A/N: Another chapter! We are slowly but surely closing in on the end of the fic, but (according to my wild ballpark estimate) we've still got at least four chapters left, possible more. Don't quote me on that though.
Also sorry about that last sentence in the last chapter, heh. Despite how it's usually used, there isn't going to be some major massive tragic drama or w/e. This is still a kinda fluffy and cracky fic and that's not changing. Just so you know.
Thanks for all the lovely comments! Seriously, they are always awesome to read 3
Chapter 13: The Eye of the Snowstorm
It was a slow day in the sheriff's station, as it usually was. David was doing some routine paperwork, trying to cut down on the backlog as best he could. Neither he nor Emma were the most organized people in Storybrooke so most of the time all reports and complaints ended up in a pile on one of the many unused desks.
As mind numbing as the work was, he didn't mind it too much. The rift between Emma and Snow was still very much active and Snow had been in a terrible mood ever since the incident in the forest. In hindsight, that plan really hadn't been their best.
The door to the station opened just as he was putting away an old complaint about rabid unicorns scaring some family's dog. (As far as he knew, there weren't any unicorns in Storybrooke, but these days he couldn't be sure.)
"Hey, David. I was kind of looking for you." Emma lingered near the door.
David straightened and put away his pen. This had to be about Snow. "Hey. Do you need something?"
"Is Snow still pissed?"
He winced. They had lost another plate this morning when Snow had eaten her toast a bit too forcefully. "Yeah. Sorry."
"Well, that can't be helped, I guess." Emma rubbed her neck, her eyes flitting nervously about the room. "So, uh, me and Regina..." She cleared her throat awkwardly. "We talked to Henry yesterday and it wouldn't feel right not to tell you too." Another pause. "We're together."
"You're together," David parroted as the words slowly sank in. "Wait. You're together together? Like, dating?"
Emma chuckled weakly. "Pretty much, yeah. We've been for a while, actually. Sort of."
Even though he was taken completely by surprise by Emma's admission, it did make some sense. A lot of sense, actually, the more he thought about it. The time Emma spent in Regina's house, the secrecy, the uncanny way they seemed to know each other – almost like Snow and him – and plenty of other little things. He wondered briefly if the scarf Emma had worn a lot the last week or two had something to do with it as well, but quickly pushed the thought aside. This was awkward enough as it was.
"So..." Emma said, pulling him out of his thoughts. She was watching David with a careful expression.
Realizing he probably should give some kind of good and measured parental reaction, he said, "Are you, uh, happy? Together? And Henry?"
The smile and the faraway look Emma got told him all he needed to know. "Yeah."
They both fell silent for a few moments as David tried to wrap his head around the situation. Emma wasn't living with Regina as friends, and she was most likely not moving back in with Snow and him any time soon, if ever. Neal and Hook and whatever other people Snow had wanted to pair Emma up with was probably completely off the table.
Speaking of Snow – she wasn't going to take this well.
"You're okay with this?" Emma asked, wearing that guarded, careful expression again.
David started to speak, but then hesitated. He had not watched nearly enough informational parenting videos to know how to act in a situation like this. "I'm... This is still pretty new." When he saw the way Emma's expression dimmed, he hurried to add, "But, you know, if you're happy, that's– that's the important part, right?" He cringed internally even as he said it. It was as if he had a shovel glued to his hands and couldn't fight the compulsion to dig.
"Sure," Emma said flatly. She shoved her hands down her pockets and winced. "Can you break the news to Snow? I think you've got the best chance of not making her blow up again."
To say he was excited about that particular prospect – he could already imagine Snow's horrified upon learning Regina of all people was now dating her daughter – would have been a complete and utter fabrication, but he did his best not to let it show. Emma had a point, after all.
"I'll talk to her. She'll come around." He made his effort to give he a reassuring smile. "We both will."
Emma gave a stiff nod and left.
Alone in the station again, David rubbed his forehead and groaned. He didn't know what he was dreading more: telling Snow that Emma and Regina were dating, or the massive amount of damage control – if it could even be called that – he was going to have to do with Emma because of this conversation.
Ruby hummed to herself as she looked through a blog with Halloween costume ideas on her phone. The diner was mostly empty, with some time left before the lunch rush hit. She frowned in thought. Would it really be a costume if she dressed up as a werewolf? She wouldn't even need prosthetic teeth, she'd just have to shift partially and try not to accidentally bite herself.
The door to the diner opened and the stench of old leather, seawater, and rum filled her nostrils. She scrunched up her nose in disgust. Hook was fairly harmless nowadays, but that didn't make him any less unappealing.
"Hey there, love," he greeted her with a sleazy grin, sidling up to lean against the counter. "How about you give me the best beverage you've got offer?"
"No problem." Ruby didn't bother to smile. "That will be seventy bucks." Hook still didn't seem to have any idea how the modern monetary system worked, so after Ruby had accidentally gotten him to pay fifty dollars for a glass of water once, she just went with it. On the other hand, he was usually dirt poor, so it still evened out in the end.
Hook nodded absentmindedly as he looked around the diner. "Put it on my tab."
(He didn't have a tab, of course. Granny had laughed in his face when had said it the first time, but he had been so preoccupied with ogling one of the waitresses that he hadn't noticed. After that no one in the diner paid much attention to what he said anymore.)
"Sure." She filled the first glass she could find with water and put it in front of him. "There you go."
He turned back to her, completely ignoring the drink. "Say, have you seen Tinker Bell recently?"
Disregarding, for a moment, the fact that Tink would most likely tear her to pieces with a rusty fork if Ruby ever let Hook know of Tink's whereabouts, this time Ruby actually didn't know. "Nope."
Hook hummed, his attention now entirely fixed on Ruby. Or, more precisely, on Ruby's chest.
"The diner isn't that busy right now, you know," Hook mused, doing his best to creep closer. He didn't seem to register the fact that there was a very solid counter between them. "How about you take a break and show me around town?"
Ruby leaned forward, smiling indulgently. As long as she could ignore the smell, Hook was pretty entertaining to mess with, and he was right about the lack of activity in the diner. "Pretty sure you've already asked plenty of girls that."
"Oh, I think you could show me a new thing or two," he said, raising his eyebrows suggestively.
"You know, I haven't done anything like that since my last boyfriend." Finally, all those sessions with Archie was going to pay of, at least a little. Hopefully.
Hook's smile became, if possible, even sleazier. Ruby didn't want to know why.
"I haven't seen him around. Didn't he measure up?"
Ruby grinned, all teeth, a little longer and sharper than usual. "I ate him," she shrugged lightly.
A hint of confusion flashed over Hook's expression. "And... he didn't like it?"
"Wasn't anything but rags and bones left when I was done." She picked up a toothpick and made a show of running it in between her teeth just behind one of her canines. When she was done, she tossed it aside and winked. "I've been sticking to women ever since."
Had Hook left any faster, he would have made skid marks on the floor.
"Maybe he'll finally get the hint and stay on his boat," Granny muttered from her chair nearby.
A couple of minutes later, the door to the diner opened again and Snow entered, looking about as glowering as Ruby had ever seen her.
Earlier that day, Ruby had gotten a text from Emma saying she and Regina were finally officially together, so figuring out why Snow looked ready to kill wasn't particularly difficult.
"Hey, Snow, how's it going?" Ruby asked, pointedly ignoring the proverbial thundercloud looming over Snow.
Snow took a seat on a stool by the counter. "I'm fine." Her scowl deepened and she shook her head. "No, you know what, I'm not fine at all. Did you hear about this... thing with Emma and Regina?"
Ruby glanced around them, hoping no one else was watching them too closely. She'd really like to avoid causing a scene if she could. "I'm not really–"
"I mean, It's Regina!" Snow exclaimed, as if that explained everything. "So maybe she's not a villain anymore, but moving in with her? Sleeping with her? Doesn't she realize who Regina is? Just the other day, they were out in the forest, looking for something. I don't know what and neither of them would tell me. Something is definitely up."
"Snow, come on–"
"It's not even for Henry's sake, you know," Snow rambled on, clearly not noticing Ruby's weak attempts at dialogue. "If Emma and Neal just fixed things between each other, Henry could get a real family again. They could share him with Regina, even, like she and Regina– well, like they did before." She clenched her jaw and shook her head. "I just don't know how to make her understand this."
Had it been any other day, Ruby might have laughed at how fitting and oblivious that last sentence was. Today, though, all it did was make Ruby seriously reconsider her life choices. "Look, I don't–"
"Could you talk to her?" There was a sudden glimmer of hope in Snow's eyes. "I know Emma listens to you. Tell her to talk to the fairies. They can help her with the magic and make sure that–"
"Snow!" Ruby snapped, her patience finally at an end.
For a few moments, no one made a sound. The few people present in the diner looked up from whatever they were doing, giving Ruby and Snow curious and wary glances.
So much for not making a scene.
"Sorry, nothing to see her," Ruby announced with an apologetic smile. Then she sighed and turned back to Snow. She was beginning to see where Henry had gotten his unshakable conviction and bloodhound-like urge to never let anything go. Ever."Snow, there is nothing to talk about."
Snow looked completely dumbfounded. "What? But–"
"No," Ruby cut her off. "I won't talk to Emma about this because there's nothing to talk about."
"Regina is bad for her. She's dangerous. Don't you remember what she did to us?"
"Snow, I ate my boyfriend," Ruby said flatly.
Snow bristled. "That's different!"
Holding up her hand, Ruby began counting on her fingers. "Emma and Neal used to be thieves. Hook is a pirate and David is an impostor. Tink tried to stab someone once and Granny threatens people with her crossbow on a regular basis. Don't even get me started on Mr. Gold. And you lived a pretty long time as a bandit."
"This isn't about me, this is about her–"
A derisive snort made them both look up. Granny, still sitting in her chair near by, was giving Snow a none too impressed look over her glasses. "Of course it's about you, Snow. You're scared because you only got your daughter back a few years ago and now you think someone is taking her away from you again. On top of that, it's not just anyone but Regina, who you spent most of your life fighting and only now slowly begin to see as one of the good guys. No– we both know you wouldn't let Henry stay with someone you really thought was dangerous." Granny narrowed her eyes. "I'm guessing you're also still feeling guilty about what happened to Cora, and worried about those black spots on your heart, but instead of dealing with your issues you're blaming all of it on Regina so you can sleep better at night. Only now that Emma is living with Regina and no one's seeing Regina as a villain anymore, you're not feeling that much better anymore. In the end, you want to sabotage Emma's happiness so you don't feel so sad in comparison, with the added bonus that she'll have to depend more on you, making you feel useful in your daughter's life again instead of a burden."
Again, the silence filled the diner.
"What?" Granny said defensively, as if her psychoanalyzing customers was an everyday occurrence. "Don't you kids watch Dr. Phil?" Shaking her head, she got to her feet, picked up a dishrag and went to wipe off some of the newly vacated tables.
Ruby shook herself out of her reverie, Granny's analysis having taken her completely by surprise. Snow didn't seem to have taken it any better, her face pale and her lips drawn in a thin line. Perhaps Granny's drive-by psychoanalysis hadn't been completely off the mark.
"I'll... talk to you later, Ruby," Snow mumbled, clearing her throat awkwardly. She left without another word, all eyes in the room following her as she made her way over to the door.
Scratching her head, Ruby watched Snow scurry off. This hadn't turned out nearly the way she had predicted. Maybe she should join Granny at the TV one of these days.
She was turning into a ridiculous romantic, Emma realized. Sure, sex and all that stuff was great, but walking outside and holding hands with Regina was on another level entirely.
"You're smiling like an idiot again."
Emma didn't care. "So are you."
Regina stuck her nose a little higher in the air. "I am not."
"You were." She squeezed Regina's hand a little. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone just how sappy you really are."
Regina chuckled and shot Emma a sultry glance. "Of course you won't."
The warm sensation that washed over Emma's mind as Regina took control was so faint Emma barely noticed it, but the feeling still brought up some heated memories from the night before. Emma licked her lips and reluctantly pushed the memories aside. This was definitely not the time for that. Satisfied that she had made her point, Regina happily turned her attention back to the street ahead, letting her control dissipate.
When they entered the diner, Emma couldn't help but feel a little awkward. She wasn't sure how many would consider her and Regina being a couple as news, or how many would still find it objectionable, even after all this time. At least Ruby was firmly on their side, lighting up the whole room with her grin when she saw them.
"Finally!" Ruby exclaimed, vaulting effortlessly over the counter and darting forward to catch Emma and Regina in a hug enthusiastic enough to lift them both off the ground.
(Emma made a mental note to ask Ruby exactly how superhumanly strong she was. It felt like a useful thing to know for future reference.)
"You took your sweet time, didn't you?" Ruby said after she had let go of them, before ushering them over to an empty booth. "Take a seat, this one's on me!"
Emma and Regina took off their jackets and sat down in the booth while Ruby bounded off to the kitchen. Silence hung in the air between them, all the while Emma did her best not to throw nervous glances over her shoulder at the rest of the diner every other moment. It didn't go too well.
"Emma, you look like you expect Snow to burst in with an angry mob at any moment," Regina noted flatly.
Emma had to chuckle at that mental image. "That's a terrifying thought." She ducked her head, feeling a little awkward for being so nervous. After all, she had been the one to finally decide to go public with this. "I guess I'm just a little unused to this. Us. Letting people see it, you know?"
Covering Emma's hands with her own, Regina gave them a reassuring squeeze. "I'm unused to this too, Emma."
Emma gave her an incredulous look and was about to argue, until she remembered just how good Regina's poker face was. The amount of times she had swore never to play strip poker with Regina ever again...
"I'm just better at hiding it," Regina finished.
"Yeah, I know." Emma sighed, but then smiled, turning her hands around to be able to hold Regina's hands in her own. It was a nice feeling. A really nice feeling. She was definitely turning sappy.
A breathless gasp next to them pulled them both out of their lovesick ogling.
"Oh my god." Ruby was standing by their table with an awed grin, eyes sparkling. "You guys are so freaking adorable!"
Regina stiffened and huffed, but any attempt at regaining her dignity was severely stifled by the blush that colored her cheeks. "What is that supposed to be, Miss Lucas?" she asked, nodding towards the plate and the bowl in Ruby's hands, eager to change the subject. "You never took our orders."
"Come on," Ruby chuckled, "you really think I don't know you guys well enough by now?" Looking entirely too cocky for her own good, she put down the dishes in front of Emma and Regina. "One Raspberry Sundae with extra cinnamon and just a hint of that special ingredient–" she definitely meant liquor– "for Emma, and a plate of the best waffles this world has to offer coupled with banana ice cream – the one we reserve for special occasions – for Regina."
Inspecting her Sundae, Emma knew the battle was lost, and the way Regina's eyes widened when she saw her plate of waffles only confirmed it. Ruby knew them far too well.
"Told you so. Now, with that out of the way, I'll leave to your date." With that, Ruby flashed them one last shit-eating grin and then spun around and sauntered off to one of the other booths.
The sundae was, unsurprisingly, absolutely amazing. No, that wasn't quite right, because she knew words couldn't even begin to describe how good it tasted. As Emma moved to take another bite, she suddenly stopped, her spoon frozen halfway to her mouth. "Oh. Wait. This is a date," she realized out loud.
Regina shook her head, doing her best to hide her fond smile.
Shrugging, Emma took the spoon into her mouth, letting out a muffled little moan as the taste of raspberry ice cream and cinnamon hit her tongue.
Dates were fucking awesome.
Snow sighed in frustration, switching channel yet again. She had been trying to find something decent to watch for almost an hour by now, with zero luck so far. David was having the late shift at the station again so Snow alone in the apartment this afternoon, a painful reminder that Emma wasn't living with them anymore. Her mood dropped at the thought. Emma was probably with Regina right now, having fun, being hap–
She huffed and shook her head. Ever since that lecture by Granny, her thoughts had been an incoherent mess. What she needed now was some honest to goodness mediocre TV show to drown her sorrows in. Was that really too much to ask for?
Considering the way the door to the apartment suddenly flew open, she supposed it was.
"Hey, Grams!" Henry shouted as he weaved in and out of the different rooms in the apartment. "Have you, uh–" He disappeared into another room before he could finish his sentence. Then he appeared again, apparently victorious. "Don't worry, I found it!"
"Hi, Henry," Snow said, meeting him in the kitchen. "What's going on?"
"I'm going over to the Zimmers' and I needed this thing but I couldn't find it at home so I figured it was here. And I found it!"
Snow wondered quietly just how much sugar he must have had this morning. "Good. So... how are you doing? How are things at... home?" She tried her best to sound casual. Emphasis on "tried".
The way Henry lit up made Snow wish she had worn sunglasses. "It's great! My moms are together – did you hear? We're all living together and I thought it would be kind of weird 'cause then they'd be able to like, coordinate their mom stuff but it's really great! We're a real family now!"
"That's great," Snow said, focusing most of her efforts on keeping her smile in place. She wanted to be happy for Henry – she really did – but her feelings were too much of a mess for her to be able to seem genuine.
Of course, Henry saw right through her. When he had recovered from his initial outburst of enthusiasm, he studied Snow for a moment, then turned serious. "Are you okay?"
"Sure!" The shrill tone of her own voice made Snow wince internally. "I'm, uh..." She racked her brain for some way to explain it all to Henry, but came up blank.
Henry nodded solemnly. "I know it can be difficult for older people to deal with people who aren't straight. It's perfectly normal, though."
Snow blinked, unsure of which part of that bothered her the most. Older people? And she didn't have any problems with gay or bi people, some of her best friends were–
Um. Okay. Maybe she still had some rough edges to smooth over. But that wasn't the issue here.
"Does Storybrooke have a PFLAG chapter?" Henry asked. "If not, you should totally start one. Granny could probably join too. And me!" His eyes grew wide and sparkly. "Can we do a pride parade? Or a whole festival!"
Snow cleared her throat awkwardly. "I'll have to think about that, Henry." She shot a panicked glance at the door. She was in urgent need of some peace and quiet. "Shouldn't you head over to the Zimmers now? Wouldn't want to keep them waiting!"
"Oh!" Henry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Apparently he had completely forgotten about that. "Yeah, I really need to run now. Thanks! I'll talk to Ma and Mom about the pride thing too. Bye!" He darted out of the apartment, slamming the door shut behind him.
Tired and even more confused than before, Snow shuffled over to the TV and dropped down in the sofa. She turned on the TV, only to be greeted by some news report of a pride event somewhere. There were rainbows everywhere because of course there were. Any other day she might have enjoyed the talk of love and equality and all that stuff but right now it just hit a little too close to home.
She changed the channel, pressing the button a little harder than necessary.
Her lips drawn in a thin line, she gave the women on screen one look and then changed the channel.
No, she didn't want to let anything go. She smashed the button again.
This movie looked like some moderately entertaining romcom, until she remembered just how many times Ruby had told her it was her favorite.
Not happening. The button creaked under her thumb.
Several button mashes, a rerun of The L Word, and an actual lesbian porn movie later – she was never using cable again – she finally gave up.
A documentary about gay penguins would simply have to do.