold that Kara felt like someone injected pure ice into her veins. Kara shivered and wrapped her arms around herself as the barrier of ice was pulled into Kieran’s chest.

Kieran lowered herself to the ground, which let Kara get a better look at her outfit. She was blown by Kieran’s floor-length dress, bare feet, and the strange symbols glowing on her neck. She looked like some medieval witch. The gold ring on Kieran’s left middle finger was the same color as the symbols, and Kieran fiddled with it as she glided across the floor. The closer Kieran got to Kara, the more Kara struggled to focus on the world around her. Her senses dulled, her body felt weak, and all she wanted to do was drop down to her knees. Kieran stopped at the threshold of the secret room and stared at Kara with an unsettling familiarity.

Kara felt exposed.

Like Kieran saw straight through her and then some. Kieran lifted her palm and placed it over Kara’s chest. Pressure against her chest made her stumble back, and Kara was pushed further into the office with little effort on Kieran’s part. Kara was too shocked to do anything but stand there as the door slammed in her face. The temperature returned to normal. Kara’s heartbeat roared in her ears, and she was minutely aware of Sam returning to the room.

“Satisfied?”

“What- what was that?” Kara stammered.

“The reason why Kieran has been radio silent. I am acting CEO of L-Corp for an indefinite time.”

“Is she- like is she okay?”

“Depends on why you’re asking.”

“Because despite our namesake, I do care about her.”

After a long pause, Sam sat down in Kieran’s chair and said, “You are an enigma to her, Kara Zor-El. A puzzle that she wants to figure out for the rest of her life for some reason.”

Kara jerked in surprise.

“You know my birth name?”

“Of course, that would be the part you focus on. But yes, I know your name, Kara. I know your address, all three of your phone numbers, your biggest fear, and your greatest weakness.” Sam cocked her head. “Well, your greatest weaknesses if we include the one you hold close to your chest. I know what happened to your planet, I know who your cousin is, and I know that you will not tell anyone what you saw. After all, you are a lost soul stuck on a planet that tolerates you because you have something to offer them. But whatever secret you think you know is only half the story. I’m sure Lex created some fantastical explanation that makes Kieran the bad guy. But Lex is and will always be the monster of that family. Kieran is well-trained.”

The last part is said with a smirk. Sam twirled a pen around and leaned back in the chair.

“It goes against everything you believe in outing Kieran as something foreign when you’ve been hiding pieces of yourself ever since you put on that suit. It would be like ripping the symbol of your House from your chest in rebellion even though you know it goes beyond Superman and all that he stands for.”

Kara clenched her fists and said, “You don’t know anything about me.”

“Fine, then tell me the true reason you became a superhero.”

“To save people,” Kara answered.

Sam’s smile was as sympathetic as much as it was pitying, and Kara hated it. She hated being exposed, and nothing hurt more than realizing an almost stranger knew her better than half the people in her life. Kara swiped away a tear that slipped free and backed away. She wasn’t running, but she couldn’t stay. Sam noticed her potential escape and sighed.

“Look, Kieran is the second most important person in my life, nearly tied for first. I will die for her, and I will kill for her. So keep that in mind, Supergirl. But you should trust that she will come to you when she is ready,” Sam said. “And one day, I hope you look in the mirror and love who you are, not the person you have been pretending to be since your pod crashed on our planet all those years ago.”

Kara gave a sharp nod before she flew as fast and as hard as she could to anyplace that wasn’t L-Corp.


Jess poured a glass of champagne while Kieran flopped face down on the bed. She groaned into the pillow. Moving into another apartment closer to Jess was never in her five-year plan. But Kieran didn’t factor in her portal sickness kicking up a notch when she least expected it either. Sam hired movers and rented a less expensive but infinitely better apartment in her name. Kieran was too tired to be upset about it.

“Sam said the investors from Japan are willing to push back the presentation until your return.”

“Oh, thank God.”

Jess handed Kieran the glass and looked out of the window. Naturally, Sam bought an apartment with a bedroom that had a balcony. Kieran was unsurprised to see Supergirl floating outside of her window. Kara had that look on her face, one that promised a long and uncomfortable conversation, and Kieran sighed. Jess pretended that Kara wasn’t there and turned to Kieran.

“Guess that would explain why she purchased an apartment on the top floor of the second-highest building in National City,” she mused.

“I hate her so much.”

“Yes, well. At least this apartment doesn’t scream single and alone.”

“I liked you better when you were afraid of me.”

“Oh, I can assure you,” Jess chuckled. “I am still very much afraid of you.”

Kieran snorted and waved Jess out of the room. Jess smiled and unlocked the window before closing the bedroom door behind her. Kieran pulled herself upright and sat against the headboard as Kara strolled into the room. Kieran drained her drink before she placed the empty glass on her nightstand. Kara stopped until she was standing next to the bed.

“You aren’t Lena Luthor.”

“Hi, Kara. How are you? Rough night?” Kara didn’t laugh, and Kieran sighed. “My name is Lena,” she said. “Technically.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“It does, but it isn’t the answer you want to hear.” Kieran crossed her legs. “But since you don’t seem to be in a joking mood and I am too tired for the runaround myself, I will admit the Luthor’s are not my family. They were a means to an end, and we used one another until only misery and loathing were the only things left. I took the position at L-Corp to undo what Lex and Lillian did and what Lionel let slide to avoid besmirching the family name any more than he had. I am curious about how you found out.”

“Lex told Clark about your arrival to Metropolis. Clark told James, and James told me.” 

“A person’s secrets are never their own anymore.” 

“My boss wants to talk to you.”

“I am currently out of commission, but I will schedule an appointment for this weekend.”

“How do we know you won’t run?”

“Because I know you would find me no matter where I went.”

“Not if you’re not from here. You could leave here and disappear!”

“If I could leave, Kara, I would,” Kieran admitted sadly. “But I can’t.”

Kara clenched her jaw and gritted out, “You’ve been lying to me.”

“Hello, pot,” Kieran deadpanned.

“That’s different!”

“Is it?” Kieran asked, cocking her head.

“Me hiding my identity about Supergirl is nothing compared to being a person from an entirely different universe. Who even are you?”

“That is the question of the hour, isn’t it?”

“If you won’t tell me who you are, then will you at least tell me where you’re from?”

“That almost sounded like it came from a person who cares about me.”

“I do care about you, Kieran. But I am allowed to be upset.”

“Let’s agree to disagree on that front, but you wouldn’t believe me.”

“I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“For now.” Kieran gestured to the bed, and Kara sat beside her. “Do you recall the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?” she asked tiredly.

“Duh! I watched it all the time when I was in high school.”

“So you’re a fan of Snow White?”

“No. I- I kind of liked the Evil Queen,” Kara admitted. “I know I shouldn’t, but she was hot. Well, before she became a hag and everything. I’ve seen every variation of the story.”

Kieran laughed and said, “I’ll be sure to tell her that when I see her again.”

“What? The Evil Queen isn’t….” Kara trailed off with wide eyes at the look on Kieran’s face. “She’s real?” she exclaimed.

“Indeed. So is Snow White, the dwarves, the Huntsman, and the entire Disney collection. The Enchanted Forest, Agrabah, and everything under the sun from the world of Walt Disney were real where I came from. I have no idea how Walt got his hand on that knowledge, but I guess that’s one of those things that cannot be explained. But The Evil Queen, or as I knew her, Regina is my mother. So, when you asked me who I was, the technical answer would be Princess Lena Kieran Mills of the Enchanted Forest, daughter of the so-called Evil Queen.”

Kara made some sort of noise in the back of her throat, and she slid to the floor. Kieran arched an eyebrow.

“Would you like some tea?”

“I think I might need something a little stronger than that to take this all in,” Kara muttered.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect you to believe me.”

“You pushed me.”

“What?”

“Today, in your office.” Kara stood up and scratched the back of her head. “You pushed me,” she said.

Kieran hummed and threw her legs over the bed. She grabbed her empty glass and glanced at Kara on the floor. “I should probably make it known that while you might be the Girl of Steel, you are not the most powerful person in the city. Keep that in mind the next time you drop by my office unannounced even though Sam and Jess both told you I was unavailable to speak.”

“In my defense, I wasn’t exactly expecting you to be floating in the air with weird symbols on your neck,” Kara huffed.

“Even more reason for you to mind your business next time, Supergirl.”

“Can I have that drink now?” Kara asked wryly. “Because if you’re going to keep being snarky, I’m going to need liquid courage.”

Kieran snorted as she laughed, and she covered her nose. Kara gave her a cheeky grin, and she rolled her eyes.

“Come on, idiot. And please, go change into something else. I feel weird with you walking around my new apartment in the suit.”

“Do you have any preferences?” Kara asked sarcastically.

Kieran followed the hallway down to the kitchen and gave Kara a sly grin.

“Not any I can say at the moment. But ask me again in a few weeks.”

“Are you flirting?”

“Not at all.” Kieran looked back and added, “You will know when I’m flirting.”

“Why does that scare me?”

“It should.”


Sam carried an unhealthy amount of food into the apartment and dropped it off in the kitchen. She paused when she found Kara at the island in a pair of Kieran’s sweatpants and a way too small t-shirt that rode up whenever Kara moved.

“I take it Kieran picked out your clothes,” Sam said.

“How could you tell?”

“She’s put your best assets on display.”

Kara grinned and flexed for the hell of it. Sam was caught off guard by the sheer amount of muscle and inwardly admitted she saw the appeal. God, Kara could literally crush someone with her bare hands. Why was that so attractive? Jess smacked Sam on the back of her head as she entered the kitchen.

“Stop staring,” Jess scolded.

“Um, excuse me, she’s sitting there looking like a Greek statue come to life, and I’m in the wrong?”

“Yes, because we both know she’s not here for our visual enjoyment.”

Kieran scoffed and came into the kitchen wearing shorts that showed off a lot of skin and a crop top. Sam narrowed her eyes.

“I did not come here to be a part of some weird foreplay between the two of you,” she said.

“I just got out of the shower.”

“And you couldn’t put on a pair of pants? A parka?”

“I thought you liked seeing me like this.”

“Please stop before your Kryptonian girlfriend squeezes the life out of me.”

“I am not going to squeeze the life out of you,” Kara snorted.

Sam pursed her lips and decided not to mention that Kara responded to only half of her comment. She unpacked the food and gave three-fourths of it to Kara. The four of them sat around the island with their respective dinner, and it was an eye-opening experience to watch Kara eat. Sam propped her chin and asked a question that was bothering her.

“Are you angry with me?”

“No,” Kara said. “Why would I be?”

“Our conversation earlier got a little tense.”

“Your words had merit.”

“So you’ll take my advice?”

“You didn’t give me any advice!”

“I gave you plenty. You just weren’t listening.”

Kara flicked a green bean at Sam and went back to her food.

“Oh, right. Kara knows I’m a princess,” Kieran said off-handedly.

“I could’ve told her that after college.”

Kieran paused with her chopsticks in hand and narrowed eyes, and Jess smothered her laugh with a napkin.

“I am not a pillow princess,” Kieran hissed.

Kara shifted and said, “I don’t mind if you are. I’m a service top, so.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I don’t know why people think I don’t have sex,” Kara chuckled awkwardly. “Like it’s not a foreign concept to me. I have hormones just like everyone else.”

“What?” Kieran repeated.

“I’m just saying that if you are a pillow princess, I’m not against it. I’d take care of you.”

Kara shrugged and went back to her food. Jess choked on her water as she snickered, and Sam practically fell off the stool as she laughed. Kieran turned red and flicked her wrist at Sam. A pillow flew from the couch and crashed into Sam’s head, and Sam barely managed to stay upright. Kara winked at Kieran, and Kieran ducked her head.

“God, I hate all of you,” she muttered.

“Nah, you love us. Oh, that reminds me. Can Ruby stay with you tomorrow until like two?”

“I thought she was staying with her friend for the week?”

“Kasey’s Mom had a guy over when they got home from school, and Ruby said he gave her and Lisa the creeps. He kept staring at them, so I called Jannie and Marianne. They went and picked up the girls. Ruby is staying with Jannie and Lisa tonight. I’m taking her home tomorrow, but I have that meeting from 9-1.”

“Of course, she can come over. I could use the company.”

“Cool, thanks.”

Kara shifted again, and she put down her utensils. She cocked her head toward the window, and she sighed.

“I have to go.”

“You can come back,” Kieran said. “If you want. I’ll be up for a little, and we can talk. I know you still have questions.”

Kara nodded and sped out of the room. She returned in her suit, and she picked up the pillow Kieran threw at Sam. She placed it in Kieran’s lap and winked.

“Later, princess.”

Kieran threw the pillow at Kara’s head as she laughed and left the apartment.

“Asshole!” Kieran shouted.

Chapter Text

Rosalie paced along the edge of the cliff.

“You’re my soulmate?” Bella asked.

“That is one way of looking at it,” Rosalie replied. “Some vampires see their mates as platonic, others see them as familial, and then there are those who see their mates in a romantic sense.”

“Which one am I to you?”

“You know the answer to that.”

“I want to hear you say it.”

Rosalie scoffed and folded her arms.

“No, you want me to embarrass myself.”

“Rosalie, from the moment I saw you, I knew in my heart that you were meant to be in my life for the years to come. I imagined introducing you to my sister, which, let me tell you, is the scariest thing I will ever have to do. My mother is easy to get around, but Kieran? She’s the human equivalent to a hurricane, and if she doesn’t like you, she’ll turn you to ice and shatter you into a million pieces. I like you. I think you’re gorgeous, funny, and the type of woman who could bring me to my knees. You’re my biggest weakness personified. I would be honored if you stepped on me or wrapped your hand around my throat-”

“Isabella,” Rosalie interrupted.

“Sorry, lost the plot. But I mean, that’s the gist of how I feel. Guess that doesn’t matter if you don’t feel the same. Am I even attractive to you? I know I’m a bit masculine, but I promise I’m a girl.”

Rosalie turned to Bella in disbelief.

“What are you talking about?”

“There was this maid at the castle who used to tell me I would never attract a man with my boyish features. But I like women, so it never bothered me until I got here. Women here thought I was something called a ‘Dom.’ I had to look up what that meant, and I didn’t like it. I don’t see why I have to wear dresses all the time. I like wearing suits and pants because they’re comfortable, you know? And I climb a lot of trees and play with animals. It feels silly to wear skirts and dresses to do that, but I’m a woman. I want to be taken care of and romanced. I want to be told I’m pretty.” Bella scrunched her face. “I am pretty, right?” she asked.

Rosalie had emotional whiplash from the conversation, but her inner self bristled that Bella felt like she wasn’t anything but perfect. Rosalie sat cross-legged in front of her mate. She clicked her teeth and reached forward, pulling Bella onto her lap. Bella turned red, a far cry from the girl in the kitchen not even twenty-four hours ago, and Rosalie tucked some of Bella’s hair away from her face.

“I do like you,” Rosalie confessed. “When I walked into the house last night, I saw my future flash before my eyes. You were in it every step of the way as my mate, my partner, and my forever. I find you captivating in every sense of the word. Being with you puts me on solid ground, and as scary as it is, I would not ask for anything else. But to answer your question, yes. I think you’re pretty.”

Bella’s smile dazed Rosalie, and she didn’t even realize what was happening around her until something brushed against her thigh. Rosalie glanced down, and her breath caught in her throat at the array of flowers around them. Bella huffed and turned around.

“You guys are embarrassing me,” she hissed.

Rosalie watched in amusement as even more flowers popped up around them, and Bella threw her hands in the air.

“Guys! I got it,” she exclaimed. “I know how to talk to a girl.”

Some of the flowers wilted in response, and Bella pouted.

“That was mean,” she said.

Rosalie leaned back on her hands and tilted her head, watching Bella with undisguised affection. She glanced at the flowers and said, “I think your friends are trying to tell me something.”

Bella’s head snapped to hers, and Rosalie pointed to the flowers.

“Yellow Acacia, Gillyflower, Blue Salvia, Azalea, and White Gardenias all have similar meanings.”

“I am so glad you are single,” Bella said. “I’ve only known you for two days, and I already want to marry you.”

Bella clamped a hand over her mouth, and Rosalie was shocked to find that the idea of marriage didn’t disgust her as it usually did. But only if Bella was the one at the end of the aisle. Rosalie pried Bella’s hand away from her mouth and kissed the back of it, never breaking eye contact.

“I wouldn’t be against it,” she said.

Rosalie grinned at the sound of Bella’s heart rapidly beating in her chest.

“Is that what you wanted to hear?” she teased.

“Yes, but hold that thought, please,” Bella said shyly. Shortly after, a bird landed on Bella’s shoulder and began to “talk” to her. Rosalie wanted to comment on how Bella looked like Snow White, but she felt the joke would be in poor taste considering everything that she knew. Bella scratched her nose with her free hand, reminding Rosalie that she held the other hand in a tight grip. Rosalie kissed Bella’s wrist, and Bella put a hand against Rosalie’s chest and gripped her shirt, half-distracted by the bird.

“That’s not- okay, okay.” Bella knocked her head against the bird gently. “Also, can you please move out of the vents? Charlie’s allergic to feathers, and they’re getting in the house.”

Rosalie could’ve sworn the bird rolled its eyes before flying away. She wondered how she ended up with a mate that spoke to trees and animals. Bella tugged on Rosalie’s shirt to get her attention, and Rosalie looked at her.

“Marty said you’re beautiful and that you should stop eating his friends.”

Rosalie blinked and asked, “You named the bird Marty?”

“Of course not, Rosalie. That’s his name.”

“Birds have names?”

“Duh. You thought animals just called each other ‘lion one’ and ‘lion two?’”

“Honestly? Yes.”

Bella snorted and said, “You skipped over the eating his friends part.”

“I don’t eat animals anymore.”

“So… you eat humans?”

Rosalie grimaced and nodded. Bella shrugged and pushed at Rosalie’s shoulder until she lied flat on the ground. Bella threw her leg over Rosalie’s waist and hid her face in the crook of Rosalie’s neck, nipping at her jaw.

“You taste like honey,” Bella murmured.

“Wait, you’re not upset?”

“Am I supposed to be?” 

“Hard to believe you’ve been single this entire time.”

“I never said I was single,” Bella scoffed. “I had all types of relations in London.”

“The fact that you said relations tells me everything I need to know.”

“Well. You’re not wrong,” Bella muttered. “I did lose my virginity in the back of a sex club to a woman named Mojo.”

Rosalie twitched and said, “Please don’t say things like that.”

“Why?”

“I’m not a fan of thinking about you with anyone but me.”

“Aw, Rose. You’re going to be the best and the last.”

“That didn’t sound nearly as romantic as you thought it did.”

“I want you to erase all the others from my mind.”

“Much better.”

“You have a complex.”

“I’m territorial.”

“Possessive?”

“A little.”

“Hey, so if I asked you to step on me-

“I am not going to step on you,” Rosalie said, exasperated.

Bella sighed dramatically and pouted.

“Darn. I’ve always wanted a beautiful woman to put a stiletto into my chest and bring me to my knees.”

“I am concerned by the things that go through your mind.”

“This is the least embarrassing thing that’s happened to me since I followed you out here.”

“You did have a one-sided conversation with a bird named Marty five minutes ago.”

“He was concerned when I didn’t come home. My birds are nosy creatures.”

“Birds?” Rosalie asked dryly. “As in more than one?”

“Yeah! So, there’s Marty, who is a white-tailed Kite. There’s Benny, the American Kestrel. Casey, the common raven, but I don’t see him that often anymore. I should check on him tomorrow. Anyway, there are also the wonder twins, Lisa and Lenny, who are mourning doves. And those are just the birds that I see more than twice a week. There’s a mountain lion named Elizabeth, who just had cubs, and I’m supposed to bring her food on Friday. I tend to avoid deer. It’s hard to talk to an animal that can’t stick to one subject. Um, let’s see. Oh! I forgot, there’s a family of elk that live West of here. I avoid them during hunting season because they get skittish and violent.”

Rosalie did not doubt in her mind her mate was an odd creature.

“Did I scare you away?” Bella asked.

“No, but I did underestimate Emmett when he said you were a zoolinguist.”

“Is that what it’s called? I called it ‘Dolittling.’”

“What?”

“Like Dr. Dolittle?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You’ve never seen Dr. Dolittle?”

“I get the impression we’re not talking about an actual doctor here.”

Bella gasped and sat up straight.

“We have to have a movie night!”

“Are you asking me on a date?”

“Are you going to say yes?”

“I would love nothing more than to go on a date with you.”

“Oh, good because I would’ve never heard the end of it from the trees if you said no.”

Rosalie laughed and shook her head, cupping Bella’s cheek.

“I adore you.”

“You’re so far out of my league it isn’t even funny,” Bella whispered.

Rosalie leaned up on her elbows. She waited for the warning bells, the alarms that told her she needed to slow down, but they never came. Rosalie had no idea what the next day would bring or even the next hour, but she knew what she wanted in the present. Rosalie brushed her lips against Bella’s, and the rest of the world faded into nothingness. Bella was pure heat, setting Rosalie’s entire being on fire. Everything burned, and if that was how Rosalie died, she willingly accepted her fate. Rosalie breathed in the smoke pouring from Bella’s mouth and let it fill her senses. An ember she forgot existed sparked to life, and she flipped their position so that she was on top. Bella whimpered into the kiss and went limp, fully submitting to Rosalie. The action triggered Rosalie’s possessive side. She dug her hands into the dirt, forcing herself to break the kiss. Rosalie turned her head and exhaled actual bits and pieces of smoking ash. Her fangs pushed their way out of her gums, and Rosalie closed her eyes, trying to calm herself down.

“Hey, you okay?” Bella panted.

Rosalie growled lowly and scraped her teeth against Bella’s neck. Bella arched upward and grabbed Rosalie’s waist, tilting her head to the side. Rosalie rocked her hips into Bella’s core, and she panicked when Bella moaned her name. Rosalie ran to the other side of the clearing and held up her hand to keep Bella from following.

Bella squirmed and asked, “Did I do something wrong?”

Rosalie shook her head. Bella was about to ask another question when she turned and squinted at the trees. She seemed to be listening to something, and finally, she looked back at Rosalie.

“You wouldn’t have hurt me.”

“I don’t want to risk it yet,” Rosalie said, covering her mouth.

“Let me see.”

“Bella-

“Please?”

Rosalie huffed and dropped her hand. Bella crawled across the grass, and Rosalie’s brain filled in the blanks, imagining Bella on her knees…  wearing nothing but-

“Rose?”

“Hmm?”

“Fangs?”

Rosalie opened her mouth automatically, and Bella’s tongue poked out as she leaned in. Rosalie held her breath and concentrated on not ripping through her shirt sleeves. She knew if she even touched Bella, the little control she had left would vanish. She wanted to take Bella on a date, spoil her, and make her feel special before she…

“Are you listening to me?”

“No,” Rosalie admitted.

Bella laughed and said, “I asked can I feel them.”

“My teeth?”

“Is that weird?”

“A little, but it’s okay. Just be careful,” Rosalie warned. “I don’t want you to cut yourself.”

“Okay.” Bella scooted closer and grabbed Rosalie’s face. She bent down and grinned. “But I never said with my fingers,” she whispered.

Rosalie groaned and accepted the kiss without much fight. Bella’s tongue was so warm, and when it brushed against her fangs the first time, Rosalie ripped off her sleeves. But she didn’t pull away. When Bella did it the second time, there was no mistaking the feeling in her gut. Rosalie pushed Bella back and kept her in place.

“Can’t,” Rosalie said, her voice hoarse.

“Okay, okay.”

Rosalie helped Bella off the ground and set her on her feet.

“Are you going to be alright getting home?” she asked. “I need to hunt.”

“Oh, yeah! I’ll be fine. Norman’s giving me a ride.”

“Norman?”

“He’s right behind you!”

Rosalie turned and clamped her mouth shut when she saw the massive black bear emerging from the trees.

“Your ride is a bear,” Rosalie said flatly.

“Uh-huh. Norman’s pretty fast when there’s food involved.”

“Do you feed every dangerous creature that you encounter?”

“I was about to feed you before you lost control.”

Some kind of strangled sound left Rosalie’s throat, and Bella snorted out a laugh before running to Norman. If Rosalie had a beating heart, it would’ve stopped when Bella threw her arms around its neck. She jumped on its back and scratched behind its ears.

“You’re just my good boy, aren’t you? Aren’t you, Norman?” Bella cooed.

“Please tell Emmett I’ll be back in the morning.”

“Sure. Let’s head home, buddy.” Bella patted Norman on the neck, and the bear turned toward the trees. “Bye, Rose!” she said.

Rosalie waved with a tight smile and waited until Bella was gone before scoffing and saying, “Unbelievable. I’m mated to Jane fucking Goodall.”


Emmett and Charlie were the only ones unsurprised when Bella entered the backyard on the back of a bear. Charlie sighed and went into the kitchen. He returned with a bag full of meat and threw it on the ground. Bella slid down to the dirt and picked up the bag, putting it between the bear’s jaws.

“You alright to get home? Not too tired, are you?” Bella asked the bear.

The bear bobbed its head and turned around to leave.

“Watch out for hunters, Norman!” she called out.

The bear growled in acknowledgment, and Emmett smiled at the looks on Alice and Jasper’s faces.

“I told you she could talk to animals,” he said under his breath.

“But this is something entirely different!” Alice hissed.

“Is your other sister this…” Jasper trailed off and gestured aimlessly.

Emmett laughed and said, “Kieran was worse. I’m not sure if she grew into her personality or not.”

“Tellus!”

Bella jogged to Emmett and threw herself into his arms. He caught her around the waist and moved her to his back. She slumped forward over his shoulder and closed her eyes. Emmett frowned, sniffing at her hair, and he asked, “What did you and Rosalie get into?”

“We made out under the moonlight in a field of flowers.”

Charlie snorted and sat down in his rocking chair with a beer.

“Were you respectful?” Emmett asked.

“I’m nothing but respectful.”

“Where is Rosalie, by the way?” Alice asked.

“She said she had to hunt and that she’ll be back in the morning.”

“Didn’t she just hunt?” Jasper asked.

Emmett chuckled and adjusted his hold on Bella.

“She probably needs to work off some steam.”

“I do have that effect on women,” Bella said somberly.

“Andrea said you puked the first time you saw a naked woman,” Charlie said.

“That is not true.”

“So, you didn’t puke?”

“No, I puked, but it was because I ate bad sushi. The events were unrelated.”

“Of course, my mistake.”

“It’s like I know she’s normal,” Alice murmured. “But she’s also peculiar.”

Jasper nodded in agreement.

“Oh, Charlie!” Bella exclaimed. “I saw Marty, and I told him to move out. He didn’t say yes or no, but I’m sure he will.”

“Thanks. I have no problem with Marty staying at the house, but not somewhere his feathers get into the vents.”

“Bella, is Marty a bird?” Emmett asked.

“Yes.”

“Seriously? How many animals have you made friends with?”

“Here? Or in general? Because there were some jungle cats that I met at the zoo in London that were hilarious. I learned some great jokes from them that I’m almost positive they heard from someone else.”

“The cats told you jokes,” Jasper repeated.

“Yep! Want to hear some?”

“Sure.”

“What do you call 2 octopuses that look the same?”

“No clue.”

“Itenticle.”

“Jesus,” Charlie muttered.

“Oh! Why are giraffes so slow to apologize?”

“Why?” Emmett asked, a big grin on his face.

“It takes them a long time to swallow their pride.”

Charlie face-palmed at the punchline. Emmett kissed Bella on the side of the head as he laughed.

“I love you,” he said.

Bella grinned and rested her chin on his shoulder.

“I love you too, brother.”

“Yeah, you are perfect for Rosalie,” Alice said.

“I am?” Bella asked.

“Absolutely. No one on this planet will love you more.”

“Thank… you?”

“She meant that as a compliment,” Jasper hurried to explain.


Rosalie’s phone rang while she was on the roof, and she answered it when she saw Emmett’s name.

“Hello?”

“Why couldn’t the leopard play hide and seek?”

Rosalie grinned at the sound of Bella’s voice, and she said, “You should be asleep.”

“Ask me why,” Bella whined.

“Why?”

“Because he was always spotted.” 

Rosalie snorted and covered her nose. She heard Emmett snickering in the background.

“Want another one?” Bella asked.

“I would love another one,” Rosalie said.

Rosalie turned away from the guy she was stalking. She jumped off the roof and walked to the tree line.

“Alright, so a physicist, a biologist, and a chemist went to the ocean for the first time. The physicist saw the ocean and was fascinated by the waves. He said he wanted to research the fluid dynamics of the waves and walked into the ocean. He drowned and never returned. The biologist said he wanted to research flora and fauna and walked inside the ocean. He, too, never returned. So, the chemist waited for a long time. And afterward, he wrote down the observation, “The physicist and the biologist are soluble in ocean water.”

“Wow. That was so lame,” Rosalie said.

“I don’t hear you saying any jokes.”

“Because she’s got a sick sense of humor!” Emmett said in the background. “She made a kid cry once.”

“In my defense, I told you taking me there was a bad idea.”

“Do I even want to know what you did?” Bella asked.

“We went to an orphanage a couple of decades ago, and Rosalie asked a kid how his favorite sport was baseball if he didn’t know where home was.”

It went silent for all of ten seconds before Bella collapsed in a fit of giggles. Rosalie had never heard anything more beautiful, and she picked up her speed to get back to Forks. Emmett took the phone from Bella, and the sound of her laughter faded as Emmett left the room.

“I hope you’re on your way back.”

“Yes.”

“I’ll leave the window open.”

“Thanks, Em, for bringing me back.”

“Always. Even though it’s crazy that you’re mated to my sister.”

“She’s a breath of fresh air.”

“Gross.”

Rosalie hung up and ran as fast as possible to get back to Charlie’s house.

Chapter Text

Regina answered an email from her phone while waiting on her lunch order. A hotel in Storybrooke made no sense. They were in the middle of nowhere in Maine, and nearly ninety percent of the town had no idea how to interact with the outside world. Regina turned down the proposal and hit send. Ruby bustled around the diner, carrying plates and bowls by the armful, and Regina smiled at her niece as she greeted each customer with respect some of them didn’t deserve. Ruby had a heart for people, but it was rarely reciprocated because of the wolf thing. Regina hated it.

“Have you seen the Sheriff today?”

Regina shook her head and took the to-go bag from Granny. “No. I know Killian dropped her off around eight,” she said. “But I haven’t seen her since.”

“Snow watch,” Granny muttered just as the bell rang.

Regina picked up her bag and was about to leave when she heard it.

“Congratulations, Snow!” someone shouted.

Snow White beamed and put her hand on her stomach. Regina’s blood ran cold, and she tightened her grip on her bag. Granny’s breath caught behind her, and Ruby froze in the middle of the diner. All eyes were on Snow and the way she cradled her stomach.

“Thank you so much! David and I are honored to have this blessing,” Snow said. “This child is our second chance at a happy ending.

Regina backed away from the crowd and carried her food into the alleyway beside the diner. Regina breathed in the cool air to chase away the disbelief and anger in her heart. Did Snow seriously call that child a second chance? Regina could only hope neither David nor Snow were stupid enough to say that to Emma’s face. Regina walked with purpose toward her car, eager to get to the station or her phone, which she stupidly left in the glove compartment. But Regina cursed when David ran down the sidewalk. Regina caught a brief glimpse of Emma, and she was happy to see Emma had on her new uniform. Regina briefly admired how well the shirt framed Emma’s arms, her muscles on full display, and shook her head to focus. Regina walked on the balls of her feet to approach the duo from behind David, making sure to stay in Emma’s eye-line. Emma noticed her, but beyond a quirk of her lips, Emma gave nothing away.

“I’ve been trying to reach you for the last couple of hours,” David said, a little out of breath.

“Sorry. I went to see Eric and lost track of time,” Emma explained tightly. “What can I do for you?”

“Look!” David pulled out a small item and handed it to Emma. “We went to the doctor this morning, and we wanted you to be one of the first people to know,” he said.

Regina wanted to point out that Snow just announced it to the entire town not even a minute ago, but she stayed quiet.

“This is a sonogram,” Emma said.

“Snow’s pregnant!” David exclaimed. “It’s a boy, and she’s about fourteen weeks. We didn’t want to get your hopes up, but now that we know for sure, we’re ready to share it with you.”

“D-does Henry know?” Emma asked.

“No, we’re thinking of having a family dinner to make a more formal announcement. Snow’s in there now asking Granny if we could have the place tonight,” he said.

“Wow, this is,” Emma paused and swallowed, “great.”

“I know!” David grabbed Emma’s shoulders and let out a teary laugh. “Can you believe it, Emma? It’s our second chance!” he exclaimed.

Regina pushed herself into action when she saw the familiar glow in Emma’s eyes, and she stepped around David.

“There you are, Sheriff Swan.”

Regina plucked the picture from Emma’s hand and threw it behind her in David’s general direction.

“Hey!”

“No one cares that your wife is carrying the anti-Christ.”

“You’re just jealous,” David said.

Regina glanced at the sonogram, then back at David.

“It looks like something I would scape off my shoe,” she deadpanned.

“Do not call my son it,” David gritted out.

“Would you prefer indistinguishable mass of cells? Disgusting, parasitic growth? I have plenty of options for you to choose from.”

“For someone who can’t bear children, you sure have a lot to say about mine.”

“I urge you to remember the only reason you still breathe is at the behest of your grandson.” Regina clasped her hands in front of her and cocked her head. “But I must admit I am a bit curious. Did you have sex on Neal’s bed to keep with tradition? Or was that leech conceived in the back of your pickup truck? Both are ideal locations for you and your wife.”

David stepped up to Regina, and Emma pushed him back.

“Go inside,” she ordered.

“Emma-

“That was not a suggestion,” Emma snapped.

David clenched his jaw and went into the diner. Once he was gone, Regina pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.

“I apologize,” she said. “I did not intend to-

“You look beautiful today.”

Regina opened her eyes and said, “What?”

“I said, you look beautiful.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, but if something feels off, I promise to call.”

“Ensure that you do, Sheriff.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

Regina rolled her eyes and waved her away. Emma grinned and shoved her hands into her pockets before heading in the opposite direction. Regina glanced at her outfit. She wore a red sweater dress with black thigh-boots, and Regina frowned in confusion. To her, the dress and boots were plain. Regina hurried and grabbed Emma’s arm, stopping her from getting too far. Emma looked back at her, expectant. Regina felt a burst of affection for the woman in front of her. She glanced around before she kissed Emma on the cheek, leaving a lipstick stain behind. Emma’s face turned redder than usual, and her eyes widened in surprise.

“Thank you for the compliment,” Regina said.

Emma squeaked out something close to a response before walking away. Regina could just make out the face-palm Emma did before turning the corner, and she laughed as she headed to her car.


Killian finished his glass of water just as Neal slid into the booth across from him. Killian was sweaty, tired, and hungry, which meant he was in no mood for whatever Neal was about to say. Unfortunately, his food hadn’t arrived, and Killian was stuck for the time being. Neal dumped the contents of a folder onto the table between them. They were pictures of Killian with Regina outside the house, the grocery store, and even the ship. Killian knows Regina’s going to kill whoever took those pictures. He slid one image to the side and revealed the most recent one of Killian kissing Regina’s cheek, but the angle makes it seem worse than it is.

“The Evil Queen and Captain Hook,” Neal said smugly. “Who would’ve guessed?”

“Stalking is illegal in this world, Baelfire, and stop calling her that.”

“That’s who she is. She’s evil, Hook. She cursed an entire group of people out of spite and jealousy, and you’re playing house with her?” Neal snorted and leaned forward. “Hey, listen. Between the two of us, how much are you paying her? Because I heard rumors back in the day that the Evil Queen had no problem getting on her knees for the right price. Is she a good fuck, or does she lie there and-

Killian grabbed Neal by the hair and slammed his face into the table twice. He stood and tugged Neal’s head back. Neal’s nose was broken, gushing blood down his mouth and chin, and the few people in the diner went quiet. Killian tightened his grip on Neal’s hair and scowled, looking Neal in the eyes.

“While I promised Emma I would make an effort to be a better man, even I have my limitations. So, let me be clear, Baelfire. If you ever speak ill of Regina in my presence again or continue to have someone stalk her, I will slit your throat in front of your son and send your head to your father as a Christmas present. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes,” Neal choked out nasally.

“Good.”

Killian slammed Neal’s head against the table again, knocking him out. Killian threw a twenty on the table and carefully collected all the images, sliding them from under Neal’s head. He placed them back in the blood-stained folder and left.


Killian knocked on the door and poked his head into the office. Regina waved him in and stood from behind her desk.

“Yes, he’s here. I will, Granny. Thanks.”

Regina ended the call and pointed to the couch. Killian locked the door behind him and sat down, placing the folder on the table.

“Granny wanted me to tell you that you owe her diner a deep cleaning.”

“Okay.”

“What happened?”

“She didn’t tell you?”

Regina shook her head and sat down next to him. Killian pointed to the folder, and Regina put on her glasses before picking up the folder. Regina dumped the contents on the table just as Neal did in the diner. When she saw the pictures, Regina frowned and scooped them into one pile. She stormed over to her fireplace and threw them inside, flicking her wrist in the process. A fireball left her hand and set the images ablaze.

“Who gave you those?”

“Technically, I stole them from Baelfire. He made lewd comments about you that I took offense to, and I broke his nose. I also told him I would slit his throat in front of Henry and send his head to Rumpelstiltskin for Christmas if he spoke badly about you again.”

“Killian,” she sighed. “You can’t do stuff like that.”

“Why the bloody hell not? I was not going to allow him to disrespect you in the manner that he did!”

“Killian-

“Enough!” Killian stood up and moved toward her. “I am no hero, and I never will be. I am who I am, and that will never change. You are my best friend, Regina. I chose you. I trust you, and I love you. So I will always defend and protect you. This is not a conditional friendship where I pick and choose when to demand that the individuals of this town treat you with some modicum of respect. What Baelfire said was disgusting, vulgar, and completely out of line. He is lucky that I only gave him a broken nose and a concussion. In my world, his actions would have given me every right to remove his head and display it on my ship. So, no, I will not apologize or feel guilty for caring about you. I only regret doing what I did in Granny’s place of business, and I will accept whatever punishment she sees fit. But you will not disparage yourself in my presence for the sake of this town or men like him.” 

Regina’s eyes welled with tears, and Killian sighed. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. Regina cried into the crook of his neck, and Killian held her tighter.

“You are worth protecting at whatever cost,” he whispered. “And I will spend the rest of my life proving that to you.”

Regina didn’t respond but instead cried harder. Killian pulled her down to the couch and brought her into his lap. He rubbed her back and rocked her side to side, humming an old sailor’s tune under his breath.


Emma entered the hospital room and inwardly scoffed at the pathetic look on Neal’s face. Snow and David were already there with Henry, and Gold stood off to the side near the window. He nodded at Emma before returning his attention outside.

“Hi, Ma,” Henry greeted.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Emma said.

“It’s his father,” Snow argued.

“Not by choice,” Emma muttered. In a louder voice, she added, “What happened?”

“Killian attacked me,” Neal said nasally.

“Why?”

Neal went silent at that, and Emma arched an eyebrow.

“Let’s see. So, you went to the diner where Killian was trying to have lunch after working all morning at the warehouse renovation. You showed him pictures of him with Regina. And when you made inappropriate comments about Regina in front of Killian, he reacted in defense of his friend. Stop me if I’m wrong,” Emma said.

Neal shifted in his spot, and Emma rolled her eyes.

“Why did you call me here?” she asked.

“I want to file charges against Killian.”

“You’re kidding.”

“He broke my nose!”

Emma pointed at the door and said to Henry, “Outside.”

“But-

“Out.”

Henry pouted and stomped out of the room. Once the door was closed, Emma punched Neal in the arm.

“Ow!”

“You want to file charges against Killian after you accused him of paying Regina for sex?” Emma hissed.

“It was a joke!”

“Then so was his response.”

“What!”

“I am not arresting Killian,” Emma said flatly.

“You have to!”

“Says who?”

“Okay, I think maybe we should take a step back and revisit this tomorrow when emotions aren’t so high,” Snow said.

“There is nothing to revisit. I am not arresting Killian, and that is my final decision.”

“Emma, that’s not fair!”

“Neither was showing up in my life after twenty years,” Emma snapped.

“You can tell me to leave at any time.”

“The only reason you are still is here your father wants you around, and the kid eavesdropping on this conversation thinks you hung the moon. If it were up to me? I would have had Regina toss your ass over the line without your memories months ago. Now, if there is nothing else, I have an actual job to do.”

Emma walked over to the door and yanked it open. Henry stumbled forward, and Emma tugged him into the room. She pushed him toward David, slamming the door behind her as she left. When the door opened a second time, Emma turned, fully expecting to see Snow, but it was Gold. He held up his hands in surrender, and Emma deflated.

“What?” she sighed.

“May I walk you to your car?” he asked.

“Fine.”

Emma and Gold walked to the cruiser in silence. Once they were outside, Gold touched Emma on the shoulder to get her attention.

“You do not owe him anything,” he said softly. “Over the last several months, I have found that my previous actions have brought me nothing but pain. I am tired, Miss Swan, and I merely want peace.”

Emma unlocked her door and opened it.

“I have to go.”


Gold stepped away from the car, and Emma closed the door. He watched as she drove out of the parking lot, and Gold sighed to himself. After Snow’s announcement and what happened at the diner, Gold felt Regina’s control slipping. She was flaring more and more, sending out signals with her magic that only he felt, and they were concerning. Regina was falling apart and didn’t even know it. Gold couldn’t let that happen, so he turned away from the hospital and returned to his store. He cast a spell to ensure no one could enter, and he went to the back. Gold opened his safe and removed Regina’s journal, a box, and a single bean. The second bean was still growing, still buried deep within the woods behind his store, but Gold could use the first one to find whichever child it took him to. He placed the bean on the floor and picked up a spray bottle full of purple water. Gold took a deep breath before spraying the bean, and the bean exploded into light. Gold squinted as the portal grew in size, and he didn’t hesitate to step forward.

Gold entered a bedroom without looking around and quickly placed the box and journal on the bed. He summoned a piece of paper and a pen, scribbling a quick note. He left the letter and the items on the bed, jumping back into the portal before it closed. He stumbled out into his store and blinked at the change in light. The portal closed behind him, and Gold sat down behind his desk with a heavy sigh. All he could do was wait.


If you are who I hope you are, the child of a Queen, then these items are for you. I have not found the others, but I am searching as fast as I can. But the reunion of your family is crucial to the survival of the Queen. Her heart cannot take the separation much longer, and her magic can only do so much before it triggers a shut-down. I have left you with something to lead you in the right direction, but it will be your magic that activates these items. I have done all that I can at this moment.

Rumplestiltskin.

The letter fluttered to the ground-

Chapter Text

Kieran’s eyes popped open. She thrust out her hand on instinct and grabbed the person around their neck. She rose into an upright position and squeezed, eyes unseeing and panicked.

“It- me-”

Kieran’s vision cleared, and she released Alex immediately. The redhead fell to the ground and gasped for air. Kieran jumped down from the bed and hovered over Alex, hands unsure and shaking.

“I am so, so sorry!”

Alex waved her off and took several deep breaths before saying hoarsely, “Sam warned me you would react like that, but I got worried about your temperature.”

“My temperature?”

“Your body dropped below freezing,” Alex grunted. “Fuck, you’re stronger than you look.”

“That will bruise, so can you tell Supergirl and Kelly not to kill me?”

“You have nothing to worry about.” 

“If you say so.” Kieran looked around. “What happened? Where am I?” she asked.

Alex pulled herself to her feet and massaged her throat. She gestured around the room and said, “Right now, you are in a med-room at the DEO. I’m the only one with access to it, and the security system has been temporarily disabled to ensure your privacy. As for what happened,” Alex shrugged, “I have no idea. Ruby showed up at your house this morning. When you didn’t answer, she used her spare key and found you passed out in your bedroom. Kara heard her scream and brought you straight to me with explicit warnings not to run any experiments while you were unconscious. Kelly stayed with Ruby until Sam arrived.”

Kieran scratched at her nose and asked, “How mad is Sam?”

“She was scared you were on your way to glory.”

“How long have I been unconscious?”

“Give or take ten hours from when Kara brought you here.”

Kieran remembered why she fainted, and she asked, “Did Kara happen to find-

“A notebook, a box no one can open, and a letter from someone named Rumpelstiltskin?” Alex said wryly. “No, why do you ask?”

“Alex, this is serious. I need them.”

“Would your reasoning have anything to do with why James said you are from another universe and fed us some big story about how you are a threat to our world like Lex? Or is it about what Sam caved and told us because you came in here with red lines pulsing under your skin?”

“If I wanted to destroy the world, I would’ve done it already. And that depends on what Sam told you.”

“How about I ask three questions, and you give me the honest answer to match what she said?” Alex retrieved the box, journal, and letter. She passed them to her. “Do we have a deal?”

“What is the point in having a secret if everyone wants to know it?”

“Then maybe try not having a secret that most people want to know.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” Kieran muttered, unfolding the letter. In a louder voice, she said, “We have a deal.”

“Great. What’s your real name?”

Kieran tossed the letter, realizing it didn’t give anything more than what she already remembered from the first time, and she put the box in her lap. It wasn’t heavy, but it had considerable weight. Kieran ran her fingers over it, memorizing and cataloging every dent and indentation on the top and sides. Alex’s question registered in her mind moments later, and she sat up straight.

“My name is Princess Lena Kieran Mills from the Enchanted Forest. I prefer being called Kieran, so keep that in mind.”

“You know, when Sam said it, it sounded silly. Even J’onn laughed, but we soon realized she wasn’t kidding.”

“And how does it sound now?”

“Utterly ridiculous. I can’t believe you’re an actual Princess from the Enchanted Forest.”

“The fictional characters that you grew up watching on television were real people that I interacted with for the first fourteen years of my life.”

“And your mother is the Evil Queen.”

“Indeed.”

“So, Snow White-

“-is not someone I am willing to talk about,” Kieran interrupted.

“That sounds like a fairytale I’d like to hear.”

“Sam didn’t tell you?”

“When the topic of Snow White came up, she shut down and told us it was personal.”

“How did she explain my arrival?”

“She said you were pushed into a portal and crash-landed in the Luthor’s living room.”

“That is the extent of it, yes.”

“Okay, then. Next question-

“You do know you have exceeded your three-question limit?”

“Those were follow-up questions to my initial one.”

“If that is the game we are playing, I’m not sure I want to continue.”

“Kieran.”

“Oh, wow. Was that as weird for you as it was for me?”

“Extremely. Anyway, can I ask my second question now?” Kieran waved her hand, and Alex asked, “Why are you so cold?”

“My insides are partially made of ice.”

“Again, much less silly when you say it.”

Kieran snorted and read the inscription on the box. It was in Elvish, so it took a little longer to translate it as she hadn’t read Elvish in over a decade. Kieran mouthed the words slowly and traced them with her finger. Alex cleared her throat, and Kieran realized she’d been asked a question.

“What did you say?”

“Are you in love with my sister?”

“Not yet, but one day, who knows? We talked about it, sort of. I planned on mentioning it again last night, but she never showed up. So I kind of assumed the conversation would be tabled.”

“We found an alien fight club, and Supergirl ended up becoming the star attraction.”

“How odd.”

“You have no idea. I have never seen my sister win so much money by punching someone.”

“Let me guess, she donated it to charity?”

“The moment we arrived back at the DEO,” Alex huffed. “She didn’t even want to consider saving it.”

Kieran grinned and finally figured out what the box said: Hell’s Gold will reveal what you need to know. Hell’s Gold? Why did that sound so familiar? Kieran touched the circular depression in the center of the box and racked her brain. That’s when it hit her. But her ring was back at her apartment because she never put it on after her shower. Kieran groaned and put the box on the bed.

“Be right back.”

“Where are you-

Kieran disappeared in a cloud of red smoke. She showed up in her bedroom and checked the drawer for her ring. Once she found it, Kieran returned to the DEO and sat back down.

“-going,” Alex finished lamely.

Kieran smirked and placed the ring in the spot indicated on the box. She pressed down, and the top popped open. Kieran shifted to the side for Alex to see, and inside was a vial of black liquid, a folded flag, and a phone. Alex grabbed the flag and unfurled it.

“Who do you know in Maine?”

“No one.”

Alex shrugged and folded the flag back. Kieran hesitated when she saw the phone and picked it up. She knew it was an iPhone, but she had never used that particular kind. Her experience with phones was touch and go for almost three years. There were several instances where she crushed the screens or overloaded the system when she got excited. Technology was not her friend for a long time, which was ironic considering what she did for a living.

“No way! I haven’t seen one of those in years,” Alex said.

“Which generation is this? I know it’s an iPhone, but… I didn’t use technology a lot when I was younger.”

“Don’t you run a company that-

“Yes, yes, I get the irony. Can you tell me or not?” Kieran huffed.

“It’s the first-generation, and nine times out of ten, it’s dead. I would be surprised if it still worked.”

“No, it works. The person who gave it to me-

“Rumpelstiltskin-

“-wants me to use it, so he would ensure it would work.”

“I can’t believe you know Rumplestiltskin.”

“He’s known in my old world as the Dark One.” 

“That does not sound like a person you should accept gifts from.”

“Considering this is the first piece of information from my world in over a decade, my options are limited.”

“Fine, but don’t do anything without me. Winn should have a charger in his ancient box or whatever.”

“His what?”

“Nothing, a stupid name with an even stupider story. Give it here.”

Kieran handed her the phone, and Alex went over to a trunk in the corner. Kieran grabbed the vial and popped it open. She sniffed it and gagged immediately. Now that, she remembered. Memoria Nectarii was a powerful potion, and the Dark One wouldn’t send it unless necessary. Kieran glanced at Alex, whose back was turned, and she quickly drank the black liquid. Alex stood and looked back at Kieran.

“I found….” Alex trailed off. She glanced at the empty vial and Kieran’s face, and she pinched the bridge of her nose. “What did I just say about doing things without me?” she sighed.

“It is a harmless potion known as Memoria Nectarii,” Kieran explained.

Alex grunted and made her way back to Kieran.

“What does it do?”

“It’s a potion created from someone’s blood that allows an individual to view that person’s memories.”

“You drank a vial of blood from a stranger?”

“Blood is the least disgusting thing I have put in my mouth.”

Alex narrowed her eyes and said, “I sincerely hope you are not about to die because I would hate for your last memory of me to be me punching you in the face.”

Kieran gave a wry grin and said, “Please make sure that phone is charged once I wake up?”

“Yes, your Highness,” Alex scoffed.

“That was-” Kieran wavered a little bit and grabbed Alex’s arms. “Whoa,” she muttered.

“Okay, your nose is bleeding. Is that normal?”

“Yes,” Kieran said, her word slurring a bit.

“What the actual fuck?” Alex helped Kieran lie on the bed. “Why did you- hold on, okay?”

Alex shouted something in the background, but Kieran couldn’t hear her. Her eyes glazed over, and she sank into the depths of her subconscious.


Kara entered the room and glanced at her sister.

“I heard you in space. What happened?”

“Your girlfriend is an idiot,” Alex grumbled.

“Not my girlfriend, but- oh, hey, she got the box open!”

“Yeah, and drank the blood of someone called the Dark One.”

Kara paused and scrunched her face.

“Well, no, I can’t be grossed out. I ate a live snake once.”

“That is not even in the same category,” Alex hissed.

“Whatever. I dropped Sam and Ruby off at L-Corp,” she said.

“And that other thing?”

Kara’s face darkened, and she said, “Nothing.”

Alex looked down at Kieran and sighed.

“Damn.”


Kieran found herself in a bathroom next to the Dark One in front of a mirror. There was a window that overlooked a lot of trees and a bunch of buildings. She saw a Town Hall, a hospital, and a police station. Kieran looked back at the Dark One and frowned. He seemed different. Her last memory was of him being scaly and wearing a cloak that brushed against the grass. It was a fleeting interaction, one that Kieran would barely count as a meeting. Regardless, the version beside her wore a tailored suit and had slicked-back hair.

“I apologize for the location, but there needs to be a reflective surface for this work. I’m not sure which child is watching this, but I am sure you are wary of my presence. I cannot fault you, but I am here as an ally. I wish I had positive news, but I am afraid there is no good way to say this. Your mother is dying.”

Kieran’s breath caught in her chest.

“There is truth to the broken heart theory and death. They walk hand in hand, even when life aches to be chosen. Regina’s magic is the only thing keeping her alive. She is unaware of this, caught up in her routine that she has missed the warning signs, so I intervened. I am giving you this memory to ask for your help. Please, you and your siblings are the only things that can repair your mother’s heart. She has people here who can keep her going, but only you all can get her to live again. You can find her using the journal, and the flag is your starting point. But you should know that your mother cast a curse that brought many people from the Enchanted Forest to the Land Without Magic. The curse hides us from the rest of the world.”

Kieran read about Land Without Magic in the castle library. She knew it wasn’t her realm, as magic users were more common than people knew, so it had to be another one.

“Lastly, the magic needed to have cross-universe communication was tricky to navigate, but I did enough to ensure you get one call on that phone. Just one, and there is only one number saved in it. Use your time wisely as I cannot promise longer than a minute. Please heed my warning, child. I fear your mother – my friend – has less than a year left.”

The memory ended, and Kieran was thrown back into her body. She gasped and rolled over to her side, expelling the potion from her system. Hands moved her hair away from her face, but the Dark One’s words echoed in her mind.

She lost control of her magic.


Alex hid in the alcove with Winn and J’onn. The entire DEO shook and rumbled as if it was two seconds away from collapsing.

“Fuck,” Alex said, clutching the box to her chest.

“Sam undersold the whole magic thing,” Winn added.

Kara came around the corner and took the box from Alex. A nail was jammed into the hinges that kept it open, and she put a note in the journal before putting it back in the box. Alex took it back from her.

“Are you sure about this?” J’onn asked.

“No, but we have no other choice.”


Kieran was stuck in a never-ending loop of hearing Rumple warn her that her mother was dying when her eyes popped open. The sky passed by her at a rapid speed, and she never got the chance to scream before Kara swept her into her arms. She sucked in large breaths and clutched at Kara’s shoulders. They hovered over National City.

“I apologize, Miss Luthor. You were about to destroy the DEO, and I had to resort to extreme measures to shock you out of your trance. Are you stable enough to return?”

“Yes, but what’s going on? Why are you talking like that?”

Kara said nothing and returned to the DEO. She flew through the opening and placed Kieran on the ground. Kieran looked up and found every agent in the building with their guns pointed at her. She turned to Kara, who took on her Supergirl persona.

“Lena Luthor,” she said. “By order of the DEO, you are under arrest for destruction of government property, assaulting a federal agent, and terrorism.”

“What! But I didn’t-

“Director Danvers, she’s all yours.”

“Wait, no! I didn’t- it was an accident!”

Alex pushed her way through the crowd and cuffed Kieran. Kieran squirmed and fought Alex’s grip as she was dragged from the atrium. Just when she was about to break free and make a run for it, Alex undid the cuffs and hurried them down a hallway to a back stairway.

“What are you-

“Shut up, and listen,” Alex interrupted. “Everything you had is with Sam and Ruby, and they are waiting for you in the garage to take you to L-Corp. You will have one hour to erase anything dealing with non-research-related things before agents show up to arrest you.”

“Alex, what are you-

Kieran yelped as she was pushed into the stairwell. She caught herself before she fell, and Alex locked the door from the other side. She put her hand against the glass in apology before running back the way she came.


Kieran ran after Sam as she and Ruby practically jogged to Jess’ desk. No one was telling her anything, and it felt like she was out of the loop.

“I already deleted everything from my computer and the main computer in the office. The laptops have been packed and wiped clean,” Jess said. “I ordered a full wipe for the entire building, and I announced it to the rest of the labs. All employees evacuated, and everything paper or non-electronic went to the incinerator. I have security watching to make sure that everything is destroyed.”

“Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on?” Kieran exclaimed.

“Ruby, stay with Jess, for me?”

“Okay.”

Sam grabbed Kieran by the arm and dragged her into the office.

“Look, I know this is happening fast, but we had ten hours to prepare for it while you were passed out. I spoke with Supergirl’s friends while you were unconscious. During our conversation, Lex escaped from prison and went underground. Your power surge at the DEO will reach his ears, and he will come for you. If he can’t get to you, he’ll come for us. So, we made an executive decision. As of right now, Ruby, Jess, and I no longer exist. Winn erased us from National City and Metropolis. Winn sent letters to Ruby’s school that she was withdrawing for personal reasons. Jess emptied our bank accounts and transferred the funds to an untraceable account. From you, I will hear no arguing. So shut up, do what you need to do, and be ready to go in twenty minutes.”

Sam kissed her on the cheek before leaving the office. Kieran placed a hand to her stomach and tried to digest everything. Lex was free. That was why Alex said they were forced to make a public stand against her. Kieran released a shaky breath. She hated that her best friends were uprooting their life for her, but Sam was right. Lex would come after all of them, and they would be safer together.

Kieran went to her private workspace. She gathered her paperwork, folders, and equations into one massive pile and placed it in a box in the corner. Kieran hesitated before typing in a code, and flames from the machine destroyed everything Kieran ever worked on. She went outside to her main office when she remembered she didn’t have the box from the Dark One but found it on her desk. Kieran was glad someone stuck a nail in the hinges to keep it open. She removed the phone and ring but left the journal and flag inside. Kieran slipped the ring on her finger and sat down at her desk.

The phone was connected to a power block to keep it from dying, and Kieran was glad it was unlocked. She went to the contacts, and as the Dark One said, there was only one number saved. Kieran recognized the area code as the one for Maine, which explained the flag, and she hit the number before she could talk herself out of it. Kieran placed the call on speaker and waited. It kept ringing, and ringing, and ringing until she heard-

“Hi, this is Regina Mills. I am unable to come to the phone right now, but if you leave a message, I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Kieran was relieved and disappointed it was the voicemail, her heart soaring at the sound of her mother’s voice. But she remembered the Dark One’s warning. She had one minute to make it count. When the beep sounded, Kieran started speaking.

“Mom, it’s me, Kieran. I know this is weird, and honestly, I wish I could explain it better, but the Dark One gave me your number. Ask him what happened because we don’t have much time on my end. I’ll explain when I see you again, okay? But it’s been twelve years here in my realm. I’m currently in National City, California, but I’ll be leaving soon, and I’ll be out of contact. Today’s date is September 22nd, 2019.” Kieran’s voice cracked, and she let out a tearful laugh. “I have so much I want to say to you, but I can’t. Just know that I’m coming, Mom, I promise. We’re going to put our family back together again, so hold on for me a little longer. I love you!”

No sooner than Kieran stopped speaking, the phone went dark.

“Fuck!”

Kieran threw the phone against the wall.

“Hey-

Kieran stood and pushed Kara in the chest. Kara didn’t move, and Kieran wasn’t stupid enough to try again. Kara pretended it didn’t happen, and she grabbed Kieran by the shoulders. She brushed a stray tear away with her thumb and cupped her cheek.

“I’m sorry about before, but-

“Lex escaped. You did what you had to do.” 

“Kieran, I- look, Sam, Ruby, and Jess have gone downstairs with your driver who’s going to take you to the airport. Your happiness and safety are more important than anything else to me right now. So I’m sending Brainy with you all because he knows more about the multiverse than anyone. If anyone can help you, it’s him.” Kara dropped her forehead to hers, and her hands trembled as she held Kieran’s face. “He’s been ordered not to tell anyone his location while he works on a way home for you. Not even me. Once you leave National City, you’ll be gone, okay? But I swear I’m going to take care of Lex and Lillian for good so you can live with your real family in peace.”

Kieran heard what Kara wasn’t saying, what she was leaving out, and she mourned something she never had. Kara brushed their lips together, giving Kieran the chance to move away. But Kieran kissed Kara back, pouring everything she would probably never be able to say into the kiss. Kieran wanted more time, but it was between saving her mother and leaving behind the love that would never get the chance to grow. Kieran didn’t know which hurt more. She opened her eyes and found herself in the garage, and Kara vanished and reappeared with the box. Kara gave it to Kieran and then reached under her suit to remove a necklace with the House of El crest. She slipped it around Kieran’s neck and kissed her again. It felt final, and Kieran’s heart physically rejected the idea. She clutched at Kara’s suit, ready to beg her to come with her, and the superhero gently pried her fingers away.

“Goodbye, Princess.”

There was a gust of wind, and Kara was gone. Sam pulled Kieran into the car. She kept one arm around her as she closed the door, and Kieran felt an uncomfortable tug in her stomach. It grew stronger the further Frank drove away from L-Corp. When they arrived at the airport, Kieran waved off Sam and Jess and walked onto the plane by herself, sitting down in the seat near the back. She saw Brainy try to approach her, but Sam grabbed his arm and whispered something into his ear. He nodded and went into the cockpit. Ruby sat beside her and held her hand. Kieran could barely muster a smile at her goddaughter before looking out of the window. Frank was already gone, and the plane lurched forward. It felt like they were in the air and over National City in a matter of seconds. When there was nothing but clouds, everything hit Kieran at once. Ruby’s tiny arms went around her, and Kieran released deep sobs that were almost twelve years overdue.


Kara watched the plane and fought every urge in her body to go after it. The comm in her ear came to life, and Alex’s voice came over the line.

“We received word Lex was spotted with Lillian across town. Do you have a lead on Lena?”

The question was intentional, a recorded confirmation of what they’d just done, and Kara said, “No, I cannot sense her anywhere in the city. Are the employees giving you anything?”

“No, nothing. The NCPD found the driver’s car ditched near the train station, but no driver. We’re at a dead-end.”

“What’s our next move?”

“For now, you are free to return to base, Supergirl.”

“Copy that, Director Danvers.”

Kara removed the comm from her ear and crushed it. J’onn flew to her like that night not even a week ago.

“Good idea ditching the car at the train station, Frank.”

“I know that was hard, Kara, but we did the right thing.”

“Amazing what we can do in ten hours even though we just broke a dozen federal crimes.”

“Our job at the DEO is to protect aliens of all kinds, even those from another realm. Kieran was a lost soul in a world that was never on her side, and I hate that I never got to know her.”

Kara flinched and touched the spot where her necklace used to rest. J’onn stared at her curiously.

“You loved her.”

Kara laughed humorlessly and said, “No, but I could have. And that’s the worst part.”

Chapter Text

Saturday morning, Regina was in a world of pain and exhaustion. She buttoned her slacks, pressed the wrinkles from her shirt, and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The truth that Regina had been ignoring for months finally caught up with her the night before. When Killian dragged himself upstairs for bed, Regina gave into the coughing fit that’d been bubbling in her chest since she got home. Regina’s phone was in her car and too far away. Using magic wasn’t an option, and she wished she hadn’t sent Ruby home. Regina somehow made it upstairs to her bed. She fell asleep within seconds. When Regina woke up, she took extra care with her appearance. Once satisfied, Regina touched her chest, listening as her heart slowed. She was running out of time. Of all the things that Regina expected to die from, Cordis Stasis was not one of them.

Some believed Cordis Stasis was a myth, just an old warning about the dangers of a broken heart, but it was real. When Regina had the first tremor, she assumed it was stress. The fifth time it happened, Regina knew. Next came the migraines, and Regina spent those moments locked in her office with the lights off and a cold cloth over her face. After the migraines came the dizzy spells, the nosebleeds, and the memory loss. Regina became an expert at pretending nothing was wrong, but she was at the final moment. Her heart would stop soon, but her magic would keep her alive. It was an odd experience, but the cure was impossible. And if she was never cured, eventually, her magic would give and…

Regina clicked her teeth. She needed to see Rumple, but first…. Regina forced her body to move down the stairs to find Killian eating a bowl of cereal in his “fancy” pajamas. To him, fancy meant something other than boxers and a ratty tank-top.

Killian gave her an odd look and asked, “I thought today was a rest day?”

“I have to see Rumple,” she said.

“Everything okay?”

“Yes,” she lied, giving him a weak smile. “I just need to give him something to help with a spell.”

Killian studied her, and he said, “You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

“Alright then.”

Regina wrapped her arms around him and closed her eyes. Killian had never been anything but himself with her, and she had never been anything but herself with him. Still, Regina couldn’t bring herself to tell him the truth. She kissed the side of his head and let her magic curl around her until she was gone.


Regina landed in Rumple’s store off-balanced, and she crashed into his shelf. She winced when something fell, but her head kept spinning. Rumple grabbed her by the waist and held her upright as a dizzy spell passed over her. A sharp pain went through her chest, and she willed her body to stay with her for a few more minutes.

Rumple led her to the back and sat her down at his desk. The trip from her home to Rumple’s shop took more energy than she expected. Rumple kneeled in front of her, and he frowned.

“You know, don’t you?” he asked.

Regina nodded. “I need you to promise me something,” she said. “Take care of my family. I know what I am asking of you, but I ask you to please keep them safe.” 

“Regina-

“Please, Rumple. Don’t let her take any more of my family,” she interrupted.

Rumple saw the life fading from her eyes, and he wanted to tell her about the portal. He wanted to ask if she got the call, but what was the point? Regina was at the end. Her body slumped forward, and Rumple cupped the back of her head. He hated seeing the woman he mentored, he championed, reduced to a mother with nothing left to give. He owed her more than a promise, but he gave her what she wished.

“I promise.”

Rumple ground his teeth when the body in his arms went limp. The other Dark Ones in his head, entities that never shut up, were silent for the first time in decades.


Killian jumped in surprise when Rumple appeared with Regina in his arms. His eyes fell to Regina, and he dropped to his knees. The purplish tint on Regina’s skin was familiar. Killian had seen the aftermath of Cordis Stasis during his travels while on the sea, and it was easy to spot once the curse took its course. Killian replayed the interaction with Regina from that morning, and he closed his eyes.

She’d been saying goodbye.

Killian heard Rumple move past him, but he stayed on the floor. He knew he needed to call Ruby, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. Cordis Stasis, as curable as it was, often left magical beings in comas for months, years, as the source of their heartbreak was unable to be reversed. And Killian knew if they couldn’t find Regina’s children in time, there would be no coming back.


Rumple knelt next to Regina by the bed.

“I should have told you, but I was afraid it would not work,” he said. “I sent something through a portal a couple of days ago, hoping it would find one of your children, but I was too late. I am sorry, Regina.”


Killian scratched the back of his head and looked around the mess. He couldn’t find Regina’s phone to call Ruby. Killian didn’t want to go to the diner with all the people. He searched the kitchen, the living room, the study, and nothing. Killian turned around as Rumple came downstairs. As much as he disliked the man, he brought Regina home.

“Did you see a phone up there?” Killian asked.

“A phone?”

“Regina’s phone is missing. I need to call Ruby, but I cannot find her phone anywhere down here. I would use mine, but I dropped it in the sink, and it’s not working.”

“How long has Regina not had her phone?”

“I don’t know! Did you see it or not?” Killian huffed.

Rumple had an odd look on his face, and he said, “No.”

“Damnit. I really don’t want to go to the- oh, wait! The car. She always leaves it in the cupholder.”

Killian ran out of the room into the garage, unaware that Rumple followed him. Killian opened the car door and grabbed the phone from the cup holder, frowning when he saw the blinking notifications on the screen.

“Where the hell is National City?” Killian grumbled.

Rumple plucked the phone from his grip and stared at the number. He frowned and said, “Do you know how to unlock it?”

“Yeah?”

“Do it. And play that voicemail.”

“What? Why?”

“I know we do not get along, but I need you to trust me and play that voicemail.”

Killian unlocked the phone and pressed play. It was nothing but static for the most part until they heard-

“Mom, it’s me, Kieran.”


Killian leaned on the island and said, “You never told her.”

Rumple rubbed his temples in frustration. Had Regina just – he huffed and said, “I didn’t know if it would work, and I didn’t want her hopes up.”

“But you found them?”

“In theory, yes. I used the magical residue left in the handprints from the journal Regina gave me. It was a leap of faith that was clearly too late.”

Killian lifted his head and asked, “Hold on, do you still have the bean you used for Kieran?”

“Yes, but I am not sure I can use it again. The portal was already unstable when I used it the first time.”

“What about the second one? Do you think it will work?”

“I believe so?” 

“Okay, if the broken heart curse is cured when the source of trauma is reversed, then all we would have to do is reunite Regina with her children, correct?”

“Yes, but I cannot promise-

“Listen to me, I never told Regina because there was no specific realm for us to search, and the power source can only sustain maybe one or two trips, but I have a dragon’s eye.”

“How on Earth did you get a dragon’s eye?”

“I stole it,” Killian deadpanned. “But that’s not the point. If we can find a way to combine the magic from your bean with the stone, we-

“-can sustain a portal long enough to have direct contact,” Rumple finished. “But we’re going to need help.”


Ruby paced the empty diner with her hands on her hips. Granny left to sit with Regina, leaving her granddaughter and Killian alone with Rumple to figure out a game plan. They’d been going back and forth on the best course of action for hours. It was one thing to open the portal, but it’d been decades. They had no idea where the portal would open, as it wasn’t as specific as Rumple wanted it to be. Finding the girls after wouldn’t be as easy as they wanted it to be, and they were running on a short timeline.

“So, Regina’s known for months that she had the broken heart curse and didn’t say anything, so now the only way to cure her would be to reverse what Snow did?”

“Yes,” Killian said.

“And we have to use the bean Rumple’s been working on in secret and some stone to power a portal strong enough to get us to wherever Isabella is and bring her back here? Not to mention we have to find Emmett and re-establish contact with Kieran?”

“We’ve been through this, Ruby,” Killian huffed. “Our issue is figuring out who we send to get her.”

“Me,” Ruby said. “She knows me, and I can get her here.”

“No chance. If you get stuck there, Granny will kill us. I’ll do it.”

“You can’t even last during a trip to Target,” Ruby argued.

“Well, if we can’t send Rumple, we can’t send you, and I can’t go, who-

Killian and Ruby glanced at the door as Emma walked into the diner. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she went up to Killian. She punched him in the jaw, and Killian fell into the bar. Emma turned on Ruby, who flinched.

“I asked you if you heard from her two hours ago!” Emma shouted.

“Em-

“I had to find out from Granny seven hours after the fact that Regina was essentially in a coma!”

“We didn’t think-

“You didn’t fucking think that I would care to know that?”

Ruby’s face twisted in guilt, and Killian rubbed his jaw, bowing his head. Emma turned to Rumple.

“I want in on whatever you’re planning,” she said.

“We’re opening a portal to Isabella,” he explained. “But we don’t know where it will open or if it will stay open long enough for us to make it back before it closes.”

“Whoever goes through could get stuck in that realm,” Killian added in a low voice.

“I’ll do it.”

“No, Emma-

“Shut up, Ruby.” Ruby flinched, and Emma exhaled and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m sorry. I just- I’m the only one here who can survive in another realm. My absence can be explained as Savior business. So I’m going.”

“You’ll need to change,” Rumple said. “Something from the Old World.”

“I have something on the ship she can wear,” Killian said.

“Then it’s settled.”


Emma adjusted the tunic. It was black, obviously, and made of leather. She had her gun tucked safely in her waistband, and she stared unimpressed at the glowing rock Killian called the dragon’s eye.

“Are you ready, Savior?” Rumple asked.

“Yes.”

Rumple placed the bean on the dragon’s eye, and he poured fairy water over it. The four of them shielded their face as the portal swirled to life in a bright swirl of green and white. Emma rubbed her hands on her pants.

“I cannot promise more than fifteen minutes,” Rumple said. “When it closes, it closes.”

“Got it.”

Emma exhaled, and then she threw herself into the portal. Her body twisted and curled in on itself, and she finally landed in someone’s living room. She squinted at the sudden change of light, the spots in her eyes causing her to feel dizzy, but she froze when something cold pressed against her temple. Emma held up her hands at the familiar sound of a gun cocking.

“Wait! My name is Emma Swan. I was born in the Enchanted Forest, technically. And I am here on behalf of her Majesty looking for Princess Isabella.”

A pair of boots appeared in her vision, and Emma looked up to find a brunette with long hair and a Regina-like look in her eyes.

“What do you mean, technically?”

“That is a long story.”

“My experience with portals is that they do not stay open for long, so I recommend you make it short. And I sincerely hope you tell the truth,” Isabella said. “Because I have had a long day, and I am in no mood for games.”

Emma swallowed at the literal fire burning in Isabella’s eyes.

Shit.

Chapter Text

Several Hours Earlier

“What do you mean you have to go to Alaska?”

“Rose wants to speak to our cousins before Carlisle does, so I said we could go up there today.”

“I thought she was with Alice for the rest of the weekend?”

“She was, but- oh, hold that thought.” Emmett pulled his phone out and answered it. “Hey. Yeah, yeah, I’ll meet you there. Yeah, I know. Okay, bye.”

Emmett hung up, and he put his phone back in his pocket.

“What was I saying?” he asked.

“Nothing. Is this an important talk? Do you want me to come with you?” Bella asked.

“There’d be no point,” he said dismissively. “We should be back before tomorrow morning.”

“Yeah. Sure,” Bella muttered.

Emmett sighed and held out his hand. Bella didn’t take it.

“Seriously? Look, if you’re not going to use your words right now, then take my hand since that’s the only way you can communicate like an adult.” Bella shook her head, and Emmett gave up. “Whatever. Text me when you’re done being a brat,” he said.

Emmett went and jumped out of the window, and Bella’s face finally fell. She swiped at her eyes and went over to her desk. Bella picked up the two tickets to the weapons convention in Seattle and ripped one in half.


Charlie came home at five and found Bella in the kitchen with a bag and Chinese take-out. She was still in her clothes, almost like she just got home, but the half-empty bottle of scotch told him that wasn’t the case. He hung up his jacket and sat down across from her.

“How was the convention?” he asked carefully.

“Fun,” she murmured, picking out her food. “I saw a lot of cool things.”

“What did Emmett think?”

“He went to Alaska with Rose.”

“I thought she was in Portland for the weekend?”

“She came back early, I guess.”

“And she didn’t tell you?”

“No. And I’m assuming Emmett… forgot.”

“You’ve been talking about it all week!” 

Bella sniffed and shrugged one shoulder.

“It’s okay,” she said.

Charlie got up and sat next to her. He pulled her into his arms and rubbed her shoulder.

“Tell me about the convention,” he said.


Emmett was frustrated. Kate wasn’t back from Seattle, and Rose didn’t want to say anything without the whole Denali coven there. Eventually, Kate rushed into the door with a bag and a grimace.

“I am so sorry,” Kate apologized. “The traffic was awful.”

Emmett’s eyes landed on the bag Kate carried, and if his heart had still been beating, it would’ve stopped.

“Oh, no,” he whispered. All eyes turned to him, and he looked at Kate. “Please tell me that weapons convention wasn’t today,” he pleaded.

“Yep! One day only, dude. Why, were you planning on going?” she asked.

“Fuck!” Emmett shouted.

“What’s wrong?” Rosalie asked.

“Since you and Alice were taking a trip to Portland, I told Bella I’d take her to the weapons convention. When you came back early, I completely spaced and told you we could come up here.” Emmett remembered Bella’s behavior from that morning before he left, and he groaned. “That’s why she was so upset, and I was a total asshole to her,” he said.

“What did you do?” Rosalie asked.

“You want the entire play by play?”

“I want to know every single thing you said to her before we left,” Rosalie huffed.

Emmett sighed and went through the conversation piece by piece, wincing as Rosalie got angrier at him. When he finished, Rosalie punched him in the shoulder.

“You fucking idiot!”

“Okay, whoa, let’s calm down,” Tanya said. “Can someone explain who this Bella is?”

“She’s my sister,” Emmett said. “It’s a long story, but Bella and I aren’t from this realm. We landed here at different times, and I thought she was dead. I found her last week, and she has- there are things I can’t get into right now. All you need to know is that I’ve made a huge mistake, and I need to get back there to make it right.”

“Great. I guess our conversation will have to be put on hold,” Rosalie sighed. “Please don’t take Carlisle’s or Edward’s words at face value.”

“We will take into consideration that we have not heard the entire story,” Eleazar said reassuringly.

“Thank you.”

“It’s not a problem, Rosalie. We understand,” Tanya said.

“Speak for yourself,” Kate muttered.

Irina hit Kate in warning, and the younger sister held up her hands in surrender. Emmett smiled awkwardly in thanks before running out of the house. Rosalie caught up with him and tripped him. Emmett stumbled a few times before stopping and spinning on Rosalie.

“What the hell-

“Shut up,” she hissed. “Because despite your behavior right now, I don’t think you understand what you’re walking into.”

“What are you talking about? She’s mad I forgot about the convention,” he said.

“No, dumbass. You told Isabella you didn’t need her.”

“What? No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did. When Isabella asked you if you wanted her to come with us, you essentially said you didn’t need her around,” Rosalie explained.

“That’s not at all what I said!”

“You said there would be no point in her coming and that it would be a waste of time.”

“But I didn’t mean it like that!”

“What’s the one thing you warned me about Bella with being her mate?”

Emmett’s shoulders slumped, and he said, “That you needed to say what you mean the first time.”

“And if the point didn’t come across the way I intended, then I should explain.” Emmett ground his teeth, and Rosalie shook her head. “Do you see now why she wouldn’t touch your hand?” she asked.

“Because she was mad?”

“Hurt,” Rosalie corrected. “The brother that she hasn’t seen in years, a brother she thought was gone for good, made her feel like she didn’t belong in his new life.”

“But-

“Isabella is your little sister, and all she wants is to be included. When she asked if she could come, all you had to do was explain that being human in a house full of vampires, some with gifts, wouldn’t be the best environment for her. Instead, you dismiss her presence entirely. I had no idea about this convention. And had I known, I would’ve come up here alone.”

Emmett flinched and looked down. He could hear his mother’s words echoing in his head, a promise he swore to keep and had already broken.

“Promise you will be patient with your sisters, Emmett. All they need is your patience and love.”


Bella and Charlie were in the living room on the couch.

“I’m tempted to look into retirement,” he said. “This town’s so-

“-unbelievably boring,” Bella finished. “Yeah, I know.”

“I was going to say this town’s so small that crime can be handled by a rookie,” he said. “But I get your point.”

“So retire.”

“It’s not that easy,” Charlie sighed.

“Why not? You have that Lieutenant chick, right?”

“Elaine.”

“I don’t care about her name, Charlie. I’m asking if she’s good enough to replace you.”

“Yeah, she does most of the work now. I’m the glorified paycheck guy, at this point.”

“Then there you go.”

Charlie’s response was lost when the house began to shake. Charlie stood and took out his gun, aiming it at the ground. Bella cocked her head and rose from the couch. She eyed the spot in front of them, and she moved over behind the television.

“Hey, can you take three steps to your right?” she asked distractedly.

Charlie went to the spot she specified, and she told him to lift his gun. A portal opened. Bella moved out of sight as the blonde fell on her hands and knees. Charlie put the gun against the woman’s head and cocked it, glancing at Bella in confusion. Bella pulled out her phone. She was about to text Emmett when the woman started speaking.

“Wait! My name is Emma Swan. I was born in the Enchanted Forest, technically. And I am here on behalf of her Majesty looking for Princess Isabella.”

Bella stiffened and stepped up to the woman, placing her phone in her pocket. Emmett was busy, and he could wait. Bella stopped in front of the blonde – Emma – and stared down at her.

“What do you mean, technically?”

“That is a long story,” Emma said.

“My experience with portals is that they do not stay open for long, so I recommend you make it short. And I sincerely hope you tell the truth,” Bella said. “Because I have had a long day, and I am in no mood for games.”

Bella let a bit of her magic shine in her eyes, and Emma swallowed roughly.

“Please, give me a chance to explain?” 

“Fine. But my name is Bella, not Isabella.”

“Got it.”

Bella waved off Charlie, who moved the gun away from Emma and pulled Emma off the ground.

“Thanks.” Emma glanced at Charlie and added, “Also, I’m usually the one pointing that at people.”

“You a cop?” he asked.

“Sheriff,” Emma said. “I used to be a bounty hunter, but that’s not important at the moment.”

“You’re running out of time to explain what’s going on,” Bella said. “And who you are.”

Emma visibly grimaced and said, “I would rather keep that last part to myself until we get to Storybrooke. Preferably until Ruby tells you.” 

“Ruby’s alive?”

“So is Granny. Storybrooke, where I came from, is the town your mother created in the curse-

“Wait, what? What curse?” Bella asked.

“Right, you don’t know about that. Fuck, I would love to tell you, but I have less than fifteen minutes, so I can’t get into the entire story. But everyone, or mostly everyone, from the Enchanted Forest, lives there now.” Emma scratched at her jaw. “And to answer what I meant by technically, I was born in the Enchanted Forest, but I didn’t grow up there. I was put into a wardrobe-type portal when I was an infant.”

“On purpose?” Charlie and Bella asked in unison.

“It genuinely is complicated, but question, what day is it? I was told to ask that.”

“November 5th, 2016,” Bella said.

Emma blinked at her, and she cleared her throat, saying, “I’m not a portal expert or anything, but what are the odds you have the same date that I do in Storybrooke? From your perspective?”

“That should be nearly impossible. What time is it where you’re from?”

“I think it might be closer to nine p.m. The portal messed with my head,” Emma said, wincing.

“You’re three hours ahead of us,” Charlie said, pointing to the clock. “We’re on West Coast time.”

“Oh, makes sense seeing that Storybrooke is in Maine. What state is this?”

“Washington.”

Emma hummed and looked around.

“That explains the overall dreariness outside.”

“Hold on.” Bella held up her hands and took a deep breath. “Are you saying I’ve been in the same realm as my mother this entire time? And that she’s in Maine, of all places?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask her about that. Storybrooke is protected by magic, so for all intents and purposes, the town doesn’t exist,” Emma said.

Bella scoffed and ran a hand through her hair.

“What, so why are you here? My mother too busy to get me herself?”

It was a joke that didn’t land as Emma grimaced and said, “Your mother has Cordis Stasis.”

Bella’s stomach lurched, and she fought back a wave of nausea.

“Sorry to interrupt, but what is that?” Charlie asked.

Emma looked to Bella for help, who said, “It’s when magical beings experience repetitive high emotional trauma. It causes a strain on their heart. Seeing as magic comes from emotions, the trauma makes the magic toxic, wearing down the heart until fractures appear. From those fractures, raw magic leaks into the bloodstream. When it goes unchecked, it causes the physical body to shut down and the heart to,” Bella paused, “stop beating until the fractures heal.”

“Oh. That sounds… bad.”

“It is,” Bella murmured. “The only way to cure it is to reverse the event that caused the most trauma.”

“Right, which is why I’m here. Regina needs all of you back to have a chance,” Emma said.

The three of them shielded their faces as the portal started to collapse.

“Look, I know this is a lot, but this is the fastest way to your mother, same realm or not. We have to go if you’re coming,” Emma said.

“But I-

“You should go, Bella,” Charlie said. “I’ll explain everything when the others get back.”

Bella lunged forward and hugged Charlie.

“Hey, none of that. You’re still in my world, so I’ll see you again. You text me when you get there.”

“I promise,” she whispered.

Bella pulled away and rubbed her hands on her pants.

“Fuck, this is the worst way to see my family after all this time,” she said.

“Too late to back out now,” Emma said, grabbing Bella’s hand.

Bella yelped as Emma fell backward into the portal, tugging her along with her. Bella clenched her eyes shut, feeling a squeeze on her heart and body, and she groaned when she landed on solid wood. Emma clamped a hand over Bella’s mouth, looking around with narrowed eyes. Bella didn’t bother asking what was wrong. She felt the fear and wariness rolling off Emma in waves. Footsteps sounded in the distance on the stairs, and Emma kicked the bean off the stone, letting it roll under the table. The portal flickered out like a light, and the duo was cast in near darkness. Both froze when a voice echoed through the door.

“Last chance.”

“I told you, Snow. She’s not here.”

Emma and Bella stiffened, and Emma was not ready for that confrontation. She focused her magic and got them out of there before the door opened.


Ruby twitched when she heard two thuds coming from the cabin. She was in the front of the group with Neal, who was too busy arguing with Rumple to see the light coming from under the last door on the right. Snow and Killian were behind her, and Ruby was glad Snow wasn’t tall enough to see past Ruby’s shoulder.

Come on, Emma. Get her out of here.

The light went out, and Ruby relaxed. While she was excited that Emma had found Isabella, she hoped Emma got off the ship. Snow White stopped at the door where they opened the portal, and David pushed Killian forward.

“Last chance.”

“I told you, Snow. She’s not here.”

“Fine.”

Ruby held her breath as Snow opened the door, and Rumple had his hand prepared and ready to cast, but the room was dark. Ruby’s enhanced sight let her see the remnants of magic, signaling Emma had only just left in time. Snow searched every corner, but if you didn’t know what a dragon’s eye stone looked like, then you wouldn’t think anything of it. Just like Snow as she barely glanced at it.

“She’s not here,” Snow said.

“I told you that,” Killian pointed out.

“Then where did she go?” Neal asked, pushing Killian in the back.

“Oy!” Neal pushed him again, and Killian clenched his fists. “Knock it off, Baelfire,” he warned.

“I saw Emma come on board with you three, and now she’s just gone? Bullshit.”

Neal pushed Killian again, and Ruby figured it out a little too late. Killian swung on Neal and caught him in the stomach. Neal went down, and David pushed past Ruby. He pinned Killian to the wall and cuffed him.

“You’re under arrest for assaulting an officer. Emma’s not going to get you out of this one, Hook.”

“Officer of the law?” Ruby exclaimed.

Even Rumple seemed disturbed by that, and Snow nodded.

“Neal was deputized this morning by Emma,” she said.

Ruby knew there was more to that story.

“This is ridiculous, Snow.”

“Please, stay out of this, Ruby.” Snow glanced at Rumple, then added, “And I suggest you take a good hard look at the people you associate yourself with,” she said.

Ruby ground her teeth and glared at Snow.

“Why do you think I stopped hanging around you as soon as the curse broke?”

“Ruby,” Killian said. “Go home. I’ll be okay.”

“Yes, Miss Lucas, perhaps you should go home,” Rumple suggested. “I’m sure Granny is worried.”

Ruby knew what they were telling her, but she was too annoyed to care. She stomped up the stairs and stormed off of the ship, bursting into a dead sprint once she was on the docks.


Bella landed in the foyer of some kind of mansion, and she pulled away from Emma. The near-dead plants in the room came to life as soon as she arrived, and Bella made a mental note to water those later. Bella’s hand shot out, catching an arrow in mid-air, and she snapped it in half. Emma gave her a weird look, but Bella ignored it. She turned around, finding Granny at the top of the stairs. Bella grinned and ran down the hall, taking the stairs two at a time. She wrapped Granny in a hug and buried her face into her neck.

“Hi, Granny. I’ve missed you.” 

“I’ve missed you too, young one.”

Granny broke the hug first, and she kissed Bella’s forehead before looking down at Emma.

“Thank you for bringing her home,” she said.

“It’s no problem, but Rumple just messaged me and told me I needed to get to the station. You guys gonna be okay?”

“Rumple?” Bella repeated. “As in The Dark One?”

“I told you. Long story,” Emma joked weakly.

“We’ll be fine,” Granny said. “But be safe. Regina needs you as much as she needs her children.”

Bella cocked an eyebrow at the comment plus Emma’s reaction, but she filed it away for later. Her magic was tugging her further up the stairs. She dropped Granny’s hand and followed the feeling into a large bedroom. Her knees buckled when she saw her mother on the bed, but Bella managed to find her footing and shuffled across the room. She dropped down to the floor and grabbed Regina’s hand. In a matter of seconds, Bella’s a little girl without a father, looking at the first mother she’d ever had on death’s door.

“Hi, Mom,” she greeted, her voice cracking.

There was no response, but Bella didn’t expect one. She kissed Regina’s knuckles and cleared her throat.

“You look the same, and you grew out your hair,” Bella forced out a laugh, “Oh, man. I- this is not- listen, I might steal some of your clothes until you wake up. I kind of left a lot of stuff behind to get here. And you should know Emmett’s alive too. Sort of? I’ll let him explain what happened when he makes his way here, but we’re okay. I don’t- I haven’t heard from Kieran. She’s somewhere out there, but I’m going to find her. I promise. But you need to fight this because we have to put our family back together again. And I-”

Bella choked out a sob, and the dam over her emotions finally broke.

“Mommy, don’t leave me. Please, I can’t- I’m not strong enough without you. I’m not good enough-

Bella fell forward and cried into Regina’s side. Unbeknownst to Bella, Granny watched from the hallway. She covered her mouth as silent tears ran down her face, but she nearly gasped when Bella’s magic curled and wrapped around Regina’s body. Even at her old age, Granny had better sight than a good portion of the town. She saw the hand not clutched in Bella’s twitch, almost as if Regina was forcing her body to move. Granny held her breath, but nothing else happened. She slowly backed away from the door and made her way downstairs.

It was working, but if they couldn’t get back in contact with Kieran, it would be for naught.


Emma stormed into the station and ignored Neal and David. She took out her keys and unlocked the cell that held Killian.

“What are you doing?” David asked. “He assaulted a police officer.”

“Also, what are you wearing?” Neal added.

Emma ignored them both. She removed the cuffs from Killian’s wrist and rubbed the red marks.

“I’m alright,” he said softly.

“Look, I’ll get a statement from you tomorrow. But I think it’d be good if you went home.”

Killian squeezed her hand before letting go and saying, “Thanks, Swan.”

Emma waved him off, and Killian left the station. Emma was too wired, too exhausted to deal with Neal and David, but she had no choice. She turned around and put her hands on her hips, summoning a bit of Regina to help her deal with them, but the thought of Regina made her more exhausted. They had little time to find Kieran, and it would be at least ten hours before Emmett ever made it to Maine. Emma pushed all those thoughts aside and exhaled tiredly.

“When I deputized you, Neal, it was for Henry. But if this is all you’re going to do, arrest people you don’t like, then I’ll rip that badge off and shove it down your throat so you can choke on it. I am still the Sheriff, and this is still my town. You are tap-dancing on a thin line.” Emma looked at David. “And you. I have half a mind to put you on suspension,” she said.

“Emma-

“Sheriff Swan,” she corrected. “Because right now, that title is the one you should be most concerned about.”

“He assaulted Neal, and by law, I am allowed to arrest him.”

“Did Killian hit Neal for no apparent and with malicious intent, or was he defending himself from what he believed was an attack on his person?”

Neither one responded, which told Emma all she needed to know. She went over to David and held out her hand.

“Gun and badge,” she ordered.

“What? Emma, I was doing my job!”

“Give me your goddamned gun, David,” Emma snapped.

“Don’t talk to me like that. I’m still your father,” he said.

“In this station, while you are in that uniform, I am in control. And right now, I am telling you to hand over your weapon, Deputy.”

“That’s not fair. We were trying to save your life,” Neal argued.

“From what? Killian’s shitty cooking? Ruby’s crap jokes? What, Neal, were you trying to save me from?”

“Killian and Rumple are not good people-

“And you are? Fuck, Neal, get out of my face. I’m too tired to deal with your bullshit.”

Neal scoffed and left the station, knocking over a few chairs in the process. Emma felt a headache coming, and she returned her attention to David.

“This is my last time telling you to hand over your weapon.”

David clenched his jaw and unholstered his gun. He handed it to Emma, who threw it on her desk and stepped back.

“You are dismissed from duty until further notice,” she said.

David wasn’t happy, but he didn’t push. He snatched his jacket off the chair and left. Finally alone, Emma sat down at her desk and rubbed her eyes.

She needed Regina.


Emmett burst into the house with Rosalie. They were a lot later than planned, so Emmett was a little frantic. Neither one paid much attention to the two suitcases by the door. Charlie poked his head around the corner from the kitchen, phone tucked against his ear, and he held up his finger.

“Thanks, Elaine. I appreciate this. I’ll keep you updated, okay?” Charlie said.

Emmett heard the woman on the other line end the call, and Charlie hung up the phone. He then stared at the screen, scratching at his jaw.

“You two got enough money to cover three tickets to Maine?” he asked.

“Maine?” Rosalie repeated.

“Yeah, that’s where Bella is. We’re supposed to go to Augusta, then ride South for two hours.”

“Why is Bella- no, scratch that. How is Bella in Maine?” Emmett asked. “She was just here!”

“A portal opened in my living room. Out pops Emma Swan, who lives in Storybrooke, Maine, a place your mother, Emmett, created during some curse. Storybrooke is in this realm, so that was a doozy to find out. Anyway, your mother has something called Cordis Stasis, and Bella had to go back with Emma before the portal closed to help. I think I covered everything, but the rest can be explained once we get to Maine. Bella’s message is so damned vague.”

“I’m sorry?” Emmett asked.

“Listen, I would love to go through that again, but we need to be in Storybrooke by tomorrow. So, money for tickets or not?”

“Charlie, what-

“We don’t need tickets,” Rosalie said. “I have a plane, and I can get us there in no time. I can also handle the car we’ll need once in Maine. I assume you’re already packed?”

“You walked past the bags on your way in,” Charlie said pointedly. “One is mine, and the other is Bella’s. I grabbed her favorite pajamas, some hoodies, and some boots.

“Okay, good. Good. It’s a forty-five-minute trip to my plane, so double-check that you have everything, and then we’ll leave.”

“What about him?” Charlie asked.

Emmett was short-circuiting, so Rosalie took over and said, “He’ll be fine once this settles.”


Bella had just finished her text to Charlie when she heard the front door open. Ruby stumbled over the threshold with an arm full of photo albums, and she managed to close the door behind her. Ruby stretched to lock it, and Bella grinned from her place on the couch. Ruby dumped the albums next to Bella before putting her hands on her lips. They stared at one another for a minute before Ruby broke first.

“Bella!”

“Ruby!”

Bella swept Ruby into her arms once she was close enough and swung her around. Ruby laughed as she was placed back on the floor, and she held Bella at arm’s length, looking her over.

“You’re so tall,” Ruby said, her eyes welling with tears.

“Hey, no, don’t cry,” Bella said, hugging Ruby again. “Don’t cry.”

“I thought you were gone forever,” Ruby whimpered. “I thought I lost you.”

“Never. You’re stuck with me, cousin.”

“Forever?”

“And ever.” Bella pressed a kiss to Ruby’s temple and moved away. “Okay. So. Emma told me I needed to come to you for the story of what’s happened,” she said.

“Ah. That was because Emma knew you wouldn’t trust her if she told you who she was.”

“Why? Who is she?”

“Do you promise to keep in mind that Granny and I trust Emma with our lives and that she means more than you think to your mother?”

“Yeah, sure. Just tell me.”

Ruby grimaced and said, “Emma is Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter.”


Later that night, Killian slipped through the door.

“It’s nearly two in the morning,” Rumple hissed sleepily.

“Give me that other bean,” Killian said.

“What?”

“The bean you used for Kieran? Give it to me.”

Rumple blinked away the sleepiness, and he said, “Killian, that is a suicide mission at best. That bean is too unstable, and it might not stay open long enough for you to even get through. We could lose you, or worse, you die.”  

Killian clenched his jaw and said, “Regina’s my best friend. I have some of those polar pictures from my ship that I can use to prove who I am, and you said you sent Kieran clues.”

“If anything happens to you, Regina will kill me.”

“And if anything happens to Regina, I’ll kill you.”


Emma dragged herself out of the station and stopped. She found Isabella leaning against the cruiser.

“Here to yell at me? Try to kill me, perhaps? I have to say, your mother’s done that a few times.”

Isabella cracked a smile and said, “Not this time.”

Emma unlocked her car door. Her bug was in the shop, so she was stuck with the cruiser. Isabella slipped into the passenger seat while Emma got comfortable behind the wheel.

“The drive to my mother’s house is what, ten minutes?”

“Give or take.”

“Then that’s how long you have.”

“Dare I ask to do what?” Emma asked warily.

“To tell me your story, Emma Swan. And how my mother fits into it.”


Killian adjusted the sack around his shoulders and exhaled through his nose. He held the bean from Rumple in the air, kissed it, and then placed it on the stone. Killian took the last of the fairy water and poured it on the bean, hoping that the dragon’s eye allowed the portal to stay open long enough for Killian to get through. If it closed while he was there, then so be it.

That time, the portal was a deep blue, and Killian didn’t hesitate before throwing himself forward. Killian cursed as he landed on top of a table. He groaned and rose on his elbows, staring at the occupants around the table he’d crashed on.

“Sorry about the interruption, but by chance, are any of you named Kieran Mills?” he asked.

The one with super long, brunette hair and a jaw that could cut steel, sitting directly beside him, raised her hand. Killian sighed in relief and slumped down. He turned his head to look at Kieran and gave a tired grin.

“Name’s Captain Hook, love. I’m a friend of your mother’s, and I’m here to get you home.”

Chapter Text

Kieran toyed with the letter in her hand. She found it shortly after they landed and talked herself out of opening it until she had no more excuses to give herself. Brainy refused to tell anyone how he owned an abandoned estate in Colorado, complete with an airfield, and he dodged questions about the equipment already stored in the garage. All he said was that he knew it would come in handy one day. Kieran sat on the bench wrapped in a blanket and unfolded the letter.

Princess,

I couldn’t say any of this to you in person. It would’ve made it harder to let you go. I hate that…. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, does it? You’re going to be leaving soon, and I’ll be here. I just want you to know that I’m never going to find someone like you again. I know Disney, so I figured everyone is chasing their happily ever after where you came from. If you find yours, make sure you tell them that you have a superpowered alien that’ll do about anything to see you smile for the rest of your life.

-Your Hero


Later that night, Kieran stretched out in the yard. The backdoor opened, and she tilted her head back to find Brainy walking across the grass. He sat beside her cross-legged, eyes uncharacteristically serious.

“I find myself at a crossroads,” he confessed. “I sense this is more than returning home for you.”

Kieran snorted out a laugh and covered her nose. It wasn’t funny, but her emotions were all over the place. She turned away from him and looked at the sky, enjoying the stars already visible in the fading daylight. Kieran questioned why Fate would give her such amazing people in a world far from her own.

“My mother is dying,” she said eventually. “And I am running out of time to save her life.”

Brainy reached out and rested his hand on her shoulder. She looked at him, and he said, “Tomorrow morning, we shall use the journal to create a link between you and your mother’s magic. I can amplify it enough for my systems to narrow our search. I will do everything in my power to get you home before the sun sets tomorrow evening.”

“Brainy-

“You misunderstand,” he interrupted. “This is not a rush or an inconvenience for me. I know what it feels like to be millions of miles away from home but unable to go back for whatever reason. It will be an honor to do something for you that I cannot do for myself.”

Kieran grabbed the hand on her shoulder and asked, “Why would Fate take me from my family, only to give me a new one that I cannot stay with?”

“I would like to think that until you were able to return to them, the universe blessed you with one who loved you just as much.”

Kieran didn’t know how to respond to that. Thankfully, Brainy understood her silence and went back inside. Kieran closed her eyes and slipped into a nearly forgotten memory.

“Hey, Gelu?”

Kieran glanced over at her sister, who seemed nervous.

“Yes?”

“I think I might- I believe I find- I think-

“Hey,” Kieran touched Isabella’s arm, giving her something to focus on. “I’m right here,” she said. “Breathe through it and try again.”

Isabella took several deep breaths before she said, “I think I am attracted to women in the way that mother wishes for me to be attracted to men.”

Kieran chewed on her bottom lip and said, “Are you sure?”

Even under the moonlight, Isabella’s blush took over her entire face as she nodded. Kieran hummed and rolled over, keeping her hand firmly on her sister’s arm. She waited until Isabella looked at her before asking-

“Does this have anything to do with Abigail from the kitchens?”

“No!” Kieran arched an eyebrow, and Isabella sighed. “Was I that obvious?” she murmured.

“So much so that,” Kieran paused, “that Mom assumed you would ask to court her by the full moon.”

“Wait, Mommy knows?”

“I think the entire family does?”

“What! How?”

“After your lunch with Pocahontas. We all thought you two were more than friends.”

“Pocahontas is five years older than me and interested in John,” Isabella scoffed.

“Oh, please. That will never last,” Kieran huffed.

“That is what I told her, but she wants to give him a chance. And why did no one tell me?”

“How do you expect us to tell you what you prefer, Ignis?”

Isabella groaned and erected a wall of grass around her.

“You are being ridiculous,” Kieran giggled. “It is not that bad!”

“Shut up. You can barely dress, let alone give me love advice.”

“Who said anything about love?” Kieran teased. “And I’ll have you know I can dress just fine!”

“You are wearing mismatched stockings.”

Kieran scowled and pressed a finger into the dirt, freezing the ground near Isabella. Her sister yelped and jumped up, glaring at Kieran as she laughed. Isabella cocked her head, and the grass under Kieran curled around her body until she was nearly buried in the Earth.

“Ignis!” Kieran shouted.

“Nope. Apologize.”

“I will do no such thing- oh, for crying out loud.”

Kieran concentrated and melted into a body of water. She slid away from the grass and solidified in front of Isabella, who stared at her in awe. Kieran brushed the dirt off her dress and plucked grass out of her hair. Isabella squealed and wrapped her in a hug.

“You finally did it!” she exclaimed. “Oh, this is so exciting! You have to show mother tomorrow.”

“It wasn’t that hard,” Kieran muttered, turning red from the praise.

“Of course not, never for you.” Isabella cupped her face and kissed her forehead. “I am blessed by every deity in creation to have you as my sister,” she said.

“Iz, stop it,” Kieran whined.

“One day, you will accept the praise given to you by others.”

“Whatever.”

“You know that I love you forever, right?”

“And ever?”

“Until time ceases to exist.”


Kieran yawned as she came downstairs in her pajamas. She was the last one awake, a rare occurrence, and she entered the dining room to find everyone already there.

“Good morning, your Highness,” Sam teased.

“Shut up.”

“Mommy says shut up is a bad word,” Ruby said.

“Your mother eats your fruit snacks when you fall asleep,” Kieran grumbled.

Ruby gasped, and Sam stammered out a response. Jess shook her head and poured Kieran a cup of coffee, which made Kieran groan.

“Jess, you aren’t my assistant anymore,” she said.

“No, but you can barely open your eyes, and I’d rather not have hot liquid poured on the tablecloth.”

“I am capable of taking care of myself.”

“You’re wearing mismatched pajamas,” Sam pointed out dryly.

“Ruby, your mother eats all the cookies and blames it on Jess.”

“Sam!”

“Mom!”

“I hate you so much right now,” Sam hissed.

“Yes, well-

Kieran stopped and frowned. Red sparks jumped from her fingertips, and she glanced around in suspicion.

“What’s-

Kieran shushed Sam, pushing Ruby closer to her mother, and Jess stepped closer to Sam. Brainy stood, prepared for an unseen threat, and Kieran looked up at the ceiling. Her magic reacted before anyone else, and she swiped everything off the table with a flick of her wrist. A portal opened above them, dropping a body on the table, and Sam scrambled back with Ruby already in her arms. Jess picked up a knife, pointing it at the offender, and Brainy took a defensive stance. Kieran cocked her head as she stared at the man. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out why. The man groaned and rose on his elbows, staring at the group.

“Sorry about the interruption, but by chance, are any of you named Kieran Mills?” he asked.

Kieran raised her hand. The man sighed in relief and slumped down. He turned his head to look her in the eyes and gave a tired grin.

“Name’s Captain Hook, love. I’m a friend of your mother’s, and I’m here to get you home.”

That’s why she knew him.

“Your face used to be on a lot of wanted posters,” she said.

“Different life.”

“How in the world did you end up friends with my mother?”

“That is a long story.” Killian stretched out his neck and sat upright. “And that was not how I expected to get here,” he said.

“Okay, pause. You’re the actual Captain Hook?” Sam asked.

“Aye.”

“That’s so cool,” Sam breathed out.

“If I may,” Brainy began, “Where did you come from?”

“Better yet, how did you get here?” Kieran added.

“I came from Storybrooke, and I got here through a portal using a bean, some fairy water, and a dragon’s eye.”

“Are we talking a literal dragon’s eye or….” Sam trailed off. “Also, when you say fairy water-

“Water that’s been taken from the home of the fairies,” Killian and Kieran said in unison.

“It’s hard to come by,” Kieran added. “So is a dragon’s eye, which is a stone blessed by the tears of a dragon. Do I even want to know how you, of all people, have one?”

“Maleficent owed me a favor.”

“So you stole it.”

“Hold on, am I the only one blown out of my mind?” Sam exclaimed. “Like Captain Hook is sitting on the dining room table after falling from the ceiling, and he’s talking to my best friend about Maleficent, fairies, and magic beans.”

“Is it too early for a drink?” Jess asked.

“Not at all, love. I am a firm believer that drinking- ow!”

Kieran glared at him, pointing at Ruby, and Killian pursed his lips.

“I mean, drinking is bad,” he said.

“Nice save,” Sam scoffed. “And don’t call my girlfriend love.”

“My apologies. I meant no disrespect.”

“What’s in the bag?” Brainy asked.

“Some polar pictures,” he said.

“He means polaroid pictures,” Kieran said.

“I thought I had that one right.” Killian pulled out a stack of pictures. “Anyway, I brought these to prove my case.”

Kieran took the images and pointed to the chair, silently telling him to sit down. Killian huffed and sat where she told him to. Kieran walked over to Sam, Jess, and Ruby, and Brainy joined them. The first picture was of Killian lying on a ship deck with Regina. Regina wore a hat and sunglasses in a plain, black bikini, and she smiled brightly at the camera. Killian’s face was too close, but it was a decent shot.

“That’s my Mom,” Kieran said, tapping Regina’s face.

“No way that is your mother,” Sam exclaimed. “She’s way too....”

Sam trailed off when Jess and Kieran arched their eyebrows at her.

“Never mind.”

Kieran shook her head and moved to the next image of Killian with Ruby and Granny in some kind of apartment. Ruby flipped off the camera behind Granny’s back. Killian was again too close to the camera, but it was better than the first one.

“And that is my cousin, Ruby, and that’s Granny,” Kieran explained.

“Hey, she has my name,” Ruby said.

“We might need to call the other one Red from now on,” Killian said.

Kieran nodded in agreement and continued through the pictures. One by one, they watched Killian grow more comfortable in front of the camera. In every single image, they all wore big smiles. Her mother, especially. But Kieran couldn’t shake that something was off about Killian’s arrival. She handed the pictures to Sam, and she turned to Killian.

“What is the real reason you are here?” Kieran asked.

Killian cleared his throat and stood.

“It might be best if we spoke in private,” he said.


Kieran led Killian out to the balcony and shut the door. Before she could ask again, Killian removed one last picture. She took it from him, and her breath caught in her throat. It was her mother on her bed with her eyes closed. It didn’t take much to figure out what had happened. Kieran sat down on the bench and handed the picture back to Killian.

“Regina never told anyone. We had no idea until it was too late. Rumple believed there would be enough time for him to find a way to get you and your siblings back to Storybrooke, but your phone call came through two days after you made it. And Regina left her phone in the car that night.”

“So she never heard my voicemail,” Kieran guessed.

“I’m afraid not.” Killian hesitated before sitting next to her. “When Rumple revealed that he had a second bean for your sister, we were able to open a portal to Isabella’s location. We arranged for someone to go in and get her.”

“And did you find her?”

“Yes. I heard from our Ruby that Isabella is safe and sound. Rumple revealed your bean could be unstable, so we had to find a different way to you,” Killian paused, “But Regina truly is my best friend. I knew that if there was a small chance your bean would work, I would take it.” 

“Tell me about this Storybrooke. How did you all end up there?”

“Shortly after the Snow White incident, things got a bit dodgy. I was on the sea during most of it, but when I returned to stock up on supplies, I heard the announcement that Snow White was expecting a child. There was an issue with my ship, which delayed me several months. Then on the day my men and I were due to leave, this dark cloud enveloped the forest. We watched from the boat as people disappeared one by one until they were all gone. I later discovered that Regina cursed the entire forest and stole everyone’s happy endings. She sent everyone to the Land Without Magic and put them in a town of her creation which is Storybrooke. She and Rumple were the only ones who had their memories, and everyone there was frozen in time for decades until the curse was broken.”

“How is that possible?” Kieran asked. “She didn’t even have magic when I was there.”

“The theory is that losing you, Isabella, and Emmett triggered a dormant power that she either forgot about or never knew about. Her explanation has changed so much that I stopped asking.”

“What happened for her to cast the curse? It surely went beyond losing us?”

“That is not a happy story,” he said.

“I do not need it to be happy,” she snapped. “I need to know why my mother’s heart broke so much that it stopped working!”

Killian ran a hand through his hair and sat back. He said, “When the portals closed, the battle for the White kingdom came down to whose story sounded best. Unfortunately for your mother, Snow White’s version of events swayed more people than Regina’s. Your mother tried so hard for them, but once she became Rumpelstiltskin’s protégé, once she started using magic more and more, the kingdom turned their back on her. Snow White became the hero, and so began the reign of the Evil Queen.”


After Killian told Kieran the entire story, they made their way to the garage to find Sam, Ruby, and Jess with Brainy while he worked. No one commented on Kieran’s bloodshot eyes or the exhaustion written on Killian’s face. Instead, Ruby hopped down from her seat and walked up to Killian. Sam and Jess tensed, but Kieran gave them a reassuring smile.

“Was there ice cream in the Enchanted Forest?” she asked.

Killian gave a wry grin and said, “Yes, but we called it gelato.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks.”

Ruby ran back to her seat and wrote something down. Sam shook her head and leaned back on the table.

“Question. In this Storybrooke of yours, who all lives there?”

“The former inhabits of the Enchanted Forest.”

“I’m sorry?”

Killian looked at Kieran, confused, and she said, “She’s asking who from the Enchanted Forest lives in Storybrooke. Remember, in this realm, our world is considered a fairytale.”

“Ah, yes. Emma told me the whole fairytale thing.”

“Emma?” Jess asked.

“Long story,” Kieran grumbled.

Killian grinned at the look on her face, and he asked, “Still not on board with her yet?”

“My mother has a proven weakness for pretty blondes, so I cannot trust her judgment on this.”

“Now, why does that sound so familiar?” Sam asked, tapping her chin. “Jess, babe, who else do we know that has a weakness for pretty blondes?”

“Moving on,” Kieran gritted out. “I think you were asking Killian to name individuals in Storybrooke?”

“Sure, if it’s not like an issue of privacy or something.”

“Oh. Um, I had lunch with Prince Eric the other day because he’s getting a divorce from Princess Ariel? Snow White, Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood, Pocahontas is around somewhere, and Princess Tiana-”

“The entire Disney catalog. Thanks,” Sam interrupted.

“Pocahontas is there?” Ruby asked excitedly.

“Yes, but I should probably mention that she and Tiana are the only princesses worth talking to. The rest can be,” he scratched his neck, “difficult.”

“Noted,” Sam said. “Keep Ruby away from the princesses. Kieran and her sister included.”

“Hey!”

Brainy cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention and said, “The timing of your arrival has been helpful. It keeps me from using any of Kieran’s energy and magic to locate her mother. I can use information you have provided to narrow down from the realms previously discovered after the last century or so.”

“What?”

“He’s going to ask you a bunch of questions about the Land Without Magic so he can find it,” Kieran explained.

“Got it.”

Brainy spun around to his computer, and Killian tried to touch a nearby screen, but Kieran smacked his hand down.

“First, would you say Storybrooke has a large concentration of magic in a world that does not have it?”

Killian glanced at Kieran, who nodded, and Killian said, “Yes.”

Brainy hummed and erased something from the screen. Thousands of tiny dots appeared on the computer, and Brainy pressed a single key. Several of those dots disappeared, but there were still too many to count. Ruby climbed onto the table and latched herself onto Jess’ back.

“What else can you tell me about your world?” Brainy asked.

“I know it’s the year 2016.”

“Never thought I’d add time travel to my list of experiences,” Sam muttered.

Brainy typed something else into the system, and the number of dots dropped drastically from about a hundred to ten.

“What else?” Brainy asked.

“I’m not sure what else to give you.”

“Who’s the president?” Jess asked.

All eyes turned to her, and she shrugged.

“I have to assume it isn’t the same in every place,” she said.

“That is a fair question,” Brainy mused.

“Emma mentioned some woman named Clinton a few months ago.”

“Hillary Clinton became president? What a fucking world,” Sam said.

“Mom.”

“Sorry, baby.”

Brainy added that detail, and surprisingly enough, three dots remained.

“Okay.” Brainy leaned back in his chair. “Here we have the only three realms with magic where it shouldn’t be, Clinton as president, and currently in the year 2016. The best way-

“Oh! Emma said that there were two big wars in our realm,” Killian interrupted. “One and Two?”

“I think everyone had the World Wars, dude,” Sam said.

Brainy pursed his lips and typed something else, and one realm was erased. Sam sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Do you know anything else? It can be the most obscure fact that you recall,” Brainy said.

“No. That’s all I have, mate,” Killian sighed.

Kieran stepped up to Brainy, focusing on the screens, and she frowned.

“Why can’t you just look for a spike in the magic from when Killian opened his portal?”

“I- oh. I did not consider that. Thank you.”

Brainy swiped across the screens, focused on his task, and they all watched as the realm on the left side stayed dim when the one on the right grew brighter. It was only for a few seconds, but it was enough for Brainy to lock in on the location of the spike. The realm on the left was eliminated, and Brainy and Kieran tilted their heads in unison.

“It’s just a bunch of colors,” Ruby whispered to Jess.

Kieran knew it was more than that. What Ruby couldn’t see was that the swirling colors were lines that connected a group of people, each one binding one person to another, and so on. Brainy tapped something on his keyboard. The realm disintegrated into tiny particles.

“It will take me around four hours to create a device that will be able to transport you all to this specific realm,” he said.

“Holy shit, this is really happening,” Sam murmured.

Kieran grimaced and turned to Sam, who shook her head.

“We are not having this conversation again.”

“But you’re leaving this world for one that you know nothing about!”

“You are too! So it’ll be an experience for all of us.” 

“And Lex might try to kill us here,” Jess said pointedly. “We have no choice but to go with you.”

“Fine,” Kieran sighed.

“Who is Lex, and why is he trying to kill you?” Killian asked.

“Oh, buddy, do I have a story for you,” Sam began.


Brainy hid the extra watch in his bag. His only order was to send Kieran home and erase the data. And he would, but he was also taking a chance by creating an extra watch for Kara. He meant what he said to Kieran the night before. There was no way he was letting someone from his family just disappear into another realm without anyone being able to get to her. The garage door opened, and Brainy faced the group. They all had their bags, small things they grabbed in National City, and they seemed excited and wary. Brainy clasped his hands behind his back.

“You are right on time. I finished the portal watch, and it will take you as close as possible to where the Captain jumped from. Kieran, if you would please give me your wrist?”

Kieran stepped forward and held out her arm. He attached the watch to her arm and tapped the symbol on the front. She scrunched her nose as she smiled, and Brainy was proud he chose the right design.

“All you have to do is press the crest to activate it,” he instructed softly. “Press it again once you’re safe, and it will close. The watch has three full trips in it, so be mindful of how you use it.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. “For everything.”

Brainy hesitated before hugging her, and he whispered back, “We will see each other again.”

Kieran nodded and moved away from him. Brainy watched her caress the House of El crest he etched into the metal before she pressed down. The air grew thick with electricity, and a portal opened inches away from where Kieran stood. Brainy waved forward the other. Sam picked up Ruby while Jess took care of the bags. Killian grabbed Kieran’s and joined the women near the portal.

“Ruby? You should cover your eyes,” Killian suggested. “It can get pretty bright in there.”

“Okay.”

Ruby covered her eyes, and Sam gave Killian a thankful smile. Kieran reached back and grabbed Jess’ hand, and Brainy waved goodbye as they walked through together.


The five of them exited the portal on the deck of the ship. Once everyone was safe, Kieran clicked the crest, and the portal vanished.

“When Emma told me this is where you would end up whenever you got back, I almost thought she was lying to me.”

The five turned around to find a brunette chilling on the railing. Kieran stepped forward and narrowed her eyes.

“Isabella?”

“Hey, baby sis. Miss me?”

Kieran grinned and ran across the deck. Isabella met her halfway and swept her off the ground. She spun her in circles, and Kieran let out the most genuine laugh in years.


Sam, Jess, and Ruby stayed downstairs with Killian. Isabella led Kieran upstairs. In the bedroom, Kieran felt like a kid again. But instead of Regina on the bed, it was Liana. Kieran shook her head rapidly, backing away. It was one thing to see it in a picture. To see it for herself was something completely different, and she stepped back further, bumping into the door.

“Hey, trust me,” Isabella said, holding out her hand.

Kieran looked from Regina to her sister, back to Regina again. She reached out and grabbed Isabella’s hand, letting her sister tug her toward the bed.

“All you have to do is talk to her,” Isabella said softly.

“Don’t leave,” she pleaded.

“Hey, I’m right here, okay? No one is going to take me away from you again. I swear it.”

Kieran squeezed her sister’s hand in response and looked down at their mother. She shifted back and forth, opening and closing her mouth in a few false starts. Eventually, the words poured from her lips. But she was speaking Latin. Isabella covered her mouth, and Kieran looked at her, confused.

“You should probably try English first,” she teased.

Kieran huffed and moved her head away, glaring at her sister.

“Why do you always tease me?”

“Because you make it easy.” Isabella jerked her head at Regina. “And that is why I told you to just talk to her. She can hear everything we are saying,” she said.

Kieran’s eyes dropped, and she gasped when she saw the purple receding from Regina’s skin. Then she frowned and looked back at Isabella.

“Stop being a jerk,” she said.

“Have you always been this sensitive?”

Kieran scrunched her face and asked, “What’s with the accent?”

“I lived in London for three years. Long story.”

“Are there any other kind in this family?”

“I know, right. Speaking of which, what is that is on your back?” Kieran blushed, and Isabella smiled mischievously. “And are those piercings? I’m counting, what, ten? Eleven?” she asked.

“I had a phase.”

“Hold that thought.” Isabella tugged her phone out of her pocket and answered, “Hello? No, I don’t want to talk to him. Because I’ll see him in like two minutes? And I’m still mad at him, which I know he can hear. Yes, I’m mad at her too. Whatever just tell him to hurry and-

Isabella and Kieran turned around when the door opened, and Kieran’s eyes widened. Emmett entered the room slowly and closed the door.

“Hey,” he greeted.

“Emmett,” Kieran said. She cocked her head. “You look different,” she added.

Isabella snorted and said, “You have no fucking idea.”

“Bella.”

“Oh, go fuck yourself. Was that good enough adult communication for you?” Isabella mocked.

Emmett flinched. Kieran glanced between them slowly, but she felt Isabella squeeze her hand in warning, so she let it go. Emmett walked to the opposite side of the bed. He was careful sitting down, using one hand to brush the hair from Regina’s face. Isabella felt somewhat for her brother, knowing that the look in his eyes were tears that he would never be able to shed.

“Hey, Mom,” he said. “I know this probably sounds like a dream, but I promise we are all here. We have so much we need to say to one another, so much we have to talk about, but we can’t do that without you.”

“I felt you yesterday,” Isabella jumped in, swallowing her emotions. “And you have nothing to be guilty about. None of this was your fault. Our family is stronger than any distance, stronger than any force that tries to keep us apart, and-” she paused and sighed, “stronger than any misunderstanding or mistake. Nothing will break us.”

“And nothing has,” Emmett said meaningfully.

Kieran sat on the edge of the bed and placed her hand over Regina’s heart.

“I know you can hear us. I feel your magic calling out to us, and I know it hurts. But we have so much more life to live together, Momma. You have to wake up for us. We can’t do this without you.”

“And we don’t want to,” Emmett added, putting his hand on top of Kieran’s.

“There’s also some cool people you have to meet,” Isabella laughed, placing her hand on top of the pile. “Kieran brought a kid and everything.”

“She’s my goddaughter,” Kieran sighed.

“Yeah, Mom. And Isabella has a girlfriend,” Emmett teased.

“You do?” Kieran exclaimed.

“I- we haven’t- Emmett’s a vampire!”

“Oh, come on!”

“You should also tell Mom how you broke a promise, called me a brat, and insinuated I couldn’t have a conversation without my powers!”

“Well, he is not wrong. You are horrible at talking to people,” Kieran teased.

Isabella narrowed her eyes and said, “This is payback from earlier, isn’t it?”

“What happened earlier?” Emmett asked.

“Iz was making fun of me-

“Because she was so nervous to talk to Mom that she started speaking in Latin,” Isabella said.

“You do slip into Latin a lot when you get nervous.”

“See!”

“You’re supposed to be on my side,” Kieran huffed.

“I’m on no one’s side when it comes to you two.”

All three were too distracted to notice the swirl of gold, orange, and red seeping into Regina’s chest. Regina’s eyes fluttered open, purple fading to brown. Her eyes landed on her children, and they closed again when she heard them arguing.

“I slept better when you three weren’t around,” she rasped.

“Tough words for someone giving their best Sleeping Beauty impression.”

Isabella.

“You think we should have taken turns kissing her?”

Kieran.

“Why are both of you the way you are?”

Emmett.

Regina tugged at the closest child until they stretched out on top of her. She made a vague motion with her free hand, and she was relieved when she felt the bed dip beside her. Regina was surrounded by warmth on all sides. Instinctively, she knew it was Kieran on her chest. The body curled into her side was Isabella, and there was no doubt in her mind Emmett was stretched out at the base of the bed.

Regina smiled and fell asleep, feeling peace for the first time in years.

Chapter Text

Regina brushed out her hair, watching the way it curled around her shoulders, and she humored getting a haircut. But she would never do it. Regina liked the length, and the fact Emma liked it helped too. She put her brush down and stood up, going into her closet. Regina bypassed her usual wear and reached into the back, tugging at a top that Red bought her a few days ago. Regina first chose a pair of jeans, but she chewed on her bottom lip and grabbed a long skirt with a high slit. Her children had been there for a month, and things were falling into place. Regina paused getting dressed, a soft smile on her face, and glanced at the polaroid on her nightstand. Killian caught them during a movie night.

Regina was on the couch with Emma on the floor in front of her. Isabella and Kieran took up the other side of Regina, tangled together in a mass of limbs and brown hair. It amazed Regina how her daughters were equally similar and different. Regardless, Emmett took up the other side of the floor, stretched out with his head almost touching Emma’s thigh. Despite the rough start, it took less than a week for her children to warm up to Emma. It was…comforting to see them interact with one another. Killian took the picture before the others arrived and stole their spots.

Regina fell in love all over again with her family.

It was odd to have everyone around after the last three decades, but it was both a blessing and a challenge. Regina hadn’t imagined a scenario where her son would come home a vampire or her youngest child coming from a universe where superheroes were real. She could still hear the sound of Isabella’s body hitting the floor when she realized Supergirl existed. Charlie explained in the stunned silence that the superhero was Isabella’s role model. Regina saw the look in her youngest daughter’s eyes whenever she spoke about “Kara,” and she knew there was more to the story. But she didn’t push. Regina was still adjusting to her adult children being in relationships and… other things.

Nonetheless, in just a couple of weeks, Regina’s magic returned to its initial strength. She was eating more, had more energy, and slept better. But that was because most of her nights ended with her daughters crawling into bed with her. Emmett rarely did, but he stayed in there until they fell asleep. He spent his free time with Killian and Charlie, falling into his routine of the gentle giant that watched more than he interacted. The three were a godsend. Regina came home one evening to find Henry’s old room transformed into an art studio. Emmett, Killian, and Charlie spent the entire day painting, moving furniture, and fixing things around that house Regina had been putting off for months.

Of course, Isabella fell into her familiar shadows, always there but never speaking, but something was different about it. She wasn’t avoiding conversation, just choosing to be around it rather than a part of it. And much to Regina’s displeasure, her daughter started growing more comfortable with her girlfriend. Regina didn’t hate Rosalie, but she wasn’t on board with her daughter dating. She didn’t like any of them dating. They were her babies, and they were never old enough to be doing…that. Kieran rarely mentioned Kara, but she discussed the work she’d been doing with her company, L-Corp. Regina was proud of her youngest for branching out and helping the world her way, not anyone else’s. There was a hiccup when Regina met Charlie, but it lasted less than a day. She warmed to the former Chief in seconds, his attitude and behavior so similar to her best friend that she couldn’t help it, and it was nice to have him around. Charlie took Emma under his metaphorical wing, helping her navigate being a Sheriff.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Princess Cinderella or a woman from Park Avenue. Everyone in this world has the same rules and regulations,” Charlie told her. “Trust your instinct and follow the rules you’ve set up for not only yourself but for this town.”

Charlie had done something no one else could. He’d given Emma the fatherly, tough love that she’d been missing with David, and it bolstered her confidence. Emma carried herself differently, and everyone could see it. Another hiccup came when Red first reunited with Emmett and met Rosalie. It was tense. But once they grew accustomed to one another’s scents, things relaxed. Then Red brought up the feeding conversation. Rosalie and Emmett confessed they fed on humans after initially feeding on animals. Isabella shut that down quickly, saying that hearing them hunt animals would be awkward and uncomfortable. Regina promised to find a solution but suggested they try blood bags for the time being. She could “procure” a few to keep them sated, but a long-term alternative would have to be decided.

Regina hopped around her room, looking for her other boot, and she made a mental note to look into getting Ruby into the school. The child had somehow wormed her way into everyone’s hearts. Honestly, Sam, Ruby, and Jess were the surprising joys in Regina’s life. Sam or Jess would often alternate on days to go with Regina to the office. When Jess came with her, she would spend time with Regina’s secretary, Beth. She offered tips and helped around the office so the woman could go home to her husband before five p.m. When Sam came, Regina bonded with the single mother and exchanged stories. The topic of Henry came up on accident, and Regina had the awful realization she still had her demons about what happened. Sam sat with her and listened without judgment, and it was a much lighter Regina who left the office that evening.

Sort of.

As Ruby had taken over as the baby, everyone spoiled her. Especially Granny, who enjoyed having a child again in the kitchen. So there were a lot of cookies, muffins, and pastries coming out of Regina’s kitchen. None of which stayed longer than a few hours. Regina absentmindedly touched her stomach. She had admittedly gained “happy weight” over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s about balance, Madam Mayor,” Jess said, placing a steak salad on her desk. “You can eat good and be healthy.”

Regina hesitated, still remembering the moments where Cora tore into Regina for being too this or too that. Fortunately, Jess picked up on her hesitancy and told her they could do meals in advance to keep things structured.

That helped a little, having a plan in place, so Regina allowed Beth and Jess to bring her food when she was at the office. The family noticed her “glow,” but Emma was her biggest supporter. The fact highlighted by the times Emma lingered after every hug or found a reason to touch her, letting her fingertips graze Regina’s waist or her hips. Regina picked up on every touch, enjoying every moment of it. Why wouldn’t she?

Someone knocked on her door, and Regina double-checked everything before opening it. Emmett leaned against the doorframe and looked her up and down. He cocked an eyebrow at the skin on display, and he folded his arms.

“Got plans to see Emma today?”

Regina closed her bedroom door and brushed past her son, only to run into her youngest daughter. Kieran scrunched her face when she saw her outfit.

“Is Emma coming with us?”

“Why can I not want to look nice?”

Emmett and Kieran stared at her, and Regina scowled before continuing down the hall. They found Isabella in the kitchen sharing soft kisses with Rosalie, and Regina cleared her throat. Isabella kissed Rosalie before turning to Regina.

“What are you wearing?” she asked.

“She’s hoping to see Emma later,” Kieran teased.

“Mom is too young to be dating.”

“You were just caught making out with Rosalie.”

“Do not bring me into this,” Rosalie muttered.

“You’re in the family now,” Emmett said.

“Only because no one else is willing to put up with Isabella.”

“I’m standing right here,” Isabella said.

“So?” Kieran asked.

Regina pointed to the garage. “You three, out. We are already running late,” she said.

“I thought you gave up being the Evil Queen,” Isabella joked.

“That kind of title is never returned, dear,” Regina responded.

“Rose, can we-

“Yes, but you may need to put gas in it,” Rosalie said, tossing Emmett the truck keys.

“Can I have your card too?”

“Not when your account is bigger than mine.”

“Hold on, you’re rich?” Emmett walked away from Isabella, and she turned to Rosalie. “He has money?” she asked.

Rosalie grinned and kissed Isabella on the cheek before walking away.

“Try not to bring home any strays.”

“I brought you home, didn’t I?”

Rosalie paused and glanced over her shoulder, eyebrow raised.

“I adore you.”

Rosalie rolled her eyes and walked away. Isabella grimaced and rubbed the back of her neck. Kieran walked up to her, patting her on the shoulder, and mock sympathy was written all over her face.

“I have never seen you put your foot in your mouth so badly,” she said, trying not to laugh.

“See if you’re still saying that when I put my foot up your ass.”

“Wow. That was so mature of you. Then again, I expect nothing less from my baby sister.”

“I am older than you!”

“But your birth certificate says otherwise,” Kieran said in a sing-song voice.

“Five.”

“Oh, please. That does not work on me anymore.”

“Four.”

Kieran’s eye twitched, and Regina ensured she had the right wallet.

“Three.”

Kieran’s face grew nervous, and Regina waited for the inevitable.

“Two-

“Okay! Okay, I’m sorry!”

“That’s what I thought.”

Kieran huffed and stormed out of the kitchen. Isabella sighed happily and put her arm around Regina.

“Why do you mess with her?”

Isabella’s eyes glazed over slightly before she blinked the look away, saying, “Make no mistake about my loyalty to my sister. I love her. I have always protected her, and I always will.”

Isabella dropped her arm, but Regina caught the tail-end of something dark from their brief connection. She faltered a little as that answer brought up an entirely new set of questions. Why did she get the feeling she was missing something?


Regina sat in the passenger’s seat. She shifted as she got settled, tugging and pulling at the end of her shirt.

“Hey,” Emmett said. “You look nice.”

Regina stopped fidgeting and smiled thankfully at her son.

“She looks like she’s trying to reclaim her youth,” Isabella drawled, kicking her legs into Kieran’s lap.

“And you look like a homeless pin cushion,” Kieran said, pushing her legs down. “Your pants have more holes than my ears.”

Regina swallowed her laugh, and Isabella gasped. Emmett shook his head and opened the garage door, tapping an imaginary beat on the steering wheel as he backed down the driveway.

“Now, what if I had a complex?”

“You do. It’s called narcissism.”

Regina listened to the beat of silence before-

“That was a good one, kid.”

“Fuck you.”

“Language, Lena.”

Regina caught the look on Kieran’s face through the rearview mirror, but it was gone before she could investigate it. Isabella missed it as she sat forward.

“Hey, Mom? Why do we have to leave town for clothes? Wait, are you embarrassed by us?”

“And by us, she means herself.”

“Kieran, I swear to Hades I will bite you.” 

“I should have left you both at home,” Regina sighed.

“But who would keep these ruffians in check, Mother? I’m the good child.”

“If there was a competition between you and Lex, I can safely say you would win. But if there was a competition between being an only child and you, the race is closer than you think,” Kieran mused.

“Ouch.”

“Too far?”

“A little. You could give me a fruit snack to make it better.”

Regina glanced out of the corner of her eye, seeing Kieran toss a fruit snack into Isabella’s mouth, and she shook her head. Emmett kept a steady speed over the boundary, and Regina relaxed once they were over the town line.

“Can we get donuts on our way back?” Isabella asked. “The ones with sprinkles.”

“Gross.”

“Excuse me? Donuts with sprinkles are the best thing in creation, and I will not have you disrespect them in such a blatant manner,” she said.

“Big words for someone who can barely talk to her girlfriend,” Kieran mocked.

“Have you seen her?” Isabella exclaimed. “Rosalie would make Mom stutter if she wasn’t so obsessed with Emma.”

“That is untrue. Rosalie is not my type,” Regina scoffed.

“Mom likes the golden retrievers,” Emmett joked.

Kieran folded into herself for a moment before looking out of the window. Once again, a look passed over her face before disappearing. That time, Isabella noticed, and she stared at the side of her sister’s head for a moment before looking away.

“Did any of you notice you have a thing for blondes?” Emmett asked.

“Not me,” Kieran said quickly.

“Come on, we heard the way you talk about Kara,” Isabella said, her tone light and teasing. “Which, by the way, if you end up dating Supergirl, could you please convince her to fly me around?”

“No,” Regina and Kieran said in unison.

“Why?” Isabella whined.

“Because the last thing this world, or any world, needs is you in the air with a Kryptonian,” Kieran muttered. “Or even being in the same room. You and Kara together would be the equivalent of Mom and Mama.”

“Without the sex, though, right?”

“Isabella!” Regina exclaimed.

“What?” Isabella said. “We all know you two had physical relations.”

Kieran covered her mouth to keep from laughing at the disgusted look Regina shot her daughter, and Emmett snorted.

“We also know about Charles,” he added.

“How many kids can say all three of their parents slept together?” Isabella asked.

“I wish you took after your father.”

“No, you don’t. Emmett has the whole broody, masculine thing covered. Kieran takes after Mama. Well, if Mama had sex with the world’s most boring librarian with an ice fetish.”

There was a smack when Kieran hit Isabella on the arm. Regina couldn’t stop the laugh even if she wanted to, but she managed to get herself under control. Kieran squealed, and Regina looked into the backseat to see Isabella poking her in the ribs. Kieran elbowed Isabella in the face by accident, trying to get away. Isabella immediately pulled back, grabbing her nose.

“Oh, my God! I am so sorry!”

Regina sighed. It’d been a miracle they made it a month without someone breaking something. Naturally, the broken bone would happen between her daughters. Emmett rolled down the window once the smell of blood reached him, and he turned his face to the fresh air. Regina knew he would never harm his sisters, but it was better to be safe. Regina leaned back, waving her hand over her daughter’s face. Isabella’s nose reset, and she wiggled it around.

“Maybe don’t tickle your sister in a moving vehicle,” Regina said.

“It’s not my fault she has hard elbows.” Kieran pouted at the comment, and Isabella sighed. She unbuckled her seatbelt and slid over, bringing her sister into her arms. “Hey, it’s alright. I’m okay,” she said.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Kieran murmured.

“And I don’t always mean to hurt you. But it happens. Do you think I love you any less than I did a few minutes ago?” Kieran shook her head no. “Exactly. We’re sisters, Gelu. Nothing and no one will break our bond.”

There was that weird feeling again, where Regina felt like she was missing part of the story.

“You know that I love you forever, right?” Isabella asked softly.

“And ever?”

“Until time ceases to exist.”


“Excuse me?”

Regina turned slowly, confused, and frowned at the guy in front of her. He wore a baseball cap and a hoodie, but his eyes. There was something about them. She backed away out of instinct, only to bump into the wall. She was cornered. Regina cursed herself inwardly. She should’ve been paying better attention, but she wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. She promised Isabella to be right out, but her daughter just scoffed and said she was going to the shoe store. Regina grimaced, remembering that Emmett and Kieran were in another store on the other side of the street. The guy moved closer.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine. If you excuse me, I need to return to my shopping.”

“Oh, of course. And I’m sorry to approach you like this, but I needed to tell you how beautiful you are.”

“Thank you,” Regina said politely, shuffling along the wall until she could slip away.

“Wait,” he grabbed her arm, “We should grab a cup of coffee sometime.”

“Not interested,” Regina said, tugging her arm away from him.

Something switched, and the guy grabbed her again. “It’s just a cup of coffee. I’m not asking for your hand in marriage,” he said.

“Let go of m-

Regina’s words died in her throat when she felt something sharp against her stomach. She glanced at the knife in his hand, and she calmed her breathing.

“I go out of my way to compliment you, and you shut me down? You don’t even know me. I could be the best man you’ve ever had.”

“I doubt it. Seeing as you are an entitled prick who is unable to take no for an answer.” Regina should stop, but the words poured from her lips. “And I am not obligated to give you more time than I already have. A woman does not owe you a damn thing simply because you compliment her. I know I am beautiful. You pointing it out to me is merely stating the obvious.”

Regina pushed out with her magic, sending him flying into the shelves, and she hurried down the aisle to her cart. She practically ran into the main section, breathing a sigh of relief once she was in plain sight of other people. Regina exhaled and reigned in her magic, taking deep breaths. She made her way to the checkout line, but she paused when she heard her name. Isabella jogged over, and Regina spotted the blood on her daughter’s shirt. Isabella tucked her hair behind her ear, and Regina saw the bruising around her daughter’s knuckles. She realized her daughter came from behind her in the direction Regina had already left. Another weird feeling settled in her chest, and she stepped closer to her daughter. Once is an anomaly, twice is a coincidence, but three times was a pattern, and Regina knew when to trust her instincts.

“Why are your fists bruised?”

“Oh, I went to the sports store instead. Was messing around with the little boxing thing.”

“And the blood?”

“Your child broke my nose earlier, remember?”

“We bought you a new shirt the moment we got to town.”

“I guess some came over when I changed.”

“That is not-

Regina stopped when security ran past them, noticing how Isabella turned to hide her shirt. She caught bits and pieces of their conversation, but the things that stood out the most were the calls for an ambulance and the body they found. She looked back at Isabella, and she cupped her face.

“Oh, my baby. What did you do?”

Regina jolted at the spark of rage that flashed through her daughter, and Isabella grabbed her waist. She needed to be grounded, which was never a good sign.

“I did what I have always done, and that is protecting the people that I love by any means.”

Isabella’s eyes flashed a dangerous shade of orange, more copper than anything, and Regina pulled her daughter into her arms and held her tight. She soaked in the anger, the fear, the bloodlust, and Regina knew they needed to leave. Regina kissed the side of her head and moved away, stopping to zip up her daughter’s jacket to hide the blood. Regina abandoned the cart full of nothing essential and led Isabella to the exit.


Kieran could tell something was off about her sister when they got in the car. Isabella sat propped in the backseat, fingers clenching and unclenching, and no one spoke on the way home. Kieran reached over, intent on grabbing her sister’s hand, but Isabella tensed. Kieran moved back, and Isabella relaxed. Kieran deflated and went to her side of the truck, wondering what happened in the short time they were separated.

By the time they got home, Isabella was worse. She jumped out of the truck when they arrived at the house and went toward the backyard. Kieran watched her sister melt into the trees, and she wished, not for the first time in her life, that she could follow her.


On Monday afternoon, the day found Kieran in the kitchen with Rosalie. Both of them were patient and silent in their thoughts. It had been two days, but Isabella still hadn’t returned. Regina explained what happened, and no one could blame Isabella for doing whatever she did. It was instinctual in their family to protect one another, and it was something they would never apologize for. But something tugged at the corners of her mind. Emmett was an expert at hiding his emotions, but he kept twitching whenever Regina spoke about Isabella’s temper. Something else was going on, and Kieran wanted to know what it was. So she would wait until her sister returned and get answers. Of course, that meant turning down going to work with Regina and Jess, not going to the diner with Sam, Granny, Red, and Ruby, and even telling Emma to raincheck the trip to the station. Killian, Charlie, and Emmett went on a “fishing trip.” Which meant Killian and Charlie were on the boat recording how many fish Emmett could grab in one go. That left Rosalie and Kieran alone, and it was fitting.

“How often did she get angry when you were younger?” Rosalie asked.

Kieran shrugged one shoulder and said, “I wouldn’t know. Our mothers would separate us whenever Isabella had a bad day. I only remember bits and pieces of her temper, but nothing concrete or worth repeating.”

“Why did they separate you?”

“Because the angrier she gets, the angrier I get. My sister and I will fight and tease each other, but at the end of the day, I know she would kill for me just as I would kill for her. And I mean that with every fiber of my being. This family is exceptionally protective and can be dangerous when provoked. So I hope you know what you are getting into. With that said, if you hurt her in any way, your death will be eternal and endless at my hands. My mother will be the least of your concerns, understood?”

Rosalie gave a sharp nod, a glimpse of fear in her eyes, and Kieran couldn’t enjoy it. She straightened and aimed her hand at the backdoor. There were a handful of people who could open portals at will, and most of them were in her family.

“What’s going on?”

“Another portal.”

Rosalie moved to stand beside Kieran, tense and ready to intervene if necessary. The portal appeared at the place Kieran assumed it would, but she lowered her arm when she saw who it was. Rosalie relaxed, albeit reluctantly, and Kieran took in Alex’s injuries. A warning bell went off in the back of her mind. Alex wouldn’t come to her unless she had to, and if she had to, that meant-

“I need your help,” Alex said, her voice cracking. “I know you’re home, but we have no one else. We have exhausted every avenue, and everything we do makes things worse.”

“What happened?”

“Lex and Lillian set off a Kryptonite bomb, and Supergirl got the brunt of it. Dreamer, Winn, and Brainy were with her when it happened, and they are still in the hospital. Kelly and J’onn are keeping watch, but by the time I got there.” Alex sniffed. “She was gone, and another bomb went off.”

“How many?” Kieran whispered.

Alex wiped under her eyes and said, “Twenty-five agents, fifteen with the first bomb, and ten with the second.”

Kieran felt like someone gut-punched her, and she leaned down on the island.

“You’re our – my – last hope at saving her life. Please, help me. I can’t live without her. She’s my baby sister.”

Kieran’s eyes fell on the trees, and she ground her teeth before nodding in agreement. Alex sagged in relief, and Rosalie put her hand on Kieran’s arm.

“I’m coming with you,” she said.

“We both can’t leave,” Kieran argued.

“You mean the world to my mate, so there is no discussion about letting you go anywhere alone. Plus, I can text Emmett before we go. Look, I know you like to pretend like you don’t miss them, but I can see it in your eyes when you think no one is watching. There are people you love still there, probably missing you as much as you miss them. And from what you said about Lex and Lillian, they will not stop until they have what they want. This is your chance to put those demons to rest for good, and I want to help you do that.” 

Kieran knew Rosalie was right, and the thought of Kara being without her powers and alone with Lex and Lillian steeled her resolve. She nodded, and Rosalie took out her phone, sending off the message.

“Thank you,” Alex whispered.

“Of course. You are a part of my family.”

“Done,” Rosalie said.

“Good. Let’s go.”

Alex gave a tired grin before walking into the portal, and Kieran followed her, feeling Rosalie right behind her. When they emerged on the other side, Kieran gasped. She was back at the DEO. Or what was left of it. Kieran barely noticed the portal close behind her, and she placed a hand over her heart. The building was condemned and abandoned, almost a shell of what it used to be.

“They had an inside agent, who hung himself in his apartment. When we refused to tell Lex and Lillian where you were, they set off the first bomb in the morning. They didn’t know J’onn sent several agents on field retreats, so the fatalities were less than what they would have been.” Alex cleared her throat. “But we shouldn’t be out in the open for too long. Lex has drones that come by every hour, and we have a few minutes before they return.”

“Alex, what happened? How long was I gone?”

“You’ve been gone for three months our time, Kieran,” Alex said sadly. “As for what happened? Superman denounced Supergirl, and all hell broke loose.”