Regina pressed her face into her pillow. The feel of the rough cotton on her cheeks felt like sandpaper and she silently cursed Emma's clear lack of fabric softener as her nose twisted sideways and her eyes pressed shut. Her head felt like someone was holding it firmly against a brick wall as a cave troll slammed it's mallet into her temple.
If she could remember the Jaeger Bombs, she'd regret them.
Her eyes blinked open as she rolled onto her back but she immediately regretted it. Slamming her eyes shut once more, she hissed as she rammed the heels of her hands into her eyes, pressing so hard she was sure her eyes were about to pop out the back of her head.
She wondered if the feeling might be better than what she was currently feeling.
She twisted, keeping her eyes closed as she waved her arm, gesturing for the blinds to close. It took some effort, but she managed to make them move with an audible groan, letting her arm fall off the side of the bed at the effort expelled.
For a long moment she simply lay there, letting her eyes adjust to the dark as she slowly breathed in and out. She pulled her arms up, running the fingers of one hand through her hair - desperate to clear her head of the dark, lingering haze - and pressed the other to her stomach; realising, with horror, that she was still wearing the outfit from the night before.
She sat up, slowly easing her legs over the side of the bed as she inspected herself. The soft stone-coloured peacoat was brushed with a coating of dried mud along her forearms, there was a ladder in her stockings and the fitted floral dress was twisted around so that the panels didn't line up along her hips anymore. She was a mess, she was in pain and she wanted desperately to disappear back into her bed.
It wasn't meant to be.
Her head lifted and she listened, carefully. She could hear voices. There was footsteps and suddenly, the cave troll had returned and the banging mallet continued again. This time it was followed by a strangled curse and footsteps padding up the hall.
She couldn't possibly sleep, she knew that now. The best course of action, she knew, was to get up and face it. She dressed slowly, changing from her dress into the soft, cashmere sweats she'd brought for evenings of watching movies with Henry. She pulled on a tank-top and slipped a heavy, thick-weave cardigan over her shoulders. Her hair was a mess so she stepped into the bathroom and quickly ran her fingers through it before splashing her face with some cold water. Thankfully - and she wasn't entirely sure how she'd done it considering she had slept in her dress - she'd remembered the night before, to remove her makeup.
The banging continued, followed but Emma's screeched 'I'M COMING!' as Regina stepped out into the hall with a wince.
"Honestly, Miss Swan, were you raised in a barn?" Regina grumbled, holding her head as she stepped into the middle of the living room, stunned silent with wide eyes at what she saw.
Emma had backed away from the door silently, eyeing the two men as they stepped into the apartment and crossed the room to the Queen who stood with arms crossed protectively across her chest.
"Robin," Regina breathed, astounded and confused; baffled that the man stood before her in jeans, a checked button-down and David's blue blazer. He looked nice; her lips curled up at the sides without her permission as she let her eyes trail over him. No leather, no straps, no buckles, no quiver. Just Robin in a borrowed blue blazer with a touch of gel in his hair. "What are you…" She choked on her words, swallowed, cleared her throat and tried again. "What are you doing here?"
"I got your message."
Behind him, David grasped Emma's elbow and gestured for them to leave, she nodded, smiling softly before turning to Regina. "Regina, we're just going to go get Henry and take him for breakfast, okay."
Regina didn't respond but Emma knew she'd been heard. Regina just stood there, staring at Robin as he stared back at her. They stood there, just like that, awkwardly averting their eyes from one another before looking back once again with an intensity that made Emma pause, even whilst she rushed to gather her things.
The blonde fumbled around them, glaring at her father when he rolled his eyes as she dashed between Regina and Robin to grab her keys, marvelling at how even though she ducked between them, their focus on one another didn't falter.
"Okay, I'm going now." She threw over her shoulder, staring at the silent couple for a long moment before David shoved her out the door and closed it behind them.
"I got your message." Robin repeated, smirking and Regina fidgeted with the sleeve of her cardigan.
He frowned. "Last night, David and Snow came to me at the camp, they said you had a message for me, they said you'd told them you'd made a mistake." He smiled softly. "I wondered if I dare hope that meant what I thought it meant."
Regina blinked, eyes diverted to the floor as she raked over her memories, scrubbing a hand through her tousled, raven hair. Robin just watched her, his eyes crinkled with mirth as she winced against the sunlight once again.
"I fear I may have divulged one too many secrets to Miss Swan, last night."
Robin nodded slowly and considered her response and the way she turned, facing the window with the view out over the city, with her arms still crossed over her chest. "It's an amazing place, isn't it?" He commented, stepping up behind her, close enough that he could speak softly, but not so close he was touching her. That didn't stop the shiver that went through her.
They stayed silent, watching the morning light spilling through the gaps in the buildings, filling the city with warmth and light. The cars below grew louder as the city filled with people though they stood, staring out the window in a peaceful silence.
"Does she know?" Regina's voice broke the silence gently, like the small bell over a shop door.
"She knew the night she came back. I loved her too much to keep it from her."
Regina nodded, slowly; she let a tear roll down her cheek, not even caring that he could see it. She appreciated that he was being honest with her, even though it hurt. "Why did you come here?" She breathed, turning to face him and Robin could see the turmoil there in her eyes - the eyes of a woman that truly believed she would be alone forever.
Robin reached for her hand, lifting her fingers to rest against his chest, just beneath the lapel of his coat and covered her hand with his own. Regina stood there, she didn't fight back, she didn't pull away. She just stood there, remembering the first time he'd done this, when he'd pledged to let her share his heart.
"Because this belongs to you."
"You gave it to her, once."
Robin sighed, stepping closer to her. Regina had to tilt her head to look up into his eyes, standing on the cold wooden floors of Emma's apartment with the ankles of her too-long sweatpants, draped over her bare feet. Their stomachs were pressed together with Regina's forearms pressed to his chest as his heart continued to beat a steady rhythm beneath their hands.
"I am no longer that man and I don't wish to be."
"I've done such terrible things." Her eyes filled with tears again and Robin reached his hand up, brushing the pad of his thumb across the apple of her cheek with an adoring smile.
"You have," He smirked. "But you've done good too and you're trying so very hard to be better." He rested his palm against her cheek, smiling broader the longer she let his hand remain. "Healing takes time and you've suffered a great deal. I don't expect you to be Snow White, Regina," He chuckled. "I'm actually glad you're not," He leaned forward to press a kiss to her brow. "But you are changing and what you're changing into is more beautiful than anything I've ever seen."
He smiled broader, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and holding her in his arms. Regina let herself fall, she let his arms encircle her as she pressed her cheek to his chest. Her head was still pounding and her legs were shaky but the smell of him and the warmth of him was healing the awful ache in her heart.
"I can't bear to be apart from you another day." He whispered and Regina sighed, not moving her cheek away from his chest or her ear from his heartbeat.
"I'm sorry, Robin."
"For what?" He ran his fingers through her hair, laughing gently as his fingers became trapped in matted hairspray. He knew they'd been out drinking the night before, David and Mary-Margaret had filled him in on just how ridiculous the two women had sounded over the phone - regardless that he hadn't known at the time, exactly what a phone was - and he'd had ideas of what would greet him when they arrived on the doorstep so early in the morning. Ruffled, sleepy Regina with panda eyes and a cardigan three sizes too big, was not what he'd expected, but he liked it.
"For being so afraid."
"To be afraid is to be human," He grinned. "I fear whenever I see my Roland step out of our tent, I feared for my life when David and I set foot on that plane last night, I am afraid, just being here in this strange city. I've been terrified every day since we have arrived in this world, Regina, but to be afraid is good. It means that there is something in your life worth fighting for, something you're not willing to lose."
"I can't lose you." She spoke softly, tilting her head back up to look into his eyes. He could see all of her soul then, the parts of her so clear only to him because their souls were two pieces of one whole. He could appreciate that insecurity, that fear, because he knew what she had been through.
"Can you promise me?"
"I can promise you that for the rest of my life, I will fight for you, I will stand beside you and I will love you, as long as I am able. What it is within my power to promise you, Regina," He leaned forward until their lips were barely a breath apart. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her skin, she could feel how her lips curled and her skin quaked at the electricity of him so near her. He breathed out, deeply, savouring the depth of her eyes. "I promise you with my whole heart and soul."
His words ended with his lips on hers, chapped from the chilled morning outside and soft against the plump velvet of her own. She savoured him, cataloguing every touch, every taste, ever shiver that shot up her spine as his hand moved from her shoulders, down her arms and across to press to her lower back, holding her firm. His lips tasted like autumn air and coffee and she sighed into his mouth, gripping his shirt beneath his blazer and letting her face fall to his neck as they parted and he held her possessively in his arms.
"I love you."
He could feel her fingers tighten in his shirt as her shoulders pulled up and a warm puff of air touched his neck. Regina shuddered out a breath, shaking in his arms with laughter or tears, he wasn't entirely sure. Then she stilled, silent, still clinging to the soft cotton shirt in a firm, desperate grip.
"And I love you." The words came out like a gasp, like she was surprised she'd even said them, shocking herself into silence. He just held her then, pressing his chin to the top of her head as he looked out towards the buildings and marvelled at the miraculous world they had found themselves in. He was a thief and she was a Queen, standing at the window of a city the likes of which he'd never dreamed of. He never thought he'd have found himself there.
"Will you show me New York?" He questioned, after a long time spent in silence, standing peaceful in each other's arms. Regina chuckled into his chest, that light, hearty chuckle that made his heart rate quicken. She looked up, smiling widely with the last of her tears fading away.
"I would love to."