By The Gods
A whirling purple and gray funnel cloud opened over a lake on cool a clear day; two screaming figures dropped from it into the water. A wet blonde surfaced, startled, spraying water from her mouth. She looked around, "R'Gina?" she called out into cool air, her warm breath panted out in a puffy white cloud. Emma whipped her head around searching the black water all around her.
"Gi?!" She screamed, her voice filled with proper terror. "Raaahh-geeee-NNAAAAA!" Suddenly a dark wet head surfaced a few meters away. Emma, relieved, started to lap over to her friend. Regina exasperated, screamed "What the hell? Only we would fall through a portal to who knows where and land in a freezing cold lake!" As Emma reached her companion, she waded in front of her, noting the bluish tinge already starting to form in her beautiful friend's lips. Stuttering through chattering teeth Emma said, "S-sp-speaking of which R'Gina, we need to get out of it before we freeze to d-death."
Emma had dreamt often of those lips. Would they feel passionate, possessive and regal like the evil queen? Or would they be soft, silky and smooth like the hero the mayor tries desperately to be for her son?
Oh crap. Henry. If we freeze to death in this stupid lake, Henry would never know what happened to his mother's.
The thought of her kid growing up without either of them lit a fire under her. "Gina. S-sh-shore. N-now." The brunette nodded in agreement and they started towards land. The drenched women dragged themselves out, both shivering fairly violently. Emma grabbed the small woman by her upper arms, rubbing them, pulling her closer, and stroking her back, trying to share body heat. Regina leaned into her once nemesis, now friend, grateful for the warming gesture. "W-we need a f-fire Emma." the small voice said into the taller woman's collarbone. "Otherwise w-we will die here." Emma focused immediately on the task at hand, searching around their location, and then sprang into action, gathering up sticks that can be used for kindling, dropping the collected pile at the queen's feet.
Regina whirls her hands together trying to summon a fireball. Unsuccessfully.
"Great! Well wherever we are, there is NO magic here!" She plopped down on the dry grass, pouting just a bit.
"You grew up in the Enchanted Forest, R'gina, you know h-how to get a f-fire s-s-started? You know, without magic?" With flat black eyes, Regina straightened her small form, "I was r-r-royalty Emma. What do you think?" She added as an afterthought, "besides, I've never, not had magic, so no."
"Well, I was an orphaned street rat, at least you were around trees!" Emma countered, smiling wide at the mock scowl on Regina's face.
Thundering hooves against earth pulled the womens' attention and they both turn in the direction of the galloping sound. A muscular golden mare standing 9 feet tall, jaunted toward them. An obvious war horse of both grace and beauty, carrying a leather clad warrior woman, equal in attributes to her powerful steed. Midnight black hair bouncing around thick muscular shoulders. Emma noted the Amazonian look of the stranger and thought she felt... familiar. As the mare slowed to a stop a few meters from the two drenched women, Emma instinctively stepped in front of Regina, putting herself between the blue eyed warrior and her friend. Regina immediately eyed the sword on the woman's back, and assumed menace from the stranger stepped closer to Emma.
The woman rider dismounted with ease, scrutinizing the pair with eyes of steel, noting their wet demeanor, unusual dress and defensive posturing. The warrior smirked almost inconceivably. "I won't hurt you," She started, "I am just investigating the cyclone that formed over the lake. We saw it from our camp east of here."
"We?" Emma inquired, rigid in her defensive stance, her eyes caught a glimpse of a round metal object fastened to the woman's hip, her eyes saucered with knowing astonishment.
"Wait. No friggin way! Are you, are you Xena?" A scoff from behind her, "The Warrior Princess? Please." The mayor's statement dripped with sarcasm. The statuesque warrior, face chiseled into emotionless boredom, giving away nothing, again, eyed their odd, yet very wet clothing, replied, "OH, you've heard of me then." Not really a question, more of a habitual response to the blonde's accusation. She stood awaiting the inevitable fear in the two strangers eyes that never came.
"Holy Crap!" Emma exclaimed, struck with, what Xena interpreted, as a bout of hero worship, the only other reaction she was familiar with. With a wide smile, the blonde quoted her favourite childhood opener, "A land in turmoil cried out for a hero! It's Xena! A mighty princess forged in the heat of battle!" That got an eyebrow raise from the dark haired beauty. Emma suddenly realized she sounded nuts and quickly added, "I've... heard... all your stories." She giggled. "Xena."
Regina sighed and stepped out from behind the gushing fangirl and eased into her queenly persona, "Hello, Xena is it? I'm Regina Mills, Your Majesty if you please. If you are the real Xena, where is Gabrielle?" Xena's eyes narrowed and Emma turned saying through clenched teeth, "Rah-gee-na!"
"Yes yes Emma, but the leather bound vixen always has that annoying little blonde around, it's practically a trademark." Looking over at piercing blue daggers she continued trying, in her own way, to appease, "Everyone loves the little brat." Smiling her toothy grin, "Well, it could be just the leather."
Emma laughed out loud nervously, and jumped in front of her majesty, 'If you please? God Regina reign it in' She angrily thought. Stumbling for words Emma held her shaking hands up and said "Xena, we fell from a pretty big height and landed in the water." Xena lifted an eyebrow. "We are cold and wet and… and…" Xena's smile widened with the wet blonde's stammering, "Friendly."
"We are friendly. Emma, did you just tell Xena Warrior Princess we," pointing between them, "are friendly." Emma turned her head, "Well, we are! Most of the time!"
"Oh Emma! Quit acting like she is going to torture us! She isn't a bloodthirsty warlord anymore!" Emma fully turned around to stare unbelievably at the queen. "Regina, how do you know she was a bloodthirsty warlord?"
Xena crinkled her eyebrows as she thought if she should be offended at the term 'Blood Thirsty' Warlord.
'I was a better strategist than I ever was a fighter, a successful campaign isn't only the obliteration of the other side, but keeping your own men alive in the process.' The raven haired warrior thought to herself. She pursed her lips together as the two women continued. Regina dropped the queen act and rolled her eyes up as she admitted she would watch the show every Sunday. "I never missed one." she added with a half smile. Emma, seeing her friend in a new light, exclaimed, "YOU are a Xenite?"
Xena, completely forgotten at this point, cleared her throat, "A Xena-what?" The stoic mask of the warlord slipped off with a jolt replaced with eyes wide shock. Regina looked sheepishly at her companion, took a deep breath replied practically as one word "A hero with an evil past changing her ways and fighting for good? Yes Emma, it appealed to me." She gave the girl a small smirk, glancing quickly up into the tall blonde's green eyes, "I also have a... thing... for leather... it…" with an impossibly wide smile, "inspires me."
Emma couldn't help plastering a smile of her own, "Yeah I suppose so, huh?" Remembering some of the queen's more... sensuous... outfits... Emma's cheeks burned bright at the memories, both real and from her fantasy collection. Regina looked up, addressing the warrior, "A 'Xena Fanatic', your tales are quite popular where we come from dear." her dark eyes flicked down taking in the muscles, the tan bare legs, the leather, the armored cleavage finally settling upon captivating blue eyes.
"And where is that exactly?" Xena drawled, eyeing up the feisty little beauty herself. Emma cut between them to say "We need to get dry, but the short version is, I think we maybe stuck here and would be appreciative of your help. We can go into specifics once my bones stop shuddering." Both brunettes nodded in agreement. The queen asked Xena to start a fire. There was more than a hint of a command in her voice, but Xena smiled politely and complied anyway.
"Let me fetch Gabrielle." She pulled out a flint from one of Argo's saddle bags and started a fire in the pile of dead dry wood next to the women. "You two, strip, or you will catch the coughing sickness." she tossed them a spare leather bedroll and a warm blanket. "I'll be back."
As Xena galloped away, the blonde swallowed hard. 'Strip? Really? In front of… her?' Regina seeing the deer in headlights look of her friend and assuming she was just star struck, stepped towards her, softening her tone. "Here Miss Swan, let me help you. We can use our body heat to keep warm, but we need to get out of these clothes." Removing her red leather jacket first, Regina, with numbed fingers began to lift Emma's white tank top. Her flesh goose pimpled a trail where the queen's fingers dragged along Emma's sides. Emma literally couldn't move.
The shocked look on her friends face and her sudden inaction worried the queen. She thought Emma might be going into shock, but when her icy finger slipped under the band of Emma's jeans to unbutton them, the blonde suddenly snapped out of it, covered her hands with her own and stuttered "I...I…" Regina let go, relieved her friend's eyes refocused and began carefully undressing herself. Sighing to herself that her new suede jacket would forever smell like fishy lake. She stripped down completely then rolled out the bedroll next to the fire.
Emma, was, for all intents and purposes, indeed going into shock, but because she was seeing the queen, forever a thing of elegance, in all of her regal glory. Her brain was overloading. Recalling in her mind's eye… The cold fingers gracefully removed her top, her knuckles grazing unknowingly over her bosom, so close she could feel Regina's breath against her bare skin as she reached around to unfasten her freezing cold bra. Her skin tightened around her chest as her bareness exposed to the crisp evening air, and then a tickle in her abdomen flushed her body with the heat of desire.
For quite a long while Emma had a tight handle on this... infatuation. It began when the queen had started apprenticing the sheriff in the ways of magic. How the woman wielded that power was... intense. That intensity, and let's face it, the queen's rockin bod, moved the sheriff to thoughts... lustful... wicked thoughts... but she knew those thoughts were not shared by the queen. She had never given Emma any reason to think otherwise. Then there was Regina's brand of love interests.
Daniel for one. The love of her life. The loss of him was the catalyst that set her on the path to evil. Robin Hood for two. Her supposed happy ending, had left her to return to his wife, leaving the queen devastated. These men had broken the queen in radically different ways, their commonality had been evident. They were both, men. There had also been Graham. He had been nothing more than a toy the queen would use to her pleasure, a convenience that unfortunately led him to his death. A convenience the queen had chosen. she could have selected anyone, but it had been a man that was selected. To Emma, that was really the fact that led her to her definitive decision on the queen's preferences.
Of course, Emma had her own dalliances with men. Neal had given her their son, and she had honestly loved him. He had been the first person who had felt like home to her. Home is where the heart lives and all that crap. After Neal, Emma carved a self-destructive path across her twenties with all the wrong people. However, her very first real interest in any kind of romance had been Lily, a childhood friend. After what she perceived was a betrayal from Lily, women were no longer on the menu as far as she was concerned. It hurt too much. Men were easier, she could satisfy the biological need without all the pain and manipulation that came with females. While satisfying that pesky biological need, it was women whom she fantasized about in order for her to complete the task.
With Regina, she felt, well she didn't know what she felt. Longing. Desire. A dull ache whenever they were apart. The woman was simply maddening. The insufferable way she would insult Emma with that insanely seductive smile plastered across her face. She is also fucking hot. And her friend. They had worked really hard to get to a point where their friendship was almost easy. As easy as either of them could make it that is. Trust was difficult for both women for a variety of reasons.
Complicated didn't quite cover it, and for the sake of her son, 'OUR son,' and their treasured friendship, Emma kept a tight lid on desires unfulfilled.
Emma pulled down her wet jeans, realizing her panties were wet... from more than the lake... She opted to keep them on, hanging their clothes over a low hanging branch of the nearby tree. She returned with her hands covering her tight nipples. She turned to sit when Regina, who was already completely nude, made reference to Emma forgetting something. "Xena is right, you will warm faster if you are no longer wet, dear."
"It's fine, I'm… "
Rising to her knees in front of Emma, amused at the sheriff's modesty, she shot Emma a look, "Really Miss Swan…"
'Oh good grief, this isn't helping' Emma thought and froze as the image of the queen upon her knees looking up at her with those impossibly dark eyes, lashes blinking innocently. A hand came up and slipped fingers under her waistband, pulling at the black lacey fabric.
"Woah! Hey! Okay! I got this!" a wide deep red wicked smile crossed her companion's face. "My my Miss Swan, are you shy?" the evil queen teased for just a moment. Emma's heart raced, "Well, no... Yeah... I guess... Shut up! Okay fine!" Then Mayor Mills took over, "I was just trying to help!" Emma, in all of her awkward glory, pulled down her drenched drawers, painfully aware that dark eyes were on her, that teasing smirk, where one side of her mouth curled up and laughed at Emma's stumbling. Emma who by this point had been a deep red, returned to the bedroll after hanging up her cold wet unmentionables and sat by the fire gruffly.
Regina thought her friend was suddenly uncomfortable, 'I did this.' She realized. 'I shouldn't have teased her, she doesn't always appreciate it.' She suddenly felt the need to comfort her. Regina took the seat next to the thin shivering blonde, carefully she said, "We are adults, Em. We have the same parts, and we are friends." then adding thoughtfully, "You have a beautiful body, you have nothing to be ashamed about dear." She wrapped the blanket around both of their shoulders and huddled in close. Emma hearing sincerity in her friend's tone stammered, "I.. I'm not... I mean, thank you. I...I've never been comfortable being so... vulnerable."
'and being so close to you, and god you smell amazing...this… is making me crazy...'
Heat burst into being where their skin touched, Regina looking solemn now, "I'm sorry for teasing you Em, I know..."
'I know how you get, I know your past... your control issues... your mask...' Regina thought to herself, but just let the apology lay, grateful for the warmth they generated between them.
Running her fingers through her slick black hair, she quipped, "Next time we fall accidentally through a portal to some unknown land we need to pack a hair brush!"
'Always the queen, aren't you?'
"And a lighter." Emma deadpanned. That got a laugh from the queen and Emma relaxed a bit, yet fully aware of every single electric point of contact between them under the blanket. "AND a lighter!" the queen repeated as if making a list.
Just then familiar hoof beats rolled up to their makeshift camp. Xena's controlled, emotionless mask firmly in place. It did not take away from her considerable beauty. Gabrielle slid off Argo first, staff in hand, with a huge grin ear to ear. Her short blonde hair curled around her ears, her warm friendly green eyes taking in the waterlogged strangers huddled under one of Argo's blankets. "Hi! I am..."
"Gabrielle the battling bard from Potidea, and part time Amazon Queen." Emma finished. Gabrielle looked back at Xena, mouth a gape. The warrior just shrugged, "Guess you are just as famous as the Warrior Princess, my little bard." Xena said with an honest grin. Regina cut in, "Your... scrolls... have crossed..." she eyed Emma thoughtfully, "into other lands." she finished carefully. This information flushed Gabby's fair, sun kissed skin, and she revealed a smile of pure pride. She never thought her works would amount to much more than spare dinars for Xena and herself to get a room now and again.
"You see Gabrielle? I've always said your work was important. Clearly, I am not the only one who thinks so." Xena said as she removed Argo's burden from her tall muscular back. Gabrielle waved a hand at her in an awkward self-conscious response to the complement her partner gave her, "It is going to be dark soon, let's make camp here." Gabrielle started assisting Xena with the set up.
It was second nature to the women, each having their own 'jobs', working as one to complete the task quickly. "So I hear you need some help?" Gabrielle inquired as she riffled through one of the larger bags pulling out several white cotton shifts, they were short on Xena, but everything was, and covered her completely, which everything does. She handed them to the brunette, "Here... put these on, it will warm you up faster..." waiting for an introduction that the small brunette did not pick up on in the least. However the blonde replied, "Thank you Gabrielle. I'm Emma and this is my... uh.. friend... this is Regina." Again a blush flushed the pale skin of her cheeks and she closed her eyes briefly to control her stumbling. 'Swan you are flustered, get it together!' she scolded herself. Facing away from the group tending to Argo, Xena's lips curled into a sly knowing smile to herself.
Regina pulled the blanket off immediately completely unembarrassed about her nudity in front of two strangers, and sighed as she looked at her limited choice of wardrobe. She reluctantly put on the white cotton, barely a shirt, nightgown. The bottom came down to several inches above her knees and was so light, it really didn't leave much to the imagination. She stood, smoothed out her new dress and looked down at Emma who had the blanket pulled close, a scowl pressed across her lips and her eyebrows pulled so tight her skull was surely feeling the strain. "So," Addressing her hostesses, and hopefully lulling Emma into feeling less in the spotlight, "what can I do to help make this… charming" she drawled, "little spot a home for the evening?" Xena put her to work immediately.
Emma stood, turning herself from the group, pulling the shift over her thin body, feeling a loss of her partner's heat extenuated by the short little dress that hung just below her hips, and barely covered her bottom. Red blush filled her face as she turned, looked at Gabrielle who was unabashedly admiring her lean form. "They fit like that on Xena too," She offered, realizing she had been caught staring. "You tall girls. Mmhmmm." Emma's flush turned crimson at the comment. "I'm not tall... not like..." looking over at the warrior princess. "Well," Gabrielle replied, "Who is?" she laughed at her own joke. "You are taller than me," She smiled, "You are taller than her..." thumbing Regina's way. "That is 50% of us, which classifies you as tall."
Emma flashed a polite smile and tugged at the front of the shift, "I think I would feel more, covered, if I put my.. uh..." she looked over at her wet panties. Gabrielle looked over at where the woman was referring to and realized, "Oh! Yeah, I am sure, let's... um... here..." she pulled down the black lace fabric and grabbed a flat rock settling it nearly in the fire. She placed the damp panties on the quickly warming rock. "Have a seat, uh, Emma, you can tell me your guy's story!"
Before Emma could speak, "Xeeenaaaa!" The bard loudly bellowed, "The monster is awake and wants RABBIT STEW!" Without looking she knew she got rolled eyes with the reply, "Yes your worship..." A fantastic smile spread across the bard's face, and her green eyes twinkling, "Now. Start from the beginning!" Emma sat back down and pulled the blanket back over her shoulders shivering violently, and more than a little sorry Regina was no longer under it with her.
"The beginning huh? Well... " She watched Gabrielle as she told her tale as the bard expertly flipped her underwear on the rock, testing them for dryness then handed them to their owner. Emma laid back to slide them on, still toasty, warming her nether bits nicely. "Woo, those are, really... sexy Emma." Emma glanced over at Regina who was helping Xena by cutting up vegetables for her majesty's stew. "Thanks." She absently replied. Gabrielle noted the look, and thought 'heh, been there, done THAT.' And kept her knowing smirk tightly under wraps.
Gabrielle took in the story, the whole story, without judgement or disbelief. From evil queens to the orphaned daughter of snow white and prince charming. Stories of other worlds and dimensions, portals and magic. Impossible stories. Stories Gabrielle was familiar with, but thought they were the works of imaginative bards, not actual people. "So, now I know my scrolls didn't jump through a magic cyclone to another realm, how...?" the bard started.
"Well, I don't know really, you see..." Emma said carefully, "There is this show, like a play," she corrected, stumbling, "sort of, with many many... acts... that gets played all over our world for millions of people... uh... of the adventures of Xena and Gabrielle, but obviously with some differences, you are clearly of a completely different realm, the show.. er.. play... is set in.. my realm... er... earth's uh... history. Greek history specifically." Emma let that soak in before she continued. "It is rather odd, the few realms I've travelled to, they were also based on stories that had been told, but never based on actual historical ideas." She pondered that for a moment.
"Well, what about Dr. Whale?" Regina had offered up from nearby. "His monochrome land had inspired a book set in Germany."
"Yeah but R'Gina, loosely based, the guy doesn't even have a German accent! Xena," she clarified, "The show, had actual historical figures from Greece in it." She looked over at the two women, "Not that I can presume everything shown in the show is factual."
"Greek, huh?" The warrior piped up from her much studied dinner which was caught cooked and consumed during this convoluted, yet seemingly believable, story. "Way to contribute sweetheart." Gabrielle patted her mate on the forearm. "Like you know what a Greek is my bard?" Xena shot back, pride slightly wounded. "Just how would I know what a Greek is, my love? I'm not even sure I understand this portal thing!" Gabrielle smiled at their guests.
"Portals are like doors that you can go to different worlds in the blink of an eye." Regina said plainly. "Ohhhhhh" the duo said in unison, which got a snicker from Emma. "The cyclone you saw, that was a portal. We fell through it."
Gabrielle trying to put it together a little summed up, "So, in YOUR realm," pointing at Regina, "You are the evil queen, and cast a magic spell that banished her..." pointing at Emma, "parents and a bunch of other people that live in your world to Emma's realm, but not really Emma's realm because she was born in your realm and her parents put her in a magical, uh tree? Right?" they both nodded, "the day she was born, which transported her to the same realm that you," pointing back at Regina, "and her parents were banished to. Why did they do that again?" Regina took over, "The spell could only be broken from someone outside the cursed town."
Gabrielle nodded in comprehension, "But wait, she was an infant. How was she supposed to..." Emma looking a little sad, jumped in, "Storybrooke was suspended in time, I grew up, my son... uh was the only one who could safely leave the cursed town, because he was the only one of us who was actually born in earth's realm, so he did and came and found me."
"Uh. right. Okay, how did your son" pointing at Emma, "get into the cursed town?" Gabrielle asked.
"I adopted him when he was an infant." Regina said flatly. Emma took her hand under the blanket, looked into her deep brown eyes, and Regina continued. "Henry, our son, is a remarkable young man."
Emma added sadly, "I gave him up, because I didn't think I would be good for him." Xena's eyes lowered with complete understanding, her partner put a soothing hand on her knee and squeezed. 'Different situation my love, This isn't about Solan. Stay with us.' Xena pushed the dark thoughts from her mind. Gabrielle continued innocently, "So, but... you were still evil when you took Henry in, Regina?"
Regina thought about the question, but before she could answer, Emma jumped in, "Regina is a wonderful mother, her heart was not evil, she was victimized by her own mother, but she could still love and she loved, loves, my son. Everything that Henry is, all his wonder, his strength of character, his intelligence, is because he has R'gina for a mother. I gave him away, so he would have a better life. A better life is what Regina gave him. In return, Henry brought out the hero that has always been inside Regina. Really bad circumstances, a heartless mother, a manipulative imp, led a sweet kind young girl to close off her heart for good…" Emma trailed off... she was fully aware of the astonished look on her friend's speechless face but dared not make eye contact, for the woman would see more in her eyes then Emma could bare share with her. A squeeze of her hand under the blanket said it all.
"Okay," the warrior interjected, seeing the apologetic look on her bard, "So fast fwd to you accidentally falling through a portal..."
"Right!" Regina exclaimed. "So we, Emma and I, were on patrol in the forest outside of town. There had been mysterious happenings down in the mine with the dwarves." Seeing the confused look between their hosts, she explained quickly, "Little short people who mine diamonds for magical fairy dust." She said it so matter of fact, Xena let out a surprised "Ha! Of course they do!" Regina continued, "Their mining shaft had several unexpected cave ins, and since I am the Mayor, and Emma here is the Sheriff..."
"Wait," Xena interrupted suspiciously, "I thought you were a Queen?" Gabrielle, who had actually been paying attention to the history of their story explained, "No no honey, Regina was the Queen of the Enchanted Forest realm, but made herself Mayor of the cursed town as a part of the spell. Then when Emma decided to stay in Storybrooke, Emma was elected Sheriff, after the old Sheriff had…uh… died?" Looking at the two women for approval, both of whom nodded. Xena hadn't heard that part she was sure of it. "It's a bard thing, we loooove the details!" Gabrielle exclaimed. Xena rolled her eyes. "Yes well we warriors" she said mockingly, "looooove the action!" her bard poked her in the ribs and they both laughed.
Regina, looked sideways at Emma, who continued, "Soooo, strange shenanigans happened and we were checking it out when R'gina fell, well I guess… we," she corrected, "fell... into your lake. We have no idea how the portal opened or why, or why here for that matter, typically you need a magic bean or a magic hat to open portals to other realms!" Xena looked at her through skeptical eyes then stood and collected the dishes, but Regina stopped her, "The cook shall not clean the meal's mess dear princess." Emma was eye level with the back of Regina's thigh, her eyes widened as a rogue wind puffed her shift out exposing the round smooth curve of Regina's bottom. Emma's eyes immediately lowered suddenly transfixed on the most interesting clump of grass in all of human history. Xena allowed her guest to take the dishes to the lake edge for a good scrub. She stood and walked part of the way down with the smaller woman, and started tending to Argo's needs, strapping on the feed bag, combing her mane and brushing her, but mindfully watching, scanning the area for danger.
Gabrielle, spoke extra quiet, knowing full well Xena's impeccable ears could hear them if she was not already in full warrior protection mode. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest… anything… about Regina."
"No," Emma looked up into the green pools of sincerity, "I know, I'm just protective of her. She really has worked very hard to work out her demons." Gabrielle with a curious smile, "So, how long have you two, you know, been together?" Emma started to answer, but then realized the blonde meant together-together, and her face stoned up and flushed deep red. "We're not… I mean, it isn't like that, she doesn't... um... we don't... well... SHE doesn't think that way about... me, or even women… I guess." Gabrielle smiled slowly, almost sly like, "Really. Could have fooled me," glancing over at Regina stroking Xena's bicep and laughing, 'my god, is she really... flirting? no... YES! What the hell?' Emma's mind was spinning, but still managed to mumble, "Well, yeah, of course, it's Xena..." Looking over at her friend laugh at something Xena said and again touched her forearm. "Xena is everything I'm not, Tall, Strong, Smart, Confident…"
"Hey," Gabrielle interrupted Emma's flagellation of herself, "We've already established you are indeed tall," The bard got up and walked over to the thin blonde she put her hand around her bicep, "And it feels like you've done some sword play, enough to build up your arms," trailing her fingertips down to Emma's muscular wrist, "You've built up a good foundation, Emma."
"Yeah, Dav… I mean, my dad…" god that still felt so strange on her lips, "is teaching me how to defend myself."
"Well, Emma, you are also very beautiful, you seem to take good care of your, friend, as well. That…" Emma's head lowered, Gabrielle saw the look of sadness, stopped trying to build her up and just put an arm around her shoulder. Emma nuzzled into the embrace and allowed a few tears to fall out of sheer exhaustion. "I feel like… I mean, I know I am a stranger to you two, but I feel like I know you. I grew up watching your adventures. All of my life, I always felt alone, orphans of our world are treated for what they are… unwanted. Unloved."
"Emma, you are indeed a stranger, but from what you've told me, you are no longer that unwanted orphan you see yourself as. I don't want to tell you how to live your life, but I feel like you need to give yourself a break. If I see the good qualities in you, and I've only known you for part of a single afternoon, I am positive others," looking over at the little brunette flirting with her, not so unwilling, warrior, "can see these qualities. Even if you can't." Emma thought about that as she watched Xena take a run at the nearby tree and flip around in the air landing behind Regina who was smiling and clapping at the feat. "Even if she… I mean, I just don't want to mess up our friendship though, it took us so long to get this far." Gabrielle nodded in complete understanding.
"Our relationship is, complicated to say the least, and I don't know when I started to…" the hurt in her stopped her from continuing. She sniffed back her tears and shook her head straightening up her stance. Gabrielle patted her shoulder in sympathy, stood and went back to her own side of the fire.
The brunettes made their way back to the camp. Regina handed the cleaned dishes to Gabrielle then sat back down, folding her legs Indian style underneath herself, on the bedroll next to Emma. "She is exactly how I envisioned her to be." She whispered with a sigh. The fire had dimmed a bit and she snuggled up under the blanket that was now well toasty from Emma's body heat, she circled her chilled hands around the warm bicep and laid her head down on a warm shoulder.
"How are we going to get home?" Regina asked with a huge sigh.
The question snapped Emma out of her deep thoughts, "I have no idea, Regina. This realm has no magic, they haven't even heard of portals." She draped her arm over Regina's thigh, cupping her shin, pulling her closer instinctively. Regina continued, "God, what about Henry? What if we are stuck here?" Emma squared her shoulders and brought a finger to the queen's lips shushing her gently, "He has Charming and Snow, Grumpy and Granny, so many people there to love and care for him R'gina," Regina motioned to rebut, but Emma continued, "I know it isn't US, but he is safe, and happy." This seemed to relax the naturally worrisome queen a bit, and she yawned. Emma felt the weight of the day on her shoulders, "Man, I am tired!"
"Me too" Gabrielle announced, "I'm afraid you guys will need to share that bedroll, it literally is the only extra one we have. We keep it for drop ins like Joxer."
"Oh my GOD!" Emma spun out in fangirldom once again with a huge dimpled smile, breaking out into song, "Ohhhh he's Joxer the mighty! He's very tidy! With Gabby as his sidekick, fighting with her little stick!" Xena groaned, "Isn't it bad enough HE sings that ridiculous, song?" Gabrielle laughed, "And my stick isn't that little you know," they all laughed then Xena and Gabrielle made their way to their expertly made bed roll and settled in.
Emma stood, motioning for Regina to pick a side and get comfortable. She of course took the side of the fire. 'In true regal fashion.' Emma thought as she laid down flat on her back, pulling the blanket up over both of them, Regina settled down on her side facing the fire, with her arm crooked under her head like a pillow. Emma unconsciously made sure that her friend was fully covered then carefully got as close as possible without actually touching her, closed her eyes and shoved down her thoughts. Not thinking about Regina's bright white smile as she stood so close Mrs. Tall Dark and Deadly. Not thinking about Gabrielle's inquiry. 'How transparent are you Swan?' her inner voice mocked.
'Shut up me' she spat at herself. She closed her eyes briefly, mentally quieting the voice and then stared up into a zillion stars. So many stars the night sky appears gray instead of her familiar black with a speckle here and there. Almost like the sky in the enchanted forest. Except in the Xenaverse, they had three moons. One pale silver, around the same size as earth's during harvest moon, the second was a rosy dust colored one much larger and the third was a tiny purple gem that reminded her of Regina's eyes when she raged with magic. Wish the enchanted forest had more than one moon! The tiny moon that they had barely lit up anything. You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face at night! She had to be on her toes, it was so so very dark there. It is a good thing she had sharp ears. Thankfully, even in sleep.
That's one thing you learn sleeping on the streets, situational awareness. Her senses were finely tuned from years of practice. The skill came in handy as a bail bondsman, and had gotten her out of more than a few sticky situations. This time however, the sticky situation was a new strange world, how did she get here?
'Gina fell into a hole in the ground and I jumped in after her. Where ever she was, I wanted to be there too. So here we are.' She breathed in deeply, smelling the fresh scent of her friends drying hair. She breathed in deep once more, closed her eyes and settled down peacefully, knowing Xena would be the first to know if something was going down. She relaxed a bit more than she normally would have and fell asleep hard.