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Be My Guest

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Pleasantries have never been Regina's favourite pastime, but etiquette was once armour for her. She forces the words out as even as she can. "Thank you."

It's enough to turn Emma around, and keep her on this side of the diner door, even if she does look impatient about Regina still being there.

"You just said that."

But what if it's not impatience, Regina thinks, though it sounds a lot like Dr. Hopper in her head. Everything Emma has done tonight has confused her, from inviting Regina with only two hours' notice (but luckily with all the ingredients she needed to make Henry's favourite on hand) to letting the diner overhear her defending Regina to the two idiots Charming and then ignoring her all evening. Just like everyone else, but they didn't follow Regina out into the night.

Regina is not sure what else it could be, but what if it's not impatience? If Emma is trying to mend bridges, then Regina can, too. She can try.

"For inviting me."

"Henry wanted it," Emma says, fast like it makes her uncomfortable, but that doesn't change what it means. "I'm glad you two got to spend some time together."

"Me, too." Regina steps forward, too eager, but her son wanted Regina here and Emma made it happen. "I'd like to see him more. Maybe you'd consider letting him stay over some time..."

But Emma's already looking away, back over her shoulder, back into the diner, and Regina's stomach crumples as if in a vice. It won't show on her face.

Yes, it's impatience.

Of course, it's impatience.

No, Emma does not actually want to "meet her halfway". She doesn't have to.

"I have his room just--" She's still babbling but somehow can't stop the words. Regina should have known better. She does know better than to hope. "Just waiting for him."

Emma doesn't look like she wants to say whatever she's planning on saying next, but she's never been drilled in letting anyone down gently. Has she ever had to?

"Do you have a guest room?"

"What?" Regina asks. "You don't trust me alone with my own son?"

"Regina, you've got to understand that it's hard for most of us to trust you. I want to--"

"But you don't," she states, flatly, "trust me with Henry. So much for believing in second chances, Miss Swan."

That Emma winces brings her little satisfaction. It makes Regina's stomach tighten further, because she can't shut out the voice that tells her she's burning bridges instead mending them, or the certainty that she was born with all her bridges burnt.

"Archie told me you're trying to change."

"Dr. Hopper said I was trying?"

"We were talking about Henry. I wanted to back up to speed--"

"On what you'd missed? Maybe ask David, since he was the one who took care Henry while you were gone. Like I did, during the ten years you were away the first time?"

"No, I-- That wasn't--" Emma lets out a thin shot of breath. "I'm sorry. When Dr. Hopper said you'd started seeing him, because of Henry, I shouldn't asked him whether to invite you to this or not. I'm sorry."

Regina nods. It's hard to focus on her breathing and her calm centre when these are all techniques taught to her by a traitor. "He shouldn't have said anything to you."

Regina should not have said anything to him.

"Look, Henry is about the only person I'd trust you with," Emma says. "He believes in you, and I want to believe in him. I do believe in second chances."

"And after exactly how many supervised visits, will you review my probation?"

"I'm not talking about visits, Regina."

"Then tell me what you are talking about!"

She steps closer, lowers her voice. Regina settles her shoulders. She will not be the one to step down.

"I've been thinking about Henry and I moving out."

"Moving out?" Regina asks, because Emma can't mean what that sounds like.

"Mary Margaret's place was pretty tight when it was just the two of us, but four people, two of them a couple... and after this afternoon I never want Henry or I to walk in on David and Mary Margaret, uh, making up for lost time, ever, again."

Emma's smile begs understanding, begs an intimacy Regina doesn't want to give, but the horror of walking in on Snow and her Charming in flagrante shocks a hiccup of laughter from her, nonetheless.

"I know I'm asking you a favour," Emma says.

She's still smiling, the too bright eagerness of it, the winsome tilt of her face. Regina recognises when someone tries to play her, because that's what diplomacy is. Misdirection. But it's one more action that makes no sense.

The law of this land would say that Regina is legally Henry's mother, and that a closed adoption remains closed. But Regina can't cross the town lines to seek legal advice. The law in Storybrooke is Emma and her idiot father. Of course Emma has Henry; why is she asking Regina anything instead of listing her demands?

"I haven't looked at places for us yet. You gotta admit staying with you would be convenient."

Convenient. Living with her son's other mother. Convenient, in that Henry will never climb out his window in the middle of the night to visit Miss Swan. Convenient, in that Regina will be able to watch Henry love this other woman as his mother from across her dining room table, all without leaving home.

Regina had hoped for visits, hoped to eventually convince Emma to trust her with Henry for a weekend, the way she'd role-played with Dr. Hopper. What a crank!

Right now, Emma is offering Regina everything, and looking at her as thought she were honestly confused about whether Regina would say yes.

"We do, as it happens, have a guest room."

"Thank you, Regina." Emma's relief seems genuine. "I appreciate this."

"But note the name: guest room. It's still my house."

Emma throws her hands up in a gesture that Regina knows cannot mean surrender, but it's enough for now.

Snow won't like it. Snow won't like it, but Fortune favours Miss Swan more than she does her mother, and neither of these are as important as having Henry back under her roof. Regina can suffer more of Miss Swan on a daily basis than she has ever contemplated doing if it means that Henry will come home.