The dreams began merely as flashes. A kaleidoscope of vague images, patterns, and rhythms contorting and stretching into indecipherable scribbles pulsating her temples. Every night she fell asleep with the hopes of reprieve only to be bombarded by garbled messages and twisted figures. She'd wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, hands shaking, head throbbing. She'd hang over the sink in her bathroom breathing deeply- counting the hours until she had to arrive at work. Stumbling back to bed she would lay awake trying to avoid returning to that strange dreamworld by meditating on colors, textures, and situations that had brought her comfort in the past. The feeling of digging her hand in a bag of flour, the salty sea breeze on a cool morning, apple harvest, the sight of her son stumbling half-awake into the kitchen rubbing the sleep from his eyes. She wouldn't even realize she had fallen asleep until her alarm screeched her awake at 6.01 a.m.
Regina awoke twisted in her sheets. Pressing her alarm shut, she stretched her arms above her head and yawned. Monday. It's her week to have Henry. Emma's coming over for dinner as she has every Monday for the last 5 years. Lasagna? No, that was last Monday. Chicken. Yeah, something with chicken. She untangled herself from her bedsheets attempting unwrap her bizarre dreams with each tug of the fabric. That dream belongs in her bed, she can't allow herself to dwell on it each night she has it or else she wouldn't get anything done.
After the curse broke, she remained Mayor simply because nobody else wanted the job- she had Emma to thank for that. A mob had gathered at her house almost daily for 3 months once everyone's memories were restored. Each time she heard the riotous voices storming up her driveway, she would wait in her kitchen with the lights off holding Henry's pillow to her chest. With every riot came Emma. Emma. She would break through the crowd and stand on Regina's porch facing the mob trying to calm them down. Often her words were enough, other times she had no other choice but to sit down in front of the door perched like a wild animal ready to defend with everything she had. Regina knew she didn't do it for her, but for Henry.
Once when the mob voices had died down and she heard everyone walking away, anger purged, she pulled her curtains back to find Emma still squatting on the porch with her back against the door- gun in hand. Figuring she was waiting in case any one in the former mob decided to come back and cause trouble, Regina went about her business of finishing up paperwork and tidying up the house. After several hours she peeked through her window to find Emma still perched in front of her door.
"Miss Swan?" Emma fell backwards onto Regina's marble floor. Looking up she saw the former Mayor looking down at her- eyebrow raised.
"R-regina, hey. Sorry about that, I must have fallen asleep."
"Well, I'll just uh- I'll just be on my way." Emma stood up brushing off her jeans, holstering her gun, and with a quick smile turned to leave.
"Thank you." Emma saw the changes to Regina's face since the last time they saw each other face-to-face just after the curse broke. She had deep, dark circles under her eyes, cheeks sunken, she seemed paler than usual. Emma felt a twinge of pity for the woman before remembering her attempt to kill her with a poisoned apple turnover.
"Sure." She managed to spit out. "For Henry, you know."
"Henry." Regina's eyes teared up for a moment, but quickly sucked them in not wanting this woman see her remorse. "H-how is he?" She managed to sputter out.
"Fine.," she clicked the heel of her boots together, "Still trying to process everything, you know."
"Yes. I imagine so."
The two women stood facing each other wanting to continue the conversation, but not knowing exactly what to say.
"Do you think Henry would want to come over for dinner one night?"
"I, uh, I don't know I'll have to ask him."
"How about Monday?" said Regina trying to make her words sound more passive than desperate.
"Yeah, um, I'll see what he thinks and I'll let you know." Regina nodded her head as yet another awkward silence passed between the two women. Emma gave another half smile before turning on her heel and walking away. The next Monday, Henry showed up for dinner insisting that Emma came to. Regina reluctantly agreed, and only did so out of sheer elation that her son wanted to spend time with her- even if it was shared. With each passing Monday, the dinners between the three people became less awkward and more familiar. Emma was able to act as a mediator between Regina and the rest of the town in terms of political, social, and emotional business. After a couple months, the town's anger subsided and moved on agreeing to give Regina her job back on the condition that the small council from the Enchanted Forest be reinstated and become a permanent governmental fixture. Nobody wanted to bother with the paperwork, and Regina was more than happy to fill in the gap as long as she had something to occupy her time and still feel like she had some hand in town affairs.
Living a solitary life impacted Regina in what society would deem as a more constructive manner. By no means was she more social, but she was less abrasive and intrusive. Monday became her favorite day. She and Emma became more friendly, their conversations carrying long past midnight sipping wine on the back porch of Regina's mansion. It was around this time that Regina began to have midnight rendezvous with her unsettling abstract dreams.
As evening fell upon the town, Henry and Emma promptly knocked on the mansion door. Regina opened it and took her now tall, lanky son into her arms and shook Emma's hand.
"Dinner's almost ready, make yourselves at home, dears." Regina rushed back to the kitchen her heels clacking across the floor. Henry and Emma exchanged goofy grins at the sound- it became somewhat of an inside joke between them. They could always gage Regina's mood on the sound and pace of her heels as they moved across the floor. The quick, skittish sound indicated her excitement making Henry and Emma smile knowing that they are in for a good evening. After dinner, Henry kissed both mothers on the head and sauntered up to his room to unpack for the week- leaving his mothers on the back porch uncorking their Monday wine.
Halfway through the bottle of wine, Emma and Regina found themselves laughing hysterically over a story about Archie's recent "Save the Crickets" campaign in which he dressed up in a cricket costume and bombarded people with green flyers stuttering for his cause with a passion only a cricket could muster. When the laughter died down, Emma sighed and said, "Man, he's really gotta find something else to occupy his time. I think he's been bored ever since his number one clients didn't have a need to see him." Regina chuckled knowing Emma was referring to all the members of the twisted family tree of Storybrooke.
"I just can't believe how much he's grown." Sighed Regina.
"No," she laughed, "Henry."
"Oh I know, it's getting to be a bitch cleaning his shaved whiskers out of the sink every morning."
"He leaves them in the sink?" Regina said disgusted. "Oh he wouldn't dare do that here."
"Ha, no he most definitely knows better than to mess with big mama over here." Said Emma as she jokingly punched Regina in the shoulder. "You did real good, Regina."
"Raising Henry. You did a real good job. Sometimes I find myself being so grateful that of all the places he could have ended up as a baby that he landed in your arms. You really did such an amazing a job. A much better job than I ever could have. Thank you."
Regina looked at Emma, taking in every word- filing it to memory. "But you still regret giving him up for adoption?"
"Regret isn't exactly the word I would use in this situation because you know as well as I do that this is an unusual circumstance. I would have liked to have been there for his first step, his first cut, his first anything- but I'm just saying that I don't know if I could have raised a better son. If only there was a way both of us could have raised him. I think we'd make a great pair."
Regina sat back and watched Emma sip her wine. A great pair. That was a thought that had never crossed her mind, but somehow it seemed right. And now she couldn't seem to get the images of what could have been from her mind. Emma gulped down the rest of her glass and stretched out her limbs.
"A'ight, it's time I get going. The Dwarves are having some crazy surprise party for Bashful tonight, and I don't see that going over very well. Gotta go analyze the situation and make sure Bashful doesn't have a heart attack. Thanks for dinner, see you next Monday?"
Regina remained sitting staring at the chair Emma was just sitting in.
"Hmm? Oh yes, until next Monday." Regina shook her thoughts, stood up and walked Emma to the door. After saying goodnight, Regina watched the blonde saunter off down the path much with the same wobbly swagger Henry has developed in his maturity. She closed the door, holding her hand to her head. A great pair. Now there's a thought.
As Emma drove to Granny's, her thoughts slipped from thinking of possible emergency procedures for the soon-to-be horrified Bashful to thoughts of Regina. "Great pair, did I really say that?" she thought. But as she mulled it over, she started thinking about Regina in ways she hadn't really allowed herself to ponder. There was a strange twinge in her gut that felt oddly like longing, but she shook it off as she looked ahead and saw Happy and a swarm of party-goers fanning an unconscious Bashful hanging outside the front entrance of Granny's.
That night, the kaleidoscope visions twisted around Regina's head, but just as it got chaotic, one of the shapes took form to a scene of Regina and Emma embracing warmly holding a small, smiling baby. Regina shot straight out of bed drenched in sweat. She wiped her forehead. "Oh no."