Well, yes this is extremely overdue... but, I didn't want to finish this story without having the "10 years later" part in the works... So, here is this chapter, the final chapter. I'm not going to lie, this mostly just ties up all the loose ends and sets up the next installment. Buuuut it's fluffy so, whatever. Happy reading!
"Where is my thing?" Emma, scatterbrained, jumped around on one foot while pulling her last shoe on.
"What thing?" Regina asked, dryly, unamused by the blonde's communication skills.
"The thing… the thing that goes on my head, I need it."
"Cap, dear. Cap is the word you are looking for."
Emma fell backwards onto the couch, foot still in hand. "Yea, that."
"I don't know that I have seen it. Did you ask Ruby?"
"Rubes!" Emma yelled, her voice making Regina wince.
"Really, Emma? You couldn't have just got up and went to find her?" The brunette was obviously annoyed. She ran her hand over her temple and looked up to see a mess of brown and pink hair come flying into the kitchen.
"Whats going on?" Ruby panted, black gown in hand.
"I can't find my stupid cap."
"Oh," the younger brunette sighed. "That's because I have it."
"Why do you have it?" The blonde cocked her head.
"Uh, because I had to go get three pairs of caps and gowns, maybe?"
"Just give me a second." Ruby turned and vanished down the hall.
Emma looked up at her lover and smiled nervously. Today was graduation day, the first day of life in the real world. After this day, she would have to find a real job and do all the things that adults were supposed to do. She could not hide her fear from the brunette, it was too obvious.
"Don't worry yourself to death, it's not that bad at all." Regina smiled, taking a seat next to the blonde.
"All those people though? Can't I just opt out and get the stupid thing in the mail?"
"You could, yes… had you not paid extra to walk across the stage and be acknowledged by your peers, months ago."
"This is so stupid." Emma huffed, throwing her back against the couch.
Robin stood behind them, silently. The women hadn't heard him come in. "You'd better calm down, princess," he said firmly with his face just behind Emma's head. A smile crossed his features as both his wife, and her lover jumped at his voice. "Don't get all worked up. We wouldn't want you sick tonight for your party."
"I said no party," Emma glared over her shoulder.
"You say a lot of things," he replied flatly.
For a moment, Emma watched as Robin floated across the kitchen. Her features softened into a smile as she looked on. "Ya know, I finally remember who you remind me of."
"And who would that be?" He turned to face her, his brows high.
Regina burst into a giggle fit, next to the blonde. "Wait, wait" the brunette panted, her hands in the air.
Robin, obviously amused, set his elbows onto the counter-top and leaned forward. "Which Stanley Tucci?"
"All of them."
"No no," he shook his head and made the most serious face he could manage. "One cannot be all Stanley Tucci's characters, it's simply not possible."
After a moment of consideration, Emma tilted her head and smiled. "I'm thinking Burlesque meets The Devil Wears Prada."
Brows even higher, he continued to shake his head. "Really, I'm not gay."
"No but you're sassy. You love your woman and you just aren't afraid to throw down if necessary."
"Right," he mumbled, moving back into the sitting room. "Who does that make you then? Christina or Ann?"
"What?" Emma stared at him blankly.
"Nevermind, Darling," he laughed, plopping down in his favorite chair.
For a long moment Emma stared Robin. She was very confused.
"Just let it go, Emma. You wouldn't understand even if I explained it to you in length."
"Now Robin," Regina interrupted, "can we not be snarky today? I feel like this whole day will be stressful enough without the poor girl worried about whether her character in this made up life is a runaway waitress turned club singer or a fashion-challenged personal assistant who eventually grows a pair and makes something of her self."
Emma's eyes narrowed as Robin's smile broadened. "At least I would be a main character," the blonde hissed.
"Welcome to the party," Robin laughed. Running a hand through his feathery hair, he leaned forward. "You may actually have a brain in there."
"Oh shut up," Emma snapped playfully. "I got it long before Regina got to explaining."
Ruby popped up in the doorway, holding clear bags filled with long, thick black garments in her arms. "Now, I don't know what you're talking about but you sound like you are lying," she laughed.
As Emma glared holes into her, Ruby made her way to the sofa and dumped the bags onto the blonde's lap. "There ya go. You will have to see which one is yours, I don't remember."
While Regina and her lover picked through the bags in search of tags, a loud thumping started at the front door. The brunette looked up at her husband, her features read of both excitement and fear for what was to come next.
Getting up from his seat, Robin smiled. "I'll get that."
"It's probably just Killi," Ruby said, turning to look down the hall.
"Nope, not this time," he whispered, making his way past the standing woman.
Instantly, Ruby and Emma's attention was on the man's back. They watched him all the way down the hallway. As Robin pulled the door open a tall, thin stature filled the doorway. The girls watched as a bag was handed off, nods were exchanged and the figure brushed past their host. As the unknown person made their way down the hall; shaggy hair, obvious stubble and bright blue eyes became apparent.
Ruby stiffened as the men made their way to the sitting room. Her features were harsh, unforgiving.
Before Emma could make out who she was looking at, a soft voice trailed into her ears. "Now, tell me, why is it that I am gone for a few months and the next thing I know, all my hot friends are taken?"
She knew that voice anywhere. A huge, toothy grin stretched across her face as she leap from the couch and crashed her body into the man's arms. "August!" Her voice was painfully shrill with excitement. "How did you know we were here?" She asked, pushing her face up to look into his eyes.
"Robin and Doctor Mills contacted me. They said I might find you here," he smiled.
"Why would you want to find anyone?" Ruby's tone was as rough as her glare. She looked him up and down, obviously not excited to see the lover who left without a word.
"Now Rubes…" August started.
"Don't you Rubes me, you asshole."
"Ruby, please," he chuckled in disbelief at her unusually standoffish behavior.
"Oh no you don't," the young brunette snapped. "You disappeared without a word August. Not a single fucking word and now your back like nothing even happened," she took a step backwards and crossed her arms. "Where where you? What was so important that you had to just vanish and leave everyone completely in the dark?"
"I had to go to New York and tie up some loose ends," he said. His words barely reached silence before Ruby snapped at him once more.
"Loose ends, August?! What loose ends? A girl's loose… ends?"
He shook his head and looked around. Emma had perched on the back of the sofa where Regina sat attentively watching him and Robin had made his way over to the kitchen. It was like they were watching a television show, watching his life unfold in front of them. Closing his eyes, he took a deep, chesty breath. "Ruby, I have an illness." His voice was soft, almost inaudible.
Silently she stared at him, her hardened features began to soften. Panic flashed in her eyes as his words really sank in. "What kind of illness?"
"Don't worry, it's nothing I could have given to you," he smiled warmly.
"So, you went to New York to seek medical help?" Emma spoke carefully, calmly.
"Yup. I didn't tell anyone because no one knows what it is or how to treat it yet. So I'm just kinda being a guinea pig at the moment… They think it is an over active calcium type thing, like, it builds up a layer on my bones and makes moving painful… like I'm turning into wood or something."
"Damn it August," Ruby shook away the tears that threatened to fall from her angry eyes. "You should have told us."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"You are such a fucker," she sighed, throwing her arms around the man's neck. "I hate you."
"I love you too, Rubes. I'm not dying or anything so, no worries."
"That's too bad," she laughed, stepping away from him. "I'd like you better if you were dying."
"I'm sure Jefferson would too," Robin added.
As August turned to look at the man, the bag he had been holding struck him in the face. "Enough of this, everyone in your gowns and things, we are going to be late," Robin said flatly.
"Wait," Emma laughed, staring at the bag in Augusts arms. "You're walking too?"
"Well yea," he chuckled.
"You were gone for 80% of the semester, there is no way you passed."
"Uh, everyone thought I was going to die. They let me do my assignments and mail them in, I'm awesome like that."
"You could get away with murder by simply smiling at the jury," Regina added, getting to her feet. "Gowns children, get to it," she said firmly, waving her arms at the trio.
As they dispersed, Robin let out the sigh he had been holding. His wife slid her arms around his stomach and placed a gentle kiss on his neck. "You see," she whispered, "that went well."
"Oh sure," he laughed. "We are lucky that Ruby didn't kill him when he walked into the room. I mean, did you see that look, Jesus Regina, I thought she was going to explode."
"If you think that's bad, wait until Killian and Jefferson see him. I have no idea what kind of terms they are on."
"Graduation day stage fight, that should be pleasant, I'll need to purchase pudding before we get there."
"What else would three hot young men throw down in?" He smiled innocently at his wife.
"You're an idiot," she laughed. "Men don't wrestle, they kill each other Robin."
"Well, that would be a waste."
"Yes, it would," Regina said, making her way down the hallway. "A waste of perfectly good pudding."
The ceremony came and went. Cries of happiness echoed in the auditorium as 1000 or more seniors crossed the stage, one by one. Each group was separated by department and each department with a different colored sash.
Emma was the first of her friends to walk through; she nearly vibrated up to the stage, she was shaking so badly. Slowly, the blonde handed her name card off to the reader before pulling in a deep breath. It felt like days; her face was red from the nerves and her heart raced like the hooves of a million wild horses. The second her name was called, she straightened up and she marched proudly across the stage as though she had done it a million times before. Five handshakes, three hugs, two photo-flashes and a diploma later; she was back in her seat, smiling up at Regina who sat in full graduation garb with the rest of the faculty, looking down on the stage.
After two hours of name calling, cheers and applause, bagpipes, boring speeches and chamber singers; hundreds of black caps flew into the air and rained back down on the sea new graduates. Emma, Ruby, Jefferson, August and Killian found each other, with some difficulty, as the room began clearing out. Without words, they all walked with the hoard of people out the door and into the parking lot.
Smiling, Robin caught them midway to the vehicles. "Ey. Why such the long faces?"
"Seriously guys, what's wrong?" he asked, his smile fading.
"Don't you remember what it was like when you graduated from college, Dear?" Regina asked, putting her hand of Robin's arm as the group walked past him.
"Well yea, I was so excited. They look like they may all be dying of some weird aliment."
"Like they are losing their best friends," she whispered.
"Oh… I don't guess I thought about all that."
"Just give them some time."
"But the party…" his voice drifted into nothingness.
"No party, dear. We will have them all stay over tonight and let their hearts break in peace... We will tell them tonight."
Back at the house, the crew settled in. Emma took up a patch of carpet in front of the couch where Regina sat with Killian. Ruby and Jefferson sat at the kitchen table with August while Robin made yet another pot of coffee. After a long silence, the group was startled by the laughter of children at the door. Gold, Belle, Neal and the boys filled into the sitting room and made their selves comfortable, striking up conversation about how boring the keynote speaker was at the ceremony.
By the time Roland was finished mocking the waddle of the oversized president of the university, the coffee was done. Everyone who wanted it, got it and made their way back to their seats. An air of seriousness washed over the group in the form of ear-ringing silence.
"So," Rumple started, making eye contact with Regina. "Have you told them?"
All eyes were on Regina. "No, we just got back."
"Oh," he said quietly, sipping on his drink.
Emma's heart jumped into her throat as she looked up to the brunette. "Told us what?"
"Well, Rumple, thank you for that… you can tell them," Regina mumbled.
"Of course," he nodded. "I have recently sold the vast majority of my property here in town."
"Why?" Ruby asked, narrowing her eyes at the man.
"If you would be so kind as to let me finish, dearie."
She nodded in response, nervous to know what was happening.
"I sold my properties and used the profit to purchase a bit of property in Maine," he finished, looking over to his wife perched at his side.
"Why?" Emma asked, quickly, "What does that have to do with us?"
Gold smiled his cheeky grin, "Well, by a bit of property I mean I purchased a town."
"A town, mate?" Killian gawked at him, "a whole bloody town?"
"It came up on the market, what can I say? When you have money, you have money." Gold finished with a twist of his finger.
"So…" Emma started.
"So, we are moving to Maine," Regina cut in.
Emma was silent, her face twisted in silent terror. She looked up at Robin and then her lover. "When were you planning on telling me that you were leaving?"
"Emma…" Robin started.
"No, don't." Emma's voice was cut off by the knot swelling in her throat. She looked over at the boys who were sitting in the floor across the room. Oliver held Dodger tight in his arms, his eyes were closed and his face was buried in white and red, wiry fur. Roland stared from his dad to Emma and back. It had not registered in his little mind what had just been announced.
"You're leaving?" Emma choked openly on her words.
"Yes," Regina whispered. "But Emma, darling, we want you to join us."
Her words seemed to linger in the air for hours before ever reaching Emma's ears. As the blonde slowly looked up to her lover, tears began rolling down her pale cheeks. Before she could utter a sound, Gold began explaining.
"I bought most of the town, there are a lot of buildings in all; the library, the old school house, a bed and breakfast, everything on main street and five different homes. I will need people to run businesses there, you see. Ruby, I have spoken to your grandmother already, she wants to turn the bed and breakfast into her own establishment and she will pay me rent, the same as you all will if you choose to join us. The town is beautiful, it is old and needs some work but we can do this… there is plenty of land and there is a ship yard," he said firmly, looking up to Killian. "It's just an idea but the town is mine, it can be ours."
"Which is why Robin and I have decided that we are going to go. We aren't the only ones though, the school needs teachers so, David and his wife are planning on going, Leroy and his gang are going to help with construction, Hopper and Marco are going… there is a whole lot of people interested in joining us." Regina fell silent and carefully watched as the gears in Emma's head turned.
Robin walked into the sitting room and looked around from face to face. As his eyes fell on Killian, he spoke. "What do you say?"
"Well, I personally would love to do it, mate. I do however have an adventure planned for the next three months, a sea exposition with a crew of marine biologists in the Atlantic… but after I return, I will be at your side," Killian smiled happily and raised his cup to the man.
"Amazing," Robin laughed, "do I have anymore takers?" he asked looking around again.
"How have I not heard about this yet?" Ruby asked calmly. "I know all the gossip around here… Granny didn't even mention it."
"Well, Miss Lucas, we asked people to keep it hush hush until graduation was over. It is important to us but we didn't want anything else weighing on your minds during your final weeks of schooling," Regina said.
Robin knelt in the floor in front of his sons. "Well, my huntsmen? Are you up for an adventure?"
Roland simply nodded, obviously still in shock. Oliver on the other hand, got to his feet and stood above his father. "Not only is this plan irrational, it is completely insane. Why you didn't inquire us on this before now is beyond me," he said firmly, his hands on his hips.
"Seriously kid?" Emma laughed away her tears, "who teaches you these words?!"
"All I am saying," Oliver huffed, running his fingers through thick ginger hair, "is that you should have asked us before you already decided that we were doing it. As children, we have no say so over what we do. I just made the basketball team last month, the season will not even begin until we are gone and I think that it's really unfair for you to have done this without our council."
"Oliver," Robin sighed. "I am sorry that we didn't ask you what you wanted to do."
"If you don't want to do this, we will stay," Regina added.
"No we won't. I know the tone of your voices, you're both excited and nothing will change it."
"Hey," Emma said, catching the redhead's attention. "If you want to stay here for a while, you can. I will stay here with you and we will go when you are ready… if you are ever ready."
"You would do that?" Oliver asked, looking down at the blonde.
"Of course I would."
Regina started to say something but Emma put her hand in the air, cutting the brunette off. "I love you, Oliver. I love all of you and all I want is for you to be happy. If you or Roland want to stay here for a year or two or whatever, I will stay right here with you... I'm not going anywhere without you."
"You see," Oliver smiled. "I love you too. I love you like a second mother, like a big sister, like my best friend and all I want is for you to be happy and I know that Mum makes you the happiest of all. Mum is going and you will go with her, so I will go with you. I only joined the basketball team because I knew you would be proud of me."
"Oh Oliver," Emma sighed. "I am always proud of you and your parents are too… of you and Roland."
"Weeeeeeell," Ruby hummed as she got to her feet. "While we are doing this, I might as well tell you all that Jeff and I are getting married next month," she said awkwardly.
Emma spun around and gawked at the young brunette. "Excuse me?"
August patted Jefferson on the back before leaning back in his own chair, "good catch, sir."
"Hello?!" Emma snapped. "In a month?! You can't plan a wedding in a month!"
"No wedding, Em." Ruby smiled at her lover before meeting panicked green eyes. "courthouse marriage… in Maine, I suppose."
"Sure, why not," Jefferson smiled, pulling Ruby into his arms. "Maine it is."
"Ruuuubes, we were supposed to get married together," Emma whined.
"Shit happens Em."
"Language, Miss Lucas," Regina mumbled.
"Excuse me, Madam Mills, life happens," Ruby said, winking at Oliver who had rolled his eyes at his mother.
"Well alright then," Gold said, getting to his feet. "Mr. Booth?"
"I uh, can't," August sighed. "I have to go back to New York in a few days and get back to being a guinea pig."
"That's a shame," Belle said softly.
"But hey, you'll be closer to me in Maine than you are here, ya know? Just a few short hours as opposed to an all day trip."
"How about we take a drive up to the town on Mr. Booth's way back to New York? That way we can all see what we are in for," Belle suggested.
There was a collective agreement across the room in the form of mumbles and nods.
"Lovely," Belle smiled warmly.
"Oh yea," Ruby jumped in. "Jeff and I won't be here, we leave for the west coast in two days… and Oliver, you can watch Dodgie for me," she smiled at the boy.
"But we will be back and we will go to that town, I'm calling dibs on whichever house is in a wooded area away from the actual town," Jefferson chuckled. "I can do that right? Call dibs on a house that might not even exist? Grace loves the woods."
"Whatever tickles your fancy," Robin replied before anyone else could.
"So, where is this place?" Emma asked, looking up at Rumple who was obviously trying to leave and go home.
"Well Dearie, it is a small town that popped up on the interstate right smack dab in the middle of Maine. There isn't much known about the area or its history at the moment because no one really knew it existed until recently but I find it quite charming and I believe you will all love it as I do."
"Alright well, does this mystery town have a name?" Emma asked, confused as to why the name had been left out of the entire few hours of conversation.
Rumple looked over to Regina as she spoke for him. "As a matter of fact dear, the town is called Storybrooke."
"You can't be serious," Emma laughed.
Leaning down to the blonde's face, Regina planted a soft kiss on pale lips. As she pulled back, their eyes linked. "We will start a new life, as a family, it will be a dream come true."
Smiling sarcastically, Emma nodded her head. "In a town called Storybrooke, I feel like more than dreams will come true."
There you have it folks. Thank you all for your awesome reviews and tips on this story. Before too long, I will be posting the first chapter of the sequel to the end this story as well as on its own, that way you can all decide if you want to take the time to hunt it down later. I hope no one is disappointed. Thank you, thank you for sticking with me! Til the next go round. -DR